Quickly – ah, man…

Oh shit. Really??? Twitter twits tweet that Titanic was just a film…http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/trending-now/twitter-backlash-people-did-not-know-titanic-real-163523705.html and for the video impaired…http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/titanic-anniversary/9199970/Twitter-users-thought-Titanic-disaster-was-just-a-film-plot.html

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Learning curves…and Greenville,SC

Well, it’s about time to take another trip to interesting and vibrant Greenville, South Carolina. I fell in love with this city when I first visited it in the summer last year and stumbled upon the entry to Falls River Park. I must have taken dozens of photographs of the falls, the suspension bridge, the outdoor playhouse and the walking paths. Very cool place. I spent most of the day there and even took a brief nap in the shade. It will be interesting to see it in the winter.

And interesting to once more ramble through the downtown shops, galleries, and restaurants. Stay tuned for updates on that.

Tonight I am making virtual journeys as a newb through the byways of both Wikipedia – as a new author – and Facebook’s app development pages. Most users never stroll further into these woods than the article page or their own profile pages but there is a whole nother tech-ecology just behind the facades; Wiki’s unique and challenging markup language and Facebook’s general lack of intuitive controls once you leave your “home” tab are just two of the many dangerous fauna that stalk behind the public entrances.

So websites, forums, books (remember books?), and research, research, research. Something to do when I get tired of wandering around in the park and crash at one of the cafe wifi hotspots with my laptop for a bit of netsurfing and a cup of chai.

Stay tuned…

 

Been sick forever

Hi, just a quick blog to let you know that while I am both terminally ill – Lyme disease kills – and very ill, I am not yet dead. What I am is very behind on everything and in some cases so far behind that I feel almost to embarrassed to try starting over. Ah, the Aspie life. Maybe I can post something later.

Wow – My friend Robert got wiki’ed

So recently received an email from my friend, Maestro Robert Hat Baker, saying that one of his friends had finally gotten around to getting him a wiki page. I was excited for him and for myself as well…as there is a reference to the fact that he collaborated on my book, Who Better to Play the devil and a link to the book as well. Awesome, now maybe I’ll start selling some of the damn things!

Anyway here is his wikilink!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Hart_Baker

Please patronize me!

Yes, please go ahead and patronize me, I honestly do not object at all. I am guessing this makes me weird. I was talking to my shrink today about my life and at a certain point I mentioned that I had a friend with means who let me come swim in her pool from time to time…and my shrink’s mouth set in a disapproving little line and she said, “Oh but surely you realize she’s just patronizing you.”

 

Um, yes. And so what? If one has no resources than one requires a patron. It’s a long and time honored tradition and one that as far as I can tell is only looked down upon by Anglo-Saxons and A-S wannabes. Da Vinci had a patron, Michelangelo, every famous composer, artist, writer, artisan or whatever you can name had a patron at some point.

 

I am dirt poor and I have been flying in a private plane, been to the Mexican Riviera, been on cruise ships, gone to Space Camp, and Duke University, been to zoos and museums and far distant cities. I’ve gone rock climbing in Brevard, skiing in Vale and the more exclusive Snowmass, been to the LA, STL, AVL operas and symphonies, been to see live theater, had gym memberships, ridden on a Ducati turbo, worn luxury leathers, owned telescopes, carbon fiber bicycles, stayed in beach houses, been water skiing and sailing, been aboard submarines and tall ships, seen Mayan runes, swam with dolphins, and fished in private lakes. And swam in an Olympic sized private pool.

 

In most cases my patron or patroness was in fact patronizing me…they were playing King Copethua to my beggar maid, but in almost all those cases there was also some feelings of genuine affection and in a few even genuine respect. These people also all got something back in return, be it help with a project, a babysitter for the night, someone to watch their house for them, some free publicity, or a friend for life. In the few cases where my patron and I hated one another, fine, I still got to have my experience, they got their ounce of whatever and everyone was satisfied. Whatever their motive, kindness, pity, piety, pettiness or malice, they still felt good and got something out of the exchange and I still got to have experiences that I could only dream of if I turned down their offers or accepted them as “insults”.

 

So was my swim hostess patronizing me? Yes, absolutely. Out of affection or a need to bolster herself? Who knows or cares? I feel affection toward her and either way I think the chance to let me swim helped her almost as much as the swimming helped me. And no harm was done to anyone. In fact, I have tried to help her out in return. Still do.

 

Let’s go a step further, okay? My fiancee and my best friend are both musicians, although on different social tiers, but both of them have to raise money to do what they do and that means having a * gasp * “Patron”. Do they allow this to affect their sense of who they are or their basic worth? Not hardly. It lets them have the experiences that make them happy and further permits them to make a living doing what they like. And their patrons dujour get good music, a chance to look good in public, and a chance to give something back to the community. Win-win. Same deal for me as an author/playwright and my brother as a digital artist. Same for anyone making a living at anything although it is perhaps less obvious in some situations.

 

So why the tight lips and the sneers? Where did this strange idea that one should not accept needed help come from? I mean who decided that accepting generosity was a bad thing or that being closed to a new experiences was a good thing? Who decided that suffering was good and suffering in silence not just better but positively noble? Very strange concept, people, especially in our you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch yours” society!

 

Oh, yeah, shrink lady, modern synonyms for patron – “boss”, “board”, “consortium”, “sponsor”, “manager” “the company” or even “Mom”.

Nemesis Day

I received a Christmas card today by way of Steve(wtf, it’s early November yet, right? ) A Christmas card with chiba angels. Yea, gods. As if I did not feel bad enough. Once upon a time, Hector Hugh Munro (18 December 1870 – 13 November 1916), better known by the pen name Saki, proposed the only holiday I approve of. Like me he hated the Xmas hypocrisies – like chatty letters from people who only remember you exist at Xmas when they are thumbing/scrolling through their address books and go “Hey hon, you remember (your name here)?” His proposal was a day called Nemesis Day. On that day and on that day only, you could write to the people on your list and tell them what you really actually thought of them and with no fear of reprisals. so tell your real friends how much you love them, tell person A they need to quit scratching their ass in public, tell person B that you love them to death but if they ever put on the white trash comedy hour in your vicinity again you will scoop out their eyes and eat them (like in Event Horizon), tell person C that you hate them and their stupid knitted gift sweaters, tell person D that if they don’t quit with the bullshit you’ll take the goods to other interested parties (on the next Nemesis Day). Air out all your complaints, your obsessive loves, your secret affections and treasured hatreds all on that one day. I love it. Saki had this nailed and it would be the perfect cure to all the Christmas bullshit hypocrisy. If nothing else it would save me the trouble of regifting all the stuff I get every year from people who have known me, i.e. recognize me by name, sight or voice, but who still have absolutely no clue as to who and what I really am. (Some years I don’t even buy gifts I just rewrap everything and give it to someone else. Saves money but really adds to my hatred and loathing of the yuletide season. If you’ve known me for better than a decade and you give me a kitten shirt with sequins rather than a copy of Noir, f^ck you.)

All those in favor of founding Nemesis Day – give me an “Aye”.

P.S. I am not currently in a position to follow all of your fascinating posts as I only get access once a week as I had to seek help for my physical and mental illnesses and have to devote most of my time to that. I apologize and hope this will change soon…although that is not likely.

Madama Butterfly – Part 1 Synopsis.

Well, it’s opera time in Asheville and there is a stunning performance waiting for you. This time around that Asheville Lyric Opera presents an ambitious and well-omened version of Giacomo Puccini’s classic Madama Butterfly.  This tragedy in three acts is the story of an American soldier (Lt. B.F. Pinkerton-tenor)  who buys himself a Japanese bride (Madama Butterfly[Cio-Cio San] – soprano) only to discover that all is not for the best in this never quite possible world.

Madama Butterfly is a truly beautiful and intricate opera with several intertwining plot lines, there is Pinkerton’s “girl in every port” attitude versus the staunch monogamy of Butterfly’s expectations, there is the culture clash between the American and the  Japan of 1904, there is the conflict between Butterfly and her family as she renounced her native Buddhism for Christianity in order to marry Pinkerton – a high irony that in that his behavior is far from Christian!, and there is the interpersonal conflict between Butterfly and her friend/bridesmaid Suzuki (mezzo-soprano) who knows that Pinkerton is not coming back to Butterfly.

And then we discover that Butterfly and Pinkerton have a son, one that Pinkerton did not know about. After that things really get messy.

I will not reveal the ending here as my first viewing of Madam Butterfly in St. Louis was shall we say a virginal inauguration to the show. I did not know how it would end and so I followed the story in open mouthed anticipation and felt the full impact of climax and closure. If you want to know how it ends Wiki or Google it…

and if you already know, well, the story is an eternal, perennial favorite in the operatic genre and I’m sure you’ll want to come see it again anyway.

Especially as the Asheville Lyric production features some truly wonderful singers and interesting innovations in dress and staging. All in all, a triumph for a small production opera company.

I’ll see you there!

Diana Wortham Theater, Asheville, NC     Friday 7 and Saturday 8  at 8pm.

 

Feature: Lifestyle Gym

So, it’s official my health is getting worse. But hey, who wants to live forever?

And no I do not have anything contagious, infectious, or catching…

Today, I want to feature a place that has been helping me stay sane through these very difficult times. Oddly it’s a gym, and frankly I think more people should patronize it.

Lifestyle Gym and Spa in Forest City, NC is a friendly and affordable gym and spa under Christian management and run in the true spirit of the Lord.

This is not a pick up spot or a hang out joint. It is a place where genuinely caring and compassionate people help you get healthy, no matter what your goals, fitness level, or handicaps.

I have never been hassled by anyone, never felt unwelcome and have been truly grateful for the personal services offered there.

These people know my name, my schedule, and often say “hello” to me and to everyone else. One even helped me when I lost a wedding ring, another when I needed directions, and so on. These are just good helpful people.

I especially want to mention three of my personal heroes here…Mary, a kind hearted black woman with a great smile who works the front desk, Patrick, a serious racquetball player, health nut, and member of the management staff who was very kind to me and convinced me to sign up despite previous bad gym experiences, and Marty, a MMA fan, buff guy, and kind soul who ran me through the paces my first day there and who made me feel at home.

And whether you are a lone wolf or are seeking a group/class experience these folks will have something for you.

So go sign up, okay? The facilities are great, the price is more than reasonable, and the staff are all cool.

Red Roof Inn – West Asheville – Thumbs Up

For the business traveler or the non-swimming tourist this hotel is more than satisfactory. I have a large, nicely proportioned ground floor, king sized room with free unlimited wifi, TV, an actual work desk (that does not take up too much of the room), fridge and microwave. My only complaint is that the room is perhaps a tiny bit chilly…the heater thermostat might be for show. I’ll let you know shortly.If not I’ll revise that information here in italics.

The location is also very good, just off the 1-40 exit ramp and in walking distance of many types of food, including fast and decent slow. And so far driving and traffic have been a breeze.

I want to commend Alyssa (hope I’m spelling that right) of “Middle Earth” for her speedy and friendly check in, and Criss – the night auditor, who handled room reservations, room location, and emergency coffee with absolute ease. She is also a cool person just to talk with. If you talk to either one of these two, you will be in excellent hands. I post a few pictures closer to dawn when I can take them…and a few more to my Facebook link for those of you who are almost totally visual.

 

La Bohème at the Asheville Lyric Opera – GO SEE IT!

The Asheville Lyric Opera Presents La Bohème

This weekend, the Asheville Lyric Opera is offering us something special in their second ever performance of the classic opera, La Bohème.La Bohème is a beautifully interwoven series of character sketches about four young people that follows the arts and the whims of cupid across a background of 1830’s Paris at it’s liveliest.

And while it is not strictly speaking a true drama but rather a flowing train of consciousness through these peoples’ lives set to some truly fine music by Giacomo Puccini [1858-1924] it is none the less breathtaking and easily followed.

The opera itself is largely drawn from the Scenes de la Vie Boheme, a book by Henry Merger [1822-1861] which was itself a series of largely autobiographical cameo vignettes without any real literary sequence. That makes both the book and the opera somewhat unusual from the first. When you add that there was a good deal of liberties taken over the years by stagers and librettists (Mimi’s muff originally belonged to Merger’s Francine for instance), it is interesting that this opera ever came into existence in a final, highly polished form. Far from any sense of authenticity, as is often misnoted, it is this intriguing distillation from multiple sources that makes the story noteworthy. Only a few of the stories are even vaguely true according to Merger himself and also according to the real life Schaunard, one Alexandre Schanne who wrote his own book of Bohemian memoirs under the title, Souvenirs de Schaunard. And next to none of it was based off the life of one G. Puccini as one popular myth suggests.

But both book and opera do catch the overall flavor and flow of the people and the period very well indeed. The opera perhaps even more so in that in addition to the experiences of the principals, there is the enriching flow of the colors, backgrounds, and especially the music of the times.

There is no one who will argue that Puccini’s La Bohème is not the definitive statement on the theme, either. It is packed full of many of Puccini’s famous arias, and some of his best music. That alone makes it worth the ticket price.

Interestingly enough, this production will also see something of an operatic reunion. The ALO’s Principal Guest Conductor, Robert Hart Baker, will meet again with Jason Baldwin who made a small-role appearance in the millennial debut production of La Bohème. In this offing, Baldwin will be singing the tenor lead as Rudolfo, as Maestro Baker returns to the podium.

Maestro Robert Hart Baker, acting Principal Guest Conductor for ALO, has returned to his Asheville stomping grounds from his new home in York, PA in order to aid his own incredible flair to this performance. (Welcome back, Maestro!)

In addition to his position with ALO, he is Music Director of the Harrisburg Choral Society, conductor of the York (PA) Symphony Orchestra, and the St. Louis (MO) Philharmonic Orchestra.

This version of Bohème will be directed by David Toulson, an ALO veteran and acclaimed opera director who has received many kudos for his works within the LA Opera, Washington National Opera, Tulsa Opera, and Central City Opera.

David Craig Starkey, Artistic and General Director of ALO, had this to say about this weekend’s performance. “Our La Bohème will be traditional in a lot of ways, yes, but it will also have elements that are contemporary. Take our cozy hall, for instance. This hall will create a uniquely intimate quality that will make our production different from others already. This is our interpretation, our specially-designed set—a set that no one has seen before. All that combined, it will be a performance that no one has seen before—a show completely unique to Asheville. We’re so excited to share it with the community!”

Ticket sales for this performance will begin at $16 and I suggest you call soon as a show insider assures me this is going to be a sold out house.

To purchase YOUR tickets, call the Diana Wortham Theatre Box Office at 828-257-4530, or visit their spiffy site at http://www.ashevillelyric.org.

I’ll be there and I hope to see you there!

Cast (as released on official website):

Jason Baldwin as Rudolpho

Angela Amidei (leading opera singer in Denver, CO, and Rome, Italy) as Mimì,

Christina Villaverde (of Florida Grand Opera, and Opera Nova in Costa Rica) as Musetta.

Dominic Aquilino as Marcello

Ardean Landhuis as Colline

Brent Davis as Schaunard.

(pictures to follow)