Sunday, December 16, 2007


Dear frozen friends,

The fire is starting to catch and crackle, the California Cabernet is open and breathing, Neil Young's plaintive falsetto is shimmering, and my synapses are simmering. The fourth and final Nutcracker is behind me and I survived. Chops intact. That wasn't a foregone conclusion. I've never done the ballet, and this was a reduced winds version which has some history of injuring players. Because of this I played it as safe as possible, 8-va-basso-ing and dropping out entirely here and there. It also certainly helped that this was a ballet school production. Not exactly the same pressure as the touring Joffrey version but ya still gotta play the notes.

In between the pages of face smashing syncopation one thing struck me. Ballet dancers have amazing bodies. (I'm talkin' about the ladies now. The guys are all identical. Even their junk. It must be a union thing: “And if the dancer is male he is allowed not more than two socks stuffage...” so on and so forth.) Most women dancers are lithe and willowy but a few are just ripped. Each individual back muscle popping and quads and calves of steel. On one dancer I could see that main artery on the inside of her upper arm between the biceps and the triceps. I think the last time I saw that bit of circulatory anatomy was on Stallone in Rambo II. But she could do a brisé. My goodness gracious!

Most precious Nutcracker moment: During the second show on Saturday immediately after the nutcracker is dropped and broken the stunned silence in the hall is punctured by a little girl's voice in the audience uttering worriedly, “Uh-oh.”

Winter has finally come to Iowa and it looks like it's here to stay. I know this because I tried to remove a solid inch of it from my front walk earlier this week with minor success and major carpal tunnel trauma. The whole task became a sort of zen thing. The focus was not on the ice but on my chipping technique. The preparation ceremony involved in raising, aiming and orienting the implement for a precise downward blow. Then the release and thrust. Allowing yourself to work with gravity for maximum effect. Many small, attainable goals over time leading to success and, ultimately, rapture. If not rapture then at least a front walk clear of litigation inducing ice.

Now let me be. I have five holiday shows in three days starting this afternoon. Fair thee well.


P.S. This is all. There is no more.

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