Category Archives: Culture

Avenue Q

Sujal and I just got back from a day in the yes (Yes — THE city, New York city). We saw a matinee of Avenue Q, which I highly recommend (to adults). Sujal’s sister mentioned it to us a while back, and then when Scrubs did their recent musical episode, we jumped on the bandwagon. It was a lot of fun. I am very tired now — but I will write more about the performance later. I’ll just leave you with this little gem — a song from the musical.

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The Sneopard

One of the perks of working at my school is our Symposium signature program. Last year we had Tim O’Brien visit, an author whom I love. This year we had Peter Matthiessen visit. (For those with more discriminating tastes in resources, here’s is your Wikipedia.

To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled that he was going to be our author, but once I began reading his non-fiction, I began to dig him. I can’t say that I worship everything he writes. (after all, he is no Arundhati Roy.) But I did begin to appreciate much of his work. I love his interplay of subjectivity and objectivity. Much to Sujal’s chagrin, I am one of those people who believes that everything is subjective.

In terms of Matthiessen’s work, I read from the The Peter Matthiessen Reader. I really enjoyed the excerpt from Wildlife in America that featured the now extinct Great Auk. I also like The Snow Leopard, which I affectionately call The Sneopard. (And I wonder why the kids love me!)

My favorite excerpt cam from In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. The section I read told a section of the narrative on the events June 26, 1975 on the Pine Ridge reservation leadning to the incarcertaion of Leonard Peltier. The New York Times has this cool little feature — featured writer section on him.

He is a talker, all right. During both of the “readings” I attended, he mainly told story after story, which was actually quite fun. Since I haven’t read any of his fiction, I’m looking forward to checking it out.

Ahn Trio

I just wanted to do a quick post to say that the Ahn Trio came to K-O recently. They were really good! They play this wonderful variety of music, exclusively contemporary music, I believe. Some of it is the fusion of jazz and classical (western art music).

The other asset they have is that they are three hot, young babes. They make classical music MTV-ishly hip, yet they’re good. Check them out. The kids loved them.

Torch and My Changing Perspective

So since the wedding, Sujal has been indulging in lots of toys. I believe he is thinking the pre-kids-having rush. So he bought the GIGANTIC TV. It’s huge, plasmatic, and high-definition, which basically means it’s no better than any other TV, but it is a lot more expensive. Okay, so I may be overstating it, but as you can tell, I was not thrilled with the idea of the puchase. Nonetheless, we have it. Now we have fancy cable channels, too. Not so thrilled with that, either — and here’s why. It’s a temptation. I watch too much TV as it is. I want to throw it out the window and have us sit by a fire and read aloud to one another. Doesn’t that sound like something newlyweds would do? Doesn’t it?

So now that we have all these fancy entertainment tools, I recently watched the last 3/4 of Torch Song Trilogy on IFC, great channel by the way. I saw the flic in ’89 or early ’90 when I was still in high school. I recall thinking that Harvey Fierstein was an older guy, perhaps even an old man. It was funny to me to watch it now at 33, my perspective having clearly shifted. I was surprised how young he looks in the movie. He was a young, good-looking guy. What I remember about seeing the flic when I was in high school was that I thought it was a bit schmaltzy, a bit too tear-jerker-y, though I liked it for the most part. I’m not a huge fan of tear-jerker dramas, but it actually does not take the cheap emotional shots that I seem to recall from my earlier viewing. Watching it, I can see how it would make a great stage play, though it works well on film, too.

I’d forgotten Matthew Broderick was in it, or perhaps I didn’t know who he was back then. He’s a good actor, and I’d like to see him on stage. One thing that seems “missing” to some degree was mention of AIDS, but then I thought that perhaps Fierstein did not want his story to be about AIDS, to be about disease. Instead he wanted his story to be about the challenge of finding and keeping love. Mention of AIDS would have completely tainted the story. The film does a great job of portraying the universality of the challenge of finding and keeping love. I would not go so far as to say that one could merely drop in characters of different genders, but not only is it easy to identify with the characters, as many good flics aim to do, it’s easy to see similar representations in our daily lives. Nonetheless, I came across this explanation on Wikipedia:

“The combined play runs at roughly four hours in length, so New Line Cinema insisted that Fierstein restrict the film to a two-hour maximum. Despite the copious excisions, the film is also made in three distinct acts: “The International Stud”, “Fugue in a Nursery” and “Widows and Children First!”. The dates given below are the dates from the film; the plays were set two or three years more recently, but New Line Cinema couldn’t understand how a gay film in the mid-1980s could not mention AIDS, so Fierstein moved the film to before the AIDS crisis.”

It’s funny to compare how we react to films as kids vs as adults. I remember feeling very “cutting edge” for watching it as a child. Damn, was I ever cutting edge.

When I was a freshman at Bennington, Harvey Fierstein gave the commencement address. Here is a link to the text, a pretty fabulous speech. I recall sitting outside the graduation tent with some other not-yet-graduating students listening to him speak. I was pretty wowed.

Wish I could take some credit…

..but I can’t. I’m a debate/speech coach at the school where I teach. I can’t say I the successes of those in my charge are due to my coaching, but I can brag about their successes! One of our kids recently went to the The World Individual Debating & Public Speaking Championships which happened to be hosted at the very exotic location of the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT this year. Luckily, this same student qualified and went to Cyprus last year. He basically won the whole dang thing! He did not win first overall speaker, but he won first place in two out of a possible three categories. Even the “number one” speaker didn’t achieve that. And our kid — he is really talented. Again, I claim no responsibility. But this kid can write. And speak.

He was written up in a Salon.com article by Mark Oppenheimer. I met Mark at the event (I was a judge). He seemed like a great guy, and I really liked his article. But, in typical Heidi fashion, foot-in-mouth disease runs in my family, I said one of my famous “dumb-as-shit” things. He said his brother writes for the Valley Advocate, which I read when I lived in Noho. Remembering his brother’s self-important, pompous articles, I announced how much I disliked his brother’s writing. When Mark asked me why, I explained what a pompous ass I thought he was. It turns out I was talking about Tom Vannah. Oops. Tom’s the pompous ass. I actually liked Mark’s brother’s reviews.

Nonetheless, my debate kid rocks!!!!

Celebrity Magnetism

So my school seems to be a celebrity magnet lately. For the past few days, we have received an announcement that there would be a “surprise” assembly on Thursday, at a school with no shortage of assemblies (not at all like a public school). So we all piled into the auditorium just like any other Thursday, but instead of only hearing a few announcements, we also got filmclip. Finally David Strathairn stepped out onto the stage! Earlier in the school year, we took the entire upper school to see “Good Night, and Good Luck”. Strathairn plays Edward R. Murrow in that flic. It was very cool to have him come. He talked a bit abut doing film, staying true to a character, particularly when the character was once a real person. We also talked a bit about Murrow. When he first came out, he kept telling the kids just how lucky they are. He’s absolutely right. It was my exact thought as I realized who the guest must be. The students at my school are exposed to all sorts of great opportunities. I can’t say I was exposed to anywhere near as much great talent and art that they are. But I also have to add, as a faculty member there, I’m pretty lucky. I also was not exposed to this much talent teaching in the public system that I used to. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy the public school. I did, and very much. But I am lucky to be at this school, too — authors, artists, actors, researchers, former generals and presidential candidates, social theorists, etc. There are some pretty exciting things going on at my school. (Remind me of this the next time I am wildly stressed out grading 50,000 essays.) Privilege carries responsibilities indeed, but it is also something good to savor and appreciate.

So That’s Why I have to Write Letters of Recommendation!!!

I was on the “New Yorker’s” site looking for interesting essays to use for my Creative Writing class, something hip and new, and I came across this interesting article about the evolving (at one time) admissions process for getting into Harvard and the other ivy leagues. As it turns out, the reasons I get swamped with requests for letters of recommendation every fall is because Harvard admissions folks were anti-semetic. Thanks, you snotty-snotpantses. It’s actually a really interesting read.

I Hate Sports…

…and even I am a bit sad by Johnny Damon’s departure. Sujal hates this, but I rarely, and I mean about twice or thrice a year, go to ESPN.com (though to be fair, that’s about how often he goes to K-O, my job). But I saw a headline today and I had to go. It was Bill Simmon‘s page. The Sports Guy’s article makes perfect sense, and being a fairly detached observer, I really get it.

I think part of the reason that I am a bit sad about Damon leaving is that I went to Red Sox games (“went” is a bit strong, should read: “dragged”) one season, the summer Sujal and I first started dating. I got to know a few players, not personally, of course. Johnny Damon was one of them, though I must admit, my heart with with cutie, Nomar Garciaparra. It seems my tour with knowng something about popular sports is just about over. It’s a bit of a relief, because I can go back to being that anti-sport, poetry loving nerd that I am. I also have to admit that poetry and sports can mix nicely as evidenced by Quicy Troupe’s villanelle on Michael Jordan, “Forty-one Seconds on a Sunday in June, in Salt Lake City, Utah”.

Live Coverage from the War on Christmas

Hello faithful readers (take that how you will): I’ve been thinking a bit more on this “war” on Christmas. I was reading from this conservative blog when I realized that we may be unified in strongly disliking commercialism. I remember this little epiphany I had years ago — I’m sure it is a common epiphany. I think even Dr. Spock had it. All you need is love. The Beatles certainly had it. We all want to be accepted for who we are and appreciated. That’s really not such a bad thing. Let’s try to not put people on the defensive. When people feel threatened, they attack. Okay, not earth shattering. Try to see the other perspective, be empathetic.

I don’t know that anyone really ever had that much of a problem with Christmas itself. The complaining I’ve heard is that it is Christmas season from Halloween until Mid-January, that everywhere you look, you are slapped in the face with it. I know many Christians who complain about the fact that they have to listen to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in early November. What is the cause of this? Capitalism and retail.

Culturally, non-Christians often get annoyed with Christmas, because it seems like the only holiday. For years, Jews did not get off on major Jewish holidays. We did not get Diwali off from school. Kwanzaa? What do we do for Ramadan? If one does take off for a religious observance, then s/he is excluded from the rest of what is going on. If I kept my child home for Diwali, s/he would miss a day of school. I believe there has been a move to secularize Christmas to make it more inclusive. Let’s celebrate all the holidays that happen during this season. It is not to exclude God. Ultimately, I think the message we want to send goes something like this: It is fine for you to worship your god; just be respectful of me worshipping mine.

It seems like it’s such a better idea to come together as a community rather than to exclude, and I do not understand this tendency to exclude.

New Shoe Fetish

I think I’m having some strong fashion leanings these days. After 3 decades of not caring too much about fashion, it’s time I start embracing capitalism. I recently bought the cutest pair of shoes. And I just found out about John Fluevog. Oh my God — I’ve found a new passion!

OMG, look what Connecticut is doing to me!!!!!!!!