V For Something

Victory, possibly. Or Vendetta. I am not quite sure.

What it was, I was driving down the main drag of South Arlington to the gym, an experience always fraught with idiocy and mundane perils, like the construction site where I turn out of the hood (festooned with a gigantic banner engrossed with the initials ED, which means Ellis-Dale construction but given the humongous crane perched on the hillside, the last thing you want to see suffer Erectile Dysfunction, all I can say is it is a bit unnerving). People weave in traffic. They look cell-phone-dazed. It is half a mile of quotidian horror.

So suddenly there is the staccato blatting of a car horn obviously intended to attract attention, and a black sedan pulls alongside me in a meaningful way. At the wheel is a lady of A Certain Age — and I mean only a tad more certain than mine, I would say high sixties, with the stringy gray-white shoulder-cropped I-quit-giving-a-fuck hair you see on some women her age, waving at me and making gestures that at first I thought added up to flipping me off. Really? Is she a Trumpie who doesn’t like my Hillary Bernie Planned Parenthood bumper stickers? What did I do?

She gunned her car, which I could now see was a Mercedes thanks much, and seemed to be getting the window open, worked her arm out and began waggling it high in the air, the first two fingers of her left hand sprouting into a V sign. The arm thrust, danced, pirouetted with insane zest until she accelerated out of sight.

I can’t think it was just the candidate stickers. The Cthulhu religious fish? The DUKAT 2016 sticker subscribed “Make Cardassia Great Again”? Grumpy Cat?

Either she was a nutter, or someone I’d like to know. Ships in the night.

Oooookaaayyy

So I was on my way to the gym yesterday and ran into a permutation of a recently occurring pattern of clusterfuck, road work compounded with some construction company excavating on the approach to the main road, and had to detour through some narrow neighborhood streets which are staples of my speedwalk route. One of them is slightly obstructed by a large, ballasted basketball hoop and backboard.

On this occasion, there was someone under the basketball whatsit. Only he did not appear to be practicing his shots. At closer approach, I saw a man easily my age — white-haired, at least what you could see under a ball cap, with a wiry runner’s build, cruising a skateboard in circles around the street beneath the basket and holding at present-arms a hockey stick.

Sorry no photos. I kind of didn’t want to slow down.

The Return Of Penguin Woman

“Well that’s fucked,” I said blearily as I opened the front window blinds. “What is?” answered the Engineer, who was walking around the top floor in a pair of workaday khakis and nothing else, kind of rocking the furry barbarian look.

“There is a black sedan obliquely athwart the end of the driveway with its front wheels halfway up on the curb,” I explained. I’m sorry, I actually do talk like that, even first thing in the morning.

We both went out front to look. The hood was cold and no one was inside. “Looks like someone hit the curb, decided they were too drunk to go any further, and bailed,” the Engineer opined.

I hate calling the cops on people for this kind of thing — I have a keen decades-old memory of parking across the end of someone’s drive on a visit to a new friend because, with no car parked there, I genuinely couldn’t see it in the snow — but then, my clients have to park somewhere and the driveway was entirely blocked in. Presently a stocky, amiable, bespectacled guy with a strong Hispanic accent turned up in a county car and ran the plates, to see if the car belonged to someone nearby. I admit that, going on the Engineer’s scenario, I was thinking more along the lines of Julio’s Repose and wondering if I should suggest a search of my property, but it is damn cold for someone to be crashing in the bushes this time of year.

Presently the avuncular parking guy came back to knock on my door. Trailing him was the Penguin Woman of my porch-zoning adventures, who lives three doors down, so called because of her singular observation, when I sought the easement, that she was fine with me building a porch or putting fucking penguins in my yard or whatever I wanted. Probably I pass the butt end of that car every day that I go clock a few miles, but how many black sedans are there in the world? Half asleep, with exploded, brassy-blond hair, bare feet, blowzy and faintly flushed, wearing a long black nightgown with a lacy bib, she looked as if one of the staff at Downton Abbey had been roused from bed because the mistress was ill or a Minister of Something had paid a midnight visit. Somewhat incoherently, she apologized and launched into a disjointed narrative of the electronics had gone out so she couldn’t even get in to the car and she had been coming from the hospital and she had been so upset because what if someone wanted to get out and she was going to call a tow truck.

I don’t know why she didn’t just leave a note with her number on my door before repairing to her residence, but then my previous encounter with this lady was equally incoherent and also featured remarks about being just back from the hospital. I think she has poorly controlled asthma. I really wanted to know how the car came to be cattywumpus across my driveway in the first place, three houses on from her own driveway if she had been coming from the west, and one-eighty from the direction it would have been headed if she had been coming from the east, but I thought that prolonging the conversation was a bad idea.

The Engineer took the subway to work and left me his car, which was fortuitously parked at the curb.

The penguin’s still out there. I doubt she noticed it.

The Moon And (some kind of) Pence

Another dream, but I’m sleeping a lot. It has become my main way of coping.

Maybe it was the night of the new moon, or something, but just before first light I found myself in the audience of the new musical that was apparently Lin-Manuel Miranda’s next effort after “Hamilton.”

The house was packed because it was, well, the guy who brought you “Hamilton,” and because the subject of the new show was actually the new administration itself. I can’t remember a damn thing about Act I, because the dream started during the interval, when we were all trying to get in and out of the ladies’ room, and the show resumed before I could get to the head of the line, but as a courtesy the theater was piping the sound into the loos. The opening scene involved Vice President Pence going into the Oval Office for a chat with President Cheeto, only the Cheeto was chasing some female staffer, and presently Pence appeared to say oh well, what the hell, and put the blocks on another woman likewise — a smooth, Don Giovanni-like effort given that we were supposed to understand it was his first shot at depravity . Set to excellent music, which I can’t remember. And I could only listen to it while finally reaching the solace of an open stall.

Highly subjunctive, as they say. But it’s the first good laugh I’ve gotten out of this.

Dover Beach

I have been sparse in the last weeks and months. Not all, but some of that owed to nail-biting over the election.

So here we are.

I don’t know what we do tomorrow. It’s not clear yet who in America will suffer most, or what government actions will most require our outcry. I am only here, in the improbable company of Matthew Arnold:

The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Klingon Opera (II)

Well, opera with Klingons, anyway. Not just any opera, but Mozart with Klingons. How the hell did I miss this the first time?

Yes, that’s the whole production — a little over two hours of kick-ass singers performing Mozart’s music with English dialogue, Trek-inflected, adapted from the original libretto.

“You find where in the opera you can make ‘live long and prosper’ fit and then you find a place for ‘boldly go where no man has gone before,’” says [Pacific Opera Project artistic director] Shaw, “and you just fill in the in-between with a bunch of rhyming words.”

I’m still trying to make out some of the rhyming words, but you almost don’t have to, when your tenor has finessed the hammy body language of William Shatner and the heroine’s servant is an actual green Orion slave girl. “Captain” Belmonte’s sidekick Pedrillo has pointed ears, a nice touch especially in the drinking scene (we’ll get to that).

Abduction is not as often performed as Don Giovanni, Cosi fan Tutte or Magic Flute, but festooned with the elements Mozart loved to play with: an exotic culture, twinned pairs of lovers, moral ambivalence. Reportedly he had a hand in the libretto, which whiffs of a Masonic  ecumenism: the young women are captured by a lustful Turk, the go-to villain of the period, along with Belmonte’s servant, and somehow they all have to conspire at escape. Slapstick and suspense ensues, and at the end — just as failure and death seem inescapable (think: “Scotty! I need engines now!” “I canna gae any faster, Captain!”) — all is forgiven, all is reprieved – in this case because the big bad Klingon Turk has decided that a show of mercy becomes him more than the exercise of vengeance, turning the tropes of the times on their head. The Masonry of the period was earnest in its assertion that all men are brothers, human, Vulcan and Klingon alike. I mean…

If you aren’t up for two hours of Singspiel right at the moment — I admit I am still skipping around in it — may I recommend 40:00 – 44:00, the drinking bout at 1:14:00 – 1:20:00, or if you have a little more time, 1:45:00 till it’s over or you need to pee or something.

 

 

All Hail Fancy Feast

Not the stripper (and yes, there is a badass plus-size burlesque performer by that name), but the canned cat food. I never thought I’d be saying this, but this comminuted slaughterhouse-sweeping gravy-suspended meat collation is my current Gratefulness Object. See, a client who nursed an old cat through the terminal kidney disease of old age brought me the book she came to depend on, and I frantically opened it to the chapter about CAT WON’T EAT ANYTHING. “Cats who reject everything else,” said the oracle, “will sometimes eat Fancy Feast.”

If you are not a cat person, understand that this is pretty much Burger King or Popeye’s for cats, pulverized and pressed-looking fragments of vaguely animal flesh swimming in gluey sauce. The Engineer ran right out to Shoppers Food Whorehouse on his lunch hour. We put the dish in front of Torvald, who was sitting rather glumly on the bath mat in front of the first floor commode — somehow, that was the new favorite place, a bit inconvenient for clients. He looked at it and looked up at us. The Engineer hugged me. I was sad. The Engineer patted me on the back. The Engineer dug his blunt chunky fingertips into my deltoids and forcibly turned me around, a wildly out-of-character act, and there was Torvald ear deep in the dish of soupy crap.

He’s been eating it ever since, at the rate of about three little cans every day. Another client had a case shipped to him from Amazon; he’s got fans, that one. No more turkey baster. The vertebrae have stopped sticking out like nailheads and he trots and leaps and butts me with his head.

No idea why the vet didn’t know about this.

A day may come when his appetite for everything fails. But it is not this day.