mojosmom: (Default)
The Humanities Festival ended (for me) with an interview with Umberto Eco, whose The Prague Cemetery I recently finished, as well as a talk by Ian Lindsay, a professor of anthropology, about technology in the archaeological record. Both very interesting.

I saw a marvelous play at Court Theatre, An Iliad, a one-man show, that one man being "The Poet" (played by Timothy Edward Kane), and he is with us to recite his poem, as he has been doing for audiences for 3200 years. It was quite wonderful, gripping and timely. It's mostly, though not entirely, Homer (in the Robert Fagles translation, with a few lines in the original Greek). When The Poet rattles off a long list of wars since Troy, well, it was stunning. More here

Also saw a not-so-great play at a small theatre, The Beauty of the Father, by Nilo Cruz (whose Anna of the Tropics I liked very much). It's a bit of a tangle, there's a bit where one character explodes (figuratively, not literally!) that came out of nowhere, and the end is confused. The acoustics at the venue were not great, so some of it (including that explosion) was hard to understand.

I've done a couple of literary events - the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Induction ceremony and an opening at the Poetry Foundation, and I did a great Chicago Architecture Foundation tour of "(Mostly) Indoor Art". That last one on a chilly day that came hard on the heels of one so lovely that I had lunch outdoors. Chicago is like that in the fall!

Last Friday was the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers annual dinner. Because it's our 25th year, we honored the founders and past presidents, nearly all of whom showed up. It was a splendid evening, seeing old friends and meeting some new people. We have filled a number of board vacancies, and I think the new blood will be of great benefit to the organization.

It is such a dreary day today. Gray and rainy and cold. I was going to go out and do a couple of errands, but I'd rather stay inside. So I'm getting started on cleaning and straightening up the apartment ahead of my annual after-Thanksgiving open house next Sunday. I got quite a bit of the necessary shopping done yesterday; another advantage of retirement is that I can shop during the quiet time of day - a particular bonus before the holidays! I just have to pick up the wine, and the produce of course I won't get until Friday or Saturday. But anything that can be stashed in the freezer or pantry has been bought.

Stacey will be arriving late Thursday afternoon, so I will fix us a vegetarian lasagna for Thanksgiving dinner.
mojosmom: (Default)
but I am using the excuse that I was out very late last night. I went to the Jeff Awards (a Teatro Vista ensemble member was up for Actress in a Principal Role - she didn't win, but the competition was stiff), and didn't get home until well after midnight. So this morning, I woke up, fed the cat, and went back to bed. The fact that it is gray and dreary and raining was further incentive to catch a few extra winks.

Also yesterday, I plumbed. The handle of the toilet in the master bath busted on Sunday, so I learned all about reverse threads and fixed it myself. Another benefit to the internet: there are all kinds of videos on YouTube showing you how to do simple stuff like that.

I've been to a few Chicago Humanities Festival events. The theme this year is Technology, so I heard Laurie Anderson talking about the use of technology in her work (with a slam at Mp3s), David Staley on how digitization is changing the way history is taught, and Travis Jackson on "Capturing the Jazz Moment", about technology as a key player in the way recordings are made. Good stuff.

A couple of plays this week, too, both featuring Teatro Vista ensemble members. Chicago Boys, part of the Goodman Theatre's "New Stages Amplified" series, is about a protegé of Milton Friedman's who goes to Chile to promote free-market economics at the time of the Pinochet coup. Then I saw "The Great Fire" at Lookingglass Theatre, about, obviously, the Chicago fire of 1871, the text of which is, in large part, drawn from contemporary accounts of the fire. Here's the fun part: the theatre is housed in the Water Tower pumping station, one of the city's surviving pre-fire buildings. The fire itself was personified by a red-haired, innocent-faced, actress/acrobat/dancer in white Victorian-style garb, who did an absolutely amazing job. Great show.


Oct. 26th, 2010 07:17 pm
mojosmom: (Default)
Okay, now that I've calmed down from last night's excitement, I'll talk about what I did this weekend.

Friday night we went to see Carmen at Lyric Opera. Carmen was "meh", Don Jose got better in the second act, and Escamillo was excellent.

Saturday was the University of Chicago Humanities Day, which is always chock-a-block with interesting programs. I went to hear: Justin Steinberg on "Dante's Right of Way through Hell", Martha Feldman, the keynote speaker, on "Castrato De Luxe: Blood, Gifts, and Goods in the Making of Early Modern Singing Stars", and a panel discussion on "Robie House, 100 Years New", with Katherine Fischer Taylor, Donald Hoffmann and Geoffrey Goldberg. I had signed up for "The Hews of Modern Babylon, June, 1941" with Orit Bashkin, but I really needed to do some grocery shopping, because Sunday was going to be very busy. So I went to the grocery store (and the Hyde Park Cats bake sale!), between the keynote and the Robie House panel. At that last, they announced that there would be a reception at Robie House, which is just one block from where the event was. So I went to that, then went home to dinner, and then back to Robie House.

That night, there was a site specific installation of multi-media artwork there, called Projecting Modern, by Luftwerk, a collaboration between Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero. It was fantastic! They used projected images, light and sound, playing off Wright's use of light and angles. It was mostly on the third floor of the house, where the bedrooms are, an area that is not normally open to the public, even on the guided tours. I wasn't going to miss that chance!
Closet/dressing alcove, master bedroom, Robie House

The weather was gorgeous, warm and soft, so there was much hanging out on the balcony with glasses of wine and noshes. And more light projections:
Projection - eaves

Sunday was the Chicago Humanities Festival Hyde Park Day. A few years ago, they decided to have a day of events in Hyde Park, a couple of weeks before the main event. This year, I volunteered. First, because I thought it would be fun, and, second, because volunteers get two free tickets for every program worked. My stint covered two programs, so that meant tickets to four CHF events! Even though they are cheap anyway, when you go to a bunch it can add up, so volunteering is a good deal. I was at the Oriental Institute, mostly ticket-taking, and helping set up and clean up, but got to sit in on a panel discussing rare medical texts. It was most interesting, with a doctor, an art historian and a special collections librarian talking about the books from their different points of view.

Then I dashed up north, getting stuck in Bears (football) traffic on the way, for a reception that followed a performance of 26 Miles, a play being produced by Teatro Vista in collaboration with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. (One of the great things about the Chicago theatre scene is the way so many of the ensembles do collaborate.) It was held at a nearby wine bar which has a roof deck, and since the weather was again fabulous, we mostly hung out outside. They had food, too, so I didn't need to worry about dinner.

So that was the weekend.
mojosmom: (chf)

Wayne Koestenbaum: The Anatomy of Harpo Marx:
Koestenbaum is a poet and cultural critic, and, in addition to his well-known, The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality and the Mystery of Desire, has written books about Andy Warhol and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. He's interested in celebrity. Now he's taken on Harpo Marx. This was an odd lecture. He began by saying he was going to "over-analyze" moments from Harpo's work. And he sure did. The thing is, though, that it was hard to tell if he was kidding or not! I and a couple of people near me were in stitches the whole time. It reminded me rather of the book, "Why Paint Cats", that send-up of art criticism that so many people took seriously.

Ars Antigua: Musical Jokes of the Baroque
This was fun! Drunken night watchmen, cuckoos and frogs and such, all set to lovely baroque music.

In between these two events, I had a bit of time, so I went over to the Art Institute to see the Caravaggio, "The Supper at Emmaus", which is there on loan from the National Gallery in London. It's displayed along with a number of the AIOCs own “Caravaggesque” paintings. (Thank you, London! We're sending you "The Crucifixion" by Francisco de Zurbarán in return. Enjoy!) I also saw the exhibit of Victorian photocollage, which was very interesting, indeed.

Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South Tell Their Stories
E. Patrick Johnson, professor, chair, and director of graduate studies in the department of performance studies and professor of African American Studies at Northwestern University, presented through performance bits of the interviews he conducted for the book of that name, and talked about the process of writing it (finding informants, etc.). A southerner himself, Johnson shows that what you think you know about the south isn't necessarily accurate. He notes that certain behaviors that in the the north would be considered markers of homosexuality (for instance, a man calling other men "darlin'") are just the way things are in the south. He made a similar observation to what Florence King said in her essay, "The Gay Confederation", that gay men "often maintain surprisingly high profiles in our allegedly homophobic region". Not to say all is peaches and cream, though.

Commedia dell'arte: Managing Chaos
A marvelous discourse about, and performance of, commedia dell'arte. The performers showed how, with very little in the way of script, stock characters and stock jokes can be transformed through improvisation into wildly funny comedy.

Other stuff:

Friday was the annual dinner of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. We honored Randy Stone, former Cook County Public Defender (and the guy who really raised the bar at that office, turned into a truly professional law office instead of a home for political hacks) and former head of the University of Chicago Law School's clinical program (where he still teaches). A good time was had by all, and the speakers were uniformly funny, and, more important, brief! I saw lots of folks I hadn't seen in a while, so there was a lot of indiscriminate hugging.

Sunday, after the CHF stuff, I went to the Court Theatre's production of Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep which was great fun. Five roles played by two actors, with incredibly quick costume changes (the backstage folks got huge applause at the end). I'd seen the play a few years ago, but I sure didn't mind seeing it again.

On Monday, instead of our regular Italian class, most of us went to hear Italian author and activist Clara Sereni reading from her book, Casalinghitudine, which has recently been translated into English as Keeping House. She read in Italian and her translator then read the passages in English, followed by a Q&A and then some food and wine.

Yesterday, I went over to campus for the first Artspeaks program of the season. Dawn Upshaw, with members of eighth blackbird and some other musicians, performed Osvaldo Golijov's song cycle, "Ayre", which was inspired by Luciano Berio's "Folk Songs". The piece draws largely on Al-Andalus, that period of time in southern Spain when the three Abrahamic religions coexisted in relative harmony. The texts were in Spanish, Ladino, Arabic, Hebrew, some traditional music and texts reworked, some contemporary music and poetry. It was gorgeous. Following the performance, Golijov and the musicians were interviewed by Shulamit Ran, who, like Golijov, has been a composer-in-residence at the Chicago Symphony.

Tonight I didn't go anywhere except grocery shopping.

I've been catching up on back issues of The New Yorker, and found a little something for the bookstore and library employees among you.
mojosmom: (chf)

Sander Gilman: Dr. Freud's Little Jokes, or How the Jews Became Funny
An interesting lecture. Gilman's view is that "Jewish humor" is Jews joking about Jews to Jews about other Jews, primarily élites joking about non-élites. He posits that jokes about Jews as a people did not arise until Jews began to be acculturated into western European society. As the lecture title suggests, he refers a lot to Freud's work (to whom, oddly, he bears something of a resemblance).

Mary Beard: What Made the Romans Laugh?
Beard is a classics professor at Cambridge, classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, and blogger (A Don's Life). Her discussion centered around jokes from the Philolegos, a fourth-century compilation of jokes (which she believes to be a sort of reference book). She points out that we can't really answer the question, and that even when we laugh at the same joke, we can't be sure that we are laughing at it for the same reason.

Second City: Museum Pieces, Sketches at an Exhibition
A disappointment. For one thing, it was fifteen minutes shorter than advertised, starting fifteen minutes late, yet ending at the scheduled time. But had it been 45 minutes of great stuff, I wouldn't have minded. But the actors took vintage Second City material (from the first couple of years of SC), and performed it without any real spark. There was occasional laughter, yes, but for anyone who had heard the original work, this was but a shadow. And they didn't even do the Harry Bouras joke! (Right before the iconic Alan Arkin/Barbara Harris "Museum Pieces" sketch, there's a bit with Severn Darden as a museum tour guide, describing a work by Harry Bouras.
Darden: "Ze artist has taken leetle pieces of metal and crammed zem willy-nilly into ze frame!"
Woman, played by Mina Kolb (firmly): "I don't like it."
Darden: "Vell, you're wrong!")


Chicago Tribune Literary Prize: Tony Kushner
Tony Kushner doesn't generally give speeches; he prefers a conversational format, and that is what we had this morning - a conversation with the Trib's theatre critic, Chris Jones. Tony was his usual discursive, digressive, brilliant self, opining on Lincoln (he's just written a screenplay about Lincoln for Steven Spielberg), Afghanistan, current and former presidents, gay marriage, playwriting, and just about anything else that came to mind. I wish I had half his brain and articulateness.

The trickster is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, characters in theology and mythology. Think Loki, Odysseus, Satan. This performance showed two cultural views of the trickster. The first was presented by the storytelling team, In the Spirit (Emily Hooper Lansana and Glenda Zahra Baker), telling stories of Anansi, the spider trickster of West African stories. This was followed by Pranita Jain and I Gusti Ngurah Kertayuda, dancing a story from the Ramayana in which the demon king Ravana disguises himself in order to kidnap the princess Sita. Lots of fun was had by all, and it's always interesting to see how the same idea is manifested in a variety of cultures, separated by time and space.

Aaron Freeman: The Book of Job and the Comedy of Suffering
A guy who is African-American and Jewish probably knows something about suffering. Is suffering funny? Freeman makes it so, with this contemporary take on the Book of Job. (When G-d lets Satan make Job's life miserable, He hands him his iPhone saying, "there's an app for that"!) It was both amusing and thought-provoking. (Freeman, along with his wife Sharon Rosenzweig, has just published The Comic Torah.)

More next weekend!
mojosmom: (chf)
So, it begins. Two weekends of (practically) non-stop lectures, concerts, readings, panel discussions, and all variety of interesting things. Saturday was a bit crazy as I took in four events. First up, a lecture by archaeology professor and superintendent of antiquities of Rome, Adriano La Regina, who talked about (natch) Roman monuments. Next, a bunch of lawyers on the subject of habeas corpus. Both of those were at the Northwestern University School of Law. Then I dashed to the First United Methodist Church to hear Richard Sennett talk about craftsmanship, and then back up north to the Museum of Contemporary Art for a staged reading of poet Yusuf Komunyakaa's version of Gilgamesh.

Sunday was fairly quiet as I went to just one event, a discussion called "Queer Lyrics", with writers Achy Obejas and Mark Doty (got books signed!), moderated by poet C.C. Carter.
mojosmom: (busy bee)
It really was a busy week. I've told you about the plays, and Miss Manners. Here's the rest.

Thursday night, I went to a going-away party for a co-worker who is leaving the office to join a local law firm, but left early to go to a reading at 57th Street Books. Kurt Elling (jazz musician and former neighbor) has published a book of his lyrics, so I thought I should pop in for that. Bought the book, of course!

Friday night, there was a lecture at Columbia College by Julie Chen, of Flying Fish Press. I love her work! After the lecture, I went down to the gallery at the Center for Book and Paper Arts to see the current show, "Reading, Writing & 'rithmetic", all sorts of old writing manuals, alphabet books, etc.

Saturday, my friends and I had what will likely be the last picnic of the season. I went that morning to the Green City Market to buy some veggies for the picnic, and while I was there I found some yummy Concord grapes and some Japanese sweet potatoes. I love the latter. I cut them into bite-size pieces, deep-fry them, toss them in a simple syrup flavored with soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Delish!

Sunday afternoon, I went over to the Hyde Park Art Center. They were having artists' receptions for a couple of exhibits. One was student work, and I didn't much care for most of it, though there were a couple of sketches that I liked. But I really liked the "Plate Convergence" exhibit. It consists of plates done by a local ceramicist, as well as historic plates from the Yamaguchi family. And there's a story! In 1592, the Ri brothers were captured during the pottery wars, and brought their art to Japan. The Yamaguchi family learned the art and have been practicing it ever since. Shoji Yamaguchi heard of the "Black Clay of Itawamba County" in Mississippi, and moved there in mid-50's, later marrying an African-American woman (They were tragically killed in a car crash in Japan in 1986, but their son carries on the tradition). Many of his pieces are specifically designed as containers for traditonal African-American foods, like this collards pot:
Collards pot

Then there was an exhibit that included some very cool altered books and book-like pieces. I liked these whimsical "Fungus Beast Books":
Fungus Beast Books 1,2,3

I walked back home via Harold Washington Park, and checked out the boat pond. They've just recently re-opened it with a nice new fountain, but there were only a couple of kids using it. I think it hasn't been re-discovered yet.

other stuff

I talked to my kid sister, who is doing well. She's just started her hormone treatment, and is busily planning a trip to Osaka in October. (Well, she's reading up on Japan, and leaving the planning to the trip organizers!)

Tickets for the Chicago Humanities Festival went on sale to the general public today! YAY! I was surprised, and very pleased, to find that members hadn't glommed onto all the Philip Pullman tickets. I'm going to hear him twice! AND Garry Wills. As well as a performance of Noye's Fludde (unfortunately, not the one at Rockefeller Chapel, because I have a conflict that day), a one-woman show about Hattie McDaniel, a performance of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with a reading of the sonnets which he wrote, and the closing cabaret concert, featuring songs about the weather! (The theme this year is "The Climate of Concern".) Now you may think that's a lot of stuff, but the fact is that I usually find a lot more events that I want to go to. Oh, well, it saves me juggling and rushing around.
mojosmom: (chf)
The theme for this year's Chicago Humanities Festival is Peace and War: Facing Human Conflict, so naturally there are a great many programs dealing with Homer's most famous of all war poems, the Iliad. Yesterday I went to three of them.

The first was poet Stanley Lombardo reading from his translation of the poem. He gave us the first several lines in the original, and then read in English the death of Hector, to the accompaniment of a small drum. Then Derek Collins, professor of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan, lectured on how the Iliad was performed in classical Greece. Very scholarly and technical, but interesting all the same, particularly following Lombardo.

Then last night I went to a performance by the Aurea Ensemble of War Music, a contemporary rendering of the Iliad by the poet Christopher Logue, with music by Paul Phillips. The actors played multiple roles and wore basic clothes (jeans, casual clothes, etc.), the only costuming being a long indigo-tie-dyed piece of cloth that one actor draped around herself when she was Thetis, and which was also used to represent the sea at one point. Three of the male actors doubled female roles (Athene, Hera and Aphrodite) and camped it up quite a bit, which at first I thought was weird but then decided it worked, because, as Shakespeare knew, a bit of levity in the midst of tragedy is good theatre. And this was an extraordinarily powerful retelling of a powerful story. My one criticism was that the venue didn't work with the staging, at least if you were on the first floor. Because the room was flat, and the stage only slightly elevated, that part of the action that was played on the floor of the stage was difficult to see (and I was only in the fifth row)! Lots of craning of necks. That was unfortunate, because in detracted, particularly at the end, with Achilles lying on the ground cradling the body of Patroclus in his arms.

Tonight, Shakespeare.
mojosmom: (Music)
The annual Chicago Humanities Festival has begun! I've been to a few events already, some great, some not so great. A rundown of what I've done thus far follows.

Last week I did two cabaret programs in one evening, one on early French and German cabaret programs, the second the ASCAP cabaret program they do every year. The first was the best. I'd no idea that Erik Satie wrote cabaret music! The second was okay, but they put the best performance first, always a mistake. (By the way, that performer, Jeff Blumenkrantz, did a song that should inspire everyone participating in NaNoWriMo, called "My Book". It's about an author who, having spent his advance, asks his friends to come delete the games from his computer, take his TV away, etc., so he can concentrate on writing! It was written for a song cycle for Audra McDonald on the Seven Deadly Sins; it represents "sloth".)

Yesterday, I did three programs, a Great Books discussion of a Sanskrit legend, led by Wendy Doniger, followed by a lecture by her, both focused on masking and identity. Interesting stuff! Then last night I went to the most wonderful, amazing program, The Silver River, with composer Bright Sheng and librettist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, etc.). They met at a CHF program a number of years ago, and now have collaborated on this piece, based on the Chinese story (common throughout Asia) of the cowherd and the goddess-weaver. The result was tremendously interesting. The story is that a cowherd sees the goddess-weaver (who creates the stars for the silver river - what we in the west call the Milky Way) and falls in love. It's mutual. But the Jade Emperor (of Heaven) knows that this union may destroy the universe and sends his emissary, a water buffalo, to earth, to keep an eye on things. A compromise is reached whereby the lovers may spend one day a year together, and this day is now celebrated throughout Asia.

While we didn't get a full performance of the work, we did get to hear a pipa and an erhu player with traditional music that Bright Sheng used for the opera, and saw a video of part of a performance done at the Spoleto Festival.

It's all sorts of genres working together They wanted to make the role of the goddess a non-speaking role, so originally decided to have it done by a pipa player. (A pipa is a traditional Chinese instrument similar to a lute.) But that didn't work because it was too static, so they doubled the role, having it done simultaneously by a pipa player and a dancer. Doing that, though, meant that they needed to double the role of the cowherd, and that's done with a flutist and a western-style operatic tenor. The water buffalo was almost comedic in parts, played by a stunning African-American actress. The Jade Emperor was performed by a Chinese opera performer, in Chinese. It sounds odd, but truly worked, and I'm only sorry that the Festival didn't set aside time for us to see the entire video. (Sadly, it's a working video, not commercially released.)

Today, I went to a lecture on German-Jewish filmmakers. That was not so succesful, at least in part because they didn't have a computer that could handle the speaker's Power Point program! So he did without, and was rather dry, which was too bad.

Then I went to hear about "The Stranger in Opera", featuring members and alumni of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists. That was splendid, especially baritone Quinn Kelsey, who could probably be heard throughout the entire building, not just the recital hall. Also heard were Jonita Lattimore (soprano), Elizabeth De Shong (mezzo) and James Cornelison (tenor), all good, too.

Coincidentally, I have just finished a book about the LOCAA (Fortissimo: Backstage at the Opera with Sacred Monsters and Young Singers, which is part of a huge stack that I need to journal). I have a slight acquaintance with an assistant conductor at Lyric, who garners much praise in the book. (He played harpsichord for Friday's excellent performance of Rossini's La Cenerentola, and joined us for dinner beforehand. It's always nice when he does that, because we get the inside scoop -including very important information such as "the first act is an hour and three-quarters, so go to the bathroom first"!)

I came home and did the invitations for my annual Sunday-After-Thanksgiving open house. It's getting kind of close! Just three weeks away, so I have to get them out. A stop at the post office tomorrow for stamps is in order.

Then my kid sister called to commiserate with me about Mr. Mojo. She has been travelling a lot for work, and recently attended a board meeting of a professional organization in Charleston, SC. If I hadn't been planning to attend BC's 2007 convention there, she'd have convinced me. Her meetings (or some of them) apparently took place in the Aquarium. She really liked the way it was set up. Being chefs, they ate at a variety of restaurants, and she said the food was very good, with some very creative work being done. So everybody plan on going, okay??
mojosmom: (Music)
The Chicago Humanities Festival has announced their fall program, and I am sitting here tearing my hair out trying to decide which programs to go to. First, I go through the program and highlight everything that sounds good. Then I cross off the ones that are on nights I have conflicts. After that, I see which ones overlap, or are at venues such that I can't make it from one to the next in time. That's when the agony begins. Wendy Doniger or Jan Morris? Or a program on what the fashionable traveler wore? Palladian houses or The Stranger in Opera? Lectures on food and Julia Child, or Edith Grossman on translation, or Latin Jazz, or women and the tango? (I need to be at least four people the afternoon of November 12th!) At least nothing conflicts with the closing lecture by Salman Rushdie or the closing concert of Handel's music.

Now I just have to get on the phone the absolute second tickets go on sale. Advance sale is available to members, and people buying tickets for four or more events. How could you not find at least four events to go to? And at $5 for most of them (and many free), it's the biggest bargain in town.
mojosmom: (Default)
Let's see, the weekend started Friday night hearing the Newberry Consort. Actually, only one member, director Mary Springfels, joined by harpsichordist Barbara Weiss and soprano Christine Brandes. Hasse, Handel, C.P.E. Bach. Splendid, especially Handel's O Numi eterni (from "La Lucrezia"), a real tour de force. Think she's a bit pissed off? "May the ground beneath his feet open up/And the air the evil Roman breathes grow foul/Wherever his step leads him, or his eyes turn/May he meet ghosts and expect destruction."

Saturday was more of the CHF. In the morning, I went to a panel discussion by the three co-editors of the Chicago Encyclopaedia at the Newberry Library. I was very tempted to buy a copy, but didn't want to lug it around the rest of day! It was quite interesting to hear how fraught the process was. How do you choose what (or who) to include is a very complex and difficult question. Exciting news is that they hope to have it online in the Spring, with even more info. Even better, if things work out, online access will be free.

Then, having some time before the next program, I went to Tender Buttons and bought some new buttons for my red wool knit suit, an errand I have been intending to do for some time but just hadn't gotten around to. The ones I bought are gilt on glass, kind of a braided design. Now I just need to take them to the tailor to have them sewn on. One button (even two) I'll two myself, but 13? No, I don't think so. I also stopped at Hidden Treasures, but found none. Browsed a bit at Border's and then had lunch at a Thai restaurant (chicken mussaman curry and cucumber salad). Stomach satisfied, I went to St. James Chapel at Quigley Prep to satisfy my soul with a bit more early music. Ars Antigua doing Stradella, Vivaldi, Telemann and J.S. Bach.

Home to rest for a couple of hours, then I went to the Mexican Fine Arts Center for a performance of Sins of Sor Juana and yummy food, a benefit for Teatro Vista. The play was quite good, the story of Mexico's "Tenth Muse", a seventeenth-century poet and nun. It was unexpectedly humorous, and was told in flashback and dream sequences. The acting was generally up to Teatro Vista's excellent standards, though one of the characters (the viceroy) was played a bit too broadly for my taste. (More about Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.)

Up early again today to get back to the Newberry Library for the panel on Illuminated Manuscripts. The talk focused on a Book of Hours that the Newberry bought a couple of years ago from the Gould collection (hence, the "Gould Hours"). I actually saw it during one of their Associates' Days shortly after its acquisition. Paul Saenger talked about that acquisition, and then James Marrow from Princeton talked about the illuminator and his work, with side-by-side slide comparisons of his early and later work. Sandra Hindman talked about its place in the world of illuminated manuscripts, how we can use the book to learn about its maker, its owner, etc. Absolutely fascinating stuff. So much so, and so much information, that I was sure they had gone way over their time and I'd miss my next event. But in fact it only ran 15 minutes long (very unusual, ordinarily the CHF events run like clockwork).

Speaking of clockwork (nice segue!), the next item was a brief tour at the Adler Planetarium of a special temporary exhibit featuring their collection of sundials and other early tools for Time measurement. We started outside, with the Henry Moore equatorial sundial, and then went into the exhibit to see some very unusual and very complex bits of clockwork. Afterwards, I ate lunch in their café. The food was not great, but the view is one of the best in the city.

Having some time to kill before the third and final CHF event of the day (and last for this year), I caught the free trolly back downtown and thought I'd pop into the Art Institute Museum Shop for a bit of holiday shopping. Well, sorry to say, the only person who benefitted was me. It was 20% member discount day. And they had the Chicago Encyclopedia. Now, it's not cheap, though even at full price it's under $10 a pound, less than filet mignon. But with the discount, I couldn't resist. And then, I saw on the 25% off "shopworn" table a copy of Sandro Botticelli: The Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy. So 25% off, then another 20% member discount, hmm, it would be a sin not to take advantage. It was not quite as heavy as the Encyclopedia, but put the two together and my arms did get a workout!

Next to the Harold Washington Library, for a very fun concert: the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble (and what a guy named Kurt Bjorling is doing leading a klezmer ensemble, I don't know!), and David Young and his group (he's an awesome young jazz trumpeter). Kurt and David talked about the differences and similarities (both agree there are more of the former) and they alternated playing examples. But at the end the two groups played together, and if they'd wanted to stay another hour, or two, or more, I'd have been happy (as would a good deal of the audience, I think).

Now I'm home, and will have dinner in a bit, then finish my Italian homework. First night home in over a week!
mojosmom: (Music)
The Dorothy Parker show was a bit of a disappointment. There's the germ of a good idea, but it needs work. It's uneven, jumping around too much both chronologically and thematically. Only one song really jumped out at me, "Some Men". But Karen Mason was, as ever, excellent.

Earlier today, though, I went to an absolutely fascinating lecture/performance on Gregorian Chant: Medieval Time Travel, with musicologist Peter Jeffrey and Ars Musica. Jeffrey's would talk about a point, and Ars Musica would then demonstrate. Jeffery posits that chant allowed its listeners to be “present” at Biblical events as they were happening, noting that, especially with music for Christmas, events are described as happening "today" but in the past tense. He also talked about how different antiphons would be used for the same hymn, depending upon the liturgical event. And, of course, medieval time was measured by the church calendar, not only in terms of church holidays, but hours of the day were marked by specific prayers, and we still see the reflection in our language ("noon" from "nones", etc.)

And I got a good bit of reading for the Noh class done on the bus to and from both events.

Now I'm sitting with my feet up drinking a cup of tea.
mojosmom: (Music)
From the horse's mouth: Brad PItt will play Henry de Tamble in the film of Audrey Niffenegger's book, The Time Traveller's Wife. Director not chosen yet, but narrowed to three, all of whom AN approves of. She has not read the script, but her agent has warned her that she'll be devastated (all writers are!). Shooting to start maybe this summer.

This all gleaned at my first CHF event, AN and Charles Dickinson talking about their time travel books. ("Time" is the theme of this year's CHF.) Both read from their books; Audrey read from the prologue, and then read us part of what she originally wrote for that section. She said, "There are some Columbia College students here and I want them to see what can come of a really lousy first draft"! [She teaches there.]

The rest of my day was all about the music (as today will be, but that's another journal update). First, the première of Tan Manhattan, the rediscovered, reconstructed musical by Eubie Blake and Andy Razaf. Someone must record this! I left Symphony Center humming the tunes. Freda Payne got the loudest applause, but for me the best were Denise Thimes, a real belter, and Ron Hutchins, ace song-and-dance man. Thimes had a couple of the best songs, "Hit the Road" and "Great Big Baby". Had to cry through the last number, "We Are Americans Too". (According to the program notes, Razaf toned it down from his original lyric, which said Blake, gave "the white people hell". "How the hell are you gonna stand there and charge people money to hear how lousy they treated us?" ) I kept thinking about the election and how the current administration divides us, and tells us we're NOT all Americans. But I'll save that rant. The chorus was the Trinity United Church of Christ Sanctuary Choir, and the last number included the McCutcheon Elementary School Student Chorus. I love enthusiastic kids.

Last night was the ASCAP Cabaret: Songs of Our Time, hosted by Andrea Marcovicci, who had four separate outfits, somewhat unnecessarily, but she looks good in them, so why not? The first half was a tribute to Harold Arlen, and the second was songs by people writing now. The first half was the most successful; I thought the songs in the second were too mannered, trying too hard. Though Mary Liz McNamara's paean to Bacon had me in stitches. Listen to it here

June 2017



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