Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Five ways to know it’s pseudo spring

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Yes, this is in retaliation for all those enjoying bona fide spring, not some false, perverse tease of mother nature before she dumps the next blizzard on us.  You all know I live in Alaska, right?  Good, I’m glad we cleared that up.  Hopefully, that will make you more forgiving, or at least, less inclined to notice the largish chip on my shoulder.

1. It’s only April, fool!  Long time Alaskans, called sourdoughs, will scoff at the newbie Alaskans (called cheechakos, no laughs from the peanut gallery now) assumption that a thaw in March/April means spring.  So sorry little greenhorn, that’s nature clowning again. 

2. Where’d the sidewalk go?  Mostly it’s under snow, still buried like my design hopes, tender green dreams, and any bulbs the previous owner may have planted at my new home.  Yeah, I doubt he planted any bulbs either, but this being fake spring, I’m hopeful.  You weren't planning on busting the sandals out for a little stroll, now were you?  Boots are still the wise choice.

3. Still no leaves. Don’t even think about the “s” word until the birch leaves are the size of…well, any size will do.  For now, they are still encased and in denial, as am I.

4. Subtle scent of dog poop. If it were actual spring, the odor would be as gentle as a moose being chased by a dog, as elusive as the scent of that milk you spilled in the car yesterday.
5. Kids under five are still sporting full-body winter armor.  You can hear them before you see them, swit, swit, swit.  I feel sorry for the little blighters.  Just try getting to the toilet in a hurry when you are encased in fluff, zippers, and snaps.  Snowsuits mean it’s not spring. 

Are you waiting for something impatiently?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Leonard Bernstein and something Mass(ive)

One wonders from where certain turns of phrase came.  Take that charming idiom “butthead.”  I shall wonder no more, for Friday night, the meaning was made clear as fine crystal.  What is less clear is this, why do such things happen to me? 

Being a trifle ignorant of musical theatre in general, I had never heard of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass”, which I note from the program is a theatre piece for singers, players, and dancers.  (My companion and I were there to see one singer in particular in the bass section, and he did a fine job.  I wish I could say as much for a few of the soloists.  As Bart Simpson says “ay, caramba!”) 

Two items before I dive into the aforementioned figure of speech.  One, when attending religious performances, it helps to have a good idea of meanings or symbols or traditions to prevent one’s companion (or self) from muttering “what the heck is going on?”  I needed a Catholic to guide me here, as my knowledge of that religion stems from “Father Dowling Mysteries” and “Sister Act”. (The last Mass I attended was Bach’s “Mass in B Minor,” which was no aid.  I didn’t understand that one, either.)  How would I know when the SECOND INTROIT or CREDO started?  What about the MEDITATION No.3 and the OFFERTORY De Profundis, part 2?  And what was that little sash thing-y hanging around the priest’s neck?  Hollywood just doesn’t get into enough detail…drat!

Second, when foreign languages are involved and supertitles are not, abandon all hope ye who speak not the language.  Latin for example.  My botanical Latin did nothing for me.  “Domine, audi vocem meam!”  I can’t recall any plants with those epithets attached to them, but luckily, my handy translation in the bulletin tells me this means “Lord, hear my voice!”  I was somewhat thwarted in my attempt (OK, all the way thwarted) to read the translation as we went along because THEATRES TEND TO BE DARK.  Yes, I was upset about it, too, but that didn’t stop the elderly gent a few rows ahead.  He popped out a pen light and followed along.  The warm, friendly glow was not quite as irritating as the cool blue light of a texting screen.  I try to make the best of things, you know. 

I am used to the peppier Leonard Bernstein (or “LB”, as he’s known to posh crowds) sets.  When all the ragtag/street chorus came on to stage, for one bright,hopeful moment I thought it was the Sharks and the Jets and someone was going to belt out “Maria! I just met a girl named Maria!” 

No such luck, for then the modern dancers leapt across and writhed around.  Did I mention the large choir on scaffolding in the background and the children’s choir in the foreground?  At one point, my companion hissed to me “What is he doing?!”  It was a rather loud hiss and I felt compelled to shush him, but in fairness, a dancer was either dancing with or dragging the music stand of the oboe soloist across the stage in tortured spurts, so my fellow theatre goer shall be forgiven for the outburst.

At halftime, I mean intermission, I met one couple who decided to leave while the getting was good.  “This is either the most reverent or the most irreverent thing I’ve seen,” one said on the way out the door, “I just don’t feel good about it.”  When I think of all the constructive things I could have accomplished during the last two hours of the performance (organize my blouses by color, devote more time to writing a coherent string of thought for my blog, read the newspaper) I conclude they were the wise ones.  This was three different musicals mashed into one, and perhaps the composer intended it to be discordant and indecipherable.  He was the musical genius, not me, but I give it the thumbs down.

To cleanse my inner vessel (you see I am capable of understanding some religious imagery, Mr. Bernstein), I must share this first and only time I had the bad fortune to be millimeters from the tookus of a stranger.  An unidentified person in the row behind (wink, wink), kept bumping me with what I thought was a purse or coat.  After the tenth bump or so, I hazarded a peek to see what seizures/unruly child/unpacking a suitcase situation was occurring to occasion the assault on the back of my head.  Then, without warning, the black polyester-clad beam was in my face.  Way, way over the back of my chair and in my face.  (And now a moment of silence as you ponder just how glad you are that you are not me.) 

For a prolonged period of time after I whipped my stunned head back around, I kept getting bumped with said trunk junk.  I do have a stubborn streak, and I gave it full reign.  I leaned back and kept my space and the buttocks remained firmly pressed against me for the space of a full minute, which in due reverence to the situation, was probably long enough in “horror minutes” for me to get my hair cut and colored.  Finally (and probably because they heard my partner struggle to stifle a guffaw at my predicament), the offender gave what sounded like a sincere “oh, sorry” and removed the offending caboose.  I might need to shave my head.

Any theatre lately? Horrors with strangers?

Monday, March 7, 2011

‘Running with the Reindeer’ among other things

I ran with a diverse crowd on Saturday.  Just what brings together Sweeney Todd, Santa Claus, Tarzan, and a penguin?  Not alcohol in my case.  (I can’t speak for the others, but I did smell alcohol on the breath of a few Steelers fans.)  A fundraiser (emphasis on fun) for kids, drew the Last Frontier Gardener out of her winter coma cocoon for a little exercise.  With ungulates.

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A relative newcomer to the Fur Rendezvous proceedings, Running with the Reindeer, as I explained to a fine employee of Subway later that evening, actually involves people running with the reindeer.  She thought it was just reindeer running down the street (and was confused when she saw a bib number on my shirt).  What’s the fun in that?  Potential goring or trampling has to be involved to get Alaskans riled up.  And undressed.

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If you are scratching your head about “Fur Rondy”, catch up here and here, and if you must, at the official Rondy site here.  A mere three or four city blocks of a sprint (is that like a 0.5K?) that would hardly wind a four year-old had me in stitches by the end.  And reindeer are most certainly not the hulking, angry bulls of Spain’s famous street runs.  They have actual fatalities and serious injuries there.  The worst we can claim is men clad in fur jock straps perhaps burning the retinas of spectators.  No one told me it was a costume party!  Next year, I’m dressing as a rutabaga.

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I didn’t see any scantily clad women, so I must conclude women are either 1. less tolerant of cold, 2. more modest in dress, 3. smarter, or 4. less juiced up.  I did, however, see a large group of male Aussies in nothing but fur thongs and tattoos (am I the only one left on earth without one?), a large group of men deemed “Spartacuses” by the crowd, and a loner in a postcard-sized green thong.  It was 20 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 7 Celsius.   

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One bad thing about the races, too few reindeer in proportion to runners.  Now the LFG is wily and cunning, so she weaseled her way to the middle of the pack and the middle of the street.  We women (there were three heats, men, women, and groups) were given a ten second head start by the DJ, and though the LFG was muttering under her breath about bigots, double standards, dark ages, and DJ’s, she got her medicine in the end. 

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I wanted to be touched by a reindeer.  After watching people run too fast, too slow, or not at all and hardly see a reindeer during their run, I devised my plan.  “Be pushy and practice some crowd threading to gain the place I wanted.”  As I am tall, I think I intimidated most of the people inclined to say, “Hey!” or worse.   I got into my best Apolo Anton Ohno speed skating stance, and 3-2-1, we were off. 

Shrieking from some runners, and the clopping of hooves.  Next thing I know a reindeer barrels into me, pushing me to the left.  Hard.  And then, another.  Success!  It may have been the adrenaline speaking, but those beasts looked shoulder height and about 2000 pounds.  They might have had fangs, too, I’m not sure.  

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The LFG husband is fired as head cinematographer/photographer.  After I finished my race and found him and the kids on the sidewalk (harder than it sounds, there were at least five hundred other tall guys with kids wearing red coats), he looked at me and said, not ‘you were great’ or even ‘I saw you get bumped!’  No, no, he said, “Did you already race?”  I regret to inform you no photographic evidence exists of my brush with death, but maybe I’ll smarten up next year and give the camera to my 10 year-old.

Seen any memorable costumes? Races?


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