Ode to Joy

Knights That Say Nerf

Knights That Say Nerf

Tonight, I was driving home from Schnucks. I had the windows open and Prairie Home Companion on the radio. It was becoming a beautiful evening at the end of a beautiful day. The Goshen College Chamber Choir was singing Beethoven’s Fourth Movement, from his Symphony No. 9, the Ode to Joy. I became enraptured by the music and kept cranking up the volume, trying to match my increasing sense of joy, with more sound. As I zoomed home, I felt benighted, bringing joy and culture to the masses, but it probably just sounded like “boom-bam-boom-boom…” to them, like everyone else’s too loud car stereo does. Still, it was a nice way to cap off a perfect day.

Our original plan was to do Trailnet’s “The Art of Riding” tour, which launched from Crown Candy Kitchen at ten, but we were a little slow off the mark this morning and didn’t launch until 12:34 or 1, 2, 3, 4. We ended up just riding in the park instead. Our first stop was with the knights that say Nerf. They graciously posed for me and then on cue, charged the camera. We circled the park, taking lots of pictures of the many birds that we saw there. After that, we ran into a wagon train. Pictured is the lead wagon. I asked the wagon master what was the parade all about and got the answer, “Derby Day”. Four horse-drawn wagons full of men in straw hats and women in colorful floppy ones passed us by. I’m not sure where their parade was heading, but my money was on the Microbrew festival that was being held over by the Muny. I wonder how many of them bet on the favorite, American Pharaoh, to win. Lunch was up next. We ate at a new to us place called the Kitchen Sink. It is located just north of the park on Union and is one of the Post’s 100 best restaurants. We split a sandwich, a BLT topped with salmon sauce that is called “The LP”. I don’t know why it is called that, but it was good. It came with homemade chips and a beer batter cheese sauce for dipping. We topped the meal off with a slice of blueberry cheesecake and then headed for home.

Derby Day

Derby Day

Monty Python’s Spamalot

Monty Python's Spamalot

Monty Python’s Spamalot

we eat ham, and jam and Spam a lot

On Saturday, after beginning our day in Forest Park bicycling, we ended it there too. We went to see Spamalot, the opening show of this summer’s Muny season. Spamalot is Eric Idle’s musical send up of the 1975 comedy movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which in turn was a parody of the Arthurian legends.

Spamalot borrows heavily from Holy Grail, lifting whole the bits, “I’m not dead yet”, an Autonomous Collective, the taunting by French soldiers, the Trojan Rabbit and the Black Knight. Some bits were left out, like the witch scene. Other bits of the movie were altered or completely changed, for example the modern-day historian / narrator appears, but is never murdered. Instead, at the beginning of the show he is miss heard and the show opens with a fish face slapping dance in Finland, not England. The army of the Knights that say “Ni”, were played by children. One of the biggest differences occurs after Lancelot charges the castle, where he expects to find a damsel in distress. Instead, he finds the effeminate son of the castle’s lord. Instead of slaying the son, Lancelot defends him and in turn is out as gay. The Lady of the Lake is developed into the female lead and is eventually paired off with Arthur at the end of the show.

We missed it, but Joanie must have seen Eric Idle, when he made a surprise appearance at the Muny, on opening night. The sports announcer, Bob Costas, plays God, or at least his voice. The Muny’s new LED screen provides the animation for God. There was one minor disappointment about last night’s performance, we didn’t get to experience the Muny’s new “air-conditioning” system. In between our morning bicycle ride and the evening’s curtain call, it stormed all afternoon. There was lots of thunder and lightning, but not much rain. Consequently, come showtime, it was too cool to run the new system. Anne ended up wearing her rain jacket throughout the performance. The new “air-conditioning” system is a set of quiet overhead fans that can be run during the performance. The Muny has always had fans, but the old ones were so noisy that they were only operated in between acts.

And…always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the light side of life…

Too Darn Hot

I’d like to sup with my baby tonight,
Fulfill the cup with my baby tonight,
But I ain’t up to my baby tonight,
‘Cause it’s too darn hot.
It’s too darn hot,
It’s too darn hot.
Cole Porter, “Kiss Me Kate”

Anne and I went to the Muny on Friday night. Earlier this year, we had let our season seats of twenty year go. Now that Anne has the summers off, she is no longer tied to Missouri and tends to drift away, back to Michigan and missed many of the shows. So, it seemed no longer worthwhile to keep getting season tickets. Our friend John G. left town and offered us the tickets to “Kiss Me Kate” and we took him up on the deal. Unfortunately, another peril of the Muny reared itself on Friday, Saint Louis’ summer heat. The mercury hit 98 °F and was still quite toasty at show time. Fortunately, “Kate” has the perfect antidote for this heat, its lead number in the second act, Too Darn Hot.

Jay and Carl are due into the Lou, in a couple of weeks. Anne was wondering at dinner whether or not we should warn them that the daytime high’s that they are used to in Seattle are only 60% of the highs here. I figure that this blog post constitutes a fair warning. A couple of months ago, when that Californian preacher was predicting the end of the world, he wasn’t predicting that it would actually occur on that day. He forecasted a period of up to 75 days where environmental conditions steadily deteriorated. I would say that his prediction was spot on, but the rest of Saint Louis prefers not to refer to this time as the end of days, but simply summertime in Saint Louis. What do you think will break first, the temperature, this world or me?

Featuring Cole Porter’s melodious score, “Kiss Me, Kate” won the first Tony award for a musical. Based upon Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”, it is surprising on how much of the “Shrew” made it in to Kate. Not just the plot about squabbling lovers, but also scenes and even dialogue. We enjoyed “Shrew,” when it appeared last month at this year’s Shakespeare festival. “Kate” makes for a nice encore. Produced in 1949, “Kiss Me, Kate” tells the story of a divorced acting couple. They’re co-starring in a production of “Shrew,” a play within the play, comedy that parallels their “Kate” relationship. The musical features such numbers as Another Op’nin’, Another Show, So In Love, Brush Up Your Shakespeare and of course Too Darn Hot. The cast includes Joneal Joplin, one of our favorites and the hardest working actor in Saint Louis.

Is it too hot to go to the Muny?

Wednesday was another one of those +100°F, feels like +110°F days.  People are really starting to hunker down here in Saint Louis.  The Cardinals have dropped their last two to the Astros.  Yesterday they took their worst beating of the season, at 18-4.  Plus, they have fallen out of first place, but relief is in sight.  Thursday is supposed to only be in the nineties and Friday might not even make it into the nineties.  I hope that the oppressively hot air mass that is sitting upon us moves east and sits for a while in Cincinnati, even if the Reds are not at home.  Misery loves company don’t you know, Saint Louis, Misery, that is.

Photos are from our bike visit to the Gardens on Sunday.  They show flowers and hummingbirds, although I know that I should do better with the hummingbirds.  Their wings beat so fast that they make a difficult subject.  Sunday’s bright sunshine should have facilitated the photographic process.  I just fat fingered the opportunity.  Too slow, too slow.

When I came home Joanie was there.  Her apartment’s air conditioner just isn’t up to this heat.  Anne, Dan and Annie showed up shortly afterwards.  They had all been working at Dan’s apartment, packing up all of Dan’s cares and woes.

So Wednesday night is Muny night this week. Days like these are the major detraction from the Muny. Last week we saw Sound of Music. It was delightful and I would have mentioned it earlier, but I had already dwelled upon Nazis enough for one week with my review of the novel, Spies of the Balkans. This week’s show is Footloose. I’m sure that on a night like this we will be the full five-degrees of Kevin Bacon away from Kevin Bacon, stay tuned.

This will be the last season that we buy season tickets to.  Anne is gone so much of the summer these days that it doesn’t make sense to buy them anymore.  If anyone is interested in our seats for next year, let us know.  They are certainly not last will and testament material, but they are not too shabby either, Mondays, Section A4, Row R, Aisle Seats 101 & 102.  Free to a good home.

Short answer, it was not too hot.  We survived.  Stay tuned. 

OBTW, below this post and all future posts is a button to press.  It is in the comments section.  Press it if you like the post.  It works like on Facebook.

Damn Yankees

You’ve gotta have heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win
That’s when the grin should start

Tuesday night all fans of our national pastime turned their eyes towards Anaheim, California to watch this year’s mid-season classic, the All-Star Game.  Last year at this time, all eyes were on Saint Louis, the 2009 host city for this event.  Saint Louis is a great baseball town and while all other major league action has halted other than the game in Anaheim, there is still some major league action to be had in Saint Louis.  Tuesday night, Anne and I went to the Muny to go see the musical, Damn Yankees.

We’ve got to think about the game!
The game, the game!
We’ve go to think about the game,
The game, the game!
Booze and broads may be great,
though they’re great they’ll have to wait,
While we think about the game!

Damn Yankees is a musical comedy that debuted in 1955.  It features the character Joe Boyd, a long-suffering, middle-aged fan of the Washington Senators baseball team.  Joe is approached by a slick salesman, Mr. Applegate, who is in reality the Devil.  Joe is convinced to sell his soul to the Devil to become the young and strong slugger Joe Hardy (“Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo”), the new long ball hitter for the Senators.  Joe takes up this offer, leaves his wife but then starts to have regrets.  He eventually hits upon a loophole that might get him out of his pact with the devil and still save the Senators from those damn Yankees. 

Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets, and little man, little Lola wants you …

This comic send-up of the Faustian legend is a delight to theater patrons and baseball fans alike.   The show contains two other famous tunes, “Heart” and “What Lola Wants, Lola Gets”.  The Muny’s productions department out did itself and created a remarkably realistic recreation of our nation’s capital sweltering summertime weather.  As Muny trivia, Vincent Price most famously played the role of Mr. Applegate.  In this weeks production, Mike Shannon, the Cardinal’s radio announcer played the announcer in the show.

Also on Tuesday, George Steinbrenner, owner of the Yankees died of a heart attack at the age of 80.  Steinbrenner bought the Yankees for $10 million in 1973.  Almost forty years later the Yankees are a billion dollar empire.  Steinbrenner built-up the Yankees with a mixture of bluster and big bucks that polarized fans all across America.  His death on the day of the All-Star game was the second in three days to rock the Yankees.  Bob Sheppard, the team’s revered public address announcer from 1951-07, died Sunday at 99.  It is seldom right to speak ill of the dead, but I can’t think of anyone more likely to have Mr. Applegate on speed dial than George Steinbrenner.

Whenever I’m from time to time depressed
And a trauma wells and swells
Within my breast
I find some pride deep inside of me
And I fondly walk down the lane of memory
I see Bonaparte
A mean one if ever I’ve seen one
And Nero fiddlin’ thru that lovely blaze
Antionetts, dainty queen, with her quaint guillotine
Ha ha ha ha