Up the Mountain, Into the Woods: Two Weeks at Wildacres

For Judi Hill


“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

1.  Houston

The thrill of the city is that it is always moving:  you will never run out of things to do. Houston holds out her hand, and you take, take, take:  The Alley Theater, The Houston Symphony, The Menil Collection.  I could never leave and still feel like I was touring the globe.  We don’t have to try to be diverse, multicultural, international, endlessly interesting.  We already are.  Many days, I spiral the city on Beltway 8, driving to my university in the southwest part of the city.  There is a lot of concrete, brick, and mortar around me.  Nature has been tamed for so much for our progress.  Nature punctuates the city, not the other way around.

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Hamlet’s Homework; or, the Wit of “Wittenberg”

Hamlet-Laurence-Olivier-1ci8ee1A few weeks ago I went to see a play that I cannot get out of my head.  “Wittenberg,” by David Davalos, considers Hamlet before things go terribly wrong–before his father has been murdered, before his slutty mother marries his corrupt uncle, before Ophelia has sipped the Kool-Aid and started taking orders from men besides Hamlet.  You know, in the days when everything was going his way, and he could flirt with tennis scores and vows of chastity, the time when anything and everything was game because nothing really bad had happened.  At least not yet.

“Wittenberg” is set where Hamlet went to college, and the two professors vying for his attention and intellectual fealty are none other than Dr. Faustus and Martin Luther.  Dr. Faustus is witty and imaginative.  He plays the guitar, he reels you in.  Martin Luther is preachy, but I bet you already knew that. Continue reading

Daniel Day-Lewis: An Olivier for Our Times

first-official-image-of-daniel-day-lewis-as-abraham-lincoln-110525-205-80Daniel Day-Lewis won a Golden Globe last night for his performance as Abraham Lincoln, and I don’t know one person on the planet who does not think that he deserves it.  Already the recipient of two Best Actor Academy Awards, one for My Left Foot in 1989, and another for There Will Be Blood in 2007, it would be no great shock if he won yet again for Lincoln.  This film is no mere period piece:  he is portraying the one President that both parties in our country deeply admire and claim as representing the best of both political traditions.  In an age of profound conflict between the two parties, there is a need to watch how a past leader negotiated the terrain in the bloody War Between the States.  Every time this film is shown, viewers cannot escape the question of what it really takes to be a great leader, even in the most tumultuous of times.  Day-Lewis is mesmerizing to watch on the screen as he effortlessly moves between the conflicts of the political and professional realm and into the griefs of his personal life.  Our stages may be smaller, but his performance reminds us how intertwined those worlds are, even as we obsessively try to separate them for domestic harmony and professional ambitions.  Lincoln was great, but he was also human, and Day-Lewis maintains the pathos and dignity of both. Continue reading