My year in cities, 2014

I missed the VNPS annual meeting in Tidewater Virginia this year, but I got to visit a few places. Overnight stays in 2014:

2013’s list. 2012’s list. 2011’s list. 2010’s list. 2009’s list. 2008’s list. 2007’s list. 2006’s list. 2005’s list.

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My year in books, 2014

Or at least all the books that I’ve told Goodreads about.

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Upcoming: 39

WATCH assignments for 2015 are out a bit earlier than usual. In addition to four TBD’s, I a slotted to adjudicate

  • Wait Until Dark, Knott
  • Watch on the Rhine, Hellman
  • Harvey, Chase
  • Hello, Dolly!, Herman and Stewart, after Wilder
  • Suite Surrender, McKeever
  • Twelfth Night, Shakespeare
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My idea of a good Christmas Eve tradition: The Morning News’s annual roundup of worthy charities.

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My year in contributions: 2014

Here’s the first of my year-end roundup posts.

The spirit of Giving Tuesday doesn’t have to die at the end of November. These are the organizations and projects to which I gave coin (generally tax-deductible), property, and/or effort in 2014. Please join me in supporting their work.

Posted in Philanthropy, Public Policy and Politics
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To merely report, or to become personally involved, perhaps putting oneself at deathly risk: a classic conundrum of journalism. Jeffrey Gettleman unpacks his own hard choice.

In so many stories I’ve covered about people in need, I struggle with when to step back, when to help out, how to be a so-called impartial observer, as I’m paid to be, but at the same time remain a decent human being. Here I failed.

Posted in Health and Medicine, Philosophy
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Bibbity Dum-dum

A lovely simile linking the cinematic, literary, and pictorial worlds, from Anthony Lane’s review of P. T. Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice:

As a lyricist of California light, Pynchon is rivalled only by Richard Diebenkorn, who spent some twenty years painting his Ocean Park series in Santa Monica, and I doubt whether any director—dead or alive, Altman or Anderson—could really conjure a style to match the long surge of a Pynchon sentence as it rolls inexhaustibly onward.

Posted in Art and Architecture, Film, Prose Fiction
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Passings: 1

another one down: 1another one down: 2The ticky-tacky souvenir shops on F Street and in Chinatown give the neighborhood some lowrise, grotty street cred. One by one, however, they get redeveloped. Here’s the latest casualty, just up the block from Ford’s Theatre. Time was, the tourists stacked up outside the place were always a commuting obstacle, and made me resolve to stick to E Street.

Posted in Local News and Views
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Some links: 71

Catching up on a lot of bookmarks, so this will be a bit of a link dump.

  • Reduced-meat or meatless diets (Mediterranean, pescetarian, vegetarian) are both better for your health and more sustainable for the environment, as David Tilman and Michael Clark find in a recent paper, and as Elke Stehfest summarizes.
  • I am loving Nature‘s new sharing tools. Susannah Locke explains the journal’s move toward more open access.
  • Emily Dreyfuss signed up to give Wikipedia six bucks a month.

    …Wikipedia is the best approximation of a complete account of knowledge we’ve ever seen.

    It’s also the most robust. The most easily accessed. And the safest. It exists on servers around the world so, unlike the library at Alexandria, it can’t be burned down.

    You should chip in, too.

  • The Biodiversity Heritage Library has opened an online exhibit dedicated to women in science who began working before 1922. Some of my recent subjects are there, including Florence Merriam Bailey and Mabel Osgood Wright.
Posted in Agriculture, Food and Cooking, Health and Medicine, History, Natural Sciences, Philanthropy
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State-of-the-art stormwater management—in Los Angeles? Yes, indeedy: Jacques Leslie explains.

Posted in Water Resources and Wetlands
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The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism…

The collisions of ideas and recriminations that highlight the first two acts of Tony Kushner’s Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide, multiple conversations/arguments taking place in the Brooklyn brownstone of Gus Marcantonio, are by turns invigorating and exhausting. Whereas OTC is fond of referring to the overlapping dialog in the second act of Tracy Letts’s August: Osage County as the “fugue of dysfunction,” in Kushner’s work there is no delicate counterpoint, but rather Ivesian clangor—albeit modulated deftly by director John Vreeke.

The house of Marcantonio (Gus’s three children, his sister, an ex-son-in-law, two same-sex partners, and a baby on the way) is replete with people of higher learning and the word: a former nurse, a lawyer, two theology Ph.D.’s, a historian ABD. As for Gus (the firm Tom Wiggin), he’s a mere autodidact, a retired longshoreman and radical labor organizer who taught himself Latin and translates Horace for recreation. It’s not surprising (and yet it’s very funny) when the two theologians bicker over a translation when one of them is going into labor.

Yet there is a hollowness in Gus’s soul (made perhaps too explicit by a subplot involving something hidden behind a broken plaster wall) that he can’t fill, a compromise made earlier in his life that he still regrets. And so he makes plans to make his quietus, to distribute his estate, thereby throwing his family into a tizzy.

A subplot centered on Gus’s son PierLuigi (known as “Pill”) explores the commodification of sex and some aspects of labor’s alienation that Karl Marx chose not to discuss. The love triangle involving Pill’s husband Paul and the weedy hustler Eli feels a bit labored, but is redeemed when Eli appears in the closing moments of the play to solve a problem for Gus.

In all this wordy maelstrom, the standouts are two women of quiet power: Jenifer Belle Deal as Shelle, a dockworker’s widow who matter-of-factly explains to Gus how a home suicide can be accomplished, and Rena Cherry Brown as Gus’s sister Clio (called “Zeeko”), a polytheist who left the convent to follow Mao and Mary Baker Eddy. Brown is at her most eloquent sitting calmly, with crossed arms, speaking when it is meet to speak.

Mashups of high-minded intellection and simple, sublime pleasures drive much of the humor in this piece. The payoff for one of Gus’s stories about the old country concerns an anarcho-communist choral society. Kushner swings from the nigglingly precise (as projections tell us, the play takes place in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood, in 2007, on such-and-such dates and at such-and-such times) to the sweepingly allegorical, as in Gus’s dream of the tragedians and the single audience member. The point of Gus’s parable is that the the tragedy takes place in the mind of the viewer. And so, as we watch Kushner’s play, we ask ourselves, where does this story of betrayal and collapse take place? There on the stage, or within each one of us?

  • The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, by Tony Kushner, directed by John Vreeke, Theater J, Washington
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Dewy pink

Two exquisite photographs of Stemonitis axifera at Botany POTD. I see that this genus has been featured there before.

Posted in Myxomycetes
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INTERVIEWER: Why did you want to make a book with no beginning or end?

CHRIS WARE: When we meet someone for the first time, we don’t hear their entire life story. We learn bits and pieces and start to put together a sense of that person by mortaring in the cracks and holes around their anecdotes and personality quirks with our assumptions and guesses. Later, we’re able to think of that person more or less as an entity, from all sides and all times, and maybe even to imitate or make fun of them. But everything we think of as real is still always our own fiction. We’re all fiction writers.

The Paris Review 210, The Art of Comics No. 2
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A trio of stories from the current issue of Audubon, celebrating three generations of researchers leveraging citizen science at Patuxent Research Refuge: Chandler Robbins, Sam Droege, and Jessica Zelt.

Posted in Birds and Birding, Citizen Science
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Ellanor C. Lawrence Park project: 8

My report to the class on my patch of woods in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park is turned in and archived.

Posted in In the Field
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