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.


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.

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.

In Defense of Bottled Water

Bottled water has been under heavy attack for some time now, most recently on Funny Goodbye Letters, where the following comic was posted:

Oddly enough, it looks like this was taken from a blog I read more regularly (Don’stuff), but I saw it on Funny Goodbye Letters first. I think I need to fix my feeds.

It makes a strong point. Bottled water is stupid. It’s expensive, it’s terrible for the environment, and there’s no reason for us to be paying the dramatic fiscal and environmental costs associated with it.

Or is there? I think it’s about time someone who isn’t making money from selling it took up the defense of bottled water. So here we go.

Why buy bottled water? What does a bottle of water offer you that a glass of water from the tap doesn’t?

  • Convenience

There is no denying the ease which comes with grabbing a bottle of water and walking out the door. I don’t think anyone is going to argue that water is a luxury, not when used for drinking at any rate. In an age when grab it and go meals are the norm, and a minute in the microwave can be too long, it’s no wonder people have turned to the water with zero preparation time. Furthermore, you don’t need to wash bottles. You throw them in the recycling (or, evidently, if you’re 80% of people, you throw them away, but I’m too small to be 80% of people)

  • Utility

As of yet, a glass of water has not been invented which can be safely thrown into a brief case or backpack without soaking the contents. Perhaps it has, but I haven’t seen it. Furthermore, it seems silly to keep glasses of water in the refrigerator. But the refrigerator keeps bottled water cooler than the sink can produce it. The western world, at least, likes its water cold. This is less of an issue in China where water is usually boiled before drinking, and preferred hot.

  • Accessibility

Often times, bottled water is all that’s available. You’re thirsty, don’t want the calories, sugar, or taste of any other beverage, but you’re not at home. You don’t have a glass, you don’t have the kitchen sink. Rumor has it that some people carry theirs around with them, but you can’t find them. What do you do? You buy a bottle of water. Is that so wrong? Surely you can’t be expected to drink out of the toilets.

  • Taste

Bottled water DOES come from a pristine, mysterious source. Tap water has fifty bajillion chemicals in it, ranging from chlorine to kill bacteria and fluorine so that your teeth don’t rot to chlorine to lead from the pipes ensuring that the rest of you rots. Alright, I grant you, not many places have lead piping anymore. But the point is that tap water has a taste, and it isn’t always good. Some places have downright funky tasting tap water, especially after storms. And then there’s the white precipitate which I always find in any water I get out of the downstairs faucets. Bottled water, for the most part, comes in two varieties. 1. Distilled/filtered water takes away all the things that make tap water unpleasant. 2. Mineral/spring water which is selected to be good tasting. They add things (or find water already containing) salts which make the water, in fact, taste better.

Now to demolish those arguments as fast as possible.

-Use reusable water bottles. I have a 32oz pink bottle that I carry around with me. Yes. Pink. It was on sale.

-Get a filter for your kitchen faucet, if the taste bothers you.

-Put ice cubes in your water bottle.

-If you really can’t bear to get a reusable water bottle, there’s no need to drink out of the toilet. When I’m on long runs, or just don’t have my water bottle with me for one reason or another, I have no compuction drinking out of bathroom sinks. And you know what? I’m not dead yet.

McCain for Cabinet Seat

Here’s a radical new idea for Obama- why not make McCain Secretary of War? Secretary of State or National Security Advisor would work as well, but I’ve been led to believe that McCain would prefer a position as Secretary of War. This makes a great deal of sense. As President, Obama will have several jobs. He will need to fix everything that Bush screwed up; this would include getting rid of the Department of Homeland Security, which may or may not have been a good idea (aside from the fascist name), but was so terribly implemented as to now be a hopeless mess. He will need to regain the world’s respect for the United States. He will need to heal the wounds this country’s partisan nature has inflicted upon itself. This means bringing the left and the right to terms with one another. One of the best ways to do this, which has been discussed in the press, is a bipartisan cabinet.

This would mean giving Republicans important positions in the new administration. So why not make McCain Secretary of War? Before he started trying to become president, McCain was respectable. He was a good senator, but the way American politics works forced him to do and say things which I believe he regrets. Actually, considering that he lost the election, I feel fairly safe saying that he regrets them. If he’d succeeded it would likely have been a contest of means and ends in his mind. Assuming that the election did not somehow fundamentally change McCain, turning him into one of the neo-conservatives he was forced to cater to, he’s capable and would be a powerful addition to the Cabinet. Furthermore he carried 46% of the popular vote. It should go a long way to healing the nation.

Well, there’s one reason not to give him such a position. None of the Republicans like him. Still, Obama could do worse than to give him a position of authority. All the time they were bashing eachother’s voting records, they didn’t seem to notice how often they’d voted together.

So here’s to giving McCain a cabinet seat, now that he’s safely out of range of the presidency. Just so long as he isn’t Secretary of the Internet.

Free Friday: Something Better

Sorry that this is late (hey, it’s still Friday in my timezone, whatever WordPress thinks). Unfortunately this is going to be a tad rushed. I have something better to do- namely sleep- right now. I have a 5K tomorrow and a half-marathon (my first) the next day. Bad planning? Yes. Is that going to stop me? No. This will go down as one of my numerous ‘stupid running stunts.’

In any case, here’s a song which has been on my running playlist ever since I discovered it. It’s called ‘Something Better’ and the artist is “true story.” Modern rock, and fast paced enough for me to run to.

Download ‘Something Better.’