Tag Archives: Rose

Darkest Hour

Rose and I went to see the move Darkest Hour yesterday afternoon. I seem to remember Sarah telling me she had seen it a couple of weeks ago. I told her then of Herman Wouk’s paragraph about Winston Churchill in his book The Winds of War.

I have a few quibbles about the actual history the movie depicts, but of course the essential story is true and I enjoyed the retelling.

Here is Wouk’s paragraph:

Winston Churchill, today an idealized hero of history, was in his time variously considered a bombastic blunderer, an unstable politician, an intermittently inspired orator, a reckless self-dramatizer, a voluminous able writer in an old-fashioned vein, and a warmongering drunkard. Through most of his long life he cut an antic, brilliant, occasionally absurd figure in British affairs. He never won the trust of the people until 1940, when he was sixty-six years old, and before the war ended they dismissed him. But in his hour he grasped the nature of Hitler, and sensed the way to beat him: that is, by holding fast and pushing him to the assault of the whole world . . . He read his man and he read the strategic situation, and with the words of his mouth he inspired the British people to share his vision. . . . [He] acted toughly, wisely, and ungallantly; and he turned the course of the war to the course that ended five long years later, when Hitler killed himself and Nazi Germany fell apart. This deed put Winston Churchill in the company of the rare saviors of countries and perhaps of civilizations.

In-N-Out Burger

I can’t believe that In-N-Out isn’t a subject I’ve written about before. I don’t see it on my tag list, so I guess I haven’t.

In-N-Out Burger was one of Zach’s favorite places to eat in California. Every time he came to town it was the first place we went to, often even before going home. There is an In-N-Out in Millbrae not five minutes from the airport that became our regular first stop after I moved to Pacifica.

Rose likes In-N-Out too so we go there two or three times a year. Zach is always near to our minds at In-N-Out.

I got off work at five today and was headed home on BART when I started thinking about dinner. I wasn’t thinking specifically of Zach, but the idea of going to In-N-Out came to me and doing it on Zach’s birthday seemed appropriate. I texted Rose and she agreed.

Rose has a story about Zach at In-N-Out that I love but I never seem to get the details right. I don’t want to ruin it by telling it wrong here. I’ll get it from her again one of these days and write it down and tell it properly. Happy Birthday Zach!

low

Thursday morning, I had an idea for a nice post. I took my laundry down to the laundry room and the sun was coming in low through the foliage in our little central patio/garden. It was very pretty. When I got back upstairs, I sat at the computer to write, but I saw I had a bunch of emails. I looked through those and answered a couple and the moment was gone. I slid into FaceBook and the news of the thievery in the Senate and the sunshine meant nothing any more.

I had been thinking I would go down to Mom and Dad’s later and stay overnight but I found myself sinking further and further into torpor. I tried to come back to write, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t pick up the phone to call anyone. Eventually, I got out to the mall where I wandered around – hardly anyone was there – looking at stuff I wasn’t interested in. I had some vague idea I could do some Christmas shopping. I did get a couple of things at the drugstore and got to the grocery store.

At home about 6 pm, I ate several bowls of sugar cereal for dinner and went to bed.

Friday was much the same, only I never went out. I checked FaceBook, played solitaire, worked on the jigsaw puzzle, actually read some real books (oh, I got to the library Thursday). In the evening, I saw Rose was home so I went over to talk to her. She was working on some Christmas decorations and had a kind of technical problem so I gave her some ideas and then some tools (skinny pliers). Somehow that made me feel better. I ate a decent dinner and again went to bed early, about 8.

Today brought the news that the Senate actually passed that abomination of ‘tax reform’ but I feel a little better. Better enough to write.

It’s interesting. I want to write deep, important thoughts, but often when I’m thinking those thoughts, I don’t want to sit at the computer. Certainly the last two days were like that.

I’ve got the day off so I will try to get back to my sunny thoughts of Thursday morning and share them with you.

the theatre

Yesterday, after getting the news of Robin’s death, I did fairly normal things which you can read about in yesterday’s blog post. Even before getting the news, I had been determined to get out of the apartment and go for a walk somewhere, so I did that. Just south of Half Moon Bay is a parking lot for a trail that leads 1/2 mile straight through some fields to bluffs overlooking the ocean. On one end are stairs that go down to a beach; on the other a couple of benches where you can sit and look at another beach that is protected for the seals.

There were no seals, and very few people. In two hours there, I saw five people (and one dog, which wasn’t supposed to be there, but that’s another story).

On the way back, I walked down Main Street and looked in the cute little shops. There is a nice card store there where I bought some cards, including a sympathy one for Kris. I was going to have lunch there but the cuteness of the street was bugging me. For that, I went back north of town to the Cafe 3-0 at the airport. Just your basic, no bullshit, greasy spoon.

I got home about 1 and was pretty pooped so I laid down and picked up a book I had gotten at the library last week. I’m not sure why I got it because I didn’t recognize the name of the actor who wrote it, even though he was evidently successful. He had grown up in San Francisco. I think that’s why I picked it up.

I never did sleep. I read that book from cover to cover. It’s called Are You Anybody? by Jeffery Tambor. When I was done, I just started sobbing. For Robin, for Zach, I don’t know, but it hit me somewhere deep.

I got involved in the theatre at DeAnza College when I was 18. I don’t know why I insist on spelling it that way. The spell checker says it’s wrong. I think I do it to differentiate between live theatre and the movie theater. Live theatre is just the best. Sort of like live music. It’s an activity that a group of humans take on for the purpose of presenting something to other humans in a communal setting. I’m sure there were aspects of theatre in caves thousands of years ago. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things that a human can do.

Anyway, I was at DeAnza, my local community college, because I had quit being a math major at UC Santa Cruz in favor of playing in my rock band in Cupertino. After six months of flailing around, my parents said that if I wanted to live at home I had to go to school. So, I went to DeAnza as a music major.

Literally my first quarter there I was just looking for a class to fill out my schedule and my eye fell on Stagecraft. I thought, ‘I’m going to be on stages for the rest of my life, I’ll take a class in stagecraft.’ I had never been particularly interested in theatre. I don’t think I’d ever even been to a play. I had no idea what stagecraft really meant.

The purpose of the class was basically to build sets and run the technical end of the play which the department was doing. My first theatre job was taking care of props for the play that fall. It was called Marathon 33, about marathon dancing during the 1930s depression.

Theatre at DeAnza was done in a facility then called the Box Theatre. It was a room roughly 60′ square which included the shop area. The was a grid for hanging lighting instruments over most of it at 16′ high and a lighting and sound booth overlooking the whole thing. Seating risers got pushed around to suit the configurations of what ever performance was being done.

Abutting the Box Theatre, touching but not really connected, was a 2,500 seat auditorium called The Flint Center for the Performing Arts. Actually, the Calvin C. Flint Center, named after the man who who had been the first Superintendent of the school district. After being in the school theatre for a while, I got to know the people running it and discovered they had student help for setting up community shows. Pushing the shell towers around and setting up risers and chairs, mostly. Incredibly (in my mind), rather than look to the drama department for workers, they had felt that strength was more important so they had football players working there. Oh, and the football players’ girlfriends . . .

Long story short, I eventually got on their list and joined the crew doing risers and chairs. That eventually led to a staff position and, later, getting overhire jobs with the union for the professional shows and, still later, joining the union and making theatre my career.

In all this time, I’ve done relatively little in what I would call real theatre. Plays. I worked at SF Opera for 13 years. I worked on lots of traveling musicals in Sacramento for ten years. The last five or six years I’ve been working pretty steadily for the SF Symphony. All worthy communal human activities. Just not really theatre.

In the relatively few times I’ve gotten involved in actual plays, it always felt like home. There is a certain kind of bonding that takes place with theatre people that I really enjoy.

Robin and Kris are theatre people to the bone. And Jeffery Tambor’s book is about theatre people. And maybe I have some regrets that I took the jobs that paid better and didn’t get so much of real theatre. And I thought of Robin being dead and how vibrant she had been, and how dedicated she was to real theatre, and how she was gone too soon, and Zach was gone too soon. So I was crying.

I eventually calmed down enough to go over and sit with Rose for a few minutes. She doesn’t get the theatre stuff but she gets everything else better than anyone. She had a lumpectomy and radiation treatment three years ago. We cried a little together, then I came home and ate some dinner and went to bed. I was beat but I ended up laying there reading posts on the guitar and bass forums until midnight.

Susie texted me last night that Kris is in assisted living because the left side of her body doesn’t work any more. Susie is another real theatre person. Today I hope to be making a call to Susie and perhaps to Kris. I couldn’t face it last night.

showing pictures

Mary Beth and I had our first picture showing yesterday. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped but it was still good for Mom & Dad and Rose to see all of our pictures and hear our stories.

I forgot to bring my packet of souvenirs including my journal even though it was sitting right by my front door. Mary and Jim flew down but took a relaxed approach in the morning so they didn’t arrive at Palo Alto until about noon. Mom had the lunch spread ready to go when we got there so we all dug in and had some good visiting. No one was in a hurry.

I think it was around 2 that we all got up and got serious about showing our pictures. I had loaded mine onto my laptop because it had an HDMI output that I knew I could plug into Mom and Dad’s big TV. Mary had hers on her iPad and also on Google Drive.

The first problem was that the computer wouldn’t talk to the TV. I was using an HDMI cable that I had that I was sure I had used before. I fiddled around with all kinds of settings but nothing worked. Mary wondered if the USB  on the TV would take a connection to her iPad. No, that was no good. The input selector didn’t even have USB. What’s the USB for???

Then I saw another HDMI cable under the TV. That worked! Yay!

Then I had the issue of figuring out what program to use to show the images. The laptop was running Windows 10 but it’s setup to be my work machine so I hadn’t used it to show pictures before. I thought I could just go to the file manager and select the folder and start the slideshow. Not so fast, pardner! I finally got a program going that showed the images from each folder only. I had to exit the program ( I don’t remember what it was called) each time I finished a folder – and I have many – then reselect a new folder and start again. Tedious.

Of course I showed every picture I took, including pictures of flowers and multiple images of essentially the same thing at different exposures. I think everyone nodded off at one point or another.

Finally it was time for Mary to show her pictures. The TV was working well so she logged onto Google Drive on my computer and started showing her pictures. But the videos didn’t work. There was a message about restarting ‘your device’ to make them work. Never mind, now we’re getting short of time.

Mary and Jim had to time their activities so that they could be back on the ground in Auburn while there was still daylight. When the issue came up, Mary was about halfway through her pictures and it was 5:30 already. They needed to leave by 6. Oh, too bad about dinner! Then some of my images that were on Google Drive started showing up along with Mary’s. What?? She soldiered on and we got through at 6 exactly. Rose and I had picked them up on our way down but we wanted dinner so I ran Mary and Jim up to PAO and came back. 40 minutes round trip.

The four of us had a nice dinner on the patio and we left a little after 8 but the whole day had seemed way more rushed than I liked. Teresa is going to want to see everything as will Jane so we’ll likely have a chance to do it again. On our drive to the airport, I suggested to Mary that we consolidate our better pictures on Google Drive in a special folder for showing. I don’t know what we can do about the videos. There’s work to do.

I left the original HDMI cable in the trash.

quotidian

It’s a real word. I’m sure of it. But I’m not going to look it up. I want to riff on it based on what I think it means.

It’s what my life has been the last nearly two weeks. In a way, though, it’s been longer. My trip with Jeremy was fraught with meaning but it was really just quotidian for me. I mean, I planned it, and I did it. No muss no fuss.

Visiting with Rosalie shouldn’t have been quotidian but it kind of was. Jeremy was away and we did some stuff. It was nice but it never seemed unordinary.

When I got back, I took  the CueStation class for three days, then spent an afternoon and evening in Santa Clara (after going to the dentist to have a broken crown fixed), then I had a long day (15 hours) at work, then I drove Rose and her sister Leigh and Gavino’s other grandmother to Pollock Pines for his birthday party. Then the next day I did laundry, then went back down to Santa Clara where I hung with Tim and his family. Then it was Monday and Tony Bennett at Davies. That was another long day. Tuesday I met Tim’s family along with Julian at Davies where I showed them around the whole building. Then I did another Tony Bennett show followed by a load out. Wednesday I went to Alameda for a haircut, followed by lunch with Leti and Hal, followed by dinner out with Rose for her birthday. Today I was back to work at 8 and just got home at 10:45. Tomorrow I get my permanent crown at the dentist and go back to work in the evening.

So there hasn’t been much time for reflection. Tonight the featured artist was a woman named Rhiannon Giddens. A classically trained singer from North Carolina, she became interested in the folk music of the area she grew up in after graduating from Oberlin. She has a band and some Grammy’s so I suppose I should have heard of her but I hadn’t. She sang Summertime and a Kurt Weill song that were sort of ordinary. there was a gospel number before intermission that was cool but in the second half she sang a song she wrote about a slave woman who was sold but her child was not, so they were separated.

I found myself weeping in the darkness of the light booth. Then she sang a song about the four little girls killed in the Birmingham church and I wept some more. Where did that come from? My life was moving along more or less under control and suddenly these couple of songs unhinged me completely. Loss of a child, of course. I’m quite sensitive to that for obvious reasons, but the sight of this young woman standing up there delivering this message almost defiantly was moving in and of itself. Seeing Sarah in the orchestra behind her made it even more intense.

I suppose, compared to a year and a half ago, I’m ‘better’ at handling this. I was able to remember that I could be heard through the glass if I got too loud. I was able to get it together enough to bring up the bow light at the end of each number. By the end of the show I was back to my quotidian life.

After tomorrow I have some days off. I will try to write more here and work on my new jigsaw puzzle. I did get one started the other day. It’s a scene from Yosemite Valley.

county fair

I went to the San Mateo County Fair this morning. Rose wanted to go because she had entered her oatmeal cookies and wanted to see how they were judged.

The fair opened at 10, but Rose likes to be early so we were there a little after 9:30. Free admission for the first hour! Quite a few people had the same idea, so there was a clot of a couple of hundred people at the gate. Many had young children. One little girl next to us was posturing dance moves and looking at the results in her shadow. The weather was perfect.

It struck me that this crowd represented the best of America. It had people of many cultures and ethnicities. And there were children of couples that were clearly from different ethnicities. The little girl we had been watching was joined by a friend whose skin was a different color. They were still obviously best of buds. Everyone in the crowd was respectful of each other.

About the time we walked up, someone started talking from a stage nearer to the gate. It was a county supervisor, who introduced the sheriff, who brought out the color guard and led everyone in the Pledge Of Allegiance. Our local State Senate representative was next as he spoke on ‘Emergency Preparedness Day’ which was the theme of the day. It was all over in about ten minutes and the gate soon opened and we all poured in. Free admission for the first hour!

In the exhibition hall were many of the typical fair booths: various county services, things for sale. We stopped at a booth for a farm to table venture run by local farmers. Rose signed up for a trial. The young man who talked to us said he was going to have a hard time all day ignoring the smell of the cinnamon roll booth about 20 feet away.

Just past the cinnamon rolls were the food entries: beautifully decorated cakes, breads, brownies, beers and wines, … and cookies! They were all mixed up in glass cases so we had to go around to all of them. Finally there was one oatmeal cookie that had won first place. I was disappointed, but Rose kept looking and nearby were her cookies.

‘2nd place!!’ She nearly screamed. She was so happy. It was at the bottom of one of the cases so she had to squat down to take a picture. The card had gotten bent wrong so her name was barely visible but she was delighted. ‘2nd place!’ she kept saying, over and over. She spent the next ten minutes texting and emailing the picture to everyone she could think of. She was pumped!

After a bit, we went outside and looked at the midway and had a corn dog and crappy ‘lemonade’. A band started playing at a stage nearby and we smiled at another little girl who was moving to the music. Then she wanted to go in and look at the cookies again. I swear, she was floating!

On the other side of the food entries was the fine arts pavilion. We went over and looked at the paintings, drawings, photographs, poems, quilts until we were tired. ‘2nd place!’ she kept saying. What a great morning we had.

my musical weekend

In order to free up my weekend for personal things, I took on work towards the end of last week that ordinarily I would have dodged. Wednesday night on house electric, Thursday all day until midnight with the sound crew for a Disney/Pixar film, then Friday morning for a graduation, followed by house electric duties again in the evening.

Saturday morning I was pooped, but by early afternoon I was ready to go to a benefit party for Sarah’s quartet. Here‘s a link to their website, by the way.

The party was very nice, in a modest home in San Francisco. The quartet played excerpts from their repertoire, most notably from David Ryther’s transcription of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Even in their opening number, a selection from Vilvaldi’s Four Seasons, it was astonishing how loud 4 acoustic instruments were in a small room. They played in the living room which wasn’t more than about 15′ by 15′ with a normal ceiling.

Hearing a string quartet in such intimate circumstances is one of the best musical experiences I’ve ever had. Saturday afternoon was not one of the best, mostly because excerpts do not allow each piece to develop as it should.

At 5 it was over and I had to run to my own concert. The Skyline Jazz Band’s concert was that evening. We had done a dress rehearsal in the theater Monday and one the last things I heard from my rhythm section mates was that we would do a sectional there at 5 on Saturday. No one seemed to care when I asked if the theater would be open to us then. As it happened, the jazz vocal group was already there and rehearsing so the sectional crumbled. The section is a little chaotic, with three drummers, two bass players and two guitar players.

In theory, charts are assigned so that only one of each plays at a time. It works well, as far as I can tell, with the other players, but my guitar partner doesn’t seem to get it. During rehearsal, throughout the semester, no one is bothered by both of us chunking along, but even one guitar in a big band is arguably too much. Gram is very young, and I am very non-confrontational so I haven’t played the heavy with him. I did complain some weeks ago to Zack, the director. He made some gentle efforts in class to make it all clear. I don’t know what, if anything, he said to Gram in private.

None of it made any impression. Gram just kept playing on every chart! During one that I had been assigned to, in the middle of the concert, Zack came over and indicated (I thought) to Gram that he should stop. Nope.

Oh, well. Zack announced during the concert that Gram is going on to study jazz guitar at SFS State in the fall. I wish him the best, but I’m not going to miss him in the section.

Sunday was Doghouse Blues in Drytown. Steve had graciously smoothed the way for me to have a lesson with Allen Frank. Allen is a good player but not formally educated in music so he’s not a very good teacher. It was mostly do this, try this. Hard to assimilate under the conditions. He’s also the owner of the club so he was a little distracted by some necessities of getting the club ready for a Sunday afternoon crowd. He did let me sit in with the band for three numbers later in front of a nice crowd at the club. Thanks, Allen!

Still, 14 hours and 300 miles driven. That’s a lot for 20 minutes of playing. OK, about an hour including the lesson. I did get to spend some quality time with Steve and Leigh beforehand.

Tonight, I’m back to jazz, sort of. The band is playing in the gymnasium for graduation and tonight is our run through. If past experience is a guide, we’ll play three or four numbers before getting down with P & C for the graduates’ walk in.

Life

I keep saying I want to cut back but I keep failing. Last week was the return from the work weekend Monday. I was so tired when I got home I couldn’t go to band that night. Tuesday I got my laundry done and napped but had work that evening. Wednesday and Thursday I took classes for professional development in Hayward. By the end of the second day I was wondering why I bothered. The new big Yamaha mixer is interesting but the likelihood of me driving one for a job are slim to none.

Friday morning was our first graduation of the year at Davies. I stayed down there to work the evening shift. Saturday, Rose’s sister Leigh had a gathering at her house in Antioch to celebrate the life of her husband, John. Saturday traffic was an abomination. 2+ hours each way.

Sunday morning up early for the Youth Orchestra in Davies until 5 pm then a dash down to Santa Clara for Mother’s Day dinner. In addition to that, we celebrated Jane and Julian’s birthdays. Julian is 21!

Yesterday an early call (6 am) for another graduation then concert dress rehearsal for the jazz band in the evening. I did lay down and try to nap in the afternoon.

Today I am waiting for the laundry room to become free. I have a couple of errands to run but they can wait until tomorrow if it comes to that. The rehearsal showed me that I need to practice the guitar more, although I really already knew that, so I’ve done some of that already. I finished the jigsaw puzzle I’ve been picking away at for almost a month. It’s one of the hardest I’ve ever done so that is satisfying.

Tomorrow night, work returns. Thursday I signed on with Hal to be part of the sound crew for the Disney/Pixar movie presentation at Davies. It’s going to be an 8 am to midnight (at least) day plus I agreed to do the graduation at 7 the next morning. And the house head job in the evening . . .

All this to clear my weekend for personal things. Saturday afternoon in San Francisco Sarah’s quartet is hosting a benefit that I will attend before heading back to San Bruno in the evening for the jazz band concert. Sunday up to Rose’s brother Steve’s house in Plymouth and another chance to play with Allen Frank and his Doghouse Blues band at the Drytown Club.

Monday I think I’ll collapse but Monday evening is another jazz band rehearsal, this time for the school graduation. I really want to go up to Eagle Creek Falls before the summer madness starts so right now it looks like Tuesday or Wednesday will be my best options before Memorial Day.

I have Sarah’s next quartet concert on my calendar for Friday the 26th but yesterday realized it overlapped the Skyline graduation. Hmmm, I may have to weasel out of that one.

Zach’s music

Rose mentioned to me the other day that she was still listening to The Airborne Toxic Event song that Jeremy had posted about last fall. I vaguely remembered it. There’s a link to a video of the song in the post.

I don’t like music videos, even of tunes I like, so I didn’t watch it. Also, the emotional overhead was too much.

But Rose’s comment started me thinking about music that Zach liked. He had a stack of home-brew CDs in his car which I inherited. I remembered them. I had gone through them while we were driving from Baton Rouge to Jeremy’s house during what would be his last summer. Most of them didn’t interest me. In fact, I had a hard time picking out anything I wanted to listen to. Zach was cool, though. He didn’t press anything on me or complain when I found a mash up of Eagles songs to put on the player

I went through them a year ago. I kept a couple. Some were mixes I copied onto my hard drive. A couple were mixes with people’s names on them so I sent them back. The bulk of them I sent on to Jeremy. I did copy some of them and they come up every once in a while on my random playlist.

It’s funny, despite having many thousands of tunes on my hard drive, it’s rare that one comes up that I don’t recognize. When I check, it most often is from that group of Zach’s CDs. Even though the music usually doesn’t move me, it’s a good feeling to have a little connection with Zach through his music.

I bought the Airborne Toxic album with that tune on it this morning. I think I’ll listen to it now.