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I have been crazy busy at work and trying to get caught up on some household things. Hence, my relative silence. Which is not, alas, likely to change this month. Anyway, here is a quick catch-up of last weekend’s entertainment, before I head out of town for this weekend.

Don’t Analyze This Dream: I don’t remember any of the context, but I was wearing a jacket with teal and purple horizontal stripes.

Hexagon 2019 – Romp in the Swamp: Hexagon puts on an annual political satirical musical comedy revue, with the money going to charity. I know two people involved in it. One writes music and lyrics and performs in the show. The other mostly writes lyrics. Some of the funnier bits involved a perfect candidate who is undone by using a plastic straw for her water, a song in praise of athleisure, and a relook at the Golden Girls in the age of #metoo. There are also Newsbreak segments, with late breaking topical jokes. My favorite was about the Georgetown tennis coach being arrested for racketeering. Overall, it was a fun evening. But the venue (a high school auditorium in Tenleytown) had seriously uncomfortable seating. I felt sorry for students who have to sit through assemblies there.

Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity: I saw this play at Signature Theatre on Saturday afternoon. It starts with a lecture by an art historian, during which members of the audience are asked to write down what they would consider a masterpiece that needs to be preserved when the rest of the world is destroyed. Then the scene shifted to the ruins of a museum, with the art historian shackled to the wall. She is tortured by a young woman soldier, while a third woman nurses her. The idea is to force her to restore a Rembrandt painting. There is a fair amount of absurdity in the script, ranging from a choice of music to listen to while she works on the painting to the rhinoceros that has taken up residence in 17th Century Dutch Paintings. That leads to plenty of humor, but, ultimately, the story is about the destruction of a civilization and is very dark. I found it interesting, though more violent than I’d prefer. It was also well-acted by all three women – Holly Twyford (the art historian), Felicia Curry (the soldier) and Yesenia Iglesias (the nurse). I will probably look for other plays by Heather McDonald in the future, as I did find it provocative.

Lost and Found: Saturday night was a Better Said Than Done show on the theme of Lost and Found. I had thought about developing a story about my non-existent sense of direction, but decided I didn’t have the time to flesh it out. So I went with a story I’ve done before about a hiking experience in South Africa nearly 20 years ago. It went over reasonably well, though I did forget a moderately funny line I’ve used in the past. On the plus side, something I added (largely because of a mistake I made during rehearsal) worked well. Overall, it was a nice evening.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Randy Jackson was the last player to hit a home run for the Dodgers before they moved to Los Angeles. Scott Walker was a pop singer with the Walker Brothers and on his own. Rafi Eitan was an Israeli spymaster who captured Adolf Eichmann, but (on the minus side) ran Jonathan Pollard as one of his informants. Larry Cohen directed horror movies. Andrew Marshall directed the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment. Gabriel Okara was a pioneer in English language literature (poetry and novels) in Nigeria. Fred Malek was an advisor to Richard Nixon and is particularly notorious for giving Nixon a list of Jews at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. W. H. Pugmire wrote horror fiction. Ranking Roger was a ska singer, who headed up The (English) Beat. Michel Bacos was the Air France pilot who stayed with the Jewish and Israeli hostages when his plane was hijacked to Entebbe. Valery Bykovsky was a cosmonaut.

Don’t Analyze This Dream: I was stranded somewhere, possibly England, with all planes grounded, possibly after 9/11. Finally, they (not that I have any idea who "they" were) decided to bus everyone where they were going. Somehow, I ended up on a bus with only 3 other people. The driver got lost and we ended up going back to where we had been waiting. Apparently, everyone else had left. We had to wait for our bus to be repaired before we could go. I wondered how we were going to drive across the ocean, but it seemed we only had to drive to a ferry to cross the Atlantic.

MIT Intern Reception: Monday night was the annual reception for MIT students in the policy internship program. There weren’t any students interested in space policy this year, so I could just focus on giving general advice, aka corrupting young minds. One young woman told me I’d reassured her a lot when I told her it was okay not to know what she wanted to do, so I feel like I accomplished what I wanted to.

By the way, they changed venues this year. They've used a room in one of the House office buildings in the past. This time, they rented an event space next to the Shakespeare Theatre. The space looked attractive, but they didn't have as wide a variety of food. And it was very noisy.

Proper 21: A friend and I went out to dinner before theatre-going last night. This place was chosen entirely for a convenient location. The food was pretty good – or, at least, the roasted chicken with chimichurri sauce I had was good. But the service was mediocre (e.g. we had to ask a few times before getting our bill) and the noise level was outrageously loud. I won’t be going back unless I am with someone I really don’t want to converse with.

A Bronx Tale: The show we were going to see was A Bronx Tale at The National Theatre. I had seen neither Chazz Palminteri’s one man show nor the movie based on it, so I really had no idea what to expect. The basic story involves a boy named Calogero who witnesses a Mafia-related murder and, as a result of keeping quiet about it, gets involved with Sonny, the Mafioso, who treats him like a combination good-luck charm and son. That leads to conflict with Calogero’s parents. As Calogero grows up, race becomes a big issue, since he falls for a black girl in high school. His friends are ready to set off Molotov cocktails at a nightclub in the black neighborhood and Sonny keeps him from going along with them – which is fortunate, as they get blown up in their car. But Sonny gets killed by the son of the guy he’d killed at the beginning.

This is supposedly based on Palminteri’s life story, but I found parts of it rather implausible. Sonny’s lack of racism, for example, did not ring true. Nor did his encouraging Calogero to get out of the mob life. But, hey, I am a firm believer in emotional truths over facts, so I can suspend some disbelief.

This is a musical and I thought the music (by Alan Menken) worked reasonably well in pushing the story along. The most notable song is "Nicky Machiavelli," sung by Sonny to Calogero explaining his philosophy. And, while I like doo-wop, I do wish there had been a bit more of an ethnic flavor to the score.

I also wish there were local performers in it, but that is too much to ask for a short-run touring production of a Broadway musical. And several of the performers had been in the show on Broadway. I’ll particularly note Brianna-Marie Bell, who played Jane, and whose voice was particularly powerful in the song, "Webster Avenue," which opened the second act.

Overall, I enjoyed seeing this, but I wouldn’t put it into the essential musicals category.
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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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Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 1: My car had a warning light on, which was in the shape of an exclamation point.

Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 2: One of my colleagues needed to renew his badge at work. I pointed out to him that he needed to take the elevator to the 8th floor in order to get to the 3rd floor.

Weather Whine: We got 10 inches of snow from sometime on Saturday through late last night. The schools are all closed. The government (the parts of it that were open, that is) is shut down. My company is open. Can I be forgiven for assuming our senior management wants to kill us?

They are predicting snow next weekend, too. Please, no.

Taking Up Serpents: I went out yesterday, despite the snow, to see the premiere of an opera called Taking Up Serpents at the Kennedy Center. This was written by Kamala Sankarem, with a libretto by Jerre Dye. The story involves a young woman, Kayla, who is summoned back to her dying father’s bedside. There is a lot of reminiscence about her relationship with her father, who turned from a rough drunk to a snake-handling preacher. Now, he’s dying of a snake bite, which liberates both Kayla and her mother, both of whom turn out not to be quite so "weak as water, weak as Eve," as Daddy had claimed.

The story is interesting and some of the music was. There was a frenetic scene of shoppers at Save Mart in the beginning, which provided a bit of comic relief. There were echoes of shape note singing (although that works better for me in the more traditional form, with people standing in a square, facing outwards). There was also some intriguing instrumentation, notably in the use of whirly tubes. However, Kayla has more music than anyone else and while I realize that Alexandria Shiner is a powerful soprano, I find those high frequencies annoyingly screechy after a while. I also found the ending unconvincing.

So, overall, this fell into the category of interesting failures. But you might like it better than I did if you have a higher tolerance for sopranos than I do.
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Don’t Analyze This Dream: I was on a game show of some sort. The question I got had to do with identifying the show Who Do You Think You Are? But the host wanted me to answer it in German.

Humanitarian Crisis at the Border: There actually is a humanitarian crisis at the border. It’s caused by Trump’s ridiculous policy of ignoring international law re: refugees and asylum seekers and his family separation policies.

As for a security crisis, I think that expecting TSA, Border Patrol, the Coast Guard, etc. to work without pay is a more significant security crisis than the handful of potential criminals who enter via our southern border.

2020 Presidential Candidates: I miss the days when candidates started emerging somewhere around January of election years, not a full year earlier. But, as a general rule of thumb, I’d really prefer to see candidates who have some executive experience – i.e. as governors or as mayors of major cities. Ideally, a combination of executive experience and experience in either the House or Senate would provide the right mix of skills. Gender, race, etc. are entirely irrelevant. There are white men I’d be happy to support. There are people of color I'd be happy to support. There are women of various ethnicities I'd support. I do have some feelings re: age of candidates, but there’s more flexibility there.

Tax Rates: I am not a big fan of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez for reasons I don’t want to go into right now. But I agree with her re: marginal tax rates. We had marginal tax rates well over 70% for the highest brackets for a lot of years and we were far more prosperous.

The Congressional Committee System: What I was waiting for AOC (and other new Congresscritters) to learn and react to is the system of Congressional dues for committee assignments. In the Senate, assignments primary follow seniority. But, in the House, committee assignments – and, particularly, chairmanships – are paid for. The “dues” go to one’s party’s campaign committee and are in the hundreds of thousands dollars for significant committees. Ultimately, of course, the money comes from lobbying organizations.

I consider myself fairly savvy politically and I only learned about this maybe a month ago. But it’s been reasonably widely reported in reliable sources since at least the middle of 2017.
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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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I fell asleep about 9 last night. I was expecting to be woken up by fireworks or people banging on pots and pans, but, no, All was quiet, possibly because it was raining but more likely because I live in suburbia.

I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, in the middle of an interesting dream. I was in Nairobi and had to wait in line to get into a museum, where there was an exhibit of elaborately decorated wooden pens - some just nicely turned cylinders of exotic woods, some elaborately carved. Then I went into the courtyard where there was a traditional Shona dance (rather out of place, as that’s one of the major ethnic groups of Zimbabwe). It included women chanting a lullaby in Hebrew ( also out of place). Just before I woke up, I started to panic about getting malaria because I had left on the trip in a hurry and not gotten a prescription for anti-malarial drugs.

It is a good thing I don’t attach much psychological importance to dreams.
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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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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!

AC to DC

Apr. 16th, 2018 04:35 pm
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Celebrity Death Watch: Yvonne Staples sang with her sisters. Mitzi Shore owned The Comedy Store. Patrick McManus wrote humor about the outdoors. Dame Daphne Sheldrick was a conservationist, focused primarily on elephants in Kenya. Milos Forman was a film director, who won an Oscar for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Gerald Nachman was a film and theatre reviewer; I read his book Showstoppers not long ago. R. Lee Ermey was an actor.

Ghoul Pool Update: In light of the news re: Barbara Bush’s health, I used my second trade to swap Ed Kranepool for her. I am not a fan of the Bush family politics, but I’ve always liked Barbara’s outspokenness. I hope her final days are as peaceful and pain-free as possible.

Don’t Analyze This Dream: I was in a taxi with three other people, going to a hotel in Austin, Texas for the National Storytelling Conference. I mentioned that I knew at least two people in Austin and one of the other people in the car agreed that she had introduced me to one of them, who also showed up at the hotel. As we were walking into the hotel, I ran into another friend, who handed me several hangers with her clothing on them, but one of the other people grabbed those and took them up to her room. I checked in and got a room key which read 5B-123. I was disappointed to be on the 5th floor, which was the lobby level, but I felt better when I saw the rooms were off in a side corridor, past some shops. There were several hotel employees watching videos and one of them tried to show me how to use my key to watch movies. I explained that what I really needed to know was how to find my room and they laughed at me. Eventually, I found the right corridor, labeled B100-199, which involved going through another door.

Atlantic City: This past weekend, I did something I hadn’t done since college. Namely, I took a Greyhound bus. It was a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to go to Atlantic City for a weekend. The trip up, on Friday evening, wasn’t too bad. The bus leaves from Union Station and stops in Silver Spring and Baltimore on the way. Because the route to Silver Spring goes up North Capital Street, it went through parts of D.C. that I don’t usually see. There is, for example, some appealing architecture in Eckington. I suspect the Prospect Hill Cemetery just north of it is also interesting. Cultural Tourism DC does not appear to have a walking tour of that area yet, alas.

Anyway, we got to Atlantic City pretty much on time and I checked in at Bally’s. I checked out the casino fairly briefly, as I was tired. I was annoyed to discover that smoking and non-smoking areas were divided only by signs, with no physical separation to keep smoke away from non-smoking areas.

I should also note that my room featured three of my pet peeves with hotel rooms. The light switches were difficult to find. There were inadequate electric outlets (and none at all near the bed.) And I had to rearrange furniture to close the drapes. At least the bed was reasonably comfortable.


I got breakfast at Maria’s Luncheonette, which somebody had recommended to me. The omelet I had was good, but the hash browns were terrible. The coffee was strictly medicinal, but I expect that when away from home. (I am an unrepentant coffee snob. The only place I’ve ever traveled where I could get consistently good coffee was Vietnam.) The atmosphere was fabulous, though. It definitely felt like a local diner, completely lacking in tourist glitz.

The main purpose of my trip was doing a volksmarch along the boardwalk. I do enjoy being near the ocean, though the Atlantic City boardwalk provides obstructed views of the water much of the way. It does, alas, provide unobstructed views of the plaid-shorted domestic tourist. It’s also obvious that the area is not doing well economically, with several shuttered casinos and a certain amount of frozen construction. (That’s a term I learned in Russia many years ago, referring to buildings that were started but for which money ran out before they were completed.) Still, the weather was nice and I felt nostalgic for trips I had taken to Atlantic City with my mother, who I could usually persuade to take a break from the casinos to walk along the boardwalk.

The other thing I had planned was seeing the Atlantic City Ballet, doing their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This was at the Circus Maximus Theatre at Caesar’s Palace, which is a huge space that the audience came nowhere near filling. Overall, it was pretty good. I was particularly impressed by the athleticism of Caio Rodrigo, who played Oberon. And I thought Kristaps Kjkulis, who played Bottom, was particularly expressive, making his performance all the more humorous. I did think that there’s a certain amount of dancing for the sake of dancing that does nothing to move the storyline along, but that’s all too typical of ballet. Overall, I enjoyed it.

I did spend some time gambling in between things. I look at gambling as entertainment. That is, I budget what I can afford for it and don’t worry if I lose. I came home with less money than I’d left home with, but so be it.

The trip home did not go as smoothly as the trip up. Greyhound tells you that the bus will board 20 minutes before departure time. Ha! Every bus was delayed by at least a half hour. Mine was delayed by nearly 2 hours, with little information provided. The lack of information is, of course, the bigger issue than the delay itself. It did not help that it was cold and windy. I was relieved to get on and be warm again. I did manage a good nap on the way home, at least. But I don’t feel any particular need to repeat the experience.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Cecil Taylor was a jazz pianist. Isao Takahata was a film director and producer and co-founder of Studio Ghibli. Eric Bristow was a hall-of-fame darts player. Donald McKayle was a Tony-award winning choreographer. Chuck McCann was an actor, including being the voice of the Cocoa Puff’s Cuckoo Bird. Daniel Akaka was the first person of native Hawaiian ancestry to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Soon-Tek Oh was an actor, most famous for voicing a character in Mulan. But his greater significance was in theatre. He played Tamate (yes, a woman) in the original Broadway production of Pacific Overtures. And, most importantly, he was one of the founders of East West Players, which has provided a lot of theatre opportunities for Asian-Americans, both as performers and writers / producers.


Baseball: The Red Sox are off to a great start, having won all their games after an opening day loss. Tonight, they start a three-game series against the Source of All Evil in the Universe. Yeah, I know, it’s only April, but I do love my Bosox. (I am, however, always worried about their bullpen.)

By the way, I don’t pay as much attention to the National League, since they don’t control the state of the world in the same way, but the Mets are also off to a great start.


Don’t Interpret This Dream: I was standing with some other people next to a river and it was really windy. Somebody said, "since we’re in Arkansas, we should go and visit the Gales."

Note: When I am awake, I know the difference between Kansas and Arkansas.


Speaking of Dreams: I read something recently that suggested that having dreams is a good indicator of the quality of your sleep. I don’t think I sleep particularly well, but I do dream regularly. Most mornings, I remember one or two dreams, though I tend to forget them within a half hour of waking up unless I either make a point of remembering bizarre aspects. Or, of course, write them down.


USA Science and Engineering Festival: I spent Saturday afternoon volunteering at the USA Science and Engineering Festival at the Convention Center. My assignment was as a Social Media Coordinator, which meant that I was positioned next to a large backdrop with a picture of a diver and a shark and encouraged people to take photos in front of it and hashtag them appropriately. In practice, much of my time was spent on two other things – directing people to various areas and keeping people from stealing the props we had for their pictures. The signs did not make it obvious that you had to walk through Hall D to get Hall E, where the Ocean area and NASA’s exhibit were. And there were a lot of people who wanted to meet a robot down in Hall B, which was downstairs. The staff member for our area yelled at us that we weren’t an info booth, but we were actually in exactly the right place to be one, since we were just outside the entrance to Halls D and E. (The official info booth was deep in Hall D.) And providing information was listed as one of the responsibilities on the sheet we had gotten when signing up.)

As for the props, we had things like silly glasses, a cut-out of a snorkel, an octopus, and so on. We also had signs people could hold up. The most popular one was one saying "Seas the Day." We also got several takers for "Feeling Fin-Tastic," including two little boys named Finn. Overall, it was reasonably fun, though I was exhausted by the end of the five-hour shift. I’m an ambivert and that’s a pretty good stretch of extrovert time.

I had only a little time to walk through the exhibits, so I don’t have anything to say about them. It was very crowded, which is a good thing. I should also note that my company did not have an exhibit. They have in past years, so that was disappointing to me.


JGSGW: There was a double meeting on Sunday for the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington. I wasn’t particularly interested in the afternoon session (on crypto-Jews) but I went to the morning section on genetic genealogy. I’ve found DNA testing to be a source of frustration, largely due to Ashkenazi endogamy. That is, coming from a population where cousins married, our relationships look closer than they are. While non-Jews end up with a couple of hundred matches, Ashkenazim end up with thousands. I don’t really have 18,000 cousins. At any rate, the speaker did a good job on the basics and explained the various tests well. I think my next step might be to upgrade my brother’s results, but there are also other family members I should get tested. As always, I really need to get more organized.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Ed Charles played third base, including a stint with the Mets, including their 1969 World Series. Louise Slaughter was the oldest member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Sammy Wilson won a Tony for playing Paul in the original production of A Chorus Line. Frank Avruch played Bozo the Clown in Boston through the 1960’s. Charles Lazarus founded Toys R Us. Louis Kamookak discovered the wreck of HMS Erebus. Wayne Huizenga founded Blockbuster Video. Zell Miller was the Governor of Georgia for much of the 1990’s. Seo Min-woo was a K-pop singer. Linda Brown was the subject of a Supreme Court case on segregation. Stephane Audran was an actress, best known for Babette’s Feast. Peter Munk founded the largest gold mining company in the world. Anita Shreve was a novelist. Stephen Reinhardt was a liberal judge. Connie Lawn was the longest-serving White House correspondent. Ron Dunbar was a songwriter whose works include "Band of Gold" and the execrable "Patches."

Rusty Staub played baseball as part of the original Montreal Expos. He came over to the New York Mets in 1972 and was one of the more notable players for them during my high school years. I have a bobblehead of "Le Grand Orange," acquired when I went to a game in Montreal. He was also the first Mets player to get over 100 RBIs in one season.

Steven Bochco was a television producer, most famous for ensemble shows like Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law. He also created Cop Rock, which is worth a look for the musical aspect.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and the second wife of Nelson Mandela. She was a controversial figure, largely because of the human rights violations committed by her security detail. In addition to her praise of "necklacing," she is said to have ordered kidnappings. She also got involved in fraud related to a funeral fund.

Intern Reception: I went to a reception last week for MIT students looking for policy internships. This appeared to be the year of the economist, with nobody interested in space. I did enjoy several conversations, both with people I knew (including one from an unrelated and, hence, unexpected connection) and who I didn’t. But the most interesting moment of the evening was when a young woman leaned too close to a candle and her hair caught on fire. Nobody was injured, fortunately.

Pesach: As my father used to say to my mother, America is not as rich as they always told us. Here it is a major Jewish holiday and we don’t even have any bread in the house.

Interplanetary Addresses: I get a fair number of invitations to events, not all of which are anywhere near where I live. Not everybody remembers they are posting invitations to international websites or email lists. Therefore, it is not uncommon to get invited to something with the address being given only as, say, 2100 Main Street.

I have developed the mental habit of interpreting such things as 2100 Main Street, Mars.

Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 1: I was taking a shared taxi to Island Park. I expected to be dropped at the train station, but the driver turned down Carolina Avenue. When we reached my house, I asked to be let out, but the driver wouldn’t stop. Instead, he continued to the corner and turned left onto Austin Boulevard – but in the oncoming traffic lane. I finally got him to stop by opening the rear right-side door, while he was still moving slowly. I threw $40 at him and left. Also, the house numbers were wrong. My house was 127, instead of 60, and the house next door was 241, instead of 66.

Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 2: I was somewhere in China with my mother. I had arrived a day earlier, so had already taken the river cruise included in our tour package, but I went with her again. Everyone had to show their passports to be able to board the boats and an American man objected. Then we were in the apartment of a man named Anuku and his mother said he spoke such good English because he had studied at Virginia Tech. He had a tattooed Delta on his arm to prove that.

Commute Hell: There was apparently smoke in the tunnel near Virginia Square, so the Orange Line was shut down from East Falls Church to Clarendon. I was smart enough not to think that shuttle bus service would work, so I took the 29N to King Street, where I could get the Blue or Yellow Line to work. It was slow and crowded and reminded me of how much I prefer trains.

Weird Words: Some friends on facebook have been discussing words that they mispronounced because they've only read them, not heard them. I have to admit that I find myself wondering what sort of life people are living that words like "hegemony" or "antipodes" come up in conversation.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Jake LaMotta was a boxer, best known from the movie, Raging Bull. Lillian Ross wrote for The New Yorker. Maurice Nivat was considered one of the fathers of theoretical computer science. Liliane Bettencourt was a socialite who inherited the L’Oreal fortune and was, hence, the richest woman in the world, despite losing a lot of money in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Daniel Yankelovich was a social scientist and influential pollster. Charles Bradley was a soul singer. Kit Reed wrote both science fiction and mystery stories. Bobby Knutt, Elizabeth Dawn, and Tony Booth all acted on Coronation Street. Barbara Blaine was an activist who fought against clergy abuse.

Federal Budget: Last Tuesday night I went to an MIT Club dinner meeting with a speaker (Josh Gordon of the Concord Coalition, which exists to educate people about the federal budget) talking about the future of the federal budget. When I arrived, the organizer asked me if I had anything to do with the federal budget and I explained that my job touches on parts of the defense budget, so he decided I should sit at the head table. That meant some reasonably lively conversation with the speaker (and, of course, the others at the table.) I don’t think I learned much from the talk, but it was fairly interesting. Too many of the questions focused on health care for my interest level. In short, every other developed country has decided that single payer is the way to go to achieve good health outcomes at an affordable price. I formed my opinion on that long ago. For the record, our for-profit insurance system is inefficient, as a very low percentage of the money taken in actually goes to health care. The fact that there are thousands of people who are paid to figure out what code to use for a large number of different insurance companies is evidence enough of the absurdity.

The Anthem Controversy:I have no interest in football, but I do have a few things to say about the anthem controversy. First of all, it is clear that people have the right not to stand for the anthem. However, there are lots of other examples of first amendment rights not applying in the relationship between employers and employees, so the owners could require players to stand. That would send an undesirable message, but it wouldn’t be illegal. It would be akin to not allowing you to use corporate resources to write a letter to the editor of the newspaper.

Second, that particular protest is not inherently disrespectful to the flag or veterans or apple pie. One can argue about how effective it is, because it doesn’t really tie directly to the issue at hand (namely, racism in policing) but that is a separate (and irrelevant) matter. I can’t really fault people whp have a public platform for using it to speak up about important matters.

Third, some people have shown pictures of President Trump standing without his hand over his heart during the anthem as a statement of hypocrisy. While the Flag Code does say that the right hand over the heart is proper, it isn’t the case for the military, who are supposed to stand at attention. I would argue that the President, who is Commander in Chief of the military, could acceptably do that. And, by the way, remember that Obama was also criticized for not putting his right hand over his heart during the anthem. I will also note that when I was growing up, we put the hand over the heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, but not during the national anthem.

Application to My Workplace: By the way, our all-hands meetings at work start with the Pledge of Allegiance. This annoys me, but I don’t feel like I could not say the Pledge. I do ignore the applause when I am sitting in a conference room at the opposite end of the country where the actual meeting is taking place. We’re muted, so what’s the point of clapping?

Rosh Hashanah: I went to Sixth and I, which had its pluses and minuses. The traditional service was almost traditional. The deviations did, alas, annoy me – calling multiple people for an aliyah, for one, and not really doing the priestly blessing, for another. On the plus side, I thought Cantor Larry Paul did an excellent job of the balance between cantorial showiness and congregational participation, with most of the people around me singing quite a lot. Rabbi Avis Miller’s sermons could have been more tightly written, in my opinion. (I apparently missed Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who was there Wednesday night.)

The main thing I wanted to note was that the shofar blower during Shacharit had an interesting technique. I can’t really describe it well, but his shevarim had two notes, in a way that made a siren-like sound. I don’t know if that is specific to some particular region (e.g. I have heard a Yemenite shofar, which sounds somewhat different, but that is because it is made from an antelope horn, not a ram’s horn), but it was really quite striking. He did this both with the plain shevarim and the shevarim teruah, by the way. (For those who have no idea what I am talking about, there are three different shofar calls. Tekiah is the long drawn-out one. Shevarim is three shorter notes. Teruah is 9 or more short blasts.)


Mail: Both my email and my snail mail seem to have been especially slow last week. Should it really take 4 days for something to get less than 20 miles from where it was sent to my mailbox? And the 5 days for an email to reach me was even weirder.

Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 1: I don’t remember the entire dream, but the gist of it was that two men, one American and one Israeli, had to kill and drink the blood of people to keep from being eaten alive by aliens who looked like a cross between spiders and starfish. They both kept journals about this, with the focus on their trying to be sort of avenging demons. For example, they directed three Korean women to a good diner and paid for their meals, and then went to kill the people who had been keeping the three women as slaves. It is possible that one of the men was actually Bat Boy. At least there was a scene where he was hanging upside down from the crown molding of a room, supported by his toenails.

Don’t Interpret This Dream, Part 2: I was at a restaurant for brunch. For some reason, I had to order at the hostess stand, not at the table. I knew what I wanted (a Mexican omelette), but couldn’t figure out what this particular restaurant called it on their menu.
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Here is the rest of the catch-up stuff.

Celebrity Death Watch: Louise Hay was a motivational author. Richard Anderson was an actor, best known for portraying the boss of bionic people. Hedley Jones was a Jamaican musician, who also designed and built the first traffic lights in the country (among other technical accomplishments). Shelly Berman was a stand-up comedian and actor. Walter Becker was one of the founders of Steely Dan. John Ashberry was a poet.

Take Me Out to the Ball Games: I got back on a Thursday and went to Nationals games (vs. the Mets) on both Friday night and Sunday afternoon. The Friday night game started out with some pathetic pitching on the part of young A. J. Cole. He did settle down, some, but the Nats never got very far against Jacob deGrom. Things did get exciting at the end, but the Mets kept their lead.

Sunday was Jewish Community Day and I went with some friends from my chavurah. There had been a special ticket price, which also included a ballcap with Nationals written in Hebrew! This is now my favorite ballcap, even ahead of the one from the Leones del Escogido. There were also tastings of various foods from a kosher caterer. As for the game, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a 3-run homer for the Mets in the first. The Nats proved to be really good at stranding men on base, though they did make things close. And it all came to down to Edwin Jackson getting thrown out at the plate at the end for them to lose.

Apparently, my wearing Nats gear brings luck to the Mets.


Vacation Stories: In between the two ball games, there was a Saturday night and a Better Said Than Done show, with a vacation theme. I told my story "M.D., Ph.D., G.R.E.A.T." which involves our family trip to Expo ’67 in Montreal, my parents’ failure to stop at any of the intriguing tourist traps along the way, and how I finally found satisfaction on another trip years later. The audience was responsive and I think it went well.
You can judge for yourself. Here’s the video.

Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 1: There was a very important work matter, which I had to discuss with Bob Kaplan, even though he was in the hospital. Alexander Craig insisted that he and I talk with Bob, who was wearing blue pajamas and had just had surgery. We were then going to follow up with the Delaware group. Note that none of these are names of people or organizations I have any association with.

Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 2: My home was invaded by a group of juggalos. Well, 4 of them stood outside and waited, while the one with the full clown makeup went inside, wielding an inflatable baseball bat.

District Dumplings: This past Thursday night I went out to dinner with a couple of friends who were in town. They chose District Dumplings in the Mosaic District. It was disappointing. The chicken and basil dumplings were good, but the others were bland. And, even though we ordered our dumplings steamed, they gave us fried. If you are over that way, Brine is a much better choice of a place to eat. Oh, well, the company and the conversation were good.

The National Book Festival: I volunteered at the National Book Festival this year, which was held this past Saturday. It’s the sort of volunteer task I can do – with a commitment measured in hours on one day (plus a couple of hours for a training session). I was a Hall Chaperone, which basically meant that I stood on the L Street Bridge at the top of the Grand Staircase with an "Ask Me" sign and directed people to other places in the Convention Center.

You’d think that sign would invite smartass questions, but there were only a few. Mostly people were asking how to get to the main stage (on the 3rd floor) or to the Metro. My favorite conversation was with the guy who said, "you look like you would like someone to ask you a question," to which I replied, "I would be delighted to be asked a question." (Alas, he just asked one of the usual ones.) Anyway, it was reasonably fun and I ran into several people I knew. I would volunteer there again if my schedule works.
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The King and I: I went with a friend to see The King and I at the Kennedy Center on Wednesday night. This is (like most Rodgers and Hammerstein) a musical I have mixed feelings about. There is some glorious music, e.g. "We Kiss in a Shadow." And, of course, "Shall We Dance?" is a nice showy number. But is "The March of Siamese Children" anything more than a way to show off kids so parents will go to the theatre? Louis (Anna’s son) could use a lot more development as a character. And "I Whistle a Happy Tune" simply annoys me, aside from its earworm potential.

Despite those inherent flaws, the production was quite good, with special kudos to Jose Llana as the King of Siam. I also thought Manna Nichols was very good as Tuptim. The choreography made good use of a relatively small space (this was in the Opera House, not the Eisenhower, which also has the disadvantage of less than wonderful acoustics). Could one write a musical nowadays with an internal ballet like "The Small House of Uncle Thomas?"

My only real complaint (aside from my overall lukewarmness towards the score) is that the show was awfully long. I was nervous about the metro schedule, since trains stop running at 11:30 on weeknights now. I may have to limit weeknight excursions to things that are driveable or that I know will end by 10ish.

Chinotto: We had dinner before the show at Campono, which has okay food and is right across the street from the Kennedy Center. The café in the Kennedy Center is dreadful, with mediocre food and high prices. And the friend I went with was driving, so didn’t want to do dinner in Foggy Bottom beforehand. My salad was fine, but the real reason I am mentioning this is that they have chinotto! I know I am the only North American who actually likes those bitter Italian drinks, but the point is that I do like them and they are hard to find here. So it was a rare treat.

Now, if I could only find somewhere that has Schweppes bitter lemon…

Fielding Dreams: I shouldn’t really go out two nights in a row, but the DC JCC had a program on Washington’s Jewish Ballplayers and, given my minor obsession with Jews in baseball, how could I resist? Fred Frommer (who authored a book on Washington baseball, not limited to Jewish players) moderated the event. The other speakers were Phil Hochberg who, in addition to a career in sports law, was an announcer at RFK Stadium, and Aviva Kempner, who is well known for her documentaries, including The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. The big news is that she is now working on a documentary about Moe Greenberg and she talked extensively about him.

Anyway, there were 18 Jews who played major league baseball in Washington, though some played only 1 or 2 games. The number should really be 17 because Buddy Myer, despite being in nearly every Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, was not actually Jewish. Most of the players talked about were active in the 1930’s or so, but there were a few I remembered. For example, Greg Goossen played for the Mets for a while, though, of course, their real Jewish star was Art Shamsky. (As far as I know, Ed Kranepool is not Jewish, though he did give a talk at our shul when I was a kid.) It was Goossen about whom Casey Stengel allegedly said "I have a 19 year old player. In 10 years, he has a chance to be 29."

Another familiar player was Jason Marquis, who I saw pitch here several times. The only Jewish pitcher who had a winning career in Washington, however, was Al Schacht, who went 14-10 in the early 1920’s. The other really significant pitcher who was discussed was Syd Cohen, who gave up Babe Ruth’s final home run. But the better story about him is that he played winter ball in Mexico under the name Pablo Garcia. The minor league ballpark in El Paso (where he grew up) is named after him – and his brother, Andy, who was the more successful ballplayer.

The big story, however, was Moe Berg. His baseball career wasn’t exactly impressive, but his career in the OSS made up for it. Apparently, he spoke at least 7 languages – and couldn’t hit in any of them. But his linguistic skills got him sent to Japan with much bigger names and to Switzerland to meet Heisenberg and so on. He was a genuine character and I’m looking forward to Aviva’s movie.

Speaking of Baseball: Jackie Bradley made an awesome catch Sunday night, robbing Aaron Judge of a home run. That is exactly how I like to see my Red Sox deal with the Source of All Evil in the Universe.

Don’t Analyze This Dream: I had, for some reason, been given an opportunity to do another Zero-G flight, for free this time. But there was a lot of paperwork to fill out – enough for a 100+ page book. I got hung up on a question asking me to check off which conditions I had, which including being blind, blonde, or blinde.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Ian Brady was the perpetrator of the Moors murders in England in the early 1960’s. Beatrice Trum Hunter wrote one of the first cookbooks focused on natural foods. Chris Cornell was the lead singer of Soundgarden. Chana Bloch was a poet, an academic (largely at Mills College), and a translator of Hebrew literature. Jean Sammet was a co-designer of COBOL and became the first woman to become president of the Association for Computing Machinery. Dina Merrill was an actress and the daughter of Marjorie Merriweather Post and E. F. Hutton. Denis Johnson was a writer, as was Ann Birstein. Jim Bunning was a pitcher, notably for the Tigers and the Phillies, and later became a politician. John Noakes was a presenter on the British children’s show Blue Peter. Frank Deford was the sports commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition. David Lewiston was an ethnomusicologist, whose work focused largely on Asian music (e.g. gamelan recordings), though he also recorded in Morocco and Peru. Elena Verdugo was an actress, best known for playing the nurse on Marcus Welby, M.D., a show which I was sometimes allowed to stay up late to watch. Frances Sliwa was the mother and publicist for Curtis Sliwa and his Guardian Angels. E. L. Woody was a paparazzo, whose antics included helicopters and high speed car chases. Nora Mae Lyng collaborated on and starred in Forbidden Broadway. Jimmy Piersall played for the Red Sox (and, later on, the Mets) but is notable largely for his struggles with bipolar disorder which he wrote about in his memoir. Fear Strikes Out. Peter Sallis voiced Wallace in Wallace and Gromit.

Roger Ailes was the CEO of Fox News until he was forced to resign amid reports of harassing female colleagues. One is not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but I’d make an exception for the case of this racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic jerk. Similar sentiments apply to Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, although his evils were more along the lines of murder and drug trafficking.

Roxcy Bolton was a civil rights activist, focused on crimes against women. In addition to organizing a shelter for homeless women in Florida and founding the first rape treatment center in the U.S., she is credited with having persuaded NOAA to change the names of hurricanes to include the names of men. That, of course, destroyed our childhood joke that hurricanes were named after women because they weren’t himmicanes.

Sir Roger Moore was an actor, best known as playing James Bond in several movies, though I think his work in The Saint is better, probably because my preferred Bond is Sean Connery.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was the National Security Advisor under Jimmy Carter. His political positions were difficult enough to assess, but I can never forgive him for having a name that is difficult to use in light verse.

Gregg Allman was a pioneer of Southern rock, best known for the band he formed with his brother Duane, who was killed in a motorcycle crash. You might want to eat a peach in his memory.

Carrot Cake: I was asked for the recipe. I vaguely recall pulling it from the recipe box a few months ago to make it. Apparently, I did not put it back in the recipe box. Or, if I did, I badly misfiled it. So it will take a little longer.

The Indie 500: Saturday was the Indie 500, D.C.’s local crossword tournament. There were quite a lot of out-of-towners and a surprising number of first timers.

I usually say that one can blame jet lag for any mental lapses for at least a full week after getting back from overseas. That is my excuse for having had a few errors on Puzzle #1, which should have been a simple one from Angela Olson Halsted. Apparently, I was looking at down clues only, because I had crossings that made no sense at all. And I was also pretty oblivious to the theme. So much for a day of clean solving.

In the case of Puzzle #2 by Paolo Pasco, I was just slowish, though I did solve cleanly. I grasped the theme quickly – and it is the type of theme I am usually good at. But there was a certain amount of fill I found weird and some fairly unsatisfying clues. I attribute that to Paolo being a high school junior. I should also note that he was not present, or he would almost certainly have been the recipient of the ritual pie in the face. By the way, the miniature pies arrived between puzzles 2 and 3 and the chocolate cream pie I ate was quite tasty.

Puzzle #3 was by Tracy Bennett. I solved it cleanly and in decent time. I can’t really say much more than that because, looking at the scan, I have only a vague recollection of what the theme was and it wasn’t really the sort of thing that made a difference in solving. I do remember there was a bonus companion puzzle that got handed out afterwards.

I think the lunch break was next, with another visit to Beefsteak and a lunch of gazpacho.

Then came Puzzle #4 by Erik Agard featuring Allegra Kuney. This had a complex theme, which took me some time to figure out, largely because there was quite a lot going on. I’m not surprised that Erik won the honor of being pied at the end of the day. My time was okay, but I flaked out on looking at one crossing, which coupled with a bit of pop culture ignorance led me to have one error.

I redeemed myself with Puzzle #5 by Neville Fogarty. The theme involved the sort of wordplay I enjoy, making this my favorite of the tournament.

There was a break with a reasonably entertaining trivia game, before the finals. As for the finals, Puzzle #6 was by Andy Kravis and had an interesting twist in that not all the clues were given to the contestants at the beginning. Eric Cockayne won the outside track final and Katie Hamill won the inside track.

My final standing was 64 out of 128, so dead center (i.e. 50th percentile). Comparing to previous years, this is not quite as pathetic as it sounds. At least I improved, even with jet lag in the way:
2017 – 64 / 128 (50th percentile)
2016 – 60 / 117 (49th percentile)
2015 – 61 / 100 (39th percentile)

Washington Folk Festival: The Washington Folk Festival was this past weekend. I pulled out a small bit of my project to learn a story from every country in the world. The five stories I told were:

  1. The Lion Who Could Not Write – Afghanistan
  2. The Man Who Was Used as a Ball – Fiji
  3. How Bill Greenfield’s Wife Taught Him to Tell a Story – United States
  4. Two Foolish People – Mongolia
  5. Hare’s Medicine Bag – Zimbabwe

This was the first time I’d told the last story in public and it wasn’t quite as polished as it should be, but I think it works for the most part. I stayed for Margaret’s set of mermaid stories after I was done, then listened to a little bit of Armenian music. (I’d gone through the crafts exhibit and watched some Morris dancing earlier.)
As far as the story project itself goes, I am looking for an Albanian story I like. The key words in that are the last two. I have looked at several so far, but nothing has really jumped out at me yet.

Please Don’t Analyze This Dream: I was leaving Sidney Harmon Hall (home of the Shakespeare Theatre Company) after watching a musical and then seeing an advertisement for all the musicals they had next season. I was concerned about it being late and missing the last metro train home, but it turned out to be only 8:30 at night. For some reason, I exited a door that did not lead me to F Street – or any other street I recognized. I went into a hotel, thinking I could walk through it to F Street, but the lobby didn’t go anywhere, so I had to exit again. I walked back in the direction I’d come in and went into an unmarked door, which led to what seemed to be a construction site. Again, things did not seem to lead anywhere. There were various scary looking (possibly homeless) people around, but as I walked back towards where I had come in, I saw more parents with children and it looked like the place was supposed to be some sort of construction-themed playground. I went out a door marked as an exit, which put me on a sort of jetty-like construction, next to a river. There were a polar bear and a wolf and maybe some other animal in the river, but everybody just seemed to be ignoring them and sloshing down into the river to leave. I managed to roll up my pants and get into the river further down from the animals, which quickly took me to dry land. I asked a man I saw if the street I was on would go through to the next block and he said, "yes, but it is always on fire because of the Latvians."
fauxklore: (Default)
Celebrity Death Watch: Linda Hopkins was a blues singer and actress. Dorothy Mengering was David Letterman’s mother and appeared on his show. J. Geils led an eponymous band. To paraphrase their most famous song, Death Stinks. Charlie Murphy was a comedian and actor – and less famous than his brother, Eddie. Bob Taylor was an internet pioneer, including playing major roles at ARPA, Xerox PARC, and DEC. Bruce Langhorne was a folk musician and, allegedly, the inspiration for Bob Dylan’s "Mr. Tambourine Man." Sylvia Moy was a songwriter, who wrote a number of Motown songs. Clifton James was an actor who played a lot of Southern sheriffs, despite being a native New Yorker. Dan Rooney chaired the Pittsburgh Steelers and later became U.S. ambassador to Ireland. Patricia McKissak wrote children’s books, including several biographies of African Americans. Sheila Abdus-Salaam was the first black woman to serve on the New York Court of Appeals. Apparently, she committed suicide, and there is a family history that may have played a role in that.

Sniffle, Cough: I thought it was just the absurdly high pollen count of this time of year, but actually succumbed to a cold. That meant that: a) I ended up skipping the second Passover seder, and b) I got nothing done at home. Except using a ridiculous number of tissues. Sigh. (I am mostly over it now. Well, except for my annual wish for the trees to have sex indoors.)

MIT Better World Event: This involved a reception and talks at the Newseum on Thursday night. Due to it being during Passover, I had to stick to drinking sparkling water and eating raw veggies (and some fruit for dessert), which was a bit disappointing. But the talks were interesting, particularly one by John Urshel, a math grad student who is probably better known for being a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. And I saw some people I have not seen in years – literally, as one of those was someone I lived on the same floor as when I was a freshman, over 40 years ago. And I worked on a research project with her husband around 1978.

Taxes: I use Turbo Tax, which is not, in general, too painful. I did a pretty good job of putting all of the relevant paperwork in one place. But I still had to mail in one paper form, due to having sold some stock. Reminder: even mild annoyances are annoying.

You May Interpret These Dreams: In one recent dream, I was moving stacks of books around in my living room. In another (this one, during Passover), I was licking the chocolate glaze off a donut.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Marian Javits was an arts patron and the widow of Jacob Javits, who a few of you may remember from the days when there was such a thing as a liberal Republican. Joseph Wapner was the first judge on The People’s Court. Shrley Palesh played for a few teams in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Howard Schmidt was a major figure in government cybersecurity strategy. Joe Rogers co-founded Waffle House, thus saving the stomach linings of many a drunken Southerner. Rene Preval served two terms as president of Haiti. Tommy Page was a singer-songwriter. Miriam Colon was a Puerto Rican actress. Edi Fitzroy was a reggae singer. Fred Weintraub owned The Bitter End, an important venue for folk music and comedy. Kurt Moll was an opera singer. Robert Osborne as a film historian and hosted Turner Classic Movies. Joni Sledge sang as part of Sister Sledge. Robert James Waller wrote The Bridges of Madison County. Amy Krouse Rosenthal was a prolific writer of children’s books, among other things. Mother Divine was the leader of a cult founded by her husband. Royal Robbins was a big name in rock climbing but, more significantly to me, founded an eponymous clothing company that makes awesome clothes for traveling, including that green plaid shirt I am wearing in the overwhelming majority of my travel photos.

Errata: I erred. It was Jason Chaffetz, not Paul Ryan who made the stupid statement about iphones and health insurance.

Don’t Analyze This Dream: I was in Japan and upset over finding I had inadvertently taken my (work) cell phone with me. I was with another woman and we went down an escalator to exit a building with a very tall skylight. We were held up at the bottom of the escalator until there was a group of 4 men and 4 women and we all had to walk through a metal detector and send our things through an x-ray machine. Then we had to sing a song together before we could exit. Afterwards, I found out there was a side exit and people waited in line to sing, with fans of them gathered at the side of the security screening.

Story Slam: This month’s story slam theme was Womanhood, so I pulled out my "Woman of Valor" story, which is starting to get to having a reasonable ending. It went fairly well, though I finished third, so didn’t walk away with any money. I do wish, however, that this would go back to being on a Thursday night, because it conflicted with The Grapevine and I had to make an actual choice.

World Baseball Classic: Oh, well. Israel had a good run, but blew it in the second round.

Culpeper Tells / Virginia Storytelling Alliance Gathering: This past weekend was the Culpeper Tells festival and, once again, the VASA Gathering was held together with it. I preferred when we had a separate retreat, which made for a different sort of event, but I’ll take what I can get. I took off from work on Friday, intending to get some household odds and ends done and drive out earlyish. But I fell prey to the lure of napping and hit the road later than I intended, subjecting me to the inevitable slog through Gainesville. I was not all that enthusiastic to arrive at the hotel and find myself parking next to a vehicle advertising Pest Control and, specifically, "thermo bed bug eradication." Either their method works or the guy with the bedbug truck was just staying overnight at the hotel, as I didn’t get bitten by anything, but it was still disturbing.

Anyway, a bunch of us went out to dinner at Luigi’s which is mediocre red sauce Italian food. At least our server was mostly up to dealing with a big group. We came back to the hotel for a concert by Lynn Ruehlmann and Megan Hicks. Lynn blended the story of Psyche and Eros with the story of her own marriage, while Megan told a folk tale and her personal love story separately. Both were very good. That was followed by a story swap.

Megan did a workshop on Saturday morning, mostly emphasizing that we are all living history. There was a lot of confusion about when we were supposed to get into the room at the library, as well as confusion over who was signed up for what.

The actual festival started after lunchtime. There were four tellers – Geraldine Buckley, Michael Reno Harrell, Adam Booth, and Donald Davis. Each of them had just under an hour in the afternoon and then another half hour in the evening concert. The highlight of the day as far as I was concerned was Adam’s telling of "Ashton," a story from his Appalachian series, involving a coal miner's wife, and the early recordings of country music. It was exquisitely crafted and well-told. I should also note that I thought it was interesting that all of the tellers were telling more or less personal stories and there weren’t any traditional stories at all. By the way, there was also a story slam, but my name didn’t get drawn from the hat, alas.

At the dinner break, I ended up with a few people at a small place called Four C’s. I have this theory that, if you see a few ethnic items on what is otherwise an American restaurant menu, you should order from those, because it means the cook is including some of his family specialties. There were several Peruvian items on the menu, so these were clearly the way to go. I ended up getting some very tasty grilled fish that way. There’s no atmosphere, but the food was good and very reasonably priced and the service was friendly and efficient. It’s a good place to keep in mind for the future.

There was another swap back at the hotel afterwards, but it was too late for me, especially what with changing the clocks.

Sunday morning had the VASA annual meeting (which hadn’t actually been mentioned on the schedule). All I will say is that I am really glad I am no longer on the board. That was followed by "sacred stories" (not my thing) and puns (very much my thing). I told "Why I’m Not a Millionaire" to transition us between the two.

Overall, it was a reasonably good weekend. I was annoyed at various little things, but being among my storytelling tribe made up for them.

Annoying Weather: We had been having lovely spring-like weather, but it changed radically for the weekend. And Monday night was a sort of winter storm. Only sort of, as the snow total can’t have been more than a couple of inches, but there was plenty of sleet. In other words, things were nasty and icy. OPM made a bad call with a three hour delay and my company made a worse call by sending out confusing emails. One said we were on a mandatory delay in the subject line, but the body said all offices were open. Another had a subject line reading "message 1 of 2" but there was no "message 2 of 2." I had brought my laptop home and told my boss I was going to work from home, so none of this affected me per se, but it made me grumpy. I dislike working from home to begin with (too many distractions, including the fact that I really need to replace my desk chair) so I was inclined to be grumpy.

I’m back in the office today. One area of my walk to the metro was treacherous, but most of it was clear. I expect it to be worse tonight, since it isn’t supposed to get above freezing all day.

More Corporate Miscommunication: We are all getting new phones. I got an email telling me mine was ready and that I needed to go to an office 30 some odd miles away to pick it up. Since that office doesn't open until 9 and we are talking about DC metro area traffic, that would kill half my day. In fact, our IT guy came around this afternoon delivering phones for the 50 or so of us in this office. This is much easier, of course, but I would have preferred them sending out the correct info to begin with.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
1) I am (obviously) not doing Holidailies this year. I feel vaguely guilty about that, but I am just too swamped with things to attempt it. I haven't even come close to meeting other goals and I just can't take on anything else. But I'm going to experiment a bit with seeing if I can do slightly more frequent entries based on just a few things at a time.

2) It's rare that I tell stories that other people tell, but it happened at Saturday night's swap. I wanted to run through The Most Precious Thing, which is the story of the clever innkeeper's daughter who marries a wealthy landowner. When she questions his judgment, he tells her to leave but take with her whatever from his home is most precious to her. She, of course, takes him.

One of our young tellers told a different version of the same story. The differences were fairly superficial, e.g. the exact riddles she has to solve to win him and some of the details of the setting. (And, in her version, the husband was a king, not just a rich landowner.)

Had she told before me, I probably would have told something else, so I thought it was interesting she went ahead with what she had planned.

3) I had a dream the other night which involved some event at MIT with set-up involving a truck creating a circle of portapotties. It is probably a good thing that I believe dreams are often random electrical discharges and not of deep psychological significance.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Tammy Grimes was a Broadway actress, most notable for playing the title role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She was also the mother of actress Amanda Plummer. Natalie Babbitt wrote the children’s book Tuck Everlasting.


Genealogy Update: I finally tracked down confirmation of a family story. My uncle had told me a relative had been killed in a train crash in Washington, but he was inconsistent about whether it was Celia Lubofsky (my cousin once removed) or Mary Lehrman (my great-aunt). Since Mary’s headstone says she "died in accident," I figured I would start by googling train wrecks for that day. And, indeed, there was a major one. The Congressional Limited from Washington to New York crashed just outside Philadelphia on 6 September 1943, killing approximately 80 people. And I did, indeed, find Mary’s name on the lists of the dead. In fact, the Chicago Tribune even printed her address (2272 Barker Avenue in the Bronx). Since the wreck was on Labor Day, my guess is that she had gone to Washington to visit her daughter, Sima Slansky (the one whose husband later committed bigamy according to the laws of Maryland, which didn’t recognize his residency for a Reno divorce as valid).

Mary had a difficult life, what with being held for inquiry when she immigrated to the U.S., though it looks like she only had to wait a day or so for Nathan to show up and claim her. She was widowed in her 30’s, with her daughters only 9 and 12 years old. And then her beauty salon got used as a test case when the state of New York decided to pursue an electrolysis school. (Mary got a 6 month suspended sentence for practicing medicine without a license, but was later vindicated.) So it seems her life was a bit of a train wreck before she died in a literal one.

Note, by the way, that the May 2015 Amtrak crash was in just about the same place.

Baseball: Okay, Cubs fans. You can shut up now. And thank us Red Sox fans for letting you have Theo Epstein.


Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 1: Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory character) was in a bathtub with a large, grey wolfy sort of dog. He got scared of the dog, which then started growling at him. So he stood up and dangled a badge holder to distract the dog, while he got out of the bathtub.


Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 2: I was searching for Dily Niwab Street, which turned out to be a block from Audubon Boulevard, where my elementary school was.


Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 3: I was trying to find my copy of Alice in Wonderland to lend to someone, but kept pulling out other books, notably Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. Finally, I found a boxed set of 8 Alice stories and lent the other person the first two volumes. (Which are, of course, the only ones that actually exist.) But I kept on about how wonderful it would be to ride a unicycle like Alice did in the rest of the series.

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