August 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
Read this post from Brightest Young Things about Capitol Hill Books (my favorite used bookstore). Seriously. And it’s got great photos, like the one I included. I mean, c’mon. Cute girls reading books. It’s like pornography that you can look at during work hours! Or in front of your wife! Unless she’s reading this, in which case, I never actually looked at any of the pictures. Also, there’s a reference the greatest ever episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
July 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
I knew it existed, but there’s a significantly closer art house cinema, so I’d never been, until I got it into my head that I would see Snowpiercer while my better half was away. Just on the edge of Foggy Bottom, before you cross the bridge into Georgetown, it’s a tiny theater with three tiny screens. I saw Snowpiercer on a screen perhaps ten feet wide on a chair that, despite being a fancy folding chair, with a cup holder and thick padding and everything, was still a folding chair. But’s a lovely experience for particular kind of bohemian-hipster quaint experience seeker. Also, Snowpiercer is awesome. A beautifully cramped actioner with a pretty brutal portrayal of economic inequality taken to extremes, plus a global warming message, as well.
I had a soda, popcorn, and junior mints. They also had beer and wine and cocktails, but, honestly, it was a four o’clock movie and I hadn’t eaten anything all day, so alcohol sounded like a recipe for a bad movie.
July 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
The other weekend, we went to Wolf Trap for a performance of Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Ninth Symphony and also of Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes (from Peter Grimes).
The pieces by Britten were pretty Britten-y. Not to knock him, because, I mean, c’mon – he wrote The War Requiem which is an amazing, mindblowing work. But he’s a sentimental sort of composer and these were small, sentimental works.
The Egmont Overture was new to me. It was composed for a production of a tragedy by Goethe named… Egmont. A political play about resistance to oppressive authority, it was right up the alley of the man who composed the Eroica Symphony. And what a great piece. So absolutely moving. And yes, it was very, very political. You didn’t need to know anything about the play or the background to know that this work was making a political statement.
Maybe it was because I was reading Geoffrey Hill’s A Treatise on Civil Power that I wondered if the best lens through which to view Beethoven’s works was political. Is Beethoven a primarily political artist?
Also, I thought about a line from a movie starring the late River Phoenix, for which he was nominated for an Oscar, entitled Running on Empty. It’s a good movie, blah, blah. But what came to me was a line where River Phoenix’s character, to answer his music teacher’s question as to the difference between Beethoven and some piece of popular music (the Beatles or someone like that). ‘You can’t dance to Beethoven,’ he said.
But that’s not really true is it? Because you can’t help but dance to Beethoven. Yes, yes, I understand the whole issue of rhythm, but when Beethoven is played, watch your body and watch the bodies around you. Everyone will start attempting to tap and sway with the music. They’ll fail, of course, but they will try. And so will you. Beethoven makes you want to dance!
During the Ninth, everyone tries to become a conductor, gesticulating in the air because it impels you towards motion, towards action! (political action?) It is more than merely hopeful. It is a rejection of hopelessness in the face of valid reason for despair, and in that, it is inherently religious.
June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
May 29, 2014 § Leave a comment
May 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy closed out the 2013-2014 poetry season at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
A witty and warm reader, her style expressed her love of doing poetry readings and her love of the role of poetry ambassador.
I purchased (and asked her to sign) a collection of love poems entitled Rapture. They’re not really just love poems, but chronicle a love affair. Many poems are in correspondence with the sonnet and other traditional forms, with hints of rhyme, without every actually tipping into formalism. It makes for a nice combination of the contemporary, while still referencing the traditional. In fact, she made a great, off hand remark about the sonnet being so ideal for love poems and that being why so many of them are sonnet-like. The sonnet, she declared, is the “little black dress of poetry.”
May 14, 2014 § Leave a comment
We saw Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona performed by the Fiasco Theater at the Folger Shakespeare Library a few weeks ago. They used a minimum of actors, with everyone performing double duty. If I recall correctly, five actors – three men and two women – filled all the roles, with small costume additions and subtractions giving notice of the characters. They even played some live music on stage! However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that one more performer might have improved things.
There were a lot of young people. I think they were in high school. Now that I’m older, I actually cringe a bit when I see young folks at Shakespeare. It’s the prude in me, because until you see it on stage, you forget how many penis jokes Shakespeare includes in his comedies. Actually, I’m pretty sure that this one even had a joke about the a toothless woman having an advantage in terms of performing oral sex vis-à-vis her toothier rivals.
The ending is also problematic, because one of the leading ladies gets her total douchebag man. It’s not as bad as All’s Well That Ends Well, where even the king implies that maybe the heroine should have chosen to kick her chosen wretch to the curb, but it’s hard not to think that at least of the two couples who end Gentlemen will not have a particularly strong marriage.
May 7, 2014 § Leave a comment
May 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
There’s an article in the Washington City Paper entitled ‘22 Questions for the Corcoran.’ It’s worth reading, but mostly, I love this sculpture and wanted to post a picture. Isn’t it amazing? You feel like you can actually see through the veil!