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Sunday, March 29, 2015


For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of American Musical Theater. My mother, Carol Brueggeman McDougall, an English major at the U. of Chicago in the Class of 1935, had recordings of virtually every Broadway musical and Gilbert & Sullivan operetta in her collection, and these provided the background music in our home in Wilmette, Illinois.  I grew up on Rogers & Hammerstien, Lerner & Lowe, and their colleagues in musical production.  As a result, I can (and do) sing all or parts of many famous show tunes, from "My Name is John Wellington Wells" from Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Sorceror," to "Metaphor," from "The Fantasticks," by Tom Jones.

Sadly, over the past thirty years my repertoire of show tunes has become woefully dated.  I have never seen, nor even listened to a recording of "Cats!" let alone more recent hits, including "Victor/Victoria," by Blake Edwards.  So, when I learned that my granddaughter Hannah Lehman of Boulder, Colorado, would be dancing, singing, and playing a supporting role in Victor/Victoria at the Theater Company of Lafayette this weekend, I arranged to fly to Denver to see the show, (and while out here, to renew a number of family and personal friendships with resident Coloradans).

The show was last night.  It was performed in an intimate theater, a former small church, it seemed, and was creatively staged in a corner of the building that lent an intimacy to the relationship between audience and cast.  The "orchestra," consisting of perhaps five musicians, played from a balcony above the box office and entrance, at stage right.  It looked before the "curtain" (scene separation was done entirely with lighting) to be a place to have fun with a musical, and indeed, it was!

Victor/Victoria is a sex farce.  It is all about sex and love, in many of their forms: burlesque, straight romance, homosexual love, jealousy, impotence, and fulfillment.  My granddaughter, only 15, expressed some concern about her grandfather's seeing her in some of the burlesque scenes (for which she was dance captain!), but she had nothing to worry about.  The dancing was great, given the amateur cast, and there was nothing the least bit shocking to this old goat!

An incurable sentimentalist, I found myself crying as the show reached its climax, and the messages of the show came through.  In my words, those messages were:
  • Let us live, let live, and love one another.  
  • Let us be ourselves.   
  • Let us not try to be who we are not!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Breakfast in Boulder

Louisville, Colorado

Okay, Louisville is not Boulder.  But I flew out here yesterday to visit Christal and Hannah in Boulder, and at dinner last evening at Spice China restaurant here, Christal insisted that Louisville is now "suburban Boulder."  Christal, a sixth grade teacher at the Dawson School, looks strong, beautiful, and happy.  I gave her the hug that Shirl had sent from New Hampshire,  Her lovely daughter (my granddaughter) Hannah, 15, is presently performing in a community theater production of "Victor, Victoria," and seeing her dance was the original reason for my scheduling this trip.  Then, Piper found a new guy whom she wants me to meet... and my niece Talya gave birth to Eden, a grand-niece.  So, here I am, doing a family weekend in Colorado.

I woke up this morning after a long and needed night's sleep, and went downstairs to the breakfast room by way of the parking lot, for I had discovered that the car-charger for my smartphone was in my insulin case, not too useful if I were to need to recharge the phone on the road.  At breakfast, I met Rob, SVP-Operations for, a manufacturer of cell phone charging kiosks. (Coincidence?)  Here is their logo:

Soon, you may see one of these kiosks in a store or tourist attraction.  They are free to users, and sponsored by the commercial establishments as a service to their customers.  The company, entering its third year, is growing at about 300% per year!

Rob is, perhaps, 40.  He is from Philadelphia, and out of Bucknell University.  We had a good conversation.  His wife is an American of Japanese descent, whom Rob met while working in Japan. He says he studied Japanese at Bucknell, chiefly in order to make sure that he would "get off the farm" after his graduation.  Obviously, it worked.  Of course, I mentioned my experience working in Romania, and he said that he has a good friend with a Romanian wife.  Hopefully, that guy will soon be chuckling at my old post about Romanian womanhood.  Then, I mentioned having taught at Boston University while Elie Wiesel was there, which led to his noting that BU was now competing in the Patriot League, of which Bucknell is also a member.  (Elie Wiesel, who was introduced a week or so ago when P.M. Netanyahu of Israel spoke to Congress, is one of my heroes.  He has appeared previously in this blog,)

Waiting for the elevator to return to the room to post of my breakfast, I met a couple from Indianapolis, where my Dad was born and grew up.  They, too, were here to visit a new baby in the family,  I guess everybody comes to Boulder, eventually.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Wooly Sheep-Monkey

Jane Goodall and the Wooly Sheep-Monkey
(Someone sent me this photo, and I do not know who took it.
I use it with apologies to its owner, its photographer, and its provider.)
One of the greatest primatologists and anthropologists of our time is Dame Jane Morris Goodall, DBE.

Back in the 1990s I did some consulting and industrial seminar work with the Cleveland Advanced Manufacturing Program (CAMP), in Cleveland, Ohio. Getting to Cleveland from Manchester, New Hampshire, in those days involved two flights on US Airways, with a change at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As I was boarding the plane in Pittsburgh for the short final hop to Cleveland, a pair of women also boarded, one of them carrying a stuffed animal that looked to me like a sheep. It had curly fur all over it, except on its face, and a somewhat extended nose.

Being a gregarious sort, I asked the woman carrying it if it were a sheep. "No," she replied, "It is a monkey."

Then, her traveling companion said, in a distinctly British accent, "Actually, it's a wooly sheep-monkey."

I took that to be an attempt at humor. I sat in my assigned seat, just one row ahead of the two ladies, and across the aisle. My seat-mate, a woman of forty-something, whispered to me, "Do you know who that is?"

"No," I replied.

"That is Jane Goodall!" she whispered excitedly.

So, I played along. I leaned out into the aisle, turned around, and said to Ms. Goodall, "My name is Duncan McDougall. Do you know why a Scotsman wears a kilt?"

Jane looked at me and asked, in an exasperated tone, "Which one is it?" (There are a great many "kilt jokes" in Great Britain.)

"Because a sheep can hear a zipper a mile away."

The entire center section of the cabin erupted in laughter.

Fortunately, Ms. Goodall was not offended. I know this because as walked through the terminal, I overheard her telling the man who had come to meet her, "Because a sheep can hear a zipper... ."

Thanks to Col. William R. Benoit, U.S. Army, Retired, who first told me that kilt joke! 

A Poem for my Niece(s)

To: Belinda, Juliet, Poscha, Talya, Mariah, and Angela, and to my adopted nieces, whose names I hold dear in my memory.* 

You have so much good in you...

And so much latent passion,

That I love you as a fellow,

Child of The Universe.

Does that make me perverse?

Or just one living in reverse?

But who can act on such a curse?


So be my niece, and loved as such,

And I shall always love you much.

(It's sing-song, but off-the-cuff!)

With love and thanks for your loyalty and friendship,

From Uncle Duncan

*My adopted nieces know who they are, so their names here I have withheld to prevent possible misunderstanding.  Suffice it to say, they come from near and far, and all have been like family to us, either while abroad, or here at Hotel New Hampshire, as we call our home.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Road Warrior's Roaming Renewed

Saturday, 11:28 A.M.

This afternoon Shirl and I will be driving southward, bound for Orlando to visit our new grandson, Killian, our granddaughter Brynn, who turned two just today, and their parents Jamie and Amy McDougall.  Hopefully, while in Florida we shall also be seeing my eldest son Brian, his wife Nika, and my grandson Moses, for they are in Miami for the winter.  To add to the family reunion, my youngest brother Robert and his wife Sharon have just relocated back to Orlando from the Los Angeles area, where they have spent the past ten years.  So, please wish us well, dear readers, as we embark on my first road trip with me at the wheel since last December's post-Christmas circuit to visit friends throughout Northern Romania (Cluj to Oradea to Ocna Sugatag to Suceava to Iasi to Vatra Dornei and back to Cluj).

I've had almost two weeks to rest here in Campton since returning from India, and feel ready to tackle this 1500-mile drive.  We will likely get to New Jersey tonight, into the Carolina's Sunday night, and all the way to Orlando on Monday.  Of course, that assumes that Shirl also gets into travel mode, so we can drive away by nine o'clock each morning.

All this travel is made possible by our youngest son Alex, who will be house-sititng at HNH, and looking after our guard dog, Bogie.  Thanks, Alex, we appreciate your help!