Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Do you hear that popping sound? It's my eardrums exploding.

I hate this woman. I hate her breast implants and her bad roots. I hate the fact that, while my fabulous singer friends who are talented and amazing slave in crappy jobs so they can take three gigs a year, she signs the largest record deal in the UK ever. EVER. That the record label, who also records some excellent legitimate artists and should know better, is marketing her as a classical singer makes my blood boil. Yes, she went to the RAM. So? This does not mean she has talent. Potential, maybe. But I've heard some Juilliard grads that would make every hair on your head jump out of its follicle and run from the room. Yes, she won some Welsh choirgirl competition 100 years ago. She, according to the BBC, is a prodigy. But a prodigy for what? Her accomplishment of becoming some Welsh soccer team's mascot? She has been praised for her performances of sacred and traditional music, and I can believe from listening to her that she would be an excellent chorister. But the voice is not well trained. She sings miked, she uses no support, her vibrato is thin and out of control, her technique abysmal. I am appalled that her marketing machine will mislead the public into thinking that this is what opera singers sound like.

I am always angered by successes such as this. They dig at my sense of fair play. Why should actual performing singers be told that classical recordings are a dying breed so they shouldn't bother trying to make them? Why is this label calling her an opera singer if opera doesn't sell? Oh, wait, real opera doesn't sell. Dolly Parton songs in Italian sell. Poor Dolly. The BBC called her an opera singer. How can she be an opera singer? Outside of school, she's NEVER BEEN IN AN OPERA. Take a look at this. A great classic success story? Hardly. This is not Carmen. This is Jessica Simpson singing the Habanera, if JS were Welsh and even more of a talentless hack than she already is. This girl was signed right out of school. She was signed for her looks and for her marketing potential. Ironically, I've seen better looking and more talented singers get passed over for roles every day. This girl couldn't carry a role in a performance if it were stuffed into her already overcrowded bra.

But the thing I hate about her the most? She is called a mezzo, and this is what the idiots who buy her album are going to think a mezzo sounds like. Fabulous.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Just get married already, or why I hate Whole Foods.

I had to get mushrooms and Italian sausage for dinner last night and tea tree oil for the vile thrush in my throat from my new asthma inhaler, so I thought I'll bag two birds and my soul with one stone and go to Whole Foods. Now, I'm not fond of WF. I feel that, whenever I walk in, I'm being judged as I don't do all my shopping there as it's outrageously expensive and I don't need all of my food to be packaged by nuns who only wear biodegradable habits and grow all of their own food using only the poop from their free-range chickens as fertilizer. I also am chubby, so I obviously am not an active person, and I don't wear clothing only to be found at REI. I don't drive a hybrid or a Volvo and I'm not a stay-at-home mom living in Ravenna with an activist attorney husband who takes her kids to Gymboree on Tuesdays and grows her own hemp in the backyard. I don't go to the Folklife festival or all the days of SIFF. I don't know the difference between a chardonnay and a Cote du Rhone. So, whenever I go in, I get looks from the skinny, wealthy, vegan, mountain climbing lawyers who ONLY shop at Whole Foods to keep their conscience clear.

So, last night, I got my few items and waited in line to check out. The girl in front of me took an age as she wanted to pay with credit and then get money back from her debit card, even though there was an ATM a foot behind her. So, of course, they let her, and I finally got to the checkstand. I had set my basket down on the floor in another basket, but I apparently put it in askew. The tall, thin, expensively-togged very pregnant woman behind me fixed the basket and then me with a contemptuous look and began unpacking her cart. Panty liners made from unbleached cotton, frozen fruit bars guaranteed kosher and organic, flushable and biodegradable diapers, fifteen kinds of strange root vegetables, unfiltered apple juice. Now, I noticed that she wasn't wearing a wedding ring, and there was no dent, which all ring-wearers get when not wearing the ring at that moment. While I don't believe everyone should be married (Kevin and Britney, hello?), what is it about the specific demographic that shops at WF and buys unbleached cotton panty liners that makes them disdainful of marriage? I CANNOT TELL YOU how many people I have met living in this very absurdly image-conscious city who have children and homes together but are not married, and all of them are just like the basket-straightener. To a one, they make statements to the effect of, "my commitment is between me and my "partner," not me and state", "I don't need a piece of paper to validate my relationship", etc, to which I say, yes it is, and yes you do. If you own property and have children together, that piece of paper means that you have a legal and binding contract to each other, that you value that person enough to state in front of the government and community that you hold to them. I have always found it so ironic that these people are so committed to the environment that they won't use plastic grocery bags, but they won't give their spouse the protection afforded under the law to have health insurance and equal property rights. I think it's especially ironic that these are the same people who look down on folks like me who are married and don't have children and buy processed cheese food.

I have always believed it's an easy out. Those who don't make the commitment legal do so because they want to be able to dissolve the union easily, by merely dividing the CD collection and make arrangements for alternate weekends with the kids. It's the entitlement, the lack of wanting to be involved in anything that would make them sacrifice anything of themselves. Houses can be quickly sold, children will grow up, move out and go to an expensive college about which the parents will endlessly brag. But a divorce is forever a brand that will taint their edginess with normalcy.

I'm absolutely going to get lambasted for being so intolerant of this very irritating and pretentious demographic because it makes me sound so horrifyingly conservative. It's really the only area of daily life about which I am fairly conservative (never politically, just socially). But it's my blog and I'll drink Tang and not Odwalla if I want to.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

All the time in the world.

I was discussing with a co-worker a young singer who has an amazing voice and should be watched as I JUST KNOW her career is going to be epic. I was thinking about this singer as she's had what seems to be a pretty charmed life. Wealthy family, beauty, talent, the kind of life that makes for a very unhurried and unworried person who knows she has the time and means to pursue whatever she wants. Of course, she's also a very hard worker and has made her opportunities, but the conversation got me thinking about what I would do if I had the means and leisure to pursue any path I wanted.

Would I still sing? I don't think I would care nearly so much. Why would I have to if I didn't feel the desperate need to bring something valuable to my life? So much of my desire to sing has to do with a desperation to instill my existence with meaning, to not let my dumbass day job define me. I MUST have that flip side of my life that lends interest to my person.

However, if I had means to lead whatever kind of life I wanted, I think I would be more interested in the things that keep me at my job, i.e., the money to travel, to read, to knit, to cook, to keep my pets, to have a home that I love. These things drive me so much, they keep me working very long hours. I wonder if I would still want to have a singing career if the every day life I would lead if solvent could give me the kind of contentment having a goal does. But would it? Am I so shallow? Do I only sing because I want to be seen as interesting, cool? I know I love it, but is it a vanity fest? Is it that important that I tell people at work, when they ask what I'm doing over the weekend, that I have the opera so they don't think that THIS JOB is the only thing I have in my life? If I wasn't at work and there weren't any people to impress, would I still want to sing for its own sake, or am I just trying to not sound pathetic?

Of course, these are all ridiculous questions, as I'll always have to work, but can open, worms everywhere.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Props to my peeps.

Finally, the extremely deserving girls I know, love and sing with are getting their rewards for years of hard work and sacrifice. There are FOUR of us who have been cast in local productions over people who have been more favored in the past, and I am so proud of my friends. One such friend will be Beatrice at Tacoma in November and the other two I'll share once they say it's OK. They both got very exciting and fun roles, however, and will kick ass. Please give your time and money and support all of us and the opera community in general. I'll post details as the dates get nearer.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

No Fatal Attraction jokes, please.

You know how, when you were a kid, you'd say that you'd eat ice cream for dinner and stay up all night when you were a grown up? The picture below is my ice cream for dinner:

Being an adult and able to afford to buy the most gorgeous, useful, well-made and envy-inspiring cookware is all the staying up all night, the not wearing the coat in winter, the opening the windows with the car air conditioning on and the eating with my hands I swore to do as a grown up rolled into one.

I think the birds make excellent spokesmodels, too.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A day in the life of a suburban housewife.

Yesterday, I slept in until 11 am. I got up, dyed my hair, had a cup of tea, got my hair cut, cleaned the house, cooked an elaborate dinner and went to bed late after knitting and watching Alias. I am highly domesticated.

The opera is over. All hail summer vacation. Well, for two weeks anyway.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Happiness, schmappiness.

I'm not supposed to be a happy person, I don't think. When I'm happy, I'm ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that an anvil is lurking around the corner, suspended on fraying rope from a rusty crane suffering from metal fatigue. All it takes is my heavy footsteps and twink! Smush.

Things are going well this week. I often feel as though my singing is largely ignored (as I think many singers do, with so many auditions and so few roles), but I can't really feel that way right now. It's a relief, and a shock. I get convinced that I'm screaming into the ether, so when someone says they're listening, it's almost as though I have a peeping Tom, someone who's watching me when I don't notice. Wait, you were where? You heard me when? Oh yeah! At that audition. Funny!

On an amusing side note, while I was on a field trip this morning, the Met called my work number as that's the only number they have for trying to force me to buy a subscription even though I live across the country since I made the mistake of giving that number when I bought tickets once. My co-worker took the call and emailed me the message, "The Met called. Is this something I can know about?" The answer would be, "Oh yes, my $20 will go a long way to ensuring the future of the Saturday broadcasts." And I get a free CD.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The temptation to kiss it would be overwhelming.

I've been watching Battlestar Galactica's first season on my iPod, and I'm to the episode where the President is hallucinating as a side effect of her cancer drugs, and she sees snakes crawling on her podium from which she's giving a press conference on fuel shortage. The first snake she sees is a ball python, which looks exactly like Frederick (pictured below as a baby). All I could think was, "Cooter! Gimme! Oh, the little pooper, who's the best snakey in the universe? You are, yes you are!"

If I were the President, I would have picked it up, kissed it and made cooing sounds, and the press would have recorded me doing so for later broadcast to prove that I was off my rocker. Of course, then I would have gotten salmonella and, if I had cancer, that would be a really stupid thing to do, compromised immune system and all.

I have to say that it irritated me, though, as the snakes were making "Foleyed" hissing sounds, and I've NEVER heard my snakes hiss. Also, the snakes they showed were all very docile species, like milk snakes and corn snakes (tweeters!). Of course, if I was in deep space and my brain went Indiana Jones on me, I'd be a bit unnerved, too.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I really would just like a side salad.

Foods that sound good when you're hungry but regret consuming later:

Deep fried burritos from the cafeteria at work
French fries
Easy Cheese
Chocolate eclairs from Safeway
Refried beans
Anything from Taco Bell
Chicken nuggets
Scrambled eggs
Turkey hot dogs
Bacon cheeseburger (it pains me to say that)
Onion rings

I'm sensing a theme, here. I really should cut back on poultry.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sit. Your ass. Down.

Hey, you. Yeah, you in the pink silk suit. Oh, yes, I can see you. The house lights are up. And it's a myth that you can't see the audience from the stage during the performance anyway. The stage lights don't blind us like we say they do. I see the yawns, the eye rolls, the not-so-whispered conversations. We only claim that we can't see you so you won't try to make eye contact. Oh yeah, and you in the white polo shirt? Are you listening to this, too?

Sit down. The stage lights are down, but we haven't even started our bows yet. We see you ask your neighbors to move so you can get out of the row before the lights go back up again for the curtain call. We see the back doors of the house open and the light flood in. We see the stampede of those of you who are so arrogant and impatient that you think that showing your appreciation for the incredible amount of work and talent you just witnessed is beneath you, as though we're here merely to serve you. Yeah, pinkie, you especially. I saw you crawl over your row-mates' knees in your desperate clamor to get out. You even walked all the way down to the frontmost exits by the orchestra pit, in plain sight of everyone, and you weren't even applauding. Where were you going in such a hurry? Your car is valet parked, so you don't even have to get it yourself. And I know how long it takes to get to either of the two parking lots, as I do it every night, even after changing out of my costume and taking off my makeup. It takes five minutes. Yep, five. And the traffic isn't even bad. It's not like a basketball game where 10,000 people are exiting at once. The opera house seats under 2,000, even less as I see that we didn't sell out. Do you think what we do is easy? Do you think that the baritone singing the role for the fifth time in a week as the silver cast baritone is ill isn't tired, isn't wanting to have a little appreciation of his incredible efforts? He sings because he loves it, at least it seems that way from watching him and his passion and dedication, but it's his job, too. Hard work is supposed to be rewarded. Well, you're probably the kind of person who doesn't thank her own employees anyway, if she even works and isn't a trophy. Sit down unless you want to stand and clap, which most people seem to want to do.

And you, in the polo shirt. Stop talking. Yeah, I know the opera's over, but I was watching you. You're sitting right behind maestro, dead center in the best seats in the house, so every time I looked at him, I saw you. Chatter, chatter, chatter. What's so important? It couldn't wait for intermission? Were you trying to impress your date with your knowledge of Shakespeare or was your witty conversation centered around your disdain for the art form as a whole? Is opera not hip enough for you? You obviously don't respect anyone sitting around you, or you wouldn't be drawing attention to yourself. And, even if you were too cool to admit that you liked the opera, still applaud with everyone else. It is incredibly rude to sit with your arms crossed like we leveled a personal insult against you. Could you do this? Have you ever been on a stage?

You see, I'm in the chorus. There are a lot of us who are on stage a lot of the time, and sometimes our eyes wander when we're not singing. I know they shouldn't, but we're very discreet. We see you, all of you. We see the rudeness, the impatience, the condescension. Opera is not cheap. Why do you come if you either can't wait or can't respect the art form or those around you? Please, do us all a favor and stay home. We don't need your money that badly. Well, we do, but that's even sadder. You think you're doing us a favor by being in the audience. You're not.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I got a compliment today (from the only person at work who could give it and not have it be inappropriate) about how my new bras are making my boobs look much higher and perkier and how the overall effect is very flattering. I, of course, then had to show her the strap so she could see that the bra I'm wearing today is pink. Pink! With a leafy applique!

And it only cost $68 (said with sarcasm). But, if it can make my rack look perky, I would pay with my soul. And then I'd be able to speak Spanish, so it might not be such a bad trade.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Stop it, already!

No one else I know and love is allowed to get a divorce. No more. Stop it! I can't take it. And it's all about me, you know.

Poor cousins.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I had to give my statement to the insurance claims adjuster this morning, and she told me that jackass/dillhole/asshat/fucktard has an attorney and is claiming injury. According to said attorney, he has been in two prior injury-causing accidents and suffers from re-injury. Gasp! Choke! My suprise is rendering me speechless! Well, not really, as I knew the second he began to hassle me that he was going to try something like this. He had that opportunistic, swaggering air of the true born manipulator, the kind of person who takes everything as a personal insult, a chance to stick it to others, as they deserve it, him being the victim and all.

Well, he messed with the wrong girl. I am no meek shrinking simperer. I shall not allow my insurance rates to go up because of this amoral prat. Hmpf.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Famous AGAIN!

The birdies are getting their props (scroll to the bottom). Hee!

They'd better wash my costumes.

Thank God and all the saints, tech week is over. Finito. We open tomorrow. We made it through last night without stopping, but there still was a vitriolic issuing from the pit through most of the performance. I'm hoping that the torrent will cease once a paying audience is in the house, but I may as well hope that Stephen Colbert actually gets hired for the White House Press Secretary job for all the likelihood of it actually happening. I really like and respect the conductor, but man, he's a walking stereotype. EVERYthing has an EXCLAMATION point at the end. I keep expecting him to scream "Spaghetti! Roma! Al dente!"

Come to the production, if only to hear Macduff. Now THAT'S a voice.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ah yes, the glamour.

Since Sunday, I've spent 24 hours at the opera house. And I didn't take any time off work, which was just the stupidest decision I could have made. It's tech week, which means oh my God, it sucks in so many ways:

1. The conductor walked out of the sitzprobe on Monday as the orchestra simply wasn't playing well.
2. At our piano dress on Tuesday, we had to do our two minute quick change from witch to refugee TWICE, with wigs and all, at 11 pm, prompting most of us to swear and cry and generally throw giant fits. Because the space was so tight, another chorister got hit in the face by someone who pulled her arm out of her costume too quickly.
3. At our first orchestra dress last night, we only barely had Act Three lighting, and the cues were all different.
4. They lost my shoes to go with my witch costume, and the shoes I had to wear, which are usually only to be worn with the ballgown and for a very short period, are too tight and too high and kept catching on my veil and hem, making me trip and keeping me from exiting the stage quickly enough to not be seen lingering at the doorway during the next scene.
5. About half of the chorus came in on the orchestra cue in "Patria, oppressa", prompting the conductor to hang his head and look as though he was going to cry.

Oh, and I also had an audition this last weekend for a local company doing fantastic mezzo stuff next season, but for my second aria they picked the shortest and the most boring, meaning that they didn't like me and I won't get cast.

At least the bleeding walls are cool.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tiptoe, on the cow hide....

Not that we got to open the door and see them, but just seeing this sign made me giggle.

Several years ago, after attending a educational seminar on bats, Tina gave a very amusing overview of how a vampire bat actually eats. She told us that it tiptoes up to its prey, nips a tiny vein, licks daintily at the blood (using a anticoagulant in its saliva to keep the wound from closing) and, when it's full, tiptoes away. She did a interpretive dance of the tiptoeing. There was much guffawing.

There are currently 11 bats living in the exhibit at the zoo. After the tour was over, we went back into the night exhibit and waited until our eyes adjusted. We could see three little bats flapping about, licking delicately at the water bottle filled with blood.

Apparently, these misaligned little creatures even have an altruistic behavior pattern with other vampire bats. If another bat roosting nearby was unable to feed, the bat who has eaten will regurgitate some of its meal for the hungry little bat. Awww. How can people be afraid of these little guys? Tiptoeing, lunch-sharing, four inch long mammals. Cuuuuuute.

That is....Until you see their lunch! Well, their lunch refrigerator. I missed the shot of the pitcher of cow's blood from the slaughterhouse down the road, mixed with anticoagulant, of course, 'cause you wouldn't want a big bucket of clot.

Third time IS a charm.

Christian and I have registered for the Eye-to-Eye behind the scenes tour of the Day and Night exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo three times. The first tour was cancelled as we were the only ones registered, the second we missed due to the worst traffic jam in the history of the universe and the third was yesterday. We were certain that a comet would strike the earth the moment we woke up yesterday morning to prevent us from taking the tour. Fortunately, though, the only threat to our attendance was a disgruntled and infantile mother at the restaurant where we ate breakfast, and I wasn't going to risk coming to blows and risking grave injury (she looked like she had seen a fight or two) over her bad parenting technique of flicking her child on the ear (very hard, mind you) to discipline him. I could just envision myself with a broken tooth and a black eye at the emergency room having to explain what happened to me:

Doctor: So, you said "Jesus" under your breath when you saw this woman flick her son's ear?
Me: Yes, and when she said to me in that defensive and hand-in-the-face tone of voice, "It's my call," I told her that she might want to make her call a little more mature the next time.
Doctor: And then she jumped you?
Me: Yeah, right in front of her kids. What a great mother, huh?
Doctor: Yes, a real champ. Now hold still while I pick her press-on fingernails out of your cheek.

Well, the first part happened, but I didn't have a crushing comeback for her so terribly maternal comment, so she passed by with no threat of violence.

We made it to the zoo, even with a few minutes to spare. The tour started at 1:30 with a game of reptile/amphibian/sloth family knowledge tic-tac-toe, which we tied. Our group missed a question about whether or not porcupines can shoot their quills. Turns out that shooting quills are yet another myth propagated by Warner Brothers. Bastards. And here I had a fantasy that, if our team won the game, that we'd get to hold any animal that we wanted. That would be dangerous, however, as whatever I held would most likely end up in my purse.

When we finally got to go into the keeper areas, I wanted to rip open the doors to the exhibits and run inside. The night exhibit keeper was a mild-mannered hippie with the obligatory bandana headband. I just can't do any of the things we saw justice, so you'll have to just look at the pictures and hear the "AAAAAAAAAAAA" of my squeals in your head:

Hedgiehedgiehedgie!!! Sniffy, wiggly nose! ANTEATER!!!! Flicky tongue!!!

And when he took this little bugger out,

check out who was lurking behind him:

I'm surprised Christian didn't have to physically restrain me from jumping into the enclosure. However, lorises have such allergenic saliva that they can cause anaphylaxis with their bite, so it's most likely a good thing I didn't.

The day exhibit has some extensive ongoing conservation projects with turtles and tortoises. These are two Egyptian tortoise hatchlings. And into my pocket they went.

Hee! Little old man faces.

It turns out that they rotate the King cobras. They have a male and a female and the female was behind the scenes when we were there. She was a grumpy, grumpy snake and struck at the glass whenever anyone would take a picture. Very big, very scary, very pretty. Hood. Flarey.

I'm always a little disappointed when the enclosures pretty much look like the ones I have at home:

All in all, a very satisfactory day. Especially as the zoo has a new avian exhibit with free flight budgies, cockatiels, rosellas and Princess Margaret parakeets who are so tame they will feed from your hand:

And there you have it. Add a squealy soundtrack and it will be just like you were there.