COVID-19 don’t care

17 March, 2020
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He cares not what your opinion be. He scoffs at your wrong-headed “it’s just the flu, people!” vociferations. He pooh-poohs your complaints about how this is going to hurt the economy and cause horrible hardships to families.

That’s the way of a soul-crushing epidemic, fiends. It’s a never-ending, relentless assault on everything we take for granted: mobility, choice, certainty, even hope. It’s a wake-up call of the worst order. So…time to wake up. I implore you to consider the following:

  1. Getting mad at state governments closing stuff down is pointless and a waste of your energy.  I live in Ohio, where the governor, absent any cogent leadership from Washington, took matters into his own hands and started issuing shutdown orders after consulting with doctors and public health experts. He took no prisoners; thousands of people’s livelihoods were instantly affected — especially those in the service industry. But what do you do when your job is to serve the greater good? You shut it all down, and then address how you’re going to help people survive.
  2. It’s cliché, but true: Science doesn’t care what you believe. Our opinions, as our days, are as grass. For many, our faith keeps us going, but science rages on in the lane beside us. And keeps up. Don’t ignore what the CDC says because you think you know better.
  3. Fuh cripesake, think of other people. I know people who are continuing to party like it’s 1999, because they’re A) unafraid, B) not at high risk, and C) staying away from old and sick people, so it’s fine. I submit that all three of those reasons are foolish and dangerous. We’ve all seen the infection models and medical projections. Go home and stay home, unless you have to be at work, in which case your employer should be allowing you to take maximum precautions for your own protection, and that of others.

I feel terrible for my seniors at school. We have to come up with an idea whereby prom and graduation can still happen. I just don’t have any ideas myself yet. But I will. That, and I’m surrounded by smart people who will come up with something. In the big scheme of life, rescheduling a prom and a graduation ceremony (and my show, oy…) are small things, but they are very real and loom large to every 17- and 18-year-old I know. My shriveled, black heart hurts for them.

So, while our epidemiological Honey Badger don’t care, I am convinced we can get through this crisis together, all doing our part. I’m starting with the attic today, and working my way down, slowly and without much urgency. What all are you doing on this lovely Tunesday? Anything I should know about?

Chipotle is offering free delivery. Hmmm….might think about that for dinner.

Edit: My comment counter seems to be broken. You’ll need to click on the title of each post, then scroll to the end to read or write a comment. I’m on it…

Où est la boulangerie?

4 January, 2020
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The view from our apartment

Mais oui, mes amies. :-)

After thinking long and long about whether or not to even take the smallest of Odysseys this summer, and if I did, where would I go, I decided that life is indeed too short, with too many places left undiscovered. So, after considering a repeat trip to England, I hit up my fiend Suzanne over in the Netherlands and asked her what she thought about seeing Strawberry Fields with me this summer, while using Amsterdam as a “home base.”

She said that was fine, and then, almost as an aside, said, “Maybe we could take the Thalys high-speed train to Paris, too.”

Hmmm…

So, after a few moments of consideration: Let me take you down, ‘cuz I’m going to…Paris.

The last time I saw Paris (enough with the song quotes, promise) was in 1976. I remember going to the Louvre, shopping up and down the Champs-Élysées, eating at a restaurant called the Hippopotamus, seeing (but not climbing) the Eiffel Tower, visiting Notre Dame Cathedral, and getting all sticky munching on watermelon sold by a street vendor. I recall nothing about where I stayed. Isn’t that sad?

Well, that won’t be the case this time. Suzi and I scored a great little flat on AirBNB, for a super price — much less than what we would’ve paid for a week of hotel rooms. *fist pull*

The gardens of Versailles

While plans are still loosey-goosey, we’re looking at day trips to Normandy and Versailles, and lots of side trips to off-the-beaten-path cafes, neighborhoods, and old artist haunts, as well as hitting the major tourist stops. It’ll be a very busy week. And fun. I think the Thriller would approve.

I will endeavor to lose 20 lbs. so I can gain it all back in seven days.

Vive la France! Vive la norriture!

;-)

Requiem

24 December, 2019
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As I sit here working on Dinner Theatre arrangements and thinking about the last two years, my thoughts, of course, turn to Michael, and all that’s happened since his death on Christmas Eve 2017.

I suppose I’ll think these thoughts for a long time:

  • I miss his smart-aleck sense of humor, and how he drove us all crazy with his nonsense on the regular. I miss our talks and bantering, with me telling him he’s so full of crap, it’s a righteous wonder he has blue eyes, after which he’d laugh himself into a coughing fit.
  • Sometimes I resent having to make all the decisions myself.
  • My sons and sister are wonderful, of course; I don’t know what I’d do without them. But they do have to go home, and and as much as I tell myself — and everyone else — that it’s fine being alone, many times it’s not.
  • At times, I feel cheated out of the plans we had for when I retired from teaching: the traveling, the acquisition of more Aussies to love and raise, enjoying our grandchildren, spending time with family, and maybe picking up and moving to an exotic locale someday.
  • I still occasionally vacillate between self-pity and anger, albeit with periods of absolute joy and fun with my family, friends, colleagues, and students. I just wish he could be here to share it all.
  • I wonder if he can hear me when I talk to him, or if he’s frustrated that he can’t answer me.
  • I miss how he loved his own children, and remember fondly how he also loved my two sons — and their sons — like they were his own.
  • I will always marvel at how, during the six months between his diagnosis and the end of his life, he never once complained or gave up. There was one incident around Thanksgiving 2017 — and only one that I remember — when I walked into his room to check on him, and found him on the edge of his bed with his head down, struggling to breathe. I sat next to him and asked him what I could do for him, and he whispered, “I don’t know, sweety; I think this might be it.” But that was the only time. He was and remains the strongest person I ever knew.

I think I’m still trying to figure out this “moving on” thing. I’ve tried stuff that definitely didn’t work, and I’ve tried just letting things go and endeavoring to find joy in whatever time is left to me. Not sure I’ll ever master my thoughts during the alone times, when everyone’s gone home. Remy still provides me with snuggles and laughter and companionship; I don’t know what I’d do without him, either. I sometimes wonder if he remembers Michael. I hope he does. I hope many people do; I know I will forever.

There will be joy for me in the holiday season again. There is joy now, actually, as long as I’m busy and doing my thing. I don’t want my family/friends/students to ever think that I don’t enjoy their company and all the crazy things we do together, because I do. It’s probably the singular thing that keeps me on the rails. But it’ll never really be the same, and I guess I don’t want it to be, because it would mean I’ve shut a door. Can’t do that.

I plan to visit him at the military cemetery next week. I hear they’ve put beautiful wreaths on the gravestones. I’ll take a photo.

Meantime, I will enjoy my family at this special time of year. I hope you do, too! Hold everyone close. Tell your spouse and kids you love them.

I’ll also try to write to you more often. I miss it. :-)

Until next time…

Thursday Part II

27 July, 2019
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There are very few events I’ve experienced whereby my first thought upon leaving was getting in line to buy a ticket again. LOVE by Cirque du Soleil probably ranks #1 on that short list. But I’d have had to recover first. What a visually stunning, musically impressive, sonically amazing, and emotionally draining (for me, at least) production that was. I’ll never forget it.

My view of the right side of the stage

First — the visual component. Everything was blue. Nice choice, and no doubt deliberate. After all, blue is known for covering the basic spectrum of the human condition. According to color psychologists, blue can represent serenity, happiness, peace, and calm, but also loneliness, melancholy, sadness, and inner pain.

The costumes were straight out of an LSD trip. Unbelievably unique and fun. From tricycles pedaled by nothing but a pair of yellow rain boots, to suspended, floating transparent jellyfish that made it difficult to tell there was a human inside, to outrageous circus getups — it was not to be believed.

My view of the left side of the stage

The acrobatics were like nothing I’ve ever seen. They had it all: tumbling, flying on trapezes and bungee cords, jumping up from beneath the hydraulic stage, ballet, and even rollerbladers who totally smashed it on “Help!” I read recently that the average Cirque performer’s salary is $27,000. That’s a crime. What these folks do to their bodies six shows a week is incredible.

Volkswagen got lots of free press; the show featured two full-size Beetles and an old Van. And the lighting effects were second to none. You can see a bit of everything in their updated commercial:

The reenactment of John’s mother Julia getting hit by a car was devastating. Julia was dressed in all red. So much emotion…

And the super swirly, dizzy visual during “Within You Without You” was one of my favorite moments:

The sound — I was perhaps most impressed by this element. First, I know there were speakers behind the headrests of the seats. From the most hushed whisper to chest-vibrating low end, you were immersed in the music, and it in you; an absolute journey in sound.

I enjoyed hearing studio banter that this old Beatles war horse had never heard before. Fascinating! I’m sure some of it was from the newly-discovered Abbey Road tapes. I plan to see the film next year, as painful as it will be.

Most of all, the music was utterly transcendent. And not just the selection of songs (which, I understand, underwent an update, and I loved every choice), but their arrangement. So so SO clever.

The overlapping/medley-izing of Beatles tunes isn’t necessarily a monumental task. A sample (incomplete) breakdown is as follows with regard to how many songs the Beatles recorded in each key:

  • G major – 36
  • C major – 30
  • E major – 29
  • A major – 25

That’s easy enough. But the genius behind the actual connecting and threading and overdubbing/overlapping of the songs was absolutely brilliant. Using harmonies from one song over the intro to another; exchanging drum patterns, melding guitar solos…it blew this musician’s mind. And someone had the bright idea to blast the songs through the giant sound system 30 minutes before the show started – but with all vocals removed. Instant karaoke while you wait. :-)

There’s a dozen more paragraphs I could write, but it’s time to shut down and get packed and ready to meet the shuttle to go to the airport. I had a beautiful time in this crazy place, and I’ll remember it forever as my first trip to Vegas without the Thriller.

Now it’s back to reality — getting ready for school to start, complete with Sound of Music rehearsals starting. Oy…

Thanks for coming along on this “Odyssette.” Hugs…

Thursday Part I

26 July, 2019
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There is just so much to show and tell, I know I won’t be able to do it in one post (and not totally bore you in the process).

I will address LOVE in tomorrow’s ramblings. Suffice to say I bawled through most of it, and the other parts were just magical. But more on that tomorrow.  Yesterday was nonstop, and I have great pictures to share!

I started out by fully intending to take the 8:28 a.m. city bus downtown, as the stop is just a one-block walk from my hotel. I got all gussied, headed out the door, and was immediately faced with a decision: Do I start walking down LVB in this suffocating 104-degree heat to wait for the next bus, or do I simply open the door of this waiting air-conditioned taxi, located mere feet from my person?

I’ll let you guess which option I chose. ;-)

Forgot to take a photo of the entry sign, darn. Here’s a stolen version.

Founded in 1996 through a partnership between the Arts Council of Southern Nevada and the City of Las Vegas, the Neon Boneyard museum is a wonderful tribute to the golden era of Vegas (1940s-1970s, mostly). What a walk down Memory Lane it was for me to see super-up-close much of the signage I remember either seeing in person, or in movies as a kid.

They operate the place (located well away from the Strip, downtown) like a National Park, sort of. They have “rangers” stationed throughout the small space, ready to give quick facts about each sign, and to provide the much-needed service of posing as photographer.

Moulin Rouge sign, 1955

One ranger told me that the Moulin Rouge, opened in 1955, was the first racially integrated casino in the United States. Initially, I had to ask her what the sign said, and she explained that for some reason, the letters were reassembled in the wrong order. I guess I should have asked why they didn’t fix it…

Then there were the signs that I personally remembered from previous visits to Vegas:

The only disappointment was they didn’t have a remnant of the first Vegas hotel I ever stayed in: the Westward Ho. Bummer, because those rolling umbrella lights were iconic at the time; as recognizable as any other place on the Strip.

I have a ton more photos of the place, but you get the idea. Such a fun stroll — I told one of the rangers that now that they’re reclaiming the Sahara identity for the SLS Hotel (where I’m staying), I hope they totally embrace the iconic signage and 1950s Rat Pack feel the place had. He agreed.

After all the feelgood nostalgia, it was time to see some grisly history. I learned a lot at the American Museum of Organized Crime, and next time you’re in Vegas, it’s a stop I think you should fit into your schedule.

Since I’m pressed for time this morning (today is casino day, and I’m off off off the Strip for that), I’ll pass on a photo essay, but if there was ever any confusion about what a syndicate is with regard to criminal activity, this place clears it all up.

The exhibits cover gangster activity from Los Angeles to New York, Cleveland to Havana, and all places in between. The Prohibition exhibit is fascinating.

Although I said I wouldn’t post an essay, I will post a couple pictures here that I found exceptionally interesting/disturbing, however:

The skim at these places illustrates how clueless early auditors were, and how easy it was to get very rich, very fast.

 

Actual brick wall from Chicago’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, 1929

Again, last night’s Cirque experience was so amazing that for a while, I was without words. I’ll fix that tomorrow. :-)

Off to my final day in “Lost Wages.” (eye roll) Hugs to all my fiends.