I just ate my first kumquat. I’ll admit, this wasn’t a completely voluntary culinary venture. A girl that I like very much is leaving the library after today, and she went around saying goodbye, and handing out the exotic fruits as a treat. She gave me one before I could think of a polite way to decline. I didn’t even know what it was to be honest. When she told me, I was shocked. My only reference for kumquats is a line from the musical, The Fantasticks (see the title). I had imagined them to be bigger, and for some reason greenish brown. And when my friend said I was to eat the peel as well, I was not very excited by the prospect. I don’t even like eating any of the white stuff on an orange-I’ll literally spend 30 minutes carefully preparing my oranges before I eat them. But I saw no gracious way to get out of it, so I put it in my mouth, and lo and behold, I liked it. A lot. Peel and all. It was a delightful combination of sweet and sour-two of my favorite tastes. I may even add kumquats to my list of things to endorse.
“You’re standing in my kumquats!” March 31, 2006
déjà vu March 30, 2006
My friends, I know you will not be surprised to hear that I got lost tonight. I get lost far too frequently for it to be a story worth telling, usually. But listen to this:
Tonight I was going to a theatre downtown that I’d not been to before. Not only that, but I needed to go from the upper East side to the lower West side; so I was going to travel from not-every-day territory, to completely unknown territory. I looked up the location on a map, and compared it with my public transportation maps, and figured out how I was going to get there. I was pretty pleased with myself, and left work with no map, but a plan.
Friends, I deviated from the plan, and there’s only one thing that can result from that. Say it with me, “I got lost.” My plan involved two different buses and it got off to a great start. But I got tired of waiting at the second bus stop, and I saw a subway station nearby with a trainline that I thought I remembered stopping very close to the theatre. So, I got on the train, and instead of looking at the map they conveniently display on the wall to double check that I knew where I was getting off, I took out my book thinking to myself, “I know where I’m going. This’ll be easy.” So I got off the train, and started walking to the theatre. Right about the time that the streets stopped being where and what I expected them to be and I started to worry that I had no idea where I was, I looked up to a very familiar sight. I was standing right in front of the Chocolate Bar. The exact same place I had been 24 hours earlier (but by an entirely different route). On one hand, a familiar sight is always a relief when one is lost. On the other, it wasn’t where I was supposed to be. Okay, here’s where I tell you the creepiest part of the story. Last night, on my way to the Chocolate Bar, I got lost. Again, not a big surprise, but I had been delighted to turn up to the right location without any idea how I got there. And now, tonight, I got lost, and quickly turned up at the Chocolate Bar. Coincidence? Or is the Chocolate Bar my own personal Brigadoon? You decide...
Back to tonight’s adventure, I called Erin, as I tend to do when I get lost, but since she wasn’t with me at the Chocolate Bar last night, my repeatedly saying that I was there did not help her to guide me to where I needed to go. This is where I did something so crazy, you might think I’m making it up, but I’m not. I decided to go into the Chocolate Bar and ask for help. Yes, ask a stranger for help. I thought that if the girls that had been working the previous night were there, I would talk to them, because they had been very nice yesterday. I walked up to the window and looked in, but there was some guy (buying chocolate of all things) obscuring my view. So I edged up to the doorway, and was trying to simultaneously hide behind the door post (in case I didn’t recognize anyone in there, then I could sneak away without their knowing I had been about to enter) while craning my neck to look around the customer and see who was behind the counter. That is when one of the girls from last night came walking down the street, and not only caught me in my peculiar position, but was immediately accosted by me. I can’t actually remember what the first words out of my mouth were, but I think it went something like this.
CATHERINE: [panicked and frenzied] “Oh good. It’s you. I was here last night, and now I’m back, but I don’t want to be here, I’m meant to be somewhere else.”
Much to her credit, she responded very calmly with, “I thought you looked familiar. Where are you trying to go?” At that point I forgot completely where I had been going, and had to look through my bag for the address. As soon as I laid eyes on said address, I saw that I was two Avenues over from where I needed to be, because 8 and 6 are actually two different numbers, except for in my head, where, it seems they are the same. At this point, I’m sure I was bright red as I shamedly told this nice girl that I knew where I’d gone wrong and I would leave now. In an effort to save face, I left her with this brilliant remark, “You have a very nice shop; I seem to be very drawn to it. Thank you for your help, I’ll probably be seeing you tomorrow night.” I know, I know. I am such a weirdo.
But the point of my far to long tale is this: It’s kind of scary, and kind of cool that I found this store twice when by all rights, I shouldn’t have found it either time. And also, I like to think that maybe the Chocolate Bar girl has a blog too, and maybe she’s writing on it right now about the crazy girl who keeps coming in.
Laura tells me that I’m to write a review of every play that I see, and that’s what I was going to write about tonight, but now that’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Unless I somehow find my way back to the Chocolate Bar going from the library to the church across the street tomorrow night, in which case, that’ll definitely be the topic of discussion.
Cocoa & Co. March 29, 2006
Tonight the hot chocolate club (which Amy aptly named Cocoa & Co.) went to the Chocolate Bar. It was a very nice place, and open until 10pm! Good to know. I got a raspberry hot chocolate with some trepidation (some places that use syrup to flavor their beverages are just yucky), but I was delighted with the result. Not too fruity, just a nice hint of berry. This place goes on my list to visit again. Very nice atmosphere, and plenty of chocolate goodies to try out.
‘Tis but a trifle… March 28, 2006
In case you do not recognize this as such, it is a trifle. It’s the first one I ever made, well, I had help, but they don’t deserve any of the blame. It would have been okay if I had a) made the cake ahead of time, which I really knew I should, but I went to Violent Study Club on Monday night, and when I got home I watched TV until I got too tired to think about making a cake, and b) actually followed the instructions and used cake flour instead of assuming regular flour would do just as well.
Nevertheless, it was quite an adventure, and the end result was edible, if not as pretty as I would have liked. At least it didn’t include meat, right?
It was a lemon-raspberry trifle with almonds, and the next time I make it, I know it will be beautiful. I remembered about five minutes before people arrived why it is that I don’t make new recipes for company (they usually taste alright, but presentation is not my forte), but at that point it was too late to turn back, and besides, I couldn’t make it without them anyway because this is not my trifle dish, it’s Peter’s. So I pulled my very flat cake out of the oven, and we did what we could (Jen and Kevin helped too). Actually, if you’d never seen a trifle before, I think this one looks pretty good. All it’s really missing are the layers by which a trifle is defined, but other than that, I don’t see any problems, do you? Oh yeah, the flat, dense cake. But really light fluffy cake is totally overrated, right? Okay, I can’t justify it. For a trifle, this is really a disaster, but for a non-trifle, it’s an absolute masterpiece. I think this could be big, I really do. The dessert of the summer of 2006: The Layerless Trifle. Quick, all of you serve one at your next dinner party, and we can make this happen. Are you with me?
Casting directors Fiona Weir and Lucy Bevan will hold open casting calls in Cambridge, Kendal, Oxford, and Exeter during the first two weeks in April.
They are looking for ‘a talented young actress who embodies Lyra’s loyalty, bravery and mischievous nature.’
Applicants don’t have to have previous acting experience, must be UK residents between 9-13 years old, and accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Girls should come without costumes or makeup, dress warmly, and be prepared to wait.
The casting calls will have open queues from 10am-2pm and will end at 5pm.
The exact locations are Cambridge’s Corn Exchange (April 4), Kendal’s Castle Green Hotel (April 6), Oxford’s Examination Schools (April 11), and Exeter’s Great Hall at the University of Exeter (April 13.)
Threepenny Opera March 24, 2006
*THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS*
I read The Threepenny Opera in school years ago, and have never seen a production on stage, so I’m by no means an expert critic for this play. Also, while I have an academic respect for Bertolt Brecht, I am not a big fan, and this production is a new, very modern (I don’t like modern!), adaptation and translation by Wallace Shawn (who I love, generally), so I was prepared going into this show for it not to be a perfect fit for me.
I attended the invited dress rehearsal, and I heard in the lobby that they’d only gotten all of the way through the show once, that afternoon. I was expecting some badness, but actually, it went pretty well. The show is too long, which I’m sure will improve in the next week or so. I wish they would shorten it by cutting the beginning, but I’m sure they won’t. When you enter, the stage is bare save for two rolling costume racks, and there are stage lights on the stage. Then the ensemble enters, and puts on costume pieces and use eyeliner to put a vertical line over each other’s eye (just one eye, but not all the same one), and then they stare at us for a bit. All very Brechtian, and also very boring to watch. I never did figure out the significance of the eye-strip, but it must have been something, because we had to watch them all rub them off at the end of the play too. The movement (especially actors entering and exiting) was all very exaggerated too which I’m sure was another Brechtian device, and one that annoyed me, it took too long.
Costumes: Issac Mizrahi. I don’t like him in general, and in this play, I don’t like him at all. Everyone looked like they were in a Goth/punk sex club (not that I would know from experience…) which I shouldn’t blame entirely on him because maybe that’s the direction he was given, but I don’t like him, so I will blame it all on him.
Set: Derek McLane. I actually liked the set a lot. They had huge neon lights that came down to announce the setting for every scene. It was fitting, and looked good.
Okay, skip to the important part, the actors. I love Alan Cumming, we all know this. He was at times creepy, and at times charming, he was always committed to his character and what was going on, and I would NEVER have cast him in this part (McHeath). I thought it was a very bad choice all around. McHeath should be very manly and devilishly handsome, and Alan isn’t either. Please don’t tell Alan I said that.
Jim Dale (Mr. Peachum), on the other hand, was everything he should be and more. I was excited to see him because I’ve never seen him perform live before, but I told myself not to get too excited because it was a weird play, and he’s not as young as he used to be, but I needn’t have worried for a moment. He was perfect, he was funny, he sounded great, and his dancing; absolutely delightful. This show is worth seeing for him alone. In fact, I wish I could see it again, just for him. I LOVE JIM DALE! I was also exited to see Christopher Innvar (Tiger Brown) live for the first time, but while he was enjoyable, I wished his part was a little meatier, and I didn’t get to hear him sing enough.
There were two performers I knew nothing about going in, and who were, I thought delightfully good. Nellie McKaye played Polly. In many ways, I’d say this is the hardest part. She’s the naive ingenue, but she’s not completely innocent (she knowingly marries a murderer and thief for one thing). Also, everyone else’s language in this adaptation is completely modern, but hers remains very stylized and somewhat stilted, and I thought Nellie did a great job with it. I felt like she played two different levels simultaneously most of the time, remaining true to her character, but also being very funny and sardonic in a way. I also really enjoyed her voice. The girl sitting behind me completely disagreed with me on every point, so you’ll have to decide for yourself. The second unexpected treat was Brain Charles Rooney (Lucy Brown). I’d heard they were going to make Lucy (Polly’s rival for McHeath’s affection) a guy in drag, and I wasn’t that excited about it, but Rooney was so great, I couldn’t begrudge the fact that he was a guy in a (very short) dress. His singing voice was so feminine, I thought one of the ensemble girls must be singing for him backstage (his speaking voice was decidedly masculine throughout), but not so. Not only was his voice beautiful, but his acting was wonderful too; he was completely committed to his character, a young girl in love. I felt real empathy for him/her. One of my favorite scenes was called “The Jealousy Duet” between Polly and Lucy. They were both really great in it. My other favorite scene was Jim Dale’s solo in the second act, I can’t remember the name of it, but you’ll know it when you see it. Priceless.
Overall, very interesting show, if not my favorite. I’m glad I saw it, and would even see it again (but hopefully it’d be at least 30 minutes shorter next time). My last criticism is the poster. Hate it! I rarely like posters with photographs of the stars anyway, but this photo, puh-lease. Alan looks like a gay magician! I cannot stand it, and there are so many things they could have done with a Threepenny poster, it’s really a shame they couldn’t use a drop of creativity. Oh well, Roundabout never listened to me when I worked for them, they’re certainly not going to start now that I don’t and still don’t give them any money for seeing their shows.
Jim Dale, Alan Cumming, Scott Elliot (director)
*A special thanks to Krystin for making it possible to see this unforgettable show!
So I know that no one actually wants to hear about someone else’s dream, but if there ever was a proper forum for such a story, a blog is it. If you don’t want to hear, stop reading.
Some people say they don’t remember their dreams. I almost always do. 75% of my dreams can be put into one of two categories: anxiety dreams (usually take the form of theatre dreams, but there are some variations) and life & death or saving the world dreams (I have some sort of hero complex). The other 25% is everything else.
Last night I dreamed that I went on a vacation to Oregon to visit the country’s oldest children’s library (it was no longer circulating). I won’t bore you with the details, but it was a lengthy, detailed dream wherein I looked at everything in the library/museum, and I had words with the curator who didn’t want to take the time to answer my questions about preservation.
This is my first “library” dream, and I don’t know whether to take it as a confirmation of my chosen profession, or an indication of an unhealthy obsession. I also don’t know where the Oregon part came from. It doesn’t make sense, I’ve never been there before, or ever thought to visit.