November 25, 2012

The 14th Poodleshoot and BBQ

Come gather round ye bairns and waifs, landsmen and ladies, betrothed and bereft, schooled and unwise, scoundrels and gentlefolk of the Island, of these lands of California that were once upon a time deemed island as well, and all ye of foreign lands who have bruited rumors of this wondrous event.

Here now the tales of our annual revels of which renown has spread far and wide, or so we hear, and learn of mighty feats of arms and of glory and spectacular deeds that have astounded the gods and goddesses of heaven and earth as well as all humankind who has learned of the matters of which I now sing to you.

Good people pray heed - a petition.
Your attention I beg and I crave
And if you are inclined for to listen
An abundance of pastime we'll have.
I have come to relate many stories
Concerning our forefathers' times,
And I trust they will drive out your worries
Of this let us be of one mind.

Many tales of the poor and the gentry
Of labour and love will arise;
There are no finer songs in this country
In Oakland and Stockton likewise.
There's one thing more needing mention:
The dances we'll dance all in fun,
So now that you've heard our intention
We'll play on to the beat of the drum ...
{tabor, fife}

The Poodleshoot is a special occasion that takes place but once a year and is founded in age-old customs that some say were brought north from Mexico by way of Monterey centuries ago, and before that was derived of ancient practices of the Mayans, the Aztecs, and the legendary Firbolg, who, since they were seldom seen in the old Hebrides or the scampering heath of Trim, might just as well have bided their time remaining unseen and unfound in the regions about Tenochtitlan before the time of the Feathered Serpent.

None is alive now to tell that tale, and so perforce we must make do with the small parcel of Tradition that we now have.

As per Tradition, on the day of the 14th Annual Poodleshoot, rosy-fingered Dawn arose and pushed back the shutters of night to allow Phoebus to mount his golden chariot and so, preceding the day, she trailed her gauzy banners across the firmament, leaving behind a sort of dew after her passage. Gently, she flushed, and gently she tugged upon the coverlet, and gently she kissed the eyelids of the sleeping Padraic, but he stirred not. Gently she nudged the man, who only mumbled and snorted as he remained held fast in the soft, wooly folds of Morpheus. Playfully, she noodged him once again, but he remained walking in that shadow kingdom of the most somnolent God.

Firmly she turned the dial so as to allow the sweet strains of muse Calliope to thrum the air as guided by the goddess Rosalie Howarth of KFOG, but Padriac snored and stirred not.

Then she gave him a mighty thwack, and that got him up all right, for Dawn O'Reilly was not a woman to be trifled with at any time of the day. And so Padraic bestirred himself to make ready for the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ.

So it was that Padraic rolled out the barrels of the Water of Life and set up the Pit for this year's festivities under cloudy, chill skies once again down by the disputed Crab Cove where servants of the Dark Lord had been plotting to seize the land so as to build yet another series of Dark Fortresses not unlike Cirith Ungol. Yea, the place was in the multifaceted eye of the Developer of the Spider.

But the park as yet remained hale with its pleasant little exhibition center, albeit closed for the Holiday and the company assembled upon the sward undisturbed.

The affair began with the traditional playing of the Paraguay National Anthem, as arranged by Terry Gilliam, and performed by the Island Hoophole Orchestra accompanied by the Brickbat Targets chorale ensemble.

The ensemble group which has made something of a name for itself by inventing entirely new parts for voice, consisted of Mayor Marie and Councilperson Lena as soprano alla pique, Councilperson Rob as basso infernal -- reprising a remarkable role as Don Giovanni -- Councilperson Chen as Loki with his distinctive rubato tenor and Councilperson Beverly as mezzo soprano disdainful, with Councilperson Marilyn in her debut as alto triumphale. The whole company did a truely astounding version of PDQ Bach's Die Wechselnde Buergerhalle Stuehle in F#.

Many reviewers have called this piece amazingly impossible to accomplish. The East Bay Express found "this game of musical chairs is really funny." Karen D'Souza of the Contra Costa Times has called it "devilishly complicated" and "hard to believe," while Jim Harrington has called this performance, "the most appalling rubbish since the last time I wrote a mixed review. I never fully approve of anything but this gave badness a new name."

The Chronicle, always more reserved due to the heavy influence of conservative ACT in the City, has commented, "It should be interesting to see how well this thing floats in the future amid this stormy time for companies. Please, we cannot afford another Phaedra."

Of course, their theatre/music review got mixed up for that issue with the economic report and the elections special, so the meaning of that is up to interpretation.

In any case, after spirits had been revived with a sloshing round from the kegs, the Hoophole Orchestra launched the proceedings with spirited instrumentals. The elaborate instrumental section performed Sousa marches and works by Debussy in true Island tradition, and featured vocals as well as strings, horns, thorns, woodwinds, and bloodhounds.

Performing on the Retroviral Trumpet were Carol Taylor and Pat Aston of St. Charles. Also from St. Charles, the Cacophony Quartet of Stacy and Greg Dehoedt together with Fruitbat and Godzilla injected liveliness on the Lars Ulrich Inkspritzer. Fruitbat leapt upon the keys of the organ console with dexterity while Godzilla tugged upon the bellows with his teeth, his tail flailing in counterpoint.

Tommy and Timmy of Park Avenue performed upon the Hydro-Potatomasher and the African zebra-fellator with defibrillation device.

Lou Cadme did a standup job upon the Howling Organ Increaser, while Carolyn Masters wowed everyone with the Flammable Pedalpushing Accordion. This complemented Kristin SweetMarie Coomber and Jessica McGowan-Vanderbeck, both with Incendiary Bustier Shriekerspritzers. Nice pair, those gals.

Jeannemarie Coulter contributed her skills upon the Tin Blathermouse with great effect and Jodet Paloma Ghougassian sounded affectingly sweet with the Mugwhump Twinkie-smasher upon Persian Carpet.

Jade of San Franciso performed upon the Inflateable Cross with Crossbow Zinger and furthermore offered to provide stage foundation makeup to any aspiring trannies needing professional help and an experienced hand.

Antimacassars and doilies were supplied by James Hargis.

Once this essay at musical endeavor was done, the Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor 34 1/2, gathered in a circle for their Invocation,led by David Phipps of San Rafael, and chanted in the language of E Clampus Vitus. The men, wearing their ceremonial robes and colorful fezzes, moved in a circle with their pinkies interlocked, first clockwise, then anti-clockwise, before intoning, "Heep heep Hepzibah!" and all jumping into the air simultaneously. They then sang their parlor charter song, "Die Launische Forelle," After they had done this, they moved again in a circle as before, concluding by bowing deeply, dropping their drawers and thence emitting a sort of 21 gun salute.

After the ritual pouring of Wild Turkey libations, the Official bugles were blown by Pat Kitson of Mountain View and Tally of Marin, after which the hunters moved out into the field. Soon the air was filled with the gleeful holiday sounds of AK-47s, the cracks of freshly oiled Winchester rifles, the occasional crump of percussion grenades, cries of "Poodle there!", and the homey whoosh-bang of old-fashioned bazookas and modern RPG's. In short it was a jolly, fine beginning for a Poodleshoot.

Like any decent faire in the Bay Area we too have booths loaded up with pricey tchotchkes and glossy take-home brochures. Corporate invitees Hallvarsson & Halvarsson, set up a welcome table, however some felt the company failed to understand the message of the Poodleshoot. Their material read, "Vilkommen till frukostseminarium: Varumirke, CSR och risk i tre frigor, samma sfir...".

Well, of course most of you probably have considered the same issue. We all want to minimize risk with robust communications but not at the expense of opaque acroynms like "CSR". In any case, Varmt vilkommen!

In any case, the 'shoot went swimmingly. This year's Washington Invitees included House Speaker Boehner and, as a balance of interests, former Rep. Wiener, the latter of whom it must be said, was quite the hit with the ladies around here. Along with a few gentlemen as well.

Another contingent of representatives from the White House arrived, but did not go out into the field. We will talk about this contingent later.

Wiener spent most of his time with a group that calls itself The Plaster Casters in the Native Son's Parlor hall, which had been converted into a hunting lodge, while Boehner hooked up with Archbishop Rattenfaenger, who had only agreed to return upon assurances that Dick Buckshot Cheney would not be firing off any lethal weapons in the State of California.

He was mollified upon the assurance that only persons willing to obtain a legal hunting license for the area would be allowed within the perimeter.

Sarah Palin also was not invited back. As someone commented, perhaps a bit unkindly, "That bitch is gettin' old."

This year a great effort was provided to prevent the sort of chaos which had corrupted previous shoots, which, instead of the organized slaughter of nasty creatures (anyone who has been on a boar hunt can understand this) has decayed into catastrophic mayhem.

So this year a small detachment of blue-helmet UN Peacekeepers were brought in. Because of the length of the flight, the liberality of in-flight beverages, and general UN constitutions, most of the Peacekeepers wound up in a cordon surrounding the outhouses on the Strand. Only the Irish members possessed bladders firm enough to venture beyond that quarter. The Irish Republic members had already seen enough to turn anybody's bowels into cast iron.

For the longest while the UN Peacekeepers seemed like overkill. For the first time in years things seemed to be going smoothly. All the problems of previous years, due to harsh economics, bitterness, sense of hopelessness and fear and anxiety, all that felt oddly missing. Hunters moved through the crisp air that always follows a sequence of heavy rains in the winter here, the brown leaves all gathered in the gutters still running with effluvient days afterward as the Island slowly drained itself, the skies all bulbous with clouds during the day after the slate-gray mornings and the boots swishing along through the grass, ducks and geese overhead, the ocean lapping not far away, much as it had in those days when you went out with your dad in the hills up near your uncle's place to hunt mule deer or racoons or whatever. Much as it had been back then, you with your 22L with that special wooden stock you got last xmas and your father there, explaining things, showing you the places where the water bubbled up magically from between the stones, the stones everyone had arrange there as a kind of shrine or something in those woods, smelling, yes! So fresh!

Was this not the time of peace and the way things ought to be? And the end of the day with your father and the visiting Perada family, their father and yours talking about the old days, the days before the Corps of Engineers blocked up all the feeder streams to the American River, halting the massive steelhead runs, the massive steelhead runs which had drawn people from all over for the priviledge of hooking one single steelhead, one single fish after fishing 8-12 hours, one single fish that happened to weigh somewhere near 65 to 70 pounds but which would give you the fight of your life, by god for the next four hours at least.

Those were the days.

You could step out back behind the house in Antioch and shoot yourself dinner. What you hungry? Step out back and bag yourself enough venison with a 32-20 in minutes to last you days. It was the time of peace. Before everything changed.

Yet on this 14th Poodleshoot in the year 2012, it soon became evident that not a poodle could be seen anywhere upon the island far and wide and wondrous was that to behold. In vain Officer O'Mahauen stopped vehicle after vehicle to issue citations for rusty wipers, missing turn signal lenses, driving too slow for traffic, speeding, carrying an unsecured child seat with no child, all to locate possible poodle smugglers.

Flashbangs heard toward the East End revealed only Rep. Boehner popping off with the Archbishop at images of Che Guevera and Cesar Chavez by the bicycle bridge. The two had just been plinking and drinking 12 year old scotch.

"We in the church are much enamored of 12 year olds," said the Archbishop.

Boehner, a rock ribbed Protestant Conservative was not amused. "Look, I am only hanging out with you so as to fit in with the times. You got the Supreme Court but you aint gettin' my little Johnny . . .".

"There you are hiding!" a voice said. It was Joe Bob Bingle of the radical Pee Tardy Party. "Hiding like a rat after selling us down the river!"

"Listen punk! You cost us the election against a very beatable opponent with your shrieking, hysterical nonsense!" Boehner said. "Eff you!"

Supporters from the Pee Tardy showed up to face off against Boehner's militant arm of the New Project for the American Century. It was brownshirts against black armbands and things looked pretty ugly as the two sides called each other vile names and accused each other of having caused the recent electoral debacle.

The Pee Tardy folks started chanting "Mitt's a sh-t! Mitt's a sh-t!" and brought out their secret weapons, a brace of pink-dyed miniature poos.

Boehner turned to his Secret Service detail and said, "Deal with them." Before leaving. Like any true rock-ribbed Conservative elitist, he left dirty work to the lesser folk to handle. As House Speaker he had better things to do than discipline a pack of unruly doggies.

The Pee Tardy Party came at the Rockribbed Conservatives with lowered lances while mounted upon seways as the Conservatives circled their golf carts, driving off the initial attack with missle weapons in the form of golf balls and well-served tennis.

The Pee Tardy folks, lacking discipline save for holding stubbornly to their dictum of no compromise found themselves driven back by the square-set jaws of the Conservatives as they sallied forth in Locust Valley formation.

This way and that the lines wavered until it all descended, as these sorts of things usually do, into a melee of atavistic savagery where all rule and governance is abandoned to the state of anarchy -- which is, after all, the natural result of eliminating all government.

Many were the fallen on both sides that day, and many would learn on the following morning the lamentable limits of their supposedly ironclad health insurance agreements, most of which forbade coverage for injuries sustained as a result of acts of war. Fortunately, due to Obamacare, all of them were eligible without exception to re-up for more reasonable healthcare coverage.

Nevertheless, other than this melee, nary a poodle was to be found on the island.

In dismay the hunters collected back at Crab Cove where Reverend Freethought of the Unitarian Church was in deep discussion with Rebbe Hortense of Beth Israel.

The hunters issued their plaint and asked what to do and lo! the White House contingent did appear and it was the First Lady with her daughter Malia. And the girlchild spoke unto the assembled multitude and said, "Put down your arms and make of your swords plowshares and know that all the world will observe your deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness."

With that, a black helicopter descended so as to whisk away the White House representatives to their own family gathering.

And so, as the UN Peacekeepers approached and surrounded what came to be known as the Bicycle Bridge Melee, the sun set on the 14th Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ, where fortunately a large store of ahi had been set aside as well as box after box after box of supplies for Ms. Almeida's Portuguese bacalhau, the only reputable dish in the world that still employs Norwegian salt cod. That is how it came to be that the hunters of the 14th Poodleshoot came to dine upon seared tuna and lutefisk, while the Pee Tardy folks noshed upon cold K-rations while deliberating such unrealities as succession and the planet of origin for Father Christmas.

That is the way it was on the Island this Thanksgiving. Have a great holiday season.