Note From Jon


Friday, June 29, 2007

Misery Loves Comedy

I saw Caryl Churchill's update of August Strindberg's "A Dream Play" at Source Theatre. Spent much of the play laughing despite the overarching theme of the play being how miserable life is. Agnes, daughter of the gods, is essentially shown what life is like on Earth until even she has nearly lost hope and wants to get the hell out. The play really does capture the essense of a dream in many ways. Like a dream it is surreal and nearly absurd while still being completely comprehensible. One theme is how the people want the gods to know about their suffering and fix it. Reminded me of the sentiments in Ani DiFranco's song "Coming Up" which ends:

and whoever's in charge up there
had better take the elevator down
and put more than change in our cup
or else we
are coming

Another consistent theme is how it is possible to know something but to be incapable of expressing it in words (a point which is consistent with Steven Pinker's Language Instinct which I'm currently reading). I find myself in that position with this blog entry, and will take the dreamy way out...

The Officer waits for his love Victoria to come down from the theatre year after year while his roses fade from red to black.

What is time?

Time flies by while I speak. You are speaking now and we are flying (kids with airplane arms) so we are time. No.

2 times 2 is 2. I will prove it by analogy: 1 times 1 is 1. 1 goes into 1 once, therefore 2 goes into 2 twice. No.

That's logical, but wrong.

The sign poster with his green fishing net and green bucket appears happiest of all, but even he admits the fishing net is green, but it's not exactly the green I expected.

Other than the sign poster, the only happy characters are those newly in love, and that love always burns out.
I'm so happy I could die. Why would you want to die? Because our love can't last.

We'll have a baby to bring us closer.

I don't mind so much being poor, it's the dirt I mind. Being poor can lead to dirt.

I hate lentils. I hate your untidiness. We'll both have to change a little. I'll eat lentil soup. I'll stop tidying up after you. We'll both live the rest of our lives doing what we hate...

PASTING... PASTING... PASTING... pasting up the cracks

But I can't breathe. All the cracks let the heat out. If heaven cracked open you would paste it shut.

The Good and the Grand, the law-abiding citizens and the hardworking families.

The ocean is salty from all the sailors tears, all the sailors cry because they are so far away.

Why is this world so screwed up. Why's everything wrong way round? There was a problem with the copying. A copy! I always felt there was an original out there where things are right way right.

A petition to the gods: Why is it so painful to give birth? Why does being happy make someone else sad, but being sad doesn't make someone else happy?

Characters holding a meeting on whether to open the chained door that no one had ever seen opened. Truth is hidden behind the door. The lawyer (truth is what I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt), scientist (truth is what I can see in my microscope), bishop (truth is what I believe), and psychologist (truth is what you discover about yourself after all those hours of talking) all wind up in a hilarious slow-motion brawl while the glazer opens the chained door behind them. It is empty.

Like a dream, I remember bits and pieces because I just saw it. Even now some of these memories are flawed and important connections are missing. I know what I saw but I can't express it. I hope this helps me remember what I can.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Family Tree-dition

Continued the Father's Day tradition of heading to Skyline Drive with the family. Although the food at Big Meadows was well below what we've come to expect, the rest of the trip was good fun. We visited my grandparents, who I can neither confirm nor deny are scattered at Crescent Rock overlook. Revisited an old friend (90 degree tree as seen in 2007 and 1984) at the Big Meadows lodge. And because it was Father's Day and dad always adds a bear to his deer prediction, we did of course see a bear.

Mimsi won the deer count, though there was some controversy whether we count the deer we saw outside of the park (we don't). I once again picked too low. Since we went earlier and the solstice is in a few days I thought we'd be leaving Big Meadows well before dusk. We didn't and we saw more than my guess of 20 deer just in the meadow.

Deer predictions:
Jon: 20
Dad: 28 (and a bear)
Mimsi: 30
Mom: 50 (and a fox)
Actual: 39 deer, 1 bear

Friday, June 15, 2007

Right to Remain Silent

Got a chance to check out Brett Morgen's documentary Chicago 10 at the AFI Silverdocs festival tonight. It was even better than I expected, extremely powerful. I felt it created a sense of what it was like living in that era (although how would I know right?). But the updated soundtrack and the events of today make it feel much more relevant than a historical piece. I get the sense that the political and anti-war tensions were much more extreme then than they are now, which causes my initial reaction to be "well maybe everything isn't so bad right now" but actually deeper down I'm afraid that what's really happened is that this time there just aren't the people willing to stand up against the slide into a police state and a culture of perpetual war.

What's interesting is that after watching the film it wasn't any image of police beating rioters etc. that came across as the most powerful, it was hearing Bobby Seale ordered by judge Hoffman to be taken into an adjoining room and dealt with by the bailiffs. The film portrayed that the disruptions he caused were primarily his attempts to be allowed to defend himself in the trial. He was returned into a U.S. courtroom bound to his chair and gagged. I was stunned. While the entire court proceedings were recreated through animation, the transcript was taken from the court record and clearly recorded the judge referring to the bound and gagged defendant. According to the film, Bobby Seale was removed from the Chicago 8 trial at that point and received 4 years in prison for contempt of court (2 years of which were served before he was acquitted of all charges). I definitely need to do more research on these times and events.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Boy Named Sheldon

Things I learned about Shel Silverstein today (thanks to NPR's All Songs Considered):
  • He wrote "A Boy Named Sue" (music and lyrics) for Johnny Cash
  • He wrote "The Unicorn Song" which became a hit for the Irish Rovers and is sung in Irish Pubs around the world (despite having nothing whatsoever to do with Ireland)
  • He wrote (and sings?) a song about a man who gives up everything for a front row seat to hear Johnny Cash sing, eventually winding up in jail for his antics... where he gets a front row seat to hear Johnny sing one of his famous prison concerts
  • He wrote "The Father of a Boy Named Sue" telling the story from the father's perspective