Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tres Tapas, Por Favor

Three bite-sized bits that floated to the top of my brain today . . .

Yesterday was Karen's and my twenty-mfmmfpth anniversary, which we celebrated by taking our girls into San Francisco to see a matinee of "Wicked" followed by a nice dinner. My mini-review of the play: a spectacular production with some very good songs and singers, terrific characters, interesting and funny twists on the "Oz" story everyone knows so well (which is to say the Judy Garland version), and some surprising and occasionally ridiculous plot twists. I was a little amazed to find myself truly moved by the plight of a misunderstood green witch fighting for animal rights. I also don't think I'd ever been inside San Francisco's Orpheum Theater before, and it's a beauty. Good play.

Anyway, Happy Anniversary, Sweetie. I think it was a fine one.

* * *
I got up this morning thinking of all the things I do that would've been unimaginable to 99% of humans living throughout 99% of history. Not the obvious stuff, like flying in airplanes, but the little stuff: Taking a hot shower. Using a flush toilet. Brushing my teeth. Deciding from among many pants and shirts which I wanted to wear. Pouring a glass of cold orange juice from a pitcher in the fridge. Feeding my cats store-bought food from a can. That's six things I did this morning that would've been utterly alien to most people until very recently--still hard to find in a lot of places--and I hadn't even sat down at my computer yet.

As a wicked witch once said: What a world, what a world.
* * *

I'll be going to WonderCon in San Francicso on Friday, April 2. Just as a fan, not a panelist or anything. Despite its proximity, I've never been to WonderCon before. It's run by the same people who do the big ComicCon in San Diego, and I understand it's more like ComicCon used to be: smaller, gentler, quieter, and more focused on comics than movies and video games.

I feel very lucky to have made it to the San Diego ComicCon the times I did, as an Eisner nominee (and winner!), panelist and guest. Unless I have a specific business reason to go, I don't expect to attend in the future. It's an expensive trip, and tickets and especially lodging are just too hard to get. As Yogi Berra probably never said of his favorite restaurant, "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded." I'm hoping WonderCon is a nice, nearby alternative that lets me get my convention fix with less hassle and cost. I'll let you know.

* * *

One more added later: Actor Robert Culp died yesterday. I always liked his work and screen persona, and had a chance to talk to him briefly at last year's San Diego ComicCon, where he was signing photos. I didn't want his autograph--they don't really have a lot of meaning or value to me--but there wasn't anyone in line and we spoke for a minute. I told him I appreciated his work and asked if he had something new in the works. He said he did, and seemed excited about it, but declined to spill details. I looked forward to finding out; sounds like I never will. It's sad to lose him but he had a fine life and career.


Jim O'Kane said...

Brian, a very sweet picture but I must know: do you guys refer to this as your "Heimlich pose?" :)

Sherwood Harrington said...

There are Harrington connections in two of these items:

1) Matt Vanderende, the percussionist for Wicked was the drummer in my son Doug's thrash metal band Defiance. Matt was also the drummer in the two SF productions of Wicked that Diane and I saw, the pre-Broadway get-the-kinks-out run in SF and the initial tour after the show had become a hit. (We agree with you about the Orpheum, by the way.)

2) "Using a flush toilet."
On behalf of all Harringtons, you're welcome.

Brian Fies said...

Jim: Nah, we call that the "stop nibbling on my earlobe, ya perv" shot.

Sherwood: Cool, I heard Matt working yesterday! Actually, one small thing I really enjoyed was taking a peek into the orchestra pit at intermission. It's a whole 'nother world down there, man. And thanks to you and your ancestors for all the swirlies.

Anonymous said...

The Orpheum rocks. Where did you eat?

Anonymous said...

I remember the photog saying "act like you're whispering in her ear" ... if I'm not mistaken you said, "Well THAT's kinda stupid". I just remember cracking UP!!

Glad you had a nice night out in SF. I am also curious about where you ate, what you ordered, what WAS your dessert?!?

Sherwood Harrington said...

I'm not Brian, and I certainly am not Karen, but I'll butt in on the "where did you eat" thing, anyway:

Diane and I have been going to SF Broadway productions at the Curran, Orpheum, and Golden Gate theaters for as long as we've been married. In the old days, when cash was more abundant than it is now, we'd stay at the St. Francis hotel for the night of the show ("the Saint Frank," as Diane calls it -- her family is old, old, old San Francisco). The place to gulp down food before curtain time -- especially at the Curran, just up the street -- was Max's.

Now that we don't stay the night in the City anymore, driving up and back in the same day/night from Boulder Creek for the shows, we don't frequent Max's any more.

That's got its pluses and its minuses. Max's food is heavy-duty, industrial-grade, Ford-pickup-truck-style diner food, from the on-site made bread to the saurkraut on the pastrami to the... well, I could go on, but you get the picture. And it's wonderful, in a suicidal sort of way. It's a heart attack on Geary, but you'll go to wherever it delivers you -- to the show or to your reward -- happy.

So I hope Brian and Karen had a go at Max's. If they did, they evidently survived.

Brian Fies said...

We ate at the Market Street Grill in the Hotel Whitcomb across the street from the Orpheum. A little upscale, befitting an anniversary dinner, and I think we were all happy with our meals. I had salmon. Desserts were an apple tart, a lemon creme brule, and four spoons. No complaints.

Sherwood, I don't know the Max's you're referring to, but I'm very familiar with another Max's in Marin that I think is run by the same people. I recall generous portions and tempting baked goods.

Mike Peterson said...

WonderCon sounds interesting. I've got the impression that ComicCon is something like the Grateful Dead concerts -- terrific if you got there before the rush, not so terrific once it became important for people to be there. There's a small festival in Maine this spring that I'll probably go to, though these things really highlight the difference between comic strips and comic books -- being more involved in the former than the latter, it doesn't take me very long to have been at one of these things.

sligo said...

one little thing to add here -- if you haven't read the book, i highly recommend it; it's an amazingly intricate, nuanced, well-crafted world. i had no idea before i picked it up, and i was blown away with it's scope.

Brian Fies said...

Mike P., I don't want to bash the San Diego ComicCon, partly because it's been very good to me and partly because it just seems wrong-headed. As Mark Evanier often says, whatever you want your comics convention to be, you can find it there and simply ignore the rest. And I certainly have no standing as an old-timer lamenting the lost days of buying Jack Kirby art for $10 a page from Kirby himself in the ballroom of a dingy hotel; the first one I attended was 2006 when it was already a monster, though not quite the monster it's become since. It is what it is.

Unfortunately, part of "what it is" these days is expensive for me to get to, difficult to get into, and nearly impossible to find a hotel room within 30 miles of. Fact is, I could pull some strings and solve some of those problems a bit easier than an average fan, but even the string-pulling is a chore (and very against my nature). I'm just thinking I can drive down to San Francisco for a day and find 90% of "my" convention there at a fraction of the hassle and cost. We'll see how that works.

Sligo Mike, I assume you're talking about Wicked? Didn't know it was a book, I'll bet it's interesting. Thanks for the info.