Monday, November 17, 2008

moving on

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Catherine Opie show at the Guggeneheim with Diana, and then yesterday...

To the William Eggleston show at the Whitney with Prue.
I'm learning how to go to museums just for pleasure. To tell the truth, it took me a long time, but I'm finally getting the hang of it. It's a very different experience - in some ways diminished, in others enhanced. Without a sense of duty motivating me I want different things from art - I want to be engaged, I want to be entertained, I want to enjoy the experience of looking. I don't feel the need to persevere when I'm bored.
I'm tempted to ramble on now - about persevering through boredom. That's what separates the professionals from the amateurs isn't it?
Instead, I'll just say that I enjoyed both the Opie and the Eggleston exhibits. And that last night, I made baked apples and they turned out really well. I cored the apples and plugged the base of the hole with chopped raisins, then filled up the rest with brown sugar and cinnamon and butter. Baked the apples for half an hour and they turned out perfectly. Baking apples is easy and nothing to brag about but I came up with the chopped raisin plug myself and was kind of proud so I'm mentioning it now.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My Halloween costume. It's not much of a costume, I admit. What you can't see is that I had on little fake fangs on. I learned something interesting from my experiment with fangs: vampires, if they existed, would have a really hard time wearing lipstick. Because my lipstick kept rubbing off on my fangs. It was not cool.
Also: yay classic ghost costume.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


So I just saw the weirdest opera ever.  Richard Strauss' Salome, at the Met.  I don't know about you, but personally, I just don't associate "The Metropolitan Opera" and "Weird".  Avant-garde?  Sometimes.  Abstract?  Sure.  Gaudy, over-the-top, and spectacular?  That's more like it.  But this one was weird.  And disgusting.

There's not a whole lot of story here.  Salome is a spoiled brat, and she's lingering outside at a big party at her stepfather's palace when she hears John the Baptist ranting and railing from inside his oubliette.  The soldiers guarding the oubliette have been ordered not to let anyone speak to John the Baptist, let alone pull him out of his little prison, but with a bit of bump-and-grind Salome convinces the guy in charge that he can bend the rules just this once.

Here's the weirdest thing about Salome.  It's that Salome herself, history's ultimate femme fatale, isn't the least seductive.  And I don't mean this as a slam against the opera singer, either; the choreography is so awkward it has to be intentional.  She doesn't dance; she jerks around, she squats, she humps the props.  She doesn't seduce the solider; she flashes some flesh in a cheap, vulgar way and he just can't resist.  If that weren't bad enough, there's something childish about her mannerisms which makes the choreography that much more repulsive.  

So out pops John the Baptist.  He's not in a good mood.  The one really fun part of the opera comes next: Salome tells John that he has beautiful white skin and asks if she can touch it.  John says no, you skanky ho, you can't touch my white skin.  And then Salome declares that actually, his skin is digusting and ugly and she doesn't want to touch it.  She starts again on his beautiful red lips, but John's still having none of it, so Salome declares that actually, she never wanted to touch his ugly red lips anyhow.  Etc.  That was cute. 

Eventually spoiled little Salome gets tired of John and sends him back to his oubliette.  Then her stepfather, the tetrarch, shows up.  He's got a crush on Salome; his wife, in tow, keeps telling him how inappropriate this is.  She's wasting her breath.  The tetrarch asks Salome to dance for him, and after several refusals he resorts to bribery: if she dances for him, he'll give her anything she asks for, absolutely anything.  Salome agrees.

Salome has already established her credentials as a provocatrice at this point.  She did a little octopus dance with the soldier to convince him to unearth John the Baptist, wearing a slinky silver cocktail dress, but this time we expect more.  We expect her to pull out all the stops for the Dance of the Seven Veils.  How's that possible?  With a strip tease of course!

No.  Seriously.

And yeah, she takes off the bloomers too.

Interesting, huh?  And while Salome gets nakeder, she's still jerking around on stage in this deeply unappealing, awkward way that makes her look like she's having convulsions.  Or doing aerobics.  Convulsive aerobics.  It's bad.  And weird.

So she finishes her dance and the tetrarch is delighted.  He immediately starts offering her all the riches of his kingdom.  Clearly, he is insane, because these days most guys working minimum wage can afford a classier routine.  But fine, Salome's horrid striptease is worth diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and other such magnificence.

But Salome refuses it all.  She just wants John the Baptist's head on a silver platter.    

Now, you might be thinking the worst is over.  You might be thinking that surely an opera at the Met can't get more risque than an opera singer just past her prime stripping down to the buff on stage.  You might be thinking it can't get much grosser than those aerobic convulsions.  I sure did.  

You would be wrong.

Because once Salome gets John the Baptist's head, she kisses it.  And not just a little peck on the lips, either.  She drops to the floor and rolls around with the head, locked in a passionate embrace with it.  She's singing this thoroughly psychotic song about how she finally gets to touch his white skin and kiss his red lips, as though she can't tell the difference between a live person and a severed head.  Truly, all the previous uncomfortable moments in the opera combined are less uncomfortable than this one.  

The end.

Conclusion: wtf?


I went to see Equus a couple of weeks ago.   I knew nothing about Equus the play - nothing about the playwright - I only knew that Daniel Radcliffe, little Harry Potter, was in it and at some point, he would prance around on stage naked.

Now, it's true: it's severely creepy for a 27 year old woman to be leering at naked 19 year olds, especially tiny, young-looking naked 19 year olds like Daniel Radcliffe.  I guess there's no getting around it.  And although I wasn't attending in order to ogle him - for pure ogling potential I'm sure I could have found something better - my motives were essentially perverse.   I just wanted to see Bad Harry Potter, the same way spending four years at a Catholic high school makes me giggle at tasteless jokes about Jesus.

Actually, I just looked up perverse and here's the number one definition: willfully determined or disposed to go counter to what is expected or desired; contrary.  So I guess guess perverse really sums it up. 

Here are some observations about my perverse excursion:

1.  There's been so much press about the nude scene, but it's short, the stage is dark, and Daniel Radcliffe is not facing the audience for most of it.  Forget about the nude scene.  What about the scenes when Daniel Radcliffe is twining himself around strapping young men wearing horse-heads and showering them with big, open-mouthed kisses?  If you ask me, those were much weirder.

2.  I didn't bother to find out what it was about before I showed up and, hey, it's kind of depressing and intense.  Go figure.  The playwright said his goal was to try to make sense of a senseless crime - something he heard about, although he never did track down the real event, if it ever occured.  Namely, a teenage boy who blinded six horses at a stable where he had been working, by stabbing them in the eyes.  He comes up with a fairly elegant, and inspiring, answer; too elegant, and too inspiring, if you ask me.  Or maybe I just don't care if there's some sort of indomitable spirit motivating animal torturers; nothing good comes of it, after all.

3.  Sure, I bought the ticket for silly, gimmicky reasons.  But I didn't go see a silly gimmick; I saw a great play.  I walked in with a snicker and walk out enlightened and thoughtful.  What's the lesson there?  That sometimes even your worst instincts can send you off on worthwhile journeys?  Maybe that's not a good lesson.  

4.  I got two Harry Potter actors for the price of one: the main character, the child psychologist treating Daniel Radcliffe, was also the guy who plays Uncle Vernon in the films.  He did a truly fantastic job, really great.  

5.  On the other hand, he also kind of reminded me of what Albus Dumbledore would be like, if he were a 20th century child psychologist treating severely disturbed teenage boys.  Harry Potter Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

6.  Captain Janeway had a role too.  She has nice calves.