December 15, 2003

A Peek Into My Week'En. . . Or Something Like That

Okay, I'm not sure why or how it started, but at some point in the evolution of the Christmas season, The Wizard of Oz was introduced as an important part of the Holiday Spirit. Now, being that I'm lazy, I'm not going to do any research into this odd phenomenon, but I think my own conjecture can piece together a pretty convincing explanation as to why The Wizard of Oz is set to usurp Frosty in the pantheon of Christmas idols.

It started, I believe, in 1983, with the release of the immediate Holiday classic, A Christmas Story. For those of you not famliar with this movie, not to worry, if you tune into TNN or TNT or some other fringe cable channel come Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, chances are good that they'll be conducting a 24 hour A Christmas Story marathon. This is not a complaint, because I love the movie. FYI, the kid who sticks his tongue on a frosty pole and gets stuck, Flick, is now a porn star (thanks Michele).

Anyway, The Wizard of Oz played prominently in A Christmas Story because, I guess, Oz was released along the same time as the story line. Therefore, seeing as how A Christmas Story has become part of the Christmas tradition for many people, the Wizard of Oz just came along for the ride.

So, the girlfriend and I went to the Minneapolis Children's Theater showing of The Wizard of Oz on Friday night. It seemed like a very Christmassy thing to do. Last year, we went to see Once Upon a Forest and that was a great experience, so my expectations were high. And, boy, my expectations were met and exceeded. I don't care that they cater to stories more geared to younger audiences, the Children's Theater does an awesome, AWESOME, job of putting together a program. Sets, awesome. Costumes, awesome. Actors, awesome.

Toto, just TOTOlly awesome.

I didn't expect them to use a real dog. I kind of was envisioning an awkward attempt to give the appearance of a dog without really having a dog. I guess I didn't think it was possible to keep a dog from getting excited with a troupe of dancers and munchkins and witches and smog.

And, yet, there was a REAL DOG. A real, totally awesome trained dog. The drawback to having a real dog, I discovered, was that I kept trying to keep tabs on Toto to see if he was being obedient or if they non-stop action finally sent him into yips and circles. But, it never did. He was the perfect dog. All hail Toto! Of course, the dog's real name wasn't Toto, it was Snickers, and so now when I finally get a dog, I think I'm going to call him Snickers. That will only happen, of course, if my plans to acquire a dingo and name him Bingo ultimately fail.

I think I had the best line of the play, if I do say so myself. During the great witch-melting scene, they obscured her descent under the stage with staggering amounts of dry-ice smog, which wafted its way into the crowd. Mel and I were pretty close to the stage, so we got hit with a blurring wave of smog, and everyone started waving their playbills in from of them to disperse the cloud. It was at that point that I said, at probably an inappropriate volume, "Man, I hate breathing in second-hand witch!" The folks seated around me we very much amused by that. I wanted to take a bow.

Granted, Mel and I had stellar seats, basically four rows back, in the direct center of the stage, close enough to smell Dorothy's armpits, so the experience was made all the better through the proximity. But, wow, what a production. And Snickers was the best.

Mel and I briefly flirted with the idea of heading out shopping Saturday afternoon, but after 10 minutes of exploring the traffic, we gave up on that idea right away. Instead, we opted to whip up another batch of Japanese curry, but this time our goal was to find the BIGGEST bell of garlic we could find and use half of it in our cooking. The end result was a curry that tasted heavenly but which turned us into a couple of the stinkiest garlic stacks in the history of mankind. It was great fun laughing about how bad we both smelled. We're kind of sick that way.

Sunday, after driving back to Rochester, I finally garnered enough ambition to go for a five mile run. It was a slippery exercise, owing to an inch of snow and ice that had yet to be attended to. I'm thinking this winter may finally be the one in which I buy a health club membership to head off the possibility of a severe ankle sprain.

A realization set upon me as I ran around the local Silver Lake: I've hit a time in my life where I'm immensely happy and content, but I'm feeling the urge to explore a next step. I don't know what that step is. A house? A new job? I don't know. But something inside is pushing me to find out what's next. It was a strangely exhausting realization, which was probably partly due to the fact I was running. But, beyond that, I think I felt immediately exhausted because the thought of breaking from routine and extending exploratory life tendrils into other unknowns is just daunting and tiring by nature. Exciting, sure, but tiring.

And now it's Monday, and I wish I had a dog named Snickers.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, I almost forgot, some guy named Saddam Hussein was captured or something in Iraq. Apparently, he was some sort of big name there, in that country. It was funny, though. I was without Internet access all weekend, and then I got home at about 2:30 p.m., pulled up a Web browser that has as the home page, and I wondered "why the hell is Charles Manson in the news?" The I read the name Saddam Hussein, and my jaw dropped. No. fucking. Way. I'll save the commentary for those on the deeper right and left, for they both seem to be covering it just fine. I'll just quick quote Jon Stewart who, on his Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the day Saddam's statue fell, which I think still applies: If you are unable to feel joy at the sight of Iraqis rejoicing at the fall of Saddam, then you are lost to the idealogical left. If you are incapable of feeling sorrow that we had to resort to violence to accomplish this objective, then you are lost to the idealogical right. Either way, turn off the television, you won't like this program.

Then again, for some Iraqis, it's not about rejoicing, it's about something unexplainable.

Posted by Ryan at December 15, 2003 11:45 AM
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