Map of Virtue cast members at Common Room

Super Bowl Shenanigans (and much else besides)

It’s not that I was desperate to watch the Super Bowl – it’s that I wasn’t given a choice. Which is fair, given the “when in Rome…” attitude which led me to monster trucks last weekend. And the chore of sitting through the roughly seven thousand hours which comprise a single game of American football was considerably lessened by all the mimosas and cocktails at our boozy brunch beforehand. (A mimosa, in case you’re wondering, is just a more champagne-heavy version of Buck’s Fizz.) So by the time we ended up at Catherine and Jason’s on Super Bowl Sunday, the weekend before last, I was quite ready to settle under a blanket and espouse a muted but not altogether insincere passion for the Seattle Seahawks. Who lost. Obviously.

(I mock, but actually the final ten minutes turned out to be pretty exciting – even to me.)

More my natural habitat was a third trip to Improv Shakespeare (Penguins of Siberia this time – and still joyfully good) with Randi, Catherine, Jason, Nick and Constance. Somehow, before the show started we ended up talking about the UK law on knives. Rather uncontroversially, to my mind, they make it illegal to carry most knives around in public without “good reason”. But it was funny to see how it put the freedom-lovin’ heebie-jeebies on a bunch of people who would support greater gun control without a second thought.

Other fun stuff recently has included a temporary farewell brunch for Mark and Kristina. (I asked the three year old present what her favourite colour was. “Pink and purple”, she replied. “And what’s your least favourite colour?” She scrunched up her face for a few seconds to ponder the question and then, quite rightly, dismissed it. “I don’t have a least favourite colour.” Aren’t children interesting? Isn’t it impressive to be able to cognitively process a question, understand exactly what the expected parameters are supposed to be, but then actively challenge them when they don’t make sense?)

A Map of Virtue cast members at Common Room. On someone else's set, just to confuse things.

A Map of Virtue cast members at Common Room. On someone else’s set, just to confuse things.

Randi and I also played a homemade edition of Coup with Anastasia, and I saw A Map of Virtue with a bunch of others after their Common Room appearance earlier in the week. “Part interview, part comedy, part middle-of-the-night horror story”, it claims, and I guess this is entirely right. I enjoyed it, but to steal verbatim from Shelby, “a play with so many unanswered questions is not the kind of play I love”.

What I have been recommending people watch is Adam Curtis’s new iPlayer-exclusive documentary Bitter Lake. (Obviously in reality available elsewhere for those not in the UK.) I realise, of course, that recommending a documentary about Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and the making of the modern world which clocks in at over two hours long is a bit of a hard sell. But it’s shorter than watching the Super Bowl, and you don’t have to endure any tedious “discussion” adverts or halftime shows! Plus, as I emailed to a bunch of people I thought might just be interested:

Quite apart from being a fascinating history, it’s also very unusually filmed. Basically, he got access to all of the BBC’s archive of everything they shot in Afghanistan, including lots of bits of film which never usually makes it onto news broadcasts. Not everything falls into a pacey narrative: the film is long because he deliberately lingers on footage. But the end result (I think) is quite extraordinarily effect in forcing you to think about Afghanistan as a real place, rather than a ‘TV news’ place filmed in a ‘TV news’ way.

It’s a story which is never really told: how many people today discuss the Soviet experience in Afghanistan? But even if you don’t agree with all of his conclusions, I don’t think you’ll regret investing the time.

Later this week I am going back to New York after a far-too-long nine year gap. After that, I promise a blog post with more photos (definitely), less wordy paragraphs (maybe) and fewer brackets (not a chance).

Randi Lawrence, Benno Nelson liked this post.

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