Thursday, May 30, 2013

The trouble with most smart kids ...

I was trading text messages with our young friend Ricardo, the 12-year-old son of the Lopez family. They are friends from St. Croix who now live in Houston. Ricardo suggested our families should get together soon. I agreed, but said his mother and my wife should make the arrangements because "I'm always wrong."

He wrote back: "You're not always wrong. You're just wrong whenever women are around."

And the kid's only 12!

(The title of tis post comes from one of my dad's favorite jokes. With eight kids, he had plenty of opportunities to say, "The trouble with most smart kids ... they don't smart in the right place.")

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Lovely Evening Despite My Brain

Not even my weird brain could screw it up. We spent a delightful evening in the park Friday listening to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra perform a program of light classics. It was two-hours of music you recognize and enjoy instantly. If you asked me "How does the Waltz from Sleeping Beauty go?" I couldn't tell you, but as soon as I heard it, as we were still walking across the park to the pavilion, I heard it and thought, "Sleeping Beauty!" 

(And yes, we were still on island time. The concert started at 6 sharp. We were island fashionably late.) 

The program also included Hungarian Dance No. 5. ("Oh yeah! Hungarian Dance!") Broadway classics such as "Some Enchanted Evening" and a terrific medley of Duke Ellington songs. Altogether a lovely evening on the sunny lawn at La Freniere. And it was augmented by one of the greatest snacks I've ever had – raspberry/dark chocolate M&Ms. (One warning, don't eat too many of these at one time. The raspberry makes it look as if you're gums are bleeding. Although it's worth it.) I particularly loved the Ellington medley. "A Train," "Mood Indigo," "Sophisticated Ladies," "Satin Doll." What great, great music. Reminded me of a story, which I'll tell some other time. Or never.

There was one fly in the ointment, and this is where my weird brain came in. In introducing a medley from "Fiddler on the Roof," the conductor, a very personable Glenn Langdon, gave some amusing background to the show, and said it was first performed in 1946. I thought I must have heard it wrong, but he said it twice. I asked Tori and she agreed that's what she'd heard. "That's not right!" I thought, and I couldn't shake it. I was still feeling that way the next morning.

Anyone who knows anything about musical theater knows "Fiddler" premiered in the '60s. Langdon even mentioned, correctly, that it was Zero Mostel's return to Broadway after his hit two years earlier in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," which was written by Steven Sondheim who would have been 16 years old in 1946 and 14 two years earlier. Sondheim was famously mentored by Oscar Hammerstein in the late 1940s, so 1946 was just impossible. Further, in one of those weird things that no one should know but for some reason I do, famed 1970s/'80s game show host Bert Convy was also in the original Broadway cast, which would have been unlikely had the show opened in 1946.

When I woke up Saturday morning it still bothered me. I looked it up and sure enough, "Fiddler on the Roof" opened on Broadway in 1964, not 1946. All I can guess is Mr. Langdon, a wonderful musician, has a touch of dyslexia and transposed the digits in his notes.

But that's me all over. My mother once called me, "a font of useless information" (I think she meant that endearingly. I certainly hope so.) Things get in my head and bounce around and sometimes they won't let me rest until I sort them out.

But putting that to the side, it was a beautiful evening of music that Tori and I really enjoyed, sitting in the new lawn chairs we'd purchased that afternoon for the event. (Along with the M&Ms!) She also made me buy a new pair of shoes, which I hate doing more than almost. anything. I am not a good shopper, and I particularly loathe shoe shopping. But I'd avoided it several years and the shoes I was wearing were starting to get a little run down, I admit it.

So I now have a new pair of shoes, which I will wear 'til they fall off my feet as per usual, a new favorite snack, and a memory of lovely evening at the park with Tori.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dancing in the Park

Bopping in Beach Chairs.
The '80s were alive and well at La Freniere Park Thursday night. Mostly the '80s. A little of the '90s and some contemporary. But mostly the '80s.

It was the Mojoeaux Band playing in the park's spring Thursday concert series. They're a local party band, and they're pretty good. They had the audience, which I'd guess around 500 to 800 people – mostly around my age, so that was a little funny watching them try to rock, bopping in their beach chairs. There was also a host of little kids – 2 or so to 10 – who knew just what to do when the music pounded. Get up and move! Tori and I and a handful of other adults joined them and were on our feet most of the night.

The band name, of course, is pure NOLA. Pronounced mojo, but since this is Cajun country we spell it with a lot of imported extra verbs. We have signs that say "Geaux Saints" and Tostitos ads that say "We Kneaux How to Party."

We'd been meaning to get to the concert series for a month, but it was always something. A school activity. Then I got sick and that ate up three Thursday nights – I don't want to dwell on it since I wrote about it recently. I'm mostly better now, Even have my voice back, just still feel a little wrung out.

So anyway, Thursday was also the last day of school, so we celebrated by walking down to the park. We strolled through the bird sanctuary than around the pond. It was peaceful, quiet, even with the band starting up not far away. We were fascinated by the maneuvers of a Roseate spoonbill circling around, his beak in the muddy water, to pull up his dinner.

Then we entered the area where the concert was, and things got very lively. We had a couple of excellent tacos each while the band played a blend of '80s favorites – Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," Whitney Houston's "I Want to Dance with Somebody," bunch of other songs that made me go, "Oh, yeah! That song!" and a few more contemporary songs. They'd be a fun band to have at a wedding or something.

Soon as we finished eating Tori was on her feet and, unlike me, she can dance and she got into it. We haven’t' had a lot of fun lately, so this was a great chance to let go, and she did. She even got me on my feet, sort of bopping in my middle-aged white guy way.

Mojeaux rocks out.
Max and his friend met us there. Max enjoyed dancing and moving to the beat, especially when Mojeaux rapped ("Gangsters Paradise") but his friend seemed unwilling to let the beat infect her, she seemed self-conscious. She'll get over that pretty quickly if she hangs around our family for any length of time.

Anyway, we had a great time last night. Just a lot of fun, and fun is something that's been in short supply the last month, The Louisiana Philharmonic orchestra will play in the park tonight, and we plan to go give it a try. Sounds fun!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Random Thoughts from the House of Menthol

Almost better now, but not quite well. Been sick for over a week now, a cold/cough/fever/ that just doesn't want to go away. It's finally breaking up, but I mean, in my life I have never been this sick for this long. Back when I had pneumonia in '89, it only lasted five days.

We've had the vaporizer going full steam, tried a variety of OTC treatments. I was kind enough to pass this on to Tori and Kate. Neither of them have had it as bad as I have, but it's still unpleasant. Max seems to have avoided it. (Knock wood.)

Worst for Tori has been that every time I lay down and close my eyes, I start coughing, which wakes both of us up. Several nights I've given up and gone to sit in the armchair in the living room, where I've been able to snatch a few hours of sleep.

So random thoughts are really all I've been able to come up with for the last few days.

• Nothing tastes as vile as Robitussin. It's the nastiest tasting medicine there is. Yet, I have to say, I've never taken anything as effective.

• Laying on the couch watching daytime TV, the endless reruns of "Law & Order," "Supernatural," "Friends" and the occasional awful sci-fi movie on the SyFy channel, I had one of those epiphanies for a story that could be really good, blending a couple of the shows I saw. At least I think it's a good idea, but that might by the NyQuil talking. But Tori agreed it has promise, so I'm working it up as a movie treatment and we'll see what I can do with it.

• It's almost as deep a divide as between religions. Tori was raised in a Vicks Vapo-Rub family. I've always been a Mentholatum man. It's ridiculous, they're both essentially the same thing, doing the same job in the same way. But Vicks just smells wrong to me as I slather it on my chest. I can't even describe the difference. But that doesn't mean it's not real.

• Kate commented last night, "Wouldn't it be an awful world if cherries actually tasted like the cherry flavoring in cough medicine?" Yes it would. What a sad, sad place the world would be.

• I have raised six children. I know what pink eye looks like. So how come I have to go to a doctor's office to get a doctor to look at it and say, "Yup, that's pink eye?" Instead of paying ten bucks or so for the drops, which are the same drops I've been using on pink eye for 30 years, they want me to pay 80 bucks or more for an office visit to confirm what I know. Fortunately (fortunate in a relative sense) we had a case of pink eye last year and some of the drops are left. My eyes are fine now, thank you very much. There's little about the health industry that pisses me off more than that.

• I am a terrible patient. I've always known that. I don't like being sick, don't like acting sick. Don't like complaining, don't like carrying on about being sick. Don't like surrounding myself with the accoutrements of being sick. This means I'm always trying to get up and do things before I should. It drives Tori crazy. She's all but had to set a timer for me to stay in bed, and of course there are issues about me, say, making school lunches for example. No one is more ready for me to be over this than me. But Tori is right behind me in line.

Today I'm not bad. Tomorrow I'll be fine. Monday at the latest.

Unrelated note: Wednesday we went to our very last middle school spring concert (last unless something surprising happens.) Max moves up to high school next year, so this was it. The band was really, really good, better than many high school orchestras I've heard. Band is Mr. V's thing, and the kids sounded great. Sadly, the choir was not nearly as good. They sang all the same notes more or less in sync, but there were no harmonies, no dynamics, and most of the girls apparently learned to sing by watching American Idol, with all the swoops up to the notes and crap like that.

So great job band! And to Mrs. Cafarella, Kate and Millie's choir director back at West Albany, thank you for being such a great teacher. They were as fortunate to have you as Max is to have Mr. V.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Only Thing Better

The only thing better that I can think of than lasagna for dinner (Tori makes GREAT lasagna) is ...

Wait for it ...

Leftover lasagna for dinner the next day!

Not a great photo, but great lasagna!
There is no photo of the leftover lasagna, because we ate it too fast!