The · far · side · of · the · ocean
Well, the review is in. I saw The DaVinci Code Saturday night. Having read the book a while back (good plot, aside from all that obvious blasphemy, and horrible characterizations), I was rather interested in seeing the film because, um, frankly because it is filmed in a lot of places I have been to and I wanted to see them. I know, it sounds fairly shallow. I also wondered how they were going to translate what is basically a cerebral puzzle kind of book to the big screen. And I was fairly confident that a couple of hours of Tom Hanks with long hair was not going shake the foundations of my faith.
And my verdict is - I thought it was kind of boring. It wasn't as bad as some reviewers have made out, and I don't know if it was because I already read the book, but for the first time in I don't know how long, I got up in the middle of a movie to get some popcorn and a drink because I was bored and restless.
I won't go into how off his facts Dan Brown is. What added up to an eye roll here and there as I read the book ended up as a full on snort of disbelief in the theater because when the line of dialogue was spoken it just kind of sounded hokey (in my humble opinion). The movie stayed fairly true to the book. I'm glad I went because I like to be prepared when people are talking about it. I do wonder somewhat about people who will believe the book is true, but it really doesn't take that much digging into history to realize this is pretty much fiction through and through.
My moviegoing buddy thought the movie was pretty good, however. He didn't read the book though, so I wonder if that made a difference.
My friend stood next to the cafe table in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center lobby, awaiting my return from the restrooms. We had just snagged free tickets to see Annie, the muscial.
"You just missed an ordeal," he offered with an enigmatic look on his face.
"What happened?" I replied.
"You see that kid with the Corn Chips by the snack bar?"
"After you left he fell down those steps." He gestured to three brick steps. "And then he just started howling. I mean, siren-like howling. The kind where everyone in the lobby stops talking and stares."
I regarded the steps.
"You know, bricks are kind of hard ..."
"Yes, but after his mother came over and checked him out and he was obviously okay, he still kept howling. When the mom started ignoring him I knew he couldn't be that hurt. But he wouldn't stop screaming, so they took him over to the snack bar and got him something."
I looked over to where a small boy with obviously tear-stained cheeks stood happily munching on his snack.
"Apparently Corn Chips cure all."
We made our way to our seats. I was delighted to see that we were seated in the orchestra, third row, center stage.
"I'm so glad we didn't have these seats when we saw The Full Monty."
"Yeah, that would not have been good."
[Side note: Did you know they made The Fulll Monty into a muscial? Did you know it is a really awful musical? And no, there isn't any actual nudity, for those of you who are wondering. But somehow the British humor of the movie did not translate well to the American actors on stage. I digress. Anyway...]
I knew with a muscial like Annie that there were probably going to be more kids in the audience than for most of the shows we see there. And I wasn't wrong - children were out in force past their bedtimes last night. The show was terrific. I personally had a little Annie half locket when I was younger (a lot younger), so I felt that this was a very personal show for me, a cathartic relieving of childhood imagination, if you will. Except I completely forgot about it being during the Depression, the whole FDR bit, and the personal secretary having the hots for Daddy Warbucks. I remember some tall guy with a turban from the movie and some sort of bridge rescue scene, but neither one made an appearance last night.
Perhaps equally interesting to the show, however, was the audience around us, who took such an avid interest in the stage proceedings that they felt compelled to comment before, during, and after each number. An adult man and his elderly mother found this necessary to do.
"Ha, ha, that sure was funny."
"J.P. Morgan - Now that was a long time ago."
"That Depression was so sad."
"Isn't she cute?"
I was also entertained by the mother and her small daughter sitting to my right. After a scene in the White House, I heard the daughter whipser, "What's a Democrat, Mom? What are they talking about?"
"Don't worry about it."
And after a scene where Daddy Warbucks, in his pre-Annie makeover capitalistic fervor says, "It doesn't matter who you are mean to on the way up the ladder if you know you aren't coming back down," the small voice piped up again:
"What does that mean?"
"I can't explain it to you."
To her credit, the little girl was a lot more calm than I would have been faced with such an unsatisfactory answer. I would have pestered my Mother a lot more for the full scoop all the while tightly clutching my replica Annie locket.
The best audience member award, however, goes to the three-year old on the front row who was silent during the monologue and singing numbers but enthusiastically yelled "Yeay!!" when such numbers were finished. He yelled it every time, sat on the edge of his seat, and was obviously delighted to be out past 8 p.m., watching orphan girls sing cheerfully with washing buckets and sponges, all the while learning about FDR, the New Deal, and Hoovervilles.
Hard-knock life indeed.
Let's face it folks - this week never even stood a chance.
To begin ...
-I receive a heartbreakingly pathetic voicemail from my mother, explaining that their beloved cat, Tigger, had to be put down. Tigger, a 16-year veteran of the Stiles clan, arrived the week after I left for Harding. I believe he pretty much just took my place, although my parents tried to dissuade me from this idea. Nonetheless, he certainly eased the empty nest syndrome somewhat when my brother flew the coop some years later. He was a good cat, an interesting cat, and very much a part of the family. He will be sorely missed.
-On Monday morning, my car wouldn't start. Not even "uuugh-uuugh" from the engine. Just a small click and then silence. After pleading with it, yelling at it, praying over it, and basically doing everything short of laying my hands on it, we tried to jump it. Still a no go. I ended up having to get my car towed. The starter is bad. That will be $345, please. Oh, and your catalytic converter is shot. Sorry, we can't do that. You'll have to go to this other place. That isn't open on Saturdays... :(
-That evening, my tap shoe broke. It's not that a tap fell off (they are held on with tiny screws). I mean, the entire sole of the shoe completly separated from the leather part. My dance teacher and the director of the place said they had never seen anything like it. Our recital is in two weeks. Tap shoes ain't cheap, people. These certainly weren't. I'm hoping the local cobbler can work some magic. Did I mention they aren't open on a Saturday?
-I volunteered to proctor some tests at a local trade school for auto mechanics. I foolishly made the decision to not change from my working outfit to something a tad more practical. Therefore I spent part of Tuesday night hiking in spiky heels across a campus, following a line of 20 guys, half of whom are puffing on cigarettes and blowing smoke my way, to get to the testing classroom.
-My purse broke.
-I think my check for the mortgage company got lost in the mail.
-I'm having a bad hair week.
-And I currently have the hiccups.
For the first time since 2001, I am not in Scotland in May. I was either living there or on my way for a long visit. I knew it wouldn't continue into perpetuity, but ... sigh ... it's always hard to go cold turkey, you know?
This year included an unexpected housing purchase as well as a steady job (one upside of freelancing and temp work is the ability to take off for several weeks at a time for short-term mission trips), so I knew this was coming. The reality, as always, is a bit hard to digest. So, in yet another ode to a country (bear with me, gentle readers) that will always have a place in my heart, here's a list of what I'm missing right now:
1. A properly brewed cup of tea. Not water warmed up in the microwave. Not a Lipton tea bag stuck in an oversize mug, but tea that was meant to be hot.
2. Banoffee pie. Oh, how I miss you.
3. A good plate of fish and chips. The kind where the fish is so big it is hanging out of the carry out box and the chips are big enough to wrestle a McDonald's fry into the ground.
4. That incredible quality of light that happens on the green fields next to the cliffs next to the North Sea.
5. Castle ruins. It seems I'm always climbing around some of them this time of year.
6. Going to church and knowing everyone's name. Knowing exactly who is there and who isn't, and why.
7. Walking everywhere. I seriously believe this is the one thing that kept me from expanding like a baby elephant during my time over there because those Peterhead ladies sure kept the food coming. I probably walked several miles a day and then also did a youth class that required me to chase a football (soccer) or chase a child.
8. Hob Nob biscuits.
9. A great selection of cheese at the supermarket.
10. Warm scones.
11. Dropping into someone's house for a chat. This is not a practice commonly observed in the US. Here, you either wait for an invite or definitely phone first. There, people pop in and out of homes all the time. You were always assured a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits. Come to think of it, you could probably live several days on just visiting people and never having to buy food, as long as your tolerance for biscuits and KitKats was high. Often, I would get invited to stay for lunch or dinner. Very hospitable folks, those Scots.
12. Roundabouts. I won't deny they gave me a run for my money, especially that tricky double one in Dundee and there's this awful one in East Kilbride, but I kind of miss them. There's a little one by my work and I like to go around it a few times, just for kicks.
14. Rounding a corner and coming upon a picturesque stone village church tucked into an storybook setting.
15. Knitting with the ladies class at church. Seriously. I wasn't very good at it, but I loved sitting around in a circle with them, listening to them tell stories.
16. Much more interesting architecture.
17. A ticket that says "U.K." on it.
18. Midsummer Murder mysteries on the TV.
In glancing over my list, I realize that I have included a lot of food items. This is probably due to the fact that I am hungry at the moment and have not had a proper breakfast.
On a wildly unrelated note, my hair is out of control today. Individual curls are staging their own personal rebellion, mocking my Frizz Ease Hair Serum and escaping the clutches of a constraining hair clip. They are thumbing their collective strands at convention, order, and sleekness. Perhaps they are protesting that I am not on a plane to Scotland at this very moment.
We are getting ready for our spring recital. Now, for those of you who associate recitals with small people in adorable $65 tutus, staring blankly at the audience, well, you would be correct. Except our dance school also happens to have an adult tap class.
For the Christmas show, we wore simple black slacks with some kind of "Christmasy" sweater (mine was just green). For a touch of whimsy, we added Santa hats. It was just fine.
But our teacher informed us that this year the show's theme is "Broadway" and we are now doing a tap routine to "New York, New York." Which, she seemed to believe, called for a costume that was a tad more, um, dazzling. Hence the silver-sequined vest that now hangs in my closet. Upon first glance, I let out a laugh and a snort kind of combined (AKA as a "lort"). Considering the kind of outfits I used to don for Spring Sing, (garbage bag skirts, Viking horns, Klingon headgear...) I shouldn't turn up my nose. I mean, this is actually rather tame comparatively. But I've been out of the game for a while.
Then came the black glittery top hats.
And that is when it struck me - I am dancing with a prop. Because the teacher has now incorporated these hats into the routine. They do not merely rest upon our heads, desperately anchored to it with 10,000 bobby pins. Oh no, this hat has a dance practically all its own. And I have to tell you folks, I do not dance well with props. I mean, I barely dance well with a partner, but I am especially bad when you add an element other than my own hands and feet. This hat is supposed to come off, go back on, make sweeping ripples, whip through the air, and twirl about, all the while my feet are doing their own little thing. My level of coordination is stretched. Just when I think "Aha! I finally got that move down!" I realize our hats are supposed to be doing something else at the exact same time. It's a bit like that whole pat-your-head, rub-your-tummy thing in elementary school.
To cap off this rather anxiety inducing development, we learned some new stuff last night, and it's the kind of dance moves that I can barely keep a straight face during (much lorting going on there), but mostly involving some sort of shimmy thing with my shoulders towards the audience and these, uh, "hip checks." I had considered, this time around, asking my very bestest friends to come. But alas, I don't believe I could do the dance with them in the audience. I mean, I don't want to be shimmying my torso all the while thinking,"I'll bet Christy and Steph are passed out on the floor in laughter at the moment." That kind of thinking could seriously inhibit my concentration.
And as we have already ascertained, I'm going to need every bit of it for that stupid hat....
n Sunday (Easter) I'm going with two other women from our church to visit with Mary in the McNairy County jail. I thought it would be a while before I would have this opportunity, but it turns out this Sunday is best.
Please pray for our safety on the drive (about three hours) and for our visit with her. I have yet to get a mental handle on this situation (who has?) and only hope that I can be a blessing and encouragement to Mary, her family, and the friends I am traveling with.
This is an unprecendented situation in my little life history; one that throws me far out of my comfort zone. I would really appreciate your prayers. Thanks.
It is such a shame that my unpacking plans seemed to intersect with the two new book releases from some of my favorite authors. Never one to resist a chance at procrastination when offered, I happily consumed Mary Higgins Clark's latest as well as the talented Elizabeth Peters.
I did manage to completely unpack the kitchen and sort of move some things around. But my "Super Saturday of Unpacking" sadly fell to the wayside once I stopped for lunch. I think it was the last box for the kitchen that did me in. A very good, well-meaning friend had packed this box for me - you know, the one with all the strange bits and pieces of life that are not easily categorized anywhere else? It was obvious that this box was packed in much haste on the day we moved, as everything was tossed in. Including the dishwashing soap with an open cap, an open salt shaker, and some lightbulbs thoughtfully placed at the bottom of the box. The green dishwashing soap managed to congeal into a truly green goo, mixed with salt, thereby rendering some loose change and a few pencils rather gross. After that experience, I called it quits and decided to go shopping at Target.
Normally I frequent the bright, shiny new one across from my place of work, but as I was heading from my home base, I went to the old standby on White Bridge Road. They were in the middle of remodeling it, which I was not aware of. The entire health and beauty section was moved to the former men's clothing section, and it made for a surreal experience as I navigated my way through what was clearly makeshift aisles barely large enough for my cart. I managed to purchase my first ever garden hose with a fun-looking nozzle head, though. I will use it when I manage to get off this couch. Possibly tomorrow.
On a more sober note, one of my friends at church who is a good friend of Mary's, has visited her and is aiming to visit her in jail every other week. She is taking letters and cards to her on Sunday. I had a long talk with her after church and offered to go with her one of the coming Sundays. I'm not sure how I will handle that, but we'll take it one step at a time. I went to WalGreens this afternoon to find a card to send to Mary. Well, I have to tell you, Hallmark has failed me here, because they certainly don't make any card that can come close to addressing this situation. Even the simple "Thinking of You" cards took on a particularly gruesome aspect in light of events. I couldn't find even just a blank card with a benign image, so I just gave up on that route. Legal paper may have to suffice. I can't find my stationery anywhere.
But beyond the standard - "I'm thinking of and praying for you" - I just don't have a clue what to say. :(
om: What did you do Saturday?
Me: We had a church talent show; it was really good.
Mom: A talent show? In the church?
Me: In the fellowship hall. It was a lot of fun.
Mom: Were there instruments?
Me: Yep. Josh and Joey even played.
Mom: In the church?
Me: It wasn't a worship service. It was just a talent show.
Mom: But ... what if someone saw you walking in with a guitar or something?
Me: Mom, the way the church has been trashed in the media lately, it could only cause our stock to rise for someone to see us wheel an amp into the building.
Then I misguidedly tried to joke with her about wanting to do a tap dance routine for the show next year.
That did not go over well.