I had a great weekend!
It began with dinner in Alexandria with my wife; we then drove to the Kennedy Center for the concert. Leonard Slatkin's reading of Gustav Holst's "Planets" suite was brisk - his tempi in this piece tended to be fast. As I predicted, "Mars, the Bringer of War" was stirring and just plain fun to listen to. One problem: I couldn't hear the organ in the organ parts. There was a fellow playing - we could see the console on the stage - but we couldn't hear the instrument. A pity.
I found a new appreciation for the second movement, entitled "Venus, the Bringer of Peace." For me it was always just the movement after Mars, but hearing it live emphasized what really nice, subtle string tone it has. "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" of course, highlights what a modern symphonic orchestra is capable of. It just sparkles. There are tambourines in it (the entire suite calls for a very large orchestra; this piece is known for its sonorities) and I wondered how one notates shakes and hits on a sheet of music.
The real curiosity was the final movement, "Neptune, the Mystic." Normally there's a wordless women's choir singing in that one - and there was in the live performance - but we couldn't see 'em. Nobody was in the chorister behind the orchestra. A minor disappointment. (This review of the evening states that they were offstage.) During this piece Slatkin had the lights fade in the house until the last bits of the piece faded away - which was a novelty. I told my wife that Slatkin can be tricky and unpredictable...
As for the Elgar violin concerto, which I had never heard, I liked the final movement, which had some curious strummed string parts.
We got a lot done putting down the hardwood floor in the living room. I'm sore. Scooting around on the flooring is painful work - even when wearing knee pads. The problem is, of course, using muscles that one doesn't normally use. I certainly couldn't do flooring eight hours a day, five days a week. We have some tricky bits left - cutting around air conditioning registers and floor-mounted outlets, and the installing the finishing quarter round molding - but I'm hoping we'll be done with this room later this week. Then it's on to the next!
By the time we're done with three rooms, a hall and two closets, I think I shall be very tired of hardwood floor installation.
I attended my rugby club's banquet Saturday night. It was very gratifying to hear former teammates encourage me to get back on the pitch. ("You love me! You really love me!") And it was great to talk with them again. What's more, I was given a President's Award for twice whipping computer viruses during the year - that was unexpected. I was very quickly cut down to size, however, on Sunday when I mentioned this to a teenage rugby playing friend at church: "You got a rugby club award and you didn't even play any rugby during the year?" Well... yes. Hey, at my age you take what you get, kiddo.
Last night I watched "Terror in a Texas Town" (1958), a bizarre Western wherein Sterling Hayden (affecting, most of the time, an unconvincing Swedish dialect) brings a whale harpoon to a gunfight - and wins. One reviewer wrote, "Well call me Ishmael and blow me down - what a nutty movie!"
IMDb provides the key to the weirdness: the script was by blacklisted commie Dalton Trumbo, writing under another name. (If I had known it was by Trumbo I'd have probably blown it off.) I still laugh over his "Johnny Got His Gun," the most overwrought and inept anti-war screed, ever. An immediate casualty of World War I, the protagonist can't speak or see, and has no eyes or legs. The great majority of the action takes place in his mind. As Oscar Wilde once said about something else, "It would take a heart of stone not to laugh at it."
Sadly, an inexpert young driver scraped my VW bug convert in the church parking lot. This being church, he was at least good enough to leave a note. I take the car to the dealership to get estimates for a new quarter panel and rear bumper cover tonight or tomorrow night. My experience is that once a car's body is repaired, however, it is never quite the same.
So... it was a fun weekend (except for the scrape, of course). Lots of things with which to amuse my ADD-influenced mind which is constant need of stimulation and novelty.
Oh, I finally managed to connect the dots to figure out why there's a theatre in Los Angeles named the Burbank Theatre. A high-minded business venture by Dr. David Burbank - the fellow who founded my home town which is named after him - the place fell on harder times when it became a burlesque house and, just before it was demolished, an X-rated movie theater.
I feel certain the good doctor took no pride in having a porn theater named after him.
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