Your Brain is Green
Of all the brain types, yours has the most balance. You are able to see all sides to most problems and are a good problem solver. You need time to work out your thoughts, but you don't get stuck in bad thinking patterns. You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future, philosophy, and relationships (both personal and intellectual).

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What's Mass Mayhem Compared with a Caravans or Prefab Houses?

Here are some headlines from the Times of Israel, via Google Reader, at about 9 p.m.   Note that amongst some quite serious things happening in our vicinity, such as Saudi Arabia breaking up an Iranian spy ring, Egyptian troops, in increasing numbers, in conflict with "gunmen" [Al Qaeda? Hamas?] in Sinai, and so on, Kerry is obsessed with criticizing Israel for settling its own land.

Dare I think priorities are somewhat confused here?

Hamas shuts tunnels to keep kidnappers from sneaking in
Saudi Arabia arrests 10 from Iranian spy ring
Kerry reportedly raps Israeli ambassador over outposts
Egyptian troops clash with gunmen in Sinai
IDF chief issues stern warning to Assad over rapidly heating border
More troops push into Sinai over hostages

Saturday, May 04, 2013

An Orgy of Operas

During my recent two week stay in NYC with my son I got to go to 4 operas at the Met: Das Rheingold and Die Walkure, both matinees, Rigoletto and a much lesser-known work, Handel's Giulio Cesare in Egitto.  Three very different types of opera in a brief period.

First, let me say that going to the Met, even when one is way, way up in the "gods" ["nigger heaven" it used to be called in my childhood in the Southern city of Washington DC, but you'd be crucified if you used that expression nowadays, and for once, I think "gods" is nicer] is still a wonderful experience.  Prices [which will come down a bit next year -- more on that below] are reasonable [$55 per seat for the Wagnerian operas, $25 for the others, plus small handling charges], the seats are comfortable, the atmosphere is friendly [quite amazing the conversations one can strike up in the intermissions], and in spite of the elegant decoration of Lincoln Center, there were plenty of patrons in jeans along with the evening gowns and tuxedos on display.  The buffets were overpriced, but heck, you know the money goes to support the institution [I filled my water bottle from a fountain dedicated to Ezio Pinza.  Not bad water ]

I hadn't seen any of the operas performed live before, and I was completely unfamiliar with the Handel.  In fact, I'd only bought a ticket because none of my other major favorites was being performed during my visit.  Actually, I had a ticket for Gounod's Faust on the evening I arrived, but traffic from Newark airport got me into the city too late, and later I was assured that the production hadn't been a good one.

The Wagner will be dealt with in another post because the Mezzo TV channel will be broadcasting the full Ring from the Met in another couple of weeks so I can see Siegfried and Gotterdammerung in the same production I saw.  Not the same impact, or sound quality, I'm sure, but then, I don't have a particularly good ear.

But Giulio Cesare and Rigoletto were big contrasts in themselves.  Baroque opera, with long intervals of recitative interspersed with arias and duets or trios [or more] has never been my favorite.  I'd rather listen to a "highlights" of a Mozart opera than see the whole thing, and Giulio Cesare is looong [3 1/2 hours].  But it was delightful, except that tradition was followed and the two main male roles, Cesare and Ptolemy, were taken by countertenors.  I know the roles were written for the leading castrati of the day, and they were as celebrated as Domingo or Pavarotti now, but it sounds strange to hear men singing in such a high register.  It is also confusing at times, since some of the soprano roles were nearly as low. [Pompey's adolescent son is sung by a woman, davka]  But what made it fun was that ancient Rome was transposed, loosely, to the Raj and the Twenties.  Cleopatra does a Bollywood number and also shows up in a little slip of a black dress and vamps everyone and later in jodhpurs and solar topee.  In a scene of negotiation, Cesare and Pompey actually perform a sort of minuet, pirouetting around each other as they give and take points.  The production was borrowed from Glyndebourne, and retains some of the Glyndebourne flavor.  The singing was excellent.

Rigoletto was set in 1960s Las Vegas.  The backdrop was very full of neon [the stormy night of act III was with flashing blue and white neon], the carpeting was loud, the men in dinner jackets except for Rigoletto, who looked [from a distance] quite a bit like Tony Soprano. The courtier who curses him was dressed as an Arab sheik.  The translation was updated to be rather slangy -- one person, a music critic, no less, to whom I talked during intermission, disparaged this, but Verdi's name, in English, is only Joe Green, after all, and was probably known to his friends as Joey Rigoletto is a very Italian opera.  I understand this production got mixed reviews, but I liked it.

At the end of my trip I felt sad.  This is food and drink for me, just as the Cloisters and the Metropolitan Museum are.  Yes, the Israel Museum is nice, for the size of a country like Israel, but it can't compare.  Hopefully, the son will invite me again before the year is out...

What's in A Name

Recently there has been considerable talk about changing the name of my hometown football team, the Washington Redskins, to something more Politically Correct.  Fortunately, it now seems that about 80% of DC fans don't want to do so.  Apart from the complete inanity of it, folks in the Capital have better things to do.  The cynic in me says someone in the production of sports gear carrying the team logo is behind this, as it would require a lot of new purchases [and those hanging on to the old stuff could sell it for millions on eBay]

I never knew why the Redskins were called that, since there haven't been any Native Americans in the region for nearly 200 years.  But the logo is known, and distinctive.  I don't know if there are any buccaneers in the the Tampa Bay region, but it certainly sounds a lot better than the "Beach Boys" [which would be more accurate for San Diego too, than "Chargers", now that I think of it]

However, if the name MUST be changed as part of the current insane PC zealotry, how about calling Washington's NFL team the "Reds"?  Make the baseball team the "Blues", and our NHL team [does Washington even have a hockey team?] the "Whites" which seems appropriate for a game played on ice.  DC's NBA team, of course, would be called the "Stars and Stripes".  See?