August 14th, 2014

storyteller doll

Catch-up: Late July into August

Celebrity Death Watch: Eroni Kumana was a fisherman in the Solomon Islands who rescued John F. Kennedy after the sinking of PT-109. Dorothy Salisbury Davis was a mystery novelist and one of the founders of Sisters in Crime. James Brady was Ronald Reagan’s press secretary and became a gun control advocate after being shot during John Hinckley’s failed assassination attempt against Reagan. Raymond Berthillon made ice cream in France (and I can highly recommend the raspberry rosewater sorbet at Berthillon in Paris, which is the best fruit sorbet I have ever had.)

Moving on to bigger names, Lauren Bacall was a model and actress. She co-starred with Humphrey Bogart in several major movies, including To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, and Key Largo. I also want to note her significant Broadway roles and her Tony awards for starring in Applause and Woman of the Year. Apparently her trademark husky voice arose from her attempts to conceal her Brooklyn accent.

Robin Williams has gotten the most press, of course, not the least because of the shocking nature of his death. It’s a good opportunity to remind people that depression is all too often a fatal disease. He was clearly a major talent, even though his comedy was not particularly to my taste. I did, however, appreciate much of his film acting, including his roles in Good Morning, Vietnam and Dead Poets Society. Let’s hope that his death gets some people the help they need to deal with depression and the substance abuse that is all too often an attempt to self-medicate for that condition.

Trip Home From Phoenix: The hotel had claimed the taxi company they recommended offered a fixed price to the airport, but that didn’t stop the driver from using the meter and charging me a few bucks more than that alleged fixed price. My flight back from the NSN conference had a mechanical delay of about an hour, apparently to fix an armrest.

The bigger annoyance was that the Silver Line metro started running the day before my return. Why is that annoying? Because the Washington Flyer bus now runs to Wiehle Avenue, rather than West Falls Church. The bus ride is cheaper than it used to be (and would be cheaper still if one were to take a Fairfax Connector public bus) but takes only about 5 minutes less and leads to a metro ride that is 25 minutes longer and costs three times as much, washing out the bus savings. I realize that there are 4 or 5 people in the Tyson’s area who may actually benefit from this (and, actually, the eventual metro all the way to Dulles is the right thing to do, even if they have been and continue to implement it incorrectly) but they have screwed over the several thousand times more people who live in civilization, i.e. my neighborhood.

Speaking of the Silver Line: They took away half the Orange Line trains. They are supposed to run every 6 minutes during rush hour, but they actually run more like every 8-10 going home. (It is harder to tell in the morning, since the info displays at Vienna never show more than one train at a time.) Combined with the every 12 minute service on the Blue Line, expect more metro haikus and whining about my commute.

It is still better
Than driving on the beltway.
At least I can read.

Milo’s retirement: I spent one night at home, before turning around and flying to Los Angeles. The occasion was Milo’s retirement. Since I’d worked for him directly for 6 years and supported him for several years before that, I felt semi-obliged to be there. Finding an appropriate retirement gift was a challenge. In the end, I went with legos and duct tape, with an explanation to appeal to his creative spirit. It was good to see so many old colleagues (including some who had retired years ago) and worth the hassle of the quick trip, which did violate my normal travel rule that one should always spend three times as long somewhere as it takes to get there and back.

Carrie: The musical adaptation of this Stephen King novel is notorious, having managed to play only 3 performances on Broadway and garner universally atrocious reviews. So, of course, I had to go and see the Studio Theatre production of it. It has been revised to remove some of the most offensive material. My take is that it isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either. The score is fairly unmemorable. The book has some fundamental flaws, notably giving more of the good material to secondary characters than to Carrie herself. But the depiction of the sheer horribleness of teenage girls rang true (though I thought Chris, the meanest of the mean, was overdone) and the dynamics between Carrie and her mother were handled well. Barbara Walsh was excellent as her mother. Maria Rizzo was convincing as Sue, the girl who is somewhat conflicted over her treatment of Carrie. The male characters are drawn rather too thinly. Overall, I have to characterize this as an interesting failure.

I will write separately about my trip to New York last weekend because NYC always deserves its own entry.