Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hell week

Sunday was my Reading Out Loud Meetup.  The topic was poetry, and there were a dozen people, the largest group I've ever had!  I read Sandberg's "Chicago" (in my Scots version), a children's poem "If No One Ever Marries Me," Walter Scott's "Breathes There a Man," and the poem about the Tay Bridge disaster by the World's Worst Poet William McGonagall.  Someone recited John Donne poems from memory!  If the Victory Cafe gets torn down along with Honest Ed's we'll have to find a new place, and someone suggested a room you can book at the Starbuck's near Christie & Davenport.

This is "hell week" for my opera group.  Two dress rehearsals followed by four shows, all in six days.  And I'm not completely over my cold.  I didn't have buckles for my shoes since I missed Wednesday's Elixir of Love rehearsal, so Beatrice got Gerald to give me his. (He's playing Dulcamara and his pants go down to his shoes, unlike the chorus men who are wearing knee socks.)

Monday night I wasn't up to choir practice.  Which is just as well because I had a ticket to see the cinema broadcast of the Met production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers.  That's the opera where Jurga and Nadir were best friends until Leila came between them, but now they're best friends again, except that Jurga's become the headman of a Sri Lankan fishing village that brings in Leila as a virgin whose job is to sing calmness to the sea, while Nadir's come there in amorous pursuit of Leila, and he seduces her and there's a big storm and the village is going to execute them and Jurga's especially homicidal because of his own jealousy, but Leila gives him the pearl pendant he gave her when she hid him from a lynch mob, so Jurga sets the village on fire as a distraction so he can free the two of them in repayment of his debt, but he stays behind to take their fate onto himself.  Of course, the two highlights are in the first act:  the Jurga-Nadir duet and Nadir's aria.  It has a lot in common with Delibes' Lakme.

We need a new doorbell.  It just beeps like a truck in reverse, not nearly enough to wake you from sleep.  Monday night I forgot my house key and when I got home I rang the bell twenty times but Father was sound asleep and I had to break a window to wake him up!  Tonight he left the door unlocked for me.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Opera costumes

Scarface (shooting in mime): "Do it first, do it by yourself, and keep doing it!"

Monday was a holiday, so there was no memoir group or choir practice.  I went to the Revue and saw Howard Hawks' original Scarface (for the third time) with the Classical Movie Meetup group.  It's very entertaining, though I can see why Italian-Americans disliked their often broad depiction here. (I noticed the repeated murder-related imagery involving the letter "X.") And it's way better than Al Pacino's garish remake.  The main thing I remember from that is Pacino complaining that his wife Michelle Pfeiffer never ate--and MP is pretty skinny!

The opera costumes arrived from Malabar Tuesday morning, and I came to help move them and try mine on. (Father was out with our Metropass, so I walked there and back.) I had to finish in a hurry so the stage manager could lock the dressing rooms and return the key to the caretaker, so of course I ended up leaving my glasses inside!  But I got them back in the evening.

I've come down with a bit of a cold, so I had to miss Wednesday night's rehearsal.  I'm concentrating on getting better so I won't miss the dress rehearsals and performances next week!  I've taken to eating pomelos, which are like mega-grapefruit.  I haven't been getting out much, though I did visit my psychiatrist Thursday and had lunch with my friend Pam on Friday, both of which were planned some time earlier.

The family relations in I, Claudius are pretty complicated.  I found a Julio-Claudian family tree on Wikipedia and posted it on the Classic Book Club Meetup message board.

In one of my Facebook groups there's a thread asking what celebrities you've had a crush on.  I've posted pictures of Laura Dern and Francesca Annis.  I also started another thread by posting a picture of Princess Grace's granddaughter Charlotte Casiraghi and saying "Isn't she gorgeous?" (Yes, those pics are at the top of this post.)

Sunday, February 14, 2016


"Just when you think things can't get worse, you run out of cigarettes"--Carol

Tuesday I borrowed Robert Graves' I, Claudius from the Palmerston library.  I'd forgotten how good it was!  In the preface he mentioned a criticism by an airman called T.E. Shaw, who I realized was actually Lawrence of Arabia! (He joined the RAF under a new name.)

Wednesday night we were rehearsing Die Fledermaus again.  This time I remembered to remove the chaise, but the other guy forgot, so I pushed it off by myself. (A bit of noise, but the show must go on!)

Thursday night at the Bloor I saw the Janis Joplin documentary Janis:  Little Girl Blue.  If I could bring one singer back from the dead, it would be her or maybe Cass Elliot.

Friday I rented the DVD of Roberto Rossellini's Stromboli.  That's the one where Rossellini got his married star Ingrid Bergman pregnant, leading to one of the great Hollywood scandals:  studio head Howard Hughes leaked her secret to get his movie some cheap publicity, the rat!  The movie's about IB marrying an Italian soldier to get out of her refugee camp and coming to live in a fishing village on a volcanic island and hating it.  It isn't as good as the later Rossellini-Bergman movies Europa 51 and Voyage to Italy:  it's one of those movies that stops instead of ending. (Luchino Visconti did better with a similar setting in La Terra Trema.) But there's clearly some talent at work, and there's always the Ingrid Bergman face that the camera adored.  I liked the scene where her husband dragged her to church after she was seen "flirting" with another man and everyone turned and looked at her.  It reminded me of when a kid arrived late at my class and school and the teacher made us all look at her!

Tonight I saw Todd Haynes' Carol at the Revue.  It's a sparely powerful, spellbinding lesbian romance, from a Patricia Highsmith novel.  Haynes used a similar 1950s setting for Far From Heaven, but I didn't care as much for that one:  for all its handsomeness, it was a movie about '50s movies.  This time his style is calm and moving, proof that less is often more.

Real brass-monkey weather today.  After finishing the movie I walked to the Dundas West station instead of waiting for the streetcar because I can't stand still in such cold weather!  I normally walk to the station from the Revue anyway.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

History Discussion Group

"Long ago I learned that you can't save people from themselves.  Either they figure it out on their own or they don't"--Chloe Sevigny in Bloodline

Tuesday I finished A Distant Mirror and started reading Ken McGooghan's Celtic Lightning for next month's History Discussion Group.  That same day, when we were rehearsing Die Fledermaus, I totally forgot that I was one of the two people who were supposed to remove the chaise just before the "Du und Du" waltz, which brought everything to a stop.  Was my face red!

Thursday night was the History Discussion Group Meetup.  There were nine people there, but few of them had read A Distant Mirror. Yet we had a pretty good time.  I managed to sell one of them a ticket to my opera! (Moira's also bought two.  I'll have to peddle them at my Reading Out Loud Meetup too.)

Friday was my fifty-fourth birthday.  Moira bought me a nice fleece sweater and Father's going to get me a hoodie.  Puitak and Gordon brought over lunch.  We went over to Loblaw's and bought a birthday cake of the strawberry shortcake type.  The following day John and Margaret came over and Kathrine made me a vegan chocolate cake! (Two cakes are better than one.)

Saturday I finished Bloodline.  It's a terrific family melodrama.  And I just found out they're making a second season!

Right now they're having a digital film festival at Scotiabank Cinema.  I was hoping to see Mel Gibson in The Road Warrior, which I haven't seen since it first came out, but I had a headache and felt under the weather.

At the memoir group today there were seventeen people!  I've been meeting some interesting people there.  The library is closed next week due to the holiday, so I took home the can of subject cards again to remove duplicates (and contribute a few more).

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


"Don't make this about us!" "I'm making it about you"--Bloodline

We're halfway through Bloodline.  It's a complex, impressive family melodrama, and it's getting pretty dark.   Chloe Sevigny is making the most of her supporting role.  I'll want to see it again before long!

We're now rehearsing the opera on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Friday night I went to the opening of an art exhibit at the Power Plant in Harbourfront. (I'd gone there the previous Friday, not realizing I was a week early!) I liked the part where the walls and ceilings were lined with butterflies.  Could have done without the loud music.

Yesterday afternoon I went to John Snow's book club, which was discussing Yves Beauchemin's Quebec novel Alley Cat.  I hadn't read the book, but John doesn't mind.  He promoted this blog, so I may get some more readers.  TIA!

At the memoir group this afternoon there was another new girl:  Maria from Yugoslavia.  It turned out she's a friend of our opera director Beatrice.  Small world!

At tonight's choir practice we started doing Verdi's Anvil Chorus and a medley of patriotic Italian songs from World War I.  Giovanni was away, so Oksana drove me to St. Clair Avenue instead.

The weather's got pretty warm, so I stopped wearing my long johns and winter boots.