Thursday, August 28

A Strife to End in Blood

Every September the Villa puts on a production of an ancient Greek or Roman play. They rotate between a comedy and a tragedy, and this year the production is Agamemnon by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. Agamemnon is one play in Aeschylus's Oresteia, a cycle of three plays that includes The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides. The play takes place after Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, returns home after defeating the Trojans. One of the themes of the play is ambivalence the Greeks felt about the Trojan war--yes, they won the war, but at an incredible cost of life. Then, of course, there is the drama within the house of Agamemnon, who returns home to find an adulterous wife who also hold a grudge against him for sacrificing their virgin daughter to the goddess Artemis so that she would halt the fierce sea winds and allow the fleet of Greek ships to sail for Troy.

My fellow teacher Sabina & I at the performance--it was pretty dark by then!

I enjoyed very much sitting outside and taking in the warm summer night at the Villa, which is absolutely captivating at night. The experience of the play was great as well. I'd never had a chance before to see a play where no microphones were used, just natural acoustics (which classical theatres were designed to promote). It was hard at times to hear the actors, even in such intimate surroundings, and the descriptiveness of the words was sometimes overshadowed by actors speaking too quickly or by times when lines sort of took a round robin, each actor taking one line of one speech. In those instances I lost the words in favor of trying to figure out who was speaking. So there were drawbacks to the production, but the last fifteen minutes were worth the whole hour and forty. Francesca Faridany, who played the mad Cassandra, a woman turned into a tortured oracle by Apollo as punishment for rejecting his attentions, delivered an awesome performance. Then, at the end, when a blood-drenched Clytemnestra (Tyne Daly) burst onto the stage pulling the bloodied and mangled bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra behind her, it was pretty awesome. Tyne Daly makes a very convincing wild-eyed homicidal maniac.

The Classical Theatre and stage earlier in the day.

It ended up being a late night, but fun nonetheless. What I saw tonight was actually the very first performance, so I look forward to catching some of the matinees later on in September so I can see how the actors' performances evolve over the course of the run.

Tuesday, August 26


It's the damnedest thing--every year on the same night I fall asleep, and then wake up the next morning a year older. Every single year! This year my plans for this day were elegantly simple and satisfying. I planned to hit the bookstore as soon as it opened, snatch up my copy of "The Laughter of Dead Kings," which I've been anticipating for months now, and retreat behind closed doors with said book and a bottle of wine (hence the elegance of the plan). As with so many things in my life, my plan did not go as intended. I showed up to the nearest Barnes & Noble in their opening minutes and made a beeline to the new fiction section, then the mystery section, then wandered aimlessly in indignant confusion because--horror!--no "Laughter" was to be found on any shelf! Finally I staggered up to the counter to ask the lady there about the book, and after a few pecks on the keyboard and clicks of the mouse, she informed me with some surprise that while their store had ordered the book, it hadn't yet arrived.

Okay, plan B. Back in the car I headed a few blocks up Westwood to Borders. I usually don't like to go there because their parking garage is hot, dark, and cruelly lit by harsh florescent lights and the elevator you have to take up from the garage to the store looks like it also services the tenth circle of hell. But the importance of my mission outweighed the scary parking garage, so I braved it. As they say, all's well that ends well. I found "Laughter" in the "books you've gotta read" section and even came across two other books I was hoping to find.

After that initial glitch in my plans, all went as expected. I whiled away my birthday hours with my book and my wine, and in the evening some friends came over and we watched movies and ate way too much pizza. In other words, it was pretty much a completely unproductive but thoroughly enjoyable day. Amen.

Wednesday, August 20


All things considered, I had a great (if hectic) visit home and I had some much needed time away from work, so all's well that ends well. For the most part I was running from the time I landed to the time I headed back to the airport for my return flight. After I arrived late Thursday, I went straight to a hair appointment. It's absolutely impossible to get a decent haircut out here without paying through the nose for it, so anytime I'm home I like to take advantage and get a decent haircut for a decent price. Never pass up a good opportunity, I say.

One of the definite highlights of my time at home was getting to hang out with some of my friends from high school. I know some of you older folks will balk, but it's been ten years since I graduated, and I find that somewhat amazing. Tempus really does fugit. Anyhow, my class reunion is going to be this coming weekend, but since Eric's 30th birthday is the same weekend, I have to miss it (freakin' husband...always throws a wrench in my plans...). So, while I was in town I attended a mini reunion and met up with Jenny, Summer, and Rhonda. Now, I can't speak for them, but I had a blast. My voice was hoarse at the end of the night from talking so much. What I find so great about these ladies is that all of those good qualities I saw in them as young women are now what's defined them as women. They are--if I may say so-- awesome. Here's the picture we snapped that night: Summer, Jenny, me, and Rhonda.

Aside from Friday night, the rest of my time at home was about visiting family. Here is a picture of me with my cousins when we met up for lunch: me, Heather, Lacy, Danielle, Erin, & Brandi--the really little one is Lacy's daughter Madison.

I was glad to get to see everyone and immensely enjoyed my time out of the city. As with all visits home, I was happy to come and sad to go, but this year I have Christmas at home, and that's something to look forward to now.

When I arrived back in the city Eric greeted me with a hot chai latte (my fav) and a spic and span apartment. I always make a big deal of the fact that before I leave town the joint is clean, and I want it in the exact same state when I return. Sure enough, I come home and all is neat and in order. I don't care what the books say--nagging works. :-) All kidding aside, though, what I'd like to think is that after nearly six years together Eric has just figured out coming home to a clean place makes me happy and less stressed.

Today I'm right back at the Getty. My time off has helped me recoup and recharge, so coming back to work isn't all that bad.

Thursday, August 14

Homeward Bound

As crazy as it sounds in this era of angry crowds and security nightmares, I don't mind the airport. When I'm in an airport it usually means I'm going home or to some place I've never been. Today it means I'm going home--for the first time in nearly a year. The last time I was home was last September, and I've been stuck out here in California for all these months largely because last fall I took a new job and I had ZERO vacation time. But I've done my time and earned my ticket home, so today everything is just fine in my world.

I'll be home tonight.

Saturday, August 9

A Random Moment

When I was a kid, one of my favorite shows was the detective show Cagney & Lacey. I haven't thought about that show for years, but this week I was reminded of it in the most random way when--of all things--a rum cake appeared in our office pantry with a note attached: "from T. Daly." After a moment recognition dawned--the rum cake was from Tyne Daly, who used to play Detective Mary Beth Lacey and who this summer is playing a role in the Villa's production of the ancient Greek play Agamemnon. Now who would have guessed that one of the actresses I was watching in my favorite t.v. show as a kid in Illinois would one day be in a production of an ancient Greek play put on by the museum I work at in Malibu and that I would run into her rum cake in the pantry? Go figure.

I know, I know. You're probably thinking, "Exactly how much rum was in that cake?" Of all the things to choose to write about, this seems a laughably unlikely subject. It was just one of those moments that made me think of how people are connected to each other and how those connections seem to manifest themselves in random things like, well, rum cake.

Perhaps, if you ponder the mystery of the rum cake connection long enough, you will discern the secrets of the Universe...