Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective (VIII)

O’Malley’s was quiet for a late afternoon, the regular crowd had not shuffled in. That’s cause there was no piano man. Ha!

Actually, I wanted it quiet. Bartender Stuffy O’Hearn, an old pal of mine, kept my pints and fish-flavored cheese snacks coming. There wasn’t much I could do about Honey without shaking down Wabo’s crew. But I had to be smart about that, or someone was likely to get hurt. Most likely, me. An episode of “Too Cute” played on the television behind the bar.

I knew my solitude was coming to an end when I saw Stuff’s eyes grow larger and he took a step back from the carved mahogany bar. Under his breath I heard him say “I gotta piece under the bar, if ya need backup.” I shook my head.  I was a regular and I didn’t need to cause a scene or wreck the place, if I could avoid it. I glanced into the corner mirror and spied three menacing figures approaching. Looked like I didn’t have to track down Wabo’s crew after all. But there were three of them and one of me. I could have taken Orangey or Sattar, and maybe even both at the same time, but the third cat was a bruiser. He was a Siberian Forest Cat. He had beautiful markings, I must admit, but he was also huge. I’d dated a few females of the breed, and I’ve got to tell you, they can wear you out. Anyway, he didn’t look all that smart, but it didn’t take much to set them off, so I knew I better play it cool.

“Well, if it ain’t our favorite fly in the ointment.”

“And who might you be?” I said to the orange tabby, with a “Hello Kitty” bandage on his clipped ear.

“Yuwse knows who I is, but you might not know the name. Every calls me Flame.”

I thought about snuffing him right there, but my cooler nature held. “And who are your friends?”

“I’m Sattar. And we are getting somewhat irritated with your recent meddling into our business. Not sure about your relationship with a certain moll we know, but we want it to stop. Immediately.” The Hulk just grunted. “And this is Igor. He a trained ex-Russian trooper, so don’t get smart with us.”

“I’ll try to keep it on a kindergarten level for his benefit.” Igor’s eyes scrunched and his ears twitched, and I realized he wasn’t so dumb that he didn’t recognize an insult. “Let’s keep this civilized, shall we? This is a nice family bar and I don’t see any reason to mess up the day of others.”

Flame still looked like he wanted to mess it up. But the leader was clearly Sattar, and when he nodded they both took a step back.

“Listen, Duff. We know who you are and what you do. You’ve got a reputation as a smart cat and a tough adversary. I respect that. But our boss wants what he wants and he’s going to get it. And you aren’t going to stand in our way. “

“What is it you are seeking?”

A wry smile crossed his face and his whiskers shimmered. “If you truly don’t know, I’m not telling. I’m sure your fancy-pants bimbo spilled the beans though. I thought you might want to duke it out with us right here. A little taste of honey make you soft?” The fur on my back started stiffening in irritation as they dissed Honey.

I gritted my teeth. Their time would come. “Is she ok?”

“How should I know.” A sinister glint flashed in his eye and his grin grew just a tad more menacing. Somehow I knew that she hadn’t told them anything yet. Despite their being gangsters, they usually didn’t rough up dames.  They might kill, but seldom cathandled the ladies.

“If anything happens, you are going to pay,” I hissed.
That was the first and only time I saw Igor smile. He was going to be a pawfull.

Sattar, dark face and deep blue oriental eyes, set in sharp angles, took back the floor. “Tell you what, smart guy. If you figure out what’s missing and find it, we’d be willing to trade. You might find a little sweetie released, might even make a few extra clams. But if you interfere, there will be consequences. I can assure you that. You know where to find us.” With that he turned on his haunches and marched out the door, followed by his sidekicks. An audible sigh could be heard from O’Hearn.

“What was that all about, Duff? I thought for sure those rummies were coming for blood.”

“Naw. They are basically muscle, not calling the shots. It could have got ugly if I pushed it, but didn’t want you or your customers hurt. I need to track something down, but I don’t know what to do.” I told him an abridged version of my dilemma.

After a few minutes, and serving a few mojitos to the cuties at the end of the bar (who I was sure were checking me out), O’Hearn threw his bar rag over his should and said, “Well. You have more information than you did at the start. I say you revisit the place you started and see if any of the knowledge reveals something you might have overlooked not having known it in the first time.”

“Wow, that is really sage advice.” I jumped off the stool and reached for my wallet, but O’Hearn raised is paw and said, “It’s ok. On the house. Thanks for keeping things cool there.”

[Join us tomorrow as we continue The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective on this radio channel.]

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective (VII)

“You know I’m not supposed to be talking about an ongoing investigation.” Tom looked irritable and stressed, and clearly he wasn’t happy about having me back in his office so soon. “You are starting to be a walking bad-luck charm, Boy-O.”

“Come on pal, there has to be something. Your guys can’t tell me that a struggle with several guys and a feisty gal like Honey didn’t result in some evidence.”

Slowly Tom rose from his chair and then quietly slipped closed his door. He turned to me and leaned against a row of battleship-grey filing cabinets. “Well, there were a few orange hairs.”

“I think it’s time to have a visit with Wabo’s strong man. Maybe he can give me some intel. I am feeling the need to crack some heads.”

“Now hold it Duff, that won’t help you, and it can’t help me.  Let us do our work. If you get involved it might be bad for Honey. No one that we know of has even been contacted yet.”

“Well, I can’t just stand around and do nothing. You have any idea who the Persian might be.”

“Yeah, possibly. Another of Wabo’s thugs. But this one is a lot smarter than Orangey. Normally he is in the background, one of Wabo’s closer advisers rather than muscle. Something really serious must be going on for Wabo to be letting him get his hands dirty in the field. I think his name is Sattar.”

I mused over the name and drilled it into my memory. Sattar and I were destined to have words.

Tom sat back down and put his paws on the desk. “Clearly they didn’t find what they wanted from the old man, or what they found instigated them to grab Honey. I wonder if she has information that could have helped us out?”

I nodded and said, “Possibly.”

“We interviewed everyone at the university who worked with him. Not the most beloved academic, but they respected his research and production. Only one little thing made me wonder. He took an unexpected trip to Charleston about two months ago, wouldn’t talk about it, even missed a few lectures he was supposed to give. Some of his colleagues said that was about the time some shady characters started showing up at the college. We checked through his files at the school. I’m no brainiac, so nothing especially interesting stood out.”

I scratched my chest, a nervous tick from my kittenish days.  “Might be something, maybe not. You know anything about the limo?”

“If you had grabbed the plate numbers, it might help. Kind of classy for Wabo’s organization. Maybe we have more players here than we thought.”

“You think Wabo might be the middleman?”

“Not enough yet to haul him in and put the screws to him.”

“You got anyone on the inside?”

“Naw. He busted our last undercover. Broke him up pretty badly. I’ve never seen a feline who went through so much abuse and lived to tell about it. But they must have scared him pretty bad, because as soon as he was out of the hospital he just disappeared.”

“Didn’t give ya nothing?”

“Only some general stuff. That the crew seemed especially jumpy and tense, as if pressure was being applied to them. Also made them more cautious and wary, which is how they caught the guy. Wabo was furious. But since they guy skipped, we haven’t been able to pull in the boss.”

I pace back and forth on the already worn threadbare carpet. My mind was spinning. I needed a drink. Time to hit O’Malleys and see if I could clear my thoughts while at the same time dulling them. Honey being in danger was driving me insane. I should have been there, kept her out of trouble. I didn’t want to think of worst-case scenarios.

“I’ll catch ya later Tom.”

[Join us tomorrow as we continue The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective on this radio channel.]

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective (VI)



It was a gorgeous Carolina day, bright high blue skies with lower humidity than was normal in the town called “Famously Hot.” I adjusted my fedora and strode out into the afternoon, rejuvenated by the dalliance with Marjorie and with the hidden words of Dr. Boo bouncing around in my skull like balls in a pachinko game. Luckily I remembered to wipe away the words before I allowed the lockbox to be returned. Had Boo emptied the box?  Or had there been another key, and had this person also seen the message? What could the strange sentence mean? Perhaps Honey Boo Boo could help. I turned south and began to walk down Main toward the Karolina Kat Kondominiums where Kitty kept her condominium.

Almost as if on cue, my cell phone rang, with bars from “Stray Cat Strut” spilling from my pocket. I grabbed the phone and punched in my code. “Duffy, Duffy. Help!”

“Kitty, are you ok?”

“No. . . they’re here. Inside my place.”

“Who?” My feet began to break into a stride.  

“I can’t see them.  I am hiding in a closet. But I can hear them.  I think it is three men. There are just about to come up stairs.“

“Stay hidden. I am heading in that direction right now.”

My claws scratched against the concrete sidewalk as every tendon in my body strained to gain more speed. I had to get there, but even at top speed it would take ten to fifteen minutes, and I didn’t see a cab anywhere. I dared not call 911 in fear of being disconnect from Honey’s phone. I could hear her breathing quietly in fear. Soon I heard other voices.

“Honey! Honey Boo! We know you are in here. We just want what is ours. It wasn’t in the statue. We know you have to know where it is. Honey, Honey, come out to play.” The voice was strange, an eerie cackle not unlike that of Luther in "The Warriors."

Then there was a shriek and the sound of struggle.  I could hear Kitty spewing curses in her distinctive southern drawl. Then I heard the thud of fists on flesh and rage turned my vision red and cause my hands to clinch, so tight that I was suddenly aware I might crush my cell. As I came within a block of her home I saw a large Persian tossing a limp Boo into the back seat of a black stretch limo, and then just as swiftly the car peeled off down the street. I heard sirens in the distance. Someone must have called 911. I howled in frustration. These were dangerous men and they wanted whatever it was very badly. Enough that they would stage a mid-day kidnapping of a defenseless dame.

The coppers must have grilled me twenty times, and in each interview I gave them everything I knew . . . at least from the phone call that Boo made. Some things I was going to keep to myself. One of the dicks said there wasn’t much evidence, other than the kidnappers were rough. No one recognized my description of the Siamese thug. The two other guys must have already gotten into the limo before I arrived. Did they really think Honey had the answers?  Why were they so certain her father would have told her much? Perhaps my intuition that she knew more than she was telling me was true.  But now I was more invested in ever in finding out the truth.   

[Join us tomorrow as we continue The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective on this radio channel.]

Friday, May 24, 2013

FLIGHT

Attended tonight at Longstreet Theater an interesting play that blended elements of drama, dance, music, acrobatics, and model building. What, you say? Well, read on. The University of South Carolina's Department of Theater and Dance (cosponsored with Pacific Performance Project/East) presented Robyn Hunt's Flight, directed by Steven Pearson. Standing in for all heroic women aviators who struggled to touch the skies during the infancy of flight are two turn-of-the-century actresses who also are pilots, temporarily on leave from their day jobs as Paris actresses, as they assemble a plane that has been gifted by a generous benefactress so that they might make a long-distance flight to challenge male-dominated skies. They are part of an emerging feminist movement that seeks equality in suffrage, education, professional opportunity and to shed the restraints (such as clothing restrictions) that hold them back from acheivement, and that denies them their place in the historical record when they do great things. This strain is represented by the filmmaker Alisse, determined to capture the beauty and danger of the two female pilots' efforts. Rounding out the cast is Jean Luc, narrator and guide, and a fellow actor and friend, best known for his role as Peter Pan, Gerard. The playwright blended in elements from historical theater as the actors worked through their frustrations and fears. As the play unfolds the cast literally constructs a half-scale model of a plane on stage. Cudos to whomever made the airplane; it was simply beautiful and elegantly constructed in a  manner that allowed the actors to fit it together with style and grace. The plane is almost another character. The play was an interesting study in motion, almost oriental in its precision, and an amazing amount of practice must have been involved to choreograph the intricate dance of construction and storytelling.

The actors were all very good and the presentation smooth. The production could have benefitted from a better sound system or individual mikes. Often words and lines were lost or confusing, even out of the mouths of the senior actors Eric Bultman (Jean Luc) and Robyn Hunt (Alisse). Clearly these two had a positive chemistry. Lenne Klingaman (Madeline) was strong in her role, and most often was the most-clear speaker. Jessi Noel (Sophie) was good, but a bit soft spoken, and I struggled at times to understand what she was saying. Will Shuler (Gerard) rounded out the cast and did a nice job, especially with the piano and accordian. Sadly these plays have so few performances, which seems unfortunate in light of the tremendous work that went into crafting the props and preparing the actors. I especially liked the hanging chari used to represent flight simulation. I bet Bultman and Klingaman never got as great a workout ever in a production. I don't know how many young actors got to participate and learn from this performance, but the actors and crew were a credit to the university.

The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective (V)



FFF just happened to be down the street, so there was no time like now to check and hope there might be something there, before someone got wise to the existence of this key. The sun shone steadily and a light wind soothed the street. Located in a grand brick building three blocks from the police station, the bank’s marble entrance exuded warmth and strength. One would expect a lot of activity there, but the building was practically empty. A couple cuties watched me from their teller positions, and a grizzled vet security guard rubbed his fingers on his service revolver. He knew the deal though, and saw I was no threat.

“Duffy!! Duffy, duffy, duff. My main puff puff. Where have you been, sweetie?” Marjorie Morningpuss purred, as she slinked up and practically enveloped my whole body. I was suddenly ensnarled in a silent lambada. Within seconds no part of my frame hadn’t been caressed by the sexiest cutie this side of the Mississippi River. She was part-time mistress to half a dozen powerbrokers, and could easily pick one and retire to a life of hedonistic pleasure, but she preferred to work and enjoy the field and freedom. Thank God for that! We had several pleasurable trysts over the years, including one memorable trip to Las Vegas. And that story stays in Vegas! She was a beautiful Bengal with rich cream coat covered in delightful dark brown spots, and fur softer than a kitten’s bottom. And she had a wonderful tail. “My perky Sherlock Holmes. Why haven’t you been snooping around my house lately, killer?” I just melted in her presence. She took my paw and led me back to a private office where XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX WOW XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX YOWSA! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 

[ed. Redacted due to explicit material not meant for young eyes. Take it from me, our intrepid detective was only interrogating and using his special charms to further his investigation. ]

“Did the temperature go up ten degrees in here? Are the fire extinguishers going to start sprinkling us?” I quipped.

“Mmmmmmmm. My little fire starter. “ She cooed. “You know, we could always go over to the Hilton and see if we could set some sheets on fire. But I’m sure you are here for more than my tasty affections. What do you need, big guy?”

“Any chance of me having a few uninterrupted time in the safe deposit boxes?”

“Why honey, you can have my XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX any time.”  Oh, what a wicked grin. “But yes, I think I can sneak you in for a few minutes.”

“That would be great.”

“You have to promise me you won’t remove anything though, just take a look.”

“Sure, dollface.”

She escorted me back into the lobby and then over to the safe. I handed her the key and she brought me a medium sized grey box. I slipped into a private cubicle and opened the box. Nothing. The box had already been cleaned out. I felt the air go out of me, another dead end. A fine white dust could be seen on the inside, so it was possible the cocaine theory might still be plausible. I set the box on the table and took my head in my hands, pleasantly worn out from Marjorie and tired from the case. What had I gotten myself into? What had I missed? As I started to get up I noticed a shimmer along the inside top of the box, and upon closer inspection I could see that there was writing in pencil, faint enough that it would be missed by most eyes, but for the experienced sleuth it could just be made out.

IF YOU ARE READING THIS, MY NINTH LIFE HAS RUN ITS COURSE. 
TRUST NO ONE.  FRISKIES IS NICE, BUT NEWMANS IS BETTER.

[Join us tomorrow as we continue The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective on this radio channel.]
This just cracks me up. Poor kitty.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

FLOWN



I remember her, curled
silent in anger or uncertainty
beside me in our marriage bed,
though she was already
gone from this union,
flown away in spirit if not fact
and would never come back.

The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective (IV)


Tom Felis rocked back in his custom chair, a chaos of paper and photos strewn around his desk. Assorted detective items were placed willy-nilly, and his wall was covered with plagues and awards testifying to his decade-long service to the community. He took a sip from his steaming cup of joe, and then hissed at me: "Whatya mean our boys didn't do a good job at the scene?"

I pulled the key and piece of purloined pelt from my pocket, and tossed them on some unfinished reports piled on his desk. I didn't know if Tom was going to reprimand me for affronting his officer's work or charge me with removing evidence from a crime scene. But I could see in his amber eyes that he was concerned. He picked up the key with one claw.

"First Feline Federal. . . hmmmmm. Must be where he kept his lock box. I'd need a warrant to check the box, although I may have a contact there that could slip you in. Marjorie Morningpuss. You remember her? I think if you chat with her she might let you have a few minutes in the safe. But don't tell her it was me who told you. She is still a little angry at me."

Indeed I did! And her name had nothing to do with her attitude waking up, if you know what I mean. But that is another story. "But isn't FFF a front for the Panthera gang?"

Tom grimaced. He had been fighting the Pantheras forever, chipping away at their soldiers and supporters but never getting close to the bigwig, Jay Gur Undi, but almost everyone called him Wabo. Slick, even beautiful some say, but a sneaky devil with a cold heart. He ran all of the the town's illicit gambling and cathouses, and dabbled his claws into anything that might make him a buck. He was a deadly adversary, and I wasn't surprised that there might be a potential link. Clearly I had to get a look into that lockbox. "What do you think of the fur?"

He picked up the baggie. "Domestic short hair. Looks like  the tip of an ear. Orange tabby, I think. Old guy gave them a fight, didn't he?"  Then his eyes clouded and his brow furrowed. I knew he was thinking. "I seem to recall a bit of muscle employed by Wabo. Big orange tabby, bad attitude. Tough. Runs numbers when he isn't pummeling people to pieces. Not bad with a gun either. Be careful with this cat."

"You hear anything on the street about a onyx statue?"

"Nope. Can't think of any reason it would cost the old guy his life. Is it really valuable?"

I paused to mull that over. Wasn't sure how much I wanted to let him in, just yet. "Not sure. I can't help thinking there is more to that piece than just art. In your, well, 'investigation,', did you come across anything interesting?"

His eyes narrowed again at the slight, but he decided to let it pass. He could handle a dig every once in a while, especially when he knew there was some truth to my charge. I called them as I saw them.

"One of the guys said he could smell Chanel in the room. Kind of odd for an old guy." My mind started to whirl. Why hadn't I noticed? Oh yeah, there was someone there with me who already smelled of Chanel. I'd have to ask my doll when she last visited her dear old dad. "And there was some residue of cocaine, which seems odd. No evidence from the autopsy that the old guy used any drugs, so it must have come in via the assailants or  some other source." The pelt thickened.

"Thanks old chum.  I need to ask around. I'll let you know if I find anything that can help you."

"You do that. And remember, you still owe me $20 from poker night."

I grinned as I quickly slipped out of his office and back on to the trail of mysterious misdeeds.

   
[Join us tomorrow as we continue The Adventures of Duffy Dean, Detective on this radio channel.]

Monday, May 20, 2013

INTO DARKNESS

Took the boys to see Star Trek Into Darkness this weekend and they enjoyed it very much. A lot of spectacular action on the big screen. And regardless of Sarah's assessment, I was able to follow the plot, Quinto's dark eyes notwithstanding. Ha! Still, I was not as happy with this film as I was of the first Abram's contribution. I kept saying to myself, "I've seen this before," or knew what actions the individual characters would take (perhaps as it should be with people who love and and have watched every Star Trek incarnation). Perhaps the first installment set the bar high. Simon Pegg was wonderful. I like that the other characters get to do more this time. How was there was a fetching blonde scientist on board and no romantic entanglement (beyond a hint) with Kirk? There was some photoediting on her, but we will resist detailing it for those who did not notice. I was not totally taken by Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan, not that he was bad either. I liked the nods to the former show, such as mention of Nurse Chappell and the Triffids. The son of the legendary James Doohan had a smal part as transporter officer, which was cool. There were great scenes, such as the ship spiraling downward toward Earth as the crew tries to control its descent. And I liked the fight with the Klingons, but come on. . .Klingon special forces looked pretty weak in that segment (they should have been capable of causing a few casualties). I kind of hated the 'Kirk in the reactor" sequence, especially the scene with Spock. I would very much have liked more interior scenes of the Enterprise (I am kind of geeky like that, I love seeing where the regular crew works and lives). Still, I hope this franchise, and many more permutations, live long and prosper.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

JOEY

My South Carolina Junior Scholar

Sunday, May 12, 2013

MISS SAIGON

I am not sure the musical Miss Saigon is the best choice for most community theater groups, especially in relatively small southern cities. It would be good for university groups and professional units, but I am unconvinced it is the greatest choice for local theater. I acknowledge that these actors do it for their love of performing and in the case of the cast of Columbia's Town Theater, they put a lot of energy and effort into their presentation and you could see that most were enjoying themselves on stage. Nevertheless it was at times difficult to get into their characters when many were miscast (through no fault of their own, I am sure). Obviously there is a limited pool of young Asian actors in Columbia and there is only so much one can do with costuming, and you have to work with the actors who want to be in the cast. Do not assume, however, that I am being critical of the job they did, because that is not the case. I felt they were great. But when you think of a Vietnamese strip club, you kind of expect younger, Asian faces (and bodies) in the room, and the same goes for the soldiers. And when Vietcong commandos appear, they really shouldn't look like Americans. Although the female lead was lovely and sang well, perhaps they could have provided her some spray-on tan and jet-black wig, and made her look more Vietnamese. Just saying. Yes, I know there are obvious contraints to realism that a local theater troupe can do, with limitations in budget and manpower, so those who choose the schedule should be a little more careful picking shows.

That being said, I thought the cast did a very good job with the material and I enjoyed their presentation. The second half was way better than the first. "Bui Doi" and "The American Dream" were delightful and strong numbers. "Fall of Saigon" was a complicated scene, but they pulled it off rather well, and the helicopter was great. Will Moreau was quite good and funny as the Engineer, though at times it was hard to understand him. Perhaps that was because of the sound system, and he was not the only actor with this problem at times. Lanny Spires did a good job as Chris; for some reason I would have liked a deeper voice, however. I think he would be great in Rent though. Parker Bynum was very good for a young actor, and he was one of the few who really seemed to have a presence. Shelby Sessler did a good job in the lead role, as did Karly Minacapelli as Ellen. Luke Young stole his scenes (especially when he yawned), but isn't that always the case with the cute youngster cast members. Overall I think everyone did a pretty good job .

It has been a long time since I was in Town Theater, and they have fixed the place up. The chairs were a little uncomfortable (and I heard that from a few people around me). I thought I was going to have more leg room when I got a front-row ticket, but I didn't account for the temporary orchestra pit. I wish they could have adjusted their lights a bit, because they shone right in my eyes. But it is the first time I have attended theater with live music, and that was interesting (I kept imagining that this is the way it used to be). It is a small and cozy place (I would feel a little better if there was an exit on the right side as well).

Bravo to the cast.  I definitely will try to attend shows there in the future, and also at some of the other local playhouses.  Plenty of time to catch performances because they will be doing this show until 26 May.

MOTHERS' DAY CONCERT

You couldn't have asked for a better day, despite predictions earlier in the week that it would be otherwise. The temperature was in the mid 70s with bright skies, and the music at Findlay Park was headline by Terrance Young and his friends. Playing mostly jazz renditions of eighties and nineties tunes, the band got the people onto their feet and singing along. A guest saxaphonist who played with Prince accompanied. Three good acts preceded, but I was especially impressed with a four-man (all 14 year olds) who really showed some great potential. Couldn't have asked for a better afternoon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

MILESTONE

Today my small company (the one I work for) was honored for having reached a milestone in a new endeavor, of which I play but a tiny part, but it is nice to be recognized and produce something that is beneficial to scholarly pursuit (not to mention profitable as well). Publishing is a dying business, some say, but we retain a toehold on the old ways while striding into the new. My company still produces a limited number of volumes that made us strong originally and put the owners' names on the map, but we are lucky to have taken over other literary series that have kept us rolling along. Although I miss the old days at times, I am happy to be where I am, too.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

INDIA IN COLUMBIA

Attended this afternoon a delightful gathering of Indians from the Midlands at Richland County Public Library for A Glimpse of India.  Presented by an Information Services librarian of Indian heritage, Mona Verma, the program included presentations, art, food and dance. About 100-150 people were dressed in differing expressions of Indian clothing, from traditional to modern. I chatted a little while with a nice lady who did some art and also offered to tattoo me with henna. Since I had just had lunch at Jasons Deli, I didn't sample the samosas and other delectables, but I did try one coconuttty treat that was nice. I also ate one of the really traditional Indian delicacies. . .macadamia cookie.  :)  The best part of the day was the dancing, which included Bharatnatyam, Bhangra, Telegu, and Kathak dances. The little girl who danced in the last style was especially good, I thought. Some of the kids who did the Bollywood type dancing were cute. I had a nice time and enjoyed the color and pagentry.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

CHIMO SINGS



Could not hear him well,
but he sang his dang head off,
up on the school stage.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

CHICKEN WITH PLUMS

Unrequited love is painful and can turn a heart to stone, though life goes on. It can also have inspirational, as well as tragic, aspects. Such is the case in the French-Iranian film collaboration Chicken with Plums (2011), directed by Marjane Satrapi (of Persepolis fame) and Vincent Paronnaud. The movie features an international cast, headed by Mathieu Amalric, who plays Nasser-Ali Khan, a broken-hearted Iranian violin player who parlayed a failed relationship into world-renowned ability on a special instrument given to him by his mentor, but who is also a lousy husband and father. The object of his affection is the stunningly beautiful IrĂ¢n, played by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani (who is every bit as lovely as French actress Virginie Ledoyen, one of my faves). Khan's long-suffering, and somewhat shrewish wife is played by Portuguese actress Maria de Medeiros (who at 48 is still beautiful). Long-time Italian beauty Isabella Rossellini has a small role. Edouard Baer is wonderful and creepy as the dark angel Azrael. All of the actors, from the youngest on up, were wonderful and represented a United Nations of acting, including Armenia, Spain, Chile, Germany, and others. The movie is darkly humorous, following the last days of Khan's life as he gives up, but recalls the path that brings him to his demise. There are some really funny parts, one of my favorite of which is when a sinister shopowner trying to sell a violin to Khan offers a dab of the poppy to settle his overactive child (hinted at), and the next day when Khan delivers the son to his grandmother, the tyke looks up and asks her, "Do you have any opium?" The filmmakers combined effectively some animation and puppetry into the live action, and there is lovely photography and scenes. The movie won praise at last year's Tribeca and is definitely worth checking out. Although the movie is in French, it seems to me it would have been a tad better had it been done in Farsi.