For our one-year anniversary, I got my wife Sandman Overtures in hardcover, which completes her collection. The Neil was one of the things we bonded over while we were dating. I love his novels, but Wifey adores his comics. For our paper anniversary, it just felt like the right thing to give. We also saw Kurios from Cirque du Soleil, and had a lovely dinner.
Wifey got us a wine flight. The gesture meant a lot to me. For one thing, our year hasn’t been anything we expected. Part of the difficulty is our fault, since we moved a month before we got married. Part of it is just bad luck. Most people don’t start off a marriage with one-half of the couple incapacitated by a nerve condition. My wife is an excellent poet and writer. Unfortunately her nerve condition has robbed her of her usual focus, and it has not been a productive year. It also means my writing is squeezed to a standstill, let alone my bike or doing reviews for other people. The box of wine is sort of a reminder that we still have those little moments to enjoy each others’ company. It’s a small luxury when every day we’re trying to balance the budget on my wages alone, and when most moments are devoted to survival instead of art.
Speaking of art, Kurios was simply amazing. It’s a steampunk themed offering, which makes me wonder why Cirque didn’t do something like this earlier. They got it pitch-perfect, with themes of discovery, cinema and flight. The band was charming, the music ethereal. According to their gift shop’s claims, this show features the most props ever used by Cirque.
There is a moment when they drop a balloon from the ceiling to double as a 360-degree cinema screen that just captures the whimsy and otherworldly character of the show. Simple film techniques are done on stage, so you can see the wizardry behind the curtain at the same time the magic is performed overhead. That’s steampunk: the anachronism that lets you know and still be amazed.
Kurios is also profoundly period-perfect. Simple machines like bicycles and pulleys, combined with physical feats, are pretty much what we expect from turn of the century spectacle. It’s all left exposed on the stage, the ropes and the netting, the machinery as beautiful as the extreme craftsmanship of each and every prop. At the same time, there are little details that are left unseen until the perfect moment. Pages turning for the seeker’s perusal, a tiny lady held inside an iron belly, and a dining scene echoed upside down. They serve to delight not simply because they are difficult to do, but because they’re executed with such perfect theatrical timing. Kurios was a compact and magical ring held at 11:11, a witching hour that really did transport us out of reality. I highly encourage you to go see it.
For our part, we left Kurios inspired. Wifey got home and covered a wall with thoughts for a new steampunk novel. It’s making me insanely jealous, because a lot of those concepts are beautiful and whimsical and just what is needed in my own work. Its the sort of thing that eases us out of our everyday torpor, while exposing its machinery for study.
And that’s pretty important for my first year of marriage. The year felt like an endless loop of doing the same things over and over again, but now the clock is ticking over. I can feel the cogs shivering and the heartspring loosening.
Let’s see what happens when the hands tick over into the next year, shall we?