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Set List

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I’m awfully proud of the set I put together on Sunday on the Tulsa International Airport’s jukebox—which broadcasts throughout the passenger terminals. The bit that starts with “Okie from Muskogee” and ends with the Village People’s “In the Navy” and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” is downright inspired, right?

It speaks to me, anyway. But I guess it would.

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Written by Jimmy

December 31st, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Posted in Music,Travel

CRISS ANGEL Believe

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Hey, long time no blog.

For once, there’s a good reason, too.  Last Friday, I realized that—through the combination of Columbus Day and a couple of leave days—I had five free days ahead of me.  And no plans.  So I jumped on Travelocity, looking for someplace to go, someplace I could get to both cheaply and easily.  One destination stood out: Las Vegas.

I’ve been to Vegas at least once a year for several years in a row (and I’m headed there again in December for the National Finals Rodeo).  I’m comfortable there; there’s always something to do; I know I’ll have fun.  So I booked the trip.  Woo hoo!

That’s how I found myself, on Sunday night at 10 p.m., at the Luxor for Cirque du Soleil’s new show, CRISS ANGEL Believe.

(Yes, that’s how Cirque spells it.  Creative capitalization and boldface, huh?  [Insert eyeroll here.])

If you know me well, you already know I’m a big, big fan of Cirque du Soleil.  In fact, after this visit to Las Vegas, I’ve seen all six Cirque shows currently playing there (and I think I’ve seen five of Cirque’s traveling shows).  I don’t have to be sold on Cirque shows.  I go into them convinced, already, that I’m going to have fun, be entertained, see something different.

But CRISS ANGEL Believe let me down.

I guess I should issue some disclaimers.  First, and most importantly, I got bird poop on me—on my face!—at the show.  Really. Now, I don’t think I would’ve liked the show even if I’d gotten through it bird poop-free, but let me be clear: Getting bird poop on your face, at a fancy show, at a fancy show you paid $100+ to see, is absolutely unacceptable.  It’s disgusting.  It’s something you never forget.  Hmph.  Cirque du Soleil, you owe me a refund—at a minimum.

And I can’t believe that Cirque hasn’t figured out the problem of the bird poop on its own.  It must’ve occurred to someone that if the show has dozens of birds fly over the audience, every single night, there are going to be some, well, waste issues from time to time.  These birds are well-fed, I’m sure.  They’re probably stressed, too—or, at least, not thrilled to be indoors with hundreds of people.  And, well, even if they weren’t stressed, they’d still have to poop once in awhile, wouldn’t they?

And when the birds flew over the audience on Sunday night, about 15 minutes into the show, I got slammed in the face, on my left cheek right below my eyeglasses, with a little chunk of nasty detritus.  Ewww.  Ewww city.  It stung, and it was foul.  I couldn’t believe it.  What if it had hit me in the eye?  Won’t it eventually hit someone in the eye?  Can you imagine having to leave CRISS ANGEL Believe because you’ve gotten bird crap in your eye?  If these birds fly over enough audiences, it’s bound to happen, right?  Maybe it has already happened….  Gee.

Anyway, there I sat, in the middle of a row, in a dark theater, wondering how the hell I was going to get bird poop off my face, wondering if I could get some bird disease right there at the Luxor, wondering how Cirque du Soleil let something this stupid happen.  For a minute, I was stunned.  I didn’t see how I could get out of my seat without disrupting the show for a dozen people….  I calculated, reevaluated.  When I looked around, I realized that I already had what I needed.  I had a napkin and a special $12 Cirque du Soleil mixed drink, apple-y and tasty.  I hated to sacrifice the drink, but, of course, I hated having bird poop on my face even more.  So I dipped my napkin into the drink and got to work on my face.  The drink had alcohol in it, right?  And it was wet.  It would get my face clean and, I hoped, kill any bird germs on my face.

As I said, I don’t think I would’ve liked CRISS ANGEL Believe even if I’d had a poop-free evening.  And maybe my second disclaimer helps explain why: I just don’t know Criss Angel’s work.  I gather he’s a well-regarded magician, with a TV show…but I’ve never seen his work, and I didn’t even know about his TV show until I was sitting in the theater.  He seemed to have a lot of fans in the audience.  Maybe they were prepared to like the show, despite the incoherent plot, despite the lack of any impressive illusions, despite the lack of any Cirque-quality acrobatics or spectacle.  Maybe all they needed to see was Angel’s innocent face.  Maybe they just needed to get close to his rock’n’roll vibe.

But that wasn’t enough for me.

Truthfully—and this is my final disclaimer—I’m not even particularly interested in magic.  Or illusions.  Or whatever it is exactly that Criss Angel trades in.  But I absolutely think I could’ve enjoyed some good magic, especially if it had been integrated into a high-quality Cirque spectacle.  Instead, my audience got some birds produced out of thin air, Criss Angel (er, should that be CRISS ANGEL?) suddenly appearing ten feet from where he seemed to be, and Criss Angel split in two (temporarily, of course).  That’s not enough magic for a magic show.

We also got a ridiculous plot line (why did there have to be a plot at all?), some good—but not great—dancing, and plenty of exposure to Criss Angel’s impressive pecs and hair.

Oh, and I got the bird poop on my face.

No thank you, Cirque du Soleil.

Written by Jimmy

October 21st, 2008 at 10:12 pm

Posted in Art,Travel

Weekend Reading, Volume 14

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My allergies were acting up last weekend—I’m feeling much better now, thanks!—so this is a jumbo, post-sickness edition.  Here’s some of what I’ve been interested in the past two weeks.

  • We all know, of course, that flying isn’t as glamorous as it once was.  Or at all.  A NYT columnist, Michelle Higgins, served as a flight attendant on a busy day; the resulting piece is a must-read for frequent air travelers.  Also, spare a thought for the veteran flight attendant.  Says one: [W]e used to serve omelets and crepes for breakfast, and now it’s ‘Would you like to buy stackable chips or a big chocolate chip cookie for $3?’ (Be sure to check out the slideshow and first-person audio narrative that accompany the piece, too).
  • French researchers claim that the spread of the Roman Empire helps explain why persons in some regions are more vulnerable today to HIV.  According to the researchers, Roman soldiers probably carried a disease that was especially potent to persons carrying a particular gene, the CCR5-Delta32 variant.  Today, ironically, that gene variant is known to provide some protection against HIV.  In areas that were within the Empire for the longest time, the frequency of the gene is now only 0-6%.  In areas at the fringes of the Empire, the frequency is 8-11.8%.  And in areas outside the Empire, the frequency is still higher.
  • Where are all the fireflies going? Their numbers seem to be decreasing around the world.  How depressing!  I’m a big fan.  In the summer, my grandparents’ house would sometimes just be swimming in lightning bugs, and the grandkids, including me, would run around among them.  Many years later, when I was a poor grad student in Ohio, I’d pass the summer evenings by sitting on my second-floor balcony, watching all the fireflies.  It was so peaceful.
  • A British supermarket chain is giving into some cranky wordsmiths: It’s changing its express-aisle “10 items or less” signs to “10 items or fewer” notices.  I don’t think there’s much difference here in the States anymore between the two constructions.  But if you want to be fussy, here’s a primer.
  • Chrome, Google’s new browser, debuted on September 2, and I was immediately smitten.  The NYT had a good early review.  I especially like Chrome’s minimalist look and the way it allows me to visit my favorite sites by simply clicking on a thumbprint when the browser opens.  I’m pretty committed to Firefox, but Chrome may give it a run for my loyalty.  I’m probably apt to go with the one that uses the least of my precious memory….
  • You’d think a NYT article headlined “Vanishing Barns Signal a Changing Iowa” would actually contain more news and photos of old barns!  But the article is much more interested in detailing the rural-to-urban shift in Iowa.  I enjoyed the article, but I really want to know about the barns.  (The article did lead me to the website for the National Barn Alliance, which seems to be a worthy cause.)
  • Some silly ads in Vogue India depict the poorest of people carrying seriously high-end accessories.  Ugh.

Written by Jimmy

September 14th, 2008 at 4:01 pm