Friday, April 26, 2013

The Evidence of Spring

The weather in northern Virginia this spring has been all over the map. We had a snowstorm at the end of March, and just over a week later it was 96 degrees when I was riding my bike to school. The strange weather has made it challenging to determine how to dress in the morning, and has confused the flora as much as it has us humans.

It seems as though it is finally safe to declare that spring has showed up and we are not going to skip straight from a late winter to an early summer after all! Even our little Redbud tree finally started leafing out a couple of days ago, and our little oak tree is close behind.

The most dramatic effect of the unusual weather  was definitely the delay of the cherry blossoms. They released two different peak dates (after the first one passed they gave a second), and the second one came and went with hardly a blossom to show for it. Alison and I had decided to go out to the tidal basin to take a series of pictures before the blossoms came out, and then go back and take the same pictures again once they had peaked, and once more when they were on their way out. The irregular weather made it challenging because when they finally decided to show up, they came quickly and were only out for a couple of days.

Thankfully I was able to convince my supervisor that I needed to go and photograph the blossoms in the middle of the week when they were out. Otherwise we would have missed the peak entirely.

This Album Contains Some of the Best Pictures that came out of our cherry blossom forays.

Since I was going down to take pictures in the middle of the week, I decided to go early enough to capture the sunrise and even convinced Alison to get up early on her day off to accompany me. This
Album Highlights the Sunrise that Morning.

Speaking of sunrises, in the midst of the cherry blossom saga we attended the sunrise service at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday. Despite significant cloud cover we were able to enjoy a beautiful Sunrise Through the Narrow Band of Clear Sky right at the horizon line.

If those pictures don't satisfy your appetite for Easter Sunrise shots, you can also check out an

Easter Sunrise Comparison of the pictures I took in 2010 and 2012 with the ones from this year.

While on the subject of comparisons, you can also take a look at the final product of the Cherry Blossom Comparisons that resulted from six trips down to the tidal basin. There are a total of fifteen different locations, each with photographs taken on four consecutive Sundays (March 24, March 31, April 7, and April 14) and during the peak on April 11.

And, if after all of these cherry blossom and sunrise pictures, you still want more evidence of spring, this Album on the Manassas Facebook Page consists of a series of pictures I took of the bluebells blooming along Bull Run.

Friday, April 19, 2013

When you're feeling in the dumps--Don't be silly chumps--Just purse your lips and whistle, that's the thing!

One of the first commonalities that Alison and I discovered was a mutual appreciation for British Humor, and a particular affinity for “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” This has long been a staple of my DVD collection and I have even been known to recreate scenes from the film for comedy shows at church. 

In 2005 I heard tell of a new rendition of the story (if it even deserves to be so designated) in the form of a Broadway show called “Spamalot.” Ever since I have wanted to see this show, but have not had the opportunity to do so.

While we were in Colorado after Christmas this past year I received an email that informed me that the show was coming to Washington, DC in April and giving me the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets. It was too good an opportunity to pass up, and Alison consequently received two tickets to “Spamalot” for her birthday a week later. 

We had to wait three months, but this past Sunday, April 14, we attended what turned out to be the very last show, not only in DC, but of the entire National Tour. 

The show was just as absurd as we had anticipated, but that is a large part of the appeal. I was quite impressed by how much they were able to do with very minimal set changes. The two towers you see in the picture below were on stage the entire time and everything else occurred between them.

Many of the most memorable scenes from the film found their way into the show. Included amongst them are the French taunting (complete with a wooden rabbit), the knights who say “ni”, the black knight, the death cart in the village, Lancelot rescuing Prince Herbert, the killer rabbit and, of course, the “Knights of the Round Table” song.  Each of the elements taken from the movie had unique twists in the stage production, and the scenes that didn’t make it (the witch scene, the castle anthrax, and the bridge of death being the most notable), though missed, were replaced by scenes that helped to tie together a more cohesive story than the original.

I was not a fan of all the changes (eg. having Lancelot turn out to be gay after his successful rescue of Prince Herbert—who is also gay) but many of them were  very much in the spirit of the original while also serving to create an actual story that has a beginning middle and end.  

They did a lot of clever things to connect disparate elements like having the guy pushing the death cart turn out to be Sir Robin and the man who brings out the man who is “not dead yet” be Lancelot. Likewise Dennis the Peasant turns out to be Sir Gallahad. It is kind of funny really because the only knight that gets a backstory in the movie is Sir Bedevere, and in the show he is the only one who doesn’t.

They also incorporated additional elements of the Flying Circus into the show and, in my opinion, it is an excellent addition to the Python genre.

If you don’t find Python humor funny, you aren’t going to like this show, but if you appreciate “The Holy Grail” for what it is, you too should join Arthur’s Court at Spamalot!