Sunday, September 15, 2013

Closing tabs

My only complaint about this week, if it is a complaint, is that it was too full of a rich and complex variety of things!

On Tuesday I taught The Princesse de Cleves and on Wednesday, A Journal of the Plague Year. These are two of my particularly favorite books of all time, and I'm really excited about this semester's courses.

On Thursday I went with G. to see Mr. Burns, a post-electric play. The third act is brilliant and genuinely haunting - I am not quite so sure about the long first act, which seems to me to have too much of the sort of conversation that seemed fresh when we heard it in Pulp Fiction but which strikes me on the stage these days as overly rambling and a little self-indulgent. The three acts of the play take place in the near future, seven years later and seventy years later - it covers some familiar ground in terms of thinking about linguistic and cultural transformations after an apocalyptic break (think Riddley Walker or other post-nuclear scenarios), but the originality comes from the way that we see time morphing the "Cape Fear" Simpsons episode together with Gilbert & Sullivan and all sorts of other random cultural snippets, especially musical, into a postapocalyptic morality play, with Bart Simpson as familiar to modern audiences as the medieval Vice would have been to audiences many hundreds of years ago. The acting is very good, and so is the production. (Dinner afterwards at the West Bank Cafe, which is currently offering a very good prix fixe dinner - $20 for appetizer, main course and dessert. I had spinach ravioli, a very delicious skate with capers and an even more delectable lemon mousse.)

Lots of meetings with graduate students - I think I have finally reached critical mass. Also was given a brand new iPad for a major committee assignment, something that presages huge amounts of online reading.

On Friday I had dinner at La Lunchonette with an old friend from graduate school who has invited me to come and speak at Tel Aviv University in May, a trip I am very much looking forward to.

On Saturday I went to Governors Island on the ferry and met up with my brother and his family at FĂȘte Paradiso. Among other things we rode the world's first bicycle carousel.

Today I finally had time to write my race report for Ironman Wisconsin.

This coming week is very busy too, though after that I am hoping things will settle down a bit. I could use a few quiet days at home with little to do!

Light reading around the edges:

Seanan McGuire's new October Daye novel, Chimes At Midnight, which ends very abruptly but regardless confirms my impression of McGuire as one of today's great geniuses of popular fiction in the fantasy/science-fictional vein; and Gwenda Bond's lovely The Woken Gods, which entirely lived up to my very high expectations.

Closing tabs:

Open up this essay by Mark Kingwell in a new browser tab and save it to read later!

A humble plea for the bumblebee.

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