Yesterday was both ridiculous and sublime. The morning and early afternoon were filled with the usual housecleaning and crockpot craziness. I also made a brisket for Sulialto, to go along with a noodle kugel I made and froze. Yes, yes, I’ll post those recipes on The Need to Feed.
The ridiculous? The circus! WineGuy and I bought the boys tickets to Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus for Chanukah. I picked up the boys early from school and fought early rush-hour traffic up to the arena and into the parking lot. (My friend, Calvin, warned me to park close to the exit road so I could get out quickly. Wizard moved a few orange cones so I could get a better parking spot.) We rushed into the arena and bought our souvenirs first. I know it makes little sense to you, but I didn’t want to fight the crowds during intermission or after the show. We found our seats – right in front of the center ring – and sat down in time for the national anthem. In no time, Moose announced he was hungry, so I went out and bought a few snacks. $10.00 cotton candy anyone? No thanks!
The circus was magical. The boys were captivated. There were prancing horses, dogs who caught frisbees, and tumblers of all sorts. Wild Thing liked the trapeze the best: he was amazed that people could swing so high in the air and jump from one bar to the next. Wizard liked the lady who twirled up high on the length of silk; this was very much like Cirque du Soleil, where a woman climbs 25 yards of red silk, twists herself around and hangs suspended in mid-air. Moose liked the elephant the best; he wanted to ride on the great beast’s back just like “the pretty lady in white”. I was most impressed with “The Upside Down World”: a man and a woman walked, upside-down, on a platform 50 feet in the air. They juggled and danced as if they were on the ground. Wizard speculated the platform was a giant magnet and their boots were made of steel. I suspect he’s right. I was surprised to see that Wild Thing and Wizard enjoyed the circus the most; Wizard said some of his classmates teased him about going. Moose was a bit overwhelmed, but at least he wasn’t scared.
We bolted out the door in the closing minutes of the show. A quick pit-stop – boys are fast! – and we were racing to the car. Calvin warned me to get out quickly otherwise I’d get stuck in traffic. I made it out of the arena and on to the highway just fine. We slogged along in rush-hour traffic until I could exit and take secondary roads home. WineGuy arrived before us, so he prepared part of dinner; the rest came from the crock-pot. The boys and I ate quickly so they could get to their homework and I could change clothes for . . .
The sublime: a concert by Dick Hyman and friends at the performing arts center. It was billed as an evening with “Jelly Roll, Fats and The Duke”. It was all that and more. Dick Hyman, a famous jazz pianist, brought with him a clarinetist, a trumpeter, a trombonist, a bassist, and a drummer. They played selections by Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton, including a rollicking, stomping “Wolverine Blues,” which should have been dedicated to the University of Michigan football team. My favorite Fats Waller song, though I loved them all, was Dick Hyman’s brilliant piano interpretation of “Honeysuckle Rose”. Hyman improvised a piece from ragtime stomp to the most sophisticated modern jazz chord progressions and rhythms. The group played several Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington classics like “Cotton Tail” and “In My Solitude”. The best Ellington piece was “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” performed as a duet by Wycliffe Gordon on trombone and Jay Leonhart on bass. Gordon played masterfully, using the full instrument and the mute. They both sang, “scatted,” like great jazz singers. The most impressive part of that song was when each man scatted the other’s part/instrument. The evening ended with the group’s rendition of Ellington’s “Caravan,” which should have been a chaotic, frenetic dash through the desert, but instead was a lazy stroll on the beach.
From the ridiculous to the sublime and back to the circus we call home.