Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Day in Chicago

When Pat mentioned wanting to take the boys to a "Show" in Chicago over Christmas, I was shocked, then a little scared. Pat has not been that crazy about theater or musical productions. He usually hates everything. Now, he has come a long way in the last few years, having a musical and theatrical son. He has truly come to appreciate the events and plays the boys have been invovled in. That's about as far it goes,though. For example, he agreed to accompany me to a university production of Miss Saigon this fall. We didn't have to leave early, but came close.

So, it was now up to me to find something we might all enjoy. A friend tipped me off that a new Cirque du Soleil production was coming to Chicago and the dates would coincide with our schedule. I found a discount ticket source that also has member reviews. As I started reading more about it, "Banana Shpeel" was being panned by almost everyone. I was really nervous because I read that it wasn't a typical Cirque show with all the razzle dazzle. Most people were complaining that the jokes were corny and the schtick went on way too long.

I waited and waited, for our date (Dec. 28) to open up with the cheap tickets. Instead of $55-90 I could get ours for $35-$65. I went back and forth about whether this show would be worth it. Since I didn't really have any alternatives lined up, I finally took the plunge and picked the middle range seats (first balcony) and clicked my credit card information into cyberspace. The tickets were kept at the will call window, so I really hoped this website was legitimate. I printed my confirmation, etc. just in case. Next I checked on train tickets for the four of us, and they wanted over $400. We would have to drive, in that case.

The morning of our show, it was snowing heavily and the roads were not yet plowed. Pat, being the Buffalo trained driver he is, was confident as the snow was to clear up later in the day. We left early and it took about an hour longer than usual.

Parking in Chicago caused a small panic attack. We found the theater and began looking for a garage, but there was not one apparent. Finally after driving around a few one way streets, we saw a big sign for theater parking. It was one of those new fangled pay in a machine on your way out places. Luckily, I had used one before and knew to check all the orifices of the machine for tickets or receipts I might need to exit the garage, but I was worried the garage would be full. We pulled into the first space we saw which was designed for compact car but Pat nimbly pulled the LeSabre and we squeezed out the doors without scratching the two cars inches from ours.

We were only one block from the theater. We crowded into the packed lobby, approached the will call window, and voila`, our tickets were waiting. Into our seats 20 minutes early. Incredible. The theater was beautiful, but not as lavish as the Palace in Louisville, but the same style. The balcony was full, but we were sardined in with an annoying Chicago lady behind Pat who wouldn't stop yapping about everything and nothing.

Eventually the show started with two clowns miming the two sides of the audience to applaud and cheer loudest. That was stale...but finally they got on with the show. The jokes were corny, slapstick and physical humor, but Pat and the boys laughed noisily, which made me laugh, too. They brought out these fake contestants from the audience (ringers) that generated uproarious laughter from my crew. One was a tiny, skin and bones male (Weasel Boy to Eli) who stripped to his colored briefs and striped crew socks, did modern dance and ran around making funny noises. Another was an old man who came onstage with his walker and was kind of raunchy.

Interspred with the Shpeel were big dance acts, a lot of tapping (see below) which I thought was cool and three or four Cique-type acts. One was a lady who could twirl rugs on her hands and feet at the same time; another was a male pole dancer with impossible musculature that allowed for unbelievable pole gymnastics; a third was a female contortionist and her male counterpart who could have easily broken her neck if he dropped her incorrectly.

The criticims turned out to be of no concern to us, since the vaudeville act was the part the boys enjoyed the most. They could care less about dancing and circus acts. We shopped in Macy's but that wasn't a favorable experience; shopping is a female thing, and I am not even good at it. We found a quick restaurant for dinner and headed home. A successful day in the big city.

Note to self: Either get a GPS, or make sure to print out a Mapquest reversing your trip BEFORE you leave.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dear Betsy

I'm sorry I was preoccupied when you called last night. We were talking about racism and the discussion that was going on at school after a fight had taken place. So, to make up for my rudeness I am posting a bad picture of myself.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


I am liking this Lala thing. When you google a song, often pops up a link to Lala in which you can play an entire song! Not just 30 seconds like on Itunes. I found an old song for my great uncle in its entirety and New World Man by Rush.

Friday, January 01, 2010

No Resolutions

I usually write down some crap for New Year Resolutions that will be forgotten by the next week, but not this year! Ha, I won't even pretend.

Yesterday, New Year's Eve I spent most of the day recovering from a blood donation. Seems that if I donate in the morning, I am a little woozy the rest of the day. It didn't help that my blood pressure was only 90/58, which is not typical for me and I've been fighting a cold. Anyway, I invited Miss M over to help me with my dollhouse. She was supposed to be here at 5:30-6:00 p.m. for an hour or two. Her mom got here about 7:00, and stayed for an hour and a half kicking back with Pat and me. She (Helen, Miss M's mom) then went to another friend's house at 8:30. Miss M stayed and here is how the kitchen started:

Here is the finished product:

Here is the Divine Miss M in front of the dollhouse:

Besides the dollhouse, Miss M made a picture with stickers and markers. I was amused when she drew a mother and six daughters, one of which was "goth." We also read some books. She did very well with "Green Eggs and Ham" and I read the others to her. It was a fun evening that ended about 11 p.m.