Thursday, July 26, 2007


The other day I heard what the City decided to call the new Trax stop coming in around the corner from my building.

Welcome to “Old Greek Town” everyone! Located in the heart of Little Italy, Old Greek Town is home to unique Italian restaurants and markets such as Tony Caputo’s, Carlucci’s and Cucina Toscana. Every August you can come down to Old Greek Town and celebrate Ferragosto with the Italians. Come dance to Italian music, play bocce ball and ride a vespa.

Ok, ok. I guess you might be able to spot a Greek on Sunday at the Greek Orthodox Church on 300 West, but seriously, that’s the only Greek thing about this part of town. The nearest Greek restaurant is the Greek Souvlaki, but that’s eight blocks up on 400 East. Plus it’s fast food. In all fairness, they do come downtown and host the Greek Festival and that’s when they bring in all the Greek food. But it’s in an enclosed tent around the church. It’s not an open street festival like Ferragosto. Plus it's only two days in September.

Several months ago, I attended a couple meetings about the construction and we held brainstorming sessions on what to call the new station. The City has meetings where we can offer input. We came up with several good names, I thought. Here are a few:

The Depot District
Rio Grande Stop
Old Warehouse District

All these names effectively reflect the area. The warehouses are obvious. The Rio Grande Depot has a lot of history with the railroad. Many people stopped here back when the trains came through. I thought it would be fitting to honor that same legacy that we’re updating with lightrail by acknowledging the Rio Grande Train Station. Oh well. I must have missed the meeting when all the Greeks marched in.

I'm not denying the fact that Greeks populated this area back in the day (hence the "Old" in Greek Town). I’m not against having a Greek town. I love Greeks. I like their food, I think their church is pretty and they have an interesting history. I'm just saying they better start a new settlement soon and open a restaurant or two because one day a tourist is going to say to his little family, “Ooh, let’s go to Old Greek town and get some dinner.” When they get off the train and realize (after asking around) that the closest thing to Greek food is a gyro at the Crown Burger on North Temple, they're going to feel misguided.

But then a nice Italian will show them where to find some excellent lasagna and cannoli.

Monday, July 23, 2007

“Sometimes the spell may last past what you can see”

Our lesson in Relief Society yesterday was about the words we speak and how much power they can have. It reminded me of a song from the musical Into the Woods called “Children Will Listen.” I first saw that musical when I was eleven or twelve and I still love it. Steven Sondheim is great.

Anyway, the lesson topic also reminded me of something my dad told me when I was eleven that had a huge impact on the way I lived the remainder of my childhood. He probably wouldn't remember saying it and would laugh at how much thought I applied to his flippant statement.

I was working in the yard with my dad. Our house sits on a corner and every day the junior high school kids would walk past our house on their way to and from school. Dad felt like they threw a bunch of trash in our yard and he hated cleaning up after them. He casually said, “I hate teenagers.” I asked him, “Why?” I don’t remember all his reasons but I do remember him saying, “I didn’t even like myself as a teenager.”

I now realize Dad says things simply to amuse himself and many times just to be contrary, but back then I thought to myself, “Uh oh, I’m going to be a teenager someday and I don’t want Dad to hate me.”

I decided right then and there that I was not going to be a typical teenager. I wasn’t going to do anything that would make my dad think I was anything like those Junior High School kids that made him so angry.

My older brother wasn’t the best example of a typical teenager, so naturally I took my “what not to be” cues from characters on television sitcoms. I was not going to obsess about boys like Mallory Keaton. If Denise Huxtable came home on weekends after curfew I was not going to do that. If DJ Tanner skipped school to get an autograph from Stacey Q I wasn’t going to do that either. I certainly wasn’t going to dress the way she did. I wasn’t going to wear makeup, I wasn’t going to crimp my hair, and I was not going to get my ears pierced.

I was a VERY boring teenager.

I kind of feel like I missed out on a lot of the late 80’s and early 90’s. I can’t sing along to New Kids on the Block. I can’t quote lines from The Breakfast Club and I never owned a Caboodle.

This kind of explains why I didn’t start embracing pop culture and having fun with it until I was in college. And why a lot of my childhood friends thought I was weird.

I didn’t completely dismiss the culture of my childhood. I can sing along to just about every song on Madonna’s “Immaculate Collection.” I’m not ashamed to admit Girls Just Want to Have Fun is in my VHS library. However, I still don’t wear a lot of makeup and my ears remain unpierced.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Now I can speak Jack

One more post about the vacation. Spending two straight weeks with my nephew has taught me a lot. He is a very good baby. He doesn't really cry (except the last two nights, but that's a different story). But I think what I learned most about him is that he doesn't just happen upon trouble, he LOOKS for it.

You think you're safe with him in your hotel room until you turn around for two seconds and he finds a knife. Or you look the other way and he downs a bottle of hotel shampoo, or he's licking his Vapo-rub lid.

One afternoon I had him by myself in Las Vegas. I hid every ounce of lotion and anything sharp I could see. He seemed bored for awhile. I thought it was both adorable and hilarious when I turned around and saw him checking to see if his heart was still beating. Looks like he found his first aid kit. And he knows just what to do with his stethoscope.

For those of you who don't know Jack, he was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome which essentially means he was born with half a heart. Thanks to modern technology and miracle-working surgeons, you wouldn't know that unless you checked out the cool scar running down his chest.

After the first night of the trip, Jack woke up at 6:30 AM. Earlier than I would like to be awake on vacation, but when he walked up to my bed, pointed at me and said, "Wawa" I was happy to be awake along with him.

Wawa is my name by the way. Jack has other words that I learned the meaning of.

bampa = Grandpa
geh-ow? = Will you get me out of this thing you have me trapped in?
bite? = I want a bite
light = Look! a light
taco? = will you give me a cracker?
paco? = Will you sing Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree? (this is often accompanied with him opening and closing his fists)
sow? = Will you sing Itsy Bitsy Spider? (accompanied with him moving his fingers like he's knitting)
pecky? = at first we thought he was saying "Becky" which is Mom's name. But it turns out he wants you to sing Patty Cake, Patty Cake Bakers Man.
ou-sigh? = Will you let me go outside?

That last one I seemed to hear constantly. He always wanted to go outside. And when he did he headed straight for the cars. I don't know what he was hoping would happen out there.

Sweet baby boy.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Candida and Ka

I recently returned from a nice family vacation. We hit the Shakespearean Festival again. It's funny because I remember after writing about it last year, Rhett left a comment, asking me which plays I wanted to see. Ironically, I ended up seeing the one I didn't list. And it was disappointing. But my choices were limited by our limited time there and the limited number of plays showing on the night I could go. So I saw Candida.

The theatre was maybe half full. I've never seen a theatre that empty there. That should have been my first clue.

I didn't think it was a bad play, but I wasn't the only one who thought it was a bad production. My parents and I sat there during intermission trying to pinpoint the problem. We narrowed it down to a few things. My dad felt like they cast all the plays for the year and then at the last minute had to cast this one with the actors who were available. And then he thought the lead was overdirected. I'm a fairly forgiving audience member, but I think it was Candida, the lead, that didn't do it for me. The character is a strong, beautiful woman. She's supposed to be 33 with an eighteen year-old admirer. And other characters mentioned how all the men are in love with Candida. If that's so, shouldn't the audience be taken with her as well? If you look at her picture you can see she's quite beautiful, but she can't pull off mid thirties. She LOOKED at least 50, maybe 55. And she was CREEPY. Well, she played it creepy. The way she glared at other characters when she spoke to them and moved around on the stage. The play is written to be witty and sweet at times, but there was this one scene where she could have pulled out a dagger and slit her husband's throat and I wouldn't have been surprised. Look at this picture with her by the fire. Tell me she doesn't look like she's going to strike poor Marchbanks at any second.

Anyway. After the curtain call not one person stood for an ovation. I've never seen such an underwhelmed audience. A couple of my parents' friends happened to be at the play that night, Larry and Diane. Diane studied drama at the U of U and so we needed her opinion. She said she liked the play, but Candida was creepy.

The last leg of my trip was in Las Vegas. I called Rich up (who has been spoiled with visitors almost every weekend since he moved there in May). I'm glad I called him because he said, "I think we should go see Cirque du Soleil." He remembered when I was there a month ago for work that I wanted to go but it was all sold out. Yay! I was stoked. We bought tickets to Ka. The title Ka is inspired by the ancient Egyptian concept of the "ka," an invisible spiritual duplicate of the body that accompanies every human being through this life and into the next.

I'm almost embarrassed to write about it because I'll sound like a complete dork, but I just LOVED it. Last month at my conference our keynote speaker showed us a clip from Cirque's "O" and it moved me to tears. Ridiculous, I know.

Ka didn't induce tears, but I was in awe of the whole production. Apparently it was a leap for Cirque to do an actual story for one of their shows. The whole thing was almost operatic. The drama, the costumes, the music, the choreography -- incredible. Turns out Rich and I didn't completely follow the story, but whatever. I couldn't believe what these humans were able to do. There's something inspiring about watching people push themselves beyond borders, doing things you would never even dream to attempt. I mean, 60 crazy acrobats could have fallen to their death that night.

Nothing was confined to the stage -- including the stage itself. It transformed into so many different elements, I'm not even going to begin to describe them all. But I will talk about my favorite parts:

The shipwreck

After the acrobats swung around on the mast for awhile, trying not to fall off, they all eventually fell. But then a thin veil closed over the stage and suddenly we were watching the characters plunge deep into the ocean. The lighting made it believable with the bubbles following the acrobats as they sank and as they "swam" up with ocean ripples above. I was mesmerized. It was beautiful.

Shadow puppets

It was really simple, but it had whimsy so I loved it. The only lighting was a small candle and it cast a large shadow on the veil behind the two characters as they playfully created the most elaborate shadow puppets I've ever seen.

Battle Scene

There were a couple. The first one blew me away because the stage transformed itself into what I can only describe as a Plinko board (remember The Price is Right?). Warriors "shot" arrows at the stage and the acrobats dodged them for awhile, but then they just slid from the top down, weaving through the arrows (actually pegs that shot out from the stage rather than on to the stage, I'm assuming). They just fell down the steep decline swinging around and slipping through pegs like little plinko disks.

The second battle scene was cool because the stage was now vertical and they were all attached to strings, some facing down some facing up, so we essentially had an aerial view of the battle.

The Slave Cages

This one actually scared me -- the first time in the production where I lost a little faith in the acrobats because the guy running at the top of his hamster wheel slipped a little and for a second the entire audience held their breath praying he didn't fall to his death. I wonder if he does that for kicks. Probably. It was insane.

That show was worth every penny. I was telling Rich I need to splurge more often on these things. I tend to shy away from big spectaculars like this because of their expense. It's what other people with a lot of money do, but now it's what I do. Who wants to go see "O"? You won't be sorry.

Inbetween Candida and Ka I was in San Diego. You're probably as tired of reading as I am of writing, so I'll just provide a slide show. I tried to find a few photos that didn't have my nephew in them.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


I pride myself on being a good sleeper. I love my sleep. I typically get 7 or 8 hours every night. And I'll sleep straight through the night. But I'm not one of those people that hates it when someone wakes me up in the middle of the night. I really don't mind. Some people get mean when they're woken up. And some people you don't even try to wake up because you won't be able to.

My friends will tell you that if we start a movie after 10 PM, there's a very good chance I'm going to fall asleep at some point. In fact, just the other night I fell asleep in the middle of a movie. All of a sudden, I woke up and the cute furry Gizmo clones were nasty and slimy gremlins. No idea when or how that happened. I used to be able to force myself to stay awake, but at some point in the last two or three years, I decided to just surrender to it.

Unfortunately my sleeping patterns have been disturbed lately. I like to blame it on the hot weather. Occasionally I'll wake up thinking about something I need to door or simply something weighing on my mind. And getting back to sleep is suddenly a chore.

I was listening to KCPW one morning on my way up to Park City and they had a sleep expert talking about ways to regulate your sleep. She said if you wake up around 2 or 3 it's probably because you're going to bed too early. So I've been trying to keep myself up until midnight. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. The other night I woke up and could have sworn it was 6 or 7 AM and I was ready to go. I was actually disappointed when I looked at the clock and saw that it was only 2 AM.

I missed poem day in June, but it's July 1st, so I'm posting a poem about sleep.

Charles Anthony Silvestri

The evening hangs beneath the moon
A silver thread on darkened doon
With closing eyes and resting head
I know that sleep is comming soon
Upon my pillow, safe in bed
A thousand pictures fill my head
I cannot sleep my minds a flight
And yet my limbs seem made of lead
If there are noises in the night
A frighting shadow, flickering light
Then I surrendor unto sleep
Where clouds of dreams give second sight
What dreams may come both dark and deep
Of flying wings and soaring leap
As I surrender unto sleep
As I surrendor unto sleep

This is another poem that has been set to music by Eric Whitacre. I think this is the first piece of his that I ever heard on KBYU. As soon as I heard it, I had to Google his name so I could learn more. But it took me awhile because I was spelling his last name wrong. Eventually I tracked him down and I bought the CD of his complete A Capella works. It's a great CD. The BYU Singers recorded the album. The album was actually nominated for a grammy several years ago.

This particular piece actually has an interesting story. This piece was a commission. The lady who commissioned it asked Whitacre to set her favorite poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" to music. The piece premiered in Austin at a National Convention in 2001. Shortly after, the Estate of Robert Frost took legal action. Whitacre, after hearing numerous choruses perform music set to this poem mistakingly assumed it was open to anyone. But just months before his premiere, the Estate shut down any use of the poem, probably because of it's rise in popularity all of a sudden. Whitacre was crushed because it was such a beautiful piece and now he'd have to put it away until 2038 when Robert Frost's poetry finally becomes public domain.

So he asked one of his friends to write some lyrics to his music so it could be heard again. His friend Tony, who had written poetry for his music before wrote "Sleep". His friend had to write something that had the exact structure of the Frost poem. The last two lines in particular are quite similar to Frost's "And miles to go before I sleep; And miles to go before I sleep."