More home improvement: At my wife's behest I spent a good part of the day yesterday installing eyeball lights in our high-ceilinged stairwell. This required mucking around in the attic sucking in insulation as I tried to find electrical lines to power said eyeball lights. I counted myself fortunate in that I didn't come crashing through the ceiling; big as I am I managed to stay perched on the joists like an enormous pigeon.
My bride announced herself pleased with the results. Generally speaking, if she's pleased, so am I. However the lights, and the shadows they cast, highlight every nail pop and drywall joint in the wall, which I find annoying.
But we now have more lit display space for new pictures we can hang... we have always been enthusiastic picture framers. When we were poor newlyweds we bought stuff for the walls in lieu of furniture; to me a wall looks naked without pictures. (In fact I have 29 pictures hanging up in my office.)
Later on in the week I'll be atop a high ladder installing crown molding in the stairwell.
I finally cracked a rung on Madeleine's wooden six-foot Ladder-O-Death this past weekend. (I inherited this rickety thing from my mother.) I'll be very happy to replace it with a stouter aluminum or fibreglass model the next time I need it - so I cheat death once again!
Between attic sessions I also visited an interesting new attraction with my wife: Fairfax County's nearby new arts center, converted from the Lorton reformatory workhouse - the website is here. Browsing through the galleries, we happened by the studio of Sean Donlon, whom we chatted with. He's an interesting young man who seems to take at least partial inspiration from noirish cityscapes. (His business card.) My wife and I were both struck by how young he is - bear in mind it takes a juried competition to get into the workhouse.
I was also interested in Donlon's use of a stenciled image of a person who looks somewhat like a laughing Monopoly guy who appears often in his work, and asked about it. Turns out it's a cartoon self-image of his great-grandfather, named Barlog. Sean suggested I look him up. I did... he's Ferdinand Barlog, a German cartoonist. German art is so cool...
We also came across the workshop of Patricia McMahon Rice, an uncommonly good local portrait painter. Every portrait we saw by her was not only technically excellent, but communicated personality. She was also adept at depicting light striking human skin - very impressive. We wished that we knew about her - and had the money for commissions - when our kids were little. But wait - she's probably young and wasn't doing portraits when our kids were little...
I'm still wading through Branagh's film adaptation of the full-text Hamlet. The question of whether or not Hamlet and Ophelia had sex (as shown in this film) is still bothering me. The wikipedia entry for Ophelia has this: "The 1996 Kenneth Branagh film depicts Ophelia and Hamlet as lovers, however this is not indicated in the original play in which there are several references to her claimed virginity. Yet during her madness, Ophelia makes many sexual comments and sings a bawdy Valentine song that includes the line, 'quoth she, before you tumbled [had sex with] me, you promised me to wed.'" So I guess the matter is up to the reader.
The color palette of the film - whites and light blues - is irksome; it makes all the characters seem washed out. Also, I greatly dislike Branagh's practice of fading in background music to all of the well-known passages. It's like Branagh is saying, "Okay, pay attention - this is a famous passage." And Billy Crystal and Robin Williams have parts in this. This casting doesn't really serve Shakespeare - but it serves Crystal and Williams.
This production, like his "Much Ado About Nothing" (1993), which I disliked, is leading me to believe that as far as Shakespeare is concerned, Kenneth Branagh is over-reaching.
Got to go.
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