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!

Brief Book Rec: Anya’s Ghost

Just finished Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol. It was a lovely graphic novel, with an interesting story. I had it my wish list thanks to a rec by Glen Weldon from ages ago – very glad I used it to round out my book club book order.

Here’s what he said:

This debut YA graphic novel about Anya, a bright if sullen schoolgirl who falls down a well and befriends the ghost she finds there, stakes out an unusual patch of narrative real estate: it’s both seriously creepy and … really kinda sweet. From the very first page, Brosgol’s artwork charms — Anya is a real kid, navigating the emotional minefield of high school

Recommended! Here’s the Amazon link.

(I’m at 48 of my goal of 52 books for the year – I’m still hoping to make it, as I have 3 book club books to read before the end of the year. Plus, I still need to finish the last three volumes of Y: The Last Man.)

A list of things, making life possible

It has been a totally crazy week/month. I am now only 6 days out from a huge fundraiser gala, that I have been working on for all of the last year. The only way I’m keeping my sanity:

  • having a really kick ass assistant, who pushes back when I’m not being practical.
  • Giants winning NLDS. I wore an orange ribbon in my hair, while I ran errands all around the City yesterday. I could hear the cheers from various bars and homes all over.
  • Going to see Jordan Jesse Go! Live tonight, as part of the new SF Comedy and Burrito Festival.
  • Also! Getting to introduce new friends to JJGO & MaxFun tonight.
  • Adorable photos of my friends’ adorable tiny, new baby
  • Actually going to the gym/personal training, when normally I would let my work take over completely. (Sticking to my goals!)

  • This sky in San Bruno on Tuesday night
  • All of the great music that has come out in the last few weeks: Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Auto, the new Avett Brothers, the new Mountain Goats, the new Mumford & Sons.
  • Especially the Want it Back song and video by Amanda Palmer & GTO. (I still can’t get youtube to embed in a post… help?)
  • Going to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival this weekend

  • Dinner at Two Sisters Bar & Books, followed by Smitten ice cream
  • Gone Girl – goodness, what a book.
  • John Scalzi novels in audio book form
  • Slate Political Gabfest
  • Weekly round up emails with two good friends about all the Slate podcasts
  • New Fall TV – Have you seen Go On or the Neighbors? If not, you should, ASAP.
  • Knowing the season premiere of The League is on my DVR as soon as I can get to it.
  • jamming in a quick latte with Lysandra in the midst of the insanity, and having a serious Disneyland squee moment.
  • Bittersweet – drinks at the excellent Churchill bar, to say good-bye to Kate & Alex as the go on to their next adventures
  • All the Joe Biden gifs from last night’s debate.
  • And finally, that after next week, I get to go to Seattle. Very excited about that!

On a love of Book Clubs

This past weekend was really lovely. I celebrated my one year anniversary of being back in California by going all over the Bay Area – seeing my dad’s show in Orinda, visiting friends in San Rafael, spending time in Pacifica for the gym and at Syche & Drew’s – and by doing some serious yard work with my parents. (I should probably be doing more of the latter, as I have fully enjoyed a year of living rent-free. Thanks Mom & Dad!)

As you can see in the screen shot above, I also spent part of Sunday in a Google Hangout with Book Club, Both Coasts. I love the moment that Joe caught with this picture, as we are all laughing so hard! (Does anyone remember this part of the convo? Was in reference to traveling in our minds with a Mouse God?)

This moment was an important part of my anniversary weekend, because last September I worried A LOT about my friendships – how would I integrate back into the lives of folks on the West Coast? And how would I maintain friendships with people now living far, far away?

Surprisingly, for … 97% of people it has gone well. And really, book club has helped a lot. Nothing I’m saying here is new – but  I’m a big fan of book club, or any scheduled gathering of friends. It means you get to see people you care about at least once a month, in an organized fashion, and with book club, you get to have serious conversations while still open to tangents and gossip. I know, even when work is really crazy or friends are popping out babies, I will get to see these friends once a month at the bare minimum. So, go book club!

However, as I approach year 2 of my California life, I may be at a point of critical mass. How many book clubs is too many?

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