Monday, May 27, 2013

the (reduced) shakespeare company

want to digest the complete works of shakespeare but only have 90 minutes?  enter stage left adam long, reed martin and austin tichenor.  in a word: abridged.  "life is short.  the complete works of shakespeare are long.  to the rescue:  the reduced shakespeare company, the three-man comedy troupe known for fast, funny, physical condensations of real serious stuff...where else can you see othello as a rap song, titus andronicus as a cooking show or hamlet with sock puppets?!" 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

girl etymologist

i had the privilege of seeing the delightful book "84, charing crossroad" performed in play form by local actors at cannon beach's "coastal theater" (www.coastertheater.com) this weekend.  imagine my surprise to see this obscure little tome (copyright 1970) show up on the play bill in 2013!  written by helene hanff, it is a charming literary chronicle of a witty and endearing 20-year correspondence between helene in new york and frank doel/the staff of marks & co. booksellers in london. my copy is yellowed and falling apart from both age and being well-loved.  some of my favorite lines, "do you mean to sit there and tell me you've been publishing these mammoth catalogues all these years and this is the first time you ever bothered to send me one?  thou VARLET?"  and "so break it to me gently:  how hard is it going to be to find me john donne's complete sermons and how much is it going to cost?  i am going to bed.  i will have hideous nightmares involving huge monsters in academic robes carrying long bloody butcher knives labelled Excerpt, Selection, Passage and Abridged.  yrs, h. hfffffffff". or " i enclose three bucks, it's a beautiful book and you can't even call it secondhand, the pages weren't cut.  did i tell you i finally found the perfect page-cutter?  it's a pearl-handled fruit knife.  my mother left me a dozen of them, i keep one in the pencil cup on my desk.  maybe i go with the wrong people, but i'm just not likely to have twelve guests all sitting around simultaneously eating fruit.  cheers, hh, girl entymologist".  the play ends as helen is finally arriving in london, too late to meet frank as he has passed away (carpe diem, no regrets!), and her adventures are outlined in the sequel "the duchess of bloomsbury street". 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

the blenderie

speaking of bike snobs, anyone out there truly a coffee snob?  then maybe you can explain something to me.  (it should be noted that a double shot of espresso to me is just a warm up for the morning sips to come.  i nurse it until lunchtime and then, true confession, often go for an afternoon pick-me-up.  it's true.) and yet, with all this java love, i seem to have an underdeveloped sense of taste.  i recently treated myself to quite nice beans.  the label promised a strong, dark coffee, so i bought it and have been happily grinding them each morning following the art show (see also caffeine IV).  by chance i happened to see the card that fell out of the slit in the hi-i'm-expensive-bag.  and this--i am not making this up--is what i read, "location:  latin america, east africa and indonesia." ok, i get it, it's a blend.  "elevation:  varying".  makes sense as per the aforementioned regions.  "flavors:  this complex sweet and savory blend yields flavors of milk chocolate, caramel, jasmine, meyer lemon, apricot and pineapple."  so, seeing as things like school year tiredness and coffee too evidently are--in part--psychological, i tasted with this new knowledge in mind.   nothin'.  i got nothin'.  armed with aromatic aesthetics, i tried again.  no jasmine.  no caramel.  would those even taste good together on purpose?  which inspired me to write my own blend card.  "location:  my kitchen."  "elevation:  i just got up."  "flavors:  really great hot coffee with milk." 

(pho) pas

it's nearing the end of the school year and we teacher folks?  well, we're like marathoners dizzily trying to find the finish line.  some of this is psychological i'm quite sure, because if we knew we still had 26.2 to go, we probably wouldn't be so tired.  (funny how that works.)  it's the ".2", not the 26, that makes you want to quit.  at any rate, you have to find funny things to keep you running and get your mind off things for a while.  i just put on the annual school art show, for example, and the blog "art teachers hate glitter" helped me laugh my way through that.  last night at the public library i played my own version of "sorted books", snickering so loudly i'm surprised i didn't get my library card revoked.  (it's hard not to snicker when you've just stacked "you have problems"..."screaming won't help"..."into the void", but i digress.  i did really like "some monday"..."stargazing"..."here i am" and decided to leave off on that note.  in case you're wondering i did not, by the way, get kicked out of the library.) today's comic relief came in my favorite form:  food!  sometimes when i walk through the school office i will grab something from the cafeteria leftovers.  today when i looked, there was a styrofoam container of warm (that's a plus) healthy-looking (double plus!) food.  thrilled with my extraordinarily good fortune, i found a fork and enjoyed what i deliciously discovered to be brown rice, mushrooms, and lightly spiced thai chicken.  i even said out loud to myself, "wow!  it must be multicultural week in the school district because kid lunches have really improved since i was little, i mean, this stuff is amazing. i should start ordering hot lunch myself...this sure is a far cry from those chicken nugget 'things' or fake baby sausages circa 1984, good for them making healthy choices for kids...mmm, yum!"  patting my stomach happily and inwardly congratulating my country on cutting down on childhood obesity, i walked to check my mail in time to hear one of the office ladies declaring, "where is my lunch, am i losing my mind!? honestly, i just warmed up my leftovers and they're gone!"  well, of course i instantly confessed to my innocent thai mix-up to forever bear the cross of "lunch stealer" (my name for myself, she was quite gracious) and made sure she had some food for the time being.  i owe her one.  so, my friends, keep the good humor and take my advice.  don't overdo the glitter.  be quiet in libraries.  and if you do steal a lunch, even by mistake, always always make sure it's better than the one you packed. 

bakfiets of velocipedal opulence

fancy bikes.  they're everywhere from portland to amsterdam!  these and other tales of two-wheeled transport are stored humorously between the covers of "bike snob abroad" by eben weiss (more commonly referred to as www.bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com ).  eben, a columnist for Bicycling magazine is also the author of "bike snob" and "the enlightened cyclist".  bakfiets, as his family learned from firsthand experience, are dutch cargo bikes known for their handiness at carrying gear, groceries and small children.  such displays of velocipedal opulence, weiss hopes, will be more the rule than the exception.  he dreams of the day when it is more normal to ride your bike than drive a car.  i didn't even mind that he found our city of portland to be a little too in love with itself in terms of bikes.  (as in we're so aware of how cool we are that it's not cool.)  he has a *point (*see also portlandia).   it's ok, we're a lot younger than the founding countries of bicycling and it's fun to grow up in good company!  in waiting and reposting and waiting some more, trying to sell my road bike on craigslist in hopes of getting a new commuter bike, i recall how my father used to ride an old schwinn to work.  it wasn't "cool" but it worked.  now it would be called "vintage" and therefore hip. basically, what i've come to is this:  if you love to bike, any wheels will do!

Monday, May 13, 2013

sorted books

for a good laugh, check out this book by nina katchadourian.  she's cleverly arranged the spines of books/titles to create phrases like the following, "primitive art...just imagine...picasso...raised by wolves", "the way it is...walking in circles...wherever you go there you are", "romeo and juliet...they rose above it...codependent no more" and one of my personal favorites, "a day at the beach...the bathers...shark 1...shark 2...shark 3...sudden violence...silence."

the education of little tree

vitals:  copyright 1976.  author forrest carter.  216 pages.  in other words, "get ye out and find ye this book. and reads it.  which would be right."  this book holds so much, yet in a quiet way that shapes itself to you like earth beneath mocassins.  you can feel this book. and think and taste this book.  i could say "it has it all" which would be true (humor, adventure, nature, emotion, whiskey-making, dialogue,) but there's something more than that which i still can't quite articulate about why i love it so much.  so i'll give you samples of carter's writing for yourself:  "granpa and granma had an understanding and so they had a love.  granma said the understanding run deeper as the years went by, and she reckined it would get beyond anything mortal folks could think upon or explain.  and so they called it 'kin'.  granpa said back before his time 'kinfolks' meant any folks that you understood and had an understanding with, so it meant 'loved folks'." (p. 38) and, "we kept the dictionary checked out all the time, as i had to learn five words a week, starting at the front, which caused me considerable trouble, since i had to try to make up sentences in my talk through the week using the words.  this is hard, when all the words you learn for the week start with A, or B if you're into the B's.  but there were other books; one was The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire...and there were authors like Shelley and Byron that granma hadn't known about, but the librarian sent them along.  granma read slowly, bending her head to the book with her long plaits trailing to the floor.  granpa rocked with a slow creak, back and forth, and when we got to an exciting place, i always knew, because granpa stopped rocking." (p. 14) or, "granma said i had done right, for when you come on something that is good, first thing to do is share it with whoever you can find; that way, the good spreads out to where no telling it will go.  which is right." (p. 57)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

my side of the mountain

thoreau lovers, unite!  this is a unique adventure novel by jean george (and film circa 1968 starring teddy eccles as sam and theodore bikel as bando) about thirteen year old sam gribley's challenge of living in the wilderness by himself.  he forages for food with the help of his newly trained falcon, whom he names frightful, and makes a home in the base of a hollow tree.  he learns to live in harmony with nature miles from civilization.  a classic and wonderful read!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

may day, may day!

these
bloom
so perfectly
as if cued
by may
herself
on the
heels of
daffodil
and next
to sisters
lilac