Scenes from my holiday weekend

Flew up to Willow Airport for an afternoon.  Went flying mainly because I hadn't been in the plane for over a month. Flight up was completely uneventful.  Flight back  was nearly uneventful, except for the part where both of my main GPSs crapped out at the same time for five minutes.  Both came back at nearly the same time, too. No one I've talked to has any idea what this could possibly mean, other than some sort of local jamming or something.  Not a cloud in the sky, so I didn't >>need<< the GPS.  But they sure are handy.

Mark and I watched about half of Borat.  I decided I really don't like a movie whose point is to embarrass people who are trying to be polite and gracious. Not my sort of humor.  I could also understand about 3/4 of what Borat was saying when he was speaking "Kazakh".

I'm  a few episodes short of finishing Season 4 of Star Trek TNG.  Dr. Crusher is distraught when her Trill boyfriend becomes a lesbian. Is this the first time ST dealt with the issue of homosexuality?

Monday morning I took my plane co-owner flying.  He had gotten his instrument rating, but didn't know how to fly the plane using the autopilot.  I forced him to fly several approaches without ever touching the yoke. The best part was when I made him fly a full approach, complete with procedure turn and "going missed" at the end.  "What do I do?" he asked.  "Absolutely nothing."

Went to the John Sybaslky memorial.  It was strange seeming some folks that I knew from square dancing 20 years ago and hadn't seen since. Numerous folks flew in from out of town to be there. A big crowd. Lots of bittersweet memories. Too much food. Great dancing.

More reasons to eat ice cream

To celebrate the start of same-sex marriage in Vermont, Ben and Jerry's is temporarily renaming "Chubby Hubby" to "Hubby Hubby".  Really.  This promotion lasts through September.

I'm not sure if the pints are only available in Vermont or if they're going to be available nationwide.  And ChHubby Hubby is one of my favorite flavors.


Driving with the peons

A couple of weeks ago, I got rear-ended by a driver who was checking her text messages. No serious damage to me or my car, but the rear bumper cover on my Prius had to be replaced.

Alas, this means that I don't have carpool stickers on my car--those miraculous stickers that allow me to drive in the carpool lanes even when I'm a single driver. When the metering lights are on, I have to creep along in the right lane, rather than zip thru in the left lane. I can no longer zip past the bumper-to-bumper traffic of early morning 101.

Fortunately, my pain should only last a few weeks. I have mailed the DMV asking for replacement stickers.  Though they no longer give out stickers to new cars, they do give out replacement stickers if you can show that the old ones have been damaged.  I'm told it'll take about two weeks.

(no subject)

On June 6, 1982, I was busy scuba diving in Eilat, at the very southernmost tip of Israel.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, Israel was beginning its invasion of Southern Lebanon. In fact, I was so far removed from the fighting that I didn't even know anything was happening until I returned to Rechovot (near Tel Aviv) several days later.  When I chatted with my parents, they begged me to return home; I insisted that I was no where near the fighting, and that I'd be returning home for my brother's wedding, as scheduled, in a couple of weeks.

Fast forward three months to August 23. Bashir Gemayel, head of the Phalangists, a Christian militia, is elected president of Lebanon. On September 14th, Bashir and other Phalangist leaders are assassinated.  The next day, Israeli forces surround Sabra and Shatila, two Palestinian refugee camps near Beirut. The Israeli forces completely control all access to the camp. For two days, they allow Phalangist militia free access to the camps in order to "round up wanted terrorists".  What followed is best described as a massacre.

2008. Film maker Ari Folman meets with a friend, who tells him of his recurrent nightmare: being haunted by the snarling ghosts of the 26 dogs he was ordered to shoot in Lebanon. Ari realizes he has no memories of the war, just a recurring image of him and two friends swimming naked in the Beirut Mediterranean, while flares fly overhead. He knows that he was near Sabra and Shatila, but doesn't recall it at all.

The movie Waltz With Bashir is an intensely moving documentary. The filmmaker sets off to find out what actually happened in Lebanon, and what was his part in that horror.  What did he know? What should he have known? He interviews friends, colleagues, people he served with. All in an effort to recover his own lost memories.

The move is not film, but animation. This lets the film switch easily between ultra-realism, surrealism, erotic, pornographic, and violent. Some of the voices portray themselves. Some are composite figures. The same voices are on both the Hebrew and English vocal tracks.

The movie is haunting, beautiful, and disturbing.



At last, something useful to come out of Ottawa. What to do--proved by science!--if attacked by zombies.

To quote the BBC article:

In their study, the researchers from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University (also in Ottawa) posed a question: If there was to be a battle between zombies and the living, who would win?

Even so, their analysis revealed that a strategy of capturing or curing the zombies would only put off the inevitable.

In their scientific paper, the authors conclude that humanity's only hope is to "hit them [the undead] hard and hit them often".

Greetings from Ashland, Oregon

Mark and I are completing the last of our trips to Ashland. Usually we make two trips a year, but we ended up making an extra to see one of the plays again:

Here are my pocket reviews. Check out  ozdachs for longer reviews of some of these plays.

Equivocation: Mark and I made a special trip to Ashland to see this play again.  It was even better the second time, with the acting and plot even tauter. William Shagspeare and his company have been commissioned to write the history of The Gunpowder Plot. But the problem is, there is no plot, in both senses of the word. Can one truly speak truth to power, when no one really cares about the truth? Overall, an astonishing performance, with most of the actors effortlessly switching between multiple roles.  Special kudos to John Tufts, who switches roles with a turn of his head.

Servant of Two Masters: Commedia dell'arte was originally street theater. The actors would improvise using whatever props were on hand. With this production, OSF gloriously brings this art form to the modern age.  The costumes and props were glorious: everything seemingly stolen from other productions past and present.  Special kudos to Mark Bedard as Truffuldino. His wandering through the audience begging for food is an improvised masterpiece.

Henry VIII: With this play, I completed the canon. I'd finally seen all 37 plays.  This is not a particularly good play and it is performed rather infrequently, but OSF feels like it needs to perform it every 25 years.  Vilma Silva as Queen Katherine steals the show, and this production focuses on how the various court machinations affect her.

Particularly inspired was casting a deaf actor, Howie Seago, in this play. At some of the most important scenes in the play, Vilma Silvers both translates Seago's sign language as well as gives her own response.  What Shakespeare wrote as a dialog becomes an intensely moving monologue.

The Music Man
: An extraordinarily good production.  But it was still The Musican Man. I just can't figure out why OSF chose to perform this.  I want Oregon Shakespeare Festival to hire the best actors, not the best singer/dancers.  I had really high hopes for this production when the overture was performed on a harmonica; perhaps the director had found a way to make this extravaganza into a more intimate affair. But my hopes were soon dashed as every number was choreographed to the hilt.

The one intriguing idea in the production was the use of color.  River City, Iowa starts as a drab gray. Even the American flag is gray. As Professor Henry Hill slowly snookers the town, more and more color appears until River City erupts in technicolor.

Don Quixote: Disappointing.  As a piece of stage craft, this was amazing; as a piece of story telling, not so.  This adaptation seems to have chosen those pieces of the book that could be staged the most extravagantly and imaginatively, rather than those that best provided a coherent plot.  Who was the Enchanter? Who or what was Dulcinea?

Paradise Lost:  I'm still cogitating on this one.

Much Ado about Nothing: This play is really two plays: the love/hate relationship between Beatrice and Benedict, and the wooing of Claudio and Hero.  Act I, which focused on Beatrice (Robynn  Rodriguez) and Benedict (David Kelly) sparkled. Their perfect comedic timing and the acidic repartee between them had me howling.  The second act, well, I just couldn't care so much for Claudio and Hero. Tony DeBruno did as good a Dogberry as I've seen, but it's still rather boring.

All's Well That Ends Well: Wow.  Another of Shakespeare's problem plays. Low-born girl loves high-born boy but he doesn't love her. He is forced to marry her; he flees. She tries to win him back, but why? Armando Durand, who I hated as Don Quixote, sparkles in this production as "all the miscellaneous characters", switching with the change of a prop between roles. Most productions leave you wondering: Will there be love in this marriage? This one leaves no doubt.