Posted by len on 19th October 2006
Last night we drank deeply of the goblet of Broadway and experienced Spamalot, the fitting swan song (and swan dancing) of our departure from the U.S. The show suffers a single fatal flaw: it’s musical theatre. Here’s a remedy: take the production, transplant it into something other than musical theatre, and then…Oh wait, then you’d have a movie called Monty Python and the Holy Grail that was made about 30 years ago. Sue and I are pretty skeptical of musical theatre (could you tell?) and thankfully Spamalot ranks among the best we’ve ever seen. We were happily entertained for most of the quickly paced two acts.
Among the few snags was a recreation of the famous stay-here-and-make-sure-he-doesn’t-leave-guard-scene. Following the movie script pretty much verbatim, the scene felt just too long for the funny it had to offer. The cast was good, so much so that we didn’t bemoan the absence of the original Python members too acutely (with the exception of the Cleese-as-French-taunter; the performance just couldn’t compare). Only two songs from the movie made their way into the musical: Camelot and Brave Sir Robin, the latter of which was a high-point especially given the clarity of the vocals compared to the more backgrounded version in the movie. The song ended on “..penis is split” as the bard imagines all the horrendous tortures Robin would bravely endure. You can’t not like that! In the first act the musical follows the movie plot fairly closely. For the second act all bets are off with the Lady in the Lake playing a significant, and funny, diva role and other bizarre and mostly funny meanderings.
Like a lot of musicals seem to do these days Spamalot gets a little too entrenched in a self-reflexive oh-look-we’re-on-broadway kind of thing towards the end. It’s hard to begrudge the writer Eric Idle too much in that regard, however. Remembering the ending of the seminal film, police cars disrupt the shenanigans in a twist of absurd anti-resolution. Most people aren’t expecting traditional dramatic arcs from a production named Spamalot but it is Broadway and Broadway shows can bend only so many rules.
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Posted by len on 16th October 2006
Today we suffered a bitter defeat to the forces of stasis (that is, the forces that attempt to keep us in the U.S. and not adventuring). Several days ago we applied for health insurance through IMGlobal, partially at the recommendation of my seasoned ‘adventure pal’ Lee Sullivan who has been living in Paris for several years now. I know what you’re thinking: you’re only applying for health insurance NOW?! 5 days before my COBRA option under Sony expires? Well, we tried a month ago, I swears it! But the funky international health insurance system doesn’t allow you to even apply until you’re within 30 days of departure, and then, well, things got busy.
It was rather infuriating to be rejected (apparently because of my modest high cholesterol issue) but as Sue pointed out, the American health care system is really a competition to acquire completely healthy individuals, letting even the slightly unhealthy fend for themselves. This becomes all too apparent when you don’t get health insurance through your job as we are doing for the first time in our lives.
Happily, a few hours later we found another, less comprehensive but still adequate plan, and it appears that we are now covered. Total cost for 3 months: around $400 for both of us.
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Posted by sue on 16th October 2006
Hanging out in Manassas, Virginia, a couple of days to see Len’s mom Marianne and brother Matt and family, before heading up to New York tomorrow for the official departure. Mostly things are in order now, I think, except that no mail has been forwarded by the post office to our forwarding address as of yet and we’re wondering what might have become of it.
Our moving company did come through and deliver the remainder of our worldly possessions to my parents’ farm today– everything present and accounted for, all for the agreed-upon price. The only hitch was that they had initially promised to deliver everything a week ago! It was a problem not because we really needed the stuff, but because my parents were subsequently saddled with the task of dealing with all our junk without our help.
We don’t know if we’ll have convenient internet access in NYC, so the next post may well be from Fes.
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Posted by len on 13th October 2006
In the last post, Sue included a picture of some idiot on a ladder that was itself supported by a raised tractor. I felt I should discuss that photo a bit. That is indeed me. On the farm in Iowa a few days ago, Sue’s father Lawrence needed some help getting a chain around one of the thick branches so he could control the direction the tree would fall when he cuts it down in a few weeks. Before he dreamed up the tractor idea he had the ladder fully extended to reach the 24 foot high branch base. I gotta say that ladder was wobbly like me at the R&H Christmas party. I climbed up it 5 feet and got a really sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Right after seeing me turn white is when Lawrence suggested the tractor concept which, at first, seemed like a less death-defying prospect. Can’t imagine now why I had that thought given the experience of holding a 15 foot ladder while being raised in the loader of his tractor about 10 feet and THEN needing to climb the ladder. In the end the job was done and I survived. Now I feel stronger and more assured that after nuclear winter rains down upon us and some crazy tractor+ladder contraption is the only means for survival in the Mad-Max-post-apocalyptic wasteland, I shall reign as king!!
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Posted by sue on 12th October 2006
We left the Hecht farm yesterday for the hilly, wooded suburbs of Denver. We had a less productive week in Iowa that I hoped. We did help the parents a little with work on their house, and with getting started on their new computer, an iMac that we helped them buy in Des Moines over the weekend. And we did manage to sort through some of the stuff that we shipped in boxes to the house, but didn’t really finish. Luckily, my mom said she’d put away everything that we didn’t get to.
If only we were more organized people by nature. I like to have things just well enough in line that we can usually find things, and keep our bills paid on time, but I just don’t spent enough concerted time getting things in place and keeping things that way, and Len doesn’t either.
But maybe it’s not the super-organized, everything-in-its-place type of person who would dump everything and move to Morocco.
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Posted by len on 10th October 2006
Just a few days ago, Sue and I both got the most thorough searches we have ever experiences when trying to get through LAX. Could it be our final destination, Morocco, has set off some Homeland Security alarms? Intriguing…and a little disconcerting.
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Posted by len on 10th October 2006
On the farm in Iowa….
Excitedly remembering a basic rule of photography I quickly got my foot into this photo for scale. I later walked around the farm a little more and these babies are everywhere. Imagine the backpack of baggies you’d need to lug around if they applied LA dog-curbing rules to Iowa farms? Iowa farm fact: When cow pies (or patties) dry they are called ‘cow chips’.
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Posted by len on 8th October 2006
Compelled partially by a seize-the-day mentality brought home by my father’s unexpected death two years ago and partially by Sue’s desire to study something very hard and potentially lucrative, my wife and I have sold most of what we own, moved everything else to her parent’s house in Iowa, rented out our house in Los Angeles, and are moving ourselves to Morocco. Our adventure began Oct. 4th, 2006. Our first stop is in Merrill, Iowa (see song lyrics for an introduction to this farm area) for a few days. Then we fly to Denver to visit my brother Michael’s family for another few days (and viewing of the season premiere of Battlestar Galactica). Then we fly to Ronnie Reagan airport in Washington D.C. and visit my mom and brother Matthew (Winnie) and family. We are then boarding a train at Union Station and heading into New York City, a mere 3 hour ride away. In NYC, we are kicking around with my mom and old friend Sandra for a day or two and capping everything off with the most appropriate way to bid farewell to the West: we’re seeing Spamalot, the Monty Python musical based on the Holy Grail. The evening of Oct. 19th we board a Royal El Maroc jet and fly throughout the night, arriving in Casablanca at around 6:30am Morocco time. We then find a train that will take us to our new home of Fez.
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Posted by len on 6th October 2006
Wednesday, October 4th, 2006 at approximately 11 hundred hours, two days behind schedule, our vessel accelerated to escape velocity and broke free of the gravitational pull of Los Angeles, hurtling us into the cosmic void. The very long-awaited moment of departure finally came after staying up until 5 am trying to get our house prepared for our groovy new (and first-ever) tenants Mark, Ellen and kids. First and foremost we want to acknowledge and smother with gratitude our elite flight crew, heroes of the journey. On task last Sunday were Heather Goguen, sister Meredith Goguen, Sean Gannon, and Jeanene Carvajal working all-day to help clean house, paint mouldings, sweep, chuck, polish, etc. They worked like dogs helping us get our house looking purty in a very short time. Without you there would have been no launch. Also we want to thank our good friends Lil and Gary for lending us their spare car for months, helping clear out our house, using their house for storage, and last but not least hosting and throwing us a fantastic farewell party. Thanks to all others who contributed by buying (or taking) some of our belongings.
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Posted by sue on 21st September 2006
I have to admit that the work we’ve been doing so intensely on the house the last couple of months feels a bit like a prison sentence to me. One reason I was excited to devise a plan to leave the country is that I’m SO done with the drudgery of home improvement, which we have been doing almost constantly since buying our house 4 years ago. But the horrible catch is that I have therefore had to spend every day working to finish every little detail that I have put off, plus put in the work to sort through all of our possessions, find a file for every last piece of paper, and handle all the other tedious but necessary little details of life.
But thankfully it is soon coming to an end, because it must! The house is in pretty good shape now, and most of our stuff has been sold, given away, or arranged for moving. It’s starting to feel like our big move is really going to happen!
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