Tuesday, April 21, 2009


A rare Broadway outing Saturday proved deeply disappointing, as Bob Dylan interrupted Desire Under the Elms to no purpose at the St James Theater. There was a lot of strum und drang at this O’Neill play, which has been buzzed for its supposed hotness, but little feeling. The attempts at New England accents were embarrassing. The actors were miked, suggesting they didn’t know much about being stage actors. And the overbearing set, which I suppose is used to justify the $115 tickets, made me think I was underground in the mines with Emile Zola. Not that there's anything wrong with that, when you're in the mood for Zola.
I’m reading the always tonic Margaret Atwood, whose new book Payback is a printing of her CBC Radio Massey Lecture series. It’s about the idea of debt -- timely enough here in usury nation -- but it’s much wider than the economic sense, tracking the notion of what we owe one another as metaphor.
If you take raspberry syrup, float a layer of home-made ginger vodka over it, and hit it with ice cubes and water to fill the glass, you’ve got my latest cocktail, the Masque of the Red Death, which may very well be in Mr. Boston under a less literary name, but who has time to look it up?
Living on the Wind: Across the hemisphere with migratory birds, by Scott Weidensaul is an excellent introduction to bird migration, which we are in the thick of as the tropics return north. I’m going to be especially on the lookout for blackpoll warblers, birds so lightweight that two of them could be mailed with a first class stamp. They fly up to 5,000 feet on their tracks from Alaska across Canada before crossing the western Atlantic down to northern South America. They can be over the ocean for 2000 miles, without rest, food, or water.

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