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Rainy Weekend Adventures

November 15th, 2009 · No Comments · Uncategorized

After over a year of living in Boston, I have mixed feelings about the place.  There are very few cities in the US with the sort of density that allows for a vibrant non-car culture: NYC, Boston, SF… maybe DC and Chicago… but that’s about it!  Before coming to Boston, I remember being excited about the possibility of walking around a sophisticated urban environment.  One where there were always a thousand activities going on around every corner…

I’ve become much more jaded over the last year.  The reality of navigating Boston usually translates into lots of bitter-cold walking with even more expensive taxi rides, or sitting in gridlock before driving around in circles for 30 minutes searching for parking (followed by more bitter-cold walking).  In the heart of winter, a quick drive down uncongested highway towards guaranteed parking at Panera always seems to edge out that Bohemian coffee shop – no matter how urban or eclectic it might be.  If you have a ton of money, it’s possible you could get a loft right in the middle of one of the more comprehensive squares in Boston – but for the majority of us, you’re going to have to walk or drive to get anywhere interesting.

That said, this weekend we decided to break out of the mold and check out the event calendars at Harvard (College) and MIT.  The MIT museum (for $4/pp) had a really amazing exhibit featuring “artistic machines”.  Absolutely loved it – they were all complex, functional machines with constantly moving parts.   They also had a hologram display (pretty interesting) and a “history of robotics” gallery.  The robotics gallery had the potential to be very interesting, but instead of moving, interactive parts, it simply consists of a bunch of static history stuffed into glass cases with boring descriptive placards.  It could use a bit of work…

Arthur Ganson at MIT

Arthur Ganson at MIT

Robotics Exhibit at MIT

Robotics Exhibit at MIT

There was also a fascinating “history of MIT” room.  We didn’t stop to browse through all of it, but it did mention that MIT and Harvard thought about merging back in the early 1900s.  It ended up failing (thanks to faculty opposition and a court decision re: public land grants), but it’s still interesting to think about…

MIT merges with Harvard!?

MIT merges with Harvard!?

After a rousing afternoon at MIT, we headed over to Harvard College’s Agassiz Theatre for a production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Sorcerer by the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players.  (The Sorcerer was G&S’ first “true” operetta, written immediately prior to their most famous work, the HMS Pinafore).  It was a fantastic venue – great small theatre, and the cast obviously put a lot of work into it.  G&S is tough to perform – lots of fast singing, broad ranges, and complex lyrics.  I enjoyed the performance a lot (given a general love of G&S and musicals), but I think my date was a bit put-off by the difficult-to-understand lyrics.  Enunciation is key here, and I’m not sure there were any theatre majors in the mix (aside from the excellent performance from the actor playing the lead role of the title character)…

The Sorcerer (G&S) #1

The Sorcerer (G&S) #1

The Sorcerer (G&S) #2

The Sorcerer (G&S) #2

Still, it was really quite funny — fantastic parody.  It combines an over-the-top love story with a paper-thin plot, exaggerated archetypes, and a finale where the entire cast sings about pastries.  I enjoyed it, and I’ll definitely be back for their performance of the Pirates of Penzance in the Spring!

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