About Me

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Split personality. Liking the arts, especially opera, and hockey and Los Toros. I know, I know THAT one is non pc currently. But I can't help it saw some in Spain and got hooked, but good. But on the other hand right now opera and hockey are in the forefront!


Monday, March 31, 2014

Just a little hockey between Bulldogs and Rampage

Well, it was an entertaining game. Although the Rampage lost 3 to 4.

I guess the Bulldogs were just not too eager  (lol) because Ellis got a penalty for delay of game 2 minute into the 1. period. 

Rampage scored close to end of the 1. a goal by Crabb (photo to follow). Hamilton goal by Leblanc made them even in the 2.period. Then, during a penalty for Pateryn  Gilroy scored a power play goal for the Rampage and sent the crowds of over 6100 roaring its approval.
 Despite more penalties during all periods, the Bulldogs were unable to score.
The 2. period ended with 1:1 even.

Lee did score a shorthanded goal fro Rampage three minutes before the Paterkyn goal.
But the Rampage were not able to even the score.
Each team served ONLY 3 penalties, but only the Rampage made one power play, AND a shorthanded goal.
I spied Greg Zanon sporting an A.

I felt that both goalies Robert Mayer for Hamilton, and Michael Houser for the Rampage were quite evenly matched. Mayer 29 saves of 32, and Houser 22 of 26.  

However, twice Houser was out of place letting Hamilton score the 2 goals early in the third. Not sure, if the fact that Houser (Rampage) ended up 'butterflied in  his own net' which some eager beaver skaters pushed over him (lol), but he seemed less able to stop the 2 goals by Hamilton by Blunden, Tarnasky.  That fact also seemed to cause a bit of desperation playing by the Rampage but to no avail.
Houser did try manfully to stop that one which Pateryn scored in the 4th, within seconds of the end of game, giving the Bulldogs the win.

And more hockey on Tuesday, Lake Erie vs Rampage. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


A story of reincarnation.
One morning the Nice lady of the house is adopted by a small grey haired feral fur ball that purrs when it (for the moment) comes near the Nice Lady (we'll call her NiLa).

NiLa rubs its belly and then, being that nice a Lady, she takes the little one into the house to give it milk.. All the while, the little one is very good at insinuating itself into the heart of NiLa by purring a mile a minute, snuggling up and - in general - behaving quite lovingly! And so, NiLa also falls in love with the sly one and names it Sloane.

Being a good human  NiLa takes Sloane to the Vet to be checked out, because feral critters could be sick with fleas, other pests, mange, or malnourished, although Sloane does look sleek and fluffy.

At the Vet Sloane is found to be a HE and, miraculously free from pests. But when the Vet recommends the usual shots Sloane hisses and growls. NiLa talks to Sloane explaining how important it is to have these shots. "They keep you healthy", she says, "and also protects others around you". Sloane cocks his little head attentively (can he really understand NiLa?). Then he jumps on the examining table and sits quietly raising his paw for one injection, then turning around for the others. No hissing. NiLa and the Vet praise Sloane and rub his belly, and between his ears.
The Vet discusses food and more with NiLa while Sloane jumps off and gambols over to a display of harnesses which he gravely inspects then paws down a tiny oneblue-extra-extra-small-diamante-velvet-harness-1242-p[ekm]1000x1000 ...and carries it over to the humans. "Gosh", NiLa says, "looks like he wants to go for a walk". "Yes, some cats can be trained to wear harness" answers the Vet, "And Sloane looks like he is ready". So NiLa buys the tiny harness in blue, because Sloane is a boy, after all.

NiLa and Sloane walk out. At the desk NiLa asks for the bill. The staff hands the slip to her. Sloane, all of a sudden, hops on the counter sniffing the bill, then growls big. He does not like the bill? Yes, that is it. He paws and shreds it. NiLa is embarrassed. Staff issues another one, for a bit less, but Sloane still does not like it. Meanwhile other patients in the waiting room growl, hiss, bark and whine with Sloane. Finally a bill is given which Sloane approves, paid by NiLa and the pair walk out.

Sloane behaves more and more like a puppy in harness, sniffing things, pawing at others. BUT when a big dog comes near NiLa, he goes haywire, growling and hissing with such force, even NiLa is alarmed.  AND the big dog backs off! Sloane protects his NiLa, doesn't he?
And so NiLa and Sloane lived happily, at least for the nine lives of a cat, ever after.

You know, dear ones, I really think that Sloane must have been a good bookkeeper, who came back as good dog, and finally was rewarded by being reborn as a cat.  Because they do say that 'dogs have owners, cats have servants'. Don't you?

Monday, March 24, 2014

I am bugged by...

This morning I read that and regret that in times when people grew taller and - yes - heavier (even if the  weight grows because of the height), they have to be tortured when they need, or want, to fly.
As a person of mumble years in age, I remember when...waxing nostalgically, ;-) although I did not make use of this when I flew over the Atlantic multiple times in the 60's and 70's. But I do remember dressing up, dining off real china with real flatware and sipping excellent cognac from real snifters! Even in Loftleidir, THE low cost line then! So what, we stopped in Keflavik to refuel, so what it went only to Luxembourg, and from there I had to take a - THEN direct - train to Vienna (which in 1. class was super.. had a compartment all to myself, pulled the two benches together and - voila - I had a queensize bed)! Plus Luxembourgluxembourg beautiful architecture was lovely little place to visit for a few hours after or before flying!
Ah, the GOOD old days... at least when flying ;-).

And then there is: myths and truths about healthcare here pre-ACA and elsewhere:

Here's what the United Nations International Health Organization says.
The Lancet study of a couple years ago is even more extensive.

Percentage of men and women who survived a cancer five years after diagnosis:
U.S. 65%
England 46%?
Canada 42%

Percentage of patients diagnosed with diabetes who received ?treatment within six months:?
U.S. 93%?
England 15%
Canada 43%?

Percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it within six months:
U.S. 90%
England 15%
Canada 43%

Percentage referred to a medical specialist who see one within one month:
U.S. 77%
England 40%
Canada 43%

Number of MRI scanners (a prime diagnostic tool) per million people:
U.S. 71
England 14
Canada 18

Percentage of seniors (65+), with low income, who say they are in "excellent health":
 U.S. 12%
England 2%
Canada 6%

And now for the last statistic:
National Health Insurance
England YES
Canada YES?

Now these numbers seem to speak volumes, or do you believe UNIHO and Lancet lied?

And another thing that gets my goat (lol) - the  belief of "young ones" that they are the only ones to go green (lol) and this making the rounds on emails says it succinctly, at least IMO, but then per the young ones: "What does that "old fart" know!"  So I kept this which had been making the rounds some time ago via email:

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older
woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags
weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing
back in my earlier days."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did
not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to
the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and
sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and
over. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the green thing
back in our day.
Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused
for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags,
was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books.
This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our
use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling. Then we were
able to personalize our books.

OR as I did with Oma's hand crocheted string bag-similar to this one,
and used newspaper to fashion cornucopias for carrying fruit, eggs and more!
crocheted string market bag
But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every
store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't
climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two
And over there we used a carpet beater not a vacuum to clean rugs. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.  And where I grew up, we washed clothes by hand and and boiled the whites in a kettle over a fire,Wäsche wurde mit der Hand in einer Wanne (Wandl) gewaschen. then wrung them out- also by hand- and carried them up 5 flights to the drying attic.. in winter the clothes were frozen flat! And needed little ironing!
But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every
room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief
(remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. 

And over there a B/W TV set was a luxury..very few had one in the fifties.
We read books, and papers (which we also put to good use for many things-lining drawers, in the WC(yes, really-hint never use glossy papers!), cleaning windows, etc),
not kindles, we saw LIVE performances.
We met and had discussions, not stared at cell phones!

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have
electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile
item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion
it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up
an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower
that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to
go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from fountains or faucets when we were thirsty instead of using a cup
or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled
writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the
razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just
because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Streetcar Vienna 1960's
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their
bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour
taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire
bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a
computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000
miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

And some of us over there made our own "Hausmusik" maxresdefault.jpg

But isn't it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we
old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Feel free to  mention this to another selfish old person who needs a
lesson in conservation from smart  (really?) young people

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Murder at the opera

Yes, it is the new book by Pamela Cramer: Murder at the Frankfurt Opera.

Written in a crisply simple way (a bit Hemingway-esque methinks) it's a quick, interesting read. Written with a sense of humor which will make you chuckle.
Sprinkled among the pages are photos of the author in her various operatic roles, alongside some pen and ink drawings by Angela Cramer, the younger daughter.

A pointed lead-in says a lot about what opera can, and will do, by no other than the GM of the Frankfurt Opera.

The reader learn all about what's going on behind the curtain.
How singers sing, or not.
How voices develop, and are classified.
How one gets a job in Germany.
How unions order what and when things happen.
How one eats, sleeps and shops over the big pond.
How costumes and made, conductor conduct and sets work.
It is a veritable "How to book" about opera.
With details, that may surprise event the most fervent opera fan.

How mishaps happen.
And how a seeming mishap turns to murder.
More I shall not disclose-go ahead and read it!

Monday, March 17, 2014


Lately, it seems that we have become drifters.
Both my Better Half and I are catching ourselves drifting off to nod 5-10 minutes after lunch, maybe late in the afternoon, and most certainly after dinner. And again about 10 PM.

So you think the problem is solved by retiring to bed earlier, sleeping a full 6-8 hours or whatever our so learned doctor researchers recommend?

Bah humbug.
Take: BH he retires at say 10:30 PM, wakes after 2 AM, but then sleeps till 8 or 9 AM. And maybe drifts off after breakfast, too.
And yours truly, I hang on till 12:30 or so - having learned the bitter lesson that going earlier just means tossing and turning for hours.
So, even though at around midnight or a bit after, I start to drift off whilst reading which tells me to march in to retire, as soon as my head hits the pillows (fluffy soft feathered ones) eyes pop open, brain starts churning and, guess what - I still toss and turn. Then I sleep for an hour and a half or maybe 2. Then it's up and marching around to preclude or get rid of cramping legs, drinking some water, back to bed, toss and turn, fall back to sleep; only to repeat this a second and even a third time, before finally getting up to take the one pill 1 hour before taking the others! And , yes, after taking pill #1 I drift off  for the requisite one hour, in my rocking chair.
And that, chers readers, leaves me befogged and bewildered.

It seems going against all that good ? advice by our learned friends, the scientific researchers!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Coffin in Egypt

That was a fabulous tour de force by veteran Mezzosoprano Frederika von Stade, For 0ne hour and a half she alone kept the audience spellbound.
Yes, there were 4 others at various times on stage with her, two were actors in speaking roles, two had silent roles. David Matranga and Carolyn Johnson are actors. Cecilia Duarte and Adam Noble were the two silent players.
Plus there was a chorus of 4 gospel singers, who provided vocal accompaniment in quite superb manner. Cheryl D Clansy, a ringing bell-like soprano; Laura Elizabeth Patterson , alto; James M Winslow, tenor and Jawan CM Jenkins, bass.
Von Stade with Cecilia Duarte as silent companion

Ricky Ian Gordon's music played by just a select few (8)of the HGO orchestra under the guidance of Timothy Myers was at times strident, at time very lyrical but each fitted the words and action on stage. Von Stade's voice soared powerfully in youthful spirits, other times she sounded like an old 90 year old woman, which she played, actually. But
whatever the cause, the thoughts, the remembrances she sings/talks about she truly mesmerized by her presence and voice.
Leonard Foglia directed and wrote libretto, based on the play by Horton Foote.  Myrtle Bledsoe (Von Stade) at 90 recalls events in her turbulent life, and a real drama it was. At the end she comes to grip with it and feels free of hatred, and love. 
Set and costumes by Riccardo Hernandez were simple: a porch in Egypt, Texas, a red caftan and shawl for Myrtle.
The mood lighting reflecting spring, summer, fall and so much more designed by Brian Nason.
It being a World Premiere, there are no clips. YET

But Ricky Ian Gordon also composed The Grapes of Wrath

(seen in a production by Moore's school of  Music U of H some time ago).

Sadly, chers readers you will have only ONE more chance to see this on

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Werther..from The Met via The cinema.

Yes indeed.
Clip from the French production Kaufman/Koch
I went with great expectation!
Clip: Massenet's Ouverture to Werther

After all Opera heart throb tenor Jonas Kaufman was Werther with a fabulous French pronunciation, and the 'Sturm and Drang' emotions of a German. What more could one ask?
Well, Kaufman delivered as promised.
Kaufman and Koch. Photo:Ken Howard
And so did French Mezzo Sophie Koch, his Charlotte.
As one would expect from a French speaker  she sang the French words beautifully.
Both really can act as well, which is very important in this opera, especially this production.

All along I felt this is the Movie of the Opera Werther!
Was it because the director Richard Eyre is better known as movie director?
Was it because of Rob Howell's cluttered sets?
Photo: Ken Howard
Or because there was so much projection.. birds (crows maybe) during the opening which showed Charlotte's mothers' death and funeral? And leaves fluttering and falling later?
Or those horrendous close ups down the throat of Kaufman?
 Amusingly, the end (due to satellite transmission failure?) appeared as a silent movie.
And, chers readers, as much as LOVE opera, sitting there in the movie theater watching close ups of mouths looking like guppies on dry land gasping for air - with surtitles - had me quietly in stitches.
I know, I know, what an irreverent thought (or two!). But yes, it was funny! And irritating, since one missed the death throes which went on and on..
As one knows (?) Werther shot himself near the heart, so death was protracted, and allowing him and Charlotte to sing some lovely duets of where and how he is to be buried, or so I surmise... no sound, remember.
Now having dished on the "show" per se, I wish to rave a bit about the principal singers.
Kaufman's thespian talent coupled with a very good looks and A voice, was WERTHER to the core.
One cannot understand why Charlotte does not fall in love with him on first sight!!! But then if she had, the rest of the opera would have been superfluous. Goethe just wanted to make hay with  Romantic Love (writ large) which when denied leads to suicide. Kinda like the gimme, me, me generation nowadays. Or am I too cynical?
Koch was right there with him, when it came to acting, looks, and voice. She is billed as a Mezzo, IMO, a light and high Mezzo. But sang superbly.
Lisette Oropesa as her sister, next in age, was suitably chipper and used her clear soprano to good avail. And I really liked her - almost better! So there!
David Bizic as Albert was adequate and stiffly honorable, and yet jealousy did make him have Charlotte send the pistols to Werther, who had been talking (a lot) about death because of unfulfilled love. Did he really wish Werther to kill himself?
And Charlotte's father, the Bailiff (I forgot who it was) did not impress too much. A bit of a comic turn was provided by two of the Bailiff's drinking buddies (names of role and singers escapes me, too) with their paean to Bacchus!
I liked the costuming which showed off both Koch's and Oropesa's slim builds very nicely, thank you. Alain Altinoglu, French conductor of Turkish descent, methinks, did very well indeed, it seems to me, that Massenet was a bit ahead of his time in the use of the saxophone!
Massenet's music was certainly far reaching in scope, he really dug  the "Sturm and Drang" period of German romanticism ... and yet, I, for one, had no tears in my eyes...and I always sniffle at Mme Butterfly and La Boheme, go figure.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin

In an eerie deja vu kind of way.....
This afternoon I saw Prince Igor (Live from The Met) on the day the Russian Army invaded Crimea, on command of a modern day"Prince" ;-) Vladimir Putin. And the end will certainly be, as in the opera, devastation and death!
In the opera, whose plot is a bit difficult to follow, especially for non-Russian speakers (despite the excellent subtitles). In olden day's Prince Igor Syvatoslavich, bassbariton hunky Ildar Abdrazakov leaves wife Yaroslavna, soprano extraordinaire Oksana Dyka, and folks, behind in Putivl to attack the marauding Polovtsians and their Khan Konchak in the company of his son Prince Vladimir Igorevich, sung by Sergey Semishkur (video clip below). He entrusts the people and his wife to care of his brother-in-law Prince Vladimir Yaroslavich Galitzky. and acts like Mikhail Petrenko (with Semishkur in video clip)
Petrenko as Galitzky abusing Dyka as his sisterYaroslavna
Who, with his Svengali-like (in this production) musicians Skula (Vladimir Ognovenko) and Yeroshka (Andrey Popov), abducts maidens, drinks to excess,  and behaves abhorrently towards all, as well as his sister, the Princess. Proclaiming himself the proper successor to Igor is next on his agenda, but the arrival of the conquering Polovetsian hordes puts an end to that, and him!
But, by golly, we love a villain, especially if he sings and acts like Petrenko does...

he reminded my a bit of a former Aeros goalie-Anton Khudobin
 Yes, he did, a bit, at first. This is Mikhail Petrenko. So what do you think, cher reader?

The Khan (Kocan) offers a pact to Igor
Dyka and Abdrazako-in a dreamsequence?
Igor is defeated and captured with his son by the Khan, sung by Stefan Kocan, who treats him well, offering him to share the rule over all of Russia. Igor refuses and escapes with the help of baptized Polovtsian Ovlur sung by Mikhail Vekua, (I had to google this because it is not overt in the opera) to return to a Putivl, devastated by the hordes of Khan Gzak, whilst his son Vladimir stays behind with his lover. the Khan Konchak's daughter Konchakovna, mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili..
The famous Polovetsian Dances - you expected Russian and Asian costumes perhaps? - are danced by semi-naked boys and white clad maidens amidst fields of red, red poppies. This section has a dreamlike feel to it, a misty, hazy feel. But the music just asks for it (Strangers in paradise-remember?) We are confused, is it real? Or a figment of Igor's battle crazed mind? Well, whatever it is meant to be, one thing is sure.. most do love the sleek bodies of the limber dancers, and the Maiden solo was performed by Houston Opera Studio Alumna Kiri Deonarine.... brava! Dmitri Tscherniakov's direction pointed the way to a more in depth treatment of battle with the use of projections in black and white - like in silent films. Gianandrea Noseda led orchestra, huge chorus and supers beautifully! And he is NOT Russian. But then, some of Borodin's music is just so lyrically romantic. Now, I was quite enthralled with the quality of the singers, all Russian speakers, even if born in Georgia (Rachvelishvili), Ukraine (Dyka) and Slovakia (Kocan), or Bashkortostan (Abdrazakov), Kirov (Semishkur), and St. Petersburg (Petrenko). If you love deep manly voices this opera is for you. There are only 2 tenors, all others are basses, bass baritones. I, for one,  love that sound!!
And the icing on the cake:
Bass Eric Owens (another HOStudio alum) was the sonorous sounding Master of Ceremony with perfect diction! He reeled off all those names with complete ease!
Brava! Bravo!...I just like seeing/hearing our HGO studio alums.