The Theater Less Filled

For all the doom and gloom out there in the media, all you have to do is take a trip to New York for a corrective. The city is bulging at the seams, especially in summer. The rest of the world might be suffering, but the crowds in New York are in the restaurants, in the theaters and at Macy’s. I went there one early afternoon and as soon as I stepped inside, I wanted to run out again. It was wall-to-wall humanity, from the rich to the not-so rich, spraying perfume on themselves, looking at shoes and wristwatches, and trying on the latest red shade of lipstick. Adding to the agony of suffocation were a plethora of security guards watching the shoppers’ every move.

Most theaters are doing a lottery to fill their seats these days, except Hamilton of course. I walked up to the box office and inquired if they had a couple of spare seats for that day or night. The man behind the glass plate (have you ever wondered why the glass plate?) laughed himself silly. “Come back in January,” he said. This was August.

So I saw The Humans, the Tony award winner for best play and best performances from an actor and actress. It was so depressing I wanted to cry. I also didn’t think the story was unique or compelling enough to win all those awards, so either New York is depressed or there was some heavy politics involved.

I tried the lottery for On Your Feet, the Gloria Estefan story, and won! I was elated even if it did mean sitting on the third floor balcony and looking down on the stage like an eagle. The music and dancing and singing were outstanding and by the end of the two and half hour show you were on your feet moving with the company on stage. It was confusing to me why something this well done and uplifting had empty seats while something so depressing like The Humans had a full house. It goes to show that winning is everything.

Image result for on your feet, broadway

Calvin says, “The public is so easily led. Me? I stick to my nose. It never lies.” beagle

Mozart Tickles the Brain

Move over Beethoven. Mozart has claimed the number one spot for memory boost.

According to an article in the Daily Mail, listening to Mozart “showed an increase in brain wave activity linked to memory, understanding and problem-solving, researchers found.”
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3112339/How-listening-Mozart-boost-memory-Classical-composer-s-music-linked-increase-brain-wave-activity-beats-Beethoven.html#ixzz3cD9MqqY6
If that’s true, I’m listening to Mozart in every room in the house because I can’t find my glasses.

It will be especially advantageous in the kitchen when I try to remember if it’s one teaspoon of cayenne pepper in the chili or one tablespoon.

Apparently there’s something special in Mozart’s music that stimulates brain wave activity directly related to memory.

Sure beats working on those crossword puzzles. Mozart2

We should pipe in Mozart in every retirement home and senior center around the country.

When my uncle retired, he moved to a senior living community in Las Vegas and joined a local theater group. Then he dropped dead. I suspect he would have had many more years of acting if he had been listening to Mr. M at mealtime.

Researchers used the ‘L’allegro con spirito’ from the Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major by Mozart as their test music piece. This means they’ll be a rash of downloads to people’s smart phones and tablets if they can remember how to do that. The volume of sales will clog up the system and we’ll be forced to buy entire Mozart collections in order to isolate that one piece.

Oh well.

We needed some musical education.
Calvin says, “Download Elvis singing Hound Dog and play it by my food dish.” beagle

 

 

 

 

And the Oscar Goes to…

I watched the Oscars last night. It was your typical gathering of egos swishing in borrowed gowns and dripping in rented jewels waiting with thumping hearts for their name to be called as a winner.

There were no upsets except for the Mexican director who ran away with three Oscars for best picture, best screenplay and best director. What a statement for immigration! cropped-photo1.jpg

Then there was Neil Patrick Harris’ ridiculous display of himself before a world audience. Really? Even though it was a play on a scene in Birdman, was that the best Hollywood could come up with? It disrupted the glow of the show and it made no sense outside of its blatant statement to the gay community.

Lady Gaga should fire whoever put her in that white fluffy dress for her tribute to the Sound of Music. She looked like a stuffed cloud.

Hollywood is so proud of itself for mirroring the condition of the world in its movies. This year’s were either violent, abusive or psychologically deranged. Is that what they think of the country and the rest of the world? Have they spent any time with a farmer in Kansas or a small business owner in Brooklyn?

I find it a shame they have sequestered the live orchestra in another building so you don’t see the musicians anymore. They are an integral part of the show and they’ve been made invisible.

The thing I liked best about the Oscars is that it’s only once a year.

Now I can get on with my gardening. Time to feed the roses.

Calvin says, “Were you expecting normal from a group narcissists who worship at the Oscar idol? Now who’s deranged?”  beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Spot a Phony Restaurant

I knew the moment we walked into the restaurant it was a mistake.

El Gordito was proud to be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week. It even sported a sports bar.

The owner grabbed me by the arm and walked me and Alf to a booth by a window. He dealt the two over-sized menus like playing cards, and left us. I looked around the room. We were the second customers for dinner. The first was a robust family of six, just finishing their meal. They looked up and smiled.

The owner returned. He was a man in his fifties, with dark short hair, a little black mustache, and quick eyes. He brought a basket of chips and a bowl of red salsa and plunked them down in front of us.

“Somtin do drink?” he said.

Alf suggested a margarita. I said no. This place would front load it with corn syrup and fake juice.

“Ice tea,” I said.

“Sangria,” Alf said.

The owner rolled his eyes and left. He went behind the bar and prepared the drinks. The only TV in the sports bar was flickering a basketball game. How un-Mexican. Where was the bullfight?

The tortilla chips were brittle. They had been fried in lard, a darling of Mexican cooking. I saw myself launching guerilla warfare from my booth with them and perforating the owner and the chef.

“Cause of death: impaled by chips,” the coroner’s report would state.

The salsa was thick, tasteless, and hot. The heat was poor camouflage for its nastiness.

I looked around. The window was covered in drawings of blue, pink and green margarita cocktails.

A couple roared into the parking lot on matching motorcycles. He looked like a mafia don, dark and mysterious behind dark glasses, she like a mortuary hairstylist, petite and curvy with lots of makeup. They were the third victims coming for dinner.

“See, we’re bringing in a crowd,” I said. “We should get this meal gratis.”

The interior of the restaurant was like the country of Mexico stuffed into one small place. Stone walls with paintings of Mexican towns, pottery in garish colors erupted with plants and vines in profusion. The booths and tables were made from rough wood and carved with designs of birds and flowers. Nothing matched.

Maybe if I spoke in Spanish I would win us special attention and we could order off-menu.

I ordered in Spanish, the owner replied in English. He was onto me.

We chose the most authentic item on the menu – tacos al carbon – tacos with grilled steak, raw onion, cilandro and lime. Everything else on the menu came smothered in melted cheese, re-fried beans with a side of lard.

While we waited, a minstrel sat down on a chair, donned a Mariachi hat, and pulled out his guitar. A laminated sign next to him read, “Teeps. Muchas gracias.”

Our dinner arrived. The plates looked like platters. We searched for our tacos. They were hiding under a mountain of shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes. They were soggy. It was a scavenger hunt locating the meat. The rice and re-fried beans oozed into everything like an oil spill.

The Mariachi strummed his guitar and sang pathetic love songs that were popular in Mexico thirty years ago. He was off key. He jumbled the words. He switched to classical. He murdered the music.

We picked at our food and ate what we could so we wouldn’t embarrass the owner.

“How’s everytin?” he said.

“Great,” Alf said through teeth full of lard.

I said nada.

The dissonant notes of the guitar engulfed the room.

I began to laugh and couldn’t stop.

“I’m the one drinking the alcohol,” Alf said.

The owner asked us about dessert. I wanted to tell him his place was sugar-coated with lies, enough for a telenovela, but I bit my tongue.

Calvin says, “Food is food. I’d have wolfed down that lard in a heartbeat.”