Free Stuff (17 cents)

Yesterday was a day for free stuff. Here goes:

1. I stood in line to get free tickets to see “The Taming of the Shrew” at the Shakespeare Theatre. This is the 19th year of free Shakespeare in Washington in September. A contemporary production, flashy and modern, with good acting. An audience pleaser, especially for those who are not regular Shakespeare attendees. I myself do not think that “Shrew” needs to be performed on glassy, glossy sets in mod attire, but that’s just me. My first “Shrew” came at Stratford-on-Avon in 1962, a traditional production, with Vanessa Redgrave playing Kate. Until then, I thought Shakespeare required much too much thought and attention to be enjoyable. That night, I was amazed at the ease with which I enjoyed the play. I think many in last night’s audience of approximately 800 felt the same way that I did in 1962.

2. As we stood in line, we filled out a pink slip entitling us to participate in a drawing for two free seats to the Shakespeare Theatre’s first fall production, Ben Jonson’s “The Alchemist”. My wife and I each filled out a slip, and I was careful to crinkle it a bit (well, actually, a lot) before I slipped it into the collection box. Before “Shrew” started, DC Councilman Tommy Wells stepped on stage, said a few rather simplistic things (like “Shakespeare wrote good plays” and “This is a good theatre”), and then reached his hand into the box. With a sense of accomplishment, I noted the crinkles on the pink slip in his hand. My wife’s name was called out, much to her surprise (if not mine) and to the surprise of our friends sitting in the third row. (We were up in the balcony)

3. Because we some time ago had the foresight to go onto the emailing list of Jaleo in Washington, we were offered a free tapa (is the singular of tapas, tapa? Or is tapas itself singular?) as part of Jaleo’s La Tomatina Festival Week. (La Tomatina is that messy and weird festival in August in Spain where everyone throws tomatoes at everyone else.) We selected (ready for this?) fried green tomatoes, served with blue cheese. Sometimes you get much more than you paid for.

4. It is also my wife’s birthday month, and that entitled her to a present from Jaleo – we have had chocolate covered figs and Spanish olives in the past. This time it was a jar of Spanish Marcona Almonds. Much better than the olives, I think.

I should add one more thing. At Jaleo’s (and this was prior to the drawing at the theatre for “The Alchemist”, my wife ordered a sea bass and garlic dish. It was very good, and it led to a discussion about sea bass, and specifically Chilean sea bass, which neither of us particularly like. I pulled out my Blackberry and went to Wikipedia and learned that there were several different fish that are varieties of sea bass, and asked the waiter which one they were using. To my surprise, he found out it was Japanese sea bass, also known as suzuki fish, something we are not used to seeing in the markets. I looked at the separate article on this particular fish in Wikipedia, and saw that, among other things, it is considered a “good luck” fish in Japan. My wife thinks it was the sea bass, and not my crinkling, that won her the “Alchemist” tickets. I guess we can’t agree on everything, right?

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