Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Arts, Literary Mostly

It is, officially, crazy hot in Seattle this weekend. It’s weeks before the official start of summer and I’ve already been shifting a sprinkler about from corner to corner of the backyard, “accidentally” becoming quite soaked while moving it out to the front-40 half an hour ago. Not only are there raspberries at the Farmers Market, there are also ripe raspberries in the backyard. Not enough to satisfy my gluttony but still, it’s crazy to have raspberries the first week of June. It’s not clear what Gradka thinks of it all; she may think it’s a little much. Or maybe she thinks it’s nice to have the proper conditions for lounging on her lounger.

None of which is so much “the arts.” No, last week, when it was not quite so hot, we biked to Queen Anne to see Kedi which was playing as part of the Seattle International Film Festival. Kedi, for those too wrapped up in this narrative to click the link, is a Turkish documentary about the street cats of Istanbul. It seems there are—and have been for some centuries—a lot of street cats in Istanbul. It was ever so slightly political since rampant development means less space for cats, but for the most part the film celebrates the cats and the people who care for them—and there seem to be a lot of people who care for the street cats. One person, a baker, casually mentions that “we all have accounts with  the vets in the neighborhood.” He mentions this as he’s applying an egg wash to some delicious-looking pastries while a cat minds its own business under a nearby counter. Possibly it was the lack of worry about health regulations that charmed me most about this film.

That’s not true. What truly moved and charmed me, possibly beyond the cats themselves, was the attitude of the people interviewed. A fisherman connects the cats to God’s love and where you would expect him to say that he cares for the cats because that’s what God would want he instead says that the fact that he gets to know these cats is a demonstration of God’s love for him. Or something like that. Trust me when I say it’s better in the film. And trust me also when I say that if you like cats, you should make an effort to see this documentary. It was fabulous.

Also fabulous was Book-It Theatre’s production of The Brothers K (Strike Zones). We went to see the doubleheader performance (in which you get Part I, aka “Strike Zones” in the afternoon and Part II, The Left Stuff, in the evening). We’d never been to a Book-It production before and the narration, which I assume is part of all their shows though that is just an assumption, took some getting used to. Once you accept it, however, it works brilliantly—at least if you are me and really love the way Mr Duncan writes. And Part 1, which takes you up until Irwin is drafted, is truly a thing of beauty. Oh, Scott was not as enraptured as I was, but even he thought it was pretty darned fine. The acting is excellent and the adaptation, while very episodic, was pretty darned flawless. I cried more than once and laughed a lot more than I cried. It was excellent, from start to finish, though I admit I left the theatre saying, “I need a drink.”

 So we spent the long interval having that drink, and also dinner, at Solo and then coffee at Caffé Ladro and then browsed briefly at Mercer Street Books before settling back into our seats at the theatre. Part II was, unfortunately, not nearly so fine. It’s the same actors so it wasn’t the acting—though I think there were more fumbled lines in the second half and I’ll just bet that acting in five hours of theatre is more challenging than watching it—and I know that the story of the second half of the book is plenty compelling so I’m not sure what exactly was the issue. Scott, who thinks about these things differently—and more intelligently—than I do, suggested that it was too plot-driven, that character development completely disappeared in the second half. I’d add that some plot threads—the mother’s backstory, mostly—were so threadbare in this telling that it would make a lot more sense to jettison them entirely. Some bits were so hacked that the story as presented on stage made no sense unless you could fill in the holes with what you remember from the book. Sadly, the horror and tragedy of the second half of the book just wasn’t present in the second play which, after the expectations built up from Part I, was particularly disappointing.  That first part, however, was amazing. Get your tickets and go see it!

 Reading, after finally finishing the tedious I Am A Cat, has mostly been A Tree Grows In Brooklyn which turned out to be a completely different book than I expected. I’d always assumed it was sort of a 20th century Little Women in the City sort of book written for twelve-year-old girls. It turned out to have more adult themes and some pretty darned clever humor and observations. Maybe people were just more clever in those olden times of the mid-twentieth century--and, having looked for links, I see that people do consider this appropriate for twelve-year-olds. I must have been a more sheltered child. Up next, most likely, a one-off Trollope, the title of which entirely escapes me as I sit typing this up in the shade of the magnolia out back. A challenge of outdoors blogging is spiders; I've had them crawling across my camera, my screen, and my person. But no sacrifice is too great for blahdeblahblah. And there are compensations.
Cucumber martinis


  1. The reviewer for the Times preferred the second half. No accounting for taste.

  2. She probably prefers a slug-fest to a no-hitter too. -m.