Today Shannon and I headed off to the city to see "Sing Along Sound of Music," which was a lot of fun. The public transit on the way there, however, was sub-par:
1. Our BART transfer didn't even remotely resemble what the BART website had led me to expect, as there was obviously some kind of problem that resulted in us sitting on a platform for 15 minutes instead of just walking off one train and onto another. But Shannon read aloud to me from Winnie the Pooh at MacArthur station, and it was pretty amusing and kept us occupied.
2. The train from MacArthur to the city was PACKED. It would have been bad enough if we had gotten to do our "timed transfer" and walked right onto the second train, but instead all the SF-goers got off the first train and then stood, waiting, on the platform, where, over the next 15 minutes, they were joined by more and more and more people wanting to go to the city. By the time our SF train arrived, we had no chance in hell of getting seats for the 21-minute ride to Civic Center. In the end, I simply sat on the floor, because my wrists are currently most decidedly NOT in any shape to keep me hanging on to a pole for that long.
3. We got off at Civic Center, had lunch at Homeless Harry's Hamburger Hamlet (i.e., the Civic Center Carl's Jr., which always seems to be chock full o' shouting people, muttering people, smelly people, begging people, weirdly chuckling people, people with severely matted hair, and the occasional blandly unassuming fast food customer), and then hopped on MUNI to scurry up the hill to the Castro. It's a distance we normally would walk (1.7 miles, according to Google Maps), but we were on a time schedule to get to the movie on time PLUS the entire distance is uphill. The MUNI came quickly, but then, after the first couple stops, began having some kind of constipation problem. The train would pull into a station -- you could see the platform outside the windows, the signs indicating the station name, etc. -- and then just stop. The doors would not open. The train would not move. After a while, the mechanized voice over the loud speaker would announce, "Next stop, X" (where X is the station name on the signs you're seeing out the windows while you wonder why the doors aren't opening). The first time this happened, the train stayed stuck in limbo long enough that the driver announced that he didn't know what was going on, he was waiting to hear, he didn't know if/when the train would start going again, and so he opened the doors and told people they should just decide if they wanted to get out and walk. Lots of people did. We stuck it out, and I think in the long run it was still much faster, but the whole "going much faster for a while" experience ended up severely impaired by the "sitting in one place and doing nothing for no apparent reason" element. In a way, even though it's faster, it's more frustrating. Stop-and-go often bugs me more than simple slowness.
The actual show was great. Not quite what I was expecting, based on what I'd seen locally in previous years and what I'd seen online, but still fun. There weren't nearly as many costumes as I was expecting. No nuns at all, in fact, and from what I'd seen/heard before, I expected lots of nuns. There were, however, a great many Gretls, most of whom looked nothing at all like Gretl (some wearing leiderhosen, some wearing just random pretty dresses). There was a very slutty-looking "Leisl" who was wearing short-short cut-off denim "leiderhosen." There were a few different Baronesses, none of whom looked much like the Baroness, but all of whom were wearing vaguely fancy dresses. There was a woman carrying a marionette control set-up, and she was wearing an outfit very similar to what the kids all wore when they performed the puppet show, so I thought her costume rocked (though she had no actual puppets). There was an adorable "lonely goatherd" (maybe 6 years old) and his goat (probably mother). There were a couple of cute "brown paper packages tied up with string." And two people -- two! -- dressed up as "the runner up" (the woman in the musical competition at the end who does not win -- and who does not appear for more than a few seconds -- but who is memorable for her comedically repetitive bowing when she comes to accept her booby prize). This last costume was particularly unusual, as it consisted primarily of behavior -- repeated bowing -- rather than apparel.
My favorite costume was a 2-person one: two kids wearing football jerseys with numbers on them. The one with the number 17 on his chest gave a piggyback ride to the one with the number 16 on her chest, and they explained that they were "sixteen going on seventeen." Ha!
There was also a woman dressed in a very strange costume, all nondescript tight black clothing, with a funky headpiece -- kind of a thick strip of semi-rigid black -- arcing off her forehead and then behind her, with some kind of white blob on the end. She explained that she was the eyelash upon which the snowflake stays (in "My Favorite Things": "snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes"). I thought her costume was the coolest!
There was also one little girl -- around 5 or 6 -- who waited in line with the other costumed tots, got up onto the stage, and explained to the hostess that she was "Cinderella." Um ... okay. I guess that was the eighth Von Trapp child.
The movie itself: great, as always. The crowd was sometimes so noisy that I missed favorite lines, but you don't really go to this kind of rowdy event to hear every line. Or if you do, you're stupid. At the door, we were given a "fun bag," filled with mostly useless crap, but the one cool thing it contained, which did not immediately impress me, was one of those little bottle-shaped plastic poppers that get handed out at New Year's and are full of these thin paper streamers. The hosts instructed us that we were to pop these when Maria and the Captain kiss for the first time. That didn't sound all that exciting to me -- and Shannon and I both lost our "fun bags" before the movie even started, as the bags were very slippery and the seats very crowded and all that -- but people used them far more creatively than they'd been told to do. And so, instead of waiting for the big kiss, people would set off their poppers at various moments to mark the exchange of a significant glance between the two characters, or when the Captain first obliquely admits that he is in love with Maria, or something else like that. It ended up being this sort of shorthand for "Captain/Maria moment here! Check it out!" I liked it tremendously.
The other really cool prop was one that people brought, themselves: flashlights. I don't know if people were using actual flashlights or if they had extremely powerful cell phone screens, but when the Nazis entered the crypt in the abbey, searching for the Von Trapps, and they were shining their flashlights all over the place, suddenly there were 6 or 7 flashlight beams from the audience, shining all around the screen. It was sooooo cool!
We arrived at the Castro around 12:45 p.m., and left around 5 p.m., so it was a bit of a marathon theater experience. I was surprised I didn't feel more claustrophobic or people-averse over the course of the afternoon, but it really didn't bother me. The only thing that bugged me, I think, was the people who kept using their cell phones during the movie, and there were several people in our immediate vicinity -- in all directions -- who were doing this repeatedly. None of them talked on their phones, that I heard, but they were doing things that involved a very brightly-lit screen in a darkened theater. Over and over and over again. Dude! Can't it wait until intermission? You don't even have to sit through the whole movie at one go! It was extremely distracting and -- I think -- extremely rude.
So we were gone aaaaalllllllllllll day, from around 10:40 a.m. to around 6:30 p.m., and we are both exhausted by the time we staggered through our front door again a couple hours ago. I'd been planning to go to CWC tomorrow, but now I'm wondering if I really want to be around people again so soon. But I'm sure by tomorrow morning the crowded Castro will feel far behind me and I will be ready for a bit more humanity.