Monthly Archives: April 2015

Un Ballo In Maschera — Saving the Best for Last

We made it to the first performance this season of Verdi’s Un Ballo In Maschera. It will probably be the last opera we see live till the fall, and what a great way to end our Met year.

As those of you who have followed “idiots at the opera” know, the better-half and I are musical ignoramuses who came late to opera (but NEVER come late to the opera.) So don’t expect any fancy-dancy (or technically correct) descriptions of the music.

Dmitri & Piotr together at last!

First, we were unfamiliar with the opera – musically, the story, the history, etc. But we mostly love Italian opera and we love Verdi. The main reason why we actually got tickets in advance and shelled out for good seats was because of the singers. I went to hear Dmitri Hvorostvsky – my favorite baritone, and tenor Piotr Beczala, who is so good that even when the production is misconceived (Atomic Faust, Rat Pack Rigoletto) or just plain drab (Eugene Onegin, Iolanta) he makes it worth going. He also seems to get character nuances that other “singing actors” miss – body language, posture, gestures etc. He never seems stiff on stage, and manages to differentiate his characters. As for Sondra Radvanovsky, I am such an ignoramus I hadn’t heard her before and had barely heard of her. What a complete treat it was to be introduced to her in role she seemed born to sing.

Continue reading Un Ballo In Maschera — Saving the Best for Last

The Americans Season 3 Finale – Honesty (Song to the tune of…)

My much too detailed snarky recap of The Americans S3 – E13 is now live at HNTP. I know you’ve been waiting patiently for many hours to relive the moment and get my take, OR just to read it so you don’t have to watch yourself.

Spoiler alert: Were you shocked by Paige’s betrayal? Or did you see it coming? This pretty much makes the Russians 0 for 2 in their next generation program, but at least she hasn’t slaughtered her family — yet. No wonder they lost the Cold War. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the head if it turned out Pastor Tim was also KGB or maybe working for the Chinese? Next season just got a whole lot more interesting. Also, now that the mujahdin have been discredited thanks to some good work by Philip and Elizabeth, does this mean we can please drop the need to bug Kimmi’s house and thus drop the icky subplot — which the writers seemed to have dropped already.

Anyway, happy nice time people!

The 50 Review Project

Convention of Marion's Blog Readers

As those of you (both of you) who follow this blog know, I write books, and despite some good customer, zine, and blog reviews, nobody buys my books.

There are now officially a GAZILLION “books” out there. The odds of randomly coming across one of mine are 100,000,000,000,000 to 1 – and that’s science! Also I write stuff that is “genre-fluid” and would be more appealing to readers who mostly shop in bookstores (which don’t stock my books) and/or readers that read reviews in print magazines  or other places that won’t review them. Plus, some readers would still rather be caught dead with soiled and torn underpants than with a “micro-published” or self-published book. Or possibly my books suck only appeal to a very particular audience.

But there’s hope! Somewhere on the web I saw an article that my “luck” would change and Amazon would magically make my books more visible so more people would see and buy them if Continue reading The 50 Review Project

The Return of Glen Bishop — Mad Men S7 E10

My full recap is up at HNTP where you will also find many other lovely recaps not written by me. Some stray thoughts. I haven’t read any of the early caps yet, but I’m willing to bet the return of Glen got a lot of attention. Anyone else notice the Greg Brady resemblance? Right down to the huck-a-poo shirt. And Mary LeTourneau’s Betty’s reaction was priceless! I seem to recall reading that Barry Williams had quite the crush on Florence Henderson and they even dated once.

Again, details on the full cap later, but can I just say I really hope we’ve seen the last of the following people: Mathis, Lou, Diana and All the Calverts? The only minor player I’m dying to see again is Sal. I so want to see Sal successful, out and happy, and in a position of power where he can fire people.

(After your visit to HNTP, you might check out the new cover of my novel, Loisaida, a story of gentrifications and its discontents or my sexy vampire tale for opera lovers or my whacky speculative fiction novella about big pharma and the death industry, or maybe you’d prefer this tale about grief, madness and the multiverse.)

Julia and Juliette

Julia Ormond as Marie Calvert

Just a couple more hours to go till one of the last episodes ever of Mad Men. I will be furiously scribbling notes for my recap which will appear tomorrow on HNTP.

Last week I made a mistake which an astute commenter caught. I’d thought Megan’s mom was played by Juliette Binoche – a brunette, French actress of a certain age. Which would have made perfect sense as the character, Marie Calvert is a brunette French woman of a certain age and she sure looks like Juliet Binoche. However, this is

NOT Julia Ormond

not the case. She is played by Julia Ormond. That is a picture of Julia Ormond on the left. On your right, here is a picture of Juliette Binoche.

I had heard both these names before. I have probably seen movies with each of them, but if you named a bunch of movies with either one of them and you asked me to guess which was which, I’d probably totally fail – even if you showed me pictures.

Since the error of my ways was pointed out to me, I  learned some things. Julia and Juliette are almost the same age (51 and 50 respectively). And they’ve both appeared in a lot of classy films, plays etc. But guess what? Julia Ormond isn’t even French! How is that possible? She’s English. Totally English although it looks like she’s played French before. So in one sense given that the character is French, it makes some sense I’d mix them up or maybe it makes sense because they really do look alike. Have they ever actually been spotted in the same place at the same time? Here are two more pictures. I’m not labeling them. You decide. Julia or Juliette?