Monday, May 31, 2010

Requiem Aeternum Dona Evita


I recently had a glorious dream.  It's probably because I have been revisiting the Evita soundtracks, and because of a memory I recently recalled of taking Trish, my high school girlfriend, to see it in Century City; the idea of sharing the Evita experience.  You see, Evita was and still is my favorite theatrical production.

My dream was very short.  I was entering into a very large stage theater in LA from from under an easement, such as from under one wing of the stage, like you might enter a baseball stadium.  It was evening, everything, the stage, the theater, was painted black like some heavy metal venue.

I was corralling all of these people I knew; ex-girlfriends, family and friends to our seats.  We were about to see Evita live with Patti Lupone.  How that all would work out at her current age didn't come into question in the dream.  But it was going to be a very special; a powerful performance with great amplification* and a larger than usual orchestra.

I was excited because were about to experience the actual Broadway Evita with the cast that I never actually able to see in my early adulthood (I originally saw it with Loni Ackerman and John Cypher at the Shubert Theater....like 9 times).

*Just a note about the great amplification mention above. I had listened to the soundtrack many times before even seeing Evita the first time, and because it's so powerful in a home stereo, the sound amplification always seemed a little weak in the theater as a result of that contrast.  So the idea of the show being extremely high fidelity and amplified well in my dream I'm sure was compensating for this past experience.

I have been listening to the Broadway and London versions in my Jeep for the past few days.  I've been finding that the London version is much thinner in it's arrangements, not as "in character," as well as many songs being missed.  I'm thinking that they just made a simple soundtrack when starting out in London, then when they knew it was a success, they did a much bigger and much more heavily layered in orchestration and arrangements version for NY.

I also have been finding that the Broadway recording is much grittier; both in the way Patti used her voice, and in how they pianist is throwing in Latin-jazzy accents here and there, especially in "Eva, Beware of the City" and in "Buenos Aires."

A perfect example of this grit is during "Eva Beware of the City," when a young musician who has been using Eva advises her not to be carried away with her dreams, and Eva replies,

...Monotony past, suburbia departed
Who could ever get kicks in the back of the sticks...

I can just hear the Latin-jazz piano in my head; so good!. The whole NY album in my opinion is a much richer, textured and emotional experience.  And I've been consciously trying to avoid being biased toward the NY recording simply because I am used to it.  But the Broadway recording truly a much better presentation.

View Patti Lupone Singing Her Heart Out As Evita at the Tony Awards


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Internet Help

I have been transferring old videos I created and also taped from TV onto DVD and have been uploading some of them onto the internet.  I got to a couple of places in all of my transferring and editing where I got stuck.  I either didn’t know how to do something, or I wasn’t sure of the settings I should use for resolution, audio, aspect ratio, etc.

I remember 10 or 15 years go when I would go to look up a problem’s solution on the Internet, and I would be faced with either really technical instructions, or I just plain couldn’t find the appropriate answer.

I’ve been happy to find lately that when I look for a solution now on the web, that there are at least a million others who have run into the same problem, and invariably, I will find a really clear instruction set for exactly the software I am using to guide me to happiness.  Lovin’ the Internet as always!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Quick and Dirty Editing Playtime

About the time that I was starting university, I decided to buy a video camera. I checked the Recyler Newspaper and found someone selling one in the Mt. Olympus area for around $80.00.  What I purchased a Panasonic video camera and mobile recorder.  These were two separate pieces; a huge, black camera almost the size of a professional camera, and a heavy recorder that could hang from my shoulder.  This was a very heavy duo.

I used the crudest of methods in putting together music and videos.  It what was available to me at the time.  To record songs, I used two tape recorders, side by side.  I would record my piano playing on one tape, then while playing that first tape back, record my voice, or a guitar part over the piano playing back onto the second tape.  If I did this more than three of four times, the ambient noise of the tape recorder’s motor would end up louder than the music I had recorded.

I used a similar method for the videos I made.  I would record video onto my VHS camera and recorder, and then I would play that raw tape from a regular VHS player into my recorder, stopping and starting to create edits.  This recorder had a special function in which I could add an extra audio track, or completely replace the original track, with new audio.  I used the additive mode to create a music score to the video I had shot. 

This kept me busy between the ages of about 19 to 23.  The products were usually strange and not always well thought out because I often came up with an idea and just went ahead with it without really working out the details.

For instance, I made a short video called, "A Caper," using my friend Eric as a James Bond type of character.  This was one in which I added already exiting music.  It opened with seeing him shoot down the barrel of a gun of course.  Then, he received some special instructions from a hand coming out of a mailbox (this required some very tricky photography on my part…wink, wink).  He then proceeded to break into a house, crack open a safe and retrieve a Russian secret microdot out, and escape detection.  The video ended with Eric climbing onto a roof and jumping into a pool; for what purpose is still a mystery to this day.

But it was fun, quick and dirty playtime!   View the video, "A Caper"

Friday, May 28, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 24 - Epilogue

When we visited the John Hancock building Part 12, I thought it gave us the best view of the city. Everyone talks about the Sears Tower.  But I think the John Hancock Center is the better of the two for views.  The building sits right on the lake, and so your views are of the city on one side, and of the open lake on the other.  My favorite view was the one looking sideways along the coast of the lake where you can see the city butted right up against the water. 

One of the astounding sites for me was coming west down the Columbia River Part 14.  It felt so natural, wet, gorgeous and untouched.  The fog marbled down the hillsides settling just above the river by just tens of feet; it just hung there.  I loved the greenery as we made our way deep into Washington State.

When I described looking at Klamath Falls around Midnight Part 15 as the train was winding it’s way slowly through the mountainous turns, I remember that Brenda and I were in our night-clothes peeping out of the window at the piercing night stars and looking beyond the patches of snow in front of us at the lights of the little villages below.  It felt like a Hans Christian Anderson moment, and I was happy to be sharing it with Brenda.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 23 - Epilogue

When I read the entries after leaving New York, there is something so apparent.  Anywhere you go after New York feels like the Andromeda Strain.  Cities such as Chicago and Seattle feel vacant after spending a few days in New York.  Manhattan is such a dynamic place to be.  So in some way, it felt a little of a let down to go back to Chicago and to Seattle, even with all that we did there.  Pike’s Fish Market felt like some forgotten tourist site.  Again, it was the middle of the week, but we still had the Big Apple flowing through our veins. 

In Part 11, I stated that I love the Drake Hotel, but I didn’t say why.  I am always fascinated with places that feel like they have a lot of history in them; that are throwbacks to another time.  The Drake Hotel is a great example of one of these environments. 

Although they have modernized the rooms and the lobby, the building and the architecture just smacks of the days when horse drawn carriages would be outside, and being in a hotel like this was the lap of luxury.  In fact, when you go to the lower level of the Drake, there are little shops and even a sort of pub built in a lot of dark wood.  Halls meander around.  Down one, you will find a shoe-shiner, and down another, high fashioned clothing. There is a restaurant on the mezzanine with a mixing area where you can get drinks and wait for your table.  And the staff treats guests very politely.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 22 - Epilogue

In Part 10, I mentioned that when my parents, Brenda and I got down to the bottom Southeast corner of Central Park just past the zoo, we were waiting at the crosswalk to continue down 5th Avenue when my parents told us that they had had their wedding reception in the hotel to our right across the street.  I asked them just the other day about this to refresh my memory, and they told me it was the Plaza Hotel on the Mezzanine level. 

My dad had organized a nice reception there for about eleven close family and friends.  The reason that it was so small is that my parents got married at the courthouse, rather than having a big wedding.  My mother had been married to a well-know attorney, and then divorced, so she didn’t want to go through a whole wedding ceremony again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 21 - Epilogue

When we were touring around New York Part 9, it had only been about 2 ½ years after the September 11th attacks, so when we were at Ground Zero, though almost all of the debris were cleaned up, the flavor of the tragedy still weight heavily in the air, I think all over New York.

At the memorial, as busy as it was with people walking around it and peering through the wooden constructions walls to get a glimpse of where it all happened, visitors were very quiet.  I remember a few times talking with Brenda about what we were seeing and feeling like I had to keep my voice down.

We also walked through Battery Park, where on display was the partially damaged orb that used to sit in the plaza between the twin towers.  This monument was on display with candles sitting all around it.  It felt surreal at that time to be standing in front of something that had somehow survived the horrific demolition we had all see on television a hundred times.

And lastly on this subject, when Brenda and I were returning on the ferry from Statue of Liberty Island, the Coast Guard had pontoon boats with armed personnel on board as well as a machine gun attached to the front of their boats.  If you go back and look at the quite lovely picture I took I must say of this image, you will see the automatic weapon fastened to the front of the boat.  The Coast Guard’s boats were plentiful in the river that day, bobbing and buzzing around like bees.

Monday, May 24, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 20 - Epilogue

In Part 8, I described my discomfort with the gathering in Pennsylvania.  This was because there has always been some kind of strange East coast status thing going on with that side of the family (my dad’s side); I think my dad came to California to get away from it all.  There is a lack of casualness in general among a lot of that family, and in particular with special events (not that I’ve been to too many of them over the years).  But the whole time I was in Pennsylvania, I was supremely aware of my own behavior, very conscious not to make any faux pas.  Maybe my California upbringing has just been too casual and nonchalant.  But, whatever!

My parents had worked out that it would be better for Brenda to stay in New York during this event, given that she didn’t know any of this side of the family, and also given that this side had a certain super-cultured way about them.  My parents and I would later have a big argument about this excluding of Brenda; something they later apologized to me for.

During the luncheon in Pennsylvania that I called Brenda on her cell phone to see how she was doing at my aunt’s apartment.  Brenda answered and said that she was walking around the shops on Columbus Avenue and had just gotten herself a slice of pizza or two.  This lightened my heart.  It tickled me to think that this girl, who is from a small town of 30,000 people in the Central California Valley, was walking around Manhattan doing what she loved; shopping.  It also helped me to know that she wasn’t feeling too bad about being excluded from the activities in Pennsylvania.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"10 Steps to Solving the Immigration Problem"

I think Doug McIntyre has made excellent points in his column this morning:  The Ten Steps

2004 Train Trip – Part 19 - Epilogue

In Part 4, when I discuss the situation with the train waitress treating people poorly, I always go back to my idea that if one is paying for a service, the service should be good, and if it’s not, then I always write a letter.  This was the case in this situation as well.  I think that we in America have got to give good service for whatever we do, or we shouldn’t be doing that job or offering that service, as I described in "Customer Care".

In Part 5, as I described the train coming down the Manhattan/Hudson River (and I use this description loosely because I could have it wrong); it was a beautiful sight.  The train moved about 20 miles per hour under a thin overcast sky as we gazed across the slow, dark waters of the river to the opposing smooth rock banks which supported plush greenery.  It was the same kind of rock, whatever that may be, that you will see sporadically through parts of Central Park.  Didn’t the glaciers cut through and move a lot of these rocks up and down the Northeastern seaboard during the various ice age fluctuations?  I couldn’t exactly see where our train was, but I imagined our tracks cut into similar rock overhangs on our side of the river.

One of the things I love about New York in particular, is how mobile everyone is.  Good friends such as my buddies John, and Steve and his wife, can just pop into an area of the city to have lunch or dinner almost in a moment’s notice, and we’re all on our way again.  It’s a great city for that kind of social interaction.  And there is so much good food all over the place!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 18 - Epilogue

During the third grade year at Oakwood, some group of our parents as well as our teacher, Betty Terry, organized a trip to Arizona to visit some Hopi reservations and Canyon De Chilly.  We rode in big jeeps through the rivers of sandstone canyons, looking at the ancient structures of the Native Americans built into the hillsides.  At the end of the allotted trip time, my mother went home with the rest of parents and kids, while my father, David Murray (a classmate of mine) and I rented a car and went on to see the petrified dinosaur tracks near the four corner states monument. I suppose we could have considered this an extension of studies from the previous class year.  We also ended up flying inside of the Grand Canyon in a helicopter

At the end of this, we three drove to Flagstaff and took a train overnight back to Los Angeles, where my mother picked us up. This whole adventure had a huge impact on my family, especially on my father and I.  From this point on, my father became interested and made a hobby out of archeology and paleontology.  He took classes and went on trips around the world to see and work in various sites, all the while still working at his aerospace job.  He credits the beginning of this interest to the 3rd grade trip we all took.

I too was impacted by this.  Since that time, I have always taken a particular interest in the Southwest, trains, and in seeing new places.  It didn’t take right away.  During my pre-teen and adolescent years, I could think of nothing greater than just making my way down to the beach, or sleeping in late.  But once I got rolling with a license to drive, I was all over the traveling thing; especially areas of natural beauty.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Weeping for the Innocent - The Unknown BP Disaster That Is

 Photo Courtesy of www.KNX1070.com

There is currently so much in the media about the British Petroleum disaster and what they have been trying to do to reduce the damage that has already been done.  Oil washed up today on an island off of Louisiana, where normally there would be vacationers enjoying the sand and surf.  Now there is thick, black crude the consistency of chocolate syrup to quote a CBS Radio reporter that covers the beach seven miles in each direction.

One has to ponder how much damage has been done already in the open ocean for that concentration of oil to be hitting shores so far away.  It is doubtless that a myriad of ocean-living animals and organisms have died an incredibly terrible and unnecessary death, and even the possibility of many genus and species of animals having been wiped out.

And in some way, it seems that people….humans, only react to these disasters in ratio to how we are affected and with much less mind to how all of those living creatures are affected or killed even if it has no affect on us.  It’s more than slightly an unfair "human-centric" way of looking at our planet, and is big reason why our lack of care for our global environment has gotten us to where we are.  Moreover, it’s completely unfair to the animals since we are the dominant species, and we should be responsible to all others in that way.

With all of the technology that we have now, iPhones, GPS in our cars, FTP sites, and wireless Internet, how is it possible that we are still using fossil fuel to power our cars, trucks, trains and factories?  It’s been clear for many decades that this method of power extraction is both the least efficient way of using energy, and the most destructive means to our Earth.

And the saddest thing to me….all of those animals and plants in the sea, such as those in the Gulf of Mexico right now, have paid for this misguided use of energy, or maybe just laziness, with their innocent lives.

2004 Train Trip – Part 17 - Epilogue

Well, my epilogue turned out to be too long for anyone to read in just one sitting, so I have broken it up into eight parts.  Here are some thoughts looking back on the trip as sort of footnotes now in May of 2010.  Some of these ideas struck me at the time and due to laziness, I didn't write them down, and others are more reflective and informational to help fill in some of the gaps in the travel log I kept at the time.

As I read through the adventures of our 2004 train trip, a few things come to mind.  The first is that when I mentioned in the beginning of my blog in "Part 1", a reference to a trip that some of my classmates and I took to Canyon De Chilly.  For those of you who don’t know, I went to an elementary school that promoted art and education through experience called, Oakwood School. 

In each class year, we would study a subject or two, and physically learn about our subject.  We made some of the artifacts of the culture such as pottery and Kachina dolls, and we visited the catacombs of the Chinese under Olvera Street.  In second grade, our subject was the dinosaurs and a bit of Chinese history.  Third grade was the Hopi Native Americans.  Forth grade was the Vikings, and by fifth grade, I was pulled out of Oakwood because I still couldn’t read well, and my parents were fed up with the program since we didn’t seem to be hitting the three R’s hard enough (or at least I didn’t).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 16 – 11/7/04


We skipped breakfast and woke up and I went to the parlor car to finish my book.  Brenda got ready and then fell back asleep on the couch in the room.  We ate lunch with a couple from Anchorage, Alaska, who were very nice as we went through the wine country.   

When we got to the sea, which would have been around Surf Beach, it was getting dark, and we got into a conversation with a returned commercial airline pilot.  We had also been talking separately with an air traffic controller.  So we introduced them and they had plenty to talk about in their professional lingo; matchmaking of a different sort.

As we left the Santa Barbara station, the train got really quiet.  Alexis, our parlor car attendant, started cleaning up.  Brenda and I took the Red Line from Los Angeles’ Union Station to North Hollywood, and we then grabbed a taxi back home to Burbank.  It was a fun trip!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 15 – 11/6/04


Brenda and I woke up and went to the Seattle train station where we got onto the Coast Starlight.  This train has a parlor car, during which part of the trip, they offer cheese and wine tasting to the sleeper car patrons.  This parlor car also has a little theater below on its first level.  The parlor car has big, comfy chairs with drinks and snacks always available. 

In Portland, Oregon, we passed by the American Orient Express, which I presume was some sort of charter train.  It was parked silently on siding tracks in the station.  We also passed by Mt. Saint Helens, which had lots of steam coming out of it’s top.  We talked and ate with a man from Seattle who works on water projects and was on his way down to San Diego.  He knew a lot about trains.  He told us several interesting tid-bits about our route and it’s history.  An elderly lady joined us for dinner.  She was from Winnipeg Lake and had recently moved to Santa Rosa to enjoy some warmth. 

After dinner, the parlor car played the movie, “Harry Potter II,” while the lounge car played “Garfield,” and then “Stepford Wives.”  Interesting combo!   The parlor car had lots of warm chocolate chip cookies put out for us after the movie.

We stopped in Klamath Falls tonight and walked around for ten minutes in the cold.  Brenda and I went to our room, turned out the lights in our sleep-clothes, and watched out the window and the train made it’s way to Mount Shasta.  I was pretty familiar with this area since I had traveled through it by car a lot.  It was splendid to look out at the distant lights of towns as the train made it’s way along the mountain curves.  We could see the front of the train and it’s light, and the red track signals as they switched.  There was some snow along the train’s path. 


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 14 – 11/5/04


We woke up entering the Cascades and went through a six-mile tunnel, then along the Columbia River, which was gorgeous and rich with greenery, and had banks of fog wafting through it.  It made me think of the atmosphere that most theme parks try to make when one is on a log-ride.  We then entered much thicker fog; so think that the conductor was constantly sounding the train’s horn.

On this trip so far, I have read the following:  The script, “The Inquisitor,” the book, “Black Butte,” and “I shot Andy Warhol.”  I’m also finishing the creative writing book, “If You Want To Write.” 

We arrived at the Alexis Hotel.  The cab ride was fast because this part of downtown is not very large.  We went into the hotel, which at first I thought was too small looking from the outside, but as we walked in, we could see that we had gone in via a peripheral entrance.  We checked in and it was very comfortable.  We immediately suited up for the outside and went walking toward Pike’s Fish Market. 

Brenda and I realized right away that there were much fewer people and cars than we had been used to in Chicago.  In retrospect, we had felt the say way arriving in Chicago after being in New York.  Each city to the West was feeling more like a ghost town than it’s predecessor. 

We got Pike’s Fish Market and we saw that there were loads and loads of little stores that had signs for produce, seafood, touristy nick-knacks and post cards.  The market was built in levels.  The top level matched the main street, while the other levels went down toward Puget Sound.  There were little hallways and rooms such as in Monterey’s canneries, which had been turned into shops.

There were restaurants and bars along one cobblestone alley that made me think of old London.  Pike’s Fish market’s shops seemed too numerous for the few people wandering its empty oak-floor halls, but then again, it was a weekday.  Maybe this place got busy during the weekends.

Brenda and I bought thirteen postcards and a cd from some musicians.  We then went to the “Underground City Tour.”  Our tour guide was really funny.  She did a 20-minute intro, which consisted of an historical talk, which was followed by the tour itself.  We walked through three areas of the city underground, which had been covered over by floods and fire at different times as I recall. It basically felt like we were just walking in basements.  So we had to keep thinking to ourselves that this had been ground level at one point in the past.  It was also not unlike the catacombs in downtown Los Angeles; another early Oakwood tour we did while studying the Chinese in 2nd grade. 

A few not so wise settlers who didn’t know any better had built the city of Seattle on mud sludge, and when the great Seattle fire arrived, they had to rebuild the city on a higher layer.  But to compensate for now having to match the 2nd stories of all of the buildings, the city people funneled mud from the nearby cliffs into the streets to raise these streets another 16 feet to equal 33 feet above where they had once been.  At first, to cross the street, you had to climb up a ladder, then down another ladder.  Imagine if you will, the women shoppers of the day, climbing up and down with their turn of the century dresses and high-heeled boots carrying their packages and hat boxes  

Finally, the business owners started using their 2nd floors as their ground floor while their original ground floors because unused spaces until the gold rush brought in enough business to keep the bottom floors busy.  Eventually, gambling, prostitution and speak-easies during prohibition, and finally a small outbreak of Bubonic Plague caused the 1st floor areas to be considered unfit until such time that the rat populations could be made to leave.  This expulsion of rats was done by pouring cement under the wooden floors on the 1st levels.  This was a common site during our tour; big slabs of not so carefully poured cement that had markings of wood slabs on their surfaces, many of which are beginning to sink and tilt in odd positions. That’s the short and long of the underground city anyways. 

Brenda and I then walked to Chinatown, which was in a bad part of town as far as I could tell.  We wanted to leave immediately.  We took the rail trolley to the waterfront, visited inside a Russian submarine, took a ferry to Bremerton Peninsula, and then saw the Imax film on the eruption of Mount Saint Helens.

We walked back to Pike’s Fish Market in the dead of night, and then walked to 1st street and found the original Starbucks Coffee House.  We then walked to Pine Street and Pike Street.  We went back to our hotel and I started on some post cards and mailed them off at a nearby mailbox.  Obviously, this was before I was aware of blogging!


Monday, May 17, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 13 – 11/4/04


We woke up and had breakfast with a couple of guys.  One was from North Dakota, and the other was from Washington State.  Both were very nice.  The guy from Washington looked like a mountain man.  He told us he had a cougar living on the roof of his home near Spokane. 

We finished breakfast and had already been sitting in the Minot, North Dakota train station while the train was having a bit of a respite.  I wanted to get some more postcards, but thought that the train might take off just as I went inside.  I grabbed a picture of Brenda in front of the antique train adjacent to the station platform.

Brenda and I had lunch with an elderly couple from a very northern part of Wisconsin.  The husband had retired after working in biomedicine in Chicago.  We had a good time talking with them.  The man had also been a marathoner but gave it up for the hobby of sculpting wood ornaments.  He makes beaded Native-American jewelry, and he also did a lot of hunting, which he enjoyed immensely.

Brenda and I went to the lounge car and watched the Dakota lands pass us by.  It was very flat occasionally broken by a few rolling hills.  We saw animals grazing and watched a blazing, fiery red sunset that lasted a good portion through our dinner.  We sat with two African-American guys just a little younger than us; one from Minnesota, and the other from Sacramento.

After dinner, Brenda and I watched Spiderman II in the lounge car, and then moved into our room to read as we entered the state of Montana.  By the time it was fully dark, I couldn’t see the Rocky Mountains yet.  But I later woke up at 3:00am or so and I could see through the moving night that we were deep into the Rockies.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 12 – 11/3/04


George Bush won.  Ohio was the deciding state.  Brenda and I at a diner on Ohio across form the best Western I used to stay at way back when.  We then went walking around.  We went atop the John Hancock Center, which has a great view of the lake.  We ended up washing the outside windows of the building on some scaffolding. 

We got to Union Station and boarded our train.  Our dinner was spent with an inebriated couple, neither person of which could retain anything we said to them.  Brenda and I retired to our room and read for a bit.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 11 – 11/2/04


We arrived in Chicago and checked into the Drake Hotel early.  We walked around Michigan Avenue and went into Nordstrom’s, Bloomingdales, Sacks Fifth Avenue, “ the four-story Crate and Barrel, as well as a few others.  I also took Brenda into the Water Tower Mall that I had found and liked so much a couple of years earlier.

We decided to eat at our hotel because it was so cold and windy outside, and then watched the election results in our cozy hotel room.  I love the Drake Hotel.


Friday, May 14, 2010

2004 Train Trip – Part 10 – 11/1/04


We went to the post office to mail off some post cards, then to meet my parents for a walk in Central Park, to 5th avenue and down to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue and 50th Street.  Walking through Central Park with my parents was really nice.  My dad saw a hot dog vendor and got himself a hot dog before any of us knew what was happening; typical native New Yorker.  The day was perfect for walking.  A little cool and visually crisp everywhere.  We walked down 5th Avenue and saw all of those expensive places on the East side of the park, and we saw where the zoo was located, although I don’t think it happened to be open that day.  As we passed the bottom corner of that park, by 5th Avenue, and that big, fancy hotel, my parents told Brenda and I a story of how they had their wedding reception in the upper ballroom of that hotel.  It sounded so classy!

We walked over to Rockefeller Center to see people ice-skating. My parents would be staying an extra day or two and then flying back to LA., while Brenda would be leaving this same day on the train to head West onto new adventures.

We said goodbye to my parents.  I remember that as we parted ways and Brenda and I had to cross a big street to make a light, and I looked back to see my dad kind of confused, and my mom with her arm around him, correcting his path to continue down the sidewalk.  This made me sad at that moment. For even though none of us was to know yet that he was about to start into Alzheimer’s, my melancholy had something to do with being aware that he would just as well have wanted to spend the whole day with Brenda and I and was sad to see us go.  I also saw him now as an older, frailer man visiting his own native city that he knew so well, but now being more vulnerable in it than I had ever seen him before.

I bought a sweatshirt for Brenda and then we went back to my aunt’s apartment to pack up. My aunt was getting nervous because she was aware that the cab at that hour would take a while to get back down to the train station.  She was right.  We just made it in the nick of time, literally.  As soon as we got on the train, it started out of the station.

We to into our compartment and had dinner with a guy who wouldn’t talk at all.  It was the strangest thing.  A lanky, probably late 30’s guy, who just wouldn’t say a word.  It started to irritate me until I thought to myself that it was just probably his way, and had nothing to do with us.

Our compartment on the train had television and movies.  We watched a Drew Barrymore and Ben Stiller movie that was terrible, and then a couple of episodes of, “That’s What I Like About You,” and a few cartoons.