fauxklore: (Default)
Celebrity Death Watch: James Ingram was an R&B singer/songwriter. Dick Miller was an actor who appeared in a lot of Roger Corman’s movies. Stewart Adams developed ibuprofen. Ron Joyce cofounded Tim Hortons. Candice Jean Earley was an actress, best known for a long-running role on All My Children. Harold Bradley was a country guitarist. Clive Swift was a British actor, best known for Keeping Up Appearances. Kristoff St. John was an actor, best known for starring in The Young and the Restless. Bob Friend was a baseball player, who had the distinction of leading the league in ERA while pitching for a last place team (the 1955 Pirates). Julie Adams was an actress, best known for being abducted by the Creature from the Black Lagoon. John Otto Marsh, Jr. was the Secretary of the Army under Reagan and Bush 41. Jacqueline Steiner cowrote "Charlie on the MTA." C. Y. Lee wrote the novel The Flower Drum Song. Izzy Young was a folklorist who produced Bob Dylan’s first concert. Robert Hubbard invented the Head and Neck Support (HANS) system used to reduce injuries in auto racing.


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


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

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


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

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

Overall, it was diverting enough, but hardly essential to see.
fauxklore: (Default)
Despite my Red Sox fandom, I have not lived in New England since 1980. However, when I visit Boston, I do feel like I belong there.

Not a Good Weekend to Look at Social Media: A lot of my friends from the puzzle community are at MIT for the Mystery Hunt. A lot of my traveling friends are in Singapore for SinDo (a big annual frequent flyer party). I am home. And I don’t get Monday off. And I need my vacation time for a trip in February. But it is still annoying to think of all the fun that friends are having while I will spend a lot of the weekend communing with housework and whining about the weather.

Weather: Supposedly we got another inch and a half of snow last night. While it was snowing when I walked home from the Metro station, it was mostly wet stuff that wasn’t sticking. And I didn’t see any real signs of it this morning on the sidewalk or street. I did, however, remember that I keep intending to collect a bunch of freshly falling snow in a pie tin so I can make sugar in the snow. (This is a New England thing – you boil maple syrup and pour it over a pan of fresh-packed snow and it turns into incredibly good caramel.) There didn’t seem to be enough snow last night for that and I had forgotten last weekend when it would have been feasible. This coming weekend’s forecast doesn’t look very likely either. But I should still make sure to buy pickles and sharp cheddar cheese (which are the perfect go-withs) when I go shopping.

Speaking of New England Things: Durgin Park, a very old Boston restaurant, closed last weekend. The food was never exciting and the waiters were surly to the point of hostility. But it was a classic. In honor of its memory, I am planning to make Indian pudding. And Grape Nut pudding, which I would have done last weekend if I had found a big pan to use as a bain marie. (Again, for those unfamiliar, both of these are essentially egg custards with corn meal and molasses in the first case and Grape Nut cereal for the latter.)

I also have some Granny Smith apples in the house. Which are the right and proper thing to use for apple crisp or apple brown betty and I admit I don’t really know what the difference between the two is.
I should probably cook something that isn’t dessert. I also have things other than cooking to do this weekend.
fauxklore: (Default)
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.
fauxklore: (Default)
I had a busy day today.

The Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington had a talk by Judy Russell re: legal and ethical implications of DNA. Her key point was the need for informed consent, including the risk of unexpected results, when asking someone to test. She also provided an excellent handout.

I had been concerned about the potential weather but there’s been no snow yet.

Tonight was the annual holiday party at my condo complex. In the past, our complex has done this jointly with the neighboring one (who we share a clubhouse with) but this year it was just us. That made it much less crowded and much quieter. And there was still food when I left a half hour before it ended. That was a huge improvement over all the times that the food ran out in a half-hour or less. I hadn’t realized before that our neighbors are vultures.
fauxklore: (travel)
Celebrity Death Watch: John Rogers was the president of San Diego Comic-Con. Douglas Rain was an actor, best known as the voice of Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Katherine MacGregor was an actress, best known for Little House on the Prairie. Caroline Rose Hunt was the daughter of oil tycoon H. L. Hunt and, at one time, the richest women in the United States. Roy Clark hosted Hee Haw. Alec Finn was a bouzouki player who cofounded the Celtic band, De Dannan.

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

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

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


Word of the Day: Aibohphobia = fear of palindromes.


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


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

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

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

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

There were a few things I had intended to do yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, but I was too tired after getting up as early as I’d had to. Another victory for my bed in its battle against productivity.
fauxklore: (Default)
Celebrity Death Watch: Oliver Knussen composed an opera based on the book Where the Wild Things Are. Melanie Kantrowitz was a poet and activist, writing a lot about Jewish women. Marion Woodman was a psychologist who wrote The Owl Was a Baker’s Daughter, an excessively Jungian analysis of eating disorders. Peter Carington was the Secretary General of NATO from 1984 to 1988. John A. Stormer was a propagandist, best known for None Dare Call It Treason. Henry Morgenthau III was a television producer. Carlo Benneton co-founded the clothing company that bears his name. Nathaniel Reed co-wrote the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

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


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

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

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

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

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

I need to get better control of my time and space. I am not sure how to do that, but I am thinking I should aim for leaving one unscheduled weekend a month. What I really want to change is the rotation of the earth, but I’ve been advised that is not within my bailiwick.
fauxklore: (Default)
Celebrity Death Watch: Big Van Vader was a professional wrestler, as was Matt Cappotelli. Constance Adams was an architect who designed space habitats and spaceports. Richard Benjamin Harrison was a Pawn Star. David Goldblatt was a South African photographer. Joe Jackson was the patriarch of the Jackson 5. Harlan Ellison was a science fiction writer. Liliane Montevecchi was a Tony-winning actress. Dame Gillian Lynne was a dancer and choreographer. Alan Longmuir was the bassist for the Bay City Rollers.

Charles Krauthammer was a political commentator. I agreed with some of his positions (primarily on Israel and on Trump) and disagreed with more. Regardless of that, I will always be grateful to him for founding the Jewish classical music series, Pro Musica Hebraica, which put on excellent concerts of music that deserves to be better known.

Donald Hall was a poet, essayist and critic. I heard him read when he was Poet Laureate of the U.S. in 2006. I particularly like that he wrote poems about baseball. I’ve also always loved the title of his memoir String Too Short to Be Saved.


Baseball Americana plus Michael Lewis: Wednesday night was book club, so I normally wouldn’t go out on Thursday night. But a friend had gotten free tickets to hear Michael Lewis (the author of Moneyball) speak at the Library of Congress. The ticket included early admission to the Baseball Americana exhibit, which officially opened on Friday. I got there too late to see much of the exhibit, so I definitely need to go back and spend a few hours there.

As for the talk, he was very entertaining. He apparently had a bit of high school baseball glory and his coach compared him to Catfish Hunter ("he also didn’t have a fastball"). My favorite line was that "children’s sports exist for the moral education of their parents." That was part of an anecdote about his children playing baseball in Berkeley, where the ideal was for a team to finish at .500 and then them being on travel teams where they had to cross the hills and play against Republicans. Overall, it was a very entertaining talk and I’m glad I went, despite my tiredness.

Better Said Than Done: Saturday night was a Better Said Than Done storytelling show at The Auld Shebeen. I told a story about the more normal summer camps I went to. I was having trouble finding an ending, but a spam email I got on Friday morning led me to exactly what I needed. It’s always fun when something works out in an unexpected way. Overall, it was a good show and the audience was responsive.

Hamilton; I saw Hamilton at the Kennedy Center on Sunday. It was very impressive, but I was glad for the open captioning as I could not have kept up with the rap sections otherwise. I’d argue that the rapping serves the role of operatic recitative, making the show closer to opera than to traditional music theatre, though really the whole thing is sui generis.

There are numerous historical accuracies, though I suspect the majority of them are Ron Chernow’s fault, rather than Lin-Manuel Miranda’s. The most egregious has to do with Angelica Schuyler, who was actually already married when she met Alexander Hamilton. I also think John Adams was treated unnecessarily harshly, though he was, after all, obnoxious and disliked. I’m also annoyed at the complete absence of my favorite founding father, Gouverneur Morris.

But whatever the historical flaws, it succeeded in making me more interested in Hamilton’s life and career, which makes it a success overall. I’d also be interested in seeing it again, as I know there are things I missed. (I did catch references ranging from Sondheim to Gilbert and Sullivan.)

I’ll also note that the orchestration is a bit strings-heavy, which is a good thing in my book, but might not be in everyone’s. I wasn’t really crazy about much of the choreography, which I thought was often a bit more frenetic than necessary and has way too much of people jumping on chairs. Still, I would probably benefit from seeing it again and being able to focus more on the staging without the distraction of the captioning.

As for performances, I thought Austin Scott (who played the title role) could have been more energetic, as he was overshadowed by Nicholas Christopher as Aaron Burr and, especially, Carvens Lissaint as George Washington. But this is definitely an ensemble show and the cast did, in general, work well together.

Bottom line is that it is, indeed, a great show. But I still think Guys and Dolls and West Side Story are the best musicals of all time.

I should also note that it is a nice change when the audience demographics look fairly diverse, instead of the more typical experience of a theatre full of older white people. I have been to way too many shows where I am one of a handful of people who can walk unassisted.

Living on the Surface of the Sun: Sheesh, it is hot out. I was outside a bit more than I’d have preferred yesterday, since I went to see the documentary Three Identical Strangers at the DC JCC. And today I discovered that a shuttle bus I needed to take was running only every half hour instead of the normal every 15 minutes, so I roasted while waiting for it. It would have been helpful if they’d put a note to that effect on the schedule board at the stop, instead of the schedule change from March of last year that was posted.

Catch-up

Jun. 18th, 2018 03:01 pm
fauxklore: (Default)
I have a bunch of political ranting to do, but first let me catch up on the past week or so.


Celebrity Death Watch: Ira Berlin was an historian, who wrote largely about slavery. Victor Tolmachev was one of the chief designers of the Antonov airplane. Eunice Gayson was an actress, notable as the first Bond girl. Kenyatta Jones was a football player. Lorraine Gordon owned the Village Vanguard, a jazz club. Christopher Stasheff was a fantasy writer. Leslie Grantham was a British actor. Martin Bregman produced movies, including Scarface and Dog Day Afternoon.

You don’t really need me to tell you about Anthony Bourdain. His suicide seems to have hit a lot of my friends particularly hard. I found it unsurprising, frankly. Bourdain made no secret of his history of substance abuse, which is often a form of self-medication. And his relationship life was said to be turbulent. Still, he was an interesting writer and deserves credit for encouraging people to broaden their food horizons.


Hail, Colorado Springs: I flew out to Colorado Springs Monday afternoon. My flight from IAD to DEN was crowded, but arrived early. The DEN to COS leg was delayed about 20 minutes, however. Despite my reservation being for a compact car, Avis asked offered me a Chevy Tahoe or a minivan. I pushed back and ended up with a Kia Soul. Which is not a compact car either, but is at least possible to: a) park and b) get in and out of wearing dress shoes. I stayed at the Springhill Suites, which is adequate, but my room had rather too more traffic noise than I’d prefer.

The bigger noise issue was Tuesday night, when I was awakened about 12:45 a.m. by a thunderstorm. Shortly after that started, I thought the people above me were panicking and running around furiously. Then I remembered I was on the top floor. In short, there was the worst hailstorm I have ever experienced. It went on for about 35 minutes and sounded like a herd of moose stampeding through the parking lot. Reports were that the hail was either golf ball size or baseball size, but I couldn’t tell from my brief glance through the window of my room. The next day, everyone was talking about damage to their rental cars. I was lucky in that mine just got about a half-dozen or so dents on the front hood, but several people had windshields shattered.

The meetings I was out there for were reasonably productive, though I was fairly annoyed at one person (who is someone I am often annoyed at due to his lack of listening – and, more significantly, lack of interest in listening.) I made a token appearance at the social on Wednesday night, which was more annoying because: a) parking in downtown Colorado Springs is a pain and b) the place it was held at was too loud to really carry on a conversation.

The trip home on Friday was just okay. The real problem with a 6 a.m. flight is that I don’t sleep well when I have to be up earlier than usual. I was pretty wiped out from poor sleep and the altitude and, of course, my gate for the DEN to IAD flight was all the way at the other end of Terminal B from where the COS to DEN flight had arrived. I really felt like I was going to collapse on the way there. I was fine once I had rested a bit and drunk a lot of water. I was still happy to get home to the humid lowlands, which really suit my body much better.


World Cup: I am cheering for Uruguay and Senegal, should anyone care.


53rd Old Time Music Hall: The British Players do their old-time music hall show every year or two. The traffic on the Beltway getting to Kensington Town Hall was annoying, but I’d left myself a lot of time (more because I was concerned about parking, but it turns out that there is a fair-sized lot at the Town Hall itself). The ticket includes refreshments (beer, wine, or soft drinks, plus nibbles like goldfish and chex mix). There’s a sing-along before the show (and another at the end of intermission). But the main thing is a bunch of musical acts, along with a lot of corny jokes. Many of the songs are funny (e.g. "The Cannibal’s Menu," "The Pheasant Plucker," and "The Night I Appeared as Macbeth.") But there was also a bit of a focus on World War I, including an Irving Berlin medley (nto quite British music hall, but …) and a Flying Machine medley (Come, Josephine…) and some dance numbers (though the kick line was not quite as well-synchronized as it should have been). Overall, there was nothing profound here, but it was a fun afternoon.


The Scottsboro Boys: I had seen The Scottsboro Boys on Broadway. I thought it was an interesting show, with excellent music and a lot of disturbing aspects, starting with the use of minstrelry as a mechanism of presenting a story full of racism. For those unfamiliar with the historical background, the story involves 9 black boys who were arrested and sentenced to death for the alleged rape of two white women in a boxcar. It’s clear all along that they’re innocent – but they are repeatedly found guilty even after one of the women recants and admits they made up the rape to avoid being arrested for hopping the freight. The affair caught the attention of the Communist Party and, hence, the involvement of a lawyer named Samuel Liebowitz. There is a shockingly anti-Semitic song ("Financial Advice") which deals with his involvement in the case. The real focus is on Heywood Patterson (played excellently by Lamont Walker II) who refused to confess in exchange for being freed. (In the play, he died of cancer after 31 years in jail. In real life, he escaped in 1948, but was later arrested and convicted of manslaughter in an unrelated case in 1951. His death in prison was of cancer, but followed that second sentence.)

There is another aspect of the show I want to mention, but I will be put it behind a cut to avoid spoilers. Read more... )
fauxklore: (Default)
Celebrity Death Watch:Dick Tuck was a political prankster. Lla Brennan was a restaurateur. John Julius Norwich wrote about history and travel. Jill Ker Conway wrote a well-received memoir, The Road from Coorain, and became the first woman president of Smith College. Nick Meglin was an editor of Mad Magazine. Bruce Kison was a baseball pitcher, including two World Series championships with Pittsburgh and a brief stint with the Boston Red Sox. Frank Carlucci was the Secretary of Defense from 1987-1989 (under Reagan). Russell Nype was a Tony-winning actor. Kate Spade was a fashion designer.


Camelot: I went to see Camelot at the Shakespeare Theatre Company on Friday night. I have a complicated relationship with this show, since we did a production of it when I was in 6th grade. That was largely on the grounds that we were studying the Middle Ages, but it was really because our teacher, Mr. Ryder, was into musicals. And, while we used the songs, we rewrote large portions of the script. Most of the songs were sung by the entire class. As a result, I know the score well, but I had never actually seen the show. (I should also mention that the show got me addicted to Dark Shadows because I made paper mache trees for the set with a couple of other girls, who insisted we had to watch that soap opera while working on them.) I have, however, read The Once and Future King, which is largely the basis for the book.

So how was it? It’s rather a mess, really. For one thing, there is no way to tell how much time passes between events. There must be some time for word to spread to France about the Round Table and for rumors about the relationship between Lancelot and Guenevere to reach Scotland. But there don’t seem to be any knights going on quests, so who knows? Even King Pellinore seems to have given up on the Questing Beast in favor of sleeping on a featherbed with a fluffy pillow. The score has a few notable moments. "If Ever I Would Leave You" is lushly romantic, but it has other songs that are easy to mock. I’m always tempted to change a lyric in "C’est Moi" from "a knight so extraordinaire" to "a knight so full of hot air." And then there are songs like "How to Handle a Woman," "The Lusty Month of May," and, especially, "Fie on Goodness"” which just scream that this is not Lerner and Loewe at their best. (I should note that my biggest objection to the score is that it doesn’t have a consistent tone and has few bits that suggest medieval England.)

I could forgive much of that if the performances were better. But Alexandra Silber was too operatic as Guenevere, without being able to enunciate clearly enough with all the vocal pyrotechnics. Ken Clark was uneven as Arthur, but that is probably as much the fault of the score (and direction) that doesn’t know quite what to do with his disillusionment. The best performance was by Nick Fitzer as Lancelot. Now, there’s a voice that suited the character!

Incidentally, I have whined before about STC’s failure to use local actors and this was another case of it. Also, while I am nitpicking, the set had Lancelot and Guenevere rolling around on a stage full of rose petals at the beginning of Act II. The petals stayed there, which may be practical from the standpoint of set design, but annoyed me, because I was distracted by them being swept around in random patterns by the long dresses and robes worn by many characters.

There is some interesting political relevance to the story, but, overall, the show just didn’t work well for me.


The Indie 500: Saturday was the Indie 500, DC’s local crossword tournament. There were plenty of out-of-town attendees, particularly the Boston crowd. They’d moved locations and there were more people competing this year.

The puzzles were fashion-themed this time, though how much the themes had to do with fashion varied. I will refrain from details to avoid spoilers for the solve-at-home crowd. (I have one spoiler in rot13 in the comments). Things started off well for me, with a decent time (5:24) on Puzzle 1, even though I entirely failed to notice the theme while solving it. The average time was 5:41, by the way.

One of the Indie 500 traditions is pie and the boxes of miniature pies showed up early this time – between puzzles 1 and 2. They were unlabeled. I got something that seemed to be a sort of lemony custard, which was quite tasty.

Puzzle 2 had a cute theme and was reasonably straightforward. I finished in 11:24, which was a little slower than I should have, but there wasn’t any particular thing that slowed me down. (And the average time was 12:57, so it isn’t as if that was a bad time.)

I really enjoyed the theme of Puzzle 3, as well. I got slightly slowed down by one of the theme clues being a Down clue, while the rest were Across clues. And there was one square that required me to go through the alphabet to figure out an answer. Still, I solved it cleanly in 17:08, while the average was 18:27. At the end of three, I was in 75th place out of 164 contestants.

Then it was time for lunch. I ended up at Rice Bar, which is a bibimbap place a couple of blocks away. It was good and filling, though I will probably choose a different sauce than the peanut sauce I got if I go there again.

Puzzle 4 was the hardest of the day and took me 24:43, while the average was 19:26. Part of my slow time was due to my being unsure about the spelling of one person’s name. I had a spelling issue on another name, too, though I figured that out quickly. But I got hung up on the southeast corner, largely due to an initial error on one clue. I did end up solving it cleanly, but I was slow.

Puzzle 5 was straightforward and had a cute theme. I finished it in 11:47, while the average was 12:52. Sounds fine, right? Well, it would have been if I hadn’t had a stupid error. I had attempted to correct an error, but did not manage to actually completely erase the wrong letter. All I can think of is that I used the eraser at the end of my pencil, instead of the click-eraser I had with me. The error cost me a lot of points. And I ended up finishing 100 out of 164. Aaargh.

While the scores were being tabulated for the finals, there was a game that involved finding names hidden in other words. I was pretty good at this, for the most part. One of my teammates was amazed that I knew the word "psaltery" (a sort of medieval stringed instrument). I will confess to actually owning one – and playing it, though not very well.

So here is how I’ve done over the years on the Indie 500:

2018 – 100 / 164 (39th percentile)
2017 – 64 / 128 (50th percentile)
2016 – 60 / 117 (49th percentile)
2015 – 61 / 100 (39th percentile)


Quajado: I got home and made quajado for a potluck on Sunday. For those who are unfamiliar with this dish, it’s a Sephardic egg, cheese, and vegetable dish, sort of like a crustless quiche. I baked it in a 9 inch square pan because that’s what I had, but one could use a round pan, of course. Here’s the recipe I used:

Chop one medium onion. Saute in olive oil until soft, about 10 minutes.

Grate two smallish zucchini.

Thaw one package of frozen chopped spinach. (You could, of course, use fresh spinach, but I had frozen on hand.)

Mix the vegetables together. Add 6 lightly beaten eggs, 1 cup of ricotta cheese, and a ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese. Add a couple of crushed garlic cloves and a teaspoon or so of crushed red pepper.

Pour the mixture into an oiled baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until set and slightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

You can use other vegetables and other cheeses, e.g. farmer cheese instead of ricotta, gouda instead of parmesan. And you could throw in additional herbs.

JGSGW Luncheon: That potluck was the annual luncheon for the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington. The quajado went over well and I didn’t have any leftovers to bring home. I suspect that was, in part, because it was more original than, say, yet another kugel (there were three if I recall correctly). I had some interesting discussions about traveling in Eastern Europe. And I refrained from pointing out that Austria is really Central Europe.

The actual program had to do with things you can find in newspapers and the speaker had some interesting examples, e.g. several items from a small town newspaper that all mentioned the street that members of a prominent family lived on. There was also a lot of information about good sources for newspaper research, starting with the Library of Congress.

Washington Folk Festival: After the luncheon I raced across Maryland in the pouring rain to get to Glen Echo Park for the folk festival. The weather was truly atrocious and River Road was pretty close to living up to its name. Still, I made it there. My set wasn’t until 5 p.m., so I had time to listen to some other people’s stories beforehand. As for my set, I told a brief Herschele Ostropole story, followed by Mendel and the Enchanted Goat, and a Nasruddin story. I could probably have squeezed in one more story, but my watch was fast so I thought I had just one minute instead of about five.

The rain had let up (though not actually stopped) by the time I left. So it wasn’t bad driving home. I had time for grocery shopping and then ate supper before pretty much collapsing.
fauxklore: (Default)
Celebrity Death Watch: Matthew Mellon was a billionaire, via inheritance and cryptocurrency. Harry Anderson was a magician and actor, best known for his role on Night Court. Bruno Sammartino was the longest reinging heavyweight wrestling champion. Avicii was a Swedish musician. Verne Troyer was an actor, best known for playing Mini-Me In the Austin Powers movies. Richard Jenrette was an investor who spent a lot of money restoring historic houses.

Carl Kassell was an NPR journalist, best known as a host of Wait, Wiat, Don’t Tell Me. Getting his voice on one’s answering machine was an excellent prize. I never entered, since the timing wasn’t convenient for me, but I do own a doll of him, bought via the NPR website many years ago.

Barbara Bush was the wife of one president and mother of another. While I didn’t agree with much of her politics, I admired her outspokenness and her efforts on behalf of people with dyslexia. She wasn’t a perfect person by any means, but all of us are products of the environments we grow up in.


I Can’t Complain But Sometimes I Still Do: Work is okay most of the time, but I could live without wrestling with administrivia. In particular, I have various mandatory training courses to do, mostly for my customer, not my company. They’re on a couple of different systems and some work only on one browser, some work only on a different browser, and some just outright don’t work. It’s a tremendous waste of time getting to them and figuring out how to get them to run.

Cirque du Soleil: Cirque du Soleil has a touring show in Tyson’s Corner right now, called Luzia: A Waking Dream of Mexico. The basic concept has a fool as a tourist with his various encounters including musicians, acrobats, and giant puppets (e.g. a horse, a jaguar). Cirque is very good with creative costumes and highly engineered set designs. The latter included an elaborate waterfall curtain. The circus stunts included an excellent juggler, some very impressive hoop divers, and particularly notable aerial leaping between what I think are Russian swings. There was, alas, a contortionist, but I know most other people aren’t creeped out by contortionism the way I am. The Mexican aspect came in via costumes and music, by the way, but there was less of a plotline than with some other Cirque shows I've seen.

Legal Seafoods: The friends I went to Cirque with and I had dinner before the show at Legal Seafoods. I had a tuna sashimi rice bowl, which had about three times as much rice as I was capable of eating. There was very good seafood salad and tasty mushrooms, but the spinach was bland and the kimchi was just okay. The tuna was good, but the dipping sauces for it were somewhat too salty. It wasn’t the most exciting meal ever, but it was fine and reasonably convenient.

The Best Doctor in Town: A friend told me about this play he was in. It was produced by Shoestring Theatre Company, which has a mission to build bridges between Northern Virginia and Southwest Virginia. I know a little about the southwest part of the state because I’m familiar with a bookshop in Big Stone Gap. And I’ve driven up I-81 from Tennessee. Still, I’m much more culturally aligned with NoVa.

The play was written by Amelia Townsend and tells the story of a hospital in which a surprising number of patients seem to be dying. Old people die, so it isn’t completely clear there’s anything fishy going on. There’salso a missing piece of jewelry and both a reporter and a cop who think there may be more to the story, but who are stifled in investigating it by their editor and the high sheriff, respectively. And then there’s a young resident who has his own story, but no evidence. Overall, I found the story absorbing, with a good mix of humor and a serious message about what trust means. There was also an undercurrent associated with the decline of coal mining. It was worth seeing and I will definitely keep my eyes open for future productions by this company.

It’s playing for another week, so do go see it if you are around Fairfax. And they will be taking it to Big Stone Gap at the end of May, so folks in that part of the state should look for it.

Weather: It looks like it is finally settling into springtime. The down side is that the air is now about 25% pollen.
fauxklore: (Default)
I had a rather hectic week. (So what else is new?)

One Day University: Saturday was One Day University. This time they did it at Lisner Auditorium, which is a good choice as the seats are reasonable comfortable and it’s easy to get to by metro.

The first speaker was Stephen Kotkin of Princeton, His talk was on American Foreign Policy: Where Are We Headed? He had a strong emphasis on the role of economic considerations, starting with the Clinton-era theory that as other nations got wealthier, they would become more like us. He focused on Iran, Russia, and China. His major points were that Iran is constrained by the Sunni-Shia conflict and the potential for Kurdistan to be a disruptive force in the Middle East. In short, he concluded that it shouldn’t be a priority. As for Russia, he said we can’t ignore it, but we overfocus on it. China, however, is an economic powerhouse and we should prioritize remaining competitive with it. The way to do that is to invest in infrastructure and scientific competitiveness. While he was an entertaining speaker, I thought his graphics were terrible. I also wish he had talked more about emerging nations. When someone asked a question about India, for example, his answer was entirely focused on their role as a buffer against China. I was also concerned that he made it all about economics and ignored moral questions, e.g. the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So I found his talk interesting but not entirely convincing.

The second speaker was Jacob Appel from Brown University on Ethical Dilemmas and Modern Medicine: Questions Nobody Wants to Ask.. He summed the issue up with two questions: 1) When do people have a right to healthcare that society refuses to give them? And 2) When can people refuse care that society wants to give them? Then he talked about several examples. Issues include the cost of treatment, quality of life, chance of recovery, whether or not the reasons somebody gives for their decision should matter, and how long-held someone’s beliefs are. My personal bias is to go with somebody’s stated wishes, whether or not I agree with them, but that’s easier said in theory than in practice. At any rate, I thought his talk was very interesting and the highlight of the day for me.

The third speaker was Carol Berkin, who is retired from Baruch College. Her talk was on What The Founding Fathers Were Really Like (and what we can still learn from them today). I have a quibble with her definition of founding fathers, as she focused entirely on the people who were at the Constitutional Convention. That leaves out a number of people who were important to independence, even if they may not have shaped the later form the United States took. But within her framework, the people she singled out as particularly notable were Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, Robert Morris, Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, and (partly) James Madison. She had quite a lot to say about Gouverneur Morris, though I’d be somewhat more convinced had she pronounced his name correctly. At any rate, her key point was that most of the men at the Constitutional Convention were fairly ordinary, albeit rich. Still, 5 or 6 geniuses out of 55 delegates seems remarkable to me. Do we have anybody of that intellectual caliber in Congress nowadays? She was a good speaker, but I found her unconvincing, overall.

There was a break for lunch, during which I walked over to a Korean dumpling place I’d been meaning to try. Since when is it socially acceptable for somebody to occupy one of 6 seats at a restaurant while eating their own food out of a Tupperware? The food was just okay, by the way, so, for future reference, I would probably go to Beefsteak or Roti instead. Or maybe try one of the food trucks that were lined up around the corner.

The last speaker of the day was Anna Celenza from Georgetown University, speaking on The History of Jazz: America’s Greatest Original Art Form. This was the talk I was looking forward to the most. Perhaps it was the post-lunch haze or perhaps it was overly high expectations, but I was disappointed. She had some good points about the role of technology (specifically, recording, including piano rolls) in th spread of jazz She touched on several interesting topics (e.g. the racial divide in jazz, the role of agents) and ignored others (orchestration, role of women). Overall, her approach reminded me of my high school history teacher who spent months on the French revolution, 2 days on World War I, and one day on everything since.

Volunteer Training: Sunday saw me back in the city for a training session for the upcoming U.S. Science and Engineering Festival. The training was fairly painless. By the way, I think I was one of a handful of volunteers there who was not accompanied by school children. (I think the minimum age for volunteers is 13, but some of those kids looked younger to me.)


Work and Snow: We got a spring snowstorm on Wednesday. That meant the second day of my two-day meeting this week turned into a telecon. If I’m going to work from home, that’s probably the best sort of work to have. I was even able to reorganize my scarf drawer while listening to one of the presentations.

I was also busy because I had to cover a meeting for my boss and draft inputs for a semi-annual report. When I tell people that I go to meetings and write email for a living, I am only half in jest.

A Minor Ambition: Just once, I would like to finish reading the Sunday Washington Post on Sunday.


Now I am ready to search my house for a bag of pencils that I hope the other dimensional beings have returned. And to pack for my excursion to Connecticut for the ACPT.
fauxklore: (Default)
Weather: I am so tired of being cold. We even had a (mercifully brief) snow flurry this morning. Come on Springtime, damn it!

The Grapevine: I made it to darkest Maryland (well, actually, just short of Maryland) for the monthly storytelling show at Busboys & Poets – Takoma. I did put my name in for the open mike, but did not get picked out of the hat. Which is just as well, as I was tired.

Anyway, the three tellers whose names were drawn all did well. They were followed by a young poet, who stumbled on trying to perform from memory, but one must be kind to the young. The first featured teller was Anne Shimojima from Chicago. She told an interesting mixture of stories, including two Japanese folktales, a lovely literary story and a personal story.

She was followed by Mary Hamilton from Kentucky. Mary started with an amazing original story ("Susan Contemplates Murder") that was very funny, with the humor coming from the truth of the emotions. She also told a personal story, having to do with her wedding and her family’s eventual acceptance of her unconventional husband. And she told a couple of folktales, including one at the end that was particularly apt for the current zeitgeist, though she noted that it had been collected in the 1940’s.

All in all, it was a fun show and worth being out on a weeknight for.

Speaking of Stories: Here is the story I told at the February Better Said Than Done show.




United and Dogs: So there are a few stories going around involving United Airlines and dogs and everybody is jumping all over them.

The first one involves a dog being placed in an overhead bin and dying during the flight. The allegation is that the flight attendant insisted that the passenger put the dog in the overhead. The flight attendant claims not to have known that there was a dog In the bag. Given that a lot of carriers do look like ordinary dufflebags, I find that plausible. It sounds like the bag might have been a little too big to fit under the seat, so it would not be surprising for the flight attendant to ask for the bag to go overhead. Apparently, also, the passenger was Spanish speaking, so I can see the flight attendant not understanding that it was a dog. But why didn’t the passenger check on the dog during the flight? Supposedly, the dog was barking early in the flight, so why wouldn’t the flight attendant have noticed that? The whole thing sounds like a tragic misunderstanding. But it’s not the sort of thing that is likely to happen again and there is nothing specific to United that led to it.

In response to this, there is a story being revived about how many more pet deaths United has had than other airlines. Over the past 3 years, there were 85 pet deaths and 41 were on United. Actually, Hawaiian had a higher rate of pet deaths over that period. But they went to zero last year – because they stopped accepting brachycephalic breeds of dogs, which account for almost all pet deaths. And that is precisely the point. United accepts a wider range of pets as cargo than any of the other U.S. based airlines, including those flat-faced breeds that are prone to respiratory failure under stress.

By the way, since I was curious, there was one death of a cat. That was a Sphynx cat, which is a marginal breed barely worth the honorable name of cat.


The other United incident involved sending a dog intended to go to Kansas to Japan, and vice versa. This one is really not United’s fault at all. The dogs had connections that involved an overnight in Denver and were sent to an off-sight facility (not owned by United) overnight. That’s where they were put back in the wrong kennels, switching them. Annoying and stressful, but no harm in the long run.


Bottom line is that I would fly with a pet on United, if I had a pet and were that determined to travel with it (which rarely makes sense, but that’s another matter).
fauxklore: (Default)
Celebrity Death Watch: Ed Lee was the mayor of San Francisco. Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman was regarded as a leader of the non-Chasidic Haredi (usually described as ultra-Orthodox Jewish, but there are reasons I dislike that description) world in Israel. Michael Prophet was a reggae singer. Keely Smith was a jazz singer. Clifford Irving was a writer, most famous for a hoax involving an alleged autobiography of Howard Hughes. Bernard Law was a Catholic cardinal and, most significantly, the Archbishop of Boston who was forced to resign in response to the sex abuse scandal in the church. Dick Enberg was a sportscaster. March Fong Eu was the Secretary of State of California for nearly 20 years. Bruce McCandless II was an astronaut who made the first untethered spacewalk. Fred Bass was the owner of The Strand, one of the great bookstores of the world. Thomas Monson was the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brendan Byrne was the former governor of New Jersey.

Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones, wrote a few books about her espionage work. I remember The Spy Wore Red as being a pretty good read.

Maura Jacobson was a crossword constructor. She wrote a weekly crossword for Nerw York magazine for 30 years, as well as writing puzzles for The New York Times and for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Her puzzles were consistently witty and intelligent and provided me plenty of pleasure.

Rose Marie was an actress. While biographies claim she is most famous for her role on The Dick Van Dyke Show, I think my generation associates her primarily with Hollywood Squares. She also scored 28 ghoul pool points for me.

Sue Grafton wrote the Kinsey Milhone alphabetical mystery series. She was one of the most successful women writing hard-boiled mysteries. She did not, alas, write Z is for Zero, which would have completed the series.


Brrr: It was 9 degrees Fahrenheit when I left the house this morning. That’s before the wind chill factor. It wasn’t too bad walking to the station, but the wait for the metro was annoying. At least I’d had the forethought to dig out my balaclava and wear it (along with my warmest hat). Given that I was in the tropics two days ago, this is particularly painful.

Jet Lag: I have read the claim that it takes a day to adjust to each hour of time zone change. So it is no surprise that I am having trouble sleeping and, hence, barely functional. Despite which, I found myself filling in time at work with looking at future travel. Though the only things I have booked are two international trips I had booked before I left on this last one and my hotel room for the ACPT.

Clothing: It might be the weather, but I have an unusual desire to do some clothes shopping. Mostly, I want about a dozen black turtleneck sweaters and several pairs of woolen tights. And one pair of very comfortable and very warm fur-lined boots. I do not believe that the last of those actually exists.
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)
Weather: It's March and it is 70+ degrees out right now, which is absurd. Of course, they are talking about possible snow for Friday, sigh. I'd rather we had unseasonably warm weather on the weekend, when I could take advantage of it.

Calendars: Except, really, I can't as my weekends are completely booked up all month, even if I color-coded one of them incorrectly on my calendar. (I have a ridiculously complicated method of coloring squares on a year-long calendar, with multiple highlighters intended to show everything from holidays to vacations to travel that I don't need vacation days for to local commitments like theatre tickets. This is supposed to keep me from double-booking myself. In practice, it creates an attractive product, but I still double-book myself.)

General chaos: I pay most of my bills automatically, but there are a couple I write checks for. In order to pay the bills, alas, I first have to find the bills. I used to be so organized. I think I never really got things back together when I bought my condo. Which was, admittedly, several years ago. I really need to devote some time to getting things together. I did go through a bunch of unopened mail last night, but only made it about halfway through. I will, however, note that for dead people, my parents sure get an awful lot of life insurance solicitations.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Richard Hatch was an actor in Battlestar Galactica among other things. Sir Peter Mansfield won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2003. Mile Ilitch owned much of Detroit or at least its sports teams (the Red Wings and the Tigers) and a mediocre pizza company. Damian was a British pop singer. Al Jarreau was a seven-time Grammy winner for his jazz and R&B music. Raymond Smullyan was a mathematician and wrote books about logic puzzles, e.g. What is the Name of This Book? and This Book Needs No Title.

Non-celebrity Death Watch: Howard Margol was a major force in Lithuanian-Jewish genealogy and responsible for a lot of the resources I use regularly. He was helpful in answering questions and teaching others how to do their research. May his memory be for a blessing.

Storytelling – The Grapevine: I made it to darkest Maryland (actually, come to think of it, Busboys and Poets might be on the DC side of Takoma / Takoma Park) Wednesday night to see Jeff Doyle and Anne Thomas tell. I also told "The Three Sisters" in the open mike. Jeff told two stories involving encounters with bears. Anne did a few personal stories about disability. Overall, an interesting night.

Storytelling – Short Story Slam: Thursday night had me back in darkest Maryland – Bethesda, to be precise – for the story slam that Michael puts on monthly. I have mixed feelings about this sort of thing, since a part of me objects to competitive storytelling. But there was plenty of good material on the theme of matrimony. Michael led off with a particularly funny piece about getting married in Communist China, including what he referred to as "emergency sex education." I told an abbreviated version of "Border Crossings." I actually tied for the third highest number of votes, but since the top two vote-getters went over the time limit, it came down to the tie breaker, and I had the shortest story so won first prize, which was exciting. Overall, it was fun and worth the exhaustion the next day.

JGSGW: I spent most of the weekend between suspended animation (i.e. catching up on sleep) and trying, not very successfully, to get some housework done. But I did make it to the JGSGW meeting on Sunday, which had a presentation on debunking myths about Jewish genealogy. I can’t say I learned much, but it was entertaining. And the time for networking was potentially useful.

Weather Whine: I would rather it were consistently cold than this annoying up and down we’ve been having. It got up to 70ish on Wednesday and then dropped to the 20’s on Friday but was back in the 60’s all weekend. This morning it was 30-something (but 25 with the wind chill factor) when I left for work. Just make up your bloody mind for a few days in a row, please.

Metro: Both storytelling events last week involved the Red Line, which meant changing to the Orange Line for the rest of the way home. That’s fine, but they were single-tracking around McPherson Square at night and things aren’t synchronized, so I had 15+ minute waits at Metro Center both nights.

Friday had a different annoyance as they turned the Orange Line train I was on into a Silver Line train. I was napping, so missed the announcement. Fortunately, I woke up at McLean, so only had to go back one station to switch, but they shouldn’t do this. Especially as they already run twice as many Silver Line trains as Orange, despite ridership on the Orange Line being several times higher.

Today started a new SafeTrack surge, which means no Blue Line service for 18 days. I had an early meeting at the Pentagon, so took a bus which was way more crowded than I’d ever seen it before. That worked, but was still annoying. In short, expect me to be grumpy for the next several weeks. It’s still better than driving.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament deserves its own write-up, so here is the other stuff I’ve been up to.

Celebrity Death Watch: Ken Howard was an actor and served as president of SAG. His most significant role, in my opinion, was as Thomas Jefferson in 1776. Joe Garagiola was a baseball player turned sportscaster. Garry Shandling was a comedian. Winston Mosely killed Kitty Genovese.

Patty Duke was an actress whose TV show was a big influence on my youth. Specifically, I wanted to be the sophisticated cousin, Cathy, who had lived most everywhere.

Weather Whining: It is April. It is not supposed to be this cold. They are even talking about some snow potential for this coming weekend.

Ballet – Hamlet: I went with a friend to see the Washington Ballet production of Hamlet on Thursday night. Given that this was to a score by Philip Glass, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was too modern in style for my tastes. (The choreography is by Stephen Mills). I do think Brooklyn Mack, who danced the lead, is an excellent dancer, but that wasn’t enough to make up for the whole thing being somewhat incoherent. Admittedly, about all I remembered of the plot (which I read back in high school) is that everyone gets stabbed. Well, that, and (thanks to Adam McNaughton) "Hamlet, Hamlet, acting balmy. Hamlet, Hamlet, loves his mommy." At the end, I turned to my friend and said, "I was wrong. Some people get poisoned instead."

Bottom line is that maybe I am a lowbrow Patty, not a highbrow Cathy, after all.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Vanity was a singer and primarily known as a protégé of Prince.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1992-1996. There were lots of questions about how effective he was, including the UN failure to act in the Rwandan genocide, but also inadequate responses in the former Yugoslavia and in Somalia. He was the only UN Secretary-General who was not elected to a second term in office.

Antonin Scalia was a Supreme Court justice and a major voice for conservative opinions. As much as I despise many of his judgements, I do admit to his intelligence and his literary skill. He was the subject of a play (The Originalist) and an opera (Scalia / Ginsburg). There is, by the way, no justification for Obama waiting for his successor to name a replacement and certainly no historical precedent. Pushing such a move should only hurt Republicans in the Senate who will be seen as obstructionist.

Business Trip: I spent much of last week in Los Angeles. The trip was largely for one meeting, but I also sat in on a review for an upcoming launch and got a firehouse of program info from my management. It also provided a good opportunity for me to meet a couple of customer folks and for me to get to know my boss better. So, as exhausting as it was, it was definitely worth the effort.

Other L.A. Stuff: I suffered a bit of weather shock. When I flew out on Tuesday morning, it was raining when I left my house, sleeting when I got on the bus to IAD, and snowing when we took off. When I arrived in L.A., it was in the 80’s. And I came home to extreme cold, with temperatures in the 20’s or below.

I also took advantage of the trip to go to Community Storytellers on Thursday night. There were a fair number of people there and some good stories, but we had to end early to avoid getting locked in. Of course, we then did the traditional stand and yak in the parking lot for ages afterwards.

Lost in the Stars: I got home, dropped my bags in my house, and ran off to the Kennedy Center to see the Washington National Opera production of Lost in the Stars. I’m not a big opera person, but this is Kurt Weill and it was an option on my theatre subscription. It does raise the question of where the barrier is between opera and musical theatre, but, frankly, I don’t think the line matters. If I enjoy something, why should I care how it gets characterized?

Anyway, for those unfamiliar with Lost in the Stars, it is based on Alan Paton’s novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. The plot involves a black preacher, Stephen Kumalo, who travels to Johannesburg to search for his son, Absalom. Absalom has fallen in with a bad crowd, which leads to him killing a white man (who is, in fact, a friend of his father’s). He refuses to lie about the matter and ends up sentenced to death. This being apartheid era South Africa there are various racial undercurrents, which are handled rather awkwardly, perhaps because the show was written in 1949. Even more awkward is Stephen’s crisis of faith, which gets resolved all too easily.

I was impressed with Eric Owens as Stephen Kumalo and with Sean Panikkar as The Leader. But the real scene stealer was Caleb McLaughlin as the child, Alex. Overall, this was worth seeing, but there are some tedious moments to sit through for things like the glories of the title song.

Jewish Genealogical Society: The JGSGW meeting on Sunday was part assisted research workshop (in which I made a bit more progress on Chaim Schwartzbard and his children, though there is still confusion due to things like his having one son named Harry and another named Harold) and part speaker program. The topic of the latter was Family Search and I thought the presentation was fairly basic, but I did learn a few useful tidbits.

Recurring Dream: Or, more accurately, recurring nightmare. Three times in the past week, I have awoken in a panic from a dream in which I was trying to check in for a flight only to discover I had left my passport at home.

Snowzilla!

Jan. 27th, 2016 11:21 am
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: I will write about our blizzard in just a moment, but first, the obligatory celebrity death watch.

Maria Teresa de Filippis was the first woman to race cars in Formula One (in the late 1950's). Glenn Frey was a founding member of The Eagles and, hence, responsible for a particular earworm that plagued me for miles after driving through Winslow, Arizona. Rabbi Ronald Greenwald was involved in a number of political negotiations, including the release of Nathan Sharansky from a Soviet prison and the recovery of Torah scrolls from Lithuania. Rabbi Eugene Borowitz edited the magazine, Sh'ma, as well as writing several books about Reform Judaism. Marvin Monsky was a pioneer in artificial intelligence.

Concepcion Picciotto led a peace vigil in Lafayette Park (outside the White House) since 1981. This is considered the longest protest in U.S. history.

Henry Worsley was trying to complete the first unaided solo crossing of Antarctica. Apparently he was distantly related to Frank Worsley, Shackleton's captain. He failed in his goal by only 30 miles. Apparently, he radioed for help and was airlifted to Chile, where he died of peritonitis, so it isn't completely clear that his death was completely related to the expedition (other than, of course, delaying treatment).

Finally, Abe Vigoda. He was best known as an actor for playing Fish on Barney Miller. The joke was that, while the character he played was ancient and at death's door, in real life Vigda was apparently quite athletic. At any rate, he was even better known for mistaken rumors about his death over the years, including an entire website devoted to the question. He took the whole thing with remarkably good humor.

Snowzilla: I refuse to use the Weather Channel names for storms, but the Washington Post Capital Weather Gang has legitimate naming rights. Hence, Snowzilla, not Jonas. Given how badly our area handled the inch or so of snow on Wednesday, I was dreading the actual storm. But, really, not going outside helps tremendously. I brought my laptop home on Thursday night and just holed up at home until this morning.

I did brave the supermarket on Thursday night, which was not quite as bad as I'd feared. Though I did forget that I was out of butter and, even though it was on my list, managed not to actually buy salsa. Neither was a big deal. I ended up making muffins using oil, instead of melted butter, and I made a large pot of soup instead of the rice with salsa and cheese I had been thinking about. (I also ate rice with stir fried surimi and veggies. I am almost, but not quite, out of soy sauce.) I still have at least 3 servings of the bean and barley soup, which is now in the freezer. And I have a few servings left of the tuna casserole I made last night. When I work from home, I cook more.

As for the storm itself, it started snowing somewhere around 2 p.m. on Friday and just kept on and on until somewhere around 10 or 11 Saturday night. Much of the day Saturday was really bleak with blowing snow mixing with falling snow, accumulating on the west side of the trees in our courtyard, which miraculously did not lose major branches. The wind caused lots of drifting, completely covering the Juliet balcony of one of the units downstairs from me. In the end, we got about 25 inches where I live; apparently there was a 30-36 inch accumulation at points to the north and west.

The western end of the Orange Line was shut down until this morning, but it was working fine when I went to work today. I worked from home on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday which is ergonomically unsatisfying, but better than trying to go anywhere. My only complaint this morning is that our contractor decided to shovel a path across the lawn, instead of the pavement, so it was a muddy mess getting out to the street.

Most annoying thing is that I had lots of plans that got cancelled, including the production of West Side Story at Signature Theatre (not reschedulable, as all other performances are sold out, so I took a gift certificate to apply to next season's subscription) and a weekend mileage run.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I have other things to write about, but let me drop a quick note re: how miserable this week has been for commuting. Monday was tolerable, but the metro was running on a holiday schedule, which meant long waits at Rosslyn for connecting trains.

Tuesday, the cold weather caused a different problem. But it is best to say it in my preferred poetic form:

Cracked rail outside East
Falls Church this morning. Single
tracking. Late to work.


And, of course, I just missed my connection, so:

It is as cold at
Rosslyn station as it is
outside. Brr, brr, brr.


Was it any better going home? Well, I had an errand to run near Union Station. I got on the Yellow Line at Crystal City and then:

Someone unconscious
on train at Archives. Single
tracking, long delays.


So yesterday I had a meeting for which it made sense to drive in. (I can get to where it was by bus, but that eats up a lot of time and is only worth it if meeting is at beginning or end of the day, not in the middle.) Things were slow coming in, for no particular reason. Going home was the issue. It wasn't even snowing until I was halfway home, but it was still slow. And, once there was a bit of sticking snow, it was just a slippery, nasty crawl.

Note that we got a whopping 1.2 inches of snow and it messed things up badly enough that it took me twice as long as normal to drive home. We are expecting 24-30 inches in the storm that is going to clobber us this weekend.
I am not going more than about 200 feet from my bed.

Please, buy me a condo in Punta del Este, Uruguay?

Profile

fauxklore: (Default)
fauxklore

February 2019

S M T W T F S
      12
3 4 5 6789
101112 1314 1516
17181920212223
2425262728  

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Feb. 17th, 2019 10:18 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios