Sunday, December 27, 2015

The play's the thing

The fifth book in Gary Corby's hilarious ancient Athenian mystery series focused on that still-resonant cultural development, the Greek play. Previous books in the series focused on the (original) Olympics and the Battle of Marathon, and the future of democracy itself is always at stake if our hero detective Nico and his partner-in-crime/wife Diotima don't solve mysterious murders. This latest installment was another captivating caper -- this time involving the feast of Dionysus, the hierarchy of ancient Hellenic actors, and a good old wine-vs-beer subplot. Corby delivered yet another funny and insightful tale, with plenty of tongue-in-cheek jokes for a modern audience. I'll have to wait another year or so for the next book in this excellent series, though.

Over Thanksgiving, Mi Hermana and I went to see the final installment of the   Hunger Games film franchise.  It was largely faithful to the books, and like its three predecessors was a visual feast -- from the stunning architecture of the Capitol to the massive action sequences.  One thing that wasn't made especially clear in the movie, though, was the reason for Katniss' eventual rejection of Gale and subsequent acceptance of Peeta. Both Mi Hermana y La Otra Hermana were confused about how it played out in the movie, and neither had read the book. In the book it's much clearer that the love triangle represents war vs. peace; maybe that didn't come across on screen for the uninitiated.
But speaking of the initiated... La Madre drags family to see Pacific Northwest Ballet's The Nutcracker every few years. She mainly does it when family friends or boyfriends are in town. I've never particularly enjoyed the production or the story or the dancing (I've gotten bored every year), but I do love the music.

This year, I honestly loved the entire production. I'm not sure what exactly changed for me -- the CGI introduction, the costumes, the set, old age, the fact that I could pre-order wine for intermission... But whatever it was, I've only ever seen the PNB's Stowell and Sendak version. Their switch to the George Balanchine choreography this year made me actually love this ballet. Little details in the dances and set were hilarious, touching, beautiful. And I was never bored.  So kudos to PNB for trying something different and for finally getting me to appreciate my mother's holiday tradition!