Patrick Healy reports on the state of the Broadway musical export market—to South Korea.
… Guys and Dolls, it turns out, works in Korean, so long as Miss Adelaide is played by an actress nearly 10 years older than her Nathan Detroit, to reflect the trend of older women dating younger men in Seoul.
Nicholas Lund compiles videos of birds sticking it to UAVs.
So add “environmental mayhem” to the list of things the FAA needs to consider before developing rules for Amazon’s drone delivery, or else be prepared to receive books scarred by talon swipes and beak pecks.
ᔥ Megan Garber
Jennifer Richler posts a good piece about what to expect from good popular science writing—and what to expect from yourself, the reader.
…when you finish reading a piece of science writing, you [should not] think, “‘Wow, I better make some serious changes to the way I eat/talk to my children/use my credit cards,’ but rather ‘Hmmm, I wonder how likely it is that this advice will turn out to be worth following.’” That curiosity should spur you to seek out good information continually. Over time, if the research appears to converge on a particular conclusion—the overwhelming consensus that there is no link between autism and vaccines, for example—then you should probably take it seriously.
Scott Weidensaul gives us a nudge to remember to look for bird-friendly certified shade-grown coffee. I will confess that I tend to grab anything that’s labelled organic at the market; my excuse is that coffee with the Smithsonian’s label (or with related labels like the Rainforest Alliance’s) is (surprisingly) more difficult to find where I shop than it used to be. Need to look harder.
A former bus station being demolished like this one—and especially an empty and abandoned one—is one of the saddest sights to me. Think of all the trips that will never happen.
The Smith Center changes up from its usual high-minded puppetry programming into something that’s just rubbery good fun. Blind Summit presents, in bunraku style, the character of Moses. Moses is the collision of a gravelly working-class British accent, a stretchy cloth body out of Tex Avery, and a head made of corrugated cardboard with a craggy face that looks like it should be on some country’s currency.
With hints of Beckett (Moses’s world is limited by the featureless dining room table that he stands on), in a rambling, irreverent monologue of 75 minutes, he tells the story of the Biblical Moses’s last hours on earth—more or less. Acting out multiple parts (the Hebrews on the plains of Moab, God swimming in his firmament) in an improvisational style that sometimes wanders on to less-than-successful side tracks, Moses cracks up the audience, his three puppeteers, and even the techs working the board at the back of the Kogod’s intimate black box. Yet Blind Summit achieves stirring effects with simple means: the puppet’s head has no moving parts above the swivel of its neck, so all of its emotions flow through the tilt of the head, quiet shifts of focus, and the reactions of its manipulators (Mark Down, Sean Garratt, and the extra-bendy Irena Stratieva).
But it’s that super-bouncy body that drives the physical comedy. You’d think that we’d be over the gag of George Jetson bounding off a runaway treadmill. No, we’re not: it still does its magic.
- The Table, by Blind Summit Theatre, directed by Mark Down, Clarice Smith Center Kogod Theatre, College Park, Md.
I dropped by the park to check on the progress of the wetland restoration project. To my untrained eye, it looks like the builders are almost done with the new dam. New plantings are in place, and deadfall has been dragged into strategic positions. The scattering of Green-winged Teal and Northern Pintail in the main pond seemed unconcerned. The clashing of Common Grackles that would fly over from time to time likewise.
The surprise for this trip was this spindly, feisty Common Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), spotted in a wet spot near the “phoebe bridge” where the trail begins to cross the wetland via boardwalk. Despite the fact that it’s in the process of being strangled by a blue-berried climber (Japanese Honeysuckle, perhaps), it has managed to produce fruit: look at the extreme right edge of the image for ripening persimmons, as well as a cluster left where the branches are obscured by the much larger lichen-covered maple.
Posted in In the Field
A simple demonstration, in this photo taken from the fourth floor terrace of my current workplace, that the Washington Monument must remain the tallest structure in the city.
Posted in Like Life
Fake cicada noises introduce Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate, a graceless drama of three Arkansas-raised siblings and their in-laws squabbling over the ruined estate of their recently-departed father. Fights with nasty words in the first act become physicalized in the second, a farcical battle royal of no import—stop me if you’ve heard this one.
This play’s Belle Rive is a plaster-shedding failed bed and breakfast; the legacy of the three children—Toni, Franz, Bo, and rebarbative every one—is a pile of debts and some quite disturbing Jim Crow-era artifacts. The only character who is in any way grounded is Franz’s fiancée River (Caitlin McColl), and even she is called upon to unnaturally overreact to her discovery of a nearby graveyard and to misunderstand her boyfriend’s past dalliances with minors—until a convenient turning point in the plot.
“Oh my God! What am I doing here?” one character cries in the course of the evening. Indeed.
- Appropriate, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, directed by Liesl Tommy, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington
There seems to be some confusion about the significance of the phrase “Magnolia 9047,” as it appears in this passage from scene 8 of A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), by Tennessee Williams:
BLANCHE [at the phone]: Hello. Mr. Mitchell, please…. Oh…. I would like to leave a number if I may. Magnolia 9047. And say it’s important to call….
MAgnolia is the telephone exchange, and 9047 the number within the exchange. The MAgnolia exchange was used from 1938 until 1960, when it was replaced with JAckson 3.
Some well-meaning souls have interpreted Magnolia 9047 as a street address, but it’s very clear that Blanche’s sister Stella and brother-in-law Stanley live in the French Quarter at 632 Elysian Fields Avenue, as this passage in scene 1 with upstairs neighbor Eunice exposits:
EUNICE [finally]: What’s the matter, honey? Are you lost?
BLANCHE [with faintly hysterical humor]: They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at—Elysian Fields!
EUNICE: That’s where you are now.
BLANCHE: At Elysian Fields?
EUNICE: This here is Elysian Fields.
BLANCHE: They mustn’t have—understood—what number I wanted…
EUNICE: What number you lookin’ for?
[Blanche wearily refers to the slip of paper.]
BLANCHE: Six thirty-two.
EUNICE: You don’t have to look no further.
However, Williams’ grasp of light rail routefinding is trumped by the poetics of Blanche traveling from desire to death to her celestial reward, as it is the Canal Street cars that are marked Cemeteries (for the terminus at Metairie Avenue), and this line does not intersect Elysian Fields Avenue.
Rick Wright unpicks John James Audubon’s mistaken claim that Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) was a common sight in North America.
Round House Theatre marks its return to more engaging, contemporary material with a balanced ensemble performance of Melissa James Gibson’s This, a romantic comedy-drama for grieving grownups. Todd Scofield brings a yearning strength to the role of Tom, new stay-at-home dad and craftsman, while Will Gartshore is charmant as Jean-Pierre, the hunky French physician. Michael Glenn wisely does not overplay the (many) annoying sides of the feckless Alan. James Kronzer’s double revolve keeps the play’s many changes of scene moving quickly and smoothly. Directory Ryan Rilette does well by keeping Lise Bruneau pinned to the floor for her late monologues as Jane; seated on a step, her grief and pain are the more powerful.
- This, by Melissa James Gibson, directed by Ryan Rilette, Round House Theatre, Bethesda, Md.
Another Words Words Words post, or more accurately, a Marks Marks Marks post: Jeff Z. Klein reports on the recent move by Montréal Canadiens equipment manager to include diacritics in players’ name bars on the backs of their sweaters. The explanation by Pierre Gervais as to why the marks hadn’t been rendered in the past is a bit weak, but no matter:
Gervais said the accents were made possible by technology. Until recently, the strip of cloth for name bars was too shallow.
“I would have had to sew the accent mark onto the uniform itself, above the name bar,” said Gervais, who started working as a Canadiens equipment manager in 1987. “Until a few years ago, we used to reuse the uniforms, so I couldn’t do it.”