February 6th, 2014

storyteller doll

In Which I Eat, Work, and Am Entertained

Celebrity Death Watch: Maximillian Schell was an Oscar-winning actor. As was Philip Seymour Hoffman. The latter was certainly one of the great character actors of our time, but fell prey to drug addiction.

The celebrity death I want to highlight, however, is that of Pete Seeger. He was 91, so it wasn’t unexpected, but somehow it seemed like he had always been there and always would. His music was the voice of my parents’ generation and my own. And that music survives him.

Food Pornography,Part 1: Some restaurants extend Restaurant Week, which allows for another dinner out with friends. In this case, it was the last Saturday in January and we went to Co Co Sala. I had been there before, but none of the other people I was with had. The deal was a hot chocolate shooter, salad, two small plates, and dessert for $35.14. In my quest to not be so dull about cocktails, I had something called Allure, which involved lychee and Prosecco. It was pretty and tasty, but a bit too sweet. The beet salad was disappointing as the golden beets had little flavor and there were a lot more of them than the red beets. Mac and cheese was excellent and sliders with mole were good, though not exciting. Dessert is the expected high point of a chocolate-themed restaurant and I was especially impressed with the chocolate sorbet that was part of mine. I should note that, unlike my past visit here, we were seated in the back room, which proved to be far more serene. It’s a minor service note, but I do appreciate it when restaurants have black napkins which won’t shed white lint on your clothes.

My Workplace Is Not Like Yours, Part 1: There are often protesters outside the Pentagon. I have no idea what this particular group was protesting, but I have to admit to some admiration for protesters who are still out there when it is 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peter and the Starcatcher: I am not particularly fond of Peter Pan, but the children’s book this play is based on (which involves an origin story for him) was co-written by Dave Barry, who I am a fan of. I’d have to say that neither of those influences is what dominates the play, however. Rather, it is reminiscent of a cross between Monty Python and a fringe show. That’s actually good. Instead of glitzy special effects, there are actors standing in line and manipulating ropes to create walls and doors. There is lively music. There are a father and daughter who can speak Dodo, the language of the extinct bird. There are points where I thought it was overdone, but those were fairly few. I should note that the song which starts the second act is alone worth the price of admission. I also want to commend Megan Stern as Molly, who has a role of varied challenges (including speaking Dodo).

Ballet – The Jazz / Blues Project: I haven’t been particularly interested in most of the shows The Washington Ballet had on this season’s schedule, but this one seemed promising. The first piece, Bird’s Nest featured music by Charlie "Bird" Parker with a live performance by the Howard University Jazz Ensemble. The music was excellent, but the choreographry was average. I preferred the choreography (by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa) for the second piece,PRISM. to Keith Jarrett’s improvisational Koln Concert. However, I found the costume and lighting choices for this rather questionable. The final piece was Blue Until June with Etta James’s blues songs and choreography by Trey McIntyre. I thought much of the choreography did not match the music well. And I continue to be annoyed when dancing continues for several measures after the music ends. So, overall, I preferred the music to the dance in this program. I think that, in the future, I should stick to narrative ballets, as those generally suit my tastes better.

My Workplace Is Not Like Yours, Part 2: My government grand-boss apparently keeps a selection of ties in his office. The part I find amusing is that he apparently selected one for someone else in our organization to wear to a meeting.

Food Pornography, Part 2: I went to an alumni association event last night at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China. The building, designed by I.M. Pei, is interesting and the talks were mercifully short. There was a particularly wide variety of food, including items familiar (fried rice, steamed vegetables, chicken in soy sauce, dumplings, spring rolls) and items less so (jellyfish with turnips). The food highlight for me was definitely the sesame balls. That’s something I have had at dim sum places from time to time, but these had particularly strong sesame flavor.

It occurs to me that I have no idea what a sesame plant looks like.