I went to a movie tonight. I think it’s been nearly 18 months since I last set foot in a movie theater (and I can’t even remember what film I last saw on the big screen). It was a friend’s birthday and his family rented out one of the theaters at The Summit multiplex for a group of vaccinated friends to enjoy. The movie was Disney’s new Cruella, an origin story for the villainess of 101 Dalmatians. How was it? Better than it had any right to be with a fabulous costume/production design, a killer soundtrack and a couple of great performances from the two Emmas, Stone and Thompson as dueling malevolent fashion divas. It’s also 20 minutes too long, drags badly in the middle, and is way too sophisticated for most children, unless your 8 year old son is asking for Auntie Mame Barbie for Christmas. MNM will write up her review later.
This is my second birthday party of the week. For the weekend, I made a mad dash to Columbia, South Carolina to attend the one year delayed 50th (now 51st) birthday of my dear friend Frank, attended by various Columbia theater luminaries, many of whom I have gotten to know through my forays into on line performance over this last year. It was nice to finally meet some cast members in person. Frank is an Anglophile (and is putting together a group trip to London for New Year’s if anyone is interested – PM me for details). So cucumber sandwiches were consumed (they were available at the market for ready money), libations were imbibed and it all ended up with a rather hilarious croquet match on the highly uneven and root snagged back lawn played through the dusk and into the dark necessitating portable lanterns to see whose ball was whose. I would not have been surprised to have seen a stray hedgehog or flamingo.
It’s safe to say that vaccinated social life is starting to return to normal. In reading over the statistics, transmission rates in the states where vaccines have been readily accepted are way down along with a significant decline in hospitalization and death rates. In states like mine, which has stalled out at about a 40% vaccination rate, numbers aren’t necessarily going up but they aren’t flatlining either as the virus continues to march through the willfully unvaccinated population. So, while I think we are approaching the end of the acute phase of the pandemic, I don’t think we’re at the end of Covid by a long shot. It will continue to fester in susceptible populations and some of those individuals, healthy teens through middle aged adults, are going to become deathly ill and some will die and there’s no need for it. It’s a sad situation but I just don’t know what I, or any one of us as individuals can do at this point. I’m just waiting for the Delta variant from India to firmly establish itself in the US (it’s going to get here) with its much higher levels of transmission. The vaccines seem to protect against it fine but it could start burning through the unvaccinated population at very rapid rates leading to a new surge just as we think we’ve got a handle on things. And it’s going to happen in the states least equipped to handle another surge due to the weaknesses in health structure wrought by decades of right wing austerity politics.
I’m feeling worn out by the events of the last year and a half. I don’t know if I’m crashing from a prolonged adrenaline high, I’m feeling deflated by actually finishing the book project, or I am disillusioned by the realities of modern politics and health care policy. My mind keeps wandering to retirement and doing something else. The pandemic has exposed the fault lines not just in how the medical system works, but also in my life and I haven’t figured out yet whether it will be better to paper over the cracks or to wedge them open and break things apart so I can construct things in a new way. My next big project, which I’ve been putting off for a year, is to go through all of my boxes of ephemera and family papers and genealogical research that have accumulated over the years. I’m the family archivist so it’s all come to rest with me and I want to put it all in order and digitize what needs to be saved so that it can be passed down in some semblance of a filing system to the next generation – assuming one of my nieces is going to be interested.
There’s nothing on the theatrical calendar for the rest of the year yet. Something will turn up. It usually does. There are rumblings of a new edition of Politically Incorrect Cabaret. There are a couple of things in the wind for which I might audition (but I’m going to have to go back to voice lessons before doing another musical – not singing much for a year and a half hasn’t helped my instrument in the least). There are a number of board and planning meetings coming up with various groups that I am involved with to try and shore up finances before venturing into production again. Will getting a juicy role to work on help my inner ennui? Maybe a weekend at the beach? I’ll solve it eventually. I always do.