Monday, July 27, 2009

One Week, Three Musicals

I almost forgot about this. Over the course of one week I somehow managed to see three musicals. One in DC and two while in Chicago. I actually have seen three shows in one week before -- for my drama class while studying in London -- but never three musicals in two cities. (And for the record musicals are on my List of Most Favorite Things alongside fountains and chandeliers.)

Spring Awakening, Kennedy Center, Washington DC

Overall I enjoyed it, though it was obviously quite different from anything I've seen on stage before. But I I knew what it was about going in, which is more than I can say for the woman beside me who didn't return after intermission. It was still sometimes shocking, perhaps a bit over-the-top in its desire to be outrageous, but it was good. I enjoyed the songs, the story, and the acting.

Tupperware: An American Musical Fable, La Costa Theatre, Chicago

This was a small play outside of downtown that had a sister of a friend of the roommate's in it. It was incredibly funny, with great acting and catchy songs. I suppose the premise alone proves I will indeed see a musical on anything. However, it was interesting with a highly original topic and a good plot.

Jersey Boys, Bank of America Theatre, Chicago

Well-acted, amazingly sung, and surprisingly both funny and touching. I forgot how many wonderful songs The Four Seasons had. And I knew I was in for a treat when a sign leading into the theatre warned of "authentic Jersey boy language." No harm in that. It was just a true feel-good, can't-help-but-smile type of production.

Next show is TBD until I decide whether or not to see Second City's Barack Stars that's currently in D.C. I hate paying full price for tickets, but I don't know how much longer I can resist a show satirizing Democrats with dancing, singing, and swearing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


With the roommate/friend, a small guidebook, and all the Chicago knowledge I've picked up on from Kanye, Oprah, and Obama, I set off for my first trip to the mid-west on Friday and had a wonderful mini-vacation in Chicago.

I've uploaded all my photos to my Flickr, in the Chicago set on the right. I won't go into a lot of detail here as the pictures pretty much speak for themselves. But here are the main points I will remember about the city, in true you-really-shouldn't-take-me-too-seriously fashion.

1. The Windy City really is windy, and cold, especially for July. I honestly don't know what the weather typically is like there, so maybe it's normal. But as a die hard East Coaster, particularly a Southern East Coaster, July without oppressive heat and humidity just isn't July. I had some jeans, but only sandals and one cardigan, and spent most of the weekend cold. Seeing as how I barely survive D.C. winters, I've always known I could never handle a Chicago one. But I thought I could at least make it through a summer weekend. I really am far weaker than I thought.

2. It smells a little bit. I don't mean this rudely, but it did. D.C. doesn't exactly smell like roses, but I really don't notice an odor that often, unless we're talking about certain metro station areas or alleys. But there was a definite smell. In its defense, though, I was primarily in the tourist-heavy areas, so that may have had something to do with it. And maybe D.C. really is stinky, too, I just have become one with it and don't even know it. (The fountain has nothing to do with the smell, I just really really love it.)

3. There are revolving doors in nearly every building. I've been thinking about this a lot because that's just what I do. I recall quite a few in New York and barely any in London. And maybe D.C. has a lot that I just don't realize, but I swear I've never seen as many as I did in Chicago. I mean, even a Walgreen's had one! I just don't do well with them, not surprising, I'm sure. I'm constantly waiting for my foot to get stuck behind me or to miss the chance to exit and get stuck going 'round and 'round while people laugh and gawk 'round and 'round me in surround sound. Plus there was an episode of Dead Like Me where a guy tripped and fell into the door just as someone was turning it and his neck broke and he died. (The one revolving door I didn't mind was at Tiffany's, where I finally bought something after being in love with the store since I first saw Breakfast at Tiffany's more than ten years ago.)

4. Literally towering over the city on The Ledge. After an interminable wait we finally made our way to the Skydeck of the SEARS Tower. (Yes, it changed its name a day before we arrived, but I refuse to acknowledge it.) First, I am terribly afraid of heights. Or, rather, terribly afraid of plummeting to my death. I also get vertigo and lose all sense of perception when I'm up high or on spiraling or steep staircases. But after waiting in five lines, for three hours, with incredibly pushy and smelly people, once I made it up to the top, I knew I'd regret it later if I didn't take full advantage of every opportunity. This included venturing out ever so cautiously on the newly-opened "Ledge," where one can stand on a glass panel extending away from the building, to look down at the city below as your life flashes before your eyes. I only stayed a minute or so, tiptoeing the whole time, and never quite losing the swaying feeling heights give me, but it definitely was one heck of a view. That I have no desire to ever see again. Ever.

5. Getting away. I love travel almost more than anything and as much as I love home, most of my trips in the past two years have been solely to there. So it was nice to go somewhere new, get away from my real world, and just be still for a little while. It was also nice to go with Brandie, who I've never travelled with before.

All in all, with the beautiful "bean," view of Lake Michigan, majestic Buckingham Fountains, gorgeous architecture, and more, I'd definitely go back. Cold, smell, revolving doors and all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Mighty Wii

I almost forgot about the most enlightening/demeaning part of the Fourth. As the night wound down, when we should have been slipping into our fireworks and food comas, Joey pulled out the Wii fit.

I've been hearing about this nifty, albeit odd, exercise contraption since they bought it a few months ago. I'm not a big fan of video games -- I don't mind them, I just don't like to play them -- but I am intrigued by all the capabilities and features of the Wii. Which was what led me to step on the spaceship-like Wii board and place my health in its non-existent hands.

The good news? I'm just barely above underweight. The bad news? Everything else. After I painfully and slowly completed the first balance test, I was haughtily inquired of by the avatar: "Wow, do you find yourself tripping a lot when you walk?"

You know, little fake person whose sole role is to live in a computer and judge others, I do have trouble walking, but at least I can walk.

I wish I could say it only got better, but no, Snooty McAvatar didn't stop there. It then went on to calculate my Wii Age -- whatever the hell that is, it didn't actually define it or give you some idea of where they are coming from, which I have a problem with, but anyway -- which is, drum roll please, 50!


Nothing against 50 year olds, but I'm 25. Unless my Wii age comes with the benefits of an AARP membership and the knowledge that I can retire in 15 years, I'm not too thrilled about this. It also means that when I actually do hit 50 my balance will be so off I won't be able to stand upright.

As if not demoralized enough, I then attempted the step program. Oh no. Rhythm is apparently a key ingredient to Wii Aerobics and I've known for years I just don't have it. Notice the clenched right fist? I was contemplating punching all the little perfectly synchronized Miis.

The Perfect Child then steps up to the mat and proceeds to step and kick his way through the Step and Advanced Step programs. (He likes Advanced Step best because "he likes to kick.") Bastard.

The Perfect Child's girlfriend then takes her turn and steps, swivels, and dodges her way to high score after high score.

In the meantime I sit on the couch and deplore the completely unjust distribution of rhythm, athletic ability, and, apparently, the capability to walk without tripping, in my family. Whereas the brother excels at soccer, tennis, baseball, football, basketball, and Monopoly, I run into things and trip over my own feet. (To go even further on the subject of gene pool distribution, I have panic attacks in the middle of the night while he can count on one hand the number of times he has felt stressed. And let's not get started on which one studied to the point of sickness to pull A's while the other barely had to glance at a book to get theirs.)

Forget the Wii, I'm going to stick with walking in the evenings, which, as it turns out, is a difficult enough task for me.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

"Time to do what the British couldn't." (Joey, re: sinking his boat)

The plan since February-ish was for the parents to come up to D.C. for the Fourth. Due to work obligations, this changed at the last minute. I decided instead of staying up here, family-less, I would go home. The Fourth is one of my favorite holidays and even the pull of fireworks on the Mall couldn't compare with burgers on the grill and less-than-legal fireworks. With just barely a week to spare, I splurged on a plane ticket, and set my sights Southward. I got home Thursday night and it was go go go until I got back to D.C. on Sunday night.

I spent a lovely Friday afternoon with the little brother, shopping and then treating him to lunch. His girlfriend had apparently joked with him in the past about how he should offer to pay when he has a meal with me or my sister, but I strongly disagree. Maybe it's because I'm in the middle, so I get to be older and younger, but I think it's the older sibling's job to pay when you go out to eat. And when I'm 90 and he's 87, I'll still pay for lunch.

Friday night we all had dinner and then went to the local mall to see the fireworks. Short show, but good.
Saturday was spent by the pool at home, the perfect Independence Day. Capped off with food galore, the last hour of Jaws, and of course, more fireworks! (Including a record amount of sparklers, pops, and snakes.)

The father and brother are PYROS with a capital P-Y-R-O-S. And thank God, for them, it wouldn't be the Fourth of July without it. This year we had Joey's attempt to blow up a small wooden boat -- christened the Black Pearl -- in the pool. (And don't think the cruel injustice of the fact that we aren't allowed to climb over the sides of the pool, but the boy can set fire to a wooden boat in it, has escaped me.) But it was only an attempt as it never really blew up.

And then we had a wide array of fireworks courtesy of the Lesser Carolina. No trees, dogs, or spectators were harmed in the process. (Though there were a few close calls.)
And did I mention the package of glow bracelets I got from Michael's for a $1, that turned our backyard into a rave? Sort of.

Sunday was mainly spent lazing at home until my flight left in the evening. And that was my Fourth. It was back to the grind on Monday in what has ended up being a surprisingly busy week at work. But that's ok because next week is CHICAGO!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Signs that might be omens say I'm going...

In the past month I've bought four plane tickets. Finally, today, I get to use one. Three guesses where I'm headed but you'll only need one.


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