Whew. An event. I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
Don’t think you’ll notice anything different out here in the front row, but boy in the back things sure are different. Cleaner. Lots more blue. Lighter.
Whew. An event. I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
Don’t think you’ll notice anything different out here in the front row, but boy in the back things sure are different. Cleaner. Lots more blue. Lighter.
A few pics therefrom. No, we didn’t eat the cats.
Back to St. Joe’s, to the early mass, 8:30 a.m. It’s lightly attended and there’s no music, which oddly enough makes it so very solemn and lovely.
The Gospel reading is from St. John, where Mary of Magdala discovers the empty tomb and runs to tell everyone. Peter and another, un-named disciple come running. Poor St. Peter, always the schlub, loses the race, of course.
But somehow, to me, thinking of poor St. Peter the schlub, thinking about he so often gets it wrong but keeps going, it just makes Acts or his epistles so much more real to me. To think that likely St. Paul never met Jesus, pace that encounter on the road to Damascus. But St. Peter really was there so much of the time. And so he can say,
We are witnesses of all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
and he’s being so entirely literal, you know? “We are witnesses to all that he did.”
Happy Easter, folks.
Despite how much I’m digging St. Peter’s this week, we go to St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill for the Good Friday service.
The procession is in silence. Then when the priests reach the sanctuary, they prostrate themselves, lie there with their faces on the floor for a short time. It’s incredibly moving. The altar itself is absent its usual cloth. The Tabernacle, here at the back of the Sanctuary behind the altar, stands open and empty. And here at St. Joseph’s on either side of the Tabernacle are statues of angels which also serve as candle holders. Today they hold none; indeed, they’ve turned their backs on us as well. Everything is all so very lonesome feeling.
And there’s no Mass today, just a service.
Of the readings, the first is a long, heart wrenching piece from Isaiah. This gets me every year.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins
The Gospel is from St. John, two whole chapters. Nineteen hundred and fourteen words. The whole persecution and passion.
After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
I always liked this scene in The Last Temptation of Christ. The movie, I mean. I never read the book. Willem Dafoe plays Jesus, and in this last line he says, “It is completed” rather than, “It is finished.” I don’t know what exact word St. John used in the original Greek, but I like that.
We generally stay away from our dear St. Matt’s on the big holy days. It’s so very crowded. And Dawn is, as mentioned earlier today, a little thing, and she doesn’t like big crowds. So we go to St. Peter’s on Capitol Hill.
It’s at 2nd & C Streets Southeast, just across the street from the Library of Congress Madison Building, so it’s only like sixteen blocks from our house. Normally that’d be an easy bike ride, but we’ve already ridden like fifty miles today. So we drive. I’m worried about parking, but we happily find a spot along Folger Park just three blocks away.
We’ve been to St. Peter’s before, once or twice. I think maybe Good Friday three years ago? I remember being very disappointingly uninspired. Not so today. We have the pastor Father Byrne tonight. I don’t remember him from before, but I like him very much. For his homily he talks about what it’s like to be a priest and how much he loves being a priest. It’s not remarkably Holy Thursday-ish, but it is wonderfully honest and heartfelt.
And the church itself is beautiful. As is often the case, it’s the result of a few iterations. The exterior and stained glass are from around 1890, and the interior is from 1941. The only trouble I have is finding the font of holy water as we’re walking in. One of the ushers sees me looking around bewildered and knows exactly what my problem is. She points me to the tiny cups on the backs of the last row of pews.
The most amazing thing of the night is the cantor. They’ve got a choir here, and they’re okay, no St. Matt’s Schola Cantorum or anything. But the cantor is this amazing tenor. I assume he’s the music director Kevin O’Brien, but who knows for sure. He’s lovely to listen to all the same.
And the homily about being a priest, about serving, does actually serve well for the feet washing on Holy Thursday. Of course I always think back to Holy Thursday in 2003, when I was one of the nervous folks up there getting my foot washed. I think maybe I’d feel a little more at ease with friendly Father Byrne, after the homily about how much he loves serving as a priest. Back in ’03 it was His Eminence Cardinal McCarrick. Yikes.
But it’s good stuff, the washing of the feet.
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
Poor St. Peter, as usual, misses the point.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
At the end of the mass comes the greatly moving part, where the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the Tabernacle, which remains open and empty. It always makes me think of Cordelia’s sad monologue from Brideshead Revisited.
They’ve closed the chapel at Brideshead, Bridey and the Bishop; Mummy’s requiem was the last Mass said there. After she was buried the priest came in — I was there alone. I don’t think he saw me — and took out the altar stone and put it in his bag; then he burned the wads of wool with the holy oil on them and threw the ash outside; he emptied the holy water stoup and blew out the lamp in the sanctuary and left the tabernacle open and empty, as though from now on it was always to be Good Friday. I suppose none of this makes any sense to you, Charles, poor agnostic. I stayed there till he was gone, and then, suddenly, there wasn’t any chapel there any more, just an oddly decorated room. I can’t tell you what it felt like.
We’re playing hooky from work Thursday and Friday for Holy Week. We’ll be going to St. Peter’s tonight, but we take most of the day to ride our bikes to Mount Vernon.
It’s really, really windy all day, making the trek something of a death march at times. Actually, with the wind pretty steadily from the northwest all day, the ride down to Mount Vernon, the ride south, is easier. And it’s not really until we’re just getting up to the bridge to cross into the city on the way back that we’re heading straight into the wind.
But at that point we’re about at the end of the forty-mile round trip. We’re tired. It’s hard.
I swear it’s even harder on me than it is on Dawn. She’s such a lithe, little thing. I feel like a big lardass. I feel like I’m almost a damn mainsail in this wind. Plus she’s on her light, new Specialized bike. Even she can pick it up, with one hand. I’m on the sturdy Bianchi commuter bike, which probably weighs twice what hers does. Then I outweigh her by sixty pounds.
Mount Vernon itself is great fun. I take the new camera, but sadly don’t have that many opportunities for pictures. I’m on the bike, pedaling and steering for so much of the trip. Then there’s no photography allowed in the house itself, the tour of which takes about forty-five minutes. But I snap a few pix.
Clearly the lawn has been visited recently by many geese. Goose shit is green, somehow disturbingly green. I of course manage to traipse in some.
I was thinking about Eliot Spitzer while doing the dishes. As we all do from time to time, think about Eliot Spitzer while doing the dishes. And I suddenly realized that I was probably pretty wrong last week when I complained about him. Specifically, I think I understand why he kept emphasizing that it was all a private matter.
It clearly isn’t a private matter, not by a long shot. But as he’s facing some serious criminal charges, he needs to be careful about saying anything that might have any bearing on the case. And so then couching everything in this way, as being private, he’s at least hinting that he’s done something wrong without exposing himself to later cross examination.
Not that he’s been Mirandized yet or anything, but best to be careful anyway.
So, for the record: Eliot Spitzer, dumb with the hookers, but smarter than I am about the fallout.
Trying to figure out what happened, what the fuck is going on. Bear Stearns is trading at $30 on Friday, then over the weekend JP Morgan buys it for $236 million.
As the Financial Times puts it:
[T]he deal, which values Bear at just $2 per share, compared with the $169 hit in January last year and the $30 reached on Friday, will wipe out most of the value of the investments of Bear’s shareholders.
And the Fed is guaranteeing up to $30 billion of Bear Stearns’s outstanding paper. What gives?
We attend the 8:30 a.m. at St. Matt’s, avoiding our usual 10:00 a.m. It’s not going to be the usual Latin anyway; rather, it’s the Archbishop, in English. So 8:30’s fine.
The processional antiphon is Richard Proulx, as we’ve had all through Lent. Ah, but not Psalm 130. Today it’s Hosanna to the Son of David, chant, mode VII, choral setting, no less. The procession makes it’s way to the back of the nave, rather than forward to the sanctuary. This is per usual on Palm Sunday. We’ve got palms to bless and then a gospel reading first. From St. Matthew:
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately you will find an ass tethered,
and a colt with her.”
This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:
Say to daughter Zion,
“Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”
This confuses me every year. What’s the deal with riding on both animals at once?
In these things in the New Testament, when they say that such-and-such happened so that some particular thing might be fulfilled, the particular thing necessarily comes from the Old Testament. And here St. Matthew even tells us that it’s from one of the prophets. I assume immediately that it’s our man Isaiah. It’s always Isaiah, isn’t it?
Turns out I’m only half right. It’s a mixing of two passages, one from Isaiah, t’other from Zechariah. Isaiah’s just the “Say to daughter Zion” part. Zechariah’s the one with the livestock. Zechariah 9:9b says:
See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, Meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.
Goodness. It’s an ass, a colt, and a foal. Now there’s three animals!
Turns out I’m not the only one confused. Notice how Zechariah doesn’t ever use the word and. Apparently St. Matthew was himself somewhat confused. The annotation to the USCCB’s NAB says that the ass and the colt are the same animal, mentioned twice in a rather standard method of Hebrew parallelism. They go on to say that St. Matthew’s confusion leads scholars to believe that he was a Gentile rather than an originally Jewish Christian, mistaking the parallelism for two different animals.
The St. Matthew gospel reading ends with Jesus riding so provocatively into Jerusalem:
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”
Hence the Proulx antiphon this morning. I love things like that. And we get to wave palms as well. Palm Sunday always starts out as a hooting good time.
But, of course, things turn deadly serious later. The gospel reading for the mass proper is again from St. Matthew, all but the first fourteen verses of chapter 26, followed by chapter 27 in full. It’s a solid twenty-five minutes. Two-thousand, six-hundred and seventy-nine words. The heart of the matter:
From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
“Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.
Welcome to Holy Week, people.
We ride our bikes to Phillips down on the SW waterfront to have dinner with Rob and Carol. On the way, while I’m leading the way, while we’re flying past a row of cars parked on the right side of M Street SW, some guy opens his driver’s side door right in front of me. I jam on the brakes but still crash head-on into the door.
Bike’s mostly okay. Bent front wheel, just a little. Can feel it while braking. Damn.
Phillips is a gigantic place. Roman orgy levels of food. Buffet style with various stations. Place is oh so very crowded. We have a grand time at a table in a sort of patio area, covered this time of year. But still, we overlook the marina. Pretty close to our bikes too, locked to the fences down below us.
We do not discuss politics in any way, shape, or form. Rob and Carol are about as far to the right as we are to the left. If such a thing is possible.
My sister emails me with her minor connection to the scandal of Gov. Spitzer, who announced his resignation today (in a statement of three-hundred and seventy-seven words).
Apparently, my sister used to work with the woman who did the booking for the Emperor’s Club. Before she, this woman Tanya, went on to this fabulous career, she worked at my sister’s employer, a manufacturing company with 5,000 employees and over $2 billion in revenue last year. Tanya was the CIO’s assistant.
Also we find out more today about the particular woman whom Gov. Spitzer met at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on Valentine’s Eve. Alexandra aka Kirsten. The New York Times links to her MySpace page. What a strange world we live in nowadays.
I actually check out said MySpace page. Seems like she’s gotten comments from friends in recent days, telling her that they’re thinking of her, offering support, that sort of thing. It’s really touching. I feel the exact opposite of Spitzenfreude for her.
Dawn calls me, to tell me to check the news regarding New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. Hoo, boy, dandy, is he in trouble.
Later in the day he gives a brief statement, with his wife dutifully at his side, natch. And by brief I mean all of 182 words. Here’s fifty of them:
Today I want to briefly address a private matter. I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and violates my, or any, sense of right and wrong. I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public, whom I promised better.
A private matter? Are you kidding me? Good luck trying to keep this a private matter, while you’re facing federal criminal charges.
I keep trying to come up with a spits-or-swallows pun with the name Spitzer, for the title of this blog post, but it keeps eluding me. And Daniel Gross in Slate will write about a common feeling on Wall Street regarding the Governor’s spectacular downfall: Spitzenfreude. I’d use that as the title, but I’m not that thrilled about the whole thing. Dude never prosecuted me for anything.
I do, of course, feel for the wife and kids. Oh, especially for the kids. Three teenagers, he’s got. That’s just all levels of suck for them.
All about rising up, from the depths, from the grave, today.
Much of the singing comes from Psalm 130. As is usual every Sunday in Lent, we don’t have an entrance hymn; rather, we have a chant. Specifically it’s the Processional Psalm for Lent by Richard Proulx. It’s definitely Psalm 130, but Proulx doesn’t use the New American Bible, or at least not any version I’m familiar with. Neither is it King James, although it’s much closer:
Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice.
O let thine ears consider well
the voice of my complaint.
These first few lines in fact match up with the Book of Common Prayer, of all things. But after this the lyrics diverge. The Book of Common Prayer has, “If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it?”Proulx uses iniquities (instead of what is done amiss) and who shall stand (rather than who may abide it).
The responsorial Psalm today is also 130. But, again, not strictly from the NAB. It’s the Lectionary version: “Let your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication.” Just for the record, our Bible’s got it as, “May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”
And just for kicks, during communion we sing a phrase from James Biery, Whoever is alive, and the choir sings verses, from good old 130.
The first reading is from Ezekiel.
Thus says the Lord GOD:
O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Up from the depths indeed.
So of course the Gospel of St. John tells us today of Lazarus. And just like two weeks ago, when Jesus told the woman at the well, and just like last week, when he told the man blind from birth, this week Jesus tells Martha that he is indeed the Christ.
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”
But what’s most amazing about this whole story is when Jesus becomes “perturbed and deeply troubled.” Why is that, I wonder. Does he or doesn’t he know what he’s doing?
But then, this chapter in St. John relates how close these events are to Passover. It’s almost time for the Passion. So maybe that’s why. So maybe therefore, the most moving passage in all the New Testament:
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
Threepennyjane writes about riding Cappi, what with Doc having been semi-retired. The big surprise for me is learning that Cappi isn’t his actual entire name, but that it’s short for Cappuccino (or Cappucino as it’s spelled in the photo from the barn or the tack room or wherever one hangs saddles).
So then I wonder what the heck a cappuccino is, besides being the familiar coffee drink. Does it have anything to do with horses? First off, it sounds like it’s the diminutive form of something, which something I guess is capucin. Although beats me what a capucin is. I think maybe it’s like a chevalier or some other European martial character.
But then again, the cheval- part of chevalier refers to the horse itself. So then maybe the capucin- part is a horse reference in and of itself? It could be simply that the horse himself is the color of cappuccino, and maybe this is another instance where I’ve just gone off the deep end, similar to the Jane Connell/Threepenny Opera fiasco.
It turns out that I’m confused, as usual, in all sorts of ways. A Capuchin is a member of a particular Franciscan order. Monastic, not martial. And the name come from their hooded robes, cappuccio in Italian. I’m still not sure where the coffee comes into play, unless that refers to the color of the robes.
I took the plunge a little earlier this afternoon and bought a digital SLR. Went with the Nikon D40. I thought long and hard about the Canon Digital Rebel, since it’s the bestselling DSLR at Amazon, or the Pentax K100D, since I love my old manual K1000 and have two lenses that theoretically should fit the digital. But in the end I figured that if I’m committing myself to one flavor lens for the next couple decades, if I’m spending this much money, I really should go with the Nikon lenses.
But I didn’t just go for the standard 50mm lens, choosing instead the 18-135mm zoom. I could have gotten an 18-55mm and a 55-200mm set for less money, but I didn’t want to have to swap out lenses. The SLR is going to be bulky enough, especially taking it to Ireland for our bike tour. One lens is enough trouble. Plus it’s a better lens than either of the two. Better optics.
Andrew Sullivan points to the flip side of the Clinton surge:
Obama supporters should not be dismayed.
Obama has a tougher, nastier opponent in the Clintons than he does in McCain. If he wins this by a long, grueling struggle, he will be more immune to the lazy, stupid criticism that he is some kind of flash in the pan, he has more opportunity to prove that there is a great deal of substance behind the oratory, he has more of a chance to meet and talk with the electorate he will need to win in the fall.
I think the argument for Obama is easily strong enough to withstand the egos of the Clintons. The more people see that her case is almost entirely a fear-based one and his is almost entirely a positive one, the more he will win the moral victory as well as the delegate count. In the cold light of day, the bruising news that the Clintons are not yet dead seems less onerous.
Earlier I mused that if Obama isn’t able to withstand Clinton, then it necessarily follows that he never would have been able to withstand McCain in November. Sullivan makes an interesting reverse negative jujitsu flip of that. Being a conservative, however singular his particular example may be, he sorta kinda likes McCain, and he utterly loathes the Clintons. So he thinks this primary fight now is worse than the race with McCain will be in the fall.
I’m still not so sure, but it’s an interesting viewpoint. I still think the Limbaugh/Coulter wing will eventually come around, if not by St. Paul in September, then certainly by November. What do you think they’ll be throwing at the Democratic nominee?
John Dickerson has this today in Slate:
We’ll see in the coming days if hundreds of superdelegates allow the primary process to continue without continuing to move toward Obama. Clinton is pleading for time, arguing that voters should be allowed to have their say in future contests. But even in this she comes up against a contradiction posted by Obama’s lead. Because she must rely on the superdelegates to beat back Obama’s likely lead in the popular vote and among pledged delegates, she is essentially asking those superdelegates to listen to the people—but only long enough to be persuaded to vote for her. Then she expects them to undo the will of the people by voting against Obama in Denver.
The idea that struck me, the pleading for time part, makes me think that yesterday was Clinton’s surge. Sure, the violence is down in Baghdad, and Obama’s winning streak is ended at twelve. But what now? How does that change the fundamental strategic position of the two situations?
Spent quite the sleepless night last night, first following the primary results back and forth between MSNBC and the Web,1 then lying in bed sleepless and sick over the results. Then out of bed at the computer checking further returns (hoping that Sandusky and Cuyahoga, where the polls stayed open later, would break bigger for Obama when those later returns came in) and analysis. Then more lying in bed sleepless. Then surfing specifically non-political Internet trying to get my mind off things.
I had figured Clinton would win Ohio, having heard day before yesterday that Obama was pulling out to finish campaigning in Texas. He had pretty good pollsters, turns out. But I sure was hoping he’d win Texas.
Feel positively hung over this morning. Can’t change what happened, though. Only thing is going forward. Main thing I’ve come up with is that while Clinton has gone very negative, she hasn’t yet received anything in the way of negative campaigning.
And here’s what Josh had to say as his final thoughts, at 2:21 a.m.:
A lot’s getting said tonight. And a lot of it is baseless speculation. But the one thing that rings true to me is this: The Clinton campaign got rough and nasty over the last week-plus. And they got results. That may disgust you or it may inspire you with confidence in Hillary’s abilities as a fighter. But wherever you come down on that question is secondary to the fact that that’s how campaign’s work. Opponents get nasty. And what we’ve seen over the last week is nothing compared to what Barack Obama would face this fall if he hangs on and wins the nomination.
So I think the big question is, can he fight back? Can he take this back to Hillary Clinton, demonstrate his ability to take punches and punch back? By this I don’t mean that he’s got to go ballistic on her or go after Bill’s business deals or whatever else her vulnerabilities might be. Candidates fight in different ways and if they’re good candidates in ways that play to their strengths and cohere with their broader message. But he’s got to show he can take this back to Hillary and not get bloodied and battered when an opponent decides to lower the boom.
I’m not sure how the man with the hope and the pretty speeches (who totally makes me cry sometimes; doesn’t he make you cry sometimes?) can remain the man with the hope and the pretty speeches while hitting back and bloodying She Who
Is Was Inevitable. But he’s got to do it. And if he can do that, hit back and bloody and still remain Man/Hope/Pretty Speeches, then I can’t see any stopping him on his way through Denver in August and then on to November.2 If he can’t, then he wouldn’t have had a chance in November anyway.
So this is his chance. We know hope. Now we need tough hope.
1 A necessary component of this is the headphone extension cord that I recently bought. So now I can watch TV after Dawn goes to bed.
2 But then again I’m an utterly hopeless political prognosticator, going all the way back to 1980, when I was certain that Reagan would pick Phil Crane to be his running mate. I’ve always been this total dork that you see before you.
See below or click here for the Saturday night recap of our trip to the Washington Ballet Studios.
See below or click here for the Friday night recap of our trip to the Kennedy Center.
That Star Wars credits post was in fact upgrade related. A post-upgrade test. Now can bypass the WYSIWYG editor and embed objects without TinyMCE stripping out tags and stuff. Very pleased.
Hey, everybody. It’s lunchtime, Monday 3/3/8. You may or may not notice some changes at the blog here. Let me know if things don’t work.
I’ve upgraded the WordPress, from 2.0.4 or so to the latest 2.3.3. Latest as of today anyway.
And search now works, I think. I thought maybe upgrading would fix it, but it didn’t. So then I dared changing
<?php require(‘./wp-blog-header.php’); ?>
<?php require(‘./wordpress/wp-blog-header.php’); ?>
in line 1 of the search.php file in the Connections theme. That did the trick. Whew.
There are some posts in draft from over the weekend, for New York City Ballet on Friday and Washington Ballet on Saturday. And there’ll be the Laetare Sunday post for Mass for yesterday as well.
But for now, heads up. Things may be a little wacky while we work out any upgrade issues.
We leave a little before 5:30. Seventeenth to Potomac to Eye to the Southeast-Southwest Freeway to Maine Ave – around the Tidal Basin – onto Independence, turns into Ohio Dr – around the Lincoln Memorial – becomes Rock Creek Parkway, up to the Mass Ave exit, on Mass – past the British Embassy, the Vatican Embassy (the guy holding up the Catholic Priests Molest Boys sign there as per usual), and the Naval Observatory – up to the Cathedral, right on Wisconsin, park on the east side between Macomb and Newark.
We walk up half a block to cross at the light at Newark, and walking down Wisconsin towards us, to cross same time as we are, is Washington Ballet dancer Brianne Bland. I ask her if she’s grabbing something to eat before the show. Between shows, she tells me. They’ve already had a matinée today. I tell her we’re big fans. Dawn relates how she’s had a subscription going back to the Mary Day era. The year Brianne Bland arrived, matter of fact.
Brianne heads into the Giant while we mosey further down to the other end of the block to Cactus Cantina. Despite being so early in the evening, it’s totally jam packed. Or maybe it’s packed because it’s so early. Lots and lots of kids. Little kids. Then there’s a party of sixteen checking in ahead of us. They’re told to wait. We get seated right away, nimble party of two that we are.
The place thins out a bit as the families with little ones finish up and leave. Still pretty crowded though. Dawn nurses her one frozen margarita throughout dinner; I polish off two on the rocks. We make our way out and up Wisconsin to Porter to the Washington Ballet Studios, for 7×7: Love Duets.
I love seeing the one show annually here at the studios. The performance space is so very small, so intimate. There’s all of like six rows of seating. We find seats in row two, down on the floor before the risers, to the extreme right. We try saving a seat for Becky, but eventually give up. She never does make it.
First up is Desire, music Spiegel Im Spiegel by Arvo Part, choreography by Steven Mills, the artistic director for Ballet Austin. Dancing is Elizabeth Gaither and Chip Coleman. You know I loves me my Elizabeth Gaither. And the music is haunting and lovely, piano and violin. One of my favorites of the night.
Second is Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, music the song of the same name by Soft Cell, choreography by Adam Hougland. Dancing are Jade Payette, Morgan Rose, Jason Hartley, and Tamas Krizsa. It’s an up-tempo leaping around work, with a bit of annoying little waving hello and goodbye literalism in it. The joke is that the guys run off together at the end, leaving the women stunned. It’s mostly forgettable, except that Jade Payette is one of my new favorites, so it’s good to see her. And Morgan Rose works really well in it too. She’s never been much on my radar, but something about her normal Anglo prettiness works really well with the early 80s costume. She just looks so right in the part.
Next is Out of Time, music Piano Concerto in G Major by Ravel, choreography by Edward Liang. Dancing is our new friend Brianne Bland, with Runqiao Du. Again no surprise that it’s one of my favorites. Classical ballet danced to classical music. Duh.
Fourth is a generally awful modern piece to beautiful Handel, from his opera Tolomeo, re d’Egitto (Ptolemy, King of Egypt). Called Aria: 1&2, appropriately enough since the music is two songs, Stille amare and Ch’io parta? It’s a weird abstract piece, with three men and one woman. Isn’t this supposed to be seven love duets?
Back after intermission with 2 Long 2 Love, music by Phillip Glass (in a good mood), choreography by Nejla Y. Yatkin, danced by Laura Urgellés, Luis Torres, and Elizabeth Gaither. The theme works well here, with Luis and Elizabeth dancing together while Laura is clearly the jilted lover, dancing alone. I’m glad the choreography isn’t too animated, given that the floor is carpeted with (fake, paper) rose petals.
Sixth is Falling Away with You, music Ruled by Secrecy and Falling Away with You by Muse, choreography by Washington Ballet’s own Jared Nelson. Dancing are Runqiao Du, Aurora Dickie, Tyler Savoie, and Liza Balough. Best I can say is that the women have nice bright red costumes.
Last is easily my least favorite, Last Night on Earth, insufferable music MB by Apocalyptica, choreography by Mark Dendy. The music is like a string quartet plugged in and with distortion like through a fuzzbox or something. Not especially pleasant. And practically the whole company is dancing. All too much.
We’re out the door pretty quickly. In the car and turned around heading home, we see Jared Nelson walking down Wisconsin Avenue. Then a minute later we notice that we’re waiting at a light next to Luis Torres in his Nissan. Ballet celebrity spotting is so much easier up at the studios. We never see the dancers offstage at the Kennedy Center.