LBJs

*As Andre Codrescu once observed, it's been raining since the dawn of time.  I'm not sure if he meant that it's been doing so without interruption, but that's how it's starting to feel here.  The string of rainy days is producing the kind of oppressively grey and green landscape that I thought one had to read about, probably in The Children of Green Knowe or something that takes place on a moor.  If it weren't for the quartet of azaleas exploding into bloom beside our driveway, it would be downright oppressive.

*Speaking of the quartet of azaleas, I should note that the house we now live in has a variety of features that were obviously put in by well-meaning individuals, but not necessarily individuals who thought the way Kelly and I think.  The azaleas are a case in point.  Closest to the house is the bush with white flowers. Beside it, so close that the color is the only thing suggesting it's a separate plant, is the bush with heliotrope flowers. Beyond that one, in the same configuration, is the one with magenta flowers. And last, closest to the road, is the bush with scarlet flowers.  I think the previous residents were going for a nice gradual-spectrum effect, but it comes off as less a rainbow and more a striped Merimekko print from about 1973.

*The other strange/irritating features of the house include a remarkably uneven set of stairs to the basement; they're shallow, generally speaking, with the lifters varying in height from 6.5" to over 7", while they vary in depth from 9.25" to 10", with a solid 12-incher at the very top.  Let's just say we go up and down rather carefully.  Finally, there's the placement of light switches. There isn't a single light in the house with more than one switch, and it's inevitably placed at the wrong end of the room or hallway. When I wake up in the morning, I must walk through the darkness to the other end of the hall, and then the other end of the dining room, and then the other end of the kitchen, to turn on the lights; needless to say, when I go to bed at night, I must turn off the kitchen lights, then the dining room lights, and then the hall lights, after which I can walk through the darkness to my bedroom.

*After a long period without professional theater, I got to accompany my English students to the Kennedy Center's production of Ragtime, which was a rousing experience all the way.  I'll advise you all to keep an eye out for Quentin Earl Darrington, who commanded the stage as Coalhouse Walker, Jr., with a mighty voice and palpable charisma; he was matched by Jennlee Shallow as Sarah, whose emotional voice was a perfect complement.  Manoel Felciano did a great job as Tateh, and Christiane Noll was a wonderful Mother. All in all, a highly successful production, brought off largely through a great cast and a bold bit of set design by Derek McLane: a five-level set of steel causeways was the home to most of the action. Beautifully done.

*With Maine's legislative/gubernatorial move yesterday, same-sex marriage is now legal in one-tenth of the country (and most of New England). If you'd asked me in 2005 when the U.S. would reach this point, I'd have said 2015 at the earliest. It's nice to know that, even at this late date, America retains the ability to pleasantly surprise me.

*After discovering a link to a bunch of Amazon.com's free music downloads (behold!  I reproduce it thus!), I've been happily building up a list of tunes by unfamiliar and semi-familiar artists and new tunes by familiar artists.  Among the former group, my favorites (all of which you can find on the other side of that link) are the relentlessly cheery "Sleepy Tigers" by Her Space Holiday, "Dead Sounds" by the Raveonettes, and the melodic, wistful "Don't Be Afraid of the Light That Shines Within You" by Luka Bloom (whom I know only from his competent but not stellar cover of "Earn Enough for Us" on the XTC tribute album A Testimonial Dinner).  Among the semi-familiar names were Iron & Wine, whose "Belated Promise Ring" shares the rich melodic sense and low-fi sound of their version of "Such Great Heights," but which is decidedly less mournful.  There's also "La Luz del Ritmo," a stomping good Latin/ska workout from Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.  The most familiar names included John Doe, whose "The Golden State" sounds like a happy medium between X and the Knitters, right down to the addition of a plaintive female voice; Loudon Wainwright III, who reworks his own "Motel Blues" into a slightly desperate-sounding lament, rather than the goofy come-on it used to be; and New Zealand's fourth-most-popular folk-parody duo, Flight of the Conchords, whose autobiographical rap "Hurt Feelings" is yet another hilariously bathetic look into the world of pop music.  My favorite song of the bunch, however, may be the David Byrne/Brian Eno collaboration "Strange Overtones."  It's a danceable polyrhythmic delight very much in the vein of Talking Heads' Naked or Eno's superb 1990 album with John Cale, Wrong Way Up, and I'm delighted to see both Eno and Byrne willingly exploring pop with their usual intelligence and creativity.  Check 'em all out, along with tunes by Coldplay, My Morning Jacket, Bob Mould, and Death Cab for Cutie.

*After downloading all those freebies, however, be aware that you may find yourself in the same straits I did, yearning for yet more new music.  As a result, I chose to actually break out the credit card and do some purchasing of songs new and old:
- Jonathan Coulton/ "First of May"
- Joan Baez/ "Diamonds and Rust"
- Stewart Copeland & Stan Ridgway/ "Don't Box Me In"
- Katrina & the Waves/ "Going Down to Liverpool"
- Joe Henry/ "Time Is a Lion"
- Bruce Springsteen/ "Pink Cadillac"
If you're wondering, I heard the Joe Henry tune on WNRN while driving to work the other day and was immediately intrigued; the Coulton came into my view earlier this week thanks to a link at John Scalzi's Whatever; the Baez, Springsteen, and Katrina tunes are old favorites I just never obtained; and the Copeland/Ridgway jumped back into my brain after I began a long and rather meandering search of YouTube.com that began with this rather inexplicable video by the legendary DasWaff.

*No, it's no easier to wait on the word from an editor than it used to be.

*Dixon wrapped up a triumphant performance as (deep breath) Thurston Wheelis, Elmer Watkins, Bertha Bumiller, Yippy the Rat-Terrier/Chihuahua Mix, Leonard Childers, Pearl Burras, R.R. Snavely, Reverend Spikes, Sheriff Givens, and Hank Bumiller in last week's WFS production of Greater Tuna.  It's a demanding series of roles, equalled only by the ten roles played by his castmate Dennis, and requiring a series of furious costume changes, but he emerged from the experience a more savvy and experienced actor, and one who will, I hope, go on to even greater triumphs.

*Ian, meanwhile, is wrapping up his high-school career with a bunch of AP exams (whee.) and an internship in the Shenandoah National Park.  So far he's been involved in a day-long attempt to get rid of invasive Mile-a-minute weeds and a morning session with a ranger showing the public birds of prey (in this case, a barred owl and an eastern screech owl).  His fascination with the history of the park and the mountain folk's displacement has been the main thrust behind this project, and we're hoping he continues his historical education at college next year. He's decided on Virginia Commonwealth University, in part because he thinks the urban environment will be as different from Woodberry's rural setting as possible.

*Yes, it is entirely possible that next year Kelly and I will have one kid in college and another at boarding school.  What exactly are we going to do at home?

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on May 7, 2009 6:10 AM.

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