Sunday, February 28, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole

I feel like Alice, like I have tripped and fallen into this deep abyss that lies at the end of a long rabbit hole. My eyes are being awakened and I am being introduced to a whole new cast of bizarre characters who have somehow escaped my scrutiny before.

It all started with an interview. Gwyneth Brusch, a drama teacher at Davis High School, is about to present a play by Stephen Dietz called In God's Country. It's a very controversial play and she is hoping for community turn-out. I've known Gwyneth for a very long time and she has never shied away from controversy. When her class put on The Laramie Project there was lots of complaint by some of the parents who, knowing nothing about the play, assumed it was -- in the words of that tired old complaint -- designed to advance the gay agenda, whatever that is.

In point of fact, The Laramie Project makes no conclusions, puts forth no idea, one way or another. It merely and eloquently sets forth the events surrounding the murder of Matthew Shepherd and the effect it had on the town of Laramie, Wyoming, in their own words from interviews conducted at the time. Some people who were homophobic find their ideas changed, some people maintain the same beliefs, but all are changed in dramatic ways.

So, too, were the kids who performed the play. Using it as a tool to allow the students to examine the effect of hate on a community some found that their views of gay fellow students had changed, others did not. Changing their ideas wasn't the point of the assignment. The point was to begin a discussion, and it was an excellent way to do that.

The idea to put on In God's Country came about in somewhat the same way. Laramie Project brought audience out in droves, the subsequent Twelfth Night left them with lots of empty seats in the theatre. At the same time, this community has had its share of hate crimes. Though we are known as a progressive, forward thinking community, hatred lurks beneath the surface. We're the proverbial good town that "things like that don't happen here." But they do.

I remember when I worked for an African American doctor, who drove a Mercedes. Whenever his teen age son drove the Mercedes, or rode his high end bicycle around town, invariably he was stopped by the police--just to make sure he had permission to be operating such vehicles. The boy was never arrested or cited, but he was stopped frequently.

In 1978, students wore Ku Klux Klan outfits to a football game to protest a black player who was playing on the opposing team.

In 1983, Thong Hy Hyun, age 17, was murdered on the Davis High School campus in a racially motivated confrontation which involved several students.

In 2002, a white Davis High student who called himself "KKK Man" serially harassed an African American student ultimately featuring the African American student on a web site, graphically detailing the physical harm he would like to do to the student.

In 2003 a white student painted the N-word in red on the cul de sac where a high school party had been held the night before. The next morning, a young African American couple walked out of their front door and it was the first thing they saw. Traumatized by the community's attitude that "boys will be boys," the African American family moved to another city.

In October 2003 a gay man was tagged with graffiti and eggs were thrown at his car.

In December 2004 the newest constructed building at the high school was vandalized with racist and sexually explicit graffiti targeting an African American staff member.

In February 2005, two Davis students went from rural West Davis to East Davis, causing almost $30,000 worth of damage. They used swastikas, satanist language and phrases like "Kill the Jews! Kill the Niggers." A similar crime was perpetrated in December of 2007.

The timeline does not indicate a chronic problem, but in conjunction with escalating hate speech in the classroom ("Hitler was really smart...he really had the right idea...") it shows that there is enough of a problem in this town that shining a light on hate crimes in general is a good idea.

Gwyn is trying to get the message across that there is a thing called a 'violence continuum.' The idea is that a casual slur is at one end of the spectrum. At the other end of the sectrum is murder. It’s what happened to Mathew Shephard. If we ignore the anti-Semitic or racist comment, it can escalate to writing stuff on the sidewalk, wearing sheets to the basketball game, and in a worst case scenario, murder, as Matthew Shephard (or suicide, as my friends Alec and Gabi Clayton's son, who killed himself following a gay bashing incident).

So comes this play, In God's Country. I'm doing the transcription of the interview and following comments with doing internet searches. It makes me realize how sheltered I have made myself from what's out there in the extremes. I'm researching the Lost Tribes of Israel, and the Zionist Occupational Government and Henry Ford's connection to all this extremism (gave propaganda pamphlets with every car he sold), and Robert Jay Matthews compound of white supremicists on Whidbey Island (where Peach and Bob used to live),

One link leads to another and another layer of hate and violence revealed. It's quite a disturbing journey that I've been on this evening. I also have a whole book I'm going to try to speedread (which don't knw how to do!) tomorrow about "Confederates in the Attic" and the living Confederate movement in this country.

I just want to find an "eat me" cookie and get out of here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

We Must Do This More Often

Today was another one of those lunches with people I used to see frequently and rarely see any more. And at the end of it, we said the same thing everybody else has said -- "This was such fun, we must do this more often."

Maybe this is what happens when you get older. Suddenly you realize that you miss the people who used to be close to you years ago.

Today's lunch was with Cindy (my dentist) and Roberta, with whom Cindy and I used to work, and with whom I share a birthday. I told Cindy it was nice to see the lower part of her face, since it seems that all I have seen of her in a long time was the part that goes above the mask she wears in the office! She arranged lunches for the three of us for many years around the time of Roberta's and my birthday. But we hadn't done it in several years.

Cindy had prepared a fabulous spinach salad for lunch and we sat there getting caught up on our lives and our children, until her daughter called. The daughter, who is attending the university here in town, lives in a duplex that Cindy and her husband own. There was an electrician there to do some work and the daughter had to get to class. Cindy invited Roberta and me to continue our lunch, have dessert, make coffee if we wanted, and let ourselves out when we were finished, because she had to go to the house.

So we did that. We continued our visit, had dessert and then left, with promises to get together more often.

This "we have to do this more often" is already coming around for a second date very soon. Ruth and I, who went to the Chinese buffet last week, will be having lunch again next week here in Davis and my friend Kathy, from La Leche League and PFLAG, will be having lunch at Sacramento's Olive Garden again the week after that...and the week after that is Cousins Day. The weekend of the 13th I was just invited to a party for a woman I went to high school with--I haven't seen her since 1960.

I feel almost as social as my mother! I actually have a FULL calendar! I love it.

calendar.jpg (108754 bytes)

In the evening, we were scheduled to meet Ned & Marta; Tom, Laurel and Bri; and Jessica with her toddler Jack at Sudwerk for a birthday dinner. It was going to work out fine. We would meet them at 6 and I could still get to the theatre in time to review Kiss Me Kate at 8.

Only traffic and weather slowed Tom & Laurel, so they called and we rescheduled until 7:00, by which time Sudwerk was filled and we had a half an hour wait for a table. Just looking at how crowded it was, I could tell I wasn't going to get dinner. But I did order a plate of mini crab cakes (4 of them, about 1-1/2" across each) and a glass of water.

Tom finally arrived and the old man and his sons had a good time visiting with each other.

3Men.jpg (102507 bytes)

Bri and Jack enjoyed each other too.

JackBriSud2.jpg (181254 bytes)

Just about the time the waitress finally came by to take our order, it was time for me to leave, so I took a picture of everyone, gave hugs all around and went to the theatre.

SudTable1.jpg (118951 bytes)

SudTable2.jpg (103542 bytes)

Walt made it to the theatre just at the end of the first act, so it's good I didn't try to have any dinner. I got myself a cookie at intermission and came home to have some leftover chili in a tortilla for a late dinner.

But I think Walt had a good birthday, all things considered. He had lots of e-mails wishing him well, a call from each person in the family, a visit with Char in the afternoon, checking out her cousin's new bookstore downtown, and then dinner with everybody...and he had a nice nap during Kiss Me Kate. What more could a 70 year old want, except maybe a nap?

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Life in Shreds

The little dogs have learned how to get on the dining room table, where I have several of the photo albums that I kept when I was in grammar school and high school.

Photos1.jpg (63311 bytes)

These were, at one time, all in photo albums (see the grey cover at the top), and the dogs have had a wonderful time running through the pages and tearing up some of the photos.

Photos2.jpg (49730 bytes)

I'm not sure if the dogs have done a terrible thing or if they've done me a favor.

The books are ruined. But they were falling apart before the dogs ever got to them. I have long looked at them and wondered what I should do with them. Now the dogs have forced me into making some sort of a decision sooner than I might otherwise.

Photos3.jpg (59651 bytes)

These books were so important to me at the time I was keeping them, and to some extent they still are, but I realize that they will mean absolutely NOTHING to my children and even less to Bri. Ideally I should scan the photos and fix them as I can (many of them are faded, especially the colored ones) but my lord is that a time-consuming project...and then what do I do with the scans?

But I can't just throw them away. How can I throw away something like this.

Photos4.jpg (58743 bytes)
My sister Karen hugging our neighbor Michael Calegari

For right now I'm putting the whole mess into a big box where I fully expect it will sit until I die while I worry about what to "do" about it and then I expect that my children and in-laws will gleefully toss it out after I'm gone. There. That's a plan. Sorta.


What happens when I'm seventy?
Must come a time...seventy.
When you're old, and it's cold
And who cares if you live or you die,
Your one consolation's the money
You may have put by...

The words are Fagin's in the musical Oliver! but they seem appropriate today. Because it's cold and Walt is turning 70 today. Happy birthday, dear.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Little Feet

Little feet
Little feet
Everywhere I turn I can see them
Little feet
Little feet
Night and day
I eat, sleep and feel them

(apologies to Martin Charnin, lyricist of Annie for borrowing and adapting his lyrics!)

My life seems to be filled with little feet. Little muddy pawprints on the floor, little pawprints on my black pants, little feet planted in the middle of my chest when I sit down, little feet jumping up against the back of my knees when I walk, little feet on my knees when I sit at the kitchen table, little black eyes looking at me hopefully, the pitter patter of little feet racing up and down the hall, little feet stepping on my feet as they wrestle under my legs while I work, not a single pair of pants that aren't covered with little footprints.

knee.jpg (39876 bytes)

The problem with dogs is they hear so damn well. I try to tiptoe out to the kitchen and immediately I have three dogs following me. I'm the Pied Piper of Davis. (Sheila never bothers. She's busy guarding the house and knows I'm not going to give her anything to eat anyway.)

WithSheila.jpg (40403 bytes)

But Lizzie will leave her post in a split second if there is a chance for food, however infinitesimal.

DogsWaiting.jpg (49605 bytes)

Walking down the hall in front of Lizzie and Polly is a real experience. They say what you do to train a dog NOT to jump on you is to ignore them. Well, I've been ignoring Lizzie for years and hope still springs (literally) eternal. She leaps up against my back at every step. Step, leap, step, leap, step, leap. While Lizzie is leaping up and hitting me with both paws in my butt area, Polly is right by her leaping up and hitting me with both paws in the calf area. It almost seems strange to walk across the floor with nobody hitting me somewhere in the backside with tiny feet.

If I'm in the kitchen, hope really springs eternal as everybody hopes for a treat. But if no treats are forthcoming, they'll settle for dropped food (and since I am such a klutz, there is often dropped food).

hope.jpg (50701 bytes)

They are so intently focused on my hands and whether I drop anything that I bobbled one of Sheila's pills the other day and Lizzie snapped it up instantly before anybody else could get to it. She must have been really surprised because later on I found the pill on the floor with the two little guys sniffing at it.

When I sit at the kitchen table I am never alone.

pawprints.jpg (49145 bytes)

If I finally get to my desk to do some work, there is the sweet face of Spencer at my knee pleading for...something.

SpenceFace.jpg (51752 bytes)

I love these little guys. I really do. But every so often I just wish the little feet would go away!!!

Thursday Thirteen

Worthy charities you may not have heard of

1. Compassion International
2. Youth Guardian Services
3. The Elephant Sanctuary
4. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
5. Uralla Wildlife Sanctuary
6. Breaking Barriers
7. Keep Abreast
8. Citizens Who Care
9. Families United Against Hate
10. Marriage Equality USA
11. Hospice of Marin Thrift Shop (where my mother has volunteered for 20+ years)
12. Safe Schools Coalition
13. The Gorilla Foundation

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


We went to a social event recently and as we were getting ready to leave, standing with a group of people by the door, one of the women in the group turned to me and said "What's wrong with your back? Your shoulders are rounded. You've been hunched over your computer too much."

I didn't really know what to say and, since I was in the process of leaving anyway, I just left, but I was kind of embarrassed by the whole thing and I could feel my face flush as I walked out of the building.

My mother started telling me to stand up straight when I was in high school and told me often that I was hunching my shoulders. My shoulders have been rounded for a very long time and I never really think of it until I see photos of myself, especially photos where I have taken great pains to "stand up straight" and still have the pronounced rounded shoulders. My shoulders have been rounded for decades and apparently this woman just never noticed before.

It shocked me that someone would go out of her way to point that out at the party, with other people around.

This is a woman who is really very sweet and I'm sure she thought she was being helpful and didn't think twice about pointing out my rounded shoulders to the group. I'm sure she would be appalled if she realized how I reacted to her comment.

But really, can you see yourself standing in a group of people and saying "Hey! You have a big wart on the side of your nose. Have you seen a doctor about that?" Even if your relationship is one where speaking about such things would seem appropriate, it is certainly not appropriate to do it with others around. No matter how helpful you think you're being, adding public embarrassment to the issue is not going to do any good. And probably the person does already know there is a big wart on their nose, just as I am well aware that my shoulders are rounded.

I guess we Americans are, by nature, fixers. It's something that is both good about us, and bad about us. Somehow we feel it is not only our right, but our duty to offer helpful suggestions. But we need to be more aware of where and how we approach what we think is a problem. In the middle of a party is not the place to do it, especially when it concerns someone's physical appearance.

Walt called yesterday afternoon from the Burbank airport and told me he'd be home in two hours. Good thing I'd tidied up a little bit in the afternoon. Usually he gives me a day's warning.

At the appointed hour, I got in the car and headed for the airport. He was scheduled to arrive at 7 p.m. I was a little early, so I didn't feel rushed when I merged onto I-5.

Truth be told, I don't like that stretch of I-5. Seems like there are always huge trucks barreling up behind you and there are a couple of overpasses which make me feel claustrophobic. I like giving myself extra time so I don't feel I have to rush through all that traffic. It also helps to play an audio book and I was really into my latest Harry Bosh adventure when I noticed a "truck" seemed to be following very close. The lights were very bright.

I didn't realize it wasn't a truck until the highway patrol guy started his siren a couple of times. It was just as we were approaching the high overpass over the river and I didn't want to pull over to the side of the road, so I put on my blinker, indicating that I would be pulling off, and continued to drive on until the rest stop I knew was just beyond the bridge.

What is it about being pulled over by a cop? I sat there shaking like a leaf. I was pretty sure I hadn't been speeding. I knew our license was up to date. I couldn't think of what I had done wrong,

The guy approached me and I apologized for not pulling off right away. I asked him what the problem was and he asked if I knew what speed I'd been driving. I told him I wasn't sure -- and I wasn't because the needles on the dashboard stopped lighting up years ago, so it's always just an educated guess at your speed (I didn't tell him that, of course), but I was fairly certain I hadn't been speeding.

No. I hadn't been speeding. In fact, I was going too slow. I had been driving 45 mph and the minimum speed on that freeway was 55 mph. I've become the little old lady my father alternately laughed at and got angry with, who chugged along at very slow speeds on the freeway. The officer told me that if I drove that slow, I was in danger of being run down by trucks.

He examined my license for a very long time and asked me if I'd been drinking. I assured him I had not (unless water counts). I told him I was just going to the airport and I would probably have my husband drive home. It never hurts to play the little old lady card! In truth, I was going slow because I am always nervous on that stretch of freeway at night and because I couldn't see the speed anyway on the dashboard. And I was all wrapped up in my audiobook and not in any great hurry.

But he let me go with a warning to drive faster next time (when's the last time a highway patrol officer told you to drive faster?) and we both went on our way. I only had one exit to go before I got off...and when Walt got back in the car I made sure to drive at least 60 mph all the way home -- you have to squint to see the needles of the speedometer in the lights of passing cars, but it can be done, if you've been warned not to drive too slow.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Trying Not to Think of Haiti

As I sat there with Dr. G this afternoon, I told him more than once that I was really trying very hard not to think of the people of Haiti.

It's time for another major overhaul of Dr. G's web site. I cannot tell you how often I've told him I'd rather have someone else do this and that I really don't want to continue to manage his web site, but he has this irritating way of ignoring me and acting as if I've not spoken...and I have this wimpy way of not telling him more forcefully that I really. do. not. want. to. do. this. any. more.

But there I was, notebook in hand, ready to find out what the next thing in the world of gynecology was going to be.

Well, for one thing there is the radiowave frequency wave wrinkle removal system, which is a new procedure which apparently liquifies the collagen in your face and thus smooths out the wrinkles. It has apparently been approved by the FDA for the face, but some doctors are experimentally using it on the neck and Dr. G says that eventually he expects it to be available for the pelvic area. Now aren't you just panting after something that will smooth out those wrinkles in your pelvic area?

(Try not to think of people in Haiti living in the open with no water or food)

And then there is the "vaginal spa" which will include all sorts of things centered on the pelvis from evaluation for pelvic plastic surgery to sex therapists. But the one that got me was that there is a device that can be installed which will emit low grade electric stimuli to the pelvic area and will act as a kind of mechanical Kegel.

C'mon. Are we THAT lazy in this country that we can't do our own Kegels and are willing to pay for a machine to do it for us??

Again, try not to think of children in Haiti who have lost their parents and people who have no homes because they were destroyed in the earthquake.

So I'm going to be doing the web site again. Reluctantly, most reluctantly. I wish I had someone I could suggest to him to take it over, but he'd never find anybody to work as cheaply as I do. He needs to find another semi-talented, self-esteemless person who can't say no to him. I think that will be difficult to find. All I can do is charge him what, to me seems like big bucks, but which big web designers laugh at tell me I'm cheating myself.

All the activity in the family seems to be taking place in Santa Barbara this week. First there is Tom and Laurel, who have bought a new house and are in the process of trying to rent their old one (which involves a lot of cleaning up and doing last minute projects).

Then Walt's sister and her husband had a major flood in their house, which ruined the year-old carpet in their bedroom. Right now the water is cut off to the sinks in both bathrooms and she and Joe have moved into a motel. This comes in the middle of tax season, when Joe, a tax attorney, is at his most stressed and Alice Nan is trying to keep things as calm as possible for him.

Then on Friday, around 11 p.m., their mother was rushed to the Emergency Room with a temp of 104. They finally admitted her to Critical Care around 2 a.m., trying to stabilize her blood pressure which they were having a difficult time getting above 70.

Walt got plane tickets the next morning and his brother started driving down there so that they were both there by Friday night. Their mother has stabilized, the fever is gone, her oxygen level is up as is her blood pressure, but they aren't sure what the next step is and are waiting until her regular doctor can see her (an emergency on a Friday guarantees that you won't see your regular doctor until Monday).

In addition to that, Alice Nan, understandably distracted, ran into the back of a truck. Nobody was hurt and the truck had no damage, though Alice Nan's car has been pronounced "totaled."

At this point we don't know when Walt will come home, or how long he will be here before going back to Santa Barbara, since he wants to be there when she gets back to her regular apartment to help her readjust at the beginning.

I have to say that it just warms the cockles of my heart to see how Walt and his siblings take care of their mother. I'm sure it makes her feel good. I hope she realizes that how they care for her shows that she certainly did a good job of raising them to be warm, caring children. I can't begin to count the number of trips Walt has taken to Santa Barbara in the past 3 years, when his mother has had some sort of crisis or other and how good all three of them are with helping to feed her, monitor her nebulizer treatments, and get her to the bathroom or to the dining room, if she's able to eat there. Alice Nan is known as "Dr. Alice" around the place because she stays on top of things and makes sure that her mother gets the care she needs.

But the up-side to all Walt's travel to Santa Barbara is that he racks up mileage that allows him to then fly to Boston to spend time with Jeri, which he loves.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Unseen, Unspoken

She stood there in a forest green lace gown, which set off her white hair beautifully. She picked up her microphone and started singing "September in the Rain." Her voice was as rich as melted Godiva chocolate, something you just wanted to wallow in. I remembered that it had been over 10 years ago that she told me "I'm going to give this up; I'm too old. I just don't have the voice any more."

I don't remember exactly how old Martha is, but I believe she's in her 80s now. However, she may need a mic now to get the sound out, but the voice is definitely there.

This was the 18th annual benefit concert for Citizens Who Care, a group which is dedicated to imroving the quality of life for the frail elderly and their caregivers. Eight of the area's most popular singers get together in February each year to perform works by one or two selected composers or lyricists (Rodgers & Hart, Harold Arlen, Oscar Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, etc.), with commentary written and read by Stephen Peithman, which always provides fascinating insight into the history of the featured artist.

This year's artist was Harry Warren and the title of the concert was "Remember Me?", an appropriate title since Warren is not exactly a well known name, though he wrote some of the most memorable melodies. I thought of that as accompanist Jim Crogan played the overture, which started with "An Affair to Remember," and I realized that not only could the last 5 minutes of the movie put me in tears, even if I hadn't seen the rest of the movie, but a few notes of the theme song had the same effect.

I was overcome with emotion as the cast sauntered onto the stage singing "Lullaby of Broadway." It was a whole piece of my history walking across that stage.

There was Lenore, with whom I shared some incredibly intimate moments on our drives to and from San Francisco when she was singing with the Lamplighters. We started out as acquaintances, but after several months of sharing rides back and forth there were soon very few secrets left. There were a lot of emotional things happening during that period and we became very close friends.

We grew apart after she left the Lamplighters and married. We see each other periodically--usually at this annual concert--and there is a huge unspoken thing that connects us, but we usually exchange pleasantries and then go our separate ways until the next time.

There was Gwyneth who was the choreographer for the Jazz Choir in the years when Tom and David were involved (I don't think she was working with the choir when Paul was in it). Our paths have crossed many times, and -- again -- through many emotional situations that brought us together. Those moments live in our eyes when we meet, but are left unspoken. We did talk about a story I'm writing for the newspaper this week and it turns out she's the person I'm supposed to interview, so I will probably be seeing her next week.

And then there was wonderful Martha, a vocal teacher, who helped Paul learn how to keep from wrecking his vocal chords when singing in the rock band.

Bob always brings a flood of emotion, not only because he was the boss of Jeri, Ned and Paul (but mostly Paul) over the years. But today there was an even bigger connection when he began to dance to "I Wanna Be a Dancing' Man" and was joined, on the second verse by his son, who had a special friendship with Paul. He was 5 years old when Paul died and as I looked at this tall young man, I remembered the story his mother had told me about taking him to the cemetery to bring flowers to Paul's grave.

There was the other Lenore, whose husband flatters me by reading this journal regularly, and Joe, with whom I have spent the last five New Years Eves, and Peter, whom I have watched perform for years and years. And of course Stephen, who let me help him write two very well received original operettas here. He did most of the work, but I just loved our discussion sessions.

I looked out over the full house in the theatre and saw so many people I've known for most of the time we've been in Davis, including my old boss, Attorney Bob, the guy who used to chase his secretaries around the "liberry." (I don't know whether I should be flattered or insulted that I was never chased.)

This concert reminds me of everything that is good about Davis and all the people I love in this town.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Review

I want to write a review, which is odd because the nice thing about last night was that I was going to a show that I didn't have to review. But I guess the nice thing about being a reviewer is that you get to say what you think and somebody listens...and if you have nobody to say it to, it's no fun.

So I'll review the show. It was The Mikado, which you'd think I would not be eager to see because I've seen it a bazillion times and because there is no KoKo like Gilbert, so why bother? (In fact, I sent a text message to Walt about how I didn't like the KoKo in this production and he said he hadn't expected me to. I hope I am a bit more fair than that.)

I went alone. Walt and I had planned to go together, but the night before last he had a call from his sister that their mother had been taken to the hospital. This was around 11 p.m. She had a fever of 104 and Alice Nan was calling from the Emergency Room. At 2:30, he got the call that they had admitted her to the critical care unit.

The next morning was the flurry of activity, trying to get things organized here so he could leave to fly down there. His brother got on the road at 8 a.m. and was driving down. We had tickets for Mikado last night and for a fund raising show on Sunday. I contacted someone to ask if she wanted to join me for Mikado, but she couldn't. I thought of a couple of other people to call, but then I thought of the alternative, having the alone time in the car to listen to my audio book and decided I'd just go alone.

Mikado.jpg (27645 bytes)The production was by L.O.T.S. (Light Opera Theatre Sacramento), which has been around for several years, but which we have never attended. When the company formed it kind of took audience away from the Davis Comic Opera Co., which was still operating at the time. I don't know all the politics involved, but I was never really interested in going there anyway. If I wanted G&S, my druthers were to get it from The Lamplighters.

But the Katisha in this production was being played by Susanna Peeples, daughter of the now-musical director of The Lamplighters and the one-time lead soprano for The Lamplighters. I remember the night Susanna was born, when her father, Baker, was in the orchestra pit for whatever was the current show while mother, Ellen Kerrigan, was in labor at the hospital and how Baker high-tailed it out of the theatre as soon as the curtain came down so he could be there for the birth of his daughter. (I think that was Susanna's might have been her brother's.)

We didn't really know Susanna at all until she asked us if she could ride with us to a Lamplighters event in SF and I've kind of felt a bit of camaraderie with her ever since. And of course she's a Facebook friend.

Because this isn't a real review, I'm going to leave out names other than Susanna's. Also because I'm too lazy to get up and go get the program.

I don't like driving on the freeway at night, even with my new clear vision and there was a point at which I wished I had just given up and not gone at all, but I mushed on and found the theatre all right. It's a nice venue with comfortable seats and general seating so I could find a place where my knee would be happy and where the people in front of me wouldn't feel they were going to catch the plague from my coughing (which is significantly better, BTW, but still sounds horrible if you haven't heard it before).

My first impression was that the orchestra was surprisingly good. Professionally good. That was a very pleasant thing to discover since so often little theatres in this area who rely on volunteer orchestras leave a lot to be desired and sometimes contain the "wince factor." But this orchestra was going to be good...and the tempos, which sometimes can be funereal, were sprightly and I knew that if Gilbert was watching somewhere in the celestial highlands he wold have approved.

Aside: I once interviewed Mike Leigh, director of "Topsy Turvy," the movie about Gilbert and Sullivan, about the slow tempos in the movie, which all of us in the Lamplighters who had seen a special screening had complained about. He glared at me and barked that they were 100% accurate.

The second thing that impressed me was that with a chorus of only 6 men, they filled the theatre with sound. So often I've seen G&S shows done with small choruses and there is so much lacking, but these guys sang with such volume and confidence that you didn't miss a full chorus.

MikadoMen.jpg (41274 bytes)

The same held true for the women, which was augmented, at least in the early part of Act 1, by Susanna, dressed as a young Japanese woman, not the old Japanese woman she would become by the end of the act.

Pish Tush (also the co-director) was quite good. Pooh Bah was OK, but not outstanding.

KoKo.jpg (23944 bytes)Things were going well until KoKo came on. Now, as I've said earlier in this piece, KoKo is my favorite character and it's very difficult to beat Gilbert's KoKo, but I have seen other KoKos who have been fine. This guy was awful. And I suspect it was more a problem of direction than of ability, because he seemed comfortable on stage and had a nice voice (even Gilbert didn't have a "nice voice.") It also didn't help that he looked like the entertainment editor of the Enterprise with what appeared to be a bunch of unruly black curls on top of his head. Curls on a Japanese man? It was a terrible costuming choice! (He looked better in the publicity photos, when he didn't have anything weird on his head)

The Mikado was OK, but there was nothing "terrifying" about him. He was just a tall, thin man with funny stuff painted on his face. He should have been larger than life (which is possible to do even if you are very short, as we all learned when John Gilkerson played the role for the Lamplighters!)

The girls were fine. Both YumYum and PittiSing managed to wring a lot of humor from their lines, which was very good.

KatieBaad.jpg (40420 bytes)

The main problem was in the directing overall. While it looked fine, there was no oomph to it. So many jokes just died because all of the delivery (by most of the actors) was at the same level. No pause for dramatic effect, or to milk a laugh.

When Nanki Poo, the "second trombone" in love with Yum Yum tells KoKo that they only way out of their difficulties is if he (KoKo) convinces Katisha to marry him. KoKo responds "have you seen her? She's simply appalling." It is a line which should be imbued with disgust and horror at the prospect, but KoKo said it as if he were asking if Nanki Poo would like a cup of tea. It received no laugh.

One of the biggest laughs can be Koko's "Shrink not from me, Katisha" when he's reluctantly trying to woo her and she whirls on him and knocks him down, then towers over him. The delivery of that line was completely lost and didn't so much as elicit a titter.

There's also another complaint I have about modern productions of "The Mikado" -- most of them. The show was written with a rather large contralto in mind and it includes a line, during a recitation by Katisha of her physical attributes: "As for my circulation, it is the largest in the world!" This works fine for a zaftig woman, but most women who play the role are normal sized and so it always sort of falls flat. The only woman I ever saw who could REALLY pull off that line was the Lamplighters' early contralto, June Wilkins, whose circulation may, indeed, have been one of the largest in the world. But Susanna's lack of avoirdupois is not a fault with this production.

It wasn't a bad show. In fact, it was quite a good show. It just seemed that it could have been such a better show if there had been better direction.

As for Susanna, she was very good. Perhaps too young for the role, but I think she carried it well and her voice, while uneven, was also very good. I wonder how the child of a soprano and a tenor can be a contralto....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Missing Gene

I was born with a genetic deficiency. I lack the artistic/creativity gene.

This is strange because I had an aunt who was a professional artist.

JeriPortrait.jpg (32758 bytes)

(This is a portrait she painted of Jeri.)

I had an uncle who was a sculptor and created such amazing monsters out of whatever pain was going through in his head.

PaulMonster.jpg (43207 bytes)

I have a cousin who does such gorgeous cross stitch.

Peachtree.jpg (66568 bytes)

There are lots of artistic people in my family who paint or draw or arrange flowers or tell fanciful stories or create things with yarn or cloth, or do all sorts of artistic things. Ned is a great graphic artist who has his own unique style and recognizable characters.

NedDesign.jpg (38902 bytes)

That gene escaped me.

Oh, I'm not saying I don't have talent. I can write, but I can't write fiction, as I have stated before. I will not be the grandma who creates wonderful fictional worlds for Brianna, but I will read to her. It will just have to be something that somebody else wrote.

I decorated some gorgeous, unique cakes. But I had to stop when Jeri moved out. I relied heavily on Jeri to draw something like "a guy hitting a golf club over a herd of sheep" for me. I could recreate it in frosting, but no way could I think of what it should look like.

Since I started sponsoring kids through Compassion Int'l, I've been reading suggestions from lots and lots of other sponsors about the things they do for their kids. One suggestion was to make a book of photos and other pictures to show your family, your life, and the things you like. I thought that was a cool idea, so I had a bunch of photos printed and sent off the first couple of pages this week (you are limited to 1/8" thickness, so this book will have to be sent over several weeks). Yesterday I did a photo collage of things that I like (that I could find in the only ladies' magazine I could find in the house, an old issue of "O Magazine").

I think it is fairly safe to say that the average Kindergarten student could probably do something this good...or better!

Pg4Fredsm.jpg (69214 bytes)

But it's the thought that counts, right?

Friday, February 19, 2010

There Was a Little Girl...

...and she had a little curl....

While all you guys are thrilling to the aerial acrobatics of Sean White or worrying about the aches and pains of Lindsey Vonn and wondering if Anton Ono is going to become the Michael Phelps of the winter Olympics, I've been finding my sport. Finally.

Yesterday I was working at my computer and decided to turn on the olympics to see what they were broadcasting. As it turned out, it was curling. Everybody jokes about curling. But I kept it on as background nose and darn it if I didn't get kind of drawn up into it.

It was the United States vs. Switzerland in the men's curling and I was first drawn in by the fact that the guy rolling the stone, John Shuster, looked like McGee from NCIS, if McGee was younger and had taken a few too many trips to McDonald's for Big Macs. How can you not like a sport with McGee as the hero?

JohnShuster.jpg (34364 bytes)

Besides, Curling originated in ancient Scotland. Obviously it was my people who brought it to world prominence, so I should be supportive just for the sake of national pride!

curling.jpg (34820 bytes)
A curling match at Eglinton Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland in 1860.

I actually ended up getting up from my computer and moving to the family room where I could sit and just watch, without my attention being drawn away by something more important, like a game of Free Cell or the latest status update on Facebook.

Walt came home and he joined me in front of the TV. I was starting to understand the basics of the sport. I knew about stones, and the house, and the hog line and counting the "ends" until the finish. It was like speaking a new language. As the game progressed I found I was almost yelling (as much as I ever "yell") as a stone was thrown and guided so carefully that it slipped around and settled behind two other opposing stones to settle near the "button," or target.

And then there were the commentators. I haven't actually see the start of a broadcast, or the end of a broadcast, so I don't know who they are and haven't been able to find their names on the Internet. But one of the guys may be Canadian. He sounds like he is a refugee from the cast of Fargo.*

It occurs to me that I wonder if anybody who is native to North Dakota has ever been a serial killer. They all sound so nice that thinking in terms of someone from North Dakota going postal and flying a plane into an IRS building is as unimaginable as picturing Garrison Keillor replacing Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

I am enjoying learning to appreciate an obscure sport. It seems to me that this is the sort of sport that Says You fans would enjoy as well. God help me, I even recognized John Shuster when he was being interviewed this afternoon!

Of course, I couldn't actually PLAY the game, you know. It involves "sweeping" and I don't want to blemish an otherwise perfect record of not sweeping. But I got a look at the shooter for the Danish team and lemme tell you, she's no 98 lb weakling. There's some heft in that buxom beauty so I might be welcomed to the team with open arms anyway.

Unfortunately, in an almost identical heartbreaker to yesterday's men's team loss to Switzerland, the women today lost to Sweden. I hope they aren't completely out of the running before I really learn the game!

*I discovered the commentator is Canadian champion curler, Don Duguid, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. But that doesn't change my opinion about people from North Dakota.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Very Nice Birthday

It's been a very nice birthday, all things considered. Low key, but just... nice. I didn't do much all morning, but had so many wonderful birthday greetings, both in e-mail and on Facebook. It makes you feel really warm inside to hear from so many nice people. Ned, of course, sent the famous birthday song that gets played whenever anybody has a birthday! I'm sure The Sportsmen, who originally recorded this when they were performing regularly on TV shows like The Jack Benny Show back in the 1950s, would be amazed to discover that it is still being played today--by us, if nobody else! My father bought that 78 rpm record in the 1950s (the back side is an anniversary song that I don't think we have ever played), it passed to me after he died and I gave it to Ned, who got it into mp3 format and posted on the internet! Jeri also sent me a copy of her arrangement of the traditional happy birthday song that she arranged last year.

Walt had gone off to his usual early morning "Old timers" breakfast, with some friends that he worked with for years. When he came home, he gave me a copy of James Shapiro's "A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare," which I had heard about several years ago and thought that it sounded interesting.

At 11:30 I went downtown and met my friend Ruth for lunch. Ruth is such a neat lady. She's always been one of my favorite people. We met each other first years and years ago (back in 2000, I believe) when we were both working at the homeless shelter here in town. She was, at that time, known around town as "Granny Muffin," as she had a 15 minute kids' program on local television twice a week.

granny1.jpg (30166 bytes)

You could always spot her car around town by the astroturf and all the little plastic figurines on the roof and on the dashboard. I liked her instantly. I knew she was "my kinda people."

We both left the homeless shelter and I didn't see her for years. We ran into each other once at a cafe or somewhere where we agreed we should get together sometime, but in the way that casual friends do not, we didn't.

But she has recently written a book, "The Weight of Gold" and Derrick asked if I'd like to do a story about her and the book. I jumped at the chance. It was very comfortable and much fun to sit with her and talk with her again. We said again that we should get together more often, but this time we had a plan. I went home and decided that my birthday gift to myself would be taking Ruth to lunch, and so we went to a local Chinese buffet. It was nice to sit and chat and eat and we decided at the end to try to have lunch together every couple of weeks. We are set again for March 3.

There were birthday cards in the mail when I got home and I decided to take a nap and sleep off the chow mein. I was awakened by the dogs barking at the delivery guy who left off a lovely bouquet of flowers from Brianna.

Briflowers.jpg (43823 bytes)

Then there was a nice telephone call from Peggy. It was morning of February 18 in Australia and afternoon of February 17 here, so we were both celebrating our birthdays, as her birthday is the 18th. It was nice to talk with her, as usual. She was ironing. I was not.

Walt came home and we watched a believe it or not exciting game of Olympic curling between the US and Switzerland. I was surprised at how into the game I got! (The US lost, unfortunately.)

Before we went to dinner, Tom made a Skype call and we got to watch Bri dancing and playing with her toys. I sang a Disney song for her.

BriSkype.jpg (27527 bytes)

While I was talking to them, both Ned and Walt's mother called, so I called them back before we left the house. I had a nice (brief) chat with Walt's mother, but Ned must have gone out. Still, it was nice that both called.

While I was waiting in the car, I checked my cell phone messages and there were two, one from Jeri and one from Phil.

We had dinner at Outback Steak House, which I'd always wanted to try. I left my camera at home, but the cell phone helped me out. We started with some crab-stuffed shrimp.

BDShrimp.jpg (27383 bytes)

And then I had a fantastic filet, topped with what they called a "horseradish crumble" that was really quite tasty and not at all spicy hot.

BDSteak.jpg (34335 bytes)

We came home to more birthday greetings (between Facebook, e-mail, g-mail and a group or two to which I belong, I must have had more than 100 well wishes, which is really quite humbling!).

All in all, it was just a wonderful day.

Thursday Thirteen

I just turned 67 years old yesterday, so with the end of my life closer than the beginning of my life, perhaps it's time to think about my Bucket List. Some of these things I've done, but there are still some left to do.

1. Ride in a hot air balloon (done it)
2. Go on a photo safari to Africa
3. Take a cruise up the inland passage to Alaska
4. Go whale watching (done it)
5. Take a train trip across the Canadian Rockies
6. Drive across the United States, visiting places off the beaten track
7. Get a book published (done it--sort of)
8. See the Aurora Borealis (done it–sort of)
9. See a show on Broadway (done it--we saw RENT)
10. Lose weight (done it–again, and again, and again, and again)
11. Tour the John Steinbeck House and the Monterey Aquarium
12. Spend leisurely time in the south of France
13. Return to Australia

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So Many Choices

I had a choice of several titles for this entry. "So You Think YOU have a bad job" was one. "Virgo Hoarders" was another. "God's Birthday gifts" was another. "My teacher is a bitch" was another. So let me just take the day in chronological order and use each one in turh.

My Teacher is a Bitch

Dogs are so funny. I just love 'em (in case you haven't noticed). Spencer has learned how to use the dog door, in and out. Polly has figured out that the space in the wall seems to magically produce her canine friends and that they disappear through it, but she hasn't yet tried to go through, basically because she's a wimp. Today, the other dogs went out the dog door and she sat there looking at it and whining. Then she came to me and put her paws on my knees. "Help me! Help me!" I picked her up, took her to the dog door, and then pushed her out the door.

When the other dogs came back in, Polly was left outside. Lizzie kept going in and out of the door, as if to show her how to do it. She'd go out the door, turn around and come right back in again. Then she'd go out, turn around and come back in again. Polly seemed to understand, but she's a wimp. Even in the past, when I've held the door open for her she won't come in. Today, after Lizzie came in while I held the door open, Polly hesitantly did the same. Technically she didn't do anything herself except step over the door opening that I had cleared for her--but that was a HUGE step forward. One can only hope...

God's Birthday Gifts

February 17 is my birthday and today (the 16th) my mother was going to take me to lunch. I just LOVE this month of the year. There has been enough rain that everything is a brilliant green, with blossoms starting to explode and yellow mustard as thick on the hillside as the poppies were on that hill leading to the Emerald City. All I could think was that God was giving me a very special birthday gift of my very favorite weather.

As I reached American Canyon, a side road I usually take because it's a much prettier ride, I hit the divide between the sunny valley and the foggy coast. . But it was so lovely, the cottony wisps of fog resting on the brilliant green field, that I had to stop and try to capture it in photo.

BDFog.jpg (44088 bytes)

You think YOUR job is bad?

As I have detailed many times in these pages, I have made many, many trips to my mother's house what with all the ComCast problems 'n' all. On every. single. trip. I have passed this guy standing on a corner. I pass him in the morning and he is still there at night.

BDLiberty.jpg (46334 bytes)

He's a rather distinctive looking man, even without the Statue of Liberty costume, so I know it's the same guy each time. Somehow flipping burgers sounds a lot more fun! I hope they pay him a lot to stand there day in, day out.

Virgo Hoarders

My mother, the Virgo, has watched a couple of episodes of The Hoarders and she is terrified she is going to die and leave such a horrible mess that people will be appalled. So she's decided that she's going to throw away at least something every day. 'Cause, God knows you certainly wouldn't want people to see your house looking like THIS!

BDDen.jpg (51715 bytes)

BDLR.jpg (60070 bytes)

BDBR.jpg (45674 bytes)

I'll tell ya, it's really embarrassing to have such a slob for a mother.

Mommy and Me

The reason for my trip today was so my mother could take me to lunch on my birthday. We went to The Spinnaker, in Sausalito. One of my favorite places because it's one of the few places where you can get fresh cracked Dungeness crab (and this is crab season!)

BDCrab.jpg (57895 bytes)

Unfortunately, I love crab so much that I had almost finished it before I remembered to take this picture. But when it arrived, you couldn't see the avocado and it was piled up in a mound about 4" high. Yum!

We sat and watched pelicans fly and sea lions swim and sailboats sail, all against the background of my favorite city in the world, San Francisco.

We even splurged and had dessert. Though I was sorely tempted by the creme brulee (because I'm always tempted by creme brulee), I decided to have cream puffs. My mother had the creme brulee and I think she made the better choice.

BDPuffs.jpg (47008 bytes)

BDCreme.jpg (42347 bytes)

One thing is sure, we both definitely had an elegant sufficiency!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Coughing Again

I did something last night that I have not done in recent memory--I did not post this journal entry before going to sleep. What's more, it was a conscious decision, albeit late in the night.

I am having my annual cough. This is the one that I get about once a year (though I think I may have gone two years this time). It starts as a hint of a tickle in my throat and ends up with those Mucinex guys moving in for summer vacation. Nothing works. I've had it most of my life. I've tried every medication there is and at best it may soothe it for half an hour or so. Everybody thinks I'm dying, my mother rolls her eyes and says "you have it again, huh?" It lasts about a month and then it's gone until it comes back again in a year or so.

The tickle started around cousins day. I tried to ignore it, to think it was just a temporary thing, but by the end of the week, it was definitely moving into my chest. The trip to LA was difficult because I was coughing so much during the show tapings. I went through a full bag of throat lozenges (which do essentially nothing other than stop me from coughing while I'm sucking on them) and tried to time my coughing spasms with the applause so I wouldn't ruin the taping.

I really have just come to accept that this is what happens to me from time to time and I don't worry about it.

But I guess it really sapped me yesterday. After coughing all night, I took an hour nap in the morning, then had lunch with the women in the writing group.

PegJoanNancy.jpg (51678 bytes)

I got home around 2:30 or 3 and tried getting some things organized on the computer. By the time it was time to cook dinner, I really wasn't hungry. I just craved oranges, so I got a dinner ready for Walt and then sat down in my recliner to watch the Olympics until 24 came on. Next thing I knew it was 11:30 and the house was all dark.

I realized I hadn't written a journal entry, and considered getting up to do so, but it just felt so good lying there under the two dogs. They were showing the ice dancing competition and I watched 2-1/2 of routines and went right back to sleep before hearing the scores of the final couple (the one that won the gold).

When I woke up at 5, I realized that I had slept essentially 9 hours...and when was the last time that happened! I had been having long complicated dreams about taking Polly to visit my friend Melody in Maryland and about Polly morphing into a real baby who formed a bond with a stranded beluga whale who was swimming up the street next to where we were having lunch. I was trying desperately to get my camera out to take a photo. Very weird.

Today I'm having lunch with my mother, who will understand that I don't have terminal TB or lung cancer when I sit at the restaurant with her and cough and cough and cough trying to loosen up those Mucinex guys!

We're having lunch today at the Spinnaker in Sausalito, and I know we will have much better service than we had at the restaurant yesterday. Though we weren't in any hurry and were enjoying our visit, it took fully half an hour to get someone to come and pick up our money after they had finally presented us with the bill. It was also almost (but not quite) impossible to get refills of coffee or water.

Why is it that so many restaurants no longer come around with a pitcher to refill your water glass, but take the glass away and bring you a new one? I really don't like that! When Joan asked for a refill of coffee, the guy took her cup and brought it back filled. Maybe it saves them a few pennies, or maybe it's a health regulation, but I'm getting to be an old poop, and dammit--I don't like it!

In the meantime, you guys just go on about your business and don't bother with me. I'll just sit here in the corner and cough my lungs out.

In putting this entry together, I realized how repetitious I am. We were in LA a year ago for the "Says You" tapings then, too...and when I read my entries I discovered that I wrote pretty much the same thing, including Tony mentioning me from the stage (though not by name), and our being stuck behind a guy who obliterated the right side of the stage from our view!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Perfect Day

Before I start here, I have to mention something I left out of yesterday's entry. We had gone to Pomona and actually drove too far and had to turn around and drive back several blocks. When we did that, we passed a strip mall that made me realize I was in So. California. In a row, one right after the other were: Ironman gym, a juice bar, a Pilates salon, and a tanning place. Now there's a mall I'm not going to feel comfortable walking through! I need one that has a Krispie Kreme, Ben & Jerry's, a fat lady store, an Internet Cafe, and a book store with plush chairs where you can sink in and read.

But I digress. Let me talk about today.

That it was Valentine's Day was just coincidental. It was really a perfect day. We lazed around the hotel room for several hours, since we had no place to be at any time. Walt watched all of his Sunday morning talking heads on TV and watched last week's 24 which he'd missed since the power went out. I read my book and when he wasn't on the computer, got caught up with e-mail and facebook.

We had breakfast at Denny's again and then since it was too late to "do" anything but too early for Says You we decided to drive on up to Skirball anyway and see if we could beat the antisocial guy. When we got there, there was only one waiting fan that we could see and it wasn't A.G. But then Walt walked out into the courtyard, and there he sat!

AG.jpg (40620 bytes)

I'm going to have to stop calling him "antisocial guy," though because Walt met him at the vending machines between the two tapings and he smiled and acknowledged Walt and after the show he waved and said he'd see us next year. Maybe I'll just call him "early guy."

Anyway, we were quite early, which gave me a chance to read my book. When it was getting close to time to open the doors, we stood in line and pretty soon Tony and his wife Harriet Reisen (author of "Louisa May Alcott: the woman behind Little Women") came in and he stopped to chat briefly on their way to the green room. He had seen my journal entry this morning and wanted to make sure that I would have an unobstructed view and said he was going to go and check on it.

The Magnin Auditorium at Skirball is much better suited for visibility and I chose a seat that was about 4 rows from the stage and because of the steeper rake of the floor, should be just fine, no matter who sat in front of us.

skirballseat.jpg (40539 bytes)

(We had to laugh, though, when two women sat in front of us and the one in front of Walt had a big head of dark curly hair! Fortunately because of the design of the theatre, it did not present a viewing problem for him.)

The next thing that happened was certainly a surprise. A guy named David came up and introduced himself and asked if I was "Bev, the nearly famous blogger" and said that he enjoyed reading my stuff. Now, since he emerged from backstage, I kind of think that Tony had a hand in sending him out to check on me, but whether he did or not it was very nice (in a somewhat embarrassing way!)

Next came the Says You cast onto the stage. The first thing they always do is a mic check, where each panelist says a few words so that the sound guys can check the sound levels. Tony mentioned that yesterday he'd received a text message on his cell phone from "a friend and fan of the show" which included a picture of this woman's head of hair and that I had not been able to see the stage. He said he just wanted to check and make sure my seat today was OK. I said that it was. That was also very nice in a somewhat embarrassing way.

Walt and I decided that today's tapings were perhaps some of the most fun we've seen (though perhaps we forget past years). Such a good time. I can hardly wait for them to begin airing on February 26 and the next four weeks to see how much of the scatological humor made the cut!

SYstage.jpg (39021 bytes)

For one thing we sat next to what was probably THE loudest guy I've ever heard in any show. This guy was enjoying himself soooo much and howled at everything, tensed up when trying to think of the answer to a question, yelled "YES!!!" when a panelist got it and applauded loud and long. (I'm looking forward to seeing how much of that you hear too!) When the show was over we saw him and his female companion outside and he asked about Pomona yesterday (since Tony had announced to the audience that I'd been to the previous day's tapings). He said they had thought of doing that, and that after the fun he had today, they probably would go to both days of tapings next time too.

The panelists hung around on stage a bit at the end of the show, but Tony was talking to people and though I consider him a casual friend, I felt I didn't want to intrude. I was glad to have been able to see him for a bit before the show started.

SYTony.jpg (44538 bytes)

We went looking for a Chicken and Waffle place that had been recommended for dinner, but couldn't find it (I checked the internet after we got home and it wasn't anywhere near where I thought it was!) but instead ended up at Mucho Mas, a Mexican family restaurant that was not only colorful...

MuchoMas.jpg (53551 bytes)

...but tasty too.

We got to the airport very early. Our flight was also postponed, so we were looking at about 3 hours wait time in the airport, but then we noticed that the flight leaving right then was hardly full at all, so we managed to switch our tickets to the earlier flight and were home before 10 p.m.

The dogs were VERY happy to see us, especially Polly who nestled into my armpit the instant I sat down and proceeded to very vocally tell me all about how upset she'd been at my absence.

All things considered, it was really a fun trip and worth every penny...even the time spent trying to see around that huge head of hair yesterday.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Through a Head Blindly

Today was day #1. We got up and went to Denny's (which is in the parking lot here) for breakfast, and then got on the freeway and drove the 50 miles to Pomona, to Claremont College, where the first Says You tapings were to be held. It was an absolutely glorious drive, with clear blue skies, green hills and snow-capped mountains.

We arrived very early and found a place to park right across from the theatre. We walked up to the building and there was nobody around except one guy who looked vaguely familiar.

This was the antisocial guy we saw at the taping last year, who kept his earphones on, and his eyes lowered all the time and refused to talk to anybody, but who was darn sure he was going to be first in line when the doors opened.

last year

We laughed about running into him again...but then realized that he could just as easily be laughing at us for the same reason!

We went to the college cafeteria and I got an egg salad sandwich, which really wasn't any good. I don't think they used any yolk, for one thing. It just tasted weird.

When we got back from the cafeteria, antisocial guy had moved up to the doors of the theatre. Obviously he was determined to be first inside this year too!

We had assigned seats for this performance and I was pleased to see that we were in a great location.

Then the row in front of us filled up and this was my new view.

I must explain that the two panels sit on the stage in "stereo" format, with the two scorekeepers (usually kids) in the middle. On the left side (or "stereo right," as host Richard Sher explains each week) are Carolyn Fay Fox, Arnie Reisman, and Paula Lyons. "Stereo left" are, from left to right, my friend Tony Kahn, for whom I transcribed a bunch of stuff with a great group of people last year. Next to him is Francine Ackbar and next to Francine is Barry Nolan. Got that?

I could see Carolyn, Arnie and Paula OK, but Big Head's hair blocked Tony completely and blocked half of Francine. Barry was in the clear most of the time. It didn't work to tilt my head to the left when she was blocking Tony because in front of her was a guy about 8 feet tall, who blocked Tony completely even if Big Head had briefly moved her head. At intermission, the tall guy didn't come back and I thought I had a fighting chance but even when Big Head moved her hair and it was clear to Tony, there was a big microphone on a stand that covered all of his face except his chin. So I know he was there. I heard him, but I didn't see him at all. It was know...listening to the radio.

But the show was so much fun. Every year I wonder if it's worth it coming all this way...and every year I laugh so much and enjoy myself so much that I'm always ready for the next year.

Walt guesstimated that this place seated about 1500 people and it was pretty much full, so I guess we are definitely part of a geek cult.

There was a beautiful sunset as we drove back to Sherman Oaks on the freeway.

We stopped by the motel for half an hour and then drove out to meet our friend Michael for dinner. He promised us a "hole in the wall" but with "the best barbeque in the world." He was right on both counts, especially the great name!

Tomorrow's tapings are back at the Skirball Cultural Center, just a hop, skip and jump from the motel here. It's a much smaller venue (only 350 seats), so we'll have to be sure to be early...and there is a raked floor so I have a fighting chance of maybe seeing Tony this time.