Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hasta la vista

I'm about to go off on my vacation to Spain. I'll be away for a couple weeks, sans computer. Hopefully I'll be able to find a way to get on the internet and continue to blog--perhaps the Spanish laundromats have rental computers, which is how I got on the web in Martinique.

In the meantime, do visit the blogs I've listed over on the right. Some of them are just a tad more serious than mine, but variety is the spice blah, blah, blah. Hasta la vista.

Plat du jour: a breast fetishist's ultimate fantasy?

See the first installment of this series here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Weird websearch of the day

Winnie the Boor???!! Oh, bother!
(And I was listed number one for this, no less.)

New York City: We're number one!

Survey: NY Ranks Number 1 in Toilet Clogs
I did my share to help us win this honor, just last week.

Plat du jour

I assume the owner of this car comes from the Bronx. Unless it belongs to an electrician.

This is the first of a series devoted to the interesting vanity license plates I see. Please feel free to add to my collection--just add a comment.

Monday, April 24, 2006

This is a Blog Against Heteronormativity

Better late than never, I'm signing up caprice's glob as a Blog Against Heteronormativity.

As nubian put it:
in brief, heteronormativity is a term that can be used to describe institutions, policies and beliefs that reinforce the rigid categories of male and female. these categories, supposedly, determine our sex, sexuality, sexual desire, gender identity, and gender roles.
While I haven't seen the term defined as broadly before, I think it's right. The ideas that there are only "men" and "women" and that heterosexuality is normal are just plain wrong. There are plenty of people who are neither men nor women, or who are some of both (I raise my hand). And plenty of people who are not heterosexual.

I am always skeptical when anything is termed "normal." Too often it is more of a value judgement than a description of frequency. People who don't conform are termed "abnormal." Even if they are in the minority, that doesn't mean there is anything undesirable about them.

Me as a South Park character

Make your own at

My week in review, part 2

OK, I know it's been a while since I posted part 1--this is actually a week ago, not this last week. Is there a word for a blogger who's so busy she doesn't have time to blog? I'll try to get up to date.

Anyhow, this time I'm really going to try to be brief. If anyone wants me to expand on anything here, leave a comment.

THURSDAY (4/13): I was going to go see The Threepenny Opera with some friends from CDI, but the available seats were so poor we didn't bother. I still hope to get to see it, after I come back from vacation.

FRIDAY: We went to see The God Committee with another couple. I really wasn't that interested in the subject matter (deciding who gets a heart transplant), but my wife wanted to go, so I went.

First we had the usual adequate dinner at Sam's, then we walked over to the Lamb's Theatre. The off-Broadway theatre is actually part of The Manhattan Church of the Nazarene, located right off Times Square. It has two stage spaces. The God Committee was in the smaller one.

I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this play, so I wasn't disappointed. The only surprising thing was that instead of the committee having to choose from among people all of whom deserved to go on living, it was contrived (by the sudden death of the intended heart recipient while the organ was on its way) that they had to quickly choose one of three people, none of whom should have gotten a new heart--all had something that would have normally made them ineligible.

The writing was poor: the characters frequently launched into speeches instead of conversing. There was a really ridiculous distraction that kept popping up: the action took place on St. Patrick's Day, and someone kept piping in the sounds of the bagpipe bands into the conference room. Several of the characters had serious baggage of their own: the doctor chairing the committee had terminal cancer, the psychiatrist was grieving over the death of her teenaged daughter, the social worker was a paraplegic. And the hospital board sent a priest to the meeting to "observe"-- who just happened to have had a long career as a defense attorney before entering the priesthood. (They used his arrival as the reason for explaining the details of the heart transplant decision process to the audience.)

The direction was also lacking: as I said, speeches were launched into, far faster than anyone would be able to think about what had just been said, and to respond--even under the time pressure the committee had to make its decision.

I'm sure I would have had a much more enjoyable evening at the other Lamb's performance space--they had the Moscow Cats there.

SATURDAY: it was back to Times Square for The History Boys. This award winning import from the UK's National Theatre was a much, much better theatre experience than the previous night's. Eight high school (or whatever they call it over there) graduates were getting special tutoring for the Oxford-Cambridge ("Oxbridge") entrance exams in the mid-eighties. They were all very bright (well, maybe one wasn't), and we saw two very different teachers trying to prepare them in very different ways. Another teacher and the school headmaster were there more as observers and commentators, helping the plot along.

The discussions the boys had with the teachers were at a rather intellectual level--though what they talked about among themselves was another matter. One boy lamented being small, Jewish and gay. Another boy was having an affair with the voluptuous secretary of the headmaster.

It was extremely well-written, and very funny--though I wonder how much non-French speakers got of one part, where the boys improvised a scene of a man visiting a brothel. They did it all in French. The play makes use of video screens to show most of the action that takes place outside of the school--just silent scenes connecting things up. This worked very well.

The acting was excellent, although it was a bit difficult to understand one of the teachers sometimes--he didn't project as much as the others.

All-in-all, it was one of the better plays I've seen in a while.

SUNDAY: afternoon we went to a Lincoln Center "Great Performers" series performance of George Frideric Handel's oratorio Solomon. This was performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, a group that uses "period instruments"--instruments as they were back in the 1700s. They were accompanied by a bunch of young singers--five soloists and a thirty-voice chorus called the "English Voices."

Before the concert, though, we heard a talk on the piece by Ellen T. Harris, a professor at MIT. (She's also a soprano soloist, and it was the only time I've ever seen a performer, much less an academic, list an appearance singing the National Anthem at Fenway Park on her bio.)

The oratorio is much less frequently performed than Handel's Messiah, and only the opening of the third act, the "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba," is familiar music. Nevertheless, it was quite enjoyable. Handel was living in London when he composed it, and the libretto (author unknown), is in English. (It is not directly from the Bible, though the events described do come from it.) We were sitting down close, and we could understand the singers quite well, without having to refer to the text.

The counter-tenor singing Solomon was adequate, though he, Australian David Hansen, lacked the power of the other soloists. (Handel originally wrote the role for a mezzo-soprano.) There were two sopranos, oddly both from Sweden, dividing up the female roles: Malin Christensson was fine as Solomon's Queen, and the First "Harlot"--one of the two women claiming the same baby fom the familiar biblical story. But it was Marie Arnet, as the Queen of Sheba and the Second Harlot, who impressed me even more. She was able to convey the harsh character of the false claimant, while still producing a beautiful sound.

There wasn't anything about the "English Voices" in the program, and all I could find about them on the web was their origin apparently from Cambridge. But they were excellent. Conductor René Jacobs held everything together nicely--after performances in the UK earlier in the month they were all well-rehearsed.

Afterwards we hurried over to Telepan, a recent restaurant discovery we stumbled into when we couldn't get into our usual pre-Lincoln Center dinner place. It was excellent. I had the best roast duck in my life. It's not cheap, but it is certainly serving some of the best food I've had in quite a while. The service was excellent also--friendly and attentive, but not intrusive.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Is this like a fish and a bicycle?

From the Metropolitan Diary column of the NY Times:
Some kids stopped me on the street a few weeks ago and asked me to buy a raffle ticket for a drug rehab center.

I bought one, and put my dog's name on the stub.

I just received a phone call that "Melvin" has won a steam iron.
In the printed edition there's an accompanying cartoon showing a dog ironing his dog suits, which are hanging on a line behind him.