The Latch-Key Solution

A Silicon Valley Spooky Story for Geeks of all Persuasions

While perusing some of my old files, I stumbled upon this oldie-but-goodie, which is as much fun to listen to now as it was when I first produced it. So, in honor of Midsummer, I offer up a campfire tale, for your listening pleasure…

“The Latch-Key Solution”

written, directed, and produced by Larisa (née Naples) White

When software CEO Bruce Whiting is shown a beautiful, fully-furnished, waterfront office, perfect to serve as his start- up’s new headquarters, he’s eager to seal the deal. There’s just one catch: a band of homeless nuts have taken up residence, and they’re pestering passers-by with ghost stories. The real-estate agent seems to know them, but she vehemently denies it. So who are they, really? Where did they come from? And why won’t they leave? Part campy campfire tale, and part biting workplace satire, “The Latch- Key Solution” is a high-tech haunted office story filled with business scheming, betrayals and double-crosses. The story pokes fun at many of the characters we’ve all worked with, or for, or around; the software glitches that make us crazy; and the ridiculous memes of high-tech biz-speak.

Of course, a production like this could never be a one-woman project. Though I wrote the play, directed the actors, and did all the sound editing myself, I also had a lot of help. My sound engineer was Eddie Foronda of K9 Sound in San Francisco. My co-producers, Peter White and Frank Giraffe helped me run the auditions, worked with Eddie to turn my home into a functional recording studio for the duration of the project, and kept everyone happy and well-fed, so that I could focus on the work. And then, there were the players in my amazing cast.

About the Cast:

Raj Thadani
(a.k.a. Bruce Whiting, the CEO)

Raj did some acting in high school playing Antonio in the “Merchant of Venice” and Dr. Einstein, the Drunk Plastic Surgeon, in “Arsenic and Old Lace”. He was a college radio DJ and VJ on public access TV but had left the entertainment world for many years before returning to radio in “The Latch- Key Solution.” Raj grew up in and around Washington, DC but spent most of his adult life in Philadelphia where he went to school and made a career in the biotech/pharmaceutical world. Raj moved to San Francisco at the beginning of 2007 and lives there with his wife Ramona and their parrot Sid.

Taylor Forester
(a.k.a. Jun-Li, the Real Estate Agent)

Taylor’s keen interest in making funny voices began while watching T.V. cartoons. Yogi Bear & Boo Boo, Elmer Fudd &Bugs all played a part in her vocal mimicry prowess. Taylor’s got a minor in Drama, and a major in Communication
Studies. While studying voice-over and improv in San Francisco, she was asked to perform in a radio commercial for a luxury car company. She’s modeled for newspaper ads, starred in plays and quirky voice-over productions, and taught Comedy Traffic Violator School. Taylor was born and raised in the Bay Area, which she still calls home. She worships her sixteen-year-old cat, Milo Poopy, and her three bicycles: Grace, a hard-tail mountain bike; Gertrude, a full- suspension MTB; and CandyCane, her sweet roadie.

Scott Whitehead
(a.k.a. Dave, the Homeless Bon Vivant)

Scott lives in San Francisco with an array of mammals, succulent house plants and two wheeled vehicles in various states of repair. His acting experience includes a range of cartoonish outsiders from the title character in the musical “Tumbleweeds” (based on the comic strip) to the coach of the Central High Frogs in “They Run In Our Family.” Scott also turns in an enthusiastic Meat Loaf impression at karaoke if given the chance.Scott is as thrilled to be working with this cast and crew as he is honored to be originating the role of Dave, ‘the ranting office park lurker’ in “The Latch-Key Solution”.

Glenn D’mello
(a.k.a. Ajeet, the Bane of Bangalore)

Glenn’s job in the high-tech industry brought him to San Francisco. Upon arrival, while wandering around his neighborhood in the Civic Center, he ran into the Folsom Street Fair. History does not tell us what happened, but Glenn continued living at that location for another two years. Glenn acted in high school plays and musicals, and took up improvisation once in San Francisco. He has performed in short form improv ensembles at Pan Theater in Oakland and at BATS in San Francisco.When not acting up, Glenn can be found in the kitchen mixing up a curry, or in the basement performing chemistry experiments with yeast, fruit juice and honey.

Betty Wu
(a.k.a. Emma, the Engineer)

Even in real life, Betty worked in the high-tech industry for over twelve years before she managed to escape. Well, it was not quite as scary or dramatic as the tale of “The Latch- Key Solution,” but still… Betty is now pursuing a second career, in counseling psychology. She currently works as an intern for New Perspectives Center for Counseling in San Francisco. In addition to helping individuals, couples, children and family, Betty enjoys teaching music to children and facilitating groups and gatherings.

Karen Fayeth
(a.k.a. Susanna, the Client)

A native of New Mexico, Karen moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1997 and was immediately inspired by the vibrant arts community that is so entwined with the Bay Area’s people and our way of life.Karen blends influences of the cultures from where she grew up, including Hispanic, Native American, and the deep rural soul of the American West along with her newer city-sense learned in places like San Francisco, Brooklyn and Boston. A storyteller at heart, Karen learned quickly that the written word doesn’t always tell the tale. Karen has expanded her studies to the visual arts including paint, clay, papier-mâché and photography. Karen has also recently engaged in spoken word story telling on her blog.

We hope you enjoyed our spooky story. And now, in the fine old bardic tradition…

Buy The Bard A Beverage!

Cheers!

“Gifts of Awen”

My latest musical composition, which I now sing as part of my daily devotions:

I have not yet added back up instrumentals, as I typically sing this while walking the land, after morning prayers. With that in mind, this one might forever remain a simple vocal tune. I will consider adding layers at a later date.

If you like the song, and would like to download a copy of the sheet music for your personal, private, non-commercial use, you may do so here:

“Gifts of Awen” by Larisa Ananda White

Enjoy!

Yule Triad

The three greatest gifts of a California Yule morning:

a gentle, greening rain;
one perfect orange, plucked from a glistening tree;
the brilliant rays of the returning Sun, illuminating all
of the first rosy blossoms of blueberry.

First Indigenous Food Harvest

Our ongoing effort to deeply connect with the land upon which we live began with our ecosystem restoration project, some years back — in which we planted several hundred tiny, one-gallon seedlings of native plants. Over the years, the plants of our Native Garden have established and grown more and more fruitful, feeding native fauna, birds, and insect life. Until now, we reserved the restored area of our property for the service of the wild animals, but finally, the bounty has become so robust, that we felt comfortable harvesting a bit of that bounty for human consumption.

Harvest Season Jamming Ritual (with Recipe):

Step into the Native Garden, saying:

“I enter the sacred grove with reverence;
I enter the sacred grove in peace.”

Walk the land, in a state of receptive meditation, greeting each of the Backyard Kindred, thus:

Hael to you, beloved Oaks,
In greying green, from summer smoke.
Hael to Sagebrush, Lilac, Sage,
All dusty, leafless, wanting rain.
Hael Toyon berries, biding time,
And Coyote Brush’s shining eyes (Aaachoo!).
Hael, blessed Manzanita grove,
Of peeling bark and rusty fruit,
I ask of you a gift of Life,
From which to craft a sweet delight.

Shapeshift into a Bewick’s wren. Using Bewick’s wren’s-eye-view, find the hidden, rust-red berries, camouflaged by rust-red bark, peeling from behind and beneath the leaves. Circle the Manzanitas thrice, picking a few berries from each bush and tree, until you have gathered one heaping cup of manzanita berries.

Return to human form.

Thank the Manzanitas for the blessing of their bounty.
Reciprocate the blessing with a prayer for early rain.

Wash the berries in water, thrice, to get out all the dust and debris.

While the water flows through the berries, meditate upon the seasonal threshold currently upon us — dry, dusty seeds in a dead, drought-deciduous world, awaiting the First Rain to wash away the grime and return the world to vibrant life.

Boil the berries in 1.5 C water, until the dry berries plump themselves up and brew a deep reddish tea. Mash up the water-plumped berries, and boil a few minutes more. Let cool. Strain through a jelly bag, to remove all solids.

Add a splash of clear apple juice, to bring the liquid up to a total of 1-1/6 C. Add 1 Tbsp. no/lo-sugar pectin, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. ascorbic acid crystals. Bring to a boil, mixing constantly, to remove all lumps.

Add 1 C sugar, and stir it in well. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture returns to a boil. Boil and stir for three additional minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour into two clean, 1/2-pint jelly jars, cap them, and boil in a water-bath canner for 10 minutes.

Thank the Gods for the blessing of manzanita jelly.

Enjoy!

The Result:

Two cups of Manzanita Jelly, from berries harvested off of our Arctostaphylos bushes (pictured above), a mixture of three varietals: Howard McMinn, Franciscana, and Densiflora “Sentinel”.

Taste Test:

The jelly is a delicate sweet-orange and pumpkin flavor, with hints of apple blossom.  Delightful!

Crocheted Lace Druid Robes, part 2

After roughly 650 hours of work on my Druid robes, following sweetly whispered messages of Awen, pacing myself diligently, to ensure that every stitch be a prayer, I have finally completed the main body of my robe. The process was slow, as I visualized,
designed,
stitched,
fit,
frogged,
redesigned,
restitched,
re-fit,
unraveled,
redesigned,
and restitched
the crocheted lace
on my way to completion.

Closeup inspections better show off the details:

Waistband of tribanns:

And three shots showing the lower panel of lace images that represent my personal cosmology and theology:

I am now working on a set of seasonal stoles that will drape over the shoulders, and include variously colored leaves, flowers, and other symbols appropriate to my seasonal celebrations. Stay tuned!