Thursday, August 27, 2009

Helloo Colummbuss!

So I took my eleven year-old goddaughter to see the Jonas Brothers Wednesday night.

While I was never the biggest boy-band follower, I find it difficult to pass up opportunities to be "the cool 'aunt'." Okay, now that I think about it, I might have to take that back. I did see Rick Springfield two years in a row, when I was twelve and thirteen, and appropriately swooned (albeit quietly in the awkward-girl manner... just because I wasn't a screamer doesn't mean I didn't know all the lyrics to every song and totally understand his pain when wrote that song about his Dad dying.)


What I loved most about the evening was observing the blend of how some things have changed tremendously, and other things remain exactly the same. The main difference, it should be no surprise, was the difference in technology. Verizon had this texting "station" set up in the lobby where you could send a text that would be displayed, one after another after another, on a big screen up in the arena. We got there early so we saw, perhaps, 1400 individual texts, most variations on the same theme - Scream if you love the Jonas Brothers... scream if you wanna marry Joe... Scream if you're from Upper Arlington... Despite the predictability of the message, it was impossible not to look away. My personal favorite was Scream if UR not here.

Kid after my own heart.

Another difference was the complexity of the staging. When I was twelve, it was a stage, a banner in the background, and some pyrotechnics that shot up from the floor. Any "special effects" were performed by the artists themselves (usually reduced to scaling their own equipment.) In the past several years, live shows have been taken to a whole other level. The Jonas Bros stage was a sprawling feat of set-design that took up a good chunk of the arena floor. The center stage also revolved in two directions (which, honestly, made me a bit nauseous, but I'm sure didn't bother the little girls at all.)

What remained the same, I was pleased to experience, was the genuine excitement of seeing a live show. I love the impractical enthusiasm that still exists only in the young or the profoundly naive. I played along, standing in the throng near the backstage door - certain that the Brothers were long inside the building - happy to relish in the optimism of what might happen. We rarely experience that emotion as adults and I kind of miss it. So, when asked, "Where do you think Nick should sign my t-shirt?" I took an earnest look and pointed to a space that looked good and said, "Here." "I thought so too," she said with a satisfied grin.

Another thing that remains unchanged is crowds still eat it up when you say their name. Doesn't matter the context - "Hello Columbus!" or "We love Columbus!" or even a chatty, "When we arrived in Columbus..." - we can't help ourselves.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

70 West...Way Out West

This past week I had an extrodinary opportunity to accompany a friend to Vail, Colorado (well, it was Edwards, but there are a lot of little teeny community/towns out there and Vail is the closest that people have heard of) to help prepare a home for ski season.

It was stunningly gorgeous out there. Although I used to ski back in high school, I was mediocre at best and certainly a place like Vail in the winter would be wasted on me. But being there in the summer is something all together different. It seems made for simply finding yourself in an elevated position and taking in the view (okay, so there are plenty of people hiking and mountain biking and such, but I was there to work so my leisure time was spent gaping at the landscape.)

Even the Wal-Mart seemed almost quaint nessled in the foothills of a huge mountain range.

While running errands one day, it occured to me that we were driving on Route 70, the very same Route 70 that runs just a few miles from my home. There was something very grounding about this revelation in a very freeing sort of way, as though I were still on a sort of tether, albeit a very long tether.

Perhaps I'm just finding a way to reconcile these twin desires of wanderlust and sentimentality.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another Love Letter to the CAPA Summer Movie Series

So much for the break... Sometimes inspiration just comes when it comes...

Went to see Wings at the Ohio last night. It was magical and important on many levels.

First of all, Wings was the first Best Picture Academy Award winner. Anyone who knows me knows my life-long immersion into all things Oscar and how important this ritual was/is to my family.

It was also the only silent film ever to win an Oscar. While I don't have a huge personal knowledge of silent film, I have been increasingly smitten with the silent-film-score, and the concept that there used to be people who worked in movie houses whose job it was to accompany the film on a piano or organ. For the past ten years, on and off, I've attended a trade show of sorts, the Cinevent, held at the Ramada in north Columbus. While I initially just wandered around the memorabilia room, occasionally I'd slip into showings of silent films. Once I discovered there would be a person playing the score live, I made it a point to see a couple every year. I've come to learn that sometimes there is specific sheet music for a specific film, but very often it has been lost and the accompanist is left to improvise according to the action.

Not an easy feat.

That was the case last night. The Ohio's "house" organist, Clark Wilson, who always plays for a half-hour before every show, played for the entire two-and-a-half hour epic. He played it all from memory. Talk about smitten. I didn't even notice this until my date leaned over and said, "How can he possibly remember all of that."

Speaking of which, while I'm not inclined to go into the direct details of my personal life in this medium, I will say, having a date at the Ohio with someone you really like doesn't get much better.

There's really no reason not to try to go. There are nine more movies. Perhaps I'll see you at Evil Dead II, Steel Magnolias or South Pacific.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bit of a Brain Break

I suppose, for all intent and purposes, this could be considered another "cheater post." Maybe. Bottom line is, I've started a couple entries, but all have been rather lackluster attempts at some typical meditation on daily life that this blog has become.

But, I've also managed to complete a manuscript lately. A draft, but, by far, the longest and most intensive thing that I've written. It is now in the hands of readers, and I am compelled to take a little rest until I ramp back up into revisions.

Feels good, though. Real good.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Viva La Jupiter Jump

In almost forty years of life, I have missed the Ohio State Fair only one time, and that was back in 1978 when my parents went to Europe and my brother and I went to stay at our grandparents in Chillicothe (and even then, I'm wondering why we didn't finagle a little day-trip down to Columbus...)

Anyway, I've been twice this year, once with a friend a night (I haven't trolled the Midway since I was like seventeen, so that was pretty fun) and then yesterday with my mother (right when it opens, as is our custom.)

Instead of reporting on my goings-on, I thought I'd just offer some suggestions of some of my favorite things to maybe assist those who still need to go (you've got until this Sunday...)

If you think you want to go, but don't want to fight the crowd, consider going early. Gates open at 9 (although, it should be noted a lot of the buildings and things don't open until 10 or 11.) But here's what you can do. Have someone drop you off at the big Ohio gate at 11th Ave (there's a big turn-around for easy drop-off/pick-up.) Once inside the gate, you can go directly to the Mini Donut stand locate right in front of the Commercial Building. Get a bag of mini-donuts (there's enough to split) and a coffee and sit on one of the near-by picnic tables.

The Natural Resources Park is right behind the Commercial Building. It is open early. You can wander around the park, see Smokey the Bear although he's "sleeping" so you don't get the full affects of kids freaking out when he speaks their name (a brilliant bit of human coordination in action going on in this bit, like watching a good con act operate.) New this year is man-made kayak pond right in the middle of the park. I looks like they hold informational classes for people who want to learn. If it's still not 10 by the time you come out, you can wander through the Rabbits and Roosters building, say you saw some live things.

Food - Of course, it's hard to go wrong with Fair Food (unless you get the cheese on a stick; seriously, it's like a soggy piece of cornbread with a heap of runny cheese at the bottom...) but you should consider some of the things you can only get at the Fair. My all-time favorite is the Swiss cheese sandwich at the Dairy Building. Not much to it, but it is fresh, fresh, fresh (oh, it also contains a smear of butter, which freaks some people out, but I personally like it.) Equally good at the Dairy Building is a strawberry ice cream. I usually just have a bite of my mom's.

A piece of corn is also a great choice. My friend Kim used to get a piece every year when we were growing up. I declined, but now realize it was because I couldn't get over the smell of burning husks. But it doesn't taste like burning; it tastes like good, Ohio-grown corn. There are a couple of Bulk Candy bullpens. What's good about these is you can typically find candy you can't seem to find anywhere else (for me it's chocolate bullseyes and vanilla Tootsie Rolls.) Be warned, though, it's all pay-by-the-pound, they give you a basket and send you through a maze. Impulse-buying is very easy to do. You will be shocked to find that you just purchase twelve dollars in candy and will be too embarrassed to go back and replace it (my lesson from a few years ago...) Go easy.

A word on the exhibits. I hate when people go off and trash the Fair in a "it's not like it used to be." Those people tend to leave out all of the good things that replaced the crappy stuff back in the day. But, I will say the things like the crafts and things have dwindled considerably in volume and quality, so that's a little sad.

Likewise, the era of the etched locker-mirror is also over, and seemingly not replaced with a contemporary equivalent. My friend Bridie's mom mailed me one with the MTV logo with a note (I was cleaning out the basement. Bridie said I should mail it to you.) Of course I equally remember Def Leppard and Van Halen-adorned mirrors as well... There were plenty of over-sized, inflatable baseball bats, but, they seemed destined for another demographic.

I was, however, delighted to walk by one of the many rides flinging teenagers about and hear the song "The Final Countdown."

It's been several years since I've braved any rides (more a matter of the "temporary" nature of the rides than the rides themselves, althought there is that.) But the Sky Ride is a nice way to end the day, especially if you're there at the end of the night and you can get on at dusk.

I asked my mom if there were things my brother and I particularly liked to do at the Fair as kids. "Well, you always liked the rides," she said thoughtfully. "Most of them, but those inflatable ones in particular. If there was one of those in the vicinity, anywhere you went, your shoes were off and you were in it."