New venues, 2018

To my surprise, I visited many new performance spaces the year.

  • American Museum of American History, Music Hall
  • Washington National Cathedral
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium
  • The New School of Northern Virginia, black box
  • Colvin Run Dance Hall
  • National Gallery of Art, West Garden Court

2017’s list. 2016’s list. 2015’s list. 2014’s list. 2013’s list. 2012’s list. 2011’s list.

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She the People

Woolly’s partnership with The Second City again disappoints. From the opening sketch, presenting white privilege as a board game, She the People is preachy (hey, the choir’s out here) and only intermittently funny. A talk show segment, spiced with a bit of improv; a business meeting led by an executive in an outlandish T. Rex suit; and Maggie Wilder’s “I’m quirky” girl-child bit (one of the few pieces that doesn’t directly rail against the patriarchy) are the high points.

  • She the People, directed by Carly Heffernan, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and the Second City, Washington
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My year in contributions, 2018

Did you have a good year this year? Great! Please consider sharing some of that good fortune with one of these organizations. (If you had a bad year, I’m sorry.)

These are the groups and projects to which I gave coin (generally tax-deductible), property, and/or effort in 2018.

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Chapman State Park

beefyyugeI joined the group making a solstice celebration walk at Maryland’s Chapman State Park—more of a bushwhack, truth be told, with Rod Simmons at the head of the line. Although I can’t recommend him as a trip leader based on this experience, he did point out some huge individuals of familiar tree species in this old-growth woods. For instance, Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) at left, with a trunk as wide as my hand, and an oak-sized Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) at right.


destinationCherrybark Oak (Quercus pagoda) was a target species, and Rod delivered.

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Oranges

One of the most difficult things of all is not to have the painting be a depiction of the event but the event itself. That is the difference between great art and mediocre art. Most art looks like it is talking about something that happened some other place.

—Grace Hartigan, quoted in Mary Gabriel, Ninth Street Women (2018), p. 487
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Some links: 85

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Crooked CA watch: 5

Charles Wang has cashed out.

In 2004, after a four-year investigation that focused on backdated contracts and whether they artificially inflated profits, [Wang’s] Computer Associates reached an agreement with the Justice Department to avoid prosecution, which included paying $225 million in restitution to shareholders.

In 2006, [CEO Sanjay] Kumar was sentenced to 12 years in prison for orchestrating a $2.2 billion accounting fraud, mainly in 1999 and 2000. Mr. Wang was never charged with wrongdoing in the case.

But a year later, a 390-page report by the Computer Associates board, assisted by an outside law firm, found Mr. Wang culpable as well. “No significant decisions were made without his participation and approval,” the report said.

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A young Mike Nichols

Sarah Ruhl remembers Max Ritvo.

When we find the right friend at the right time in our life, or the right teacher, or the right student, our lives are changed forever. Max was the voice that answered back. And he still is.

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Indecent

Eric Rosen directs an effective production of Paula Vogel’s confidently theatrical, ensemble-driven meta-play, telling us the story of Sholem Asch’s play The God of Vengeance, from its early productions in Yiddish-speaking Europe after the turn of the century to its suppressed Broadway production of 1923. Vogel’s script finds a way to feed us the key snippets of Asch’s play, while keeping the action skipping along. In the cast, Ethan Watermeier stands out, having drawn most of the cards for playing heavies: an Irish policeman assigned to close down the production, a rabbi speaking against the “indecent” material of the play. A scene of the play’s production in a 1943 Warsaw ghetto, using found space and all the actors wearing Jewish stars, is particularly powerful, a testament to the resilience of art in the face of repression.

  • Indecent, by Paula Vogel, directed by Eric Rosen, Arena Stage Kreeger Theater, Washington
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Upcoming: 51

75 dancers, 300 solos of work by Merce Cunningham on his 100th birthday, livestreamed.

ArtsJournal

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Mason Neck

Jim McGlone and Rita Urbanski led walks on Mason Neck for Fairfax Master Naturalists. Rita focused on wetland adaptations, while Jim workshopped basic tree ID with the class. He mentioned the economic value of Quercus alba in cooperage, particularly with respect to aging wines and whiskeys. Planks made from red oaks can’t be made watertight, unlike white oak lumber.

probably verticillataHe pointed out a winterberry in fruit, Ilex verticillata (we’re out of range for I. laevigata),

still learning: onestill learning: twoas well as a jinx plant that I cannot form a good search image for, serviceberry (Amelanchier sp.). I’ll keep trying.

Jim also noted a native Euonymus that had already burst.

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A mystery: 15

hiding in the woodTovi Lehmann led a fungus walk centered on the nature center in Rock Creek Park on a very windy Sunday morning. We found some interesting stuff: Mycena sheltered in a well-decayed log and stump.

bear itLentinellus ursinis, with its serrate gills.

almost missed itAlso long-persisting, Picipes badius.

We talked about the associations among Cerrena unicolor (Mossy Maze Polypore), a wood-boring wasp (Tremex columba), and an ichneumonid parasite of the wasp (Megarhyssa spp.). Now, we found Cerrena growing on a log with two species of Stereum, including S. ostrea. But only the Cerrena was covered with algae, a common sight. Tovi didn’t have an answer to my question about why the algae preferentially used Cerrena as a substrate.

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A mystery: 14

Rudyard Kipling, it would seem, believes that “rub-a-dub” refers to a way of ringing a bell. Dan and Harvey are trawling in a small dory, when heavy weather blows up unexpectedly:

“Take a-holt here, an’ keep ringin’ steady,” said Dan, passing Harvey the lanyard of a bell that hung just behind the windlass.

Harvey rang lustily, for he felt two lives depended on him….

“Clang! cling! clang” Harvey kept it up, varied with occasional rub-a-dubs, for another half-hour.

Captains Courageous, chap. III

However, my researches have turned up only the nursery rhyme, which comes dripping with the usual smarmy gossipy backstory from the 14th century.

Now, a close reading might suggest a sniggering joke on Kipling’s part (and indeed, he uses the word “tub” several times in the passage, referring to containers of trawling gear), but I am not sufficiently familiar with his work to infer whether he is capable of slipping one in, as it were.

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Ellanor C. Lawrence Park botany and ichthyology

new to meCharles Smith led the botany basics workshop at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park for Fairfax Master Naturalists. (I studied the eastern section of this park for a class in 2014.) We met a lot of old friends from the plant world. Charles pointed out a non-native invasive that I had not seen before, Small Carpetgrass (apt name, that) (Arthraxon hispidus).

In the meadow, Charles pointed out Beaked Panicgrass (Panicum anceps). I need to look at this plant a few more times before I can grok it. A tip for learning sumacs: fruits hang down from Winged Sumac.

"what good looks like"On the west side of Walney Road, we did a very short ascent of the Ridge Trail to a patch of woods that has been left alone by White-tailed Deer. Charles describes this view a “what a good forest looks like.”

the worksIn the afternoon, Chris Ruck and his team electrofished a short reach of Big Rocky Run. Again, this was not a complete, protocol-compliant survey, but rather some cherry-picking so that we could see what species could be found in the stream. Forgive me for geeking out on the equipment, but it’s pretty cool.

working downstreamnet 'imA circuit is established between the anode, the pole in Danielle’s right hand, and the cathode, the cable in her right hand. Fish in the water are stunned, and can be scooped up in a net for study, as Chris is doing in the image at right. Voltage and other electrical characteristics can be adjusted for water conditions. You want rubberized waders for this job; if you’re wearing breathable waders, you will probably feel an unpleasant tingle, or worse.

waiting to be keyed outSome of the catch, ready for identification.

pretty darterlook on the sunny sideWe turned up 13 of a possible 20 species or so, according to Chris’s accounts. We spent a lot of time with the keys and the minnow representatives (family Cyprinidae). A little easier to ID were these Fantail Darters (Etheostoma flabellare) at left, and these four sunfish species (at right).

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Some links: 84

All theater-themed links today!

  • Mike Nussbaum, “reportedly the oldest working stage actor in America,” talks to Scott Simon.
  • Mark Liberman speculates about the origins of the signature phrase from Tom Stoppard’s Hapgood, “I’m here to be told.”
  • David Kortava watches fight choreographer B. H. Barry design a brawl for the Met’s Faniculla del West.

    His principal concern, though, was that the scene’s most stirring moment, in which an actor leaps from a balcony, occurs too early in the sequence. “Rudolf Nureyev”—the late Soviet ballet dancer—“taught me never to open all your Christmas presents at once,” Barry said….

  • Another map of the New Orleans streetcar network that would have helped Blanche Dubois get where she needed to go.
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