Saturday, July 24, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: The Party of the Century

Screw Truman Capote and his star-studded epic, the REAL party of the century took place in Silver Creek at the home of Riley and Kat Logan.

The Logan’s was my second home, and Sean Logan my “brother from another mother.” No matter how dull things were at my house, Casa de Logan was always happening. Impromptu croquet tournaments. Games of Risk complete with fake military uniforms and European accents. Homemade cookies, warm from the oven. And the parties. Every month an epic party.

Riley and Kat met in an acting class at university and never lost that delicious spirit of play. They passed it on to their kids and, in some way, to the whole town through their parties. They were just evenings, they were events. You had to work, or you weren’t invited back. So in some ways Silver Creek's social schedule was dictated to by Kit and RIley's monthly inventions.

Take something simple, for instance, Chinese Night. For weeks every Chinese cookbook in town was poured over while people prowled secondhand stores for suitable costumes. And when the night game we were surrounded by Mandarins and slaves, peasants and paupers. I dressed entirely in gray and went at the Great Wall. Sean dressed in red as the little red book. We ate delicious crispy-fried duck and had a man-johng tournament. The whole night was illuminated by paper lanterns and the sounds Chinese music played on the Logan’s excellent hi-fi. The Logan's even insisted on teaching us an easy folk dance and we all slithered and slide underneath their paper lantens to the sounds of pipes and gongs.

Some parties, however, took a great deal of trouble. The gam-themed party threw many into confusion until they got into the gist of it and began creating giant papier mache chess set heads or painting playing card for costumes. We had shuttlecocks dancing with bowling pins and something of a scandal when a backgammon board was found in the corner with a hungry-hungry-hippo. My little green army man was no match for the large top hat (Sean's favorite Monopoly token) but we both laughed at his parents as Ken and Barbie. Scarily so.

The most famous party of all, though, was the celebrity party. The rule was simple: no one allowed in unless escorted by someone with a famous name. That’s it. You didn’t have to actually bring a famous person, just the name. Once word got out, one of our local dentists, John Wayne, got a lot more business and was snapped up quick. Consultation with Kit Logan expanded our horizons when she allowed for spelling differences. Thus Glen Miller (from the local Ford dealership) and Vivien Lee (of Lee’s Lovely Nails) were both permissible.

People began looking through the yellow pages and rifling through old year books. Total strangers were cold called with invitations to parties with people they didn’t know. And a surprising number said yes. But for most of is, it was an uphill battle

Eventually Kit relented and allowed famous fictional characters to be in, so Perry Mason and Peter Parker showed up on the guest list. The Logan’s next-door neighbors had it easiest of all. Dr. Raymond Charles went as himself, Ray Charles and his wife brought their Doberman, Prince Charles. They even brought a letter from their vet addressed to Prince Charles to prove his name. Kit accepted the letter but banished Prince back to his own home, being familiar with the dog’s tendency to pee when excited.

I was really struggling until the day before the party when I got a flat tire. I went to A-1 Auto Parts for a new one and Mr. Carson, who I’d known forever, waited on me. But it wasn’t until I saw him standing there in his black and white striped uniform shirt with “John” stitched onto the name patch that I realized all these years I had been buying oil and wiper blades from Johnny Carson. He quickly became my date for the party.

It was an amazing night. Betty Davis danced with John Adams. A female Jackie Robinson flirted with a male Dale Evans. Our youngest guest was a 4 month old Bruce Lee and our oldest at 90+something Tina Turner. We had Paul Newman, Jim Morrison, Mary Martin, and Debbie Reynolds. A few of the more obscure “celebrities” had to prove not only their name but also their fame. My father brought a man and an encyclopedia to probe that Robert Borden was prime minister of Canada in the 1920s. Thanks to Brittanica, Robert Borden (dad’s insurance guy) got them both in.

Everyone from George Patton to Martha Washington was there, and had a fabulous time. And the great thing is nobody was in costume, so you had no idea who they were. You’d just walk up and introduce yourself and find yourself talking to Sammy Davis or Jackie Kennedy. That night Kit posted a huge piece of white paper on the wall of her living room and asked all the guests to sign in. If it had been a real gathering, this document would be worth a fortune. She let John Adams (an orthodontist) sign first, and then everyone else dug in. Even Mother Theresa from OLA came over for a bit and got into the spirit of things, She signed right next to Pat Garett,credited with killing Billy the Kid.

It was an epic party, one talked about for months afterwards, People bragged about their "celebrity" others laughed at their 15-minute of fame. But it was defiitely one for the books. To this day, however, the thing that never fails to make me laugh is the one guy in town who, try as he might, could not find anybody with a famous name to take to the party. His name was Harry Potter.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Scare Myself
And, apparently, other people.

The Internet world is all over I Write Like a fascinating little piece of computerese whereby you past a few paragraphs of your writing and it tells you what famous writer you write like.

So I pasted a few bits from Silver Creek.

The first response? I write like HP Lovecraft. Next try? Stephen King. Finally it tells me I write like Chuck Palahniuk (author of The Fight Club and other works). Apparently I'm a scary sci-fi writer. Who knew?
Photo of the day: That Bridge Thing

I'm sure it has a name, it's just gone from my mind at the moment. Yellow Gate? Golden State? Something like that.

Sorry, sometimes I just need to revel in being a Bay Area native.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Photo of the day: Continental

A huge truck pulled up next to me at a red light yesterday. I just looked out the window and took this one. For some reason I found it appealing.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Photo of the day: Little Kitten. Big World

I know you're probably sick of kitten pictures, but this was WAY too cute not to share.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Photo of the day: Green. Blue.

Back by popular demand (OK, back by Husband's request) the photo of the day segment. Today, some huge sunflower stalks. But, being odd by nature, I liked the stems better than the blooms.
Envy of the sleep
As a life-long insomniac, I am used to being the only awake individual in the house. Growing up I shared a room with my two sisters and would often read long into the night, holding a flashlight under the covers while my sisters snored from the darkened corners of our room.

I adore both Husband and Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) but in one way they drive me crazy -- the can both, apparently, fall asleep at will.

Husband has been known to fall asleep mid-conversation. We'll be in bed, chatting quietly about life. He'll say something. I'll respond. And his response to my comment is a gentle snore. It typically takes him all of five minutes to fall asleep. I hate that about him.

Cipher, like most cats, has a well-developed nap instinct. And when she falls, she falls deep. She can get into these amazingly liquid positions where you can tell she hasn't a stressed bone in her body. In fact, it looks like she has no bones at all. At the moment Husband is sleeping the sleep of the just in our comfy bed. Cipher is asleep on the chair across the room from me, lying full-length will paws forward (think of Superman flying) and dreaming little kitty dreams of birds and mice.

And me? I'm settling in for another all-nighter. Two hours sleep last night (or rather this morning), and anticipating about the same tonight. But I have books. Movies. Ice cream. All the necessities. And I'm OK with that -- but I do envy Husband and Cipher. Damn their sleepiness.
Scenes from Silver Creek: The Summer Musical

There was never much to do in Silver Creek in the summertime. Growing up, I mean. It was, and is, hardly a hotbed of excitement and without school the days tended to be a bit dull.

When I was in high school the first week of summer was always heaven. Sleeping until noon. Reading whatever I wanted, rather than what I had to. Endless TV, root beer popsicles, and hanging out. But by the second and third week I was usually so bored that I actually cleaned my room.

But between my freshman and sophomore years the high school instituted the summer musical program. It was actually a summer school class, for which we got three whole credits. But it lasted all day, was insanely fun, and resulted in two whole performances of a badly produced, directed, and choreographed musical that the entire town went to.

The choice was South Pacific. All the sailors were 15 and hearing them sing “Nothing Like a Dame” was nothing like a sailor. All the nurses were taller than the sailors. Our male lead was a tenor instead of a baritone, which made all the duets sound like two female cats competing over the sexiest tom in town. And the female lead weighed close to 220.

The “uniforms” were salvaged from local thrift shops or made by local moms and made the US Navy look like a ragtag bunch of munchkins. The pit orchestra had no string section and fourteen trumpets. Every overture sounded like a fanfare. People kept expecting royalty to show up.

But it was so much fun we didn’t care.

Silver Creek High has an impressive auditorium, allowing for huge sets and lighting. Of course we had neither, but we had the space for them. And when not plunging head-first into rehearsals, we’d all sit on the stage painting flats and making a huge cardboard cannon of which we were so insanely proud that it was in the background of every scene – even the interiors.

We’d throw open the huge doors big enough to drive a truck through and let the warm wind blow across the stage while we sang our little hearts out to the hard work of our one and only rehearsal pianist. Mr. Lang, the choir director, stepped up to take the helm. The fact that he had no dance experience at all made the choreography consist of lots of walking aimlessly around the stage and making huge arm gestures as if everyone was directing everyone else to a different part of the island.

Rehearsals started every morning at 10 am and we’d all show up early because we were so darned bored. Since it was technically a class, we’d have to line up on the stage while Mr. Lang took role, then he’d actually leave – go have breakfast at Missy’s Diner – and leave us with the run of the place. We’d play tag in the curtains, do each other’s faces with outlandish paint in the make-up room, and eat our PB&Js. Then Mr. Lang would stroll back in at about 1 and we’d finally get some work done. Until 3. Then he’d leave again. But still we hung on. The custodians finally kicked us out at about 5. You’d never seen such a dedicated cast. Nobody wanted to leave.

There were romances, with the kind of instant, desperate passion only horny 16 year olds can achieve. There were huge, teary fights worthy of any Opera diva. And there was absolutely no talent whatsoever.

Actually, that isn’t true. The girl who plays Bloody Mary (who sings the lovely “Bali Hai”) really had a gorgeous voice. Her name was Rebecca Su and she was the shiest girl ever. She never talked to anyone and the only reason anybody knew she could sing is because she had a horrid stage mother who paid for punch sold at intermission in exchange for her daughter getting a solo. Rebecca, poor thing, would sit in the fourth row reading Harlequin romances and not speaking to a sole until called upon to burst forth with her song. Then the stage would resound with the one good voice in the cast, before she’d leave and go back to “Love’s Captive”. We all tried to be friends with her, but she never friended back.

At the end of the summer, giddy with anticipation, we opened on Friday and closed on Saturday. Every bored mother and father, and every reluctant sibling in town had to go to one of the performances. There was, of course, thunderous applause from indulgent parents and a town starving for anything to do in the heat of a boring summer.

And then it was over. The place we could go. The something we could do. And we went back to our sleeping until noons and our root beer popsicles.

To this day, whenever South Pacific is on TV, I’ll watch it and think of our 15 year old sailors and overweight nurses. And wonder how the hell we got away with anybody left in the audience at the end of the show.

It’s a pretty good indication of city-wide boredom when a town will sit through such dribble because it’s better than nothing. Ah…show business.
Bad movies and good wine
Last night Husband and I polished off a bottle of wonderful Pinor Noir. Byron Winery, 2008, Central Coast. We neither of us drink that much so we both got delightfully sozzled. The occasion? Twilight

The horrible teen angst/vampire flick was recommended to me by two separate people with the same caveat. Get drunk first and you'll find it hilarious. They were right. It was one of the most truly awful movies I've ever seen but, under the influence of wine, so funny that at times we were laughing so hard we had to rewind to hear the wooden dialogue.

Husband and I are the last people in the US (with the exception of my family) to join Netflix and the opportunity to watch pretty much any movie we want has filled us with a heady sense of freedom. Plus we get unlimited streaming of thousands of films through our Wii, so it's heaven. We've watched the good (All About Eve) the bad (early Doctor Who episodes wich seemed like the prelude to several Monty Python sketches) and the ugly (Twilight). It's heaven.

We're both huge movie fans. In fact, our mutual love of old movies is one of the things that we first bonded over. Having instant access to movies for every mood is proving to be wonderful -- and getting in the way of housework, grocery shopping, and generally getting out of the house. Who wants to clean the shower when you can watch your own Gregory Peck film festival?

But every so often, you just have to reach for the cheese. The films you know are awful. We both love the classic making fun of movies show Mystery Science Theater 3000 and when we get together for something terrible, like last night's monstrosity, we crack each other up with our own version of MST3K. Husband is a hilarious guy and I've been known to be pretty funny myself at times, so when we get on a roll mocking a movie, we can truly hit some home runs.

Of course, it's hard to not be funny when you've got material like Twilight to work with. Wooden acting. Atrocious script. Hilarious plot. That, combined with good wine, is a recipe for a great way to spend a Saturday night.