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Ed Waffle

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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  1. One of the points that Sharp makes is that the type and intensity of non-violent protest has to be appropriate regarding the regime that is being targeted--it can be anything from mass action to subversive work slow-downs. Whatever methods that are used in a rebellion--and Sharp's list is exhaustive or close to it--it all must be part of removing the consent of the governed from illegitimate (dictatorial) rulers.
  2. I am late to the Hilary Mantel party, having only finished Wolf Hall yesterday; I have Bring Up the Bodies requested at our library but may just buy the ebook and not wait for a copy to be returned. After talking with and about the Occupy people last year it was time to read a bit more deeply into nonviolent resistance to state power which included Civil Resistance and Power Politics, The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present, edited by Garton Ash and Roberts; Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan--it won some prestigious and (in one case) lucrative awards; and a bunch of stuff by Gene Sharp who seems to be a reluctant eminence grise to popular movements all over the world. I thought From Dictatorship to Democracy, Waging Nonviolent Struggle and all three volumes of The Methods of Nonviolent Action are particularly good. Like a lot of people in the US and UK I enjoy translated Nordic crime fiction and managed to find a couple of new (at least to me) authors: Harri Nykanen whose Nights of Awe is the first of a series featuring Ariel Kafka, a Helsinki detective and "one of only two Jewish policemen in Finland". The other is Quentin Bates, an English writer who lived in Iceland for many years, wrote Frozen Assets, a police procedural and first of a four novel series. It has a bit of a "ripped from the headlines" cast, from environmental issues to the Icelandic banking collapse. He writes in English. Broken Harbor, another harrowing combination of detective fiction and social analysis through the Dublin murder squad by Tana French--she is really good.
  3. "Christmas in Connecticut" with Barbara Stanwyck, an actress I adore and "The Shop Around the Corner". When we celebrate Christmas with my sister and her family there will always be a showing of "The Dead", John Huston directing Angelica Huston.
  4. John Le Carre and his creation George Smiley have been much in the news recently with the release of the new "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" movie with Gary Oldman as Smiley. I think it is a wonderful book and thought to read it again but it turns out I am just too familiar with it to really enjoy reading it now. I simply remember too much of what is on the page. Not the ending of course because the way things end are no more important in Le Carre's novels than the process by which they arrive at the ending--probably less so--but the real detail of who did what to whom and when. I had "Tinker, Tailor" in a volume with "The Honourable Schoolboy" and "Smiley's People" and decided to follow the adventures of Jerry Westerby once more. Much of the attraction of Le Carre is the the incredible detail he uses to not only build characters but to describe what they are doing. This attention to minutia is not for everyone--a friend wasn't able to read it, complaining that, when Jerry Westerby is on his way to "burn" a minor official of a bank in Hong Kong it took two pages to get him across the street. It did. I found it enthralling as I not only followed Westerby into the bank but watched his every move as he mimed a sudden need for ready cash just as it was closing at noon on Saturday. More importantly we got a real sense of the the thrill and the anxiety of an agent in the field in a potentially hostile area. "The Honourable Schoolboy" has a certain cachet for me. It was the first new, hardcover, full-price book that I ever bought, at least one that wasn't either a textbook or a gift--an extravagant gift at that. Spending $12.95 or whatever it was in 1977 instead of getting on a long list at the library, trying to find a review copy sold by a reviewer to a North side bookstore or just reading it twenty or thirty pages at a time while standing in the aisle at Kroch's and Brentano's made me feel like a real plutocrat.
  5. I thought while reading “The Idiot” that one episode early in the novel could be the basis for a Georges Feydeau farce (at least the surprise appearances and door slamming parts) or possibly some scenes for a movie along the lines of the Blake Edwards/Peter Sellers “Pink Panther” series. Prince Myshkin has moved into the flat of Ganya, his mother, his sister and some hangers-on; he is their first and only boarder. Ganya is upset that the family has to take in boarders to make ends meet—however he is upset about something all the time. Scenes of family life take place around the prince although don’t affect him. Then Nastasya Filipponva arrives at the front door of the flat. The bell is broken and she stands outside yanking the bell pull and getting angrier each time it doesn’t ring. The prince happens to be passing the front door on the way to his room, notices Nastasya Filipponva trying to get in and opens the door. She mistakes him for a footman, berates him because the bell doesn’t work, further criticizes him for not answering the door quickly enough and tosses her coat to him. Surprised he doesn’t catch it and gets yelled at a bit more for letting it fall on the floor. Finally she tells him to announce her, gets upset when he walks toward the drawing room, now carrying her coat, and is shocked when he already knows who she is. The prince manages to open the door to the drawing room where the family has been loudly quarrelling. When he announces Nastasya Filipponva each of the family is shocked and disturbed; Ganya was numb with horror. Nastasya belittles the family for having such a small flat, sneers at the women to whom she is introduced and laughs at Ganya. Then disgraced general Alexandrovich enters, accompanied by the sly and scheming Ferdyschchenko... The front door opens and into the entryway piles a bunch of “incongruous and disorderly” people some of whom we have met in earlier chapters, others described for the first time. All of them seem interested in enjoying themselves by humiliating Ganya. Clearly this stage directionish recounting of 15 pages of “The Idiot” doesn’t come close to summarizing what Dostoevsky wrote and that Constance Garnett translated but as I was reading it I thought it could be hilarious on stage, not something one (at least this one) often thinks of when reading Dostoevsky. ----- Another note on Russian literature: “The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them” by Elif Batuman is a wonderful book. It is a collection of essays on Russian literature that is both funny and learned by an academic who writes very well. There are short discussions of Anna Karenina, The Possessed (hence the title although it is also about those who get possessed by Russian literature and by the study of language as language) and Isaac Babel with a side trip to Samarkand which seems to have become one of the least romantic and dreariest places on the old Silk Road. Her description of academic conferences in St. Petersburg and Berkley are both high and low points of the book. High points because they are funny as hell, low because almost everyone at both places seems ridiculous. The Babel meeting in California is full of absurdities--the Hoover Institution is co-sponsoring it and they would really like to have some three dimensional objects as part of the show--a fake fur hat that looks like something a Russian would wear or a Cossack costume that was probably picked up at a Halloween shop going out of business sale. Batuman is a real treasure very much worth following. Much of this book appeared in “The New Yorker” and she continues to write for them.
  6. "American Bellydancer" is a documentary on the Belly Dance Superstars and Desert Roses, two groups that Miles Copeland created, organized slots to perform at a big anti-violence concert in Bali and at Lollapalooza in Kansas City and put on a bus and truck tour throughout the hinterlands of the US. It could have been have been two very good movies; one about Copeland who had been manager for The Police and for Stewart Copeland's solo career--he and Stewart are brothers. He came across as an indefatigable promoter who knows the music business as well as anyone. There also seemed to be plenty of footage for a film that looked at the tour and the preparation for it from the point of view of the dancers who seems like a very talented and bunch of people that it would be nice to know. There is some conflict between Copeland, who wants tall, young and beautiful dancers and the choreographer and on of the dancers who he relies on to recruit and audition dancers, who are more interested in putting together an artistically cohesive and, by their definition, artistically authentic troupe. As it is American Bellydancer is an OK movie. One question occurred to me while watching. In a long tour--this was 60 shows in 58 cities--who is responsible for quality control, for making sure that what goes on stage this week in Nashville is the same show that played last month in Wichita? With a play on tour the stage manager and her stopwatch is a great way to keep things in line. If a scene runs long or short then it needs looking at. In a traveling dance troupe is there a dance captain or a stage manager who keeps thing in order from week to week and venue to venue? This is ignoring the differences in space and audiences--from a punk bar, Hairy Mary's, in Des Moines to a proper auditorium in Denver, a Capezio store somewhere else...
  7. The Guardian recently ran a travel article on movies set in New York City. While rating the ten best of anything is odd that is how Guardian does list type pieces like this. The article is here My list of movies that I thought of while reading the article. I stopped at 12: My Man Godfrey 1936 On the Town 1949 Breakfast at Tiffany's 1961 Last exit to Brooklyn 1990 West Side Story 1961 The French Connection 1971 Dog Day Afternoon 1975 After Hours 1985 Working Girl 1989 Do the Right Thing 1989 King of New York 1990 Last Days of Disco 1998
  8. puppytreats wrote: I think this is a characteristic (not necessarily a fault) of highly structured genre movies generally. In musicals the plot is there to get the characters from one song and dance number to the next; the plot of martial arts movies is written to be punctuated by fight scenes; horror movie plots carry the audience to the next hair-raising scary scene. While this isn't true of the best films of this nature--I am always entranced during every bit of "Singin' in the Rain" and intrigued by what would happen to Wong Fei Hung in "Once Upon a Time in China"--it certainly seems to be in "The Company." It is more a custom of the trade than anything inherently wrong with the film. I love Altman--I watched "The Player", "Short Cuts" and "MASH" several times in the theater during their first runs and countless times afterwards (and think Tanner 88 is a masterpiece) but realize that his minor works--"Company", "Gosford Park"--are no more than decent movies that lack the genius of his best.
  9. It was even longer yesterday than usual. It started 45 minutes late because of computer problems involving "The Machine" (the massive set). I finally checked some pictures and descriptions of it online, especially since Margaret Juntwait was describing how the horses for the Valkyries were "planks" that moved up and down while they stood on them. Even with the delay it must be pretty well made--it looks like a stage disaster waiting to happen.
  10. He's new to the part and will only get better, I'm sure. I think he said that this was only his second "Walkure" Wotan and that when he does the "Siegfried" Wanderer next year at the Met it will be the first time he has sung the role. Very impressive. For the longest time it seemed that James Morris was the indispensable Wotan for the Met and many of the big houses in Europe.
  11. It is really long which is a really good thing. I hadn’t planned to listen to “Die Walkure” on the Met broadcast earlier today but once I started it was difficult to stop. Since I was listening while doing typical Saturday running around I missed a lot but caught all of Act III and much of Act II. I once planned my day around “Die Walkure” from the Met—it was the last Brunhilde that Hildegard Behrens was scheduled to sing (with Domingo as Sigmund) at the Met and her fans were worried if she could still handle the role. It was a much less anxious experience this time—from what I could tell Deborah Voigt just effortlessly rolled out the sound and was a very convincing Valkyrie. Years ago the high point of Act III for me was at the beginning when the Valkyries ride in. Now it is at the end with Wotan’s Farewell. Bryn Terfel seemed right on the money—he might be a great Wotan for a couple of decades. I finished the day sitting in my idling car in the driveway while Wotan said goodbye to Brunhilde—as good a way to waste a few gallons of gas as any.
  12. When "Airplane" was released I recall the ads made me think wouldn't be worth seeing--they just seemed strange. My wife was traveling, saw it one evening and told me I was going with her when she caught it again upon her return. It was quite an experience--I understood the reason to watch it more than once--or more than twice--since I missed a lot of the jokes because I was laughing so much already. "Airplane" and the ZAZ/Nielsen collaborations that followed were simply amazing, as full of dumb jokes as an egg is of meat. NPR summed it up very well: "Leslie Nielsen was able to turn it into comic gold. Saying unfunny things in an unfunny manner and magically having the result be funny is an incredibly hard trick. And nobody ever did it better." My link ---Rumack: Captain, how soon can you land? Captain Oveur: I can't tell. Rumack: You can tell me. I'm a doctor. Captain Oveur: No. I mean I'm just not sure. Rumack: Well, can't you take a guess? ...Captain Oveur: Well, not for another two hours. Rumack: You can't take a guess for another two hours? -- Flight Attendant: "Doctor, there's a problem in the cockpit" Dr. Rumack: The cockpit?! What is it? Flight Attendant: "Its that little room in the front of the plane where the pilots sit. But that's not important now"
  13. I got spoiled in Chicago where I first began attending opera, ballet and other music events. Back in those antediluvian days the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) ran the trains all night although with sparse schedules after about 11:00PM. Being young I felt indestructible and lived in a pretty slummy area for a while anyway. My my wife usually had Mace or whatever the disabling spray was back then in a pocket (never her purse) and I generally had a short club that folded into a convenient enough package to carry without discomfort. It seems kind of crazy looking back at it now but it is just what you did back then. This was before handguns were everywhere and also before crack had made its appearance. There would be the usual rushing to make the 10:59 PM train to Wilmette but seemingl less than in other cities. It is very different in Detroit. There are no trains--no communter trains, no subways, no nothing so everyone drives everywhere so there is little excuse for leaving early although it is still pretty common.
  14. richard53dog wrote: Amazing what we will say under some circumstances--I have a had a few of those "don't want to remember it" encounters backstage. Looking back it is amazing that singers can be so gracious when dealing with some of their fans right after finishing a performance. Thanks goodness I learned the best thing to say (or at least to start with) is along the lines of "We loved you in (the performance just completed) and with thought you were wonderful in (a relatively recent past performance) and hope to be able to see your (future performance).
  15. And sometimes we discover that a particular iceberg is nothing but a tip and that it couldn't sink much of anything. I have no idea if this is the case here but am reminded of the familiar quip by Henry Kissinger (or Richard Neustadt, Wallace Sayre, C. P. Snow or a number of others) that academic politics is so vicious because so little is at stake.
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