mojosmom: (Busy bee)
Last week was kind of Russian on the cultural front. I saw an excellent production of Uncle Vanya at the Goodman Theatre on Wednesday, and on Thursday I went to hear Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony perform an oratorio based on Prokoviev's music for Eisenstein's film, Ivan the Terrible. Both had me on my feet at the end, and I don't do that lightly. Also having me on my feet was Friday's Lyric Opera performance of Norma, with Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role. She's amazing.

Went to my book club yesterday. We had read The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America, by Ethan Michaeli. Very well-written, fascinating account of the newspaper, and very much a history of race in America as well. Michaeli, who worked at the Defender for several years, was present for our meeting (we often have area authors attend), and it was one of our biggest turnouts.

I've got a number of projects going. The Newberry Consort gala is next weekend, and I've been busy with that. I'm doing work for Wright+, coming up in May, and I've gotten involved in another project the Trust is doing, interviewing and writing about the founding volunteers. On top of that, I'm helping out the Library Committee at my club, cataloguing and culling books (seriously, who dumped a couple of dozen ratty volumes of the Loeb Classical Library on us?), and spearheading an event about Carl Sandburg (it's the 50th anniversary of his death this year).

So you can see why I chose the "busy bee" icon for this post!
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
Yesterday, I was getting ready to head out to a community flea market, when there was a knock on the door. Our management company had sent our maintenance guy out to deal with the air conditioners (moving or covering them) for the season. Without bothering to notify us! So I said, you've got to do it before 11:00, because, although I could skip the flea market, I had to be at my AAUW meeting at noon.

So he finished up just before 11, and I went to the meeting. Then I went to a staged reading of a play called The Amateurs, part of the Goodman Theatre's "New Stages" program, which involves development of new plays. This was basically a play about a 14th-century players troupe putting on the Chester mystery play "Noah's Fludde". I think it's got a good idea, but there was a huge digression in which the playwright talks about his intentions that should be significantly cut.

Then off meet my friend Jeanne to see a French thriller, Le Pont du Nord, which was interesting, but strange. The film was made in 1981, but not released in the U.S. until a couple of years ago. Dinner after at one of our favorite places; I had an excellent steak and mushroom pie.

Today I did stop by the flea market (actually twice - before and after I did my Robie House tours), and came away with four pairs of earrings (earrings are my downfall), a pair of loose linen pants, a blank journal, and a beaded evening bag - for a grand total of $23.

My first tour at RH was a mother-daughter book club; they'd read Blue Balliett's The Wright 3. They were great, and guest relations had said that, if I liked, I could take them to a couple of outside spaces that aren't regularly on the tour (the children's play lot and the front porch). So I did. When I had a short break between my tours, the house manager came to the break room and handed me a stack of papers, saying, "This came for you." It was a bunch of thank-you notes from a class I'd given a tour to in the summer. Lots of art glass-style drawings, and lovely, lovely notes. So nice!

Tonight I'm going to see Court Theatre's production of Agamemnon for the second time. I have a subscription that's on preview nights, so I saw it last week and loved it. They'd done Iphigenia in Aulis last season, and the same actors portray Clytemnestra and Agamemnon. A woman I know is on the CT's board, and she invited me to the opening night dinner and performance, and I'm thrilled to have the chance to see it again.

Now I'm going to finish the Sunday papers and try not to get overly depressed by how dreadful people can be.
mojosmom: (Default)
And here I swore I was going to do better. ~sigh~ What did Robbie Burns say about one's best laid plans? Well, he goes around with a bird on his head, so who is he to talk?
Robert Burns with a seagull on his head (and his feet

Anyway . . .

Since we last met, I've been madly giving tours at Robie House, and having a good deal of fun. I have also been discovering all the perks! The Preservation Trust has a "Volunteer Warehouse Sale". No, they don't sell volunteers. They let the volunteers buy "distressed" and discontinued merchandise at steep discounts. Including books. Then I did two tours last Saturday, and when I signed in, I found a coupon that said, "Thanks for working on a holiday weekend. Here's 20% off at the gift shop." So I bought a pair of earrings.

I've been to a couple of good movies. The Siskel Film Center had its European Film Festival, so I saw the French movie, Becoming Traviata, a documentary about a production of that opera at Aix-la-Provence, with Natalie Dessay. Also Dormant Beauty, an Italian film about end-of-life issues. Both recommended.

Oh, and I was right. I do mix up my French and Italian. Not so much in my Italian class, but in my French lessons, I'm always doing it. "Ma" instead of "mais", and the like. I've taken to watching "Le Sang de la vigne" (The Blood of the Vine), a French mystery series featuring an œnologist who tends to stumble on bodies. I quite enjoy it. Also Maigret, occasionally. Both in French with English subtitles, on the "International Mysteries" show, where I also watch Italian shows.

Opera season ended with "Streetcar named Desire", great singing, especially Anthony Dean Griffey as Mitch, but uninteresting music by André Previn. It was pretty much just the play set to music.

The Latino Theatre Festival is going on at Goodman, and I saw a fabulous play yesterday, Pedro Páramo, by Raquel Carrío, based on a book by Juan Rolfo, which I now have on hold at the library. It was a co-production with Cuba's Teatro Buendía, with some of their actors and some Chicago actors (including folks I know). It's a rather spooky play about a young man who goes in search of the father who abandoned him, and discovers a town where everyone is dead (though he doesn't realize it at first).

The cat and I both had fasting bloodwork last week. If you ever want to piss off a cat, take her food away. She was not happy.

I'm off to Cleveland on Wednesday to visit my sister (and her cats) for a couple of days.
mojosmom: (Food)
My Italian teacher's cousin, who is the president of Slow Foods-Bretagne, is in town, and this afternoon she gave a short talk about the Slow Food movement, and fed us soup. Three kinds, one from the north of Italy, one from the south, and one from the central part. The northern one was panisse, a pumpkin soup, with potato and apple and leek; the southern one was cuccìa, of chickpeas, corn and wheatberries, and the last was ginestrata, a Renaissance-era soup of broth with Marsala, egg yolk, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg. It was a good day for it, too, because it was rainy and a bit chilly - perfect soup weather.

Saw Motherf***er with the Hat again, because Teatro Vista did an event for potential donors. Reception beforehand, then the play, then drinks afterwards with some of the cast members, including Jimmy Smits, who seems like a really nice guy.

I also saw Teddy Ferrara at the Goodman, a play by Christopher Shinn loosely based on the Tyler Clementi case at Rutgers. Thankfully, it was very nuanced. A lot of the cast was young and not very experienced, and it showed, and the part of the university president wasn't terribly credible - he seemed awfully clueless for someone who had been a U.S. Senator and was now running a major university. It was worth seeing, but could use some work.

My practice tour at Robie House was successful, and I am now certified and will give my first public tour later this week. Wish me luck!
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.
mojosmom: (Librarian books)
so why do I have three new books in my house?

I had some time to kill downtown yesterday, so I was browsing at Borders and found a book about Mies van der Rohe for 98¢. Why wouldn't I buy it?

Today, I was over at the DuSable Museum, and, upon learning that they are the cheapest museum membership in town ($15 if you are 62 or older, and it gets you into the Adler Planetarium as well - such a deal!), so I joined. And they gave me two books.

Honestly, it's a plot.

I was downtown yesterday for a subscriber breakfast at the Goodman Theatre. First they served up a nice buffet, with fruit, yogurt, bagels, and other pastries, and then there was a program with Mary Zimmerman in conversation with Steve Scott about her new production of Candide, with the leads performing some of the music. Very interesting and informative. I'm looking forward to seeing what she does with it.

Having dropped my car off for service before the event, I had some time to kill before I could pick it up, so I wandered over to the Art Institute to see a lovely little exhibit of Persian art. I also did a bit of shopping, finding a pair of black satin evening shoes (which I've been needing, my old ones having bit the dust a while back) and this jacket, except I got the jacket for a lot less at Filene's Basement. I just fell in love with the way the material is pleated.

This weekend was Yanga Fest at the DuSable Museum. This was actually three events: their annual Arts & Crafts Festival, DanceAfrica Chicago 2010, and the opening of the exhibit, "The African Presence in Mexico: From Yanga to the Present". ("Yanga" refers to Gaspar Yanga, the leader of a Mexican slave rebellion in the late 1500's.) I checked out the artisans, the usual mix of schlock and really gorgeous stuff, and bought a beautiful, but not expensive, necklace. It was now about 2:00, so I needed lunch, and had jerk chicken with cornbread, black beans and rice, and candied yams. (Dinner was a salad!) Then went inside the museum to see the exhibit, from which I learned a lot.

I ended up staying longer than I had planned, to watch the Alyo Children's Dance Company

and then I attended a talk and demonstration by the musical ensemble, Sones de México. (They were also doing a performance later in the evening, but I was a bit tuckered out, so went home.)
Lorena Iñiguez
mojosmom: (Hyde Park)
Still cool(ish) from the rain Friday night/Saturday morning.  There was a street fair ("Celebrate Hyde Park") a few blocks from me, so I went over there early in the afternoon, listened to some music, checked out the various vendors, and had turkey hot links from Pearl's Place (a really good local soul food restaurant).    There were the usual obligatory face painters and balloon animals, and everyone was dressed to party, including dogs:

Dressed to party

In the evening, I went to the Goodman for reading of Yamaha 300, part of the Latino Theatre Festival.  The play was not great, but the acting was.  A couple of us decided to go for drinks afterwards, intending to go to the bar at the restaurant attached to the theatre, but they were closed.  Their website says they close at 7:30 on Sundays, but that's really ridiculous when there are plays on.  If they want to close the kitchen, or just serve cold meals, fine, but their bar could do a good business!   In any case, we decided to go to the Trump Hotel.  We had a drink at their outdoor bar, which I would recommend doing once, for the view, which was fantastic.  It's on the sixteenth floor, and overlooks the Chicago River, with a great view of the top of the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower.  However, it's ridiculously expensive and the service is rough (which may be due to the fact that they recently opened, or that they have apparently hired the servers for their youth and looks rather than their abilities).

On the way over, we checked out the fake destruction lying about for the filming of Transformers 3, which has been disrupting traffic for a couple of weeks now. 

Oh, I should say more about the Latino Theatre Festival. This is the 5th year Goodman has been doing this; it's curated by Henry Godinez, who is an artistic associate at the Goodman, and, not coincidentally, a co-founder of Teatro Vista. It runs for several weeks, and they bring in artists from all over the Spanish-speaking world. This year they managed to get a troupe from Cuba. Some of the productions are fully staged, but they also do a lot with plays in progress, having readings and the like. They also associate with other organizations, like the Grant Park Music Festival, for off-site events, and there are various discussions and events pre- and post-performance. Best part? It's almost all free.
mojosmom: (Birthday cake)
Birthday first (today):

I slept late! Of course, it helps that it was a Sunday, and I didn't sleep too late - the cats insisted on being fed. So I fed them and then myself. I'd bought some lovely fresh organic eggs at the farmers' market yesterday, and fried up a couple of them, over easy, had that and some raspberries - also from the farmers' market.

Read the Sunday paper in a leisurely fashion, talked to my sisters, both of whom called to wish me "Happy Birthday!", and then went over to the Smart Museum for a jazz concert. It was supposed to be held in their sculpture garden, but neither the audience nor performers would have been happy with two hours in 90º+ heat, so they moved it inside.

I stopped by Borders afterward and bought a pop-up book I'd had my eye on, and then came home and fixed a birthday dinner: boneless lamb steak, salad and sweet corn (again from the farmers' market). I have some green tea ice cream that I'm going to have later.

I have also been absolutely swilling iced tea all weekend. Best thing for the heat.

Yesterday, I went to the farmers' market (obviously!), but didn't stay long as I was meeting friends for lunch. We had tickets to a staged reading of Tanya Saracho's play-in-progress, El Nogalar, part of the Goodman Theatre's Latino Theatre Festival. It's based on Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, but is set in current day Mexico, and is excellent! It's going to have a full production as part of Goodman's next season, a co-production with Teatro Vista. TV had a cocktail party after the play for donors, potential donors, etc. in the Goodman's VIP lounge, which was nicely attended.
mojosmom: (sisters)
Both my sisters are in town because this afternoon we are attending a 90th birthday party for an old family friend. Cathy arrived Thursday evening, so I picked her up at the airport on my way home from work. She had a gorgeous day to walk around the neighborhood on Friday (mid-60s!) and took full advantage of it. Among other things, she did some grocery shopping and cooked us an excellent dinner, after which we watched Julie and Julia. Cathy hadn't read Powell's book, but had read My Life in France, and her reaction to the "Julie" part of the film was the same as my reaction to the book: "When is she going to stop whining?" We agreed that it was half a good movie, and wished that it had been entirely about Julia.

Saturday, the first day of spring, it snowed. And was cold. And blustery. So we stayed inside and hung out with the cats. Stacey was driving in and hoped to get here before six o'clock. However, she got to Toledo and her transmission went out. She had to leave her car at a garage there to be fixed, and rented a car to drive the rest of the way. The only place she could rent a car was at the airport, so she had to get a cab out there, and they managed to send her a cab driver who didn't know how to get to the airport! I didn't know such people existed. I mean, that's a cabbie's bread-and-butter, right? As a result, she didn't get here until about 8:30.

Cathy and I had gone out to hear the Newberry Consort (17th-century violin music, with a harpsichord thrown in), but had left her some of the excellent pizza we had had for dinner (olive oil glaze, chèvre, caramelized onions, kalamata olives and roasted red peppers). I have really gotten into using HomeMade Pizza Company lately. I can run in on my way home from work, have them create something interesting, and throw it in the oven when I get home. As easy as a frozen pizza and it tastes way better. They also had a special ice cream, Chocolate Almond Bark, which I bought.

I continue to fight a cold. Last Sunday, I went up to my friend Fran's for dinner, came home early in the evening feeling fine, but later developed a nasty sore throat. The next day, I felt rather punk, and my voice was going. I went to work, but left early, I felt so bad, and took the next day off. Felt better on Wednesday, though if I hadn't had a phone conference that would have been a pain to re-schedule, I might have stayed in bed. I'm at the point where I feel fine, but sound pretty raspy, and am mildly congested.

I've been to a couple of plays lately, one excellent, one not. Court Theatre is doing The Illusion, by Pierre Corneille, freely adapted by Tony Kushner. (Story: "Legend has it that the Hartford production was more overtly haunted by Corneille. As Sylviane Gold describes in the New York Times, the production was beset by technical difficulties until Kushner and director Mark Lamos decided to reprint the program to say not “The Illusion by Tony Kushner, based on a play by Pierre Corneille” but “The Illusion by Pierre Corneille, freely adapted by Tony Kushner.” All the technical glitches stopped on cue, save for one: Kushner’s name was mysteriously wiped from the marquee on the night before the show opened. The play continues to be performed and published under this revised heading, lest the original author return to seek his due.") It's marvelous! Love the play, love the staging, love the acting.

Rebecca Gilman's A True History of the Johnstown Flood, not so much. I'm not a big fan of Gilman's, as I find her work to be rather heavy-handed and didactic. This play was no different. It was also rather predictable. The actors were good, and there was excellent staging, but that's not enough to save a bad script.

The four of us went to dinner beforehand at 312 Chicago, a place we like a lot. They are celebrating their 12th anniversary, and each night have twelve entrées and twelve bottles of wine available at $12 each. Which is quite a deal. Usually, the least expensive glass of wine is about $9, and I don't know where you can get such a good ribeye steak in downtown Chicago for $12 on a normal night!
mojosmom: (Librarian books)
You may remember that I wrote a while back that I had attended a poetry workshop at my local library. While there, I recommended to the group Stephen Fry's book, The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within. Yesterday when I was there returning books, she came over and said, "I ordered that book you recommended!" Maybe I should make a list . . .

Cultural stuff )

shopping )

The board meeting itself was good. We're in the black, having made actual profits at seminars and the annual dinner, and membership is way up. We're planning a party, an "Irish wake for Clarence Darrow", which should be tremendous fun. We'd just co-sponsored a two-day forensics seminar, which I attended, and which was really an excellent program. So we are quite happy, and voted a raise for our executive director (not that she's making much - it's a very part-time gig - but she deserves every penny).


Nov. 6th, 2009 08:41 pm
mojosmom: (art)
Every year at this time, there's the big Sculptural Objects and Functional Art (SOFA) show at Navy Pier. And every year, I don't go, because it's also the first weekend of the Humanities Festival and I can never squeeze out enough time to make it worth the price of a ticket, and the Thursday night preview is more than I want to pay. This year, however, I entered a contest at Time Out magazine, and won a VIP pass - admission to the VIP Opening Night and all weekend, and a free catalogue. Food & drink & art! What could be bad? There were some astonishingly beautiful pieces. I fell in love with a lot of stuff, including a hanging scroll by Lucy Arai, a glass and textile piece by Einav Mekori, this necklace by Pawel Kaczynski, and kimono by Tanya Lyons of glass and twigs and metal mesh. None of which I can really afford. I decided it would be nice to have a) a bottomless bank account with which to buy art, and, b) infinite space in which to display it!

The night before, I went to dinner and the Goodman with friends. There are usually four of us, but Peggy didn't come. The rest of us were at the restaurant waiting for her, and Margaret said it was odd that Peggy hadn't called her or returned her calls. I decided to call her cell, got her voice mail and left a message. A couple of minutes later she called back. "I'm in Washington!", she said. "I thought the play was next week!" She travels a lot on business and we generally check her schedule and change our tickets, but somehow it had slipped past her that she had the conflict.

In the event, she didn't miss much. The play was "High Holidays", by Alan Grossman. Set in 1963 in a Chicago suburb, it revolves around a boy preparing for his bar mitzvah (which is set for the "third Shabbos in November", cue foreshadowing music), his emotionally (and, at times, physically) abusive parents, and his hippy college drop-out older brother. The plot didn't hang together, the characters weren't particularly likeable, and there were some serious inconsistencies. Although the actors playing the parents were good, the actor playing the 13-year-old protagonist was not. I also think that if a playwright needs to have the main character come out at the end to address the audience and explain what happened next, it shows that he just didn't know how to write the ending. And nitpicky me whose parents dragged her and her sibs to Pete Seeger concerts from when we were old enough to walk will not believe that these middle-class Jewish parents didn't know who he was.

But dinner was good.
mojosmom: (Default)
All of the titles in the Stahl's Illustrated Series are designed to be fun.

And what is this fun book?

Memorial Day Weekend - Sunday & Monday )

Went yesterday with friends to see Rebecca Gilman's play, The Crowd You're in With. I was pleasantly surprised, as I'm not a big fan of Gilman's but enjoyed this one, I think because it's more balanced and less heavy-handed than much of her work (though it has its moments).

As I was heading to the restaurant where we were meeting for dinner, I cut through Daley Plaza and discovered that the annual Turkish Festival was going on. Most of the folks were packing up for the evening, but my eye was immediately caught by a sign "Ebru - paper marbling". I think this is an absolutely stunning form of marbling, so naturally I had to check it out. He had some very nice works on paper, but also some on fabric, and I bought a silk scarf:
Ebru scarf
The Festival runs through Saturday, so depending on weather and what else is happening, I might go downtown Saturday to check out more of the vendors, eat some of the food, and listen to some of the music.


May. 17th, 2009 08:52 pm
mojosmom: (Default)
Saw Tom Stoppard's play, Rock 'n' Roll, at the Goodman the other day. It got rave reviews, but I don't see it. Not that it was bad, but it wasn't that great, either. It didn't help that it was difficult to understand the actors who used a Czech accent; I don't know if that was a result of bad diction or bad acoustics. A deep knowledge of 60s-70s rock and British & Czech politics of the period would help, too.

Friday/Saturday I was in Springfield at the twice-yearly Public Defender seminar. It was very good, some very useful and interesting presentations. We gave an award to the recently-retired chief State Appellate Defender (who'd been in the job something like forty years - until his retirement he was the only person to have the job). I was going to get together with my friend, Sue, but she wasn't feeling well so we didn't manage to do so.

Right after the program ended on Saturday, I went up to Waukegan to have dinner with friends. I had volunteered to stop and get salad fixings, so stopped at the Jewel and remembered all over again why I don't like that chain. Their produce department sucks (how can a produce department not have green onions or endive?), and I hate, hate, hate those damn tv screens at the checkout that blare advertising at you. They don't have express lanes, unless you're using self-checkout (which messes up half the time). The cashier asked me if I had my Jewel card, and when I said I didn't have one, handed me a form to fill out. Hello? I don't recall saying I wanted one. Not her fault, though; I'm sure they tell her to do that. But it's annoying.

I didn't do much today. Moved winter clothes and summer clothes from one closet to another, and that sort of thing. I watched "Great Performances from the Met" this afternoon, as it was one of my favorite operas, Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, with Stephanie Blythe and Danielle de Niese in the title roles. Mark Morris directed and choreographed and Isaac Mizrahi did the costumes! Loved it.
mojosmom: (Default)
The Cultural Stuff )

Non-cultural stuff:

Yesterday was beautiful, so I decided to walk to the dry cleaners. On the way, I noticed that signs had been posted for the annual yard sale that benefits the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (which really should be the Avon Walk against Breast Cancer, no?). I got a couple of clothing items (belt and cotton blouse), two books1 (Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking and Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell), and two rather unusual items:

Al Pha Bet, an educiting game:
Al Pha Bet Game

and a sparkler wand:
Lulubelle's Sparkler Wand

I was moved to diligence today, perhaps in part because the lovely weather induced me to want mildly to spring clean. So I can now inform you that under those piles of papers there was an actual desk!

1 See, the reason I run out of bookshelf space is not necessarily the number of books, but the size of the books. These were both hardbacks, and you know how thick Clarke's book is! They're probably 4-5" between them. Two books.

June 2017



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