Monday, July 28, 2014

Sold Out Showing of Boyhood

This film is being hyped big time, and I don't even watch TV but I knew about it.  So did a LOT of other people who totally filled the Cape Cinema yesterday afternoon, even it's tiny balcony was opened and used.  Given it was a rainy Sunday afternoon and a lot of people who might have been out on the beach or golfing, or sailing, or barbecuing decided to come to the movie. 

I expected something more documentary and less a scripted movie with a story that seemed like too many families -- which I suppose was part of the point.  It was very well done, the acting was fine, the aging boy was totally believable at all  points, as was his sister, who in the final scenes was the real sister.

I think everyone knows that director Richard Linklater followed his son's life from 6 to high school graduation; although it was clearly scripted there was a sense of authenticity.  The audience liked it and I heard a variety of "we should talk about this movie" comments.

I'm a bit of a Scrooge.  I mostly don't like kiddy movies or books, if says, "coming of age" on the cover or blurb, I don't buy it. Frankly my own adolescence and teen years are such ancient history I don't relate on a gut leverl -- anyway life for these kids is light years different.  And even though I had two children who went through those stages, most of that is light years different too.  I'm not sorry I spent three hours yesterday watching it because I'll be able to contribute to conversations that are bound to pop up.  But if I'd obeyed my first impluse which was to skip it -- I might have it weren't such a gray, gloomy day -- I wouldn't have missed anything that moved me.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jamie Wyeth show at Boston's Museum of Fine Art

Rachel and I went to the Museum of Fine Art today in Boston, to see the show of 114 paintings by Jamie Wyeth.  I've seen  a couple of shows of his father, Andrew's work, and was eager to see this show. I was not disappointment. Many of the paintings are quintessentially Maine, some are fine portraits, many of animals or landscapes. One called the "Hay Bale" was so simply what it was we were not surprised to read in the note that he had spent a month dealing with that one bale of hay.

The picture here is one of a series we saw of the Seven Deadly Sins (which sin, here, I'm not sure). There were many people at the show and I didn't want to stand in front of the info plaque on the wall long enough to get clear which of seven paintings of gulls described which sin. It's clear he has been a close observer of gulls

The exhibit was crowded in two senses: many people were there and the pictures seemed to be crowded uncomfortably close in the rooms allotted to them. I would have liked a little more space between paintings. It was, nevertheless, a fascinating show and a Google search just now has convinced me it is only a mere sample of the work he has done. 

We were  especially fascinated by a video that showed him painting a large piece which was also on exhibit which I think was called "the Inferno". It was painted on cardboard as many pieces were.  He used his fingers more often than a paint brush.  I wish we could have watched it and compared it to the finished painting over a half an hour instead of five minutes. What a family the Wyeths are!  I very, very much enjoyed the works, mostly drawings, by Jamie's father Andrew.  And Rachel has a book that includes many book illustrations done by Andrew's father, N.C.  And we both were curious about the aunt who was Jamie's first teacher, a fine artist herself. It was very much worth dealing with the heavy traffic going and coming.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Moon like a bride behind a veil

As most of us have noticed the middle of July moon seems to have grown bigger and brighter.  We've mostly had clear skies but a couple of evenings ago, I glanced up before I went to bed and saw that a small, whispy cloud was hanging over the face of the moon like a lacy bridal veil.  This is not a professional quality photo but it is close to what sent me quickly in search of my little Sure Shot  to get this picture.  Then I just stood and looked at it for while.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Newly Weds Cross Sahara by Camel

I love true adventure stories, well told, about places I know I'll never visit but wish I could -- although some of the stories convince me I wouldn't enjoy what they experienced.  Such is the book I just finished Impossible Journey by Michael Asher who crossed the southern Sahara from Mauritania to Egypt with Marianantoinetta Peru, his new wife.  A journey of 4500 miles, 271 days, incredible hardship.

I especially love true adventure stories when they are told in wonderful spare prose with the appropriate occasional moments of lyricism.  Asher has the kind of amazing vocabulary I ony read Englishmen writing.  It seems many Englishmen also have his kind of grit and insane determination to make a journey never made before and recorded. He and Miriam got married because he was attracted to her, she was determined to prove to herself and the world that a tiny woman (5 foot 1) could do very difficult things. They had not even consumated their marriage when they began. They were determined to use only camels --in 1986 when there were roads and vehicles.  I loved reading of the many varieties of landscape are in desserts, what a variety of guides they hired, how incredibly strong the camels were, and how they faced, extreme heat, extreme cold, sand and dust storms, bandits, large hyenas (that sometimes attacked camels and men), how they dealth with border guards and other officials who were suspicious, sometimes could not read their permits, thought they were crazy, were spies, were illegal for any reason.  They hired sequential guides, very different men, some incompetent.  I love reading about the people who live in elemental places in the direst hardship but who always offer a traveler tea, help him water his camels. 

As a very comfortable tourist, I saw a bit of Sahara in Morocco, slept in a comfortable tent among Morocco's highest dunes, visited a woman and her children in a camel hair tent, saw a small oasis with date palms. Compared to Mike and Miriam this was nothing at all but having had such an experience gives me a peek through a very small window so that I could enjoy living their desparate moments, the long days of walking and riding, their very spare diet.

The book sat in my to-read bookcase a few years.  I now see from Wikipedia that Asher has written other books and I'll keep an eye open for them. He's a writer I totally trust and admire. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Black Box and Spaghetti

Most of us who have DSL internet service have a black box of some sort and a mess of wires like spilled spaghetti.  This is a bit neater than it was 24 hours ago.  I had to replace my modem (the black box)  and did not have to entirely loosen the new sets of wires so it's almost obvious what goes where.  The previous mess of spaghetti was carefully untangled from the new and will soon be disposed of.

I've lived from the big clunky typewriter era to the slow, clunky computer era to today and I'm still capable of considerable amazement at the internet world.  I am by no means the sophisticated and addicted user most people half my are. But the reach of what I can access on the internet astounds me.  Prior to that gape-mouthed state of wonder is the amazement that I could call Verizon, get in touch with a techy person  -- with no more than about 10 minutes on hold (the music was horrible!) and then a young woman somewhere apparently in the United States (at least by her accent though I understand she could  have been anywhere in the world), was able to tell me what to disconnect, what to connect and where. She had angelic patience as I untangled the old wires and when I accidentally unplugged the telephone (yes, folks, I still use a land line). Then she brought up on my screen, seemingly before I was really connected, screens into which I had to type the number on the black box and check this and click  that and wait for red lights to turn green and so on and so forth.  And IT WORKED! I am using the internet and it's not telling me to wait and all is well. Wonders never cease.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Small Town Post Office

Because I belong to Swap-bot and mail quite a few letters -- and quite a few of them to Australia or Europe -- and also quite a few packages, I may go to a post office more frequently than many people do.  I have a choice (as too many business remind us in their ads), I can to go the "big" (relatively speaking) post office in the center of Hyannis -- and I frequently do.  I like the clerks there but toward midday there's often a line.  Or I can come to this small post office (about the same distance from where I live). I like the clerks here too although it took nearly a year of being friendly for the man who's there to begin to smile whereas the woman who's less often there has always been friendly.  This post office looks like a Cape Cod cottage, it is shingled like so many houses here and is trimmed with white and is graced with flowers.  What more could anyone want?  I know from comments on the Swap-bot site that not all swappers have such congenial mailing experiences. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Broadening my Perspective about Rigoletto

I did not go to the Met's simulcast of their new Rigoletto last fall because 1. I really dislike Las Vegas and 2., I strongly believe changing a time and place by 400 years and 6,000 miles is a stage director's ego trip and unlikely to serve the original in a meaningful way.  But I've been rethinking this production of Rigoletto after reading many positive comments and thinking about the possible parallels between a decadent Italian court and a decadent city of gamblers and the 1960s Rat Pack.

I have to say is was the the most moving Rigoletto I've seen. Michael Meyer's vision and a very contemporary translation in the subtitles worked very, very well.  The video work was excellent (and owes much to the fact that most of this set was brilliantly lit, in contrast to some of the atmospheric, gloomy sets I've seen and disliked. Opera singers have to be actors today and this cast of European singers were very good actors although it was quite a stretch for Gilda (German Diana Dramrau) who is surely in her 30s with the body of a woman that age, to sometimes display the innocence and naivete of a protected teenager, but she mostly pulled it off. She has a lovely voice. The Duke, not royalty but a singer with a retineu of empty headed lackeys, was Zelijo Lucic, obviously East European although I don't know the country. He has a smooth and engaging tenor. I didn't get the name of the scarily snake-like Sparofucile who had a wonderful light bass voice and suave beard and sideburns. Best of all Rigoletto was Piotr Beczale (Russian, I think). A wondeful voice, a fine actor.  So sincerely troubled, so quick to be frightened by Monterone's curse and then to beg for his kidnapped daughter.  So grasping and loving a father and finally utterly destroyed by the cruelty of the ending brought about by his desire for vengence (more 16th century than 21st).
 
Oh, the ending -- always a problem.  Verdi's violins sob and I choke up but my head is saying that her throat was cut, how is she rallying and singing for five minutes?  That beautiful line about  praying from him along side her mother in heaven (preferably with out the words) could make a concete block cry. I'm emotionally drained, but in the good way opera can do it.  So glad I saw this opera.