Mr. and Mrs. Stokes (click to enlarge)
Completing a whirlwind romance of a little over a year, cousin Ben wedded Sandra Desmond today at the Chenery House, in San Francisco. Right about the time W saw the elephant sculpture in the garden of this house, he knew that it was his kind of wedding. As if to confirm this good feeling, shortly thereafter an artificial tree spontaneously began to spew large columns of propane-fueled flame from its branches while simultaneously spraying water down into an artificial green pond from other branches. W instantly regretted that he hadn't thought of such a contraption for his own wedding. Not all the columns of propane had ignited. As the smell of unburnt propane began to permeate the immediate area, wedding guests inched somewhat nervously away from the tree, though not too far, because drinks were being served nearby. The threat of a huge explosion became imminent, and the tree was finally turned off without too much fuss.
In the background, music from the Wizard of Oz would occasionally issue forth from a statue, but not so often that it ruined the nice music being played by a jazz trio. With the atmosphere thus set, Ben appeared at the top of some steps, waiting nervously for his bride. As Sandra's nieces provided vocals, members of the wedding party came up the walkway, followed at last by Sandra with her parents. So far, things looked pretty conventional. Ben was wearing an elegant white tuxedo, and Sandra looked stunning in her wedding dress.
A vast cloud of smoke issued forth from a fog machine, making it look a little bit as if a bridesmaid had recently exploded. This seemed to break the ice, and at this point a large animated head appeared on a video screen behind the couple. Looking vaguely like a cross between the Wizard of Oz and Beavis or Butthead, it quickly became apparent that the Head was the minister. The Head was an excellent emcee and he led the couple through their short, sweet, and humorous nuptial ceremony. A special "built for two" wine glass was produced, and the newlyweds smashed it with a hammer after drinking the wine. The couple were pronounced man and wife, and they walked down the steps to much cheer.
The party proceeded inside the house, which had just as many interesting oddities as the outside. There was a life size painted reproduction of Rembrandt's "The Night Watch", which somebody noted was a copy that was made to fool the Nazis in WWII so that they didn't steal the real painting. Another portrait featured Prince Philip, but without a shirt, with a tree growing out of his finger and a fly on his shoulder. There was a little news article next to the painting, explaining that the portrait had been comissioned by Prince Philip. When Prince Philip was asked by the artist if he had captured the prince's likeness, the prince glowered at the painting and snapped: "I bloody well hope not!". Thus the painting became available on the market, allowing the owner of the Chenery house to buy it for a mere $47,000.
The same jazz trio continued playing numbers inside the house, but occasionally an ethereal sound would join the music. W thought it sounded like a theremin, so he went to explore and found that another man had joined the trio, making it a quartet, and he was expertly playing a saw with a violin bow. Vibrato was achieved by shaking his leg to adjust the tension, and pitch was controlled by further flexing of the saw with his free hand. The saw actually blended quite well with the music, and it was evident that the man was a quite skilled "sawist". W noticed later in one display case a saw with art on it. The artwork showed a man playing the saw and was signed by Leonard Bernstein. This clued W in the the "sawist" was actually the owner of the home, Bob Pritikin. He had built the house in the 80's buying up some property that aws in the center of a bunch of homes, and creating his own little center of opulence. A former ad agency director, he had delved into many interesting things, of which there was ample history of in the house.
M and R entertained(?) the guests with various practical jokes, including their all time favorite, fake dog poop. After Ben and Sandra cut the cake, the bouquet was thrown with a surprising result!
Tonia catches bouquet!
Ben declared that it was the best day of his life, which sums up this wedding pretty well.