Monthly Archives: February 2014

So Good

When I was a kid, two movies would come on television each year and captivate the entire country. Remember, there were only three major television networks, so virtually everyone was watching the same thing. One of those movies was “Gone With the Wind.” The other was “The Wizard of Oz.”

My family, like every other family, watched each of them every time they were broadcast on television. I know both movies inside and out. I know the Carol Burnett parody of “GWTW” almost as well as I know the real movie. And I know the other one, too. I watched it every year. I just hate those damn flying monkeys.

I really don’t know what it was about the flying monkeys that terrified me so, but I hated that part of the movie. I wouldn’t turn away, but I would dream about it for days afterward.

It’s really a pretty dark story if you think about it. A girl disobeys her guardians and gets sent to Purgatory to try to figure out what she did wrong and how she can get back to the ones she loves. When she lands in a new town the first thing she does is kill somebody and steal her shoes. Then she runs off with a dude she just met to meet “the Wizard.” It’s like a really dark “After School Special.” They even almost die in a poppy field. This is not a movie for children.

Which is what makes the play “Wicked” so good. It starts from the viewpoint that the story you grew up with is incomplete at best and then fills in the gaps. It is a genius bit of scriptwriting that takes us from the story we know so well to the new “truth” in Oz. I wish that I had written it.

Blogger’s aside: I have also read the book from which the play was allegedly adapted. If you enjoyed the play, do not read the book. Other than the character’s names and a few other items, the play is not the same story as the book. If you have neither seen the play nor read the book, see the play before you read the book. Just trust me on this one.

Peggy and I saw “Wicked” again this afternoon at the “Broadway in Austin” musical series. The story is clever and the writing is great, but it is the music that takes the show and your emotions to an entirely different level. We see the show every chance we get, and so far it has never disappointed. I cannot recommend it enough. In fact, if you get to the intermission and you haven’t already decided you love it, you might need to see a doctor. Or, like the Tin Man, you might need a heart…

Here is the capper — now that I have seen the play I don’t hate the flying monkeys anymore. How’s that for closure?

It is just so good.

On campus before the show. Another beautiful winter (?) day in Austin.
Dinner with a view after the show — the best thing about the matinee!

This is Winter?

Our first winter in Austin has been most unusual. We have had weeks where the temperature did not get above freezing followed by weeks where the temperature did not get below sixty degrees. The entire city has the same cold, probably caused by the drastic shifts in temperature.

Even though we live in Austin and are only about thirty minutes away from our Lake Travis condo, this weekend was the first time we have stayed out there. Every time we have thought about it has been when it was cold. Then it warms up enough that we are plenty happy at our apartment. We just bit the bullet and committed to this weekend and decided to take our chances on the weather.

It was a little cool this morning, but that is perfect walking weather. We took a good five-mile hike up and down the hills. After we grabbed a bite to eat we decided to come down and get in the hot tub. By mid-afternoon the temperature was easily in the upper sixties, and it was even comfortable when we got out of the hot tub. It seems almost impossible that just a couple of weeks ago the entire city was covered in ice for two days!

When we lived in Dallas we got used to the fact that winter actually visits Dallas. Dallas is at the bottom of the Great Plains, and when the winter wind is blowing it is as cold a place as anywhere I have been. Especially downtown between the tall buildings. I literally just shivered as I wrote that, just from thinking about it!

Since we left Dallas, though, we have lived in San Antonio and Houston, and both are far more temperate than Dallas. During our sixteen years in Houston we had winters where the temperature rarely dipped below freezing, and you could play golf almost the entire year. I guess I was expecting Austin’s winter to be more like Houston, but so far the cold has been more like Dallas. And then you get a weekend like this.

I’m not a big fan of cold weather, especially each morning when it is time to take the dog outside. For Christmas Peggy bought me some warm dog walking clothes, and I have gotten some serious use out of them. But not this weekend. This weekend it is shorts and flip flops, at least until dark.

I’m sure winter will be back soon. For now, though, we’ll just enjoy what we’ve got!

We were in the hot tub, but it was pretty enough to be by the pool. Just not in the pool…


Rodeo Gala

One of the things I knew I would miss about leaving Houston is the rodeo. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the largest rodeo events in the world, and Peggy and I enjoyed it immensely each year.

Now we have moved to Austin, and my company is one of the sponsors of the Austin Rodeo. Of course, it is not nearly as big as the Houston Rodeo, but, hey, this is Texas. So it’s big enough. The rodeo takes place for two weeks every March. The rodeo season kicks off each year with the Rodeo Gala which is a charity fundraiser, art auction, dinner and show. Peggy and I were lucky enough to attend the event tonight.

We got there early so we could walk around the art auction and make our silent auction bids. Some of the pieces were really amazing, and some of them were very rodeo-centric. Fortunately, we were not the winning bidders on any of the pieces on which we had bid. I was relieved. We enjoyed a great dinner with wonderful conversation and then kicked back to be entertained by Gary Allan.

If you don’t know who Gary Allan is you are probably not a country music fan. He has been around for about the last twenty years with plenty of hit songs. He plays a lot in Texas, even though I think he is from California. I don’t hold that against him.

We stayed while Gary played, we danced a little bit, but mostly we just enjoyed the event. I love when Peggy has the opportunity to dress up. I learned a long time ago that the heads aren’t turning to see me, but she never even notices. I do. And I love it.

The rodeo this year has Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson to go along with all of the hot, young country acts. It may not be Houston but I think we are going to enjoy it.

We sure enjoyed tonight…

Before the dancing started