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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Guys and Dolls

Oh, I should know by now. I tend to think I'm not that into Broadway musicals. Sure, they're the source of countless jazz standards, but I really don't think listening to Bill Evans or Sonny Rollins reinterpret a show tune really counts as enjoying Broadway.

The basic melody for the head and to an extent the chord changes are the same but then there's a probably genetic information in common between, say, garden slugs and members of Congress, and that doesn't mean your average Representative is anywhere near as cool as a slug.

But I tend to think of those old-timey Broadway musicals as culturally dated and irrelevant. Corny.

Emily's been a drama queen for quite a while now, and I'm always hoping she'll end up in a production of Sweeney Todd or Spamelot, something more contemporary. It never happens, and I go to these things thinking I'd never want to see this if my own daughter wasn't in it. Then I find myself caught up, really digging it. It happened with Annie, it even happened with Annie Get Your Gun.

I guess I'm a slow learner, because I went in to Guys and Dolls with the same idea that, for crying out loud, they could at least put on a musical from their grandparents generation like Hair.

The closest they ever came was a few years ago when they did Jekyll & Hyde, and I think there was a constituency that was fairly scandalized by that production. I'm not sure, but it might even be why the drama teacher who put that on isn't the drama teacher anymore.

But anyway, Guys and Dolls won me over, too. To the extent I think I'm going to have to check out the movie version made with Sinatra and Brando back in the 50s.

I don't know if we were supposed to be taking pictures or not, a lot of times they announce that you're not to, or print it in the program. If they said anything on the PA or in the program, I didn't catch it so I merrily clicked away. Of course I wanted pictures of my daughter, but being that her part was as a member of the Salvation Army, she wasn't on stage much and being in character meant she wasn't exactly animated when she was on stage.

Meanwhile, the rest of the musical completely swept me away and I got some pretty satisfying photos considering stage lighting. And distance. And fast-moving targets. Tell you what, though, shoot 600 frames and you're almost bound to get a shot or two. Or 28.

I'm not sure if there's a technique I could use to control for the glare on faces. So many times people all look pasty white and blown out with my third-row-available-light shots. And even with the ISO cranked way up, a lot of times stuff happens so fast it's still blurry as hell.

The Adelaide in this production absolutely stole the show. She looks like a 17-year-old Christy Brinkley to begin with, except maybe more so, and she threw herself into it with reckless abandon. Not to take away from any of the other performances, they were all solid.

This is probably Emily's last production, she might squeeze one more in before she graduates, and I guess I've finally caught on that I actually like Broadway musicals. I'm not ready to fly to the Big Apple and drop big bucks to see one there, but I'm going to have to remember that even if it seems incredibly dated when I look at the poster, these productions that stood the test of time did so because they have great songs, strong characters, good humor, and stories to tell.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Prairie Fatigue

By the time I got to Lindsborg, Kansas, I was done. I wasn't done finding interesting things to see, but my ability to absorb stuff was compromised.

Palate fatigue is what you get when you're, say, judging a large flight of strong beers. They can all get to running together, seeming like more of the same thing.

I guess I had prairie fatigue, starting out in the morning from Wilson Lake, after spending the previous day in Lucas, an overwhelming town itself with Miller Park, the Garden of Eden, the world's biggest toilet, the Grass Roots Arts Center, Deeble House, Brant's meats, and so on.

By the time I rolled into Lindsborg, I'd also been to the Motorcycle Museum in Marquette, to Rock City, Fort Harker, Mushroom Rock State Park, a great diner in Lincoln, Kansas, and even just found cool sculptures sitting by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.

But I kept seeing cool shit. By the time the pedal car passed me in Lindsborg, I had given up putting the Nikon in its bag, just drove with it around my neck so I was ready for action.

If I'd had the time, I would have pitched the tent for the night somewhere along here, chilled out and attacked the next day.

I can tell I would be able to spend a day just scoping out Council Grove, the last town I was in while it was still daylight. They had their historic sites numbered for a tour, and I think I saw a 19.

I took the fast roads after Council Grove, there wasn't any point in taking back roads in the dark. I was all set to eat dinner at the Hays House there, but they were closed by the time I arrived.

So I drove off into the sunset scheming up a future bicycle tour. It takes so long to get out of town on a bike, what I'm thinking is to throw the bike on the car and drive out to a place like Wilson or Lucas and do a four or five day tour of the prairie by bike, circling back to the car. That or find someone who's headed to Colorado who can dump me off on the way out.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Give Me a Sign

This cool bait shop was, I think, in Marquette.

I was on my way back from the Lucas trip, and honestly I hit so many funky little backroad towns on the way, I could be mixing up Kanopolis, Marquette, and so on.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

World's Biggest Toilet

The Miller Park sculpture garden next to the Garden of Eden was new since my 2008 trip to Lucas, but they'd also added this: Bowl Plaza.

Some of this stuff had been there before, I remember the frog and the 'fork art.' But the bathroom was new. It was closed for the day by the time I got to it, and I hear there's more art inside, but the exterior itself is a nice piece.

At other stops I'd made, people would ask, 'Have you been to Bowl Plaza yet?' I thought, man the people in this town are mighty proud of this toilet. When I found it, well, they're right to be proud. It's definitely more interesting than any other public toilet I've ever seen.

The toilet paper rolls out to become the sidewalk, there's even a sculpture of a dog drinking from a sculpture of the water in the toilet.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Motorcycle Museum

As I was winding my way back from Lucas, I stopped in Marquette, Kansas at the Motorcycle Museum.

I mean, it's no Deeble House, but it is an interesting stop.

Actually maybe it is on par with the Deeble House if you're into motorcycles. I've always wanted a motorcycle, but if I wanted it that badly I'd probably have found a way to own one by now. Last time I got on one, it was a friend's brand new bike and I laid it down. Not fast, just a dumb beginner's mistake on some sand, but it did a few hundred dollars in damage to the fiberglass on it, which meant a few hundred dollars damage to our friendship.

I kind of decided then that the next time I drove a motorcycle it would be my own so nobody but me could get bent out of shape over the damage I managed to inflict on it. That was over twenty years ago, and the only thing stopping me is I've been waiting around on me making a motorcycle a priority in life.

No doubt I could have picked up a nice used Shadow 600 for what I spent on my Nikon. And if I had a similar amount of money to spend on toy stuff right now, I'd be heading to Crick for a 17-55mm f2.8 zoom lens, the 50mm f1.4 prime, the 85mm f1.4, maybe even the 10.5mm fisheye. If I had crazy money, like Harley type money, there's the 800mm f5.6—that's a lens I couldn't even afford to rent.