The Mighty Truckee’s Finer Ladies

Spring is really the best time to visit Reno Nevada.  The snow is just beginning to melt, meaning that the Truckee River is wild and dangerous and beautiful.

Above is the RiverWalk, a popular place on a sunny day.  As you can see off in the distance, there’s still plenty of snow to melt on the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

These two kayakers wisely chose to paddle to shore instead of attempting to run the set of engineered rapids downstream used for professional kayaking competitions.

Along the river some of Reno’s older and more interesting houses have managed to survive the ravages of the Mighty Truckee.


The building above was once an elementary school and now serves as a art center.

The Lear Theatre may not look like much but it has an interesting history.  It was designed by Paul Revere Williams who famously lamented that most of buildings he designed he could not enter. You see, he was the first African American to be honored by the Architectural Institute.

Before it was a theatre it was a church attended by the Moya Lear, the wife of William Powell Lear of Lear Jet fame. Besides being the wife of a brilliant man, she was also the daughter of vaudevillians and apparently thought the need for theatrics more important than the need for church and bought it. Unfortunately this building is not in the best part of town and they’ve had to surround it with a chain link fence to prevent vandalism.


Across the river and high on a hill sit decaying mansions once owned by the town’s prominent citizens. A few have been extensively remodeled but today people with money prefer to live far from Reno’s squalid old town with it’s pawn shops, casinos and bail bondsmen on every corner.

Above, for Norm Frampton’s ThursdayDoors extravaganza, is the one door I was able to get a clear shot of.

This rather gloomy building always brings bittersweet memories.  It is Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral where for years my best friend’s mother attended Mass every single morning and then wandered the streets ministering to the drunks sleeping it off in alleyways.  She spoke for God whose language she alone knew.

Here’s a better shot from Bing Images. It’s not Notre Dame, that’s for sure but then it’s not in Paris.  It’s two blocks from the El Dorado Casino and the heart of Sin City North (Reno’s nickname).

Snakelessness

tin hats

In the bridge beams the swallows tended to their nests full of chicks as he knelt down on the jut of a rock and dunked his head into the murk of the creek, half wondering if he’d see the rusted remains of his BB gun lying on the bottom, a relic of the day he reckoned with his darkness for the first time.

Having saved up enough paper route money, he bought himself a BB gun on the one year anniversary of a life-changing event, and right now I can’t tell you anything more about the nature of this event, other than to say that you will soon be following him into a forest, where he will spend the night beside a fire, and at that point, I will address the matter thoroughly. For the time being, however, we need to linger beneath the bridge, where he’s in the process…

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101 Ways to Tell the World to Kiss Your Ass: #ThursdayDoors

While visiting relatives we ran into this contraption parked on a main thoroughfare in the San Diego suburb of Carlsbad and at first thought it was some kind of a food truck.  We couldn’t read the sign on the back from across the street and were standing, squinting, and wondering aloud what the sign might say when a middle aged man walking his dog in front of us turned and said.

“You are about to pass the author of 101 Ways to Tell the World to Kiss your Ass.”

At first I thought he was a resident of that area who was miffed that a vehicle other than an Audi or  Porsche was parked in his well-manicured, HOA maintained, gated community.  He seemed the type: clean-cut and dressed as a southern Californian does for most of the year, in shorts.

But I was wrong.  It was David H. Scott, the author himself.  Here he is  standing next to his 1929 1.5 ton Chevy. Here’s a better shot of the front:

If you want to follow his adventures (he’s currently planning a kayaking trek across Mongolia) his website is at: http://www.1indsob.com.  Who knows, maybe at some point you’ll run into him and say:  I know you.  And it’s all because of Norm Frampton’s weekly #ThursdayDoors challenge.

On our way back to our far less unique, red Prius, we passed these monstrous and prolific daisies who practically screamed “Happy Spring!”

They towered over us!

I regret that we are traveling and I may not be able to check out everyone’s contributions to the party.  But I’m thinking of you.

 

The Little Girl

tin hats

The little boy about seven-years-old knocks on my door, in the trees all the birds are waking, chirping about cats and water

I need help, he says, so we walk hand-in-hand to an empty house a few streets over, I get the rusty latch open and he goes in with a smile

A few hours later, he returns and seems to be at least 10

He asks if I can let him use the phone, sure I say and then he calls his mother in a thin voice to come and get him…mommy, mommy please…and then he hangs up and stands on the street corner like a crushed sheet of paper

Sometime in the afternoon he returns and seems to be a girl maybe eighteen-years-old, but  somehow the same…hi, remember me, she asks…sure I do, come in and we talk for a while

Her voice is incomplete like light rain…

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Miss Tinker Tries to Sleep

From Duke’s WIP

tin hats

You left me all those years ago and now I am without your dreams of turning stream pebbles into light, without your technical drawings of how stairs to the clouds can be built with smiles

I toss and turn with my new face

It’s difficult to move around on this bed

It’s like living inside a tree, everything silent and tightly wrapped as if the night is cut up into large black safes and the steel combinations spin into place, leading me into yet another hollow brick where I suffocate and grow old

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MAGA hats in the make believe band

In general I don’t correct other people, especially in public. So what if someone doesn’t know a Monet from a Manet? Who cares? Not me!

However if someone says “I love this song from the musical Carousel” and then proceeds to name a song from the musical Oklahoma, I become an obnoxious know-it-all  who must correct this hideous injustice posthaste and with no sympathy for the miscreant.  Embarrassing confession but there it is.  I can be a bitch. But there’s a reason why.  As a kid I had most of the songs from the musicals written by Rogers & Hammerstein and Lerner & Loewe memorized. 

Rodgers and Hammerstein – true geniuses

I had no television growing up.  Just a record player and a father who loved musicals. As a girl, I was vaguely aware that some of these musicals tackled serious issues however my focus was on the romance.  Would Nellie Forbush overcome her prejudices and accept Emile?  Would Eliza Doolittle take old Henry Higgins down a notch or two?

Now when I happen to catch one of them on Turner Classic Movies, it’s definitely not the romances that pique my interest. Let’s face it, there’s not much chemistry between Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn!

I mean really? He’s ninety-nine years older than her.

I’m more interested in how the source material was altered for the musical and why. For example, South Pacific was based on James A. Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, a collection of stories set during WWII.  One of the underlying themes is cultural intolerance.   Can an army nurse and young lieutenant from Little Rock Arkansas overcome their prejudices towards those “they’ve been carefully taught to hate”?

The nurse eventually does but in the original story, Our Heroine,  the man she loves has four mixed-race children from four different women none of whom he married. Horrors! An audience in the early sixties would definitely have trouble seeing him as a hero.  So in the musical, R&H gave Emile de Becque only two mixed race children and they are both from his deceased wife making his sin (marrying a heathen) in part redeemable.

R&H had a similar dilemma when writing the musical Carousel.  It was based on an earlier play called Lilliom by Ferenc Moinar.  In Moinar’s play, the main character, Billy Bigelow kills himself after being caught during a robbery but is still given a second chance to enter Heaven.  Recognizing this might make Bigelow less sympathetic to some in the audience,  R&H revised the storyline.  In Carousel Billy Bigelow falls on his knife while fleeing and thus is eligible for heaven.

I could go on but I’m sure you get the point.  Which brings me to The Music Man. This musical is not based on a previous publication but on Meredith Willson’s childhood band experiences in small town Iowa.  For the life of me, I do not understand WTF he was trying to say.  See if you can.

 

Here’s the plot for those of you who’ve never seen it.  A flimflam man who calls himself Dr. Harold Hill is looking for a town full of people gullible enough to scam and decides River City Iowa might be the ticket. His modus operandi is to play upon people’s fears (sound familiar?) but the good folks of the River City seem content and so he decides he’s got to create a problem that only he can solve.  The arrival of a new pool table gives him his hook.

He decides to convince that townspeople that the pool table will ruin the town and turn all their children into shiftless bums. The first thing he does is whip up fear.  Then hatred.  Finally he proclaims he alone can save them by creating a wholesome boy’s marching band. 

Of course, Harold Hill knows nothing about music.  But by the time he’s finally revealed as a con man, the whole town has been brainwashed into believing they can have a world class marching band.  They no longer care that they’ve been lied to and manipulated.  They just want to march happily through the town behind their savior.  (I’m not sure what he saved them from – their rationality?)

The musical ends on a truly bizarre note.  A small group of kids making noise with their instruments morphs into a full-fledged marching band.and around and around the town square they march. I could swear I saw a few MAGA hats in the crowd.

What are we supposed to make of that? What’s the underlying theme? Was Willson predicting a future where we no longer care if we’re lied to as long as we’re given a good show?  I just don’t get it.

Never surrender to nincompoops or madmen

There are some movies I will watch again and again for just one scene. 

In the movie The Darkest Hour, Winston Churchill rides the Underground for the first time as his advisors urge him to surrender to the Nazis. The bulk of the British army is surrounded at Dunkirk and the Americans are refusing to join the fight. Surrender seems to be the only way to avoid catastrophic defeat. Those politicians on the side of surrender have talked themselves into believing they can come to reasonable terms with a depraved madman but Churchill knows otherwise.The scene I love in that movie opens with Churchill gazing out at ordinary Londoners trying to escape the rain from his limousine. It’s a stark reminder that wars are begun by men in chauffeur-driven limos but it’s the man on the street who pays the price. Suddenly he disappears. When next seen he is trying to figure out the system map much to the surprise of the commuters. Aristocrats don’t ride the Underground everyday. Once they warm up to him, he asks how they feel about surrendering to Germany and to a man, woman and even a child they say “Never Surrender.”

 And of course Churchill weeps and I wept along with him.

After the movie I made the mistake of watching the news. Good grief.  Today a senate committee questioned some muleheaded nincompoop determined to stonewall them unless he could expound upon the dignity of human life (code speak for “take away a woman’s right to choose.”)  Any time a committee member came up with a reasonable question about his credentials, some jackass from the other party interrupted their time by yelling “point of order” which actually had nothing to do with order but had more to do with defending a nincompoop put into enormous power by a madman and I wanted to yell “NEVER SURRENDER” loud enough that it could be heard in Washington D.C.  

On a lighter note, here are a few favorite scenes from movies I’ll take the time to watch just for a few unforgettable scenes:

  • Mortimer discovers his dear sweet aunties are serial killers.
  • Ralphie gets a rude awakening from Santa
  • Winger and Ziskey discover they’ve joined the “wrong” army.

There are many more of course.  And we need them these days, we surely do.  Is there a movie you’d watch again just for one scene or am I the only one addicted to sentimentality?