Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did!
Back to Elegant Dining
I’d been disappointed by the over-hyped Taste of Austria dinner. Visually, it had been lovely, but the culinary experience couldn’t beat what we’d already been enjoying. Quality not quantity is my interest.
After my trot around Linz, we scurried back to the boat and I jumped into my evening attire. This was the penultimate evening of the cruise and the captain was throwing a cocktail party. That included a toast, which meant champagne would be served. So I was janie-on-the spot in the lounge. I didn’t want to miss any champagne. The captain didn’t try to labor through another bout of English, thankfully. Instead our cruise director translated for him.
After the toast, the lederhosen, dirndls and oom-pah-pah were gone from the dining room- much to our relief. We waxed nostalgic about our service throughout the evening as if we’d been living on the boat for years, instead of a matter of days. The Viking Daily had promised Mozart and the Sound of Music as our evenings entertainment and we wondered how that mixture would pan out.
A Salzburgian Romp
A troupe of singers appeared and offered a few tunes. Their voices were wonderful and they wore authentic period costumes. The evening started out very high-brow and then they began the audience participation part of the performance. I was not surprised in the least that they chose Bill. They always choose Bill. I’m beginning to think he must be offering bribes. Anyway, here’s a few photos from his appearance.
That was fun, but the next part was even more wonderful. They switched from classical to a classic, The Sound of Music. I can’t say I was actually yearning for tunes from the Julie Andrews movie, but as soon as the first few bars of intro wafted through the lounge, I had tears in my eyes. The singers merely zipped through the soundtrack, hitting the high points, which was lovely, but I secretly wanted more. I wanted to be reminded of every frame of the movie and especially Edelweiss, which is on my personal top 10 (along with Leon Russell’s Stranger in a Strange Land, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and Gordon Lightfoot’s Rainy Day People.) I’ve never streamed a movie to my phone, but it did cross my mind that evening.
The performers were real characters. They were hamming it up with all the guests, so Bill wasn’t the only one to garner their attention. He’s just the only one who entered the spotlight. After the performers left, the tempo got much faster and the girls hit the dance floor. I have a few more photos to share below.
The boat didn’t head towards our next destination until 10:30 and I’d entertained thoughts of taking another stroll onshore, but it didn’t happen. If you let them, Viking will fill every moment of your day and that’s what happened on this particular day, except for the visit to the Mariendom.
Next up is Passau, Germany. Come back next week and visit this lovely little town at the confluence of rivers.
TRAVEL THERE: NOT EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED IN BRATISLAVA
Bratislava is a lovely little town with the oldest surviving town gate in Continental Europe. However, I ran into several complications in my efforts to enjoy this stop on our cruise. The video includes the highlights of the shore excursion and I’ll tell you about my difficulties behind the scenes.
The Walking Tour That Wasn’t the Walking Tour
I had carefully studied the available shore excursions back in Dallas and after a careful examination, decided the Bratislava Walking Tour was superior to the Bratislava City Tour. Both involved walking around the Old City, but one included a bus trip to what I call Faux Castle.
See there once was a real castle up on Castle Hill. However, it was nothing but a ruin when the Communists showed up. They decided they needed to replace the castle, but all they did was build a modern building and call it a castle. I had no desire to see their modern day monstrosity.
However, when I showed up on the dock, we were ushered to a bus and I got the distinct feeling I wasn’t going to be happy about it. In Viking’s defense, I didn’t say anything to anybody once I feared I was on the wrong tour. I guess the jet lag or something had finally hit me, because I wasn’t feeling completely up to par and I just didn’t have the desire to rock the boat – or the bus. My bad.
The bus took us up Castle Hill and dumped us out at the Faux Castle for an orgy of picture taking. The scenery was great, but there’s nothing that makes you feel more like a tourist than being dumped off for a photo opportunity when you don’t really understand why you are there in the first place. The guide never even pretended the castle had any historical or architectural significance. She just said we had ten minutes to take pictures and abandoned us.
On cue, we filed back on the bus after taking our photos and rode down the hill. Then we went on a walking tour which was somewhat interesting, but not compelling. That might have been because the grumblings in my stomach were getting most of my attention, but I was also wondering how the tour sans the Faux Castle would have differed. My new friends assured me they had a great time on the real walking tour, but since Deb was the sort to have fun whatever she was doing, I don’t know if she can be trusted.
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
Andrew Petcher (a fellow travel blogger I highly recommend), suggested free-style wandering was the best way to see the town, but with Mr. Bill in tow, free-style can be problematic. I think Andrew was probably right. With my Rick Steves’ tour book in hand and no tour guide to keep up with, I think I would have thoroughly enjoyed the capital of Slovakia. The architecture was charming and the quirky sculpture sprinkled throughout the town made for some great snickering.
I think it would be a great place to spend a quiet weekend, but it’s a little far from Dallas for me to check out that theory. My greatest regret was not getting to the UFO Restaurant atop a bridge, another gift of the Communists. After the walking tour we were given some free time, but by then I desperately needed a little private time in my cabin.
A Slovakian Evening
By 6:45 I had gotten myself back into cruise mode and was front and center for the Daily Briefing. We had dinner with our cruise buddies and then made our way back to Lounge for “A Slovakian Evening.”
The entertainment was delightful. Those great big ocean liners can provide productions to rival Broadway and Hollywood, but you have to share them with your 3000 new friends. I’m sort of over that. I much preferred the intimate setting of the Lounge, where we gathered comfortably with 178 (give or take a few) other passengers. The show was marvelous. In fact, after some expensive entertainment in Vienna, our friends told us the onboard entertainment had much better performers than the Viennese show. We thoroughly enjoyed the Slovakian Evening, because the songs were familiar, the costumes were beautiful and performers were gifted.
Below I have included some photos of the entertainment. I hope you’ll come back next week for Vienna – the highlight of the cruise.
So, a couple of weeks ago I gave you a little background information. I explained how Bill and I are a couple of city slickers, living out in the country. While honky-tonking is not completely foreign to me, it is to Bill. Still, at the suggestion of my bestie, we visited Southern Junction in Royse City. Here’s how it went.
City Slickers at a Honky Tonk
Since Bill & I both work at home, we probably spend more time together than most couples, but we still love to go out together, whether that’s shopping at Costco or a fancy dinner. Going to Southern Junction qualified as an official date. We planned ahead for it, got all dressed up and planned on having a great evening. Bill even drove the Mercedes. First mistake! Well, maybe the first mistake was getting all dressed up, but driving Bill’s precious Mercedes onto a rock-covered parking lot was definitely a mistake.
Now please understand, we were well aware that many of those pick-ups cost a lot more than the Mercedes, but they were pick-up trucks. Kicking up gravel is part of what pick-up trucks were made for. That’s not the case for the Mercedes. In fact, sedans and coupes of any sort were definitely in the minority as we waited in the car for Deb and Joe to show up. Waiting until they got there was a good thing, because if we’d walked in by ourselves, I might not have gotten Bill past the vestibule.
On the outside, Southern Junction is a huge mustard colored metal building with some stringed lights affixed to the front portion, set amid a very large gravel parking lot. As we waited inside the car, we recognized we weren’t dressed like everyone else. Bill had on a pair of jeans and a shirt, just like the rest of the guys, but the shirt was a designer number I picked up last time I’d been shopping and instead of worn boots, Bill had on a fairly new pair of lace up oxfords. Neither of us had on a hat or a down vest. Hand-tooled belts? Nope, not that either. For my part, I don’t own any cowboy boots and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of shorts cut up to …
When Deb and Joe arrived, we walked out of the parking lot into a large room with ticket windows. Everything was bare and wooden. No frills. I mean NO FRILLS! Deb waltzed up to the window and handed them her drivers license. She knew the drill. The rest of us had to get our memberships, because Royce City is dry.
If you’ve ever been to a honky tonk then you know exactly what was inside. A huge dance floor with a mirrored ball, a stage for the band, a bar, pool tables and lots of formica-covered restaurant tables with economy chairs arranged into long rows. The band wasn’t playing yet and Deb’s friend was nowhere to be found. A pair of hostesses looked like they were dying to tell us we’d arrived at the wrong place. Bill said it reminded him of Billy Bob’s and I chuckled to myself. It didn’t remind me of Billy Bob’s at all. This was the real thing or as close as I’d been in a long time.
After the hostess asked whether or not we had reservations, she sat us at an out-of-the-way table, like she was embarrassed for us. Because we’d asked after Kevin, she claimed it was where people sat when they were with the band, but we had our doubts. Kevin’s lady still hadn’t shown up, so we went ahead and ordered dinner. Deb had falsely advertised 2-for-one steak dinners, but that had been the night before. It was all-you-can-eat night, not my favorite thing in the world, because I can eat a whole lot more than I should. My ribs were great. Bill didn’t enjoy his as much.
I was having a good time. These weren’t exactly my kind of folk, but they were enjoying themselves and Texas Drive was making marvelous music. Some of the dancers really knew their way around a dance floor and I was fascinated by the line dancing. Each song had it’s own routine and somehow everyone one knew which one to do. Before the band came on there were Two Step Lessons (fast, fast, sloow, sloow was the background noise for our meal) and during the break there were Line Dancing Lessons.
Bill’s evening was not going quite as well. As I mentioned, this was not Billy Bob’s. He’s not very fond of all-you-can-eat either, especially when they deliver your food before they provide utensils to eat it with. He didn’t like his ribs and the potato was cold, but he was also piqued that no one offered him second helpings. Not that he wanted any, but since it was all-you-can-eat, they should have asked. When they delivered his credit card slip for a signature, they failed to bring a pen. Fast-fast-sloow-sloow nearly drove him to distraction and while I thought most of the dancers were pretty good, Bill would have preferred to be home watching Dancing with the Stars. Neither of us liked the cigarette smoke. He kept waving his empty beer bottle at me, but he didn’t want another. He wanted to go home.
So, do I think you should go to Southern Junction? Well, if you like honky-tonking – absolutely. Otherwise, probably not. On the other hand, Texas Drive, the band we went to see, is a great band and if they’re playing at Southern Junction, then it may be worth the trip to Royce City.
TRAVEL HERE: WHAT TO DO IN DALLAS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
For folks dripping in family, the holidays become a blur of Christmas recitals and family dinners. For those of us with slimmer pickings in the family department, the holidays can make us feel a little left out. Well, if you live in or around Dallas, there is no need to feel left out. Dallas can keep you busier than a month of Christmases. In a recent email from Stefanie Faulk of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau I found an amazing list of things to do. Find something that suits your fancy and get out there:
Special Exhibitions and Christmas Displays
Dallas Art District and Downtown
Dallas Museum of Art (Now through May 20) Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots – This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, only the third major U.S. museum exhibition to focus solely on the artist hailed as “the greatest painter this country has ever produced,” is the largest survey of Jackson Pollock’s black paintings ever assembled. Exclusively on view in Dallas, it includes works that have not been exhibited for more than 50 years from an understudied yet pivotal period in the artist’s career. ALSO International
– This unprecedented exhibition, which critics have called “stunning,” showcases more than 50 historically important masterworks from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, one of the world’s most significant and rarely exhibited private collections of Islamic art.
Meadows Museum (Now – January 3) Treasures from the House of Alba: 500 Years of Art and Collecting – For more than 500 years, the Alba family has formed part of the most important aristocratic lineages in Europe, amassing an unparalleled collection of art through the years. In this exhibit, the Meadows
Museum presents some of the collection’s finest works, many of which have never been seen outside
of the family’s private castles.
Holiday Cheer at Reunion Tower’s GeO-Deck (Now – December 21) – Santa, his elves and furry friends from the Dallas Zoo will spread holiday cheer from 470 feet in the air. Catch special sky-high appearances at the GeO-Deck as you enjoy the view from Dallas’ most iconic structure. Experience breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views, high-definition zoom cameras, interactive touch screens, telescopes, photo ops and an indoor/outdoor observation deck that lets you see for miles in any direction.
Downtown Wanderland (All Season Long) – Downtown Dallas, Inc. invites visitors and locals to wander through bright and bustling Downtown Dallas and explore the city’s great retail, restaurants and bars. Enjoy season-long programming featuring holiday pop-up shops, happy hours, photos with Santa, movie screenings and more.
– Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with the magnificent 12 Days of Christmas outdoor exhibit – twelve 25-foot Victorian-style gazebos with charming costumed characters, music and more – and The Artistry of the Nativity at the historic DeGolyer House. And enjoy a stroll through the gardens on select evenings, aglow with half a million twinkling lights.
George W. Bush Presidential Center (Now – January 3) A Season of Stories: Christmas at the White House 2003 – Great stories have a way of bringing families together. A Season of Stories will offer visitors a glimpse into the magical White House celebrations of 2003, including a full-size reproduction of the official White House Christmas tree and delightful décor featuring beloved storybook characters.
NorthPark Center (Now – January 3) The Trains at NorthPark – benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas is the most elaborate miniature toy trains exhibit in Texas. More than 1,600 feet of track takes visitors on a journey across America, from New York City to the Golden Gate Bridge. Also Visits and Portraits with Santa – Capture memories of a lifetime with one-on-one visits and portraits with Santa Claus. Children feel right at home in Santa’s cozy living room, complete with a fireplace and holiday tree. Take photos with your own camera or purchase professional portraits by Marc Robins Photography!
On the West Side
Christmas at the Anatole (Now – December 23) This holiday season the legendary Hilton Anatole Hotel will transform in to a winter wonderland complete with dazzling décor and festive programming. Featuring
breakfast with Santa, face painting, Christmas-themed scavenger hunts and more, the Hilton Anatole is your home for the holidays.
TRAVEL HERE: LOUISE MANDRELL PERFORMS FOR GLOBAL HEART MINISTRIES
The corner of Plano Parkway and Custer Road is quite symbolic in my mind. On one corner sits IILM, an Islamic learning center. Across the street is The Hope Center, an edifice devoted to Christian ministries. I’d thought for a long time how ironic it was that the buildings stared one another down on a daily basis. To go to The Hope Center the day after the Paris massacre was quite poignant.
Let’s start with Louise. There was a time when Barbara Mandrell was the biggest thing in music – not just country music, music. Her little sister, Louise is a powerhouse talent on her own and if there had not been the Barbara phenomena, who knows how well-known the little sister would have been in her own right. Unfortunately, the Mandrell name suffered a scandal (an undeserved scandal, I might add) and after the facts of the matter came out, the public had already moved on.
Being the apple of the public’s eye is not always everything it’s supposed to be. Louise has continued to be a successful performer and has a very loyal following. I saw her back in 1999 in her own theater in Branson. Today, she devotes most of her time to charities and causes she cares about. She is a loyal patriot and a strong Christian. When Global Hearts Ministry invited her to come perform for a fundraising event, she was thrilled to come.
Global Hearts Ministry
Last week on my Faith Talk blog, I talked about Global Heart Ministries and the circuitous route I traveled to find out about them. Long story short, Global Hearts Ministry creates Christian TV programming in native languages for Central Asian countries – nations dominated by radical Islam, the very brand of terrorism that just attacked Paris. Because we support the ministry, we were invited to their event and as circumstances would have it, the event ended up being on the evening right after the Paris massacres.
I go into it in greater detail over on Faith Talk, but Global Hearts offers the only real antidote to radical Islam – Jesus Christ. They are taking the antidote right to the crux of the problem – Central Asia. If you really want to make a difference in the War on Terrorism, I suggest you check them out.
The program was wonderful and I learned a lot about the ministry, which you can read about over on Faith Talk. Louise Mandrell was not the only celebrity in the room. I actually got to meet June Hunt, who sat at my table – or perhaps I should say I was privileged to sit at hers. Also on hand were the stars of the shows produced by Global Hearts Ministries. If I named them here, you wouldn’t recognize their names or their faces, but if you lived in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Iran or Afghanistan, their names and faces are as ubiquitous as Ellen and their shows are just as popular.
Back to Louise
At the end of the program we were treated to a mini-concert by Ms. Mandrell and she packed a whale of a show into her short performance. She sang some great songs, regaled us with both inspiring and humorous stories of the Mandrell family and finished off with a little fiddling. In our swag bag, we found the autographed picture above, along with some other treats. It was a great night for a great cause.
Here’s some shots Bill got during her performance. I hope you enjoy them and I hope you’ll be back soon to see what other exciting things I’ve been up to.
AT HOME IN HEATH: DALLAS KEEPS LURING ME ACROSS THE LAKE
I may have moved across the lake from my hometown, but I’m still very much the Dallasite. I recently got an email blast from Stephanie Faulk (firstname.lastname@example.org) Public Relations /Outreach Manager for the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. The correspondence spelled out some of my favorite things to do around Dallas. Allow me to share a few.
You had me at Fletcher’s Corny Dogs! I have always loved the fair. I go every year. My husband is not as fascinated with it as I am, so it’s a good thing my bestie is. We make a day of it.
First order of business is a corny dog – then I repeat whenever the opportunity presents itself. That means I don’t eat much else. The fair is famous for fried things, but I don’t want to waste my calories. I know I’m not going to like anything as much as I do the corny dogs and I have to get enough of them to last me all year.
Part of my love for the fair is nostalgia. I go through each building as if it were required by some divinely assigned task. I look at the new cars, test drive recliners, listen to pitches for gadgets, gawk at handicrafts, admire photographs, smell livestock, listen to music, sample goodies, walk down the Midway and sometimes even ride something.
Fair day is one of my favorite days of the whole year. Don’t miss your fair day!
I may go to the fair one day every year, but I go to the Arboretum much more frequently. Not as often as I’d like, but that’s life. I’ve been during the best days of Autumn in the Arboretum and Blooms, but I’also been there on chilly days in February. I don’t think there is a bad day to visit the arboretum. Even if it is pouring rain there’s a tram to deliver you to the DeGolyer House for a tour.
Ms. Faulk reported that folks voted Autumn at the Arboretum one of “America’s Best Pumpkin Festivals” in Fodor’s Travel 2014. With more the 75000 pumpkins dressing the garden up for fall, who can blame them. Kids of all ages love to see the spectacular fall display and gorgeous gardens. Put it on your calendar.
I’m ashamed to admit how infrequently I visit the Meadows Museum on the SMU campus. With so many attractions and events to distract me it’s not hard to understand why the quiet little Spanish Museum gets forgotten. However, the museum itself is a wonder of architecture with its grand staircase and the works of art it holds are gorgeous.
If like me you’ve been neglecting the Meadows, now is the time to rectify that. One hundred and thirty works from three spectacular palaces will be on hand, including works by Van Gogh, Goya and Renoir – to name just a few. This will be the first time this private collection will be leaving Spain. What a marvelous opportunity to see these masterworks of decorative arts and painting.
Other Exciting Opportunities
These wonderful events barely scratch the surface of things to do this fall in Dallas. A survey of Jackson Pollack‘s works will be at the Dallas Museum of Art beginning in November and staying through March. And speaking of modern art, on October 16, downtown Dallas will be turned into a wonderland of light, video, sound, performance and projection by some of the world’s best contemporary interactive artists in an extravaganza called Aurora. Following this man-made light show, the Perot Museum will be showing off some of Mother Natures most amazing creations in Creatures of Light: Natures Bioluminescence.
If Dallas is your hometown, please take advantage of these wonderful opportunities. If you don’t live here, then it’s time for you to come visit.
TRAVEL HERE: CULPEPPER’S HOSTS FRANK MARTIN GILLIGAN & JOE GAVITO
It started earlier in the week on Facebook of all places. I have a cousin down Houston way who is heavily into their music scene. If Gene Alton likes a band, then it’s a good band. He posted a video that I don’t even think I watched, but I noticed one of the comments was from Joe Gavito.
Who in the world is Joe Gavito?
Now Joe Gavito probably isn’t a household name where you live, but he features large in one of my childhood memories. I moved to Dallas in 1966 at the age of eleven. Back then I had no idea I was going to love Dallas as much as I do. I was pretty partial to Augusta, GA which had been my previous home. I can tell you this, Mapquest says there’s about 930 miles between Dallas and Augusta, but when you’re eleven years old, it’s more like 930 galaxies.
See, I was the cat’s meow at T.Harry Garrett Elementary School. My friends were Grayson Bailey, Caroline Swink, Patty Harrison, Margie Ann Bowers, Donna Rice and Martha Bowling. None of us liked Judy Moody, because she had a mean streak, but we all harbored crushes on her brother Tommy and that new guy, Paul, who had moved in at the end of the street.
We lived in the right neighborhood and attended the right church. I even took ballet from the right ballet school, piano from the right teacher and belonged to the right scout group. My dad had the right kind of job and we owned season tickets to The Masters. Life was good. I was about to enter sixth grade and I’m sure that along with my peers on Persimmon Road, I would have put on my white gloves and attended the right social dancing classes.
In Dallas I was nobody. We lived in a rent house in a modest East Dallas neighborhood and were still looking for a church. There was no ballet or scouts and my piano teacher was not remarkable in anyway. Dad still had the same job, but it didn’t carry the same cachet in Dallas and he’d forfeited his season tickets. And social dancing? HA!
I didn’t look like my Dallas peers either. When we got word my dad was transferring, Mom had already purchased my wardrobe for the school year. My wool plaid skirts, knee socks and penny loafers were all the rage over in Augusta, but Dallas had moved on to mini-dresses, fishnet hose and kitten heels – in sixth grade. No one in Georgia would have dreamed of heels until they were in their teens!
I suffered through my sixth grade year and dreamed of social dancing classes in Augusta. I wondered who had been lucky enough to be Tommy Moody’s partner and if there was any chance it would have been me if we’d stayed there. (Probably not, since over the summer I’d shot up at least a head over everyone in my class, especially Tommy Moody.)
Then came the invitation to Cynthia Rodger’s birthday party – Cynthia of the long blonde hair, mini-dresses, fish-net hose and kitten heels. Now I can imagine a conversation in which Cynthia’s mother told her that if she was inviting the rest of her class to the party that funny girl from Georgia would also have to be invited, but I was too unsophisticated in those days to even think of that. Instead I was over the moon. I was going to Cynthia Rodger’s birthday party!
I remember very little from the party, except for Joe Gavito. This suggests that I probably did not have the rapturous time I had hoped to have at the soiree, but it’s still a party I can’t forget. We were kids. Eleven-year-olds. I still had a hard time chewing gum and walking. Joe Gavito sat down at a drum set and played Wipeout. It was the coolest thing I had seen up to that point – and I’ve never forgotten it.
Nearly five decades had passed when I saw Joe Gavito’s name in my Facebook feed, but something prompted me to ask if he happened to be the Joe Gavito who attended sixth grade at MT Reilly. Lo and behold, he was. He even remembered the awful cat’s eye glasses that I wore – something else that had been just the thing in Augusta and absolutely the worst thing in Dallas. What’s more he was still in the music scene AND he had a gig around the corner from me on Friday night. Talk about coincidences!
I decided right then and there, in honor of the magic Joe created so long ago, I was going to hear him on Friday night. My husband reluctantly agreed to go, with the same excitement one might expect if I’d asked him to join me for dinner with my college sweetheart. My best friend agreed to go, because she always agrees to do whatever I want to. I extended the same invitation to several others and ended up with about seven interested couples. Before the end of the week, two couples had conflicts and my bestie’s husband got sick, but we still had a table-ful.
The official name of the act is Frank Martin Gilligan. He’s a singer/songwriter in the country/western vein and Joe plays backup. I didn’t know what to expect. I was just in it for the fun.
Frank started off with a few cover songs and then moved into his own music. The cover songs were good. His songs were great. He’d sound good singing pretty much anything, as he demonstrated by singing both Willie Nelson songs and a hit from Les Miserables. When he added his own amazing lyrics to the sound, it was rapturous. I hate to sound like a groupie, but my best friend studied opera and she agreed on both counts.
We planned to stay for one set. We stayed for two and Deb was still there when we left. Between sets I chatted with Joe. That’s when I found out that Frank Martin Gilligan had been the moving force behind Mason Dixon. I remembered Mason Dixon! Frank dropped out of the music scene to raise his family, but that task being done he’s returned to his first love – and that’s a good thing for you and me. Joe says that thanks to the internet, the new CD, Silver Dollar, is enjoying some success through online downloads for the media. In fact, Frank got a call from a DJ in Australia that wanted him to know how much they were loving his music Down Under.
The title song “Silver Dollar” is a ballad about the path an 1890’s Silver Dollar might have gone, in it’s journey to a friend’s pocket. I loved this feel-good song about the history of our great nation, but it wasn’t the only selection he played from his disc. I caught tears in the eyes of my companions during “I Remember Who She Is”. See if you can listen to it without crying. The CD is one great hit after another. You’ll love it.
One more thing. Joe Gavito was not playing drums. He’s moved on to the guitar. (In fact, the more I think about it, he was probably playing drums at the party I remember so well. Memories blur over time.) He juggles between two instruments as he accompanies Frank and he’s great on both of them, but one was a very small guitar from Tacoma that he says is called a traveling guitar. Whatever it’s called, it sounds like a mandolin and Joe is a maestro at picking on it.
Though I didn’t have time to tell you about it, I did manage to have some fun while I was missing in action. Here’s a sample.
Kaleidoscope of Homes Viridian in Irving (Oct 12) – It’s no surprise that we’re in the midst of building a home, so a tour of homes was right up our alley. We were thinking it would be more like the Dream Home events that used to be held in Plano and Frisco. Not quite on that scale, but it did firm up some of the ideas we were contemplating for our house. If you like decorating, then this might be a good event for you to plan to take in next year.
Driven by Design, Museum Tower (Oct 23) – Thank you Cadillac and Architectural Digest for inviting us to this spectacular event. We joined other Cadillac fans for brunch at the top of Museum Tower. What a spectacular sight! After a tour of one of the homes inside the Tower, we were ushered into a fleet of Cadillac Escalades to see several other amazing edifices. What’s even better is that rather than merely being chauffeured around, everyone got the chance to drive the amazing machines!
The homes we saw were out of this world and the architects who designed them were on hand to show us around and answer our questions. Then, back at Museum Tower, we were served a delicious snack buffet and given wonderful swag. Not just samples, coupons and candy, like I’ve gotten at another vehicle manufacturer’s events (I won’t name any names but their initials are MB), but a unique gift box that I love filled with back issues of Architectural Digest and a beautiful coffee table book from Cadillac. We’re sure glad someone put us on that guest list!
The Dallas Opera (The Marriage of Figaro Oct 26) – So it was my bestie’s birthday and my bestie loves opera. Last year we also went to the opera, but we sat in the nosebleed section, because I waited too late to order the tickets. This year I scored Terrace Right and we loved it.
I have a bit of a confession to make about my bestie. She studied opera at SMU, so she’s a bit picky about performances. This year everything was so perfect, from the sets to the voices, that she had nary a complaint.
Still to come this season are a pair of operas that I know nothing about (La Wally and Everest), but the ever popular La Boheme comes in March. In April, look for Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. The Dallas Opera has been my favorite ticket for a long time and continues to be so. I’m always amazed how many people don’t realize that they are one of the absolute best opera companies in the world. Go see what I’m talking about!
The Dallas Museum of Art (Bouquets) – To my everlasting regret, I missed the Partners Preview for Bouquets on October 24. Finding the unanswered invitation on my desk about a week after the event is all the evidence I need to prove to you that I’ve been way too busy.
Though I didn’t get to the preview, I did make it to the museum to see the exhibit. What words would be adequate to describe it? Beautiful still life paintings of elaborate floral displays in gorgeous ornate frames. Each offering was a riot of rich colors painted by the delicate hand of master. Still, I’m not doing it justice. You absolutely MUST go to this exhibit. It is truly one of the most beautiful collections of paintings I’ve seen in one place since I visited the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. Please go before it closes. It will be here through February 8, 2015.
The Bald Soprano at UD’s Margaret Jonsson Theater (Nov 5) – Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Bouquets is one of the most amazing exhibits I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. The Bald Soprano was also amazing, but on the opposite side of the amazement scale.
OK, so it says right on the program that this is an “anti-play”, so I knew it was going to be a little out of the ordinary. I can enjoy a good farse as well as the next girl. Opera is rife with farses. The Bald Soprano is beyond farse.
Still for most of the play, I was having a good time. It was silly and it didn’t make much sense, but the world is a lot like that this day and time. Then we got to what the audience thought was the end of the play and so we offered an appropriate measure of applause. Unfortunately, the play continued for another half hour or so and it wasn’t nearly as much fun as it had been before. The final applause was a little more tepid than the previous response. Afterwards folks wandered to their car wondering exactly what had just happened to them.
I do want to say this. In spite of the fact that we didn’t particularly enjoy this play, I want to give credit where credit is due. The problem was not the actors or their acting. The sets and costuming were good. The problem was the play. We eagerly await our invitation to the next offering by University of Dallas, because we’ve enjoyed several of their productions. This just wasn’t our cup of tea.
There’s more fun to come! Check back next week for Part Duex!
TRAVEL HERE: DALLAS AREA UNIVERSITIES OFFER A WEALTH OF ENTERTAINMENT
In an area like the DFW Metroplex, with so many voices calling for our attention, it’s easy to forget our schools offer many entertainment opportunities. What’s more, tickets for their productions cost only a fraction of what the pros want us to pay.
Sports are an obvious example. The worst seat at a college game will put you a lot closer to the action than the nosebleed section of any pro arena, yet you’re going to pay a lot less. In some cities, that might mean tickets to a Podunkville game, but here that means top ranked teams like SMU and TCU – and the sports range from men’s football to women’s volleyball and everything in between.
But sports are just the beginning. What’s your interest? I assure you, at least one school in town is devoted to producing graduates in that area of study. You like Jazz? Check out UNT. Chess? See UTD. And that’s just a couple of examples.
Many of our schools have significant collections, exhibitions, libraries and museums. Ever heard of the Meadows Museum? It’s a spectacular museum of Spanish Art, right on the SMU campus. Remember the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition a few years ago? Southwest Seminary in Fort Worth was the host. Did you know TCU had the Monnig Meterorite Gallery on it’s campus? I didn’t either, until I googled TCU and poked around a little.
Would you like to learn more about anything, but don’t want to sign up for classes. Then how about attending lectures from time to time. I know SMU has an amazing lecture series, just from hearing advertisements of very famous people who will speak. More interested in spiritual subjects, then check out Dallas Theological Seminary. Lecture series are an integral part of most universities.
Singing, Dancing and Such
Any school with a fine arts department will have frequent exhibitions of the students’ creations. I’m a graduate of UTD and if you click here, you can sign up for the Arts and Humanities mailing list to be notified of the exhibitions, poetry readings, concerts and more. With a little clicking around, you could find the same thing at pretty much any university.
My husband and I enjoy these opportunities – when we remember to utilize them. Thankfully, both UD and UTD, our alma maters, do a great job of reminding us to come see them.
As we headed back to the Norwegian Epic after our disappointing shore excursion, St Maarten gave us its final salute. Rain poured from the sky. A short afternoon rain, so common in the tropics, but all I could think of was, “par for the course.” Deb and Joe got soaked to the skin. Bill made a dash for it and stayed pretty dry. My very large sunhat took pretty good care of me.
Food is First
We grabbed lunch in The Garden Cafe, then Bill and I went back to our cabin to hang out on the balcony. We made it back to the buffet for our pre-dinner dessert, so even though were only on our third day, we’d already established a routine. I think Deb and Joe worked out, but I was still on antihistamines and was taking it very easy.
Dinner was at Taste – the first meal Joe and Debbie ate in that dining room. We all agreed that we liked the Manhattan Room better. The food and service was virtually the same, but the decor and ambiance in Manhattan fit us better.
The Mexcal Duo became another part of our routine. Deb and Joe dance ballroom. In fact, Deb teaches it and Joe teaches skate dance. So, dancing is important to them. Since I wasn’t exactly to to snuff, I hadn’t been cutting the rug, too much – and that was fine with Bill. Deb and Joe on the other hand had been scouting out all the musical venues to discover the best dance music. The Mexcal Duo, who played nightly in the Deck 5 Atrium were their favorites.
This particular evening we didn’t spend much time with the Mexcal Duo, because we had reservations for the Legends in Concert Show in the Epic Theater. This was one I’d been excited about. On the NCL website and throughout the ship, I’d seen pictures of the impersonators in Legends dressed up like people I really thought were legends: Elvis, Marilyn Munroe, The Beatles – you know, the really big names.
Well the show started off with a nod of the head to Whoopie Goldberg in Sister Act. I didn’t think it was a very effective nod, but I’m a big Whoopie fan, so I appreciated the effort. The Whoopie Goldberg impersonator was acceptable when she had on the nun’s habit, but when she tried to do stand-up Whoopie style, the act started wearing thin.
Next a guy came out and did Jimmy Buffet. He was a really good Jimmy Buffet. Not only did he sound like him, he could have been his twin brother. I enjoy Jimmy Buffet and his Parrot Heads, but I thought that part went on a little bit too long, also.
Then out came the impersonator who had been Whoopie Goldberg, but now she was Donna Summer. I’d thought the impersonator was a little small to be Whoopie, but she was particularly unconvincing as Donna Summer. I remembered Donna Summer as this long, tall drink of water and she was being portrayed by someone who was short and chunky. However, the music was glorious.
As good as the music was – I was still waiting for the legends. Where was Elvis? I’d have preferred quicker bits on each star, but more stars. The longer the impersonators were at it, the more the illusion fell apart.
Then we got a real legend – Michael Jackson. I can only imagine how difficult it was for this guy to be as convincing as he was. You knew it wasn’t really Michael, but occasionally you chose to forget. Instead of coming out and wowing us and then moving on to the next legend, the Michael Jackson impersonator did several songs. With the addition of each song the magic faded some more.
So – was the show good. Yes, it was. Could it have been better. Yes, it could.
After the show, Deb and Joe headed to the dance floor, but Bill and I headed to the room. Be back next week for St. Thomas and in the meantime, tell me which legend you think should have been impersonated.