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Bird’s Eye View

Greetings one and all. If you are sitting comforta­bly then I shall begin. Well, once again I attended both evenings of the annual Variety Show and, although I assume another roving reporter from the AVA will be giving an extended review of events, I thought I’d offer some opinions from a ‘bird’s eye view,’ particularly as this year I saw every act following a personal record low of just two beer-breaks in the parking lot to keep me going, each time during the intermission.

Anyway, before I get to that, here are three very appropriate Quotes of the Week. First we have the classic, “Variety is the spice of life, that gives it all its flavor” from novelist William Cowper. And how about “Variety is the soul of pleasure” from Irish writer Brendan Behan. And finally, my favorite, “So two cheers for democracy: one because it admits vari­ety and two because it permits criticism,” said by that very wise fellow, E.M. Forster.

The 19th annual Variety show was hosted once again by the irrepressible Corporal Raindrop in his 19 year-old tuxedo. Oops, I’m only joking, Corporal, you looked very dapper; and besides, one of the show’s band members told me you had been promoted and were now called General Confusion. Ha! Ha! Of course, I am kidding the mighty impresario, Captain Rainbow, whose indefatigable efforts continue to result in this wonderful Valley event taking place year after year. In the role of Master/Mistress of Ceremo­nies, Rainbow was very ably assisted by Patty Liddy (aka Private Thundercloud) with her sexy boots, red fishnets, a ‘leave-little-to-the-imagination’ black strapless dress, red feather boa, and loud voice! Behind the scenes, these two had the wonderful sup­port of the often-unsung band of merry pranksters, whose tireless efforts cannot and should not be underestimated. Tom Smith, Bill Meyers, Jonesey, Mark Pitner, Karen Bailey, and so many more, were all deservedly mentioned and thanked by Rainbow and Patty during each evening.

At the Friday night show, a packed house of 416 people witnessed 20 acts of varying degrees of “talent” and entertainment value, which is what the Variety Show is all about and therefore, in a community sense, it should all be viewed as good. In terms of the two aforementioned criteria, my Top Five acts, in no par­ticular order, were: Rachel Juster’s soulful rendition of a Rihanna song; Kendall’s stunning display on the hanging silks that was greeted by the evening’s loudest roar of approval; Comptche’s own Johnny Blanco singing a very mellow and heartwarming song entitled ‘Quality Time’; the amusing and melodic Ukeholics offering their unique version of the Bing Crosby tune, ‘I’m an Old Cowhand from the Rio Grand’; and Julianne, who sang mournfully and yet very amusingly about her “loss” of The Boonville Lodge. I know Julianne to be an enthusiastic customer at the Valley’s excellent but recently closed drinking and eating establishment, and she came up with a catchy song (‘I Miss the Lodge’) and poignantly hilarious perform­ance. I must say, however, that the song’s hyperbole seemed to confirm opinions of The Lodge which are still held by some in the audience; views which over the last few years had become out-of-date myths. Regular readers will know that I had to mention this strange yet true fact. But I digress.

Honorable Mentions for their performances on Fri­day should go to Linda Boudoures’ dance troupe of seniors (‘Young at Heart’) for their rigorous Michael Jackson tribute; to the Itsy-Bitsy Ballerinas led by the extremely gifted dancer, Noe Klein; and to the always accomplished sounds of the Blushin’ Roulettes.

A further twenty acts appeared on the following evening before a crowd of similar proportions (401) and once more the opening skit, centered around the health care issue, was carried out with great precision by the ‘actors’ and to the hilarity of the audience. Nothing like a colonoscopy to get the crowd going, eh? As on Friday, in terms of talent and entertainment value on the Turkey Vulture scale, the range between excellent and ‘not excellent’ was repeated. I must emphasize, this is what the event is all about: a show ‘by the people, for the people’ and a great Valley night out. My personal Top Five Acts on this night (in no particular order): The breathtaking back-to-back per­formances on the hanging silks by the dazzling Holly and her son Kai Newstead; charming ten year-old Riley Lemons on guitar and singing a song for her great-grandfather, Hafley and grandparents in general; Noe Klein’s return to the stage with two other equally gifted young women from the Mendocino College Repertory Company Ballet; the excellently choreo­graphed and very ‘athletic’ Bollywood Dancers from Sebastopol performing a mesmerizing Indian dance; and of course a Variety Show regular (and she’s still only fifteen), the very talented singer, Olivia Allen, with her splendid performance of an Abba tune.

Honorable Mentions on this occasion go to The Brownouts (back again following the big success of their ‘Hoo Hoo’ song last year) with their Mendocino ‘brownies and mushrooms’ song, and to the final act of the night, from Ft. Bragg, Inspyred Fyre, and their stunning visual display performed to a deafening techno beat. I hope the Seniors in the front row sur­vived! Following the Saturday night show during the After Glow Party at Lauren’s Restaurant, I took a ‘scientific poll’ among the show’s crew and objective audience members on which was the better night of the two in terms of entertainment. It came out 14-8 in favor of the Saturday. Either way, the two evenings were a big success and I even won a side bet that the show would be done before 10.30pm on both nights! So it’s a congratulatory ‘Well done to all!’ and we look forward to seeing many of you again next year, and hopefully several new acts too.

Not to be too critical, but I’m afraid there were a couple of things which unsettled the audience during the Friday show. First, Farmer John managed to ruin his quite promising calf-milking rap performance when his ill-advised choice of word showed a lack of propriety at such an event — providing quite a talking point in the intermission. It wasn’t clever or funny; it was insensitive and crude, and many people were per­turbed. Second, perhaps a further ill-advised move was the decision to present an act that blatantly cam­paigned in favor of the upcoming school bond issue, using a few school kids to do the politicking. Whether you agree with the bond or not, and as a matter of fact I probably do, one cannot help but wonder if this was the right time and place. Again some people were “not amused.”

I’ll get my coat and leave. Be careful out there; stay out of the ditches; think good thoughts, and may your god go with you… Of course, “Let us prey.” Humbly yours, Turkey Vulture. PS. Contact me with words of support/abuse either through the Letters Page or by e-mail at ¥¥

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