Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Parading Around Redemption

Another freezing Friday night, another fine evening at the ballet with Stella. The marquee dance was, of course, Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free, which was Stella's favorite out of the three presentations that night. She doesn't like abstract dance, which is why she she didn't like the opener, Adam Hougland's K413. "What is K413?" she asked me, and I have to admit I didn't know the answer. We both recognized the Mozart piece it was set to, so I told Stella to concentrate on how the orchestra plays it.

I think I liked it because it reminded me of the sullen teenager that Stella is on the road to becoming. One minute they're all jumping around happy, the next their heads are drooped as though I told them all they couldn't get any computer time until their rooms were cleaned. The whole troupe paraded around switching back and forth between these moods -- and I found myself giggling at the Moody Teenagers.

Fancy Free, for all the fanfare it got, was wonderful, if not disappointingly short. I love Leonard Bernstein compositions anyway -- its a great straddle between sheer classical with such an American stamp on it. (Did I mention that I was a cast dancer in a teenage production of West Side Story? To this day, "Dance at the Gym" is one of my favorite Broadway musical moments.) This was a classic Broadway musical production number: very New York, very wartime respite, very flirty. And it established itself, made its point and moved on, quickly. It was almost a choreographed haiku in that respect. The evening ended with the last act of Raymonda, and that was lovely, but I've written before, I'm more into the edgier, modern ballet. Raymonda is the third act of a classical ballet, so we're just getting the celebratory dances here -- without the benefit of having gotten to see the conflict and action of the earlier acts. So it was like eating the icing off the cake and not eating the cake itself. Don't get me wrong, I can eat a whole jar of cake frosting without going near any flour, but I needed a bit more action. Still, Stella's favorite Tatiana Jouravel accomplished two things Friday night: she still stunned us with her effortless grace, and she redemed her first name after that chick on American Idol (who almost took out local Milwaukee boy Danny) drilled her annoying laugh into our heads two days earlier.

Kick me now for missing Ekko Galaxie and the Rings of Saturn Saturday night: their first set was a recreation of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album and I'm sure they followed up with plenty more glam. Frankly, I was pooped from dealing with all the snow.

Still, Sammy and I accomplished the amazing on Sunday: we found free parking two blocks away from the Bradley Center just minutes before the Bucks game. Woo! And what a game it was. Just before Sammy insisted he had to hit the bathroom, we thrilled to a quarter-ending, buzzer beating hail mary shot by Charlie V -- at least a 60-footer to keep the score real. The folks we were sitting near all agreed -- it was amazing they pulled this out, because the defense was pretty sour. Still, it was good to see Luke Ridnour back, and his hustle seems to energize this team. And I'm agreeing with the pundits that even though these guys are probably not a shoo-in for the playoffs, they're still fun to watch and buzzworthy, because frankly, nobody was expecting them to still even be on the bubble at this point, what with everybody all injured and all. They're kind of like a Cinderella team at the NCAA Tournament -- they might break into the Sweet Sixteen but that's all. That's all, say, Gonzaga or Valpo ever did, right?

It was Mascot Day at the Bradley Center so we got to see the regulars -- the banged-up Bango and his version of Mini-Me -- Bango Junior, who is as cute as a button as we jumps on a mini-tramp to hit a mini hoop. Bernie Brewer was there, Roscoe from the admirals, and then every manufacturer mascot you never knew existed. They all met at halftime for a quick game of hoops, refereed by Ronald McDonald, who Sammy insists is one scary clown. The Klements Sausage Racers dominated-- probably because their costumes allow their wearers to at least use their real arms and legs unencumbered. The Open Pantry Coffee Cups were outclassed.

Sammy wiped out in the 3rd quater and needed an ice pack, and I credit the BC medics with being quick and gentle about this. Afterwards, Sammy took awhile to get back into the glory of things, but he still had a good time banging thunder sticks together and yelling. He's getting the hang of this game, and it might have been a close game, too. We happily left, Michael Redd bobbleheads in hand (ACL brace not included) and headed home.

Quick dinner, and I ran over to catch the end of the AIM For Peace benefit -- a day-long show at Liquor Sweets to raise money for "Doc" Pfaff. You may remember he was shot when some guys tried to commit armed robbery at Kochanski's Concertina Bar. I missed the Milwaukee Police Band and all the speeches -- got in in time to hear a terrific metal cover band do a good job with "Paranoid", a touch of Desmond Bone's Edgar Allen Cash, and a solid set from Mark Shurilla and the Greatest Hits. Pfaff sat in with them, and then a lovely duet with Dave Alswager and Claire Sardina. Sardina's looking and sounding good these days. She started with a couple of Patsy Cline tunes -- which she renders with authenticity and a voice all her own, and then Alswager joined her for some Neil Diamond, and he can cover the Neil convincingly. Bad Boy's Xeno and a violinist were up next, and the theme seemed to be "Irish Rock Night." A nice U2 cover started it off, and everybody knows that I don't really care for the Cranberries, so when they started in on Zombie, I went to get a drink. They were nice enough to not attempt Dolores Riordan's "I'm Trying So Hard To Be Sinead It Hurts" hiccups, and just sang it straight up, which was enough. Then most of Bad Boy seemed to reunite, including Steve Grimm on acoustic guitar. I wasn't in Milwaukee for Bad Boy's reign, but I suspected they were unplugging their hits: it did remind me of the acoustic portion of a Yes concert in the 70s. After a solid set, Shurilla's band took the stage again, and well, you know how there's some bands that, on their night, can play any song in the universe and it's absolutely magical and you leave happy to know that there's bands that can pull off that kind of sudden attempts at songs you'd never think they could do? Shurilla and his co-horts have been known to do that on many a night, but, well, let's just say this wasn't one of those nights and leave it at that, OK? (hint: it was sloppy when John Lennon did "Give Peace A Chance" ....)

I'm sure they'll redeem themselves tonight, however. It's Fat Tuesday, and about the funnest thing I can think of to do is hit what is turning into an annual Riverwest Mardi Gras parade/pub crawl. It starts at the Uptowner with the Electric Voodoo Gris-Gris band (basically the Shurilla crew dressed for Carnivale). Last time I saw them do that, it was one of those nights. Then down the street to Timbuktu for a set from Eat the Mystery, and it circles back over to Linneman's for a Sigmund Snopek set. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have about 10 hours to decide what I'm going to give up for Lent before I get my last forehead full of ashes from Archbishop Dolan. Redemption, indeed.

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