I'm Off To See The Wizened

My father turned 80 on the 27th of February - Go Dad!

I'll be jetting off to see him from Friday to Sunday (sorry Pop, longer term love comes at a premium).

I will try to exercise a modicum of restraint when dealing with relatives who will be joining in the fun.


Deriving Miss Daisy

There's a billboard near my office building that shouts CANADIAN DERIVATIVES EXCHANGE and provides a web address.

Rather than take the time to investigate what I'm looking at, I am preferring to believe that we as a country are ready to trade some of the paler television fare currently aping American programs with other countries.

If anyone needs Canadian Idol or anything from HGTV Canada, let me know what you've got and we'll talk.


Joseph and the Amazing Technorati Dreamcoat

Now that the abject horror of Valentine's Day has passed, I've become less afraid to declare my love.

Many of you blogger types have posted their link lists and this will make us all Technorati superstars or some such so here goes mine.

I once said that the worst thing about blogging is that it's made of people but that's one of the best things too. Say it with me: awwwwwwww.

If you're not there and you think you should be, let me know and I'll put it to the panel.


Backyard Antics and Oscar Predictions

There appears to be a rabbit with an identity crisis using my backyard to work out his problems. His tracks look pretty Mickey Mouse to me. Click to enlarge.
In other backyard news, Honeypot was out in hers for a while heating things up with some geezer. At least this time, they were building a fire and not engaged in a grotesque hump-fest like that other time.

My prediction for the Oscar telecast tonight is that I'll watch an hour and a bit before giving up.


From The House Of The Dale

Would you think it wrong of me to call the set design for an opera that takes place in a prison arresting?

Would you think it strange that a disclaimer in the program insists No animals were harmed in the making of this production?

Would you believe that a 90 minute one act production can seem longer than a 5 hour opera?

While we're on the topic of would wood, can you imagine how having two naked men, one with substantial equipment, front and centre during a prolonged communal bath scene, might ahem pull focus from the rest of the scene?

From The House of the Dead is an opera by Leoš Janáček based on Dostoevsky's novel Memoirs from the House of the Dead. It tells the stories of several prisoners being held in a Siberian jail. It was difficult to follow. The director's explanation:

There is no plot which can be easily described in a program synopsis...rather, the events resemble video clips - collections of impressions based on the memoirs of prisoners.

My impression was that Janáček would have enjoyed the 10 minute scene of everyone humping someone or something about as much as I'd like to sit with my mother and watch HBO's OZ.

The set, lighting, and projection design was truly incredible but the music (excepting the overture) and singing did not keep me engaged. I've heard opera in Czech before and was happy to find that my expectation of the notes being comprised solely of snorts and phlegm was misguided.

I stopped reading along with the surtitles about 1/3 of the way through and focused on the intricate and perfectly executed projection work. The release of a live falcon representing freedom got the wranglers more prolonged applause at the curtain call than the cast did.

My attempt to not make your sentence any harsher and end on a positive note finds me saying:

This opera was at least as enjoyable as any movie that might rely on a Larry King endorsement in its ad campaign.



Mind If I Cut In?

During lunch today, the topic drifted to a discussion of the song You Raise Me Up made famous by Josh Groban and now that über geek from American Idol.

Someone said that at the last few weddings they attended, the groom danced with his mother to that song. I immediately felt ill at the treacly image and said that the lyrics were probably more suited to lovers rather than blood relations.

Everyone disagreed and said it was a lovely and appropriate song. What's wrong with you? they asked. Knowing there simply wasn't time enough for a comprehensive answer to their question, I looked up the lyrics to prove my point.

After highlighting the following verse from the song, everyone ewwwwwwed right along with me and I was happy my disgust hadn't been misplaced.

There is no life - no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

My theory was that people are so lazy, they're probably mistaking the title of the song to mean You Raised Me. My horror grew when I did a search on mother / son wedding dance songs and this popped up.

Now I'm really horrified but mostly because Superfreak didn't make the cut.


She Loves Me She Loves Me Not

Today marks the Chinese New Year. Can you guess how I know this?

A) I'm culturally sensitive and aware

B) I'm always looking for a new holiday

C) I drank flavoured coffee and had a run in with the Korean Bagel Lady.

I went to get coffee yesterday and as I was pouring a cup, the Korean Bagel Lady said something that sounded like this: .

I said I have no idea what you just said to which she replied I showing you that I am bilingual. You're very talented I smiled back but I still can't understand you. She said it again and I asked if it meant Dumbass in Korean. She laughed and tried to ring in my coffee but jammed the cash register. As she was pressing buttons to clear it I said I guess I'm not the only one who doesn't understand you. She glared at me and I left.

Moments later, I realized that I was drinking some sort of disgusting flavoured coffee and returned to the scene of the crime. I told the First Lady of Bilingualism that the pots may have gotten switched as this was flavoured coffee. You probably took the wrong one she accused. It wasn't my fault I countered and I hate flavoured coffee. I hate you so we even! She said it with a smile so I waited until later to cry.

I asked about the phrase she'd used earlier that I didn't understand and she said she was wishing me a Happy New Year in Chinese. I thought you were Korean? Yes, I Korean but I'm not stupid and I bilingual. We laughed and then she tried to teach me to say the phrase. In between me trying to say it, she also told me she thinks I slouch when I walk and I must stand straighter. So nice to know others are kind enough to tell me my posturing is getting on their nerves.

After a few efforts, it almost sounded like I was saying Happy New Year and I guess to congratulate me she said what sounded like Now you can bo me. My mind raced - did she just ask me to blow her? Reacting to the puzzled look on my face, she repeated Now you can bo me but this time it sounded more like Now you can bone me. I was really nervous but her husband wasn't around so hmm... Before I could give her my final answer, she bowed to me. Oh, you want me to bow to you! I did and walked away as tall, proud and relieved as I could be.


A Story With Legs And Hats

This is a terrible story but I wouldn't have minded seeing a photo of the woman with the metal table legs just the same.

In other news, the weather today is milder than it's been in weeks which means one thing - it's perfect toque selling weather!
Representatives from a large beer company are on just about every downtown streetcorner selling hats to help the homeless.
Also mere feet from the sellers on the streetcorners? Homeless people. Give them a toque. Or at least a beer.


Little Triggers

"I don't know about your brain but mine is really bossy..."
-- Laurie Anderson from the song Baby Doll

I assume the wiring of my brain is much like everyone else's but then, I assume I don't require medication.

In the course of any conversation, there are trigger words or phrases that set off tiny explosions in my head. The din is generally over quickly and I can continue a conversation or at least appear to be listening.

One of the most common examples is when I hear someone say the word "everything". Before they've even finished the word, a very short visual of Sissy Spacek yelling "EVERYTHING" from the film In The Bedroom plays in my head and then things return to normal. I don't even remember the story from the film particularly well but the intensity of that second plays whenever I hear the word.

Sometimes my brain forces a longer diversion and it's a couple of seconds before I can get back to you. If I hear someone say "This is nice" a whole passage from the film Strangers With Candy plays. Jerri Blank is sitting at the dinner table and says This is nice. Family. You got the mommy and the daddy and the brother and the sister and ... this guy.

There are many snippets of songs that play as well depending on what someone's said but they're too numerous to mention.

It's my brain that takes control in these situations no matter how hard I resist so, should you ever see that glazed look in my eyes while talking to me, it's you, not me, you said the wrong thing.

The Burdens Of Being Upright

After a lovely meal at Babur on Friday, Deborah and I sloshed our way to the opera house ready to settle in our seats, all layers and hope. The snow didn't seem to much affect the other two thirds of the audience who chose to brave the elements either. Who knew we were such a hearty crowd?

Seeing Puccini's Tosca would have been an enjoyable enough affair for the music alone although it was less unified and symphonic than I expected. Reflecting on the darkness and urgency of the story, the score did befit the jealousy, violence, and tragedy to come. The story was filled with all those tasty opera staples like torture, murder and suicide and as with any Canadian Opera Company production, the orchestra and chorus were masterful and excellent, a joy to hear.

Tenor Mikhail Agafonov as Cavaradossi elevated the production with his perfect vocal purity and power and a commanding presence. Having seen him in a number of great performances, I remain impressed.

The rest of the cast had strong enough voices but when the music softened enough to really hear baritone Alan Opie as Baron Scarpia at the beginning of Act Two, the effect was entrancing. He managed to make his character though largely unappealing and conniving, somehow appealing and easy to watch.

While in powerful and dramatic voice but lacking a certain warmth, soprano Eszter Sumegi in the title role made the unfortunate choice of exaggerated expressions and overly grand movements. This threatened to trip her up nearly as much as her unwieldy costumes.

Two of the gowns she wore, while lovely to look at, had trains so long they required her to heft them at every turn to avoid prematurely meeting her fate by tripping. I was left distracted by her performance and driven to the odd titter. I'm convinced the cries of Brava! at night's end may have been more for her success at having remained on her feet than her execution of the role.

Next up is From The House Of The Dead, where I would have ended up blogging from had I been forced to do an in person critique of this show to Ms. Sumegi.