July 4th, 2009

storyteller doll

The Color Purple

I didn't mean to imply I wasn't going to write. I'm just not going to pressure myself to do it daily. So here is a burst of what I've been doing.

Anyway, I went to see The Color Purple at the Kennedy Center on Wednesday night. I wasn't really enthusiastic about it and had bought the ticket largely because I want to encourage them to keep putting on musicals. (Which doesn't work, alas. The only musicals next season are Mary Poppins and Young Frankenstein.)

I have several quibbles about the show. The R&B inflected music didn't do a lot for me, with the best song being the suggestive "Push Da Button." The show is a bit too long and the "African Homeland" number, in particular, could be trimmed, despite having the best choreography in the show. And there is a fundamental problem in the plot (a problem which is, apparently, direct from the novel, which I've never read). Namely, Albert's tranformation seems too abrupt and doesn't really make a lot of sense.

But, overall, I was pleasantly surprised, largely due to a couple of outstanding performances. Fantasia got a lot of attention because of her history on American Idol. It turns out not to just be a publicity stunt - she can sing and act! That's particularly notable since she played a lead character (Celie) who is on stage almost the entire time (and who ages 40 years during the course of the action). The real scene-stealer though was Felicia P. Fields as Sofia. Her comic timing was perfect and the audience was cheering every time she was on stage.

This isn't ever going to make a list of essential musicals, but it was definitely an enjoyable evening.
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Artomatic

We got dismissed from work a little early on Thursday, so I decided I would check out this year's Artomatic before it closed. The location this year was a new building right on top of the Navy Yard metro station. That meant for some quite spectacular views, especially from the upper floors. From one side, you could see the ballpark; from the opposite side, the Capitol.

But it was the art I was there for - eight stories of it (plus a stage on the ground floor). Unjuried art shows can, of course, be hit or miss. There is, inevitably, somebody who thinks it is amusing to pull out their 3rd grade finger paintings and claim that displaying them is an antidote to the pretenses of the art world. Fortunately, there is a also a lot of talent out there.

I won't attempt to list everything I liked, but here are a few links for your enjoyment:

Caitlin Phillips - handbags made out of Nancy Drew (and other) books.

Emily Locke - photography

Forrest McCluer's computer viruses (representations of human viruses made from computer parts

Tim Tate - glass reliquaries, some with video in them

Eileen Williams - fabric art incorporating faces of women

Lisa Osgood-Dano - glass panels with intriguing textures

Mishka Jaeger - representations of musical scores with found objects and collage

Of course, not every artist I liked has a useful (or any) web site. For example, Anne Benolken, of Montgomery College had wonderful pictures of the Indian goddess Kali dealing with the irritations of everyday life. And David Alfuth's intricate three-dimensional etchings in a vaguely Gorey-esque style were intriguing.

There are times when I wish I had a huge house just so I could fill it with art.
storyteller doll

Continuing to Catch Up

Folklife Festival: I went down to the Mall to catch part of the Folklife Festival on Friday. I heard some of the "stories in song" presentation at the Story Circle in the Wales area, then wandered over to Giving Voice (the section on African-American oral tradition). Onawumi Jean Moss was particularly funny in relating her personal experiences with hair dressing, as well as telling a folk tale. Diane Ferlatte told a wonderful version of "The Talking Eggs." I also enjoyed Valerie Tutson's telling of a story from Trinidad, which is closely related to "Philamadre" (without some of the creepier aspects of the latter). The overall highlight for me was Phyllis Stickney's story about saving her sister from vampires.

Unmistaken Child: Since I was already in the city, I walked over to the E Street Cinema to see Unmistaken Child, an Israeli documentary about a monk searching for the reincarnation of his master. The filmmakers had amazing access to the whole journey and the process of confirming the child as a reincarnated lama, making for an interesting film. The issue of asking the child's parents to give him up to the monastery was handled particularly well.

Used Books: I ran over to McKay this morning and got rid of 27 books, picking up 11 in exchange. I intended to take the rejects over to Hole in the Wall, but they were closed for the 4th of July. I might get over there tomorrow. It was important to get this chore done this weekend, since I'm going to Baltimore next weekend for the NPL con and plan to bring a box to The Book Thing.

Shopping: I also went to the Leesburg Corner outlet mall. My usual reason for going to outlet malls is to stock up on pantyhose and so I did. I also bought underwear (because the Jockey store had a sale and Jockey for Her French cut briefs are one of the best reasons not to live in earlier eras), a pair of shoes (because the Ecco store had something I liked at a very good price) and a couple of cordial glasses because I've been whining for some time about not having any clear cordial glasses. The organic sheets from Pottery Barn are still overpriced even at half their retail cost, however.

Red Sox: You can get M&M's with a Red Sox logo. Unfortunately, they still have the same unimpressive chocolate that regular M&M's have. The Red Sox themed Mr. Potato Head is, however, tempting.