Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I flew

I took a plane from Newark to St. Louis on an Embraer EMB-145, operated by EXPRESSJET AIRLINES INC. doing business as United Express. 

What I saw: the lights of a small, midwestern American city from way up high. The streets were made three-dimensional by the interplay of streetlights and mist, spread like a great glowing tentacled beast, clutching the contours of the earth.

What I wore: Chinese-made Australian boots (coated in an authentic coating of fine horse-show dust), James jeans with stretch that I like to wear on planes, new navy embroidered peasant blouse (made in India), no makeup, scowl.

Geo Washington Bridge
What I did beforehand: used Google maps to drive to Newark Liberty International Airport and for once did not get lost in New Jersey.

Who went with me: 37 strangers and crew.

All anyone does anymore in airports is look at their phones

How I got tickets: online, from United Airlines.

Why: family obligations 

Where I sat: 3D

Things that were sad: after I had packed, but before I left, I was sitting in the kitchen thinking about what I might have forgotten, and I was suddenly struck with an inexplicable feeling of sadness.

Things that were funny: my car's navigation system announced the GWB as the "Geo Washington bridge," rhyming "geo" with "Rio."

Things that were not funny: the bro-guys drinking beer in the Earl of Sandwich in the A Terminal of Newark Liberty Airport comparing notes on why they're voting for Trump.

What it is: about a two-hour flight

I take this photo almost every time I fly

Who should see it: people who like turbulence, folks for whom a palm-sized bag of "Asian Snack Mix" is adequate for dinner, anyone who can sleep sitting up.

What I heard on the way home: Google Maps pronounces "Ladue" as "LAWD-way."

Monday, May 23, 2016

I went to a Horse Show

Where I went: Centerline Events Dressage Show I at HITS, in Saugerties, New York

Dressage Hair

What I wore: Charles Owen helmet, heavy-duty hairnet under a rhinestone-decorated black crocheted net to cover the hair in back that doesn't fit up under the helmet, white performance fabric show shirt, stock-tie, pin in the shape of a riding crop and horse, black Pikeur show jacket, white full-seat Pikeur breeches, custom Vogel dress boots, Prince of Wales spurs. 
White breeches, tall dress boots, and spurs
What I did beforehand: put my suitcase, bootbag, and hanging bag in the car, threw my purse in the car, broke my favorite glasses with my purse, filled a five gallon water container, drove to get gas, heard glugging noise, discovered two gallons of water had spilled into the back of my car; went home to get towels, left late, drove to Saugerties without a functioning radio or GPS, hit a piece of rebar on a freeway ramp. 

They were my favorite glasses
Who went with me: my horse Hado, and he's really my husband's horse, and his show name is Remonta Hado which is a name that means he is a "remount," or, calvary horse. Hado came from the military breeding program in Argentina; "hado" is a Spanish word, and means, "fate."
Hado, napping at the show
Why I went to this show: when you learn to ride, you spend a lot of time in a ring, going around in a circle or down the long side at the walk, trot, and canter. Not every horse and rider will go to shows, but many horses seem to enjoy it, and it is a very different experience to leave your barn and go someplace new, even if all you're doing is walk, trot, and canter. You get nervous. Your horse gets nervous. When it goes well, it makes the months of work feel worth it. When it doesn't go well, you know what you need to work on at home. 

Show horses get a lot of baths
Where I sat: everyone going to shows from our barn got these chairs with our names on them so we have someplace to sit in the barn area at the show. The chairs have pockets and a little table, and I will keep saying that they're for the quiz until someone actually laughs.

Hado getting braided

Things that were sad: when I left the barn on Saturday, I dropped an antique pin that had been a gift from my mother. When I arrived on Sunday, someone had found the pin and put it on a table, so I decided I needed to wear it. One of the grooms noticed that it made a tiny, rattling noise and thought it might be annoying to ride in. It was somewhat annoying when I was in the ring, doing the tests, but the rest of the time I didn't notice. When I got home I noticed that I lost the other pin--the one shaped like a riding crop and horse. It, too, had been a gift from my mother (this was the sad part). 

Hay twine on the ground at the show
Things that were funny, or real things I heard trainers say in the warm-up area:
"Generate some magic."
"More electric! More electric!"
(Shouting) "Don't overreact! Stick! stick! GOOD!!"
"Kill it, ok? You ride. You deserve to be here."
"Now! Kick him now! And trot! And trot!!"
"Go get busy! Thaaaaaat's better."
"Inner leg! Inner leg! Inner leg! Inner leg! Inner leg! Inner leg! Inner leg!"

Tractor waiting to drag the warm-up ring
Things that were not funny: over two days, I did the same two tests, and something went wrong each time. My first test I had learned incorrectly, and on my last test (when I did it a second time), the judge rang the bell to let me know I'd made an error; I was very confused because I had done the test the first day and that judge hadn't let me know about my error. The other test was slightly more interesting and exciting to Hado, so the first day I rode him tentatively because he felt like he might explode. The second day I rode him forward, and he bounced with excitement in several corners.

What I ate: bacon-egger, coffee, and juice
What it is: dressage is a French word, that means "training." It is a separate discipline from other English riding competitions like showjumping, though it is one phase of eventing, but the basic techniques underlie all riding. At the high levels, riders and horses perform freestyle programs to music, so some people call it Olympic horse dancing and think it's silly.  

Hado and Me
Who should see it: like other equestrian sports, it is hard for non-horsey people to know what they're watching at a dressage show. If you do want to go watch, don't bring your dogs, don't make a lot of noise, and do sit down next to someone who seems to know what they're looking at, and ask them to tell you what you're seeing.

Graduation party: I sat on the floor

What I saw on the way home: after my last class on Sunday, I hopped off my horse, handed him to the grooms with a hearty, "Thank you!", grabbed my bags and jumped in my car without even taking off my helmet. I took off my spurs and helmet in the parking lot, but couldn't unfasten the antique pin, so I left it on, with the tie, and made a detour from Saugerties through central Connecticut to go hug my niece who just graduated with high honors from Wesleyan University. My brother was there, and his ex-wife, and five of their college friends from their Wesleyan days, and my sister-in-law's best friend, and both of her parents, and one of her brothers, and my niece's boyfriend and his father and sister, and one other woman who I met but I have no idea who she was. I was still in my tie and white breeches and tall boots, and probably looked like George Washington.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I saw "Indian Summer"

What I saw: "Indian Summer,"at Playwrights Horizons, on W 42nd between 9th & 10th Avenues.  

I guess my hand slipped

What I wore: black Fluevog calf-height boots, black tights, James jeans dark denim skirt, Brooks Brothers black cotton blouse, gray cardigan sweater from the Faroe Islands, gray rag & bone scarf, long jacket made of hand-woven fabric in Oregon that looks so much like something my mother would have worn I am incredulous that I actually bought it. 

What I did beforehand: cava and tapas and ice cream at Gotham West Market.

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider, who required a bribe when he saw how long the play was going to be.

How I got tickets: online, $10 off, about a month in advance.

Why I saw this show: I liked the last thing I saw here.

Where I sat: Row D, seat 13, behind some of the Bats from the Flea Theater.

Things that were sad: the plays dramatizes how very much class still dictates a young American's future.

Things that were funny: actors harass each other verbally and physically.

Things that were not funny: actors harass each other verbally and physically. 

What it is:  a play in two acts, with a fifteen-minute intermission, running about 130 minutes. Set on a Rhode Island beach in an unnamed town of that fake-contemporary time/place when people use modern slang but don't carry mobile phones, this play still crackles with good dialog. It even has a satisfying second act. 

Who should see it: anyone who wants to hear what a Rhode Island accent sounds like without actually bothering to find their way to Rhode Island; people who always wanted to see an empty stage covered in a great quantity of sand.

What I saw on the way home: trash

Thursday, May 12, 2016

I saw "Toast"

What I saw: "Toast," a play, from the British playwright Richard Bean, at 59 East 59th Street, in New York, part of the Brits Off Broadway series.

What I wore: James jeans, gray Puma sneakers, black Eileen Fisher tank top, gray trees-and-rabbits print Steven Alan blouse that I enjoy wearing even though the fabric is scratchy,  gray cardigan with snaps, rag & bone scarf, no coat because it was just that nice out.

What I did beforehand: my plan was to take the E, uptown, and meet the Bacon Provider for a little dinner beforehand. There were more confused people crowded around the ticket kiosks than I care to describe, so I employed a flanking maneuver; this resulted in my standing behind a woman who couldn't add $50 to her subway ticket despite four tries. She gave up, warning me that the machine wasn't working.  It worked for me. But I got off the subway at the wrong spot, and we were 30 minutes late to our reservation, and somehow, the staff at Aquavit still got us through a superlative three course meal with drinks and amuse bouche in 45 minutes without acting a bit rushed.

Who went with me: a lot of old people, and one young guy with Starbursts.

How I got tickets: online, a few days in advance.

Why I saw this show: email spam described it as robust and funny (and offered 10% off).

Where I sat: Row A, seat 6, between the youngest member of the audience, who was eating only red Starbursts, and a man who looked somewhat like Henry Kissinger, though sleepy and in jeans.

Things that were sad: Henry Kissinger fell asleep in the front row. At intermission, he complained, "It's six months until the election! Six months!"

Things that were funny: this play is set in Hull, which is in the northern part of England and east of Manchester. The performer's accents were particularly difficult to understand in the beginning, what with the funny vernacular of the workplace, and the odd turns of phrase of Yorkshire. Some characters are easier to understand than others, and certainly the best character in the show uttered mostly monosyllabic grunts. Careful, patient listeners will get into the groove of it quickly, as careful staging ensures some physical comedy as well. 

Things that were not funny: Some of the audience was quietly griping at intermission that they couldn't understand the dialog. I think they could; I think they were worried they were missing something, or their companions were missing something. No one said, "Hey, I don't understand what's happening." I 

What it is: a play, set in the break room of a bread-baking factory, performed in two acts, with one intermission. I felt some pride in recognizing the accent, and having heard of Hull (the Housemartin's 1986 album, "London 0, Hull 4," was one of my favorite cassettes, back in the mid-80s). The acting (and casting) was flawless. The script is well-structured and correctly paced. The second act is the strongest I've seen on Broadway this year. With nearly perfect lighting and sound design, the set itself is grim and disgusting and contributes in its humble, passive way to the hilarity. 

Who should not see it: gluten intolerant people, or anyone who requires at least one Trump joke. 

What I saw on the way home: lawyers and other human-shaped objects.

Monday, May 9, 2016

I saw "The Woodsman"

What I saw: "The Woodsman," a play with puppets, off-Broadway at the New World Stages theater (an underground, multi-plex venue with spacious bathrooms). 

What I wore: brand new tan-soled gray suede Puma sneakers with brown laces, the stretchy James jeans that I normally save for travel, black blouse, the most amazing gray cardigan sweater with snaps from a shop in Rhinebeck but made In The Faroe Islands by Gudrun & Gudrun, beloved rag & bone scarf, North Face raincoat that I took to Italy and is slightly too small.

Remember: no matter how tough 
your commute is, somewhere in NYC
there might be a guy pushing a hotdog cart 
a similar distance

What I did beforehand: ate and drank and walked. 

Who went with me: quiet strangers.

How I got tickets: online, at the last minute.

Why I saw this show: I have read most, but not all, of L. Frank Baum's Oz books.

Where I sat: front row, A 6,  between a big fellow with a cane and a woman with a long gray braid hanging like a cord from the top of her head; she silently moved from one seat away from me to the seat next to me after her husband arrived and insisted on sitting in seat 8 because that's what ticket he was holding. When the witch appeared for the first time, the big fellow on the other side of me got a case of the hiccups that continued for so long that I began to wonder when or if they would end.

Things that were sad: the story of the Tin Woodsman in the Wizard of Oz is a sad story. This entertaining dramatization is quite sad, and also intensely scary.

Things that were funny: the audience chuckled regularly in recognition of the wordless expressions of familiar feelings, most especially love.

Things that were not funny: the witch in the story, like almost all witches in stories from the days when children were told lots of scary stories with witches in them, was really soulless and scary; her reddish, wispy hair reminded me of the modern day monstrous threat to happiness in the Western world, the "celebrity proto-fascist" Donald Trump. 

The Woodsman himself
What it is: a neatly crafted, nearly wordless yet sentimental play, 75 minutes long, with singing and a lot of movement akin to dance or mime. It is probably too intense for most children except those that like to be threatened by witches. It is also not really a puppet show, but features a number of very cool puppets.

Who should see it: people who like scary fairy tales, fans of puppetry, witch aficionados, Munchkins.

What I saw on the way home: men talking about laser hair removal, a bodega cat, taxis, and trash.