A Glass of Chianti

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Attn: Polish searcher

You have good taste
That's all.

Also, any ideas why this search is sending a couple people here every day? At first I was flattered (before I realized that my friends don't have brothers... and that I don't have friends). Now I'm wondering what big pop culture movement I'm missing out on now that job hunting consumes my free time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

There's no I in third person

A Special Way of Being Afraid is right - there is a real dearth of third-person songs out there. Looking at my own iTunes list, besides "Mack the Knife" (does it make it better or worse that I have more versions in German than in English? Probably worse) and "Seven Spanish Angels" (don't hate on my Willie) I have to go further back chronologically to find anything third-person-y. Even promising titles like "She's About a Mover" have the illusion broken by the second verse. I was also surprised, given my fairly obsessive collecting of TV show themes that there weren't more examples in that genre. I think some of this has to do with the fact that the refrain "write what you know" has been interpreted by almost everyone as "write about you" and we're stuck with the navel gazing for a few decades more. Or at least until the educational fashions change.
Any thoughts as to the best song written from that point of view?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Brush Up Your Latin

Brush up your Latin
Understand the Mass.
Brush up your Latin
Come September* you'll surpass.
Oh, remember the wedding's approaching
And you might be quite lost without coaching.**
If you start now you may well be able
To declare Vigil at th' breakfast table.
Though in English the homily will be
The vows and Confiteor - yipee!
So, brush up your Latin -
We'll rejoice en masse.

*The second
**Not really. Seriously.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Two things

both related to this story of a man whose daughters decided to have his ashes put into a clarinet and then buried in the case.

1. Patty should really be moonlighting as a headline writer now that her symphony gig is on summer hiatus.

2. I'm with her that there will be no burying my clarinets with me. That's just... stupid. Let me be on the record that when I die, I want whoever is overseeing the funeral to give my clarinets an overhaul and send them to a band program so they can do what clarinets are made to do: play!*.

*But, ummmmm... don't tell that to my clarinet that I made into a lamp.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Great day in Texas history

Today is Audie Murphy's birthday. An enduring legacy? Lots of Shriners of a certain age around here...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A kid after my own heart

Wanting a NewsHour-themed third birthday party? (UPDATE: Video here) I didn't hit my Firing Line phase until I was four so we know that little Henry is pretty special. Plus, he has good taste - of all the Texas newsmen who've had a national broadcast, Jim Lehrer the least un-awesome.

Not that I have anything against Bob Schiefer, but every time I see him on my screen I'm a little nervous that he's going to start spitting blood at any moment.


Friday, June 16, 2006

My kingdom for a book spine label

I love the Pauline Sisters. Really. I also love the small format paperbacks they put out of the papal encyclical letters. Whenever I go into Stella Maris, I walk by the big wall display of them and have a really hard time with not picking one up. So far, I've been pretty successful in this money-saving endeavor for two reasons:
  1. I remind myself that I have this bookmarked at home and it is free. (Making an appeal to my cheap nature)
  2. I remind myself that they don't label the spines of these encyclicals so there's no way to store them practically on the bookshelf for reference. (Making an appeal to my somewhat obsessive organizational nature in all things household.)
I also console myself by saying that these are English translations, and it would be more awesome just to hold out for the inevitable Latin revival where all will be well with the world and I'll have a bookshelf full of encyclicals right under my shelf of Ovidian glory. Plus, when the kids ask (as all eventually do) what Pope Leo XIII really said in Rerum Novarum on the subject of ownership, I will not have to rely on my decade (or, shudder, more) old reading but simply pull it off the shelf and begin to teach the awesomeness that is contained right from the hard copy itself... and in Latin.

A mixed bag

On the recommendation of a friend, The Yankee and I had a long-distance Thursday date for the musical theatre. We sat down at 8:00 (Eastern) sharp to watch PBS broadcast of The Light in the Piazza. I was looking forward to it, I think poor Angus was humoring me but watch we did and here are some dashed off thoughts in a typical Sarah (that is, not very insightful) fashion:
  • It was incredibly awesome to see the familiar beginning shots of the show because now I could say "I've sat down right by that fountain!"
  • Baptist cracks are amusing.
  • The sound balance was absolutely horrid. I struggled to hear the orchestra and couldn't even get enough of a glimpse to give my ears a good picture of what was going on beyond the singing when it was just piano accompanying. I don't remember this being a particularly obvious problem in the Lincoln Center broadcasts that I've watched in the past (not that I can even remember the last time they did a proper opera presentation, and I know I've not seen a musical before this) so it was very frustrating and hard to get a read on what was going on musically.
  • I was charmed to bits by the hats and the costumes right from the beginning.
  • No musical ode to chianti? No chianti drinking?! Just sayin'.
All in all, though, I must say I was a little disappointed. Unable to make a real evaluation of the musical content, my attention was by necessity focused elsewhere. The story was charming, though slight, and I didn't feel as if many of the musical numbers actually advanced the plot or gave me insights into character that weren't already pretty well established in the dialogue scenes. Had the Clara/Fabrizio love been a MacGuffin, I think I would have loved The Light in the Piazza but... it wasn't and indeed actually mattered in the end. I had very little interest in either of the characters and when a romantic says that, you know the story is in trouble. Margaret is a different story entirely. She was a compelling and interesting character. I was extremely wrapped up in her conflicts between duty to her daughter and desire for Clara to be happy and something like "if I do nothing and let fate handle things, am I really responsible?" It was exciting and really the stuff that I think could have carried the musical had, well, the music and the numbers been drafted that way and not in a "Sguardo! Love is buono!!" fashion.

On the whole, though, I am right in between Terry's and Amy's evaluations on the positive side and The Yankee's on the negative: It was fine, but I'm left unfulfilled and I don't think I'm interested enough to arrange to really hear the music so I can get a sense of how that was. That probably tells you something.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I never thought I'd say this

but here is a Slate dialogue I will be following very closely.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

All I'm saying

Is that if you're going to make a movie with a main character partially based on him, the soundtrack can't be a barren Hammond organ-less wasteland. It's not honest.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I don't mean to alarm The Yankee

but there's a countdown going...

Dave Barry making good points

The best among them - pointing out that Dallas really is just the "Gateway to Fort Worth." It's true and we've been saying it for years.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What I am not doing with my summer vacation

Reading Latin
Going to museums
Practicing my instrument (though I do play a couple hours a day)
Doing laundry (apparently - just ask my clothes hamper)
Studying French
Compiling corny jokes for future use in assaulting students
Watching movies
Reading National Review
Planning my opera attendance for next season (second year in a row for that one!)
Watching Jeopardy
Making gimlets
Being happy with Blogger and the publishing system

I did all of those things last year (except for the opera planning, obviously*). I'm not doing a one this summer. Last year was the summer of Catullus and Ovid and Yankees. This summer seems to be the summer of post office trips and phone calls and more phone calls.

I guess this is my first grown-up summer. I can't say I like all of it. There are a few wonderful saving graces, of course, but overall, I'm just kind of unable to do anything except plan and plan and plan. I'm cranky and probably kind of whiny and just so.... Latin-less. Is this what being an adult is all about? No more operas or politics or awesome texts or gimlets?

Let me go on the record and say that I am not impressed with this phase of life so far.

*Blame Houston for the incredibly lame program they had set for this past season.

Monday, June 05, 2006

How could I have missed this?

A post that starts off with a taste of Virgil and then has an extended meditation on youth orchestras. Was there ever anything that should have been posted here sooner? Surely not.

Adolescence, in general, lends itself well to tackling the Shostis and the Mahlers. I'm a firm believer that when you start spelling Tchaikovsky correctly, you are then too old to play him well. They all benefit from the earnestness that comes with being 16. I think that Sudeep has it almost right when he says
Yes, Beethoven and Brahms are epic too, but there's something psychologically penetrating about Mahler considering his own death, or Tchaikovsky strong statements of fate that require teenagers who are going through the trivialities of their latest existential crisis to put all that aside. Their performances should give us pause:
I don't know that youth performances of these pieces are powerful because the teenagers are able "to put all that aside." On the contrary, the narcissism and inability to put anything aside that marks that age is what makes it compelling. It's the performer who thinks that everything he says, everything he plays, has to be profound that makes these influential experiences. It's the same reason why kids (even very remarkable ones) can't play St. Saens; they try to make it profound. French music falls flatter than a Kansas highway when it is saddled with that.

Youth orchestra programs are loaded with the Russians and with Copland and Italian overtures (when conductors get back to that practice... hopefully soon) because they all benefit from performers who think they are the center of the world, that their part needs to be heard and that they have vital things to say. There are no unimportant doublings in a Mahler symphony - just ask the trombones.
What I'm actually worried about though, Sudeep, is kids + Wagner. I'm not even a Wagnerite and I see problems with large doses of that!