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Partial List of Moments in Adulthood When I Felt Child-like Awe

I'm sure I'm going to forget some good ones here on my first attempt, but I'll keep updating as they occur to me.  Let me know what moments in your life qualify here.  I'm thinking of occasions when you see something or experience something so unreal and so unexpected that all of your adultness goes away, the mind goes blank, you forget about rent, taxes, and prostate exams, and all you can do is gape and bug your eyes out.  All my experiences are positive ones, but I'd be interested to hear if there is a negative counterpart to this experience.

 

  • Blue Man Group, Boston, 2005


There's always a lot of color and sound and goings-on at these shows, all over the stage, a million things to look at.  One of these things is a large projection screen, maybe 10 x 10 on the lower right level of the stage.  On this screen is an animation, blue on a black background, of a cartoon outline of a person, the logo of the Blue Man, playing with a long, thin flexible rod or wire.  Every time he whips or bows this thing it makes this synthesized whipping, whirring sound that fits perfectly with the pounding rhythms; he's playing another weird instrument as the beat move forward with urgency.  Then the Man steps out of the screen onto the stage and continues dancing.  The two-dimensional animation is now standing on the stage, playing this wire and dancing....


  • Kung Fu Hustle, Boston , 2005


No particular moment or scene, I suppose.  This movie moves and presents in a way that is utterly unpredictable.  The fights, the humor, the bizarre special powers of the characters, they are all so unique and unexpected and wonderful, I find myself having no guesses as to what's going to happen next, and not caring.  I giggle and applaud.


  • Metropolitan Opera, New York City, every fucking time I go


Going to see Madame Butterfly  last night is actually was spawned this whole post in the first place.  The curtain rises in total silence, no overture, and we see that the stage is curved steeply uphill towards upstage.  The entire back wall of the stage is a hard-yet-soft red, not a loving red like a rose, not a proud red like Japan's flag, not an innocent red like a carnation, but something new, a new dimension in Red, strong and burning.  And in middle of all this red, at the top of the stage's curve, is the sharp black silhouette of a geisha, right hand outstretched, fan open.  Total silence.  I think she's a cutout or part of a backdrop until she walks down stage, very slowly, and as she does, her arms and fan begin a slow traditional fan dance.  She dances slowly forward, each step bring a few more details of her appearance into view; she's dancing herself from image to person, coming towards us with a hard stare and very deliberate movements.  Then she stops.  Then the overture starts, and some other things happen, and we all remember where we are and what's supposed to happen.  But  until the orchestra starts playing, we have a good sixty seconds of complete silence gaping at this Image, a walking archetype, a Dream, an Idea that has been put into flesh and fabric. 


  • IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, Walt Disney World, Epcot Center, 2000


Very few actual details remain in my mind about this, but I clearly remember feeling young and happy and fresh in a way that graduating high school seniors never feel.  The show premiered as part of Disney's Millennium celebration and was oriented around the World Showcase Lagoon.  Huge speakers everywhere played amazing music (from the composer of Prince of Egypt) and fireworks like I had never seen flew everywhere, configurations that I never had occasion to imagine, at times becoming characters in themselves, telling primal stories about Chaos, Order, and Meaning.  The enormous metal globe in the center of the lagoon suddenly began to project images on a curved LCD screen that must have been visible for miles, showing scenes of happy faces from hundreds of cultures.  Then as the music swelled to a finale, the globe suddenly began splitting apart, opening from the top like a flower, and a huge fireball roared out accompanied by dozens of others from the surface of the lake.  In this context the fire did not represent a destructive force, but was a visual primal roar of jubilation, an echo of the jubilation in our race memory when that first great technology was ours to control, and our destiny became just a little less random.  I read now that the whole show is only thirteen minutes, but I swear I stood there for hours letting those lights play across my usually depressed but now smiling face.

A Bad Week: a study in journalling

Some movies actually ARE written to corrupt the Youth - a criticalmiddle finger to "The Bad and the Beautiful"