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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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2018 was fairly stressful, largely due to a work situation that appears to be resolving itself. And, of course, the state of the world didn't help.

Books: I read 40 books, which is probably the fewest since I learned how to read. Also, surprisingly, only 6 were non-fiction. This is a little misleading in that I don’t count guidebooks, which end up being most of what I read when I’m traveling. My logic for not counting them is that I rarely read them cover to cover.

Favorites were Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon, and Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.

The book I hated the most was Murder By Sacrilege by D. R. Meredith.

I really need to do a used bookstore run. I’m not even sure how many books I have ready to go out.

Volksmarch: I did three events – in New Orleans, Atlantic City, and Charleston, West Virginia. The latter was a State Capital walk. I should get back into focusing on special programs, but first I need to resolve some issues with my right foot.

Travel: I started the year out in Singapore. My last trip of the year was to the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas and St. John) which is only semi-international, involving a dependency of the U.S., not a separate country. My major trip of the year was my family roots trip to Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus (plus a part of a day in Zurich), which was incredible.

Domestic trips included business trips to Colorado Springs and to Layton, Utah. Personal travel was to New Orleans, Stamford (Connecticut, for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament), Atlantic City,New York (4 times, including a Brooklyn Cyclones game), Portland (Oregon), Rhode Island (mostly for a PawSox game), Memphis (Redbirds game), Milwaukee (Wisconsin for the National Puzzlers’ League con), Frederick (Maryland, for Loserfest. It counts because I did stay overnight), Richmond (Virginia – and, again, staying overnight makes it count), and Charleston (West Virginia). It seems unlikely, but it appears that I had an entire year without going to California.

Puzzles: This was pretty much a middle of the pack year. I ended up in the 62nd percentile at the ACPT, the 39th percentile at the Indie 500, and 55.7th percentile at Lollapuzzoola. Annoyingly, I didn’t solve cleanly at any of them.

I also had a good time (as always) at the NPL con. That included bringing along a hand-out puzzle, which I think went over reasonably well. I am planning for a walk-around puzzle for the 2019 con, since it’s in Boulder, Colorado, a city I have spent a lot of time in.

Ghoul Poul: I didn’t do particularly well in my second year. I finished 14th out of 20 participants, with 70 points. The people I scored with were Prince Henrik, Barbara Bush, John McCain, and George HW Bush.

Genealogy: I did the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project, which got me writing about a few family stories, but didn’t really drive much research. I did, however, get in touch with a few unknown cousins (two from the FAINSTEIN family, one from the KHAIKEL / MEDINTS family) and made some progress on the GOLDWASSER family (my maternal grandfather’s mother’s side).

Baseball: I only made it to one Major League game this year – Red Sox at Nats on the Fourth of July. But it was a good year since: 1)I got to three minor league games (Memphis, Pawtucket, and Coney Island) and 2)my BoSox won the World Series.

Culture: If I counted correctly, I went to 16 musicals, 2 operas and 14 plays. My favorite musicals were Dave at Arena Stage and Me and My Girl at Encores in New York. My favorite plays were Heisenberg and 4380 Nights at Signature Theatre and Becoming Di. Ruth and Treyf at Theatre J. I also went to one ballet, one Cirque du Soleil shows, and 6 concerts. The most significant of the latter was seeing Jonathan Richman at the 9:30 Club. I had wanted to see him live for ages, so I was really glad to have the opportunity.

I went to One Day University 5 times. And I saw 16 movies, of which my favorites included What We Do in the Shadows, The Shape of Water. and Bathtubs Over Broadway

There was also a bunch of storytelling in there, some with me on stage and more with me in the audience.

Goals: I had six goals for 2018. So how did I score? I got about halfway through 2 afghans, so that gives me 33% on the goal to finish three. I did nothing about organizing photos, though I did find out about scanning resources at the library. I read 40 books, including 1 poetry book, so I I get 77% and 33% for that goal. I think I entered the Style Invitational twice, so will give myself 33% there. I did 3 Volksmarch events, so get 50% there. And I think I got through roughly 65% of catching up on household paperwork. I figure that gives me somewhere around a 40% on the year, which is not terrible, but not wonderful, either.

So what about goals for 2019?

  • Finish shredding and filing household paperwork.

  • Organize my genealogy files, both physical and electronic.

  • Organize my yarn stash. Ideally this would include using up at least 25% of the yarn. While I am at it, I also need to organize knitting needles and crochet hooks and the like.

  • Organize photos. Yes, really.

  • Read at least 52 books.

  • Enter the Style Invitational at least 4 times.

  • Do a 20 minute or longer workout at least 3 times a week.

  • Bring lunch to work at least twice a week.

  • Eat fruit every day.

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I posted a song on facebook for each night of Chanukah. Here’s the full collection for you to listen to during the last few hours of the eighth day. I was aiming for a wide variety and had fun selecting which ones to use.


behind a cut due to length )
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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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Work is busy but frustrating.

I have been in sort of a swirl of trying to get caught up on the chaos that is my condo, but getting distracted by other things (mostly reading things on-line and catching up on crosswords) instead. I had particularly good intentions for Saturday, but spent much of the day in suspended animation, i.e. alternating between reading and napping.

Sunday, on the other hand, was a swirl of activity. The morning was One-Day University, with three presentations focused on the theme of Genius. I will write more about those below. I was supposed to rush from there to rehearsal for an upcoming storytelling show, but realized I had misremembered when One Day University ended, so opted to run my story (which is not a new one) over the phone on Monday instead. That gave me roughly an hour at home to get some housework done before heading to Arlington for dinner and trivia at Heavy Seas Alehouse with some Losers, i.e. devotees of the Style Invitational. I was clearly tired as I badly misinterpreted a cocktail I ordered. Any Port in the Storm turned out to have ginger syrup and golden ale, not ginger ale. I was thinking it would be sort of like a Dark and Stormy, but it was too sweet. We did, however, win at trivia, even though we were completely hopeless at a fill-in-the-blank lyrics component, which involved a rap song none of us had even heard of.

FDR: The first was by Jeffrey Engle of SMU on Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He started by pointing out that a lot of politicians – including George H.W. Bush, Osama Bin Laden, and Kim Davis – have claimed to be acting in the name of freedom, but that most never define what they mean by freedom. FDR, however, was very specific in his Four Freedoms speech, which he noted came 10 and a half months before Pearl Harbor. Those four freedoms are, of course, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Anyway, his main point was that FDR’s success was due to his skill with rhetoric, his optimism, his pragmatism / flexibility, and his empathy. Regarding the latter, he believed that bad things can happen to people through no fault of their own, probably because of his own experience with polio. (By the way, Professor Engel noted that people actually did know FDR was paralyzed, even if they didn’t see photos of him in a wheelchair.) As for political ideology, FDR stated that he was: 1) a Democrat and 2) a Christian. He thought aerial bombing was immoral, but realized it was a valuable tactic. Similarly, he (and the Democratic party of the time) believed in a balanced budget, but was willing to experiment with government spending to end the Depression.

Overall, this was an entertaining talk, especially because of a lot of trivia Engel threw in. For example, he talked about how disliked William Jennings Bryan was as Secretary of State because he was a teetotaler who banned alcohol from diplomatic parties. And he noted that "Make America Great Again was Warren G. Harding’s campaign slogan.

Marie Curie: The second talk was on Marie Curie by Susan Lindee of the University of Pennsylvania. She started out by pointing out that genius is a social category. That is, just being great at what you do is not enough. You have to work to get the recognition, too.

Anyway, Maria Sklodowski and her sister, Bronislawa (who became a doctor) were encouraged by their father in their studies. Originally, Maria was supposed to work as a nanny to pay for Bronislawa’s education, but their father got a good job, enabling her to enroll in the Sorbonne instead. She got top grades in math and physics. Her need for lab space led to her introduction to Pierre Curie and she married him in 1895, a little over a year after they met. Fun trivia is that they spent their honeymoon on a bicycling trip, complete with fashionable biking outfits.

The Curies shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with Henri Becquerel. Pierre insisted Marie (as she had modified her name from Polish to French) be included. In 1896, Pierre was killed in a cart accident after slipping on a wet road. (By the way, this was the day before the San Francisco earthquake and fire, so was a bit overshadowed in the news.) Marie went on to win the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She also went on to a scandalous affair with Paul Langevin, who was married. The affair resulted in five duels, only one of which involved Langevin himself. Langevin eventually did go back to his wife, by the way.

Other notable things Marie did included creating x-ray wagons for use on World War I battlefields (and drive one herself, as well as teaching other women how to drive them and read the x-rays), writing a biography of Pierre, and persuaded an American journalist to raise money to buy her radium for her research. And she had two daughters, one of whom, Irene, shared a Nobel prize with her husband, Frederic Joliot-Curie, while the other (Eve) wrote a biography of Marie. Eve’s husband, Henry Richardson Labouisse, Jr., went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 on behalf of UNICEF. More fun trivia is that Irene’s daughter, Helene, married Michel Langevin, the grandson of Paul Langevin.

Final point was that Marie Curie never made any statements about the rights of women. However, she did hire a lot of women in her lab, which may be more practical feminism. And she was very good at promoting herself, which is why we know more about her than a lot of other women in science. That goes back to the idea of genius as a social construct. Self-promotion is, alas, an element of genius.

Mozart: The final lecture was on Mozart and was given by Craig Wright of Yale. He started with having us sing, which was a good way to make sure everyone is awake after a couple of lectures. Unlike the other lecturers, Professor Wright gave an actual definition of genius as involving a person whose creative works or insights change society in some significant way (for good or ill) across time and across cultures. He then went on to talk about two types of cognitive processes in music – 1) perceiving and replicating music and 2) creating music. I’m not sure he is completely correct about the first of those. I believe that I perceive music well, but I am not good at replicating it. That is, there are various tests I do well at, e.g. of the ability to perceive intervals But I am no good at the mechanics of reproducing those to sing or play an instrument by ear. Mozart was very good at both aspects of the former, reportedly having perfect pitch, which enabled him to hear a piece once and them play it. And his manuscripts are lacking in corrections.

Wright than discussed aspects of creativity, which he said is facilitated by opportunity, motivation and an active and vivid imagination. Some of the things he talked about as far as creative thinking are associative thinking (which also included verbal, as well as musical, sounds in Mozart’s case), combinative thinking / synthesis, homospatial thinking (which he defined as multiple strands of information superimposed in one temporal space), iconoclastic thinking (including scatological thinking), and dhildlike thinking. The latter two could be combined as a lack of barriers to imagination. He showed various examples of these aspects of Mozart’s work throughout, including clips from the movie Amadeus. One of the most interesting was an animated visualization of the Jupiter Symphony.

At the end, somebody asked what other composers Wright would consider geniuses. He cited Mahler, Beethoven, and Bach. I’ve been pondering that question all week. I think there’s an inherent difficulty in thinking about it because we can’t really hear a piece of music the way people heard it when it was first written. I value the revolutionary aspect of genius, which is why I’d put Balakirev on my list for his work fusing traditional (Russian) folk music with classical practice, leading to whole idea of nationalistic music. So, while I think Mussorgsky was the most musically talented of The Five (or would have been if he hadn’t fallen to drink), Balakirev is the more historically important.

I am not entirely consistent, however, because I’d list Gershwin above Berlin, even though the latter is the one who really emphasized jazz and ragtime as fundamentally American music. And, yes, Mozart and Bach belong on the list, too, because I am a product of Western culture.
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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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Another Colleague Gone: I heard that Lance Newman passed away recently. I worked with him for many years, including being his manager for a few of those and having him support me from one of my program office jobs. The last time I saw him was a couple of years ago, when our former secretary organized a luncheon reunion of sorts. It was just after his picture had been in the Washington Post, in an article about the first four African American students at a school in Arlington. He was a good engineer and a nice guy, smart and easy to work with. I will miss him.

A Rant About Scheduling: I am trying to be a responsible adult and schedule a couple of routine medical things. Labs are no issue, because they don’t require scheduling, per se, but just a drop in. The problem is that the person who schedules mammograms is not the same person who schedules anything else. So I had to go through the scheduler to get to the mammogram scheduler and then go back to the regular scheduler to schedule the blood pressure check. (Mammogram slots are a rarer commodity so it made snese to schedule that first.) The fact that I couldn’t do this on-line is particularly annoying to begin with, given my feelings about telephones.

I still have to schedule an ophthalmology appointment, but that is even tougher because I need to do it in the afternoon and I have more afternoon conflicts.

Speaking of Blood Pressure: The Red Sox – and, specifically, Craig Kimbrel, seem determined to raise mine.

Roy Zimmerman: I went to Roy Zimmerman’s house concert in Derwood, Maryland on Friday night. The drive there was really irritating, with two accidents along the way. I noticed the engine temperature in my car rising as I was crawling along and was afraid it would overheat, but it dropped rapidly once I began driving at a faster speed. I probably need to get something looked at.

Anyway, I got to the house just in time for the concert. Fortunately, it was worth going to. Roy sings funny songs about politics and they went over well with the crowd. There were some I’d heard before and several I had not. If you want a sample of his material, my favorite song of the evening was Psychedelic Relic:

By the way, the drive home was only mildly annoying, as they start doing roadwork on the Beltway at 10 p.m. on Friday nights. I really prefer going out to places that are reachable by metro.

Richmond Folk Festival: My friend, Paul, invited me to come down to Richmond and go to their annual Folk Festival with him. I made life far less stressful for myself by taking the train down, instead of coping with the inevitable roadwork on I-95 on the weekend. The catch is that only a few trains serve the Main Street Station downtown, but Paul picked me up at Staples Mill, which also meant a drive along Monument Avenue (and his tour guide commentary) along the way.

The festival is in downtown Richmond, close to the James River. There were 8 stages, though we ignored the children’s area and the Virginia Traditions Stage (which had things like an apple grafting demo and an oyster shucking contest). I wanted to hear Josh Goforth (who tells stories, but focused on ballads for what we were there for) so we went over to the Lyft Stage. That meant we also caught part of Lulo Reinhardt, Django’s great-nephew. He’s an excellent jazz guitarist and I liked his performance so much I bought one of his CDs later in the day, when we found one of the sales tents. Josh’s ballads were more familiar and also worth a listen.

We walked down to Brown’s Island, where we listened to Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners at the Dance Pavilion. I thought they were just okay. Then we got some gelato and walked out on the bridge for Paul to take photos of how high the water was after last week’s storm.

We meandered back up to the Lyft Stage and listened to Tamburaski Sastav Ponoc (a Balkan tamburitza band), who I enjoyed. I wanted to check out the crafts marketplace, so we went back down towards the river. The crafts were, alas, not generally to my taste. Then we walked (slowly, as my knee was aching by then) up the hill to stake out some space within earshot of the Altria Stage, where Mavis Staples was performing. She was, in my opinion, one of the must-sees of the festival, though rather too many other people thought so as well.

By the time she was done, we decided we needed dinner. All the festival food areas were downhill and I didn’t want to have climb back up the hill, so we trudged up through town to Perly’s, a Jewish deli I had heard good things about. I thought it was quite good, which is surprising for Richmond. The matzoh ball soup had lots of stuff in it (chicken, carrots, celery) as well as a matzoh ball with a good texture, though there was rather more dill than I’d have preferred. The tongue sandwich I got was excellent. Paul got something called a Jewish Sailor, which had pastrami, chopped liver, beef sausage, and red cabbage. (Apparently, the Sailor sandwich is a uniquely Virginia and mostly Richmond thing, and normally has pastrami, knockwurst, and cheese, by the way. Supposedly it originated with sailors studying at the University of Richmond during World War II.) I also had potato salad (reasonably good) and Paul had French fries, which he said were light and fluffy. Bottom line is that I would eat there again.

We walked back to Paul’s car and he drove me to the Hampton Inn, where I was spending the night. It's slightly weird, as it occupies the upper floors of a building, with a Homewood Suites on the lower floors. I got a train in the morning from the Main Street Station (much more convenient and quite grand, though with only limited service). Overall, it was a good trip and I got home in time to get a few things done at home, though I always have more to catch up on.
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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: Matt Marks was a composer, who founded the contemporary classical music group Alarm Will Sound. Margot Kidder was an actress, best known for playing Lois Lane in Superman. Tom Murphy was an Irish playwright. Joseph Campanella was a ubiquitous actor, with roles in soap operas and movies and game show appearances. Nicole Fontaine was the President of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2002. Sir James Eberle was the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Navy for a couple of years around 1980, which I think means he was the Ruler of the Queen’s Nav-ee. Patricia Morison starred in Kiss Me, Kate on Broadway. Stanley Falkow was a biologist who discovered how antibiotic-resistance spread among bacteria. I saw an obituary that noted he was survived by his microbes.

Tom Wolfe was a writer, of both non-fiction (the new journalism) and fiction. I’d say he was, in general, better at the former, but his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities did have some marvelous writing. I particularly liked the description of a certain class of women as "social x-rays."

Work is Crazy Busy: My corporate boss is now on vacation. The process of him getting ready to leave, meant I had to finish a point paper and develop briefing slides on another subject, all while having a two-day meeting to handle at the same time. In theory, things should be slower over the next two weeks – but my government boss is back after being out for a combination of training, vacation, and minor surgery, so I am sure I will need to spend some time catching him up on some things.

It’s a pity that I am addicted to a middle-class lifestyle, which work enables.

Seeing Paul Simon in Oregon: I rushed out of the office on Friday afternoon and headed to IAD. I was off to PDX. Portland is a city I have deeply mixed feelings about. There’s natural beauty in the surroundings, but the city itself is architecturally undistinguished and full of a disturbing mix of smug hipsters and homeless people. On the plus side, it has an excellent rose garden. And Powell’s.

I had a nice long chat with my cousin, visited the Jewish Museum of Oregon, and, yes, got sucked into Powell’s. I escaped for a mere 10 bucks, largely because I have too much of a book backlog as it is. My purchases included Comrade Don Camillo, a book I have been looking for for 20+ years. (I should note that my favorite of Guareschi’s books is a non-series one, The House That Nino Built. But I am a completist. Or obsessive. Or both.)

But the whole reason for the trip was that I decided I really had to see Paul Simon during his final tour and this was the concert date that worked best for my schedule. Yes, it is crazy to fly cross-country for such things, but it’s not like it’s the first time I’ve done such a thing. The concert was at the Moda Center, which is conveniently accessible via light rail. I don’t normally go to shows at big venues, so it was an unusual event for me. But it was definitely worth it. From the opening moments, when he sang "America," I was swept up in his poetry and nostalgia for so many songs over so many years. Here’s a set list (copied from a review on-line because I tried scribbling notes but it was dark in the arena and I got C's in penmanship all through elementary school, so I couldn’t read half of my handwriting):

2.50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
3.The Boy in the Bubble
4.Dazzling Blue
5.That Was Your Mother
7.Mother and Child Reunion
8.Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
9.Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War
10.Can’t Run But
12.Spirit Voices
13.The Obvious Child
14.The Cool, Cool River
15.The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
16.Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
17.You Can Call Me Al
19.Mrs. Robinson
20.Still Crazy After All These Years
21.Homeward Bound
23.The Boxer
24.Late in the Evening
25.Questions for the Angels
26.The Sound of Silence

By the way, he did "Feelin’ Groovy," which he said he loathes, to punish himself for forgetting the lyrics to "The Cool, Cool, River." Yeah, it’s a dumb song, but I defy you to cross the 59th Street Bridge without getting it stuck in your head.

It was a great mix of familiar and un, with excellent back-up musicians. Overall, well worth the trip.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Shammi was a Bollywood actress. Bill Pulte was a real estate developer. Kate Wilhelm was a mystery and science fiction writer. Togo West was the Secretary of the Army under Bill Clinton and later became Secretary of Veterans Affairs (still under Clinton). Ruth Wilensky served up a light lunch in Montreal. Oskar Groening was a war criminal, dubbed the bookkeeper of Auschwitz. Gary Burden designed album covers for rock albums. Hubert de Givenchy was a fashion designer. Ken Dodd was a British comedian. Craig Mack was a rapper. T. Berry Brazelton was a pediatrician and author.

Russell Solomon founded Tower Records. Once, oh best beloved, there was such a thing as a record store, where you could go and listen to records (or, later on, CDs) and find new things to buy that you had never heard of before. I mostly frequented HEAR Music in Santa Monica, which had well-curated listening stations, leading to many somewhat serendipitous purchases. Tower Records was bigger and more mainstream, but I still spent money there.

Stephen Hawking was a physicist. Part of his fame was due to his disability. His book, A Brief History of Time, was probably the least-read non-fiction bestseller of all time. I did actually read it, but I can’t say I remember much about it.

Liam O’Flynn played the Uilleann pipes. He co-founded Planxty, one of the major bands that modernized Irish folk music. He also played for Shaun Davey’s orchestral suite The Brendan Voyage. That piece had a big influence on my life, because it led me to discover Tim Severin’s writing, which has made me choose certain travel destinations (notably The Faroe Islands, but also Georgia.)

Non-celebrity Death Watch: I got a facebook message from my cousin yesterday. He mentioned that his father (my uncle) had died in December. I had gotten a call from Uncle Herb’s friend at the end of October telling me he was ill (leukemia) and I had expected to get another call when he died. I am a bit peeved not to have been notified, since I would have driven up to the funeral. Anyway, Herb was a man who enjoyed life, including traveling and eating and playing poker and doing Sudoku. He had started going to Chabad and joined a tefillin club there in the last few years of his life and I believe that gave him some comfort.

Space Force: It is rare that I agree with President Trump, but the notion of a Space Force is not at all ridiculous. This has been talked about for years for good reasons. One has to do with funding priorities. The Air Force dominates space programs right now, but tends to prioritize airplanes over space systems in the budget process. (This is even worse for the Navy. I have a running joke with some of my colleagues that we should refer to satellites as spaceships to keep their attention.) But the bigger reason is that space programs are, in general, inherently multi-service and the current processes don’t handle that well. To use a fairly simple example, the Air Force buys the GPS satellites and ground control system, but the biggest user of GPS equipment is the Army. This makes it more challenging to develop and deploy user equipment. We have similar synchronization issues with pretty much every program. A Space Force is a reasonable solution to some of these problems. (Trump taking credit for the idea is silly, but that’s another matter.)

Speaking of Space: It always bothers me that people assume extraterrestrials will be smarter than us. It seems to me perfectly plausible that contacting a non-spacefaring culture is really a question of setting that as a priority. Maybe they have spaceships but not, say, flush toilets. Maybe they have a Space Force instead of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Contrary to popular phraseology, rocket science is actually straightforward. Now, art – that’s what takes brains.

Speaking of Rockets: I just saw that Wreckless Eric is going to be playing at Jammin’ Java in April. I had no idea he was still around.
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I had a lot of grand plans for getting caught up at home this weekend, but I made a lot less progress than I expected to. Mostly I caught up on sleep, though I did manage to plow through a certain amount of accumulated mail. I did not, however, get through any of the financial paperwork that I really need to get sorted out.

I did go out to a concert on Saturday night. The Dropkick Murphys were playing at The Anthem on the District Wharf. I met up with a friend and we staked out space on the third floor, which proved to be a good idea for a number of reasons. Let’s just say that: a) we are too old for mosh pits and b) the first floor was way too crowded. Alas, I think I am also too old for general admission standing tickets (which is all that had been available when we bought them) and my feet were killing me by the end.

Anyway, there were two opening acts. Opening acts should, ideally, have a close connection to the main feature. One could argue for Bim Skala Bim as having Boston as a tie, though their style is rather different. I thought they were okay. The second opening act, however, was Agnostic Front, who are hardcore punk from New York and let out a vibe of screaming teenage bullies shouting at a playground fight. I couldn’t wait for them to get off the stage.

Fortunately, the Dropkick Murphys put on a great show. I won’t remember every song they did. They included The Boys Are Back, I’m Shipping Up to Boston, Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya, Blood, and Rose Tattoo. As a Red Sox fan, I was hoping for Tessie, but alas, no. I was also amused when, for a cover number, they gave the audience a choice of Johnny Cash or The Clash. Johnny Cash won and they did Folsom Prison Blues. I realize that Celtic punk is not everybody’s glass of Guiness, but this was a good change of pace from the more sedate concerts I more typically go to.
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2017 was a year of frustration and mild depression and not feeling very accomplished, even though I was actually reasonably successful in any normal sense. I think that much of the problem was spending time feeling stressed out about the state of the world. I am a news junkie at the best of times and that makes it hard to focus on anything when there is so much turmoil around.

Books: I read only 43 books in 2017, which is absurdly few for me. Admittedly, there were several long books (500+ pages) in there. I was also trying to clear out magazines, which didn’t help. The best books I read were Facing the Lions by Tom Wickes, Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich (whose true crime books I have enjoyed in the past), A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman, and The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I particularly recommend the latter two, both of which were selections for my book club, for charm and sheer likeability. They’re similar in that both deal with curmudgeonly, suicidal men having their lives turned around by unexpected encounters with other people. I also enjoyed several books in the Richard Bolitho series by Alexander Kent. That surprised me, as I didn’t think that the British Navy of the late 18th century would interest me at all. But they’re well-written and Bolitho is an absorbing character. As for the books I disliked, Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams sounded promising, but the novelization of the story of the Jewish woman who married Wyatt Earp bordered on pornographic. And The Guilty Ones by Dariel Telfer was badly written and intended to be deliberately shocking. I don’t object to sex and violence, but I don’t want them to be their own end.

I didn’t manage any used bookstore runs over the year, but I have about 100 books ready to go out. That should happen in the next couple of months.

Volksmarch: I did exactly one event in 2017. That was the state capital walk in Wyoming. I really need to get myself walking regularly again.

Travel: I had three foreign trips – Nicaragua in January, a long weekend in Budapest in May, and my recent trip to Singapore and Laos. The latter included completing a life list item by seeing the Plain of Jars. My other significant vacation was a trip to Carhenge in Nebraska for my 4th total solar eclipse. And, before anyone asks, yes, I have plans for a 5th. That trip also included going to Wind Cave National Park and doing the Cheyenne, Wyoming Volksmarch.

I had business trips to Los Angeles / San Diego, Colorado Springs, and Palo Alto.

Personal travel included trips to Albuquerque and Portland (Oregon) to go to memorial services for friends. Happier travels were to New York (three times – once for theatre-going, once for a flyertalk event plus theatre-going, and once for Lollapuzzoola), Stamford (Connecticut – the ACPT), Atlanta (to check off the new ballpark), Denver (twice – once for an annual party, once for a flyertalk event), Boston (NPL con), and Reno.

Puzzles: This was a big year for me in that I solved cleanly at both the ACPT and Lollapuzzoola. That moment of turning in a complete puzzle 5 at the ACPT was definitely one of the peak experiences of the year.

Ghoul Pool This was my first year playing and I think I did respectably. I ended up finishing 6th (out of 22 participants) with 99 points. The people I scored with were Irwin Corey, Liu Xiaobo, June Foray, Gord Downie, and Rose Marie.

Genealogy: The most significant things from my year in genealogy were making contact with a couple of branches of my family in Israel. That includes some Bruskin descendants and one of the children of cousin Shlomo. I also had both my uncle and brother submit DNA tests, though I have not done nearly enough with sorting through all of our matches.

Culture: If I counted right, I went to 22 musicals and 6 plays. Highlights included Milk and Honey at York Theatre, Fun Home and Mean Girls at the National Theatre, Kaleidoscope at Creative Cauldron, Laura Bush Killed a Guy produced by The Klunch at Caos on F, The Originalist at Arena Stage. My favorite show of the year was Ernest Shackleton Loves Me.

I also went to the circus. And to 5 concerts, of which the most notable was the farewell concert by The Bobs. And, of course, I went to lots of storytelling events.

Goals: The short version of 2017 is that I am a lot better at planning things and starting things than I am at actually finishing them. Three of my goals involved completing various activities and, no, I didn’t finish anything, though I did make progress. I did manage a few indulgences and did contact some lost relatives with reasonably good success. So the year wasn’t a loss, but I’m not going to take undue credit. I’d say it was another 25-30% type of year.

So what about 2018 goals?

  • Finish three afghans. Yes, I know that sounds unlikely, but it is actually feasible if I work at it.

  • Organize photos. This includes uploading stuff that has been on camera cards for way too long, as well as scanning older photos. I should probably buy a scanner.

  • Read at least 52 books, including at least 3 poetry books.

  • Enter the Style Invitational at least 4 times.

  • Do at least 6 Volksmarch events.

  • Get caught up on household paperwork, i.e. shredding, filing, etc.

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I have been crazy busy, both with work and play. So what else is new?

Reno: I took a quick trip to Reno for Thanksgiving. Flying on the holiday itself is actually a good thing to do and resulted in my having an entire exit row to myself between IAD and SFO. I stayed at the Silver Legacy which is nice enough, but downtown Reno has deteriorated since I was there last. Vegas offers better people watching and more up-to-date gambling machines. Er, no, Cats is not a "hot new game" given that it has been around at least five years. Still, the flights were cheap and it was good to get out of town for a few days. Flights were more crowded coming back, but I did still have an empty middle seat next to me on the way home, by the way.

Rasika West End: I went out to dinner with flyertalk friends on Sunday night at the West End branch of this well-regarded Indian restaurant. The palaak chat was amazing. The Goan fish curry was good, but not quite as spectacular. It was good to see people I hadn’t seen in a while, including the out-of-towner who provided the excuse. And, of course, I love conversing with the tribe of travelers.

Angelique Kidjo: Last night, I went to see Angelique Kidjo at the Kennedy Center. She is one powerful woman and her concert focused (in part) on strong women who had influenced her – Miriam Makeba, Celia Cruz, and Nina Simone. She also managed to get a whole hall full of Washingtonians up and on their feet, dancing and singing along. I’ve loved her music for years, but this was the first time I’d seen her live. If I have any say in the matter, it won’t be the last. I should also note that I am pleased by the work she is doing to support educating girls in Africa. She’s not just a great singer, but a great human being.
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I indulged in lots of entertainment over the past several days.

Pink Martini: Thursday night, I went to see Pink Martini with the NSO Pops at the Kennedy Center. I’ve seenthem several times before and always enjoy it, mostly because China Forbes has an awesome voice. In this case, they were (again) joined by NPR reporter Ari Shapiro, who also has a pleasing voice. And is handsome to boot. Okay, he is young enough to be my son and married (to a man), but I can drool. There was a great mix of music in multiple languages, including "Sympathique" and "Amado Mio." For "I Am Woman," China brought several women up on stage to sing along. I was at the end of a row next to the wall, so didn’t attempt to get there. By the way, in the Small World Department, a guy I used to work with was sitting right in front of me. It was a fun evening and left me with multiple earworms.

Johnny Clegg: I had been debating about whether or not to go to Johnny Clegg’s concert, largely because it was at the Warner Theatre, but: a) it is his final tour (and, even though his cancer is in his remission, pancreatic cancer does tend to be a life limiter), and b) my friend, Paul, was going. I don’t like the Warner because the balcony there is particularly vertiginous and I inevitably find myself on the edge of a panic attack getting to my seat. Also, their leg room sucks and they don’t let you bring In a bottle of water.

The concert itself was enjoyable, however. Johnny’s son, Jesse, opened for him and, frankly,his music is less exciting to me. It was, however, nice to see father and son sing together later on in the show. The high points were the familiar Johnny Clegg songs like "Scatterlings of Africa" and, especially, "Asimbonanga." And, of course, his demonstrations of Zulu dancing, even if he sounded a bit out of breath afterwards. He talked a lot about his life and his career and the changes in South Africa and the world. As a bonus, I always enjoy hearing South African accents – and there were also plenty in the audience. And, of course, I got to see Paul. I was glad I went, though it is still a venue I am not keen on.

Saturday Lunch: [livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana was in town for a conference and we met up on Saturday for a late lunch. We ate at Sette Osteria, where I had reasonably good eggplant parmesan. We had a nice conversation about conference survival and freelancing and baseball and shoes and strings and sealing wax. Afterwards, we walked around Embassy Row and I demonstrated how bad I am at vexillology. That is, I suck at identifying embassies by their flags.

The Book of Mormon: I had enjoyed The Book of Mormon on Broadway, So, when I saw tickets available on Goldstar for the touring company at the Kennedy Center, I suggested it to the group of friends for whom I am the de facto Chief Entertainment Officer. One of them bit. Because of the weather, she decided to drive. We had brunch before the show at The Silver Diner in Clarendon. This is a chain of somewhat upscale diners, which means they are a lot cleaner and pricier than real diners. The food is decent enough and it is infinitely better than the Café at the Kennedy Center, which is dreadfully overpriced and barely adequate in quality.

As for the show, it was enjoyable even the second time around. I was concerned because I had seen Josh Gad on Broadway, so was relieved that Connor Peirson did measure up in the role of Elder Cunningham. I also want to note the choreography by Casey Nicholaw, especially for "Turn It Off" and "Scary Mormon Hell Dreams." A couple of the jokes do get repeated too often, e.g. Elder Cunningham’s inability to remember Nabulungi’s name and the whole "I’ve got maggots in my scrotum" bit. Overall, it’s a very funny show, with a lively score, but requiring a fair amount of tolerance for offensive language. I’d say it also has a point about the uses of religion and the value of not taking ourselves too seriously.

Bernstein at 100: After the musical, we went up to the Terrace Gallery and checked out the exhibit on Leonard Bernstein, in celebration of his 100th birthday. They had a good mix of material, though a bit less on his personal life than I might have preferred. I particularly liked some video clips of him talking about conducting and trying to strike a balance between Mendelson’s idea of being true to the composer’s intent and Wagner’s more emotional approach. There were audio clips of some of his compositions and video clips of him conducting, with enough material to fill hours should one wish to. It was fun to watch him, as he was so expressive. It’s an excellent exhibit and I may go back the next time I am at the Kennedy Center for something.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Roy Dotrice was an actor whose career included a Tony for A Moon for the Misbegotten. Arthur Cinader founded J. Crew. Mychael Knight was a fashion designer. Cornelia Bailey was instrumental in preserving Gullah-Geechee culture in coastal Georgia. Paul Weitz was an astronaut. Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese journalist who exposed political corruption. Dick Morley invented the programmable logic controller. Julian May was a science fiction writer and also wrote under the name Ian Thorne. Scott Putesky was the cofounder of the band Marilyn Manson. Al Hurricane was a singer, primarily of ranchera music.

Gord Downie was the lead singer of The Tragically Hip, a Canadian rock band. He was also on my ghoul pool list, with his death keeping me in 8th place. I’ve backfilled him with Rose Marie, entirely on the grounds of her being over 90 years old.

Richard Wilbur was a poet. In addition to being Poet Laureate of the U.S. and winning the Pulitzer prize twice, he was the primary lyricist for Bernstein’s Candide. In particular, he is credited with the lyrics to "Glitter and Be Gay."

Robert Guillaume was an actor. While he is best known for his television work (including Benson and Soap), he also had a significant Broadway career, including starring in Purlie (replacing Cleavon Little in the title role) and playing Nathan Detroit in an African-American production of Guys and Dolls.

Fats Domino was a singer-songwriter who played a major role in the development of rock and roll. His biggest hit was "Blueberry Hill," but there are a lot of other notable songs through the 1950’s and early 1960’s.

Iona Opie was a folklorist. Along with her husband Peter, she studied nursery rhymes and children’s games and edited a classic collection of fairy tales. It is impossible to overstate the importance of their work on the study of childhood lore.

Roar Reading: Friday night I went to a reading of Roar: True Tales of Women Warrior. I know several of the authors, who shared their stories of the battles women fight in our society. And the profits are going to the National Network to End Domestic Violence. In addition, the reading was at Bard’s Alley, a newish bookstore pretty near my house. It was a good evening out and I definitely need to explore the store further. (Except, of course, that I am not really allowed to buy more books…)

The Bobs: Saturday night was the final concert of The Bobs, a new wave a capella group I first heard at a crafts fair in Berkeley in the 1980’s and have enjoyed the performances of for several years. Their arrangements were different from anything else I’d heard and I enjoyed the humor of many of their songs. The end of an era could be sad, but the evening had a positive energy. At least there are lots of recordings to keep their music alive.

The Wild Party: Sunday afternoon saw me in the city for the Constellation Theatre production of The Wild Party. This was the Andrew Lippa musical, which I had seen another production of before. I like much of the score and it was well-choreographed. But the second half has a lot less energy than the first half does. The cast was able, though there were a few issues with the balance between singers and orchestra. That particularly swallowed up some of the pieces Farrell Parker had as Queenie. If I didn’t already know the show, I might have gotten lost at times. It was worth seeing, but I wish somebody would do LaChiusa’s version so I can compare the two.

Conference Time: I spent Monday through Wednesday at the Baltimore Convention Center for MILCOM. I prefer smaller conferences where I don’t get frustrated over my inability to be in multiple places at once. It did help to have a few specific questions to focus on, e.g. identifying future technologies for my customer to focus on. I did learn enough for it to be worthwhile, overall. But commuting to Baltimore was a dubious decision. I do sleep better at home, but it was tiring, even though I did it by train, rather than car. I should also have studied the schedule a bit more deeply, as I didn’t make as much time as I should have to check out the exhibit floor.
fauxklore: (Default)
Celebrity Death Watch: Maurice Bluestein modernized the wind-chill index. Edie Windsor was an activist who played a major role in overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. J. P. Donleavy was a novelist, whose works included Fairy Tale of New York. Frank Vincent was an actor who sort of specialized in playing gangsters. Grant Hart was one of the founders of Husker Du. Harry Dean Stanton was a character actor who was in too many movies to attempt to single out a few to mention. Paul E. Gray was the president of MIT from 1980 to 1990.

Pete Domenici was a senator who represented New Mexico for many years. In general, I disagreed with his positions on environmental issues. He also got into trouble for reports about having fathered an illegitimate child and supposedly had pretty awful phone manners. However, he was a strong supporter of treating mental illness the same as physical illness.

Book Club: Book Club was on Wednesday. We had a pretty good discussion about Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I like the central question at the heart of the novel, which is who should tell another’s story. But the reason I am mentioning this is that part of the novel involves one of the characters having an affair with a writer she admires. I made a comment to the effect of, "if Neil Gaiman showed up on my doorstep…" and was shocked that two of the people present were entirely unfamiliar with him. (I explained him as a writer of humorous fantasy with floppy hair and a British accent.) It also turned out that there were several people who had never read "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Philistines!

Christine Lavin: Friday night I went to see Christine Lavin at Jammin’ Java, one of my favorite local venues, not least for its proximity to home. Doug Mishkin opened for her and was thoroughly delightful, getting everybody singing his song "Woody’s Children." As for Christine, she was as funny as ever, with a mixture of old and new material. Many of her songs tell stories, e.g. one that described a dinner with a famous person with atrocious table manners. (I won’t reveal who it was, so you can have the joy of the surprise at the end.) During intermission, she taught members of the audience how to do some elaborate napkin folds. (I, alas, was in line for the facilities, so missed out on the lesson, though I saw the results.) All in all, it was a thoroughly delightful evening of folk song and laughter.

Loser Brunch: There were several things I could have done this weekend, but it had been a while since I’d been to brunch with the Style Invitational Losers and Devotees, i.e. fans of the Washington Post’s humor contest. This brunch was at Brion’s Grill in Fairfax, so reasonably convenient. The buffet was just okay, losing points from me for not having any fruit beyond a bowl of mixed melon. On the plus side, they did have cooked to order omelets. And they had French toast donuts, something I had never experienced before. This sort of thing is all about people, in my opinion, so I don’t really care much about the food. The conversation was lively and it was a good way to get out of the house for a couple of hours.
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Celebrity Death Watch: Benjamin Barber was a political theorist who wrote the prescient Jihad vs. McWorld in 1995. Vinod Khanna was a Bollywood actor. Jonathan Demme was a film director. Seeing Something Wild and Swimming to Cambodia in the 1980’s is what made me conscious of the director as a way of choosing what movies I might want to see, an approach that has, generally, stood me in good stead.

Idan Raichel: I went to see Ian Raichel at the Barns at Wolf Trap last night. It was an interesting concert, since he is best known for things like The Iden Raichel Project, MiMa’amakim, and his collaborations with Vieux Farka Toure. In other words, for big group fusion collaborative music. This was just him and a piano (and some electronics, particularly with respect to percussion). He gets characterized as "world music" because of those collaborations and he had a few things to say about that characterization. For example, he noted that Edith Piaf is world music to Filipinos. (This is, by the way, why I have trouble with the term. But it was a helpful one back when there were physical record stores to browse in.)

Overall, it was an enjoyable concert. He was clearly having fun singing and playing – and talking, though not, generally, about the songs themselves. And the Barns is a lot less annoying than the Filene Center, as it doesn’t take ages to get out of the parking lot. (And, when I do, I am going in the opposite direction of almost everybody else there, since I cut across the back roads of Vienna to get home.)

Speaking of Concerts – That Facebook Meme: As you probably know, there’s a facebook meme that involves listing 10 concerts you claim to have been to, with one of them being a lie. It’s the sort of thing that I think works well for facebook, assuming other people use it the way I do, as a way of keeping up with friends from scattered parts of their lives. I’m not going to play the game here, but I would like to make some observations.

First off, my lie was Ry Cooder. His 1995 album, Talking Timbuktu with Ali Farka Toure, pretty much defines my adult musical tastes. But he’s never been playing somewhere that I could get to when he was there.

As for the ones who were true, Ari Shapiro is better known as an NPR reporter, but he sings cabaret, notably with Pink Martini. He has a good voice. And he looks like the groom doll on a wedding cake.

I saw Arlo Guthrie as part of the HARP tour – Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert, and Pete Seeger – around 1984 at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. I think I actually went to that concert with my brother.

Elvis Costello was at the Chicago Theatre this past October.

Eric Bogle was either at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley or McCabe’s in Santa Monica. Possibly both. At any rate, it was somewhere in California and somewhere between 1982 and 2002. The thing I do remember distinctly is that he sang "Do You Sing Any Dylan?" (which, google tells me places the concert after 1992, so it must have been McCabe’s after all) and "Bloody Rotten Audience" (and, yes, I know Tony Miles wrote the latter).

I saw Garnet Rogers at Jammin’ Java. Don’t expect me to remember when, but maybe 2009 or so? I remember being disappointed, though I think Garnet has always disappointed me simply by not being his late, great brother Stan (who, alas, died before it ever occurred to me that there was such a thing as Canadian folk music).

John Denver is the most embarrassing on this list. I went with three friends in high school, and did not find it embarrassing at the time. What can I say? Tastes change as we age. Anyway, it was about 1975 at Madison Square Garden. I know that Robert Redford was at that concert, by the way, because another friend, who was supposed to go but whose parents were not comfortable with the whole thing and vetoed the idea, had a huge crush on him. When we told her we had seen him there at the arena, she dropped the schoolbooks she was holding.

The most interesting on the list is Kongar-ol Ondar. I took a tour of Siberia, Tuva, and Mongolia in 2000. Part of that included going to Na’adam Festival events in Kyzyl. That meant watching Tuvan horse races and Tuvan wrestling (complete with eagle dance) and, of course, listening to Tuvan throat singing. We went to the national concert, where the only Westerners there were the 4 of us (me, a guy from Milwaukee, a guy from Princeton, and our Czech tour leader), a French musicologist, and an American radio producer. We got a lot of attention, but nobody got anywhere near as much attention as Ondar did.

Nobody was foolish enough to guess Pierre Bensusan. In addition to being my favorite living musician, I may have mentioned in the past that I’ve probably seen Pierre perform a couple of dozen times. I think the first of those was at the Julia Morgan Center in Berkeley. I know I saw him a couple of times at McCabe’s and several times at Jammin’ Java, and at various other venues, including the Takoma Park Community Center. Alas, I missed his most recent performance in this area.

Finally, I saw Tom Paxton at the Barns at Wolf Trap a couple of years ago. I think I had seen him previously at McCabe’s, but I’m not sure. I remember thinking the Wolf Trap show was not very energetic and deciding I didn’t need to see him again.

The One That Got Away: I expressed some surprise (on facebook) at how many of my friends could identify exactly when and where they saw certain performers. As you can tell from the above, I am, uh, vague on a lot of the details.

So one friend pointed out that I do more things that most people, leading to more opportunity for confusion. Which, while true, reminded me of something I failed to do. In late 1981, there was a big Royal Shakespeare Company production of Nicholas Nickleby that played in New York. It was absurdly expensive by the standards of the time (100 bucks, I think) and took 8 ½ hours over two days. My parents went to see it and brought my brother, who was living in New York again by then. I was in grad school in Berkeley, but my father was so impressed with the whole thing that he offered to fly me to New York and pay for the ticket. I turned him down.

The thing was that, back then, flying cross-country was a big deal for me. And the idea of doing it just to go to a play was ridiculous. I was also hesitant to go to the theatre alone. No, it was just too too crazy a thing to do.

Adult me is beating my head against the wall, of course. I think a lot of what changed was all the business travel I ended up doing, which sometimes involved things like flying cross-country for a 3 hour meeting. (In one case, that meeting involved getting a briefing from a person whose office was catty-corner from mine.) And then there were all the years of carrying on the world’s longest-running brief meaningless fling. If you and the person you are involved in live on opposite sides of the ocean, you can get a lot more used to doing things alone.

Remembering this makes me appreciate the craziness of my life even more.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Ralph Cicerone headed the National Academy of Sciences from 2005 until this past June. Rick Steiner was a Broadway producer, notably of The Producers. Janet Reno was the first woman to serve as Attorney General of the U.S.

Klezmer Brass All Stars: I only made it to one concert of this year’s Washington Jewish Music Festival, largely due to the inevitable schedule conflicts. Fortunately, I was able to make it to see Eleanor Reissa, Frank London, and the Klezmer Brass All-Stars. Frank London is, of course, the Klezmer trumpeter of our age and has collaborated with a large range of musicians from many cultures. Performing with Eleanor Reissa is pretty mainstream for him, but that was fine. Eleanor Reissa is well-known as a Yiddish singer and, while her running joke of pretending she was translating for those in the audience who spoke only some relatively unlikely language (e.g. "this is for our Swahili friends") grated on me a bit, the woman can sing. I particularly liked her sultry rendition of Fargess Mir Nit. I also need to point out that Michael Winograd was there on clarinet, because he’s a pretty big name on his own. The concert had the title Vilde Mekhaye (which translates to Wild Ecstasy) and that was pretty accurate.

Freaky Friday: I went to see the new Disney musical, Freaky Friday at Signature Theatre this weekend. I don’t remember the original movie well enough to say how true to it the musical was, but it did follow the same basic story of mother and daughter switching bodies and learning about each other in the process. The music and lyrics are by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, who were also responsible for Next to Normal (and If / Then, which I didn’t see).

This was fairly frothy, but it was fun. The music was often lively, though some of the rhymes in the lyrics were a bit strained. The real key to this was the performances by Emma Hunton (daughter Ellie) and Heidi Blickenstaff (mother Katherine), who were both perfectly on the mark. And, as the song "Busted" reveals, not quite as different from one another as it might seem. Remembering back to my teenage years and my relationship with my mother then, I thought the dynamics seemed very realistic. Overall, while there was nothing revolutionary here, it was an entertaining few hours, which is about what I want out of a musical.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
The Trump Card I went to see Mike Daisey’s latest monologue at Woolly Mammoth on Thursday night. If you are at all familiar with Daisey’s work, you know that he has no qualms about being provocative. The thing that makes this piece more than just a rant is that Daisey tries to understand both how Trump became what he is (e.g. his father’s racism and dishonest business dealings, combined with Roy Cohn’s mentoring) and his supporters’ frustration with feeling left out of the American conversation. A lot of the emphasis is on Trump as a performer and his success at being what he is. Interestingly, there is nothing about his wives and children, though there is plenty of material about his sexual assaults. The left does not get off lightly here, either, with accusations of smugness (mea culpa) and a bit of an attack on NPR. It’s an interesting piece and was worth seeing, though I don’t think Daisey is likely to change anybody’s mind.

Trip to Chicago: A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that: 1) I had never been to the Art Institute of Chicago and 2) it would be easy to remedy that. A quick bit of research also found an Elvis Costello concert to go to at the historic Chicago Theatre. Plane tickets are easily acquired, as are hotel reservations. In this case, I stayed at the Hilton at O’Hare, which is located conveniently on the airport grounds. I had some qualms about the travel when the American Airlines plane caught fire at ORD Friday afternoon, but my United flight was actually fine and, in fact, arrived about 20 minutes early. By the way, before leaving IAD, I checked out the new Turkish Airlines lounge and had an excellent supper of lentil soup and baba ghannoush.

I had intended to have breakfast at Wildberry Pancakes and Café, but the wait for a table was an hour and a half, so I went elsewhere. Then I drifted over to the Art Institute. I am a great believer in docent tours, so took the tour of the Modern Wing that was on offer when I was there. They define Modern as, essentially, early the first half of the 20th century. The tour started with Picasso and Braque and cubism (with a few touches of other things Picasso did, including a bit of insight into his various mistresses). After passing through the Russians (e.g. Kandinsky), we continued down to the Contemporary collection, which included Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollack. I will have to admit that the latter is pretty much my least favorite artist of all time, but so it goes. The most memorable piece was a sort of sculpture by Felix Gonzales-Torres named "Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.). This consists of a stack of wrapped candy and viewers are encouraged to take a piece. Talk about absorbing the artwork!

After the tour, I stayed in the Modern Wing for a bit, going back to look at some things we had skipped, e.g. a couple of works by Chagall, notably White Crucifixion. Of course, the most significant Chagall work at the museum is the America Windows, six stained glass windows, which are beautiful and vibrant and the definite highlight of my visit.

There are lots of other famous works at the museum, of course, though American Gothic is off on tour right now. I did see such things as Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette. I also made a point of visiting the Thorne Miniature Rooms, which depict both European and American rooms from various periods. They are quite exquisitely detailed, but the crowds make them harder to enjoy than they should be.

Anyway, the whole museum is quite overwhelming and I didn’t attempt to see everything. As it was, I spent about 5 hours there and was pretty exhausted at the end of that. Had I been staying downtown, I could have gone to my hotel and taken a nap, but I didn’t think I had time to schlep back to the airport and back to the city. So I was rather tired for the Elvis Costello concert.

First of all, I should note that the Chicago Theatre is pretty spectacular. Unfortunately, the sound system doesn’t measure up to the ornate décor. There was a good mix of material, including pretty much everything off the Imperial Bedroom album. The most notable video images on the screen above the band were for "Watching the Detectives," which used a wide range of noir / pulp covers. That nourish theme was nicely followed by "Shot With His Own Gun," by the way. But I think the performance highlight of the evening was "This House is Empty Now." Overall, it was a reasonably good evening, but the sound system really did put a damper on things.

For what it’s worth, travel home was also straightforward and hassle-free, though I didn’t get upgraded.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Yes, I’m behind. Life gets like that.

Celebrity Death Watch: Stuart Anderson founded the Black Angus Steakhouse chain. Richard Seltzer wrote a number of books abut of popular medicine / medical philosophy. Lois Duncan wrote suspense novels for young adults. Goro Hasegawa patented the game Othello. Ralph Stanley was a bluegrass star. Rabbi Chaim Avrohom Horowitz was the Bostoner Rebbe of New York (and, later, Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel) and wrote a lot of influential Jewish music. Barbara Goldsmith wrote several non-fiction books, including a well-received 2005 biography of Marie Cure. Alvin Toffler was a futurist and author, best known for Future Shock. Mack Rice wrote such songs as "Mustang Sally." Finally (and most relevantly to my career), Simon Ramo was the "R" in TRW, and is pretty much considered the founder of systems engineering.

The Breakfast Club: Apparently, I saw exactly one movie over the past quarter. I think I kept falling asleep on airplanes instead of watching movies. Anyway, I had somehow never seen this teenage classic before. It may be 31 years old, but I think it stands up reasonably well. Maybe I think that because my teenage years are a long time ago. It has obvious flaws – clichéd roles and an unlikely ending – but it is watchable despite those. I do, however, wish there were better female role models.

Story Swap: I had two things on my calendar a week ago Saturday night, and decided I could only do one of them. As tempting as coral crocheting at a local yarn store was, I do love story swaps. And the person who was hosting it has a particularly amiable cat. (That reminds me of The Minister’s Cat, a parlor game that way too few people seem to know. The minister’s cat is an amiable cat who adores avocadoes. The minister’s cat is a belligerent cat who batters bandicoots. And so on.) Anyway, it was a good time, with some fun stories, particularly a quest story that Eve told. I told the story I had done for the Better Said Than Done competition.

Friends in Harmony: A friend had given me a ticket to a concert that a chorus she sings in was part of. Seeing that it was very close to home, why not? The event was called Friends in Harmony and featured four choral groups - Mosaic Harmony, Olam Tikvah Chorale, Ketzal Chorus, and the Sakura Choir. The idea was to celebrate the diversity of Fairfax County, so there was an invocation by the imam of a local mosque, followed by the singing, which included gospel, Jewish liturgical, Mexican, and Japanese music. They even provided a CD to take home. All in all, it was well organized and I enjoyed most of the music.

Business Trip: Then I went off to Colorado Springs on a business trip, which meant lots of work and not enough sleep. It was reasonably productive, particularly in terms of meeting some folks in person who I had only talked to on the phone in the past. And, on the way home, I reached my million miles on United!

La Cage Aux Folles: When I got home Friday, I had time for a brief nap before driving over to Signature Theatre to see the final show of the subscription year. I had seen La Cage Aux Folles during its original Broadway run many years ago. Signature’s version is, of course, scaled down, but is still a large show for them. It was very enjoyable, with an excellent performance by Bobby Smith as Albin. I continue to believe that "I Am What I Am" is one of the strongest first act closing numbers in musical theatre. There’s Jerry Herman’s catchy music, a reasonably witty book, and fun choreography, so it made for an enjoyable evening. Given the competing drag queen stories playing local theatres now, I’d say this is well worth prioritizing above Kinky Boots if you are going to see just one of them.

Conference Going: I spent much of the weekend in a state of suspended animation, recovering from my trip, though I did get a few errands done. Then the beginning of this week involved a work-related conference that was decently informative. I am reminded again and again that space is a small world, as there were several people there who I know from various of my past lives in the business (i.e. other jobs within my company, supporting different customers). I hate to say this, but I really hope I haven’t aged as badly as some of them have.

And now I am caught up, for, oh, about 3 hours. Especially as I have theatre tickets tonight.


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