Now There's Something You Don't See Every Day
Spotted on Broadway in New Haven today: R2D2 apparently now working as a mailbox. I knew times were tough, but sheesh!
Spotted on Broadway in New Haven today: R2D2 apparently now working as a mailbox. I knew times were tough, but sheesh!
I started a five-week course in the tragedies and histories of William Shakespeare down at Yale today. My class meets four days a week from 1:00 to 2:45 in the afternoon, with about a half-dozen viewing sessions scheduled for evenings. Tonight we compared excerpts from several productions of Julius Caesar, the first play we are studying, including the famous early 1950s version starring Marlon Brando as Marc Antony. Now I need to get to work on the first writing assignment. Basically we are expected to write an essay on each of the ten plays we are reading: eight of them relatively brief (2 pages or so) and two more developed (around 8 pages).
Not satisfied with reaching at least the semis in twenty consecutive Slam tournaments, Roger Federer fought his way to another Roland Garros final for the fourth straight year, winning a tough five-set final. He is poised to win the one major that has eluded his grasp and, in the process, tie Sampras' mark of 14 Slam singles titles.
While strolling the grounds of Roland Garros with my two companions last Saturday, I said that as much as I like Nadal, I wouldn't mind seeing Roger Federer finally hoist the French Open singles trophy. The Swiss player finally broke through in Paris today, with a straight-set win the championship match, ending years of frustration at this event. It was pretty thrilling to see Federer rise to the occasion the past two weeks, coming back from perilous positions in a few of his matches, to claim this prize. I have to say it's probably not quite the same storyline it would have been had he beaten Nadal for the Roland Garros crown, but certainly Wimbledon will be a lot more interesting (assuming Nadal's knee holds up such that he can mount a defense of his title).
In my Shakespeare class at Yale, we are reading Richard II this week, a play that explores the relationship between poetry and politics. This provides me an interesting context to watch President Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo earlier today. This eloquent address, aimed at establishing a new beginning for America and Islam, may do more to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East than all the efforts of Obama's predecessor fighting his "war on terror."
With a lightly scheduled week during exam period here at school, it's been a good time for visiting the waterfall about fifteen minutes from campus. One of my favorite late spring activities involves crawling through the cascading water to settle into the natural seats formed in the rocks underneath. You know you are alive when sitting in the middle of a waterfall!
I always like these lyrics from "Never Die Young" by James Taylor when thinking about the departure of newly minted Choate graduates each June:
I guess it had to happen someday soon
Wasn't nothing to hold them down
They would rise from among us like a big balloon
Take the sky and forsake the ground
Oh, yes, other hearts were broken
Yeah, other dreams ran dry
But our golden ones sail on, sail on
To another land beneath another sky
Apple announced a souped up new model of its iPhone today: the 3G S. The good news is a slew of new features, including voice command, digital compass, and an improved camera with video capability. The bad news for current iPhone users like me is that switching to the new version of the device will cost $600-$700, depending on the memory. Surely Apple and AT&T will have to sweeten that deal sometime soon, no?
I checked the AT&T website and it turns out I am eligible for the full discount pricing on the new iPhone 3G S if I pay an $18 upgrade fee. I suppose that's because I'm 18 months into my two-year contract. (Of course, I think my data plan price jumps $10 a month, too, so that's a factor.) Now I have to decide whether or not I want to take the plunge for the new technology.
Today I finalized reservations for a few days on the West Coast at the end of August, mostly at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Just about a year ago, I resolved to see every play in the Shakespeare canon produced on stage. Here is the list of what I've seen thus far, starting my count in the spring of 2008 when I saw Patrick Stewart as Macbeth when the production came to Broadway:
1. 4/24/08, Macbeth, Broadway
2. 6/20/08, Hamlet, Shakespeare In The Park, The Public Theater, New York City
3. 6/26/08, King Lear, American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, VA
4. 6/27/08, Twelfth Night, American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, VA
5. 6/28/08, Measure For Measure, American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, VA
6. 7/3/08, All's Well That Ends Well, Shakespeare & Co., Lenox, MA
7. 7/18/08, The Comedy Of Errors, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR
8. 7/19/08, Othello, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR
9. 7/22/08, Romeo And Juliet, Old Globe Theater, San Diego, CA
10. 8/8/08, The Merry Wives Of Windsor, Shakespeare's Globe, London
11. 8/9/08, The Taming Of The Shrew, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford, U.K.
12. 8/13/08, Much Ado About Nothing, Oxford Castle, Oxford, U.K.
13. 9/9/08, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hartford Stage Company, Hartford, CT
14. 10/3/08, The Tempest, Classic Stage Company, New York City
15. 5/14/09, The Merchant Of Venice, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City
So as of now, I am not quite halfway done. But here is what I've scheduled in the weeks and months ahead:
16. 6/13/09, Julius Caesar, Stratford Festival, Stratford, ON, Canada
17. 6/20/09, Henry V, Richmond Shakespeare Festival, Richmond, VA
18. 7/10/09, Pericles, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Garrison, NY
19. 7/19/09, Titus Andronicus, American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, VA
20. 7/26/09, Two Gentlemen Of Verona, Colonial Theater, Westerly, RI
21. 7/28/09, Antony And Cleopatra, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley, PA
22. 8/1/09, As You Like It, Shakespeare's Globe, London
23. 8/1/09, The Winter's Tale, The Old Vic, London
24. 8/16/09, Troilus And Cressida, Shakespeare's Globe, London
25. 8/22/09, Henry IV, Part I, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, Philadelphia, PA
26. 8/26/09, Henry VIII, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR
27. 8/28/09, Coriolanus, Old Globe Theater, San Diego, CA
28. 9/27/09, Richard III, Chicago Shakespeare Festival, Chicago
29. 10/28/09, Love's Labour's Lost, Annenberg Center, Philadelphia, PA
30. May 2010, Timon Of Athens, Actors' Shakespeare Project, Boston, MA
This will put me over three-quarters of the way through, leaving these plays of the "official" canon of 37 yet to be seen--all plays that are produced infrequently (though I have leads on a couple productions coming in 2010):
32. Henry IV, Part II
33. Henry VI, Part I
34. Henry VI, Part II
35. Henry VI, Part III
36. King John
37. Richard II
Then there are two plays sometimes attributed to Shakespeare, at least in part, that some scholars regard as canonical:
38? The Two Noble Kinsmen
39? Edward III
Since starting this project twelve months ago, I have seen--or will see--some of the plays in the canon more than once; here are those duplicates on my list:
8/8/08, King Lear, Shakespeare's Globe, London
9/19/08, The Comedy Of Errors, Paul Mellon Arts Center, Wallingford, CT
6/13/09, Macbeth, Stratford Festival, Stratford, ON, Canada
6/26/09, Hamlet, Shakespeare & Co., Lenox, MA
7/2/09, The Tempest, The Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey, Madison, NJ
7/18/09, The Merry Wives Of Windsor, American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, VA
7/18/09, Much Ado About Nothing, American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, VA
8/15/09, The Winter's Tale, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford, U.K.
8/25/09, Macbeth, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR
8/25/09, Much Ado About Nothing, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR
8/26/09, All's Well That Ends Well, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR
I have not included any productions I had seen before last spring, such as the Twelfth Night I saw in Central Park in the summer of 1989 when I was a Klingenstein Summer Fellow at Columbia, or the versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Othello I watched on the Paul Mellon Arts Center stage here at Choate, or the condensed Henry IV (combining parts I and II) starring Kevin Kline as Falstaff at Lincoln Center a few years back.
And of course I am familiar with filmed versions of some of these plays (e.g., Branagh's Henry V) which I have not included for the purposes of this list either.
A week after my trip to Paris, I reconnected with the City of Lights by watching Taken, an action/suspense flick I downloaded to my AppleTV. It's a pretty mindless movie, but reasonably entertaining, with some great Paris visuals as the backdrop for much of the story.
After the season premiere of Weeds on Showtime, I stuck around for the debut of Nurse Jackie starring Edie DeFalco. I wasn't prepared to like this show, but as this first episode developed, I found myself getting sucked in nonetheless.
My home phone rang first thing this morning so that Bank of America could verify recent purchases on my VISA credit card. Turns out I was not the one who spent $250 at a Macy's in Houston, Texas. So this card is getting canceled and replaced. Good thing someone is watching out for this sort of fraud.
Strange to see photos from this year's Queen's Club tournament--the Wimbledon tune-up in West London--wherein the court is adorned in electric blue, as in the shot above. Apparently a change in the title sponsor--the brewers at Artois having dropped out of this role--is responsible for the shift in hues. For decades, aside from the green of the courts themselves, the predominant color at Queen's has been bright red, as in this pic I snapped when I was at the tournament two years ago this week:
Snow Leopard is the name of the forthcoming update to Mac OS X due in September. I just watched the keynote from this week's WWDC in which Apple provided a detailed overview of the features of Snow Leopard (and also introduced refreshed Macs and the new iPhone 3G S).
What I am most pumped for is the integrated Exchange support for Mail, iCal, and Address Book. I use these three applications extensively and Snow Leopard will enable me to effectively integrate my calendar, contacts, and e-mail for work with my personal calendars, contacts, and e-mail accounts. So instead of alternating between Entourage and the Mac apps, I'll be able to use just the latter (which sync seamlessly with my iPhone via MobileMe, by the way). Once again, Apple comes through with technology that works the way it should.
I got two text messages this afternoon--one from a former student and one from a colleague--inviting me to join Loopt, which uses the location functions of the iPhone to show friends your physical location. I am trying it out to see if I like it. Seems like it would a lot better if I lived in a city, rather than in a community where most people I interact with spend most of their time anyway.
Made it to Toronto, about two hours behind schedule. My 6:30 flight from LaGuardia was canceled, but I go a seat on the 7:30 flight. That got in late and had to wait in the long queue to take off on a busy night in New York City airspace. But I am here. Now I will drive to Stratford.
By the way, it was clear I was on a Canadian airline because we got updates from Stanley Cup hockey the whole trip. It seems the Penguins are popular champs up here.
I had a pleasant drive out to Stratford, pretty much on major highways all the way. I am spending the next two days here attending some plays: two Shakespeare productions tomorrow and Chekhov's The Three Sisters on Sunday afternoon. I am also signed up for a backstage tour of the main theater complex (pictured above) and a lecture/ discussion with lunch tomorrow.
I am heading down to New Haven four days a week this month for a 1 p.m. class. On Tuesday I got caught in a traffic jam because part of Interstate 91 was closed due to some sort of accident. This meant I had to negotiate the back streets--which were congested with other people trying to do the same--to get to Yale. Then I had to deal with the always problematic situation of parking near York and Broadway. I was ten minutes late for class, and I absolutely hate being tardy for something like this. So today, and for the foreseeable future, I am leaving myself extra travel time in case of unforeseen difficulties like this.
It's been over 70 years since a local won the grass-court Wimbledon tune-up at Queen's Club, but Andy Murray prevailed today against American James Blake to end that drought. I'm sure folks in the U.K. are hoping mightily for a repeat of such success three weeks from today in SW19.
I watched a good staging of Macbeth this afternoon, interestingly set in central Africa in the middle of the 20th century. The show was a appropriately dark, with some good acting complementing the pyrotechnics and strong production values.
Tonight I saw Julius Caesar on stage for the very first time, having read the play first as a tenth-grader and then again for my Yale course two weeks ago. This production has gotten mixed reviews, in part because the costumes don't seem anchored in any particular era (togas are mixed with modern dress). I found the show credible, though, even if the acting was a bit stiff in places.
The last play I saw on this trip to Stratford, Ontario, was Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters. In the past six months I have also watched productions of The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard. But this show was the most satisfying of the trio. I think I liked the play itself better than the other two. And the cast in today's performance was terrific. Of the quartet of Chekhov's masterworks, I have only Uncle Vanya left to see now.
Refueling my rental car before dropping it off at the Pearson Airport here in Toronto, I was reminded how relatively untaxed gasoline is in America. Of course, calculating what one is paying at a Canadian gas station is doubly tricky: in addition to the currency conversion, you have to convert liters to gallons. But I am one of those who believes it will be in our long term best interest as a nation and as a planet to tax gasoline more heavily in the U.S., which will force consumers to adopt more fuel-efficient vehicles and rely more often on public transportation. The economy will be helped by giving the auto industry and mass transit shots in the arm. And obviously anything we do to reduce our collective carbon footprint is extraordinarily helpful at this point.
Apparently there were some ruffled feathers that this corner of cyberspace never mentioned two Class of '08 Choaties whom I met in Paris at the end of last month and who spent a day with me at the French Open. They did treat me to dinner (and I did treat them to breakfast when they had run out of money a couple days later) but I should note that they did foul my hotel bathroom, too. At any rate, Christophe and Tucker now can enjoy a small moment of recognition.
I ordered the new iPhone 3G S tonight on the online Apple Store, and I have been assured it will be delivered to me this Friday, saving me annoying waits on the lines that are sure to form first thing in the morning.
My logic for the upgrade is that I've been using the first-generation version of the iPhone and so I'll get all the 3G benefits (e.g., GPS, faster Internet access away from WiFi) in addition to the features on the new model. Plus, the sooner I start a new contract with AT&T--I have seven months left on my current agreement--the sooner it will end. And I am predicting in the summer of 2011 there will be a choice of carriers and, hopefully, the competition will lead to better options and pricing on plans.
No, but look carefully at the photo above and you will see two left shoes! A certain former Choate Tennis captain--who will remain nameless--showed up for a tournament match at the Hunt Tennis Center courts today with two perfectly matched adidas Barricades--perfectly matched for his left foot, that is! Fortunately I was there and I happened to have a whole pile of size 11 adidas Barricades nearby for the loaning.
Three more Mac converts--Steve Jobs should pay me a commission! I took my parents and my cousin on a little shopping trip to the Apple Store in Farmington tonight. My cousin wanted an entry-level laptop and walked out with the basic white MacBook, which will be perfect for her needs. My folks intended to just do some window shopping, but left with a new 20" iMac in their possession. When my mom saw it, she kept asking, "where's the computer?" She was amazed to discover what she thought was the monitor was, in fact, the whole package. So it will be up to me to move all of the files on their Dell desktop and laptop over to the new machine on Father's Day this weekend.
If you don't know what that means--or whose photo is above--look it up!
Here's hoping Rafa is healthy enough to defend his crown next week. Traditionally the defending champion opens play on Centre Court on the opening day of the tournament.
I spent much of the last twenty-four hours working on a paper--what I call a "critical essay" when I teach fifth form English--on Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One. The essay, prepared for the course I am currently taking at Yale, ended up being roughly eight pages long. As it's been awhile since I've written papers like this--and I am generating at least two a week, mostly shorter, throughout the five-week term--I have been getting some writing muscles that have gone flabby back into shape. What has really struck me is the various ways technology has made this process so much easier since my own undergraduate days.
The ease with which I can access information via the Internet means I have a lot more resources at my disposal in a unimaginably convenient manner. Kids now take this for granted, of course. (Damn, that makes me sound like a cranky old man!) When I was in college, I used to check out a stack of books and bring them back to my room, which is where I preferred to write. Today when I was trying to find a line from a medieval religious pageant, I simply searched online and found what I was looking for in seconds; it was in an out-of-print edition that Google Books had posted, so all I had to do was select the text and copy and paste it.
In terms of the actual writing, I was ahead of the curve starting in the first term of my freshman year at Williams, since I was a relatively early adopter of word processing technology. I wrote my first several papers on the manual typewriter that I had brought with me to school, and then discovered a basement room in one of the language buildings where a small number of in-the-know students gathered to take advantage of word processing on a batch of Commodore computers; if you were inside when the building was locked, you could stay there all night to work. I shifted to the IBM PC about a year later, and then the following year to the newly released Apple Macintosh machine, which I instantly knew was created for someone like me. Anyway the actual work of composing and revising on screen isn't all that different now than it was then. The one element which I have incorporated into my writing process recently is voice recognition software, which allows me to dictate ideas rather quickly, inputting a lot of text fairly easily. Of course I still need to go back over all of it thoroughly to edit and reshape the prose. But when I was in high school and college, I only could have dreamed of speaking and seeing my words appear on a computer screen.
The 3.0 software update in the iPhone is pretty cool, if for no other reason than for the cut, copy, and paste functionality that has been added. Most of the benefit I'll get to enjoy when my new hardware arrives on Friday.
Having finished my academic work for the day, I relaxed for a bit and got caught up on Sunday night's season premiere of True Blood--supposedly this installment of the HBO series had the best ratings for the cable network since the final episode of The Sopranos. The show picks up right where it left off at the end of Season One and it's pretty enjoyable. The Michelle Forbes character is mysteriously creepy!
The 3.0 software update facilitates syncing data in Notes with my Mac. But it took me a while to figure out where it was syncing to. Turns out the Notes show up as part of Apple Mail. Works for me.
This coming Sunday's New York Times is running a good piece on Rafael Nadal in the magazine section. Check it out here. I'm increasingly worried his knees might not be healthy enough to allow him to play at Wimbledon next week. For all the good press Federer's Roland Garros victory has earned, the sport is a lot less compelling without Nadal in the mix.
So it's official: Rafael Nadal will not be able to defend his Wimbledon crown. I suspected this was coming when he lost in straight sets in yesterday's exhibition against Lleyton Hewitt, reporting he was "a step slow."
The real losers here are the tournament and the sport of men's tennis itself.
The beneficiaries will be Andy Murray, the highest remaining seed, and two-time finalist Andy Roddick--both in what would have been Nadal's half of the draw. And of course Roger Federer is more of a favorite than ever: his greatest nemesis in the quest to set the record for Slam singles titles is now out of the picture, just as the Swiss star is on the brink of eclipsing the mark of 14 set by Pete Sampras. But after last year's tremendous showdown between Federer and Nadal--which many are calling the greatest tennis match ever--this has to be a bittersweet development. Even if Roger prevails, taking the title this year without Nadal in the draw would have to be at least a little unsatisfying. What made John McEnroe's first Wimbledon win so sweet was the fact that he vanquished five-time defending champion Bjorn Borg in the championship match a year after their legendary five-set 1980 final. In fact, the Swede's subsequent retirement left McEnroe feeling cheated, according to his autobiography: the rival who forced him to summon his best suddenly disappeared and McEnroe then struggled through much of 1982 and 1983 before redeeming himself in a tremendous 1984 campaign. I can't help but think that Federer--through no fault of his own--is going be dogged by questions about Nadal's absence throughout the fortnight. And should he secure his fifteenth major two weeks from now, there will always those quick to point out he didn't have to go through Nadal to win in Paris or London this year, and thus his accomplishment is not what it might have been.
You know what would be the best thing for tennis? A healthy Nadal beating Federer to win his first U.S. Open title this September. Two players thus achieve "career Grand Slams" within a few months of each other. These guys will have competing arguments for being #1, each claiming two major titles in 2009. The irony of Federer being deemed the Greatest Of All Time would be further complicated by his repeated inability to beat another player in his own time on the big stage. And the golden age of the sport's greatest rivalry will be resumed.
My new iPhone 3G S arrived via FedEx this morning and I am already putting it through its paces. Speed is impressive. So are features like video and voice command. And I love the 32G storage capacity.
Congrats to my alma mater: Williams College clinched its eleventh consecutive Division III Directors' Cup, the annual trophy conferred by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics in recognition of the college with the strongest overall performance in intercollegiate competition nationally. Williams finished ahead of Middlebury (2nd) and Amherst (3rd).
This movie may end up being crap, but based on the trailer, it ought to have a lot of pretty visuals!
During my drive to the Toronto airport from Stratford last Sunday, the CBC had a call-in show in which people suggested their "desert island books." One professorial type from California went on and on about this book by a German Jewish refugee named Erich Auerbach. I looked up the book on Amazon earlier this week and was delighted to discover it was Mimesis, a book I drew heavily upon many years ago as an undergraduate when preparing a paper on The Odyssey for a course in the Classics Department. I ordered a copy, figuring that I'll be able to appreciate the work much more now than I was able to then. The book has arrived and I am delving into the chapter on Shakespeare's Henry IV--about which I just finished writing another paper, ironically enough. And I was amazed to learn Auerbach moved to the States, taught at Yale, and lived the final years of his life right here in Wallingford!
Downloaded and watched Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist on Apple TV tonight. A cute, if rather forgettable, flick that makes good use of New York City locations.
For tennis fans, the Wimbledon iPhone app is indispensable during tournament time. I'll be able to keep track of what's going on in SW19 while I am sitting in class at Yale, or for that matter while I am teaching here at Choate when summer school is underway during week 2 of The Championships.
I am taking the 10:18 Acela Express from New Haven, which will get me to Washington by 3 p.m. I can rent a car in Union Station. It's a bit pricey, but well worth it to relax and spread out with the New York Times, which I can't really do when I am driving for seven hours! I also want to read Henry V before I see it tonight.
Welcome summer! I always look forward to the longest day of the year. Being here in the States on this occasion this year and last, I am struck how much less daylight we get on the solstice than the British Isles and Scandinavia do--as I've spent a fair number of June evenings there in the past fifteen years.
Driving down the interstate, I missed the exit that I wanted to take into Richmond, but it turned out to be a good thing, because driving down Monument Avenue I stumbled across this statue of Arthur Ashe, one of the city's famous sons. The statue shows the late tennis champion holding books slightly higher than his racquet and surrounded by children. A nice testament to a great man.
I arrived at Agecroft Hall about an hour before the show. The house itself, an expansive Tudor style edifice, was originally built in England in the 15th century, disassembled, shipped across the Atlantic, and rebuilt here in Richmond. The grounds are beautiful, with lovely gardens that are perfect for tailgating before the evening performance.
The performance of Henry V put on by the Richmond Shakespeare Festival was an enjoyable production, with action, humor, romance, and some of the Bard's most beautiful language. I was worried that this outdoor show might fall victim to the thunderstorms that were forecast, but it turned out to be a lovely--if slightly humid--evening. The play was well cast, with a strong actor in the title role (pretty much essential given how this role dominates the piece) and some wonderful work in the bit parts, especially Fluellen, Katherine of France, and the "Three Stooges" characters of Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol. This was worth the (long) trip!
I drove back to Washington after the play, returned my rental car at Union Station, and just boarded the the 3:15 Amtrak regional to take me back to New Haven. I booked a seat in business class, which probably was a mistake, since the train has plenty of empty seats throughout and all I intend to do is sleep until we arrive in Connecticut. I could have saved myself about $35. Live and learn, I guess.
As part of the observance of Father's Day, I am setting up my parents' new 20" iMac (and also the new iPod Touch they got for free, since they qualified for the education discount as retired educators). I bought them Microsoft Office for Mac Home Edition and hooked them up with an iTunes Store account as well as an AIM account (so they can vidchat!). Next comes the chore of transferring all of their music, photos, and documents over from the Dell laptop and desktop they have been using; that can wait for another day.
I must be lucky. The usual way to get free tickets to the Public Theater's summer productions in its long-running Shakespeare In The Park series is to line up early in the morning in Central Park for the 1 p.m. ticket distribution. That's a pretty big time commitment, especially for someone who doesn't live in the city. But there is also a virtual line, in which anyone can apply on a website for a ticket lottery. I tried this once last week with no luck, but just found out I won two tickets for tonight's show. So I'm off to New York, hoping the rain holds off for the al fresco performance of Twelfth Night.
Well, under the clouds anyway. The star-studded production of Twelfth Night was entertaining indeed, and I didn't even get wet on a night when thunderstorms were forecast.
There were no takers back in Wallingford for the other free ticket I won, so I tweeted the opportunity, which in turn updated my Facebook status message, and within a few minutes I made a connection with a face from the past: a student from my first year of teaching at Andover who is now an architect in New York. We hadn't seen each other in over 15 years, so this was a great chance to reconnect.
The show itself was a rock-solid production. Music--"the food of love" as the first line of the play reminds us--was well employed throughout the show. The cast was excellent, headlined by Anne Hathaway in the Viola/Cesario role and the always-great Audra McDonald as Olivia. This is the perfect Shakespeare comedy to be staged outdoors in the summer. Not surprisingly, the Public Theater has done so repeatedly over the years. My very first Shakespeare In The Park was in 1989, when I saw a Twelfth Night with Michelle Pfeiffer and Jeff Goldblum among others.
This was a treat, and the price (free!) certainly was right!
Well, maybe not all that little.
A handful of newly graduated Choaties--most of the prefects here in Mem House this past year--moved back into the dorm today, so it feels like old times and the ghosts in the empty corridors have been chased away, at least until August.
I have another paper due for my Yale course today, so I spent a couple hours this morning banging out a few pages of critical analysis of Hamlet. (It was a bit tough to get going this morning, since I got back from the city so late last night.) This is the seventh such essay I've written in the last four weeks, so my word-smithing muscles are getting worked back into shape. Writing is like riding a bike, in that you never fully lose your facility in composing prose, but I can sure do it more effectively and more quickly after being back in the habit of regular writing for several weeks now.
I am sitting in the opening meeting of the Choate summer school right now after taking last summer off to take advantage of a fellowship at Stanford. It's actually a pretty good gig for me, in that I run a program in government and politics for high school kids with a strong interest in these fields. And the compensation for five weeks work is pretty good too.
I saw another Hamlet this evening as part of a class field trip to Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. The production had some strong points--I liked the Claudius in particular--and was presented energetically in front of a house that was, at best, 25% capacity. We left New Haven at 4:00 p.m. and I am getting home over nine hours later, so to bed I go!
Andy Murray played a spectacular five-set match on Centre Court under the closed roof today, fending off the other Swiss player, Stan Wawrinka. Because lights were installed with the new roof, this facilitated play well past darkness; the match finished at nearly 10:40 p.m local time. (Of course, at the U.S. Open, some show court matches aren't even started until after that!)
Slings & Arrows is a Canadian television series about a Shakespearean theater festival and the people who work in it. It's sort of a dramedy, I guess. On the heels of my visit to the Stratford Festival earlier this month, I thought I'd give this show a whirl, as it comes highly recommended. So far, it's pretty amusing.
The 2009 crop of Choate summer school students arrives today. Classes don't actually start until tomorrow, but I need to be on point here in the dorm to meet the families of the middle school boys moving into Mem House. The quiet campus of the past few weeks is about to be transformed!