Archive for July, 2010
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest; Stieg Larsson, Knopf,2010
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is, when all’s said and done, a paper chase, but it is still hold-your-breath exciting. Part of this is because Stieg Larrson invites us to root for the underdog, to join his characters vicariously in their fight for justice, but also because by book three we care about his characters, especially the strange, anti-social, violent and deeply vulnerable Lizbeth Salander.
This is the last book Larrson completed before his death and some call the three together the Millennium Trilogy. Rumors continue to surface about an incomplete 4th book (he planned a series of ten) or an outline and sample chapters. This will keep the Internet chattering and helps maintain Larrson’s mystique, but what we actually have are these three. Certain themes and clues in Hornet’s Nest, such as Salander’s missing sister and Blomqvist’s new love interest, give us some ideas about where Larrson was headed, but these are mostly grace notes in this book.
As the story opens, Salander is the most vulnerable we have ever seen her; fighting for her life in a locked ward of a hospital, a few yards down the hall from her murderous father who put a bullet in her head and buried her alive. As the story progresses, Salander’s jeopardy becomes, if possible, even more dire. Arrayed against her is a cadre of Cold-War-inspired secret police operatives, a shadow government, basically, corrupted by their own arrogance and willing to do anything to retain their power. Fighting them; Salander, recovering from brain surgery; Mikael Blomqvist and the staff of Millennium Magazine; Blomqvist’s sister, an attorney; a retired children’s advocate weakened by a severe stroke; and the anarchist citizens of Hacker Republic. At risk is not merely Salander’s life, but her autonomy and freedom.
The book abounds with official secrets, outright lies, doubled identities and falsified reports.
A subplot involving Blomqvist’s business partner Berger and the psychopath who is harassing her slows the action somewhat. Berger is facing a battle of her own, as she tries to turn around the big-name-daily paper that hired her as managing editor. This struggle against an ossified patriarchal system would have been enough of a B storyline, but again, it seems that Larsson had plans for future books and some groundwork was being laid here.
Each section opens with a quotation about women warriors and Amazons. The point seems to be that regardless of whether Amazons themselves existed, there have been women soldiers since there have been wars. Salander, in the first two books, has been practically an Amazon herself; more, an amine or manga super-heroine. At just over five feet tall, weighing less than 100 pounds, Salander can fight her way out of any situation. She can out-think, out-remember and out-hack anyone. With a bullet in her brain, she can dig her way out of a grave. In
The Girl Who Played With Fire, we learned some of Salander’s background.Now we see the price Salander has paid for her avenger status. We knew Salander had been dealt a bad hand, and in Hornet’s Nest we discover the details. Whatever genetic or neurological predispositions Salander might have for some of her behaviors, ultimately it is the shadow-government spooks, putting her needs second to their careers, who made her what she is.
Salander faces the world with her shield up and her weapons drawn. Since childhood, the people who were supposed to help Salander, parents, doctors, police and the government, have lied to her and betrayed her. In the egalitarian universe of the Hacker Republic, where favors are currency, she has no trouble with quid pro quo, but in the living world, in this book, she is forced to rely on people, to accept their help and to trust them. This is torture for Salander. Part of the reason for the Berger-psycho storyline is to give Salander a way to reach out to Berger, a person she has distrusted.
The suspense mounts because Salander has put her trust in others. They won’t betray her, but will they let her down? Are the governmental forces arrayed against them too powerful?
At the end of the book, the resolution is more personal. Salander is still standing. She must reach out to Blomqvist. Finally, cautiously, she lowers her shield.
Hart and Boot and Other Stories. Tim Pratt, Nightshade Books, 2007
20th Century Ghost. Joe Hill, HarperCollins, 2008
Harrowing the Dragon. Patrician McKillip, Ace, 2006
I don’t usually read short fiction. It’s an attention-span thing. I like to immerse myself, soak in a story, and short stories are more like the morning shower than an evening in the hot tub. I’m also a big fan of complex characters and elaborately designed worlds, and most short stories seem to be more about ideas. It’s just a preference.
It’s kind of surprising, then, that in the past month I read three short story collections. One I happened upon by accident, and the other two I had heard about, and found the books on sale tables or other places.
Wandering through Copperfields Used Books one day I reached up to pull down a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel I haven’t read. While I was reaching, I turned my head to say something to the clerk about the store’s charming new cat, Sally. My fingers touched the spine of the book but when I looked back, it wasn’t the Pratchett. It was Tim Pratt. I opened it and read: “The man’s head and torso emerged from a hole in the ground, just a few feet from the rock where Pearl Hart sat smoking her last cigarette. His appearance surprised her and she cussed him at some length. The man stared at her during the outpouring of profanity, his mild face smeared with dirt, his body still half-submerged. Pearl stopped cussing and squinted at him in the fading light. He didn’t have on a shirt, and Pearl, being Pearl, wondered immediately if he was wearing pants.”(p1)
He is not wearing pants, but he is wearing cowboy boots. Pearl Hart and Joe (or John) Boot were actual historical characters. In Hart and Boot, Pratt weaves a fabulous, fantastical tale about these old west desperados. The plot is a “how-done-it,” with a charmingly understated (and never explained) magical element.
Pratt has three stories dealing with Greek mythology. “The Terrible Ones” combines an actress who temps as a dominatrix, the Erinyes and a production of Medea. Is it a fable? A gallows comedy? Whatever it is, it is delightful, with just the slightest sting in the tail—or the tale. “Living with the Harpy” is strange and sweet. All the dramatic action takes place off stage, which adds to the suspense. “The Romanticore” also features characters from Greek myth, although you may not recognize them. At the heart of this story is Ray, the “average guy”, recovering from another breakup, who gets more than he bargained for in the rebound relationship.
Pratt’s characters, even supernatural hitmen, are accessible and sympathetic. The short story is the right length for him, and this is a collection of gems.
Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. Good, now that’s out of the way. 20th Century Ghosts is a prime collection of short fiction. Some stories are horror, some are literary horror and some aren’t horror at all. Hill has a strong style, a distinctive voice, and a willingness to indulge in post-modernism. This means that the conclusions of some stories are left up to the reader. This is not the undisciplined writing of someone who can’t commit to a resolution, but done with intent and skill. “Best New Horror” and “In the Rundown,” readers must decide for themselves what comes after the final paragraph.
“Best New Horror” is a familiar tale, and a tasty mélange of tropes; bits of HP Lovecraft, Stephen King, The Hills Have Eyes, and even the Serial Killer Convention in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, all spiced with a sprinkling of sinister glee that makes the whole thing work.
Pop Art is one of the better stories about friendship and loss, with an original element perfectly introduced into the story. The story has resonance with the last novella in the book, “Voluntary Commital.” “The Black Telephone” is an exercise in desperation, with a grounding in the real world that is palpable.
“20th Century Ghost” is a sweet tale about a ghost that loves movies, and a decaying movie palace.
“You Will Hear the Locust Sing” blends Kafka with the 1950s vintage B-movie Them, about giant ants. I found the physical details to be spot-on, although I’m not sure I really understood the story.
By far the most surreal and disturbing work in the book is “My Father’s Mask.” I finished this story and thought, “Whoa, that’s shocking.” A day later when I was pulling weeds the story finally clicked for me and I thought, “Oh, my God! It’s going to happen again!” Because clearly, it is what always happens.
Terry Weyna of Readingtheleaves.com recommended Joe Hill and I have to thank her. I look forward to more of his work.
When I first read Patricia McKillip when I was in my early twenties. I loved The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, but The Riddlemaster of Hed captivated me.
These stories span nearly twenty years of McKillip’s career. Some are re-told fairy tales of the variety Ellen Datlow anthologizes. Many seem to be set in a world similar to the world of Riddlemaster of Hed. In several stories, the magical or quasi-magical women at their centers save, or change, their world. The Fellowship of the Dragon follows five women, friends of the queen, on a quest to find the queen’s missing harpist. The cost is high, and once he is found, the harpist does not seem worth it.
The Witches of Junket I had read before. Even though the story is not successful for me, I love how beautifully the Oregon coast is evoked, and the story always makes me nostalgic for Haystack Rock.
A Matter of Music is complicated but worth the effort. Here is a story of history and secrets, where none of the characters is evil but each one is weighted with the events of the past. And there is music.
The Lady of the Skulls is a hopeful, touching take on a familiar trope.
There is nothing in Harrowing the Dragon that struck me as deeply as “My Father’s Mask” but the book is pleasant, a perfect companion to a glass of white wine on a deck on a summer evening.
These collections showcase their writers. All three collections were enjoyable, but the big discovery was Joe Hill. I will have to look for his novel now, Heart-Shaped Box.
What can you get at the farmers’ market? Just about everything. The next six weeks are the peak of the growing season, and Sunday’s market was bursting with root vegetables, leafy greens, squash, beans fruits, berries, flowers and plants. What’s your pleasure?
Fruit: Peaches, plums and nectarines are on display at several booths; from Santa Rosa plums, invented by local horticulturalist Luther Burbank, to sweet, juicy yellow plums. I bought some of those from Hector. Nectarines and peaches include white-flesh as well as yellow. The white peaches seem to have a slightly more delicate flavor. Middleton Farms and other booths have pears, although I didn’t see many apples yet.
Berries: The peak of the local blueberry season is gliding under our surfboard as we speak. Get them now! They are big and luscious. Berries will freeze, but I find they don’t last long enough in my house to get frozen, unless I buy two boxes and freeze one. Blueberries are good on cereal in the morning, in smoothies, and mixed with raspberries and chilled for a light dessert. Then there is always blueberry pie, if you have a baker in your family. Check out Michele Ana Jordan’s Seasonal Pantry blog for some great blueberry recipes. Berries will probably be around until mid-August this year, because of the long wet spring.
Vegetables: Almost every variety of squash is available, as are beans, peas, cucumbers and asparagus. Right now the only two things that are still scarce are tomatoes and eggplant.
Root vegetables: Tables are heaped with carrots, red beets, golden beets, turnips, onions, garlic and radishes. Two booths had potatoes, although I anticipate more, later in the season.
Leafy Greens: At the beginning of the market I saw a lot of cool-weather crops like chard and baby spinach. Those are still around, joined by a variety of lettuces and bouquets of fresh basil. Laguna Farms has their legendary salad mix for sale by the bag, or you can create your own salad mix just by browsing the various stands and choosing greens that look good to you.
Other delicacies: As always, you can get meat, fish, cheese and eggs; honey, baked goods and chocolate; olive oil, vinegar and wine, and beautiful cut flowers.
If you haven’t shopped a farmers’ market before, now is the best time. You can sip raspberry lemonade or a coffee drink, taste-test fresh fruit, listen to music, and feel virtuous because you are buying fresh, field-ripened produce, chock-full of all those good vitamins and minerals. We’ll just ignore that delicious buttery scone you picked up along the way.
Here’s another fun thing to do instead of actual writing. It’s called the I Write Like analyzer. Copy some of your deathless prose and paste it in, click Analyze and let the algorithm do its thing.
The first several times I did it (yes, I’ve done this many, many times) I pulled some text from my most recent short story. I Write Like told me I write like. . . JK Rowling. I glanced at the copy and noted that the section I had chosen (a social worker has been attacked by a fighting dog) had short sentences and people speaking with exclamation marks. That made sense.
I pulled some text from Chapter One of my novel and found out I write like. . . Harry Harrison. Okay, cool. Sci fi novel to Golden Age sci fi writer. I’ll take it.
Then, just for fun, I analyzed two blog postings. In one, I wrote like Stephen King. In another, I blogged like David Foster Wallace. That’s just weird.
Then, last night, I started making stuff up. Here’s what I put in:
It was a dark and stormy night. Rain lashed the windows and in the distance a dog howled, ululating like the spirit of a lost soul. In the slim, rectangular house that thrust up from the sand like a shard of redwood crystal, the children huddled under one blanket, the bluish neon light of the blackberry illuminating their pallid quotidian faces. Fresca, the eldest, cupped the device in her broad farmer’s hands. Sanjo, the baby, only just three, yawned, and yawned again, leaning against his sister Pumpernickel’s plump shoulder.
“When will we all meet again?” Pumpernickel wondered, staring dazzle-eyed through the fluid silvery glass at the spears of rain beyond. “And will it all be worth the pain?”
Fresca’s blunt fingers flittered over the device’s keys, which were the size of a baby’s teeth. “On Tuesday,” she said.
And it said I write like
(Yeah? It was the Pumpernickel, I think.)
The lounge and grill, open since 1963, was six and two-tenths miles from Census Tract 047 or what the atlas referred to as the city center. Seventy-three pink plastic flamingos, many faded by sun and age to translucent white, filled the grassy area, eight feet by ten that separated the rippled parking lot from the porte cochere and the heavy double doors. Frank Jones Senior had built the place and run it for thirty-seven years before retiring and moving to Bali where he meditated on a beach in a Speedo and carved demon figurines for gullible tourists. His daughter Trixie assumed management of the lounge. At forty-two, Trixie, who stood five feet and two inches tall and weighed one hundred three pounds, was an attractive woman who had spent too much time in the sun. Her face looked like the same fine-grained leather as the Coach bag she wore slung over her shoulder. Trixie favored four inch stiletto heels, backless slings in the summer, and clinging knit dresses in primary colors.
And it told me I write like:
Oh, my gosh, it is kind of like Stephen King.
So, instead of digging in and figuring out why you’re suddenly stuck in Chapter Thirteen, try this! You can waste hours, it’s fun, and you can rationalize that you are learning about your writing style.
So here’s an Internet-spawned political flap, or mini-flap, I want to weigh in on. Someone found a yearbook picture of Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC journalist and commentator, and put it on the Internet. I don’t know why the person felt this was important, but they did and now it’s all over the place. Rachel Maddow looks different in her yearbook picture that she does now, more than a decade later, on TV. It’s shocking, I know. I’ll give you a second to collect yourself before I go on.
So last week or so, two right-wing drive-time talk radio hosts had Republican Louisiana Senator David Vitter call into their show. David Vitter is one of several Republican politicians with a sex scandal in his past. While he was campaigning on a so-called Family Values platform he was a client of the DC Madam. And there, I’ve been mean to David Vitter.
The talk-show hosts said something like, “Rachel Maddow’s yearbook picture is on the Internet. And she looks like a woman!” Tee hee. Snicker. Snort.
This is wildly funny, you see, because Rachel Maddow is a lesbian.
And then Vitter says something like, “It must be an old picture.”
Snicker-snicker-snort! Dude! Witty much?
So of course a day later Vitter sends an apology to Rachel Maddow.
The left wing blogsphere sees the story as a morsel of red meat, so it’s been in lots of places. What’s been interesting to me are the comments.
These are partisan supporters of Maddow. And almost all of them comment on her appearance. There are comments like, “She does not look like a man!” “She’s very willowy and sophisticated!” “I like her with brown hair!” There’s the occasional, “I hate her glasses;” “If I were a lesbian I’d have a crush on her!” Several commenters wrote about how she reminds them of the gym teacher they had their first crush on (too much information, people).
Are they missing the point? Am I?
Hair color technology, and hair cutting technique for that matter, have changed since, I don’t know, the 1800s. It isn’t news to me that someone who had shoulder-length blond hair in high school might have short dark hair now.
What I find interesting here is that a trio of right-wing numbskulls thinks implying that Maddow looks masculine is a) funny and b) somehow degrading or hurtful to Maddow. Frankly, to their crowd, it probably is. This is because they live by a different set of values than Maddow does (which is exactly why Rachel Maddow probably wasn’t hugging her pillow and wailing, “They—they think I look like a man!” after this story broke).
Maddow is open about her orientation and her life. She talks about Susan, her partner. When a story involves a gay angle, Maddow is careful to acknowledge that she may have an unconscious bias, or be conflicted about it. This gives her audience enough information to decide whether they can trust her conclusions or not.
Maddow actually has, on a couple of occasions, commented that she thinks she looks like a man.
Some of the right wing live by different code. That code seems to be that you have one set of statements and behaviors for public life, and another for what you do in private. This is a risky and stressful way to live; David Vitter and his now-public sexual fantasies are an example of why.
The name for this kind of lifestyle is hypocrisy. These people aren’t astute enough to realize that not everyone lives by their two-sets-of-rules; just-don’t-let-the-neighbors-see code. This is why when they try to hurt someone they see as an adversary by implying that she (gasp!) likes girls when she, in fact, does like girls, it falls flat.
At least it does with those of us in the center and left.
The more interesting question for me is this: Is that the best you can come up with? Several right-wingers have talked about Maddow’s “mean” interviews. Dick Armey pretends he doesn’t know what her degree is in. Sarah Palin commented on how Rachel Maddow’s neck tendons stand out when she’s upset. (Maddow’s comment, “I don’t think they do, but I know I get red and blotchy.”) The problem they have with Maddow is that this is the closest thing to dirt they can find.
Maddow may be the smartest commentator on TV. If she’s not the smartest (that might be Steven Colbert, who is a comedian) she’s in the top three. She is certainly the most thoughtful commentator and journalist working right now. Her goal is impeccability and total accountability and she will acknowledge errors publicly on her show when they happen. Her interviews are models for how to respectfully and thoughtfully deal with someone who disagrees with your opinions. Unlike anyone else except Jon Stewart and Seven Colbert, she routinely invites people who hold differing opinions onto her show and lets them talk.
It’s a sign of her growing influence that people like Palin and Vitter feel that they have to attack her; just as it’s a sign of how threatened Glenn Beck feels by MSNBC when he has to write NO RATING on his fingernails and flash them during a monologue about the rival network. (Apparently Beck is not only spelling-challenged, he’s math-challenged as well; he could not figure out how to paint NO RATINGS onto ten fingers.)
Rachel, I don’t care that you wore a strand of pearls and had long hair in your yearbook picture. I don’t care if you shave your head or dye your hair purple. I don’t care if you wear dungarees, bike leathers, tattoos or a bed-sheet to work. I tune in to hear what you have to say, to look at your charts, to listen to your interviews. You are a beacon of journalistic integrity in the dim, murky landscape of cable opinion shows. I don’t care how you look. Keep up the good work.
Yesterday I saw the spendid adaptation of Steig Larsson’s Girl Who Played With Fire. The film had the same cast and director as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. (A couple left the theater ahead of me and the man said, “Well, she wasn’t the girl with the dragon tattoo, was she?” And the wife said–from behind her I could practically see her rolling her eyes–”Of course it was! Didn’t you see the big tattoo on her back?” And he said, “Well, I couldn’t tell what it was.”)
I’m wondering if the production crew made one seven-or-eight hour movie comprising all three books, and then edited them for separate release. The absolute consistency and faithful adherence to the story suggests that.
Noomi Rapace plays Lizbeth Salander, the girl who has a dragon tattoo, an uncanny ability to hack any information technology, poor socials skills and an eidetic memory. In the first book, Salander worked side-by-side with Mikael Blomqvist (Michael Nyqvist), a crusading journalist facing disgrace after he failed to check some sources in a story he published. Salander also had her own issue in the first book (and movie) and that was gaining control of her corrupt government-appointed guardian. At that time, it seemed that the appointment of the guardian–that particular one–was just an unlucky coincidence for Salander. However, we find out early in Fire that it was no coincidence at all.
At the end of Dragon Tattoo, Lizbeth had, um, well, let’s say she’d come into a lot of money. In Fire, she returns to Sweden after a year of travel. She confronts her guardian, and almost immediately is implicated in his murder and the murder of two young journalists who are working on a human trafficking story for Blomqvist’s magazine Millenium. Lizbeth’s fingerprints are on the murder weapon, and her case history shows a propensity for violence since childhood. When I read the second book I got very restless during the middle third, when Lizabeth was basically missing from the book. In the movie we spend far more time with Lizbeth than we do with Mikael and his editorial team. That’s all to the good.
Rapace correctly plays Salander in a minimialist style; most emotion is evoked with her eyes and a quirk of her mouth. The movie runs over two hours but it doesn’t drag, nor is it self-indulgent, but the director creates multi-layered scenes that give us moments of Lizbeth’s emotional isolation (her sitting against the wall in one of the rooms of her palatial multi-room penthouse); and the brief flickers of joy; such as the tiny curve of a smile when she is riding amotorcycle. Blomqvist, in contrast, is emotionally open, and feelings cycle across his face like shadows from clouds. A strength in the series is that Blomqvist is a different model for Salander of how to live, and the films stay faithful to that.
Sweden looks gorgeous in the movie, too.
I don’t know much about Swedish history, but somehow they missed the whole Puritian thing, so they aren’t as confused and twisted about sex as we Americans are. In the Girl saga, this particularly means that they don’t confuse rape with sex. In Dragon Tattoo there is a horrifying rape scene that is crucial to the plot of not only the first, but all three, books. I confess I worried that the movie would eroticize it–because most American directors would. The scene was not erotic at all. It was terrifying. It hurt to watch. It was supposed to do that. In contrast, scenes of sex between equals are made very beautiful and erotic. It’s nice to watch sex in a film that’s been addressed by grownups.
I have no idea if you could follow the plot of Fire without having read or at least seen Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Apparently the gentleman ahead of me who didn’t even know who Salander was didn’t have any trouble. It is definitely easier if you’d read the books first. The movies are subtitled. I hope they leave them subtitled and don’t dub; the original actors’ voices add a degree of richness to the experience.
In my opinion, there is no need for any American film studio to take on this franchise (even I know someone will if they haven’t already). The European versions are compelling and true to the books in a way no American film ever is. I recommend reading the series and then seeing both of these movies.
At the beginning of the Rep’s production of MacBeth, a doll-like clown with a lacy mob cap and ruffled petticoats tiptoes onto the stage, followed by a colorful ragamuffin clown. As they watch, a traitorous Scot is executed and his body thrown at their feet. Once King Duncan and his men leave the stage, the clowns reanimate the dead man, who becomes, with his swaying torso and perpetual sly smile, a jack-in-the-box clown.
These are the three witches.
As other characters die—this is Macbeth after all—they morph into clowns. The clowns bring a chilly otherworldliness to a play already filled with oracles, omens, ghosts, and the hallucinations of guilty minds.
The rest of the production is traditional, which makes the inclusion of the clown witches, who also function as bit players such as the assassins, even more sinister and strange. It is a weird choice in a weird play and it works well.
Most of the rest of the play works well also. The set seems simpler than it is, and the gaily painted timbers, alternating blue, white, red, yellow and green, make sense once you understand the Carnival of Souls subtext. One wall is painted red, covered with mirrors in various types of old metal frames. It’s evocative and powerful. Most of the performances are good and some are very good, although I wish the director had spent a little more time on the interpretation of the characters. Scott D Phillips is powerful as Macbeth but I would like to see him as Macbeth unleashed; the role was too constrained by the mannered choreography, especially in the scenes between him and Rebecca Pingree as Lady Macbeth. Pingree is luminous, but stalks around the stage more like an interpretive dancer than like the loving, murderous woman Lady Macbeth is. Phillips doesn’t let the role go without a fight; we see the undeniable gleam of envy on his face when he talks about Banquo—who he is going to have killed—because Banquo has a son. Macbeth has a wife who is fearless, loyal and passionate, but they have no children, and it does seem that this is one of Macbeth’s motivations for the murders he orders. Phillips also lets us see Macbeth’s toxic pride when he criticizes Duncan’s choice of heir; Duncan’s son Malcolm, even though as the king’s son he is the obvious choice.
I was disappointed that Lady Macbeth acts like a lap-dancer in their first scene together, running over Macbeth’s brief—so brief!—struggle with his conscience and making the regicide seem like a man who is both henpecked and sexually manipulated. This is not fair to either of the Macbeths. They are partners, loving monsters, accomplices in a horrid crime and an appalling betrayal of trust. Macbeth’s act would be treason wherever he had chosen to do it; to kill the king who sleeps under your roof, under your protection, is somehow a more heinous act. To drug his attendants and then smear the dead king’s blood on their hands and faces is another kind of act all together, one Macbeth’s loyal, loving and fiendish wife is willing to do for him.
Jack Halton, as Duncan and then as a clown who speaks only in falsetto, does a fine job, and I was drawn to Banquo, played by Matthew Proschold, who comes back as a hobo clown. The most chilling of the clowns was Sonya Smith; a warm, caring Lady MacDuff, rocking her new babe in her arms as she tries to make sense of her husband’s apparent treason, shifts into a fey, flirtatious clown swinging her dead baby as if she were a child and it a doll. One of the best moments comes near the end of the play when MacDuff (Tim Redmond), about to leave the stage, pauses and glances back. There is no one alive on the stage, only clowns, only ghosts. He seems to make eye contact with the one who would have been his wife. She smiles. It is not the smile of a sweet and loving wife.
The dead, the clowns, are citizens of another country. They are the shadow dwellers. Macbeth is not driven solely by ambition; but by envy and wounded pride. His wife’s loyalty to him turns down a dark and twisted road. Strength, courage and energy are put to vile and evil purposes. Prophecies are not what they seem to be. And at the end, what is left are the dead.
Director Jon Tracey cut the play quite a bit, another fine tradition. I have to admit I missed, “What? All my chicks, and their dam, in one fell swoop?” from MacDuff, but that’s a personal preference. The shorter version keeps the action moving. You won’t be bored.
The show runs from July 7 through July 25 at Lives Park. Bring a jacket.
They have tomatoes! From the faint green striping on the top of these, I’m wondering if this is an heirloom variety. And the squash plants look happy indeed, crawling out of the raised bed and across the yard. I’m not seeing a lot of vegetables, but perhaps the gardeners are harvesting them routinely.
(Disclaimer: This is not my garden.)
The squash plants are about the same height as the tomatoes, so it does seem like the risk of them shading out the other plants is a serious one.
Some news about my tomato plants, for contrast. I bought three Buy-Before-They-Die plants, as you may remember. I wasn’t going to, because I am not successful with tomatoes. Still, all three plants together cost me less than five dollars, so it didn’t seem like a huge investment. I had also bought a tall, cobalt-blue ceramic planter pot for the front yard, and gave it pride of place. I put the healthiest-looking of the three plants in that planter. I put another one in the ground, next to the potato plants, in an area that gets a strip of morning sun as well as sun in the early afternoon. The third one I put in a smaller pot on the deck near the peppers and the flower pots.
The one in front, that got all the time and attention, is doing nothing. It’s not dying, but most of the leaves are still yellowish. It hasn’t grown, it hasn’t flowered, it hasn’t withered. Today I moved it about two feet to the east, where it might get more consistent sun.
The one in the ground, in the backyard, has almost no leaves and one marble-sized tomato on it.
The afterthought plant, in the small pot on the desk, has dark green leaves and has grown about eight inches. It flowered a while ago and now has two tomatoes on it. It seems to have the best chance for success. Go figure.