The Eric Lusby show just finished up at the NCAA Div I Lacrosse Championship. Can you say ‘want-to?’ Eric Lusby tore up his knee against Cornell in 2010. Major reconstruction. Too much scar tissue that he had to tear loose to make it back for 2011. Loyola didn’t even make the top 25 in the pre-season rankings for 2012. But Eric Lusby had it all together again. The Loyola team was hungry, angry at being ignored, and laden with talent. Lusby was the last piece they needed. He had a great regular season. And when the tournament began, he burst into flames. The bigger the game, the bigger he played. In the quarter finals Loyal beat Denver 10-9. Lusby had 5. In the semi’s Loyola beat Notre Dame 7-5. Lusby had 5. In the championship game, Loyola beat Maryland 9-3. Lusby had 4. Lusby set a tournament record with 17 goals. Tough loss for Maryland, who were working on their own Dream Season. Fun to watch a kid from Seattle–Mercer Island actually–score 4 in their semi-final win over Duke. I played against Drew Snider’s dad back in the day.
25 people came out on a Friday night at 6:30 to hear me read from Passage of the Kissing People. Third Place is a remarkable venue, lots of parking and the staff is super. Kudos to Wendy Manning and Steven, they had everything I needed for my presentation. But it’s a huge barn, with restaurants and a stage and bookstore all in one large former clothing store. Events happen all day and into the evening there, and they schedule tight. Scouting the place on a previous Friday we learned that the author slot is 6:30-7:30. At 7:30, over on the main stage, a rock band starts up. I reworked the show after the launch party, added some more historical shots, and cut the quiz presents from 5 to 3. And blessings upon Phoebe Kitanidis and Khoa Le. I had a dream of a video of my performance, but no camera and no experience. To have them give up part of a Friday night to help me was a major lift. Learned some things about setting up so I stay out of my own light. A good crowd with juicy questions that intrigued me, some who’d already read the book and came for answers. Q&A finished up at 7:20, we had some good blues backup while I signed. The kind of night that makes me feel like I have connected with my audience, I’ve given them something they will value.
Watched 2 of the 4 NCAA Men’s Quarterfinals yesterday, Maryland vs Hopkins and Loyola vs Denver. Lots of tremendous play from all 4 teams, but one moment stood out. Mark Matthews’ goal in the waning moments of Denver’s loss to Loyola (MD) is a thing of such beauty and body control it’s hard to know where to begin (about 1:08 of this clip). NCAA Highlights His team trailing, the chance to cut the deficit to one, but the pass is wide, the defenseman is right in Matthews’ face. To reach out across his body to the right with a one-handed stab, no more than 3″ of stick still in his grasp, and bring that pass in–like catching a brick in a teaspoon. To bring it in so smoothly, to get both hands on the stick, and then to turn full 180 and fire a left-handed laser is evidence of ballet-class body control. To do it while being physically assaulted by the defense, to put the ball in the upper corner with surgical precision and bring his team within 1, was a blazing portrait of focus. That his team lost adds poignancy to the moment, but nothing came smudge the beauty.
We saw Chay Yew’s A Language of Their Own at the Richard Hugo House. The description I read, (which I cannot lay hands on, drat!) was of two Asian-American gay couples who develop their own language to describe their lives. I went to collect specimens for my Family Language collection, but came away curiously empty-handed. First of all, I liked the play. Immigrant Asians occupy an outsider’s position in America, and their children are well aware of that. To be gay as well adds another layer of vulnerability. The characters are all strongly written, never just a vehicle for a set of convictions. Critics of the 1995 New York production felt Robert (here played by Trevor Cushman) was the weak role and weak spot of the play. Perhaps the play has been reworked since then, but I felt Robert carried his weight. He was the very the youngest of them with the least life experience, but though he had the least to contribute, contribute he did. The actors (Cushman, Alex Adisorn, Jospeh Steven Yang and David Hsieh) were all good, and Hsieh was was remarkable. But then I had an expectation problem with family language. I was looking for words or phrases that had special meaning for the characters. With one gay couple separating and splitting into two others, I thought it would be interesting to see how the language mutated. Instead, what I found was one phrase, “Hold my finger.” The rest would be more properly categorized as family rituals. In that sense it was disappointing. Did anyone else find more there than I did?
Book-Its narrative theatre style of presenting novels fascinates me. Last night’s performance of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Seattle writer Garth Stein (adapted by Myra Platt) was powerful and moving. Unusually, I had not read the book before I saw the play, so I can’t compare them yet. The hard part in any literary adaptation, whether it is to the screen or the stage, is what to leave in, what to take out. Two views I have heard from others who had read the novel first were completely contradictory. One couple felt that the central appeal of the novel (which is told from the point of view of a race car driver’s dog, Enzo) was the dog’s thoughts and commentary about his master’s life; and the adaptation gave them too little of what they liked most. They enjoyed the play, but couldn’t help but long for more. The other view, expressed by a woman, was that the novel was “a little too Jonathon Livingston Seagull” for her, and that she liked the play better than the book as a result of the choices made. I’m curious enough to plan on reading Racing. I’ll report back. Meanwhile, the play I saw last night. Carol Roscoe’s direction made for a very physical high energy performance. David S. Hogan’s performance as a (talking) dog carried the conceit without a hitch. His canine body language held character throughout. He was well matched by Eric Riedmann as Denny, and their rapport together as man and man’s best friend, was an excellent recreation of the emotional bond without crossing into saccharine country. Book-It does wonders with minimal staging and props; what little they use is always imaginatively multi-functional, as when twin red leather ottomans can be either living room furniture of the seats of a race car. The Center House Theatre space (set in this case in the round) is framed by 2 massive round pillars that are structural supports for the building. Andrea Bryne Bush used these to good effect, with ramp/risers platforms curving around each pillar and a clear oval area in between for the central action. The Art of Racing in the Rain is sold out for the remainder of the run. You may have missed your chance to see this one, but keep an eye on Book-It. Next Up: Friday May 5 A Language of Their Own by Chay Yew at the Richard Hugo House.