Monthly Archives: July 2007

Live (still better than Memorex)

The Putnam County Playhouse, here in Greencastle, just finished its two-weekend run of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. It was the first time, I understand, that Shakespeare was done by our enthusiastic summer summer theater. It was imaginatively directed by Amy Gaither Hayes, who is passionate about the idea that Shakespeare can be well-presented and well-received by what one might call “everyday” people, including many of our non-academic neighbors in this small farm/college town of ours. In this, she reminds me of the wonderful work done by Albert Cullum, which I learned about in the PBS documentary A Touch of Greatness, not only in her use of children and teenagers in the cast, but also in her Shakespeare-is-for-everyone general approach.

I saw the show three times. As the father of the 15-year-old who played Tatania, Queen of the Faries, I was invited to the dress rehearsal; I also attended opening and closing nights. Each night was different, as live theater always is, and it was wonderful to see the way performances evolved over the run of the show. There were a few over-30 players, and they did well, but it was the chlidren, the teenagers, and some the college students who let loose in a way I haven’t seen before in an “amateur” production. By closing night, the spontaneity and collective energy of the actors and the audience made the space crackle with aliveness.

It made me want to read the play and see it again. The thought of renting a DVD of a filmed version crossed my mind, but I immediately realized that anything I watch on a television screen could not come remotely close to the joyful, collective, and so very human experience of which I’d just been part.



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Bent Objects

I forget how I found this delightful blog; I’m glad I did.

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The Grocery-Bag Riots

Responding to the mounting environmental danger posed by discarded plastic bags, Whole Foods is now selling cotton bags in which to take home one’s groceries. They are, in certain urban areas, the thing to have. The New York Times reports:

“A stampede of would-be purchasers in Taiwan in June sent 30 people to the hospital and required the riot police. A similar outpouring in Hong Kong caused no injuries, but the police closed down the shopping mall.”

Here in Greencastle, the Kroger store recently switched to new, slightly thinner plastic bags which split open with little provocation. I mentioned this to a cashier, who said mine was a common complaint.

And guess what? At the same time the new plastic bags were introduced, displays of purchasable, reusable bags appeared. Coincidence? Hah!

We had no stampede here, however. The expensive bags have now disappeared, and we’re just double-bagging everything. Worse for the environment, and probably costing Kroger more money.

OK, OK, I’ll get my own canvas bags somewhere.

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Best casual comment of the day

From a friend who now lives an hour away; we were with a group having drinks after a concert. Discussing our children, I asked about her daughter.

“Oh, she’ll be fine, as long as her father stays in jail.”

We both laughed, almost hysterically. I think she was as surprised as I by what had come out of her mouth.

UPDATE (7/21): At least one reader was upset by this and didn’t find it funny. When I originally wrote it, I knew it would be hard to communicate. I hesitated to post it, and perhaps that would have been the better course. I may make matters worse by trying to explain further, but here goes. The father in this case really is in jail, for possession of child pornography, and through episodes of tremendous financial irresponsibilty and emotional instability he has had more ill effect on his daughter than good. He may have some great qualities, and I’m sure he loves his daughter, but it is genuinely appropriate that he’s incarcerated. There’s never been any hint that he ever sexually abused his daughter, as far as I’m aware, and we’re all grateful for that. The overall situation itself isn’t funny, of course. It’s tragic. What was funny–to us at the time, anyway– was the unexpected and ironically light-hearted and matter-of-fact way the comment came out. Who makes casual conversation about something usually considered shameful? My friend has never talked about this situation with me before. There was a wonderful, warm, and open vibe, and it just came out. Humor comes from surprise, and is often a way of releasing tension. Both were the case with this.

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Curious Sign of the Day

Perhaps there are better ways to support the troops, but bless them for keeping us safe enough to soften our water. (photo by EE)

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Making a Luis and Clark Carbon Fiber Cello

DePauw has a Luis and Clark carbon-fiber cello. It’s an amazing thing. I haven’t given up on traditional wood cellos by any means, but I have a special fondness for our L&C. Here’s a fascinating short documentary showing how they are made.

(I don’t know why they show a violin with an overly-tightened bow for the opening shot, and call it a cello, but it’s clear this is not a made-by-cellists program!)


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Making a L&C Cello, Part II

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