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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Deathtrap

 
Went to a play at the Howmet Theater in Whitehall tonight. The play was the thriller: Deathtrap by Ira Levin (think Boys of Brazil and Rosemary's Baby).

Who would have guessed that a thriller could also be hilarious? In the scene above an aging playwright kills a young man who has stolen an idea he had and turned it into a play that is so good it's certain to be a success. When he learns that the only two copies of the play are there in the room he decides to get rid of the writer and use the play as his own.

The writer's wife looks on in horror.

Deathtrap

But wait! Things are not as they seem and, anyway, you probably shouldn't commit a murder when there is a famous Dutch psychic living next door for the summer. (Even if you do have weapons of every description on your study walls.)

Deathtrap

I don't want to give the story away because it's really very funny, and not so familiar that everyone already knows the outcome.

Since the characters are playwrights they keep discussing writing a play, which is the play you are also watching. This makes things even more zany, and it's always good when an industry can poke some fun at itself.

Most enjoyable evening.

See Theater
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Friday, July 31, 2015

Lincoln Lake from Above

 
I shared pictures of Lincoln Lake just last week. Here's a picture I took that day that I didn't show you. The pointy hill is within the private community of Epworth. Because of my job taking pictures for insurance companies I get to go in there a few times a year.

You can see a couple of large houses high on that hill. The one everybody notices is the big yellow one, because it's so prominent, right out on the edge.

Lincoln Lake

Guess what? Today, I had to go take pictures of that very house. Can't show you that, but what it means is that I was up on that hill, with an open view of Lincoln Lake. Quite a different perspective, eh?

Lincoln Lake

I even found one place to stand where there weren't so many trees obstructing the view. Pretty nice. This is an observation point that very few people ever get to use. I value being able to see the lake from this angle.

Lincoln Lake

And the lesson for the day is... what you see depends upon where you are standing. The lake is what it is. But it's your own perspective that determines how you will define and describe it.

See Lincoln Lake
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

International Hikers

 
Today I picked up (by arrangement) two North Country Trail hikers and took them to Ludington to ride the ferry back to Wisconsin.

backpackers

What's so unusual about that, you ask? Not much, except that the hikers are from Belgium. Their names are Neils and Anake, young people just starting out on their professional lives. She recently finished her first year teaching kindergarten, and he's got one more year of college and then will be teaching high school history.

Dutch is their native language, but Neils does very well in English. I wasn't sure if Anake wasn't as fluent, or if she was just shy.

They came to the U.S. for a visit because his sister lives in Wisconsin and just had a baby. Neils said he's trying to get used to being an uncle, and that it makes him feel old. For some reason they decided to try a backpacking trip while they were here. I say "for some reason" because they explained this was their first hike ever. They weren't previously hikers in Europe. But they said they liked it a lot and hope to begin to check out trails at home. They also thought they'd do more of the NCT when they come to visit family again.

They hiked about 80 miles of trail in the Manistee National Forest, and were pleased with the maintenance and marking. Whew! Glad to hear that.

Probably not the first internationals on the NCT, but definitely the first I've encountered. I'm really happy it was a positive experience for everyone.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hindsight

 

Queen Ann's Lace

Queen Ann's Lace


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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

 
I went to a delightful children's puppet show this afternoon, the story of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. I wanted to see it because there was supposed to be a variety of puppet types, and the technical aspects of puppets interest me.

Here's a long shot of the set, the puppet theater, so you can understand the staging.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

Here, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (the mongoose) makes friends with the boy, Teddy. Rikki-Tikki is a hand puppet, and the operator could change from the narrator to the boy simply by wearing the mask or not.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

Here is Darzee the Tailor Bird. The cobras eat one of the bird's babies. Darzee was a puppet on a stick whose mouth could open or close.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

The two cobras, Nag and Nagaina discuss what they will do since Rikki-Tikki has now destroyed their eggs. (The story was re-written to some extent, and the timeline changed, so that only one human character was needed, plus the narrator.) The snakes were stick manipulated with an articulated jaw and a hood that could spread. The bodies were probably rubber, as they could coil around easily and look quite realistic, although I thought their faces were too cartoon-ish and not evil enough.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and Nag face off for a fight to the death.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

I thought the puppeteer was quite skilled, and the play believable, even though you could often see his hands. The kids in attendance had no problem with this. I watched them a fair amount too, to see how they were following the story.

Here's my take on that. Although they paid attention well, and called for Nag in unison when Nagaina requested it, I don't think the 120-year old story (Rudyard Kipling, 1894) translated well to the world-view being taught today.

The kids often giggled when the snakes were talking to each other, and some seemed to be sorry for Nag when Rikki-Tikki killed him.

And here is the clincher. Afterwards, I overheard two college-age boys discussing the play. One asked, "Why was it OK for the mongoose to kill the cobra's eggs, but not OK for the snake to kill the bird eggs?"

In this day and age of having respect for life forms of all kinds (although I'm betting these kids will gladly kill a mosquito), the reality of cobras being an ever-present deadly threat to a family living in India has been lost. The reason the story was meaningful to children and adults in the past was because there were real dangers near at hand, and of course people were going to value animals who protected them above those who sought to harm.

I missed the very beginning (wrote the time down wrong), but I think, sadly, this story would probably need introduction to help today's children relate. Perhaps that was done. I just don't know.

Literature from other ages is always valuable, but sometimes we need to educate ourselves or an audience to understand it.


Read Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
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