Thursday, February 01, 2007

After a long, rather hard day of painting the stage floor and other parts of the current production, I went to a concert at Symphony Hall, one of conductor James Levine's Beethoven/Arnold Schoenberg combinations. Schoenberg, to put it mildly, isn't everybody's cup of tea, particularly his compositions after abandoning traditional melody and tonality. Tonight the program consisted of Beethoven's Coriolan Overture, Schoenberg's half hour monodrama "Erwartung" (Expectation) for soprano and [very] big orchestra, Beethoven's big concert aria "Ah, Perfido" and Eighth Symphony. Star soprano Deborah Voigt sang the Schoenberg and the concert aria thrillingly.

"Erwartung" is opera that's spent some time on Dr. Freud's couch. The situation presented is ambiguous to say the least: a woman who's dressed to the nines and may or may not be insane is looking for her lover who may or may not be dead because he may or may not actually exist. The text is VERY early twentieth decadent romantic and makes unmistakable refernces to Wagner, particularly "Tristan and Isolde." Some critics have even suggested that the opera's about a neurotic 20th century Isolde who's killed Tristan with her own hands this time.

One half of the gay couple sitting behind me commented during the bows for the Schoenberg, "what a complete waste of a great voice!" He was presumably happier with the Beethoven aria that followed. The audience gave Ms Voigt a big hand for both. Levine concluded the concert with a performance of the Eighth Symphony that tied it into the irresistible rhythmic force of the preceding Seventh more forcefully than any other performance I've ever heard--it might almost have been renumbered Symphony 7a.

Nasty Food MEME, with thanks to Ur-Spo

1. Your oddest craving?
Vegetables of the cabbage family: Kohl Rabbi, Brussels Sprouts, Red and Green Cabbage--many people can't stand them but I can't get enough.
2. The forbidden food?
Forbidden by whom? Candied or chocolate covered insects, I guess.
3. A dish that makes you queasy?
Raw cherrystone clams. I tried them as a kid at my parents' insistence but just couldn't take them--slimy and I couldn't taste anything so why bother?
4. Your least favorite food vegetable?
Cilantro. I've just never "gotten" the flavor
5. Your worst cooking disaster?
Giving a dinner party and finding out after we'd all sat down to dinner that two of the guests were so strictly vegetarian that they couldn't eat ANYTHING I'd made except for the dilled carrots.
6. A Cooking exercise you don't do well?
Dropping living crustaceans into boiling water. My parents were crazy about lobster but while I like it, there are many things I like a great deal more--and none of them involves killing something in my kitchen.
7. Food that arouses the most suspicion?
Anything on a supermarket shelf that isn't properly labeled as to contents and nutritional values, or--and this happens way too often--that doesn't have a proper price tag.
8. A drink you used to drink but no more?
Milk. A couple of decades ago I became lactose intolerant. Fortunately, I can digest aged (over 90 days) cheese, and cultured products like yogurt and sour cream properly, so I get my calcium.
9. Least favorite fast food chain?
Roy Rogers. Years ago in D.C. with my daughters, a Roy Rogers was the only place anywhere near our hotel to have breakfast. Greasy, badly cooked food and bad coffee.
10. When in doubt, eat….
A stir fry of sliced chicken breast, mushrooms, onions, summer squash and ginger sauce, served over steamed barley.
11. A restaurant faux pas that would get you to speak up?
Being overcharged for any item on the bill. It happened at McCormick and Schmick, a highly touted seafood restaurant in the Boston theater district. On the way out, two young men who had also been overcharged on the bill were complaining about their treatment. I've never set foot in the place again.
12. Is there something spoiled in the fridge right now?
13. Food you can’t buy as your spouse/partner won’t allow it in the house
Duck. I love a good roast duck but neither Fritz nor my daughters have the slightest interest. It’s not a “partner won’t allow it in the house” issue, but he wouldn’t be interested in it under any circumstances.
14. Food your spouse/partner likes that you don’t like.
Raw oysters.
15. Your least favorite type of cuisine?
Anything in Mexican or Tex-Mex cuisine that's so mindlessly over--chilied that all you can taste is hotness instead of food.
16. I food you hated as a child but now love?
Doesn't exist. I've always loved it all. OK, I have issues about sea weed.

Here's a sensible little op-ed piece:

Republicans: Stop thinking about gay sex
Alamogordo Daily News
By Jeff Stevens

It seems to me Republicans spend more time thinking about gay sex than any other group of people in the known world even more so than gay people trying to find other gay people with whom to have sex.

Of course, I'm talking about our very own esteemed state representative Gloria Vaughn. In case you missed the latest, Vaughn has proposed we amend the New Mexico State Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Now I could criticize this move from so many angles that frankly my mind fizzles and goes blank, making it hard to choose from which direction to attack. Nevertheless, I'll give it my best.

How about: It's a colossal waste of time.

Evidently, every New Mexican makes a decent living wage. No child will go to bed tonight with an empty stomach, because they are all well fed. For that matter, no child will go to bed with an empty mind because our education system is tops in the world. Evidently our streets are free of drugs. Every New Mexican has a job and can feed their families with a $5.15 minimum wage. Our roads are the best in the nation. Everyone in the state has access to affordable health care. We can only assume such is the case, because Vaughn isn't seeking to amend the Constitution to solve any of those problems. No. The most important item on her agenda is to make sure that gay people can't marry one another in the state of New Mexico.

How about instead we pass a constitutional amendment that defines a family as a group of people who love one another and don't do harm to each other. That way it would be unconstitutional for people to verbally and physically abuse their own. Or, since by her own admission, the Bible is the basis for Vaughn's desire to constitutionally define marriage, let's take that definition directly from the Bible. "Therefore what God has put together, let man not separate." That passage can be found in Mathew 19:16 and if my ability to divine what the author had in mind is worth anything, under that definition, divorced folks would be unconstitutional.

We all know that won't work because, church and state issues aside, applying the Bible to modern society doesn't work. The Bible hasn't changed in 1,500 years but the world has.

So please Mrs. Vaughn, and any other Republican who supports this, let's work on some issues that might actually improve the lives of New Mexicans. After all, time is short. There's only 60 days in the session and while you all were arguing about legislative initiatives to ban gay marriage last year, you failed to pass any laws to improve the minimum wage. In other words, some poor mom will cry herself to sleep tonight because her kids went to bed hungry. She's trying to figure out how to make ends meet on $5.15 an hour . She doesn't give a tinker's damn about who's sleeping with whom.

And for any legislators who can't focus on the important issues, just do what the rest of us do and stop thinking about gay sex.

Jeff Stevens is the assistant editor of the Alamogordo Daily News. He can be reached at Popular opinion and Joe McCarthy be damned, Jeff Stevens is not now and has never been a member of the Communist party.

I adore Ms. Voigt!
Thank you for doing the MEME
This is in extremely poor taste and I will not be offended if the comment is removed but Ms Vaughn looks like some character with a very high voice from some sort of TV series from years ago.

Perhaps they are jealous of the sex drives of homosexuals. Hey, we can't help that.....

Quite honestly, trying to imagine myself straight, copulating with that......eeewwwwwww......
I LOVE the Jeff Stevens article (and also his disclaimer). I really hope he's not gay. I love it when the gays are not the only ones against all the banning of gay marriage acts. It gives me slight hope for the future.

And seriously, could whats-her-name look more like her pic was chosen for an article in The Onion? Seriously!
Greg and Kevin--that's what i thought immediately. i was reminded of george Carlins great line, "Have you noticed that all the women who oppose abortion are chicks you wouldn't want to fuck anyway?"

Spo--Voigt's voice has, if anything, gained in volume, security and brilliance if anything. She was really quite extraordinary last night and the audience loved her.
I heard Ms Voigt in a similar performance with the NY Phil last spring. She sounded fabulous - although the NYP audience was less than appreciative of the material.
WELL - since you put it that way, after reading the Harry Potter series, she would make a PERFECT Dolores Umbridge.......

I mean really, her hair is redder than Lucille Ball's (meow.....)
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