Theatre Day: Fun Home and Eclipsed

Last weekend, one of my Boston cousins came to visit and we had a Theatre Day. We saw the matinee of Fun Home, which was as amazing and touching as everyone said.


The songs and the singing were great and I’m disappointed that the soundtrack isn’t on Apple Music. Rebecca Luker (Helen) was in especially fine voice and Gabriella Pizzolo is an amazingly bright and vivid Small Alison.

We ate too much BBQ at Virgil’s and then saw the evening performance of Eclipsed. I had been hesitant about this because it sounded depressing: Liberian women held captive by rebel warlords. It was actually devastating but so good. Beautifully written by Danai Gurira, the play completely involves you in its survival strategy dilemmas. The terrific cast includes Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, who was excellent, but everyone was excellent. I find myself still thinking about the play days later. I would see it again.


We got excellent seats for both shows through TDF so the theatre gods were definitely smiling on us. I feel like this one day justified my $30 yearly membership.

Images in this post were stolen from reviews on the internet. Contact me if you are an outraged photo copyright holder and I will remove it. 

George B. Costigan, Sr.

From the 1983 New York Times obituary:

George B. Costigan Sr., who represented Long Beach, L.I., on the Nassau County Board of Supervisors for 14 years, died Saturday in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he had lived in retirement for several years.

He was 74 years old.

Mr. Costigan was a charter member of the board of trustees of Nassau Community College at Mitchel Field, where the Costigan Physical Education Complex is named for him.

This year’s bizarre genealogy discovery (so far): George B. Costigan (1908-1983) was a charter member of the Nassau Community College Board of Trustees. They named the gym after him. He is also my 2nd cousin once removed (his great-grandfather is my great-great-grandfather). I am not sure how to feel about being even more connected to NCC. I guess with such a distant relationship I can continue to ignore it.

Yes, I’ve worked someplace almost twenty years before realizing one of the buildings is named for a relative. I admit I don’t spend much time at the gym.

Here’s a picture of the gym:


Award-worthy cartoons at BAM

Yesterday I saw the program of Oscar-nominated animated shorts, playing through Thursday at BAM. An absolute delight.. My favorite was Bear Story, a poignant allegory about human rights abuses in Chile as experienced by mechanical circus animals. The cages/prisons and keepers/killers were horrifying.

A very close second favorite was a cheerful Russian meditation on connection and grief, We Can’t Live without Cosmos.

I also liked Sanjay’s Super Team, about the spirituality of superheroes, but of course that was great because it was Pixar.

There were a couple of French shorts wherein the fur of the animated animals was so lifelike that it was actually a bit creepy, well into the uncanny valley.

Apart from the animated shorts, I’ve only seen two of the Oscar-nominated films this year. I thought Spotlight, while solid, was a little boring; newspaper procedurals are mostly interesting by contrast to how much less real reporting happens nowadays. I thought they did a good job capturing Boston of that era.  The Force Awakens was a great Star Wars movie, but it’s only nominated for effects/design-type awards, not for the biggies.


On the other mobile hand . . .

When I was using MacFamilyTree, I also used their iOS app MobileFamilyTree.

Now it is clear to me that the MobileFamilyTree app works ON ITS OWN without needing a Mac program. Reunion has a mobile app too, but it’s mostly just a viewer for the full Reunion Mac program.

I am writing this on my Macbook Air now, and writing it with a certain amount of resentment because I prefer to use my iPad but its battery needs recharging. I wish that I could just use my iPad for everything all the time. So perhaps I need to continue on with MacFamilyTree long enough to see if their Mobile FamilyTree app can become the iPad only tree.

This leaves me wondering how well other sites besides Ancestry will interact on an iPad. This should be an experiment for the summer.

Other potential iPad-only deal-breakers: I can’t upload files from my iPad to the Blackboard LMS, and I need Blackboard to teach my online classes. So perhaps my entire dream of iPad-only life will have to wait until I retire, or until Blackboard joins the modern world. (Because given the economy, I will hope to be lucky enough to get some online adjuncting work in retirement.) (Which is still years away.) I need to write another post about Blackboard and iPads but that will wait for another time.



Genealogy process update


Almost a year ago, I started using Family Tree Maker because I was tired of doing double entries between and Reunion 10. I downloaded my online tree and then reconciled it with my Reunion 10 database. There were many conflicts and problems. In a way this was good because it forced me to look at what I had. After weeks of work, I was ready to move forward working in FTM and syncing it to Ancestry. I was happy.

Then Ancestry announced that it would discontinue FTM. I was not happy. My old Reunion 10 software looked so clunky. And now there was an expensive upgrade to Reunion 11 if I wanted the latest and greatest, and I always do. However, MacFamilyTree capitalized on the FTM kerfuffle by running a special on their mostly praised software, so I bought that for much less than the Reunion upgrade.

I started cleaning up my database again to import it into MacFamilyTree, but then I thought screw it, I’ll just do the Genealogy Do Over thing and start again, working on one family line at a time. It will be simpler. And it was simple, but it was also boring and repetitive. It’s one thing to check your sources but doing over research you actually know is fine is tedious. None of us are getting younger. And the more I worked with MacFamilyTree, the more I disliked the labor-intensive way it handles sources. It seems like whatever you do requires three clicks. I did like the one chronological stream of events and facts for each person, but I have for that. (Reunion splits events and facts into two separate screens on separate tabs!)

I finally ponied up and paid for the Reunion 11 upgrade. At least it is familiar and I know how it works. (I’ve used versions of Reunion for at least ten years.) I like that it identifies “islands” of unrelated people in my database. I am having an issue with how it displays images: some of mine show up inside the program with weird pastel artifacts splattered across them. I’ve checked and the actual files aren’t affected, so it doesn’t really matter. There seem to be a lot of new reports but I tend to write my own histories. For the moment I am back to working my way slowly through one family at a time, and back to double entries using Reunion and Ancestry. It’s like I’ve trotted around in a big expensive circle to get back to where I started. I write this out to remind myself to stop software shopping and just research. I’m going to start with the Hegarty line and go from there.

This week has been full of genealogy connections though. Today, another Newfoundland researcher messaged me to send along a photo she’d taken of a photo of my Coombs great-great-grandparents. It was so exciting to see them and all the family resemblances! (It’s not my photo and I’m not sure how people feel about sharing it online so I’m not posting it here.) Also, a fourth cousin contacted me on Ancestry about the Costigans. I had privatized my online tree while I was sorting things out but now it’s public again, so I guess I’m back to researching.

So many hobbies, so little time.

Caterwauls of grief


Shockingly upset over Bowie’s untimely death.

This fanwork image was one of my user icons online for awhile. I love this album so much. Just so sad.

The Rose Kennedy play

Kathleen Chalfant as Rose Kennedy

I saw Rose on December 9th at the last Wednesday matinee at the Clurman Theater. Kathleen Chalfant was commanding as the stern matriarch of the Kennedys. In this one-woman show written by Kennedy biographer Laurence Leamer, the most moving sections dealt with the daughters. Rose understands their problems but mostly thinks they should suck it up. No one saved her from her problems and she feels others should accept, as she has, that women have less autonomy in the family and in society.  While there’s no denying the suffering of a woman who lost several children to untimely violent deaths, the brave stoicism of Rose makes for a rather static play.

The play’s heartbreaking turn is Rose’s quietly gruesome and pathetic narration of her daughter Rosemary’s lobotomy. It was really a privilege to see Chalfant working in such an intimate theater with such emotional material. She is a powerful actress and the main reason I saw this.

Goodreads review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me forever to get through this because I kept picking it up and putting it down. (It was an ebook so mostly read it on my phone on the subway.Also, I have no focus lately.)
That said, I enjoyed it every time I picked it up, and I remembered the complicated plot and cast of characters even when weeks went by between reading sessions. The story is vivid and interesting and compelling. A specially adapted soldier carries out a self-assigned mission that questions one of the founding principles of an empire very dependent on artificial intelligence. I loved that everyone has female pronouns. I loved the elaboration of the empire’s protocol/etiquette rituals. I want to read the rest of the trilogy. Docked one star for not ever making me drop everything and just finish it.
Recommendation: If you like space adventure and you like the Borg episodes of Star Trek, you will probably like this book

View all my reviews

Why this blog

I have been blogging since Blogger was its own separate company, before Google bought it. I had a LiveJournal and a Journalfen, multiple Blogger blogs and WordPress blogs, and some blogs in systems whose names I’ve forgotten. Fifteen years of blogging.

I did a lot of fandom blogging under fandom names. (I am a science fiction fan.) Lately I’ve been blogging on Tumblr because it is easy and there’s an app for my tablet and phone. I feel philosophically more aligned with Dreamwidth, but fandom has moved to Tumblr and you have to blog where the people are.

I have also blogged as an academic. (I am a community college English professor.) I’ve had course blogs and academic ranting blogs and even a blog on MLA Commons. None have felt particularly comfortable or easy to maintain. I was always worried that my writing wasn’t translating well to non-academics, or that I had crossed the line from critiquing to complaining.

My most successful blogging was as a family history/genealogy hobbyist. That blog got the most hits and comments, and I met some cousins through it. I also got lots of comments telling me my  well-documented claims were wrong, or asking for help with research unrelated to my family, or complaining that I wasn’t covering their ancestors. It started to feel like work instead of a fun hobby. (My surname list and Ahnentafel is linked in the column on the right if you wish to check our relatedness.)

Last week in a work meeting, people discussed qualifications for teaching online writing, and one qualification that people agreed on was evidence that the instructor has been writing online for at least six months. Now, I’ve been writing online for fifteen years, but I didn’t have a single place I could point people to see all that work, not professional colleagues anyway. So I’ve decided to revamp this site as that permanent blog space.

This blog is my main online home, where I post my work and thoughts to my own domain. It’s a link I can share publicly. It is a kind of a diary, though I’ll post academics and genealogy as they come up. I maintain a couple of tumblr blogs where I can quickly post links for academic and genealogical purposes. I also have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. All those links are in the column on the right. Follow or ignore as you please.