As I prepare for my holiday guests, I am confronting one of life's most vexing dilemmas: Should you dust first and then vacuum, or vacuum first and then dust?
If you dust first, the vacuum cleaner can just stir up more dust. If you vacuum first, you probably drop dust and other debris on the floor from the duster.
I suppose the dust or vacuum question can never be resolved. So I think I'll have another cup of coffee, peruse the Internet, bless our wonderful Florida weather and entertain on the lanai, where a water hose takes care of everything and dusting and vacuuming don't really matter.
BUT ON TO OTHER THINGS. …
In the wake of Santa's big visit, it's a good time to look back at some gifts that came our way throughout the year:
The best new event has to be the Thomas Meighan Film Festival at Richey Suncoast Theatre. Ever since the 32-year-old Black Maria (pronounced muh-RYE-uh) Film + Video Festival came to Richey Suncoast two years ago with its galaxy of short films, a local version of that world-traveling event has been the dream of Marchman Technical Education Center teacher Rob Mateja, Greater New Port Richey Main Street director Deborah Pentivolpi and Richey Suncoast stalwarts Charlie and Marie Skelton. And they pulled it off stupendously. Entries came from around the globe, and there were a couple from this area as well, but the founders are hoping that someday all of the entries will be from this area. Black Maria will be back in the spring, but work is already under way for next year's Thomas Meighan Film Festival.
The most surprising show of the year was Chicago at Stage West Community Playhouse, where director Barbara Everest, musical director Bobbi Moger, choreographers Joyce Lang and Jodi Lang, and the cast and crew put together a sharp, slick show that would rival that of almost any professional troupe. Friends and family of the people connected with the show already knew that something special was brewing, but those of us not "in the circle" were simply awed by the talent and artistry on that stage. The cast had been working long days and nights for more than two months, and it really showed.
The most surprising performance of the season was that of Chris Cavalier as the Emcee in Cabaret at Richey Suncoast Theatre. This role is usually played by a mature actor with years and years of acting and life experience. Cavalier is only 18, but in white makeup, tie and tails, he could have passed for 35 or older as he leered at the audience, delivered even the most ribald joke with ease and danced his way around the stage with the panache of an old pro. No surprise, Chris is including theater classes as he heads to Pasco-Hernando Community College and then the University of South Florida.
The best present for the Toye family surely is that son Teddy has made it to the Broadway stage. He plays Harold in the newest Broadway show, Lysistrata Jones, a modern take on the 2,500-year-old Aristophanes tale of how Greek women withheld their favors until their men stopped going to war. This version focuses on a losing high school basketball team, with the cheerleaders crossing their ankles to "inspire" the guys to fight, fight, fight … and win. It was a smash Off Broadway and officially opened at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre on Dec. 14. Reviews have been mixed, but Variety's Steven Suskin praised its "bright performances" and its "sometimes wicked sophistication." Local audiences will remember Teddy for his roles at Nature Coast Technical High School, Stage West Community Playhouse, the Show Palace Dinner Theatre (seven shows, including Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) and on percussion with his dad's band at several venues. He's also been on television and in movies and with national touring companies doing Disney's High School Musical, among others. Here's hoping for a long run and great success for a really neat fellow.
The most popular creation of the season could be the parody by local actor/director Peter Clapsis of the novelty tune Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. He renamed it Santa Got Run Over by a Grandma, with the action set on our favorite strip of concrete, U.S. 19, where a 93-year-old, blue-haired grandma plows her Grand Marquis over poor ol' Santy. Some grandmas (and their friends) may find it a tad offensive, but scads of people think it's hilarious, which has made it the most requested song of the year on WJQB-AM 106.3 — and it's even gotten national play on the True Oldies Network out of New York City.
You can't buy the tune, but you can hear it on WJQB and request a copy from the radio station.
On a more personal note, I had the good fortune of finding a class in the ancient Chinese art of movement, tai chi (at the urging of my Jacksonville friend Cindy Forman, who had discovered one in her town in early summer). I thought it would be sort of like Chinese line dancing, but I've since found out that it's the furthest thing from it, with precise, demanding moves that can take a lifetime to learn and perfect.
You can chat and chew while line dancing, but if you let your mind stray for even a moment as you do tai chi, you can find yourself lost in a tangle of your own arms and legs.