Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When I wake up in the morning, this was my first view of the new day for the last couple of weeks: sunrise right in the window opposite the foot of our bed. As the sun's arc moves steadily northward, sunrise now occurs in a different window, one made of textured glass block that glitters like diamonds when the first rays hit it.

The squirrel is purely sight-seeing -- all the squirrels in our woods have learned that it's futile to try to get into the seed feeder. It has a weight-sensitive platform that allows birds to graze among the seed but which dumps squirrels on the ground as soon as they touch it. One of them did retaliate the other morning by ripping the suet feeder off the trunk of the ash tree to which it was attached. That got them nowhere either as I had a lock on the thing so it couldn't be torn open. It's back now, secured by chains above and below and attached by 2" deck screws. We'll see how far they get with that arrangement.

The leaf-covered tree is a beech. They keep their leaves all winter and hearing the dry leaves rustle -- more like clicking together, really -- is a pretty sound in the winter wind.

Emerson College already pulled off a major theater restoration with the late 19th century Majestic Theater. It now has two to its credit. Last Friday night we drove to Boston for a performance during the opening week of the newly restored Paramount Theater, a 1932 art deco gem. Emerson (where I headed the scenic design department for five years in the 1970s) is using the Paramount as the centerpiece of a performance/rehearsal/residence complex on Washington Street close to the Opera House. Within its shell, there's been an exquisite restoration of the original interior:

as well as the development of a black box studio theater and rehearsal rooms. The occasion for us was a second visit to Boston by the New Zealand-based Black Grace Dance Company that had thrilled us the first time and didn't disappoint in any way on second exposure.

The company's philosophy is to honor the mixed racial and cultural heritage of New Zealand. Dancers are Maori, Samoan, and European-descended with all manner of mixes. Primarily an-all male company (the Boston Globe's reviewer commented on the company's accustomed highly virile style) there were guest female dancers in many of the pieces they performed, in some of which the men made the music of the dance with rhythmic body slapping, finger snapping, stomping and chants in the Polynesian dance tradition.

Potentially sad news from Portsmouth. The retro-funky Friendly Toast Restaurant (along with its descendant restaurant in Cambridge, MA near Harvard) may be forced to close due to insurmountable debt. We started eating there several years ago. The interior is a whimsically chaotic collage of art and artifacts from the 30s through 60s of the last century, with a major concentration of 1950s kitsch, that covers the walls and ceiling, invades the restrooms and threatens to spill over into the kitchen. Cooks and wait staff are all friendly alternative types, prices are gentle and the food both good and nicely varied.

The owners went out on a limb financially to open the branch in Cambridge and a series of unforeseen mishaps caused debt to balloon out of all proportion. The owners have gutted their savings but the banks have declined a loan and the future looks bleak.

After we'd gone to FT Portsmouth for the first time, I formed a mental block on the first word of the name. I knew it was some kind of adjective reflecting an emotional or relationship state, but couldn't remember which. So when Fritz and I talked about the place, it came out Impudent Toast, or Happy Toast, Pissed-off Toast, things like that. It was always a fun place to eat and we'll be sorry if it goes under.

They did a wonderful job with the Majestic. The other day, (Sunday Globe?) I read about the Paramount. I'll have to check it out.

So those feeders really work at keeping the squirrels out...I'll have to pick one up.
Poor squirrels; you are being mean spirited!
My Mom always calls squirrels in the bird feeders furbirds.

I would love to see the New Zealand dance company!

And that's sad news about the restaurant.

I miss scenic design. When I started college in 1994, I had a work-study in the theater department working with behind the scenes to build platforms and sets, focusing lights, changing bulbs, running both lights and sound. I was also propmaster once for a production of Come Back to the Five & Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean. For the play I found the actual photograph of James Dean masturbating in a tree and introduced it during one of the last rehearsals. The rehearsal had to stop because everyone started laughing. We then lost one of the scene design teachers to Milliken and her replacement was horrible. I hated it, and eventually left that school and went to the University of Kentucky as an English major. I tried to get involved with the theater department there but it felt uninviting.

To this day one of the most relaxing places I can imagine being is the small crawlspace in the Carrick Theater (Transylvania University) adjusting lights.
Wow! Impressive. I always loved Emerson. I don't know why I chose BC when I was college shopping.
Will, very sad about The Friendly Toast. One of the few paces left in Portsmouth we like to go to now and again.

Glad your squirrels are keeping you on your toes! That's what they are there for, don't you know. The clicking of the beech is beautiful in the wind.

The Paramount Theater sounds divine. Love the pictures! You know we love the Art Deco period, so seeing a restoration of a period building soothes my heart and soul.
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