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Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Time Event
12:39a
Out and About
NY Philharmonic in Central Park - When I worked at Equitable in the '70s, we went to the park concerts every year. We'd get there early with a picnic and lie down on a blanket and listen in the open air. Despite living close to the park, I haven't gone since then. My cousin-in-law M and her daughter L were in from Montreal, so I thought that would be a fun thing to do. They had a late apartment-hunting appointment (L is starting grad school here in the fall), so called when they were done. We met at the park entrance, and found our way to the lawn where the concert was underway. We managed to fit the blanket in a thin strip between other people and sat behind each other. They did Mahler's First Symphony, which I'm familiar with, but the sound was not great. Before the piece was done, a thunderstorm cut short the concert (no fireworks), and I got drenched walking home. I saw the cousins again that Sunday at the east side Dallas BBQ. L has since gotten a place in Brooklyn with a nice-sounding roommate.
 
"Dance of the Seven-Headed Mouse" - this play about how a daughter's death affects an upscale NYC family was not as much a downer as I'd feared. The teen actors were especially good.

Tea at Cafe Amrita with former co-worker C - The vivacious and busy C moved to the area a while ago, and we talked about meeting and finally did. Her 2-year-old was adorable and well-behaved, and the cafe was homey and includes a book exchange shelf I'll have to check out another time.

"Mother" - Buck Henry, Holland Taylor and the rest of the cast gave their all, but this play about a family vacationing at an old-fashioned resort didn't always make sense (kidnapping? bunker?).

"Don't Leave It All To Your Children" - this musical revue about senior citizens was supposed to be life-affirming, but I'd rather not be reminded of imminent old age. Some of the jokes were older than the cast (who also gave their all), and the songs sounded generic.

"Perfect Wedding" - a fast-paced bedroom farce, with slamming doors, screaming, mistaken identity, semi-plausible excuses, and general hilarity.

"The Norman Conquests" ("Living Room") - I finally saw the last play in the series, on the last day of the run. It was nice to see these characters again, but I think I liked "Table Manners" the best.

Dave Dickerson storytelling at the Cornelia St. Cafe - Quiz (as we call him in the NPL) asked for some support for this gig, so I joined a few other puzzlers to hear him and 3 others tell stories about religion. Everyone was engaging, and you don't want to miss Quiz's upcoming book "House of Cards." Just as he reached the part I'd already heard, I had to leave for the...

...Steely Dan concert at the Beacon. They were playing all of "Aja" which I own. I've avoided concerts due to the LOUDNESS (but I now have noise-canceling headphones) and other concertgoers. Specifically, I don't want to be around smoke, especially in an indoor venue. This crowd had its share of old hippies, and there was a definite smell up in the balcony where I was. Maybe it's unrealistic to expect everyone to be squeaky clean, but that ruined it for me. The people next to me were drinking heavily, but they didn't spill anything, throw up, or act rowdy so I didn't mind. In addition, maybe I'm used to the dulcet tones of the studio recordings, but Donald Fagen's voice seemed shot. He did say he had a cold, and they canceled the next day's concert so I hope later dates were improved. The volume was a bit too loud, but not loud enough that I needed to use the headphones. On the plus side, they did a lot more after "Aja" (after the album was done, Fagen told us to sit back and relax and they'd take care of the music) and the full complement of backup singers and musicians played their hearts out.

"On the Way to O'Neill's: JFK in Ireland" (reading) - What if Jackie had been killed instead of JFK? In this play, an 82-year-old JFK mourns his son's death in Ireland and agrees to speak with a young reporter who sounds a lot like his wife. The premise was interesting, but the execution dragged in the second act. Turns out a friend of a friend is in the cast.

"Theater of War" - documentary about the Public Theater's 2006 Central Park production of "Mother Courage" with Meryl Streep. I know nothing about this play or production, so learned a lot about it and author Bertolt Brecht. This Castillo Center event included a Q&A afterward with the producer.

"Summer Shorts, Series B" - When I worked at 500 Park, we sometimes got lunch from the deli across the street, but it was soon torn down. That spot is now the 59E59 St. theater complex, which hosted this interesting series of 4 short plays (there's also series A, which I hope to get to). I enjoyed seeing short films at Sundance, and this production reminded me that the short form can be worthwhile (I guess I'll also have to read some short stories). The plays covered what not to say on a date, how murder affects a family, landscape maintenance, and mercy killing (this last by William Inge).

"Unaccustomed to my Name" - Marta Rainer plays multiple characters in this one-woman show about a recent college graduate finding her way, who adopts an exotic Russian persona in order to cope.

"After Luke"/"When I Was God" - I'd heard good things about the Irish Rep but hadn't gotten there until now. The theater was pleasant and the acting quite good. These two plays (by Colin Creedon, distant cousin of Patrick?) featured the same cast, minimal scenery, and maximum emotion. The first was about a father and two sons, and the second about a stage-motherlike sports dad.

TAKE Dance Company - Dance Theater Workshop is another nice venue (not far from the Irish Rep) I'd never been to, and the huge stage was an excellent space for this company, founded by Japanese-born former Paul Taylor dancer, Takehiro Ueyama. The dances featured bubbles and "snow" (which luckily no one tripped on) and made for a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon.

And - omigod! - Paul McCartney at Citi Field. I smelled nothing and the music was fantastic. That's going to take two more posts on its own.
2:33p
Early Reviewing
Library Thing has an Early Reviewers program where they send advance readers' copies and you then review them on the site. There is stiff competition for a limited number of copies, but I've received 16 books in the past 2 years. I've been slow about reading and reviewing them, though, and got a friendly reminder that "missing reviews may hurt your chances for winning more Early Reviewer books in the future." So I've put these on the top of the to-be-read list, and finished:

"Beat" by Amy Boaz - Frances and her young daughter escape to Paris to avoid questions relating to the disappearance of her lover Joseph's longtime partner, a famous poet. Her husband and toddler son remain at home in the NYC suburbs. Most of the characters were selfish and unsympathetic.

"The Last Bridge" by Teri Coyne - Cat Rucker returns to her family's Ohio farm after her mother's suicide, only to have painful memories of domestic violence surface. Family secrets unfold with every gripping page.
3:35p
Continued fun with customer service
Just when I thought the NPL convention hotel bill was settled, my bank account now shows 2 more credits and 1 more charge from the Tremont. Added to the 2 previous charges and 1 credit, this makes a net payment of zero.

I'm so honest I called my contact at the hotel to tell her there was still an error, although in my favor. She promised to look into it. This could be endless. Charge... credit... charge... credit. Get it right, already!

The automatic bank withdrawal for my cable bill did not happen at the end of July as it was supposed to (also didn't happen in June). I called and they had no idea why I was apparently unenrolled from the payment program that's worked fine for over 10 years, and said I'd have to re-enroll but it might take a few cycles to be effective. So I paid again with a credit card.

On Friday I brought over my rent check in person, but the office had already closed at 4:30 so I slipped the envelope under the door. I called this morning to make sure they got it, and they did. So one thing was done correctly today.

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