March 15th, 2013

storyteller doll

Catch-up: Finishing Off February

Insert usual excuse about being too busy to catch up here.

So, let’s see, what have I done over the past few weeks? Let’s start by finishing up February.

Flyer Talk Dinner: We had the usual frequent flyer conversation, along with pretty good pub grub and beer at American Tap Room in Clarendon. The most amusing conversational item was a discussion about what to do with your butler at a high end hotel on a point stay. The one time I had that experience, I think I ignored that amenity completely.

Movies and Poets: The Smithsonian American Art Museum had a free showing of The Artist. I will write about that separately when I get to the catch-up entry on movies. But it was a good excuse to check out the exhibit on Modern American Poets at the National Portrait Gallery, which is a wing of the same museum. I’d say the selection was fairly predictable (e.g. Walt Whitman, Carl Sandburg, Ezra Pound), but it did include excerpts from their works, along with their portraits. I was pleased that they included Lawrence Ferlinghetti and disappointed they left out Reed Whittemore. I also sought out the exhibit on Amelia Earhart, which was fairly interesting, but small.

Ballet: My Washington Ballet subscription continued with a mixed repertory program. The main feature was Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” which is set to a group of Sousa marches. I prefer more narrative to my ballet viewing, so this isn’t really my thing. There were several short excerpts from ballets like “Le Corsaire,” which are really just a forum for dancers to show off their most impressive skills. My favorite piece of the evening was “Cor Perdut.” That was partly because I really like the music, which had a North African feel. I also thought that the choreography (by Nacho Duato) matched the music particularly well.

Milwaukee: My United Airlines challenge brought me to Milwaukee for a quick weekend visit. Why Milwaukee? 1) It’s a cheap flight in winter and 2) I had never really spent any time in downtown Milwaukee. I stayed at the Hyatt. I spent much of the day Saturday with an old internet friend, Theresa, who I had not met in person before. We explored the Central Library, part of the Marquette University campus (notably, the Joan of Arc Chapel) and miscellaneous other downtown architecture, e.g. the Public Market. Marcia, who I know from internet things and who I had last seen 20 some odd years ago and who Theresa knows from college, joined us for dinner at the Milwaukee Ale House. Their Hop Happy ale is aptly named and the food was above average pub grub. After dinner, we came back to the Hyatt and ate delicious frozen custard and talked until I kicked them out on the grounds of exhaustion.

On Sunday, I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum, which is mostly a fairly old-fashioned natural history museum, with bits of local history thrown in. It was a perfectly reasonable place to spend a few hours. But I remain puzzled over why their section on the South Pacific, which includes Vanuatu, Samoa, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, etc., fails to have any mention of Fiji.
The trip home, by the way, involved a long delay at CLE, due to a mechanical problem with the incoming plane. It was a good thing I had actually driven to DCA since arriving five hours late meant the metro was closed.

Eivor: The Kennedy Center has a series of events right now called Nordic Cool. This included a free concert by Faroese singer, Eivor. Free? Faroese? Of course, I had to go. I liked her more traditional material, with just drum and voice, best. I also checked out some of the exhibits on the Terrace Level, which included a sampling of photography and design from the Nordic region. I was disappointed to see a lot more people playing Angry Birds on ipads than were playing with the Legos, but maybe I was just there at the wrong time.

Dante’s Inferno: I saw this one man show, performed by Bill Largess as part of Washington Stage Guild, listed on Goldstar and couldn’t resist checking out such an intriguing concept. It’s certainly an acting tour de force, as Largess uses a mixture of pure performance, props, and even puppetry to take the audience on a 90 minute journey through hell. The most dramatic moment was the story of Ugolino, forced to gnaw on his enemy’s skull through all eternity. Some of the encounters with demons, however, seemed to go on just a bit too long. It’s not the frivolous sort of show I usually go to, but I was definitely impressed.