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There’s always a well of playful joy that courses through my body anytime Evil Dead comes up. Whether it’s rewatching the original films or watching previews for the upcoming show (Ash vs Evil Dead!!), a part of me regresses to a fifteen year old, all giddy with excitement. Even the subpar video games were playable because of this.

  
And it was with this excitement that I sat in an old, uncomfortable seat in Renton, Washington for Evil Dead the Musical.
For a musical I’ve seen four times, I was still able to easily find enjoyment in the production. While it wasn’t the best production I’ve seen, it did manage to surprise me with some creative dialog, and even adding a character. 
The vocal performances were not great, however. Cues were hit and the dialog was funny but with the exception of one or two performers, the singing was average at best. The actors could hit all their notes but the harmonizing was off, perhaps because of the changing of ranges needed to accommodate the differing styles of the actors. The acting was decent and silly when it needed to be and serious for the few moments of poignancy. The performers and crowd seemed to be feeding off of each other, the latter of which loved it. This was perhaps due to the subject and knowledge of the source material rather than the performances. Or perhaps it was the copious amounts of fake blood that was unabashedly thrown and splattered onto the pre-warned crowd. Squirt bottles, small balloons, and even a hose were used within the “splatter zone” (roughly the front half of the theater). The end was especially messy. There was so little pretense that the actors, supposedly in the midst of a climatic battle, would bring out buckets full of red liquid and dump it over the heads of select audience members. Not the most verisimilitude for a show but the crowd couldn’t care less.
This musical has become almost a tradition for me. Whenever it’s playing at a theater in town, I try to see it. I’ve never regretted that decision. I had a great time, as did my wife who, never having seen the movies, found the experience a good one. I just need get her into the splatter zone next time 😉

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  As experiences go, I’ve always looked to spreading my wings, flying off to some foreign land to experience the food and culture of a society I had little to no connection with. Or if not, a far off place, an activity I never got around to doing within driving distance of my home. I never expected to be a part of something that actually required NO action. At least not in a way I had previously thought.
Last weekend, I participated in a mindfulness retreat.
I had heard of these retreats and thought they were relegated to yogis or naturalists looking to reach the next echelon of higher understanding. I want to know things as much as the next person but that’s what I thought school was for. Not sitting in a room with dozens of others, not speaking and barely acknowledging each other. I respected people who did but it didn’t seem like something for me.
I have one of those brains that has been shaped and saturated with T.V. and internet signals so any moment of silence feels awkward and harsh. I check my phone constantly like a little kid tugging on his momma’s pant leg in need of attention. I listen to music and/or podcasts/audiobooks like I have an IV attached to my eardrum. Silence is something that almost hurts.
And silence was something I had to embrace.
For six hours, including lunch and bathroom breaks, we practiced mindfulness. We alternated mindful breathing, yoga, walking, eating, and sitting. During each one, we attuned our thoughts to only our bodies. Whether it was the movement of our lungs as we breathed or the movement of our ligaments as we walked, we focused our thoughts on the present moment of our bodies.
At least we tried. While I could focus on my muscles during the more active of the meditations, my thoughts wandered profusely during the sitting and laying positions. Focusing my thoughts on my breath became boring.
The first half of the day was a real struggle, concentration wise. Then, roughly three hours in as lunch time approached, my hunger pains became another cause of focus loss. I was beginning to think I wouldn’t make it.
But something happened after lunch. After another unfocused sitting meditation, I seemed to get my second wind. I was somehow blocking out my extraneous thoughts. Somewhere between lunch and another walking meditation, I had managed to settle into a clear and focused mind. There was no internal chatter. I didn’t think about it at the time. Only after we talked in small groups afterward did I realize how mindful I had become. My wife even noticed, pointing out how mindful and slow I had been walking. I had also noticed how energized I felt compared to how I started; in a haze of lethargy. By the time our teacher rang the final bell, I felt as if I could do another couple hours of mindful practice. 
I was still glad to be done.
When speaking about it later, I told my group that the day had felt like running a marathon. The beginning was spent tired and finding my pace. It wasn’t until getting my second wind after lunch that I settled into my body and mind. It was then that I found my true enjoyment in the day. I had accepted where I was. I had accepted my occasionally wandering mind. I had accepted that I would be there until seven o’clock and I might as well give myself over to the process. 
The experience was so different and unique that I would encourage anyone interested in the subject, or not interested for that matter, to give it a try. I’m glad I did. 

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  Still standing after nearly three hundred years, The Alamo is an experience to walk into. Having known very little about The Alamo other than there is NO basement (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure anyone?), I enjoyed standing in a building that played such an important part in the history of the United States. That being said, there wasn’t much to look at. Much of it was closed off although the previous day I had seen a line going into the back so maybe we went at the wrong time. What I really enjoyed about the building is that it is nearly three hundred years old and standing downtown amidst hotels and malls containing Taco Bells and Hooters. I may be wrong but I don’t think the history of Hooters is quite as grand as The Alamo. The juxtaposition of the different eras is something I don’t get to see often so it stood out to me. I’m from Seattle. There is very little that is three hundred years old downtown. 

 Around the corner from our hotel stood La Villita, a small village of local artist’s shops. Several were closed, or closing when we got there. It was late in the afternoon so we were prepared for some of the closures. Even so, we were able to see lovely art and craftwork that, had we the money, we would have cleared out half the stores. Even though we didn’t have the money, we had a fun time walking the village and seeing everything. 

 The Historic Market Square stands in the heart of downtown and takes up half a city block. Within its walls awaits a series of small shops, many with similar inventories but unique treasures can also be found if one looks hard enough. Fedoras of different colors, small musical instruments, stone carvings, artwork and sculptures, hot sauces and seasonings, knick-knacks, magnets, and other souvenirs can all be acquired. But look sharp! Items can vary in price from store to store so a thorough search is needed to obtain the best deals. For example, I wanted a small guitar to take back home. The price between the various shops ranged from $10 to $16 – not a small difference and well worth the extra time it took to check out every option.  

    
 The Briscoe Western Art museum is a three story museum containing artifacts and relics from the old west that stands just off the Riverwalk. With its air conditioning, it was a great place to take refuge from the Texas heat. Within its walls were displayed weapons used in the Battle of the Alamo, every kind of spur throughout history, and authentic artifacts from hundreds of years ago. These included old banjos, uniforms, and saddles. I had no idea how adorned some of these artifacts were but seeing them in person, I really saw that the art of pimping one’s ride was around looong before the MTV show. For those that need a little more description about the specifics of the actually Battle of the Alamo, check out the scale model. It shows in detail where Texas’s favorite heroes, as well as villains, were positioned in the battle, as well as Calvary placement, cannon placement, and attack and defense patterns. The last thing I’ll mention about the museum is that it was free! Between 4pm and 7pm on Tuesdays the museum is free to attend. One only needs to sign in at the front desk. You can’t beat that! 

   
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts about my few days in San Antonio. I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted but I’m glad for the things I did. Please leave a comment if you are so inclined. Thanks! 

 

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