Saturday, December 31, 2005

Fictional History

So somehow, in the last week, I managed to read two books. One of said books is for a review I'm writing for CityBeat (250 words is all I get). The other was a nifty book that popped up on my reserve list at the library. I don't know if your public libraries have this cool service, where you can select from about 50 different mainstream authors currently publishing, and as soon as a new book by one of your authors is published, the library automatically adds it to your list of requests. Pretty freakin' cool, IMO.

The first book is The Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory. Historical, romantic fiction in the vein of Diana Gabaldon but not nearly as dense or epic in scale. The story revolved around Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife. It told the tale of her childhood in Spain, growing up under Ferdinand and Isabella, learning about battle from the frontlines, etc. and then moved on to her betrothal and eventual marriage to Arthur, Henry VIII older brother who died at 15. If you have any interest at all in Tudor or English history, Arthur's death is not a spoiler, so nyeah.

It was fascinating to see Gregory's vision of Henry VIII's indulgent childhood, and to view the contrasts between the English and Spanish courts at the time of the early 16th century. Allegedly, Catalina (her name in Spain before she became Queen of England) kept quite the secret in order to put herself on the throne. But she doesn't necessarily come off as conniving. That role is reserved for Anne Boleyn, HVIII's second wife. The book ends before much of the history beyond Katherine's reign is revealed or discussed. Instead, the political hoo-hah between the courts and the papacy, between Scotland and England, England and France, Spain and just about everyone else--these "paper battles" as they've come to be in history books come alive. The characters are more than just names. If I could have read this in high school when I was studying World History, I would have enjoyed my class so much more.

Apparently, Gregory has written other tomes as well, also in an historical vein. While this was not a quick read, it was satisfying. If I ever find myself with oodles of free time (ha!!), I will look up her other works.

The second book I read in one day, because I'm that much of a geek and it was that quick of a read. Scott Turow's latest is Ordinary Heroes. I've been a fan of his work for a long time; I've always enjoyed reading his stories rather than watching them on the big screen. For me, he is up with Nelson DeMille and James Patterson on the "brain-candy" front.

Ordinary Heroes is about Stewart Dubinsky, a 56 year old writer, newly retired from his newspaper beat, who sets about to write a novel. When his father dies, he returns to the house of his childhood and is commanded by his mother to go through his dad's personal effects. Of course he finds letters, and of course those letters reveal a side of his father he never knew. It's a little trite, but stay with me.

Stewart decides to write his father's story, which he has to cull from multiple sources, as his dad's escapades in WWII (as a lawyer cum officer, of course--Turow is a lawyer by trade) are classified by the CIA. He finds out that his dad was court-martialed--a fact he never knew and on which his mother refuses to elaborate. So he tracks down his dad's D.A. (or whatever the equivalent office is in the land of US Army justice)--a 96 year old dude who is living in a retirement home but still has all of his faculties, and of course, has a manuscript written by Stewart's father explaining everything.

Turow jumps back and forth between past and present, and ultimately parks Stewart's father, David Dubin (he Americanized his surname in pre-war years) between two Army officers (not sure of their ranks, as they change throughout the story)--Teedle and Martin. David's tale is a fascinating one, taking him from a small town in the Midwest to Europe--England, France, and Germany, and eventually Luxembourg--and routing him from behind the desk to parachuting from a plane, crawling on his belly in a battle skirmish against the Nazis, lying motionless for nine hours in the snow, playing dead to avoid being shot down, and commanding a group of backwoods American Joes who don't like that their commanding officer is a) Jewish and b) green in terms of battle experience, all the while chasing the elusive, possible double agent Robert Martin and his "girl," Gita Lodz, for the magnanimous Teedle.

As I said, it's a very fast read. The only thing I didn't like was the heavy-handed commentary about war in David's mind near the end of the story. However, never having faced combat or anything close, I can't speak to the truth of his thoughts. It just felt a little too much like Turow commenting on the current situation in Iraq; especially when we learn that Stewart and his friends found ways out of serving in Vietnam, much to David's liking.

Normally, I avoid books on war as too graphic for my taste--which is odd, since I don't mind reading forensic thrillers like Patterson writes, or espionage type books that DeMille has penned. Hard core war stuff doesn't usually hold my interest. But I think the frame within the story--Stewart's ultimate search for his father's truth and by extension, his own truth, held me rapt.

Definintely a good read.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy Birthday to Legion

Bwahahaha! Today is Legion's Birthday. He is an OLD OLD MAHON :)

Be sure to stop by and wish him all the best.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Our Growing A**es

I'm not quite sure what to make of this one. Somehow, I don't think wider cars and SUVs is the answer.

How about fewer trans fats, less hydrogenated oils, smaller portions and healthier options at our tables and our restaurants?

Non-Americans already think we are balloons, not people. This isn't going to help matters.

Want to "weigh in" with your thoughts? (ho ho ho, snicker, snicker)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Freakin' Ho Ho Ho

I hate the holidays. Just hate 'em. Can't exactly put my finger on why. I've given up the whole Norman Rockwell-esque dream of cozy family dinners and opening homemade presents created with care and love. It just doesn't happen in my existence. And I have yet to meet anyone who has an "ideal" holiday at home. I am getting dangerously close to boycotting the entire holiday season entirely.

Not that that would be unheard of for a Jew. We, after all, don't celebrate Christmas. For us, it's just another day on the calendar. Hanukkah, which usually happens to fall near Christmas, is a minor, minor, minor Jewish holiday compared with the other biggies on the Hebrew calendar--namely Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Purim and... well, I'm sure I'd think of others if hard-pressed. But growing up in the U.S., and raising my kids here, well, it might be cruel and unusual punishment to deny them the glory of the commercial season. I don't know, though. The rabbi at our synagogue marks the passing of Hanukkah with his family by doing acts of charity. I think, rather than gifts, his family donates money that they would have spend on gifts to the needy. That sounds like a good idea to me. I mean, in my family, do we really need another book, sweater, gadget or toy? Need is the opportune word.

Not that I'm not grateful for the gifts I receive. I do enjoy presents as much as the next person. I just hate the annual stress of having to decide how much to spend per person and figuring out what to get everyone. The most difficult people to buy for--my dad and my husband--don't make lists. Everyone else in the family fills out a wishlist on Amazon or on My Gift List. Because of their lists, shopping was a fairly easy assignment for me this year.

And no matter how much I try to have no expectations whatsoever for the holiday season--and I do mean none, zilch, zero--I always come away feeling depressed and somewhat empty. This year, I realized that subconsciously, it might have something to do with my mother. Now there's a sentence Freud would have a picnic with.

My mom's birthday was Dec. 23. So is my brother's. I don't know how he gets through the season. I thought I was over all of this. I thought that I did my mourning in July, on the anniversary of her death (called a Yahrtzeit in Hebrew or Yiddish, I'm not sure which). But apparently my subconscious has other ideas.

On the morning of the 23rd, I burst into tears after dd threw her bowl of cereal on the floor. Normally, her mess would not be enough to reduce me to tears. But the slop of milk on the side of the garbage can, the television droning in the background, the mess throughout the house and the fact that my mother would have been 60 that day--together they added up to one big meltdown. I removed myself from the room before I could say or do something I really regretted, and tried to cope as best I could.

Underscoring all of this is her absence, I guess. The holidays have never been the same without her. Try as I might, I just feel her lack of presence underscoring everything I do. Would she take me to task for spending too much on my kids? Would she have recipes to pass down? What traditions would she have wanted? Would we be throwing her a big party for her big day? Or would she have wanted a low-key celebration--dinner with my dad at the now defunct Maisonette (where they went every New Year's Eve in my memory).

I try to tell myself that I'm over it. That she's been gone for nearly 16 years and soon, she will have been absent for more of my life than what she was actually present for. How could she possibly have had so much influence in such a short amount of time? She was my mother. I guess that's it.

I am starting to sound dangerously close to my aunt, who regularly gets teary over the loss of her parents. In my family, it's the whole "stiff upper lip," "never let them see you sweat," "that part of your life is over, so move on," philosophy. I've never been very good at that. It's too easy to give into my emotions. It's always been too easy to do that.

I hate this time of year. It dredges up way too much that I try to keep below the surface the other 11 months of the calendar. It rears it's head and I am left spinning, feeling out of control, turning to food to try to soothe the pain (which is another issue entirely).

I guess it's a lie to say that I don't have any expectations for this season. Each year, I expect to be able to get through the holidays without feeling the loss and the emptiness. Each year, I'm disappointed--in myself and my lack of mastery over my emotions.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Piss and Vinegar

It's snowing, it's already been a bad clothes morning, I'm cold and I'm in a pissy mood.

Thought I'd get that out of the way first.

The snow is beautiful to look at; I'm just dreading driving in it later this morning when I go to meet a friend for lunch and do a delivery. I hate driving in the snow; not that I'm incapable of driving when there is white stuff in the air, but it seems as though EVERYONE ELSE on the road is. Snow in the air does not automatically give you license to go 20 mph under the speed limit, especially if said limit is 25 mph. Seriously.

I'm inhaling a caffeinated beverage in hopes of changing the pissiness of my mood. So far, it's not working. And I know I will have a headache later as a result. Sigh heigh ho for a headache (or toothache, or whatever Beatrice says in Much Ado... it's escaped me now. I'm sure Legion will let me know).

So the bad clothes morning part. Women, you will understand this. Men, you will probably think I've lost my mind completely. Most men's clothes are in the vein of garanimals--those with the matching tags Sears carried when I was growing up. You match the tags or the animals on the front and "boom" you have an outfit. Perhaps they don't have matching tags now--although that would probably give my husband a boost-he is forever asking me if this shirt can be worn with these pants, and whether he should wear brown or black shoes and belt with said outfit. He only recently became paranoid about these things when his boss, who happens to be a single gay man, pointed out that he was wearing brown shoes and a black belt, or the reverse, or something else that "What Not to Wear" or "Queer Eye" would have a fit about. I was unaware of this rule, but then again, I wore overalls up until the age of 10 (and then again in college--not something I'm proud of, but there you go) and wore nothing but white socks (regardless of shoe color) until I moved to France for a year, where everyone hemmed and ironed their jearns and wore flirty little scarves around their necks in hopes of warding off "la grippe" and other maladies that strickened at every turn.


Normal shower this morning, and I got out to get dressed. Reached into the drawer for a bra. Pulled out one of my most recent purchases--I had to buy all new bras after pregnancy number two because everything was stretched out and weird. My body, not the bras. I put the bra on and feel a tell-tale poking in my side. Yes, sure enough, the underwire--well, underplastic, to be truthful, as wire seems to have been banished to the dress collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, along with whalebone... not that I'm complaining--had gotten free of its casing and was jabbing me in the side. When this happens, to those who do not wear underplastic bras, the bra is beyond repair. I've tried to repair and it just doesn't work.

I've had the bra maybe a month. I bought it at a department store during a bra sale after a bra fitting, no less. Let me tell you how many things are wrong with the above sentence. One, I very rarely ever shop at a department store. They're just too expensive and too far from my house. When I need things, I head to Target or Kohls. Now that you know my shopping habits, feel proud. Or buy me gift certificates to said stores.

Two, I never shop bra sales because they are usually a rip off. Who died and decided that it was okay to charge women at least $30 for a decent bra? How is this fair? Men can buy undershirts in packs of three of less than $10, but women have to pay through the nose for an undergarment that won't outlast said tshirts, won't survive a decent washer, and will eventually cause them pain. My guess is that this idiocy was dreamed up by the same folks who decided that tampons should cost upwards of $5 a box and that women should be the lucky sex who bear children.


You would think that I would like bra sales. Not so. No, they usually involve having to gather a bunch of paperwork like tags and skn numbers and mail a check for postage to some address in Idaho where the underplastic factory is--all to get your second bra "free." Honey, if I gotta pay for postage, it ain't free.

Third, getting fitted for a bra involves letting another women wrap a tape measure around my chest twice, and then allowing this woman to be in the fitting room with me while I try on bras. That's almost as bad as letting someone in the room with you when you try on bathing suits, but not quite. Not a comfortable place to be in. And it's always, always cold--kind of like in the ob/gyn's office. You're cold, you're vulnerable and there's nowhere to hide.

I should have twigged that something was amiss when the woman who was doing the fitting went out and brought back a handful of bras that were all way too big for me. Her excuse was that my running bra was a "minimizer" and that she had no way of knowing my true size. I'm sorry--didn't you just measure me? She also told me all the things that were wrong with my bra. Well, duh, it doesn't do much to shape me, but at that moment, it was the only non-maternity/nursing bra I owned that fit.

She went out again and brought back the same bras in smaller sizes. After much pulling and poking and adjusting, I found one that fit decently. Not great, but she said it would adjust to me and stretch. "Besides, that's the last one we have," she said.

I'm sorry--aren't there like a million bras out there, I thought to myself. And then I realized... she didn't actually work at the department store. She was a rep from Bali's who was doing the fittings and the bra event. So if I didn't fit into one of her bras, there was no way she was going to bring me one from another line. Note to self: bra events rarely have the best interest of the customer at heart.

I decided to buy two bras--one in nude and one in black--as it was buy one, get one half price and there was no paperwork to complete to get the discount. How nice, I thought. I don't have to pay for a stamp or for shipping to get a discounted bra.

Then the problems began. One week later, after I had worn and washed my black bra one time, the stitching on the strap fell apart. I returned the bra to the store, where the clerk gave me my money back--but really only half of my money back, since I bought the bra for half price. And we know that $15 does not get you a bra in a department store. So I was left with one bra.

This morning, I put on that bra and got poked with the freakin' underplastic.


Because I've already made you read too much, and because my son is in his swing and will probably start demanding my attention at any moment, I will try to be brief about the other things that made this morning a bad clothes morning.

I went to find a pair of jeans in the closet, and the one pair I have that fits me well was two flights down on a drying rack. Nice. I am in the that obnoxious "between sizes" phase of post-pregnancy where nothing really fits well. I bought two pair of jeans (Kohls and Old Navy--a place I used to shop before gravity took control of my lower half. I can no longer fit into any of their jeans or pants, be they normal waist, just below waist, low waist or ultra low waist.) a couple of weeks ago and they are too big now (hooray South Beach!). The pair at Old Navy are "boyfriend jeans," which I guess is their way of saying boy-cut or boxy or low rise with wide legs or whatever. Perhaps they are only intended for those females young enough to only have boyfriends, not spouses. At any rate, they fall down and give me the worst case of plumber's butt I've ever seen. Seriously. In a competition between me and actual plumbers, I would win every time. My husband can vouch for this, because he comments on the butt thing every time I wear the jeans, which shouldn't be often but ends up being so because my one other pair that fits is always in the wash or on the drying rack. Oh, and I have two pair of pre-pregnancy jeans that I'm still working on getting into. I can put them on and they zip, but they are older and thus have no stretch, and so are not comfortable for more than an hour or so. I think stretch is the clothier's invention to cope with America's expanding midsection. We don't want to buy bigger sizes, so they're putting stretch in our clothes to make us feel better about ourselves and perpetuate the lie that we actually are the same size we were five years ago. That wouldn't fly in France. There would be no stretch in French jeans. It's too American.

So I put on the boyfriend jeans to get downstairs to see if the others were dry. It is now two hours later and I have yet to make it down to the basement to see if they are. I got sidetracked by work, the phone, feeding the baby and watching "The Apprentice" on DVR (while I was feeding the baby. I know, I'm a sorry person). So my jeans are still halfway down my butt and I have to yank them up everytime I bend over. Sucks to be me.

Jeans settled for the time being, I reached for a shirt to put on with them. Jeans, you'd think, a shirt would be easy. Not in my closet! I pulled on a white short sleeved vneck and realized that I had nothing to go over it that would fit under my coat. Nice. All of my sweaters are either too bulky to wear with a coat (genius in buying them, I know) or really thin knits that show unsightly post-pregnancy bulges. I can't win today. I truly can't.

I bagged the short sleeve idea and went for a long sleeved tshirt instead. I have exactly three long sleeved tshirts that fit well at the moment (none of which are Old Navy because despite the labels of "tiny fit," "perfect fit" and "easy fit," I find that none of the shirts there are perfect or easy for me, only tiny)--black, white and light blue. I opted for light blue. Put it on and was happy, chose socks to match (that aren't white, if you're keeping score. or even still reading), and went downstairs to start work.

I went to the bathroom and caught a glimpse in the mirror, only to find a stain about the size of a pencil eraser smack dab in the middle of the shirt. I think I've worn this one twice since buying it and it already has a stain right smack dab in the middle of the shirt. How is this possible? Oh yes, children and spit up and the uncoordination that pregnancy leaves you with while the hormones are taking their time leaving your body.

And I don't have anything to put over the shirt (see above for sweater discussion).

So here I am, in my boyfriend jeans that keep sliding down, in a stained tshirt and a bra I managed to salvage from God knows where.

As I said, it's been a bad clothes day. Some people have bad hair days. I've given up on good or bad hair days. There are just days where hair is concerned. My issue is bad clothes days.

Strangely enough, I feel better now, having spewed it all out. My caffeinated beverage has done the trick.

Now downstairs to see about those jeans....

Thursday, December 15, 2005

This is why I don't like...

Being associated with parts of the Jewish community.

A short post today, as one child is prematurely up from a nap and the other will soon be up.

Sam is going through separation anxiety at the moment and screams if I leave the room--or really, his field of vision. Syd was not at all like this and it is a little hard to take. He was doing so well sleeping on his own and sleeping through the night, and now he freaks out and screams at the littlest thing. Patience, patience... this too shall pass.

So I've been trying to pin down a simple press release or something for an article I proposed on It's a "Christmas Eve" alternative event for those who don't celebrate the holiday (mostly us Jews, I suppose) put on jointly by two Jewish or mostly Jewish organizations, which I'll call "A" and "B" because I have connections to the community and I don't want to burn any bridges.

Anyway, the only thing I've seen published on this event is a flyer with a piddly paragraph, a photo of the guy who is going to be at the event, and two numbers to call for more information.

Being the quasi-intelligent reporter I believe myself to be, I called one of the numbers and got voice mail, saying "I'll be out of the office Nov. something to Nov. something else and will return your call when I come back..." etc. I left a message and gave the person the benefit of the doubt, thinking that perhaps she hasn't had a chance to change her voicemail. my first mistake.

When several days went by and I didn't get a response, I called a friend of mine who works in a different part of organization A and explained what I was trying to do. He told me that the person for whom I left a message was "no longer with the organization" and that he didn't know who was taking on her programs in her absence. Great. He said he would ask around and have someone call me back.

No one did.

I called my friend again and asked if I should just try the contact from organization B. He said I could, but didn't think I would get anywhere. He said that he would call someone again, and have them call me, as he didn't have the person's cell number handy.

I never heard anything.

Monday, I called organization A again and asked to speak with the person he mentioned. I was told she was out of the office, but that I could speak with a marketing/p.r. person instead. I said fine, and was transferred. I got someone else, as the person to whom I was transferred was out of the office as well. This "assistant" marketing person said she didn't have a release, didn't think that one was forthcoming anytime soon, but she would contact the person at organization B to see what they had and get back to me later on that day or the next morning.


Today, Thursday, I finally get an email from the assistant marketing person at organization A with a photo of the guest attached, and a brief explanation that someone from organization B will be contacting me.

The kicker? Here is the response from the person at organization B:

"I am sorry this is so vague, but we are walking that fine line of having a lot of people who are part of our target audience show up… especially when we get into mainstream promotions. I figure they can call or email if they want to know more. Please call me if you have any questions. Thanks for helping us spread the word. Hope you and your hubby can join us."

To me, that translates into "don't write about us in your 'mainstream' publication because we don't want too many people to come because we can't handle it." I don't understand that "thanks for helping us spread the word." she has given me nothing to spread.

i am now officially more than one week past deadline on this alleged "story" and I'm ready to bag the entire thing, including anything I would propose to cover for either of these organizations in the future.

I can't tell you how furious I am that I have wasted so much time and energy trying to track down this "story" for folk that truly don't seem to care and don't want to have the publicity.

Another kicker?

Earlier in the week, I got a letter from organization A asking for a fundraising campaign contribution.

You've got to be kidding me. Seriously.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Well, duh

so i just figured out how to moderate and post comments. i haven't been ignoring any of you--i've just been technically inept.

here are the poems i am "publishing" this evening at our final writing class of the semester. I have been saying I will post them for a while, but haven't yet done so.

Saying More Things

Universal language has no point to me
I love the phonemes of other tongues
Dripping from my own
Like honey from the apple at the head of the Jewish New Year.

I don’t know what an inclinometer is.
Nor am I inclined to find out.

It’s of no use in my sedated world of freedom in the pen and paper
Free mind
Free bird

Celery is tasteless and bland
And has no place in the chocolate cake decadence of
Our inner circle
Our container
Our happy place.

Chocolate not at the center,
But on the periphery,
Beckoning me away from goals
Away from jeans
Away from program

But it tastes so damned good.

Brown sugar is in my freezer
But not here.

I pulled it out the other day
Like the silk beneath my toes on the beach I left behind
To add to a chicken marinade that wasn’t very good.

I’d let it broil a bit too long
Distracted by the phone
The kids
The chocolate in the fridge
The incessant hum of the washing machine as it spins the clothes into oblivion
And they emerge
Smelling sweet like yesterday’s rain
Ready to take on

The family
Spit up
And pieces.

The tongue can get in the way of my voice as I coax it from my throat,
Listening for openness
And complexity
But not wanting to think too hard.

“A Zen grocery list”
I once called my experience of prepping for a note
Taking mental stock
Without putting too much stock in the taking.

My tongue comes back to chocolate and rests
On all it has to offer.
response to poem “Saying Things” by Marilyn Krysl

Cold Morning

You called for ‘Daddy’ at 6 a.m., bleating, half-awake
I went instead, grudgingly hoisting myself
from the warm nest of blankets that kept me snug
I armed myself for a fight, ready with words like “it’s not time yet”
And “A few minutes more.”

Smoothing your icy sheets, I decided to stay awhile.

Curled up next to you
Beneath the blanket that quickly warmed the cold side of your tiny space,
Nose to nose, inches apart.
I listened to your deep easy breath,
Watched your unfurrowed brow,
Inhaled the sweet smell of air escaping your lips.

Your eyes flickered open a moment or two
Your fingertip reached out to touch my cheek, my nose
You fingered my pajamas
Just like your ‘stars blankie’
Wordlessly stroking, a feather’s touch

A moment frozen next to icy feet
Warm breath
Small fingers

I breathed it in
And stole away
Back to my own cold bed
Grown up sheets
Mammoth of responsibilities
Before it could end.


Thanksgiving poems to follow, when i fear not.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Clunky but fun

So I just came back from seeing Phantom of the Opera. This is only the second time I've seen the show--the first being a trip to New York in high school in 1990 with my theatre group. Our seats were so high for that excursion, we were eye-level with the chandelier. Seriously.

It was a much better production than I remember. Or maybe I'm less jaded, or I understand better now. The tour is a little creaky, but much more intact than I expected it to be. The technical elements of the show are still impressive, if a bit creaky. The 9 second drop of the chandelier feels like an eternity. The prologue auction felt like it was in slo-mo. And I need to get a copy of Stilgoe and Webber's book of the musical and see if they have written into the show that "Meg Giry should be played in a robotic, monotone and completely unbeliveable way. And she should sing flat at every opportunity." That was the one similarity that struck me between the two productions I've seen--in both, Meg Giry had incredible pitch problems. The role can't be that hard to sing, can it? In this production, she was much more wooden and doll-like than she was in the first production I saw. Think a barn owl crossed with the ballerina on a music box and you'll get the idea.

I was most looking forward to hearing Kim Stengel sing the role of Carlotta, the diva soprano at the Paris Opera Populaire. According to her bio, Stengel has had lots of classical training and has sung on the concert stage as well as the musical theatre stage. She bills herself as a coloratura. In places, she was absolutely gorgeous--open clear to the top of her head, floating notes out, rising above the rest of the riffraff. Her acting was great as well. And hell, if she can move that well in a dress that weighs 35 lbs., power to her. There were parts where I thought she could have given more sound--like she was too light. And I was miffed that she had to be miked up. She could have held her own without a mic. In the septet, they miked her and then turned her volume way way down, which was a mistake. Overall, I enjoyed her performance and was not disappointed.

It was an absolute relief to hear Marie Danvers in the role of Christine Daae. I was so happy that she chose to interpret the role as her own, rather than rip off interpretations (or lack thereof) from Sarah Brightman's mediocre recording. Danvers was light when necessary, could rip the walls down in "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," and had chest to be reckoned with in the title song. Well done. I held my breath during "Think of Me," but Danvers didn't disappoint. She made the piece her own.

Gary Mauer did a nice job singing the Phantom as well. I was worried he would do it a la Michael Crawford, but he did so many things so much better than any other recording or performance I've heard of any of the pieces. He floated his falsetto beautifully; and during much of the show I wished that the sound designers would have let him sing without the stylistic reverb that indicates the halls of the opera house and the catacombs. He was intense without going over the top (except at the very end), and you believed him, which is so important. He had complete control over his dynamics and he used them admirably and inventively--I was literally hanging on words to hear what he would do next. In "Don Juan," he conveyed so much without any facial expressions (as he was hidden by his black robe and hood), and I think others (like John Whitney who sang Ubaldo Piangi) could learn from him. Mauer was well in his body and was a pleasure to listen to.

Unfortunately, Raoul is relegated to the boring, pretty boy in the book, and he doesn't have a lot to do. John Cudia's handling of "All I Ask of You" was good; his chemistry with Danvers was believable, and his acting was credible. It's just not a very exciting role to play.

I enjoyed Firmin and Andre's performances a lot; they played well off each other and it was obvious that David Cryer (yes, that Cryer. He's Jon Cryer--"Duckie"'s--Dad) and D.C. Anderson have shared the stage many a time. It was refreshing to hear the lyrics clearly for a change, but I know much of that is due to the register in which the music is written.

Whitney, on the other hand, as Carlotta's other half, was completely unintelligible. He did well with the physical comedy and sang well--I liked the scene in the rehearsal hall where the choirmaster is attempting to coach him to the right notes. So funny!

In general, the cast did a fine job. Vocally, high points were the "Notes" scenes and the opera within the musical scenes. "Masquerade," however, left a lot to be desired. It lacked punch, both in choreography and in vocal sound. It was a little muddy. I kept wondering if the stage was too small for the gigantic set, and if the actors were making adjustments as they went. It felt that tentative. Shame, since the costumes and sets in that scene are beautiful. Visually, it can be stunning. This time, it just felt cluttered. Maybe they should have dumped the mannequins!

All in all, believe it or not, I enjoyed the production immensely--much more so than I thought I would. I expected a shlocky, old-school, creaky Phantom. While the show is certainly showing its age (can we please update the synthesizer drum machine???), it is still an entertaining spectacle worth seeing and hearing.

Oh, and Caryn, the dude's name is Breckin Meyer and he was on "Inside Schwartz," which had to be a guy thing. The picture doesn't show the similarities, but I swear Cudia could be his older brother.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Spanking the monsters?

Something to consider....

i was going to post some sort of intelligent argument about this one, but the point seems to have escaped me now. that's the problem with holidays. they wipe you clean of brain cells. and my brain cells were unfortunately not lost because of overindulgence of the alcoholic sort.

suffice it to say that marc and i do not agree on the spanking issue. he is for and i am against unless it is a gut reaction to a very dangerous situation avoided (e.g. running out in the road in front of a car). it is a sore subject between us. syd hasn't yet picked up on the fact that we don't agree; she has, however, twigged that if one of us says no, she might have a chance if she asks the other. fortunately for us, we usually check in with "what did mommy (daddy) say?" you can just see the "rats, foiled again," on her face.

so syd has come out with some hysterical one liners in the past week or two. i shall record them here for posterity's sake. they might not be funny to anyone but me, but hell, with the number of hits i seem to be getting, it just doesn't matter.

1. (at 6 a.m. with an ear infection in a whiny voice) "Mommy! Daddy! My ear hurts! I need some affection."

2. (while watching the Bengals game with me, in response to "that stinks!" from me) "What stinks? My diaper?"

3. (again while watching said Bengals game, after hearing me say it once) "get it, get it, get it, get it, awww shoot!" every time the Bengals were in motion.

4. (in response to my calling her a "pipsqueak") "I am NOT a pipper-squeak."

5. (Upon the suggestion of amusing herself with lacing cards) "Yes, I want to do some needle-ing."

6. "This is my brother, Poopy Shmuelson." (Long, long story having to do with Sam's Hebrew name.)

These almost make it all worth it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Boyz in the Catholic Hood

So I DVR'ed this movie last week and it has taken me about three or four sittings to get through it--not because it's not interesting, but because I simply don't have time anymore to sit and watch a movie from start to finish. But anyway, it was surprisingly good.

"The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys" reminded me in a way of "Dead Poets Society" and other 'boy club,' coming of age films. The story was a bit disturbing, but no more so than in DPS or "Stand By Me" or simliar fare. I hadn't ever witnessed Emile Hirsch on film (or anywhere) before, and I thought he was great. He reminded me a little of James Dean, but I'm not sure why. I mean, his character's name was Francis, yet he managed to be very cool in a non-stereotypical way.

Anyway, I would recommend the film. Highly. The animation sequences are also very cool; I like the way they are used to advance the story and play out scenes in the boys' imaginations.

Short post today, as I am way behind in my work.

I did get a run in today--wee hah! Short and slow but I got it in before the rain started. I feel good-tired for a change, instead of just exhausted-tired. Legion would say that if he's not exhausted-tired, he didn't work hard enough. I will remind him that I have only just begun to run again, so good-tired is good enough for me!

Oh, and for those keeping track, DS is doing better. The chest xray was clear, he doesn't appear to have asthma, and the ENT we saw today said that she thinks he has reflux. Little guy has to take Baby Zantac for two weeks to see if that helps with the snorting and the coughing. Fingers crossed that it's that and not bronichiolitis or another icky -itis for which there is no "cure."

Monday, November 14, 2005

waka waka waka

Just a little something i want to remember because it made me laugh and laugh and laugh.

Man goes to the zoo
But when he arrives there's only a dog
It was a Shitzu


Saturday, November 12, 2005

tagbacks are hell

legion, you little rascal, i so do read your griping.

it took me more than a month to do so, but i plead temporary insanity of two kiddos in the house and no velcro.

hope you are recovering from your dehydration.

i am still not running. well, that's not true. i ran last weekend--last sunday???--for 20 minutes. very very very slowly. i was tired. couldn't even do two miles. but at least i did more than one. and i walked the rest. for my first time out in more than seven months or so, i was pleased with the result. now to get out there more than once a week. sigh.

i am considering doing some pilates work at home to start strengthening my core a little more. syd is tipping the scales near 30 lbs these days and still likes to be picked up and carried from time to time. my back doesn't like this so much.

more things to say?

i'm excited about the impending harry potter release, although it looks LONG. hope i can stay awake.

my writing class is going well. when i feel more comfortable with the format, i will post some fallout from that.

i've been reading televisionwithoutpity for kicks. when i have time. I love Grey's Anatomy.

i would kill for a dinner out right now. with marc would be great. with another adult would be okay. see previous post for reasons why.

i linked to you. and to tracy. hope that's okay!

here are my sevens (not sure of protocol on this)

7 Things That Scare Me
Horror films
Martha Stewart (the devil incarnate, i'm sure of it)
Throwing up
Writer's block
Things that go bump in the night

7 Things I like most
Sam's smile
Syd's giggle
My friends
Reading things that take me out of myself for a time

7 Most important things in my room
Pillow with allergy protector thingy on it
DVD player
Glass of water
Comfy pajamas
Body pillow

7 Random facts about me
When I was five, I was given a Rorshach (inkblot) test and saw witches, ghosts and other Halloween imagery in every inkblot.
I've never colored or chemically altered my hair in any way.
Despite my being a Mary Kay consultant, most days I don't wear a lick of makeup.
I haven't changed the weight on my driver's license since I first got it at 16.
I slept with the lights on in my bedroom until I was 16 (see #1).
I may have two children, but inside I don't feel like a parent.
I hate green peppers, but I like red, yellow and orange ones.

7 Things I plan(hope) to do before I die
Go back to France
Sing the role of Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl"
Publish a book
Have one of my plays mounted as a full-scale, professional production
See my children get married and have children of their own (if that's what they decide they want to do)
Get down to the weight on my driver's license
Make a difference in the world

7 Things I can do
Be consistent
Love unconditionally
Knit, crochet, cross-stitch and sew buttons on
Interpret poetry
Speak French

7 Things I can’t do
Anything that requires a lot of upper body strength
Keep secrets well (unless they are really, really important, and then I usually have to tell Marc)
Watch "Finding Nemo"
Follow a lot of international news
Stay up all night (I've never really been able to do that)
Have infinite patience

7 Words I say the most
Functional (as in, "I am...")

7 Celeb crushes
Gale Harold
Colin Firth
Hugh Grant
Harrison Ford
Ewan McGregor
Sam West
Robin Williams (except for the back hair)

7 people tagged
Unfortunately, i don't know 7 bloggers at present. we here in the land of suburbia and mommyhood don't have oodles of time for blogging.

The sun will come out... tomorrow?

I recently realized that I'm too old to play Annie. As in Little Orphan Annie, the obnoxious redhead with the Pollyanna complex.

Not that this should worry me; I mean, I'm way, way past the age to play the little belter with the heart of gold. I'm even getting beyond Lily St. Regis age, and dipping dangerously close into Miss Hannigan territory.

"Leading Lady" roles, my voice teacher tactfully informed me.

It's not the role itself that bothers me. Truthfully, I never really wanted to be Annie. I would have settled for Pepper. She was much more my kind of gal. Rather it's the idea that I will never again be the right age to play Annie--or a slew of other roles that I've always wanted to play.

I guess in the back of my mind, I always thought, "oh, well, the next time I'm ten years old, I'll play Annie." Like I'd have another chance. Like I'd get to the end of my life and with all the wisdom I'd attained throughout my decades, I'd have the opportunity to go back and revisit key moments and make different choices.

Next time, I'll coax my parents into letting me audition for plays earlier.
I'll start taking ballet at three instead of ten.
I won't listen to my dad when he points out my belly in my preteen years. I'll tell him I need it to grow.

Not too long ago, I sort of woke up and realized that I will never have another chance to do any of those things. Unlike the DVR above my television, I cannot go back, rewind, review or reprogram.

That realization was a bit of a shock. And now, I'm surprised that I even thought I could on a subconscious level. I mean, sure, if you had asked me, I would have told you that everyone ages and no one gets a "do-over." I'm a sometimes-rational, mildly intelligent human. I know that, as Shakespeare so eloquently put it, we are born "astride the grave," or something along those lines (it was a disturbing image in English 4 when we read the passage in Hamlet. I think it was Hamlet. It might have been a poet somewhere in the early 1900s. Is there some sort of resource online to input what you think the line is and have the source spit out the correct citation? Or is that called "Google?").

But underneath the rational conscious, I suppose I was harboring some sort of delusion about having another chance. Call it the immaturity of youth. Maybe that's the moment when we all truly grow up and mature--when we realize that we don't get another chance.

The cliched version of this notion is "Enjoy life. This is not a dress rehearsal."

I've read that on countless buttons and bumperstickers my entire life. I always thought I understood it. But now I really think I do.

You would think, with my mother dying as young as she did, I would have understood this all by now, and grasped it on a conscious and subconscious level. Apparently not.

I can't exactly pinpoint what event led me to this "awakening." Maybe it's watching my children grow every day. My oldest is two and a half. Her younger brother is three months. Looking at him at three months and remembering her at three months, and realizing that time is just slipping along... that every day I do the mundane chores of washing clothes and bottles and dishes, preparing meals, changing diapers, answering the phone, writing a few lines... and it doesn't mean anything. Nothing earth-shattering. I go to bed tired. I wake up tired (from having a three month old, I guess). The days are passing and I don't know that I am doing anything to leave my mark, to make my contribution to the world or the greater good.

A more positive person would argue that I'm raising two children and shaping and molding them into functional humans... giving them the skills and the grounding that they need, along with the unconditional love and boundaries they so crave. That my work at home is necessary and appreciated by my husband and ultimately, it will be by my children when they are old enough to understand (at 30? 40?).

But everyday that I go to bed without doing something--something meaningful and worthwhile--I wonder if I am just wasting my time. Wasting space. Wasting resources.

The weeks are starting to look the same: grocery shopping on Monday, playgroup on Tuesday, voice lessons and doctor appointments on Wednesday, gym class on Thursday, work writing and cooking on Friday, cleaning and picking up on Saturday, and occasionally, family time on Sunday. That's not everything, but it's a fair representation. It's a pattern, it's comfortable--at times. But it's mind-numbing at other times. And I ask--isn't there more? Have I seriously been reduced to a week-full of errands and home-maker crap? "Where is the life that late I led?"

But the other things I have done don't beckon me forward any more strongly than my present. I don't want to teach again. I don't want to be in the work force and have a nine to five.

I guess I just want some kind of change up in schedule. Something else to do that gives me something to look forward to every day. I don't know what that something is. Every time I add something to the mix, life gets unbelievably more complicated--my choices now affect three other people.

And yet, when I step back from the gloom, I think of my baby's face, and I adore him. I want to show him the world and see it through his eyes. That's the most important thing. My daughter is a challenge right now and I think she is wearing me down. I would like some time with my husband besides sleeping next to each other every night. I feel like all I do is nag, nag, nag for help with the kids, help around the house. I want to have a real conversation. But more importantly, I want him to want to talk to and spend time with me. I know that we are in a period of adjustment now because of the baby. But it feels like a holding pattern. And I want to LIVE.

There are so many plays I want to see, so many books I want to read, so many pages I want to write, so many places I want to visit. Money, time and energy are the only things holding me back.

The added realization that this is my only go-round, my only chance, my only opportunity to experience life and that my days are ultimately numbered makes this holding pattern all the more frustrating.

And finally, another bumpersticker byte comes to mind: "Life is a journey, not a destination."

So I come to a place of sanity, finally. I hope I haven't wasted your time. It took me a while to get here. And I'm sure I'll lose my place again--probably soon--when my daughter throws her peas on the floor for the fifth time this week, or my son pees on me yet again.

If I can just remember:

"If you revel in the past and fear the future, you will miss the now. Enjoy the now. It is the only certainty."

And that, my friends, is my own. No Shakespeare, Milton or Donne for this chica. Those words are mine.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

But I want to be 12 grain!

I should be working. Alas.

So I found out this morning that my singing was recently called "white bread." How ironic, I thought to myself, given my last post. I have never thought of myself as a white bread singer. I have always thought I had interesting colors in my voice, and that it had something "special" unlike many other reasonably accomplished singers.

Certainly, I am capable of imitating other singers with more distinctive sounds--pop, opera, jazz and otherwise. But I never feel like imitation is real--since it's not, duh--and I never feel that it's truly me.

The incident in question occurred as I was "auditioning" for a play whilst seven months pregnant. It was a general audition, hence the need to sing for a straight play. And the director has a bit of a "this isn't New York so no one is good enough" complex. But I thought I sang fairly well and gave it my usual color.

I take direction well, so when he asked me to make some changes to my song based on his suggestions, I did. He seemed happy with the results. The second song did not go as well, but probably because I don't connect to it as much. I sang fine, but nothing to write home about. Cliche, cliche.

And now I come to find out that I am considered "white bread." And this pisses me off royally. Have I been singing for so many years and have I been thought of as "white bread" for more than a decade, without anyone ever saying anything, my teachers included? Why does everyone comment on the richness of the colors in my voice if I am truly "white bread?"

And ultimately, why in the hell am I letting this very young, 20-something newbie cause me to doubt my abilities? Yes, he is talented. And yes, it is only one person's opinion.

I recently sang on a recital. Two jazz standards that were a vast departure from my normal, aria in progress or wordy musical theatre fare--I was pleased with the results. Easy choices, but given my three month old baby, I allowed myself to get away with it. Was my jazz white bread and non-distinctive as well? Am I wasting my time and money? It will probably be at least five years or more before I can tackle a role onstage, given that I have two small children. Why pump the money into lessons, if I'm only studying for personal fulfillment and the once-a-year recital?

I must muse on that for a while.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Suburban Hell

About once every year or so, I go on a rant about why Suburbia sucks so bad. I know, I know, I could just move. It's not that simple once kids enter the picture, and dh works in another city, so we essentially live between the two of them--the city of which we're a suburb, and the city in which he works. so humor me as i recount why the suburbs sucks.

my number one reason, the reason i keep coming back to, is lack of diversity. i am so sick of white bread, SUVs and minivans (hypocrite that i am for driving one, but it wasn't my choice), wal-mart, and acres of strip malls that look the same no matter where you go. i wish that all the people in my neighborhood didn't look like me; that my kids regularly could meet non-white, non-straight, non-Christian/Catholic people. it's so important that they eventually see beyond their very narrow horizons. and for me, i feel stagnation in the suburbs. all the lawns (now brown because of the heat) mowed to the same height, the identical swing sets in each yard, the "keeping up with the joneses" mentality that pushes everyone around me towards new cars, new clothes, and the very latest in everything material.

i guess this has come to a head for me because there is no one, not one solitary soul up thisaway, with whom i can discuss the ending of queer as folk. if i even so much as mention that i watch the show, i know the labels that will follow, and the stigmatization soon to follow--and i'm not even gay. can you imagine if gay people actually lived in the neighborhood? good lord, the white bread mommies and daddies would probably lock their kids up in the house for fear of contamination. not that i have any proof--no one has said anything to me that makes me believe they would be this way, but our house is the only one in winter without christmas lights, and ours was one of a tiny few that didn't have "vote bush" signs in the front yard.

i'm looking for enlightenment among those who have their heads in the sand. good luck.

don't get me wrong. the people around me are very nice, in the white-bread sense of the word. very wholesome and moral and, well, boring. i can't picture any of them going dancing or discussing philosophy or, god forbid, smoking a little mj now and again. perhaps i should have outgrown these pursuits by now, or perhaps i am relapsing into immaturity because of the recent birth of my second child, which i somehow see as having put me squarely into the "suburban soccer mom" category, even though i strive on a daily basis to defy the label. despite the minivan.

i'd love to shop at a farmer's market or at a grocery store run by an individual or family. i'd appreciate the opportunity to eat out somewhere that isn't a chain, or a chain in disguise. i'd adore having a coffee house with atmosphere to spare that didn't close after six months (i miss you, mcnally's). it would be nice to be able to walk somewhere besides around my white-bread neighborhood--to walk to buy decent bread, or get a good cup of coffee, or a kitschy shop that has nothing i need but isn't mass-produced shlock like one finds at target.

the world out here closes down at 10 pm. there is no hip bar to speak of--only a sports bar or two. i guess we have no need for bars because there are no single people here--only married couples with or without children.

oh, to speak with someone who has never heard of "oswald" or "the wiggles," or whose latest reading endeavor didn't involve romance novels or books that oprah or the today show endorse. or "pooh and the dragon," dd's latest favorite that i am sick to death of. to find someone who listens to npr and can't stand cnn or msnbc, or who chafes at the lack of international news coverage--or hell, the lack of national news coverage--on the local four networks.

i should get out more, you counsel in your head. nothing is preventing me from searching out those souls and making it better in my life. and right you are. i just wanted to vent, to blow some steam.

i once again find myself at a crossroads, where life has been devoid of anything except baby and maternity leave, television and dvds. i stand at the brink, ready to dive in again. but are there things i wish to eliminate before heading out into the water--excess baggage i don't want to drag along with me this time around?

writing has been missing. real, for me, not for profit, writing. ficitonal, escapist writing. running too. i'll start that again soon. but to structure the writing in, something else has to go. or else i have to sleep less. or stop talking to dh--impractical and not a solution. it's not going to wait anymore. perhaps i should look into those classes i keep promising myself--a little structure never hurt before...

or perhaps the act of creating life has kicked up the "creative" gene again and i will settle back down into complacency soon. except that i don't want to be complacent. when did i become so? i was being so vigilant...

ah well. there are dishes in the sink; there is laundry in the washer-- children to be bathed and weeds in the garden to pull. it's time to go back.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

book six

i finished harry potter and the half-blood prince. i will not spoil anyone else's reading pleasure by saying anything revealing about the book, other than it was dark and sad, as was expected. i am, however, anxiously awaiting for friends, family and others to finish so we can "discuss amongst ourselves."

i'm very curious if anyone has ideas about the identity of r.a.b. (near the end of the book).

Friday, July 15, 2005

2 weeks 2 go

i have discovered that keeping my hands busy is the best way to make the time go by. that has translated into knitting, crocheting, doing crossword puzzles and reading, and has, for better or for worse, relegated television and movie-watching to the times when the medicine makes me jittery enough to keep me from creating. fortunately, it's not that often.

i read a phenomenal book called here, there and everywhere by chris roberson. quite intriguing. it takes the concept of time travel and expands upon it a thousand-fold. every decision we make leads to alternative "life threads" to be explored--and one woman has been given the power to explore them. it's really fascinating, and a very quick read.

my sister-in-law dropped off diana gabaldon's outlander series for me to explore. it was slow going at first but is gaining speed. brain candy, in the historical, somewhat-trashy romance genre.

on the movie front, i took in Les Choristes the other day and loved almost every minute of it. it was playing in london the last time i visited and i knew better than to attempt to convince dh to see it with me. a small film, called somewhat sappy by the "professional" critics, but the production values were very good and i enjoyed being transported off my couch for a while.

Anchorman, on the other hand, was one of the worst pieces of crap i've seen in a long time. so shlocky and stupid. my brother raves about will ferrell and his comedic genius, but honestly, as much as i enjoyed some of his other films, like elf and... and... well, i know i've watched him in other things, this film was just insipid. sorry, js....

my thoughts are still with the london victims of the tube and bus bombings. fortunately, none of my family there was directly involved, but it provided, like it did for almost everyone else, a wake up call that all of them are at risk, just like all of us are still at risk. i was pleased to see that the stoicism that resides in the backbone of england came forth and business went on as usual--especially in the financial sector. hopefully that sent a message to the terrorists who tried to "hit westerners where it hurts." and i was doubly pleased that cable mass media stopped carrying the story for hours at a time two or three days after the bombings occurred. the sensationalism that pervades cnn, msnbc, foxnews and the other 24 hour news channels is just sick. why can't npr have a news channel? i'm guessing it wouldn't be popular enough to compete and survive, especially with the lack of commercial support that has always been the hallmark of public broadcasting.

we now have a name for the bambino, but we're keeping it to ourselves until he actually makes his appearance. still, it's comforting to cross that task off my ever-growing list of things to do.

cincinnati entertainment awards nominees are out now in citybeat. i'm glad that john, rick and the rest of the crew decided to separate music and theatre. talk about polar audiences! fans get to vote on 12 of the 19 awards. i was happy to see that new stage collective's kimberly akimbo picked up two nominees--sue breving and anthony darnell for their respective roles. it would be wonderful for the company if they win, but the nominations are a coup, especially since nsc's season has two more shows in it this summer. not that i'm trying to influence the votes....

discovered two new yarns this week--blue sky alpacas' alpaca and silk yarn and rowan's denim yarn. the alpaca and silk is a joy to work with; it's so nice to have yarn that doesn't squeak when you pull it off the needle. fiberge stocks both--though it's a bit of a hike from my abode, it was well-worth it. what a neat yarn shop.

i'm looking forward to getting back to running once the bambino is out and i am considered well-enough to start back. i've my eyes set on the thanksgiving day race, a great 10K through downtown cincy and covington that's relatively flat. i'll have to see how training goes, though. if i can start running again in september, that should give me eight weeks at least. i'm not setting my hopes yet.

two weeks to go... i'm counting!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

the heat is on

so hot today and everyday this week. ah well. at least the air conditioning is working properly now. we had a service call yesterday (to the tune of $100) and while the good news was that it wasn't more expensive, the bad news was that one of the faucets on the exterior house is broken. apparently you aren't supposed to leave hoses attached to the faucets over the winter. no one told me that. so now i have to call a plumber if we ever want to water the back lawn. the joys of home-ownership.

didn't watch much on tv today, or movies. trying to get through "finding neverland" but i'm finding it unbelievably slow. i love peter pan in almost every form, but for some reason, this film isn't grabbing me.

dh and i watched "hitch" with will smith the other night. it was okay. will has been much better in other things. i think it was a weak, predictable script. kevin james did some great work with physical comedy, but that was about the only thing i enjoyed.

i started reading dan brown's angels and demons, which is apparently the prequel to the da vinci code. i enjoyed the latter, but i haven't really understood what all the subsequent fuss is about. everytime i turn on the telly, there's something else on discovery or the history channel or some other pbs wanna be about "the truth behind the da vinci code." have these people never heard of fiction??? or imagination??? give me a break.

i also started arthur c. clarke's time's eye, which has been slow going to start. i'll give it a few more pages and then abandon it. gone are the days when i feel compelled to complete every book i start. i finally realized that my time is more valuable than that.

dd has been into "mary poppins" of late, and can sing numerous verses of "a spoonful of sugar" and "chim chimenee." it's quite amusing.

just found out that i am going to miss "margaret garner," the opera that the cincinnati opera co-commissioned with two other companies to celebrate the opening of the national underground railroad freedom center. i am so bummed. now i can't hear denyce graves and angela m. brown in person. and toni morrison is even going to be in town to give free lectures. damn this bedrest. i guess i'll have to rely on my esteemed media colleagues to give me the blow by blow. one of my friends is in the chorus as well... but there will be other operas. if anyone local is reading, GO. it's a once in a lifetime experience. toni morrison wrote the libretto and richard danielpour wrote the music. there's an excerpt of the music here.

i am excited that the new "real world" season has started. it's my guilty pleasure. perhaps because it's so far removed from my current existence. and morgan spurlock's "30 days" series looks interesting as well.

until next time....

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

bed rest and blahs

kind of mundane, but that's the tenor of life right now.

so i've watched "13 going on 30" which was cute and funny and very light and airy. i've never really noticed jennifer garner before, as i'm not an "alias" fan like my brother is, but i can see why she gets work. she did a good job. and i liked the fact that Mark Ruffalo was a good romantic lead without looking like a Brad Pitt clone. Not that there's anything wrong with Brad Pitt, but it's nice to see someone more "normal looking" getting air time on the big screen.

i also watched "chasing liberty" with mandy moore. dumb. another cute guy, Matthew Goode, but that was about the best thing in it. the nice thing about dvr is that you can record something that looks interesting but ditch it quickly thereafter if it sucks. Mark Harmon was about as one dimensional as you could get in this film.

"Stealing Beauty" was another pick of the week, but as my Italian isn't nearly as good as my French, it was a little tough to follow exactly what was happening and why all the characters were laughing when someone said something witty in Italian. Yes, yes, I know, from Lucy's point of view, she wouldn't understand either, and Bertolucci was probably just trying to replicate his protagonist's experience for his audience. The movie was beautiful to look at but quite predictable. I was sorry to see Jeremy Irons go. He does good work. Another underrated actor in the realm. Liv Tyler was believable, and for her "breakout" role, as this is often termed, I think she did quite well.

On to books. Finished Misfortune by Wesley Stace. A bit bizarre and a bit trying at times, kind of like reading old English ballads and wishing you could skip the middle bits and just get to the end. but the concept was quite interesting. i bet it would have worked quite as a serial back in the time when that was popular (Dickens, etc).

Also reading Everything Bad is Good for You, which I'm finding to be wonderful. Thought-provoking. Affirming. Especially Johnson's theory that if video games had come first, we would all be shouting down books and the printed word as being "limiting" and just as damaging as video games. You kind of have to read it. But I highly recommend. And it's a quick read.

As for the knitting, well, I have been working on a sweater for dd for months now and i finally finished the back yesterday. weee-hah! i started one of the front yesterday and got to practice some intarsia, which was good. nice to see a bit of yellow peeking out from all the blue. i put down the felting bag for the moment because i think the center panel is all wrong and i don't have the heart to remeasure and rip and redo. sigh. and i still have to sew in a zipper into baby-to-be's bris outfit. if i could only get my hands to stop shaking long enough to do so! that darned procardia...

must go back to the couch before i get caught out of bed!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Denmark and beyond

So I was watching a film this morning--the result of forced "lady of leisure" status due to pregnancy complications--called "The Prince & Me" starring one of my absolute favorite actresses, Julia Stiles. It's a lightweight romance with a few bits of comedy thrown in for good measure. And while I loved Julia and Luke Mably , the hottie who plays HRH, the Crown Prince of Denmark, as a romantic-cum-realist, I have to take issue with the end of the film.

The premise is old as they come. Edvard, the aforementioned Prince, is emulating several other princes that we might be familiar with (e.g. Prince Harry)--living it up with fast cars, lots of women and no foreseeable goals for the future, other than avoiding Cabinet meetings at all costs. After seeing an ad for a "girls gone wild" video on tv, he decides to head to Wisconsin and check out life as a Midwesterner. His parents, of course, object, but send a servant, Soren, to accompany him.

Eddie, as he prefers to be called upon his arrival in the States, deals with American college life poorly at first, as can be expected. But then he meets the lovely Julia--um Paige--and she sprays his royal ass with soda water from the bar where she works. Wouldn't you like to do that to every drunk moron who's ever said something less than brilliant to you in a bar? To cut a long story short, they of course end up dating and falling in love. Paige is a pre-med student who allows Eddie to distract her from her studies, but only after finals, of course.

Eddie has to return to Denmark at semesters to begin fulfilling his royal duties, as his father is ailing. Paige, on a whim, decides to follow him there, and the film gives us the requisite "knight in metaphoric shining armor" scene where Eddie spots Paige and swoops her up on his horse, carrying her off to the castle, to the Queen's dismay. Pouty queen--for shame!

After living the life of a princess for a while, Paige decides she wants to return to her former, farm-girl life and pursue her medical school studies.

SPOILER ALERT! (just thought I'd warn you, like in all those fun Harry Potter fan sites)
Paige returns home and finishes her degree. After his coronation, Eddie returns to Wisconsin in time to see Paige graduate and to tell her that "if she wants to go to medical school and be a doctor, he will wait for her." He'll wait for her, apparently, as long as it takes for her to fulfill her own needs, until she is ready to be his queen.

So here's my issue. Why can't she have both? Why can't she move to Denmark, go to medical school there, and be the first practicing royal physician in the country's history?

While I love the flightly romanticism of the film and the escapism it allows me from the daily grind, I am a bit perturbed by the whole "having to give it up eventually" message that the story perpetrates for females. Yes, for sure, in any relationship you have to compromise. To think otherwise would be foolish and delusional. But I believe that the minute you start giving up the very fabric of your being--your dreams, your goals and the things that make life worth living--well, then you're sublimating yourself, and that's bad for any relationship.

I know, I know, I'm looking for depth in romantic comedy. I'm looking for a way to solve a problem I'm supposed to believe doesn't exist.

Maybe I need to construct a sequel in which Paige actually does those things, and she and Eddie figure out a way to make that happen.

If it means getting to work with Julia and the Mably guy, well, it can't be that bad, right?

Inaugural post

I have joined the blogging revolution. Info superhighway speeders, beware. Not quite sure what this will develop into, but thought it might be good to start self-publishing some stuff and seeing if anyone hits it (accidentally or otherwise). Just to see what happens. Seeing as we're in an age of self-publication.

Saw New Stage Collective's production of "Kimberly Akimbo" tonight. David Lindsay-Abaire. Absurdity. Funny stuff. I liked it better than "Fuddy Meers," which was, by the way, brilliant. I hope that audiences flock to the CAC to see "Kimberly" and that NSC can continue its journey beyond Season 3. I looked for a blog created by local media in which to post my thoughts about the play, but alas, there are none that fit or are active enough to get the hits necessary to make even a small difference. So, I thought, why not start one of my own.

A teacher of mine in college, whom I didn't like very much, was stuck teaching technology to teachers and teacher-wannabes. It wasn't a very happy job and I think I picked up on his dislike of the course he had to teach. But one thing he said, nearly ten years ago, has stuck with me. In the context of a discussion about web design, he said "if you're going to have a website, you have to have something to say." For that reason, I never really pursued the idea of creating my own site. I was never sure I had something unique to say. After all, haven't all plots in the realm of the literary already been discovered?

Still, the web thing bugged me. I tried learning some HTML, which was a joke for me. My brain just doesn't work that way. I know enough to make this word appear as such, or to underscore my point as necessary, but that's about as far as I got. How nice to have the lovely people (programmers) in the blog world. They've created the interface for me and I don't have to worry about all that pesky HTML.

Another comment someone made to me once has also stuck with me. In undergrad. Dealing with a "creative crisis" and wanting to construct, to create, to live in that wonderful moment that being 20 and carefree and in the faux liberal academic society created... but I struggled with the words. My friend said, "well, you don't have anything important to say yet. You're too young."

Bastard, I exclaimed in my mind. I do have important things to say. I could write volumes on what it means to lose a parent, what happens when you start to realize that work in one course inter-relates to another, the joy of discovery of philosophy and literature that was written eons ago but still has relevance, and what it means to get your heart broken. Like the good little undergrad I was, however, I took my friend's words to heart. I wrote but I didn't write. Not really.

Notice I don't recall all the people who told me I could write. Who told me I did have a unique voice worth reading. Of course not. We never remember the positive feedback--only the stinging remarks leave their traces.

So, in essence, this blog is in defiance of my tech teacher and my writer friend. Sometimes I'll have something to say. Sometimes it might be earth-shattering (but more often than not, it will probably be me complaining about something boring like knitting patterns, or relating kids' antics or bemoaning the lack of interesting stuff on summer tv). But bottom line, I'm going to say it.