Tuesday, April 28, 2015

All That Jazz, Part 2

Today was the big day, the day we did most of the things we had come  to do.  It started off with breakfast at the hotel and, under the stern eye of the waiter, learning to like grits (with enough butter you can like anything...Dave and his friend ultimately liked them so much that on the last day, which did not include hotel breakfast, they went to a restaurant where they could get grits).

We had to get the damn blocks to Loyola and decided the easiest way was to send them by cab with one of the chaperones and 3 of the boys. The cab driver needed much encouragement, but eventually agreed to take the blocks (for what turned out to be a fairly exorbitant sum).  Ultimately, the driver dropped them at Tulane, not Loyola and they had to carry the blocks for 3 blocks.  
The blocks arrived in somewhat less than ideal repair, so it was fortunate that I had Walt's hammer (wrapped in a sock) and some nails in my purse.  He spent about half an hour rebuilding several blocks prior to the kids' performance.

We were able to see all the show choirs which performed on Saturday afternoon and it was a good group, though Davis (in our own estimation) was by far the flashier of the groups, but the Greendale High School folks had the edge vocally and we felt we were up against some stiff competition.

On the return to the hotel, we took all the blocks on the streetcar (which passes through New Orleans' Garden District), which gave many people a place to sit, and then wended our way up Canal St. to the hotel to get rid of the damn blocks until time to return to California.

We met for dinner in the hotel lobby and while waiting for everyone, Dick found a piano in a darkened room and was coerced into playing.  All the kids stood around the piano singing.  It was a really nice moment and drew a crowd of people, but I wondered if the hotel appreciated it, since I noticed that for the rest of our stay in the hotel, the room with the piano was kept in total darkness.

After a wonderful dinner at the hotel, where all the chaperones had Cajun deep fried shrimp (which lived up to expectations), we were ready to tackle the French Quarter, following suggestions and cautions from the restaurant's waiter.  We were about to fulfill Dick's long-held dream of taking a bunch of kids to the French Quarter, plopping a boom box down and just having them perform for whoever wanted to watch.

However, the French Quarter deserves its own separate entry, so that will be Part 3.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Kathy Conner Redux

Usually when I use the name of a friend as the title of journal entry, it is because they have died.  But Kathy is very much alive.  She has been the oboist for the Lamplighters for the past several decades.  She is also, off and on, a reader of this journal, but definitely reads it if she thinks her name will be in it, as she reminded me yesterday.  The last time she made an appearance here was 2011.

We had gone to see The Lamplighters production of The Grand Duke, the final collaboration of Gilbert & Sullivan, and at intermission, I presented myself to the orchestra pit, as directed, so Kathy could see my head.  She has been following the shaving saga on Facebook and wanted to see it in person.  So here ya go, Kathy...you are once again immortalized on the pages of this journal.  In another four years, I might mention you again, so keep reading!

The Grand Duke brought to a close our three-show weekend.  Usually, I am not a fan of three-show weekends, but this weekend was more fun than work.

The first show we saw was Friday, here in Davis.  The Davis Musical Theater Company was presenting The Wizard of Oz and I knew that would be an easy show to review.  I always like it when DMTC does a production that is good and I can concentrate on the good stuff rather than having to point out flaws.  And this was a good production.  Their Dorothy was very good and had a wonderful voice, so naturally I loved her "Over the Rainbow."  
But the performance that impressed me the most was our friend, and company founder, Steve Isaacson, who was playing the cowardly lion.  His performance was quite good, but the audience didn't know how amazing it really was.  Steve has suffered chronic pain for years and recently had a neural stimulator installed in his spine.  I talked about it at great length earlier this month.  He had told me at that time that it was not working the way he hoped it would and he had the choice of being in extreme pain with the stimulator turned off, or having a difficult time walking because of the buzzing sensation up and down his legs, so he planned to turn it off just before he went on stage and on again as soon as he came off stage.

From his performance, bundled up in that lion costume, you'd never know he was performing in pain, which made the fact that it was an excellent performance that much more remarkable.

It was an easy review to write.

The second show, Saturday night, was The Pirates of Penzance at the Sacramento Theater Company.

 I had some concerns about this production because (a) this theater company doesn't do musicals as a general rule, and (b) the cast was very small and I worried about the absence of a women's chorus.  We have been around Gilbert & Sullivan for some 50 years now, since the days when we first heard of The Lamplighters and started ushering at the old Harding theater in San Francisco.  I would be hard pressed to count the number of times I have seen this show, both in this country and in England, where we attended the 2nd International Gilbert & Sullivan festival with The Lamplighters many years ago (and won the big awards).  But I have to admit that this particular production ranks up there with one of the best we have ever seen.  The staging and choreography were crisp and clean, the performances were wonderful, the extra bits that were thrown in for fun were great fun and we were just blown away by the whole thing.  It was another easy review to write.

And then there was The Grand Duke, which The Lamplighters had only done one time before, in a shortened concert version.  It is rarely performed and this was our opportunity to finally round out the whole G&S canon.  We have now seen all 13 operettas.  And it's easy to see why this one is so rarely performed.  It's not very good! Definitely not on a par with the previous 12 and easy to see that the dynamic duo had come to the end of their collaboration.  The story is sillier than most (though I do admit for now having a craving for a sausage roll) and much of the music is reminiscent of other operettas, one song in particular lifted right out of Princess Ida and given different lyrics.

But the production itself was good and I had the feeling that my friend Gilbert was there in the theater with me because, having had only 3 hours of sleep the night before, and the first act being so long, I kind of started to doze off three different times and all three times I felt a distinct poke, twice in my back, and once on my shoulder to wake me up.  Walt was dozing himself, and we were in the last row so there was no way any living person had done it.  I can only conclude it was Gilbert.  (that's my story and I'm sticking with it)

Fortunately I was not writing a review for this one. 

At intermission, I had a text from Char inviting us to come to her daughter Dana's house after the show, if we were going to be getting out early.  Char's birthday is tomorrow and I figured this was a celebration and it was.  Low key, just sitting around munching food (the clam dip was gone by the time we got there), but it was nice, though two of her kids had left by the time we arrived.

The dogs were happy to see us when we got home at 9:30 or so.  They were also very hungry!

All in all, a good theater weekend.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Stealing

1. Most unflattering hairstyle you ever had? What made it so unflattering?
The one I'm wearing now.  Bald, or nearly bald, is not my best look!

2. Favorite movie(s) that were made in the 90's?
Good Will Hunting, Schindler's List, The Sixth Sense, Toy Story and Mrs Doubtfire

3. Do you rent movies? If so, from where?
No.  We have Netflix streaming.

4. Do you like cookies better when they're just out of the oven or after they've cooled?
It depends on the cookies, but in general after they've cooled.

5. Do you still talk to the person who gave you your first kiss?
He is a Jesuit Brother and we have not seen each other in at least 30 years.  We exchange Christmas cards.

6. Did you go to pre-school? If so, what was the name of it?
No.  I don't know if they even had pre-school in the 1940s.

7. How do you take your coffee?
Strong and black.

8. Do you like fuzzy things?
Sure.  That's why we have 3 dogs.

9. Favorite kind of chocolate?
Milk chocolate.  See's, Lindt truffes, etc.

10. Are you more optimistic or pessimistic?
A mix of both, but I hope mostly optimistic.

11. What about peopleofwalmart.com? Do you think the site is mean, funny, or both?
I've heard of it, but I've never checked it out because I don't like humor at the expense of someone else.  Or, in other words, mean.

12. Do you like fat sandwiches? If so, what does your favorite one have on it?
Not really.  I like simple sandwiches.  My favorite may be tomato sandwich, with just tomato and mayo on balloon bread.  Or a lamb sandwich, with just lamb and mayo, again on balloon bead.  I don't like lettuce on any sandwich.

13. One restaurant you'd never been to but would like to go to?
There are a lot of restaurants on Check Please, Bay Area that I'd like to try, but they are too darn expensive. I'd also love to eat in many of the restaurants owned by Food Network chefs.

14. Last time you got a haircut? Do you need one?
March 13, when I had my head shaved to raise funds for children's cancer research. I think it will be awhile before I'll be needing a hair cut!

15. What's your favorite pattern for clothing (stripes, plaid, etc.)?
I guess solids.  But no conscious preference.

16. What's your age backwards?

17. When you see typos in a survey, do you correct them?

18. When was your last vacation? Did you go someplace special?
Last mini vacation was a month or so ago to Santa Barbara for a long weekend.  Last "big" vacation was in 2013, to Ukraine.

19. What's your favorite kind of pancakes?
Buttermilk, loaded with butter and maple syrup.

20. Do you like movies with computer graphics, like Avatar?
Not really.

21. Do you know how to sew?
Sewing?  What's that?  Is it anything like that thing they call "ironing" ?

22. Are you good at wrapping gifts?
I used to be fantastic, now I'm utilitarian.

23. Do you like flavored yogurt?
Yes, especially strawberry

24. How old will you be in December of 2015?
The reverse of question #16 

25. What's the age difference between you and your siblings?
My sister was 4-1/2 years younger, but she was murdered in 1971, so I've been an only child longer than I was a sister.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday 9

Hawaii Five-O

Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!

Saturday 9: Hawaii Five-O (1969)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This is the theme from the TV show that originally ran from 1968 to 1980 and is on now again with a new cast. Were you/are you a fan?
Nope.  Never was.  I can say "Book 'em, Danno" and know where it came from, but I never watched the show regularly.

2) On both shows, Five-O is an elite police task force led by Det. Lt. Steve McGarrett. Who is your favorite TV cop?
Currently, Olivia Benson.  Of all time, probably Monk.

3) On both shows, the part of Danny "Danno" Williams was played by a second generation performer. (James MacArthur was the son of Broadway legend Helen Hayes; Scott Caan is the son of movie actor James Caan.) If you followed one of your parents into their chosen profession, what would you be doing?
If I followed my father, I'd be working for the post office; if I followed my mother, I'd be working for the Bank of America.  Thank god I didn't follow in my parents' footsteps!

4) Both shows are filmed in Hawaii, the boyhood home of President Obama. Have any of our 44 Presidents hailed from your state?
Oh god...do I have to admit to being from the state that gave the country Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon??? How ignominious.

5) Kona coffee is made from beans cultivated on the Big Island of Hawaii. Are you a big coffee drinker?
Not a BIG coffee drinker, but I drink my share.  Peet's.  French Roast.  Black.

6) This week's song was written by the late Morton Stevens. In addition to composing for TV shows, he was the musical director for a group of entertainers known in the 60s as "The Rat Pack." Can you name any "Rat Pack" members?
Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop. 

7) This week's featured band, The Ventures, began when Don Wilson purchased a used car from Bob Bogle. During negotiations, they discovered a shared passion for playing guitar. Did you buy your current ride new or used? Did the negotiations go smoothly?
We bought a new Honda a year ago and I was shocked at how smoothly it went.  We walked in and 30 minutes later drove out in our new car.

8) The year this song was popular, 1969, is when Donald and Doris Fisher opened a San Francisco clothing store called The Gap. Today there are more than 3,200 Gap locations. Do you shop at The Gap or gap.com?
The Gap has nothing in my size.

9)  Random question: What's on your Saturday to-do list?
Visit my mother and bring her next week's meds.  Review The Pirates of Penzance at Sacramento Theater Company.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Today at Logos

SPOILER ALERT:  If you recorded Grey's Anatomy, The Black List or Scandal and have not yet watched the programs, skip the first paragraph


What a night of television.  I feel like I've been put through the ringer.  First there was Derrick Shepherd, Dr. McDreamy himself, all heroic in saving three people in an auto accident, only to be hit by a giant truck, bleeding all over the place taken to the wrong hospital, and then Meredith having to agree to pull the plug.  As if that wasn't bad enough, The Blacklist starts with Reddington being shot and rushed off to a secret location bleeding throughout the episode while hoards of armed men try to shoot him.  At one point I thought he was going to pull a Jack Bauer, pulling tubes out of his body, gripping a gun, and mowing 'em all down.  They are still trying to kill him.  And then from there I watch Scandal which begins with Huck punching Jake in the chest to revive him, when they thought he was dead, then lots of blood trying to bring him back to life.  He bleeds throughout the episode while there is shooting and more blood everywhere and Rowen is still trying to kill them all. After 3 hours of non-stop bleeding, I almost need a transfusion.  God.  I need an hour of Teletubbies or Hello Kitty or something!  


OK.  On to Logos.  It was nice to have a chat with Sandy for about 30 minutes, during which time I rang up three customers.  Things looked promising for the afternoon.  About the time Sandy was leaving a zaftig woman in a lovely flowing chiffon dress came in, looked around for about 10 seconds, and left.

A comfortably dressed woman in jeans, a baggy grey shirt and Birkenstocks looked around for awhile and then finally bought one bargain book.  At the same time, a man in a white pony tail was looking through the bargain books too, but never came into the store.

A nice young man came in looking for music.  He managed to find a very thick encyclopedia of music and musicians for only $8 and a score for a piano work.  He was talking to me about jazz and how jazz arrangements have changed these days, so when I mentioned that Jeri taught composing and arranging, he asked me to ask her about I think it was "rootless melody."  But I could be remembering that wrong

A woman wanted to know where to buy a photo album and I gave her some suggestions.

A grey haired woman with a rainbow colored backpack and walking with a cane moved around the store so quietly that every time I looked down and looked up again, she had disappeared and reappeared in some other part of the store.  She left the store without buying anything, then rummaged through the bargain books, and ultimately left without buying anything.

A guy in a painter's hat (but not Bruce) checked out comedy and then language books.  He heard me sniffle and asked if I had allergies.  We talked about how if you live in Davis long enough you eventually develop allergies.  I sniffle so often year-round I never even notice it!

A young woman looking for Spanish books bought 3 novels (including a translation of a Jeffrey Deaver mystery) and was disappointed that we had such a small selection of Spanish books.

A guy bought two literature books, including "Babbit" and one other one I've forgotten.

My friend did not show up, for the second week in a row, during the 4-5 hour, but by 5 there were 3 customers in the store, the most at one time all day.  A guy was looking for books on metaphysics, a woman in a safari hat was looking through literature and contemporary fiction and a woman in a salmon colored shirt and khaki pants carrying two bags (one might have been for some sort of electronic gadget).  None of them bought anything.

But the next guy bought $55 worth of books, including the entire Little House on the Prairie boxed set, "Thus Spake Zarathustra" and another book by Nietzsche and a couple of history books.

ASIDE:  This really bugs me.  Every. Single. Customer, especially those with big stacks of books, always lays their books as far from me as they can.  NOBODY ever hands me the books.  The guy with the Little House books put them down and behind them the stack of other hefty books and I couldn't reach them at all.  It's not like the desk is cluttered.  There is nothing directly in front of me, but consistently for all the years I've worked there nobody ever moves the books to where I can pick them up without having to stretch way out to reach them. Some even place them so they are half on the desk and half off the desk, which puts them even farther from my grasp. 

But it was a lucrative day, relatively speaking and I read more than half of a Dick Francis book I had not read before.

What a notebook page for "Today at Logos" looks like.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

All That Jazz, Part 1

In 1990, the Davis High Jazz Choir, of which David was a member in that year, traveled with their director, Richard Brunelle, to New Orleans to compete in a Jazz Choir competition.  It had long been Dick's dream to take a group of jazz choir members to New Orleans.  He envisioned them dancing on the streets of the French Quarter.  This was a huge thing for him and a huge thing for the jazz choir, which rarely traveled out of state, much less across the country.  Paul and Tom had both been in the Jazz Choir too, but I think the farthest they ever went to perform was Disneyland.

This morning I happened upon the scrapbook I kept of that fateful New Orleans trip and marveled at how glad I am that I am an inveterate journal maker.  This was in the days before on-line journals, and I was not keeping a regular journal in those days, but I did keep pretty complete records of our big trips.

I thought it might be interesting to hit the highlights of that trip over several entries here.  Maybe one a week or something.  In this first chapter, we deal with the difficulties of transporting 20 kids and 9 big wooden blocks across the country, dancing up and down the Mississippi, and Walt and I fighting over a room with James Foreman, the former head of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), who was being honored by the NAACP that weekend

As a surprise to Dick, the kids had shirts designed and when we got to the airport, they all disappeared into the bathrooms and came out wearing the shirts.

Everyone had a good laugh at Dick's surprise, finding himself on a t -shirt.

Then we need to talk about the boxes.  The boxes were an integral part of the choreography.  There were 9 of them and throughout the weekend, they were the bane of our existence.  Walt was the official tech guy, tasked with keeping them together, which was a bigger job than he anticipated since some of them needed to be rebuilt more than once. 

We had each kid check one block along with their luggage, and so we got them shipped across the country effortlessly.  The flight(s) were uneventful but the confusion began upon our arrival in New Orleans. 

(Interestingly, I wrote -- in 1990 -- "This is a state with no water problems!  Not only the vastness of the swamp system that we saw flying over, but also the fact that the restroom toilets flush automatically every 20 seconds or so.  You'd be arrested for that sort of thing in California!"  Not much has changed in the past 15 years, except things have gotten worse in California!)

Our first problem, after retrieving our luggage, was that New Orleans insists that all luggage be checked before leaving the baggage claim area.  Since Barbara, the head chaperone, handled all of the tickets and tags it meant she had everyone's tags for the 9 blocks and 2 guitars.  We formed a line that extended half the length of the baggage claim area while the clerks resolutely checked every piece of luggage leaving the area - even insisting on checking the tag on every single block to make sure it left with the student who originally checked it in California, despite the fact that all 9 blocks were identical.  The check-out process went on interminably.

There was also a mix-up with our bus, which wasted another 30 minutes, and by the time we arrived at our hotel it was after 4 and the kids had to be at Jax Brewery at 5 -- and we didn't know where the place even was.  That gave us 15 minutes to settle into our rooms and for the kids to change into their costumes and meet in the lobby.  That put everyone in a rush, especially since getting the keys took a long time (though it did give us a chance to wave at Jesse Jackson, who was just checking out).

Walt and I went to our room and discovered that the key card didn't work  The maid let us into our room, where we found someone else's luggage.  Walt also saw a plaque sitting on the dresser, which let us know that the room was occupied by James Foreman. We assumed he was late checking out but we didn't have time to speak with the hotel about it, so we stowed our luggage in the room of one group of the kids and we went to the lobby.

The hotel shuttle took us to Jax (otherwise I don't know that we would have gotten there on time).  The kids put on a great show, there on the banks of the Mississippi River. I admit to a warm feeling when I watched them doing Maple Leaf Rag and singing "...up and down the Mississippi..." while the selfsame river flowed past in the background.

(David in the box)

This was followed by a river boat cruise on the Mississippi for all the groups competing in the festival the next day, with samplings of shrimp Creole, jambalaya, and red beans.  Dave's best friend, Jeff, found himself a girl and so had a date for the weekend.

There were several problems getting back to the hotel, but eventually we were all there safely, and Walt and I still did not have a room.  Mr. Foreman was still in "our" room and had decided to stay another night.  Additionally, other chaperones had problems with their room with not enough beds for their whole family and the hotel was full up. After much deliberation the hotel decided to send the family to another hotel for the night and put us in their room, leaving Mr. Foreman in his own room.  It wasn't an ideal situation, but at least it gave everyone a place to sleep for the night.

When we ran into Mr. Foreman at the elevator, Walt suggested to him that he should go and get into his bed to avoid being thrown out...he resisted the temptation to ask, "you remember how to go limp, don't you?"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bev 1, Mom 0

Sometimes you win.  It's a good feeling.

When I left Atria the other day, I stopped by the front desk to make a reservation for brunch on Mother's Day.  For once I was in time to get a spot and I felt good about that.  (The last two holidays I tried to get a reservation for they were full up and weren't taking any more reservations.)

Then Sandra, the girl at the desk with whom I have become friendly, told me that my mother had brought another bag of clothes that "didn't belong to her" to the front desk a few days before.

Well, of course they belonged to her, so I spent an hour yesterday going through photos and found the one at the left.  It's her wearing one of the shirts she says don't belong to her (it's from a Cousins Day in 2011).  She had also brought two pairs of pants and I found a picture of her wearing one of them.  I printed both pictures off.

The last time this happened it resulted in a very angry argument between us, her insisting she had never seen the clothes she brought, me telling her that I bought some of them for her, her insisting she had never worn them.  I told her I didn't see what a big deal it was because even if they weren't hers, all of her clothes were second hand anyway, purchased at the thrift shop where she worked, so she is used to wearing second hand clothes.  But she was adamant.  She didn't want anybody at Atria seeing her wearing their clothes and think she had stolen them.

It was classic dementia talking and I got caught up in it, trying to bring rationalization to it, which was, of course, impossible.  I ended up giving the clothes away, after trying to sneak them back in a couple of times.

After that I started bringing her laundry back in a laundry basket, rather than just piling it on the bed for her.  I made a big deal about "here is your laundry and I will pick the basket up later."  Since that time we haven't had any problems.

Until this week.

I figured that the problem was that her last load of laundry was small and so rather than bring it in a basket (which makes my back ache when I carry it), I brought it in a bag and maybe that was what caused the mix up.

Anyway, I was prepared this time.  I took out the sweatshirt and said that she had returned it to the desk, but really it was her shirt.  She spread it out and said "I don't ever remember wearing this shirt."  I whipped out the photo and showed it to her.  She could not deny it.  Then I showed her the photo of the pants.  And as she stood there with a blank look on her face, I suggested that the next time she doesn't recognize her clothes, she should realize that her mind is playing tricks on her again because nobody is going to be bringing strange clothes into her house.

I don't know if it worked, but there was no argument.  She took the photos and she kept the clothes, but whether they will get back out to the front desk or not, I don't know, but I figured I had handled things much better this time.  And from now on I will never bring her laundry back unless it is in a laundry basket!

I also did some shopping for her at the local CVS.  She needed lipstick and toothpaste, so I bought those and then I saw some dog beds.  We really needed a new one.  Sheila has taken to sleeping in this very tiny dog bed in the family room and I thought one that was at least a little bigger would be nice for her.  All the dogs have tried it out.

It's still a little small for Sheila, but if she curls into a ball, she fits.

It caused a great kerfuffle when I first brought it in, though.  Everybody sniffed at it and within seconds, Sheila and Lizzie were in a bloody battle that I had to break up by dragging Sheila off of Lizzie.  After that, none of them went near the bed, but eventually Polly got in it and then later Lizzie tried it out and as I write this, Sheila is sleeping in it.  That means there are now three beds in the family room and, if they want, room for everyone to have a comfortable bed.