It is hard to enjoy the sunshine when forest fires ravage the east slope of the Cascades; hard to dream of dream trips when planes are shot out of the skies by nutballs; hard to imagine civil discourse returning to the political landscape; hard to think of a long soak in the tub when it seems Mother Nature has pulled the plug on Lake Mead.
That was the fevered state of my brain last week when the New Yorker, which has seemed to reinvent itself on the web (you should all befriend them on Facebook poste haste), opened up its archives for the summer. The first article I read was profile of sleight-of-hand artist, Ricky Jay.
Hustlers, Hoaxsters, Pranksters, Jokesters and Ricky Jay
I am a sucker for magic. From the teenage boy who walked up to our family in an Applebees in Gilette, Wyoming and in a comical monotone, asked, “Do you want to see some magic (we did), to the epic, glitzy illusions of David Copperfield to the Ricky Jay’s no-frills sleight-of-hand card tricks, especially that. It is a great read and led me to a couple of documentaries on Jay. In the documentary, playwright David Mamet mentions Michael Moschen’s juggling one crystal ball. Of course, I had to watch that again. After finishing the article, I began to think of miraculous moments that fill me with joy, awe and even hope.
Michael Moschen juggling one crystal ball
Monica Bill Barnes
Carol and I were introduced to this dance troupe when we watched a special This American Life episode at the Alderwood 7 Theater. Ballet of the everyday: comical and intimate. The next day I sent them $25. They will be performing at the Paramount April 11, 2015, and you can bet Carol and I will be there.
Sound Opinions has been a favorite podcast for several years. Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis are the musical equivalent to Siskel and Ebert, but despite their differing musical tastes, I think they like each other. I had a backlog of episodes, and last week, as I slogged (uncomfortably slow jogging) through the maze of sub-divisions that make up the western end of Monroe, I listened to an interview with Richard Thompson, a true guitar hero. What separates Thompson from the other guitar gods of the era (Clapton, Page, Beck, et al) is his genius sensibility and sense of humor. He is unique in the pantheon of pickers, pluckers and shredders.
My Brightest Diamond
So much music, so little time. My list of must-listen tos has grown exponentially. I have been wading through a lot of music lately, and I will devote a post to the creme de la creme. I am especially taken by My Brightest Diamond, which is really Sharon Worden, and she exists in that rarafied air populated by Joanna Newsome, Inara George and VanDyke Parks, but she adds the element of performance art and I am entranced.
One of my favorite blogs is Brain Pickings created by Maria Popova, who describes herself as “an interestingness hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large.” Of the blog she says, “Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.”
She writes about art, design, science, technology, philosophy, history, politics, psychology, sociology, ecology, anthropology, and more. Often times she reads the hard stuff so we don’t have to, but even more often writes about a book I just have lay my hands on.
Boyhood, a movie by Richard Linklater
Finally, Carol I saw Richard Linklater’s movie Boyhood Friday. It is a movie, almost without precedent (unless you count Michael Apted’s documentary 7 Up). Every year for 12 years Linklater filmed portions of the movie, using the same actors throughout. We meet Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, as a 2nd grader and follow him and his family as they live their lives for the next 12 years. There is no real dramatic arc; it is simply a family stumbling along, and yet it is one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. I am still thinking about it. Initially you find yourself wondering how the actors will change from scene to seen, but after a while you you just hope each character will find his/her way, whatever that may be. It is playing at the Harvard Exit and the Lincoln Square Cinema in Bellevue. You may have to hurry, because on on the opening day, there were maybe 30 people in the theater, but your best best is Bellevue.
It is those small miracles that I stumble upon from time to time that sustain me when the world seems so freakin’ bleak. I would be curious to know what little miracles you have discovered lately.
Tonight, I am going to watch the NetFlix documentary on the Portland Mavericks, the odd-ball minor league team that for six years in the mid-seventies seemed to jump from the pages of a W.P. Kinsella short story: The Battered Bastards of Baseball.