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Archive for June, 2008

Our Town

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On Monday night, I visited the ballpark for a little interleague action (is it just me, or does that sound kinky?) between the Phillies and the Red Sox.  It was a weird night.  There were storms in the area, and rain—or worse—seemed like a certainty.  When I sat down in Section 108, about three seats from the foul line in right field, the wind was whipping around me and stadium detritus was flying everywhere.  But as game time approached, the wind settled down some, and the dark clouds that remained never dropped any rain.

It was a fun night.  The Phillies went ahead early, and they stayed there.  The crowd was into it, and there was, of course, some extra the-world-champions-are-here excitement in the air.  Ryan Howard was in top form, hitting two homers and a triple(!), and Cole Hamels pitched well for seven innings.  The Phils won, 8-2.  (Unfortunately, the Sox took last night’s and this afternoon’s games.  Ugh.)

As I said, I had a close-up view of the foul line.  My seat also put me in a prime position to boo, lustily, Red Sox rightfielder J.D. Drew, who famously dissed Philadelphia when the Phillies drafted him in 1997.  The crowd was united in its disdain for Drew, and I felt, well, especially Philadelphian as I booed him, too.

* * *

Last night, I did something completely different: I attended a performance of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town at the Arden Theatre.  It was well-acted and well-staged.  I was particularly taken with Rebecca Blumhagen and Peterson Townsend as Emily Webb and George Gibbs.  And Eric Hissom was delightful as the Stage Manager.

Probably the best part of the evening was Act II, which, of course, climaxes with the wedding of Emily and George.  The Arden staged Act II in Philadelphia’s historic Christ Church—right next door.  I love Christ Church’s old, rigid, high-backed pews, and I loved having some non-religious and non-touristy excuse to be in one of those pews for awhile.

I love Our Town and its reminder to pay attention and to live life fully.  But Act III, “Death,” sure left me in a mood—after what had been a long day of landlord, work, and commuting problems.  I suppose, though, that a day like that is a good day to be reminded about what’s important—and what’s not.

Written by Jimmy

June 18th, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Art,Sports

Happy Bloomsday!

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A year ago today, I was commemorating Bloomsday—which, of course, celebrates James Joyce and Ulysses, set on June 16, 1904—by participating in one of the world’s most elaborate celebrations, at Philly’s Rosenbach Museum. As I chronicled here (at the old website), I joined 70 or so other Philadelphians, notable and not-so-notable (that’d be me), in reading interesting passages from what is often regarded as the greatest novel of all time.

I spent several months in 2006-07 thinking about Ulysses as a part of a class at the Rosenbach, and I (sort of) grudgingly came to love the novel. I haven’t spent that much time with Ulysses since then, and it looks like I probably won’t even make to the steps of the Rosenbach this year to hear any of this year’s readers. (Scary thought: If I were reading the same passage this year, I’d go on four places after the governor!) But as much as I hate public speaking, and I really, really do, I regret—just a tiny bit—that I’m not at the Rosenbach today reading my passage from Ulysses.

My reading was from Eumaeus, the sixteenth episode of the novel, when protagonist Leopold Bloom and the young Stephen Dedalus are heading home from some scary experiences in “nighttown,” Dublin’s red light district. The passage, especially when read aloud, always makes me smile. I may not be at the Rosenbach today, but it seems fitting to revisit the passage here:

They thereupon stopped. Bloom looked at the head of a horse not worth anything like sixtyfive guineas, suddenly in evidence in the dark quite near so that it seemed new, a different grouping of bones and even flesh because palpably it was a fourwalker, a hipshaker, a blackbuttocker, a taildangler, a headhanger putting his hind foot foremost the while the lord of his creation sat on the perch, busy with his thoughts. But such a good poor brute he was sorry he hadn’t a lump of sugar but, as he wisely reflected, you could scarcely be prepared for every emergency that might crop up. He was just a big foolish nervous noodly kind of a horse, without a second care in the world. But even a dog, he reflected, take that mongrel in Barney Kiernan’s, of the same size, would be a holy horror to face. But it was no animal’s fault in particular if he was built that way like the camel, ship of the desert, distilling grapes into potheen in his hump. Nine tenths of them all could be caged or trained, nothing beyond the art of man barring the bees. Whale with a harpoon hairpin, alligator tickle the small of his back and he sees the joke, chalk a circle for a rooster, tiger my eagle eye. These timely reflections anent the brutes of the field occupied his mind somewhat distracted from Stephen’s words while the ship of the street was manoeuvring and Stephen went on about the highly interesting old.

– What’s this I was saying? Ah, yes! My wife, he intimated, plunging in medias res, would have the greatest of pleasure in making your acquaintance as she is passionately attached to music of any kind.

He looked sideways in a friendly fashion at the sideface of Stephen, image of his mother, which was not quite the same as the usual handsome blackguard type they unquestionably had an insatisable hankering after as he was perhaps not that way built.

Happy Bloomsday!

Written by Jimmy

June 16th, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Books

The Wheat Pool

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If you haven’t heard The Wheat Pool, a Canadian alt-country-ish band, it’s time you did. Just click play to hear five cool songs. The Wheat Pool’s new album, Township, is highly recommended.

Written by Jimmy

June 15th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Music