Friday, October 30, 2009

Menu Mendacity

Two incidents in the past few days have made me crazy. The first was when we were down in Ashland. We went to one of our favorite restaurants, the Black Sheep. Wonderful meat pasties, delicious fish and chips, a sublime smoked trout and gouda sandwich. Delightful service. Friendly fellow diners. A round of darts. Then the bill arrives. Two of the meals were listed about $3 more than the menu board prices. Yours truly asks the waitress, who apologizes and says "the computer must not have been changed from the dinner prices of last night." She instantly corrects the bill.

But still I am bothered. I do not like mistakes.

This morning I ordered a breakfast basket from an area restaurant. The menu board specifies cheese costs 60 cents more. I want cheese. I order it with cheese, knowing I will be paying more. The menu board offers beverage choices: coffee, OJ, milk or bottled water. I order OJ. Surprise! I get up to the window to pay and learn that the OJ is 20 cents more. I tell them "it doesn't say that on the board." Super Son squirms in intense embarrassment. Manager offers to refund the 20 cents. I tell him it's not necessary; I just hope they will amend their sign and future printings of the menu so that customers can make an informed choice. He says it is impossible to list all the extra charges - "the sign would have to be huge!"

This bothers me.

Do you encounter this type of thing? Does it bother you, too? Or do I need to get a life? I await your reply.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We interrupt this multi-day theatre trip report...

...for an important message from my second husband, Stephen. Click on his delectable mouth to be magically taken to a link at Colbert Report where you will hear great wisdom.

And if you live in Washington state, please vote YES on Referendum 71. Don't let "the hate that dare not speak its name" win this election. Thanks.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Five Hours Down, Five Hours Back

Truffaldino (Mark Bedard) and his master, Florindo (Elijah Alexander) in Servant of Two Masters

We spent the weekend in one of our favorite places, doing some of our favorite things. Playgoing, eating at interesting restaurants, browsing old bookstores, talking with actors, and enjoying the pool and hot tub at a nice hotel. As soon as school was over on Friday, we sped down to Ashland, to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Through afternoon traffic and steep, curvy mountain roads made slippery with rain, we doggedly drove, determined to make it in time for the evening entertainment. We needn't have worried; we made it with 6 minutes to spare. All the comfort of an old familiar setting, with old familiar activities...but a few new twists.

One twist was that we were in the New Theatre. Professor X and I had attended a few plays there since it opened in 2002. There was an amazing production of MacBeth that year, done in the round with a pool of "blood" in the center of the stage. As the action progressed, and knives were dipped into the "blood" and actors were smeared with "blood," things got stickier and stickier. Very memorable. We attended a post-play talk where they revealed the secret ingredient of stage blood - karo syrup. I only learned today that there was enormous drama surrounding the production when I went in search of photos to share with you and found a review of the show here. We thought it was a fantastic show.

We also saw a great political show the following year, Mothers Against by David Edgar. It was done with a totally different floor plan; imagine the theatre as a giant rectangle, with seating on the two long sides only, stage in the middle. So we knew there were many possible ways to arrange the audience. The kids had never been to the New Theatre. When we attended the first play, I told them that it would be interesting to see how it might be reconfigured the following evening for the other play. They thought I was nuts. But when we entered the next night, they were forced to admit I knew what I was talking about. If you look at the floor plans on the website, you'll see what I mean. There's a ton of work that goes into changing the entire set and seating between plays. And it happens in a few hours, because the play we saw the first night was done again as a matinee the next day, with the second play performed that evening.

Despite our frequent theatre trips, it was the first time we'd seen All's Well that Ends Well. Wonderful production. At first, I was a little taken aback seeing so many new actors in leading roles. I was reassured when some old favorites - James Edmondson, Dee Maaske, and G. Valmont Thomas, (he'd played MacBeth in 2002) showed up. Veteran actor Armando Durán absolutely delighted as a clown. I was really impressed by the comic talents of the newer women, Kate Mulligan and Emily Sophia Knapp. And we all enjoyed the lead,

Helena (Kjerstine Rose Anderson) and marveled at her athleticism, especially when she swung upside down from a tree.

Servant of Two Masters was our introduction to commedia dell’arte. OSF’s world premiere adaptation of a 250-year-old romp, with original songs, was outrageous fun for the four of us. I'll share more about that tomorrow. Need to clean house in preparation for NaNoWriMo.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Are Some of Us Going Back In Time?

Note: I don't know anything about this book .
I used the cover to catch your attention. Sneaky me.

Originally, I was just going to share a great link that gave all the details about the iPhone parody I posted yesterday.

But, being me, I got sidetracked by other cool stuff on the blog Waking Up Now.

Then I saw this and felt outraged.

So I did some searching and found this, which gives some links to take action. WARNING: It automatically launches a loud sound clip, so you might want to turn off your sound before you click.

When I look at this man, I think how far we've come.

I've blogged about this issue before. I thought Spencer Tracy's speech settled the matter.

When I read the statement by Keith Blackwell, the ignorant justice of the peace from Louisiana,
There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it…I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way. I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom.
I wondered if he has a special bathroom for those friends.

I also wonder if he's unaware of the parentage of his President.

Or if he does know and is angry about it.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

But Everyone Else Has One!

Remember when you were little, and it seemed like all your friends got something, but your parents were super mean and wouldn't get you one? Even if didn't actually tell them you wanted it, but they totally should have known because, as I know now, parents have to be psychic to figure out what their kids are thinking?

Well, the fun doesn't end in childhood. I've been remarkably free of feelings of envy about the cool things my friends have (excepting, of course, if those things are plane tickets or travel reservations) until now.

My role model has a new toy. She has even named it. Go take a look here.

And our bff has one too. She is giddy about it. She even played with it last two nights ago at the orchestra concert in which our brilliant sons were performing.

I am not a person who has to have the latest technology or the newest car or the fanciest house or designer clothes.... My needs are simple. As long as my travel obsession and Shakespeare addiction are fed, I am content. But the delight these women are taking in this toy is wearing down my resistance. I will keep you informed if I join their ranks.

Meanwhile, this parody ad cracked me up. I especially love the use of the original, distinctive, perky music. But I am more than a little disturbed about the information - I'd never heard about much of it. Had you?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How to Solve Your Problems - A Musical Answer

How do you solve a problem like Maria? Climb every mountain, of course.

I've always felt that good art allows you to gain some insight about life. You may not have a major epiphany, but you get to take away something to enrich your own existence. And in musical theatre, you should leave able to hum a few bars and remember at least a snippet of lyrics.

Daring Daughter's Beauty and the Beast mini-production includes Be Our Guest, with wonderful lines like
Try the grey stuff; it's delicious
Don't believe me? Ask the dishes
They can sing, they can dance

After all, Miss, this is France
And a dinner here is never second best
Go on, unfold your menu
Take a glance and then you'll

Be our guest
Oui, our guest
Be our guest!

Okay, maybe that's not the most profound advice. But I will say we never had a bad meal in France. And I'm crazy in love with the fun rhymes and melody of this song.

We saw two other musicals in Portland this past week, Ragtime and Sondheim's Company. Each had extremely talented casts. Each was beautifully choreographed.

Coalhouse Walker (Gavin Gregory) sings to Sarah (Rachael Ferrera)

Ragtime shares a vision of the American dream at the turn of the century, when anything seemed possible, even for new immigrants. Consider this excerpt from the song Success:
I'm J.P. Morgan my friends
The wealthiest man on this earth!


You immigrants, look up to me
And you'll see what money is worth!


One day your immigrant sweat
Might get you the whole U.S.!

And if you're trapped
And failure seems imminent,
Think of Houdini,
That fabulous immigrant!
Break those chains with all you possess!

This is America!
This is the land of success!

I'm teaching a course on the American Dream this winter. After reading Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, I felt more than a bit cynical while listening to this song. Ultimately, Ragtime left me saddened about how much injustice persists in America. It wasn't inspiring; it felt like, well, what it was: a really long novel about a period in American history with unhappy endings for many of the characters. Not that I demand a happy ending (okay, I sort of do), but I'd like a sense of forward movement, of progress at least.

Company was in some ways even more unsatisfying. Sure, the performances were stellar. Great singing. But the characters were mostly unlikable, or at least not developed enough for us to care about them. The problem lies with the play's original construction - it was a series of one act plays, rejected until the playwright hooked up with Sondheim to weave a score around them and tie them together. The result is a series of vignettes in which couples try to persuade a 35 year old bachelor friend that he should get married; that marriage provides one with company. How does it end? Well, I'll just say that Daring Daughter, a person who likes clear resolutions, was displeased.

I will admit, though, that it had more clever lyrics. Consider The Little Things You Do Together:
It's the little things you share together,
Swear together,
Wear together,
That make perfect relationships.
The concerts you enjoy together,
Neighbors you annoy together,
Children you destroy together,
That keep marriage intact.

Or Sorry-Grateful:
You're always sorry,
You're always grateful,
You hold her, thinking:
"I'm not alone."
You're still alone.

You don't live for her,
You do live with her,
You're scared she's starting
To drift away,
And scared she'll stay.
Or Being Alive:
Someone to need you too much,
Someone to know you too well,
Someone to pull you up short
And put you through hell.

Someone you have to let in,
Someone whose feelings you spare,
Someone who, like it or not,
Will want you to share
A little, a lot.

Someone to crowd you with love,
Someone to force you to care,
Someone to make you come through,
Who'll always be there,
As frightened as you
Of being alive,
Being alive,
Being alive,
Being alive.
I'd love to know if anyone reluctant to wed has seen Company, experienced an aha! moment, and then got married. I do know that, watching it, I became annoyed with the pushy married couples, recognized my own similar misbehavior toward some single friends, and vowed to refrain in the future.

My ultra suave second husband Hugh Laurie is a talented musician/singer/songwriter. His compositions help to guide us in our daily lives; they provide a vision and a plan of action to deal with the challenges we face. This is one of the family's favorite songs. I do hope you enjoy it, and comment with your favorite line. There are so many good ones.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Am Truly *&$#%^! Speechless

"Go ahead, Senator, ask her 'Are you now or have you ever been a volunteer?'"

Sir, have you no sense of decency?

A friend posted this on her Facebook page with the comment

"I try to ignore Beck, but trying to get people to hate volunteerism by equating it with communism is disgusting."

I thought "huh? I thought he was a pretty cool, liberal musician."

Wrong Beck.

I await your comments on the linked material, because, frankly, if I start to write about this, someone is bound to report my blog as obscene and Blogger will take it down.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

Things here at Maison Forrest are pretty crazed lately, as we are getting more involved in school activities, teaching, home improvement, and gearing up for NaNoWriMo (more about all that in future posts). I'm reminded of the wonderful Sandra Boynton song, Busy, Busy, Busy, sung by the lovely Kevin Kline.

I like to think of him this way as he's singing the song, dashing and dramatic. Yes, I know the pic is from the truly horrible film Wild Wild West, but he looked mighty fine.

Kline has done a ton of musical theatre; he studied at Julliard and received two Tony Awards for work in the musicals "On the Twentieth Century" (1978) and "The Pirates of Penzance" (1981).

He reprised the role of the Pirate King in a film version of Pirates of Penzance that's now in my queue. I'll provide a review once we've watched it. I've neglected the children's (and my own) Gilbert and Sullivan education, but am moving to rectify that. Of course, KK is also a fine Shakespearean actor, the quickest way to my heart.

I have to admit, I didn't know anything about my prospective second husband's personal life. A quick survey of imdb brought me a few surprises. He's married to Phoebe Cates! Of Fast Times at Ridgemont High fame! Did you know this? And though Cates is almost precisely my age, he's quite a bit older than I'd suspected - 62. Their 16 year age difference doesn't bother me, though. Not in the way that the McCain's 18 year difference or Fred Thompson's 24 year difference does. Of course, even if there'd been no age difference whatsoever in those cases, I would have thought negatively about the parties in question because the men dumped their first wives. As the first Mrs. McCain observed, "

‘My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that just does.’

Yeah, I know it does. I'm watching that unfold in the dissolution of a dear friend's marriage, and it bites the big one. But the Cates-Kline marriage seems different. He noted
"We're both sensible, and we don't separate for long periods of time. We take care of the marriage.''
There's no doubt marriage takes work. They've been at it a while, married almost as long as Professor X and I. People have commented that our length of marriage is impressive; in theatrical circles, it seems like a Herculean feat.

And they have two children, Greta and Owen, pictured here together in a 2001 film, The Anniversary Party. Cates' old FTaRH costar, Jennifer Jason Leigh, directed the film. Have I been living in a cave? I never knew these things.

So now I have a new appreciation for Kline's performance of Boynton's song. With a lovely wife and two kids, he surely personally knows what it's like to be "very, very busy."

We’re very very busy
And we’ve got a lot to do
And we haven’t got a minute
To explain it all to you
For on Sunday Monday Tuesday
There are people we must see
And on Wednesday Thursday Friday
We’re as busy as can be
With our most important meetings
And our most important calls
And we have to do so many things
And post them on the walls…

We have to hurry far away
And then we hurry near
And we have to hurry everywhere
And be both there and here
And we have to send out messages
By e-mail, phone, and fax
And we’re talking every minute
And we really can’t relax
And we think there is a reason
To be running neck-and-neck
And it must be quite important
But we don’t have time to check.

Lyrics by Sandra Boynton

Friday, October 16, 2009

Strange Days Indeed! Recipe Blast From The Past

Because I am feeling lazy busy cleaning, (hear that, honey? I'm not spending all day in bloggyland, nosirree!) I am going to direct you onward from here today for a Fantastic Forrest-approved website link.

Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974

Have a lovely weekend. And may none of these meals ever appear in your kitchen.

Virtual Road Trip to Special Places: The Women's Colony

Let's go over to Mrs. G's place.

Here's her origins post to get you started.

Not to mention get you laughing.

And wishing you could go there IRL immediately.

We're off to a different place tomorrow evening. I'll give you a hint...

Yes, that's me. :-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Song Running Through My Head

Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov once observed "Satire is a lesson, parody is a game." I don't know about you, but I love that game.

I'd never heard of the band that opened for Snow Patrol at Tuesday's concert, but perhaps you have. Plain White T's is a group of young guys who got the crowd going with their fun songs. Professor X and I didn't recognize any of their music until the last selection, Hey There Delilah. I knew it from a parody entitled Hey Sarah Palin by MC Howie and Julie K I'd discovered last year on youtube. The lyrics cracked me up.

As the band on stage crooned

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
What you do to me

All I could hear was

Oh, if you become VP,
oh, it's Canada for me.

Oh, if you become VP,
oh, it's Canada for me
It's Canada for me

Check it out. But don't play it where delicate ears can hear it. There are a few f-bombs. My favorite part is the expressions on MC Howie's face. This guy has the world's most wonderful eyebrows. They should get their own Actors' Equity card. Or maybe two cards - one for each eyebrow.

If only I could get his catchy little ditty out of my brain.

Enjoy the giggle. And good luck getting it out of your head.

Gaining Insight on the Secret Boyfriend Thing

Confession: I have been not-so-secretly judgemental of my dear friend Bad Mom for the delight she takes in declaring her love for various younger men she dubs her "secret boyfriends." But I will judge no more. Because? I totally get it now.

Snow Patrol's lead singer, Gary Lightbody, attracted my notice last evening. His presence onstage was electric; he dazzled with a million watt smile.


This guy is a charmer. Sure, his music rocks. But listen to his speaking voice. I'm a total anglophile and an enthusiastic francophile, but the illustration for the term "linguistic irishphile" is a picture of me.

Is it wrong that I'm posting this shortly after declaring my love for Professor X in my sentimental anniversary post? Don't judge me, please. Your epiphany may be just around the corner.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Special Times - Wedding Anniversaries

It's time for a little trip in the Wayback Machine to almost a quarter of a century ago, when Professor X and I got married. We'd been engaged for a year (some day, I'll tell you the amazing tale of how it happened) and had chosen October 12th for our special day. I'd jokingly threatened to have a Columbus Day-themed event, with bridesmaids dressed as the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, sailing down the aisle, culminating with me garbed as a map of America.

Everyone was relieved when I settled on a more traditional bridal look. In fact, it was very traditional. My folks were in the wedding photography business, and I'd seen thousands of different dresses over the years. I chose a style that one of their brides had worn, which turned out to be her mother's gown from the 1940's, very simple with classic lines done in satin and a touch of lace. My Mom and I went downtown to the fabric stores in Chicago and a dressmaker copied the design for me. I wore little white gloves and carried my Mom's little white bible which she'd carried when she married my Dad. My Mom was a florist, and she designed a beautiful spray of Phalaenopsis orchids and stephanotis to rest atop the bible.

We had a very lovely wedding in the morning, followed by cake and punch in the church basement with lots of our friends and family. Then a smaller subset of those dear ones drove out to a little restaurant along a river. Too many of those folks are gone now. My own Dad is one of those who have passed away. I know I'm lucky that he was there. One of my college roommates' fathers died before she met her husband to be. Geez, this post is getting all melancholy. Sorry about that. It's just that my Dad is really special to me. He was always a larger than life person, a man with a quick wit and a wonderful hearty laugh. At our wedding luncheon, when it came time for the toasts, my usually funny Dad made everyone teary. This was back in the dark ages, before camcorders were common. I'd give anything to have a video of his toast. He was so loving, so sincere, and he capped it off by singing "You Are My Sunshine." He'd sung it before to me and my brother, but it had special meaning that day because I was moving a thousand miles away, to a small town in the Catskills where my new husband had begun work teaching.

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy,
When skies are gray.
You'll never know dear,
How much I love you.
So please don't take my sunshine away.

I'm blessed with a good marriage to a man who cares for me. But you may rest assured that I didn't get married to escape an unhappy childhood. I was loved and I knew it. This wedding anniversary reminds me of that special time when someone sang a song just for me.

Professor X and I are going out for a marvelous evening, listening to the music at a Snow Patrol concert. I'm really excited about our date night. We've been through a lot, moving back and forth across the country in search of the perfect setting for our family. We've had our share of fights and rough road along the way. But it's been a fun journey for most of the time, and I suspect we're stronger as a couple because we've hit a few potholes and experienced some ups and downs. Flat, straight pavement might have been too deadly boring, right? Am I rationalizing? So what if I am?

I like the Snow Patrol song Shut Your Eyes because it reflects a more mature love, one that recognizes more than just sunshine. It's about exchanging comfort, especially when things appear dark:

Shut your eyes and think of somewhere
Somewhere cold and caked in snow
By the fire we break the quiet
Learn to wear each other well
And when the worrying starts to hurt
and the world feels like graves of dirt
Just close your eyes until
you can imagine this place,
yeah, our secret space at will

Happy Anniversary, Professor X. You are my sunshine, but you are also my warm fire.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Threats to Children and Marriage Mysteriously Linked to Yard Debris!

I have so many things to write about, I scarcely know where to begin. I still need to follow up on Metropolis, I want to explore the semantics of the I Pledge video, my pals and I went to 2nd Story last night, I have insightful observations about the Obama Nobel Prize Award, the Wordstock Festival is tomorrow, Professor X and I are joining the Society of the Blue Carbuncle...

But this jostled its way to the front of the line. The religious right in my state has produced an ad to encourage voters to vote no on Referendum 71. What's sort of interesting about the referendum is that it was the religious right who put it on the ballot in the first place. It's designed to encourage rejection of Washington state senate bill 5688 by the general electorate. SB 5688 asks voters to re-confirm the expansion of domestic partnership rights and obligations in Washington's originally limited domestic partnership legislation. The concern is not so much with heterosexual couples shacking up and getting benefits; it's fear that gay folks will. The referendum proponents - wait, not proponents of the referendum, proponents of holding the referedum - want the voters to weigh in on whether those who are not in traditional one man-one woman-one marriage license relationships get to enjoy the civil rights those who are do. Okay, that's not how they would phrase it, but to me, that's what it's about. Indeed, those who gathered the 120,000+ signatures to put the Ref. 71 on the ballot noted:
In truth, it will demolish the state's historical understanding and definition of marriage as that of uniting a man and a woman for life as Washington State will immediately become subject to litigation by same-sex partners demanding that the courts overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and impose "same-sex marriage" (as happened recently in California prior to Proposition 8).
The legislative process is a confusing, convoluted one, often compared to making sausage - it's messy and has some strange bits ground in before something palatable and nourishing emerges. Sometimes the populace is in danger of food poisoning and some sausage/legislation must be thrown out. But I think SB 5688 is worth keeping. The religious right want voters to toss it in the garbage, because they say that God and the Bible tell man not to eat of such sausage. Okay, I think the analogy has gotten a little out of hand. Let's regroup.

Earlier, I mentioned an ad. And you've probably been wondering what the hell the leaf pile references have to do with the subject of this post. Wonder no longer:

My second favorite comment at youtube on this video is from audiwadiwasabi:
::muttering:: "...and protect our children"... protect them! SAVE THE CHILDREN! Save them from the leaf-throwing queers! They just don't throw them right! They throw them WRONG! The queers are gonna teach our children how to throw leaves queerly! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
My favorite comment is from beetlebalm:
As a follower of Christ, I go by the golden rule. We are to love one another as we love our selves, and to love God with all our hearts. Nothing in Christ's words suggests we should marginalize people who have made lifelong commitments to each other and wish to have that commitment be recognized and honored by law. As a follower of Christ, I will vote in favor of R-71.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Pledge Video: Does it Serve the Purpose?

I find this poster strangely compelling. Propaganda or pop culture?

I know I said I'd talk more about Metropolis today. I had this really great post in mind, about the underlying themes of corporate control and class structure, tying into my fruitless efforts to get my daughter to work at cleaning her room. But that's going to have to wait.

I received an email from one of my parent's friends, a dear lady who is astoundingly conservative. I'd never realized her political leanings when I was an innocent child, assuming that Aunt* Zelda held middle of the road views similar to my parents'. (*Aunt is her honorary title, name changed to protect her privacy, and protect me from her wrath if she ever found my blog) Since we connected via email, though, I've been sent a variety of right wing goodies. She knows I don't share her views, but she's felt compelled to share them anyway. Sometimes I read and delete, sometimes I take a moment to respond, sometimes I take a long time to do some research and share it with her. I doubt I've ever changed her mind, though, and I know she hasn't changed mine.

She sent me a brief note:

Another example of political crap about Obama.

Then she provided a link to a video supporting President Obama featuring a number of celebrities pledging to do certain things, ranging from .....well, here, watch it yourself. And tell me what you think. I really want to know. I'll share my own thoughts in a day or two.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Portrayals of the Future in the Past

Recognize this image? It's a still from a film.

How about this one?

Same film.

It reminds me of this scene from a movie produced 80 years later:

Professor X observed that George Lucas must have been inspired by the earlier flick when he filmed Star Wars. It's funny how we attribute all things related to a movie to the director, isn't it? What about the art director or the visual and special effects people? But I digress...

We went to the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle recently, and Super Son saw this poster for a 1927 silent film:
I really didn't know anything about the film, but was sufficiently intrigued to borrow it from the library once we returned home. The four of us gathered around the magic picture machine last evening to have a communal viewing experience.

Activist/author Susan Sontag once commented Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art." Metropolis certainly has its share of disaster. We're transported to a dystopia of exploited, exhausted drudge workers who toil so that the privileged class can party hearty. It was fascinating to watch this classic, although I must confess we did stoop to making up some pretty hilarious dialogue as the silent actors spoke at length, heavily emoting. So many scenes had virtually no intertitles, or if they did, there'd be only a sentence of dialogue provided for many minutes of talking. The acting was often highly exaggerated, and movement sometimes almost resembled a ballet. Much of the film was slightly crude; it felt heavy handed.

Still, it was compelling. There's a good synopsis of the story here. Consider the similarities between this scene of a Metropolis shift change.

Click the pic to see the video clip

and this 2009 youtube video post, Cubicle Life Call Centers.

More thoughts on this tomorrow. I have a sink full of dirty dishes, a laundry room full of dirty clothes, and a to do list a mile long.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tale as Old as Time

Somehow, this news hasn't made it into Variety, but I wanted to be sure you knew:

My beloved child is going to play
Mrs. Potts
in Beauty and the Beast!

Yes, Daring Daughter will be singing at the local community center's mini-production of the marvelous Menken musical. She specifically requested the role made famous by the incredible Angela Lansbury. Sure, she's a "most peculiar mad'moiselle" "with a dreamy far-off look and her nose stuck in a book," as Menken's lyrics describe Belle, but my girl recognizes a juicy role when she sees one. Lansbury's singing performance is delightful, and weak pun alert! she infuses the character with a rich flavour.

We saw Angela Lansbury this summer on Broadway in Blithe Spirit. We were squished in the back row of the balcony, but it was actually a great view of the stage. We just had to leave our legs in the lobby to fit into our seats.

The kids loved the play and Professor X and I marveled at how energetic her performance was. After it was over, we joined a crowd outside the stage door. You can imagine the thrill we felt when she came out and signed our program. We were this close:

I know my little girl and my tall son both have dreams that some day they'll be the ones holding the pen, graciously talking to fans. Whether they make it to Broadway or just the local school and community center productions, it's a wonderful dream.

Daring Daughter is practicing her choreography and songs constantly. My teapot girl is bubbling with excitement. And so am I.

Peer Pressure - Poopy vs. Productive

We've had some excitement this past week at Maison Forrest. What you might call a teachable moment.

Daring Daughter has been in a Girl Scout troop for the past couple of years, and has enjoyed a variety of fun activities. When she went to the first meeting of the year last Wednesday, she was surprised to learn that the troop had shrunk from eight to five. Three of the girls had decided not to continue. As the meeting progressed, it became clear that the bossiness leadership tendencies previously exhibited by two of the remaining members were in hyperdrive mode. They expected the others to follow their decisions. When Daring Daughter expressed different views, she was subjected to the dreaded whisper and point subjugation technique.

Daring Daughter may not have yet studied the psychology of Groupthink, but she definitely favors individual rights. We're talking a big free speech advocate here. The cliquishness had previously been evident, but with a smaller group to coerce convince, the tyrants alpha females were running amuck strongly asserting themselves.

I've tried to pass on two good rules to live by, and my daughter applied them in this case.

1. You have to pick your fights. Yes, she could have struggled against this situation, but why bother? There are plenty of opportunities to be with people who are more agreeable and do interesting and worthwhile things.

2. If it's not fun, why do it? These immortal words on a Ben and Jerry's bumper sticker should guide us all. There's lots of fun to be had out there without having to endure meanness.

The upshot is that they won't have Daring Daughter to kick around anymore. She's planning some fun outings with other friends to the zoo, the museum, and a camping trip at the coast in a yurt. She is going to volunteer for the Stream Team, planting trees by creeks to help water quality. And she's started Broadway Musical Theatre for Kids at the local community center.

It's like my Mom always says, everything happens for a reason.

All of this is not to say that groups and peer pressure can't be applied for good. Take me, for example. I'm part of a gang that its founder describes as "an online fitness revolution started by peer pressure from fellow bloggers." Club HASAY (Half as Small as You) is open to any blogger who's trying to achieve a fitness goal. I love the different posts that members write about their efforts, and the encouragement and camaraderie that our posts elicit from each other. My fellow HASAYers emphasize gradual, healthy weight loss through eating better and being more active. That's the kind of groupthink I can support. There's no whispering and pointing, just lots of jokes and teasing, and "you can do it" comments. There are good ideas and motivating tips.

So my report for this month is that I have walked a wee bit outside with a friend, I went to the pool and walked against the current with Professor X, and I've conciously tried not to eat until I'm stuffed. Those may seem like little things, but they're big changes for me. We went up to Seattle last weekend, and ate at Buca di Beppo. In the past, we would have ordered a LOT more food. But I encouraged everyone to be satisfied with less. Super Son and Professor X could have eaten more and burned it off instantly with their mutant metabolisms, but Daring Daughter and I would have been in trouble. I think portions are really key. We can still have great food, but we need to downsize dramatically from our earlier evil ways. Daring Daughter is now old enough to use the community center's treadmill, exercycle, and elliptical machines. So we'll be headed there this afternoon and as many days as possible this fall and winter to work out.

And as we accomplish our fitness goals, if anyone wants to whisper and point at us, it's okay. We'll just assume they're saying "Wow! Look at how those two have shaped up!"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fantastic Fans' Fervour Ferments Fun-Filled Favourites

Tonight, my family enjoyed a classic movie together, and I marveled once again at how wonderful a long-dead actor was.

We watched My Man Godfrey with William Powell and Carole Lombard. It had some good lines, but it wasn't a masterpiece. Still, his performance is terrific. I find him extraordinarily appealing. His voice isn't like anyone else's. It's strong and clever, sincere and sardonic. He's not classically handsome, but I love his looks.

There's genuine affection between the two stars, but it's a tender brother/sister sort of affection. In real life, they'd been married for two years and amicably divorced for three more before they filmed the movie.

The costar with whom Powell had the greatest chemistry was apparently never romantically involved with him. (Note I say apparently because I've been corrected by my readers before when I make similar statements about other performers!) He and Myrna Loy played Nick and Nora Charles in a series of six Thin Man movies. They were enormously popular; moviegoers loved their snappy dialogue.

I found a fun piece on youtube to share with you.

Clearly, these two inspire many fans to make tribute videos. I love to see what people create in assembling clips and music of their favourite performers, don't you? It's fun to speculate whether someone will do the same sort of thing twenty years from now when my own son is a famous actor....