A Streetcar Named Desire, Hamlet & Volt. He Said Extra.

He Said

A Streetcar Named Desire

For some reason I thought I had seen the movie version, but after seeing the play I realized I have seen bits and pieces on  TV over the years, but never the movie from start to finish. I  was aware of the two tag-lines: Marlon Brando screaming “Stella” and Blanche’s  “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.  But I did not know the context of the memes.

Tennessee Williams is like Shakespeare in that respect, so many of his themes and language are part of the popular culture.

Streetcar, at the Portland Center Stage, is the story of the slow breakdown of Blanche DuBois, a Southern Lady who slides from wealth to poverty and insanity, aided by her vanity and her brother-in-law, Stanley.

Streetcar is a powerful play, powerfully acted. The two hours flew by engrossed by the performances and the language of the play.

Particularly good were Stella, who is a woman who knows what she wanted in her husband, and Stanley, who comes across as more sly and intelligent than the ignoramus I remember in Marlon Brando.

Written in the late 1940’s, it is also interesting to see be reminded of how much attitudes towards women and sexualty have changed in the last 50 years.  The cast was all African American, and, unlike the nearly all female version of Othello, the casting made no difference in the understanding and impact of the play.

The staging is particularly effective, looking like the French Quarter of New Orleans, but in an open arrangement that allows the audience the ability to simultaneously see the inside and outside of their living arrangements.


After the play we opted for Hamlet for food and cocktails, which is only a couple of blocks from the theater.

The atmosphere is nice, but nothing special: wood, dim lighting, high booths and chairs you have to climb up to get a seat.  I sometimes think that barstools and tables should be built closer to the ground; less distance to fall for a geezer after a couple of drinks.

It is a ham themed bar, in both the food and drinks.

The drinks were terrific. I started with a Whiskey Ginger, which was fine. I have come to the conclusion that for cocktails I want one that has neither soda or lots of ice. One big ice cube, perhaps, but I like my drinks away from being soda pop.

The second drink, however, was the Melon vs Meat: gin, honey dew melon juice, honey, bitters and air dried prosciutto.   Ham, but not the ubiquitous bacon, was perfect in the drink. I should have had two of those.

The menu has a variety of cured hams, served paper thin. I tried the sampler plate with a mini loaf of hot french bread, a perfect post theater snack.

The dessert did not do it for me. Chocolate salami, which was neither chocolate nor salami in taste, an odd combination of mousse, raisins and other ingredients. There are a variety of recipes on the internet, but this just tasted odd.  I always like to try something outside my comfort zone, sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.

We are pretty easy to please and try to enjoy every place we go for what it is, rather than what we wish it would be. I will say the night we were at Hamlet was one of the few times we have experienced poor service in Portland. After the drinks we were mostly left alone i.e. ignored, needing to flag down a waitress to give food orders etc. The place was only a quarter full and there were three wait staff, so it wasn’t like they were overworked.

Eating out is like a kabuki dance: a series of stylized interactions with the waiter: Initial greeting. Menu. Drink order. Food order when drinks delivered. Food delivery. Mid-dining check in: “is everything ok?” Dessert inquiry. Dessert order. Dessert delivery. Final check in with bill delivery. Pay the bill. “Have a nice evening, please come again.”

Service was more like a Junior High dance: awkward, uncertain, and filled with unneeded pauses.

Maybe it was just an off night, as I will be back for the ham and the drinks which are well worth the trip

Volt and 400 ppm

My Volkswagen CC died at a mere 118,000 miles. The repairs were more than the Kelly Bluebook. I had hoped the car would last to at least 200K, but no such luck. So I needed a new car. The other event this month is atmospheric CO2 reached 400 ppm as we inexorably work on roasting the planet. We geezers are leaving our children and grandchildren a hot and ruined planet.

There is no way I could buy a car that did not help in some little way with greenhouse emissions.

I looked around and settled on a Volt. Initially, being the snob that I am, I never even considered a Chevy, but this is a great car.  On a full charge (just plug it into the wall outlet) I can drive about 55 miles. So far have have gone 800 miles on 1/5 a tank of gas. It is solidly built, nice to drive and so far I have yet to find anything wrong with it. And with $3000 off the sticker and a $7500 tax credit is it quite the bargain.   I do not understand why GM is not advertising the car more.

As a geezer I need to get it out my mind that I am going to be speeding through the back roads of Germany in a high performance car. Nope. I need a comfortable, efficient people mover that does not screw the environment. This car is perfect for that. And it is the first car I have had with the safety features that are becoming standard: blind spot and collision warning etc. As my driving slowly goes from mediocre to “get off the road old man” it is nice to have a car that makes up for failing faculties.

It is not a Tesla, but at a fraction of the cost it is a great car and I am minimizing my donation to the ruination of the earth.

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