Friday, April 24, 2020

Good Night, Sweet Prince

For our TV time after dinner tonight, I chose the 1987 movie Outrageous Fortune, starring Shelley Long and Bette Midler.  I remembered this movie fondly, and it has aged well.  Susan and Amy thought it was funny, and Larry stayed awake for the whole thing, which is about as high a recommendation as a movie can get in our current household.

The movie is about two aspiring actresses who live in Manhattan.  I lived in Manhattan in 1987, so the scenes of city living, and in particular the wardrobe choices, really resonated with me.  Those vests!  Those blouses!  The hair!!

Shelley Long’s character really wants to play Hamlet, and (spoiler) in the end she does.  This reminded me of a production of Hamlet that I saw in Manhattan in 1987.  Back in those days, we actually read posters stapled to phone poles and taped on bus stops.  I guess it was our internet?

So, one day as I was walking through Greenwich Village I saw a poster advertising a production of Hamlet starring DIRK BENEDICT.  I had a huge crush on Dirk Benedict in his Battlestar Galactica days.  I talked a friend of mine who had entertained a similar crush into attending. 

For those of you my age:  Dirk Benedict (Lieutenant Starbuck) or Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo)?  And from Emergency!  - Randolph Mantooth (Johnny) or Kevin Tighe (Roy)?  And from CHiPs – Erik Estrada (Ponch) or Larry Wilcox (Jon)?  I always went for the blondes.

As we made our way to our seats, I was surprised at the tiny size of the off-off-Broadway performance space.  I’m not sure you could even call it a theater.  Also, there was no air conditioning.

It became clear that this was a passion project for Dirk, who probably funded the whole thing.  The acting and the production were awful.  Thanks to the internet, I was able to read this review all these years later.

Here’s what I remember:  the show was so bad and the space was so hot that almost everyone left at intermission.  My friend and I stayed just because, you know, DIRK BENEDICT.  The actors were all dressed in heavy velvet costumes which led to the final scene being more comical than sad.

As the characters were killed one by one, they fell to the floor, where they audibly panted, as they were so overdressed and hot.  It was hard to hear Horatio’s speech at the end because all the “corpses” were gasping for air.  But, hey, Lieutenant Starbuck, so it was not a wasted evening.

A Hamlet interpretation which I love is The Sassy Gay Hamlet.  Check this out, it makes me laugh every single time I watch it, which has now easily been hundreds of times.

Another Hamlet intersection: when Ellen was studying abroad in Copenhagen, the whole family went to visit, so now we’ve all been to Elsinore, the supposed setting for Hamlet.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Life During Quarantine

Today is around Day 28 of the Shelter-In-Place, but honestly, you could tell me it was Day 5 or Day 40 and I would believe you.  My days have taken on a sameness that is both disconcerting, but at the same time, oddly comforting.  Two of our daughters have been returned, squawking, to the empty nest that Larry and I were just getting used to.

Susan has relinquished her cool adult life in San Francisco and moved back in here, and Amy was booted from the University of Wisconsin and landed here.  Ellen had literally just signed a lease for an apartment in Brooklyn when everything fell apart there.  She has been taken in by Larry’s sister in New Jersey where she is sheltering with two of her cousins.  We are so happy she has found a safe and fun place to wait this out.

Things are so, so, surreal.  Larry, Susan, and Amy are working remotely as best they can.  I am doing the same household management things I’ve done for 24 years, only more so now, since no one leaves the house except for our state-sanctioned neighborhood walks.

We live within a few miles of ten grocery stores, and I used to go out every afternoon and purchase something to make for dinner.  Now I am trying to go less often, but I’m really bad at advance planning, so I still go out every couple of days.

I was out on my walk one afternoon and I came across a neighbor who has four children at home.  We were commiserating about the difficulty of finding eggs and flour, and she told me that she had actually found some at the Nob Hill the previous morning at 7 am, when she was doing her BI-MONTHLY shopping.  I cannot even imagine being so organized.  Or getting up that early.

Here is how my days go, if you care, which you might, if you are as bored as I am.  Which is also surreal, because there are many people for whom this month has been super busy and scary as hell.  There is a percentage of the population (health care workers, food industry workers, public utility workers, police, etc.) who are carrying us all, and I never forget to be grateful.

I wake up when I wake up in the morning.  This is a nice luxury, as I have always enjoyed sleeping in, and now I have no reason at all not to do it every day.  I wander downstairs and eat whatever in the refrigerator is about to go bad for breakfast.

While I enjoy my leftover sausage on stale pita bread, I read the San Jose Mercury News.  This is the amount of news I can tolerate on a daily basis.  During these troubled times, the Merc has trebled its puzzle content, which is a bad thing for me, personally.  I used to work through the puzzles during breakfast.  Now that there are twelve or so puzzles every day, it takes me until early afternoon to complete them all.  I have had to stop trying.

During the afternoon, I clean some part of my house, since I have had to stop having my cleaning ladies come in.  (Yes, I am still paying them.) I am very bad at cleaning the house, partly because I am out of practice, and partly because I just don’t care very much if it’s clean.

I do some laundry, sew some masks, take a walk, and then it’s time to make dinner.  I do a triage of my vegetables and cook whatever looks like it won’t last.  We have been pretty good about not opening wine until dinner time.  But after that, all bets are off.

After dinner, it’s TV time, the most fun time of day.  I have been taking advice from Netflix and Amazon and friends and the Merc and we have watched some interesting stuff.  Of course we watched Tiger King.  If you come out of this quarantine and haven’t watched Tiger King, you will really be missing out on a shared experience.

We have also enjoyed Cheer, Rookie Blue, the two new Jumanji movies, Fiddler on the Roof, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Love is Blind, The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, Agatha Christie, and other fine programming.

Larry is trying to maintain business hours, so he goes to bed at a reasonable hour, but the girls and I stay up until at least 2 am because we can.  The dog is super confused by this, but then, he is super confused by everything.

We watched the SNL-from-home episode this past Saturday, and although I laughed at the sketch where the older ladies couldn’t figure out how to use Zoom, I also had to admit that I am them.  I have had a number of book groups and family calls on Zoom, and I think I am finally figuring it out, but there have certainly been a number of shots up my nose, and as my daughters point out, I do tend to speak more loudly than is necessary.

I have also learned to play Catan, a game that only baffled me before the virus times.  We have of course done some jigsaw puzzles.  I have made many interesting new desserts.  I have explored on foot parts of our neighborhood that I had never been to before.

We had a seder dinner last week, even though we are mostly lapsed Catholic (and certainly not Jewish) just to feel like a part of something bigger.  It was actually quite fun.  And of course we had an Easter brunch yesterday with many mimosas.

Okay, it’s TV time.  We are thinking of revisiting some old favorites, such as High School Musical, School of Rock, Bill and Ted, maybe some Barbie movies.

Again, I am so grateful to everyone who is actively fighting this virus and allowing us to stay home and stay safe.  I know we will have to figure out how to restart society soon, but for now I am going to open another bottle of wine and watch something stupid on TV.  Perhaps The Baker and the Beauty….