October 23rd, 2021

storyteller doll

Major Catch-Up

I have been out and about quite a lot over the past couple of weeks. Here is an attempt at catching up. There’s some storytelling stuff, too, which I will write about separately.

Baseball: I am sleep deprived due to Red Sox Stress Syndrome. The playoff against the Source of All Evil in the Universe went well and, after the first game, the BoSox walked all over the Rays, which surprised and delighted me. The ALCS, did not go so well. After an excellent 2nd and 3rd games, my boys collapsed and the Astros are off to the World Series. See you next year.

Leading Jewish Minds at MIT: MIT Hillel runs an interesting lecture series in which Jewish faculty members talk about their work (and Rabbi Fisher provides some Jewish framework for the discussion). The early October talk was by Lotte Bailyn and discussed research on transition to retirement. The basic point is that people need to rearchitect their lives and find a new source of structure when they retire. Flexibility is very important in this. At any rate, I concluded I am mostly doing things wright, though I think I could be more mindful about time management.

IAJGS: The deadline for listening to recorded sessions from the Jewish genealogy conference in August was the first week in October. I didn’t manage to listen to everything I wanted to, but I had time for a few more presentations. The best of those had to do with finding unindexed records, creative methods for finding family members, early photography, and additional sources for death information.

Having Our Say: This play marked the reopening of Creative Cauldron. They are definitely doing things right with respect to COVID protocols - blocking out seats next to, in front of, and behind each ticket (or pod) and requiring proof of vaccination. The friend I went with and I actually bought two seats with an empty one in between, so we had the whole row on one side of the center section. Anyway, the play tells the story of Bessie and Sadie Delany, a pair of Black sister who are looking back from 100+ years. Bessie became a dentist and Sadie a high school teacher (in a white high school, which required some trickery on her part to get the job). Their book was a best-seller, but I admit to not having read it. (The play made me more interested in doing it.) Anyway, it’s a very cozy play. You really feel like you’re visiting their house, listening to them chat. Both Ayesis Clay as Bessie and Lisa Hill-Conley as Sadie were convincing. That is, I really forgot I was watching a play and, even when there were a few possibly fumbled lines (we were there on preview night), they could have just been the sort of slips of the tongue that people make in conversation. Creative Cauldron is one of my favorite venues and this work was well suited to its intimacy. I am glad to see them back.

RennFest: One of my friends is a big Renaissance Festival fan. I haven’t been to a Rennfast in many years, but thought it would be fun to go with her. So we did that a couple of weeks ago. It was rather crossed, but manageable. We spent much of our time shopping, which is not really something I need to do. But I did get a new hat, a stuffed dragon (with a Washington Nationals theme, and a wonderful piece of blown glass depicting a shark eating a mermaid. I also bought some fudge. (My friend bought a quilt as a baby gift, a hat, and probably something else I’ve forgotten about.) I should note that our hats came from the shop where the daughter of another friend was working. We also watched a show by The Danger Committee, who combine comedy with knife and axe throwing, which I enjoyed more than I expected to. We also had plenty of people watching and a stop for lunch. Overall, I enjoyed it but I don’t need to go again for five or more years.

Glenstone: Glenstone is a contemporary art museum in Maryland. It is free, but hard to get tickets to. They release them on the first of the month for two months out and they tend to sell out in a few minutes. Anyway, the MIT Club of DC got a block of tickets, so I was finally able to go. There is a huge pavilion, with several rooms of interesting art, of which my favorite piece was one that involved a number of rusted beams collapsed into a hole. The major attraction was a temporary exhibit of work by Faith Ringgold, including both paintings and the quilts she is more famous for. The quilts are particularly wonderful. All the MIT Club people gathered for lunch and conversation. There are also several walking paths around the grounds, though the weather was iffy, so I didn’t do the full path. I should also note that there are a number of outdoor sculptures, including a “living” one by Jeff Koons, that gets replanted with flowers a couple of times a year. Koons is not an artist I like and I thought the piece was pretty hideous.

Remember This: I had seen an earlier version of this one man show starring David Strathiirn, but a friend wanted to go and I was willing to see it again. It tells the story of Jan Karski, who was a member of the Polish underground during World War II. He was smuggled into a Jewish ghetto and a concentration camp and tried to report his observations to Western governments. He was able to speak to high ranking government officials, who basically blew him off. It’s a powerful work. It has closed here, but will be playing in Chicago in November and will be available on film later on.

Ari Shapiro and Alan Cumming: I went to see a cabaret show by Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro at the Kennedy Center a little over a week ago. They started with a medley of Broadway duets - Bosom Buddies (from Mame), You’re the Top (from Anything Goes), Anything You Can Do (from Annie Get Your Gun) and The Grass is Always Greener (from Woman of the Year). They told various stories including their coming out stories and stories about same sex marriage. Ari sang Laughing Matters (a 1990’s Bette Midler song from the off-Broadway musical When Pigs Fly) and Alan sang Taylor the Latte Boy. All in all, it was a very entertaining show.

Memorial Service: Last Saturday was the memorial service for Merrilee and Bob Pallansch, who died about a week apart back in January. A few other storytellers were there and two of them told stories. Bob was well-known in the area for repairing brass instruments and played tuba and various tuba-adjacent instruments, including the serpent and the ophicleide (or, as one of their daughters said, the awfulcleide). So there were a few pieces played by a brass ensemble at the beginning. Anyway, I think their family took some comfort from the good turnout (despite the crappy weather, which made the people coming from Maryland late getting there).

Gettysburg: Last Sunday I drove up to Gettysburg for a Loser brunch and battlefield tour. The food at the Appalachian Brewing Company was pretty good. The tour included the Eternal Light Peace Memorial and views from Little Round Top. We were also supposed to go to the cemetery, but it was very cold and blustery out and getting late so we skipped that. As a result of running late, the traffic getting home was very heavy and it took me nearly an hour longer getting back than it had driving up there.

Used Bookstore Run: I had an appointment to take my car in for service on Thursday, so I was already in Manassas and stopped in at McKay. I got rid of 23 books and came home with 9 new ones (and still have $9 in trade credit left). So it was a successful trip.

Metro Note: Aside from the minimal service right now, since Metro has pulled all of the 7000 series cars out of service after a derailment a couple of weeks ago, I ran into a different problem on Friday when I went to Crystal City to have lunch with a friend. Namely, my SmarTrip card wouldn’t work to let me out of the turnstile. And there was no station manager around. I waited about 10 minutes and finally decided the only thing to do was jump the turnstile! It turns out that the new turnstiles can’t read old cards, so I have to go to Mero Center to exchange my old cards. (I do have two of the newer series cards I can use, but this is a pain in the neck.) You can supposedly transfer cards on—line but I think my old card is registered under my work email address I no longer have access to. Sight.

Silly Thing I Noticed Recently: The mother in the comic strips Zits and Baby Boom is the same person. I guess Jerry Scott can only draw one mom.

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