Buried Child at Magic Theatre

On Friday, Syche and I saw Buried Child at Magic Theatre. I have been excited to see this production since last January, when I had the awesome opportunity to volunteer with Magic’s “An Evening with Sam Shepard.” He read a bunch of his prose, and their Artistic Director announced they would be opening this season with Buried Child. This, actually, got me to subscribe – Magic has an awesome Under 30 subscription… for about $95 I’m seeing all five plays this season.

When I was 18, in my very first college class, I met Syche and we were assigned to read Buried Child, and I didn’t really get it. Since then I have obviously had a lot more life experience, and I think, more importantly, I have seen/read/helped to create way more theater. I loved it. (Also, it is a play with so much more of everything when performed… I laughed a lot last night, and that humor didn’t come through in the printed version.)

It is still disturbing and challenging and… weird. But just great. It was such a treat to see a magnificent production of a magnificent play. The whole cast was great, especially Rob Gnapp as Dodge and James Wagner as Tilden. Beautiful set, too.

It was also personally cool to get to see this show with a good friend who I have now shared ten years of life with. That’s the fun part of getting old.

(Cross-post from my tumblr RinSquared).

2013 Reading Challenge Update

Cross-posted from my tumblr

At the beginning of the year, I got overly ambitious and challenged myself to read 60 books this year. Very quickly, GoodReads told me I was epically behind… so I updated it to a goal of 52, which had been my (successful) standard the last two years.

I am on track (actually one book ahead, thanks to my recent vacation) at 36 out of 52. (Now if I had read all the Book Club books I was supposed to, I would be at least 4 ahead of this… fail.)

I posted that on facebook, and was asked what my favorites from the year were. When I think generally about the year, I don’t have any that immediately jump out at me, but when I look through the list I enjoyed the following. In no particular order:

  • After the Quake – Haruki Murakami – Short Stories
    I am always searching for books that totally envelop me. After the Quake did so. Lovely magical realism, interesting portraits of Japan and great, quirky characters. Murakami never explains too much… instead he just let’s things end where they end.
  •  The Fault in Our Stars – John Green – Young Adult Novel
    Oh the feels!!, as they say. I read it in less than a day, stayed up late to finish it, and cried through most of the last 1/4.
  • Equivocation – Bill Cain – Play
    I saw this performed at MTC in 2010, loved it, and was happy to return to it. A deliciously complicated examination/thought experiment about Shakespeare’s writing of Macbeth, the Gunpowder Plot and a father’s relationship with his daughter.
  • Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel – Novel
    I really liked Mantel’s epic novel about Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII’s court. (Super excited about the BBC/Mark Rylance adaptation). I spent a lot of time reading it, as I had to, and felt very immersed in her universe. I would like to do some follow-up and see what sources it came from. Combining this with another historical fiction piece I read this year (The Daughter of Time), I have a totally different perspective on Sir Thomas More.
  • The Story of a Marriage – Andrew Sean Greer – Novel
  • The Magician’s Book: a Skeptics Adventures in Narnia – Laura Miller – Nonfiction
  • Hawkeye, vol 1: My Life as a Weapon – Matt Fraction & David Aja – Graphic Novel
    When I was a kid and first got braces, there was a comic shop down the street from the orthodontist. My dad would take me to get comics after appointments, and at that time they had just re-booted the Avengers. Since then, I have always liked Hawkeye, and think this book was just wonderful – interesting, different, and beautifully created. Vol 2 was also great (Pizza Dog!)
  • Saga vol 1 – Brian K. Vaughn – Graphic Novel
    Another brilliant graphic novel that had been recommended all through 2012. So glad to have read this unique/weird love story. Still somewhat creeped out by the TV-head people.
  • Deathtrap – Ira Levin – Play
    I have been slowly working my way through all of Levin’s work, since moving back to California. I love his novels (especially A Kiss Before Dying) but his plays are just delightful in a very mischievous and somewhat disturbing way. Deathtrap is all about writing a play, within a play, with murder plots intertwined with love and fame.
  • A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan – Novel
    I was the only one in my book club that liked Egan’s novel. It was certainly off-putting at times, but I liked her universe and the weird connections and interesting storytelling.
  • **The Big Disconnect by Giles Slade & Drift by Rachel Maddow – Nonfiction
    I didn’t really like either of these books – covering the history of technology and the US military, respectively – but I learned a lot and I’m glad I read them.

I did not like:

  • The Magicians – Lev Grossman – Novel
  • City of Bones – Cassandra Claire – Young Adult Novel
  • Ex Machina – Brian K. Vaughan – Graphic Novel
  • Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie – Novel – (couldn’t finish)

I’m always looking for recommendations, so if you have thoughts on how I should finish out the next 20 or so, let me know!

Pop Culture Podcasts and Spoilers

(Cross-post from my tumblr)

Although in recent months my level of intake has declined some, I still listen to a lot of podcasts. My two pop culture discussion favorites are Slate Culture Gabfest and Pop Culture Happy Hour (and this week there was even a cross over of the amazing Glen Weldon!).

I have recently become frustrated in the discussion of new movies (sometimes TV too) on these shows. I totally respect that critics and bloggers –  and every day people – get a lot of shit for spoiling things. However, I think dancing around topics means that the analysis from these critics suffers. The whole reason I listen is to hear their opinions and discussion, which hopefully betters my experience of a particular piece of culture.

In comparison, on this week’s episode of Culture Gabfest, the discussion about the ambivalence article was better than the conversation about Superman because for the former there was no worry about spoilers. I haven’t seen the new superman movie yet, but I’m not sure I’m going to, and I would much rather choose to listen to the conversation or not but have it be a very substantial conversation.

Therefore, I think the solution is to either drop in a note from the producer saying the minute to jump too post-spoilers or include the minutes of the segment in the podcast information. That is what they did at the much-mourned Extra Hot Great, which was wonderful! I knew exactly how long each segment was going to be, and I could go to whatever piece I wanted to if I was afraid of spoilers.

In conclusion, let the audience know there will be spoilers, give us the option to skip them, but do not be afraid of them as it hinders the conversation.

Regardless of this complaint, if you are not listening to these shows, and really all the Slate gabfests, you should be. They are wonderful.

Mary Cassatt & Mom


Today is Mary Cassatt’s birthday. As long as I can reminder, we have had a print of “Children Playing on the Beach” (1877) on our wall at home. Cassatt is one of my mom’s favorite painters and she always said this painting reminder her of my cousin Caitlin and I as little kids.

Although, Cassatt is not my favorite, I basically always get warm fuzzies when seeing her work, because she makes me think of my Mom. So, Happy Birthday Mary!

Playing Cards

Mirrored from my Tumblr, rinsquared:

This weekend, at a friend’s birthday, I learned how to play Settlers of Catan (finally). Which was … interesting. I think I need to play a few more times to see if I like it. Right now it is still mostly confusing (I never really got which picture equaled what resource). But beginner’s luck hit, and I won, so that was neat.

After, we ended up playing Spoons and Deuces. I feel like I hadn’t played actual card games in years – not strictly true, but that’s how it feels. I love playing cards, and in high school and early college it was a huge part of my life – especially hearts, gin, spades and cribbage. Sadly, I don’t really even remember the rules to the latter two.

New goal in life – play more cards! I need to relearn these games I loved and play more, so I apologize to my friends who I will likely bug about this in the near future.

Side note: When in high school, I always associated playing cards with working run crew. I think my love of theater and my love of cards grew up together at least a little bit.

Good-bye, Eloquii

I have meant to do a blog on plus size fashion for a long time. And, like all my blog ideas, I never got around to it. This past year I have been loving Eloquii (plus-size from the Limited) and now they are closing… phasing out by the summer.

I am super sad! I just bought this dress from them:

I really liked the store – good quality, reasonably priced and work appropriate while being fun. Here are some thoughts cross posted from my tumblr and excerpted a much smarter blog than mine with an open letter to the company:

As WifeyJD put it:

Eloquii has really helped me develop my personal style this past year by offering chic blouses, classic dresses, and cute, well-fitting (!!!!) suiting separates that can take me from a job interview to a dinner date. Frankly, Eloquii filled a niche for the young, fashion-obsessed plus size customer who lives in the real world.Your target demographic remains massively untapped, and I can tell you why.ASOS Curve is great, but overall skews edgy and doesn’t have a lot of pieces that work for me every day (in addition to being above my price point). Lane Bryant caters to an older demographic, and Avenue works better for women on the larger end of plus size. Lines like Rachel Pally White Label and Igigi have great products, but as boutique labels they a) are out of many folk’s price ranges and b) can’t offer a broad range of styles that appeals to the mass market. Eloquii, as part of The Limited brand, has a huge advantage here, and you capitalized on it by not only offering many The Limited styles in Eloquii, but by going beyond being a copycat line to develop your own aesthetic.

The bottom line is, I am a loyal Eloquii customer because the concept is great! …

Although I’m deeply disappointed in your decision, I will continue to shop Eloquii until the site closes down. However, I hope that you will do your best to put the brand in the hands of someone with the fortitude and foresight to give it a real shot of succeeding.

I’m not even sure how it could work, but I hope someone takes over the brand. I have purchased something like 6 dresses in a year, plus a few tops and skirts. I will miss Eloquii very much!

Feel the burn

I told my trainer to “murder my arms” at tonight’s workout and he really listened….

I can’t believe that I have done 51 personal training sessions, and am averaging 4x/week at the gym (two with the trainer and two by myself). I’ve been meaning to blog about it, but haven’t. Its hard to talk about – its a challenge each day but I’m very … proud about it. And I’m trying to not be arrogant or weird but this is a HUGE step for me, and I’m glad that it has happened.

5 months, 51 sessions. I’ve lost over 10 pounds (the over part varies but the first ten is really, truly gone. This is way below my goal, which was 25lbs less by December, but I’m still happy). And I am so much stronger.

My trainer is great (go see Andrew at the 24 Hour Fitness in Pacifica!) – he pushes me hard, but isn’t an ass or patronizing. I lucked out, since, I think, it was basically randomly assigned.

I have a lot more thoughts on the whole process, but for now, this will be a more simple and personal post – one I think that is important, as this has become a major part of my life in the last few months. I also just finished AJ Jacob’s new book Drop Dead Healthy so working out and diet is really on my mind….