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24 May 2002 (Friday): and a three-legged dog

Oregon is clean and green. Northern California minus the smog and sprawl. Their Canada to our United States. I hear they despise us on principle up there, or at least resent our obnoxious habits, the way we get all the attention for our yoga centers and smoothies and dot-coms-turned-bombs. Don't blame them, really. Turning off 5 onto 99 into Ashland we stumbled into a minor paradise, complete with real farmhouses and clear-running streams, mountains bright with spring flowers in the distance (which one could actually see clearly -- my word).

It is also very white, as rural areas tend to be. Not that I had a problem with it, but it's always funny to realize that you're the single token minority in the room.

Handler. An Appalachian Pentecostal Christian dies of a copperhead bite and is resurrected three days later. A miracle, yes, but why? He's the prodigal son with blood on his hands, just barely a believer; when he comes back to life he carries no message of hope, only stories of utter darkness. The soliloquy that opened the second act gave me chills. To stand before God and see fear in His eyes...what must that feel like?

Noises Off. In my vast idiocy I forgot that Julius Caesar was the matinee show on Tuesday, and was off in the woods exploring the Oregon Caves National Monument at the time. Megan the house manager was very kind when I showed up flustered at the 8 PM show, and managed to snag us front-and-center tickets that had been donated at the last minute. Forget what the snooty critics think; sometimes slapstick farce can be high art, dammit. The comic timing was nonstop masterful. We suffered from aftershock giggles all the way back to the motel.

Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? Emotional rollercoaster, anyone? Act I: Fun and Games, Act II: Walpurgisnacht, Act III: The Exorcism. Theatre has a real talent for portraying the great extremes of the human psyche, boy. Andrea Frye was more than equal to her role as Martha, but the award goes to Richard Elmore for the multihued complexity of his George, not to mention the left shoulder twitch that looked positively involuntary. And they played Shostakovich's 8th String Quartet as incidental music, which was perfect.

The OSF has, as expected, a top-notch company of actors, directors, designers and technicians -- a thorough professionalism that set me completely at ease, knowing that no matter what I saw it would be something good. And the acoustics in their theatres are just beautiful. A whisper uttered across the room, facing away from us, arrived at our ears still crystal clear.

I would also like to put in a kind word for Morning Glory, a lovely hippies' breakfast spot on Siskiyou Boulevard. Huge mugs of organic coffee, psychedelic faerie murals along the walls, an applewood smoker out back, and a menu that just tied me in knots trying to decide what to order. The first time I had the salmon and Yukon potato scramble with white cheddar polenta; second visit I went with the pesto tofu with grilled red peppers and artichokes. The lemon ricotta stuffed French toast will have to wait for next time.

And of course now I'm all hungry and what.

Oh yeah, and the three-legged dog. As we parked by a Pacific Crest Trailhead Monday afternoon, a wolflike creature came loping frantically towards us on the highway. He refused food and drink, accepting only rubbing on the belly and scratching behind the ears as the stump of his front left leg quivered. His tags said BLAZE, no phone number but registered with the county at least. He insisted on walking in front of us on the narrow trail, pausing every fifty feet or so to catch his breath and reset his syncopated rhythm. As we pulled away in the car he followed for a while in the rear-view mirror, both pitiful and beautiful. On the drive back to town we hit a wall of hail, transformed by sunlight into a glowing meteor field. We looked for a rainbow but found none.

We're going back next year. Maybe I'll actually see some Shakespeare next time.

posted by enjelani @ 07:09 PM PST