Tuesday, December 5, 2017

24 hours

So yesterday evening we went to the "movies" at Asolo Theater.  A special showing was being held of Shakespeare in Love.  What a wonderful film! The theater company is doing a production of the PLAY of the same story and so they had arranged for the film to be shown before the run of the play.

What an absolute delight! Every performance was note perfect and there was so much fun amid the saddest love story ever told- Romeo & Juliet.  The ultimate tale of star-crossed lovers. Full of anachronistic jokes and mocking of contemporary Hollywood - the word play goes beyond the Bard's ever present genius, intertwining the modern day with 1593.

As Phil said afterward "more than four hundred years" and his words still have the ability to bring us to tears; they so touch the heart of the human condition. Fabulous use of three hours of our time.

The hits just kept on coming because then we went to the Blaze pizza place (seriously inconveniently located at UTC but close enough on a Monday night at 9PM with no traffic) and had really good - weirdly good - fast food pizza- Who knew???  It's like a Flat Top Grill for pizza- you pick the toppings and they blaze it in a 700* oven for a short time and it's yours to eat! Unexpectedly good!

And we got up today to a blue sky perfect day and since we are in the pre new year time (no school classes and most of our theater and ballet and symphony tickets start in earnest in January) we took the afternoon to sit at the dock and eat seafood.  then we brought home stone crab claws and wild line caught salmon from the fish market.  The ultimate #lifeisgood day!

so tonight we are eating outside - because the weather was warm today 85* and the courtyard is enclosed from the breeze that comes up after sunset-

photos of the Blaze experience

some stills from the movie

she was absolutely luminous! deserving of the Academy Award she won for this film "Best Actress" or more politically correctly "Best Performance by an Actress in a leading role" blah blah blah.... 

so life is very good and we are enjoying the calm of December before the hordes descend mid January to mid April... this is the absolute best time of year to be here- no lines - no traffic - great weather! what's not to love????

Sunday, December 3, 2017

a few days before that

Recounting our week in reverse in a number of posts makes it somewhat confusing but just think of it as my own little homage to Pinter LOL - like life which sometimes seems to come in no particular order - this post is about a number of things that happened last week during the week.

I went to Evita with my friend Barb Totaro (whom we met on a trip through the Greek Islands in 201?)

They finally finished the landscaping cleanup post Hurricane Irma and we can again see the "lake" from our screened porch in the back of the house - YEA! And now we can also see our fabulous stag horn fern much better (it lives in a Live Oak tree right outside our front courtyard)

and this is our beautiful staghorn 

if you don't know about these waaaay cool epiphytes you aren't probably as impressed as we are-

Once an uncommon plant find, staghorn fern is now quite a popular fascinating tropical plant.  Staghorn fern thrives in Florida's heat and humidity; it grows quite well in South Florida and can be grown in North and Central Florida if protected from frosts and freezes.

With its beautiful and unusual foliage, staghorn fern is found throughout much of the tropical world. Staghorn fern is a member of the Polypodiaceae family; there are presently eighteen known species, as well as many varieties and hybrids of this plant. This plant is an epiphyte, meaning it gets moisture and nutrients from the air. Staghorn is found growing harmlessly on tree trunks, branches, or even rocks.

Staghorn fern produces two distinctly different fronds which are either basal or foliar. Basal fronds are also called shields; they are small, flat leaves that cover the root structure. These fronds are sterile and help with nutrient uptake by collecting water and fallen plant debris. Foliar fronds are the more eye-catching upright fronds produced by the plant. The underside of foliar fronds is where you'll find brownish reproductive structures, called sporangia.

here is a photo from the Internet where you can see the structure of the plant a bit better-

and we had lost a nice natural "screen" in the hurricane damage so we are hoping to get something new to grow in the spot where this palm blew over and the stump was removed (last week)

So we had a house "fail" over Thanksgiving and had to have a toilet (that had been on the blink all last summer) replaced... which involved dismantling bathroom cabinetry (handmade by yours truly but manufactured in China with thousands of parts and dozens of steps to complete the assembly - see post called "I Build Furniture" LOL) This is partly the reason why I had not been keeping up with the posting but really it is just that we have been busy and I haven't made the time LOL

Anyway- back to the week we have completed - Evita- staged by the Asolo Rep...you know the story and the music (even if you think you don't you do) - at one point it was inescapable.  The revival was designed to kick off the 2017-18 season for Asolo Rep. Each year they do a musical to start and so far I would say this was the first I found appealing.  The music of ALW is so ubiquitous that anyone could sing along to many many songs - mocking the "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" etc....

however that being said I personally find the music of this show and Phantom likeable if not laudable.  "A new Argentina..."  "She should get it through her head..." "On this night of a thousand stars..." they stick and not in a horrifying way like - oh say, for instance, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (aaaacccckkkkk NO!) So it was an enjoyable few hours now that it is no longer on the airwaves non stop...

the three terrific leads

and I know Madonna was panned in the film version but I swear she was actually born to play the role- it was so her- I might have to go back and watch it...

So Eva Peron and the whole movement----

The whole cult of personality seems more frightening today than it did two years ago.  I found some of the scenes unsettling in the world of Trump voters and Charlottesville marches shouting "Jews will not replace us" - mob psychology of "lock her up" and such, cannot be a good thing regardless of from the "left" or "right." Extremism whether communism or fascism has proven itself to be unfriendly to the greater good... so in that way it is a good time breath new life into Evita...

and along the way this week - we made a run across the river to the Riverhouse for a quick dinner and got these views as we had our meal outside -

a busy and fun week - and we got some things accomplished LOL... stay tuned

the day before

so the day before I went to the ballet we went to see the NTLive production of No Man's Land by Harold Pinter performed by Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen.

One summer's evening, two ageing writers, Hirst and Spooner, meet in a Hampstead pub and continue their drinking into the night at Hirst's stately house nearby.  As the pair become increasingly inebriated, and their stories increasingly unbelievable, the lively conversation soon turns into a revealing power game, further complicated by the return home of two sinister younger men.

the amazing script was truly one long poem- the English language used in a manner that conveyed in phrases and repetition the changing nature of the characters (only four) as the "action" progressed.

it was dark- the older men were suffering from varying degrees of madness or dementia and the younger men were in threatening by varying degrees as well.  Clarity or lucidity was not much on stage during this performance- which is exactly as Pinter intended I am sure.

Hirst is an alcoholic upper-class litterateur who lives in a grand house presumed to be in Hampstead, with Foster and Briggs, respectively his purported amanuensis and man servant (or apparent bodyguard), who may be lovers. Spooner, a "failed, down-at-heel poet" whom Hirst has "picked up in a Hampstead pub" and invited home for a drink, becomes Hirst's house guest for the night; claiming to be a fellow poet, through a contest of at least-partly fantastic reminiscences, he appears to have known Hirst at university and to have shared mutual male and female acquaintances and relationships. The four characters are named after cricket players. (wikipedia)

needing help to clarify what we had seen I turned to the Internet- where I found a couple of reviews that did shed a bit of light on it- the quote in red below I thought expressed the things I observed but could not express half as well-

the sense of being caught in some mysterious limbo between life and death, between a world of brute reality and one of fluid uncertainty. ... the play is a masterly summation of all the themes that have long obsessed Pinter: the fallibility of memory, the co-existence in one man of brute strength and sensitivity, the ultimate unknowability of women, the notion that all human contact is a battle between who and whom. ... It is in no sense a dry, mannerist work but a living, theatrical experience full of rich comedy in which one speech constantly undercuts another.

I am a Pinter fan of longstanding - my husband not so much LOL so I enjoyed it more than he did but still had to go to the "keys" (of my computer) to gain more understanding - I would say my review is "not for everyone, but if you enjoy wordplay and poetry you might take the plunge and see it." 

one month in

so here are some photos from last night's dinner- not the usual food photos (although the food was excellent! grouper cheeks and scallops and a stop at Tyler's ice cream after)

these are photos from our table at Tide Tables right at (almost under) the Cortez Bridge to Anna Maria Island.

I put them in reverse order because I liked the colors better on the after the sun set photo LOL

We usually don't eat at sunset but yesterday I went to the ballet and Phil went to visit our friend Jean to walk around her condo complex which is also a bird sanctuary. The timing was exactly right as I arrived at Jean's five minutes after they had finished their 5300 step walk (I got the full report LOL)

We decided that if we could find a parking spot at Tide Tables we'd eat there and if not we would move along to another waterside location (I know I know - yes the ravages of life in paradise LOL)

The ballet performances were all wonderful with mixed reviews on the ballets themselves- as always the program feature three diverse dance performances. I loved Dear Life without reservations the other two - well you will read on----

This pairing of principals was magnificent- I think Overstreet (who often gets "relegated" to the matinee performances) is a fabulous dancer - extremely evocative of the dramatic as well as being technically without flaw. Graziano is (along with Gomes - when he is dancing) is the creme de la creme of the male group of principals - they are an extraordinarily strong group with incredible depth to go to in covering all manner of ballet styles.

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud 1854 – 1891) was a French poet who is known for his influence on modern literature and arts, which prefigured surrealism. He started writing at a very young age and was a prodigious student, but abandoned his formal education in his teenage years to run away from home amidst the Franco-Prussian War.  During his late adolescence and early adulthood he began the bulk of his literary output, but completely stopped writing at the age of 21, after assembling one of his major works, Illuminations. 

Rimabaud by Reginald Grey

Rimbaud was known to have been a libertine and for being a restless soul, having engaged in an at times violent romantic relationship with fellow poet Paul Verlaine, which lasted nearly two years. After the end of his literary career, he traveled extensively on three continents as a merchant before his death from cancer just after his thirty-seventh birthday.  As a poet, Rimbaud is well known for his contributions to Symbolism and was a significant precursor to modernist literature. 

Rimbaud's poetry, as well as his life, influenced many 20th-century writers, musicians and artists, including André Breton, Dylan Thomas, Mark Bolan, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jack Kerouac, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Neal Cassady, Vladimir Nabokov, Bob Dylan, Luis Alberto Spinetta, Roberto Bolaño, Patti Smith, Tom Verlaine, Léo Ferré, Henry Miller, Van Morrison, Penny Rimbaud, Jim Morrison, and Richey Edwards. (now there's an impressive list!) 

all blue font is excerpted from wikipedia-

The dancer performing as the poet was excellent - and Overstreet's performance shone in this terrifically staged ballet with a confusing "plot" - I was in luck in that my extra ticket which I had donated back to the ballet was then taken by a graduate student of ballet history from Ohio who was here in Sarasota this weekend specifically to see all three performances of Illuminations for a paper he was writing on this ballet in particular, and Ashton more generally. Most of which he related to me is summarized in the wikipedia excerpt above...

this was a beautiful ballet on an exquisite set but I turned to my seat mate after and said that Americans really do not have the discipline to dance classic ballet russe because the corps de ballet just can never stay absolutely synchronized.  We do not have the approach the Russians of that era did- especially because our ballerinas are diverse in varying heights and to some extent body types and are not well suited to seeing every hand in raised to the same height and held at the same exact angle.  The demands are perhaps beyond what American companies in the 21st century can withstand.

My seatmate told me that Balanchine had used the form, but that his ballets were all staged at a much faster rhythm than classic ballet russe; and that even today when Theme and Variations is danced by a Russian company it is done at a meter that is just enough slower that it gives the company time to reach that exact precision that I am always looking for but rarely see.

So not only did I see a fabulous afternoon of ballet I got a bit of education as well! Followed by dinner on the dock at sunset... can't think of a better way to spend the day!