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Set of Harmony, Kansas (Photo by Ken)

But back in tune by the end of Act II

| The usual suspects went to San Diego yesterday to see the production of Harmony, Kansas, "a brand new American Musical," at the Diversionary Theatre.

Ken took the long way around, first spending Saturday in Oceanside hoping that lightning would strike twice and he would win a bigger, better telescope than the one he won last time he attended the SCAE 2012 Astronomy Expo, sponsored by Oceanside Photo & Telescope.

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Where Ken didn't win anything (Photo by Ken)

Alas, the planets were not properly aligned on the cusp of anything, and he came away without any swag. Undaunted, he rejoiced in having found Harbor Freight nearby, stocked with coveted goods. If you can't win something, buy something!

We had preselected Small Bar as our brunch destination, being located about a block down the street from the theatre. By the time the rest of us got there, Ken had been there over an hour and had sampled two of the establishment's vast selection of beers on tap, putting him in a happy zone.

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The bar at Small Bar (Photo by Ken)

We quickly determined that we were the oldest people in the place, by at least two generations, and immediately recognized the truth of the old saying, "If the music's too loud, you're too old." But Ken would have none of it — have you seen the bloody Mary's? — and we acceded to sticking with the plan.

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Now, about those Bloodies! They were a work of art, and better yet, were included in the price of brunch. Let's face it, they were really a starter course: mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini, pickles, celery, shrimp, onion, a carrot stick, and a full slice of bacon! They were also bloody spicy! I'm deuced if I can figure out what was in them that made them so hot, but they were scorching. In fact, none of us finished over half the drink. In fact, neither did anybody else around the room, as we observed. Although the flavor was quite good, it was obliterated by the blast of heat from whatever, and the drinks were, in the end, undrinkable.

Our food was promising, but fell short of the promise. They had tried much too hard to gussy up what should have been simple fare, and for me there were just too many flavors all competing for attention at the expense of the actual food.

Rating: Been there, done that, won't go back again.

Which brings us to Harmony. Two young gay men buy a farm in western Kansas and set out to make a life together. Julian and Heath join a group of men — Julian enthusiastically, Heath reluctantly in the extreme — in a nearby town who get together each Monday night to sing, their one chance in the week to be themselves. The nasty stuff hits the fan when Wiley decides the group should perform at the Sunflower Festival (they are really, really good singers). Heath will have none of it; he's too wrapped up in his fears that if anybody sees him "acting gay" he'll lose his farm. He also decides that Julian should to go back to Kansas City so he, Heath, can work undistracted on being "the man I have to be." Can you say i-n-t-e-r-n-a-l-i-z-e-d h-o-m-o-p-h-o-b-i-a?

You know how its going to end: the group does perform — sans Heath, sans Julian — and the earth does not stop rotating on its axis. And through the magic of theatre, the group is joined on stage for their final number by Heath and Julian, re-united at last with each other and their group of friends for a rousing proud chorus.

It is, in fact, a superb show, at least a two-hanky one. Singing, acting, sets — all terrific. And its theme applies not just to Kansas farmers — think movie stars; think pro athletes; think .... you fill in the blank.

On the way home, a sign on the I-15 announced an accident at a certain interchange and warned that we should "expect delays." We soon saw traffic stopped ahead of us, bumper to bumper to bumper, for as far as the eye could see. Showing more discretion than valor, we took the next available exit. Sophie, of course, kept telling us to "make a legal U-turn ahead" and get back with the program. Eventually I found the button that let me tell her we had to detour. Her knickers untwisted and she guided us through a succession of back roads towns about one block long until we eventually re-emerged just short of where the I-215 splits off the I-15, well past the accident, wherever it was, for smooth sailing the rest of the way home.

Last updated on May 21, 2016

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