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

Third Time

After driving to Tulsa and leaving off my friend there, I flew back to California. It was on the flight from Dallas that I got the adventure I didn’t get on the road trip.

We were late in pushing back from the gate because there was a technical glitch in the cockpit that needed investigating and fixing.

We finally got clearance for take-off. We were strapped in and ready. The engines were revved up and we flew down the runway, but then the pilot slammed on the brakes. He revved up again, we gathered speed, and he slammed on the brakes again.

At that point I was going to raise my hand and say I wanted off the flight. taking off

The captain aborted the flight and we taxied back to the gate where we sat for another half hour as a tech worked on the indicator light that insisted on blinking its beady little head.

I was grateful our captain wasn’t taking any chances with the flight, so that calmed me down.

The third attempt at take-off was successful since I’m writing this. The flight itself was uneventful and the landing was smooth without any hard bounces.

I thanked the captain as I got off for another day of life. He was madly writing notes on a clipboard.

Calvin says, “Woa. If I had been under the seat I’d had bayed my head off.”

Iowa Is Good for Writing

My friend and her husband are driving cross country to deliver a car to their daughter in D.C.

Nevada and Utah were blanketed in snow, which made for stunning pictures. Wyoming was another matter. Flat is the only word for it. A view of the occasional cow on some green land was the only bump on the landscape.

Now they’re in Iowa, home of John Wayne and its depressing Main Street, which looks more like a movie set than a real place for real people who work, play and raise families.  

I’m so used to living on the coasts that I forget there’s a whole country in the middle of the country. It looks like a foreign land to me. I expect people to be speaking another language and living another culture. And perhaps they do. They are ranchers and farmers and people who have worked the cornfields all their lives.

I looked up employment in Iowa. The list included pizza driver, office clerk, test administrator and library assistant. I noticed there weren’t any tech jobs. That’s probably because there’s no internet. Who needs internet for herding cows? Two border collies will do.

What I did discover were a ton of bloggers from Iowa. A lot of them are food blogs. But I don’t see Iowa as a foodie destination. How many blog posts do you need for grilling hamburgers?

It’s worth mentioning that there’s the famous Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, which has produced many award-winning authors over the years.

For some, looking at pasture lands and grazing cattle fosters the urge to write. I, for one, wouldn’t find any inspiration looking at a cow chewing the cud. I’d need some action like a line of geese following a marching band.

Calvin says, “And to think Iowa is the bellwether of American politics.” beagle

 

 

 

So It’s Raining

Finally.

It’s been raining cats and dogs.

Mostly cats.

They’ve been under my window at night hissing and booing.

Every day there’s a parade of them sniffing my bushes around the house. Black, white, grey and the occasional tortoise. They prance along with tails high. They learn who’s been there. Then they leave the next memoir installment detailing the gossip of their sordid little lives for the others to stay current.

To my knowledge there’s hasn’t been a runaway best seller yet.

They’re not too happy this week.

The daily Feline Gazette has been watered down from hard core news to sound bites that are water logged and hold no new mews. The social media section has mud caked on its whiskers. The local news, well there isn’t much due to the storms, which has led everybody indoors to lick their paws.

The few still out there got to witness drama in their own backyard last night.cats and dogs

A train derailed through the canyon. A mudslide washed over a portion of the tracks. One of the cars fell over on its side and slid down the embankment and was baptized in the creek. Fortunately no one lost life or limb, a few ended in the hospital but were later released, and most commuters got home without a scratch.

Those intrepid felines who gathered in the trees got to witness the first responders take charge and do their jobs. It was exhilarating. They’ll have an article in the next edition of the Gazette with their by-line.

If it stops raining.

Calvin says, “Cats are stupid. Why go out in the rain when you can burrow under a down comforter and eat bonbons?” beagle

 

 

 

 

I Did It

I didn’t think I’d do it, but I did.

I watched the Super Bowl.

These things impressed me:

Every seat was filled with a fan. 70,000 of them.

The maturity of the Bronco team. They played well.

The Panthers bounced around like puppies. Give them another five years.

The half-time, minus Beyoncé, was cool. I didn’t cringe for a minuteHalf-time.

I thought the colorful ending was tastefully done.

And when it was over, there were no dead bodies to pick up.

I consider that a successful Super Bowl.

Now let’s get back to real life.

Calvin says, “My favorite commercial was those wiener dogs. A clever idea for those runts.”  beagle

 

 

World Classifieds

My computer is old so today I’ve had the services of an expert who has interrupted my work flow all day as he cleans, updates, and fixes all the glitches I’ve been accustomed to work around for years. Now nothing looks or works the same. I have to type in my username and password on everything again and nothing gets remembered anymore. I suppose that’s the price you pay for security. So much for technology. I’m not sure what it buys us except an industry that has given the entire world much of its employment to a people who probably wouldn’t have made it as car salesmen. I guess that’s saying something.

The last time I IMG_4160checked for an industry that spanned the world was aviation. Remember Pan Am? I think in those days it was the only world carrier at the time.

Then came the pharmaceutical companies, most of which have labs in places like China and India.

And let’s not forget Hollywood, except L.A. still dominates as the hub for celebrities recognized and worshiped the world over. I can’t see Taylor Swift hanging out in Istanbul.

The world has become more fluid, with borders being ignored every day. Even the Monarch butterflies defy all boundaries and fly into Pacific Grove all the way from Mexico.

Calvin says, “You forgot the worldwide dog trade. Puppies come from all over the place, some kosher, others not so much. Those you slip into your pocket.” beagle

Train Tales

People entertain me.

This morning a young woman with green hair and brown roots got on the train. Her head looked like a tree was growing out of it, except the green was more the color of fizzy pop rock candy. She sat where everybody could see her. For the rest of the ride she kept her head bent down so her hair covered most of her face like a veil while she stared at her smart phone.  Jade

The person who sat next to me was someone I couldn’t quite identify at first. Man or woman? Hard to tell. He/she wore black pants, black shirt, black shoes and carried a black backpack. Her hair was blonde and cut close like a man’s. She wore no jewelry or make-up. She yanked out a book, the hardcover kind with rustling pages, and stuck her face in it all the way to the city. At the first stop she got up and bolted out the door. At least she reads.

Two women, who boarded with me, spent the entire trip talking about the dogs they owned. Then they went on to the different breeders they’d known, the different size dogs, and the weaknesses and strengths of the breeds. It was a steady commentary of opinions and judgments until they arrived at their stop. That’s when one said to the other, “Well, it was nice meeting you.”

There’s a man on my car who sits next to the train operator’s booth and welcomes everyone on board from his seat. He’s friends with every operator on that shift and knows them by name. He knows many of the passengers, too, and says good morning to each. He irritates me. I don’t know why, but he does. Maybe because I can’t be cheery that early, or make small talk with a stranger who wants to draw me into his routine, which would obligate me to acknowledge him every morning. I think it’s presumptuous of him to think I’d capitulate to his charms.

Calvin says, “It’s not him, it’s you. You’d like the whole car to yourself.”beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally a Chance!

I’ve been away in Toronto, Canada at the Pan Am Games. I had never heard of them. They don’t get the publicity or the coverage the Summer Olympics do, but they’re similar.

The Pan Am Games are the Olympics of the Americas. I got the impression they are a venue for second-tier athletes who aspire to be Olympians. They get a chance to compete against others of similar standing in an international arena. If they do well and come home with the medals, they’re on their way to being Olympic hopefuls.

The Americans came home with 265 medals. No surprise there.

What excited me, though was to see Brazil with 141, Mexico with 95 and Argentina with 75.

These guys never stand a chance at the Summer Olympics.

Argentina excelled at tennis, rowing, canoeing, fencing, water skiing, and golf. Golf? Yep. IMG_2144 (1)

Mexico outdid the others in squash, racquetball, archery, table tennis, diving, and synchronized swimming. Mexico synchronized swimming? Who would have thought.

You’d never see that at the Olympics.

So I give high praises to the genius who thought up the idea of the Pan Am Games.

What’s still missing is a venue for Middle Easterners, Aborigines, Native Americans, and the gauchos in Patagonia. Then I think we’ve covered the planet.

Calvin says, “Not so fast. What about Hound Games? Every year to see who medals as the top-speed rabbit finder. Even the rabbit has to train.” beagle

A Reality Ride Home

Last week’s subway train was late pulling into the station. The crowd shoving to get on board reminded me of a stampede of cows racing down a hillside before an earthquake hit. A few stations later, a commotion between two people began at the back of the car.

“Don’t touch me!” a woman yelled to a man who had pushed his way onto the car.

“I didn’t touch you!” he screamed back.   Christmas2

“Yes you did! Don’t you touch me!” she bellowed back.

Their voices intensified as we traveled through the tunnel to the next station. At this point everyone was straining their necks watching them.

A reality show was unfolding before us.

Next the name calling began, followed by obscene language, and then tempers erupted.

I didn’t want to be witness to a homicide. I prayed. I asked God to calm them down. He did, but it only lasted until the next subway station. Then both parties detonated again.

“Don’t you remember they taught  you in kindergarten to keep your hands off of other people? Did you learn that?” the woman said.

The man said nothing. He drew a knife.  The woman screamed even louder.

The subway was now parked at the station.  Seconds later the police showed up and stepped on board. They handcuffed both parties and escorted them out of the station.

The rest of the ride home was in eerie silence.

Calvin says, “What they need are sniffer dogs to ferret out eruptions like they do drugs at airports. I’m game. I’ve had lots of practice.”  beagle

 

The Friendly Skies Are Cheap

Flight attendants these days are not a happy bunch.

I noticed on a recent flight on the hipster airline with the purple cabin lights that the 20-something flight attendants were less than overjoyed to be serving us.  cropped-photo7.jpg

Not once did we get a smile with our no-frills cups of water and no peanuts.

They served one round of drinks and went to their jump seats for the rest of the flight to read their e-books. I suppose they would have paid a little more attention to us if the weather had turned turbulent or a bagpiper had walked down the aisle blowing his pipes.

I noticed the same behavior on the flight back home.

And this from an airline that prides itself in innovation and creativity.

I noticed another thing. This airline flies Airbuses and they all need oiling. Every plane I’ve been on squeaks and moans and makes swirling noises like a giant cake mixer. This is especially true at take-off. Landings aren’t any quieter. The landing gear comes down with a thump. First time I heard the racket I wanted off. Now I’m used to it. What is it about European aircraft that they make so much noise?

A flight attendant friend says it’s the low pay that demoralizes everyone.

That may be true. One flight attendant on another carrier makes so little money that she is forced to live in a flop house with 26 other attendants.  Others can’t even find flop houses because they’re all full and sleep in airline lounges, except they’re not allowed to, so they sleep on the floor in the gate areas.

That’s just not right.

If McDonald’s pays $15 an hour, why not the hipster airline? Oh wait. That is the base pay. You get a raise when you turn 102.

Calvin says, “Kennel workers make more than that. That’s why I don’t fly. I like hangin’ with the ground squirrels.” beagle