Rhyme of the Day

Various meanderings with a rhyme in there somewhere.

Arsenic and the Elderly Audience
We did our matinee performance of Arsenic & Old Lace yesterday, and as expected we had a lot of older people in the audience, including at least one 90 year old who was celebrating his birthday. And, I must add, he had a very firm handshake.

Unexpectedly, it was a supremely appreciative audience. They laughed a lot. We got laughs on lines that we didn't get laughs on before. There was a big laugh on the line, early on, "This may not be very charitable of me, but I'm beginning to think that Mr. Hitler is not a Christian!"

Of course, a lot of people in this age group actually remember World War II, which is the era in which the play is set. The play's cultural milieu is the one a lot of them grew up in.

A lot of the play's humor has to do with old-fashioned respectability. They remember that. Many of the young have little grasp of it.

The past is an alien land
peculiarly distant
loaded with very firm laws
that are now non-existent.

Directionally Challenged
I sometimes go astray
using GPS apps.
But I went even astrayer
in the days of paper maps.

The Video from Kitties in Space

That's the official video of Kitties in Space, from the Doing Drugs And Dying In Space (DDADIS) festival put on by the fabulous Runaways Lab.

Felines seeking felicity,
encounter rodent duplicity.

Arsenic Initial Coincidences
Arsenic & Old Lace feels like a very well constructed stage comedy to me, but I was reflecting last night on the fact that it starts up with three coincidental events.

Yes, yes, spoiler alert in case you don't want to know!

In one evening:

1) Mortimer proposes to Elaine
2) Mortimer stumbles upon a corpse in his aunts' house
3) Mortimer's murderous brother Jonathan arrives at his aunts' house

Granted, there's a slight connection between 1 and 2. Mortimer has been spending more time at his aunts' house lately because Elaine lives next door. So his interest in Elaine makes it more likely that he will discover what his aunts have been up to. But, basically, 1 & 2 are a big coincidence.

There's also a kind of connection between 2 and 3, in that the play suggests there's a streak of homicidal mania that runs in this family, and the aunts and Jonathan are both afflicted. But, again, basically, 2 & 3 are a big coincidence.

Coincidence is just events coming together without a direct causal connection. There's nothing wrong with them, as such, in a story. The usual advice is to place them early in the story, to make them part of the "intractable problem build-up" and not part of the "surprising-but-logical solution". And that's what's going on here. The 3 events are just piling up to create a state of total humorous crisis for Mortimer, who I would say is the "hero" of the play, even though the "lead characters" are his aunts.

A lot has been written about including coincidences in a story. A storyteller makes a kind of bargain with the audience, a bargain whose terms are specified as the story goes along. The audience commits time and attention to the story, and expects a payoff of some kind at the end.

When the tale's completed
the audience shouldn't feel cheated.

In a nice suburb of Chicago:

"Outraged Naperville residents are demanding that Hassert Boulevard be renamed, mistakenly believing the road honors former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who admitted this week he sexually abused students when he was a Yorkville high school wrestling coach."

Before you start yelling
over the name,
please check the spelling -
it's not the same!

At Target
Octagonal design, sold as "Hex Weight".

Someone's geometric knowledge is not all that great.

Hastert Gets 15 Months
Dennis Hastert, former speaker of the house, more recently a high powered lobbyist, got sentenced to 15 months today, in federal court here in Chicago.

He had pleaded guilty to "structuring" some cash withdrawals - purposely arranging them so that the bank wouldn't be required to report them to the government.

Maybe he would have gotten off on probation, if that was all he had done, but the cash withdrawals had to do with molesting a high school athlete long ago when he was a coach. And, as usual, it hadn't just been one molested athlete. More appeared. And probably a bunch kept quiet.

He got off lightly, although it may be
that many get away scot-free.

Officer Klein

I've found a new career.
Crooks should shake in fear.

The Metro Debacle
The mass transit system in Washington D.C. is a nice modern system. It opened 40 years ago. I vaguely remember the news. But they've already run it into the ground, which is kind of a spectacular failure, considering that NYC and Chicago have much older and bigger systems that somehow seem safer.

How could it be?
Ineptitude in DC?

Well, yeah. Apparently it's a multilayer failure. My favorite part was a trust in automation as a way to guarantee safety, resulting in things like this:

"On Jan. 6, 1996, a train under computer control was barreling too fast, at 75 mph, in a blizzard. Unable to decelerate quickly enough on snow-covered rails near the Shady Grove station, the train slammed into a parked, unoccupied train, killing the operator."

It's really unfair to call the victim "the operator", since the train was under control of an operating system, not an operator, apparently. Or... maybe the operator could have thrown a switch and taken control? But the story doesn't mention that.

Anyway, the people in charge neglected maintenance, neglected safety, neglected financial trouble, and somehow thought they could muddle through.

Management that was highly bureaucratic,
hoped the system would run on automatic.

European Male, Dead 400 Years
Shakespeare padded his plays with famous quotes,
and obsolete words requiring lots of notes.


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