Archive for June 2005

A Brief Note

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Mrs. Perils and our son atop Pilot Rock

Wow, we’re so busy, I don’t have very many contemplative moments to do any “writing”.  Our first two plays here were comedies, and not that thought-provoking.  The first, Shaw’s The Philanderer, was packed with witty dialogue and a lot of its comedy relied on the ideas being explored and filtered through well-developed characters.  You need a little bit of cultural context to fully comprehend what’s going on.  It was set around perhaps the first wave of women’s rights movement in the late 19th century, and the effects it was having on courting and relations between the sexes, at least in the educated urban social stratum of the play.  I will more fully explore this later (we’re heading off to Crater Lake as soon as the gang downstairs realizes I’m blogging and physically drags me off to the car).

The other comedy, Room Service, was broad, more physical comedy, and was about an act too long.  The Festival needs a show like this to put butts in seats, and I don’t begrudge it, since it, like everything else here, is done superbly.

Last night, we saw Richard III, and I can’t even begin to treat it at this moment.  It’s too reductive, but impossible not to, connect Richard/Buckingham with Bush/Rove somehow.  I won’t say anything more until I can say something intelligent.

Interspersed with the plays, as always, we’ve had Outdoor Adventures - a nice hike yesterday, and a climb up Pilot Rock Monday.

OK, I’m discovered, and need to post.

Another WhackMobile

Can’t help just one more photo post. Last Friday, after the Rose Garden trek, we had dinner at the Tangletown pub. As we were leaving, this CRx pulled up all decked out as a BuddhaMobile. I’d seen it before going down the street, but I didn’t have my camera. This time, I was ready.

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Florid Friday

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A picture named RoseGarden1.jpgBefore I plunge ahead with more Ashland stuff, I wanted to post some photos from the end of last week, before the Salon server cratered.   On Friday, I walked my mom up to the Woodland Park Rose Garden. She’s planning to tell her friends back in Ohio that it’s my back yard.

Geology Lesson

A picture named MtStHelens.jpg Our flight to Medford stopped in Portland, and on our descent we passed really close to Mt. St. Helens.  This picture looks into the caldera from the northeast - you can see the path of the blast from its eruption 25 years ago.

Off For Some Culcha

We’re flying off this morning to Ashland, Oregon for another dose of plays. We’re taking my Mom along, and staying through 7/3. Last year’s trip is chronicled in a category at the left. We’ll be seeing:

    • The Philanderer - George Bernard Shaw
    • Room Service - John Murry & Allen Boretz
    • Richard III - Shakesbeer
    • Doctor Faustus - Christopher Marlowe
    • Love’s Labor’s Lost
    • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom - August Wilson
    • Twelfth Night
    • Napoli Milionaria! - Eduardo del Filipo

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival runs from February through November, but we have been going this last week of June for 12 years, and the weather has almost always been terrific. Our first exposure to the festival came when we accompanied a group from our son’s school, and we’ve been going every year since.
Our son is already down there with some friends, and we’ll hook up with him for some hiking and, probably, climbing. We’re hoping to make a trip to Crater Lake again this year, but we’ll check the snow level to make sure we can get around. There’s a lot of recreation to be had in the area.
My laptop’s poised, our lodging claims to have wireless broadband and I’ll report as often as I can.

Serendipitous Discovery

Last month when I was visiting my mom, she was very much in a mode of dispossessing herself of stuff around the house, and we found ourselves one evening going through a bookcase upstairs.  We came across a musty-smelling, odd-sized tome entitled

The Dream City
A Portfolio of Photographic Views of the World’s Columbian Exposition

This was the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 that served as the backdrop for Erik Larson’s The Devil in White City.  I started this book sometime last winter, but left it in the seat pocket of an airplane, and haven’t yet acquired a replacement.  It’s a selection of my online book club in the near future, though, so I’ll have to get back to it. 

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In the meantime, I’ll get the flavor of the time, perhaps better than even Larson did, by immersion in this photographic tour of the Exposition.  The book has to have come to us from my great-grandparents, who lived in Waukegan during that era and surely would have attended at some point.  The pictures in the book disclose a history of a remarkable, opulent undertaking featuring incredible structures and idiosyncratic exhibits.  But most delightful in this book is the text accompanying the pictures, which, in its grandiose diction, whacked-out syntax and perhaps unintended candor, is incredibly entertaining.  I presume that this book is an official publication of the Fair, but the author of the text, confident that he won’t be edited, takes a blogger’s license in his prose.  I’ll just have to give you some examples.  The binding is fragile and disintegrating, but I’ll try to scan some representative pages.

THE WOMAN’S BUILDING - Great interest attached to the fact that Congress authorized a “Board of Lady Managers” and gave them a Woman’s Building.  The erection of this novel structure was entrusted to Miss Sophia Hayden, architect, of Boston.  It is considered noteworthy that the female sex, celebrated for its love of ornament, placed in Jackson Park the plainest of its buildings.

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GRAND PLAZA ON CHICAGO DAY - Monday, October 9, 1893…We look southeast across the Plaza and Basin, and the reader is to know that all the buildings, all the plazas, the island, the boats, the restaurants, and Midway Plaisance were thus engorged with humanity.  The most terrifying music of China could this day be wreaked on the patrons of the Celestial Theatre, for there was nowhere to go to escape it.

THE GOLDEN DOORWAY OF THE TRANSPORTATION BUILDING - …It may be inferred that the architects, in producing these rich geometrical effects, were inspired by Wagner’s music.  But whether there be or be not any practical relation between music and decoration, the people gave the seal of approval to the “Golden Doorway” … and Wagnerians who spoke in riddles, and the masses, who used shorter words, alike admired and praised the work.

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THE PERSIAN SWORD-DANCE - The engraving presents two public entertainers who, with saber and shield, and in the presence of a referee, pass, posture and belay each other to the music of drum and pipe.  … the civilized Caucasian finds but small satisfaction in the efforts of the Asian to be interesting and entertaining.  … the dances and music of the Far East went begging on Midway Plaisance.  The reason was easily found in the monotony and ear-piercing nature of the music to which all dancing must be done.  It may be admitted that there was a peculiar rhythm to the Turkish drums, and a certain minor roulade in the pipe-tunes;  but the unceasing repetition of these sounds, with the attendant misery to the hearer of an increasing tempo as the dance progressed, drove away the “Christian,” and kept him at a wise distance.

THE OSTRICHES - a learned lecturer, standing among a company of twenty-three full-grown Californian ostriches, expatiated on the habits of his great birds with undiminishing success.  His solemn statements concerning the high development of female rights in ostrich communities were a never-ending source of satisfaction to the ladies and a matter of profound astonishment to all husbands.  the self-forgetfulness of Ostrich, the pater familias, in building the nest, obtaining food, setting on the eggs a stretch of sixteenhours, while the mother sets but eight, and other subjugations of the male were recounted with a fidelity which was deemed to be dangerousy near to treachery by all prudent men. 

Bedtime Story

As noted, my mom flew in yesterday from Detroit (she lives near Toledo).  We’re spending a few days here in Seattle, then flying down to Ashland, Oregon (see category link on the left for details from last year’s trip) on Saturday for a week of play-watching, hiking and just not-working.  I booked her on a 9:30 am flight, so the poor thing had to get up at 4am in order to shuttle up to Detroit in time.  Consolation prize: I used miles and my influence with Northwest Airlines to upgrade her to first class both directions.  By the time I picked her up, she seemed pretty taken with that mode of travel.

In order to be sure to make the bell at 4, she set 2 alarm clocks and asked a neighbor to call her.  I was up at 1 Pacific anyway, so I called, as did my brother in Charleston a couple hours later.  As she said, if I’m not awake after all that, I’ve embarked on a different journey entirely and won’t need such earthly prodding.

So, instead of Camp Phil(2)bin, we’ve got the Phil(2)bin Arms Hotel.  Joining indigenous residents (me, Mrs. Perils, MIL Perils, and Perils, Jr.) were my mom and Mrs. Perils’ sister, who drove over from Idaho in order to catch a plane from SeaTac this morning.  Our neighbor across the street graciously allowed my mom to sleep in her basement apartment, which is temporarily vacant.  This left my sister-in-law to accommodate, on the sofa that I often inhabit when I wake irrevocably in the middle of the night and don’t care to risk Mrs. Perils’ wrath by turning on my reading light.

Things have thinned out here a bit - SIL is off to ATL, son is departing tomorrow morning for Ashland with one of his high school buds and his family (we’ll hook up over the weekend), and the sofa is mine to reclaim if and when marital peace mandates.  Life is good.

Tourist Season II

Off to the airport to pick up my Mom.  Details later.

Observations On Meg Ryan’s Acting Career

You’re a so-so blogger in a slump, and you haven’t seen anything above the knees since April.  Then you’re sitting in a coffee shop and here comes something big, fat, and right in the wheelhouse:

Brain areas shut off during female orgasm


Now I know why my questions about Proust are unwelcome during those climactic moments.  Timing might just be everything.

Apparently in-depth research was conducted prefatory to these conclusions.  There was a control group, and an out-of-control group.  Particularly cruel was this observation:

Holstege said he had trouble getting reliable results from the study on men because the scanner needs activities lasting at least two minutes and the men’s climaxes didn’t last that long.

That’s what the Proust is for, knucklehead.

If It Quacks…

A picture named new-1.jpgWell, Camp Phil(2)bin’s reputation is taking a beating.  I picked my buds up at the Holland America dockside Sunday.  It never occurred to me what a logistical undertaking a cruise ship is.  You actually need an appointment to be able to walk off the damn things.

I played it pretty straight, tourist-wise.  I dragged them to the Pike Place Market, which they seemed not to have heard a lot about.  They loved all the vendors that were giving free tastes of stuff, and dug the flying fish vendor.

Next, they agreed that the Duck ride would give them the best concentrated tour, and off we went to the Seattle Center, where the Ducks depart from.  I prayed that no one would recognize me as we rolled through the streets.

We finished up at the Ballard locks, and the adjacent salmon ladder.

I’ve done my bit now for the low end of the tourist industry.  Pray for the next brace of visitors who ring me up in all innocence and ask what to do in Seattle.