Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hellbent for Leather

I want to open mouth kiss this weather.

I want to believe that we have turned a corner and that I won't have to turn my heat back on until November. I want to hope that, like tonight, I get to eat dinner on a patio with a view of people walking their dogs a few feet away on the sidewalk. I want to wear shorts on my walk every single day and, like today, shorts to an interview if I so choose.

It's crazy how Spring fever is instantly affecting people, too. My phone never rings this much.

Mid-afternoon, a neighbor calls to invite me on a prolonged stroll tomorrow. "Let's walk down Monument Avenue and talk about architecture!" he suggests. Let's.

Another friend calls up to remind me that we haven't gotten together recently and can we rectify that pronto? And by pronto, he means tonight. We can.

After over-indulging al fresco, we set out for the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, only to end up on a one-lane bridge on the far side of Old Washington Highway. Truthfully, I don't even know what county we're in.

The benefit of this is that we are in the sticks and the sound of frogs singing surrounds us. It may as well be June.

"It just got warm last week!" my friend jokes. "I thought frogs took 21 days to germinate! Where'd they all come from so fast?" That I don't know, but judging by the symphonic chorus of croaking we're hearing, they're fully formed.

After backtracking, we land at  the Cultural Arts Center and find seats in the November auditorium, the size and luxury of which surprises my friend. We're there to see a live radio broadcast of "When Westerns Were King," showcasing John Ford's "Stagecoach" (originally broadcast in 1949) and "The Lone Ranger: Footlights on the Frontier" from 1944.

A young girl in a period dress, looking very "Little House on the Prairie"-like, gives us a program and counts us off on her clicker.

Waiting for the show to begin, we get on the subject of pickling and although he says he's not a big pickle person, the fact is, he does love bread and butter pickles and pickled onions, so I figure he just needs more exposure. Ergo, I suggest we attend the upcoming Pickled & Fermented festival.

Now he's a on a roll. "My Dad used to make pickles, grew his own cucumbers and made bread and butters. He made balloon wine, too with grape juice and sugar." He's still explaining to me how a balloon enters into wine-making when the lights go down.

A man in a cowboy hat, bandana and jeans comes out to start the show, tossing his hat up in the air, explaining the applause light and how to clap properly (double time works best) for the first-timers, one of whom I'm sitting next to.

Suddenly, we're in Radio Gulch and drinking sarsaparilla.

"Stagecoach," billed as a romance of the West, gives us all the great tropes of the genre: gun shots, galloping horses and a bad girl named Dallas who really has a heart of gold. She's part of the group - you know, the usual: alcoholic doctor, pregnant woman, and our hero, the Ringo Kid aka the John Wayne role - heading to Lordsburg on the stagecoach.

It's just that the Apache Indians aren't real happy about white folk crossing into their territory. Fortunately, all that drama is leavened with lines like, "Well, I guess I can't break out of prison and into society in the same week." Probably not.

The fun in watching these radio plays comes from the actors playing multiple roles and the array of sound effects created onstage. We got to see a lot of sandbags hitting the floor tonight to simulate people falling off their horses after being shot.

"The Lone Ranger" episode was cornier, but saved by the Shakespeare-spouting actor ("Are you calling me a ham?") who helps save the buried miners and reveal the owner of a neighboring shaft as the bad guy, all in the guise of a performance.

Just as much fun were the commercials for "the new breakfast cereal, Cheerios," touted as the ideal way to break the monotony of corn cereals for breakfast every day. Hell, I didn't even realize we had cold cereals in the '40s.

Ordinarily, I'm not much of a Western fan - too much adventure for me - although honestly, I'm not sure how many I've seen, but it's tough not to enjoy a radio script with lines such as, "Let's plant some bullets where they'll do the most good."

And right after that, let's rustle up some balloon wine and plant that where it'll do the most good, preferably on a sunny patio where I'm wearing shorts.

Hi-ho, Silver.


  1. frogs are spring peepers

  2. Well, now I know! Thanks for the lesson, stranger!