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Celebrity Death Watch: Rosamunde Pilcher wrote a lot of romance novels and some family sagas, of which the most famous was The Shell Seekers. .Yechiel Eckstein founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Albert Finney was a film actor, who for some reason I tend to confuse with Alfred Drake and Ron Moody. A few of his more notable movies include Tom Jones, Erin Brockovich, and Big Fish. John Dingell was a Democratic congressman from Michigan who served 59 years in Congress. Patricia Nell Warren wrote The Front Runner, the first gay novel to make the New York Times best seller list. Tomi Ungerer was an illustrator, best known for creating Flat Stanley. Walter Jones was a Republican congressman from North Carolina, best known for inventing the term "freedom fries." Lyndon Larouche was a politician, Presidential candidate, anti-Semite, racist, possibly a Soviet agent. Hmm, reminds me of someone else.

Frank Robinson played baseball for several teams, including the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles. He was the only player to be named MVP for both the National League and American League. He later became the first black manager in major league history (for the Cleveland Indians) and went on to manage several other teams, including the Washington Nationals. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.


Don’t Analyze This Dream: I was eating lunch in a conference room. On an airplane.


A Brief Rant About Reporting on Taxes: I am tired of seeing articles about people complaining about their refunds being lower. One’s refund could be lower because they are paying more taxes, but it could also be lower because their withholding was lower. Of course, one should ideally aim for not getting a refund at all, since that means you are lending money to the government at no interest. What actually matters is what one’s overall tax bill is. Many people’s will be higher because of the limits on deductions for state and local taxes, but many people’s will be lower because of reduced tax rates.


One Day University – Lectures: Saturday was One Day University. The morning had two lectures, while the afternoon had a short film festival.


The first lecture was by Andrew Porwancher of the University of Oklahoma on The Constitution: Enduring Myths and Hidden Truths. He was rather more enthusiastic about Alexander Hamilton than I’d have preferred, though he did also credit James Madison, George Washington, and Ben Franklin. But how does anybody talk about the Constitution without mentioning Gouverneur Morris, who wrote most of it? Despite that obvious flaw, Porwancher did have several interesting points. One of his key ones is that the three branches of government were not intended to be equal. The legislative branch was supposed to be the most powerful and the judiciary the weakest, with the executive branch in the middle. He went on to talk bout several amendments, starting with the specific part of the first amendment dealing with freedom of religion. His key point there was that there were interpretations of freedom of religion which did not require separation of church and state, but Jefferson’s views won out over Hamilton’s there, largely because of nativism in the form of a fear of Catholicism. He also noted that Article VI, Section 3, which forbids religious tests for serving in office is more significant in practical terms. He also made an interesting point re: the 2nd Amendment. Namely, that Madison’s original language included a conscientious objector clause, which suggests his intention was the military context, not the individual context, for the right to bear arms. Overall, he was an interesting and enthusiastic speaker, albeit more enthusiastic about Hamilton than I am.

The other lecture was by Wendy Schiller of Brown University on What’s Wrong With Congress? Can an 18th Century Structure Still Work? One of the main things she objected to was the staggering of Senate elections, so that only a third of the Senate is up for reelection each term, though I am skeptical about how much of a difference that makes. Mostly, what she claimed is wrong is: 1) polarization, which used to be only about race and trade now being about everything, and 2) the responsibility of the Senate for confirming judges and cabinet members. She talked a lot about changes in how the Senate was chosen, including the corruption that dominated the process when state legislatures chose Senators and the impact of reform intents that resulted in many states going without one or both Senators. The 17th Amendment in 1913 (direct election of Senators) fixed that. Other things she suggested (most of which I agree with) were proportional representation in the electoral college (which is already done in Montana and Nebraska) and which really has more to do with the President than with Congress, lengthening the House term to 4 years to reduce the amount of time spent electioneering versus legislating, making the House bigger (which would, in my opinion, make it harder to manage and make deals), and requiring independent commissions for redistricting. I am more skeptical about requiring gender, racial, ethnic, and economic diversity in redistricting, because I think that would be likely to dilute the influence of underrepresented groups. She also suggested term limits for the Supreme Court and removing term limits for the President, but did not discuss term limits for Congress. Personally, I think term limits for elective offices are a bad idea, though I would support other ways to reduce the perceived advantage of incumbents. Finally, she supported an increase in on-line and mail voting, which sounds great, until you look at research on voting integrity and realize that it is likely to disenfranchise large segments of the population.


One Day University – Short Film Festival: After a lunch break, during which I walked over to Poppa Box for some Korean-ish food, it was time for the Short Film Festival. For this purpose, short films were defined as being under 20 minutes. There were 10 films, with a short intermission after the sixth. There was only one movie I really disliked (Bob, which had what I thought was a cheap ending), I had seen one (The Gunfighter) before, though I can’t remember where, and thought it was funny, but could have been tighter if it were a bit shorter. My favorites were Super Powers, The Tailor, Bridget, and Tanghi Argentini. Overall, it was a fun way to spend a cold afternoon.
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Celebrity Death Watch: James Ingram was an R&B singer/songwriter. Dick Miller was an actor who appeared in a lot of Roger Corman’s movies. Stewart Adams developed ibuprofen. Ron Joyce cofounded Tim Hortons. Candice Jean Earley was an actress, best known for a long-running role on All My Children. Harold Bradley was a country guitarist. Clive Swift was a British actor, best known for Keeping Up Appearances. Kristoff St. John was an actor, best known for starring in The Young and the Restless. Bob Friend was a baseball player, who had the distinction of leading the league in ERA while pitching for a last place team (the 1955 Pirates). Julie Adams was an actress, best known for being abducted by the Creature from the Black Lagoon. John Otto Marsh, Jr. was the Secretary of the Army under Reagan and Bush 41. Jacqueline Steiner cowrote "Charlie on the MTA." C. Y. Lee wrote the novel The Flower Drum Song. Izzy Young was a folklorist who produced Bob Dylan’s first concert. Robert Hubbard invented the Head and Neck Support (HANS) system used to reduce injuries in auto racing.


Weather: It was 5 degrees Fahrenheit last week. It was 70ish yesterday. It’s in the 50’s now. And it is supposed to snow some next week. Aargh!


More on Blackface in Virginia: So now it turns out that Mark Herring (Virginia Attorney General, so next in line after the Lieutenant Governor to become Governor) went to a party where he and a couple of friends wore brown makeup and wigs to dress as rappers. This was in 1980, when he was 19. His record as attorney general (and this is his second term in that office) is clearly anything but racist. The point is that this was not uncommon behavior in this part of the country at the time.

An interesting tidbit is that the next in line after Mark Herring is Kirk Cox, who is the Speaker of the House of Delegates and is most famous as being the(Republican) guy who won a tied election by having his name drawn out of a bowl. By the way, he has said he has no plans to try to oust Northam. No reports on whether or not he ever appeared in blackface when he was in college.


Ain’t Misbehavin’: Back in my normal life, I went to see Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Signature Theatre on Saturday. They’re doing some massive construction in the Campbell Street Garage, so I had to go over to the Randolph Street Garage, which is just as close, but feels further away for reasons I can’t entirely explain. Anyway, for those who are not familiar with it, this is a jukebox musical, based on the works of Fats Waller. I don’t like jukebox musicals to begin with and this one didn’t even have any semblance of telling a story. So, while I liked some of the songs and I thought it was performed well (which I will talk about in a minute), I didn’t find it very interesting. The first act seemed rather lacking in energy, but maybe that was just because I was pretty tired myself. The second act was better.

But they did have a stellar cast. That included Iyona Blake, Nova Payton, and Kevin McAllister, all three of whom I’ve seen perform multiple times before. Kevin was particularly good singing "Your Feet’s Too Big," which is one of my favorite Waller songs. Solomon Parker III stole the show when it came to dancing, however, in his performance of "The Viper’s Drag." I should also mention that Mark Meadows did the music direction and played piano, at which he was quite showy. The final performer was Korinn Walfall, whose performance was fine, but who I thought was given a horrible dress for the second act.

Overall, it was diverting enough, but hardly essential to see.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Harris Wofford was a politician and civil rights activist. Maxine Brown was a country singer. Kaye Ballard was an actress and singer, best known for The Mothers-in-=Law on television in the 1960’s. Jonas Mekas was a film director. Diana Athill was a literary editor and memoirist. Meshulam Riklis was a businessman of the sort that gives Wall Street a bad name, but is better known for having married (and later divorced) Pia Zadora. Florence Knoll designed modern furniture, largely for offices. Fatima Ali competed on cooking-oriented reality TV. Michel Legrand was a composer, best known for the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair. Jumani Johansson claimed to be the illegitimate son of Malawi’s long-time president, Hastings Banda. Peter Magowan co-owned the San Francisco Giants. Rosemary Bryant Mariner was the first woman to fly jets for the Navy and the first to command a military aviation squadron. Patricia McBride Lousada (who is not the same person as Patricia McBride) was a founding member of New York City Ballet and a protége of George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham.

Oliver Mtukudzi was a Zimbabwean guitarist and cultural icon. I was privileged to see him perform in 2012 at the Lowell Folk Festival.

Russell Baker was one of my favorite writers. He wrote more columns for the New York Times than anyone else and won two Pulitzer prizes, including the first ever giver to a humorist. The other was for his memoir, Growing Up. He also scored me 15 ghoul pool points. (I’ve backfilled with Harry Reid.)


Errata: I didn’t watch someone die per se, but I did witness a suicide. I was in Prague, walking across the Charles Bridge to the Old Town after visiting the castle. A guy climbed up on a railing and leapt off. He landed on a plaza below, not in the river. I had nightmares the rest of the time I was in Prague and for about a week after I left.

New York State of Mind: I may be swamped at work, but I had made plans for a weekend in New York, so I took off Friday and took the train up. The excuse was a get-together, vaguely organized by some Travelers’ Cwntury Club folks, focused on the New York Times Travel Show. The hotel price (at the Doubletree on West 40th) was particularly good. One of my friends wanted to come, too, so we made some dinner and theatre plans. The catch came when she broke her ankle while on vacation. She decided to come anyway. The travel show could have been a huge issue, but it turns out that one can borrow a wheelchair (for free!) at the Javits Center and I was willing to push her around. We also had to use taxis and Lyft to get around, instead of just walking, but so be it. I’ve had experience with a broken ankle myself and it’s not like it was fun for her.

I figured out why the hotel was so cheap, by the way. Aside from the annoyingness of having to rearrange furniture (in this case, moving the desk) to close the curtains (a fairly common hotel problem) and absurdly slow elevators, the heat in my room was entirely inadequate. I finally got the room temperature up to something humanly tolerable by turning up the heat to 87 and putting it on high fan. The hotel restaurant (where we had breakfast with the group that had arranged the get-together) was pretty dreadful, with bland food and slow service. The really egregious problem came Saturday night, when we came back and they weren’t letting guests in the main door and two of the four elevators were reserved for their roof-top bar. They relented with my friend due to her broken leg, but I had to shove past them, with them threatening to call security, to get in. If two people are together, you should let both of them in, assholes. The two redeeming things were that the room was pretty well sound-proofed and the bellhop, with whom we had stored luggage on Sunday, was very helpful, offering us bottles of water and opening up a wider door so my friend could manage more easily.

But I was only in the hotel to sleep and I have experienced worse in my time There is a much better Doubletree on W. 36th, by the way.

Restaurants: On Friday night, we ate at Barbetta, suggested by another friend. This is the oldest Italian restaurant in New York and is quite formal. Some people might think that’s stuffy, but it was fine with us. Their prix fixe menu is normally $58, but because it was restaurant week, it was $43 for the three course meal. (The a la carte menu was also available.) I should have asked about prices for drinks, however, as they charged me $30 for a Campari and soda. Anyway, I got beet salad, paillard of chicken with fennel, and pears baked in red wine (something I actually had a craving for recently and am too lazy to make). All of it was quite good. The service was attentive, without being intrusive. And it was quiet enough to carry on a conversation.

On Saturday night, we went to the Third Avenue location of P. J. Clarke’s. This is another really old place and we chose it largely due to proximity to the theatre we were going to. The food is not very exciting (I had chicken pot pie), but they have a good beer list. The table we were initially seated at was by a window and there was a draft, but they moved us. It’s noisier than I’d have liked, but it was fine for what it is. Given my friend’s limited mobility, it was a good choice.


Come From Away: Friday night’s theatre excursion was to see Come From Away, which I’d been wanting to see for ages. It had done a pre-Broadway run at Ford’s Theatre but I never managed to make it work with my schedule. Anyway, for those who are not familiar with it, it tells the story of the diversion of 38 planes to Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11 and the relationships that developed between the townspeople and the plane people. Some of the stories are composites, but several are of individual people – a woman from New York who was worried about her firefighter son, the first female captain of a commercial airline, etc. I mention those two in particular, because they were among the more moving stories. The music is suitable for Newfoundland, too, with its Celtic influences. This is a true ensemble piece, not least because the various actors all play multiple parts.

There are a couple of things I can quibble with. For one, during the song "Prayer," an Orthodox rabbi talks to a Jewish townsman who has been separated from his heritage since he was snet as a refugee from the Shoah and they sing "Oseh Shalom." While the melody is a very familiar one now, it was actually written by Nurit Hirsch for the 1969 Hasidic Song Festival, so a man who hasn’t had any Jewish exposure since he was a child in the 1940’s wouldn’t know it.

Later on, some of the plane people get screeched in, becoming honorary Newfoundlanders. This involves drinking Screech rum and kissing a cod. They all balk at the latter, but as someone who has experienced this ceremony itself, the rum is far worse than the cod.

Anyway, those are minor nits and did nothing to take away from how much I enjoyed this show. I would definitely be willing to see it again. Though I would bring a lot more Kleenex with me. Do go see it if you have the chance.


Camelina: On Saturday night, we went to see Carmelina as part of York Theatre’s Musicals in Mufti series. I have seen a number of productions there, although it was my second choice for the evening. My first choice was The Book of Merman but my friend had assumed I had meant The Book of Mormon and vetoed the idea since she’s seen that. I should have explained the parody version, but this was fine with me as I think York always does a great job.

Anyway, Carmelina was by Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner, with additional lyrics by Barry Harmon and book by Joseph Stein. It is based on the movie Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell, though many of you are more likely to recognize the plot from Mama Mia. Carmelina, who lives in a small Italian village, made up a dead American war hero, Eddie Campbell, who she claimed was the father of her daughter, Gia. She had actually slept with three different American soldiers and has been extracting money from all three for 16 years. Old fashioned, indeed, as nowadays, they'd insist on DNA testing. All is fine until there’s a reunion of the American soldiers who served in that area. There is also a café owner, Vittorio, who has been mooning after her.

I should explain that the Mufti series involves minimal staging and actors are often still carrying their scripts. This was exactly the sort of show which the format is well suited for, since it doesn’t involve big production numbers. What it does have is a lovely score and a witty book. It flopped in 1979 (only 17 performances) because it was perceived as old fashioned, but I really loved it. The notable songs include "It’s Time for a Love Song," "Someone in April," "One More Walk Around the Garden," and "The Image of Me." It was also well-performed, with Andrea Burns as Carmelina, Anne Nathan as her maid, Rosa, and Joey Sorge as Vittorio. All in all, a delightful evening.

By the way, Burton Lane’s widow and his stepdaughter were there, sitting right next to my friend (who got moved to the front row because of her leg). And John Kander came over to talk to Mrs. Lane during intermission. I was proud of myself for refraining from swooning fan girl behavior.

Travel Show: Since the travel show was the ostensible reason for the trip, I should probably say something about it. I had gotten a deal for admission from one of the exhibitors – free ticket for one day, $5 plus service fee for the second day. On Saturday, we mostly went around the exhibit hall, collecting brochures and swag. I like to look at travel brochures for destinations I plan to travel to on my own, just to get itinerary ideas. I did also get some info on a couple of specific destinations I’m interested in. (I have booked at least three trips I found out about at either the New York or DC travel shows in the past.) We did also go over to the Ask the Experts area and talked to people about travel insurance and about Bolivia.

On Sunday, we went to a presentation on the Camino del Santiago. Then we went ot hear Pauline Frommer talk about up and coming destinations and new travel planning tools and such. And we went to a couple of other Ask the Experts tables to find out about gadgets and about what to do when things go wrong.

All in all, it was a good weekend, though tiring. I slept pretty much through from Newark to Baltimore on the train home.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Mason Lowe was a professional bull rider, who was killed by a bull. John Bogle founded the Vanguard Group, popularizing index funds. Mary Oliver was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet. Glen Wood was a NASCAR driver. Brian Stowell was a linguist who, among other things, translated Alice in Wonderland into Manx. Tony Mendez was the real-life spy who the movie Argo was based on. Nathan Glazer wrote important books about American ethnicity, with something of a focus on Judaism.

Should Have Been Celebrity Death Watch: Anne Thomas died yesterday. She was an amazing woman – a storyteller, a writer, a world traveler, an activist – who didn’t let being a paraplegic get in the way of anything she really wanted to do. I will miss her and her stories.

Desserts: We didn’t get much snow on Saturday, so there was no sugar in the snow. As for other desserts, I got as far as making cranberry bread pudding. Mostly because I had cranberries that needed to get used up.

Gulf View Drive: On Friday, I decided I was in the mood to go to the theatre and a quick look at Goldstar showed me that the Washington Stage Guild had a production of Gulf View Drive by Arlene Hutton on offer. I had really enjoyed See Rock City, so this play made a lot of sense to see. (They’re the second and third plays in a trilogy. While I haven’t seen the first, Last Train to Nibroc, they stand alone quite well.)
As I expected, this was an enjoyable evening . There are interesting issues, including domestic violence and racism, but the focus is still on family dynamics. The performances were uniformly very good, with Laura Giannarelli especially convincing as the domineeringly awful Mrs. Brummett. It’s playing through February 9th. I recommend it to D.C. area theatre goers.

Lunar Eclipse: I didn’t stay up for last night’s lunar eclipse. I’ve seen a lot of lunar eclipses, for one thing. And it was insanely cold out.

Fruit: Today is Tu B’Shvat, which is that Jewish equivalent of Arbor Day, though actually the New Year for Trees. It’s traditional to eat fruit. When I was a child, we’d get trays in Hebrew school that had a lot of dried fruit – figs, prunes, dates, raisins, apricots, and bokser (carob), if I recall correctly. The only ones of those I liked were apricots and bokser. I’ve been making a point of eating fruit every day and have this mental debate about whether dried fruit counts. I’ve decided it does, but only once or twice a week. I didn’t think of it when I was grocery shopping, but I might have bought some dates (which I do eat nowadays), as well as the kiwi fruit that I did got this week. (Mostly because it was on sale.) I still have a good supply of clementines, too.

Now I am really craving bokser.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Houari Manar was a singer of rai, a type of Algerian traditional music. Verna Bloom was an actress, best known for playing Mrs. Wormer in Animal House. J. D. Gibbs raced stock cars. Sir Michael Atiyah was a British mathematician whose work included algebraic geometry, topology, and a lot of things that I have no clue about (index theory? K-theory? Gauge theory? To quote Tom Lehrer, "bozhe moi! This I know from nothing.") "Whitey" Shafer wrote country songs, including "All My Ex’s [sic] Live in Texas" for George Strait. Mel Stottlemyre pitched for the New York Yankees.

Lester Wunderman invented direct marketing. At least, he named the term. He was specifically responsible for those annoying subscription cards that fall out of magazines,the zip code system, and 1-800 toll free numbers. On a better note, he created the first customer rewards program (for American Express) which led to the wonders of airline and hotel miles and points. His development of the Columbia Record Club was probably a more mixed blessing. On an unrelated note, he collected Dogon (a Malian ethnic group) artifacts and was one of the co-founders of the International Center of Photography.

I am pretty sure you don’t need me to tell you about Carol Channing. She had a successful career in musical theatre, primarily as a comedienne with a, um, distinctive voice. Her best-known role was, of course, as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! She also played Lorelie Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blndes and Muzzy in the movie of Thoroughly Modern Millie.

I Should Probably Explain: I have been asked about this a few times. I make no attempt to be comprehensive regarding dead celebrities. I just skim a few sources and note names I recognize or achievements that seem interesting. It’s helpful for finding subjects for the annual obituary poems contest in the Style Invitational. Which is what I spent Monday night working on.

Also, I am more likely to mention scientists than actors and, all else being equal, try to list more women than men. That’s one of my little ways of fighting back against some of the things I dislike about mainstream American culture.


Political Humor: There was plenty of mockery of Trump serving fast food to the Clemson athletes. My favorite comment was that he should have served Taco Bell and gotten Mexico to pay for it.

Two Quick Genealogy Notes: I volunteered to do a presentation to the genealogy club at work re: my trip last summer. Oh, dear, what have I gotten myself into? I am actually cool with presenting, but dread having to pronounce Lithuanian place names in public.

Also, I had a minor breakthrough the other day. Namely, I found out when and where my grandfather’s youngest sister died. That led me to find an obituary which told me: a) another place where she had lived previously and b) that she had a son I hadn’t known about. It also suggests that the daughter who I had known about predeceased her (since only that son is listed as a survivor).


Friendzies: I could have sworn I posted this yesterday, specifically on LJ. But it seems to have disappeared. It is easier to edit on DW and I have things set to copy over, so there is no harm in putting it here.

The simpler friendzy is the one being hosted on solteronita’s LJ. It is worth a look to see if you want to add more journals to your reading or find more readers for your own.

The more complex one is this, which is more or less book-oriented:


A Bookworm Friending Meme!
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Celebrity Death Watch 2018: Peter Masterson wrote The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Norman Gimbel was a lyricist, best known for "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Killing Me Softly With His Song." Raven Wilkinson was the first African-American woman to dance for a major classical ballet company (the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo). Donald Moffat was a character actor who won a couple of Tony awards. Paddy Ashdown headed the British Liberal Democrats. Liza Redfield was the first woman to be the full-time conductor of a Broadway pit orchestra (for The Music Man). Wendy Beckett, better known as Sister Wendy, was a nun who became famous as an art historian and critic. Herb Ellis was an actor who co-created Dragnet. Roy Glauber was a Nobel-prize winning physicist. Sono Osato was the first American and the first person of Japanese ancestry to perform with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Lawrence Roberts led the team that created the ARPANET, which made him the founding father of the internet. Nancy Roman was an astronomer who planned the development of the Hubble Space Telescope. Seydou Dadian Kouyate wrote the lyrics to the national anthem of Mali. Amos Oz was an Israeli novelist. Dame June Whitfield was an English actress, best known for appearing in Absolutely Fabulous and for playing Miss Marple on a radio series. Brian Garfield wrote Westerns and mysteries. Dean Ford wrote that one-hit-wonder "Reflections of My Life" for his group, Marmalade.

Jane Langton wrote children’s books and mystery novels. Her Homer Kelly mysteries were literate and witty, with a strong sense of place (largely New England) and charming line drawings. I particularly recommend Natural Enemy (as long as you aren’t an arachnophobe) and The Escher Twist

Larry Eisenberg was a biomedical engineer and science fiction writer. But his bigger claim to fame was in the form of letters to the New York Times, in which his news commentary was in the form of limericks.

Celebrity Death Watch – 2019: Pegi Morton Young was a singer-songwriter and the first wife of Neil Young. Larry Weinberg was a real estate developer and owner of the Portland Trail Blazers. Gene Okerlund was a wrestling announcer. Bob Einstein was an actor known for Curb Your Enthusiasm and for portraying Super Dave Osborne. Daryl Dragon was the Captain in the Captain & Tenille. Jerry Buchek played baseball for the Cardinals and the Mets. Herb Kelleher co-founded Southwest Airlines. Sylvia Chase was a news anchor and journalist. Harold Brown was the Secretary of Defense from 1977-1981 (under Jimmy Carter). Eric Haydock was the bassist for The Hollies. Moshe Arens was the Israeli Minister of Defense for a few terms, as well as being an aeronautical engineer.

Celebrity Death Watch: The lists for this year are officially published so I can reveal my selections for who I think will die in 2019. (The numbers are how many points I’ll get if that person dies.)

20. Kathleen Blanco
19. Leah Bracknell
18. Tim Conway
17. Kirk Douglas
16. Herman Wouk
15. Olivia de Haviland
14. Stirling Moss
13. Jean Erdman
12. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings
11. Al Jaffee
10. Beverly Cleary
9. Jean Kennedy Smith
8. Johnny Clegg
7. Lawrence Ferlinghetti
6. Ken Nordine
5. Jerry Herman
4. Jimmy Carter
3. Russell Baker
2. Robert Mugabe
1. John Paul Stevens

Don’t Analyze This Dream – Part 1: A man was wearing a bright blue sequined suit and standing in the doorway of a metro train. The person sitting next to me commented on the conservatism of my clothing (maroon sweater, grey skirt) and pointed to a woman wearing a red sequined dress and white fur wrap.

Don’t Analyze This Dream – Part 2: A stack of my books were on the night stand at a friend’s house. I reached for what I thought was a poetry book at the bottom of the stack,intending to read a poem or two before going to bed, but it turned out to be a copy of Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror.

Tone Rangers / Impitched: I was pretty exhausted on Friday night, but I still forced myself out of the house and went to Jammin’ Java (conveniently near my house) to see one of my favorite local a capella groups, The Tone Rangers. They had a guest group with them called Impitched, who I thought were fine musically, but whose choreography was weak. The Tone Rangers were as good as ever, with some of my favorite songs, e.g. their arrangements of "Southern Cross" (which is one of my favorite songs of all time), "Helen," and, of course, their most famous piece, "Wild Thing" (which starts out as Gregorian chant). They also continue to be very funny, in general. My favorite joke of the night was about how, with the success of The Crown on Netflix and Victoria on PBS, Amazon Prime is coming out with a confusing series about cops in New Jersey. It’ll be called The Crown Victoria. Overall, it was a great show and I felt energized within the first 10 minutes of it.

TCC Luncheon: Saturday was a Travelers’ Century Club luncheon. There was a huge turnout, which has the downside of making it harder to mingle. There was lots of great conversation. What other group of people is there where having been to 108 countries and territories puts you on the low side? And it is fun to both give and receive travel advice.

Housework: It is remarkable how long housework takes and how much energy it saps.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Philip Bosco was an actor, who won a Tony for his performance in Lend Me a Tenor. Jael Strauss was a fashion model. Les Kinsolving was the first White House correspondent to ask questions about the HIV/AIDS epidemic (during the Reagan administration). Julia Vinograd, known as the Bubble Lady, was a street poet in Berkeley. Harry Shlaudeman was a diplomat who served as ambassador to a number of Latin American countries, including Venezuela, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, and Nicaragua. Pete Shelley cofounded and was the lead singer of the Buzzcocks. Victor Hayden, known as The Mascara Snake, was an artist and perfomed with Captain Beefheart. Rosanell Eaton was a civil rights activist. Evelyn Berezin designed the first word processor and worked on computer systems for airline reservations. Alvin Epstein was an actor and director, best known as something of a specialist in the works of Samuel Beckett. Rob DesHotel was a television writer and producer who worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer among other shows. Jacques Gansler was the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics from 1997 to 2001. Bob Bryan was the co-creator, with Marshall Dodge, of Bert & I, a series of humorous stories about a couple of fishermen in Maine. Nancy Wilson was a jazz singer. Patricia Marshall was an actress, best known for her roles in Good News and The Pajama Game. She was also the widow of playwright and screenwriter Larry Gelbart. Joan Steinbrenner was the widow of George Steinbrenner and got involved in the business aspects of the New York Yankees. Jerry Chestnut wrote country songs. Colin Kroll was the founder of Vine and HQ Trivia.

Melvin Dummar claimed to be an heir to Howard Hughes’s estate. His story is well known as the basis for the movie, Melvin and Howard.

Penny Marshall was an actress (best known for Laverne and Shirley) and director. She was one of the first women to become well known as a director. In particular, she directed my second favorite movie of all time, A League of Their Own.

Galt MacDermot wrote several musicals, notably Hair and Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Holiday Party: Today was the holiday party at work. This year, they went with somewhat Mediterranean catering, with hummus, grilled vegetables, and various grilled protein things, including salmon. There was also salad and cheese and crackers and fruit. And several desserts, including chocolate cake. This fit in well with my contribution to the white elephant gift exchange, which was a Turkish tea set, I had gotten as a gift from a hotel in Istanbul (two plastic cups, with saucers and spoons, plus powdered apple tea). I supplemented that with a Starbucks gift card. I ended up being the last to choose, so I ended up choosing to take a stack of boxes of Godiva chocolate truffles. At least one of those boxes will go with me to book club tomorrow.

Speaking of Work: If it weren’t for the telephone, I would get so much more done. I have been trying to write up notes from last week’s conference, but I keep getting interrupted. Tomorrow will be even worse, as most of the day will be occupied with a briefing on a study we’ve had going on. I should probably read some of the several slide packages in the read ahead, but I am not sure I can stay awake through that.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Bill Fischer held the Major League Baseball record of pitching 84 1/3 consecutive innings without giving up a walk while playing for the Kansas City Athletics in 1962. He was later a pitching coach, including 6 years for the Red Sox. Roy Bailey was a British folk singer, known for celebrating his working class roots. Olivia Hooker was the last survivor of the 1921 Tulsa race riot and went on to become the first African-American woman in the Coast Guard. Nicholas Roeg was a film director, best known for The Man Who Fell to Earth. Betty Bumpers was a pro-vaccination activist. Ricky Jay was a magician. Stephen Hillenburg created SpongeBob SquarePants. Bernardo Bertolucci was a film director whowon an Oscar for The Last Emperor and also directed Last Tango in Paris.

Ken Berry was an actor. I will always associate him with the TV show F Troop, but he had a broad career, including Broadway, films, and television. An interesting bit of trivia is that he served in the Army and ended up in Special Services, where his Sergeant was Leonard Nimoy.

George Herbert Walker Bush was the 41st President of the United States. He had a lengthy career of public service, including as a Navy aviator, a congressman, Ambassador to the United Nations, and Director of Central Intelligence before becoming Vice President under Ronald Reagan. While I disagree with much of what he did politically (e.g., I think the war on drugs was a disaster for American cities), I think he did show a certain amount of pragmatism (e.g. agreeing to needed tax increases) and, unlike the current administration, he did respect our system of government. I should also note he earned me 18 ghoul pool points. (I have reloaded with Doris Day.)


Puzzle People Death Watch: Barbara Selfridge (Banterweight) died of a sudden heart attack the last week of November. I remember having a discussion with her once re: our similar tastes in pocketbooks. Rebecca Kornbluh (Arachne) also died recently. She was a crossword puzzle champion and a constructor of cryptograms and cryptic crosswords. I remember having a pleasant breakfast conversation with her at the Milwaukee NPL con this past summer.

Leftovers, Part 1 -Elections: A few weeks ago, I had a list of things to write about. One of them was the elections. I am reasonably pleased with the outcome of the midterms. The most important result for me personally was Tim Kaine defeating Confederate whacko Cory Stewart in the Senate race here in Virginia. I also want to note that there were three Democratic women who defeated Republican incumbents to win Congressional seats from Virginia. Abigail Spanberger defeated David Brat, Jennifer Wexton defeated Barbara Comstock, and Elaine Luria defeated Scott Taylor.


Leftovers, Part 2 – How Jeff Bezos Will Screw Us Over: I’m sure you’ve heard that Crystal City is going to be half of Amazon’s HQ2. What you may not realize is that Crystal City is where I work. They’ve already been closing some things to put in a movie theatre and a supermarket, which are good things in things in the long run, but annoying in the short run. They’ve now fenced off the building I used to work in because it is being renovated to become part of Bezosville. This adds a minute or so to my walk from the metro to the office, which matters when it is cold out.

If this would make my condo value go up, I’d be happier about it. But I don’t think Vienna is cool enough for Amazonians. It should be, given that we have a good coffee roaster (Café Amouri), an independent bookstore (Bard’s Alley), and a great acoustic music venue (Jammin’ Java). And we have awesome transit options – the metro and the W&OD Trail, to name two. But those young’uns seem to want to live in the city instead of hearing owls nesting in the courtyard at night. (Well, I haven’t verified that it’s an owl. It’s possible that one of my neighbors has developed a disturbing vocal tic.)

All I can do is go into wait and see mode.


Leftovers,Part 3 – How the Virginia Department of Transportation is Going to Screw Us Over: I heard about this at our annual condo association meeting. They are planning to change our exit from I-66. Admittedly, it is a bit of an issue right now, because you have to move all the way to the left pretty much immediately when you get off the highway to turn onto our street. But the solution they are proposing is a traffic circle. That is horribly pedestrian (and bicycle) unfriendly. I wonder how the Amazonians feel about traffic circles?


Obligatory Metro Rant: They are doing track work on the Yellow Line bridge. Which shouldn’t affect me. Except that, instead of thinking logically and realizing that would mean a lot more people taking the Blue Line so they should run Blue Line trains more often, they are actually running them less often than normal. Grrr.


Earworm of the Day: A colleague just relocated here from Los Angeles. When I asked him how his commute is, he told me it involves a bus and two trains. My mind immediately transformed that to "two buses and a train" and this is now stuck in my head.

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Celebrity Death Watch: John Rogers was the president of San Diego Comic-Con. Douglas Rain was an actor, best known as the voice of Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Katherine MacGregor was an actress, best known for Little House on the Prairie. Caroline Rose Hunt was the daughter of oil tycoon H. L. Hunt and, at one time, the richest women in the United States. Roy Clark hosted Hee Haw. Alec Finn was a bouzouki player who cofounded the Celtic band, De Dannan.

Stan Lee founded Marvel Comics. He created a number of popular characters, e.g. Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, but may be more significant for having challenged the Comics Code Authority in the 1970’s. While I recognize his importance to the industry, I’ve always been more of a DC gal myself.

William Goldman was a novelist and screenwriter, whose best known work was probably The Princess Bride. He won Oscars for the movies Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men.

Barre Toelken was a folklorist. He directed the folklore program at Utah State University and authored important works both on folklore theory and on Navajo stories.


Word of the Day: Aibohphobia = fear of palindromes.


Weather Whine: It snowed on Thursday. Just about an inch and a half, but this was the first accumulating snowfall in November in northern Virginia since 1995, i.e. before I lived here. I was definitely not psychologically ready for it. Fortunately, everything was pretty much gone by Friday.


Charleston, West Virginia: I checked off a state capital volksmarch this weekend with a trip to Charleston, West Virginia. The flight from IAD to CRW was quick and arrived about a half hour early, though we then had to wait 20 minutes to get someone to the gate. My hotel allegedly had an airport shuttle, but it had stopped running by the time I arrived. And, in fact, it doesn’t run at all on the weekend, which is something you’d think would be worth mentioning on their web page. To add to the annoyances, there is exactly one taxi company in Charleston and, when I called them, they said it could be up to an hour to get someone. So I used Lyft, instead, despite my ethical qualms about ridesharing companies.

As for the volksmarch, it was a reasonably pleasant walk. The capitol building is quite grand architecturally, with an elaborate dome. I can’t comment on the interior, as it was closed on weekends. I did, however, check out the West Virginia State Museum, which had a reasonable set of exhibits on the history of the state. There’s also a walk along the Kanawha River and a nice enough historic area downtown.

While I enjoyed the walk, I’ve been having sporadic foot pain and it was much worse after doing it. (I suspect plantar fasciitis.) So I am giving myself a rest from walking for a while. And taking Tylenol for a few days.

By the way, CRW was just as annoying on the way back as it had been on the flight there. I had an early morning flight and was not successful in pre-scheduling Lyft, i.e. the schedule option was greyed out on the app. So I called the one taxi company and scheduled a pick-up. They showed up 27 minutes late – and after I called twice to check on it. The first time (when he was 12 minutes late), the person who answered claimed he would be there in 5 minutes), while the second time, she claimed she had no way of knowing where exactly he was. I got to the airport in plenty of time because I am me and plan to get there early, but there was no way he was getting a tip. Then my flight was delayed over 45 minutes due to a lack of ground crew at the airport. Sigh.

There were a few things I had intended to do yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, but I was too tired after getting up as early as I’d had to. Another victory for my bed in its battle against productivity.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Elder Roma Wilson was a gospel musician. Ntozake Shange was a poet and playwright, best known for For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf. Bernard Bragg co-founded the National Theatre of the Deaf. Whitey Bulger was a gangster. Roy Hargrove was a jazz trumpeter. Raymond Chow was a film producer in Hong Kong, credited with discovering Bruce Lee. Donna Axum was Miss America 1964. Francis Lai wrote the score for the film A Man and a Woman. Evelyn Y. Davis was an activist shareholder and corporate gadfly, who at least once made the list of 25 Most Annoying Washingtonians. Micheal O Suilleabhain was an Irish composer and musician. Wallace Triplett was the first African-American to play in the NFL.

Willie McCovey was a baseball great, primarily playing first base for the San Francisco Giants. He holds the National League record for grand slam home runs. There’s an inlet outside of Whatever Telephone Company It is Named For Today Ball Park in San Francisco that is known as McCovey Cove.

Little Shop of Horrors: Before going away, I saw Little Shop of Horrors at The Kennedy Center. This was part of their Broadway Center Stage series, which are concert versions, i.e. minimally staged, with actors sometimes referring to scripts. The most notable part of the staging was that, instead of using puppets for Audrey II, the person playing the plant wore a suit and gloves to represent it. That worked better than I might have expected, though I still prefer the puppetry. Anyway, it remains a fun show, with an enjoyable score. The performances were also quite good, with Megan Hilty doing an excellent job as Audrey, very much akin to Ellen Greene’s intonations. Josh Radnor was also good as Seymour. Lee Wilkof, who played Mr. Mushnik, was the original Seymour off-Broadway. And Michael James Leslie embodied Audrey II (the plant). Overall, it worth the late weeknight.

NYC Weekend – Part 1: Nancy Drewinsky and the Search for the Missing Letter I had a trip to New York already planned when I realized that I could just go up earlier on Friday and see this Fringe show, written and performed by my friend, Robin Bady. Robin is an excellent storyteller and this piece has to do with how the McCarthy era affected her family. She was too young to be really aware of what was happening as her father, an engineer, was suspected of being a communist, along with several of his colleagues. The answer is complex and her attempts to find out the story were met with reluctance to talk about what happened. It was an interesting story and well-told, though still somewhat of a work in progress. I hope to see how Robin develops it further as time goes on.

NYC Weekend – Part 2: Museum Going Saturday was a dreary day – cold, with heavy rain. Fortunately, New York has plenty of museums to spend such days in. I started with the Guggenheim on the grounds that I had never been there. The architecture is as much a draw as the artwork. The main exhibit was of works by a Swedish artist named Hilma af Klint. The most interesting of her work was from a series called Paintings for the Temple, which was based on her involvement in mystical philosophies like Theosophy, leading her to a mixture of abstract symbols and characters. They reminded me of the magical symbols I used to draw on the corners of my papers in school during a flirtation with witchcraft in my early teen years.

There was also an exhibition from the Thannhauser Collection, which included Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and other art, including several pieces by Picasso. Overall, I enjoyed the museum, but it was crowded and the admission fee is on the high side.

I walked a few blocks north to the Jewish Museum, which is free on Saturdays. I started with their permanent collection, which had several interesting pieces. I was particularly taken by a portrait of an Ethiopian Jew by Kehinde Wiley and by a sculpture called Venus Pareve by Hannah Wilke. I should also note that I was impressed with how much art by women was part of the collection. I also really liked an exhibit of excerpts from television shows having to do with psychotherapy.

But the main reason I had gone to the museum was to look at a temporary exhibit of work by Marc Chagall and other artists active in Vitebsk in the period just after the Russian revolution. Having been in Vitebsk in early September, I felt almost obliged to see this. And, of course, Chagall has long been one of my favorite artists. The exhibit also included works by Kazimir Malevich and El Lissitzky and others. There was a good mix of works and I thought the exhibit (which runs through early January) was well worth seeing.

By the way, I was just leaving there to meet a friend for coffee when I heard about the Pittsburgh massacre. I will write about that and other political matters separately.

NYC Weekend – Part 3: They Might Be Giants The actual reason for the trip to NYC had been to see They Might Be Giants at Terminal 5, a cavernous night club in the extreme western part of midtown, a land populated largely by auto dealerships. I think of them mostly as a novelty act, due to songs like Particle Man and Istanbul and Why Does the Sun Shine? All of those were part of the show. But there was a lot of other material, not all of it funny, and much of it too loud for me. I liked the second set better than the first, but I am really too old to go to concerts that don’t start until 9 at night. Also, I was completely earwormed by The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

NYC Weekend – Part 4: Restaurant Going Friday night a bunch of us had dinner after the show at Cowgirl in the West Village. I got Frito pie, which amused Robin, who was unfamiliar with this wonderful dish of chili (vegetarian in my case, though they also have beef) with cheese and sour cream and the like served over an actual bag of Fritos. I also had a very good IPA, but I don’t remember what it was and they don’t have their drink menu on-line. If you want Tex-mex food in Manhattan, this would fill the bill, but it was on the noisy side.


Saturday night’s dinner before the concert was at Inti, a Peruvian restaurant on 10th Avenue. I got a very nice grilled chicken dish, with garlicky vegetables. Surprisingly reasonable prices for mid-town Manhattan, too. I’d eat there again.

Before leaving on Sunday, I had brunch with friends at Pete’s Tavern in the Gramercy Park area This is one of several places that claims to be the oldest restaurant in New York. The fried chicken sandwich was very tasty. Overall, everyone seemed happy with their food and drinks (I went for Irish coffee) and the conversation was lively and entertaining.

Business Trip: I got home about 9 at night, which meant rushing around to unpack and pack for a business trip to Layton, Utah. Aside from being exhausted and having a fairly intense work schedule, there’s not really anything to say about that. I was originally supposed to come back Thursday night, but the trip got extended because our team had to outbrief in the late afternoon. I spent most of Saturday in a state of suspended animation.

WBRS Reception: I did drag myself out of the house on Sunday, first to go grocery shopping and later to go to a William Barton Rogers Society reception (related to giving to MIT) at the Spy Museum. There were heavy hors oeuvres (particularly good spicy tuna cones, as well as veggie tacos served in lime halves), along with lots of intelligent conversation. The main feature was a talk by Eric Alm, co-director of the Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics. His main point was that indigenous populations tend to have a more diverse microbiome population than people in the more developed world. He also had some interesting data on how quickly one’s microbiome can change in response to travel or illness. Fortunately, he didn’t mention any changes in response to dessert.


Things Still to Write About: Voting. Condo association annual meeting. How the Virginia Department of Transportation is going to screw us over. How Jeff Bezos is going to screw us over. Possibly a locked entry re: work.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Peggy McKay was an actress, primarily in soap operas. Carol Hall was the composer and lyricist for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Sue Hubbell wrote books about natural history. William Coors was an executive of a company that makes something that passes for beer in Colorado. Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft and then used the money he made to buy sports teams. Todd Bol invented the Little Free Library. Anthea Bell was a translator, notably of the Asterix comic books. Charles Wang owned the New York Islanders. Earl Bakken invented the pacemaker. Dorcas Reilly was a home economist who invented the green bean casserole. Apparently the original recipe card is in the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame.


Jonathan Richman: I fulfilled a musical bucket list item on Saturday night by going to see Jonathan Richman at the 9:30 Club. (Hence, the punning title for this entry.) I was reasonably intelligent and went upstairs right when I got there, enabling me to snag a seat on the balcony level. That and an Irish coffee (hey, it was a cold night out!) made for a relaxing evening.

Anyway, I have listened to Jonathan since maybe 1980 or so, back in the days of the Modern Lovers and his early punk efforts with silly songs like "Pablo Picasso (was never called an asshole)." As time went on, he pretty much focused on acoustic music, apparently to protect his hearing. Every now and then there is some song that completely grabs me and I listen to over and over for hours. "Give Paris One More Chance" (from the album, Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow) was one of those songs and I probably listened to it during every waking moment for three or four days in a row. I have no idea why that song speaks to me so deeply, but it does and I still end up playing it over several times in a row when I listen to that CD. Which is all a bit besides the point, as he did not play it Saturday night.

What he did play ranged from "No One Was Like Vermeer" to "He Gave Us the Wine to Taste" to "People Are Disgusting" to "Dancing at the Lesbian Bar." And songs in French, Spanish, Italian, and what I assume was Sanskrit because it was based on the works of Kabir. Seeing him live, with just Tommy Larkins on drums as accompaniment, I felt a greater appreciation for Jonathan’s actual musicianship. That is, I had usually thought of him as a bit of a novelty act, with some great songs but more known for weird lyrics and concepts. But in person I could appreciate that he really can play the guitar damn well. There are flamenco and jazz influences. And, most of all, he was having fun, as was I.

I am so happy I went to see him and I hope I will get the chance to do so again.

By the way, top of the music bucket list now is Luka Bloom. But he doesn't appear to have anything scheduled that I can get to in the near future. Maybe next year.


Profs and Pints – Origins of Vampires: I like the concept for Profs and Pints, which puts on lectures at bars in the D.C. area. I finally actually made it to one of these Sunday night. The topic was vampires and the speaker, Bruce McClelland, emphasized the linguistic origins of the word, which he said originally referred to outcasts, rather than to the undead. He was rather disorganized, though reasonably interesting. For example, there were reports of flying bags of blood, but nobody could verify them because seeing one would kill you instantly. Most of the evidence for early belief in the undead has to do with mutilation of corpses. Which makes it interesting that he didn’t cite Lawrence Durrell’s account of the burial of a vampire in Corfu (in Prospero’s Cell) but I gathered that his literary knowledge was not up to his knowledge of Slavic languages as he attributed a lot of things to Bram Stoker that Stoker borrowed from John Polidori, who wrote "The Vampyre" nearly 80 years before Dracula. One would expect a vampirologist to be familiar with Polidori.

As an aside, Dracula is not really about the supernatural if you know anything about Stoker’s background. What makes it an interesting book is that Mina, as the modern woman, is the only complete character, while Lucy’s three suitors together each have only one aspect of success. Stoker’s mother was an early feminist and that almost certainly led to his rather conflicted views on femininity. But I digress.

McClelland’s other interesting point was that the association of outcasts with the supernatural came to be associated with live women (witches) in the West versus dead men (vampires and werewolves) in the East. That was something I’d never thought about before.

Overall, even with a few quibbles, it was worth going to the talk. And, as I said, I like the concept behind the event and will certainly try to get to other Profs and Pints lectures in the future.


Don’t Analyze This Dream: I was at some sort of spa. But, instead of staying at the main hotel, I was at some cheaper accommodations on the other side of the town square. There was a fountain in the middle of the square and a lot of spa-goers were standing around, dressed in white bathrobes, watching the fountain.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Joe Masteroff wrote the books for Broadway musicals, including Cabaret and She Loves Me. Otis Rush was a blues guitarist and singer. Marty Balin cofounded Jefferson Airplane. Peter Bjarkman wrote about Cuban beisbol. Charles Aznavour was a French singer of Armenian descent, who was also notable for humanitarian activities. Leon Lederman won a Nobel Prize in Physics for research on neutrinos.

Nevermore: Friday night, I went with a friend to see Nevermore at Creative Cauldron, a small theatre in Falls Church that I like a great deal. This was Matt Conner’s musical, with lyrics from Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry. Stephen Gregory Smith (Conner’s husband) played Poe, who interacts with five women throughout the play – his mother (who died when he was an infant), Virginia (his cousin, who he married when she was 13 but who died of tuberculosis 11 years later), Muddy (Virginia’s mother), Elmira (an early love, who was engaged to Poe when he died), and a whore (a composite character). I have mixed feelings about Poe as a writer, but he and his work were definitely interesting. I mostly enjoyed this show and I thought Smith’s performance was particularly notable. He really captured the emotional agony of Poe’s relationships with the women in his life. It was definitely worth seeing.

By the way, we had dinner beforehand at a Russian restaurant called Troika. The food was just okay, but they are attached to a small grocery store. And I found a container of halvah spread! This is something I had discovered in Israel a few years ago and had never seen in the U.S. before. The brand name is Krelva and it is apparently from Turkey (though I never saw it there). I am pleased to say it is as delicious as I remembered.

Heisenberg: Continuing with theatre going, I saw Heisenberg at Signature Theatre on Sunday afternoon. I have subscribed to Signature for several years now and, other than avoiding seeing plays by Annie Baker (whose work I detest), I see pretty much everything they do. That’s my excuse for having been entirely unaware that the title is completely metaphoric and the play has nothing to do with Warner Heisenberg. Instead, it’s about uncertainty and, specifically, the uncertainties that come up in relationships between people.

The specific relationship is between a 40ish American woman, Georgie, and a 75 year old Irish man, Alex. Both of them live in London and they meet by chance, with Georgie tracking him down to pursue the relationship. We quickly learn that a lot of what she says are lies and it’s hard to tell whether she is just manipulating him to get him to give her money to go to New Jersey and look for her estranged son. We can’t even be sure that the son really exists.

This is a really funny play and the performances were excellent. Rachel Zampelli was an intriguing – and somewhat scary – Georgie. Michael Russotto was a charming Alex, especially in a speech about how he really does listen to all types of music. I wasn’t crazy about the ending of the play, but it did make sense. I just like more certainty in theatre.

Pink Martini: I’ve seen Pink Martini perform several times and they continue to be among my favorite musicians. How often does one get to hear songs sung in English, German, French, Spanish, Croatian, Arabic, Italian, Turkish, Armenian, and Greek in one evening? China Forbes has an awesome voice, as do other singers who perform with them. Notably, that includes NPR host Ari Shapiro, who I still think looks like the groom doll on a wedding cake. I do wish there had been somewhat less talking, however. And that they had started on time, as it was a bit late for a Sunday night. Dave Anderson was a sportswriter for The New York Times.

Brett Kavanaugh: I wasn’t going to say anything because I figured that everyone I know is sick and tired of political discussions. But there are a couple of things I don’t think I heard anyone say.

First, my normal instinct is to pretty much ignore things people do before they’re adults. I’m being vague about defining adulthood here, but I did dumb stuff when I was a teenager. My issue with Kavanaugh was his failure to just say something like, "I probably did hurtful things to other people when I was drunk and I don’t remember them, but I’ve grown out of that and I’m sorry." His fitness for the Supreme Court (or, more precisely, lack thereof) has much more to do with his partisan tirade, which he has apologized for.

So now that he has been confirmed, he has a chance to prove he can be a reasonable and impartial judge. I don’t have any real confidence that he will be, but I have been surprised by other Supreme Court justices in the past.

Or he could well turn out to be another Roger Taney. For those who don’t recognize the name, Taney became Chief Justice as a protégé of Andrew Jackson. (He had previously been rejected by the Senate, first for a position as Treasury Secretary, then as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.) He went on to write the majority opinion in the Dred Scott case, generally recognized as a terrible decision. The interesting thing is that, despite that legacy, he is generally recognized by legal scholars as having made a lot of good decisions. I can hope.

Speaking of Politics: I got my sample ballot in the mail this past week. I had no intention of voting for him, but I am still slightly disappointed that Peter Carey (the Whig Party candidate) did not, apparently, get enough signatures to get on the ballot.

And for anyone reading who is in Virginia, it is really really really important to vote for Tim Kaine for Senate. Because his opponent, Cory Stewart, is a racist Confederate whacko.

Speaking of White Supremacist Whackos: The Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia, which is just a few miles from where I live, was defaced with spray-painted swastikas early Saturday morning. I am furious, but there is not a lot I can say until we find out who the perpetrator(s) wes.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Ward Hall was a sideshow impresario. Chelsi Smith was Miss Universe 1995. Peter Donat was an actor, best known for his television work, though his involvement in the American Conservaory Theatre in San Francisco was also significant. Adam Clymer was a political correspondent for The New York Times. Marin Mazzie was a musical theatre actress. Virginia Whitehill was a women’s rights activist. Dudley Sutton played Tinker Dill in the British television series based on Jonathan Gash’s Lovejoy mysteries. Maartin Allcock was the lead guitarist for Fairport Convention and also played keyboards with Jethro Tull. Arthur Mitchell founded the Danc e Theatre of Harlem. George Hatsopoulos wrote an influential textbook on thermodynamics. John Cunliffe was a British children’s author, best known for Postman Pat. Charles Kao won a Nobel Prize for his work on fiber optics for communications.

Denis Norden was an English humorist. I have fond memories of listening to him and Frank Muir on My Word many years ago. I particularly remember a story about Rene Descartes, whose wife told him not to eat the miniature quiches at a party as she was saving them for a late night snack. He explained this request to a friend by saying "I think they’re for 1 a.m."

Health Kvetch, Part 1: I had a (routine) doctor’s appointment on Friday last week. That included getting my annual flu shot, in my left arm. I also got the first shot of the new shingles vaccine, in my right arm. My left arm itched around the injection site until Monday. My right arm was sore whenever I lifted it until Tuesday.

Health Kvetch, Part 2: I had laser gum surgery (LANAP) yesterday, in hopes of it dealing with an infection both less expensively and less painfully than other options. The procedure wasn’t too bad and, so far, the recovery is not terrible, though icing the affected area much of the day yesterday was mildly annoying. (I took part of the day off from work, but did call into a couple of meetings from home.) However, the periodontist said the maximum pain is usually at the 3rd day, so we will see. So far, the pain has been pretty minimal, which might be due to taking Tylenol as a precaution. The other annoying parts (aside from the whole periodontist thing) are: 1) the huge antibiotic tablets that I have to take for a week and 2) having to eat a soft diet for 7-10 days. Hopefully this will prevent the need for worse things.

Museum Day – National Museum of Women in the Arts: Saturday was the annual Smithsonian-sponsored Museum Day. This means free admission to a large range of museums throughout the country. You have to get tickets in advance, which means you need to choose what museum to go to. The trick is to make sure you are going to something that normally does charge admission, which rules out the overwhelming majority of museums around here. I chose the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which proved to be a good choice. Some of my favorite pieces were Red Ice (a photograph by Deborah Paauwe), Jo Baker’s Bananas (textile art by Faith Ringgold), 4 Seated Figures (sculpture by Magdalena Abakanowicz), Carrots Anyone? (artist’s book by Susan Joy Shore), and Wonderful You (painting by Jane Hammond, in which she imagined herself as various mythical and mythological characters). All in all, it made for an enjoyable couple of hours.

JGSGW: The first Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington meeting of the season was Sunday. The topic had to do with Shoah memorials in the former Soviet Union. But there is more value in the general schmoozing before and after the meeting.

Everything Else: I think I am finally caught up on puzzles from when I was gone. I am not, however, completely caught up on reading mail (both e and snail varieties).

Last night was book club. After reading an 800+ page book, we’ve decided to set a 400 page limit on future selections.

I should probably say something about baseball. And/or politics. But anybody who knows me at all can already figure out my opinions.
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I will get back to catching up on vacation (and pre-vacation) things, but I don’t want to fall further behind, so here is what I’ve done since I’ve gotten back.

Celebrity Death Watch: V.S Naipaul was a Nobel laureate in literature. Mark Baker was a (primarily) theatre actor, best known for playing Candide in the 1974 production of the Bernstein musical. Morgana King was a jazz singer and actress. She actually died in late March, but I didn’t see her obituary until mid-August. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India from 1998 to 2004. Kofi Annan was Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997-2006. Barbara Harris was an actress, both on Broadway (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and The Apple Tree among others) and film (Nashville, Freaky Friday, etc.) Ed King played guitar with Strawberry Alarm Clock and Lynyrd Skynard and wrote the song, "Sweet Home Alabama." Martin Shubik was an economist whose work included analysis of the best pastrami sandwich in New York. Robin Leach hosted Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Princeton Lyman was a diplomat, credited with helping to end apartheid in South Africa. Marie Severin was a comic book artist. Paul Taylor was an influential modern dance choreographer. Peter Corris wrote crime novels. Susan Brown was a soap opera actress. Vanessa Marquez was an actress, best known for playing a nurse on E.R. Gloria Jean was an actress and singer, who appeared in several 1940’s and 1950’s films. Carole Shelley was an actress, whose roles included playing one of the Pigeon sisters in The Odd Couple. Randy Weston was a jazz pianist and composer. Christopher Lawford was the son of actor Pater Lawford and a nephew of JFK, who also became an actor and wrote a memoir about his struggles with drug addiction. Bill Dailey wa a character actor, known for appearing in I Dream of Jeannie and The Bob Newhart Show. Burt Reynolds was a television and movie actor, best known for Deliverance. Richard DeVos co-founded Amway. Mac Miller was a rapper. Sam Cornish was Boston’s first poet laureate.

I hope you don’t need me to tell you about Aretha Franklin. She was one of the greatest singers of all time and a truly iconic American voice. I’m usually not keen on people being dubbed royalty of some genre, but I will make an exception for the Queen of Soul.

Khaira Arby was a Malian singer. I heard her perform at the Festival Au Desert in 2011 and met her briefly in the market in Timbuktu while I was there. She was apparently the first Malian woman to start a career under her own name. She was also an activist for women’s rights and an advocate against female genital mutilation.

I assume I don’t need to tell you about John McCain. He was an interesting politician, something of a maverick among Republicans. While I often disagreed with him, I do think he had a lot of integrity. In an era of bad behavior, he seemed able to be a gentleman most of the time, which deserves credit in and of itself. He also scored on my ghoul pool list (and almost everyone else’s, alas.)

Neil Simon was a playwright, whose work focused on New York and the Jewish-American experience. He received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer. His plays were a good example of my theory that funny and serious are not antonyms.



Please Don’t Analyze This Dream: I don’t remember the context, but there were a bunch of soldiers wearing triangular green-painted (or maybe enameled) metallic masks that I referred to as "Turkish death masks."



Passion: I saw Passion at Signature Theatre on Saturday. This is one of the more difficult Sondheim musicals, largely because Fosca is a fundamentally unlikeable character, stalking Giorgio, a sensitive man who has the heart of a poet in a soldier’s body. It’s an uncomfortable view of love, accompanied by emotional (and only sporadically humorous lyrics, mostly relating to the other soldiers’ reactions to Giorgio). Despite all that, Signature did an excellent job with it. Claybourne Elder was a convincing Giorgio. And Natascia Diaz made Fosca a little bit sympathetic. Overall, I thought it was worth seeing, but though I will never love the show the way I do most of Sondheim’s others.



Gelato Festival DC: On Sunday, I ignored the chill and rain and went off to the city for Gealto Festival DC. The idea is that you buy a wristband (for $30 plus fees) and get to taste all the gelato you want. There were several gelato makers competing, with flavors designed for the festival.

Crusty Fantasy from Gelato Gourment in Weston, FL was a mixture of caramel, cashews and rice krispies. The name is terrible, but the flavor was reasonably good.

Blue Majik from Gelato’oh Brick & Motor in Philadelphia was pineapple flavored with a blue coloring from algae. It supposedly also had ginger and apple juices, but I couldn’t detect them. I liked the idea of a sugar-free sorbetto, but it didn’t quite work for me, largely because the texture was not as smooth as is ideal.

Apurimac from local DC shop Pitango Gelato was a very intense chocolate. I know some people will doubt this is possible, but I thought it was actually too intense and I ate only a couple of spoonfuls.

Trinacrium from uGOgelato in Miami was my favorite. It was a mixture of pistachio and almonds, with a spray of orange. This was absolutely delicious – a lovely combination, with great flavors and texture. I was clearly not the only person who thought so, as it won the competition.

American Dream from Gelato Bliss in Hagerstown, MD had salted peanuts swirled with a coca-cola reduction. This was better than I expected from that description, but not something I wanted more of.

Butter Pecan from Marinucci’s in Reston, VA was disappointing. They apparently used European butter instead of cream, which gave it a weird mouth feel to me. This was another one where I didn’t eat more than a couple of spoonfuls.

Cheesecake with Cherries from Mike’s Gelato in Columbia, MD was exactly what it sounds like. It wasn’t bad, but I am just not crazy about cherries, so had just a small taste.

Nocciola Chocake from Zerogradi Gelateria in Ambler, PA was hazelnut gelato with chocolate sauce and chocolate cake crumbs. I liked this, but would have liked it better if there were more chocolate flavor.


There were also a few non-competitors:

PreGel apparently sells a gelato base to shops, rather than selling commercially. I tried two of their flavors – hazelnut and cannoli. The hazelnut was excellent, but then it’s a flavor that I tend to like a lot. The cannoli was good, but would have benefited from more crunch.

Bella Gelateria (not clear where they are) had some sort of caramel and coffee flavor. This was just okay. There was nothing wrong with it, but it seemed pretty ordinary.

Moorenko’s from Silver Spring, MD had two flavors. The burnt caramel and pear with walnuts was quite good, but could have used more pear flavor relative to the other ingredients. Their ginger, however, was sublime, with large chunks of fresh ginger in it. If this had been a competitor, I would probably have voted for it over the Trinacrium. Best of all, they said it’s available at a couple of local grocery stores!



Rosh Hashanah: I went to the traditional service at Sixth and I. On the plus side, I like the cantor, who is reasonably inclusive, versus some who think they’re performing as operatic soloists. On the minus side, the siddur they use has absolutely terrible English translations. And if I notice that, with my lack of Hebrew fluency, they must be really bad. I was also suffering a bit from difficulty focusing, which I will attribute to jet lag. At the very least, I got to spend time with a couple of friends who I see all too infrequently.

Happy 5779 everyone!
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Celebrity Death Watch: In a rather belated item, Richard Siegel, who was one of the co-editors of The Jewish Catalogue died in mid-July, but I missed seeing his obituary until this week. Tommy Peoples was a Donegal fiddler who played with The Bothy Band. Moshe Mizrahi was an Israeli film director, best known for Madame Rosa. Charlotte Rae was an actress, probably best known for her television roles on Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life, but also significant for playing Mammy Yokum in the Broadway musical, Li’l Abner. Joel Robuchon was a French chef, who had the most Michelin stars of any restaurateur. Stan Mikita played hockey for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Avoiding Whininess: I wrote a rather kvetchy entry yesterday, mostly about the level of chaos in my life. I decided not to post it. Instead, I did get some decluttering done when I went home, including finding the most urgent thing I was looking for (new auto insurance card). And, more importantly, I figured out a way to sort some things out so I can tackle them in a more orderly manner. In other words, it is still chaos, but I feel more optimistic about coping with it.


Charities: A lot of people use social media (particularly facebook) to solicit charitable donations to celebrate their birthdays. I have reservations about this, as it seems both ineffective and pushy. But I will note that my birthday approacheth (as do the Jewish High Holidays, a traditional time for extra charity). So I thought I would recommend a few charities I think are worth giving to:

Mines Advisory Group – focused on removing unexploded ordnance in various countries. I have seen the good they have done in southeast Asia (Cambodia and Laos) and am particularly impressed with their efforts to educate children not to handle bombs they may find. They are also active in several countries in Africa. Not rated by Charity Navigator because much of their funding comes from government grants, versus individuals.


SOME – serves poverty and homelessness in Washington, D.C. Their services include affordable housing, as well as food, clothing, health care, job training, and addiction treatment. Rated 4 Star by Charity Navigator. You might also look for similar organizations where you live.


Women’s Prison Book Project – provides free reading materials to women and transgender persons in prison. Focus is on books with specifically relevant topics, including women’s health, law, and education. Not rated by Charity Navigator.


I also donate heavily to my alumni association, earmarked for scholarships. I also recommend donating to local arts organizations (e.g. I donate to Signature Theatre in Alexandria, Virginia). In general, it is better to donate larger amounts to fewer organizations, in my opinion.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Alene Duerk was the U.S. Navy’s first female rear admiral. Ron Dellums was a Congressman from California for many years and later served as mayor of Oakland. Yaakov Elman was a Talmudic scholar. Mary Carlisle was an actress, primarily in B-movies.

Baseball News: I am inordinately happy that Ian Kinsler has been traded to the Red Sox.

Good News: For reasons involving some sort of statewide softball event, the NPL con next year is moving back to the original dates. Which means I can go. Yay!

Bad News: Metro is going to be doing major track work from August 11 through the 26th. This will screw up my commute for a week. I am hoping that the Fairfax Connector people will run bus service to the Pentagon like they did the last time that there was so little service. But I haven’t seen anything announced.

Just Gnus: Contrary to what I was taught by my 3rd Grade teacher, the "G" is not silent.

The Story of the Gun: You might note that GUN is an anagram of GNU. Which has nothing to do with this show, a monologue by Mike Daisey, currently playing at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. I saw it on Tuesday night.

Daisey likes to refer to himself as a storyteller, but he does use notes so some of us would question that. I don’t really care how he is characterized. He’s entertaining and thought-provoking, even when I disagree with him.

Anyway, Daisey starts out with talking about the history of guns in America and, specifically, makes the claim that guns were essential to the white European conquest of America and to the enslavement of Africans. There are a number of reasons why this is a simplistic claim, starting with the role of disease (both deliberately spread and otherwise) among indigenous populations. And the importation of slaves is intimately wrapped up with tribal warfare between various groups in West Africa. For example, the Abomey were waging war on and enslaving other African tribes long before Prince Henry the Navigator had set out from Portugal.

Suppose you do accept the historical premise. What does that have to do with debates about guns now? Daisey doesn’t really answer that question. Instead, he attacks Alexander Hamilton. One of my rules is that one should not attack what one is not familiar with, so his jibes at the current musical were annoying.

He’s better when he talks about the gun culture of northern Maine, where he grew up. That is tied in with hunting and his rant about deer, which he describes as fast cows, was actually pretty funny. I will, however, admit that I like venison, so his claim that our failure to domesticate deer is proof that their meat doesn’t taste good, is another point on which I disagree with him.

The real point came in a story about his father and the use of firearms for suicides amongst veterans. There was actual emotional resonance there. But there are still a lot more questions in what he had to say than any suggestion of answers. As I said above, Daisey is provocative, though I’ve preferred other of his monologues to this one. (To be fair, I was tired. And, while the show was advertised as 90 minutes, it was actually 2 hours.)


Airplane Kerfuffle: Alaska Air is being accused of anti-gay discrimination for allegedly moving a member of a gay couple because of a straight couple who wanted to sit together. Except, as usual, there is more to the story. For one thing, it does sometimes happen that glitches result in two people having the same seat. How that gets resolved involves a number of factors. For example, I was upgraded from business class to first class once under those circumstances. Why was I upgraded and not the other person, who showed up after I was seated? Presumably because of my frequent flyer status. I’ve also had people try to poach my seat and ask wouldn’t I mind a middle seat in the back instead of my aisle seat in a section of the plane with better seating so they could sit together? (I might be willing to move to keep a parent and child together on a short flight. But I will not budge if someone steals my seat without asking beforehand.)

In this case, there are several possibilities. For example, the two men could have had tickets that were not on the same passenger name record (PNR) making it less clear that they were traveling together. Only one of them could have been upgraded. Et cetera.

Bottom line is that there is no evidence of discrimination. And, in fact, Alaska has a particularly good reputation with respect to LGBTQ issues. They don’t, alas, have a good reputation with respect to using twitter effectively.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Christian Menn designed the Zakim Bridge in Boston. Elbert Howard co-founded the Black Panther Party. Sergio Marchionne oversaw the merger between Chrysler and Fiat. Donald Kaul co-founded RAGBRAI, a famous bicycling event across Iowa. Warren Brown wrote about cars for the Washington Post. Mel Rosen was a crossword constructor and co-wrote an influential book about how to create crosswords. Bill Loud was the father in the TV show An American Family, which was arguably the earliest example of a reality show.

Hexagon 2018 – Tweet Land of Liberty: Hexagon is a political satire troop, who do variety shows for charity. This is up my alley to begin with, but another reason for going is that I know one of their members. The premise of this year’s show was that a couple in 2118 is touring the National Museum of American History’s exhibit on the Trump Era. Some of the highlights of the songs and skits were "Trump Girl Left Behind" (about Tiffany Trump), "Spending More Time" (about Paul Ryan, though spending more time with one’s family is a time-honored Washingtonian excuse for quitting or being forced out of a job), "These Colors Don’t Run" (about the Metro), and "Thoughts & Prayers" (a Roy Zimmerman song about mass shootings). The low light was a cringeworthy sketch about a couple on a date who have their lawyers getting signed permission for every step they take. I should also note that the sound quality was uneven, with some of the wireless mikes apparently not working, making some of the singers nearly inaudible. Things tend to be funnier when one can hear them. But, overall, I thought this was worth seeing.

Musical Therapy: I chose this show largely because I like musicals. And there were, frankly, not many musicals in this year’s fringe to choose from. Fortunately, it proved to be an excellent choice. The premise is that Theresa is a couples’ counselor, who has her own relationship problems. She’s infatuated with the guy whose office is next-door and tries to manipulate her clients’ relationships so she can end up with him. She uses sock puppets in her therapy, and they provide an amusing chorus for various numbers. There are also a truly astonishing number of euphemisms for a penis. The show is definitely quirky and requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief – but it is also extremely funny. The music was nicely jazzy and worked well to tell the story. It was also well-performed, even though the performance I saw had a last-minute understudy (who had to carry a binder with her script) for one of the parts. There was no program but looking at reviews on line leads me to call out Katie Rey Bogdan as Theresa. And I want to give a big shout-out to Joey Katsiroubas and Dan Hass who wrote this. All in all, I loved this show.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Madeleine Kamman was a cookbook author. Gary Beach was an actor, best known for playing Roger De Bris in The Producers on Broadway (and on film). Burton Richter won a Nobel Prize in Physics. Adrian Cronauer was a disc jockey and inspired the movie Good Morning, Vietnam. Shinobu Hashimoto was the screenwriter for Seven Samurai and Rashomon.

Jonathan Gold was a restaurant critic in Los Angeles. I read him regularly in the L.A. Weekly and in the Times when I lived there and often looked at his reviews when I was going to be visiting. His reviews covered a wide range of restaurants, including some lesser known ethnic cuisines. He was also the first food critic to win a Pulitzer Prize. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just a couple of weeks before his death. On a personal note, one of his reviews led me to Jitlada, which I still think is one of the best Thai restaurants in the U.S.

Dave: I went to see a new musical at Arena Stage on Friday night. Based on the 1993 movie, Dave is the story of an ordinary good guy whose resemblance to the president of the U.S. leads him to a stint acting in that job after the real POTUS has a stroke. He’s manipulated by the Chief of Staff and the Communications Director, until he decides he can actually do good. That leads to an interesting situation with the First Lady, too. Obviously, the premise requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, but this was an extremely funny show, with a fairly lively and tuneful score. I thought Drew Gehling was very appealing in the title role, but the most notable performances were by Mami Parris as Ellen (the FLOTUS) and Bryonha Marie Parham as Susan (the Communications Director). I also want to call out Douglas Sills as the Chief of Staff, Bob, and Josh Breckenridge as Duane, the Secret Service agent. Overall, this was a total hoot - an enjoyable evening out.

Too Much Rain: I was supposed to go to a story swap in Montgomery County on Saturday, but it was pouring and there were three accidents between my house and the Beltway, so I turned around (well, not literally – I exited the Beltway and drove back home). I did grocery shopping on the way home, but managed remarkably little housework once I got home. I also had a phone rehearsal for an upcoming storytelling event, which was helpful because the story in question was in the "here are a bunch of mosaic tiles but I have no idea how they fit together" stage. I also have an out in the form of permission to tell something else if I can't find the grout in time.

Fun House: Every summer, the National Building Museum has some sort of installation. I loved the miniature golf courses they did a few years ago and liked the maze they followed it with. A friend wanted to do the Fun House this year. It was, frankly, disappointing. I liked the marble track in the Playroom and thought some of the other features were fairly entertaining, especially the door in the bathroom that opened to show a shower of plastic balls being blown around. I never managed to find the kitchen, which was shown on the guide in one of the other rooms. The biggest draws were the pool and jacuzzi which were, essentially, large ball pits. But there were way too many children there, which made things less than relaxing. Overall, I didn’t think it was worth $16.

Supra: After the Fun House, we had lunch at Supra, a newish Georgian restaurant I had been wanting to try. I started with a cocktail called Tarkhuna Twist, that had gin, tarragon lemonade, luxardo maraschino, and tarragon oil. It was just okay – sweeter than I would have preferred. As for food, we got eggplant stuffed with walnuts (particularly delicious), beets with smoked cheese and salad, salmon with a tomato and walnut sauce, and imeruli (a type of khachapuri, i.e. cheese bread). My friend also ordered a side of turkey bacon, which I ignored. The food was very good and I would happily eat there again. It was more expensive than the Fun House, but well worth it.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Oliver Knussen composed an opera based on the book Where the Wild Things Are. Melanie Kantrowitz was a poet and activist, writing a lot about Jewish women. Marion Woodman was a psychologist who wrote The Owl Was a Baker’s Daughter, an excessively Jungian analysis of eating disorders. Peter Carington was the Secretary General of NATO from 1984 to 1988. John A. Stormer was a propagandist, best known for None Dare Call It Treason. Henry Morgenthau III was a television producer. Carlo Benneton co-founded the clothing company that bears his name. Nathaniel Reed co-wrote the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Puzzle Follow-up: If you are interested in the puzzle I brought to the NPL con, here’s a link to it.
road to bocon puzzle


While I am Linking to Things - a Friendzy: Here is ghost_light’s birthday friendzy. Probably of more interest to the LJ crowd vs. DW but lots of us use both, n’est ce pas? And lots of people could use more friends.

Weather and Baseball: We had one hell of a storm yesterday afternoon. Fortunately, it was fairly brief, but my power must have gone out at home for a few minutes (based on the kitchen clocks) and there was a lot of flooding. It did stop hours before the All-Star Game, at least. I will admit that I don’t really care about the All-Star Game, but my obsession with Jewish baseball players has me happy that Alex Bregman was the MVP.

Speaking of Treason: I am not quite convinced that Trump’s remarks at the press conference with Putin, disturbing as they were, qualify by the constitutional definition. The question is how one defines an actual enemy. Without a war having been formally declared, I could argue that Russia is not officially an enemy, no matter how much I believe they are in practical terms. Lawyers complicate everything.

Further Proof I am Tired: I saw a reference to a DC superhero show and it took me a minute to realize they were talking about comics, not the District of Columbia.

Ch-ch-changes: I’ve decided to write about only new graze snacks, as I was finding it hard to find things to say about the umptyumpth bag of microwave popcorn.

I need to get better control of my time and space. I am not sure how to do that, but I am thinking I should aim for leaving one unscheduled weekend a month. What I really want to change is the rotation of the earth, but I’ve been advised that is not within my bailiwick.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Steve Ditko co-created Spiderman. Claude Lanzmann was a documentarian, best known for Shoah. Shoko Asahara was the leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, and was (along with 6 of his followers) executed for the sarin attack they perpetrated in the Tokyo subway in 1995. Vince Martin was a folk singer, best known for his work with Fred Neil, including "Tear Down These Walls." Alan Johnson was the choreographer for several films by Mel Brooks. Tab Hunter was a 50’s heartthrob actor.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: What with the Fourth of July being a Wednesday and my having my vacation time committed, I stayed in town. There are plenty of things I could have done, but the one I couldn’t resist was watching the Red Sox play the Nats. That did mean braving a certain crowd level on the metro, but I can handle that.

I’ve generally gone for the cheap seats at Nats Park, largely because of the views of the Capitol. Unfortunately, there has been so much construction in Southwest that you can just barely see the dome now. So I may switch my strategy in the future, as I can get a fine view of construction cranes in lots of other places. That would also make it faster to get to the better selection of concessions down on the field level concourse.

In the celebrity department, Elizabeth Dole made an appearance on behalf of a charity involving people who care for wounded veterans. And members of the cast of Hamilton sang the national anthem. There was, inevitably, a bit too much of gratuitous patriotic display. I will rant about that some time, but there are other things that are higher priorities for rants right now. (As a teaser, top of that list is my utter disgust at the discharge of dozens of immigrants who enlisted in the military with a promise of citizenship.)

As for the game itself, the Red Sox won, which is, of course, important for the state of the world. (Why, Scott Pruitt resigned the very next day! See!) What mostly made the difference was Eduardo Rodriguez, who pitched well. Erick Fedde, who started for the Nats, lasted just over an inning, claiming an injury, though it isn’t apparent what (if anything) happened.

Other Life Forms: I went to see this play at Keegan Theatre on Friday night. The story involves two couples on dates, arranged via an on-line dating service. One date is going well; the other, decidedly not. Vegetarians, libertarians, geologists, space aliens – there are all sorts of types who could be just wrong for you. Though, personally, I could easily see myself being attracted to a vegetarian, space alien, geologist, which has nothing to do with the play at hand. (I have dated vegetarians, geologists, and libertarians. I have not knowingly dated a space alien, though I have had my suspicions.) But to get back to the play, there’s a major plot twist that comes midway through Act 1.

Overall, this was a very funny play, though the second act got a bit preachy. It was still fun, overall. I should also note that the performances were excellent, particularly John Loughney’s as Jeff.

The Weekend: This was a rare weekend with nothing scheduled. I think that was the first such weekend since January.

I had good intentions involving all sorts of getting things in order, but my ambitions were outweighed by my need for regular naps. I did go out to see a movie in an actual theatre on Saturday (The Catcher Was a Spy about Moe Berg), to do some grocery shopping, and to have lunch with a friend. I was also supposed to help her with some paperwork, but she was having computer issues.

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