Category Archives: Theatre

Melodic Mystery

The other day, Husband played a CD of Borodin’s 2nd String Quartet. We have been listening to a lot of chamber music lately, and this is a CD we had for a while but hadn’t played before.  I had never heard this quartet before.  When the 2nd movement, (Scherzo) of the quartet played, I knew I had heard the tune before, and exclaimed “That is that is Buttons and Bows”!  I am somewhat prideful of the fact that I have a really good auditory memory, and once I hear a tune I rarely, if ever, forget it.  This is what it sounds like:

Husband protested, saying that Buttons and Bows was a very different tune. Being a Boomgaarden, (someone who is never wrong), I set out to solve the mystery. and turned to the internet  to prove my point.

Well, Husband was right. This is Buttons and Bows:

What, then was I remembering? I found that the 2nd movement of Borodin’s 2nd String Quartet was used in the song Baubles, Bangles, and Beads from the musical, Kismet. I never in my life saw that musical.  The song from the musical was quite popular in the 1950’s, however,  and was recorded by Miss Peggy Lee and by Frank Sinatra. I assume I heard the tune on some occasion as a small child and it stuck with me.

Well, Husband allowed that since the titles all were replete with B’s, I could be forgiven for confusing them. I am glad the mystery is solved.  I really like Borodin and think he is a seriously underrated composer.

What have you researched lately? What are some of your earliest musical memories?  How do you deal with being proved wrong? Ever seen Kismet?

Felix or Oscar?

Today’s post comes to us from Minnesota Steve

The Odd Couple was a popular play that then became a hit movie and then became a television series that ran for five years. The original play, written by Neil Simon, features conflict between recent two divorcees who room together. Felix is a neat freak; Oscar is a slob who is comfortable being a slob. Essentially, the two characters are defined by their very different positions on the OCD scale. I particularly liked the movie. In it, fussy Felix was played by Jack Lemon, an actor who could do crankiness well. Oscar was played perfectly by Walter Matthau.

One reason I found the jokes appealing was how they mirrored my relationship with my favorite hunting and fishing partner, Bill. Bill was Felix; I was Oscar. Bill used to wear suspenders and a belt to keep his pants up; by contrast, I’ve been known to wear neither, with predictable results. We have been pals for over fifty years. Bill has gradually grown less uptight, while I have become somewhat more prepared. It has been the best friendship I ever had.

I was shocked to learn, when I was in my sixties, that I had slight OCD tendencies. One night I sat behind a woman during a small theatrical production. The tag on her blouse was sticking out. I found myself seriously tempted to tuck the tag out of sight. I didn’t, of course. Men who rearrange the clothing of women they don’t know might suffer harsh consequences. I couldn’t wait for that play to end because that loose tag was like a bit of grit in my eye.

When I moved to Michigan, a family friend helped set up in my new apartment. She donated glasses, silverware and furniture so the place would be livable when I arrived. To my disgust, I found myself freaked out by having “mixed” flatware. I lived for 48 years using nothing but the lovely Dansk flatware my erstwife and I got when we were married. After Nancy’s intervention, my elegantly stylish flatware shared a drawer with all kinds of alien forks and spoons from Walmart or who-knows-where. Every time I opened the silver drawer I was disgusted by the clash of styles. When I moved back to Minnesota I secretly dumped all the alien utensils.

So I’m still Oscar, but have a carefully hidden streak of Felix that only my best friends see.

How about you? Are you more slob or neatnik? Do you have enough OCD in you to be slightly bothered by it from time to time? Sitting in the doctor’s waiting area, did you ever straighten up the stacks of magazines?

Worth Doing

Gustav Holst is reputed to have  said, in reference to church music and musicians, that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. I know I have reported this on the Trail before, and it was once again brought home to me last evening at our Lessons and Carols service.

It went quite well, actually, given that the new music and worship director had never done a service like this before, and that the bell choir director was miffed because she thought she and I should have planned it. I helped to smooth things out between the two of them and found as many readers for the lessons as I could. We had two 8 year old girls read lessons, and they did a great job. I also enlisted a very theatrical guy from the Episcopal church to read, as well as with our family lawyer and me and Husband. (I tried to get the UCC pastor to read, but she was having 16 people over for dinner last night).  We had an impromptu children’s choir for the first time at this service, along with a flute player, a clarinet player, our assistant pastor on trumpet, and  a violin player.  Husband sang a solo from a Finnish folk hymn Lost in the Night.  The choir sang and the bell  choir rang.  All the music was appropriate for the service, and the director curbed her tendency for evangelical  praise music.

We never had a dress rehearsal, but it all fell together. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked and everyone left in good spirits.  The bell choir director and the worship and music director  embraced after it was over. I hope as you read this you can think back to programs and pageants from your past.

What is the most elaborate thing you have planned?  Any stories from past pageants or programs?

 

Calendar Cuties

I just received the December 5th edition of the Rock County Star Herald, my home town newspaper. I was delighted to read a story about Generations, the local senior citizens center. The center started an ambitious campaign to raise 2 million dollars for a  building for senior activities which will provide meals and social activities for community seniors as well as for residents of all ages in the low income housing tower to which it will be connected.

The newest fund raiser is a calendar featuring,  each month,  a local  senior posed in a scene from an iconic movie. Costumes were borrowed from the local community theatre company, and a local photographer volunteered to take the photos. So, on the front page of the paper, there she was, Neva, the mother of one of my high school classmates, posed like Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music,  clad in that black dress with the white apron, standing in front of a mountain in the middle of the alpine meadow with her arms held out, ready to belt out The Hills are Alive.  George, director of Generations and a retired horticulturalist, posed as Forrest Gump sitting on the bench with a suitcase and a box of chocolates.

They got the idea from the Winona Friendship Center. It seems like they had a great deal of fun doing it. They are making plans for next year’s calendar.

What iconic film scene/character  would you like to pose as for such a calendar?

Surprise!

Husband and I are now safely ensconced at the downtown Minneapolis Marriot. We  arrived at the hotel at about 5:00 PM on Tuesday. I was so surprised that the traffic going into downtown was negligible. The traffic going the other way was horrible. We were grateful.

Last week I was very surprised to learn that the grandmother of one of my fellow Lutheran Church choir members worked for a decade or more as both the Headless Girl and  the Three Legged Woman in the circus. It isn’t often that young woman from Harvey, ND makes the big time like that. You also don’t hear of many Lutherans in the circus. At one time there were 9 headless girls touring the US in circuses. It was all done with mirrors. Look up Olga the Headless Girl.  You will be surprised and amazed.

What has surprised you lately?  Do you have any friends with surprises?

Harold Hill’s Plaid Suit

Husband usually puts away all the clean laundry, but this weekend there was so much I helped him.  I am always chagrined when I compare the quality of his clothes with the quality of mine. It isn’t that he purchases nicer clothes than I do. Men’s clothes are just better manufactured than women’s clothes. I used to sew almost all my own clothes, and by the time I was in high school I was a pretty accomplished seamstress. I know what goes into making clothes well.

When I was in Grade 11, our school put on The Music Man. We had a very strong Grade 11 baritone for Harold Hill ( he is now a high school band director in Rochester). We had an even stronger Grade 12 soprano for Marion (she just retired as a high school vocal teacher and composer in the Cities.) I didn’t audition for a part, as I would be needed in the pit orchestra, and I knew, as a second alto, that there were very few exciting parts for me. In addition, though, I was the student director, which meant that I had to find costumes and props and generally keep things organized.

We decided that the male leads, Harold and his buddy, Marcellus, needed to wear gaudy, plaid suits. I volunteered to sew them.  You can see the finished suits in the photo below. Harold is in the yellow and green plaid suit with the yellow vest. Marcellus is in the  cream and brown suit with the brown vest. The photo quality is typical 1975, but you can get the general idea.

They were three piece suits that I formally tailored with the special stitching on the linings of the lapels so that they lay flat, full linings in coats and vests, pockets, perfect fly zippers, and belt loops.  There had to be pockets in the vests for pocket watches. It isn’t easy to match plaids, but I did. The boys were sort of embarrassed when I had to measure them (especially the inside leg), but by golly this was serious and I wanted those suits to fit. The boy who played Harold was somewhat hard to fit in the pants as he had a childhood orthopedic issue making the length of his legs out of proportion to his waist, and I had to adjust the pattern for the pants before I cut them out, and elongate the coat.

I admire tailors and people who  sew and create. I wouldn’t want to make all my own clothes again. I just wish women’s clothes were better made.

Why do women put up with shoddily manufactured clothing? What is the most elaborate thing you have created?

 

Happy Birthday!

Daughter’s birthday was last week, and she reports that it was the best birthday ever. She finished her last graduate school class and  she was given an award at her agency for her good work. Both our children become unusually disorganized around the times of their birthdays. Too much anticipation, I guess, although we never made their birthdays into productions. I was glad daughter kept it together and had a great day.

Today is William Shakespeare’s  purported birthday.  April 23rd is also the same day he died 52 years later. It is certainly not the way I should choose to spend my birthday.

What is your favorite Shakespeare play or scene. Which is your least favorite? What was your best birthday? What was your worst?