Monday, November 10, 2008

A whole bunch of stuff today. Current projects:

Because of all the plants we brought in from outdoors to join the plants we had indoors already, we looked at our window sills which were simple painted plaster and I suggested tiling them. Fritz liked the idea and here they are:

The great room—these tiles are the same as the ones we used for the kitchen backsplashes, so the rooms which flow into each other anyway are just bound together that much more strongly.

The bedroom, with part of Fritz’s big Chinese chest in front. I found these for almost no money at Home Depot. Now that all our tiling is done, I’ll have a grouting day and get the tile in all three rooms finished off.

These two stacks contain 105 concrete blocks each. We’d been investigating materials to build the walls of the terraces for the garden on the hillside. We were wary of pressure treated lumber or gardening ties because of the chemicals, even though they no longer contain arsenic. Fritz stopped in at Lowe’s and talked with some of the staff there and we both went late last week to follow up on what he’d learned.

It turned out that the staff there weren’t thrilled with the idea of treated lumber for a food garden and the subject of concrete block came up. They had 8x8x16” blocks for four dollars and change each, but one of the women said that they were clearing out a bunch of the same blocks in the garden center. We went there and saw five pallets of blocks, some with nicks, others with some harmless green algae growing on them, going for one dollar a block. BUT she said they weren’t moving and had been further discounted--she’d find out the price and be right back.

And when she did come back the price was 25 cents a block, which meant that we’d have 210 blocks, all we’d need plus some extra for other projects, for $52 plus $65 for delivery. It was a steal and we stole. I’m carrying the very heavy blocks up the hill in groups of ten at intervals throughout the day and should have the number we need on site by the end of the week.

Our concrete guys have begun the walks around the house and the slabs in front of the entrance doors. Here is the beginning of the wooden forms leading to the front door


From one of the opera blogs I read—posted last week:

"I'm just back from The Damnation of Faust at the Grand Theatre du Geneve, and thought you should know that when Paul Groves came out for his bow, he flung open his jacket and revealed an Obama t-shirt. Geneva roared its approval very lustily indeed."

There are many signs that excitement about Barack Obama’s election is a world-wide condition, and that foreign leaders are deeply relieved that they’ll soon be dealing with an American president who is intelligent, articulate and capable of productive discourse. CBS Radio reported that phone calls to the president-elect are pouring in from foreign leaders anxious to be in touch with Mr. Obama as soon as possible.


A couple of weeks ago an item appeared in the Boston Phoenix (which I read on line) under this headline:

Chick Schtick
The case of Sandra Bernhard vs. Sarah Palin begs the question: is it ever okay to use “rape” in a punch line?

Leaving aside the currently fashionable misuse of the phrase “begs the question” to mean the exact opposite of what’s intended, the story was that Ms Bernhard had been engaged by Rosie’s Place to headline a fund-raising event. But staff at the shelter for poor and battered women heard some of Bernhard’s latest material, specifically, “Bernhard sarcastically predicted that when Governor Sarah Palin made a trip to Manhattan, she ‘would be gang-raped by my big, black brothers” and shelter director Sue Marsh canceled Bernhard’s contract as inappropriate for a haven for women, many of whom have suffered violence in their lives.

The article went on to quote a Boston-based comedian’s analysis of the politics of the situation. I left the following comment after the item on the phoenix’s website:

This is very interesting and revealing: "Some, like Boston comedian Bethany Van Delft, think it’s not the concept but the context that made Bernhard’s material so controversial. “Bernhard’s words were irresponsible — not as a comedian, but as a woman [van Delft said] if she’d wished gang rape on John McCain, I would laugh.”

So, Ms Van Delft thinks that raping a woman is never acceptable but that raping a man, especially brutally, as in a gang rape, is funny. Right here and now in the era of finally raised awareness about rape, in the era of AIDS, Ms Van Delft would yuk it up, because it happened to, like, you know, a man. Ha, ha!!

Ms Van Delft, let me advise you that raping a man, even if he normally bottoms in anal sex, is NOT ONE IOTA MORE ACCEPTABLE than raping a woman who normally engages in vaginal sex. Rape is rape, an act of violence, not something out there for your amusement. Your remark is offensive, and indefensible.
By DesignerBlog on 10/23/2008 at 9:16:11

The next day, a Phoenix staffer emailed me for permission to place my comment in the paper’s next print edition, and I wrote back immediately giving it. Several friends have been in touch since the issue hit the streets thanking me for registering my thoughts.


Operatic weekend, part two:
Dr. Atomic, as a theatrical experience, turned out to be the polar opposite of The Damnation of Faust. Whereas Berlioz had written an oratorio he termed a “dramatic legend” that director Robert Lepage made into an engrossing opera on stage, John Adams wrote a genuine opera that director Penny Woolcock turned into a largely static oratorio.

In truth, librettist peter Sellars bears part of the blame because every time something happens, is about to happen, or could happen, characters ruminate, generally at length. Rumination is an inward thing, to be sure, but other directors have made something dynamic of rumination in other productions of other works. Ms. Woolcock simply has them stand looking directly out at the audience for extended periods of time. At one point in the second act, five of them stand for about fifteen minutes in squares drawn across the stage floor in a straight line, and sing without moving. It was like a bad provincial production of Il Trovatore from 1935.

The effect was amplified by the fact that Ms Woolcock and set designer Julian Crouch had placed the opera in the latest international scenic cliché, the multi-tiered bank of cubby holes, aka the chicken box set.

I’ve seen several versions of this set in the last several years at the MET and elsewhere, among them Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy,

Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes,

Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice,

and especially in The Damnation of Faust just the night before, where it was used dynamically by director Robert Lepage with an imaginative freedom that is not Ms Woolcock’s to command. Confining the cast to these static boxes at intervals throughout the performance had a deadening effect. Michael of Spo Reflections saw this performance via the MET’s live HD telecast and I’m hoping he’ll comment, because I suspect the thing looked much better on the movie screen with close-ups and other cinematic techniques. In the big theater, the opera lost momentum.

Two more moments from Berlioz's Faust "opera."

I have only seen the 'box' look once when I saw Dr. Atomic, so it seemed fresh for me. I rather like Dr. Atomic.
I agree about the compartmentalised sets currently in vogue. We've been having to look at the wretched things in Europe for years now, although I think you may be overdoing it a bit with the Orfeo at the Met which I thought was beautiful when I saw it on a brief visit to New York last spring!

How many bad provincial productions of Il Trovatore did you see in 1935, anyway?
The house is looking great. I love those tiles.
Hey, Will...

Nice pictures of your house.

With you leaving a comment on my site, I thought I'd come check yours out and was quite impressed. I definately will be coming back here on a regular basis.
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