There are people out there, breathing a killer virus at you.
There is also a ton of snow on the ground where I live.
My suggestion: try tuning out the Lame-Duck Orange Sicko for a day.
I did it over the weekend. Good Stuff on everywhere. .
I started with a link from a friend known as The Cork Lady. (Ireland, that is.) She and her husband sent me a link to a concert via the shut-down Metropolitan Opera -- Bryn Terfel with a holiday concert from his native Wales.
What a wonderful surprise: the concert (with no audience) was in the Brecon Cathedral – a place we know and love, in the highlands above Cardiff, The vivid stained-glass brought back memories of a beautiful summer evening, still light outside, our friend and host Alastair (like all Welsh men) singing in a chorus.
While Terfel and a talented cast took turns, my mind drifted to Brecon in long-ago summers --sheep being marshalled by border collies, the jolly sound of tourists on canal boats from the nearby Usk River, trips to upscale pubs along the canal, and Alastair going to Brecon market to buy lava bread (pungent, allegedly edible seaweed from the coast.) Not exactly Christmas memories, but lovely memories nonetheless.
At 5 PM, another link – this one via the Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, Stephen Dunn, my friend from his days as a zone-busting shooter for Hofstra College. No. 20 was known as Radar on a 23-1 team.
Radar writes as he shot – smoothly -- his latest book, Pagan Virtues, just out.
Stephen’s poetic aim is still perfect but his voice does not permit him to read his own work these days. In a weekly web poetry reading, called LitBalm, some of his new work was read, and read well, by his friend Indran, while Stephen listened in one of the squares on the laptop grid. Keep lofting these jumpers, man.
At 9 PM, we turned on the local PBS station, Channel 13, with its Saturday-night feature -- a classic, or classy, movie (sometimes, inexplicably, displaced by drippy oldie concerts). But not Saturday.
Mercifully, there was the Trevor Nunn movie version of “Twelfth Night,” from 1996, Shakespeare’s gender-bender comedy, with a cinematic shipwreck and looming Cornwall hills and castles and Helen Bonham Carter falling in love with a saucy emissary with a highly dubious mustache draped across her kissable upper lip.
The cast, as in any English rendition of Shakespeare, was marvelous, but let me praise two: Nigel Hathaway as Malvolio, the resident mansion bully, and Ben Kingsley, for goodness’ sakes, as an omnipresent troubadour (with a really nice voice, his own; it turns out that Kingsley was once urged to pursue singing by his pal, John Lennon.)
(We recently saw a stage version of Twelfth Night via the marvelous National Theatre's at-home series, prompted by the pandemic. In that version, Malvolio is female, played by Tamsin Greig, and her comeuppance seems more cruel than Hawthorne’s.) During the final scene Saturday night, when everybody finally figured everything out, I had tears in my eyes. Good Shakespeare does that to me.
The antidote for tears came nine – count ‘em, nine – minutes later, on “Saturday Night Live,” the last new one for a month apparently. The host was Kristen Wiig, one of the all-timers, visiting her old haunts.
Her opening bit was singing the wintry standard “My Favorite Things,” and when she botched the lyrics, she was joined by another all-timer, Maya Rudolph, who also botched the lyrics, and was in turn joined by the current all-timer Kate McKinnon.
Regarding McKinnon: I am watching SNL more in my “retirement” than I ever did, and am totally enthralled with McKinnon
In the all-time web ratings of SNL females, I propose St. Gilda as first, and Tina Fey as second (those laser eyes, looking right at you), and McKinnon now ranks third, with me.
I love her versions of Rudy and Dr. Fauci and that fuzzy little attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and McKinnon also aces some dark-side female roles, throwing off heat in all directions. How Shakespearean.
That brings us to Sunday.
The far-flung family of Anna and the late Kate McGarrigle is staging a virtual reunion, Sunday, all over the world, apparently. It will be streaming (at a price) and available for two weeks, starting at 3 PM. The cast includes longtime backup Chaim Tannenbaum, third-sister Jane McGarrigle, and other staples of that wonderful time. I will catch it, and think of Kate.
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Also, Nick and Teresa Troiano Masi (Terry and I worked on the paper at Jamaica High) have a grown daughter, Terri Dierkes, who is a cantor in a church in Connecticut, and a leading member of a lovely Christmas concert, which aired Sunday. Details at:
Finally, ongoing, for a season of great plays in our homes, the National Theatre is showing 12 filmed plays, for quite modest fees. We've seen about half in recent years. Wonderful stuff.
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There’s a pandemic out there. Nasty weather all over.
Stay safe til the vaccines get here.
You can't watch The Dangerous Fool every second.
Ride it out. Stay safe. Happy Holidays to all.
"The day after my 80th birthday, which overflowed with good wishes, surprises and Covid-safe celebrations, I awoke feeling fulfilled and thinking that whatever happens going forward, I’m OK with it. My life has been rewarding, my bucket list is empty, my family is thriving, and if everything ends tomorrow, so be it.
"Not that I expect to do anything to hasten my demise. I will continue to exercise regularly, eat healthfully and strive to minimize stress. But I’m also now taking stock of the many common hallmarks of aging and deciding what I need to reconsider."
--Jane E. Brody, my pal in the NYT newsroom, oh, a few years back, in the Personal Health column, Sept. 13, 2021.
"People have said to me, ‘You’re fully vaccinated. Why are you being so careful?’” said Dr. Robert M. Wachter, professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “I’m still in the camp of I don’t want to get Covid. I don’t want to get a breakthrough infection.”
---Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, Aug. 16, 2021.