Did You Ever Notice? There is a claim that deaths come in threes. We can start with Andy Rooney, who retired only shortly before his death. Then there was Joe Frazier, whose personal significance is that my very first gambling venture ever was a (successful) bet on him to defeat Ali in their first contest. I was in junior high at the time and I've made remarkably few sports bets since. Finally, there was Bil Keane, who drew the Family Circus cartoon. Admittedly, my taste in cartoons is edgier (check out Wondermark for example) but, again, longevity is worth noting.
Concerto for Coughing and Paper Rustling: Last Thursday night was a Pro Musica Hebraica concert. I go to this series mostly because I want to support having a series of Jewish classical musical. This session was The Last Romantics: Jewish Composers of Interwar Europe. Not being a big fan of romanticism, my primary interest was that several of the composers involved were responsible for trying to develop an Israeli musical culture. There's an interesting question lurking there. Namely, what does it take to create a new national musical identity when the nation is formed from groups that have had disparate traditions (both eastern and western)? I'm pondering whether there is somebody trying to develop a South Sudanese music distinct from other Sudanese music (which I assume is primarily Nubian, but I admit to ignorance).
At any rate, I enjoyed parts of the concert. My favorite piece was Alexander Weprik's "Chant Rigoureux, Op. 9". I also really liked "Two Paraphrases on Old Jewish Folk Tunes" by Juliusz Wolfsohn. What I didn't like was the constant coughing and paper rustling of the two elderly women sitting behind me. At least they didn't have cell phones on.
Brush Up Your Shakespeare: Contrary to popular belief, I don't have an aversion to Shakespeare. I just never seem to get to Shakespeare plays. So I will leave it as an exercise for the reader whether or not to count The Boys From Syracuse at Shakespeare Theatre Company last Friday night. This is the Rodgers & Hart adaptation of A Comedy of Errors, which I've never seen because the only Shakespeare play I have actually seen (in its straight up version) is Measure for Measure. I've never read it either (or, come to think of it, any of the comedies) so I take it as an article of faith that the plot is true to the original. At any rate, this production was more staged than most concert musicals are and was very satisfying to see. The major issue I have is that I'm still infected with the earworm of "This Can't Be Love."
Arlington Puzzle Festival: Saturday was the first ever Arlington Puzzle Festival at the Central Library. It was fun, though things could have been somewhat better organized. For example, the talks started at 8:30 a.m. (which was on a schedule linked to from the library blog) but most events calendars (e.g. the one in the Washington Post) listed things as starting at 9. The more significant schedule glitch from my perspective is that they rearranged the afternoon activities without announcing that beforehand. I had finished the scavenger hunt and did not want to stay for the sudoku contest, but found I'd missed the prize drawing for the scavenger hunt when I came back.
My main reason for going was the crossword contest, which used the Monday through Thursday NY Times puzzles for this week. (That is, advance copies of them.) There was another screw-up in that they messed up the order of the puzzles. That threw me off as the first one they handed out did not feel like a Monday puzzle. (I made a dumb error because of being unsure about spelling of a name, but that is probably unrelated.) At any rate, I ended up overall finishing 10th out of the 53 competitors, which is respectable enough.
Arlington Volksmarch: If the weather had been dreary, I might have stayed for the suduko contest, but it was nice out and I was in the neighborhood of the starting point for the Arlington Volksmarch. This covered several parks and trails and was a lovely walk for this time of year. It would be nice to go to the Bon-Air Rose Garden when it's actually rose season, of course. But I am a big fan of autumn and got my fill thereof. I've got four more Gardens walks to do, with plans for two this weekend.
Welcome to the Workweek: Work is busy. It is better to be too busy than not busy enough. My major irritation was with Tuesday night's commute. There was an accident on 395, messing everything up. The 4:30 bus didn't show up until just before 5, so became the 5 o'clock bus by default. And then the driver decided to finesse the situation by taking a convoluted route which took an hour for what is normally a half hour drive. I was glad I'd gone to vote first thing in the morning.