365 JOY-GIVING AMERICANS for 2021: The Playin’ With Fire Birthday Party

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(Photo from Townandcountrymag.com)

When fire-hot lightning strikes sandy beaches, naturally occurring glass sculptures are often created below the melted sand. Sandy beaches surround all sides of Seattle, so it is a perfect place to locate the most comprehensive collection of works by northwest glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. 

“The Playin’ with Fire Birthday Party” is at Chihuly Garden and Glass, one of the most unique museums in the world. We are at 305 Harrison Street, Seattle, Washington 98109, near the base of the iconic Space Needle built for the 1962 World’s Fair. In fact, two of our seven, joy-giving birthday celebrants for this week are from Washington State–art world hero, Dale Chihuly, and television hero, Adam “Batman” West. 

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You see the bodacious, joyful colors of all the whimsical, fantastical, Chihuly-esque glass sculptures in the outdoor gardens even before you hear the “oohs” and “aahs” of the partygoers in the Exhibition Hall and Glasshouse. It’s like Dr. Seuss meets Cinderella in a castle filled with sparkling jewels. 

HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! (Note: The comments attributed to these famous joy-givers come from words they have written or said.) 

PLEASE GIVE A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR THESE JOY-GIVERS CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK: 

Sept. 18—AGNES de MILLE was a choreographer and dancer. Her first recognized, significant work was creating the dances for “Rodeo” with music by joy-giving American composer, Aaron Copeland, premiered by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. This led to de Mille choreographing the “dream ballet divertissement” for the hit Broadway musical, “Oklahoma.” The Tony, Emmy and Drama Desk award winner was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame, given the Kennedy Center Honors and awarded the National Medal of Arts. 

Sept. 19—ADAM WEST (William West Anderson) was an actor born in in Walla Walla, Washington and best known for portraying “Batman” in the 1960s ABC television series of the same name, as well as its 1966 theatrical feature film. 

Here are some joy-giving bits of “Batman and Robin” dialogue from the TV show: 

Robin: “That’s an impossible shot, Batman.” 

Batman: “That’s a negative attitude, Robin.” 

Robin: “Where did you get a live fish, Batman?” 

Batman: “The true crimefighter always carries everything he needs in his utility belt, Robin.” 

Robin: “You can’t get away from Batman that easy!” 

Batman: “Easily.” 

Robin: “Easily.” 

Batman: “Good grammar is essential, Robin.” 

Robin: “Thank you.” 

Batman: “You’re welcome.” 

Robin: “We better hurry, Batman.” 

Batman: “Not too fast, Robin. In good bat-climbing as in good driving one must never sacrifice safety for speed.” 

Robin: “Right again, Batman.” 

Sept. 20—DALE CHIHULY is a joy-giving, color-loving glass artist. He is the best-known craftsman in the field of world-class blown glass, moving it into the realm of large-scale sculpture and installation art. 

For an immediate infusion of joy, check out the major Chihuly works at Kew Gardens (London), the Bellagio Casino Hotel (Las Vegas), the Orlando Museum of Art (Florida), the de Young Museum (San Francisco) and the Gardens by the Bay (Singapore). Chihuly is a recipient of the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement and the Gold Medal of the American Craft Council. 

Sept. 21—FAITH HILL is one of country music’s biggest-charting singers having sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. She is also a record producer including much of her own work. Hill has won five Grammy Awards, 15 Academy of Country Music Awards and six American Music Awards. Her Soul2Soul II tour (2006), performed with her husband, another country star, became the highest-grossing country tour of all time. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019. 

Sept. 22—JOAN JETT (Joan Marie Larkin) is a mezzo-soprano rock singer, songwriter, composer, musician, record producer and actress. In 1982, her mega-hit single, “I Love Rock and Roll” was #1 on the “Billboard Hot 100” for seven weeks. She has been described as the “Queen of Rock and Roll.” Joan Jett and her band, The Blackhearts, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Her hits include: “Cherry Bomb,” “Bad Reputation,” “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah),” “Dirty Deeds” and “I Love Playin’ with Fire.” 

Sept. 23—RAY CHARLES (Ray Charles Robinson) preferred for friends and fellow musicians to call him, “Brother Ray.” He is considered an artistic “genius” who combined blues, jazz, gospel and rhythm and blues to create a distinctive style of “soul music.” Frank Sinatra said Ray Charles was “the only true genius in show business.” Fellow piano man, Billy Joel, said “This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley.” 

Ray Charles won 18 Grammy Awards, the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of the Arts. 

Sept. 24—F. SCOTT FITZGERALD (Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald) was a novelist, essayist, short story and screen writer. He created the “Jazz Age,” or at least popularized the joyful, fizzy, flamboyance and excess of the era. A native Minnesotan, he attended Princeton University, but dropped out to join the U.S. Army during WWI. While stationed in Montgomery, Alabama, he romanced and later married local debutante, Zelda Sayre. His novels became cultural sensations, but critical acclaim eluded him in his lifetime. Today, he is considered one of America’s greatest writers. 

COMMENTS OVERHEARD AT “THE PLAYIN’ WITH FIRE BIRTHDAY PARTY:” 

“The truest expression of a people is in its dances and its music. Bodies never lie.”—Agnes de Mille 

“Go with your gut and create something nobody has ever seen before.”—Dale Chihuly 

“I try to find a reason to laugh each day. Somehow, if you can incorporate laughter into your day, every day, it really helps.”—Faith Hill 

“Girls have got balls. They’re just a little higher up, that’s all.”—Joan Jett 

“Live each day like it’s your last, ‘cause one day you’re gonna be right.”—Ray Charles 

“To be kind is more important than to be right. Many times, what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a special heart that listens.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald 

“Who am I?” the artist asks. And, he devotes his whole life to finding out.”—Agnes de Mille 

“My philosophy is: when one is good, a dozen is better.”—Dale Chihuly 

“Beauty comes from within. If you’re happy and look at life the best way you can, even when there are problems, it can make you beautiful on the outside.”—Faith Hill 

“I don’t care if you think I’m strange—I ain’t gonna change.”—Joan Jett 

“I never wanted to be famous; I only wanted to be great.”—Ray Charles 

“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be what you want to be.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald 

“To dance is to be out of yourself; larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.”—Agnes de Mille 

“If you work with hot glass and its natural properties, it begins to look like something came from the sea.”—Dale Chihuly 

“If I wake up in a bad mood, I try not to stay in one. Learn to make the best of what you have.”—Faith Hill 

“Life is strong and fragile. It’s a paradox.”—Joan Jett 

“I really feel if you’re gonna be good, you gotta practice…Practice whatever the hell you do.”—Ray Charles 

“The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald 

“No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently.”—Agnes de Mille 

“I don’t know if something can be too colorful.”—Dale Chihuly 

“It’s okay to take time for yourself. We give so much of ourselves to others, and we need to be fueled both physically and mentally.”—Faith Hill 

“I figured out it was a social thing, what women were allowed to do. At a very young age, I decided I was not going to follow women’s rules.”—Joan Jett 

“Don’t go backwards—you’ve already been there.”—Ray Charles 

“And in the end, we were all just humans…Drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald 

“Friends die one by one, but so, thank God, do enemies.”—Agnes de Mille 

“I never met a color I didn’t like.”—Dale Chihuly 

“I don’t want to sound like a Hallmark card, but to be able to wake up each day with food and shelter that alone is good. Forget aging and the fact my butt is becoming a little more familiar with my knees than my tailbone. If you are 6 feet above ground, it’s a good day. So, give me more.”—Faith Hill 

“I love rock and roll, so put another dime in the jukebox, baby.”—Joan Jett 

“Dreams, if they’re any good, are always a little bit crazy.”—Ray Charles 

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald 

THE MENU FOR “THE PLAYIN’ WITH FIRE BIRTHDAY PARTY:” 

APPETIZER—Agnes de Mille Spicy Oklahoma Caviar (miocoalition.com) 

SOUP—Faith Hill Mississippi Hot Tamale Soup (epicurious.com) 

ENTRÉE—Adam West “Holy Cow Batman!” Spicy Beef Fajitas (allrecipes.com) 

SIDE DISH—Ray Charles “George On My Mind” Hot Chow Chow (georgiagrown.com) 

BREAD—Joan Jett “Playin’ with Fire” Jalapeno Bread (tasteofhome.com) 

BEVERAGE—F. Scott Fitzgerald Jazz Age Gin Rickey Cocktail (see below) 

DESSERT—Dale Chihuly Dessert-in-a-Glass Trifle (yummly.com) 

ONE TO GROW ON—How about an entire new year of Dale Chihuly joy and color with a 2022 wall calendar? I found a great one on Amazon and there are also Dale Chihuly coffee table books, posters and some dazzling jigsaw puzzles for some joy even if we are quarantined with COVID another fall. 

“The Playin’ With Fire Birthday Party,” moved to the Chihuly Glasshouse for dessert and after-dinner drinks. A glass blower stood beside a fiery furnace to demonstrate the centuries-old craft. Conversation turned to how each of the honorees would play with fire. Agnes de Mille told of the many times she had danced around a campfire. Ray Charles suggested a fireplace as the perfect feature to ignite a romantic mood while listening to his soulful music. Adam West said fire would light his crimefighter torch. Joan Jett, who had smoldering eyes years before the craze, said she would use the ash to improvise eye black. Faith Hill agreed with Jett, but also said while they were playing with makeup, they could bake a Mississippi sweet potato. F. Scott Fitzgerald remembered grilling trout on a Minnesota stream and Dale Chihuly showed them how a few tablespoons of table salt could turn the color of the fire intensely orange. 

The take home gift was a Dale Chihuly wineglass blown in the blue and green hues of the nearby sea and forests. Ray Charles sang these words about heading home, “Other arms reach out to me, other eyes smile tenderly, still in peaceful dreams I see, the road leads back to you.”  

Then, with the fire dancing in the background, the others became The Rayettes for a joy-giving finale as Ray led them with: 

“Whoa woman, oh woman, don’t you treat me so mean. 

You’re the meanest old woman that I ever seen. 

I guess if you said so, 

I’d have to pack my things and go. (That’s right) 

Hit the road, Jack and don’t you come back no more, 

No more, no more, more. 

Hit the road, Jack and don’t you come back no more. 

WHAT YOU SAY?” 

Let’s hit the road, Jack. With much laughter and the clinking of Chihuly glasses we say, “CHEERS TO ALL AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS! 

                                    F. SCOTT FITZGERALD JAZZ AGE GIN RICKEY COCKTAIL 

                                                   (source: townandcountrymag.com) 

“We drank in long, greedy swallows.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald, THE GREAT GATSBY 

INGREDIENTS 

2 oz. gin 

½ lime 

Club soda 

DIRECTIONS 

  1. Add the gin to a Collins glass full of ice. 
  1. Add the juice from the lime half, and then drop the shell into the glass. 
  1. Top with soda water. 
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Ben South