If you’re in the DC area, you may have heard about the Intersections festival going on at the Atlas. If you haven’t, or for some reason haven’t gone by, you’re missing out. Thus far I’ve attended two ‘cafe concerts,’ a performance of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha by the Washington Savoyards, Christyles Bacon’s autobiographical “hip-opera” entitled ‘In Pursuit of Me,’ and a dance concert by DCypher- followed by a dance party with the performers.
Quick review of the various events I’ve seen:

Cafe Concert #1, Og Ceol:
The musicians may be young, but they clearly know what they’re doing. Og Ceol is an Irish Flute and fiddle duet that, when I came to listen, was accompanied by a guitarist and drummer. Not only did they have an excellent program, but they took requests. I had them play my personal favorite tune, Morisson’s Jig, but they also played My Darling Asleep and a few others by request. They played John Ryan’s, also known as the ‘Dum Dum’ polka on their own initiative, and it was the hit of the evening.

Cafe Concert #2, Lulu Fall:
While a solid vocal performer (accompanied by an acoustic guitar), Lulu came second to Og Ceol in my mind. Then again, I may be biased- I prefer Irish tunes to… well, a great number of things. None the less, Lulu’s rendition of India Arie’s ‘Good Man’ tugged at my heart strings. That may have been more due to the content of the song, which I had never heard before but have since acquired, than the merits of the performance, but there’s no way to be sure and I’m more than happy to give Lulu the credit.

I certainly would like to see both sets of performers at more gigs around town. If I learn that either of them is performing at an even halfway decent restaurant, I’ll probably try to make my way there for dinner. Hint, hint, restaurateurs.

The performance was solid. This is to be expected. I’ve seen the Washington Savoyards in other productions, most notably Pirates of Penzance, and they’ve been impressive to say the least.
The script of Treemonisha, however, was about as subtle as an operatic brick to the head. Scott Joplin had to pay for it to be published, and there was never a performance of it during his lifetime. Well, there was a reason for that. The best summary of the dialogue is this verbatim quote, “Do not do wrong, because it is wrong.” Opera is rarely subtle, but Treemonisha crosses the line. No troupe can do much with that material.

I only saw half of “In Pursuit of Me” due to embarrassing personal mishaps such as my physical inability to herald a cab. What I saw was impressive. More impressive than the show itself, however, was the fact that when the crowd began singing ‘happy birthday’ to Christyles after the show, he came back out for an encore that was so brilliantly improvised that I have my doubts that it was improvised at all. But how could he have known that the crowd would start singing? In any case, it tied up a loose end from the show and was brilliant in all ways. If it was actually improvised, my mind is blown. If it wasn’t improvised, it was brilliantly staged, and my mind is blown in any case.

DCypher Concert:
Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@lucidlunatic) knows that I’ve recently become enamored of this video of the Korean-Chinese pop group Super Junior-M performing their hit song, ‘Supergirl.’ The choreography is impressive. Or so I thought right up until I watched DCypher, who put the Asiatic boy band to shame. There were a number of pieces performed during the concert, including some guest artists. Some of them were less engaging than others, and one was fascinating and downright weird (but made me look up ‘Agent Zero Comes for Logan’ when I got home), but the best was when all the members of DCypher just came out on stage and got down.

At the end of the concert they invited the audience to come out and dance with them. So I did, thoroughly embarrassing those in the audience who knew me. That segue took us right into the dance party that was, if anything, better than the performance. There’s nothing quite like watching performers show off for each other. I witnessed at least one standing back flip.

Forget Youtube, I’m spending more time watching live performances. The nearly five million viewers of ‘Super Girl’ clearly don’t know what they’re missing. Well, except for this one. Then again, most of them are probably on the wrong continent.

For those of you who reside in or near D.C., Intersections isn’t over yet! There is more to see all today and tomorrow. I might stop by Sunday to see another Joy of Motion (DCypher is associated with them) group perform. Or Tom Chapin. Whatever hits me.


Auction: PRS Tremonti guitar; signed by Creed 2009

Rothfuss: PRS Tremonti guitar; signed by Creed 2009 – eBay item 130357558479 end time Jan-15-10 07:38:48 PST.

I posted about the Worldbuilders charity raffle, run by author Patrick Rothfuss a little while back. One thing I didn’t mention is that he’s also auctioning off a few items. One of those is a Mark Tremonti Signature Guitar, signed by Creed. Frankly, I consider that to be several different kinds of awesome. If any of you would be interested in this, I’d recommend heading over to the auction. It’s starting at only $150.

Worldbuilders (aka ‘Tis the Season for Giving)

Patrick Rothfuss is holding a raffle again this holiday season, this year with a snazzy new name. Worldbuilders! All proceeds (and more, 50% of donations are being met) go to Heifer International. If you either like helping people, like giving people fuzzy animals, or like SF/F books, I would highly recommend donating money to the raffle.

Once again, if anyone wants to give me a Christmas present, donate some in my name/send me the prizes.

The blog post explaining the rules and how to enter is here.

What Goes Around

From the NYTIMES article: As president, Mr. Clinton had sent Mr. Kim a letter of condolence on the death of his father, Kim Il-sung, according to a former official. For Mr. Kim, the former official said, freeing the women was a “reciprocal humanitarian gesture.”

I would never have expected any world leader, let alone a notorious dictator, to base a decision off of a letter on an irrelevant subject. This quote in the article makes it appear as though Kim released the hostages as a personal favor to Bill Clinton.

I suppose it only goes to show that you can never forget that all the monsters are human too.

Mass Trial for Protesters Begins in Iran

The incumbent Iranian government is accusing over 1oo individuals of “conspiring with foreign powers to stage a revolution through terrorism, subversion and a media campaign to discredit last month’s presidential election.”

The terrorism accusation is demonstrably false, and the rest of it is skewed ever so slightly. We have a revolution in the US every couple of years. That’s what I like best about my country, as a matter of fact. Change is good and natural. Now if only the authority figures in Iran would stop jailing everyone who tries to stir the compost.

As for the purported “policy of the Western media” to discredit the election, instituted before it even took place, well, the media doesn’t always agree with the government on how its own country is run. I doubt there would be any way to get rival news agencies to agree to forwarding the same foreign policy. Covering a human rights event for the millions of people eager to learn more after the fact is another matter entirely.

Making fun of Obama

I know I (almost) promised to do a post about my experience at the inauguration, but the more I reflect on it, the less interesting it was. I already posted the highlights of my own experience, and frankly, running (literally) around downtown DC trying to find the end of a line (and once finding the beginning instead) isn’t all that interesting. The speech was good though. If you didn’t watch it, look it up. It won’t be quoted for centuries, but it should last out the decade.

So now I can take advantage of the fact that we have a new government by getting my foot in the door early for making fun of it. The nation as a whole has reached a point where all its dreams have come true, now they just need to sit back and watch the magic happen.

But on his very first day in office, Obama did something I disapproved of. What he’s done with regards to federal jobs, pay, and appointments will prevent much ‘new blood’ from coming in, as well as the usual interchange between public and private sectors. The vast majority of the time, what he’s done is good. I know one person, however, who was considering taking a political appointment in the new administration, but now won’t because she wouldn’t be able to pay the bills with that pay. Money was an issue before, but now it is absolutely out of the question.

This will hopefully be fixed in the long term- a few appropriate loopholes in an otherwise good policy.

Also, here’s a quote (found on which was somewhat unfortunate. Not a Bushism by any means, but rather clearly a politicians translation. The stimulus/infrastructure plan which it was used to defend, however, I approve of. Especially the bit about fixing the electric grid.

“We won’t just throw money at our problems; we’ll invest in what works.”

Being a Hero

Terrorist attacks such as those currently taking place in Mumbai infuriate me. But it’s not the terrorists who make me really angry. It’s the victims. According to one report, about fifteen armed ‘terrorists’ were holding a great number of people hostage. Why do the victims, who far outnumber their captors, allow themselves to be victims? Why not fight back? There’s almost no doubt that if all the hostages in a situation like this chose to resist, they would win. It wouldn’t even take all of them.

Case and point: Flight 93 on 9/11.

Resistance doesn’t necessarily mean fighting. Almost certainly, in this situation, but if someone could orchestrate an escape of all the hostages, that would be equally effective. The point isn’t to hurt the terrorists, merely to take away the power fear gives them. Because right now hostages chosing to stand up and resist would be protecting and representing more than just themselves. They would be protecting all of the hostages, and representing all of those opposed to the terrorists.