F&F, theater

Not exactly breaking news,

but Bart Sher’s SOUTH PACIFIC was amazing–incredibly well done in almost every feature. I could only find one thing to nit-pick, instead of my usual fifty. This is very like someone being like “Wow, that John Updike! Not bad!” The production got so much acclaim when it ran, when it opened, when it got the Tony, that I’m rather late to the praise party. But for whatever it’s worth, we liked it too.

It’s still not a show I could ever want to imagine myself directing. No matter how much context you give everything, Bloody Mary’s dialect lines still rub me the wrong way. It’s uncomfortable to listen to and watch, and as much as a production tries to save her from being a stereotype (and this production really tried) she still comes off as a very limited stereotype. There are other characters in the script who are much more fully realized. She’s the one who makes the whole thing seem like a period piece.

But the music is beautiful.

I touch your hand and my arms grow strong…

Afterwards, dinner at bowling lanes in Timonium. I did not bowl, due to still being a bit sore from having fallen down the stairs on Thursday. But I watched my friends bowl. In one game–the last one–one of them made six strikes, and all three of them bowled at least one strike. It felt like a lucky day. On the way home, we sang the chorus from “Living On A Prayer” a cappella in the car, and two different versions of “Round and Round” at the same time.

This was also the weekend of the Hollywood Performance Marathon at Theatre of NOTE in Los Angeles, on Saturday. I hear it went well; I wish I could have been there. But there are reasons for me to be here, and things to be done here, too.

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Cali, F&F, writing

west coast,

best coast.

Yesterday, after Red Rock, Z took me on a tour of Carnegie-Mellon’s campus in Moffett Field, which included driving by several large wind tunnels and blimp hangars. Then I drove to Kepler’s for coffee and visitations with S and LC, which included a trip on campus, to Sweet Hall. (The former White Plaza has been transfigured by lineated bike lanes and large concrete blocks preventing bikers from biking freely elsewhere–and the former Intersection of Death has a giant roundabout.)

This was followed by a harrowing drive in traffic north to San Francisco, where I met with M, had amazing Vietnamese food, walked along my beloved Valencia Street from 18th south, and saw her new place.

There was a street fair going on in the Mission, and people were running in and out of all the stores. Live music was playing. M bumped into an old Swarthmorean, her friend A, currently getting his PhD at Stanford. He and I danced around Mark McGurls’ The Program Era and the Batuman MFA-bashing article. I told him I was writing a response, which seems more true now that I have told more people.

This morning, in Mountain View, it is a bit gray and cloudy outside. Up and working on a grant and on physics labs. It is wonderful to be here. I’m seeing old friends almost every night.

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Baltimore, F&F

Thanksgiving

was a grand success, if I do say so myself (which I do.) No casualties, except a slightly burnt plastic spoon, and no ill effects. A turkey which was one of the better ones I’ve eaten, despite being roasted whole and not in parts. And an excellent group of people.

We cooked all day at my house, then ate, in the company of friends and their dishes, then played three rounds of Uno, of which (again, if I do say so myself) I won the last two. In a row. I would not boast of this except that, for those of you who know my history with games, it is a pretty rare ocurrence.

Cleanup is done. The great reams of leftovers are out of sight. There is time, I hope, to make it to a screening of HP 7.

Outside, it is a moderate gray, with intentions of but no definite signs of rain. Inside, it is extremely pleased with itself.

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Baltimore, F&F

the turkey,

having brined in cider for a day, is now draining on a rack in the refrigerator. I have discovered, through extensive testing, that it fits in my oven *and* that it is possible to have other dishes on the top rack at the same time. This is my first semi-solo Thanksgiving–friends are bringing sides but I’m doing the turkey–and it is very exciting, to say the least. There is nothing like holding the flexible severed neck of a recently living animal in your hands. Cervical spine, anyone?

Here’s the menu, themed, as I see it, around fennel, cider, and apples:
the Sems heirloom cider-brined turkey recipe, with sage, sage, and lots of sage (and more sage) passed down from Charlotte (with an apple/parsnip stuffing that I’m baking outside the cavity and without the sausages);
fennel/rosemary stuffing;
kale with shallots;
green beans with fennel and more shallots;
regular old potatoes;
inordinately complicated apple/endive salad (M.R. Shulman, use fewer ingredients!);
and cranberry sauce with both fresh & dried berries.
I’m also going to make some pretty straightforward giblets-based gravy in advance. I have a vegetarian mushroom gravy from Whole Foods as well, because one of the guests is vegetarian.

Friends are bringing green beans in puff pastry, another stuffing, a sweet potato dish, and two pies: apple and squash.

I keep wanting to go out and buy more cider. I can’t imagine that we have enough. Also, Eddie’s has brussels sprouts on the stalk! They look fantastic, and as weird as the dinosaur kale. I sort of want to use them as table decorations. But I probably have enough food already. Probably. Never! SPROUTS!

Disasters so far:
– Spilling cider brine all over floor and all the food in the door of the refrigerator. (Luckily, there was plenty left over, and most of the food in the fridge door was plastic-wrapped and could be cleaned.) After mopping floor several times, floor was no longer sticky.
– Leaving ATM card and driver’s license at bank. (Luckily, I was able to retrieve it.)
– Losing phone. (Luckily, it was still inside house.)

Triumphs:
– Borrowing roasting pan from incredibly gourmet friends A & J and getting leftover dinosaur kale and a surprise lunch of absolutely amazing cauliflower soup to go with it.
– As mentioned, discovering the turkey’s willingness to go in the oven in my house.
– Managing to transfer turkey from cider brine onto rack without getting cider brine all over anything again.

So far, the score is Demons of Thanksgiving 3, Dara 3.

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art, F&F

so many of my dearest friends are so spread out

“But of all my complaints, the most legitimate and depressing is that so many of my dearest friends are so spread out from Belgrade to Amsterdam to Paris to London to North Carolina to Toronto to Chicago to Santa Fe to San Francisco to Seattle to Fairbanks that I don’t get to see most of them once in two years. […] It’s the price many of us pay for picking our friends from among those we have most in common with professionally, rather than those who happen to live in the neighborhood…”

– From Kyle Gann’s PostClassic tribute to his friend, the recently deceased composer Art Jarvinen. This postscript on what it’s like to lose a dear but faraway friend reminded me, very much, of Ron Allen, and others.

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Baltimore, F&F, gradschool

back-to-school

Off for the second day of departmental TA training / boot camp for the introductory creative writing course we all teach. It’s fun to have more of an idea of what’s up this time around.

My freshman roommate has been in town for the past few days, too. Been getting to see more of Baltimore with her–we went to Fed Hill last night for dinner with an old friend of hers from Kauai.

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