Sunday, June 21, 2009

Music Recommendations

I am getting old.

I say this not because I just had a birthday, or another kid. Not because I can't keep up with the kids on the facebook, or even that I don't understand what they're watching on the TV these days (do they still watch TV? or just web shorts?)

Nope. I'm getting old because my list of music to purchase is pretty much stale. I got an iTunes gift card for my birthday, and have nothing good to spend it one. So I ask you, oh internets for recommendations for albums (remember those) or songs I just MUST get. Otherwise, I'm plopping down $20 eBucks to hear Rufus Wainright's version of Judy Garland's Carnegie Hall show, which just doesn't feel birthdayish enough. I'd rather something new.

So....Here are a few artists/ albums that have gotten me going over the past few months/ years to guide your recommendations...Let's see if you can inspire me more than Amazon or iTunes genius...

Rufus Wainright: Want One and Want Two
Jolie Holland (Formerly of Be Good Tanyas)
New Pornographers: Twin Cinema and Challengers
REM: Accelerate
Punch Brothers
Andrew Bird: Noble Beast and Armchair Apocrypha
Regina Spektor (I'll probably get her new album once it comes out)
Elliott Smith (XO and Figure 8)
Hem (which releases in August original settings from this summer's Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night)
Fiona Apple: Extraordinary Machine
Fleet Foxes

What's missing? what MUST I hear? Please help me figure out what's missing on my iPod!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My kids and me...

Imperia was actually much happier than this picture suggests. Rambunctious was exactly this happy. Junebug, well, he's not so sure...


Junebug arrived today, 8 lbs even 19.75 inches, insistently healthy. Willow is doing well and is happy to breathe, while Rambunctious and Imperia seem genuinely excited about their baby brother.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

RBOC: T-Minus Four Days

To say there's a lot going on right now is both an understatement and an overstatement, for as much as school just ended, the attic renovations are not done, my birthday happened today, and the baby is coming in four days, if not before, this has kind of been a lazy late-spring weekend. I am forgiving myself for being scattered on the one hand, but on the other hand, there's not a lot of urgency to anything going on right now.

  • The article I was working on got revised nicely and got a bery nice response from the editor, who says that although a bit more summary of two of the plays might be nice, ultimately, she is not asking for any revisions until after the book's reader make their report. Yay!
  • I got a talk accepted at ASTR, the big theatre research conference I've decided is the best one for me. It's in Puerto Rico in November: hard to complain about that. So my two conferences this year are ASTR and MLA, which makes me feel good about how my work is being received, or at least good about my abstract writing abilities...
  • The renovations to the attic are behind by a bit, but they look great. It's a funny little rabbit warren of a space, but the kids are going to love being up there. The current plan is to paint both rooms light blue, then paint some clouds on the sloping part of the walls, and letting the kids decide what they want in their own skies: superheroes? butterflies? airplanes? fairies? sun, moon and stars? They'll get to decide. We're just hoping that the contractors are out by the time the baby actually gets home!
  • And yup. The baby is coming. The twins were C-section and Willow had a perfectly fine experience with the planned C-section, and given how skittish the doctors here have been about VBAC, and the fact that Willow isn't interesting in pushing for one, we've been saying C-section all along. So if Junebug isn't here by June 11, he's coming that morning. I'll announce his arrival here, though those whom I've met IRL and would like the actual announcement with name should gmail me: delightandinstruct. I'll put you on the list.
  • I have weird misgivings about having Junebug's birthday so close to mine. Not that I'm worried about my birthday getting buried, but rather that his will get overshadowed from time to time. As it is, the twins have birthday sharing issues (very different personalities make celebration styles a bit of a negotiation). So I'm hoping that my 40th, for example, doesn't put a blot on his 5th, and so on.
  • Speaking of my birthday, Willow took me out with some friends for dinner last night, and then let me sleep in this morning while she and the twins made breakfast: strawberry shortcakes with chevre replacing the whipped cream. Yuuhummm! Also, I got like a thousand happy returns via facebook of all places. That, honestly, was one of the nicest surprises ever.
  • In completely unrelated news, the new house now has a small enough yard (about 400 sq ft.) that I've begun to find enough energy to garden a bit in a few beds along the house and fence. I've put in some random flowers (delphinium, morning glory, butterfly bushes), herbs (rosemary, basil, oregano, sage, dill, thyme) and some veggies (cukes, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes--cherry and a heritage breed I can't remember). I'm trying to get the twins involved enough that they enjoy it, but not so mauch that they're turned off of it until they're in their thirties and have to rediscover it after years of weeding trauma...Anyway, little flowers and herbs are popping up all over, and finally, the idea of weeding doesn't seem like just a total drag.
  • OK, so my ENFP tendencies have me all over the place tonight, and I should just go sit on the couch with my very pregnant spouse, and see if I can rub her feet, or back or something. If I don't blog for a few days, you can guess why.

Monday, June 01, 2009

New Concepts in College-Town Dining

The fine dining options, or paucity of them, are a much discussed topic among the self-professed cosmopolitans of our faculty. "No Thai?! How shall I ever survive without good tom ka?" "No, french dressing does not count as French cuisine..."

You get the idea.

That, plus Willow and I often fantasize about that least wise of alternate careers: restaurateur.

When we moved, our dream restaurant would be called Aspergrass, which for whatever reason found etymological roots from each of our childhoods. It was a healthy, veg-heavy, California cuisine concept with a bit of a Southern inflection.

When we realized there was no good Mexican/ Salvadoran/ Southwestern food in town, our concept was Mission: Sparse white adobe walls, stark mission style furniture, chestnut pumpkin soup with cayenne and nutmeg.

Well, the other day, we were walking downtown with the kids, and we noticed an old stalwart shop along Main Street had closed down: City Pharmacy. "That" I said, "would be a great name for a gastro-pub, and a great location too."

This got Rambunctious and Imperia thinking about their restaurant concepts. Imperia's was Purple Blankie Restaurant, where everything would be purple, and Red Hat Societies would drive from miles away to hold tea parties over grape cake. With the amount of detail she provided, we could tell she'd been percolating this idea for a good long time.

"OH!" Rambunctious bellowed (bellowing is the default volume right now). Mine would be "Stop! You're gonna Kill me!"

I'm not sure if he's a visionary animal-rights, vegetarian, gastro-activist, or destined for some other career. Given his enthusiasm for bacon, I'm going with the latter.


"I love the ephemeral nature of live theatre. Once a specific performance is over, you can never be subjected to it again.”

This was the caption on a New Yorker cartoon that caught my attention a few years ago. I clipped it and held onto it, but it's always vaguely troubled me.

The ephemeral nature of the theatre, in fact, is precisely its beauty: true. As Peggy Phelan has said, "Performance's only life is in the present. Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations of representations: once it does so, it becomes something other than performance" ... "The act of writing towards disappearance, rather than the act of writing towards preservation, must remember that the after-effect of disappearance is the experience of subjectivity itself" (146/148).

The disappearance of performance: the ghosts that haunt the stage, the echoes we hear bouncing around the empty auditorium, after-images of scenery erected and dismantled. Something about this very process reminds me both of the very image of life (and of liveliness) that theatre offers us, and of the disappearance of this liveliness that seems a time-lapse snapshot of life itself.

A student of mine recently posted this site on facebook, and I've spent about 20 minutes, scrolling through its images of abandoned theatre spaces. As my student noted, it's both beautiful and depressing, but while the depressing part of it may come from what it represents about the preservation of art in our culture, for me it is a sense of gloom that we tend to associate with the sublime: if Edmund Burke (and in "Ozymandias," Shelley) finds ancient ruins to inspire us to contemplate mortality and the cruel hand of slow time, then these decayed and crumbling stages perform for us this same effect: If life flickers and dies on the stage, then these crumbling stages have seen whole histories pass across its boards. These are "Stages of Decay" as the collection is entitled, theatres of our own mortality.

One shot in particular has a tattered red armchair set in the middle, may a throne, or maybe the chair that Hamm inhabits for Samuel Beckett's Endgame. That play imagines the winding down of all life, the persistence of human life reduced to a single choice to stay or go. And here in this image, Clov has gone, and the only signs of life on the stage are those that mark life by its conspicuous absence.

And yet these crumbling spaces also find a counterpoint in images like this space, the amphitheatre at Epidaurus, which reminds me that even as performances, performers, stories, and spaces will vanish, they do still echo and haunt, reminding us of the persistence of human play, and that we've been playing for centuries.