Monday, February 8, 2010

A Short Visit

Alex came to Boston this weekend for a short visit.

He arrived Thursday night, and Andrew and I were waiting at Logan to retrieve him and bring him home.

As soon as we got home, we seasoned and breaded and fried shrimp, eating the shrimp with linguini. The shrimp and linguini maintained us until we could get a proper dinner prepared.

We cooked a pot roast. We ate the pot roast with baked macaroni and cheese (made from Andrew’s mother’s recipe calling for three different types of cheddar cheese and three different types of breadcrumbs), homemade stewed tomatoes, steamed lima beans, steamed white corn and steamed baby carrots.

We are big on steamed vegetables!

For dessert, we ate peaches and cream and zucchini bread warm from the oven.

On Thursday night, we stayed up until 2:00 a.m., talking and catching up. We paid for our error on Friday morning, when all of us found it very difficult to get up.

We ate grapefruit and hot oatmeal with raisins for breakfast, but nothing more, because there was no time to give Alex anything more substantial.

I had class on Friday, and Andrew had to go to work, so Alex spent the day at the Harvard Museum Of Natural History and the MIT Museum, neither of which Andrew and I have visited. We asked Alex whether he enjoyed the museums. His response: “They were alright.”

We had tickets for the Harvard-Princeton game on Friday night, so we arranged to meet before the game at Legal Sea Foods in Cambridge, where we were to have dinner.

None of us had eaten lunch, and we were hungry, so we ordered soup (lobster bisque), appetizer (steamed clams) and main course (baked Boston scrod). Back in October, Andrew and I had taken Alex to a different Legal Sea Foods outlet for dinner, and in October we had ordered much the same foods as Friday night. After Friday’s dinner, I think all of us have had enough of Legal Sea Foods for now; we do not plan to return anytime soon. Based upon my personal experience, McCormick And Schmick’s provides a seafood dinner superior to that available at Legal Sea Foods—as well as service and amenities that beat the competition.

Friday night’s game was a close one. Princeton won, 56-53, but it must be acknowledged that neither team is very good. Harvard had better athletes than Princeton, as well as the home court advantage, but Harvard nonetheless lost the game because Princeton played better defense and smarter basketball. Harvard has two very athletic players with fine offensive potential—one is a highly-touted player from Tulsa—but Harvard coach Tommy Amaker has proven himself incapable of developing an effective offense at every school he has served. Moreover, Amaker’s teams always seem to be error-prone.

Amaker is holding true to form at Harvard. The Harvard offense looked disorganized and unfocused and the team suffered lapses of concentration all night. It does not say much for Amaker that Harvard was unable to defeat in its home arena one of the weaker Princeton teams of recent years.

We went home after the game.

We were hungry for dessert, so we made chocolate cookies, which we ate with raspberries and ice cream.

We went to bed at a decent hour on Friday night, because we wanted to be rested for Saturday’s two basketball games.

We rose at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, and we spent the entire morning in the apartment. We ate, mostly, making a point to give Alex a good breakfast to make up for Friday’s paltry offering.

We ate hot cereal, followed by bananas and cream and nut bread warm from the oven. The main event was bacon and eggs and fried potatoes, which we ate with English muffins, orange juice and cranberry juice. After we got cleaned up, Andrew made an apple walnut coffee cake, which we ate with milk and coffee before we departed for the games.

The afternoon game was Boston College-Duke. We were prepared for a Duke blowout, as Boston College has been inconsistent all season and had not played well the previous couple of weeks. The game was surprisingly close—another three-point game—but Duke prevailed, 66-63.

After the afternoon ACC game, we had dinner prior to the evening Ivy League game.

We ate at Bertucci’s. We ordered two courses: personal pizzas topped with chicken and broccoli and coated in a lemon pepper cream sauce and mozzarella cheese; and a pasta dish combining grilled chicken, roasted red and yellow peppers, diced prosciutto, mushrooms, peas, baby spinach and hot cherry peppers in cream marsala sauce. We thought the food was excellent, especially the pasta, and we were very pleased with our dinner.

Saturday evening’s game pitted Harvard against Penn—unlike other conferences, the Ivy League schedules back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday nights all through the conference season—and it was the least interesting game of the weekend. Harvard prevailed, 80-66, but the victory was unimpressive: Penn has its worst basketball team in many years.

We went straight home from the game.

Once at home, we made a late-night dessert: lemon pudding cake, a dessert that had turned out so perfectly last weekend that I told Andrew that he should make it again this weekend for Alex.

For the second weekend in a row, the lemon pudding cake was perfection.

Our only plan for Sunday was to attend a matinee performance of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” at Huntington Theatre Company. While planning the weekend, we had asked Alex whether he wanted to do something on Sunday morning and Sunday evening, and he had told us that three basketball games and one theater performance were more than enough for one weekend.

As a result, we stayed home on Sunday morning, once again spending our time eating a prolonged breakfast that lasted all morning. We ate berries and cream. We ate granola. We ate cranberry-orange muffins. We ate Eggs Benedict. We ate buttermilk pancakes and sausage.

Yesterday’s visit to Huntington Theatre Company was only our second performance at what may be Boston’s finest repertory theater company. In October 2008, Andrew and I had taken Alex to a performance of Emlyn Williams’s “The Corn Is Green” at Huntington Theatre Company, which we had enjoyed very much.

We did not enjoy “All My Sons”.

Three weekends ago, Andrew and I had attended a performance of Miller’s “A View From The Bridge” in New York. Bad as “A View From The Bridge” is, it is a masterpiece of world drama compared to “All My Sons”, a gruesome mixture of soap opera and 1930’s political theater.

Three minutes into the play, it was hopelessly apparent how the melodrama would be resolved. All three of us became numb, listening to Miller’s cardboard characters recite their shopworn speeches, speeches that Miller clearly believed to constitute profound and poetic thoughts but which in reality are nothing more than a string of leaden clichés. How can such swill possibly be taken seriously?

In the Huntington program book, the director of “All My Sons” laid forth the claim that “All My Sons” was a breakthrough drama that led inexorably to “Death Of A Salesman”, which the director identified as the greatest of all American plays. Has the director never encountered “A Streetcar Named Desire” or “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”?

The play was hopeless—and so was the production, which was as subtle as a jackhammer.

The actor that portrayed Joe Keller was Will Lyman, whose voice is familiar to millions through his narration of countless “Frontline” documentaries. Based upon yesterday’s performance, Lyman is an actor of very limited range, and possesses the stage presence of a noodle. Because Lyman, assigned the central character, could not carry the part, there was a giant hole in the center of the production.

After the play, we returned home and prepared a major Sunday night dinner.

We got things under way with chicken breasts baked in a cream-pepper sauce. We ate the chicken with seasoned rice, fresh green beans and a tomato-cucumber salad.

The main event a couple of hours later was stuffed pork chops, which we ate with mashed potatoes, steamed white corn, steamed parsnips, escalloped red cabbage and applesauce. For dessert, we had cherry crisp and ice cream.

It was a good dinner!

Andrew and I enjoyed having Alex come for a visit. This was Alex’s third visit to Boston since we have been here—not counting our cross-country road trip from Minneapolis to Boston in August 2008, a trip in which Alex participated—and we hope it will not be his last. Alex is good company.

Of course, this morning we had to rise at an indecent hour in order to get Alex to the airport in time for his early-morning flight. The early-morning flight works out well for him, however, because he can be in Minneapolis in his office by 9:15 a.m. Central Time.

The small sacrifice was worth it.

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