Saturday, January 25, 2020

return of the poster

The reason my recent posts have been so curtly phrased is that I've been spending most of my effort lately on writing out my presentation for an invited talk I'm giving on Tolkien next week. Fortunately I've just finished it, and read it out aloud - and it's not too long, a limitation I rarely achieve - so I can leave it aside for now.

The talk? Oh, it's on invitation from the Morgan Hill chapter of the American Association of University Women. They asked me as a Tolkienist, and the specific subject seemed naturally to flow to women in Tolkien, so I'm revamping an old Mythcon presentation on "The Forgotten Women of Middle-earth," which I never previously actually wrote down. It'll be at the Morgan Hill Public Library at 7 PM on Tuesday the 28th, if anybody feels like venturing out to hear it. Myself, I'll be leaving home at about 2 PM, for though Morgan Hill is only 33 miles from here, commuter traffic in this area is such that I can't count on getting there in time for my own talk if I leave any later, and certainly not if I expect to get set up and have something to eat first.

In the meantime, I've also been doing concerts. Last weekend I attended the big centerpiece concert of the Violins of Hope project and reviewed it for the Daily Journal. Although I'm slightly cynical about the significance of the project, I was impressed by the emotional power and dramatic passion that the composer, lyricist, and performers got into the song cycle about the violins, and I'd recommend one of the follow-up concerts I give info on at the end of the review.

Thursday I had a full day up in the City. The next day the paper had an article about how few people take public transit, and I laughed a little hollowly, because I'd wanted to take public transit to the City, but wound up driving all the way. And why? Because even the stash of parking spaces that the BART station holds open until 10 AM were all taken by the time I got there, so I had no choice but to drive on. It would have been ideal for transit, for I was attending two concerts just two blocks apart, with enough options for both lunch and dinner also in walking distance.

Matinee was a San Francisco Symphony concert, and you'll hear about that when my SFCV review is published. Evening was a recital at Herbst for violin and harpsichord, which seemed a much more interesting idea than it turned out to be.

Friday I had a passel of medical tests in the morning, and then went - successfully by BART this time, because I was arriving at the station as the commuters were beginning to leave - up to Berkeley Rep for the premiere production of a play, Becky Nurse of Salem by Sarah Ruhl. The title character is a feisty 63-year-old woman, descendant of Rebecca Nurse of the Salem Witch Trials, and it's about her life giving docent tours, raising her granddaughter, getting involved in witchcraft, getting thrown in jail for stealing her ancestor's statue from the museum, and a lot of other things. Motivating force was the author's annoyance at Arthur Miller's rejiggering of history for The Crucible. I hadn't re-read The Crucible in years - I was in a class reading of it in high school (I played the Rev. Hale), but don't expect me to remember much about that - and was irritated at myself for forgetting to bring a copy along to review beforehand, but that turned out not to be necessary. The new play dragged more than a little around the end of the first act, which got itchy, but overall I'm not sorry I went.

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