Friday, August 3, 2012

Church Popcorn for Beginners

Firsts abounded tonight.

At the preview opening of "Beyond Skin: A New Vision of Tattooing," I saw tattoo art like I'd never seen it before.

Amanda Wachob's abstract expressionist-inspired tattoos were on oranges, acrylic paintings and leather.

The latter were my favorite for their textural quality as well as the warm beauty of the material.

Actually, one of her tattoos was also on curator Thea's arm, but it was so fresh that it still had a bandage on it, so I couldn't actually see it.

And, really, that was perfect since the whole point of the show was to see her non-skin work.

Considering Richmond is the third most tattooed city in the country, the unique show will undoubtedly be a popular one.

Besides, I can't possibly be the only un-inked one curious about non-skin tattoos.

It's enough that I'm one of the very few with unadorned flesh.

Leaving the gallery, I saw a clutch of actors in period costumes down the block.

Honestly, we've become Lincoln-filming central and no one is even surprised anymore to see guys in breeches and beards in the 'hood.

And in most cases, probably tattoos underneath.

Dinner followed at Don't Look Back, which was mobbed on my arrival, but there was one bar stool open at the end.

The Man About Town was at the far end of the bar, but stopped to talk theater with me before crossing the street to "The Hunger Games."

To each his own.

Claiming the stool, I ordered a Frito pie and scarfed it down while listening to the three women next to me discuss how they didn't think their lives were proceeding at the same rate as friends of a comparable age.

Had I not had places to be, I might have insinuated myself into that conversation and suggested that they measure themselves by their own yardsticks and not that of anyone else's life.

But there wasn't time because I had to get myself to First Baptist.

I joined dozens of other musical lovers in the courtyard for an outdoor showing of "Oklahoma," a movie I've never seen.

I'm betting it was a first for only me and the two twelve-year olds behind me, but I'm okay with that.

I know, I know. The gaping holes in my film viewing are downright embarrassing sometimes.

What struck me as particularly funny, though, was how many of the songs I knew.

And not just sort of recognized, but actually knew most of.

The evening began with the minister telling us, "If you'd like to sing along, feel  free."

Given my singing voice, I wouldn't do that to a group of god-fearing people, one of whom had shared his bug spray with me.

As the movie began with Curly trotting through the cornfield singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," the buzz of the cicadas grew louder.

"Why don't you just grab her and kiss her when she acts like that?"

As night fell, fireflies came out and the moon came up, it became clear that this was a movie choreographed by the legendary Agnes de Mille.

I may not be a dancer, but I've seen "Rodeo" often enough to know a de Mille move when I see one.

"Must be plenty of men trying to spark her."

It was an unexpected treat in what I expected to be a standard Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

Me being at church was apparently cause for fireworks because we started hearing them an hour into the film.

Some people looked around nervously, apparently not sure of what they were hearing, but I figured gunshots on Monument Avenue were unlikely at best.

The Diamond, I figured, barely half a mile away.

"You can't just go around kissing every man who asks you."

Like many '50s movies, period details were subject to interpretation.

The interior of the farmhouse looked like something from a big city house and not the simple dwelling a farmer would have had in the Oklahoma territory at the end of the 19th century.

A surprisingly high number of women wore red petticoats (you know, so practical for plains living).

Peddlers were from Persia and had American accents.

One thing I found charming was when Laurey kisses Curly for the first time.

"That's about all a man can stand in public," he warned her after the second kiss.

Oh, my, and what they can stand now!

The minister had warned us that the movie was long at two-plus hours ("Folks used to have plenty of time to sit in air-conditioned theaters and watch long movies." Yea, that and attention spans), but between the exquisite ballet dancing, familiar songs and two very different romances, I agreed with Laurey's sentiment.

Never have I asked an August sky
Where has last July gone?

What do I care about July giving way to August when I'm watching romance under a moonlit sky?

It may have been a first, but I'll risk being a heathen among believers to experience that again.

As Ado Annie said in the movie, "I cain't say no."

And why would I want to?

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