PictureThe Brides
I spent a Sunday afternoon recently at the California Ballet's performance of Dracula. I attend the ballet because my Significant Other's lovely and talented daughter is a member of the troop. I admit otherwise I would not go to the ballet, but most of the time I really don't mind it. The female members of the show often wear little more than body stockings or other dancewear that shows off their toned physiques, and in this enlightened age, it is not necessary to have one's masculinity threatened by being in the same room with bisexual guys jumping around in tights and codpieces. And if the ballet lags, I can always admire the crowd, which is usually peppered with ballet-capable looking young women in short skirts and dresses. The eye-candy banquet is almost as good as the one at a ballgame on a hot summer night. I am with my Significant Other, of course, not with another middle-aged guy, so I am denied the pleasure of pointing out the most spectacular or lightly dressed examples of young leggy girl beauty with a nudge to a fellow enthusiast, which I then usually follow with a complaint that the girls didn't look this good when we were their age.

Of course, I usually go to ballgames with my S.O., too, so I am getting used to this deprivation.

Despite all of these balletic distractions, I nonetheless turned to my date during the second intermission and said "Imagine the life of a vampire, wandering through the endless night, alone and immortal, your only pleasure being your only curse, an unslakeable craving for mortal blood."

"What about it?" she said.

"I don't think it would seem half as interminable as this," I replied.

You see, the creators of ballet Dracula, who were only inspired to cast the old bloodsucker in a dance drama in 1987, after the book had been around for almost a century, failed to realize that there is no dancing in the original storyline, which is pantomimed faithfully and almost in its entirety by the cast. The story, a typical colonialist fantasy, is that Dracula, who has fed merrily on a bunch of ignorant Eastern European peasants for centuries, decides to emigrate to England, where he is promptly staked through the heart by superior, science-minded Englishmen with a minimum of casualties.

It's almost as convincing as Tarzan, which asserts that if you drop the unprotected baby son of a white English noble into the African jungle, he will naturally rise to become king of it instead of turning into snack food.

Dracula is a long enough story, but because we are at the ballet, numerous dance numbers have to be inserted into it. Gypsy women swirl at the beginning, stealing the watches of and confusing our English lads briefly. The Brides of Dracula, of which my S.O.'s daughter was one, made two appearances, although they weren't in the book at all. And whenever Dracula claims a female victim, they do the neck-bite boogaloo.

Other than that, the cast just walks around in uninteresting Victorian costumes, overacting strenuously. There is one guy who plays a madman in a transparent cell, who writhes in solitary insanity whenever the plot heats up. Near the end, he hangs himself.

"Can't blame him for that," is what the audience is thinking..

When the third act begins, Dracula does a solo number, just him and his cape, leaping from one side of the stage to the other. It's his way of letting the audience know that the approaching climax of the show is going to be just as somnambulistic as the rest of it, was my analysis.

"What's he doing now?" my date whispered.

"Just Drackin' off," I told her.


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I was personally Occupied last night after returning to the US from yet another effort to eat all the food and catch all the fish in Mexico. Due to a scheduling error by the California Ballet, in which both of my Significant Other's talented daughters perform, I needed to attend a Christmas performance of "The Nutcracker" on the same evening I flew up from La Paz and had to spend two hours re-entering the country due to the Christmas crush at the border.

I was not averse to watching the ballet, which I had never before seen in its entirety, despite several  efforts by my mother during my childhood to expose myself and my siblings to the work. What would happen was that all we kids would all gather around the only TV in the house, filled with apprehension about having to watch two hours of women in tiny skirts and men in tights cavorting to music we had already heard many times from my mother's previous efforts to introduce us to high culture. As the program began my father, who was never fully on board with my mother's efforts to develop a curriculum in the classics for all of us, would begin to make snickering remarks about the characters in the ballet. He was particularly contemptuous of the Sugar Plum Fairy, making constant sardonic comments that expressed his anxiety for her to appear and sarcastically averring his personal admiration for her.

When the ballet rolled around to its midpoint and the SPF did grace the stage, he would fall off of his seat with simulated appreciation. A careful observer would note that he never spilled his beer during this process. "The Sugar Plum Fairy!" he would cry, in mock ecstasy. This was enough to make my mother storm out of the room in a rage, after which we kids were free to sneak off to our rooms. In that primitive era, we didn't have computers to play on, so we had to content ourselves with performing destructive experiments on our old toys, in anticipation of getting new ones for Christmas, or simply fighting with each other. Either one was better than the "Nutcracker."

So I was merely a tad fatigued, not ballet-phobic, when I approached the San Diego Civic Center holding my Significant Other's hand with one of mine and clutching a pair of bouquets for her daughters with the other. Occupy San Diego had chosen that spot to occupy and a band of protesters, some carrying signs, some chanting, some drumming, some shouting and some simply exploring the outliers of motliness stood between us and the doors.

I had nothing against the Occupy movement until then. Unlike some of my friends, who growl that the Occupiers should just "get jobs," despite there not being any jobs to be gotten, I can see the point of being surly about bailing out big corporations so they can turn around and  propose slapping us with charges for using their debit cards. I just don't see any use to it. If someone is sitting in his office on Wall Street, about to close a deal that will bankrupt nations and poison the Earth but personally net him enough billions to buy his own island, and he glances out his office window and sees someone with dreadlocks shaking a sign, is he going to think Oh, no, I'd better not do this?

Nope.

If the Occupiers want to influence history, they need to become the Tea Party of the left and find themselves candidates for office that are willing to cheerfully destroy the national economy for a set of irrational beliefs and conflicted principles. Otherwise they're just getting Maced for no reason.

As we approached the door, however, an androgynous protester ran up to us and slapped me right on the plastic wrap of the bouquets. Apparently, by carrying flowers to the ballet, I had become part of the 1%.

Please send me a check.

I reacted as any rational, tired human being who does not like taking feces from anyone would. I invited my assailant to enjoy intercourse with him or herself. He/she responded with the same invitation directed at me.

The incident ended non-violently, mostly because there were two San Diego police officers standing in front of me and I did not want to be taken in for political brawling when I was supposed to be at the ballet, which would have gotten me into major trouble with my S.O. Also, since Occupy gets lots of media coverage, I could have achieved national renown for doing something stupid, something which is probably inevitable one day but that I have avoided so far. I was grateful for my self-restraint when the above-mentioned  individual ignored me and started kicking down police barriers and screaming at them when they fell, which made it obvious he/she wasn't a real Occupier but a downtown schizophrenic just attracted to the fun.

When the theater emptied out, the Occupiers were still hanging. It, after all, is the only job they have. One of them started yelling that the mayor of San Diego was owned by the Mexican drug cartels.

"You can Google it!" was her argument.

I wasn't entirely convinced. Just because you can Google it doesn't make it true. There's a motto for our times.