Saturday, December 22, 2007

I hit the road last weekend, heading up to Los Angeles to see a presentation of Frankenstein (Mortal Toys) and attend the Museum of Jurassic Technology's Christmas party. I probably couldn't have worked up the strength to drive to L.A. for either event, singularly, but combined they gave my trip purpose.

Frankenstein (Mortal Toys) certainly made the trip worthwhile in and of itself. Mary Shelley's tale, adapted to the stage, then adapted to puppets, cardboard cut-outs, basically, with articulated joints, painted in the style of 18th-century American portrait painting. The puppets were simultaneously simple and expressive, and the stark sets managed to invoke the sublime despite their diminutive size. And the various frigid settings (the Arctic, Mont Blanc) made the show's performance at the Velaslavasky Panorama particularly apt. If you ever have a chance to see a performance of this remarkable show, I highly recommend you do so.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology's party was enjoyable. I always enjoy being there, it's a very peaceful place. It truly invokes the museum's early calling, to invoke the Muses. The Bulgarian folk music was entertaining, and the food was okay, and the curator's dog took a particular shining to me, for some reason (wanting my Apple turnover, I know, but others had food as well, yet I was singled out--I'm special!). I didn't stay too long, as the place was far too crowded for its size, though it is nice to see that lots of people agree with me that the museum is a special place (except for the nasty old ladies who insisted on shouting over the musician standing two paces away so they could continue their discussion of what they had for lunch). As I left the building to go home, I was stopped by two young hipsters, who seemed surprised to see anyone emerge from the storefront (from outside, the museum always appears closed), and started peppering me with variations of what seemed like a simple question, considering I had just left the establishment: What the hell is this place? But, with the exception of the question, "Are there dinosaurs?" (answer: no), I didn't quite know what to say. For a place I have come to bestow an almost holy significance, it is quite difficult to put into words just what it is. There is a very quick reply that immediately comes to mind, but to give that explanation is to once expose the central conceit of the place in a ham-fisted way, and also to narrow it's significance to this one gimmick, defining the whole by one shallow aspect of the part. Though I suppose that all sounds rather pretentious. Anyway, I encouraged them to visit the museum some time, with the promise of oddities and wonderment. And of course I encourage you to do the same, if you find yourself in the neighborhood.

UPDATE: Last time I visited the Velaslavasay Panorama, I didn't share my pictures, which didn't really turn out due to the low lighting. This time, I took some snapshots with my iPhone (did I mention that I bought an iPhone? I have an iPhone), and while the camera in the iPhone isn't the greatest, it actually does remarkably well in low light, so I went ahead and uploaded a few photos of the "Effulgence of the North", as well as one I took from the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

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