So we all know the ironic paradox of capitalism: when you have a job you have money but no time, and when you don’t have a job, you have time but no money. Yet somehow, in my talented way, I’ve ended up with a job and no money. Ideally, that would be the other way around. Could there be some link between this state and the fact that I’ve had a month or two of being at the theater three to five nights a week? I suppose I can’t blame all my money woes on plumbing disasters and unexpected root canals. So here’s the blogging corollary to the paradox, at least for theater-goers: when you are out attending things to blog about, you don’t actually have enough time left to blog about them.
Also, I have to admit, I was glued to Dancing with the Stars on my few free evenings. I’m guessing this show is a huge hit now, since I see it cited more and more frequently as evidence that The End Is Near, which is utterly ridiculous. Salon.com had an article a couple of weeks ago about how great it is to watch your pennies in the grocery store and just generally not need things; I can see the beauty of a St Francis approach to life, but to me this article already had too much of a whiff of “poverty might be fun for a while” – and it sure can be, when it’s voluntary – and when the writer listed the hit status of DWTS as evidence of cultural decline – there was only one other example given, equally flimsy, so much so that I can’t even remember what it was – I just didn’t bother reading any further, so though the writer continued to have spiritual epiphanies while choosing the less expensive bag of dried beans, I can’t tell you what exactly her revelations were. Even Joan Acocella, whom I normally love, wrote an oddly sour and, to my mind, uncomprehending article about DWTS in a recent New Yorker. You want cultural decline? How about the inexplicable success of Madonna, who can’t sing, can’t act, can’t dance, and isn’t even very attractive? She’s the Ronald Reagan of pop. Both blights arose at the same time; both had, as their only discernable talent, a kind of genius at manipulating the always gullible media and public perceptions; and both of them had voices that made me run across the room to shut off the TV or radio. I clearly was not seeing, or was not susceptible to, whatever was charming the rest of America.
The other thing slowing me down this particular week is that I’ve finally put down the buggy whip and pushed aside the bear-grease pomade in order to install DSL on my home computer. I was assuming that my dial-up connection would work until I actually installed DSL, but as with so many assumptions, I was wrong. So I’ve had no home Internet for almost a week. I guess I can file that under “poverty might be fun – and spiritually uplifting! – for a while”, but I really just want my Internet back. And I haven't even been home to reap any spiritual benefits from all the free time I would supposedly gain, and which I would probably need to spend doing housework anyway, my abode having reached a state that even I consider disgraceful. I plan to install DSL this weekend, and then launch a YouTube orgy. Yes, if you’ve sent me a video or link to a video anytime since, oh, forever, I will at last be able to watch it. I don’t know why it takes me so long to do these things. I don’t really like gadgets and really dislike setting them up. I just don’t even know where to begin with most of them. (So big thanks once again to CMB for helping me out here.) It doesn’t help that once I actually realize it might be a good idea to read and follow the instructions, they usually turn out to be in diagram form. Last time I was forced to add staples to the copy machine, I not only cursed like a drunken sailor’s even drunker parrot, I accidentally smashed two staple cartridges before getting my third and final cartridge correctly inserted. The key was figuring out that they had four different diagrams, and I was using the wrong one. That was one of the keys, anyway. I still don’t know why they had four different diagrams. I’m just pretending the whole thing never happened.
One thing I can do is alphabetize, so you’ll notice I’ve re-arranged the blogroll. To dazzle the simple natives with my high-level skill, I ignored introductory articles while alphabetizing (so that, for example, An Unamplified Voice is under Unamplified, not An). Don’t let anyone ever tell you that a degree in English is not useful! You’ll also notice a few new blogs there, so check them out, and thanks to those bloggers for adding me. (If you link to me and I don’t know it, please let me know and I’ll add you.)
There’s I’d Rather Be Sleeping (But Opera Is Keeping Me Awake), which you can find to the right under Opera Is Keeping Me Awake. Susan is a super at the New Jersey opera and mother of a young son as well as a person with a job (I know! I get exhausted just reading about it!), and she’s a fellow Nathan Gunn fan, so there are lots of NG links, including some of those YouTube things I will finally get to see, though if I now have the capability, something even newer must be just around the bend, which I will learn to use in about five years.
Opera Tattler is another Bay Area blogger who reviews performances and their audiences, which I love, because it makes me feel I’m not just an unrecognized Louis XIV who wishes to banish all those strange beings with their rustling programs and inane whispers. I’ve occasionally thought about writing a concert review that was all about the audience noises rather than all that racket on stage: “The piece began, conventionally enough, with a tremolo effect in the lower mezzanine, though the orchestration was varied from the conventional seat-shifting and program-rustling by the addition of an amusingly pizzicato purse-zipping. After an almost concerto-like interlude for solo cellophane-wrapped hard-candy, the piece concludes with a rousing fugue for hacking cough that uses the spatial arrangements of the hall to intriguing effect. I would be remiss not to mention the fine job done by the poignant whispering chorus of possibly senile but certainly dithering gray-haired ladies. . . .” This is how I entertain myself, in lieu of punching people (or working on my anger issues). I hope audiences will behave better knowing that OT is on the QT, marking their transgressions.
Also check out a singer’s life as lived by Anne-Carolyn Bird, and don’t think I haven’t been wishing for weeks now that I could hear her sing Cunegonde at Wolf Trap. Candide is one of my favorite musicals (a term I will use here for the sake of convenience, since I’m only minimally interested in arguing what square peg fits into which round hole). I once saw a performance at the Huntington Theater in Boston in which the actor playing Candide gave such a wonderful reading of the line, “I cannot believe that I have just killed two men! I – who have a heart that is filled with love!” that my abrupt and fortissimo laugh made him, for just a split second, go out of character. One of my favorite theatrical memories, and oddly enough I've seen performances that omit the line; such is the complex textual history of Candide. . . . Anyway, you can also read about the Bhakti Project here. And you can look for her in the forthcoming recording of the Wolf Trap-commissioned Volpone, set by John Musto to Ben Jonson’s play as adapted by Mark Campbell, and don’t think that last summer I wasn’t wishing I could hear that. I checked Amazon to see if the recording was listed, but all they offered me were copies of the play and, for some reason, T-shirts from American Apparel. But from what I hear, Volpone is an outstanding addition to the admittedly small yet semi-distinguished company of Ben Jonson operas. Poor Ben Jonson! Swamped by Shakespeare even as an opera source. Maybe there’s a forthcoming version of The Alchemist or Every Man in His Humour, but somehow I think not. It’s actually difficult to find a collection of his complete plays– I haven’t managed to – and if you discount the occasional used copy of the now ancient two-volume Everyman set, with the tiny tiny type and the abbreviated speaker names (why did they ever do that?), it’s well-nigh impossible. Did Jonson foresee his fate when he wrote that WS was “not for an age, but for all time,” or did he just think to himself, “Nice phrase! Top that, dead William!” Jonson was prodigious as a sudden-springing mushroom after rain, but he’s competing with a mushroom cloud.