Opera At The Cinema

On the spur of the moment, Phillip and I hopped in the car, drove up to Regal Cinemas at Thornton Place and watched a (recorded) live presentation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at The Metropolitan Opera.

I’d never seen The Magic Flute before, and I admit that I was more impressed by the production than the opera itself. (It featured a giant, rotating stage, enormous puppets, dada-esque costumes, and lots and lots of fabric.)

Phillip and I used to go to the opera semi-regularly at the Seattle Opera House. We’d always go to matinées – not because we were trying to save money, but because our sugar gliders expected us to be home, serving them breakfast, at 8:30 p.m. sharp.

That changed when we tried to buy tickets to Porgy and Bess on the day they went on sale. We discovered that Seattle Opera was doing only one matinée, and it had been sold out, except for isolated single seats, by season ticket holders. We discovered that was the case with all the operas we wanted to see that season.

Even though there are no sugar gliders in our apartment now, we haven’t been back to the opera since.

Anyway, it was fun to be back at the opera this afternoon, even if it was in a movie theater.

After the opera, we had a nice lunch at Jewel Box Café.

Stranger In The Know

I got to the bus stop at Bellevue and Republican, and there was a full-sized semi, with a flat bed trailer, with some kind of construction tractor on it, blocking the southbound lane of Bellevue Avenue, mid-block between Mercer and Republican. The semi was parked there, with its flashers flashing and at least one traffic cone at its nose.

Bellevue Avenue is one of the larger streets in the densely-populated “I-5 Shores” neighborhood, but it’s still not a very large street.  Traffic could squeeze around the semi, slowly. I doubted that our 47 bus could get around it, but I decided to stick around for the show. The man, or men, with the semi were providing no traffic assistance whatsoever, so it was quite a mess with northbound traffic meeting southbound traffic head-on.

Our 47 bus arrived, heading southbound on Bellevue, and the driver wisely decided to not try to squeeze around the semi. So then the neighborhood had a truck and a bus blocking the southbound lane. We commuters at the bus stop were standing around looking at our bus, stuck a block away. I wondered when I should give up and start walking – no one at the bus stop was doing so – but I’m never in a hurry in the morning, so I decided to continue watching the show.

About the time our bus arrived behind the truck, one of the men (I think there was more than one) started to slowly drive the tractor off of the trailer. I thought it would have made an interesting photo, if it wasn’t so dark out.

Meanwhile, an SUV tried to back out of the driveway of an apartment building. The semi was completely blocking the driveway, however, and after trying to find a way around the truck and its trailer, the driver of the SUV gave up and drove back into the apartment building.

There were, of course, several cars parked on the curb, boxed in by the semi. These construction jerks were messing with a lot of people’s commutes.

(Yes, I understand that they had to get that tractor into the area for whatever reason, and there’s not a lot of space to park a semi in our neighborhood. But here’s what I would have suggested, had anyone asked me: Pull the semi into the bus stop. The trailer would be sticking out into traffic, for sure, but not as much at the whole truck was, and no driveways or parked cars would be blocked. It would be blocking the intersection,  but cars could get in and out of Republican Street through the alley. The 47 bus could have picked us up in the street.)

About the time I’d decided to start walking, the semi drove off and the 47 pulled in and picked us up, about 5 or 10 minutes late.

It was quite entertaining, and really no big deal – still, it put me in a worse mood than it really should have.

I missed my usual Link trains at Westlake Station, of course. I was at no risk for getting to work late, however. As I waited for several buses to arrive and leave, I noticed that there was one guy who’d walked past me, and had continued almost to the back of the platform, and was standing there.

A Link light rail train arrived. It was a 3-car train. I looked over and saw that the guy at the back of the platform had been standing in exactly the right spot for one the train doors. I was impressed that this stranger not only knew that the next train to arrive would have three cars, but also knew where the doors would be. 

Discoveries

I settled into work this morning, preparing to catch up on four days’ worth of backlog. (I have the type of job in which work is generated even when the office is closed.) And, of course, times like that call for ear buds and music. I turned to YouTube.

For some reason, I went first to “Judge Dread”, by Prince Buster. It was then that I learned, for the first time, that Prince Buster died a month and a half ago. I suppose he was one of artists – the kind that doesn’t get enough recognition and yet influences a lot of other artists. Prince Buster was a member of the 1960s ska movement in Jamaica, and his music played a big part of the 1980s ska revival in England. For instance, the band Madness took its name from a Prince Buster song, and covered several of his songs. The Specials covered Prince Buster songs, and used elements of “Judge Dread” in their song “Stupid Marriage”, and elements of “Al Capone” in “Gangsters”.

So, as I worked this morning, I bounced around YouTube for Prince Buster music. And, as YouTube tends to do, it keep recommending videos for me, whether or not they had anything to do with what I was listening to, or whether or not I’ve played them before. Eventually, I found myself listening to Chvrches performing “Do I Wanna Know” for BBC Radio Scotland. I’d heard them covering this Arctic Monkeys song before, but not this particular session.

And down the YouTube rabbit hole I went, listening to old favorites, like David Byrne performing on French TV.

Then, I made a discovery that changed the course of my morning’s music. I have discovered Glass Animals. I absolutely love this band I had never heard before. I am especially fond of their exotic rhythms. So, it was Glass Animals for the remainder of the day.

Chocolate, Pinball, etc.

Phillip and I walked up to Broadway this afternoon, boarded a 49 bus, and exited at Denny, in front of Capitol Hill Station and the First Hill Streetcar stop. (We could have walked that far, but a 49 was due in 4 minutes, so we decided to save ourselves a few steps.) We just missed the streetcar, and had a 14 minute wait for the next one, so we walked back to Phoenix Comics and Games to browse around a bit.

We walked back to the streetcar stop, a streetcar was there, and we rode the streetcar to The International District. (Link light rail could have got us there, too, but the streetcar has better views and allows us to play Pokémon Go at traffic lights.)

The reason for our streetcar ride was the Holiday Pop-Up Market at Hing Hay Park. There were also some guest appearances by some Seahawks players, and a very slippery ice sleigh, but we were there to support small, local businesses.

The market was disappointingly small, but there were some good vendors there. We bought a box of cashew brittle from Lanier’s Fine Candies.

After the market, we walked over to the Seattle Pinball Museum, paid our admission, and played some pinball.

Phillip is a much better pinball player than me, but I still enjoy the game. We both prefer the more modern, electronic games, but it’s always impressive to see the early games from the 1960s there.

There was an interesting pinball game from 2015 at the museum. (I had no idea pinball games were still being manufactured!) It was called Indianapolis 500, and featured a completely digital playfield. The ball, the flippers, the ramps – everything was just a computer screen inside a pinball table. I played a game by myself, but decided it lacked the physical feedback I think a pinball game needs. It was an interesting idea, however.

After the museum, we stopped into Hong Kong Bistro (more or less at random) and had delicious Chinese food for a late lunch. Then we rode the streetcar back home.

A few things happened on the streetcar ride home which I had never seen before:

We made a brief stop at 7th and Jackson for a change of drivers.

After we got underway, we had our fares inspected.

A man got on at Broadway and James, and when the Fare Inspector approached him, explained that the ORCA reader wasn’t working at the stop. The Fare Inspector believed him.

The Fare Inspector exited at Broadway and Pine. Then we got stuck by an illegally parked car in front of Seattle College. Our driver honked the streetcar horn several times, in case the driver was in the area, then called the Fare Inspector, who was also a supervisor. The plan was to fold the car’s mirror in and see if the streetcar had enough clearance to get by until a tow truck arrived to remove the car. Just then, the car’s owner ( who both the streetcar driver and the supervisor recognized as a repeat offender) appeared and drove off. The delay was was handled well by passengers and staff alike.

It was a fun afternoon.

A Pho Day

I love phở. Phillip does not. (More specifically, Phillip does not love eating phở.) So, whenever Phillip’s away at a NorWesCon meeting, and I’m left home alone, I will often treat myself to a bowl of phở. Since I don’t know how to make phở, I will walk up to Than Brothers Pho, on Broadway, on NorWesCon meeting days.

I’d been invited to ride over to Bellevue with Phillip today, and, at first, I said yes. But when I learned it was a 2-hour meeting, and it was in Factoria, in the middle of nowhere (at least to my urban mind), I changed my mind. So, after Phillip let me know he’d arrived safely at the meeting, I walked up to Than Brothers. It was a crispy, clear day – perfect for a bowl of hot soup.

I liked Than Brothers a little better when it was in the dark, funky, old building on the east side of Broadway. It lost some of its atmosphere, but none of its quality, when it moved into the brand-new glass and metal building directly across the street. It is still the most efficient restaurant I have ever visited.

I stepped in, and the cashier called out “How many?” and I raised up one finger, and called back “One”. Without leaving the cash register, she pointed at a table, and I sat down. There’s nothing on the menu except various kinds of phở (each lettered), in three sizes, and beverages. The server came by within minutes with a plate of phở  additives, plus a little desert, and took my order. I ordered A (chicken),  large, and a Coke. The server must have misheard me, because instead of a Coke, she brought me a fresh coconut drink, complete with chunks of coconut. It was serendipitous, because the coconut drink was delicious – much better than a Coca-Cola would have been.

pho

When I was done with my meal, I didn’t have to wait for the check. I just walked up to the cashier, who remembered where I was sitting. (If she hadn’t remembered me, I could have told her I was sitting at table 17 – or just pointed the table out.) While she was ringing up my lunch, my table was cleared and ready for the next customer.

On my way home, I made a detour to TNT for a latte.

On my way up to Than Brothers, I returned Season Two of Game of Thrones to the library. I finished it a couple of days ago, and then tried to un-pause my hold on Season Three, using Seattle Public Library’s mobile app on my phone. The mobile app is handy, but it’s rather limited. (The app was created by Boopsie, not SPL, by the way.) When I clicked what I thought would un-pause the hold, it actually canceled the hold. (I now think there is no way to either pause or un-pause a hold using the app.) So, I put a new hold on Season Three, and lost only four places in line – from 15 to 19 – so it wasn’t so bad.