Monday, May 7, 2012

Wicked, Creepy Critters

made me right happy. Kimberly had quite liked it when she saw it in London a while back, and she really, really, really wanted me to see it too. Being a good girlfriend and all (I might just keep her), for our respective birthday presents, she got us tickets to last night's show at the Durham Performing Arts Center. No argument from the ol' man.

DPAC is an excellent facility; I don't think there's a bad seat in the house. Ours were in the very first row of the third level, which had us perched at a dizzying altitude smack in front of the stage. Add a couple of glasses of wine, and the acrophobia set in with disturbing and strangely enjoyable intensity. The performance was excellent, the stage production easily the most elaborate I've ever seen (Brugger tells me it was even more so in London). Watching The Wizard of Oz on TV is one of my most profound childhood memories (and I was lucky enough to catch it on the big screen in the late 60s). My first two or three experiences with it as a wee lad were incomplete, however; I just couldn't make it past the initial appearance of ye wicked witch. Come that big old billow of smoke and Margaret Hamilton's cackling countenance, young Mark said, "Nope!" and went off to bed. When I finally did watch the film start to finish, I ended up stunned and absolutely in love with it (though I never got all the fuss about Judy Garland; so not a favorite). Wicked, by and large, made for a most appealing back story, though I confess, had they asked me — and why don't they, after all? — I might have modified a detail here and there, just to tighten the ties to the original tale. Overall, I enjoyed the music, and the orchestra at DPAC rocked, to say the least. I'll give this one five out of five broomsticks.

DPAC is located in downtown Durham, adjacent to the American Tobacco historic district, which in years past was a major Lucky Strike manufacturing facility. The old factories, warehouses, and train station have been converted to a picturesque shopping/dining/office mecca, which we wandered about for a while before the show (there are caches). After the show, we had a late outdoor dinner at Cuban Revolution, whose fare made us exceedingly happy. I had a delicious Ropa Vieja — shredded flank steak in a spicy tomato-based stew of onions, peppers, garlic and adobo over rice, topped with chopped lettuce, tomato, and onion — and Brugger had Crustini con Hummus and Spinach and Cheese Empanadas. I'll give 'em an A+ all around, for food, service, and atmosphere.

At the office, I've accumulated more vacation time than I can carry over past my upcoming anniversary (methinks I may be working too much!), so I'm taking a couple of days off for some belated birthday reveling. This morning, it was up early and out the door for Danville, where a bunch of relatively new caches have been calling me with some insistence. First, Anglers' Park, for a pleasant four-mile hike and half a dozen caches, then a few random locations around town for another half a dozen. I particularly enjoyed one called Creepy Creatures (GC3FP2G), which was full of... you guessed it... creepy creatures. Some of the big critters in the container are what I consider the optimum size to instill honest-to-god brain-searing horror could such things be real. Too real, though, were all the damned creepy ticks, which are out in force now — especially the near-microscopic baby deer ticks, which aren't any bigger than the head of a pin. At the end of it all, unfazed by the ticks and abundant poison ivy, I booked over to Ringgold for an excellent barbecue dinner at The Corner Cafe, owned and operated by caching compadres Laura and Keith McCoy. How you say... yummy.

I sleep now. After all, I'm a hell of a lot older now than I was last week at this time.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Brugger dressed for a serious night out.

A creepy critter?

Damned Rodan at a little graveyard in the woods near Anglers' Park

Yeah, creepy.

A happy little critter I encountered on the trail.

An unfortunate little critter, less happy than the other one I encountered. So sad.

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