This past weekend has been a very busy one. Here are the highlights:
1. On Friday, we went, for the third year in a row, to the Flower Mart at the National Cathedral. “Flowers” (and herbs, and plants and bonzais) form a part of what is being sold, but there are also crafts, jewelry, imported items, clothing and (except for this year, apparently) soaps. There is also a used book tent, which had an excellent collection of recent books on the Civil War, in pristine condition, and a large assortment of others, most of which were the same titles you see everywhere else. And then there is the food. We erred on our food choices, and had to relearn some obvious things. First, if you ask a 12 year old how the lemonade is and he says “good”, you can’t rely on that. Second, if your order the fried trout and when you look at it, you think you are looking at fried nothing, because the pieces are too thin to have fish inside, your impression is accurate. Third, you can’t tell the taste of sweet potato fries by the way they look. And, finally, the Italian sausage with onions and peppers was really good. On a beautiful day, as it was, you can not spend your time more pleasantly.
Friday evening, old college roommate Doug came over for dinner and, since there was a long period of time when we had no contact (20+ years), it was interesting to finally get a fairly complete chronology.
2. Saturday started with the ballgame, the Nats beating the Pirates 9-8 in what was a surprisingly unexciting game for one with 17 runs and 29 hits. But you have to give it to the Nats, who were at one time 6-16, and have come up all the way to 14-18. Quite a comeback. Also the first time at the new stadium. It is airy. The seats are comfortable. There is plenty of room to wander near the food stands and you can still have at least a partial view of the field. But the food was disappointing and, guess what? We did not learn the lessons we had thought we learned the day before at the Cathedral.
Then, after a quick home supper watching the Eight Belles tragedy at the Kentucky Derby, we saw two more film festival films.
The first, “Empties”, a Czech comedy that was a terrific film which hit somewhat close to home. A 65 year old school teacher abruptly decides to retire; his wife seems to have retired somewhat earlier. He doesn’t want to stay around the house all day; he says he’s the type that likes to greet his wife with a big smile, telling her how beautiful she looks, and you can’t do that unless first you go out. He first works as a bicycle courier, but winds up (to his wife’s embarrasment) working at a grocery taking back and giving receipts for empty bottles. He is a very social guy; and his social graces often (like a Czech Larry David?) lead to unanticipated and unwanted results. It is a very clever picture, and won one of the audience awards at the festival. (By the way, “Palmoa’s Delight”, which we saw earlier, won the critics’ overall award.)
Then we saw “Elite Squad”, a movie that won last year’s Berlin Film Festival’s top prize, among others. It is the story of BOPE, the elite police squad in Rio geared to go after the drug dealers as well as the corrupt regular police. This was perhaps the most violent movie I ever saw. I appreciated the skill of the movie makers; E. hated everything about it. I thought their skill could be much better used elsewhere. The question is: why do people want to watch this type of film, and what does it say about mankind in general?
3. Sunday morning started on a much more positive note. It was the 17th annual Garden of the Righteous Ceremony at Adas Israel, celebrating the actions of a non-Jew who helped save Jews in World War II. For the first time, an Arab was honored, a Tunisian who hid 24 Jewish Tunisians on his farm during the German occupation. He is no longer alive, but his daughter (who said her father had never told her this story) who lives in Paris spoke beautifully about Jews and Arabs; the daughter of one of the people rescued also gave a moving talk. And to see the Ambassador from Tunisia and a representative of the Israeli embassy on the podium together, with the flags of the two nations flying next to the American flag, and all three anthems sung………
Then, while E. went to a wedding shower, I went to my firm’s annual picnic at the National Zoo. Absolutely beautiful weather, food that was better than either Nationals Stadium of the National Cathedral (How many things can be named National?) and all, and especially all the small children, had a great time. We had a moon bounce, a clown, and best of all a brother-sister team who set up contests and races for the kids who were just terrific.
Finally, dinner with our friends Bob and Nona and Granville Moore’s (all thought the food was tops) and the final performance of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot”, again a treat.