Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Talking Band's back!

The Talking Band just seems to keep getting better and better.  Each year, I end up saying their latest show may be their best yet--but, remembering Delicious Rivers (2006), The Walk Across America for Mother Earth (2011), and Marcellus Shale (2013), among others, I should qualify that as "one of their best."

Martin Luther King weekend through the first weekend in February seems to be one of the Talking Band's favorite times to bring us their latest.  This year, it's Burnished by Grief, which despite its name, is, as billed, a romantic comedy, albeit with some dark and scary passages amid the whimsy, romance, and slapstick.

Like last year's Golden Toad--the three-hour ambulatory wonder that the company gave us for their fortieth anniversary--it's a great show about New York City, deeply rooted in real life.  But in contrast to the Toad, Burnished by Grief whizzes by in 85 minutes, on a single set--a minimalist backyard garden overlooked by windows from adjacent buildings, and exercise bicycles within shouting distance of a street corner where a musician plays tuba.

It's inspired by playwright Ellen Maddow's experiences as a mediator in Brooklyn Civil Court, and as always in a Talking Band show, a few lovely, quirky songs and other music (also written by Maddow) add emotional resonance.

Though I try to see everything the Talking Band does, because of their limited seasons in New York, I sometimes miss a show.  I'm so glad I didn't miss this one.

Burnished by Grief is playing at LaMama, 74 East 4th Street, through February 7. 

For information go to:

Friday, January 22, 2016

A story set somewhere warmer than here

One of my more experimental short stories, "San Felipe but not Alone," can now be read online, in

Vector Magazine

Waiting for the storm

Back in the days when the only warnings of serious weather came shortly before the event from sky, air, or movements of animals, John Greenleaf Whittier wrote what may have been his masterwork, Snowbound: A Winter Idyll.

After a dedication-- 

To the Memory of the Household It Describes
This Poem is Dedicated by the Author

 --and quotations from Agrippa's Occult Philosophy and Emerson's poem "Snow Storm", the poem itself begins:

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.

Snowbound was published in 1866, soon after the Civil War and, with its vivid descriptions of a powerful storm and the contrasting warmth and intimacy of storytelling around the fireplace, proved hugely popular.

It was one of my favorite poems as a child, and these days its themes of memory, loss, and changing times mean much more to me than when I first read and loved it.  But it's been years since I read its many verses all the way through.

Tomorrow--as a storm blankets the East Coast with the kind of snow that may one day be only a distant memory--will be a good time to immerse myself in Snowbound once more.