Friday, November 19, 2010

Bangor Life

I thought I should give y'all some pics of my Bangor life!

So here are a few of my suite at the Charles Inn...

I have so much space!

And here is the Penobscot Theatre!

It is beautiful and large!

Rehearsals have been going really well. The music is very hard, but it sounds great when it clicks! The cast and staff are delightful, and the show is going to be really fun. I get to sit at a baby grand on a big platform upstage center, and they are going to put me in a sparkly gown!

I have been taking advantage of the theatre's deal with the ymca and working out regularly, so I feel great. The weather is brisk but not too cold; for the last few days I haven't even needed to wear my coat! It's supposed to snow after Thanksgiving, which should be exciting. Alex is coming to visit on monday, and we are invited to Thanksgiving at the house of one of the production manager, which should be lovely. So basically, it is pretty neat here!

I have also been taking advantage of the gorgeous, enormous public library!

These are just pictures of the first floor!
There are three floors,
and each floor is very large!
They have so many stacks!

And yet, the library is not my favorite building in town.

Here is my favorite building in town:

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I've had better luck with my sourdough in the last week! Before I came to maine, of course.

Here are a couple loaves I made after babying my starter for a week or two - keeping it on the warm oven, feeding it totally faithfully, making sure it's cloth cover isn't askew:

Aren't they beautiful? And they taste exactly like sourdough should! The crusts aren't as perfect as commercial crusts, but that's because I don't have the right tools - a stone bread baking bowl, for example - and other than that, they're exactly what I want in my sourdough loaves!

Here is the recipe.

I also left my roommates with a couple loaves of this bread - I used half white flour and half whole wheat - which, if you double the recipe but bake it all in one pan as one loaf, makes this big, delicious loaf with a fluffily uneven crumb, perfect for sandwiches or toast. I've been eating it toasted with cream cheese for breakfast!



The eggs rest on
sourdough French baguette.
Oh, delicious, delicious cholesterol.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Hello! Here I am in Bangor, maine!

Bangor is super cute. Suuuuper cute. Scott (the artistic director at Penobscot, the theater where I'm working) said to me as he drove me on a little tour of the town, "I like to say that Bangor has one of everything - and only one of anything. But it's enough!" He seems to be right. There's a Thai place, a Chinese place, a kosher bagel place (although the bagels there are weird), an Italian place, an American place, a Pakistani place, a cafe... you get the picture. There's a gym (the Y), a library (the biggest per-capita circulating library in the US), a toy store, a window-shade store, a clothing store, a post office, the airport, and a celebrity house (Stephen King, of course!). And of course a theater.

I ate at the bagel place for lunch on monday when I arrived in town (the bagels are soft, like bread - maybe they don't boil them? that's what Debby and I think) and the Thai place for dinner (mmmmmmmmm delicious! the rice pudding for dessert - exactly perfect!); I'm staying at the hotel two blocks from the theater (of course, everything is two blocks away in downtown Bangor): The Charles Inn, maine's first art gallery hotel! Which seems to mean that they put up some local art in the lobby. It's very cute, actually, clean and pretty and recently renovated. I have a suite on the top (fourth) floor (so fancy!): my bedroom with desk and my living room/kitchenette with extra chest of drawers, large coffee table, and four-person dining room table. I'll post pictures soon! I mean, it's your generic nice-ish hotel room, but it feels homey and pleasant, and I've never had this much space to myself before! It's a little peculiar, but there are things to like about it.

Rehearsals are fun; everyone here is great. One of the actors, it turns out, lives just a block away from me in Sunnyside, which is neat. I have a lot of time this morning before rehearsal at 3, so I'm going to stop blogging now and finish up a couple letters and then venture outside into this beautiful sunny day, my first free and un-exhausted block of time in which to explore!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


It's been a rough week - it got cold, and I'm ready to be working but not really ready to leave again, and I've had a lot of time hanging out at home by myself recently - but today got better!

It was cold and rainy outside, so I dressed up in my warmest clothes - tights, jeans, socks knitted by Ruthy, rain boots, camisole, t-shirt, hoodie, winter coat and scarf (both red!), gloves from Aunt Carolyn (purple!), earmuffs from Alex's parents (turquoise!) - and grabbed some library books and an umbrella (green!) and headed outside. When I'm having fun being dressed so warmly, the cold is fun and enlivening rather than draining and depressing. I walked around the neighborhood, shopping and window shopping and enjoying the day and getting some activity, for a good three hours! I went into CVS, Duane Reade, and Rite Aid, looking for straight razors for Alex and a plastic soap carrier for me, and eventually found both. I am weirdly fond of drugstores, it turns out. I looked at many flower shops and eventually bought myself a bouquet. I spent forty-five minutes in the library reading, and watched the library clerks chase out a couple sleepy drunks. I went into a piano store and looked at the sheet music and inquired as to prices for pianos (~$1400). I bought a decaf peppermint mocha from Starbucks, and when I told the cashier how excited I always am for their holiday specials, he told me that I could in fact order a peppermint mocha any time of the year!! I now feel that I possess a truly amazing secret. And on the way back to the apartment, Cheryl called, and I ended up sitting on the steps chatting with her for almost an hour!

It was all very delightful. When I got back, I baked sourdough bread, and did all the dishes and cleaned the counters and tidied up and swept the whole apartment, and put my beautiful colorful flowers in a vase, and ate lunch, and listened to the Wailin' Jennies and the Smith Sisters and Joan Baez, and blogged, and all in all have had a pretty good day so far since the time I stepped outside. I don't know what I'll do with the rest of the evening until I go to bed - evenings are harder than afternoons, because I have mostly done what I want to do and it is dark and I am tired before bedtime and no one will be home until midnight - but I'm sure I will figure something out! Actually, I haven't read much today; maybe I'll put in a couple hours and finish up The Thief!

Good night :)

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

So Alex and Jamie and I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear) on Saturday! This was the rally held by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report. It was really fun! I have mixed feelings about the politics and morals of it all - some of it was really good, some of it was weak and privileged and maybe even detrimental to the actual message - but all in all, it was a really good time, and it felt good to be there, and we were really glad we went.

We didn't register in time to get on one of the free buses the Huffington Post was offering, so we had to pay to take a private rally bus, which, you know, too bad, but ok. The bus had way more comfortable seats than the Greyhound Alex and I took to and from monmouth (excuse the lower-case "m"s, please; I'm copy-pasting every m still, and I don't want to deal with switching back and forth from capital to lower-case!), and was generally a pleasant ride. We also had a reporter from a major Australian news station on our bus, and he interviewed me for quite some time! I think I was articulate and intelligent - or anyway, I hope I was! - and hopefully I was on Australian TV on Sunday or monday! I wonder how I could find out... wait, actually, Alex has the email of the reporter! We can email him and ask! Alex is curious about seeing an Australian show that doesn't air in the US anyway. Anyway, also he filmed Alex and Jamie and me just talking about politics and our families and stuff for a while, which was also neat.

The buses left at 5 am and arrived in D.C. around 9:30; we made our way to the mall, where the rally was being held near the steps of the Capitol. We squeezed through the tens of thousands of people (multiple estimates suggest that there were 250,000 people there, although of course rally size estimates are always highly guess-y) to a place relatively in the middle, where we could have seen the stage if we were seven feet tall and where we could kind of mostly see a couple of the big screens. We amused ourselves until the rally started at noon by reading the many fascinating and hilarious signs we saw around us, and chatting with the nutty people next to us, and snacking (we packed basically all the food in the house, and it was still gone by the end of the rally, and we had to buy dinner, and all of the restaurants had a two hour wait because of the 250,000 people flooding downtown, so we ate at mcdonalds and it was disgusting but fine).

When the rally started, there was music, and also the guys from mythbusters, none of which was that entertaining because I couldn't really see anything. But! when Stewart and Colbert came on, they were so entertaining and fun, as were their musical guests - Cat Stevens, Ozzy (!), Love Train, John Legend, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Tony Bennet - that it didn't matter that it was a mostly auditory experience. I had so much fun! There was for sure enough funny and enough talent and even enough message to fill the remaining 2 hours of the rally.

At the end, Jon came back onstage for 20 minutes and gave the sincere speech that was really the heart of the rally. The speech was basically a plea to be civil with each other; to remember that we are not each other's enemies; to recall that unlike what the media says is possible or impossible, we work together every day no matter what our politics are; to condemn hatred and hyperbole on the parts of both sides of the political spectrum; and to point out that while the media didn't necessarily create the problems in this country, it aggravates them by giving us 24/7 messages of fear and gridlock and doom and depression.

The speech was moving, no doubt; it was often right on, to be sure; and it may have been what the country needed to hear around now. Certainly the media pits people against each other and exaggerates problems and fearmongers; certainly the discourse in this country has degenerated to a morass of superficial bullshit and hatred; certainly calling someone Hitler is always uncalled for; certainly the left wing is not exempt from hypocrisy or shallow analysis.


that said, I think his speech was also somewhat disingenuous, in a problematic way. It is flat out wrong, for one thing, to suggest that the hate speak and the hyperbole and the shallow, inflammatory rhetoric on the left is anywhere in the same universe as the same flaws on the right. Anti-war activists, some of whom occasionally exaggerate or leap to conclusions, but who are virtually all entirely grassroots, are not in the same ballpark as astro-turf tea partiers, many of whom are explicitly racist and who repeat lies on a regular basis and are egged on and told what to say by Fox News and the massive funding behind it. Keith Olbermann and Rachel maddow are not the same as Glenn Beck. They just aren't. There is just no parallel. Left-wing pundits tend to be center-left; right wing pundits move farther to the right every day.

Furthermore, calling someone racist - or at least calling out their actions and words as racist - is completely appropriate, and neither hateful nor hyperbolic - if their actions and words are in fact racist, if they do in fact demonstrate hatred or prejudice. If we can't call out racism, how can we end it? Calling someone racist or misogynist or otherwise bigoted is not the same as calling someone Hitler, or as inaccurately calling someone a socialist. The former is a way of speaking out against oppression and for progress and - dare I say it - for civility!

The way Stewart equated these things falls into the hands of the right wing and disguises much of the genuine problems in our political discourse. The neoconservative movement has spent the last forty years pressuring the media into presenting opposing opinions in search of balance, rather than looking for and presenting facts and making sensible analysis. They have pushed the idea that there are two equivalent sides to every story, and that even if the right-wing position is extreme and not representative of most Americans, it deserves to be aired as if it is equally legitimate with a left or center-left position. Acting and speaking as if current left-wing and right-wing discourse are equivalent is doing the same thing: It is presenting the two sides as if they are equivalent, and thereby swinging the discussion towards the right by failing to recognize and condemn the current right-wing for what it is (i.e. singularly and incomparably filled with extremists, hate-mongerers, and lies).

I understand that Stewart is trying to be bipartisan and fair, and that that is especially important for him so that he can escape being labeled as incorrect due to his liberal bias (which he certainly has and has never hidden). But in his efforts to be bipartisan he has erased something vital, and has made his message less relevant and less radical (by radical I don't mean extreme, but fundamental, back to the roots, vital). Plus, it is his privilege as a straight, white, wealthy man that allows him to do so without pangs of conscience. Activists on the left - even those seen (and condemned by Stewart) as extreme - are so moved to activism and rhetoric because right-wing policies hurt them directly. Stewart can condemn people who condemn and passionately fight against the right wing for its anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-muslim, anti-poor policies, because he's not the one being paid less because of his gender, or being told he shouldn't practice his religion, or being fired because of his gender presentation, or dying from botched abortions or hate crimes or hunger. Yes, he is a liberal, and yes, he is mostly on the side of human and civil rights for everyone, but by acting as if angry speech from both sides of the political spectrum are equivalent, he is silencing and discrediting a lot of people with less privilege than he has, when he maybe should in fact be giving them a voice. In this way, he's not progressive, he's regressive. He's undermining his own beliefs - which, again, he can afford to do, because he is never going to be hurt by it.

Well, ok, that's my rant about that. Had to get it off my chest :). And it's not to say that he didn't say some things that need to be said, or that the core of his message (that the media is fanning the fire, and that hyperbole and hate and inaccuracy are hurting a country in which we have the capability of working together) isn't valid. And I still like Jon Stewart and I'll still watch the Daily Show, and I had a good time at the rally. But I couldn't let the flaws and the problems and the privileges of it all go unremarked on.

You can look here and here for reactions similar to mine (I highly recommend watching the Olbermann video, at least the beginning of it before the interview part, which is kind of boring).

And you can look here for a really excellent musicalized version of his speech, by a group who has also created such gems as this (from the original), this (from the original), and this (possibly my favorite!).