04 April 2009

Haiku 94

How startling to think
That for some the daily grind
Means life in Paris


Civic Center said...

"Means life in Californya" would be just as valid, though it's misspelled for haiku regularity. We live in a very beautiful, very interesting place, but the daily grind means we tend to ignore it. I'm sure Parisians are no different.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Misspellings to make the correct syllable count are not allowed. It's like wrestlers or fashion models vomiting to make weight -- ultimately, it's just not right.

Yes, your point is one of the points I was getting at, but . . . have you been to Milpitas? Ah, never mind, I'm sure you'd find the one interesting spot in town.

vicmarcam said...

Paris? But you could have chosen exciting places like Baghdad or Kabul. Those have two syllables.

I know what you mean. I've gotten to the point that I go to the Ferry Building so often now that I don't always stop to think how beautiful the bay and the hills beyond are. It's like when I buy a CD because I couldn't get enough of a song on the radio and then I play it so much it stops registering with me.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

The thing about playing a song you love so much that it stops registering is always fascinating to me and something that I think about a lot, given that I go to many places (the opera house, symphony hall) that have sadly narrow repertories. I've done that with certain pieces (two examples: Messiah and Sweeney Todd). I play them so often that I stop hearing them; I also associate them now with certain periods of my life.

Civic Center said...

Your haiku severity is perfectly right, of course, but if we can have a hack Austrian action hero / former steroid abuser governor who pronounces California with extra syllables, then I feel perfectly in my vomiting model rights to quote him.

"Messiah" and "Sweeney Todd"? Those are two pieces I've consciously avoided over the years even though I adore Handel oratorios and have a respectful appreciation for Sondheim and his worshipers. Hmmmm...

Patrick J. Vaz said...

About the syllable thing I've actually had -- not exactly arguments, since I usually see little point in arguing, but conversations that I just dropped out of because clearly no one but me was going to talk sense. I understand that 5-7-5 is a natural break in Japanese in a way that it is not in English, but at this point, haiku can be considered an English-language form (just as the sonnet is an English-language form, and not Italian or Provencal). And the strictness is what form is about. The challenge is to make sense within the restrictions. That is fairly unrelated to your comical remark, but I just wanted to put it out there.

I'm curious why you've avoided the two works I mentioned -- maybe not so much Messiah, because I can think of several reasons for avoiding it (Christmas ubiquity for one). You and I are both Jepthah men, and it won't dislodge that as your favorite Handel, but why not give it a try?

As for Sweeney Todd, I'm very curious why you've avoided it. For me it's such an incredible work that for years I barely knew the rest of Sondheim because nothing could live up to the greatness of Sweeney Todd. Don't watch the Tim Burton movie, though, which mostly raises the question of whether it's possible to give a great performance in a musical if you can't sing. I disagree with some of the directorial choices, but basically they all perform brilliantly at what they're asked to do. Only no one in the cast can sing. Why would you cast a musical with people who can't sing?

This might just be a tempermental difference between us, but in that case there would be lots of operas you don't respond to.

Civic Center said...

No one but you was going to talk sense? I love that.

"Messiah" is rather like "Swan Lake" for me. Since they were both so ubiquitous, I figured I'd hear/see them eventually, and then just never got around to it. (I even went to San Francisco Ballet's new "Swan Lake" this year but left halfway through. Why ruin the mystery?)

"Sweeney Todd" I've avoided out of simple snobbery, and also because I had an affair decades ago with somebody creepy who played the record endlessly. When Nathan Lane trashed it in McNally's "Lisbon Traviata," I felt amusingly vindicated. Saw the Tim Burton movie and agree with your assessment, but that's true of a lot of movie musicals (see "Paint Your Wagon"). For some reason, they're not expected to sing all that well, which strikes me as perverse.