Thursday, November 26, 2009

L'Amour est une dinde rebelle....


Ok... so these aren't exactly turkeys, but two cute pet chickens roaming an art house up in Julian, California. I'm not discriminating much between species of fowls, though. It is hazardous for winged creatures to pass too nearly by my pad this time of year.

On another note... would eating too much turkey turn you turkish?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

From The Bug's Point of View...

"It is amazing what a lot of insect life goes on under your nose when you've got it an inch from the earth."
- Beryl Markham, West With the Night
Well, I suppose it was actually her 3rd husband, Raoul Schumaker, who ghost-, wrote the book. But that doesn't take any magic away from the curiously observant passage (one among many, to be sure) from my favorite book. I have had the privilege of getting to look at things from progressively barer points of view of late. So when I went roaming about Balboa Park and Banker's Hill again over the weekend I decided to snap a few photos of what things would start looking like to me if the last soprano I snapped at in a review should ever successfully land a hex and turn me into...

a toad?

an ant?

a gnat?

or, god forbid, a tenor? Arrrrrgghhhhhhhhhhhh!

Just kidding, of course. I like tenors.... well, some of them, anyhow. :oP I wouldn't mind turning into a tenor if I can sing (and look) like...

Jonas Kaufmann... There's already a good DVD of him as Don Jose in Bizet's Carmen from the ROH - Covent Garden, a really splendidly sung and acted show, though I rather object to how vulgar Carmen (superbly sung and too realistically acted, for me, by Anna Caterina Antonacci) is in that show. That might be how real life crass gypsy women behave, but it makes it hard for me to fantasize about this Carmen.... even though she really is a beautiful (and amazingly fit) woman!

I suspect that there'll be another good Carmen DVD coming out soon from the Zurich Opera with Vesselina Kasarova in the title role, though. As far as I'm concerned, there can never be too many DVDs of Kaufmann (and of Kasarova) around!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Day Trip To Palm Spring, CA

A few weeks ago yours truly and a few friends hopped on a car and drove out to Palm Spring on the east side of the mountains to catch the Gay Pride Parade there. I had never been to one before, so that was a rather gay (in every sense of the word) experience.

We opted the northern route up I-215 to Route 60 and I-10, and breezed downwind into Coachella Valley, being heralded part of the way by the electricity-generating wind turbines. We only caught the last few minutes of the parade, as it turned out, having arrived at Palm Canyon Drive a bit later than expected. They were playing Village People's YMCA and everybody was dancing to it...

But why is YMCA such a gay anthem to begin with? (I really haven't a clue)

Afterward we went and wander around their excellently maintained Palm Spring Art Museum... and even caught a free piano recital at their underground auditorium (they have this 'Free 2nd Sunday' promotion going. Free admission to the museum and performances!). They have some really cool abstract arts and American Western theme exhibits... I don't know why, but I found myself quite mesmerized by this interestingly proportioned sculpture. Perhaps my math-loving friends could come up with an equation to describe her!
We didn't get back until after 9PM that day. I've been too zapped to write the trip up properly, though. Anyhow, if you'd like a glimpse of the famous celebrity oasis in the California desert, here's a little slide show that hardly does it justice at all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shopping at Vons'

The weather had turned cloudy and cool this week, which means I'm allowed to go out and walk around a bit. Finally got around to Vons supermarket a few blocks away on 30th Street.Here in America we tend to shop at a chain supermarket where you can get everything in one stop rather than going to specialty shops for bread and meat and other stuff. In San Diego area we have the Vons, Albertson's, and Ralph's chain (back in Missouri it was either Dierberg's or Schnuck's).
Being a lazy bum that I am, I'm not all that thrilled with the way they tend to scatter stuff in such a way that you have to walk the entire place to get a simple food shopping trip done.

Here we have the bakery on the north side, next to fresh produce section...
I must say, though, Vons' produce section is quite more varied and more fresh than what I usually find at Ralph's or Alberson's.

A lot of canned food and household items in the isles... Along with the Pharmacy. Water and soft drinks are somewhere close to the south wall... next to the dairy section.

with the Deli counter rounding up the store's south side. They make pretty good sandwiches here. Too bad you can't pay for your sandwich here and go, though. They give you a tag and you have to line up and pay at the check out lanes like the rest of the shoppers.

Vons' price is pretty good compared to other groceries. If you become a member, then you get extra discount, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday And The Symphony

Hey, November sneaked up on me! I had a vague idea that it was coming, but then my flatmate and I talked ourselves into cleaning up the flat and repainting the interior walls along with the porch Saturday morning.


By the time we got done afternoon had came a
nd gone and it was time to freshen up and skip downtown for the San Diego Symphony's 2nd of three performances of Mozart's Requiem.

The program was rather unspooky for a Halloween night and kicked off with the famous
prelude to Act III of Wagner's Lohengrin... sadly without running on into the even more famous Bridal Chorus (I mean, since they've already got a great chorus in the house that could really rock that thing, you know!).

I'm afraid we didn't get very good seats for it and the bad acoustic (toward the extreme left of the auditorium in the Main level) skewed the performance for me a bit. I thought the opening number got bogged down a bit once Elsa's theme kicked in. The brass section was having quite a good night, though... I bet they sounded quite splendid up in the middle balcony. In the imbalanced acoustic of where I was they got a bit muffled by the bass and strings section.

The second number was Max Bruch's D-minor violin concerto featuring Jeff Thayer, the SDSO's concertmaster... I'm afraid he was rather overpowered by the orchestra (which really couldn't have been playing more sensitively). Don't know if that was an intentional interpretative effect, but I found the lack of dynamic variation in the violin solo rather dulling on the Romantic music. He got all the notes down at good speed, to be sure, but there was no accentuating the line and practically no story told (that I could discern... but then a lot of that may be due to the bad acoustic of my part of the auditorium).

A lot of folks left us at the intermission and never came back, which was really too bad because the San Diego Master Chorale showed up and really rocked the second half of the evening in the Mozart Requiem.

I have to say that Maestro Ling's tempo for the Requiem was so consistently speedy that even the more solemn movements of the mass failed to spook me. One would expect that the quick pace would work well in the more furious movements like the Dies irae or the Confutatis, but the auditorium didn't catch fire during those either since there just wasn't enough contrast with the rest of the show (speed is no substitute for intensity... especially when you've got only one gear).
But the chorus was absolutely fantastic! They sang this thing like they meant every word of it. Great piano singing when called on, and delightfully lively in the fugue sections.

Also, I had no idea who they were before I walked into Copley Hall this weekend, but I'm mightily impressed with the tenor and mezzo soloists for the evening: Thomas Cooley and Sasha Cooke. Their beautiful voices were superbly used to convey the departing souls they were depicting in Mozart's final composition and I can only hope to catch them in more substantive roles in real operas one of these days. Jessica Rivera (soprano) and Jason Grant (bass-baritone) also sang well after a shaky start.

The ovation was warm indeed... But then it seems that in this town you really have to fall off the horse and bleed all over the stage (after having first flooded the orchestra pit and splattered all the coats in the first 3 rows of audience) to NOT get a standing ovation at the end of a show.