Monteverdi's Orfeo

How I came across Marilia Vargas was looking up Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” at Youtube.

“Mom, look up some opera for me,” H.o.p. said. He meant something like Mozart’s “Requiem” but he’s never seen Ponnelle’s 1978 staging of “Orfeo”.

Instead I found clips from the Jordi Savall/Brian Large 2002 production. The opening is promising…

Marilia Vargas as a nymph blessing the marriage of Orpheus and Eurydice…

I love Vargas! I believe her. When she turns and retires I want to follow off the stage into that mythic realm, but she conveys the impossibility of doing so, that she’s a nymph…and as nymph originally meant bride, it is peculiarly right that she should leave us as she does, as if the nature of the bride, Eurydice, preceding Eurydice into the Underworld, abiding fate acting unconscious of itself as is sung into being the fearsome cloud which causes the earth to quake and will destroy the happiness of Orpheus and Eurydice, first with the heel-nipping snake when their happiness was so great (and perhaps self-obsessed) that tempering and humiliation were inescapable, and second when Orpheus broke the law, losing Eurydice absolutely…

Or so we are told in this story that purports to do with Orpheus’ loss of his wife and his attempt to revive her, when the Orphics believed the physical body a tomb to the soul, its Titanic nature preventing one from attaining Elysium, and strove to escape from the wheel of reincarnation, drinking deep of the waters of memory.

Bees, for the Orphics, symbolized souls swarming toward the divine unity, and Eurydice was caught by the snake when (seemingly) attempting to escape the bee-keeper.

And what about that snake?

But, never mind. We all suffer loss and can relate to the story at face value. The hero, Orpheus, suffers along with us, and, incredibly, with his song, charms death into giving him a second chance at happiness with Eurydice, an unparalleled victory , only to then forget compliance with the single demand set upon him.

There is some correspondence with the tale of Lot, though it is his wife who is saddled with the sin of looking back and throughout history has been designed as bitter, contemptible, unthankful, undisciplined.

So people are told to not reflect on the past, to not hold too tightly, to look ahead and disdain loss.

If I remember correctly, Jean Cocteau had Orpheus turn intentionally.

* * * * * * *

I’ve not seen Ponnelle’s “Orfeo”, except for several stunning clips about 15 years ago on a VHS recording, and since then I’ve longed for a copy. As I find it is now available on DVD, I have put it in my wish list and hope to buy it soon. Wouldn’t mind getting a copy of the Savall either.

Just Became Aware of Marilia Vargas This Morning…

Marilia Vargas singing Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilerias No. 5. To listen is to breathe more deeply, it is that affecting. Vargas’ voice strikes me as alternative, faithful yet modern, and I’m not even sure yet how so. Something in her expressiveness that is as open to the concert hall as the corner food mart, as if she wants that voice to leap over the seats to the street, bypassing the turgid conceits of the classical/pop bin.

Marilia Vargas sings “Et Incarnatus Est” from Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. An unabashed, unembarrassed joyous marriage of the sacred and mundane in this beautiful, even mesmerizing, performance by Vargas. And though I feel compelled to say that the wonderful performance makes up for the poor quality of the audience member recording, I actually enjoyed it just as it is.

Vargas’ styling and sense of presence make me feel as though I’m in Mozart’s head listening as he realized the music, that this is how it came to him, this is how he meant it to be. This is how it was before performed.

We Went to Ali’s Kabab Cafe

Ali's Kabab Cafe in Astoria
Ali’s Kabab Cafe, Astoria, New York, 2007 December
Light box enlargement

We ate at Ali’s Kabab Cafe in Astoria on our last night in New York, a tiny place that consists of a kitchen squashed in with a few tables. Marty’s brother, Rob, a frequent patron, has raved about it to us for years. And for good reason. Ali’s made me love food again.

Below is a Bourdain and Zimmern video on it at Youtube.

We walked blocks through sleet and rain to Kabab. And emerged hours later, happy and satisfied with life.

(Originally published 12/27/2007)

The Joffrey Ballet performs "The Rite of Spring"

Spent a long while Sunday evening watching and then watching again (and again) the Joffrey Ballet’s recreation of Nijinsky and Stravinsky’s 1913 “The Rite of Spring”.

The Rite of Spring, video 1

The Rite of Spring, video 2

The Rite of Spring, video 3

You owe it to yourself to watch this ballet. Really, you do. All the way through. You’ll not be disappointed. It’s wonderful.

This portion of a recent interpretation of it does absolutely nothing for me but it has 71,474 views and has 13 pages of comments whereas the Joffrey Ballet’s recreation has 6887 views for the first part (half that for the other parts) and not near as many comments. Perhaps people still have a problem with the foot stomping, chaotic angularity of the style of dance of the original (the recreation was based on preserved notes). My guess is it has more to do with that than the women removing their underwear at the beginning of the recent interpretation. If the women had removed their underwear then proceeded to pigeon-toed stomp I don’t think the video would have over 71,000 views. No, they remove their underwear then everyone dances like they’re in Westside Story, which seems to be a winning combination.

H.o.p. was briefly perplexed because he associates “The Rite of Spring” with “Fantasia”.

Poor kid.

I can barely tolerate “Fantasia”. He loves it. There’s nothing quite like dinosaurs battling it out to Stravinsky.

So, he loves Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” and he heard it playing and came up to watch what was going on. I explained to him that, no, Disney’s “Fantasia” was not what Stravinsky had composed the music for. This took him aback a second. Then, after watching a few minutes of the Joffrey, he volunteered he liked the ballet, he thought the dancing was great. And I think he did enjoy it.

I was inspired to look up at Amazon Nijinsky’s diary, which he kept for six weeks, at the very premature end of his career, before his admittance to an asylum for schizophrenia at age thirty. It looks interesting and I’ll probably purchase it…

But first, a new monitor. Mine–this horrid Dell–which is only two years old now but has long had problems, is finally dying. I can no longer cut it off as it’s developed a habit of flashing when I cut it back on. You can knock it, hit it, bang it, jostle cords, and still it continues to flash to black at least a couple times a second, and though it does eventually stop and permits me to get to work, no doubt tomorrow or the next day it will no longer come on it all. Which is why I’m no longer cutting it off. So I spent this week doing some research and narrowed my choice of replacement down to two true 8-bit lower midrange monitors for about $450 through NewEgg and finally decided to go with the NEC. I promised myself I’d have one purchased by Friday night, but it’s Monday and I’ve yet to plunk down the money. Today. I’ll do it today.

H.o.p.’s monitor is dying as well these past three months. You have to hit the screen HARD every thirty minutes or so to knock it out of these hallucinogenic, acid rock background film fits that it falls into. But at least it responds to a thwack.

OK. I just plunked down the money for the new monitor. Because I do art and photo processing, I do NOT like the fact it’s silver. I hate purchasing something where I already don’t like something about it, but the black was only available in Open Box so that wasn’t an option, and besides, the black had a silver bezel so what’s the point. I also could kick myself for not getting the rush processing for $2.99. I looked at it and thought, with two days delivery do I need rush processing? No. I looked at it again and thought why not get rush processing for $2.99, but decided no after sitting there for another couple of minutes staring at the screen, because I’d already spent $50 extra for a replacement plan. “So, you’ve spent $50 extra for a replacement plan. Why not spend a paltry $2.99 extra for rush processing?” I said to myself, and STILL I didn’t purchase the rush processing. Then after I complete the order I see that it will take up to 48 hours for them to process. So, with the holiday weekend I’ll not likely see my monitor until the beginning of next week. I hope this one holds out that long.

One day I’ll have a LaCie.

An awful mess

Good griefinicious, there lies my brain, on the floor, all drippy puddled and entreating me to try to mold it so it has some measure of coherence again. But it ain’t happening. When I nudge it, all I’m getting are little burps of H.o.p.’s computer game music. Oops, now it spits out anxious images of dismal global-warming futures then resettles in a mess on the floor. More computer game music burps. I stomp it.

“Need coffee,” it says.

“You are beyond caffeine resuscitation.”

“I hear the kettle’s whine. Get coffee.”

“You need something, but whatever it is is beyond my power, seeing as how you are lying in a mess on the floor, leaving me witless.”

“Quit stomping me and get that coffee.”

“No. Get up and exercise, damn you. Work it!”

“Caffeine! Music! Some John Coltrane. How about John Coltrane?”

“Everyone’s asleep but me, resting up after the past week’s exertions. The apartment steeps in dreamy silence. I don’t want to wake them up.”


“OK. How about this?”

Listen to Coltrane.

Not good. Takes over three minutes for my brain to start moving at all.

And it woke Marty. He’s not ready for Coltrane so I say what else and we volley it for a few minutes, he keeps saying no no listen to what you’re listening to that’s fine, if you want to listen to Coltrane go ahead, and I keep saying no come on I’m not sold right now, what else.

How about some Art Blakey.

I listen to Blakey.

Damn, not doing it for me this morning. Which is bad.

Bill Evans? Fish around and find “Waltz for Debby”.

While “Waltz for Debby” plays, I’ll get the dust pan and shovel my brain up off the floor, flog it with some coffee and see if I can get its electric self remotely registering again on the voltage meter. But I can see this is going to take some time.

(Time passes.)

H.o.p. (from the bedroom): OK, dad! I’m getting up!

Me: Your dad’s taking a shower right now!

H.o.p.: But…

(Time passes.)

“But what?” I’m thinking. “But what?”

(Time passes.)

Me: But what?!

(Time passes.)

H.o.p. is up and munching gummy vitamins while I listen to a Danish guy announce Monica Zetterlund and Bill Evans, “Once Upon a Summertime”.

Wasn’t thrilled with that selection.

Dum de dum.

OK, here we go. Yo Yo Ma and the Sesame Street Honkers.

(More time passes.)

(Quite a lot more time passes.)

What can I say? Nothing’s working. I’m at a loss…

Of Morris Dancing and Green Men

Some lively Morris Dancing here.

Got there by discussions with H.o.p. Thursday on the Green Man. For which he seems to have an affinity, which is why we were discussing it, as for some reason he came upon it again Wednesday night and said he wanted to know more about it. So Wednesday night I said, “Tomorrow”, and that’s one thing we did a good bit Thursday, looking at pictures of Green Men and Women and talking about them. And he pitched himself into drawing some Green Men as well.

The use of the sticks is interesting to me and I wonder if this style descends from training for fighting, or maybe the use of sticks was adopted from something such as? Or at least the styles of dancing I’ve seen on video reminds me of this.

There is debate as to how began the use of blackface for the Border style of Morris Dancing but it has nothing to do with the minstrel shows here (as some have speculated). Part of the video shows dancers in blackface that brings to mind chimneysweep smudging (think “Mary Poppins”). I forget how the chimneysweep in the book was described, been a while since we’ve read them to H.o.p., but I wonder if the dancing in the movie didn’t borrow from the idea of the Morris Dancers? And from whence the use of blackface if it didn’t originate with sweeps, which I doubt it did. Some write that it had to do with concealing one’s identity for sake of honor when one went “busking” (the dancing being used for the raising of money) but that sounds more to me again something that became an explanation. As one individual points out, in small communities, blackening one’s face wasn’t going to do much for hiding who one was, which was what I had thought when reading of the busking excuse, though there may be at work the idea of adopting a different identity of sorts which hasn’t necessarily anything to do with the concealing of who one is.

Kubrick’s “Clockwork Orange” certainly seems to have borrowed some from Morris Dancing.

Don't know why I'm reminded of Alice's puzzling over which side of the mushroom to eat

I don’t know why, when trying to think of how to describe Sondra Prill, Alice puzzling over which side of the mushroom to eat comes to mind. Maybe it’s the uncertainty of whether fate will take you to the home for which you long or drop you in disaster’s lap.

Came upon the below at YouTube via Idolator. The siren is Sondra Prill, who had had her own show on Tampa Public Access in the late 80s to early 90s, and she’s performing Addicted to Love.

This woman gives me the goosebumps.

Yes, Addicted to Love in what appears to be a fern bar in a mall. Not trusting that Sondra, chewing up the mental ties of Yuppies with gnashing teeth, was a comic genius, but hoping that she was, I was hesitant to watch any more of her videos for fear I’d learn she was operating on fantasiesof hip, musical grandeur rather than sheer guts.

But of course I had to watch more and I opted next to see what her take would be on The Star Spangled Banner.

Nearly beyond description. A latter 20th century shades of Gibson Giirl sultress cocking eyebrows at the Red White and Blue’s stamina. With a split hair’s breadth allusion to Bernadette Peters. Still not confident that she was self-aware, but hooked regardless, I watched the below interview.

Then I read at Youtube a comment by the producer of the interview, that everyone on the public access crew got the joke but Sondra, who had as agent her mother, who was also her best friend, who made her costumes and did her hair. Who also went everywhere with her, and Sondra complained in Part 2 of the interview, with a premade sign, that because of this she had a disease called MIA-SEX. Perhaps her mother also scripted her act because after presenting the gag, Sondra didn’t quite know what to do with it and let it sit in her lap.

I read elsewhere that the big theater show didn’t go too well for Sondra. The tickets topped out at $50, which was a bit pricey in those days. A confused reviewer wondered why honey was poured on her. I’m just sorry we don’t have footage of it.

Wherever Sondra is now, here’s hoping she’s happy.

Anyway, though Sondra Prill’s adaptation has its curious charms (indeed, I’ve watched the video several times now and my enjoyment is steadfast), if your mind is now craving the real thing (as was mine eventually) here’s Robert Palmer in his classic “Addicted to Love”.

What a fine voice. Died too young.

Domo-kun vs. Karen. Domo wins.

Japanese national public television gave the Japanese Domo-kun in gratitude for their contributions.

I can’t locate a pic of her right now, but Georgia Public Broadcasting most frequently gives us someone named Karen thanking us during the telethons and cheering us on to give and give more. Karen is fuzzy in a Southern drawl, hairspray and big fake eyelashes kind of fuzzy way, but she’s no cute and cuddly Domo. Try getting Karen to pick up a toy snake and fart green gas. It ain’t gonna happen.

Domo is the latest stop animation treat around here.

I so needed this touch of clarity today

Ok, so the David Hasselhoff Hooked on a feeling video has been around a while.

But this. I just saw this today. Why are there no comments? Why has no one rated this? I so get this. The Hasselhoff “Hooked on a Feeling” video suddenly makes perfect sense. And not just perfect sense but perfectly beautiful (if there is ghastly beautiful) sense.

Or am I one of the few people who’s been there? And without the aid of anything other than me wrestling with the zeitgeist.

Maybe it’s the kind of thing people are ashamed to admit. “Yeah, I’ve been there…”

And often, too.

Which is why I’m watching this techno dub for the fourth time.

It’s brilliant.

Somebody for x’s sake go watch and tell me I’m not the only one who’s been pedaling the second wheel of this Daisy-headed bicycle built for two trying to negotiate this Daily Tribune to the ground, at least in my own head.

If you don’t know what I mean then go back to whatever you were doing and sorry for the intrusion.

Update: I’m on my 8th time watching. Serious. This is absolute genius. A shame the person felt they had to explain the pixelated effect. Why, may I ask, would they need to explain this impeccable ordering of blocks…yes, and Hasselhoff with the fish in his mouth…the twin angels of the salmon skies overseeing (as I’m on my ninth time watching now).