Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Chorus Line and A Haunted Hotel.

Confession: I'm a bad, bad Broadway mommy.

I have a child who loves to sing and act, and is quite good at it. She has been exposed to a number of Broadway musicals, operas and plays that most kids her age have never seen or even heard of. And yet, the one musical that totally revolutionized theater in the 1970's -- the one that put Marvin Hamlisch on the map, and made Michael Bennett a household name (at least in the households that watched the Tony Awards) outside of New York -- my daughter had not only never seen, but had never even heard the original Broadway recording of.

A Chorus Line. The self-described "greatest musical... EVER," according to the website dedicated to the Broadway revival and touring companies there of. And who are we to argue the point? So, when I was able to get hold of two tickets to the touring company's performance at the San Diego Civic Theatre for this past Thursday, I grabbed 'em.

Not wanting to drive all the way to San Diego and back in the same day, I decided we should book a hotel in the area and spend the night. I am not particularly familiar with the refurbished downtown area of San Diego, so picking a hotel was kind of a crap-shoot. The ones closest to the Civic Center were very expensive. I took a run at and a couple of other similar sites, and came up with the Courtyard Marriott - Downtown. It was walking distance, it was a Marriott (much like Pizza Hut, you know it might not be great, but it won't totally suck), and the price was right. I booked it.

I figured the show would be the event. But then, we got to the hotel. The Courtyard Marriott, it turns out, has situated itself in what used to be the old San Diego Trust & Savings Bank building, originally built as part of the downtown financial district in old San Diego. The building was declared an historic landmark sometime in the 90s, and underwent a conversion to a hotel shortly thereafter. The designers did everything they could to preserve the original feeling of the building. The woodwork, the marble-lined hallways, the deep rust-and-gold carpeting -- all restored from the original office building design. All of it combines to give the hotel a really kind of... well, frankly... creepy feeling. In the best possible way, of course.

The lobby has been preserved and turned into the hotel bar and dining room, and the original ceiling was fully restored. It is pretty breathtaking. The teller windows have been converted into customer service windows.

The elevator lobby has also been restored and preserved, much as I'm sure it looked when the building first opened. We thought the hotel was beautiful when we first checked in, but it was the elevator ride to the room that first clued us in that perhaps this was no... ordinary hotel. The ornate doors and mahogany paneled interiors of the elevators really set the stage for what's to come upstairs.

The hallways looked like something out of Stephen King's Overlook Hotel. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't see two spectral twins floating, zombie-like, through the hallways. Maybe that costs extra. Who knows? I guess I should have been suspicious of the lower room rate after all. Why, here is one of the hotel's perky young guests, taking her elevator ride to her room. Is that a look of apprehension on her face?

In any case, the rooms are very comfortable, though the added bathroom designs are a bit awkward. Still, the beds are decent, the air conditioning works with a vengeance, and...

Here's our pretty hotel guest, fully recovered from her elevator ride, relaxing in her peejays with a novel (about young vampires and werewolves in love, but why quibble?). She seems to feel safe and secure enough, doesn't she? Nothing ominious here.

Surely, there are no such things as ghosts to keep this young lady on edge here at the lovely Courtyard Marriott - Downtown.

And here's our lovely young miss, taking care of some last minute details on the handy hallway phone (circa 1940s). (Note: She's not that blurry in real-life -- the photographer is still trying to master the new camera on moving targets.) No ghoulies or goblins to taint her holiday.

After all, so what if the hallways outside the room are long, marble-bedecked and not-so-well lit. It's not like anything spooky can happen in an old bank-and-trust building built in 1928 in downtown San Diego, right?

I mean they've complete renovated. Seriously. It's not like they'd have anything spiritually tainted from the original building... like... say.... the bank vault or anything.

In any case, the play was wonderful, Savannah and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and (except for some sound issues we had with the venue), it was a smashing theatrical experience.

The hotel, though... that was a nice little find. So much so that I've purchased tickets for The Drowsy Chaperone next month. Hopefully, Savannah will be able to get away from school for a day to see it with me.

We'll be staying at the Courtyard Downtown San Diego, thanks. We're sure they're just dying to see us again.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

New Toys Make Everything Better

It's a bit fraudulent for me to put this in the Art and Photography category. These are some photos I took with the new DSLR I bought two days ago, as a belated Bastille Day present for myself. (Hey! Back off! If I say it was a Bastille Day present, it was a Bastille Day present, damn you all!)

Because I've been lacking in consensual human subjects, I've been forced to play with playground equipment, foliage, architecture and textures. Still, I've been able to get some really nice photos, with very little experience or knowledge. I have purchased a book called The Digital Photography Book (Volume 1), but haven't had a chance to read it through yet.

I took a lot of photos of plants. Nonconsenual photos of plants. Naked plants. Alright, so it's plant porn. Arty plant porn, but still.... Parental guidance strongly suggested. I'm using the link for the Flickr slideshow. Hopefully, it'll work for everyone.

My little Olympus point-and-click camera has been very, very good to me (all the photos in my Maui and my North Carolina albums were taken with the Olympus). It's a fantastic little camera. The Nikon, though, is in a whole other league. I'm looking forward to learning how to use it. Many, many thanks to M3 at Do They Have Salsa In China for letting me pick her camera brain, and for recommending the Nikon D40. I'll have to get the car fixed up and take that road trip up north in the near future now. Word has it there are two very willing, cooperative little human photographic subjects living up there.

And... uh... Note to Julie and Jim... the camera's coming with me tomorrow.

Fair warning.


(cross-posted at MySpace)