What a Way to Celebrate!

Well, I’m a year older now.

Okay, technically, I’m a day older than I was yesterday, and three days older than I was on October 12, my official birthday.  But you know what I mean.

Sand Fence and View.img_assist_custom-349x233

This year, we decided to take advantage of a relative’s kind offer, and we spent my birthday (and a long weekend!) at the beach — Duck, North Carolina, on the Outer Banks.  We typically go down there once or twice a year, usually in the heart of winter.  Duck is a wonderful place off season — nearly deserted, with most businesses closed up tight, with nearly no one on the beach, and with cold, bracing winds that can howl all night in classic nor’easters.

Not so much in mid-October this year!

The temps were in the 80s — I dramatically overpacked for cool weather and just got by with the T-shirts I brought (and I mourned my failure to bring shorts or sandalsl!)  On Saturday, the beach was actually *crowded*, and there were lots of folks on the sand every day.  All the businesses were open (even the Dairy Queen :-) ), and the roads were surprisingly busy.  In short, “our” Duck looked completely different from the Duck we normally encounter.

Of course, it was enjoyable, all the same.  We took walks on the sand (with surprisingly high tides and lots of waves!), and we indulged in meals at our favorite restaurants.  We got a lot of reading done, and we watched a lot of movies — binged the second half of HOMELAND, Season 3, and the BEYOND Linklater movies, and an odd, well-made little film called A SIMPLE PLAN.

All in all, a perfect birthday weekend, brightened by the Facebook posts of many, and emails from even more, and cards and phone calls and, and, and, and…  I feel well and truly spoiled!  (I also feel like I’m never going to eat anything other than salad and lean grilled meats, for the rest of my life :-) )

And that is why it’s time for me to get back to work :-)

Read More

Frozen (And I Don’t Mean the Disney Musical)…

Well, *that* was a weekend…
Surely by now, you know that we’re fans of the Nationals around here…  So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that my Friday afternoon was spent at the ballpark, cheering on my team.  The game started at 3:00, but that was fine, because the afternoon was cloudy, so the ferocious shadows of a sunny day didn’t have a chance to compromise the game.  Alas, the Nats lost.
Saturday found us back at the park for a 5:30 game.  Alas, Friday’s clouds had been caused by a cold front that swept through Friday night.  When we arrived at the park, the sun was *brilliant*, but the weather was cool, and there was a healthy breeze blowing in the upper decks (stronger than the lovely breath of fresh air that keeps us cool up there in Section 416 on those beastly hot summer days.)
index
I’ll cut to the chase.  We left the park after 18 innings of baseball, after six hours of play, after the temperatures plummeted into the low 50s and the wind chill was somewhere much below there.  The Nats lost, 2-1, after three different would-be-massive-homeruns-for-Nats died on the warning track, blown back in by the wind, and after one Giants home run cleared the fence.
The restrooms (which were heated and, obviously, out of the wind) started to look like refugee centers by the end of the game — elderly women in wheelchairs, mothers holding sleeping babies, clutches of women leaning against each other as they huddled against the walls.  About half the crowd stayed until the bitter end; in some sections (but not in hours, thankfully!) people stood for the entire game.  Most of the concession stands shut down after 9 innings, but the hot chocolate stand stayed open until the bottom of the 18th.
There’s still at least one more game to be played (this is a best-of-five series) but things look quite grim for the Nats.  I’m more than a bit astonished at how personal this whole thing feels — even though I know they didn’t win for me during the regular season and they aren’t losing for me now.  I’ve only followed baseball for about twelve years, and this feels like the first time I’ve really gotten to “know” the players on my team — maybe a side effect of going to 20 regular season games, maybe a side effect of writing the Diamond Brides, maybe a side effect of these particular guys on this particular team.
Yesterday, I felt rather hung over. Tonight, I’ll sit in front of the TV and watch them play in San Francisco. And I’ll have a cat on my lap.  And a blanket.  And a cup of hot tea if I want it.
I’ll be able to feel my toes.  But I’ll settle for teeth-chattering shivering all over again on Thursday, if they could just win tonight’s (and tomorrow’s) game and bring the series back here to DC!
Read More

A Vacation By Any Other Name

Oh.  Wait.  I *was* on vacation.  That *was* its name :-)

I spent last week in Ashland, Oregon, attending the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my husband, my college roommate, and her family.  We saw seven plays in four days — a matinee and evening show every day but one (when we just had an evening performance).  The plays are all performed in repertory, so we got to see many of the actors multiple times.  (We also saw two understudies who did amazing jobs!)  It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’ll try to sort the shows:

  1. THE GREAT SOCIETY:  This was the best play — a sequel to ALL THE WAY, which we were lucky enough to see in New York, with Brian Cranston *channeling* LBJ.  SOCIETY picks up immediately after the events in ALL THE WAY.  The actor who played LBJ, Jack Willis, was very different from Cranston — he wasn’t as tall (Cranston wore lifts), and he was heavier; he didn’t have the same physicality, and he didn’t present a caricature of the president.  Rather, he delivered his lines with emotion and skill, *acting* to resemble the former president.  The script was wonderful as well — over and over again, I was struck by how similar to a Shakespearean tragedy it was — LBJ could have been any king in the histories, seeking counsel from his advisors, receiving some good advice, some bad.
  2. INTO THE WOODS:  This was the best musical (see what I’m doing here?) — great performances with some difficult music, staged well with minimal sets and lots and lots of doubling of actors.  Many of the musicians were students, playing with the professionals; they sounded perfect to my ears.
  3. RICHARD III:  A very close second to best play.  Dan Donahue’s Richard was utterly unredeemed evil (per the script); he brought the audience in as co-conspirators, sharing his plans with us with wicked, conniving joy.  He was the most disabled RIII I’ve ever seen — he needed to use a leather strap around his neck to hold his contorted left hand, whenever he needed those fingers.  I didn’t remember the women’s roles being as prominent as they were.
  4. A WRINKLE IN TIME:  This was a world premiere adaptation, and it was an earnest attempt to make one of my favorite children’s books come alive.  Alas, it wasn’t entirely successful — mostly because the book is so *vivid* in my mind, with such wonderful otherworldly settings…  I was always aware that I was watching a play, instead of getting involved in the characters.
  5. THE TEMPEST:  I’ve never liked this play — it has a lot going for it (magic! books! enchanted isle!) but it never really manages to deliver, and the clown scenes go on for *way* too long.  That said, this production had some good things going for it — an otherworldly set, cool fairies that assisted Ariel and Prospero.  The best thing about the production, though, was the romance between Miranda and Ferdinand.  The actors who played those roles played the title roles in the best ROMEO AND JULIET I’ve ever seen, a couple of years ago — they have amazing chemistry, and they truly sold their scenes.  (Another high point — the music and dance number in the second act was kept short — sometimes, it turns into its own endless spectacle!)
  6. TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA:  This all-female production was confusing at first — it wasn’t clear whether the performers were supposed to be women playing women or women playing men.  (They were women playing men, it turned out.)  There was some odd doubling, with a very distinctive actor playing Launce (a clown) and Sylvia’s father.  The dog, Crabbe, was played by a wonderful Great Pyrenees who was very fun to watch :-)
  7. COMEDY OF ERRORS:  Another play that isn’t one of my favorites.  This highly edited performance (1.5 hours, no intermission) was set in Harlem in the 1920s.  The actors who doubled the leads did a good job of bouncing back and forth through their many fast costume changes, but the play itself is silly (and there’s no good way to stage the ending, when other actors need to come on to perform the final confrontation scene.)  Some of our group thought that this was one of the best plays, so it was obviously a matter of taste!

In between going to plays, we ate massive amounts of very good food.  We also spent a lot of time talking, reading, generally relaxing…  And I couldn’t pass up the yarn at Webspinners — I came home with two new projects.  (That yarn shop has the most different (textures, types, etc) yarn I’ve ever seen collected in one place!  I ended up with several small skeins of mercerized cotton for one shawl and some beautiful hand-dyed silk-and-camel for another shawl…)

And now I’m home, a bit shocked to realize that none of my to-do list got done while I was gone :-)

 

Read More

The Best Sort of Theater

Make that “the best sort of ‘theatre’” because virtually every acting company in DC that has the-a-ter in its name uses the British spelling…

Friday evening, we headed downtown for Studio Theatre’s (see?) production of BELLEVILLE by Amy Herzog.  Why, yes, you might have noted we shifted our subscription to Saturday matinees.  Why, yes, you might have noted that a Friday night is not a Saturday matinee.  Why, yes, you might have noted that when the schedule arrived, we had a conflict for “our” Saturday — and for every other Saturday matinee the play was showing!

In any case, we headed downtown for the evening performance, and we hassled with parking, and with a less than stellar dinner, and with having extra time before the show, and, and, and…

And it was all worth it.

We saw another Herzog play last year — 4,000 MILES.  We knew that she could write realistic dialog spoken by people in crisis who are trying to conceal parts of their pasts to protect themselves in their presents.  But that didn’t prepare us for BELLEVILLE.

The play is set in Paris, in a neighborhood inhabited by many immigrants, including a young American couple who have moved their so that Zack can help children with AIDS.  His wife, Abby, has had trouble making the adjustment to her expat life.  The entire action of the play takes place over a 24-hour period, as the couple confronts each other about the problems in their relationship.

BELLEVILLE follows in a long line of “relationship” plays.  For me, it resonated most closely to WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF and AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY — Herzog’s play has the same vicious use of language, the same domineering thrusts and parries by people who aren’t afraid to fight with words.  About 15 minutes before the end of the play, I realized that I truly did not know how it was going to conclude — there were at least three very realistic, fully supported directions the play could have taken.

Despite my years as a litigator, I am not a Warrior of Words — I hate the type of brutal confrontation that takes front and center in BELLEVILLE.  But as a theater-goer, and a student of people, and a general admirer of beautiful words, I’m in awe of the play and its performance.

(One minor flaw — two supporting characters primarily speak French to each other in their dialog.  I understood what they said, but my theater-going companion felt that he missed almost all of a crucial late scene.)Perhaps my admiration for Herzog’s work is based, at least in part, on a scene in ALWAYS RIGHT — the first knock-down, drag out verbal fight I’ve ever truly written.  (Zingers, yeah, I’ve got those down.  But all out warfare?  That was a first for me…)Sigh…  Off to edit now!P.S. The rest of our weekend was relatively quiet, marked mostly by the death of the power of the baseball cap — the Nats finally lost a game while I wore it to the park.  Oh well.  Time to start a new streak!

Read More

Is It Fanfic If It’s a Classic?

This post talks about Daphne du Maurier’s REBECCA and Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE.  If you haven’t read both and you don’t want to be spoiled on the endings, then stop reading right now.  (But really.  They’ve both been around for long enough that if you don’t know the ending and worry about spoilerage, I really hope you’re fifteen or younger :-) )

So…  Last night, we watched the 1940 movie of REBECCA, which I’d never seen before.  I was amused to see how clearly I remembered the book — down to most of the dialog.  The first time I read the book was in ninth grade, but I know I re-read it at least twice in high school.  (As an aside, in an interesting mini-documentary after the film, I learned that Hitchcock originally adapted the novel to be very different from the book — he changed the story, created new scenes that emphasized the psychological dimensions of the events, and generally created a derivative work (in the copyright sense) — until David O Selznick told him, “We paid a lot for the book, and we’re going to use it, thank you very much.”)

Some time before I first read REBECCA, I first read JANE EYRE.  (We had to read WUTHERING HEIGHTS in eighth grade, and that set off a spate of Bronte-reading among my friends…)

So how is it that I didn’t realize REBECCA was the same story as JANE EYRE until last night?!?

Young girl, orphaned and alone.  Experienced man, sweeping her off her feet, taking her from obnoxious protector(s).  Spooky haunted house, with areas girl is not supposed to go.  Revelation of existence/nature of crazy (ex-)wife.  Fire destroying house (and naivete, and the old way of doing things, etc.)

I was an English major.  I’m supposed to parse these things in my sleep.  But I don’t remember anyone ever commenting that these stories are THE EXACT SAME STORIES.  I’m sure they did, and I just ignored them.  But wow.  Eyes now opened (and I can see, because, you know, Maxim wasn’t blinded.  Big difference in the stories there :-P )

::shaking head::

Read More

Feeling a Little Wicked?

Amazingly enough, FROM LEFT FIELD wasn’t the only book released this past Tuesday!  I am absolutely thrilled to announce the publication of Deborah Blake’s first novel, WICKEDLY DANGEROUS!

WickedlyDangerous_hires

Deborah was one of my first editing clients, years back.  Over time, we’ve become good friends (we regularly write emails to each other that are longer than most novels!)  Deborah has a long career as a non-fiction writer, publishing a variety of pagan-related books with Llewellyn.  WICKEDLY DANGEROUS draws on that background in magic, but Deborah has added a marvelous unique touch, basing her story on Russian folklore.

Here’s the back of the book blurb:

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.
Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…

When I read a draft of this book, I was blown away by the creativity and the *fun* of the story.  Deborah combines real-life environmental concerns with a fantastic take on the otherworldly.  And you can buy your copy today!  (Amazon | Penguin | B&N | Indiebound)

 

Read More
Email Newsletters with VerticalResponse