beowabbit: (Me: on Ferris wheel 2012-09-09)
Boston skyline against sunset (wide 2)Propeller aircraft coming in for a landing at LoganBoston skyline against sunset (detail 1)Spectacle IslandMy beloved looking over the waterBoston skyline against sunset (wide 1)
Boston skyline against sunset (detail 4)A buoy in front of Spectacle Island (1)Wind vs. oil 1Wind vs. oil 2

Via Flickr:In August 2013, my darling [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom took me on a harbor cruise and sea-chantey singalong put on by the Revels (http://www.revels.org/). We had a blast! These are some of the pictures I took from the harbor.

beowabbit: (People: me with plumtreeblossom May 2007)
Last night my beloved wuzzle took me on the Revels’ Harbor Cruise and Sing, and we had a truly fabulous time! Neither of us quite knew what we were in for; we both envisioned something like an smaller, but still concert-like, Christmas Revels performance aboard ship, but it was basically a sea-chantey singalong. It was wonderful! It really touched a chord in me (heh, heh) because I had a group of friends in college who used to get together on a fairly regular basis and sing folk songs (including some of the same sea chanteys we sang last night). It was just wonderful, and very romantic. I love being on the water. And I love my sweet honeywuzzle who knows how to make me so very happy.

(Photos to follow, BTW.)
beowabbit: (Me: shadow against sand under ripples)
Just heard (thanks to a phone call from [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom, who’s also safe and sound) about the explosions at the Boston Marathon. I wanted to let everybody know I’ve been spending this holiday resting and catching up at home and I’m safe; I haven’t been anywhere near the Marathon.

I’m terribly sad for the injured, of course, and hope nobody dies.
beowabbit: (People: Hamlet)
Congratulations to the cast and crew of PMRP’s Spring Sci-Fi Spectacular on a great opening night! Y’all were awesome, on stage, at the Foley table, and at the boards. Special thanks to the Them! cast for making my first time directing so amazing!

Two performances today, then performances next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, and a special matinée on Sunday, April 21, at the MIT Museum. Details on the event page. Come see it!
beowabbit: (People: Hamlet)
I can’t believe I haven’t hawked this before now, but [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom and I are both involved in PMRP’s Spring Sci-Fi Spectacular² live-radio-drama event. [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom is reprising her rôle as Billy in “Red Shift: Crisis of the Cuddlykins”, a spoof of Flash Gordon- or Buck Rogers-style serials, and I’ve been directing (in my directorial début!) [livejournal.com profile] audioboy’s radio adaptation of the classic 1954 movie Them!. Shows are April 5, 6 (matinée and evening show), 11, 12, and 13th in Davis Square, and a special matinée April 21st at the MIT museum. More details are on the PMRP site. My cast is awesome (and so is [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom’s, of course; it has her in it!) and it should be a tremendously fun time.

(For the two or three of you who haven’t read me and others talk about PMRP, the concept is that we present a radio drama as if broadcast over the air in the Golden Age of Radio, but on stage in front of a live audience. Most of our shows — this one definitely included — have live Foley sound effects, and we’ve got some awesome ones. Come see us!)
beowabbit: (People: Hamlet)
[livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom and I saw Theatre@First’s performance of Lysistrata last night and it was hilarious. John Deschene is a genius. The dance and shadowplay worked incredibly well. The actors are also genii, especially [livejournal.com profile] ladrescher. And the music had me bouncing in my seat and worked perfectly with the show. I didn’t realize this until just now, but there was a lot of stuff that just had to be perfectly timed in order to work, and it all was. Go see it if you haven’t yet. (No complaining that you live in Australia! You have almost a week in order to scrounge up plane tickets and get here.)
beowabbit: (People: me with plumtreeblossom May 2007)
It was quite the ordeal. I can now say that I've dug my car out of the snow on the interstate. And the windshield spontaneously cracked on the way here. And oh my holy blessed virgin mother of pearl, the hours-long ordeal of finding a place I could park (thanks, [livejournal.com profile] usernamenumber and [livejournal.com profile] preraphaelite). But I'm here safe and warm in Somervile with [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom. And so is Chickenfinger, although she's been hiding for hours and we don't know where she is. And I just got out of an ecstatically wonderful hot shower. Life is good.

(There are some indications that power may be on again in my neighborhood in Quincy. Hard to be certain, though. And no way I am going out in that again tonight.)
beowabbit: (Me: on Ferris wheel 2012-09-09)
For those who didn't see this on Facebook, which was the only place I could sort of get to last night: [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom and I are stuck in Quincy. Power went out around 9 last night. Heat and hot water stayed on a while but went out (maybe the pilot light blew out?) sometime overnight. I've been shovelling for when the travel ban is lifted (or when I decide we'll freeze if we stay here or I can't manage without my CPAP machine for another night). I've got maybe another hour's shovelling before I'd be able to get the car out; I'm taking a break.

(Another issue about driving anywhere is: Where would I find a place to park? Really wish the T were running.)

Had virtually no internet on my phone until I thought to come up to the second floor bedroom (which is warmer, anyway); up here I have enough to post to LJ and SSH to my mail server.

I'm leaving my phone off most of the time, but feel free to text if you want to get in touch with me.

Hope y'all're staying dry, warm, loved, and safe. Me, for now I'm settling for loved and safe.
beowabbit: (People: me with plumtreeblossom May 2007)
[livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom is here with me in Quincy, and we’re hunkered down for the storm. Hasn’t been bad yet. The snow is sure coming down, though! I brushed it off the car to go pick her up at the T station, and by the time I’d finished, the windshield (where I’d started) was already covered again.
beowabbit: (Local: Stata Center)
I thought my day was full and interesting before the six datacenters in my building (along with a big chunk of the rest of Cambridge, and most of the rest of MIT) lost power. That happened around four thirty. Power came back around six thirty, and we all dived into bringing servers and services back up. I got home around eleven thirty.

One of the highlights of the time while we were waiting for power to come back was watching my boss and another of my colleagues pry open an elevator door so that the people who’d been trapped in it for about an hour could get out.

[livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom’s building on campus lost power too, but since she didn’t have to babysit a whole bunch of servers as they eventually came up, I think that meant she ended up going home earlier than expected, rather than later than expected. (The T was running during most of the power outage, I gather.)

It was an adventure. I like my adventures in moderation.
beowabbit: (Default)
My mother [livejournal.com profile] silverlibre has been in town visiting for a bit over a week, and it’s been wonderful! Lots of wonderful home-cooked meals (mostly due to her, although we all collaborated on the Thanksgiving dinner, and [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom’s Thanksgiving turkey was wonderful, and lots of wonderful things to do and see and talk about. I don’t have time to do it justice, but here are a few of the highlights:

Seeing [livejournal.com profile] zendzian in Mister Roberts at the Concord Players. (We didn’t much like the play itself — meaning the script —, but the acting was great, and the sets were truly impressive, and I’d love to see some more of their productions.)

Thanksgiving dinner was epic. [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom and [livejournal.com profile] silverlibre and I had a fabulous time preparing food, and then we had a couple guests over and ate it. Thanks to our guests (who brought some yummy pickle and roasted sweet potatoes and pie for the feast).

We had a lovely time out playing board games with friends on Friday. Need to do more than that. A highlight of that was seeing [livejournal.com profile] tamoroso; much to my surprise, it turned out that he and my mother had never met, and he’s really good people.

Today, we went to the Museum of Science, and had a blast. The Mammoths and Mastodons exhibit they have up at the moment is definitely worth seeing; we learned a lot. And we saw a nifty film about caving for extremophiles in the Omni theater. Before it they showed an interesting little propaganda film about how wonderful New England is, which was a bit strange but kind of fun — regional chauvinism for the win.

After that, we went to the Union Oyster House, which [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom had been to before but I (and [livejournal.com profile] silverlibre) hadn’t. The food was very good; definitely worth the price. Made me want to eat more fish.

We still have time with [livejournal.com profile] surrealestate and DD and Tadpole to look forward to, and dinner with [livejournal.com profile] cathijosephine (who’s been on a road trip to New Orleans for the last couple weeks, but fortunately will be overlapping with [livejournal.com profile] silverlibre for a couple days).

Life is feeling pretty good lately.
beowabbit: (Default)
Well, I had my first significant problem of this stormy day: My desk chair broke. (Not broke as in “dumped me on the floor”, but broke as in as in “suddenly dropped six inches and tilted at an unsettling angle, while making a snapping sound and depositing a substantial pile of rust on the floor below it”.) Since the closest thing I have to a desk chair now is a folding wooden chair, there go my plans for the all-night World of Warcraft marathon.¹ But I’m still warm and dry and happy, and the rain seems to have let up quite a bit.
¹ I understand World of Warcraft is a thing the kids are doing these days, and it has something to do with sitting at computers.
beowabbit: (Local: Quincy house pre-purchase)
Power: on
Water: flowing and potable
Trees: standing
House: warm
Basement: dry
Cat: sleeping

My work is closed today, and the Boston subway shut down at 2:00pm, but all is well so far in Quincy. I hope things are going as well for everybody reading this.
beowabbit: (People: Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet)
Probably most of you who are local already know about this, but [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom and I are in a live staged Hallowe’en radio show that is playing in Davis Square the next two weekends. (This is voice and Foley actors performing in front of microphones, essentially as if performing a live radio drama, but for a live audience instead of for radio broadcast.

This is part of ’s regular Hallowe’en Tomes of Terror series, but this particular one is all original plays by contemporary authors. (In the past, we’ve sometimes had new works, but mostly used scripts from classic radio series like Suspense and Fibber McGee and Molly.)

There are three one-act plays (each about half an hour long), and [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom and I are in ”The Crasher” about a troubled writer who moves into a sleepy Maryland town to get away from her troubles. But she finds it’s not as quiet as she’d hoped.

The other two one-acts, both by local authors in the group, are ”Shivers on Highway 61”, about a motorcycle gang’s brushes with death (or at least with the dead), and ”The Red Line”, about an MBTA driver, about to retire, who wants to see the T saved from privatization, and the consequences of his choices. Plenty of our friends are involved in this, and all three shows are lots of fun.

There are six performances, all at Unity Church at 6 William St. (on College Ave.) in Davis Square, Somerville, just a couple blocks from the Davis Square T station:
  • Friday, October 19th, at 8pm
  • Saturday, October 20th, at 8pm
  • Thursday, October 25th, at 8pm
  • Friday, October 26th, at 8pm
  • Saturday, October 27th, at at 2pm (matinée)
  • Saturday, October 27th, at 8pm
You can order or reserve tickets online or get them at the door. (Reservations or ordering in advance are a good idea since occasionally shows sell out.)

EDIT: Here’s a link with more info, including a map and the cast and crew.
Hope lots of you can come see it!

Bent

2012-09-15 12:25
beowabbit: (Me: shadow against sand under ripples)
No time to do it justice, but [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom and I saw Theatre@First’s production of Bent last night, and it was incredibly powerful and moving and truly spectacular. It’s about gay men in Nazi Berlin and Dachau, and it’s just as intense as you might imagine. The acting was stunning. You may not be able to sit through the whole thing, but you should try.

The New England Theater Geek has a review. If you’re not sure whether you can handle it, Wikipedia has a summary of the plot (with spoilers, of course).
beowabbit: (Astro: Venus transit 2012)
The rest of our trip to the Cape was great. On our way back, we spent a few hours at the Edward Gorey House, which was great. It’s a fascinating place celebrating a fascinatingly weird person. (He let raccoons live in one of his rooms for quite a while, for instance. Whether that was because he didn’t want to inconvenience them or because he just couldn’t be bothered to do anything about them, I didn’t quite gather. Either one seems entirely plausible.)

I finished Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries, by Molly Caldwell Crosby. As I wrote earlier, it was fascinating, and I think the novelistic style that rubbed me a bit the wrong way towards the beginning ended up working for me (especially when I read the notes at the end and realized that a lot of the suspiciously detailed descriptions were in fact properly sourced). Very highly recommended for anybody who likes historical nonfiction, medical nonfiction, or both. Looking forward to reading (and perhaps watching) Awakenings at some point. (Crosby says she was inspired to write Asleep in part because after reading Awakenings she wanted to learn more about the epidemic, and couldn’t find anything else written since the 30s or so.)

Got an unexpected impromptu dinner date with [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom this evening. I was kept late at work, and she had her class schedule change unexpectedly, which meant we were both in Cambridge and free at around 7:30. So we met in Central Square for dinner. We first tried Mary Chung’s, but they’re closed on Tuesdays, so we ended up having a delicious Indian meal at Shalimar. Yay!

Oh, and it was very cloudy here all day, so no chance of seeing the transit of Venus around sunset EDT. (The new userpic is from the Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite.) But as I was walking home from the T station the clouds had cleared a bit, and I got to see the International Space Station pass overhead.

PS — Huge thanks to [livejournal.com profile] surrealestate and DD for inviting us to join them and Julian on the Cape!
beowabbit: (Misc: spines of old books)
Saw PMRP’s Spring Sci-Fi Spectacular, which was great. This included an encore performance of “Red Shift: Havoc over Holowood”, which [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom was in, and which was originally performed at an Arisia a couple years ago. That was a lot of fun. And the other show was a radio adaptation of The Day the Earth Stood Still, originally broadcast in 1954 by Lux Radio Theater. That was a truly spectacular performance. Kudos to Michael McAffee, who starred as Red Shift (the lead Interplanetary Do-Gooder in the Red Shift episodes) and directed “The Day the Earth Stood Still”¹.

I finished Harry Turtledove’s The Guns of the South (spoilers at link, of course) a couple weeks ago. I had a weird, mixed reaction to it. I love alternate history in general, and this is an important book in the history of that sub-genre. And I love actual history, and the actual history in the book was meticulously researched. But I had a hard time with the pervasive racism that has to be depicted in a book about 20th- or 21st-century Afrikaner white supremacists travelling back in time to ensure that the South wins the Civil War. I don’t have a similarly hard time with nonfiction history, and I think I might have less of a hard time with a historical novel that didn’t alter actual history so much. And of course, accurate fiction set in the early 21st century also has to depict racism, albeit without quite the same focus on it. So I’m not quite sure what it was about this book that made it so hard to read. (I liked it better after the end of the war, when it became about politics; not sure if that’s because the tone of the book changed or if it’s just that I’d gotten used to the book and its universe by then.)

The other thing I didn’t like about it, was that it mixed very plausible, believable characters with some really implausible behaviours and reactions. I mean, the whole premise is time travel and altering history, and I’m willing to suspend disbelief that far, but a lot of the things about how the time travellers behaved and how the 19th-century Southerners reacted to them and their technology seemed completely implausible.



I have started reading Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic that Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries, about the epidemic of sleeping sickness (epidemic encephalitis or encephalitis lethargica) following World War I. I’m only about halfway through it, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s largely taken from case histories, but it also creates an excellent sense of the era. Here’s an example:
For New Yorkers, for Americans, and for the world, the 1920s would prove to be the decade with the most rapid technological change in history. In one generation, travel by horse and carriage would make way for autos; people would travel underground, and soon, in the sky; wireless radio would change ship travel; kitchen appliances and indoor plumbing would become mainstream; light would come from a switch and heat through pipes; telephones would appear in the majority of homes; and the canned music and crackling voice of radio would provide home entertainment and news.
One minor quibble I have with it is that it’s a bit fictionalized and novelistic, including details that I can’t imagine are all actually attested in contemporary sources. But that certainly adds to the vividness, and it’s a very vivid book. Definitely recommended.
¹ So in this post I have two cases of the same or similar titles appearing in italics as the name of a standalone work or series, and also in quotation marks as the title of an episode of a series. There’s something wrong with that.
beowabbit: (Local: Quincy house pre-purchase)
So my last renters didn’t want to use the mattress that was on the bedframe in their room; they brought their own, and we took mine out to the garage. We didn’t get a chance to bring it back up together when they were moving out, and I wanted it back in the room, because (1) it was basically blocking the narrow passageway between cruft piles in the garage, and I needed to get that cleared so I could get to the cruft (and, knowing me, bring in more cruft), and (2) I thought the room looked more appealing for potential renters if the bed looked like a bed, rather than like giving up after getting Ikea furniture half-assembled and leaving it there.

So, after a couple unsuccessful attempts (and on the first day I’ve thought of it when the driveway has been dry so the mattress would stay relatively clean), I knuckled down and got it out of the garage, carrying it somewhat precariously on my back.

As of about fifteen minutes ago, I get it out to the sidewalk and am carrying it towards the front door, and a car pulls up right next to me and somebody yells out asking if I’m OK. Yes, I say, which wasn’t a lie; this was slow and clumsy but working just fine. The voice asks where I’m carrying the mattress. Just in here, I say (the front door already being open); I’m fine. They ignore me, jump out of the car, and carry the mattress in and upstairs for me, not letting me even help. Then they introduce themselves, say they live down the street and I should call them if I ever need help, shake my hand, and are getting in their car again before I have the presence of mind to ask if I can at least give them a couple beers.

So I got a full size mattress carried up the porch steps, up the narrow stairwell, and forced around the corner through the door into the upstairs bedroom for the price of two bottles of Negra Modelo. And I met a couple of very nice neighbors!
beowabbit: (Misc: spines of old books)
So I finished The Swerve, which I briefly mentioned earlier, about the composition, loss to obscurity, rediscovery, and impact of Lucretius’ Epicurean philosopical poem On the Nature of Things. Utterly loved it. I learned a lot about a lot of periods of history that I didn’t know very much about, and it presented a very convincing account of the rôle of this classical poem, almost lost and really preserved largely by accident, in laying the intellectual foundations for the modern Western world.

One thing that struck me as a 21st-century reader, reading Greenblatt’s exposition of Lucretius’ view of the universe, is just how far you can get by pure speculation, without formally using anything like the scientific method. Lucretius, and Epicurus before him, made up what they thought they knew about the world with nothing like formal experimentation, with no theory-testing, just coming to conclusions based on whatever they happened to observe, plus whatever biases were already in their heads. And to be sure, they got an awful lot laughably wrong from a modern vantage point. Quoting Greenblatt:

Lucretius believed that the sun circled around the earth, and he argued that the sun’s heat and size could hardly be much greater than are perceived by our senses. He thought that works were spontaneously generated from the wet soil, explained lightning as seeds of fire expelled from hollow clouds, and pictured the earth as a menopausal mother exhausted by the effort of so much breeding.
But he also believed that everything in the universe, whether matter we interact with on earth or lights we see in the sky, was made up of tiny indivisible particles; that while physical objects seem solid, those tiny particles probably have space between them,; that they interact, and that while a rock face may be eroded to sand and a human being may decompose to dirt, the tiny indivisible particles (though they may scatter) never change or disappear; and that all these particles were in constant motion, and that their behaviour in aggregate was controlled by random fluctuations, by what we would now call laws of statistics. He believed that living matter was made of the same particles as inanimate matter. He believed that human beings were animals, and that the differences between different kinds of animals were generally matters of degree, rather than kind. He believed that animals develop from other animals, as the random changes (or “swerves”, hence the title of Greenblatt’s book) of the atoms the animal was made up of accumulated into larger changes, and the animals with beneficial changes did better than the animals with detrimental changes, so that the beneficial changes were passed on. He believed that consciousness was a phenomenon produced by physical bodies that could be explained (like everything else in the world) by the incredibly complex interactions of uncountably many tiny particles.

All in all, it strikes me (and Greenblatt) as a startlingly accurate picture of the world for Iron Age philosophers to make up out of their own minds, their haphazard observations of the world around them, and earlier authorities’ writings.



So of course I had to order the Loeb edition of On the Nature of Things. I wish my Latin were good enough to read it in the (particularly difficult, I gather) original, but I’m going to have to content myself with glancing across at the original when I come across a particularly good or interesting passage. (And looking a lot of stuff up.) It’ll be a while till I get to that anyway.

I also recently read Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis 2 (the sequel to Persepolis, which I read a few months ago. Both very highly recommended (and quick reads, of course, being comics). They’re great example of the use of the comic format; there were lots of panels which were very concisely evocative in ways I can’t imagine a pure-text book or a movie being.

And finally, on Friday [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom and I went back to see Theatre@First’s production of Pride and Prejudice again. And again it rocked (often with laughter). It obviously wasn’t exactly the same this time, but you can basically re-read my opening-night review and not go wrong. Of course, we noticed lots of stuff this time that we’d missed last time. And this time I took a lot of pictures, which hopefully I will eventually get around to posting on Flickr.

Still desperately looking for a renter (or, failing that, a sugar daddy or a winning lottery ticket), but I have a few nibbles this week.

So, full crazy-busy busy life, but largely full of fun.
beowabbit: (Misc: spines of old books)
[livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom and I saw Theatre@First’s Pride and Prejudice last night at the Somerville Theatre, and it was spectacular. Go see it if you possibly can. The sheer number of jaw-droppingly outstanding performances was unbelievable. J. Deschene’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh got spontaneous, sustained applause as she flounced off the set after one scene, which she richly deserved. Doug Miller’s Mr. Bennet had a little mime show at one point where he had the audience in stitches without speaking an audible word. Brian Edgar’s conniving vicar Mr. Collins was quite spectacular — you wanted to take a shower after he left the stage. And those were just a few of the highlights; this large show was just chock full of spectacular performances.

The sets and scene-changes were great, too. The sets were very spare, just some furniture and moving panels hinting at walls. And the scene changes happened around the performers, generally as they were delivering lines. You might think that would be distracting, but it wasn’t at all, instead, it made the show flow smoothly, and I think it was an inspired choice.

The sound, the lighting, the costumes, the makeup all were great. But honestly, it was hard to notice them when I was busy being bowled over by the acting.

This was an original adaptation for the stage by director Elizabeth Hunter, and the adaptation itself was an incredible accomplishment. I’d have to go back to the book to figure out what plot points got cut, but the play was true to my memory of the book.

There are three more performances: tonight and next Friday at 8pm, and a matinee next Saturday the 31st at 2pm. Here’s ticket info. If you possibly can, you must go see this play.
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