Oct. 25th, 2008

starlady: (plenipotentiary)
Spike and I were putting the recyclables out Thursday night and said to each other, "Is something burning?" It smelled like it, and the entire neighborhood was smoky too. The next morning it was still smoky, and foggy, and we turned on KYW to find out why--it's from the forest fire down Route 206. I can still smell it intermittently on the breeze.

We went to see "Fidelio" at the Academy of Music last night, with dinner at The Continental first. Spike had the crab pad thai, which tasted far too much of peppers, so we wound up splitting our entrees, but dessert of cotton candy for her and raspberry truffle brownie for me made it all better. The beer of the month was excellent, too--an oktobrfest. As for "Fidelio," I can see why it isn't performed very often, despite being Beethoven's only opera. The music is grand, but the plot is pretty thin, even for opera, and there's just not much drama in it. Despite that, it's still possible to see a lot of the cultural and theological tendencies in early 19th century German cultural products that led straight into Wagner and Nietschze. In some ways my favorite character was Rocco, the gaoler--if nothing else, I think he's the one closest to the audience in terms of sympathies. Everyone else is sort of one-dimensional. This production was co-designed by the artist Jun Kaneko, and while it was quite interesting (people wearing assymetrical, Mondrian-ish clothing, the set divided into two black and white grid-halves), I don't think it was quite as fascinating as it's been played up to be. Still, much love for the OCP, and at only $10 a ticket, it was well worth it. I'm looking forward to "Turandot" in Februrary.

I've been on a mini-David Weber kick this week. I was originally thinking about possibly selling my Honor books, since I probably have most of them essentially memorized (this is true of many books I own. I do essentially have a photographic memory), but then I started re-reading them and decided that on balance they are too good to sell, particularly since I have first editions of all of them and I hate the new covers for the older books. Today I went out and bought At All Costs and The Shadow of Saganami at the book trader in Old City. I admit it bothers me that there don't seem to be any gay people in the forty-second century, and of course standard English will be quite different in the future too, and it's funny to think that from one perspective the books essentially endorse polygamous marriages, albeit with reservations, but all in all they're rollicking good stories. I'm looking forward to Storm from the Shadows and Mission of Honor. Those who like space opera, or Horatio Hornblower, or the Napoleonic Wars, would do well to check them out.

Bonus: Fivethirtyeight.com's analysis of New Jersey! As a native New Jerseyan, and a resident of this state for all but one of my trips around the sun, I have to disagree with some of the points in the piece (particularly the description of New Jersey as "maverick-y." I'm telling you, it all makes sense if you live here), and I think the writer underballed our willingness to be assholes to another (if this state had a state pasttime, it would be tailgaiting people on the highway). All in all, though, I was surprised at how Republican the writer characterized the state. There are Republicans here; they tend to fall in to two groups: those who drive pickups and have rifles and Confederate flags and live in the Pine Barrens, colloquially known as Pineys, and those (like those who live in my town) who are rich and white and suburban and scared and drive Hummers and SUVs. But both these groups tend to concentrate in South Jersey, while the north of the state is essentially blue, which of course is why the south gets screwed for state spending. But in the end, New Jersey is full of liberals (particularly liberals who identify as independents, as my parents and I did until this election), which is not a point I felt the writer made particularly strongly.

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