Join Jane Street, Martha Richardson, Sheila Harrington, and Nicole Weaver for That’s What She Said! It’s fun, frolic, laughs, chat, special guests, field trips, and adult beverages. It’s a fast-paced romp through the minds of four clever, intelligent, and funny women who speak their minds on anything and everything. Who’d miss that?
We’re on the 4th Monday of every month at 9:00pm on BCTV!
That’s Berks Community Television, a local public access cable channel located at Comcast Reading Channel 15, Comcast-Southern Berks Channel 965, and Service Electric Channel 19.
Election day, 2012. I don’t know what to expect, although it is probably safe to say that after today about half of the country will be ecstatic, and the other half will be angry and bewildered. The real challenge will be for the victor to reassure us all that the hope for our nation is that we have millions of decent people of many persuasions, and that by their working together we may yet have a national legacy worth bequeathing to our grandchildren.
Perhaps the most hopeful signs when we went to the poll this morning was seeing a young black man seated at the table with the two veteran election workers, checking our photo IDs, recording our names, and assigning us our voter numbers. His Tshirt said Kutztown University Student Volunteer. Youth and diversity, the future of our nation requires them both. The other hopeful sign was the number of people waiting in line to vote. Large voter turnout, a democracy requires the participation of its constituents. Regardless of the election results, those were good omens.
Not too long ago Chuck and I were empty-nesters; our children had flown the coop years ago. We still have one barn cat who greets us every morning and requires nothing other than being fed twice a day and some cuddling. We have had our share of pets: dogs, cats–indoors and out, rabbits, goats, snakes, fish, etc. But after our last house cat was hit on the road two years ago, we had found that there was a freedom to not having the responsibility of house pets…freedom to leave home and not worry about when you are returning, freedom from vet bills, freedom from cleaning pet hair off the furniture, etc., etc. And then we succumbed to the loneliness of it all and decided to rehome a dog back in July. We adore our Monah, and she has certainly given us love and lots of laughs in return, and our nest seemed complete with a dog in it again. I’ve written about her frequently in the last three months…the flea infestation, the operation for a hematoma, and then what was most unexpected in an 8 and a half year old female dog–being in heat. This week’s news is a continuation of that saga.
Being in heat made Monah feel very maternal. She picked up a stuffed animal…a cardinal that chirps like the real thing…for the first time since we had had her, and she needed to cuddle with it. That birdsong was music to all of our ears. And then on one of those lovely autumn days when I was getting some needed garden cleanup out of the way, she found two kittens in the ivy under a spruce tree. Mama Monah tended to them, gave them baths, and soon I was feeding them in the barn. And then soon I was feeding them in the house because they were following us everywhere, even out onto the road, and we had to have a safe place for them. And that’s how our nest became full to overflowing again.
Kittens can be the most adorable, inquisitive, playful, entertaining…and the most annoying little creatures. Everything from a sunbeam to a newspaper on a table–heck, the table itself–to a vacuum cleaner cord coiling across the floor requires their attack of investigation. My houseplants may not survive their onslaught. What sharp little claws they have, and they use them to climb the screendoor, shrubbery, trees, furniture, and our legs. We have scars resulting from their curiosity and need for cuddling. And poor Monah. Her maternal instincts vanished along with her estrus, but she is now saddled by two little vixens who nip at her nose and ears and pounce upon her tail.
They are of a long-haired ancestry, very fluffy, hardly feral kittens. All that furriness on their tiny bums makes telling gender difficult. We think they are sisters. Coming up with pet names is always a difficult task, requiring observation of character, cleverness and an eye toward understanding the adults they will become. Presently these two little ones are Lacey and Pym, but should the nether regions develop differently, the names may have to change.
I guess I should also tell you that there is evidence of early genious. Pym is literate. The other night I was typing here at my computer when my son Drew called (with the report of our grandson Baylor’s hat trick in a soccer game that day). As I chatted away, Pym required some attention. She walked across the keyboard–typing out LOOK? I did!
Oh, my, all of my friends have created quite a sensory-stirring compilation of autumn thoughts: Kira, ready for the heartier tastes of soups (and curling up with a book); Sheila enjoying pumpkin scent, pumpkin everything; Martha cozying up with corduroys and Frank; and Jane hearing the autumnal release of the bow on the violin strings. Before long we will all be witnessing the vibrancy of the fall pallet, which the previous seasons have meteorologically prepared for us. I agree that there is something renewing and stimulating in the air in fall.
Perhaps this explains why this weekend I was so affected by a show, another old delight made new again. Maybe the season sets us up to be so much more appreciative and nostalgic. Or perhaps I would have loved it even during the icyest days of February or the sweatiest days of July because this is a show for all seasons.
The show, “West Side Story”, has been around since 1957, which must put it in the “Old Chestnut” category, but the “Romeo and Juliet” story that it is based upon has brought tears to the eyes of audiences since the 17th century. The ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ and ‘good morrows’ of the chronological first one, and the ‘daddy-os’ and ‘cools’ of the second do date them both and can make them inaccesible to contemporary audiences unless they are prepared for period pieces.
So what made this something so sensually special?
The star of the show was the Philadelphia Orchestra. They played the score behind a redigitalized version of the 1961 film, starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris.
It is too simplistic to explain that the original sound track was split between orchestral and vocal and the former was deleted so that the live orchestra could accompany the lyrics, dialogue, and effects. The original orchestrations had been lost, and so it took much research among the archives of the original conductor/music supervisor, the director, and the producer to fashion a mock-up score and adaptation for live orchestra. That’s like rewriting Bernstein without missing a note or a dynamic. Even us non-techies have an appreciation for that.
I have heard the original score hundreds of times, and I’ve even played some of it. I saw the show on Broadway in 1960 and the movie in 1962. Let’s just say I know the music and have some fond connections to it. But to hear it played live by a great orchestra simply brought me chills. Adjectives fail. It added sparkle, poignancy, accent, and depth to the film. Natalie was sweeter, more beautiful, and more engaging. Rita was more of a spit fire, more enticing. George was more romantic, more exciting. And Russ was just more on point of his wonderful dance shoes. It wasn’t just the old story that brought tears. And it wasn’t just the new technical feat that brought applause. It was a totally beautiful experience.
“West Side Story” has a moral, and 50 years later we should be a better society because Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Jerome Robbins, and Steven Sondheim collaborated to teach us about the ugliness and fatality of hatred and resulting violence. As we left the theatre, I had to acknowledge to my granddaughter and daughter that unfortunately we’re slow learners.
…Running fast to keep up here…what thoughts are running through my mind today? Well there’s:
Our newly rehomed dog Monah…who last week was my subject when she was recovering from ear surgery…well, she now is in heat! The poor girl is 8 and a half years old (equivalent of 60 human years) and should not be having to deal with this. She’s moaning/howling, lost her appetite, attracting stray dogs (male, I must assume) who are trying to jump over the wall. She’s pulled me down the road at the other end of her leash, after a barking dog in a car (again, male, I assume), and she wants to sit in Chuck’s lap (that’s a lapful, since she weighs 106 lbs.) I am following her around the house with a spray bottle of Heavy Duty Carpet Cleaner, sopping up the the drips…and following her around the yard like a duena. We’ve never experienced this before, having always had our dogs neutered early on. She knows she is behaving strangely and seems embarrassed.
And then there was a great kick off for the Reading Literary Festival, the poet laureate induction ceremony on Monday night at the Miller Center. The audience tried to pick a poet out of the crowd in our version of the old TV game show, “What’s My Line”. Many of our friends were the mystery poets, and they did stellar portrayals. Thanks and congrats to them. Sen. Judy Schwank said of the show, “What a fun way to spend a Monday night.”
I feel guilty about saying this, but it is going to be difficult to decide whether to watch the presidential debate tonight or the last games of the regular baseball season. My Mets are way out of it, as are the local favorite Phillies, but I’d just love to see Baltimore have a chance to triumph over the hated Yankees. I have less strong opinions about the election and really need to listen to what the candidates are saying. I just hope we get ideas rather than rants.It may be a toss-up because I will not be a channel switcher. That seems to be a guy-thing.