‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ At The Folger


MSNDWide

Loved it.

Went on a whim. Found some cheap tickets online, bought that day for the show that evening.

When I was a child, my mother took me to see this play, making it my first encounter with live Shakespeare. If I’m honest, I don’t really have any firm memories of it. Nor had I read the play since then, so, rather unusually, I was able to go into the performance with only the barest knowledge of the plot (star-crossed lovers, Puck, fairies, and a donkey).

The production was befittingly playful, with some fun, extra-textual touches (a lovelorn Helena introduced singing a sad song by Adele). Puck was played by Erin Weaver as less a trickster, than a pan-sexual cupid (actually, all three fairy characters were pretty hypersexed). Lovers Lysander and Hermia were twenty-something, backpacking travelers; Helena as a stylish young woman (except that when first seen, she’s wearing the sweats of a depressed and jilted lover); but Demetrius was merely… I don’t know… millennial? He didn’t really get the kind of identifying costuming that the others did.

And it ended with an onstage dance party by the cast.

There’s still time. Absolutely worth seeing. Arguably, the second best production I’ve seen at the Folger (number one has to be their amazing Richard III).

Also, because of all the extremely valuable primary documents in the exhibit hall, they opened up the library itself for wine, water, and snacks (not wanting to risk a priceless letter to Shakespeare being wine-stained). Unless you’re a legitimate scholar, you don’t get much chance to wander back there, so that was exciting.

Singapore Botanic Gardens


   

  

  

  

  

  

 That’s not a typo – ‘botanic,’ not ‘botanical.’ Less like an American botanical garden, which are rather like educational centers or nature museums, this was more like Rock Creek Park – a huge, public park for walks, jogs, exercise, and picnics. Only tropical. I say Rock Creek rather than Central Park, because it is sprawling, irregular, and a touch wild.

In case you hadn’t gathered, we spent a couple of days in Singapore – just a two hour trip from Thailand – and I’ll probably have more to write. But it may be a bit fragmented. I’m writing this at the airport (though the lack of internet means it will be posted later), but I suspect later ones (and much of what I write about this trip to the east) will transcriptions of haphazard notes that will make only partial sense.

Reading At Work


 I don’t read (except, infrequently, at lunch) at my regular job as minister of propaganda. However, I have a second job working for my better half, usually as a cashier/salesperson. On many such occasions, I read very nearly whatever I want and have recently been reading Remembrance of Things Past at Eastern Market. But lately, I have been at the Downtown DC Holiday Market and it is markedly more busy. It’s not impossible to read, but it is not conducive to the languorous hypnotism of Proust.

What turned out to be nearly perfect was the January 2016 edition of Asimov’s Science Fiction.

The big three of scifi are all owned by the same parent company: Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The last is thicker, but also a little more expensive, whereas the middle is so affordable as to be practically a negligible expense and is also named after the greatest science fiction writer of the last century (yes, I know we wasn’t actually a good writer, but he was so influential, especially in using hard science, that we have to give him his due), so the choice is easy. There are other magazines, like Lightspeed and Interzone, but they are but so easily found at my local bookstore.

So this edition was very, very good. Good writing, good ideas, good stories. One weak story near the end and there was a historicalish novella about Einstein that simply didn’t capture me and which I didn’t finish, overall, this boded well for the future of the genre.

Frost In The Poetry Aisle


Caveat emptor: I am not a huge Robert Frost fan. I don’t dislike him. I’ve got a nice volume of his collected poems at home. But that’s more because he is someone you want to have in your library (by the way, check out this article – it talks about how having a physical library is very important for children; a library of one hundred books will give your child a 1.5 year head start in reading comprehension over her/his peers and a five hundred volume library a 2.2 year advantage), not because he’s someone I turn to in certain moments of melancholy or confusion or whatever (that would be Anne Carson, William Wordsworth, Paul Eluard, Shakespeare, and Kenneth Rexroth, among others).

So when I first heard a middle aged couple talking a little too loudly next me near the poetry shelves of the soon to be closing downtown DC Barnes and Noble, trying to decide between editions of Frost, I felt some never to be spoken, but nonetheless curt (if they had ever been spoken) words rise up.

But, it didn’t take more than a moment of thought to realize my mistake. Eavesdropping, some poem by Frost had struck the man forcefully and now he had to have a book of his poetry. Surely this is the goal? What poetry lovers and promoters want to see happen?

I hope you found some more poems in whichever edition you chose, sir.

Rootless/Rootful


We bought our first home recently and it is still filled with boxes and bits of cardboard and trash that needs to be taken out (but how? when is trash day? I don’t know).

The neighborhood is nice, but not so nice as where we were renting, and a little further away from work and what not.

Homeownership has never been a dream of mine. It’s not something I object to and there’s no doubt it will be an important generator of future wealth, but was not something important to me as a thing, in and of itself.

The process is one of dislocation. My routines are dislocated and left rootless. My budget is a mystery. I have less money now. I even know approximately how much. But I don’t really know what that means. Certain luxuries, yes. And, yes, I am frightened of that. There was a line in the movie Pitch Black to the effect of, it is amazing how well one can do without the necessities of life, if one has the little luxuries.

But mostly change. My life has always been about change, which meant it was also about not changing for the sake of change. Change happened enough on its own. The rest was about limiting change. This was deliberate and optional change and is the more disconcerting for it.