The Choate boys' tennis team is spending much of today in the Granite State. The Wild Boars just dispatched their Phillips Exeter Academy counterparts in a closer-than-expected 4-3 win and is heading over to Hampton Beach for a dip in the North Atlantic and a sampling of the local delicacy: fried dough!
I ran the summer tennis camps here at Phillips Exeter for a half-dozen or so years in the early 1990s, so I guess this campus qualifies as another of my old "stomping grounds." Good to be back in seacoast New Hampshire on a glorious (if windy) spring afternoon.
By cashing in some points on my credit card rewards program, I've just nailed down round trip airfare to London in June for about $150 out of pocket. So my itinerary is taking shape quite nicely: I'll fly to Heathrow on a Saturday night, see Macbeth at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on Sunday afternoon, then hop a flight to Rome that evening. In the morning I will fly to Florence, and then take the train back to Rome later in the week in order to jet to Budapest for a few days before returning to England for a visit to the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon (where I will see productions of King Lear and Antony And Cleopatra), the back to London for a tennis coaches conference, followed by the first day of Wimbledon. The night of June 21 I will catch a flight back to New York. All told, it will be nine days spent in Europe during what is probably the best time of the year to be there.
Mostly on a whim, I abandoned the spectacular spring Sunday afternoon for a darkened theater to see How To Train Your Dragon in 3D. The reviews were very good for this animated flick, but I was still surprised how much I liked this movie. There were times I just broke into a grin watching this story unfold. Great visuals, a touching theme, and no small amount of humor made this a "don't miss" offering in my book!
I saw Richard II on stage for the very first time today here in the nation's capital. Michael Hayden (who will step into the title role of Henry V tonight) assembled a most impressive performance as the king. The play started with a couple of scenes I was entirely unfamiliar with, and I was pretty confused before the action got to the Bolingbroke/Mowbray "trial" scene and the familiar elements of the text I had both studied and taught. It turns out this production incorporated material from an anonymous play (sometimes attributed to Shakespeare) about Thomas Woodstock; these scenes lengthened this particular version of Richard II, but certainly added a useful context to anyone in the audience unfamiliar with this era in British history. Overall, an impressive staging, with very good acting and first-rate production values.
The second play in today's Shakespeare double bill was Henry V. I sat up in rear of the balcony for this one (a few of us were to the right of the stage and very close to the action this afternoon for Richard II). Like the earlier show, this production might have benefited from a bit of cutting to keep the overall length a bit more manageable, but it was similarly well executed. Michael Hayden's Henry was very different than his King Richard (and appropriately so) and the acting throughout the cast of about 30 was of a high caliber. I thought there were some missed opportunities for humor from the Welsh captain Fluellen (this character had the audience in stitches when I saw the play outdoors in Richmond, Virginia, last summer). But it's clear that The Shakespeare Theatre Company is indeed a top-flight acting troupe and knows it's business when it comes to producing the Bard's works.
It's close to 90°F here in Wallingford as the tennis team gears up to play its home opener. This gives new meaning to the expression "unseasonably warm."
Strong outing for Fringe, which aired a new episode tonight for the first time in many weeks. John Noble, the Australian actor who plays Dr. Walter Bishop, showed some serious acting chops in this particular entry, set in the 1980s. The character actually did look 25 years younger--no doubt with the help of make-up and perhaps some digital effects, but Noble deserves a great deal of credit (if not an Emmy nomination, at least) for his excellent work.
Watching the latest Steve Jobs "keynote" in which he is introducing all the new features of the iPhone OS upgrade to be released this summer (and this fall for the iPad). Nice to see things continue to get better and better on this front!
Choate has a long weekend break in the middle of each trimester and this spring I will be heading to Philadelphia for a couple of nights for a brief getaway in late April. The National Constitution Center has an exhibition on the influence of neoclassicism (specifically Roman) on the early American Republic. On the way home on Sunday, I will attend another One Day University in New York City.
I am heading to Florence this summer, at least for a couple of days. This will be my third trip to Italy. I will arrive in the Rome airport late on a Sunday night, take a morning flight to Florence, then the train back to Rome later in the week. I'm excited to take in the artistic treasures of this city first hand!
Congrats to Andy Roddick for winning the Key Biscayne tourney this weekend. Roddick was in fine form beating Rafael Nadal with some aggressive net rushing in Friday's semifinal and cruised to the title today beating Tomas Berdych with some gritty backcourt play. Such versatility sure paid off for the American!
The men's tennis circuit returns to Monte Carlo this weekend. This is one of two tournaments (Rome being the other) I have not been to in person that I would love to see first hand. I am lucky to be able to watch the action this week unfold on Tennis Channel.
Tonight's Desmond-centered Lost was the best episode yet in this final season. Hard to believe we are getting close to the finish line in this series, which clearly has saved some of its best for last!
See this and many other, um, interesting signs collected from Tea Party rallies and other such focal points of reactionary enlightenment here.
Our party of five young scholars and one teacher left Wallingford at 6:15 this morning, made good time driving south to DC, picked up another student at Union Station, and then checked out the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill. Since we had plenty of time before our 2:00 curtain for Richard II, I wanted to show the kids some of the First Folios (the collection of 79 is the largest in the world) on display in the exhibition hall. We lucked out while there, as we got to watch the resident acting company rehearse the final scene of Hamlet for an upcoming production in the Elizabethan theater in the building.
In an unusual midweek getaway from boarding school life, I am flying down to Richmond, Virginia, tonight to see Edward III performed. My flight back departs at 5:43 tomorrow morning, so I'll be at work in Wallingford mid-morning before my team's trip to Northfield Mt. Hermon.
Edward III is a play only recently considered part of the Shakespeare canon. It's very rarely staged, so this is an unusual chance to catch this work in performance.
Up well before dawn this morning for a 5:43 flight out of Richmond. Fortunately, I stayed just outside the airport and there were no lines to deal with checking in and clearing security. I am now in Philadelphia for my connection to Bradley. I should be back at school by around 9:30 this morning. I was paranoid I would oversleep and miss my flight, which would have been a disaster, as I am slated to drive my team up to Northfield Mt. Hermon School for a match this afternoon. Or that the weather would wreak havoc with my travel plans by delaying my return. But it's a beautiful day and I am on my way.
I saw the rarely-performed Edward III tonight presented as a staged reading by the actors of the Richmond Shakespeare Company. This work is one that has been commonly accepted in the Shakespeare canon only in the last couple of decades. Lots of echoes of Henry V in the second half of the play, what with the fighting in France and the heroics of Edward the Black Prince ("Ned"). There were about 15 actors performing in front of an audience maybe twice that size. I guess this one-night-only take on Edward III brought out just the die-hard crowd!
I now have seen 38 of the 39 Shakespeare plays on my list. All that's left is Timon Of Athens, which I am scheduled to see in Boston in early June. (And I'll see both halves of Henry IV in London on August 1, which technically will be the true end of my quest, since I've seen Henry IV, Part Two only in the conflated version in Lincoln Center some years back.)
Nothing I can do about this, but my flights to Richmond have been late all day, due mostly to the rain affecting the schedule in Dulles Airport. We didn't get off the ground in Hartford on time because of the delays in DC (actually we had to sit on the tarmac at the end of the runway for a while with the engines powered down). And my connection to Richmond will be late as well, so making the 7:30 curtain in Richmond is going to be tight.
The boys' varsity tennis team clinched its third win in a row today after dropping the first match of 2010. Nice to nail down a quick 7-0 victory rather than suffer through another unexpected nail-biter, which the last two matches turned out to be. Hopefully we are back on track as a team.
Checking my order status on the Apple Store website, I am told my WiFi + 3G iPad is shipping in "late April."
Today is the 17th, so can I expect this machine to arrive in the next week? It would be nice to get it before the school's Long Weekend break which begins next Friday.
Hard to believe Rafael Nadal has not won a title on tour in nearly a year now. But it's the European clay court season once more and the Spaniard is playing in Monaco, where he has won the past five (!) years running at the Monte Carlo Country Club. If he can't find his mojo there, who knows if he'll ever be the same as he was before his injury woes in 2009.
It's rather annoying that I renewed my subscription to The New Yorker later than I should have and now am facing about a month's gap in delivery. I tend to renew all of my subscriptions at the same time every winter, and I thought I took care of this one a couple months back, but I guess it slipped through the cracks. I've been reading the magazine since my first year of teaching and I look forward to digesting its contents every week. A creature of habit, I guess. So this means I need to go out and buy the latest issue on the newsstand the next few weeks.
Rafael Nadal ended an 11-month title drought with an emphatic 6-0, 6-1 drubbing of fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the Monte Carlo Masters final. This win was an unprecedented sixth straight triumph in the principality; fair to say the Majorca native owns this court! (By the way, no other player in the open era has won a major title six consecutive times.)
Rafa certainly was in peak form today, bludgeoning the ball from the baseline and moving around the court extraordinarily well. Several times he turned a defensive shot from far out of position into a stunning winner. If he continues to play like this, no reason why Nadal shouldn't dominate the European clay court season, reclaim his Roland Garros crown, and get back his #1 ranking.
Just booked a ticket to see the Royal National Theatre's live telecast of the new Alan Bennett play, The Habit Of Art, which will be presented in a high-definition transmission in Fairfield this Thursday afternoon. (I caught the Helen Mirren in the NT's production of Phèdre last summer up in Boston this way.)
I teach my last class before the school's Spring Long Weekend at noon, so I'll head down there immediately afterward. This should be a good way to kick off the midterm break!
Word is out that those of us who already have ordered the 3G-flavored iPads will be getting them on the last day of the month. So Apple makes good on its commitment to ship in "late April," if just barely. But I predict the device will arrive in the morning on that Friday. That's what happened with the iPhone 3GS last summer: Apple arranged for delivery on the release date and I had my new phone in hand first thing in the morning while folks were lining up at Apple Store locations all around the country.
Choate hosted the Founders League meetings this year, as part of a rotation that includes all members in our group of eleven schools. This entails me coördinating the agenda for athletic directors and our headmaster running the meetings for his counterparts. We gather with our respective groups, and then we have a joint meeting of heads and ADs, followed by a cocktail hour and a really nice dinner. (Whenever the heads of school host each other, the eats are top drawer!)
Today was the last League meeting of the year, and we just wrapped up a pretty impressive dinner. And now I'll happily pass along the organizational chores for 2010-2011 to the next school in the queue.
The new design for the $100 bill was unveiled by the Department of the Treasury earlier this morning. It's a bit more colorful and loaded with features to foil counterfeiters:
My Ford Explorer wouldn't start this morning the second time I tried to leave the house, apparently with a dead battery. Campus Safety provided a jump start and off I went to run some errands and grab lunch. But the same clicking noise kicked in when I tried to start the vehicle after lunch. So I called AAA and--after a wait of over an hour--was pleasantly surprised to learn I could get my battery replaced on the spot, which would save me a trip to the garage.
When version 3.0 of the iPhone OS arrived last summer, AT&T and Apple suggested the ability to tether a laptop to the iPhone's Internet connection would be just a few months away. Carriers in other countries began to offer this feature last July, and yet there's still no word when American iPhone users will get to join this party. Maybe in 2010?
Traveling on Amtrak from Connecticut to Philadelphia today, I certainly would have found tethering useful to allow my MacBook Air to access e-mail and the Web. (Of course, in a few days I'll have my iPad with 3G connectivity, so my desire for tethering will be far less pressing.)
I visited the National Constitution Center, within sight of Independence Hall here in Philly, to see the "Rome & America" exhibition. I got interested in this topic when I was a Coe Fellow in the Stanford history department a couple of summers back. And it turns out the professor who ran the workshop that year (and whose book The Culture of Classicism I enjoyed) was one of the curatorial consultants for this exhibition (and she was prominently featured in the short film played in the museum). Here she is in a short video clip.
I realized I forgot to pack one of my notebooks for use tomorrow in the One Day University program in New York. So I walked across Center City to the Barnes & Noble on Rittenhouse Square to find the right Moleskine (5"x8.25", ruled--the orange label!). Just as well I had to get a new one, as the last one is almost filled.
In New York City today for a second helping of One Day University, a program of lectures by college professors in various disciplines. I spent a Sunday in October at one of these gatherings, as well. Today I am attending sessions in international relations, psychology, philosophy, and music.
The men's tour arrives in Rome this week, where Il Foro Italico has constructed a brand new arena for its primary show court. Next year this tournament will have the men and women playing simultaneously, continuing a trend established by the Indian Wells and Key Biscayne events.
Fortunately Tennis Channel is broadcasting wall to wall coverage of play this week.
Unfortunately, a repeat of Lost is airing tonight, and then the season hits the home stretch with the last batch of new episodes before the show's finale on May 23. So we don't get our Tuesday night fix, but the ride should be pretty wild the next few weeks.
Oh, the things you can order online: ThinkGeek.com is selling canned unicorn meat, with real sparkles!
The last couple of weeks I have missed riding my Zuma around town, which has been painful since spring now has hit full bloom. I stupidly left the key in the ignition and the headlight was on one rainy morning and the battery drained. I was planning to take the battery over to Cheshire to the Yamaha dealer to get it recharged, but when I had my car battery replaced last week, the technician advised me to buy a cheap plug-in recharger. So I picked one up the other day at AutoZone for about ten bucks and hooked it up this morning. After a couple hours charging, the scooter started right up and I am back on two wheels!
I've been checking the Apple Store website with increasing frequency the past few days to see when my new iPad was scheduled to shipp, expecting it to arrive sometime today as promised. But when I saw this morning that my order had not left the warehouse, and that my credit card had not yet been charged, I called Apple's customer service to find out what was up. The first woman I spoke to assured me I could expect delivery sometime today, even while acknowledging the iPad hadn't left the warehouse. The second time I called I was told the device would ship by May 7, even though my pre-order had been placed such that I could expect an April 30 delivery.
So I decided to trek up to the Apple Store to see if I could straighten things out and get my hands on a new iPad today. The plan was to cancel the online order and replace in with a retail purchase in the store. The staff was very helpful and put me on the phone (an iPhone, of course!) with Apple's customer service to work things out. But I waited on hold for over 25 minutes without connecting to a human being and the Apple Store manager was so embarrassed about the hassle he bought me free Apple case for the iPad ($40 value, so this was a VERY nice gesture!) and also allowed me to use a $100 gift card I had for part of my iPad purchase (which normally they can't do in the Store).
Anyway I am now in possession of a new iPad with WiFi + 3G in the 32-gigabyte flavor. It's awfully nice.