February 26, 2014

February 26, 2014

First Bank of Back & Yard

A good summer vacation—nay, a good childhood—is at least 10% digging up stuff in your backyard. Maybe you had one or two special treasure spots. Mine were under the picnic table (so many worms!) and behind the tree in the corner of the yard where the chain link fence made a little hideout. I bet if I looked at that spot now, I would be shocked at how small it is. Or perhaps the tree is no longer there. Because I am old.

Anyway, though I found many a worm and the occasional interesting stone, not once did I find anything really cool. Like an arrowhead. Were arrowheads a thing where you grew up? Wisconsin is full of Indian names like Menomonee, Chippewa, and Potawatomi, so as a kid you feel there’s a good chance of finding an arrowhead wherever and whenever you look. (Never mind that you never actually end up finding one. Details, schmetails.) I’m not sure whether this is true in other parts of the country, or in other countries. If you dig in your backyard in Russia, do you find a Cossack? Idk.

I have nothing, though, on the people who found millions of dollars of gold coins in their backyard. First of all, that dog should now be set for life, because he is literally the founder of that feast. Also, if only those people from American Digger had been a little quicker, amiright? I’m disappointed, though, that “the first thing the family did after finding all the cans was rebury them in a cooler under their woodpile.” Really? This was the first thing? Should I ever find a trove of golden coins, I will first do this...

Doesn’t matter how few coins. I’ll make it work.

...then I will hit up the nearest seafood buffet, asking if they have change for a doubloon.

So even though it was a dog and not a kid that did the treasure hunting in this case, I feel like this is yet another example of why people with kids need to live in places with backyards.* Digging in public parks and playgrounds is frowned upon at best. OR SO I’VE HEARD, AHEM.

* Also, it leaves the city condos for us adults. A kid got off the elevator in my building yesterday and I was so surprised I almost slapped her.

February 19, 2014

February 19, 2014

The Cruelest Month

I’m in the midst of moving, and while I am the most organized person I know, I am a novice at relocation. I don’t know how transients, nomads, and the military handle relocating every few years. The physical exhaustion alone is almost unbearable; after moving eighteen million boxes one day last week, I had energy to do nothing more than drink two Diet Cokes over the course of three “Orange Is the New Black” episodes.

Honestly, we’re only now getting to the point where it feels like we’re living in a really bad hotel, where everything is still in boxes and none of the light switches do what you think they will. MADNESS.

(But did I mention that I now have a view of the Washington Monument from my sunroom? And that I have a sunroom?)

It's tiny but it's there. That's what she said.

We should have known this was going to be a rough month, though, what with imposingly-named winter storms (PAX! REX! DIABLO!) twice a week, Bob Costas’s pinkeye-that-would-not-quit, and this:

If you’re eating a Hot Pocket, your taste in meat won’t be discouraged by a frown from the USDA, okay? I say this as a person who has consumed more than her fair share of pastry-encased cheese and meat shards. If anything, you opt for Lean Pockets because they’re healthy. They come in a green box and everything. Healthy. HEALTHY.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to a beloved frozen food, and it probably won’t be the last. I say stock up while the getting is good.

February 11, 2014

February 11, 2014

So, Sochi

Let’s talk Winter Olympics, people.

As someone who grew up in one of the ridiculously cold states, I was exposed to them from a very young age. I mean, Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair were my hometown heroes, and I have verified through three independent sources that people not from Wisconsin have heard of them too. In these games, then, is the chance for Cheeseheads to prove their worth by moving quickly on frozen surfaces and/or shooting things and/or sweeping the ice in advance of large stones.

But before all that: the opening ceremonies.

We knew going in that they were going to be amazing or a catastrophe, but nothing in between. Russia doesn’t do “in betweens.” (I think “Russia” actually translates into “Go big or go homenik” in the original Cyrillic.) Plus, with the way Putin rolls, you had to fear that anyone responsible for mistakes in the program would be executed. Publicly. Possibly during the games.

Sadly for me, the whole thing kicked off with Bob Costas’s wonky eye. Now I am a big fan of Costas. BIG FAN. No NBC sporting event is complete without coverage from that little man. And yet, when I tuned into NBC last Friday night, I got this:

I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!

You have got to be kidding me.

Then the first of like eighteen hours of opening ceremonies began. A young Russian girl sucked us into her mindhole to teach us the Cyrillic alphabet. And not for the last time, I complained to TheBoy—who speaks Russian because OF COURSE HE DOES)—that the Cyrillic alphabet makes no effing sense. One of the letters is an asterisk, for crying out loud.

Next was some interesting choreographed movement stuff, which wasn’t nearly as good as when the Asians did it. This is true of most things, though. Thankfully, the parade of nations started and I was OVERJOYED when I learned they’d be marching in Cyrillic alphabetical order.

(One of the first things I’m going to do in the afterlife is find Cyril and punch him in the face. Any of my ghost blog readers should feel free to beat me to the punch. Oh, ZING.)

I look for a few things in the parade of nations:

1. Interesting outfits, both good:


And bad:

Many rainbows were harmed in the making of these jackets.

2. Countries you didn’t even know existed, like Chinese Taipei.

3. My three favorite teams: USA, GB, and South Korea.

4. The stateless wanderer Olympians, which this year included India because of some juicy corruption scandal.

Plus the awkward running commentary NBC makes its people do to fill time during the marches. The “fun facts” often are about wars, genocide, or other atrocities because life is messy. Awkward.

So the Parade of Nations ended roughly around dawn, at which point it was time to re-enact the history of Russia through ballet. There was a lot of stuff here I didn’t follow, with Vikings and hipsters and Communism. I think there were hipster Communists at one point, even. Oh, and dancers that look like luminescent jellyfish, which seemed like a Project Runway challenge gone horribly awry.

Finally, it was time for the speeches. I’ll be honest: I was on a time delay so I watched this part at 2x speed. The Russian was equally incomprehensible, but the speakers sounded a bit more like chipmunks so there’s that. Then they* lit the cauldron and I realized there either wasn’t going to be a pogrom, or it wasn’t going to be televised.

Speaking of not televised, NBC didn’t see fit to include my very favorite portion of the ceremonies in its eighteen-hour coverage:

Find me the American police choir that’s half as good as this! SHARP, guys. Very sharp.

*Very important Russian athletes, but none of which were Muhammad Ali.

February 4, 2014

February 4, 2014

To My Fellow Theatre Patrons

Dear Fellow Theatre Patrons,

It is the best of times, in that we have an overwhelming number of options when it comes to the visual and performing arts. Concerts. Film. Theatre. Sculpture. Portraiture. From puppetry to mime, you can probably find it being created and performed in the greater Washington, DC area. Not since the halcyon days of the ancients has it been so easy to find Art. Look no further than the nearest Banksy installation.

However, you must admit that the consumption of Art is affected somewhat by the presence of others. Though the proverbial tree in the woods only makes a sound if someone hears it, that person can only hear it IF YOU HAVE TURNED OFF YOUR FREAKING CELL PHONE. And unwrapped your butterscotch candies. And deposited your purseful of loose change in the nearest fountain.

Let’s talk about your grandchildren, whom you brought to the Kennedy Center’s performance of Elf. Though the musical’s content is appropriate for young children, other aspects of its performance are not, including the fact that it didn’t begin until 7:30 PM. I know very little about the ways of young children, but I daresay they are ill equipped to be out in public at that hour, much less sitting STILL and QUIETLY so the woman next to them will stop staring daggers at their smallish heads.

I thank you, Couple Who Brought Their Grandchildren to Elf, for leaving at intermission. I will not thank you, however, for the pile of candy wrappers and forlorn Santa hat you left behind.

Alas, it’s not just the children who affect the theatergoing experience. To the Woman Who Overlaughed at Peter and the Starcatcher: What did you take before the show, and can I have some? Or is the belly laughed that erupted from you frequently and well your regular laugh? This was a Santa-level laugh; the sort of thing you would expect to hear from James Earl Jones when he gets tickled. Peter and the Starcatcher was funny, so I don’t begrudge the laughter (that much). It was just so much more intense and frequent than I could make sense of. Plus there were all those times when you DIDN’T laugh at an obvious joke. It really kept me guessing. In case you were wondering whether your laugh had lost any of its potency, I believe my friend P—the one who was sitting directly on your left—is still deaf in one ear.

When it comes to theatre, we are all in it together. Much more so than with paintings or television or the circus. We must be able to both LOOK and LISTEN to what’s happening on-stage. By which I mean: Yes, I am folding my playbill into a tiny paper dagger for a reason.