Friday, February 21, 2014

Welcome, Weekend! Plus, a Play Worth Your While

Well, I write this in a state of distraction, because it's Thursday (HOO-ray!), I was, "hmm, Michael Imperioli as a bigamist-with-a-ponytail on Rake?," and then (forgive the hopping), now there's triple lutzing but no twizzles, and I shall be going to bed earlyish, because last night was full of theater and dazzlement and sleeplessness.

But! the theater! If you're Michiganish and are going to see "The Suit" at the Power Center Friday or Saturday night (closes Saturday! best to nail it down now), lucky you! Stripped down stage set (a handful of chairs (brightly colored), a garment rack, a table), four beautiful, talented performers and three wonderful musicians, whose music weaves through the monologues, dialogues. A mournful accordian wonders onstage, a trumpet summons New Orleans, a guitar is nimbly strummed and plucked. Love, betrayal and carefully kept garments, set against the backdrop of later apartheid era South Africa (based on a short story by Can Themba, who wrongly predicted that the beautiful tale would make himself and his wife both rich; it was instead banned, and he eventually died from complications from alcoholism). Sounds heavy, I know. But it is surprisingly light, in its experience. The cruelty, yes, is as fresh, and intimate, as the hope of beauty. But beauty there exists.

****Inside (well, in Sochi), Bolero, beautiful landings, but the legs are getting tired: a triumph for Carolina Kostner of Italy!  Outside: THUNDER SNOW.WHA????. Michigan, we give. we surrender.****

When the female lead, Nonhlanhla Kheswa (playing Matilda), first breaks into song, it was the first-best present of yesterday. She started in Lion King on Broadway at 16, so no wonder, but we (partner-in-crime/Javier) didn't know that. Watch the first video here, for a lovely snippet from the performance. Could she be more beautiful, more composed?  Numerous presents followed. I have seen *so* many fantastic shows since taking up with the ever-so-busy boyfriend last January, but this was definitely close to the top. The story was deceptively simple, as the best stories often are: and the pared down actualization of it had the feel of the best folk tales and story books. Poetic, multi-faceted, true.

But a moment in acknowledgment of the further presents, by no means limited to this highlight: Jordan Barbour, as the friend of our male protagonist, Philomen, sang one of the most unexpected -- and to my mind, best -- renditions of "Strange Fruit." I do not say this lightly. This is a song I never want to hear singers other than Nina Simone or Billie Holiday perform. People overestimate themselves, throw vehemence at an already powerful song, and butcher it. Barbour, however, sang it softly, conversationally; as if encountering it for the first time, but knowing it to be true. I got to speak with him afterwards, and he said this was a song he and Peter Brook have continually gone back and forth on -- he had to pull back from prior training, to sing it simply, to "let the words of the song be the guide." He said they had just, um, intensely discussed it over the past week. And moreover, through their global tour, across all the musical numbers, they vary it constantly: maybe it would be sung a capella, or with trumpet, or, or, or. Such agility, for both the actors and musicians alike.

****Sleep break.*************************************************************************************

So anyway, if you count yourself lucky, you should be in the audience tomorrow or Saturday night. We're more likely to regret what we haven't done, rather than what we have, right? And this includes opening yourselves to these life-giving works of art, whether performance or quietly (/not so quietly) hanging upon a wall.

Visit an official take from the NYTimes here, but maybe if you're going to see this weekend, don't look! SO nice to be more surprised, right? 

Random bonuses:
  • "Meadowland: Stolen Jazz"  Kheswa and her Martians, lovely weekend soundtrack
  • Acting reel for Ivanno Jeremiah, who plays Philomen, to Kheshwa's Matilda
  • Plus his twitter account, not because if short, epic brilliance, but OMG check out his photo backdrop! Scroll down! Period dress or Alice in Wonderland? Please tell me. I'd take it either way. 
Happy Friday, All! Has everything frozen over? Does my snow boulder still block  the foot of my driveway? Are there charts in my near future? Magic 8-Ball says: Yes.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Unseasonable Spot of Green

Snowed again last night and from what they say, the polar vortex is coming back around next week. I was all devil-may-care today and wore only one -- ONE --  set of thermals! ...and then huddled resentfully at my desk, glowering at my powerpoints beneath my red knit hatandscarf, because the office was colder on this slightly warmer day. The hatandscarf is nice in that it's kind of like a sweater, but better, wrapped as it is over your dome and covering your ears, cushioning you from the harsher realities of life. Plus it has three pompoms. You needn't tie it beneath your chin. Perhaps you merely loop the long scarf ends across your neck, free to dangle behind, which they will, (clever pompom weighting, also tastefully red); or tie at the nape of one's neck: this is also fine. The hatandscarf* may not lend an air of sophistication, nor convey the often useful Back the fuck OFF, but then again, it may also indicate that you're a little loopy, mildly off-center and so perhaps it's better not to bother you on that score.

*A brief selection of remarks uttered to me in relation to the hatandscarf:
  • "So then we -- could you take that OFF? It's kind of distracting, we're inside now." -- Javier
  • "What the hell kind of papasmurf thing is that on your HEAD?" -- coworker, as if irritated by the hatandscarf's existence, though it by no means impacts his existence.
  • "Maybe the new rule should be that when your coat is off, that comes off, too." -- Javier, who is fond of laying out new game plans.
  • "You know, from across the room, I really didn't have a sense of the *length* of the scarf...It's kind the Lorax, you know they make the *thneeds*, maybe you could get on that ~~"** -- different coworker. **To which one is compelled to reply, "Everyone needs a thneed!" thus immensely improving the work week.
Which all to say, I was first plowed INTO my driveway, before being plowed OUT OF my driveway, the Pennsylvania contingent went without power for a good many days, thank heavens for the astounding Olympians whose amazing strength, dedication and inspiration we bask in from the (relative) warmth of our living rooms; and goodlord bring on the warmth-but-not-the-floods.

Time for a break from (our) reality. This break brought to you by: the Domnican Republic:

If you are hereX, you're standing in front of the remains of the first hospital in America (built 1503-1508)

from across the street it looks something like this
 Atlas Obscura has a little background here. No old beds, no implements to be seen...Only walls and arches, framing sky.
                                             The most fun to be hard is when you walk
                                                       beneath the pigeon archway
A shadow of things to come
                                   the far side of the hospital ruins...

and to your right and above you is a wall, with many nooks
and in each nook, a pretty green parrot.
Aratinga Parakeet? Hispaniola Parrot? Unclear.

Just beyond is another whitewashed church
with a high relief Madonna and child

looking up the hill, with the church to our right. Oddly this felt somewhere between Philly and New Orleans
Notice for the eucharist
white church front with sky blue sky
Madonna behind a grated window
The lit votives and money were below the frame. Deposit here, your hopes and dreams, your wishes for loved ones in epic health battles. Set your worries carefully down, if you can; and may the grace you need find you.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sunday, Random Sunday

I can't stop eating double chocolate malted milk balls and I can't stop listening to Thao & the Get Down Stay Down,* following their surprising set at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival** on Friday night. I also have been incapable of getting off the interwebs this fine Sunday, between the shocking Philip Seymour Hoffman passing, emails, other assorted randomness (the finest of which is videos from new favorite Emily Graslie, at the Field Museum: Owls!). I heard on FB that Toyota used the Muppets in their Superbowl ad (meh), and have already seen Doberwawa commercial, so I think I'm set on that score. Though I'll certainly check out the superbowl ad digests when they circulate around tomorrow.

*Follow up: you may be wondering, as I was: who's Valerie Bolden? Interesting article here.

from Houston Press blog
** Of course, the most, most important reason for going was NEKO CASE, who was the bomb, as ever. "Oh," said Javier after the performance, "I think I get it a bit more now," by which he meant the mild obsession//starry-eyed hero worship. Talented, jaunty, mildly raunchy, with her bad-ass sexiness and bizarro most-distracting-ever pants -- which apparently are a tour favorite (House of Blues: Houston).

And now, what everyone has been waiting for, this Sunday, February 2nd: Sherlock.*

*Plus, more chocolate malt balls.