The weekend: “We scattered til our head hurt”

Mercy, mercy, did we scatter this weekend! We scattered til our head hurt, we scattered til Michael Chabon uttered the last sentences of his lecture Sunday night, we scattered back in time as we watched Mary Oslund’s Bete Perdue, we even scattered at the now-only-newish Bond flick Quantum of Solace. The latter was hard. How many words were actually in that script, anyway? 500 or so? If that? Dear reader, we scattered anyway. We were scattering fools.

The return of Bete Perdue: I went to opening night of the re-dance of Mary Oslund’s spring show. I’m in favor of re-dances, by the way. For those who haven’t seen the choreography, which let’s face it, is 99.999 percent of the metro area, it’s a chance to come in from the cold. Those of us who have seen it get another look — and memory being what it is (a miracle, sure, but so totally unreliable), we need it.

I posted on Bete Perdue before, so I’ll just add a few thoughts: 1) I thought Oslund had changed it some, eliminating some longer solos, replacing them with more group dancing. The eagle-eyed Martha Ullman West said it was longer by 10 minutes, but I didn’t clock it. 2) Friday night it might have been danced more crisply. My operant theory: Go to the last night of a local dance performance, and you will miss opening night jitters/mishaps and second night emotional troughs. 3) I noticed the Obo Addy-Katie Griesar music more than I had before, and I mean that in a good way. I understood it as an organizing principle of the dance, and enjoyed its subtlety and rhythms (Obo!). 4) Individual dancers didn’t respond directly to those rhythms, but the dance as a whole did. Oslund moved our eyes around the stage more or less quickly by the rhythm of her animation of groupings of dancers. A very sophisticated effect. 5) The two amuse-bouche that opened the program were captivating — funny, quick, then deeply felt. Made me want a meal of small plates. Here’s the Catherine Thomas review on OregonLive.

Let us solace ourselves with loves: Quantum of Solace is James Bond, still in love, still suffering for the loss of his beloved Vesper in Casino Royale, and doesn’t that Daniel Craig make a good brooding and thus doubly dangerous Bond? Sure he does. But the movie is SO twitchy with action scenes, Craig’s face is so passive, that I yearned for just a touch of Roger Moore’s insouciance in the face of danger and attractive women. Please, sir, just one bad pun? For old times’ sake? By the way the Proverb from which the line at the top of the item was taken (Proverbs 7:18, Scatter is so biblical) is about a young foolish man taken in by a “strange woman” and it doesn’t end well for Bond, er, the young man: “For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. /Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” O, boy…

Chabon on families (his): Speaking of biblical injunctions, novelist Michael Chabon declared his position early in his talk at Congregation Beth Israel Sunday. “I really can’t stand the God of Abraham,” he said. He was talking specifically about circumcision (in a very amusing way), but what he was really talking about was the modern family and its contentments.

His lecture was sweet and funny and autobiographical, pausing to take in the usual subjects that bedevil parents, especially fathers — the way they so easily are reduced to walking cliche machines, for example. Chabon has four kids and they provided the material for the lecture, they taught the lessons, they inspired the fear and occasional melancholy and contentment he talked about. My favorite line: “Children collapse time and space around them.” The story he told to illustrate this was about his daughter Sophie’s Bas Mitzvah: In the full excitement and flush of ritual, he told her, “This is our life happening and it is happening right now.” Children are an invitation into the Right Now, and what I took from Chabon is that in the Right Now, there aren’t so many regrets.

My second favorite line came during the Q&A, when someone asked him where he started his novels, beginning, middle or end. “I start at the beginning, and that’s as far as I ever get.”

Congregation Beth Israel has a full schedule of lectures as part of its 150th year celebration, and Scatter colleague David Sarasohn is right in the thick of it. We hereby offer our Scatter thanks to the Congregation and to him!