29 April 2009

A Toke or Two @ 100

I'm guessing the cake actually belongs to this dear lady. Sent to me by friendly ironist, Pat Allen.

26 April 2009

From Larry Meyer's Digital Scrapbook

Posted by: Mayer on April 8, 2009 at 1:32PM EST

An aerial view shows the Red Lodge Mountain ski area with a backdrop of the Beartooth Mountains photographed Sunday morning, April 5, 2009. Sunday was the first clear day after the recent storm and the mountains have a fresh coat of snow and ice. Huge drifts could be seen along the Beartooth front from an altitude of 13,000 feet. The air was clear and smooth making perfect conditions for aerial photography.

I couldn't resist making a copy of this marvelous picture. Larry is an incredible photographer. See My Billings Gazette which looks like it might be trying to corral all the blogs in the area. Check him out.

24 April 2009

Dead Man's Cell Phone @ OSF

We saw and heard Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone last night, a comedy with occasional sermons by the dead man, Gordon, of the title fame. The title gives away the opening gambit. From there it's anyone's guess where this play will go. As usual with Ms Ruhl, another world, or maybe worlds, always seem(s) to hover fairly close to her characters, ready to serve the playwright's needs.

By the way, that is a cartoon of this young and very talented playwright to the left. I took it from an excellent article in the New Yorker magazine on her and her plays by John Lahr. Recommended reading. He calls her way of writing "non-linear realism." I might add a touch of magic too as in "magic realism" from our friends to the south.

This play was entertaining sometimes, and almost always the characters had some crazy or just annoying habits that we were never quite sure whether she was in favor of them or not. There was ample room for the stagecraft magic of OSF to be displayed, and of course, the players were all superb. One of my favorites, Catherine Coulson, my wife always remembers her as the "Fuddy Meers" lady, played a very funny lady of a certain age. I wasn't sure if the cellphones that went off while she was talking were part of the play or not: she could well have been extemporizing about them: a loud Fuck from an unexpected character always brings down the house. The kids like it too.

There was an interesting division between the generations at the end, which Ms Ruhl seemed to have some difficulty finding. The kids all stood and the old folks stayed seated and clapped in a measured way. I'm not sure the kids stood because they thought it was an outstanding play well performed, or because they had learned from watching Oprah that that is what you do at the end of a performance, no matter the quality.

23 April 2009

Death and the King's Horseman @ OSF

Wole Soyinka received a Nobel prize back in 1986, I think for literature, though I could not be sure based on the production of the above-named play at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It just didn't work as drama.

The first act was pleasantly poetic, though somewhat long-winded and close to boring. The second act was more of a longish short story, which did explain some of the magic realism of the first act, but again, it wasn't exactly a play.

An interesting idea, the clash of civilizations, and a way to pay back those awful English for teaching him how to write well enough to tell them off. Still I guess there are many things we must put up with for the sake of getting along. How could we know what is good theatre if we didn't see some bad?

The one thing that was amazing was the guy. Peter Macon, who played Macbeth last night, was understudying the main character in this play, Derrick Lee Weeden, The Horseman referred to in the title, and the bell rang for him to do just that in this performance this afternoon. He was magnificent even if he was looking at the script from time to time. These guys are good even if the play was bad.

22 April 2009

Equivocation @ OSF

The view from my window at the Plaza in Ashland OR.

The title comes from a meaning of the word that was more common in the 16th century: two or more meanings to words, not making clear which one is meant and thus useful when being interviewed by Her Majesty's goons. It loses a little in today's world because we seldom punish people for treason or sedition.

This is both a fascinating and very entertaining play by Bill Cain, opening on 18 April at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland OR. Here is a more conventional review. Strong performances by all 6 players are a necessary part of the show, and they delivered. John Tufts stood out a little taller than some of the others, especially with his delightfully queer Scottish accent delivered as King James. Once or twice he slipped and used it for a half a sentence or so in one of his other incarnations.

Cain explores notions of politics as theatre and vice versa. This might be a play worth seeing a second time, especially after one has seen or re-read a few of the Shakespearean plays alluded to and mentioned in the play. I have a hunch there were some allusions that I missed while laughing at the ones I got. Eventually I only snorted quickly because I didn't want to miss the next sentence. This is a very funny comedy indeed.

These are the boards the actors trod upon. Very solid and smooth.

Because of the many mysteries surrounding that period of time, i.e. around the last decade of the 16th and 1st decade of the 17th century, the playwright figured he could introduce a few of his own ideas about them. The story revolves around the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, the Kings Company of actors for which Mr Shagspeare was writing, and the government's obsession with hunting down Catholics and killing them. The funny bits would often come with what appears to be some contemporary political drama, which then quickly releases into their normal behavior, sort of like our current day TV drama, Medium. The language, when they are playing themselves is contemporary with now, so the F, S and C words are freely used and have their original intended purpose of shocking one to attention as well as being funny.

The connections with "the Scottish play" and Henry VIII are the most common, and curiously enough, they are being performed here at the Festival too, They all seem to have some resonance with current affairs according to the playbill.

20 April 2009

On the Coast Starlight to KFalls

The view in one direction from King Street Station in downtown Seattle. Above is Quest Field (American football) in the open position. Below looking in the other direction are some skyscrapers of downtown Seattle.

The Coast Starlight on Monday 20 April glided gracefully out of King Street Station Seattle right on time at 0945 hours. We were in a surprisingly comfortable coach heading south.

The amount of space is a lot more than on an airplane plus you can easily get up and walk around, and there is a nice lounge car with snacks and good seating for viewing Puget Sound.

As you can see, we were very close to the water here. There were 3 coaches at the end and 4 sleepers at the front with a lounge car, a dining car, and the Pacific Parlour Car, peculiar to the Coast Starlight in between. The water of the Sound seems very clear at least in this part of it.

The above picture is taken in Seattle before we got underway. The King Street Station is supposed to undergo extensive rehabilitation as there appear to be some architectural wonders underneath some incredibly ugly coverings courtesy of that generalized architectural ugliness back in the late 50s and 60s. Below is a better picture taken at one of the stops in Washington, I forget exactly where.

We arrived in Portland and Eugene on time, but then I wandered off before I realized the train was rolling out of Eugene, so I had a little adventure in problem solving on vacation.

Fortunately, I found a taxi willing to drive 150 miles to Chemult. Apparently when I left the train they started having power problems so it was no problem for the car to catch up with the train. No problem as long as I had some cash in my wallet that is. So maybe old dogs can still learn some things. Here is the station sign in Chemult OR. I got there about an hour before the train arrived. It was deserted of course, but fortunately others started coming as they reckoned the Starlight was getting close.

We finally got into Klamath Falls or KFalls as they say here about 2230 hrs, only 40 minutes later than advertised. There were a surprising number of people getting off and on at KFalls.

18 April 2009

Off to Seattle

Horizon to Seattle. They are still one of the more civilized airlines in this part of the world. They don't charge for a reasonable-sized bag. They are usually on time, though not this Saturday on flight 2301, for which they were convincingly contrite. They offer excellent beer and wine for free. I remeber when they were just getting going in the early 80s: their stewardesses, I think they still used that term in those days, would sing songs, funny songs, at the beginning of their flights. Very nice.

I Call This Turdification

I see Mr Huck has been visiting our lawn, such as it is. I think he calls it aeration.

15 April 2009

Tea Party in Billings

Around 12:30pm today I was driving up 27th St and found these folks parading from the Yellowstone County Courthouse down toward the Post Office.

It was fairly cold and rainy, so I just waved and took a few pictures from the car with my trusty pocket camera.

It looked like there were some interesting signs. I suspect while I was on 27th St there were several hundred people there, of varying ages, all looking fairly normal, at least to my eyes.

"Don't Tread On Me" looks like a fairly traditional flag of protest.

Maybe the starting point was the
Courthouse to the

13 April 2009

I like the style as well as the substance

Jennifer has some great little stories to tell about The Greatest Story Ever Told. Check her out.

11 April 2009

A Useful Website for Holy Saturday

Father Longenecker has some interesting stories to tell. Especially his circuitous route to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic church.

And in this one he reports a couple of new things about the Shroud of Turin.

09 April 2009

Florida Signs

On the way to the Keys. This is pretty far south. Florida has plenty of roads but they are still crowded and driven on by mostly maniacs.

Although the roads were crowded the beaches were not, at least in Fort Lauderdale. I don't know where the spring breakers were hanging out. This pale girl must have just arrived from somewhere in the cold north.

Turtles were allowed privacy but humans were encouraged to let it all hang out. Hmm.

These were the signs that we were looking for on the southeast side and on the Gulf side and also up around Tampa and Orlando.

These folks offered really good food in the Fort Lauderdale area, especially catfish, but other seafood as well.

This must be very boring. Lucrative I suppose but very boring. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that because our medical specialists only do one thing they necessarily must do that one thing better than the others.

I found this sign, dated 1933, on an old stone filling station, on a back road near Ocala. The son was the father of the guy I talked too, a real Florida native, at least for 4 or 5 generations.

I found this near the driveway of a Special Forces paratrooper and Vietnam vet who now teaches in a middle school. The kids don't fool around with him. And he seems to get all the hard cases.

These are the Five Ringling Brothers of circus fame. The last and richest of the lot left his stuff to the state of Florida. It is on view in Sarasota. I had no idea that circuses could be so lucrative.

From an airboat, a part of the equipment used by John and Adam McCormick out of Ocala and Crystal River. They run a good business. Recommended.

This seemed like a good idea, especially during Lent. And as a fund-raiser for the school. I like the neon sign as part of the advertising. Churches in Florida do things differently. Though the awful architecture of the late 50s and 60s probably shouldn't be blamed on the churches themselves. I think it was something in the schools that did it.

That's right, we are on our way to a Braves baseball game right here in the middle of Disney's Wide World of Sports. They play all kinds of games here. I knew it was a high class place as I'm sure I saw a lacrosse team walk in with us.

I guess the manatees move slowly, so slowly they have trouble getting out of the way of the boats. I wonder if there are vets who specialize in propellor injuries to manatees. I wouldn't be surprised.

Maybe a sign of the difficult economic times even the big guys are suffering from.

05 April 2009

Men and Women

Women are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the very top. Most men don't want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they often take the apples from the ground that aren't as good, but easy to pick up. The apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, they're amazing. They just have to wait for the right man to come along: the one who is smart and brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.

As for men...men are like a fine wine. They begin as grapes, and it's up to women to stomp the shit out of them until they turn into something acceptable enough to have dinner with.

——From my brother Gerald: we both have amazing wives, definitely top of the tree stuff.

03 April 2009

Breakfast in Saint Augustine

My brother Russ and I are slowly making our way south from Jacksonville, Florida on a Friday morning early in April. Around 10:30 we both start thinking about a little breakfast so we start looking for the places that sell breakfast sandwiches. We are on or near the A1A and fairly close to the Atlantic Ocean, just south of Saint Augustine, renowned for the Spanish landing here sometime in the early 16th century, but a tourist town now, always crowded with elementary and middle school children on a day trip. It is difficult to see any significant mark left by the Spaniards.

We can't find a Hardee's or a MacDonald's or a Denny's or any of the others and we are starting to get desperate, when what should appear to our dazzled eyes but the Dunes Cracker House, a place that has that indeterminate, slightly worn and sometimes a little shabby, at least on the outside look of the 1930s and 1940s that you always saw in the movies of those days. They had a sign out front, "Open for Breakfast." Oddly, there were only about 4 customers in the whole place, though the bar didn't open until later in the afternoon. This may be a sign of the hard times people were talking about.

It was supposedly built sometime late in the 19th century and the bathroom fixtures would seem to go along with that. Pleasant french doors with slowly moving fans on a day that didn't have a lot of early humidity and some very nice if eccentric waitresses together with a good eggs, home fries, toast and sausage breakfast, and a really excellent omelet with coffee for $15! for the two of them.

We thought that was a pretty good deal, especially after paying the same for a beer and a bratwurst at most of the ballparks we had been attending for the past two weeks. I say most because Lakeland, where the Detroit Tigers train not only had $16 decent seats, compared to $20-25 for seats in the others, but hot dogs for $3.50.

It was definitely worth a stop and an interesting example of finding something really good while looking for something else.

These Canadians Pull No Punches

Either our President knows what he is doing and may possibly be surprised at his success, or he doesn't know but is going full steam ahead anyway, thinking, perhaps, that we will forever remain amazed at his chutzpah. There is more of this here.

02 April 2009

These Signs Always Make Me Smile

I guess it comes from growing up in a farming community in the 40s and 50s. By the way, one thing I did find out after perusing a little ballet on the grass and dirt was that Tom Wolfe's magnifcently funny description of the mating of thoroughbred horses in his big book on Atlanta high mucky-mucks, A Man In Full, was probably a reasonably accurate description.

I found this out from a native Floridian in the Ocala area. Yes, Virginia, there are such people.

Earl and Jane Turnipseed's family have lived in Florida for 4 and 5 generations. That is Earl on the left and my brother Russ on Earl's left. That is some of the detail of the stonework to the right.

There apparently is something about the natural way of breeding horses that is required in order to certify that the foal is also a thoroughbred. He also told me the grass around Ocala is similar to that around Lexington, Kentucky.

They live in this lovely stone house, above, built by his grandfather. I'm not sure who ran the stone filling station, below left, close to the highway. The inscription on the front reads J E Turnipseed & Son, 1933, and Earl is the son of the son referred to. As you can see the filling station still stands but is no longer used.

01 April 2009

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue


Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here
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