Sunday, April 20, 2014

When God closes a door, he opens a three hour line

They say when God closes a door, he opens a window, but if you are like me, you have always lived where the windows are pretty much painted shut. You can break the window and climb through, but that sort of makes God look bad. I am pretty sure it goes on your permanent record.

St. Peter: "So did God ever close a door on you?"

Me: "Yes, of course."

St. Peter: "But he opened a window, right?"

Me: "Um, yes, with a little help from me."

St. Peter: "Oh, God needed your help with that."

Me: "A little bit."

St. Peter: "Look, was the window open or not?"

Me: "I thought I felt a definite draft, yes."

St. Peter: "You were able to use the window for egress?"

Me: "Yes, after I put a towel over the broken glass."

St. Peter: "Enter."

Recently, I snagged tickets to hear author John Green speak at an event. My daughter has read his most famous book five or six times. She was excited.

Saturday we got to the fest, and my wife asked, "So you have the tickets?"

Do you know that sinking feeling? You go and check the car, but you already know you got out the front door without tickets.

I vaguely heard the sound of a door closing.

"God," I sighed under my breath.

Bad enough, except that my daughter had invited her school friend, also a fan, to meet us to hear John Green. So I was crushing her dream too.

It was 12. The talk was at 12:30. At 12:20 they were going to start giving empty seats away to people in the very long Standby line.

While the ladies tried to pull up our email on a smart phone, I ran over to a library on campus to try accessing it there. But we changed our password a few months back and I could not get in. I ran back.

No luck with the smart phone either.

At this point, we discovered there was a line forming to get books signed by John Green after the talk, so we jumped in that.

John Green has a fan base. Did I mention that?

It took almost three hours to get those books signed, but in the end, my wife, my daughter and her friend all got to meet Mr. Green face to face, something they never would have done if I had not screwed up totally.

Do you feel a draft? Because I do.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Planning a trip to England is as entertaining as the trip

Planning a major trip is like the flu—it quietly gains an unstoppable momentum all its own.

We are heading to England this summer, so there is the predictable debate about rental car vs. train for traveling around, can't-miss sights vs. sights which don't involve "Benny Hill" history. The usual.

My son loves the "Doctor Who" TV show, so we have to go to Cardiff to see the "Doctor Who Experience," which, if it were anything like the real doctor's experience on the show, would involve living forever with a rotating succession of ever more beautiful 20 year old women.

I do not think that experience can be had in Cardiff. At least not for the 15 pounds they are asking.

I am a native Californian, so I am leaning toward driving everywhere, whereas my wife is a native Coloradan, so she is leaning toward not wanting to deal with how cranky I get when I drive everywhere.

The train is expensive, but this is a vacation after all, and the relaxation which comes from sitting, and not driving, and enjoying the English countryside from a train window is probably worth it.

O.K., very funny. My wife just wrote that last paragraph while I was off in the kitchen.

I was making bangers and mash. My well-traveled friend told me they test your skill at making bangers and mash at the airport, and won't stamp your passport if you fail.

He might just be messing with me, but he also figured out that 9/11 was a conspiracy between narco-traffickers and Coca-Cola. So I am not taking any chances.

We have a lot of ground to cover; a great loop of England, Wales and Scotland with possibly a short hop to Dublin for the waters. I hear the Guinness brewery is doing wonderful things with waters.

When you start searching online for interesting places to visit, you find things like the "tank museum" in Dorset, and you quickly learn to refine your search terms.

You are often torn between the touristy tug of places like Stratford and less famous villages like Barton in the Beans and Pett Bottom.

We will make our plans, but we will also, I hope, discover things to explore along the way, on the fly. I anticipate conversations like this:

"There's a town called Weston-under-Lizard just five miles over. Do you want to go?"

"Oh, I think you know."

. . .

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday Wa Pic - Femme-ergy drink?

 The original brand, "Wait, Woman!" did not sell well at all.
A woman who lives with purpose and passion.
A woman who lives with purpose and passion
A woman who lives with purpose and passion

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Another half-baked conspiracy is toast

In our technologically glutted age, there is a hunger to return to days of yore, when we tribes tattooed our loyalties on our skin, pierced our flesh to attract a mate, and savored simple food, like toast.

Toast is humanity's touchstone, and so it was inevitable that toast would become an overpriced hipster trend.

Put a bone through your nose and don't forget the most important meal of the day.

Gourmet toast shops have sprung up all over, from San Francisco, where the fad understandably began, to London. Four dollar cinnamon toast. Seven dollar brioche, topped with 'house made ricotta," because god forbid you aren't able to track down the source of your cheese.

Some might say this is the middle class's way of buoying its spirits after the Great Recession, to reassure itself that as long as it can afford seven dollar toast it must be doing all right. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Toast is the canary in the coal mine. Toast is the test.

First, the corporate overlords convinced us four dollar coffee was nothing to rebel against, nothing to get our little wooden swizzle sticks in a swirl about. Then they got us used to pizza with cheese stuffed right inside the crust like some sort of gooey albino serpent.

(Biblical symbolism intended.)

There was a time when we knew, as a people, that cheese went on pizza. That coffee was a buck with infinite refills. That toast was that thing we ate only if we were still hungry after the eggs and the slab of ham the size of Beyonce's Benz.

If they can convince us seven dollar toast is normal, how long until we don't even flinch as they start fracking our back yards?

This trend even has a name. They call it "artisanal" toast. This conjures up the image of an aproned, bewhiskered craftsman with muscled forearms hunched over a butcher block table, fiercely concentrating. A lock of curly hair teases his forehead. You would date him if he existed.

He does not. Your artisan is a 31 year old aspiring screenwriter, making minimum wage spreading butter and cinnamon sugar on bread. He is blameless. He cannot see the machine from within the gears.

Take a bite out of this, doubters: the letters in "artisanal" are an anagram for the phrase "liar Satan." Coincidence? Maybe. But I'm pretty sure at the bottom of this is some very sourdough.

. . .

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A return to the high school stage after 35 years

You can go home again, but only if you agree to wear makeup. 

Until last night, it had been fully 35 years since I appeared in a high school musical, but my daughter's school production of "The Music Man" did not have enough dudes.
One thing that has not changed in 35 years in high school theater is it attracts more girls than boys at a roughly 5-to-1 ratio. (I was no fool. I did 10 shows in high school.)
So my daughter suggested to her teacher that her dad could be one of the guys in the show's barbershop quartet.
It is not just the funding at public schools that is desperate these days.
So I have spent the last six weeks rehearsing "Lida Rose" and all those old classics with my quartet-mates, consisting of one of the school's P.E. teachers, an orchestra teacher, and another cast member's mom.
Yes, even when casting about for adult dudes, there was a shortage. Luckily, the director did not balk at putting a mom in a fake mustache to sing tenor.
Backstage at a high school musical is like some kind of free-form poem about shedding childhood. Girls fuss over hair and makeup while guys say things like "Where did my #!!%&!! shoes go?" and "Is my vest on backwards?"
They do not know it yet, but they will be saying these same things for the next 60 years.
Favorite moments:
Watching my daughter plant her feet and deliver her lines like a pro.
A young man lamenting, "I've done 10 musicals and I've never had to wear lipstick before."
Nailing the quartet harmony. On certain soaring four-part high notes, it felt like my ears were going to leave my head.
Standing offstage watching a dance scene, when a hat suddenly hit me in the crotch. A dancer apparently decided it was excess equipment.
The image of half a dozen young women, dressed in billowy Greek gowns, boogying down on stage to the Act II overture before the curtain opened.
None of these kids was born when my own high school did "Music Man." The show hasn't changed. Kids haven't, either. Anyone who worries about the future should stand in the wings and watch 20 teens in ankle-length dresses carry benches and spin sets into place like a pit crew. 

In the dark.
I don't remember being awed by that 35 years ago. Call it one of the benefits of age.