Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Sunday, 19 July 2009
The Guthrie's last production of the Season "When We Are Married" is the perfect Summer Ending to one of their best seasons ever. While the production itself is a mixed bag, the tone of the play is light and frothy and it puts a cap on a fantastic fare like a nice desert wine after a fulsome and filling meal. The play reunites many Guthrie favorites from Peter Michael Goetz to Sally Wingert to Barbara Byrne and gives us Turn-of-the-century Yorkshire conservatism at its best. While the accents are a bit uneven, they are for the most part not bad and dialect coach Gillian Lane-Plescia deserves kudoes.
J.B. Priestly's play starts off nicely by introducing the "downstairs" members of the household in the guise of Ruby Birtle, played brilliantly by Maggie Chestovich. Birdle serves as our 15 year old eyes on the household and relationships of some of Checklewyke's more prominent conservative citizens and their foibles. After Birdle's exit the first act slows down to a bit of a crawl introducing our young lovers in a sub plot that really fails to excite. Offering us the theme of the excitement of young preconnubial bliss, we eventually are informed that the 25th wedding anniversary being celebrated in the manor is based on a misconception and the three couples who believed themselves to have been married 25 years prior were actually wed by an undocumented clergyman and thus the validity of their marriages is cast in doubt. Priestley's 1938 play thus allows for an examination of the importance and meaning of marriage to those who have experienced it through its ups and downs. Not surprisingly some of the spouses are no longer as eager to retie the knot after having time to consider what the marital state has done to their lives. The second act plods a long setting up the situation so that the third and final section of the play can burst forth with surprises as well as tie everything up in a nice tight bow albeit with a few age-stains and tarnishes.
Set in 1908, it is clear that there is little hope of any of the women suddenly turning suffragist and renouncing marriage for the freedom of free love and Trotsky, but nonetheless there is at least the recognition of the narrowness of women's lives at the time with one character played by Linda Kelsey toying with the desire to have adventures and wear (circus) tights. It is interesting of course to see a play written in the 30s, set in '08 and dealing with issues for us one hundred years later. Priestley raises issues of hen-pecked and stingy controlling husbands and contrasts them to questions of wifely duty, pretended upper class privilege of social climbers and the inevitable acceptance a wife must have for her husband's philandering. We don't need to look farther than Elizabeth Dole and Hillary Clinton to see that these issues are still important today.
The ensemble does a marvelous job and while I felt the first two acts could have been tighter, the final one is a tour de force and worth the elements of boredom in the beginning. Sally Wingert as always turns in a fine performance as a woman of questionable virtue from Blackpool and while I am sure there are those that adored the over the top portrayal of the tiddly photographer by Colin McPhillamy, for me it was a trifle much. Brian Dennehy pulled this kind of role off beautifully as Alfred P Doolittle, and photographer Ormonroyd is a bitt too much of a buffoon and not quite enough of a self-righteous unfortunate. The six primaries are wonderful. Goetz plays the abused Herbert Soppitt marvelously and Patricia Connolly does a marvelous job of revealing an iron fist within the daintily laced sleeves of her Edwardian costume. I so enjoyed Helen Carey as the Maria Helliwell and Linda Kelsey has a wonderful patience and yet brittleness that makes her character poignant and heart-breaking. Both Dennis Creaghan and Raye Birk are convincing and enjoyable in their staunch attempts to prevent the La-di-dah fashions of the outside world from penetrating their little nest of conservatism.
There are marvelous images on the Guthrie website ( http://www.guthrietheater.org/sites/default/files/playguide_WhenWeAreMarried.pdf) which show the gorgeous costumes by Mathew J LeFebvre. I would go just to see those! Finally I want to encourage people to go in order to watch Barbara Byrne in the role of the housekeeper Mrs. Northrup. Byrne has never let us down in her performances whether of minor or major roles and her disobedient kitchen maid is an utter delight!
Posted by AfKaP at 10:59
Thursday, 16 July 2009
This seems to be going around the dog lists right now:
Breed Ban IQ Test
1. If you were the sheriff in your town and you learned that Toyotas were disproportionally involved in more auto accidents than any other model, would you:
(a) ban Toyotas and confiscate the Toyota of anyone caught driving one
(b) arrest the drivers responsible for those accidents?
2. Which course of action in Question 1 do you think would:
(a) inconvenience the fewest number of people?
(b) be the more efficient use of taxpayer dollars?
(c) be more effective in preventing future accidents involving Toyotas?
3. If your answer to Question 1 was:
(a) -- ban Toyotas -- and the sheriff's department learned that, by a statistical quirk, drivers of confiscated Toyotas were now perpetrating further accidents by driving, say, Hondas, would you then ban Hondas? If not, why not?
4. If your answer to Question 3 was, "Ban Hondas, too, dammit, something HAS to be done," then would you propose a ban on ALL car models with names ending in "a," such as Kias and Mazdas, reasoning that all these brands are pretty much made for the same purpose? If not, why not? If so, how would you deal with car brands that end in the SOUND of "a," such as Chevrolet?
5. Are you beginning to understand that:
(a) because most of the tens of millions of pet dogs are NOT registered, "breed" cannot be defined in a meaningful way?
(b) that miscreants employ pit bulls, German shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Akitas, Great Danes -- that is, whichever dog is handy -- as personal tools of terrorism?
(c) that law enforcement authorities could waste inordinate amounts of time (and, therefore, taxpayer dollars) policing a breed ban, adding to their jobs a task perhaps even more meaningless than enforcing jaywalking laws?
(d) that the people most likely affected by a breed ban -- that is, those inconvenienced, harrassed and likely to suffer damage -- are the 99.9% majority of utterly innocent dogs and people?
(e) most important, that breed bans do ESSENTIALLY NOTHING to address the real problem: Human scumbags who abuse animals?
Key: If your answer to any part of Question 5 is "no," I'm afraid you have flunked. Please go back and reconsider your responses.
Hint: The answer to the question, "What shall we do about the bank robber who got away on a bicycle?" is not: Ban bicycles.
Real answer: If your dog hurts someone, you -- not the dog -- should be responsible. Anti-cruelty and anti-dog-fighting laws already exist.
Tell your mayor, and city or county or provincial council to up the current penalties, and insist that judges enforce those penalties against lawbreakers.
Posted by AfKaP at 10:09
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
I have a few more photos from our California trip I wanted to put up.
After our return fro the Delta we still were not finished with our perambulations. We had a nice dinner and then decided to take a walk around town. Even in the dusk it is a charming city with lots of things to see. First we decided to walk around the Capitol grounds.
Arnold didn't invite us into his office, so we decided to visit the rose garden instead. Even though it was dark I was able to get a few nice shots of the abundantly flowering landscape.
This one was out of focus so I photoshopped it - I could just imagine a French Impressionist out there painting the beautiful flowers.
We also visited the Viet Nam Veterans War Memorial. I'm not sure which version of this one I like best.
There was this interesting discovery site too with markers for every place there was a star when California became a state.
Another beautiful place was this old Art Deco movie theater.
There is just something magical about Sacramento at night.
On the next day we went to see the old Leland Stanford mansion. They wouldn't allow pictures inside the mansion, but here are a few exteriors.
Here is an historic shot from the museum.
There were also a few images on the web that I was able to scrounge of the lovely Victorian style home. This is a stairwell in the home.
This is a shot of the parlor.
Evidently this is one of Eadward Muybridge's shots of the dining room.
I highly recommend a visit to the Stanford mansion, if the Governor hasn't allowed this State Park to be closed down because of the budget.
Posted by AfKaP at 18:44
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
I've actually been doing some weeding this year. Unfortunately our 5 month old bulldog puppy likes to weed too
and she seems to take out an iris a day.
I decided I need to set some boundaries.
These aren't real fences, but at least they give her an idea of where she is allowed and where she isn't. (At least I try to convince myself of this! )
So far it has actually helped and it also seems to make my sprawling jungle garden look a bit more civilized.
Posted by AfKaP at 12:04
Thursday, 2 July 2009
We took a really interesting trip out to the California Delta while we were out west. The delta is really an inverted delta in which the river is higher than the land near it so it is kept out of the fields by levees.
A most interesting stop we made was to a ghost town called Locke. This used to be a Chinese community during the building of the railroads. This is a monument in honor of their sacrifice and mistreatment.
The buildings are pretty much the way they used to be back in the day. There aren't any opium dens or brothels left (as far as I could tell), nonetheless there is definitely an old timey atmosphere here.
Here are a few images of the town.
It definitely has that out west look! We went into a junk shop and I had to buy something in this photo - bet you can guess what!
No! Not the skull! Everyone needs a ceramic doll torso with the head sliced off! (Those are gloves being displayed in it!) By the way, the dog is totally freaked out by that doll! She barks insanely whenever she sees it we have to keep it covered!
More buildings in Locke:
Isn't this a great bit of Americana!?
Of great interest is the garden at this house.
Here is a closer view so you can see the planters.
Behind Locke is a state park (probably being closed down with the governor's budget cuts.
Lunch was crawfish at Isleton Joe's in where else, but Isleton.
It was a nice, neighborhood type biker place. The Crawfish festival used to be held in Isleton, but I guess there were financial issues this year, so it got cancelled or moved or postponed or something!
There was a bike store and this next door.
We spent a little while in Isleton looking for coffee
but then we realized that was the wrong beverage for the location, so it was off to the Bogle vineyards.
You can see why this is such a successful place!
Aren't they luscious?
Posted by AfKaP at 15:05