May 8th, 2014

storyteller doll

In Which My Knitting Ambitions Jump the Shark

This is the more general catch-up entry. Yeah, I know.

Celebrity Death Watch: Bob Hoskins was an actor. So was Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., who people of my generation will associate with The FBI. I want, however, to highlight Al Feldstein, the editor of MAD, a magazine that was a significant influence on my childhood. My father bought it, allegedly for my brother and me, but we noticed that the fold-in was always done by the time we got it. I understand that there is a game of 43-man squamish going on right now in his memory.

Yiddish Poetry Game: I like Yiddish (though I speak little of it) and like poetry, so I thought this special event put on by the Jewish Study Center would be fun. And it was. The idea is that everyone got two cards with poetry cues and two cards with Yiddish words (with English definitions). You matched a word to a cue and offered that up as something for people to use as a rule in writing a poem. For example, my combination led to "an acrostic on the word shtetl." Then everybody had time to write a poem using at least three of the rules. The results were interesting and I could definitely see playing this again. (Note that one can, of course, play the poetry game just in English.)

Business Trip: After getting back from Northlands, I had to leave for a business trip to Los Angeles early the next morning. There was the obligatory jog across ORD when my first flight was delayed and I had less than 15 minutes to make my connection. But things worked out okay. The design review I was there for was successful for the most part, but exhausting. The highlight of the trip was getting to see an aircraft assembly line, which had nothing to do with the actual purpose of being there. But, I suppose, it’s a lot tougher to show off software development.

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival: I always swear I will not spend money at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, which is the largest fiber festival in the Eastern United States. (Think of it as a cross between a county fair and the world’s largest yarn store.) And, inevitably, there is irresistible temptation. In this case, it was the Tsock Tsarina Shark Week sock kit. It will be challenging, given my history with sock knitting, otherwise known as failing to complete a pair of socks . But some day I will master these.

Rose Valley Storytelling House Concert: After leaving the sheep and alpaca and rabbits (oh, my!), I drove to Philadelphia to go to a storytelling house concert at the home of Megan Hicks and Jack Abgott. It was an excellent evening. Kitty Hailey told amusing stories about her experiences as a private investigator. Robin Bady did an excerpt from her anti-bullying story, "Every Day is Basil Houpis Day," which left me wanting to hear the rest of the story. And Tom Stamp performed a mix of unusual literary stories. There was a great mix of types of material and the audience was responsive and engaged (and mingled well before the show, during intermission, and afterwards). It was definitely worth dealing with I-95. (Note, however, that I stayed up that way overnight. I’m not quite crazy enough to drive up and back the same day.)

Three Penny Opera: I drove back from Philadelphia on Sunday morning so I could see Three Penny Opera at Signature Theatre in the afternoon. Setting the story in the present day was an interesting decision – and not entirely effective, in my opinion. For example, having people snapping cell phone photos of Macheath on the gallows is mildly amusing but doesn’t really add to anything. The performances were more effective. Nastascia Diaz was excellent as Jenny. I also want to note Erin Driscoll as Polly Peachum. I was less enthralled by Mitchell Jarvis as Macheath, though I suspect that has more to do with the character’s inherent smarminess than with his performance per se. All in all, I’d say the production is not entirely successful, but I am not sure anybody could do this show in an entirely satisfying way.

Michael Reno Harrell: Storyteller and folk musician Michael Reno Harrell was passing through town last night and Ellouise Schoettler was offering a house concert featuring him. There was a small group, so it ended up being a "sit around the kitchen table and swap stories" type of evening instead. That was still a good time.

A Brief Note on Why Women Should Run Everything: I had a meeting today. It ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with no break. Only a man would schedule things that way.