Archives for the month of: October, 2015

Benedict Hamlet Last Thursday I went to Anchorage to see Benedict Cumberbatch play Hamlet in a broadcast of a live performance at the Royal National Theatre in London. It was the real deal, the whole of Shakespeare’s Hamlet Prince of Denmark, showing one day, one show only, seven o’clock. I had to see him.

I flew up on Ravn Air, saved the in-flight peanut butter-chocolate chip cookie, and picked up a Budget rental car at the airport. With the driver’s seat stuck in LeBron James position, I maneuvered the cherry red Ford Focus down the narrow concrete spiral in the parking deck and straightaway drove to Downtown to see the Van Gogh Alive exhibit at the Anchorage Museum.

Anchorage Oct 2015 021-SMALLInlet TowerAfter lunch in the museum café and a couple of hours immersed in Van Gogh, I checked in at the Inlet Tower hotel. Jutting up 14 floors out of, but close to, the major tourist area Downtown, I can find it without taking my eyes off the road too much. It’s not expensive (AK residents get a discount) and has a funky vibe and a pretty good restaurant, though I wonder about the lone tropical fish in the tiny aquarium at the front desk. I stayed there often enough this summer to notice a different fish every time.

While it was still light outside, with the help of the woman cloistered inside my phone, I drove from the Tower to the Cinemark Century 16 on 36th Avenue. That’s in Midtown. Without a single missed turn, I was at the theater in less than 10 minutes, which gave me time to eat a takeout salad by the fireplace in Natural Pantry, just across the street.

Intermission came about nine o’clock, just after Uncle-Stepfather Claudius says he’s having Nephew-Stepson Hamlet murdered in England. Not wanting to chat up strangers about the campy production, I checked my phone, which had been in airplane mode. I might have missed a call! Or a text message! I could squeeze in a few more plays in Words with Friends!

But I couldn’t unlock my phone. I couldn’t turn it off and restart it. So forget messages, texts, and figuring out a move that would earn double letter and double word points. I was in a part of Anchorage I don’t know. So I abandoned scrumptious, sweaty, athletic Benedict Hamlet to begin finding my way back to the Tower. “Make haste the Tower!” I thought. ‘Twould be better lost in Anchorage wide awake at nine o’clock than wandering drowsy at eleven.

As I got into the car, I thought about one of my recurring dreams, which plays like this: I am stranded somewhere in Middle of Nowhere trapped inside a car; I try to call my departed husband; my cell phone fails. Lately, without waking up, I know I’m dreaming and drift out of the danger. A couple of friends have said is lucid dreaming. Both asked if I take control of the situation within the dream, and so far the answer is no. I just continue sleeping.

Granted my predicament wasn’t nightmarish (like Polonius, I do go on). I wasn’t anywhere near Cook Inlet or Potter Marsh with the car sinking into dark, cold water. The hook man wasn’t hanging on the door, but it was raining and dark. I drove with the windows down to allow a clear view to the left and right.

I sensed the direction I needed to go, but one-way C Street thwarted me. “In this car, I can probably drive around until daylight,” I thought. But after about 45 minutes, during which I ranged as far as the end of Spenard near the airport, passing the Harley Davidson dealership and the Puffin Inn (if you stay there, demand a room that’s in the new section and away from the elevator), I spotted Title Wave Books, then Minnesota Drive, then the Tower’s beacon.

Back in my room, I plugged in my phone, which was 90% charged. I put on my pajamas, ate the Ravn cookie, and pondered what Hamlet would have been doing about then. I’m pretty sure Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and crazy Ophelia were already dead. I went to bed and read through one of the three New Yorker magazines I brought along for the trip.

Next morning, I went down to the lobby early to take advantage of the free continental breakfast before I went to the airport. I asked the first person I saw with an iPhone for help. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “It’s the new operating system. Just press the home and on-off buttons at the same time.” Forsooth!

I hope I remember this next time I have that dream.

Anchorage Oct 2015 026


Thank you, EBB.

Last Saturday, riding out East End Road to a friend’s 60th birthday party, I was listening to “Mountain Stage” on KBBI. Right off, from his accent, I knew the guy talking was from my neck of the woods in southern Appalachia. When he mentioned Mt. Rogers, I pulled into the parking lot at the Gear Shed. Public radio can do that to you.

Turns out the guy doing the talking was Wayne C. Henderson, the world renowned guitarist and luthier (for the likes of Doc Watson and Eric Clapton). He used to deliver the mail to Sugar Grove Elementary School. The show was a replay of an August broadcast from the Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia. So close to home.

Funny thing, accents. In Homer, mine is a giveaway that I’m not like most people here. I’m a recent transplant. I’m an Appalachian hillbilly who happened to move cross-country to a bucket list tourist destination. People like me don’t usually end up in Alaska.

Tomorrow I’m going up to Anchorage to watch a replay of a live broadcast of Benedict Cumberbatch playing Hamlet. Come Friday, I’m tuning up my autoharp (thank you, RC). I know who I am. I’m kind of like a rogue pony, but I know my home is where the mountains are very old.