Theatre: We were disappointed by Sleep No More which has lost some of its initial charm by overbooking the shows to the point where it’s impossible to actually see the actors for the crowds. Like everyone else, we loved the puppets in War Horse but thought the script was inane. We found memorable the productions we saw in New York of February House, Pool (no water) and Luz. Laurie Beth appreciated Emily Mann’s A Street Car Named Desire. As mentioned above we saw a lot of good and/or interesting stuff in Vegas.
Art: We found the Whitney Biennial disappointingly dull but loved Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art at the Smart Museum in Chicago. We saw two great shows by our friends this year at INOVA in Milwaukee, Miller & Shellabarger: Hiding in the Light and then Michelle Grabner: The Inova Survey. Cecelia Condit had a beautiful show in at MMoCA. We made research trips to the Tenement Museum and Ground Zero. We spent three full days at Documenta 13, a long time but not enough to see the whole show. We particularly enjoyed the day we spent biking through Karlsaue Park. Here’s a list of some of our favorite artists in the show: AND AND AND, (fill in list when we get home).
Books: In non-fiction, we highly recommend Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor by our friend Rob Nixon. Michael has felt for a while that his fiction-reading brain has shut down, but he’s been reading a lot of non-fiction and, at least on winter vacations, some pulp stuff like George R.R. Martin and Neil Stephenson. Since acquiring an e-reader, Laurie Beth has been reading fiction voraciously. In the last few weeks, she has plowed through The Round House, Flight Behavior, State of Wonder, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Art of Fielding, The Lacuna, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Marriage Plot, and Casual Vacancy.most of which she recommends (more or less in descending order). PLEASE SEND YOUR SUGGESTIONS FOR OTHER BOOKS SHE SHOULD DOWNLOAD!
Blogs: We’ve enjoyed Nick Mirzoeff’s year-long project Occupy 2012 and wonder what is in store for 2013. We also follow and recommend The Feminist Spectator by Jill Dolan and jj murphy on independent cinema.
Television: We regularly Tivo and watch (in descending order of defensibility): Treme, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Newsroom, Glee, Nurse Jackie, Big C, Scandal, Weeds, True Blood. We started watching Nashville (which Michael describes as a cross between Treme and Dallas) because we were going there and we keep watching because we are Connie Briton fans (Jill Dolan has a nice piece about it on her blog here). Laurie Beth still likes Project Runway and Project Runway All Stars. We watched Halloween Wars until Michael’s student Leigh’s team was cut. On Netflix, we caught up on Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones and are anxiously awaiting the new seasons. On the recommendation of Tom Loeser, we enjoyed four seasons of Foyle’s War and we mostly like Sherlock which we started because Michael’s advisee, Jeff Casey, was writing about it.
Film: Although our travel schedule prevented us from hosting an Oscar party this year, we did see most of the nominated films. Of this coming year’s probably nominees, we’ve so far seen Life of Pi and Lincoln. The movie we think should get all of the awards this year is Beasts of the Southern Wild which we both thought was the most brilliant project we’ve seen in years. If you haven’t seen it yet, we suggest you rush right out and do so. (You can read JJ Murphy’s thoughtful piece about it here). On DVD, we recommend Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light.
Politics: Our huge disappointment at the failure of the Scott Walker recall was somewhat offset by the election of Tammy Baldwin to the US Senate. The previous year felt like it was all about politics, and we share the “outrage fatigue” that a lot of liberals in the state are feeling. Largely due to private campaign spending and devious redistricting, the right controls both the legislature and the governor’s mansion, so things like relaxed mining regulations and wolf hunting keep happening. On the bright side, the bitter failure several years ago to defeat a homophobic anti-marriage equality amendment to the state constitution seems in the current national context to be an injustice that is surely headed for eventual remedy.