Tuesday, July 31, 2012

At Liberty, at Last

Well, here's the latest from the Itinerant Invalid:  after a full day of bureaucratic wrangling yesterday, I was finally able to get the go-ahead from the Powers Medical and Adminstrative who have for the past two weeks controlled our lives.  Presuming all goes well for the rest of the day, this evening Mr. Muscato and I will resume our interrupted journey home.

Because we started out coming through London, we're being sent back that way, which means a layover.  I doubt that we'll take in much of the Games - I mostly want to stock up on goodies from Boots, in truth, and possibly score a final good pub dinner - but we're thankful that the predicted Apocalyptic Olympic Hotel Shortage never took place, so we'll be once again ensconced for a night in the very convenient hotel near Marble Arch that was our base on the trip out.

Thanks to all of you who've been thoughtfully inquiring as to our well-being.  This has been an interesting experience, if nothing else my first glimpse of what lies ahead.  It is sobering to be, for the the first time of any seriousness, inhabiting a body that refuses to do more or less what you want it do, that takes on, as it were, a seemingly malevolent mind of its own.  We are being sent off with an array of new prescriptions, strict instructions, and further referrals.  Whatever.  As long as they get us back to our own house, our own bed, and the doubtless frenzied attentions of the infinitely missed dogs, we'll cope.

Monday, July 30, 2012

File Under "Ruses, Unsuccessful"

Really, you know, Winnie wasn't fooling a soul.  Despite her claims that she'd bought her new Easter coat at Gimbel's when she was in the city last February, it wasn't hard to put two and two together.  It's not like it was any secret that her cousin Harry owns Fantelli's Venetian Grille over on Elm Street, nor that they'd just three weeks ago switched out their tablecloths.

"She'd better watch out," laughed Nora, secure in her fur-collared splendor and daring hatlessness, "or next she'll turn up wearing the salt and pepper shakers on her hat."

"Actually," she added, pulling a Pall Mall out of her bag, "That might be an improvement."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Of the Queen and the Queens

As this apparently endless trip continues to unfurl, I'm working hard to remember how very marvelous so much of it was.  When an experience ends in a great deal of staring at blotchy institutional ceilings while unpleasant things are done to one, that can be a challenge.

Still, I'm hopeful that the takeaways from Summer 2012 will be mostly positive.  The crossing really was a remarkable experience, and not just because Queen Mary 2 is so chockablock with reminders of one of my favorite people, its formidable namesake, seen above presiding over the Queens Room (which one is repeatedly reminded features The Largest Dance Floor at Sea).

We really did have a fabulous time just watching the dancing (and occasionally joining in, the lessons imparted to my sister and me back when we were all going to be pillars of small town society somehow mysteriously still effective).  We loved the people-watching that the Queens Room encourages, and happily looked out for our favorites, after a day or two, out on the floor.

Leading that list was an extremely elegant, British-to-their-bones couple, perfectly turned out at all times of day and night (she in tweeds with pearls by day, and discreet taffeta numbers in the evenings, clearly Grandmama's diamonds glittering in a brooch or earrings), who made every number a real joy. Also of note were a Japanese pair, very endearing, who danced every dance, with a very high level of technical perfection, both with the most intense and solemn expressions, as if the whole thing were an onerous duty pressed upon that they were for some mysterious reason bound to carry out.

And then there were all the others, chief among them the dear ladies squired by the Dance Hosts, the retired gentleman hired by the line to ensure that singles and wallflowers get their turn.  One enthusiastic foxtrotter d'un certain age looked almost exactly like the late Dame Joan Sutherland (only, if possible, taller), and she always seemed to score the tiniest and most adroit of the Hosts, steering him across the floor in a way that called to mind the ship itself being escorted by a tug out of a particularly tricky harbor.

Now, of course, we are turning our attention to the Olympics, in a desultory sort of way, although I really don't think anything will top the opening ceremony unless they shoot the Princess Royal out of a cannon.  I'm still giggling from the astounding vision of the corgis trotting along next to the Queen, striding down a Buck House corridor with the impossibly attractive Mr. Craig.  In her late old age, Osbert Sitwell famously observed, Queen Mary developed a unique sort of "film-star glamour," and the same can now be said of her granddaughter, whose Jubilee apotheosis appears to be complete.

And I do think she's one-upped even her remarkable mother, whose love of the spotlight, however all-encompassing, never even distantly approached the concept of parachuting.  It's something, though, that I believe, after a certain amount of raised eyebrows, May Teck might have thought a wonderful joke...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Shameless Saturday Camp Explosion - and More!

This rather marvelous mash-up appeared on my radar courtesy of the very dashing Craig Carruthers, amusing Twitterer and keeper of the flame of the startlingly-not-late, great Luise Rainer.

Perhaps it's been clattering around the Internet for ages and I'm just seeing it, but for me watching Rita in this context is a forceful reminder of what an incredible dancer she actually was.  Even more, it illustrates how only dancing really ignited her extraordinary screen presence.  Watching her without the original music (and the always not quite matching vocals by Anita Ellis or Martha Mears, et al), you get a full-on blast of pure star power.  She was a complicated, often sad lady, but when she moves, its as if she feels no one else has ever done it just that way before, and it's the best feeling in the world. 

In even the most daunting company, Rita Hayworth more than holds her own, and while it pains me to say anything that might offend dear Ginger Rogers - had Fred Astaire been a little younger, and Rita a little older, those two could have made movies to blow Top Hat out of the water.  The two pictures they did make were comparatively minor Fred, but landmarks for her, not least because Astaire's presence persuaded Harry Cohn to allow an almost-A budget for once.  Even her costumes aren't quite as ghastly as the usual Columbia product.

So enjoy, and think a charitable thought about a woman whose story ended badly, but who, in these captured moments, comes as close to immortality as any Hollywood star.


So anyway, I really did rather need the escapism that the above provided, because kids, things have taken a turn for the deeply annoying. 

After a full day Friday spent on the telephone trying to get paperwork moved between Prestigious University Hospital and the office at Golden Handcuffs Consulting that can give us the go-ahead for Approved Corporate Travel, at 5:00 p.m. it finally became clear that it wasn't going to pan out.  As a result, we're stuck here through the weekend and at least until Tuesday, because of the vagaries of international flight schedules.  I don't even know for sure whether I'm well or not, as the doctor who was supposed to actually review my results with me took a personal day; on the phone, her secretary just said, "Well, she said to fax the papers over, and she checked the box for travel, so I guess you're fine."  American health care at its best.

And, just to make things that much more vexing, we're once again being given the bum's rush out of an oversold hotel.  After much to-do, we have managed to find an acceptable substitute that has the added bonus of putting us downtown, rather than the benighted suburbs, for the balance of our stay, but nomadism as a way of life has, at this point, lost its charm.  Mr. Muscato and I are both grumpy and more than ready to fly; how odd it is to find myself actually longing to return to the Sandlands, in August, in Ramadan.

I think I better go watch Rita a few more times...

Friday, July 27, 2012

[Not Even Vaguely] Freaky Friday

For no other reason than that the very thought of her cheers me up, the late, great Miss Shelley Winters.  She's apparently and for reasons lost in the mists of time doing a not at all bad Ann Sothern impression, and if nothing else the old girl looks a good deal more ladylike than was her more usually wanton wont.

Today is a bit of a holding pattern, as the various medical and bureaucratic Powers What Am confer on whether or not I'm in a fit state to travel.  If all goes well, we begin the long journey home tomorrow; if not, it's more sitting around.  Our itinerary, should we be able to follow it, takes us back through London, which we'd carefully planned to avoid during the current quadrennial hoo-ha.  The best-laid plans, you know - which is really rather the lesson of the last week or so, in some ways.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hot Zone(s)

Another day, another round of fascinating tests...

But first, just to, as it were, cleanse our palates, herewith we see one Mr. Karim Sherif, who from the paucity of information available Internetically, appears to have reached the apogee of his fame when he achieved second runner-up status at the 2006 Mr. Egypt handsomeness pageant.  Pity, as he certainly displays a little star quality in this moody snap, no?

Something alone this line came to mind today, actually, because, however unpleasant today's spell at Prestigious University Hospital, it was definitely enlivened by the presence of Hunky Lab Tech Kevin, who was not unKarimish in appearance.  He had the look, in fact, of one of those fresh-faced young men who show up in certain kinds of online videos from firms with names like Forbin Cisher or Cean Sody (not that I'd know anything about that sort of thing - we all know how effective the Sandlandian censors are!).  The scrubs certainly helped, but the biceps - ah, the biceps!

Kevin (who sadly was accompanied throughout by a very nice nurse-practitioner with an unfortunate resemblence to Loretta Swit, long after her "Hotlips" phase, meaning it was really out of the question to even consider copping a feel from her colleague) did much to offset the actual round of tests, of which the less said, the better.

I did, however, learn two new phrases you don't want to hear on holiday this morning (and early this morning - what is it with hospitals and daybreak?):  "I'm just going to start infusing the radioactive dye...", followed, at the end of the multi-hour, multi-part mini-marathon, by "In case you do get cleared for travel [a likelihood that Loretta made sound about as possible as a Cruise-Holmes reunion], I'm going to give you this explanatory card.  You'll need it at the airport, 'cause you'll be setting off scanners from ten feet off for the next couple of days."

Thank you, Loretta.  And thank you, Kevin.  And, I suppose, thank you Karim, wherever you are...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Just Another Random Wednesday

Feeling in need of a cheering moment, I turned this morning to a clip that never fails to delight, and I thought I'd share it with you.  Here we have the immortal Charlotte Greenwood, ambushed by a callow youth but holding her own.  Greenwood-philes always know to pay extra-close attention whenever she appears wearing an especially wide-skirted gown...

It's from one of the great pictures of all time, The Gang's All Here, in which she joins a dizzy cast headed by Alice Faye and enlivened by Eugene Pallette, Carmen Miranda, Benny Goodman, and, joining her here briefly, the heavenly Edward Everett Horton.  Those who have experienced this film's very special brand of Busby Berkley-headed madness know that this is in fact one of its calmer moments.

After a start like that, how can one not have a better day?  That's even true when the highlight of that day, it turns out, is extensive blood tests.  I'm beginning to think that the good people of Prestigious University Hospital just like having me around.  No other news on the sickroom front; more tests tomorrow, after which we will either be or not be returning to the house and the dogs and to dear, devoted Mrs. Galapatty-da Silva, who must be ruing the day she ever set eyes on any of us.

One of our challenges these last few days is finding something for Mr. Muscato to eat.  He's fasting, you know, which means that come the sunset (late in this part of the world it is, too), he's ready.  The local versions of home-style (for him - i.e. Middle Eastern) cooking have ranged from the disappointing to the vile, reminding me forcefully of why that kind of food, when I first encountered it on its home turf in Cairo, was such a revelation ("That's what it's supposed to taste like!").  Last night, we gave up and went Western, wandering downtown (now that I'm not supposed to be Not Moving at All, in case whatever's been troubling my heart goes full-bore amok on me).  We ended up at a rather well-known little boite for older gentlemen of aesthetic tastes, as it were, and we observed a touching vignette:

In the middlingly busy restaurant, after us another couple arrived.  They didn't appear to be very well matched, and indeed it seemed (they sat well within eavesdropping range) that they had just met.  The older of the two (significantly older) chatted desultorily about his business and his health regimen; the younger (significantly younger and, on second glance, significantly more generally fetching) stared at the menu and looked around with the curiosity of one for whom dining out likely more frequently features shouting into a fiberglass mascot from the comfort of one's pickup.  In short, it was either a really bad blind/Internet date or, far more likely, a commercial transaction that started with dinner.

The younger got chattier after a cocktail, regaling his increasingly glassy-eyed companion with tales of his upbringing in a rural portion of a nearby state (complete with Grandaddy, huntin', and how weird and different it was to find himself in Afghanistan in the service, although the food was awesome).  The two ultimately found common ground, though, in discussing their fondness of New Orleans, which it turned out the senior loved for the atmosphere and good food, while the junior loved it because, he announced nonchalantly, it was where he discovered "I could make a sh*tload of cash strippin'!"  They immediately delved into a startingly knowleadgeable discussion of the Gulf Coast demi-monde.

With a sigh, the younger mentioned that finding that line of work was a real turning point for him.  "Yeah, it was like that poem," he said (and my eyebrows went up at least mentally, making me feel for a moment like Marie Dressler at the end of Dinner at Eight - a poem?).  "That one about the road not taken."

And then he recited, nearly word-perfectly, most of the last stanza:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

They sat for a moment, as if both startled by this sudden of irruption of culture into what was meant to be something seamier.

"That's a good poem, isn't it?"

"Yes," says the older, still nonplussed, "I guess it is."

"I can never remember who it's by.  Robert...  Robert... I always get them mixed up.  Robert Redford or Robert Frost."

And I had a brief, wonderful vision of an elderly, courtly, stooped New England gentleman starring with Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were.  And of the handsomest poet in the world.

And that's why I do feel like we miss some things, living out in the Sandlands.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An Update from the Invalid

Honestly, kids, I looked and looked for something racier than this, Cherry bidding a merry adieu to an elderly gentleman who's presumably now all rested, as it were, thanks to her ministrations, but, a few standard medical-themed pinups aside, things rapidly get too racy, it turns out, when you Google things like "hot male nurses."  Go ahead - see for yourself.  Lose an hour or two of your life...

In any case, here's a quick update from the sick bay.  We made our way to Prestigious University Hospital this morning, where for what I'm guessing is going to be something like the national debt of Latvia, I was poked and prodded with some sort of gizmo that gave off the most alarming noises (shades of The Machine That Goes "Ping!" in The Meaning of Life) - alternately clacking and gurgling and whirring - thereby allowing the technician (a very well set up gentleman called Clint - if only he were slathering me with chilly gel for better reasons!) to look around inside. 

Then it was a nice cozy wait for our long-awaited opportunity to See the Doctor.

Which we did.  The cardiologist turns out to be a lovely matronly Indian lady ("Oh! I have ma-any cousins who live there!" she exclaimed when she learned of our Sandlandian home, and I'm sure she does), who passed on news good - nothing showing up in the tests yet  - and not so.  Not so, at this point, only because that means more, and apparently moderately less pleasant, tests.

Which means not traveling yet, which is a great bore.  Too much longer in borrowed rooms and we'll start to feel like refugees, not least because one of our last acts before first hitting the ER was shipping home the vast majority of our stuff, from souvenirs to extra underpants, and so here we sit with travel clothes and not much more.  Whinge, whinge, whinge, I know, especially when the bottom line, at the moment at least, is that it appears there's nothing about to blow imminently, which means we can at least go out and do something amusing (the appeal of American TV has definitely waned over the past four days of doing nothing at all).

At least in the evenings.  On top of everything else, you see, it's now become Ramadan, so Mr. Muscato is fasting and therefore rather nocturnal.  Aside from not drinking and Avoiding Undue Excitement (both doctor's orders), I'm sure we'll have a blast...

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Consolations of Art

While we were in Boston, My Dear Sister took us to Mrs. Gardner's Museum.  It was very beautiful, of course, but they have a draconian no-photo policy, which means that I snapped only this enigmatic view of a statue and some orchids. 

It was the first time I'd visited the Gardner in more than 20 years - closer to 30, really.  Some things had changed, of course -  mostly the empty frames, left from the robbery not all that long after my last visit (and no, I was not involved - I would have taken the Sargents), showing where the Vermeer and the Rembrandt and the others had been (a nice, melancholy touch, to have left them there), but much had stayed blessedly the same. 

Although I'd dreaded seeing it (loathing change and all), I rather liked the new visitors' center, a surprisingly successful addition by Renzo Piano - respectful and separate from the main building, connected by a glass passage that acts as a sort of umbilical cord between old and new, adding such inevitable modern conveniences as a shop and a (painfully organic) café, as well as a handsome small concert hall, in which we heard a very earnest guide give a potted history of the place's admirably eccentric founder's life and times.  The whole thing looks just a tiny bit like an all-glass junior high school, but at least it appears to be both functional and unobtrusive.

Wandering through Mrs. Gardner's beautiful rooms - filled with everything from perfect Renaissance portraits to signed photos of Nellie Melba and notes from Henry James, masterpieces and ephemera - I relished the feeling of immersion a place like the Gardner gives.  It's a sensation something akin to what I imagine deep-sea divers feel, the rest of the world very far away, the strange feeling of finding another world at one's fingertips.  It was restful and yet at the same time somehow alarming.  In a place like that, one comes face to face with, for instance, Mor's portrait of Mary I, so familiar from biographies and texbooks, and she seems infinitely more present, in a way, than she would in an ordinary gallery.  Her glance, reproachful and oddly shy for so formidable a lady, seems personal, directed. She knows you don't care about her as much as you do her sister, that she's on the wrong side of history, even that her brown velvet gown is a touch dowdy.  What does she care?  She is, nonetheless, "Marye the Queene."  And you move on, but she remains, as do the letters and the portraits and the autographs and the odd bits of antiquity. 

In the courtyard around which the salons and galleries revolve, there is a small patch of lawn.  Laid casually on it, as if by chance, is an amphora, one of those utilitarian vessels used by the Greeks and Romans for transporting wine and olives and such.  It's the perfect touch, an object of the kind more usually in a glass case, nestled in the green grass, laughing at the passage of time.  In trying times to come, I think I'll aim for something of that amphora's calm insouciance, along with something of Mrs. Gardner's idomitability. 

Although I doubt I'll ever be up for anything as daunting as corresponding with Henry James...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Yesterday, When We Were Young...

Ah, time in its flight...31 years ago today, this trio - Robby Benson, Joan Jett, and Rex Smith - joined forces - and Life was there.  The whys and the wheres are lost in the mists of time, but I confirm that within 18 months or so of this snap, I very likely owned and wore most or all of these clothes, not to mention sporting most or all of those haircuts (which are, I suppose, really only variations on a single, blow-dried, theme).

Since when, by the bye, did Joan Jett ever go around looking so femme?  1981 is kind of an in-between time for her, after the Runaways but before the Blackhearts, but she never at all struck me as an eyelet-and-ankle-sox kind of gal (frankly, I would have thought that was more up Rex's alley, but that's just me).

All three, now, are more or less in the "Whatever Happened To...?" category.  Jett did Broadway a couple of years ago, well-reviewed in Rocky Horror;  Benson has become an activist for cardiac research and just self-published an e-memoir recounting his four open-heart surgeries, I'm Not Dead ... Yet! (cheerful); and Smith's website, in the "Rex Right Now" section, touts his undoubtedly smash tour of the Philippines - in 2009.

STOP THE PRESSES:  I just realized something.  I was going to add, as a Fun Fact, something that I can't believe that I did not know:  that Robby Benson has since 1982 been married to fab '80s backup thrush Karla DeVito.  Then I thought to myself, recalling endless midnight viewings of the "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" video (which played, along with "I do the Rock," before screenings of Rocky Horror - back to that again, how odd - at Philadelphia's lamented TLA):  "Self, we have just discovered a major Time-Life error:  that woman in this picture is not, in fact, Joan Jett (who would not, in fact, be caught dead in New Wave Shepherdess drag) - that's Karla DeVito!"  Benson took over from Smith in Pirates of Penzance - in which DeVito understudied and then replaced Linda Ronstadt (talk about your "Whatever Happened To"-s!) - on Broadway right about that time, so there are the whys and the wheres, too.

Oy.  Can you tell I have too much time on my hands?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Birthday Girl: Our Lady of the Lingerie Department

On what would have been her 90th birthday, let's stop and take a moment to appreciate the glory that was that most roguish of British character ladies, the incomparable Mollie Sugden.  A peerless mistress of the double take, double entendre, and double-high (alarmingly shaded) bouffant, Sugden was a shining light of UK television for several decades, achieving a kind of immortality, of course, as the doughty Mrs. Slocombe on Are You Being Served?

She left us a couple of years ago, and now presides, I think, in spirit at least, at a celestial Ladies' Intimates counter in some higher plane (joined, with luck, by her plucky companion Miss Brahms, the lovely Wendy Richard, alas also gone too soon).

I am endeavoring to maintain some measure of her attitude to trying times.  Tough customers, cheeky co-workers - even her tryingly flirty neighbor, Mr. Akbar - nothing daunted Mrs. S.  With a tot of gin and a quick check in (as seen above) on her beloved pussy, she was game for anything.  Especially if it meant a chance to one-up those annoying customers, always trying to distract one from the really important things in life...like that gin.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Souvenirs, Etc.

So, where were we?  Oh, right, travel.  Well, we're still on the road, Mr. Muscato and me, albeit it now not entirely of our own design. 

Before we dive in, behold our haul for the trip.  Joining the aforementioned Solar Queen and accompanying corgi (who it appears are on offer not only in chic PTown gifteries, but also, if our dear Jason is to be believed, in at least one Gulf Coast emporium) are a fetching Cunard bear (we couldn't resist the sweater, and bears are Mr. M.'s weakness.  In more ways than one.).  Joining them is as our latest 11-1/2 inch temptress, who looks like a striking combo of Lynda Carter, Rita Hayworth, and a chopstick (she's from Mattel's new especially body-dysmorphic "Fashionista" line).  We call her Desirée.  We always get travel toys, but this strikes me as an especially fine haul.  Yes, they're posed against a tee-shirt.  It was the best I could think of at the time, and I firmly deny that any Boatslip planter's punch was involved. Firmly.

So Provincetown continued to be a great joy.  We saw shows (Randy Roberts says hi, Bill and Ed!) and can confirm that Miss Coco Peru is, hard as this may be to believe, even better, by a longshot, in person than she is in Trick.  Her show, There Comes a Time, is more a Lily Tomlin-style monologue than a scattershot drag or standup act, and its funny, affecting, and, wherever needed, sharp as glass.  Miss Coco even sports a daring new look, which replaces her signature flip with a worldly little bob that's half punk, half executive secretary.  It works, and so does she.

We met up with friends, we went out, we stayed in, enjoying long afternoons on the deck and lovely lazy mornings.  And sadly, all too soon, it was time to go.  We bundled the bags and the Queen and the corgi and Desirée into the rented motor and headed for Boston and a couple of restful days chez ma soeur, who lives in lesbo-Brahmin splendor therein.

And I got sick.

And I ignored it.

Which, it seems, was a mistake.

We were scheduled to spend the final week of this year's voyage in glamorous Wasington, DC, at the home office of Golden Handcuffs Consulting Amalgamated, which pays the bills, meeting people and generally trying to act official and convince the Powers What Am that we do strategically imperative and dynamically innovative and generally buzzword-worthy things out there in the Sandlands.

Which I did, for a couple of days, after a mildly fraught trip south in which I did my best not to admit that I was Increasingly Unwell.  Mr. Muscato is smarter than me, so he knew it, so it all got rather difficult ("I'm fine, dammit.  Really I am..." [gasp, collapse] "....just fine!").

In brief:  trip to the hospital (my first-ever on my own behalf to an American ER.  Fascinating.), multiple late-night tests, stern warning not to travel for the moment. 

And now the fun begins, because apparently the follow-ups I need aren't immediately available ("It's July," office after office explains, as if people were either foolish or actively selfish to consider taking up invalidism after Memorial Day).  Fortunately, the good people at Golden Handcuffs have wasta (as we say out East - meaning influence), and so rather than sitting very still and hoping for the best until, say, the last week of August, a good doctor has agreed to look in greater detail at my heart early next week.  We shall see.

Mr. Muscato can't help but contrast this with the system back in Egypt, where, if you have the wherewithal, you can see any doctor in the country within something like 18 hours, unless you want to pony up a little, in which case they'll come to your house right now.  Previously, he thought I was making it up when I described how American health care works.  Now he knows better.

To add insult to injury, today we have to move hotels, going from impractical office-sponsored semi-luxe to one of those free-breakfast/kitchenetted business-traveler suite places.  Me, who came over on the Queen!  Well, it's sensible, and it actually will be nice to have a fridge.  We may be here for a few days - or we may be here a lot longer.

As I lay on the gurney two nights ago, overhearing an older lady being talked into a semi-voluntary commitment ("No, Mrs. Cooney, it's for your own good.  And besides, the gamma rays can't get you in here.  You remember that Dr. Sinclair told you that, don't you?  You'll be safer here, really..."), I thought about a lot of things.  How lucky I was to have Mr. Muscato waiting outside, how much I miss the dogs, and how very much I dislike needles (one of which was currently firmly in place in one arm), mostly, but also how quickly things change.

One minute you're dancing on an ocean liner racing across the dark Atlantic; the next you're eating lobster, staring out at Cape Cod Bay; but the next you're sitting in a backless gown (and not the fun kind) having people address you in the first person plural ("let's just lie down for moment, okay?") and leave you in a hallway.  There's a lesson there, although probably a trite one, but right now I'm too mad to learn it.

So wish us well, in this new and unexpected phase of our adventure.  We're off this morning to check into the Olde Gardene Courte Suitotel, after which we sit around until the next time Big Health Care deigns to look our way.  In the meantime, Mr. Muscato keeps trying to stop me from standing up, I'm plotting how to get to at least one museum, and back out there in the Sandlands, Mrs. Galapatty-da Silva is girding herself for a little while longer on her own with the hounds from hell.

AA Milne said it best:  Bother.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Birthday Girl: Hello...

We now interrupt our travelogue to celebrate the 63rd birthday of a gifted and quirky American actress, one who rose to prominence in the heady days of '70s cinema, when she made such... oh, who am I kidding?  I'm only doing this as an excuse to run this video, an oldie that still makes me laugh and laugh.

But really, in our own ways, aren't each and every one of us, just a little, Shelley Duvall?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Compare and Contrast

Tea Dance, Queen's Room, Queen Mary 2, June 2012

Tea Dance, The Boatslip, Provincetown, July 2012
Who says travel doesn't broaden the mind?  Here we have two very different incarnations of a venerable institution.  One features the Queen's Room Orchestra playing delicately pizzicato arrangements of "Blame it on the Bossa Nova" and "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square"; the other has DJ MaryAlice (a venerable institution herself, really) pumping out "Turn the Beat Around" and "I'm Every Woman" (I'm waiting for the house arrangement of "Call Me Maybe" - it feels inevitable). 

The clientele may be rather different (and the scones are better on the boat - actually, scones could really raise the tone at the Boatslip), but the intent, really, is more or less the same - to enjoy a fine afternoon with a touch of people watching, a turn or two on the dance floor, and perhaps a sympathique moment or two with an unexpected partner.  On the Queen Mary, of course, that partner is liable to be one of the paid Dance Hosts (and for the very patient older gentleman, that's a gig to explore), while on the deck in Ptown, it's probably a window dresser from Brooklyn, but the similarities are undeniable...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Happy Fourth

We had a great view for the fireworks last night.  Our deal with the Stately L's was that we could have their ground-floor for the holiday as long as we understood that they would co-opt the deck for their annual cookout for the neighborhod.  Well, you know how much we hate festive gatherings of amusing people cooking good meat, but we coped.  We ate, we drank, we dished about local celebrities past and present, and we laughed a lot.

Provincetown necessities we have so far, in just two days, ticked off our lists: lobster rolls; cupcakes from that most heavenly of bakeries, Relish; tchotchke buying (despite our days in London, our only Jubilee souvenir: a Solar Queen - accompanied by her Solar Corgi.  You know you want them); tea dance; irritation at the tourists.  This would appear to be either Circuit Week or High-Maintenance Queen Week here in Provinceown, and at tea yesterday, Mr. Muscato kept looking around and asking, in his handsome accent, "Who are these skeeny beetches?"  We had amusing visions of scooping a group of 20 or 30 of them up wholesale and depositing them, as is, back at a mall in the Sandlands; it would be fascinating to witness the local reaction to screaming tattooed muscle boys in painted-on short-shorts, high-end sandals, and not much else.  Bear Week starts tomorrow, and I think we will feel much more at home.

Up for today: actual lobster, attendance at at least one drag show.  The riches in town on the cabaret front are dizzying this year.  Tonight's biggest event is Patti Lupone, one night only (so hopelessly sold out that people giggle helplessly at me when I express hope for a last-minute miracle), but the competition is so fierce I almost don't mind:  we can still choose from Miss Coco Peru, Varla Jean Merman, Dina Martina, the divine Randy Roberts, and real girl Kate Clinton.

And, of course, more cupcakes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Helluva Town

So we had a lovely couple of days in the old stomping grounds, seeing the sights (including the clash of Beaux Arts and Moderne seen here) and meeting up with old pals inexplicably grown grayer and more, well, mature's perhaps not quite the word, but goodness aren't we all grown up?

My dear cousin, the Serious Architect, took us to a lovely, a quite entirely NewYorky sort of dinner, at the kind of restaurant against the windows of which we once we pressed our noses.  It's nice to know that rich people's food still consists, as wise old Truman Capote once noted, of "little fresh born things, scarcely out of the earth. Little baby corns, little baby peas, little lambs that have been ripped out of their mothers’ wombs..." not to mention meats primarily from parts of the body not normally stocked in supermarkets.  Still, we did enjoy ourselves immoderately.  Cousin SA is just about the only non-sibling who's known me from day one (we are six weeks apart); together, now, we are a walking illustration of the fact that after a certain age, you choose your face or your figure.

In a fit of nostalgia de la boue the following night we hied down to the West Village, where everyone seemed about 17, but where the cheap Chinese is still divine.  Am I the only one who remembers the way Westside low-end Chinese places used to offer free white wine from vast gallon jugs?  Sadly, that seems to have gone the way of Five Oaks and all the other other vanished destinations.  Still, we had cold sesame noodles (unobtainable in the Sandlands) and enjoyed the contrast with the previous evening's foams and artisanal parsleys...

Now we've wended out way up the East Coast a ways and are enjoying this holiday in dear old Sodom on the Sea, staring out at the bay in Provincetown.  We're occupying the ground-floor flat (always a good idea for a pair of portly types in an old wooden house) chez our friends the Stately Lesbians.  I write looking out at the water, as Mr. Muscato prepares one of his trademark elaborate salads, the Stately L's three dogs of various ages nap here and there, and the divine Dalida sings her heart out in the background.  Not the most traditional of Fourths of July, I suppose, but deeply, deeply pleasant.

A Happy Fourth, then, to those celebrating; a lovely Wednesday, to the rest of you.  I'm not normally the most outwardly patriotic of persons, but this morning, listening to NPR's annual recitation of the Declaration of Independence, I felt very grateful for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...

Monday, July 2, 2012

There's No Cure Like Travel

For the moment, enough to say that it was wonderful.  We strode the decks, we tea-danced in a very sedate sort of way, we descended the grand staircase with aplomb, we rode out foggy days in the very posh spa, and most of all, we ate, drank, and laughed.  I shall have to think of some amusing and insightful things to say about crossing on the Queen, but at the moment, I'm still a little blissed out.

Now it's a couple of days shore leave, as it were, in Olde Manhattan, a quick revisiting of old haunts and older acquaintances, before we motor up the coast for the next stage of our little jaunt.

So if any Gentle Readers spy a pair of stout parties of a certain age swaying up Eighth Avenue, please be very clear that it's just that we've not yet lost our sea-legs and has nothing to do with a vodka tonic or three...