August 8, 2009

So, I did it. I did exactly what one shouldn’t do three weeks before one is moving into one’s first, 700 sq. ft home, and bought another box of books. The discount book place in town was having a 50% off sale on all their (fairly) new fiction, so I spent $75 and cleared a lot off my to buy/read list. Probably 20 books or so, I lost track.

This weekend I’m opening the art gallery where I’ve worked in years past, which is a very difficult job that requires keys, a passcode, and 8 spare hours to…do whatever I want while the other staff actually run the place (that’s okay, for 4 years I was in the other position, so…).

Anyway, especially now that I find the wireless connection unavailable, my movies (the last episode of Top Gear, season 7, and Pan’s Labyrinth), blogging (here and at thephallus), and reading become much more significant.

I’ve decided to put away Infinite Jest for the last weeks of summer. I was 200 pages ahead at the start of Infinite Summer, and now am horribly, horribly behind. It will be a solitary, long-term endeavor; as much as I enjoyed it while reading, it’s a daunting prospect.

So I figured I’d leave all the old books away and read my new buys for these last 3 weeks. The first, 723 contemporary (and from my other postings, you should know that’s not usual for me) pages, is perfect for a couple days of reading: The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb. I hadn’t heard of him before, but this book came across my desk. The book looked interesting, so I read the first bit. That was good, so I added it to my to-read list. Then, there it was on the shelf at Book Depot.

I’m about 100 pages in, and it is very good. No complaints yet, other than the fact that whenever a writer creates an alter-ego in a book, it always seems to be an English teacher.

More later.

A Public Tragedy

August 2, 2009

A very good production, one of the best plays, and one of the worst audiences I’ve ever been in.

But even two phones ringing, people flashing lights, and lots of coughs and people coming and going couldn’t distract from Shakespeare’s excellent public tragedy, Julius Caesar.

A tragedy about the downfall of ambition and the horrors of the mob. But one that depends on personal relationships: Caesar and Calpurnia, Caesar and Brutus, Brutus and Portia (a strong character and strong actor, robbed by how few scenes she’s in and by the phone ringing throughout the main one), Brutus and Cassius.

And what a Brutus and Cassius! Ben Carlson and Tom Rooney (last year’s Hamlet and Horatio) broke my heart each time they spoke. Noble and troubled, lean and hungry. “You have done that you should be sorry for!”

The production was quite good, largely on the strength of the performances. It does seem, to a slight extent, that this year’s productions have traded emotional impact for visual impact; but very good nonetheless.