25 August 2012

Sweet Thursday

Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday takes us back to Cannery Row after the war. He carries on with the same characters, but they, and the town, have been changed by the war. They're not quite the folks we've met before. But because of the way Steinbeck has written the two novels, and perhaps didn't initially intend for Cannery Row to have a sequel, Sweet Thursday  can still easily stand on it's own as a completely independent novel. 

Following the theme of Cannery Row,  the boys are trying to help Doc, this time, by marrying him off! It's easy to slip back into Steinbeck's world and really feel for his characters. He writes in such a real way; he's almost poetic and philosophical in his simplicity. It's amazing. I really liked Sweet Thursday, as I like everything I've read of Steinbeck so far. If you haven't delved into Steinbeck yet, it's about time you pick something up! Read on! 

Fun Fact: The novel was adapted into the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical Pipe Dream, which was nominated for nine Tony Awards. The movie version of the book's predecessor, Cannery Row, incorporates several of the story lines in Sweet Thursday

10 August 2012

Flashback Friday: Middle School

Cass and I have been trying to de-junk the whole summer, so the other day I was going through my old files and getting ride of stuff I don't need. A lot of it was old school stuff that I have been hording. For real. Old notes from classes my freshman year at SUU. Don't worry, I got rid of a lot of it!! But I found myself missing school. I'm a little sad I don't get to buy new pencils and notebooks. I don't get to take exciting classes on interesting topics and have engaging discussions on them. [I'm over-glorifying school. Just a little

Instead, I get to go to middle school again.
Unfortunately, it's as a grown up. Too bad I can't go back to my middle school days. 
[which I'm also over-glorifying. who really wants to go back?]
Despite the acne and the drama, middle school was good. 
I may have looked like a dork, but I'll focus on the happy memories. :)

Alias Grace

I absolutely, 100% loooved this book!

Alias Grace is based on the true story of Grace Marks with a fictional narrative. In 1842, Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery were murdered. Grace Marks and James McDermott, servants of Kinnear, were convicted of the murder. Despite all this, Grace believes herself to be innocent. She doesn't remember the murder. And this novel reveals how, exactly, this came to be and how the murders were committed, as Grace tells her story, her memories, to psychiatrist Dr Jordan. [Not for reals, though, ya'll. This is a work of FICTION] Like Grace's quilt, her story has a pattern which slowly reveals itself to the reader.  It's a great book. Go check it out from your library. You'll love it. 

09 August 2012

The Blind Assassin

"A fist is worth more than the sum of its fingers"

Set in present day Canada, we read the story of sisters Iris and Laura in flashbacks working their way to the present. It definitely resounds as a Margaret Atwood novel, but it mostly reminded my of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.  It's a story within a story, not only of the present and finding the secrets of the past, but another story, of science fiction that resembles reality. There is, as always, a gradual revelation to the truth. 

I found The Blind Assassin to be rather captivating, and while I could put it down, it took some persuasion. It's a puzzle of a novel, and I highly recommend it!

Cannery Row

Alrighty, folks, we are back to Steinbeck. This time he takes us to Monterey, California during the Great Depression. We meet the scientist, Doc, the owner of The Bear Flag Restaurant [the local whorehouse], Dora, and the grocer, Lee Chong, as well as their crazy friends. Doc, Dora, and Lee Chong aren't so much the main characters so much as the important people in town as the people in charge. They're the dominant characters even  though they don't get much screen time. [Page Time?] The gang of crazy friends is what makes the book worth reading. The gang keeps trying, and failing, to do something nice  for Doc, who has never been anything but nice and helpful to them. All the characters in this novel work together and show the friendship of folks living in a small town. The whole of Cannery Row comes to life. The novel just feels so natural, not forced or fake at all. The people are real and I want to meet them!

The thing I like most about Steinbeck and his work is that his characters are so real and relateable to me as a reader. Cannery Row is no exception, and one of his better works in my opinion. I really liked it. And, apparently, he revisits these characters in Sweet Thursday, which I look forward to reading. Steinbeck writes about regular people, which brings a whole new dimension of enjoyability to his novels. I highly recommend reading his works, especially this one. It's worth the read!  


I had never heard of Scapin before going to the show, but it turns out that the play-writes, Bill Irwin and Mark O'Donnell, adapted this from Moliere! And all they really did was modernize it; the concept, the story line, the characters, all that, is still basically the same. Also, I think there's room for improv/customization within the script, because some jokes were very topical and some were very local. It made it that much more fun!

Moliere's original title is Les Fourberies de Scapin, which literally translates to Scapin's Deceits, which gives you a pretty good idea of the basic structure, and hilarity, of the play.  Scapin also fits in well with Shakespearean comedies -- it had a content warning for double entendres and innuendos as well. It was really well done, with lots of audience involvement and character's speaking directly to us. The two best were, of course, David Ivers as Scapin and Matt Zambrano as Syvestre, the faithful sidekick. They worked very well together and made the show very enjoyable. If you want to "pee your pantaloons" laughing- you better get some tickets for Scapin!! 

08 August 2012

my new toy!

I have always wanted one of these balls and am so excited that I finally got one! I like doing crunches on it a lot better than flat on the floor. It even came with a booklet of exercises which has been helpful! I've used it a few times already, hopefully I can keep it up! 

07 August 2012

Les Misérables

Can I just say that Les Misérables is a fantastic show? And the Utah Shakespeare Festival definitely did it justice! The story and the music itself-- Fantastic! Especially "One Day More" at the end of Act 1. WOW! And, of course, the ending. Beauty. Tears. 

Now for my characters review:

I feel like Cosette and Marius were written a little flat, definitely stereotypes; but Jean Valjean, Fantine,  Eponine, and the Thenardiers (so, basically the rest of the cast) are great characters. I feel like even though Eponine and Fantine are kind of flat characters, they have some great songs that make up for that. 

Fantine, played by Melinda Pfundstein, was amazing. Her death scene was very powerful. I teared up a little. I have to admit, I would have found the singing to be a little better if I hadn't seen Idina Menzel and Lea Michele do a version of "I dreamed a dream" on Glee. They're powerhouses. Not to minimize Miss Pfundstein, but she came off as more a belter and some of the high notes were a little sketchy. Overall, though, I thought she was a great Fantine. 

Barbara Jo Bednarczuk was an amazing Eponine. I wasn't familiar with the the story before I saw the play, so I didn't know what to expect. I actually figured I wouldn't like her after reading the summary in the program, but I liked the character, the songs, and they way Miss Bednarczuk portrayed her. 

J. Michael Bailey did Jean Valjean justice. He was a powerhouse. He was tender. He made me tear up at all the right times.  That's some good casting right there. 

The Thenardiers, played by Max Robinson and Kymberly Mellon, were hilarious! I imagine they had a great time becoming those characters. I mean, I didn't like them, because they're "bad guys" but they were so funny!

And who can forget our revolutionary leader, Enjolaras, played by Joey DeBenedetto? I liked him better than Marius, and his songs just made me want to stand up and join the revolution!! Down with the culottes!! 

If you're still reading my fawning over Les Misérables,  you can see how amazing of an experience I had in the theatre! It's definitely worth the time and money! Go see it now!!

05 August 2012

Swallow Family Reunion

Yes, my dear sweet readers, that picture was taken yesterday.
Although, to be fair, I shouldn't delude you into thinking it's snow. 
It's just hail!

Yesterday, Cass and I headed up Cedar Canyon for the Swallow family reunion. It's Swallows from Cass's great-grandparents down, so there were some folks I hadn't met before. Everyone was really nice and it was great to meet and spend time with everyone. The Fillmore cousins came down, too, so it was great to see their familiar faces!  
Cass left my camera in the car, though, and then it was raining, so I didn't get any pictures.  But despite the rain, thunder, lightning, hail, and short power outages, 
 it was a nice afternoon. In fact, the lightning was pretty cool to see! 

Sheri, one of Morrell's cousins, is the family historian. She put together some packets with stories and information about some of the ancestors. She told us a few of the stories and her mom, LaDawn, passed around an old silver teacup. It was really neat to hear some of the Swallow family history and it's a great asset to have those packets in our home. It inspired me to do a little more research into my side of the family, but that might be short-lived . . . 

Merry Wives of Windsor

Last Wednesday night, I was saw Merry Wives of Windsor. It's performed in the outside Shakespeare theatre. Every night before the show there's a Green Show [free!] outside of the theatre, so Cass and I went over early to see the Green Show, too. 

The stage for the Green Show. The theatre is behind it. 
The Green Show was great. The characters are gypsies, and they sing, dance, and tell/act out some stories. It was really great. Cass knew one of the actors, so it was fun to see him. I really liked the gypsy girls dancing with their skirts. I love dancing in big swishy skirts!  After the Green Show, Cass's first mission president and his wife came up to say hi; they brought their grandson down to see the show. It was great to see them and catch up. 

My seat was great, about six or seven rows back. I had a great view for a great show. If you're not familiar with Merry Wives, it's about this trickster, Sir John Falstaff, who decides to get himself some money by turning two women into his lovers. Falstaff, thinking Mistress Page and Mistress Ford like him, sends them identical love letters, hoping to make cuckolds of their husbands and steal their wealth. Unfortunately for him, the women show each other the letters and make their own plans. Meanwhile, it's time for Anne Page, Mistress Page's daughter, to be wed, and three men would like to be considered: Slender, Dr Caius, and Fenton. 

As with any Shakespeare play, this was given a "content advisory" since Merry Wives contains "a small amount of the Bard's usual innuendo and double entendres." So, of course, I found it hilarious! All the actors and actresses were great. Anne Page and Fenton were a little dry, but they also had the least amount of stage time, so that makes it difficult. It may, in fact, be the way  that Fenton and Anne were written and not  the actors. I really enjoyed Mistress Quickly (Kymberly Mellen), Falstaff (Roderick Peeples), the Pages (Andy Nagraj and Melinda Pfundstein), and the Fords (Jacqueline Antaramian and John G Preston). They were all amazing!

If you have the chance to come down to Cedar to the Shakespeare Festival, I highly recommend this show! Just bring a blanket or a coat so you don't get cold, and then catch a cold, like I did! 

03 August 2012


Welcome to my Friday night! 
I guess I should be doing something fun and exciting, but eh.
Thus is married life. 
Plus Cass is in bed asleep ;) 
So I'll catch up on some blogging!

Before I get to my thought on the plays I saw, I want to show you the neat door decs Cass made for his staff. Their acronym this year is PTCH, or Patch, so he and I were brainstorming and thought of pirates and eye patches. We went to the craft store and Cass couldn't find anything resembling an eye patch, so he figured he'd make some himself. 

The next day we were going to get crafty and 
Cass thought: "iPatch! like a brand!"

And I was all, "You should do the iPod guy, you know the one with the headphones? And give him an eye patch! Could you do that?"

And he did. 

01 August 2012

The Pearl

"It is not good to want a thing too much. It sometimes drives the luck away.
You must want it just enough, and be very tactful with God, or the gods."

John Steinbeck's The Pearl is based on an Indian Folk tale and explores the nature of man as well as delving into the topic of race. He shows us the importance of community and even songs. And he shows us how something made for good can lead to your destruction, how good intentions can turn to greed. It's really a beautiful story [as well as a quick read at under 100 pages!] and I highly recommend it! 

Travels with Charley: In Search of America

"A journey is a person itself; no two are alike"

I promised you Steinbeck, so here we go! 

Right off the bat, I knew I would like the tale of Steinbeck's journey across America.
The old owner wrote: "We see things as we are, not as they are."
Truth. Beauty. Steinbeck. 

Steinbeck drove across the country [starting in the north-east] because he "needed to discover all of America." He got himself a travel truck and named it Rocinante after Don Quixote's horse, which implies Steinbeck likens himself to Quixote. He is to travel alone with only the company of his poodle, Charley. He even left his wife at home, with only a mild break, from both his travels and his loneliness, in Chicago when the wife flew out.

Steinbeck had some really interesting insights in America. He writes: "Yellow Stone National Park is no more representative of America than is Disneyland." I can't say that I agree with Steinbeck's assessment that they are not representative of America, because I think that they both are representative of America and it's people, especially of tourism and travel, but also the things we as Americans like. 

Steinbeck also feels that American's have no roots. This is because we are descended from people without roots. The very people who founded America left because they didn't have roots, and so we are a rootless people. Those with roots stayed where they were. I'm not sure how I feel about this assessment, though he makes a good argument for his position. 

On his way back home, Steinbeck first travels through the South. Now, remember, this was 1960, so he encountered some unique perspectives on race, from both directions. In order to see these perspectives, he never revealed what exactly he thought. 

The end of his journey kind of fizzled out, and the book definitely reflected this of Steinbeck. It was just like he ran out of gas. He was tired. He was ready to go home. There was no real conclusion. It was just a journal of his experiences and loose interviews as he journeyed across this "New America" which did not live up to his expectations. This may be, at least in part, because of Steinbeck's age and heart condition. Thom Steinbeck, John's son, gives that as the reason for the trip in the first place. John wanted to see his country one last time, and Thom was a little surprised that the wife let John go on the trip alone because of his condition. Thom says he could have died at any time. This heart condition would have definitely come into play in Steinbeck's growing tired and wanting to come home.

Now, many folks find Travels with Charley to be a work of fiction, and maybe it is. Or maybe, in my opinion, Steinbeck is recounting his experiences, his truth. Maybe it didn't happen exactly as he said it did. Maybe he was an old man waxing sentimental about the country he loves. But we must take all memoirs or personal tales with a grain of salt! And this was a fairly enjoyable one, with just a titch of dry parts. So, you know, a regular memoir. I jest. But I do recommend this book if you love memoirs, Steinbeck, or America. 
Read on, my friends. 

Best Tip Ever!

So this week and last week, I've had a part-time gig of driving around the patrons of the Shakespeare camps for the Shakespeare Festival. 

And this morning, I got the best tip ever!!

Yup. That's right. I get to see Merry Wives of Windsor, Scapin, and Les Miserables.
For free!!