bunt sign

Friday, February 1, 2002

Working our way backwards in time, let me start with a wow. Wow! The ground fog I had to drive through on my way home tonight was like a living thing, snaking back and forth across the road and lurking around corners. Just when I'd think I made it through the worst of it and could see a few hundred yards ahead, it would creep out of the fields alongside and hover in front of my headlights. I never felt I was in any danger, but only because I knew the roads, and there was almost no traffic. Anyway, here I am, safe at home.

As we left the theater at the Luther Burbank Center tonight, I told Mom I would try hard to think of nice things to say about the Santa Rosa Players production of "Damn Yankees," which we'd just witnessed. It's the first time I've seen this show on stage, so I can't be sure that all the uncomfortable pauses aren't written into it.

Maybe it's supposed to herky-jerk along like that, but I don't think so. This is a local company of part-time actors and crew, and they've been struggling financially for as long as I can remember. But their artistic work is usually a little more crisply paced than this one. It seemed to drag on forever.

But wait. I was going to be positive, if possible. And it is, because although these actors are not full-time professionals, most of them are capable enough to carry a scene. In fact, all of the main roles were filled by people with both energy and talent, and those qualities can overcome weaknesses elsewhere. The devilish characters of Lola and Applegate were portrayed with a sly wink that drew the audience in (and woke us up). Joe Hardy has to sing, and sing he did.

Even the awkward choreography had a bit of charm, but it all came together only in the musical's signature number, "Heart." If that part of the show had been as embarrassingly clumsy as, for example, "Shoeless Joe," which made me squirm, I don't know if I'd have been able to watch the rest of it. Oh, I wouldn't have walked out. I've never done that, but I have slunk down in my seat and stared at the floor. And I could do it again.

The story of "Damn Yankees" is one of the oldest: a man sells his soul for the dream of a better life, then realizes too late that what he really wants is what he's given up. It's a plot that's been around forever, but this version centers around a baseball team — the Washington Senators of the 1950s.

The real fantasy is not the devil strutting around, but the fact that this hapless team actually does start winning games. There's no real equivalent in today's major leagues, because no team has been so far down for so long. Even the Cubs get to the World Series once in awhile.

The Senators were a special case. They started playing when the American League was born in 1901 and finished seventh or eighth (in an eight-team league) regularly. Then when the league expanded to ten teams, the old Senators moved to Minnesota and were replaced by the equally ineffective new Senators. In 1972 they moved to Texas, called themselves the Rangers, and finished last there, too.

Next year another team will probably assume the name of the Washington Senators. The powers that be in baseball will take an existing team out of its home and move it there for the 2003 season. It won't matter if the team is loved and supported in its current home, because the owners want a showcase team in the nation's capital.

The politicians in Washington help make the baseball team owners rich by exempting them from antitrust laws. They can get away with business practices that are illegal in other industries, even other sports. To keep it that way, they'll want to find a way to turn the new Washington Senators into a winning team.

I don't know how they're going to do it, though, since they've already sold their souls.

bird bath, about to be used

There's a bird in the tree on the right. I thought if I stood still long enough I'd get a picture of it in the birdbath, but it outlasted me.

I guess I don't get out much. (You guess??) When we got to the Luther Burbank Center, I drove around the building, looking for the parking lot closest to the little theater. I nearly drove all the way around and out to the street again, because I couldn't see well enough to tell where I was.

When I found a space and parked, I followed Mom off in the opposite direction from where I thought we should be going. She seemed so sure of herself that I didn't put up much protest. We nodded and said hello to some people sitting just inside the main building, but there was no one else around.

We walked all the way across the lobby before I could convince Mom that we needed to go back outside and find the doors closer to where we'd parked. She wanted to backtrack, but I didn't want to walk past those people again and have them look at me funny, so I ushered her out the doors on the opposite side of the lobby, out of their view.

We could already see the other doors from where we were, and somehow we managed to find the little theater without much more excitement. I took a couple of wrong turns on the way home after the show, too, but by then I was taking everything in stride. You can get used to being a doofus, you know.

previousbunt signemailnext

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Looking Up
"Good vision is obviously not one of the requirements for getting a license here."

Two years ago: Brave Words
"It's up to us as a community to condemn the sin and instruct the sinner."

Subscribe to the list to be notified of updates.

When the odds are saying you'll never win, that's when the grin should start.