Welcome! I’d love to enjoy some leisurely time this morning having coffee with you! For once I have a pretty open day – aside from a few simple errands I have a free day! Of course, I’m going to try to get a lot done with this free day but… it’s nice to know that, if I really wanted to, I could just sit around and do nothing all day long.
How have things been going for you? I’m doing okay — this week was kind of a strange one at work. We had an all day CPR/First Aid training mid-week and, while it’s nice to be re-certified (I’ve been CPR/First Aid trained a number of times in my life, kind of a requirement for a lot of the jobs I’ve held), it was a strange day where we weren’t seeing any clients and had time at the end of the day to work, uninterrupted, on projects.
Outside of work I’ve been trying to get things together to get back on track with some things — seems like I’m always in that state, doesn’t it? One of my goals for today is to finally get some of the mess of my living space back into order, since Midnight took down the bookshelf I haven’t really had a chance to figure out what to do with the space. I want to try getting rid of some things, I may — finally – be ready to clear out some of the stuff I’ve been carting around and collecting through the years. Maybe….
Thoughts about reorganizing, cleaning, and sorting, has caused me to also think about my blog some. I know that I haven’t been as on top of things here as I would like, and for a while I’ve mostly done just the regular check-in kind of posts, but I’d like to change that. I need to get back into writing of all sorts — including my blogging. This week I was able to put together a contributor post for Comparative Geeks, and I had a lot of fun putting that together – I want to do more contribution and guests posts at other blogs, as well as getting a bunch more going on here (and over at Eclectic Alli Nails… I got started there but really need to get more content going).
Really, my problem has been that I have ideas, but then seem to fall apart in the process of actually putting those ideas onto the page. I’ve got to break that trend and start writing… grand ideas only get you so far.
Same applies to the novel… yeah, time to get back on track! That’s my goal for this weekend and the coming week – work on getting back on track!
Wish me luck… I’d love to hear what you’ve done to help get yourself moving again when you find yourself in a similar situation (if you ever have)… I’m great at making lists, figuring out what needs to be done — but then pushing myself to actuallydo what needs to be done is proving to be more of a challenge.
I’ve been having a lot of fun catching Pokémon around town! I think even more than that I’ve been enjoying trying to get good pictures of them – this one made me happy because I’d been hoping to get a picture of one in front of Ole ( my favorite coffee place)!
Speaking of favorite coffee places… I discovered that another place I love (and the ones responsible for my coffee drinking in the first place) is expanding their location nearest to me! Hurray for more space for writing time!!
The weather has been, finally, starting to act like summer… this means some very pretty views as I’m out and about during lunch breaks
I’ve been meaning to write about all the new, awesome, homes that my blogging friends have made for themselves — it’s been a winter/spring of re-shuffling and re-arranging!
But, like too many things, that hasn’t quite happened yet…. however, I will share with you the new home of Comparative Geek — because I am a contributing author there now, and today have a post up (hopefully the first of many… I’ve just got to get better about actually writing these things….)
If we were having coffee I’d probably ask if you were okay if I occasionally swiped at my phone – I’ve fallen to the Pokeomon Go craze and have been really enjoying it. And, apparently I’ve also been doing pretty well at it too – collecting some of the more more unusual and rare ones! I wouldn’t actively catch Pokemon (unless you wanted to turn it into a hunting coffee! I’m totally game for a walking talk), but gathering more resources from a PokeStop on occasion would be awesome.
I’m currently working on a post about it for Comparative Geeks so wouldn’t talk too much just now, since I find if I talk a lot about something in person it’s a bit harder for me to actually get the posts written. This phenomenon has actually been what has been encouraging me to think about doing some video-blogging. Of course, then there is a real danger of me just rambling on and on… that’s a danger enough when I’m writing… don’t think I need to inflict the spoken form on the world!
Of course, other than Pokemon there has been, once again, not much going on in my life.
Wait… that’s not entirely true.
A good portion of my energy has been spent in dealing with the Midnight Monster Cat. He has taken to settling himself on one of my bookshelves that I have mounted to the wall. It’s location above my desk and near the window provided a perfect vantage point for him to watch the world (at least, his world). Because of his adoration of this spot I had minimized the number of books on It (too many and he’d knock them down), as well as the amount of nic-nac’s (he likes to knock those down as well, or at least try to chew on them).
So, it isn’t an uncommon thing for me to wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning to the sound of something falling. Practically still asleep I normally mumble at him, try hissing a few times, and then get up and remove him from the shelf (despite “Midnight proofing” I still didn’t want him up there).
I was partway through this process one morning this week (I had reached the “drag myself out of bed” stage) when there was a spectacular crash.
In the process of hunting a bug on the ceiling, Midnight had been jumping from the shelf ledge to the top of the books… and back down again. This repetative jumping of his 13.5+ lb self had taken this entire thing down. Thankfully neither he, my computer that was underneath it, nor the books or anything else in the room was injured or damaged. Aside from the wall, that is….
The next morning Midnight was pulling the tacks out of my bulletin board, so this too got removed because I don’t need him swallowing one — he is on a mission to get me to redecorate my room, apparently.
I can laugh at the whole scene now, but boy was I mad when it happened!
Also, today’s my half birthday!! I used to actually celebrate a bit, for a few years my sister and I would go out for a meal (her birthday was yesterday so it was kind of for that but… we could split the celebration!)
Passionate Geek is a monthly feature of someone exploring and sharing something they are passionate (and geeky!) about!
Welcome to this month’s Passionate Geek, LM! Ze can be found in zir natural habitat on The Lobster Dance, a blog about gender and geekery with a Japan focus, and I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about the intersection of food and gender. Zir operatic goal in life is to see a real opera written about the life of Julie d’Aubigny and see Tosca performances in which Scarpia actually nails the final line of the end of Act 1.
Content: contains spoilers for Tosca, discussions of misogyny and racism in opera.
Opera seems to operate in US popular culture in three dissimilar but overlapping ways: people know popular tunes from “What’s Opera, Doc?” and other cartoons; opera is played in the background of films like Milk and Quantum of Solace*; but ultimately, it’s treated as fussy, Continental, inaccessible, and, to quote Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, “too many notes.”
If you’ve ever said “I like all music except for opera” sounds familiar, this post is for you.
I used to feel the same way: I grew up on cartoon parodies of operas and didn’t understand the medium or find it accessible. I was very lucky, then, that my high school choir director decided to play “E lucevan e stelle” from Puccini’s Tosca for our class one day as part of an effort to educate us about classical music. We listened to the aria and read the lyrics in translation, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room at the end. I was hooked.
It was as if a flip had been switched. I couldn’t get enough opera–or, perhaps, more specifically I couldn’t find a opera I loved more than Tosca. I attended my first live opera that summer: The Magic Flute, specifically the production that Maurice Sendak designed. I started saving up my vouchers from Enjoy the Arts, a Cincinnati-based youth arts outreach program, to see as many operas as I could during the summer season at the Cincinnati Opera. Because the vouchers were good for unpurchased or cancelled seats, I had the unparalleled opportunity to see operas in the orchestra section most of the time. I started borrowing operas on CD from the public library–not just shows I wanted to see that summer, but anything I could find.
To return to Tosca: Tosca is the most structurally, musically, and dramatically perfect opera ever written (to my knowledge). The pacing is phenomenal. The content itself is actually fairly feminist. I’ve never found another opera that I’ve enjoyed more than Tosca. Set in 1800, Tosca is the story of Floria Tosca, a devout singer, and her lover Mario Cavaradossi, an artist. Cavaradossi’s attempt to help escaped political prisoner Angelotti sets off a chain of events that leads to Tosca believing that he is cheating on her. Scarpia, the corrupt chief of police, who is searching for Angelotti, capitalizes on Tosca’s fears and she inadvertently blows Angelotti’s and Cavaradossi’s cover. When Scarpia attempts to coerce her into having sex with him in return for Cavaradossi’s freedom, offering to fake her lover’s death by using blanks at the firing squad, Tosca murders Scarpia and attempts to flee with Cavaradossi. When the fake execution turns out not to be fake, Tosca leaps from the parapet rather than face arrest.
Tosca defies operatic gender conventions: she, more than Cavaradossi, is the tragic hero of the piece. She has free will and a complex morality. I should point out that being a fan of opera can be a bit strange from an intersectional feminist perspective. For instance, a lot of opera companies still perform shows that are Orientalist, like Madame Butterfly and Carmen, and/or cast white singers as characters of color instead of diversifying hiring practices. (Because it’s fine to set La Traviata in the 1990s, but apparently hiring singers who aren’t white is taking it too far? /sarcasm.) Many operas are misogynist or perpetuate rape culture, toxic masculinities, and male entitlement. Don Giovanni, to some extent subverts this by the ending; Carmen is really a story about a woman from an oppressed minority group as the victim of domestic violence but the opera isn’t framed that way; Madame Butterfly exoticizes racist misogyny and “condemns” it by fridging yet another woman of color.There never seem to be any queer characters, and cross-dressing (either of the actor, as in a breeches role, or of the character) is often used for for cisheteronormative audiences to laugh at the characters rather than for the queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming members of the audience to identify or laugh with them.** Performing an opera written by a woman is something I’ve never seen in all 15 years of my fandom with opera.
That said, there is room in opera as a medium for change. The Cincinnati Opera is performing Fellow Travelers, which follows the Lavender Scare during McCarthyism and features gay characters as the leads. Seattle Opera performed An American Dream, a new opera about the unlawful imprisonment (“internment”) of people of Japanese descent during WWII. There is the possibility for change, but it seems that we, the fans, have to convince the companies to perform and sponsor more diverse shows, like 27, Fellow Travelers, Sarah and Patience. Perhaps we could see diversity and inclusion do for opera what it is doing for Broadway: shows like Hamilton, Allegiance, Fun Home, and the Deaf West Theatre version of Spring Awakening–shows written by and/or starring people of color, queer and trans people, and people with disabilities–would revolutionize the medium. It wouldn’t just have to be an endless cycle of the racism and sexism of “classics” like Carmen and Madame Butterfly. Change is happening in opera, but we have to help it happen.
As far as accessibility goes in terms of travel and cost, YouTube has many classic full-length operas with subtitles available for free, and public libraries often have videos and CDs. If you get PBS or NPR, you can watch or listen there, too. I’m lucky enough to live in a city with a great opera company; my partner and I became members of BRAVO!, the Seattle Opera’s group for 21-40 year olds, which means we get discounted tickets and subscriptions, invitations to events like touring the costume shop, and a lounge (with free coffee and wine!) to hang out in between acts. A lot of companies have discounts for students, seniors, people between 21-40, and school groups, so it’s worth looking into if you’re curious about live opera but are worried about affordability.
*What is this scene even. I mean, the end of the first act doesn’t end with a firing squad scene, and they they SKIP THE INTERMISSION and head straight into halfway through act two. I think the director might have also mixed up who Scarpia and Cavaradossi are, based on the singer’s clothing. Go home, Bond, you’re drunk.
**A very nice exception is Ariadne auf Naxos, which features an alto in a breeches role playing a stressed-out male composer, and the role can be played relatively gender-neutral.
Want to share what you’re geeky and passionate about? I’d love to have you write a post — just drop me a line and let me know!
I have so much to say, and yet, I can’t find the words to say it.
I am responding not just to the murder and violence towards people because of their race.
I am responding not just to the murder and violence towards individuals because of their sexual identity.
I am responding not just to the murder and violence towards people because of their religion.
I am responding not just to the murder and violence towards individuals because of their occupation.
I am responding not just to the murder and violence towards people because of their gender identity.
I am responding not just to the murder and violence….
I am responding also to the hate, the words, the palpable fear and legitimate sense of danger.
Over the past week I’ve felt so much anger, so much frustration. Every time I looked out at the world there was something else to cause pain, something else to frustrate, something else that I wished I didn’t have to see… something else I wanted to hide from.
But I can’t allow myself to simply hide from it – ignorance is never the answer. And the historian part of me knows that I have to pay attention, just because it isn’t directly causing me pain doesn’t mean I have any right to look away. Actually, I have a duty to not look away. I need to witness, to lend aid where I am needed, and to make the space for the voices of those who couldn’t hide from the harsh reality of this world we are living in.
Because it isn’t me that needs to be heard right now. So instead I will share some of the voices I have seen and heard over the past few days (and in some cases longer than that). Voices worth listening to.
If we were having coffee today I wouldn’t have a whole lot to say. My week has vanished into a fog of a lot of projects at work and just trying to distill my response to all that has been happening here in the US and around the world. So much violence and hate, so much fear and division. It makes my heart hurt.
I am in the process of trying to write something about it all, a response of some sort. I realized that other day that the form that response was trying to take was a sermon. That is how I think I need to put my thoughts and reflections into the world — so now I have to do some exegetical work around the matters I am going to talk about and find exactly what the message I want to get across is. Then I have to get up the nerve to share it, and figure out just how I am going to do that. Part of me that is scared of putting my voice really out in the world wants to just post on my personal Facebook page, limited to friends and family. But there is another part of me that thinks I need to put this further out there and wants to record it on YouTube and share it across my social-media, including here.
I’m going to have to thing on that more, and I’m sure some of my decision will be based on what I end up speaking about, exactly.
I also need to write up a sermon proposal for another one I want to present and give sometime this year. There’s a church that I have been able to preach at pretty much annually since I moved back to Oregon and I really love it — there are a handful of things I miss from my days in seminary and being on a path towards ordained ministry, and preaching is one of them. I’ve often thought that I should try to put together sermons, or little homily’s at the very least, on a more regular basis and just put them online but… it’s different. I liked the whole organization, working with the entirety of a worship service in order to sculpt an experience — and that’s not quite the same when I am looking just at a sermon. For me a good and powerful organized worship service in the company of others is somewhat like a stage production – it’s about shaping an experience that helps to bring people to a certain place of openness and connection to the message and to one another. I know that there are those who balk at the idea of drawing a parallel between worship and theater, but to me it is clear and does not, in any way, detract from the power, prayerful-ness and holiness of worship services.
Anyhow, that’s on my mind at the moment, and taking most of my thoughts. I also have a few other projects that I need to get moving on — a short story draft that I’m supposed to have done by next weekend that is proving to be a challenge for me. I have a lot of ideas, but finding just the right one to use for the theme is giving me a bit of a challenge!
Now I should turn my attention to the work that needs to be done. In addition to the writing (and editing… I really do want to get back to the rewrites I need to do on that novel, it would be so cool to have a functional draft by the end of the year, and I could manage that), I also need to start reading more again (I’m terribly behind on all my reading challenges, including the personal challenge I set to reread a bunch of books and decide what to keep and what might be able to find new homes elsewhere), and there is the unpacking (from two weeks ago…don’t judge) and laundry and organizing that, once again, has fallen by the wayside.
I did read the most recent Rick Riordan book (oh! That’s where some of my free-time went!) and really had fun with it, I love his tone and the way his stories send my mind in all directions trying to remember bits of my knowledge of various mythologies as well as sparking ideas in the writers brain about how he might be heading and what he might be doing with all the different versions of our world he’s created… I really should write about my speculations and thoughts (because I had also been so neglecting my blog writing… I’m sorry guys!).
And what I’d set out to have be a short little check in has turned into a bit of a ramble, so I’ll sip on my coffee a bit and let you share some with me about what you’ve been up to and how you’re doing.