Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The old scam in a totally new form, at least to me:
I am presently in Iraq with the U.S. Army for peace keeping mission. I found $5,4OO,OOO near one of Saddam's old palaces during a rescue operation; I need your Urgent assistance to move this money out to a safer place. Please get back to me through my personal email: email@example.com for more details.
New Hampshire is being inundated with Republican candidates for the US Senate, fourteen of them so far, six considered major league. There are two Democratic candidates who are active, both women. All these candidates are identical to each other.
Here’s how: to a person, they are all outsiders, because to not be an outsider means to be an insider, and Washington DC insiders are the new equivalent of Islamic terrorists. Not only are they all outsiders (“I’m a business man, NOT a politician!”; “I’m a prosecutor, NOT a politician!”), they all have a plan to end the bail-outs, balance the budget, eliminate the deficit, end earmarks, repeal “Obamacare”. They will all create jobs, they will all put Washington back on track. It’s the same plan, and they will each achieve it single-handedly. They will bring Washington to its knees -- all by themselves. Yeah, sure.
The attack ads began a month or so ago with liberal use of the word Liberal which is the new equivalent of “pinko, leftist Commie fellow traveler” (Google it if you don’t know – it makes great reading) and counter charges of being a secret insider because of always having been appointed to office, never elected (Oooooh – good one!). I commented to Fritz this morning that the sheer mass of TV commercials for candidates, some of them running five to eight times an hour, is enough to make me nostalgic for the car dealership ads that are being crowded out (“Ira! Ira! Nothing down at Ira!”)
We’re still two weeks away from the New Hampshire primaries. I’m William Fregosi and I don’t approve of their messages.
Monday, August 23, 2010
A Little More Nature
One of our wild turkeys, one that Fritz refers to as "the rogue" because it is always alone and never with the flock; our last sight of them was in December when we were decorating the inside/outside Christmas tree and saw them walking across the property just below the big flower garden. I feel certain that the big feather I found is from this bird. Fritz was at the dining table in the kitchen, happened to look up and called me immediately when he saw the turkey on its way toward the new part of the vegetable garden . . .
. . . on its way past the asparagus bed (uphill of the bird) and the Brussels sprout/winter squash
Friday, August 20, 2010
For Love of Nature
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Boston's Women of Opera and Music, Part Two
One hopeful development is the introduction of one non-mainstream opera every year produced in an alternate or non-traditional venue. Last season it was Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw starring the charismatic soprano Emily Pulley and magnificent old veteran Joyce Castle, performed in an old armory in the city's Back Bay. (Next season it is the legendary Emperor of Atlantis, written in the Theresienstadt concentration camp by composer Viktor Ullmann and librettist Peter Kien. The Nazis saw through the fairy tale setting and realized that Hitler was being satirized; Ullmann and Kein were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz and the opera was banned.)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I'm three days late for this -- I'd blame the oral surgery early in the week, but the truth is that I just lost count. DesignerBlog debuted on August 8, 2003 and has been a constant pleasure to write. The main personal benefit for me has been the large number of great people with whom I have had the opportunity to share ideas, humor, caring, and in many happy cases, personal meeting that has led to lasting friendship.
Thanks to all of you who have entered and enriched my life. I look forward to our continuing adventure together!
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Friday afternoon, I made what turned out to be a very minor detour from my normal route to meet fellow blogger Sean Breen for lunch at his place. It became obvious very quickly that we had a lot in common as fellow artists whose houses are set up to entertain large numbers of friends, who eat simply but very well, who are both highly active and continually curious about life, and are blessed with patient, loving husbands who appreciate the high energy unpredictability of their mates. I said good-bye happy to know that on Sunday morning a brunch had been planned about 25 miles east of where I stay in the Cooperstown area at which I would get to spend more time with Sean, meet his husband Jeffrey and their housemate Josh, and have a welcome reunion with blogger friend Thom and boyfriend Richard.
It has become evident that the departed directorship in place at the Glimmerglass Opera for the last five years wasn't brilliant on several points, among them dealing with the economic downturn. Also, one or two seasons had featured less than compelling repertory and some lower ticket sales. One result this summer was that the scenic designers were told that they had to pull everything required to realize their design concepts out of standing stock from old productions, adapting or repainting as required. Sometimes adversity stimulates creativity -- for the most part this summer, the productions were smart, atmospheric and set the performers off very well. Next year the new administration of American director Francesca Zambello will have taken complete control, but some of the changes and new events that she envisions were in place this year and promise a much fuller and richer experience at what she is renaming the Glimmerglass Opera Festival.
There were four operas this year: Mozart's Marriage of Figaro (A well-cast production filled with a lot of personal character detail and strongly conducted by incoming Music Director David Angus); Puccini's Tosca, the old favorite updated to the World War I era with three first-rate soloists including a terrific performance of the villainous Baron Scarpia by Lester Lynch; Handel's Tolomeo in its very first stage performance in North America, the setting surrealistic, witty and imaginative -- which some found threatening for some reason but which I loved; and The Tender Land by beloved American composer Aaron Copland.
Copland is known for having developed a lyrical, distinctly "American sound" in such works as the ballets Appalachian Spring, Rodeo, Billy the Kid, and in movie scores like Our Town, The Red Pony and two or three others. But Copland's magic was very scarce in the 40 minute first act that consists largely of dialog with very few "aria opportunities" to let his gift for long lovely melodies show forth. Combined with the rather simplistic text written by Copland's boyfriend at the time, act one seemed a LONG 40 minutes. Some amusement was to be had during the intermission when two wags entertained their friends by chanting a parody of the sung dialog:
Well, I'm going to the men's room now.
OK, we'll see you later.
Yes, later, later.
Somehow Copland never found the secret of writing expressive, compelling music for dialog, as opposed to Puccini, Mozart and, especially, Leos Janacek whose dialog crackles with interest and energy. Acts two and three fared much better because the libretto gave the Copland more set piece opportunities: arias, duets an ensemble scenes a number of which were quite lovely. But one can see why this opera is rarely encountered. As the composer wrote the piece to be performable by young singers, the entire cast came from Glimmerglass's Young American Artist program and they performed with distinction. The YAA always take supporting roles at Glimmerglass but here they were the whole show, and they will be again next summer at a specially priced "family matinee" of Bizet's Carmen.
When not at the opera I hit the antique barns that are very special in the Cooperstown area. In the cavernous basement of one I found almost all the pieces I need for an outdoor art project I've had in mind for a while (more on that as it develops), while upstairs I found a piece Fritz and I have wanted to accent our gardens -- something sculptural.
With a warm patina of rust, this finial spire and weather vane pennant at 5'-6" tall was just what we've been looking for. Fritz was delighted when I unloaded it at home Monday morning.
The brunch was planned at the American Hotel in Sharon Springs, NY. When I first saw the hotel in the mid-90s during my first years traveling to Cooperstown, it was an abandoned, decaying remnant of a grand hotel in a sleepy village that had been a major resort in an area of mineral springs and handsome mineral water bath houses, all gone to seed. A revival began a decade or so ago when Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe who had settled in great numbers in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, discovered that mineral baths of they type they had left behind existed in the U.S. not too far away.
Suddenly, the area began to revive. Sharon Springs and neighboring Cherry Valley began to enjoy boom times. Good friends of Sean and Jeffery's, Doug and Garth, bought the American and restored it. The baths were renovated.
Charming old, neglected buildings became art galleries, bed and breakfasts, and cafés. Doug and Garth are good friends, in turn, of the stars of the Green Planet reality show The Fabulous Beekman Boys which is shot entirely in and around Sharon Springs, often with Doug and Garth on camera.
There were six of us at brunch, it was great to see Thom again, Doug held forth at every opportunity, hilarity ensued.
Our new garden centerpiece in place where it will eventually stand after I arrange a secure base for it and get it coated with a weatherproof sealer.
Well, this morning I was spinning through my friend links on Facebook and got to the aforementioned Mr. Breen's page.
Sean had begun his day by posting this magnificent statement that I immediately commented should be read on the floors of both houses of the Congress, and in the legislatures of all 50 states. Posted here with his permission:
Dear Citizens who feel they should discriminate against and harass me and impose your beliefs and opinions on me and mine and demote me to a legal second class citizen:
I may not like you. Hell, I may hate you and want to punch you in the face some times. I may disagree with you vehemently, seriously oppose your religious views, your philosophies and your opinions about people, places and things. I may hate where you shop, how you dress, how you raise your children, what you drive and every tacky thing about your family picnics, weddings, lifestyles, homes and hobbies. I may never want to be your neighbor, work for or with you, share a room or a shower with you or even engage in small talk on public transit. But I would never deign to try to legally ban you from or remove your civil and legal rights and protections and equality solely because you're not my cup of tea. Ever. And I don't feel this way because a god or government or society told me to. I feel this way because I think it is the moral, ethical, proper, just and fair way to live and thrive in a society with my fellow people - as equals.