Friday, December 30, 2005

A culinary note

If you are making steak and Guinness pie, and you get creative and decide to add potatoes (although the pie crust provides plenty of starch on its own), it really comes to resemble hash. And if you opened the fridge to realize your gentleman-caller drank the last of your Guinness and all you have left is Dead Guy Ale, the end result is hash and Dead Guy Ale pie. Which may not have been the dish you set out to make four hours ago.

Today's book: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a Christmas gift from my brother, who also gave me short-story collections by Lovecraft and Poe. I dislike short stories for the most part but may have to change my mind. Who could have predicted the outcome of the Adventure of the Beryl Coronet? (Hm.)

I have spent most of the day reading in the kitchen while the hash and Dead Guy Ale pie bakes. A short break was taken to repair a broken Miskatonic University mug. Its handle and an adjacent chunk are hopelessly gone, so I coated the rim in fake blood and green rubber skin; it should make an excellent container for a bromeliad.

I have a reservation. What do you mean, it's not in the computer?


1. Attend fewer yoga classes. I cannot find a good plain yoga class with a down-to-earth teacher who talks instead of reciting a script, and I am tired of Yoga Studios that have Offices and Receptionists. Find a good dance class instead.
2. See one movie every week. I tend to see large films on weekends with my gentleman-caller and have neglected foreign and arty films. This year I will spend a free afternoon or evening at the theater every week.
3. Move out of my apartment. It is scheduled to become a heap of rubble in October anyway, so this should be an easy one. (Yellow.)
4. Renew my Mercantile Library membership and join one of its societies - hmm, the Shakespeare one or the poetry one?
5. Get "Like a Prayer" on CD.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Piggy pudding?!

Another Christmas with John Denver and the Muppets. I love this time of year. The orange tree is merrily decorated (with one extra-large red globe ornament contributing to the overall Charlie Brown effect), the Christmas candy has been made and distributed, and houseguests have come through from far climes. As a sign of my age, I have begun to enjoy the sappier songs on the John Denver album, but fortunately still love the "No, figgy pudding. It's made with figs" exchange.
Merry Christmas, you guys.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


The wonderful Gina Fattore also has no patience with Jane Austen characters who nance across meadows at dawn. (You may have to look at an ad, if you're not a Salon subscriber.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

What happened last night?

There are probably good movies to watch while you're busy making magnets for your friends, a process that doesn't give you many opportunities to glance up at the TV. "The Doors" is not one of them. A well-intentioned coworker loaned it to me for no real reason the other week, and my plan was to just have it on so I could say "Thanks, it was interesting," even though I'm indifferent to the band and loathe Oliver Stone. As near as I can tell, they did a lot of drugs, Val Kilmer recited many lengthy bad poems, and many objects were smashed. I'm sure it was visually interesting, but I was focusing on not gluing myself to the couch.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog-Sothoth

I just love this.

Have been in the kitchen engaging in baking frenzy. An entire pan of shortbread was dropped on the floor. I am so discouraged and do not wish to do anything ever again. Except perhaps sample the eggnog.

No more ghost. No more notes!

Couple more things and then I'm through with this topic. During intermission, my gentleman-caller quoted someone (he couldn't remember who) as saying the Phantom of the Opera is by far the gayest of villains. I had to agree. Then after the show, we learned that we could buy in the lobby a CD called "Broadway's Fabulous Phantoms," featuring all the Phantom actors singing different songs. It just killed me. (And oh dear, I shouldn't make fun, as it features the late Steve Barton. He was the original Raoul. RIP.)

Also, the New York Times has a nice review summarizing the Broadway show's appeal: "For those sentimental souls looking for a popular entertainment to transport them to a baroque, romantic new world with a powerful smoke machine, 'Phantom,' I'm happy to report, still delivers the goods." It's posted over at, which seems to have a healthy sense of its own ridiculousness.

You'd never get away with all this in a play

Saw "The Phantom of the Opera" last night. Swoon! I almost didn't go, and then gentleman-caller said "Why don't we?" and so we did. I saw it in high school and was obsessed with it around seventh grade. The soundtrack album is permanently burnt into my brain, and at home I have "The Complete Phantom of the Opera" coffee-table book, along with another giant book on Lloyd Webber. I studied and studied and studied the libretto and pictures, mentally filling the spaces in the soundtrack. Generally I could work out the tune of the unrecorded bits of music by reading the lyrics - once you know the musical themes, it's easy to match the rhythms up. And, of course, I read the novel several times. I should've tackled it in the original French when I could, but by that point of high school I had sort of lost interest in The Phantom. Seeing it then was great, but it also felt like a bit of a letdown; emotionally, a live show couldn't match the heights I'd attained with the music and my imagination. So I went to see it last night as more of a curiosity (like the film).

It still holds up as a spectacle. Nothing can beat the opening chandelier ascent (even the big descent, which is a shame, but that's a fault of Harold Prince's original direction). The dressing-room/labyrinth run is campy fun - candles, electric guitar & all; "Masquerade" still has fab costumes; even the chintzy fireballs in the Peros scene are kind of cool. ("More deception? More violence?") My favorite surprise, from the first time I saw it, was the ballet rehearsal during "Angel of Music." It's a tedious little song so I love the distraction, particularly since it's the highly stylized ballet girls, with their stiff little skirts and massive wigs. More importantly, the juxtaposition shows you that something's always going on in the opera house - people are always rehearsing, or singing, or changing, or running around in the shadows. It's like a giant haunted house. ("Your face, Christine, it's white!")

Last night's singing was magnificent, too. The wonderfully named Marie Danvers was a sweet Christine, and that's a tough role - she's onstage 90 percent of the time. I always want Christine to get a little angrier at the Phantom toward the end, though. Raoul was fine with his big white scarf. I like my Phantom a little less gaspy and blustery than last night's guy (someone Mauer?), but when he chose to sing quietly, he was hypnotic. And his big emotional moments ("all that the Phantom asked of you") were properly gripping.

My problems were mostly with pacing and staging. This may be Prince's fault too, but both death scenes happen too quickly. There needs to be more light and more focus on the bodies of Buquet and Piangi, because you have GOT to react to them with horror. It's great on the soundtrack, because you hear the music and the screams. Onstage, by the time the screams start, the corpses have flashed out of sight. My gentleman-caller didn't even realize someone had been hanged at the end of Act I. Buquet looks like a sandbag. I mean, that's not good. You need to see why Christine's afraid.

I had major issues with The Point of No Return. I have never seen this staged the way I like, which makes me mad, because it's logical, obvious and not hard. The Phantom quietly murders the star tenor just offstage, and takes his place in a scene with Christine. At the first sound of his voice, Christine needs to freeze. The song's first half requires her to do nothing but sit and listen. She should be thinking about what to do and be horrified at the intensity of his words (yet, of course, hypnotized by his magnetic voice). By her half of the duet, she's decided the best strategy is to play along for now. When they sing together, you should be in an agony of suspense - what is she going to do? Are the police going to open fire or what? Last night, they had the Phantom come out with a hood over his face, and when he pulls it back after the duet, THEN everyone acts all surprised. When the characters all know him by his voice, Christine most of all, that just doesn't work. It's idiotic.

Oh well. It was still fine. I loved the staging of "All I Ask of You"; it's a welcome moment of repose, and the Phantom's sorrow and rage were both properly overwhelming. And the ending was nice. His disappearance is well done - I like him vanishing from under the cape as you watch. (The first one I saw had him just sit in the chair, and then the lights in that corner went out - you could almost see him jump offstage. It didn't work.) Carlotta and Piangi were good, and David (?) Cryer was a fab Firmin. He sang clearly and gave his good lines ("Written!") the perfect touch of dryness. I loved when he held his hand up to his mouth during the "chorus girl who's gone and slept with the patron" bit. Even though nobody can understand that line.

Longest post ever?

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Hallmark of winter: Personal-care products that are extremely cold, particularly after spending a day in the car and being deployed before a post-work assignation. Spermicidal jelly can get very, very, very cold. It's like an ice-cream headache for your cervix.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Lady Catherine proposed that I post this evening

... and so I shall. My gentleman-caller kindly took me to see "Pride and Prejudice" this evening, with some excellent sushi beforehand. I cannot say it compares to the BBC version. Keira Knightley plays Elizabeth as one of a giggly band of sisters - she's supposed to be the pensive one because she occasionally nances through fields with a book in her hand, but there's not enough intelligence behind her merriment. I missed the wry, understated work of Jennifer Ehle. And why is she constantly seen staring at the wall (or a mirror, I couldn't tell)? Elizabeth is an observer and likes to watch other people; she does not navel-gaze. There's a lot of nancing around with shawls and braids and candles while the music roars and people stare into the distance (indeed, it seems calculated to annoy gentlemen-callers), and there's not enough dialogue. Even Judi Dench & Donald Sutherland don't get enough lines. I did love Brenda Blethyn's performance, and whoever plays Mr. Collins is perfect. He elicits a wonderful look of pure hate from Sutherland with the line "I shall read to you all for an hour or two after dinner." But on the whole, not nearly enough talking. My gentleman-caller was the only man in the theater; as we left, he quietly called to the remaining audience: "Good night, ladies."