Getting some culture: two plays…

theothermozart

Since we’re lucky enough to live in a town with a big university presence, this means that we are also able to take advantage of some of the cultural offerings that come our way, and we recently went to two plays, both about some under-appreciated women which was a good touch as it’s Women’s History Month.

The first one was a one-woman play called “The Other Mozart” (written and performed by Sylvia Milo), and focused on the true story of Nannerl Mozart, Mozart’s older sister who was also a prodigy with music, but due to her gender and the times, didn’t receive all the attention that her younger brother did.

The solo actor was the sister in question, and so the play was presented through her eyes and thus the audience could track her musical life as she is recognized for her musical talents, but then slowly overtaken and eclipsed by the younger Mozart. I think this is probably a really good play, but the university sound system was very muffled and so it was pretty hard to keep up with what was going on.

That, and I had the ill-fortune to have a tall guy with a big bobble-head sit right in front, and it was uncanny how his head movements would match mine at almost every turn. So – good play. Bad venue. I’d still go and see this play, but only in a smaller theater with a good non-karaoke-based sound system.

frances-perkins-door-opened-quote

The other play was a completely different experience (thankfully). This was also a one-woman play, but in a much more intimate setting which made it easy to hear what the actor was saying and thus keep up with the action.

Called “If a door opens: a journey with Francis Perkins”, it was written and performed by a regional actor called Charlotte Keefe and focused on the life and times of said Francis Perkins, who was one of the earliest female Secretary of Labors in the twentieth century. She worked with presidents and others to help secure the 40-hour work week, social security benefits, and generally looked out for child and female workers at a time when they were over-used and under-paid.

Perkins also played a sentinel role in improving workplace safety standards as she was in NYC at the same time of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire and knew how to effectively work with politicians, unions, and others to pass new laws improving working conditions for everyone who was not a rich white man. 🙂

I was not familiar with Perkins (or the actress who played her), but by the time we came to the end of the play, I was astonished at just how much Perkins achieved at a time in the twentieth century when women were not encouraged or supported in their working lives if they upset the status quo.

I really enjoyed this experience, and recommend that if you see this play coming anywhere near you (whether with this actor or another), you take the hour or so to see it. Perkins was a firebrand whose mark still remains on the twenty-first century workforce.

And then later on this week, we’ve got tickets to listen to Ruth Reichl, former NYT food critic and best-selling author… Riches abound right now.

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Swabbing the Decks…

swab_decks

So, as sometimes happens in life, things have become a little busy with work and life, and thus, I feel the need to swab the decks a bit, so to speak, and round up what I’ve been reading and doing etc.

Work tends to be rather busy during the Spring months with various projects coming due around the same time, so I’ve been occupied with getting those documents written, edited, approved (and then repeating the same process several times with several different authors). I’m making progress though so I’m satisfied with all that.

Life: we went to a Garth Brooks/Trisha Yearwood concert the other day when they arrived in town, and wow. That was a great concert (except for the opening act which was misogynistic in every song he chose to sing for us. The only way that this opening act could have made it on to the list must have been he’s a close family friend or Garth Brooks lost a bet.) However, Garth was excellent, Trisha was excellent, and Garth hung around the stage for an hour once the concert has officially “finished” and took requests from some of the 13,000 people who had filled the arena. This was truly one of the best concerts that I’ve been lucky to attend, and recommend you get tickets if they come through your area. Totally worth it (even if you’re not huge in C/W.)

Garth Brooks In Concert - New York, New York

Tonight, I’ve got tickets to see NYT best-selling author, Malcolm Gladwell, give a lecture in a town just west of here. It’s two hours’ drive each way, so it will be a long night, but Gladwell is worth it (I hope).

sunset_blvdMovies – the best movie I’ve seen in ages was the one we watched the other day called Sunset Boulevard (1950) which stars Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, a has-been movie star but who’s not been told that her work is no longer wanted by directors. She had been a star in the silent movie era, and had not made the transition to the “talkies”, but to keep life easier, those who surround her have said nothing so she just keeps waiting for the phone call from the next director. A young writer down on his luck happens to break into her mansion during a big storm and a police chase, and thus the two people meet. She has drafted a new movie script and asks (commands) the young writer to put it together to pitch to the industry. The drama goes on from there… Lots of lovely melodrama, great fashion, and lines you’ll probably recognize…

(If you’ve seen Seinfeld on a fairly regular basis, you’ll recognize scenes from Sunset Boulevard from when Kramer moves to LA and lives in a run-down boarding house… and other small Easter eggs through the seasons.)

Reading – yes. I’ll update you with the goods in the next post!

“Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up…”

Catch Up Time…

catch_upWork has been a bit nutty in terms of workload, so my reading has had to slow down a bit. With my bad eye and being in front of a computer screen all day, I’m kinda tired when I get home. That plus I’m wearing contacts which means I can see great far away, but middle distance and close up are terrible. (Thus the not-much reading situation.) Hoping that will get sorted out as the days go by, but there’s quite a bit of fiddling around at the moment.

I spent a lot of today working on website issues which is, surprisingly, great fun and I really enjoy it immersing myself in HTML and other puzzles. There’s always something to do with a large website (such as work has), and I can get completely sucked in at times. I just put some tunes on in the background, and have at it. Rather fun.

Reading seems to have taken a back seat for the last few days. We’ve been catching up with some TV: Better Call Saul (irresistible sidekick series to Breaking Bad), a Netflix series called Case, we’ve started Planet Earth (BBC/David Attenborough), and then saw the Dave Chappelle special the other night. (Mostly funny, but way too many “rape jokes” for my liking. [It’s never ok.]  Dave – you can do better than that.)  ETA: I am completely off Dave Chappelle now, especially since I’ve seen his transphobic rant. Grr.) Oh, and the regulars: Bill Maher, Samantha Bee et al. I’m constantly amazed at what comes out of the White House every day, but only three and a half years to go.

Oh, and I lucked out and got Garth Brooks tickets for this Sunday afternoon’s concert when he comes to town with Trisha Yearwood. (Heehaw. Very excited as he puts on quite a show, I’ve heard. Squeee.) Slightly strange to be going to a big concert on Sunday afternoon, but there you have it. Them’s the breaks sometimes. I’m dragging SuperHero DH with me, which means that I’ll owe him a concert in return. Slightly concerned that this might entail a Disturbd or Korn concert, but I’m crossing my fingers that it’s something a bit more palatable than that.

We also bought Daniel Tosh (comedian) tickets for later this month. He’s got some hilarious set pieces with some questionable pieces in between. He’s more good than not, so we’re going. Rather looking forward to him as he has no mercy for anything or anyone. Ever. You just sit there and cringe while you’re laughing and hope that he doesn’t pick on you. :-]

The outdoor pool on campus just opened this week. Naturally, the temperatures have plummeted to the 40’s since then, but there are plenty of sunny days ahead. Looking forward to messing around at the pool soon. It’s got a curvy lazy river which is awesome to float in after a long day at the office. Speaking of office, I actually now have air conditioning. I’ve spent the last two years sweating in my office year round, and now? It’s truly great to have a nice temperature at work. Thank you, lovely hard-working campus Physical Plant people!!

So – quite a busy weekend ahead and it’s busy-fun! Great combination to have!

better-call-saul

Movie Talk

sugarman_movieSearching for Sugar Man (2012).
After some friends had lent us this movie saying it was great, we watched it with clear palates as we had no idea what it was about, apart from it being a music documentary. However, it’s so much more than that and even if you’ve never heard of the characters or the story, it’s a fantastic poignant film about a mostly unheralded mostly forgotten artist who gets the surprise of his life. The Sugar Man in the title is introduced as a folk singer from the 1970’s who was on the cusp of being a super star in the U.S., but then the music deals just slipped away and he slipped into mostly oblivion. However, unbeknownst to the artist (named Sixto Rodigruez), his music has a huge fan base in South Africa and there, he is a mysterious musician bigger than Elvis. This is a documentary that films what happens when two South African fans try to track down what happened to Rodriguez 25 years later. It’s rumored that the singer has killed himself, but no one is sure so they search for answers. It’s a riveting journey for these two South African journalists and it’s great to see what happens when (or if) they meet the elusive singer.

This is definitely the best move that I have seen for months. Even if you’re not familiar with the singer or not that big a fan of music history, this is just a great story in its own right. Well worth watching. Note: The first thirty minutes of the film aren’t that great, but then it picks up and you’re hooked.

American Hustle (2013). American_Hustle
Meh. Way long in parts and almost never-ending towards the finale. Good story, but too much plot packed into too much film. Who’s hustling who? Great twist at the end if you can make it there. Loved Amy Adams though…
HerHer (2013).
Sweet and rather strange approach to relationships (romantic and otherwise) in the (near) future. Who’s to say that things won’t be like this at some point? Makes you think about who should define a relationship and how to do that… And, again, the love continues for Amy Adams…