We left Friday morning, finding the Red Roof Inn on 32nd with no real trouble. (While the bed wasn't the most comfortable I've ever slept in, it was far better than the Holiday Inn down the street, and the room was otherwise fine, especially for its relatively low price.) We walked down to the Flatiron to meet pnh and tnh for lunch. I read my first slush, which was strangely exciting (I think the interns thought my enthusiasm was weird). I'd say the manuscript I looked at fell at about #7 on the Slushkiller list: I read the prologue first, which had sentences and paragraphs (though not ones that I particularly warmed to) in sufficient measure that I looked at the synopsis, which had demonstrated such implausible worldbuilding by the top of page two that I stopped reading. Still, I've wanted to read slush and now I have (and I'd do it again, too).
We had a lovely lunch at the Comfort Diner (thanks again, Patrick and Teresa), despite my acquiring a rotten headache partway through that made the retrieval of words a tricky business—particularly unfortunate in that company, which was distinguished by rapid, wide-ranging, and enthusiastic conversation. After lunch, we made our way back to the hotel, where I took some drugs and laid down for a minute, and then we headed up to the TKTS booth.
Allow me to say that it was very hot and very humid and not happy walking weather in the least; the kind of weather where you start stripping out of your clothes before your room door even shuts, because you are simply crawling with sweat. We did acquire orchestra tickets to the revival of Stoppard's Jumpers, which at half-price were merely eyebrow-raisingly expensive rather than eek-run-away expensive. After long cool showers, we had a light meal at one of the many Korean restaurants on our street, one which we'd been to before. Korean food, by the way, is an extremely good example of nurture over nature: I just don't like it (and Chad does). Usually I can find something in any restaurant, but I hadn't realized that the table barbecue doesn't really make sense for two non-starving people, so the pickings were pretty slim.
The production of Jumpers was very good: well-acted, nice sets, all the rest. If you like the play itself, you should certainly see it. I basically liked it until the end, which left me spluttering. Yes, it's true that life doesn't necessarily have denouements, as one of the characters says, but here's the thing: life isn't art. I'm not even sure what happened at the end, but whatever it was, it wasn't progress or movement or resolution, and I didn't find it satisfying.
(It is an interesting contrast with papersky's Farthing in this and several other regards.)
Saturday morning we headed for the Met. After being briefly distracted by a 16th century Italian etching showing a country where "owls excrete cloaks" and "roasted birds rain from the sky" (!), we made it to the Byzantium exhibit, which was certainly extensive. I would have liked a little more historical context, but it had some really cool stuff mixed in with the endless pictures of wizened Virgins with Child (two left-hand images on the page). I particularly liked the enormous chandelier ("choros") visible at this gallery page (direct link to details) and some amazing mini-mosaics, so fine that you could barely tell they were tiles rather than paint with the naked eye. A couple are online: Forty Martyrs icon at middle-left (direct link to details); Saint George and the Dragon in a Washington Post flash presentation (link to article if Flash link breaks). Another striking piece was an illustrated Gospels from Armenia (bottom of this page or direct link to details): the simplicity of the lines, together with the gray around the eyes, make it look much more like a comic book than I'd expect in 1455. The textiles were also very impressive.
Oh, and there's a Byzantine Egypt exhibit now under the big staircase. It included fragments of pottery that had been used as writing surfaces: shopping lists, lines from Homer, and affecting pleas from women for assistance.
After lunch, I briefly exclaimed over an exhibit that included chocolate pots (no blue ones, though), and then we toured Asian Art. The Japan section was closed, but I quite enjoyed the rest. There were lots of seals (such as this one) that thoughtfully were paired with modern impressions, so you could actually see them; some nice Ganesh sculptures (is it disrespectful to want a Ganesh sculpture when I think of him as an appealing mythological character rather than a deity?); and some gorgeous jades in Chinese Decorative Arts (hidden on the third floor).
I was getting pretty worn out by this point, so we made quick tours through Arms and Armor (did you know that a certain type of traditional Japanese sword fittings consisted of a knife handle, two grip ornaments, and a hair dressing tool?) and "Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century", which was too crowded and elaborate. Somewhere in there we were very struck by "Island of the Dead" by Bocklin; the online picture doesn't really do it justice. And we admired my Tiffany window, and I decided if I was going to take one thing home, it would be this Tiffany moonstone-and-sapphire necklace.
When we headed out, we heard that the Olympic torch would be coming by shortly, so I bought a cute dog magnet (CC 23) (I wanted the giraffe and turtle [EE 2] or a different dog [CD 16], but the artist was out of those) while we waited. The torch didn't pass before we headed across the Park, alas, but the weather had broken and was beautifully dry, clear, and cool (though windy), so it wasn't a hardship to loaf a bit. We found an Italian place at 83rd and Columbus, Assaggio; we thought it might be a place we'd eaten after a few years ago under new management, but that had been next door. Fortunately, it was very good.
Dinner took a little longer than we expected, so we arrived at Winter's Tale in Central Park just in time to see a lot of people walking further into the park—it's a moving production, put on by New York Classical Theatre, changing places with scenes. The moving gives it a very participatory feel, the actors were lively and engaged (even the one who was obviously losing her voice), and it was just plain fun. (I particularly liked the scene change at the end of III.3 where one of the actors hands a plainclothes guy [the director, I think] a note as he exited: "See Note on Tree." That note was the transitional speech of Time, the Chorus, which he read aloud.) I grinned my way through the whole thing, even the oddly-rushed and overly-happy ending—it's a weird play, no question, but the energy of the performance carried me through.
Sunday we went to the Cloisters. I quite liked the lion and dragon frescos, though I don't know how they got the frescos onto canvas, and various misericords, which I admired while giggling to myself thinking of A Scholar of Magics (next up on the booklog; I'm stuck on writing it up). There was lots of insane detail to marvel at: Books of Hours (examples one and two); a boxwood rosary bead; and the Unicorn Tapestries, particularly the animals. I think the funniest things was the contrast in one set of stained-glass panels, which included serious things like the Temptation of St. Anthony, Christ taking leave of his mother—and then "Three Apes Assembling a Trestle Table" (alas, no image online). We also browsed the cloisters themselves; I particularly liked the main garden one, the Bonnefort Cloister, which had a corner labeled "Magic Plants" and espaliered pear trees, one 2D like this but with more branches:
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and one in 3D on the same plan. It was a gorgeous day, so the cloisters were particularly enjoyable, and they weren't in bloom last time we were there. Unfortunately the restaurant in the park was packed, so we took the Thruway for its rest stops and got stuck in traffic on the Tappan Zee, but after lunch the drive smoothed out and we made it home with plenty of time to collapse in fatigue.
(Links fixed/added 6/23/04.)