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Saturday, June 23, 2001

This show that I saw the last five minutes of a few days ago on HGTV (or was it the DIY channel?) pretty much convinced me that flies aren't totally useless creatures. They do a lot of good in the garden. Since I missed most of the show, the only good I saw them do was help a dead mouse decompose and "return its nutrients to the soil." (Ew.)

Well, translate "mouse" to "mole" and I'm all "yay flies."

On the other hand, I don't think flies do much good in the house (even if they are called "houseflies"). I have no qualms (or compunctions either) about killing them. Dead. It's especially annoying if there's a fly buzzing around my face while I'm trying to relocate a spider, and I (oops!) drop the spider on the rug and it scampers (um, spiders don't slither, so they must scamper) out of sight behind something.

Wouldn't you think the fly would rather have the spider living outside, instead of in the house where (Golds willing) webs would be spun with the specific function of capturing flies for the purpose of eating them? It's not as if I'd been relocating the spider as a favor to the fly, but sometimes you get collateral benefits. Seems to me, if you're a fly, you need all the good luck that comes your way.

So there's one fly in the house (that I know of). As I'm sitting at the computer yesterday afternoon, it's buzzing around my face. It lands on the desk, then resumes its aerial assault every time I move. Aha! says I. I grab the flyswatter and sit there typing and surfing one-handed. I have one of those cool Internet keyboards that have "back" and "forward" buttons, and I know the keystrokes to close files and move between programs. I can do a lot with one hand. Shut up.

Naturally, as soon as I'm sitting with the flyswatter in ready position, the fly disappears. Collateral benefit, I guess, except that I just know it's coming back as soon as I put the swatter back on its nail. (I don't really hang it on a nail. I hang it on the unused cup dispenser on the side of my water cooler. I just don't like to point that out.)

What to do? Since I'm so sure the fly will be back in my face when I've put the swatter back on the "nail," I sit there at my desk, flyswatter extended like a torch. I'm doing the old Statue of Liberty ploy. But I'm fly-free, and you know, it's all worth it, really. No one needs to know.

Speaking of flying things, some of us went to see Peter Pan on stage at Santa Rosa JC last night. The Summer Repertory Theatre production did as well as it's possible to do with the material. This is a group of students from throughout the U.S. who give up their summer for an intensive program during which they put on six plays, with each performer and crew member working in at least two of them. It's a huge challenge, but these young people do an amazingly professional job.

For Peter Pan to work depends on the energy and believability of the title character. SRT's Peter is Jenn Colella, and her acting and singing (and flying) sell the whole show. She plays Peter with just the right touch of bravado shaded with childish vulnerability.

There's nothing subtle about the story, which was created to appeal to children. The comedy is broad and cartoonish, and the songs are simple and cheerful. It takes a nuanced performance like Colella's to make the show enjoyable for adults. I can testify that all the adults in our little group enjoyed it thoroughly. Everyone in the packed house seemed to feel the same way.

The heroes and villains are straight out of a child's dream world a century ago. Pirates and Indians and Lost Boys who won't grow up pepper the stage with all the enthusiasm it takes to make two and a half hours pass in a flash.

It would be easy to be cynical about the tale of children giving up the freedom of youth and choosing to be civilized. The story has been used to illustrate psycho-social issues. Peter is a case of arrested development. Wendy is an enabler. Nana is a big fluffy dog. You can read anything into anything (as I often do), or you can take it for what it is and have fun with it (which I sometimes do as well).

Here's how I think these things work: You go to the theater expecting to be entertained. Unless the show is a complete dud, you leave satisfied with the experience. When it's staged by creative people with imagination and wit, and when the actors perform with talent and exuberance, you and your fellow patrons are transformed into an audience, with a character and enthusiasm of its own. That magic happens with nearly every SRT production.

I didn't expect to like the show as much as I did. When I leave the theater with as warm a feeling as I did last night, I know the company has done its job.

captioned by special request

My house and garden.

You know, if I had a butterfly flitting around my face instead of a fly, I don't think I'd be half as upset about it. And I have no reason to believe butterflies are any more sanitary or hygienic than houseflies. But I think that would be cool.

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