Kicking Conditioning in the Ass

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I will continue to eat 5 servings of fruit and veg every day. If I only get in 2 or 3, I'll try not to stress.
I will exercise because it gives me stamina, because it makes me strong and because I like the energy that it brings. I will not look at the "calories burned" screen on the machine. I will not let the live-at-the-gym-super-thin-ladies make me feel bad or unworthy.
I will continue avoiding processed shit because food should be food, not a "food product".
That said, I will eat the cookie because I want a cookie. I will not see the cookie, or the croissant, as anything other than a cookie or a croissant. It is not "bad," it is not an enemy, it is not an indulgence, it's a fucking cookie.
I will relax. I will not take up valuable brain space on negative thoughts about myself.

And you know what? I'll be fabulous.

breaking news

Monday, February 25, 2008

It's official, friends. Yes, in the last 5 days, I have used exactly 200 kleenex. Well, 200 store-brand-generic-tissues, I should say.
I can't help but think about the land fill somewhere which will be the home of my 200 used tissues.....ew.....


Opening day of the opera was yesterday. Considering my intense headache and congestion, it went pretty well. Since I can't breathe through my nose, I was having to breathe much more often in my aria, and each breath was pretty big and gaspy......oh well.....We performed in the Napa Opera House. The theater is tiny, but it's beautiful and easy to sing in.

It was totally renovated a couple of years ago, so the dressing rooms are comfortable, spacious and numerous. The men all had to share one, since there are far fewer of them, but the women were divided up, with no more than 3 or 4 in each. The green room was comfy as well, and stocked with hot water, tea bags, coffee and fruit.

It was a very satisfactory performing experience. I only wish the audience had been more receptive. It was an awfully geriatric crowd, and many weren't laughing at the jokes. One woman in the 4th row slept through the whole thing......

I did have an adventure as I tried to leave, though. It rained yesterday, and I forgot to turn off my headlights when I arrived at the theater...4.5 hours later, when I got in the car, it wouldn't start! Oops......We keep jumper cables in the trunk, though, so I was able to grab another cast member with a car and get it started.


I was home in time to watch most of the Oscars. I was really happy for Diablo Cody, who won best original screenplay for Juno, but I wished that it had been recognized more. It always seems that to win Oscars, you have to create some heavy, overly dramatic, overly grandiose kind of movie. Yes, I liked No Country for Old Men, but I really don't think that the acting was all that special.....oh well.....

I just about died of envy when I saw Helen Mirren's dress. I thought a lot of the fashion was nice, but all too similar. Then she walked out and took my breath away.

Amazing, right? I seem to remember the dress she wore last year as being pretty incredible, too. Plus she's an amazing actress and seems (in interviews at least) to be intelligent and funny and generally awesome.

...oh, am I drooling again?.....I'll try to stop, but it's just so preeeettttyyy......

Improving Television

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's really easy to rail against television for any number of reasons. If you're not white and upper class, you're not likely to see folks like yourself, if you identify as anything other than straight you're most likely to be the butt of a joke, and if you're a woman or a girl-child, if you're there at all, it will be as a simpering romantic with no identity.

And of course, the wretched box will just plain rot your brain....

Many people have started to realize that the 3rd example is really bad, especially if you're a parent trying to raise a strong, patriarchy-challenging daughter (or son, I suppose). What I found yesterday, though, is that one celebrity (and mom) is taking on the issue of depictions of women and girls in TV. Geena Davis has started a group that will study gender in media, with the goal of equalizing depictions of female characters in TV and movies.

I don't know why it surprised me that it's Geena Davis who is spearheading this group. I suppose I've only seen a couple of her movies, and haven't been terribly impressed with her acting. A mediocre actress does not a bad person make, however, so yay! Good for her.

Check out the website. It seems like a new group, and the website is not terribly complete, but it lays down the goals for the group.

Snuffle snuffle

Just call me Snuffy the Snot Factory......This cold is sucking is a major way....

Last night was the first weeknight in ages that didn't have a rehearsal. I managed to stay in my pajamas and bathrobe all day, since I had absolutely no energy. The downside of this is that our fridge is nearly bare, so at some point I realized that dinner would be complicated. I alerted Boyfriend, who came home with some canned soup, which he fortified with barley. He also whipped up a batch of cornbread (from the Trader Joe's mix....not half bad actually). We had a lazy evening watching a movie (The Breakfast Club, which he had never seen) and reading.

I'm going to need more evenings like that in the next couple of weeks, to recover from the month of basically not ever seeing him. I was starting to feel really crappy that because of rehearsals, Boyfriend was really just a lump that I was sleeping next to, but never spending time with.....oops, ended a sentence with a preposition....

Anyway, I realize that sometimes the schedule will be like that. If I end up doing operas more often, I'll have to try to space them out with concert work, which is usually less rehearsal-heavy.

I complain about not getting enough opera work, then I complain about the schedule when I do....great....I guess I was generally displeased with the rehearsal schedule for this opera, which I felt to be excessive and completely inefficient and mismanaged. That is not a good combination.

So, the Breakfast Club. I hadn't seen it since high school, and I never loved it or anything, but this time around, I was really struck by how offensive it is. I can't figure out if that's on purpose, and that the writer was trying to point out how crappy teenagers can be, or if people really thought rape jokes would be funny.....I have to say, though, that I did like Molly Ringwald's outfit. It would only look good on a twig like her, but still.

I hope everyone enjoys the weekend. Love!

Colds suck

Friday, February 22, 2008

So, my cold has gotten seriously worse today.....I had to pass off Yiayia Duty onto one of my uncles. That's the term that I've coined for having to pick up my grandma at the nursing home where my grandpa is, then driving her home or on errands or whatever...
I have 2 days to recover before Orpheus opens on Sunday. My dress rehearsal went pretty well last night. I had to resort to Afrin to get rid of my congestion, though, which was no fun. That stuff kind of burns the inside of my nose, but I was so congested that my ears were all plugged, which makes it really hard to sing. I got some new props: a toy bow and arrow that actually works.....sorta....and a giant pacifier. Good times....'cept the arrows don't want to stay in the quiver, which gets awkward. Still, in general, we all did a pretty good job, and we're much better about remembering the words than we were a couple of days ago.
This opera company always does its shows in English, and they're always really clever. In this case, the translation is a little tooooo clever. One of the songs is written entirely in tongue-twisters and goes at a breakneck pace. On monday, we were all so mixed up that the lines came out as "hebel gerble nurfle sturfle damn it all to hell!" Instead of "Antiquated, over-rated, bawdy and bizarre."

I just went into the kitchen to get some tea, and stepped on the place where the living room carpet ends and the kitchen linoleum starts. The floor made the most interesting little sigh. You know, that kind of sigh? I deduce that there is an orgasmic Leprechaun living under my carpet.

the extent to which I hate yoga

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Not the actual act of doing yoga, of course, because I've never done it, but the obnoxious, yuppie "I'm better at yoga than you are, and you can tell because I walk around in $80 stretch pants and shop at Lulu-fucking-Lemon" yoga mommies who are taking over the East Bay. The ones who are "stay at home moms" which really means rich-ass trophy wives with blond ponytails and nannies (or au pairs) even though they don't work.

So, I'm not the only one to notice. The hysterical website "Stuff White People Like" has yoga as number 15......heee!

The site is a combination of laugh-your-ass-off and kinda-simplistic-with-over-generalizing, and I think by "white people" they actually mean pretty well off supposed liberal white people, but whatever.

Out, damned germs!

So, I've gotten sick again. Or maybe it's not even again, maybe it's STILL. Maybe I've got the same cold that I've had since Christmas. Either way, I'm really sick of pun intended. The really frustrating thing is that every time I have to prepare a concert or an opera or something recently, I've gotten sick. I'm not sure what's going on, but it's really annoying.

Orpheus opens on Sunday. Our first rehearsal with the orchestra is tonight. Yay, singing with a sore throat.....ugh....Anyway, I listened to the orchestra rehearsal last night, which is good, because it gives me some information that I can use tonight. #1 I cannot rely on the orchestra to give me a beat. Yes, you heard that right. At one point, there were 3 different beats happening, and none of them was the beat the conductor was giving. #2 The whole cast needs to sing quieter. When we're all singing with piano, we can't hear it, and sound awful. The orchestra is really small, and therefore only a little louder than the piano.....

I'm worried that none of our rehearsals have been in the performance venues. One of the theaters I know pretty well, but I've never been to the other, so I have no idea what the space, light and acoustic will be...

In other news, I got an expensive haircut the other day. I think it makes my head look like a mushroom.

This week off from work was supposed to be relaxing, but as usual, it hasn't really. I'm trying to get the repertoire planned for the next Donne di Mezzi concert, which will be in April.

For those who don't know, my friend Celeste and I started an early music ensemble last year. The name is a bastardized-Italian translation of the phrase "Women of Means," but it's also a pun, because we're both mezzo-sopranos, so mezzo/mezzi, you get the picture. Our little gimmick is that we try to feature female composers. Since we focus on 17th C music, that goal is much easier than it would be with other centuries. There were some awesome women writing in the 1650's, from nuns writing for their convents to daughters of famous poets or artistically-minded wealthy people.

This time, we'll have 2 pieces by Chiara Margherita Cozzolani, who was from a wealthy Milanese family and studied composition with the leading teachers of the time, before becoming a nun (and later abess) at a convent whose music program was famous at the time. We'll also have a couple of duets by Barbara Strozzi, hopefully, even though our viola da gamba player hates Strozzi's music. We might also add one by Francesca Caccini, who penned the first opera written by a woman, and who was the daughter of the man who revolutionized solo singing. Our first concert, last year, focused on what we called "duets for matched voices" since Celeste and I sound almost identical (though my voice sits a little higher than hers). We'll do some of that this time, but also incorporate more solo work. Our instrumentalists rock, and they'll do some solos as well. We are, however, going to break our "chicks over dicks" rule and include one man, a fabulous lute/theorbo player. We've decided NOT to make him wear drag.....The picture I linked to is of two random guys and a theorbo. I did that to show its sheer size. Gary, our player, is so tall that he's pretty much the only guy I know who's taller than his instrument.

Anyway, more on the concert will undoubtedly follow, as I have more plans and eventually a poster or flier or something.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

That was only one topic for ranting.....

delays in blogging....

Good Grief, it's been nearly a week since I posted. Somehow, between work, tutoring, rehearsal, babysitting and pathetic attempts at sleep, I just haven't been able to sit and concentrate long enough to rant about anything.

I've found a couple of rant-worthy topics, though. The first is television. When I'm home, which is not often, I've been watching a fair amount of TV. I've needed to give my brain a rest, and the zombie box is great for that. Except when it pisses me off, which happens more often than not. Monday, I watched The View. Please don't make fun of me for this! Whoopi Goldberg is one of their hosts now, and she's funny and insiteful....Anyway, they referred to the whole TV reporter saying that Chelsea Clinton was "pimped out" thing. The women all said that the comment was in poor taste, but they never ventured into why it was bad. No one mentioned that it was wrong because it was totally sexist. No one thought to bring up that comparing political work done by a woman to prostitution is deeply, incredibly offensive. Seriously, that 4 women could completely overlook that glaring fact was pretty disturbing to me.

Later that day, I watched a show that is even more embarrassing than the View. "Today on Tyra, teen pregnancy!" O.M.G........Tyra Banks has decided that she's the next Oprah. Only at least Oprah is better at hiding her judgment. Tyra pretends to ask probing questions while really just being not only judgmental but rather stupid as well.....What was most annoying about the show was how they pretended to show all the different choices made by pregnant teens, but succeeded in villainizing every one of those choices. They featured one 30 second story by a girl who had an abortion. Of course, who did they find but a girl whose mother forced her to abort, leaving her very upset. Of course abortion is going to be a negative experience if you didn't choose it yourself! That's not what's going to be remembered, though. People are going to take "abortion is bad" from that story, not "letting someone else make your decisions for you is bad."

Even worse, the girl has found herself pregnant again, by the same guy, because in her words: "It's his decision whether or not to wear a condom." Even when pressed by Tyra, this child refused to take any responsibility for her own body. It was so depressing to see a kid who was that controlled by everyone else in her life. I wondered whether she was really that passive or whether this is the effect of all that purity-ball-your-parents-control-your-thoughts-and-decisions-till-you-find-a-man-to-take-over-all-your-responsibility shit.....


On a totally separate topic, Ellen Hargis, a wonderful soprano who lead the workshops I attended at the Vancouver Early Music Festival 2 years ago, was nominated for a Grammy. She and the other Boston Baroque performers were nominated for Best Opera for their recording of Lully's Thesée. It was really cool to see an early music ensemble up there. Usually, regular opera people look down upon early music folks (even though they're generally much better musicians than standard-rep opera singers), so to have a Grammy nom. is really cool. They didn't win, sadly, but a nomination is cool nonetheless!

okay, forgive the spelling errors, please, since my spell-check button isn't working.....

Sunny Sunday

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We've had lovely sunny weather all week, but the temperature was really low. I was determined to actually spend some time basking in the bright sky, but had to do so in a heavy coat and scarf and all that. Yesterday, finally, the temperature crept up enough to actually make it comfortable to be outside! I hope that today is the same (which judging by the great rays coming in my windows, it should be).

We had our first full run-through of the opera on Friday night. Some parts went fine, some were rather like enormous traffic jams onstage, and I heard the best stage direction ever. The guy playing Jupiter was on stage, and couldn't remember where to exit. The director yelled: "Just get of the f&*#ing stage already!!!"

My comments from the music director (not, mind you, the stage director) were that I was "too obnoxious and over the top" and that the characters still need to be sympathetic.
Well, not only is the second part in direct opposition to what we were told by the stage director (who wants all the gods and goddesses to be as mean and nasty and horrible as possible), but what about the first part? Cupid is essentially an inebriated, oversexed baby for god's sake! How is that not obnoxious???????

Okay, fine, I guess I could tone down the air guitar a little......


Last night was friend G's 40th birthday party. I volunteered to make a cake, mostly cuz I needed an excuse to finally use the glorious, wonderful KitchenAid standing mixer that I got for my birthday. I tried Cook's Illustrated's "Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake." Oh. My. Lord. it was delicious. Absolutely, divinely delicious. I skipped the chocolate frosting (for whatever reason, I've had really bad luck with C'sI frostings) and just did whipped cream. Yum.......
The result was similar to, although I think much better than, Neldam's Dream of Cream cake.

Neldam's is an historic Danish bakery in Oakland. Their cakes are amazing, and I've loved the Dream of Cream especially since I was a kid. This was more intensely chocolatey and moister. I'll still love you, Neldams! I'll just love you for your strawberry cake and gingerbread people!

The recipe is part of the "premium content" on the Cook's Illustrated website, so I can't link to it, but if you're interested, email me and I'll give you my password.

odds and ends

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I finally got around to dealing with my dead plants this week. Over the summer I planted several herbs, a really cool type of fern, and some flowers in my window boxes. The flower and fern are in one box, planted in Miracle Grow from my mom's house. The herbs were in hippy-dippy all organic potting mix. Well, after several months of my very half-assed watering, guess which ones died and which didn't? If you guessed that the Miracle Grow plants did better, you were right. They're doing great.
The herbs all died. Or so I thought. The oregano, mint and lavage all bit the dust, but when I took the pots down and pulled out the dead plants, I found that the chives are hanging in there! Or they're the Jesus of chives and have resurrected......not sure which! Either way, I got rid of the dead stuff, and replanted the chives. I'll try to be more attentive and not let them die this time! I would like to try the mint and oregano again, cuz those are both favorites for cooking. Maybe I'll do them in separate pots in the back yard, so they have more room.


My luxurious 3 days off from rehearsal have ended, and it's back to work....Today is "publicity photo" day, so we were all asked to arrive nicely dressed. Actually, we were commanded to arrive in "skirts/dresses and character shoes" for the women and "slacks and nice shirts or sport coats" for the men. This is something that makes me nuts. It's not that I'm anti-skirt. I do wear skirts or dresses occasionally, but I want it to be on my terms. I hate being told that I have to come to rehearsal dressed in a way that will completely get in the way of being able to move easily.
Actually, though, I get out of the skirt requirement because my character, Cupid, is a boy. It's the principle, I guess, that bugs: being told to dress according to stupid gender role crap......

Okay, I'm needlessly griping, aren't I?

I voted!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Yeah, you're saying, so did I. Whooptie-freakin'-do.
I spent about an hour and a half yesterday morning trying to decide who to vote for....I really didn't want to vote based on personality or "gut feeling" or whatever, because that's a really stupid, cop-out way to participate in Democracy. I finally had to sit down with a check list. Each canditate got a point if I liked his or her stance better on a particular issue. I was using stated positions as well as voting record.
The trouble with that is that senators are elected to represent a particular body of people, and to look out for their specific needs. So, a person could decide that what's best for their state might not be best for the whole country......That got too complicated to think about, so I let it slide.
In the end it was very close. My winning candidate only had 2 more points than the losing one.

On the California side of things, I became convinced that the state has it's head up it's butt with regards to what things should get funding and what shouldn't. Also, how to fund is an issue. The gambling propositions bothered me most significantly. There were 4 on the ballot, asking us whether 4 of the "gaming tribes" of CA native Americans could expand their casinos with the a higher proportion of the revenue going to the state.
The issue of whether native tribes should be allowed to have casinos in a state that otherwise bans gambling has already been decided. That means that my stance against gambling at all is rather a moot point. Still, I don't see the logic behind the idea of basing part of the state budget on people (many of whom will come from the sector of society than can least afford to lose money) getting screwed out of their earnings. "Let's get all this money for the state! There are no downsides! Oh, wait, what? People are losing all their money? Who cares, the state gets more!"



It was interesting for about 5 minutes to see which states were going to which candidates, but I'm hoping for a little rest from all the election stuff. I'm particularly bored and pissed off about how mainstream media insists on saying that Clinton's victories are because of "women and white people" while Obama's are because of "blacks." Stupid news-media with their insistence on over simplifying and making it seem like the entire democratic electorate is stupid. Thanks guys.

That's about all for today, folks.
Hope all is well.

Losing Respect

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ordinarily, I really like Alternet. There are good, in depth articles, many of which talk about current events that are significant and interesting, but that corporate media doesn't seem to care about.

This article, however, really made me want to vomit. Was the most recent debate less than completely engrossing? Okay, I can believe it (I was at rehearsal, as usual, so I missed it). But phrases like:

Sure she's as bland as Obama, perhaps even marginally blander, but at the animal level, she triggers a neurochemical jet that sets off the very first hate most men feel when they encounter a powerful and threatening woman (like, say, I dunno, your 4th grade teacher Mrs. McManus? or the dean Ms. Mead, the wrinkled-mouth Episcopalian baboon who kicked you out of school and told you you'd never amount to anything?).
are massively unnecessary.

Really? Seriously? That's what the idiot wrote? Yup.

The whole article is incredibly offensive, not only to Senators Clinton and (less so) Obama, but also to Americans in general. Apparently we're all mindless baboons. I think that underneath the spewing, relentless garbage, the guy's point is that HillaryHate is not good, but it doesn't matter, since he's just as offensive as the perpetrators thereof.

I'm really disappointed in Alternet right now. Bad website, go to your room!


Still haven't chosen a new candidate......


Friday, February 1, 2008

The internet has so many wonderful ways to waste time...Here are some fun little things:

You like I can has cheezburger? Well, there is a new and very worthy offspring:

Check out the Fail Blog:
It has the air of photoshop about it, but whatever. Pretty hysterical.

If you need a guide by which to live your life, try folksongs: Making Light explains.

And finally, things you never thought about when it comes to octopuses


Now that Edwards is out of the presidential race, I need to go think about who I'm going to vote for....

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