It’s been a relatively uneventful, yet busy weekend for Sarah and I. Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday we spent some time getting the house in order and also taking care of some chores that were put off because of the holidays. Tuesday, we’ll be taking down the holiday decorations that we put up no more than two weeks ago. Sarah’s car needs to have new wiper blades installed so we bought those this weekend. However, it has been raining here since Thursday evening pretty much non-stop, so the wiper blades are still in the house. Maybe we’ll get a chance to install them next weekend.

Saturday we saw The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The movie itself is quite an achievement and worth nearly every minute of its three hour run-time. As one might expect, the movie does not hew too closely to the book in many ways. Many of these compromises or wholesale changes were made to cut down the run-time of the movie and to change the chemistry of the characters. While I understand all that, it was difficult as a book to movie purist to watch the movie and constantly spot ways in which the movie changed things. On the other hand, there were many parts of the movie that I didn’t think one would understand without reading the book first. Several times I wondered how others could understand the motivations of characters if they had not read the book before seeing the movie. Also, various bits of the actors’ costumes and some of the background scenery would not make sense to someone who did not read the book before seeing the movie. We saw the movie at the Grand Lake theater in Oakland. One of the neat features of the Grand Lake is that they hire an organist to sit at the house organ in the main theater and play the organ until the movie starts. The organ sits on a platform at the front of the theater that moves up and down; the pipes are hidden behind draperies to either side of the stage/screen. On Saturday, we got to the theater about a half-hour before the movie started because we wanted to get good seats. When we got to our seats, there was an older lady (who we’d seen there before) who was playing the organ at the front of the house. We sat there for a while chatting and watching the theater slowly fill to capacity. The lady playing the organ played a few Christmas numbers. I got up to use the restroom one final time before the movie started. As I headed for the back of the theater, the lady on the organ reached the end of the Christmas tunes she was playing. Sensing that she was done, the crowd gave her enthusiastic applause. However, she wasn’t, so she held up one finger to tell everyone to wait a minute because she wasn’t done. I went to the restroom and came back. As we were sitting there in the completely full movie house, waiting for the movie to begin (it was something like 3:59 PM PST and the movie was to begin at 4 PM PST), the organ went into a long sustained chord. We both looked up at the organist to see what prompted this long suspenseful chord. Imagine our horror to see the organist slumped forward on the console! The organist had passed out and was depressing the organ keys with her head. Several people at the front of the house leaped over the rail separating the organist platform from the house and moved her unconscious form onto the floor. Someone called 911; a general call for trained medical personnel went out in the audience. Soon, the Oakland Fire Department and some Oakland paramedics showed up and wheeled their gurney and medical supplied down the aisle to the front of the house. It was surreal for several hundred people to be sitting there, eating snacks, watching this poor woman suffer cardiac arrent in front of all of us. However, what could the majority of us do? There were trained medical professionals in the audience who helped the organist until the paramedics and fire department arrived. 911 was called; the house lights came up to full brightness. What good were several hundred people going to do if they all got up in the aisles and rushed to the front of the house? So, it was probably best that nearly everyone sat quietly in their seats during the whole ordeal. However, that didn’t make it any easier to just sit there, feeling rather helpless. In some ways, it was fitting the audience clapped prematurely during the organist’s set. At least she heard applause before she suffered cardiac arrest.