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Close Reading in Kindergarten
Sep 18th, 2017 by Dr Karma

My kindergarten teacher taught us an old rhyme:
Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Wasn’t that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?

A Conversation From My Youth:

Me: What does “dainty” mean?
My teacher: Small.
Me: A pie with 24 blackbirds would be really big. Are we saying this wrong? Should we say “undainty”?
[Long pause.]
My teacher: No one else has ever had a problem with this.

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W3 Story 2: William Tell
Sep 13th, 2017 by Dr Karma

My (Grand)Daddy spent a lot of time on his grandparents’ dairy farm in Michigan. His grandmother only spoke Finnish, and he only spoke English, but he said they still understood each other.

John and Mary Waltonen, my great-great grandparents from Finland

Not surprisingly, he was an adventurous child. Once, after having been to the picture shows, he tried to jump off the barn, thinking that an umbrella would slow his fall, as it had for a cartoon character.

My grandfather as a young man, with his younger sisters and parents.

But my favorite story from his youth is this one.

He played William Tell with one of his sisters–putting an apple on her head–and getting the bow and arrow ready.

He shot her in the cheek.

And then, somehow, he managed to convince his other sister to let him try on her.

And he shot her in the cheek.

The moral of this story: Waltonen women cannot resist that man.

Today, he would have been 89. If there’s an afterlife, I hope he’s with his sisters today and that all arrows shoot straight and that cartoon physics rule the land.

A very bad boy and his trusting sisters

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An Octoroon at CapStage
Sep 12th, 2017 by Dr Karma

An Octoroon won an Obie for Best New Play a couple of years back. It’s now playing in Sacramento, at CapStage.

I love this play and this production.

The Octoroon was an 1859 play/melodrama by Dion Boucicault–it was extremely popular, and was used in the North to further the abolitionist cause. Using the image of the octoroon was common–those who were 1/8ths black could usually pass. Thus, the audience would see a white person being treated like a black one, which hopefully lead them to question such treatment all together. Female educated octoroons were especially sympathetic–and bound for tragedy–no white man was supposed to love them (and laws in some places forbade it), and audiences believed that an almost white woman shouldn’t be with a fully black man.

It’s an old story, one that we don’t tell that much anymore.

That’s not at all to say this new version is dated–it’s completely relevant and terrifyingly familiar.

An Octoroon is a postmodern revision by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins–it’s clever and funny and satiric and heartbreaking. The melodrama–and the octoroon–are still there, but Jacobs-Jenkins gives a voice to the other slaves in peril, asks us to ask why we’re laughing, and thrusts us into contemplative, uncomfortable silence.

The current production (running through October 1st), directed by Judith Moreland, is powerful and has a strong cast (I couldn’t take my eyes off of Alexandra Barthel when she was on stage). The intimacy of this theatre space adds a great deal to the meta aspects of the play. When the actors turn to us, we are only a few feet away. There’s no where to hide–they can see us when we laugh, when we grimace, when we give them their well-deserved applause.

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The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 73
Sep 9th, 2017 by Dr Karma

Last week, a 35 year old messaged me, asking if I dated younger men.

I said that he wasn’t all that younger than I was, and that I date guys older too. I was trying to signal that a 7 year difference isn’t a huge deal, one way or another, at my age.

Him: So you like older as well like daddy?

I explained I didn’t date people my father’s age, no. Didn’t say: and I just buried my 88 year old daddy.

Him: Ever role play invest

That threw me for a loop. My first thought: Banking role play? Loan officer role play?

And then I understood.

He was interested in incest role play.

Not only am I really not into incest play, I am offended that someone only seven years younger thinks I should be playing his mom.

Ewww and ugh.

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