30 June 2008

Mid-year

It's almost July! ACK! How crazy is that? Rather than balk in disbelief that 2008 is halfway over, I'm just going to get excited about the following events happening this month:

-Spending the 4th up in the Rockies. I CAN'T WAIT!!! It's been faaaar too long since I've spent any time in the summer up there. YAY.

-My birthday. Though I am excited about this, I'm still not sure how I'm going to celebrate. Too many options! Maybe I'll celebrate all month :)

-Performances start at the end of July. I am excited about wearing kimonos and the like - but a little nervous, as we've not had our costume fittings yet (and now with the holiday it will be at least another week!!!)

-Bastille Day. Moi, j'adore la France et les francais...c'est l'heure de la fete!

-North Beach Jazz Fest...hope to get to go to a show or two, we'll see.

-July also marks *about* the halfway point for P's deployment. I'm praying that this second half passes much as this first one has. I'm not sure what the right word is...not "smooth" not "uneventful" but ..."well" I guess. Send some prayers - and cold-temperature thoughts - his way, ya'll: 130 degrees with 70ish pounds of body armour is just about as pleasant as it sounds. And July & August will be the hottest months.

Wall-E

Saw "Wall-E", Pixar's new flim, today. It is VERY good and interesting. Bravo to our local Pixar folks for such a great film.


Go see it :)

28 June 2008

Bar Tartine

K and I went to Bar Tartine tonight for dinner. It was delicious! About every six months or so, we will meet up and hit some fabulous SF restaurant we've always wanted to try and haven't yet had the occasion to do so. Tonight we celebrated our birthdays (belated for her, early for mine) as well as K having passed the first part of her social worker's certification test earlier today.

We had - and I know I'm going to miss like half the ingredients - the following:
Appetizers:
-Strawberry prosecco aperitif
-homemade French Bread (Bar Tartine is an offshoot of Tartine Bakery)
-Squash blossoms stuffed with brandade and a spicy corn chutney type of sauce and avocado cream

Main:
-La Vie "Imaginaire" Grenache wine. VERY tasty.
-Duck (K had this - it was tasty, but I don't remember what came with it)
-Onglet (fancy for "steak") medallion with asparagus, roast fingerling potatoes and a marrow fritatta (okay the marrow was a little odd in texture, but had a good flavor...I was glad to try it)

Dessert:
-Blue Bottle coffee
-Chocolate souffle cake with vanilla ice cream and fresh cherries
-Shortbread with an apricot sorbet d'asti...so light & refreshing!

quote

Sibling: "You can't serve cocktails and play racketball . . . "

Charles Ives would love this

27 June 2008

"I left the house so fast the screen door twanged for a week." aka Friday Five - Summer Reading edition

1. Do you think of summer as a particularly good season for reading? Why or why not?
When I was a student, yes – because summer was when I had the time to read whatever I wanted. Now, as a salaried minion, I don’t find summertime to be any better or worse for reading than the other three seasons.

2. Have you ever fallen asleep reading on the beach? Yes.

3. Can you recall a favorite childhood book read in the summertime?
I can’t think of a ‘childhood’ favorite. About the time I was in middle school, I started a trend where I would spend a summer reading a particular author. I remember reading through all of the Dean Koontz books I could find; they scared the crap out of me. Actually – come to think of it – I *do* remember stumbling across Patrick Mcmanus’ books at the one place that sold books up in Grand Lake (where we spent tons of time in the summers). It’s been several years, but I’ve read them all – they’re hilarious.

4. Do you have a favorite genre for light or relaxing reading?
Funny travelogues a la Bill Bryson; Armchair travels; "chick-lit;" Get Fuzzy comic strips.

5. What is the next book on your reading list?
I’ve always got more than one going. Currently reading:
“Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?” and “Shalimar the Clown”. Next up: “The Pretties”

26 June 2008

Cents

Thank you, IRS, for sending the rebate check. While I did manage to save some of it, the rest has happily been spent. (That *was* the idea, right?) Along with birthday monies, said rebate has been put towards what is now a two-year-old tradition: season tickets to the SF Opera.

The 2008-2009 season:
Simon Boccanegra
The Bonesetter’s Daughter
Die Tote Stadt
Idomeneo
Boris Godunov
L’elisir d’amore
La Boheme
Three Decembers (Last Acts)
Tosca
Porgy & Bess

La Traviata

Seriously - what is not to like about that lineup? I’m seeing Ariodante on Tuesday – which is supposedly FABULOUS – and if that, along with the other two I’ve seen in the last week (Lucia di Lammermoor; Das Rheingold), are any indication of the season to come, then we’re in for a great year of opera.

25 June 2008

lack of sens(ory perception)

In my "just waking up" stupor this morning, I managed to cut the webbing of my finger (between my middle & ring fingers) on my right hand . . . with the end of a plastic tube of hair goop.

Go figure.

I just looked back down at it now, and the cut is red and angry! ack.

sensory overload, part deux

There are 800+ wildfires burning in California right now - all but a few of them located in Northern California.

The entire Bay Area smells like one giant beach bonfire. I woke up this morning wheezing with asthma and watering eyes. I couldn't figure out what on earth my problem was, until I looked outside and saw the yellowish haze settled over the city...fire haze!

sense memories

Every time I ride BART, the screeching of the rails and (usually) the smell of urine lingering in a dark corner remind me of Paris.

I had a 40 minute commute on the metro everyday to classes: from the northern part of the city all the way south to my school. Three blocks, one transfer, and usually a stop for un cafe, svp, later, I would round the corner, push open the heavy wooden doors and make my way up to class.

And on my way back to SF tonight, I sat catty-corner from three French people...and the illusion was *almost* complete.

24 June 2008

sensory overload

After being outside for a few minutes this afternoon, I noticed - to my horror - that upon walking into our office, one is bombarded by the smell of burnt popcorn mingled with [coworker's] reheated fish lunch.

I'm sure the woman who arrived for a 3pm appointment was excited by that.

23 June 2008

sensory perception

"Listen! You smell something?"

-Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Akroyd), Ghostbusters

Hemingway's my favorite . . .

Why did the chicken cross the road?

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a CHANGE! The chicken wanted CHANGE!

JOHN McCAIN: My friends: that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure - right from Day One! - that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me...

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on 'THIS' side of the road before it goes after the problem on the 'OTHER SIDE' of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his 'CURRENT' problems before adding 'NEW' problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road...

ANDERSON COOPER: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer’s Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain. Alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can’t you people see the plain truth? That's why they call it the 'other side'. Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media white washes with seemingly harmless phrases like ' the other side. That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life-long dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2008, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check book. Internet Explorer is an integral part of the Chicken. This new platform is much more stable and will never cra- $!*& ......... reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken!

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens!

...Please feel free to add any of your own in the comments section...

22 June 2008

what else would you use a search engine for, anyway?

aka "Life according to google" as shamelessly borrowed from Wyld.

Using Google, type in the following and choose the first result to pop up.
(I used my real first name in the search).

1. [your name] needs:
MezzoSF needs rescue to get out alive.

2. [your name] looks like:
MezzoSF looks like Shania twain there.

3. [your name] does:
MezzoSF does it while baking a cake.

4. [your name] hates:
MezzoSF hates her life.

5. [your name] goes:
MezzoSF goes air guitar on the vaccuum.

6. [your name] loves:
MezzoSF loves it radio.

7. [your name] eats:
MezzoSF eats spinach, peas & basil!

8. [your name] has:
MezzoSF has talent and will grow into the woman and artist God intends her to be.

9. [your name] won't:
MezzoSF won't be immune to something like this.

10. [your name] can't:
MezzoSF can't rock just yet because she's a raw talent and not yet coherent in theme.

11. [your name] wants:
MezzoSF wants to become a successful and talented singer, songwriter, and performer.

12. [your name] makes:
MezzoSF makes something most foul, yet she thinks it's sooooo funny!

13. [your name] killed:
MezzoSF killed her dad and then committed suicide, so why bother to watch?

21 June 2008

hot

hot hot hot...

I know. I know. I am done complaining. But it is HOT here, yo. No one has a/c. I woke up at 6 this morning and had to retrieve some ice packs from the freezer to put on the back of my neck and head in order to cool down enough to sleep. IT COULD be worse. I know. Just...had to get that all outta my system.

The heat DID make for the PERFECT "Opera in the Ballpark" last night. Every year, SFO does a simulcast of the opera at AT&T park - free - and it was so fun. We had a picnic on the green...and, if one were inclined, all the normal baseball goodies were available for purchase (beer, garlic fries, etc). And the warm hot weather was perfect ... just needed a blanket to sit on, no jackets, scarves, nor down sleeping bags needed. yay!

And the opera did not disappoint. Sometimes I'm the worst at seeing operas, because I analyze what all the singers are doing or not doing. It's hard for me to turn off that part of my brain. But the much-hyped soprano did not disappoint - it was a wonderful performance.

20 June 2008

Friday five - summer word association

Think summer......are you there yet? Below you will find five words or phrases.
Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem, a memory, a recipe, or a story.
You get the idea . . .

1. rooftop: fireworks

2. gritty: I like grits - especially when my mom cooks them

3. hot town: ”summer in the city, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty”

4. night: the sounds of cicadas (or were they crickets?) chirp-buzzing in the thick night air

5. dance: salsa! " . . . que la vida es un carnaval…es mas bello vivir cantando!”

19 June 2008

Sticky Fingers

It was strangely flattering, if not altogether appropriate. Red had always been one of her best colors: it highlighted the auburn undertones of her hair, and made her blue eyes appear more like ice crystals set below an as-yet-unlined forehead. (Thanking Mom again for those good genes – who, although already in her late 50s, could pass as 40 with none the wiser).

Her shopping trip had been successful, though she hadn’t intended on quite this color combination. I mean, she was *already* going to be the center of attention; it was, after all, her own rehearsal dinner. Something in deep blue, coordinating with her eyes, was what she had finally purchased. She already had the perfect shoes for the dress, and Jim loved her in blue – it was his favorite color. And by wearing this particular dress, he would definitely forgive her for running as late as she was. It’s just that between her mom, Jim’s mom, and all the friends in town, she had not yet had five minutes to herself (much less an entire morning free to go shopping.)

Walking a few minutes out of her way to go to her favorite coffee shop, she popped in her ear buds and pondered the huge life changes coming for her over the next 36 hours. The prospect of spending the rest of her days with The One – Jim – thrilled her. He still gave her goosebumps. However, if she were to be completely honest with herself, 'Til Death Do We Part' did sound a little intimidating. But, that was just her cold feet talking, right? She couldn’t imagine a better match than Jim: they were best friends, lovers, and their families got along like old friends. What could be better?

“Wild, wild horses….couldn’t drag me away…” she sang along, envisioning Mick’s mouth eating the microphone. How on earth did a man so compact have a mouth so effen huge? Enquiring minds want to know!

Ah! The coffee house came into sight. Or scent, rather - she could smell the beans roasting from across the street. Waiting at the light, something in her periphery caught her eye. A shiny penny - head’s up - dated 2008! Must be her lucky day! She didn’t need a penny to tell her that, but bent over to grab it anyway. Maybe she’d tuck it into the little present she’d bought for Jim. “Wild, wild, horses…”

She didn’t hear the horn. Didn’t see the taxi slice across the street in front of the truck as they both approached the intersection.

As she lay contemplating the color which she hadn’t planned on wearing today – at least, not in such quantity - she had to admit that the red did set off her ice blue eyes and increasingly pale cheeks . . .

surreality

Las Vegas is a surreal place. A bombardment of colors, heat, noise, cigarettes, booze and people, people, people of every kind, shape, age and persuasion. Think the Disneyland Electric Light Parade as interpreted by meth-heads. In a way.
And though I thoroughly enjoyed myself over the weekend with the gals - pretty much a weekend is plenty of time to spend there. I can't imagine being a local.

Last Sunday afternoon, whilst waiting for the bus home from the BART station, I found myself looking around at all my fellow San Franciscans. Having spent the previous 36ish hours in the surreality that is Vegas, I couldn't help but think to myself, "Wow. People in San Francisco are so NORMAL."

And then a hippie on a tall bike rode by down Market street...thus restoring the universe to its upright and locked position.

18 June 2008

Seeing red – real life edition

I don’t get angry often. But if you hurt or insult someone I care about, be it family, friend, etc...then I literally do start seeing red.

A couple weeks ago, someone I don’t even know managed to piss me off royally . . . and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it, other than stew in my own juices. I didn’t blog about it, because it was not my story to tell. But now you can read the story here, if you'd like, about my best friend getting punched in the face on a bus. By a stranger.

Kudos to AZ for not letting the anger eat her up. It could have been a lot worse than it was - and for that fact, I'm praising Jesus. But my dander’s getting riled now just thinking about it.

I know some well-trained men whom I would *love* to sic on this guy. Too bad that that’s, you know, highly illegal. Stupid details.

17 June 2008

A few of my favorite things - nature edition

  • Falling asleep to the bubbling lullaby of a mountain creek
  • The echoing of thunder over a lake . . . rolling, rolling, rolling
  • The smell of pine trees after the rain
  • The color of the sky before a snowstorm
  • The resounding quiet that comes after a snowstorm
  • The crash of ocean waves against the shore
  • Crunching acorns and leaves underfoot
  • Sunset
  • Squishing my toes in fine sand
  • Shooting stars - the best place I’ve ever been to see these was on top of a ridge (can’t remember the name) in the Blue Ridge [natch] Mountains, NC.
  • Beach bonfire on a warm night – or even on a cold night
  • Golden Aspen leaves in the fall
  • Discovering sea stars and anemones in tide pools
  • The type of algae which makes the sand ‘glow’ in the late summer/early fall at Ocean Beach

16 June 2008

What happens in Vegas

. . . stays in Vegas. Unless you're a blogger. In which case it doesn't.

We had a wonderful, whirlwind weekend and managed to squeeze in a lot of fun in our 36 hours in the middle of the desert (note: 106 degrees...is hot. I have a renewed respect for that kind of heat...Holy. Crap.)

We hit up Fremont street, heard some great cover bands, walked the strip, laid by the pool, celebrated Lea Lea's birthday with a fantastic birthday meal at the Wynn, went dancing (even got to Crank dat Soulja Boy - courtesy of Rona, who made a special request to the DJ on my behalf), jumped the line at a hot lounge (thanks to AZ getting us on the guestlist at Mix), ogled Barry Manilow's huge-ass poster at our hotel, drank a little too much (well - I did, anyway), gambled a little too much (but I came out in the black!) and generally relied upon lots of coffee and water in lieu of sleep to make it through the weekend. It was a great time.

Pimpin' out my fam

My lovely cousin-in-law is having a Pre-Summer sale at her Etsy jewelry shop, Chloe Boutique. Now through June 20th, enjoy a 15% discount by putting “SUMMER” in the comments to the seller when checking out & she’ll send you the revised invoice. Also – purchases over $50 get free shipping!

She creates some beautiful pieces - all of which make great gifs for friends, family, girlfriends, etc. (Or, you know, for yourself!)

You can find the shop HERE.
Check it out!

15 June 2008

Morning in Vegas

14 June 2008

Army Strong

Just a quick shout out to all the Army folk out there: Happy 233rd Birthday!

13 June 2008

Shout-out and review

A quick shout out to Liz, who is busy texting over at her new blog. She’s a friend from a past-life (so it feels) - several years back in the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina. And she’s hilarious. I promised her some link love this week, so here it is!
- - - - -

I went to see the “Trap Door” video-opera last night at The Lab Theater. I’d never been to that venue before…to describe it as “intimate” would be generous (in terms of size).

As to the performance itself, as far as I can tell, the show went well. (That’s one of the perks of “new” music: nobody in the audience can tell if you’ve messed up or not, because nobody knows the piece - unlike, say, Madame Butterfly.) The performers had a wonderful score to work with – some really gorgeous bits of music in there – and it was a talented and well-balanced cast (read: no weak spots). And no, I’m not just saying that because I know some of them. I feel that the standout, however, may have been the one man who didn’t sing a note. He was billed as the “supernumerary” and played many roles throughout the entire show, ranging from IED-emplacer, to father, to just being somewhat of a silent Greek chorister than an actual character. I hard a hard time keeping my eyes off of him – the way he used his body-language and face to convey and react to even the tiniest of passing thoughts was amazing.

The main story centers on Private Able during his deployment in Iraq. We see him as he goes on patrols, flirts with the laundry lady (who tells him she doesn’t date Soldiers because they don’t make as much money as the contractors), gets injured in an IED attack, recovers on base, and finally returns to duty – when shortly thereafter, he fires at and kills an unarmed national. (Ripped from the headlines, perhaps?) Of course, the whole crux is whether or not that shooting was accidental or not. I give credit to the composer for not necessarily answering that question for us - but lets us come to our own conclusions. The use of video was quite effective in setting the scene for the action. Sometimes humorous (washing machines) and sometimes tragic (aftermath of a car bomb) – the shots were never too distracting as to pull focus from the actors.

My only criticism of the whole production was that it was too short. Clocking in at about 50 minutes, it felt more like a sampler of a larger piece of work and left me wanting…more. There were many clear story threads and characters, but never quite enough time for any of them to fully tell their stories (or sides of the story) – or for the audience to connect too deeply to any of them. The intimate setting, lush music (especially the duet between Able and Ashley as Able lay recovering from his wounds), and intense subject matter all came together to create a great deal of potential for a deeply emotional experience . . . but there was not enough time for the inertia to gather and transform all of that potential into something more. This was not because of the performers by any means – but because of the structure of the piece.

Overall, I’m glad I went to see it. I hesitate to say I “enjoyed” the experience of watching this – but that’s only because of my own touchiness about the subject matter, and not a reflection on the production or performers.

Friday five - Beach Trip

1. Ocean rocks, lake limps? Vice versa? Or "it's all beautiful in its own way"?
I love the rocky beaches in NorCal and the rest of the Pacific NW. And I love mountain lakes. Both waaaay too cold for swimming (usually).

2. Year round beach living: Heaven...or the Other Place?
I have enjoyed living near the ocean. It's nice...I could get used to wearing flip flops year-round.

3. Any beach plans for this summer?
No hot beaches planned...only the cool ones here.

4. Best beach memory ever?
I have many memories of spending time on our Rocky Mountain lake...which had a teeny tiny "beach" surrounded by pine trees. That, and visiting the Oregon coast in high school made me want to study marine biology. Funny what kids who grow up landlocked aspire to be, eh?

5. Fantasy beach trip?
Hmmm...I would LOVE to go back to Hawaii. We took a family trip there once. Is that a fantasy? Perhaps. I'd also love to go back to the South of France. For the most part, my idea of beaches are not the typical let's-lay-out-in-the-sun-and-bake-all-day. I'd rather sit bundled up and listen to the crashing of the waves, letting them work their hypnosis over me.

12 June 2008

Space Cowboy

An awesome combination of two of my favorite things.

Big brother drops by to say hello

Possibly because I've blogged and commented a great deal about Iran, OIF, etc. this week, I've noticed that some fine folks with IP addresses headed back to the Pentagon have dropped by this here blog.

Hi, guys!


Don't worry. I don't know near enough about anything to compromise any OPSEC...and hell...I'm just an opera singer, anyway.

I even added a nifty little disclaimer to the bottom of the page down there!

Soundtrack Meme

After that last post, I needed something less intense. I stumbled upon this meme somwhere in my blog-wanders (can't remember where...ack!) and thought it was a fun twist on the classic music-shuffle meme. I'm tagging all of you. HA!

If my life were a movie, this would be my soundtrack.
(Place MP3 player on shuffle, press play, and for every section list whichever song comes up next)

Opening Credits: Freedom for my people – U2

Waking up: Tiempo de vals – Chayanne (“waltz time”)

Falling in love: Like I love You – Justin Timberlake featuring Clipse

Fight song: B├ębert – Baguette Quartette

Break up song: Virtual Reality – Rusted Root

Making Up: What A Difference A Day Made – Jaime Cullum version

Life’s Okay: Viviendo ("Living") – Marc Anthony

Mental Breakdown: Hasta Que Vuelvas Conmigo ("Until you come back to me") - Marc Anthony

Driving: Runaway Love – En Vogue

Flashbacks: 9 de Julio - Baguette Quartette

Happy Dance: El cuarto de Tula - Buena Vista Social Club

Regret: Mon Coeur s’oeuvre a ta voix – from Samson & Dahlila by Saint-Saens

Final Battle: Red Hill Mining Town – U2

Death Scene: I Feel Fine – The Beatles

Final Credits: All Along The Watchtower – U2 version

Falling victim to one of the classic blunders?

You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha...

(We all knows what happens after that laughter stops, right?)

If you were to look at me on paper, you might say that I fit the stereotypical mold of someone planning on voting for Mr. Obama this fall: yuppie born at the tail end of GenX; lives in San Francisco; over-educated holds multiple degrees; believes in global warming, etc. Shoot - I'll even admit to holding a more-liberal-than-not stance on other issues such as immigration and thinking that the federal government has no right to decide who can or cannot get married.

However, in other ways, Mr. Obama and I are far from seeing eye-to-eye: most notably where foreign policy around OIF/Iraq is concerned. (And, no, I'm not happy with John "Bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran" McCain's idea of diplomacy in regards to foreign-relations, either.. Iran is - notably - OPEC's second-largest oil-producing country after Saudi Arabia...interesting, no? Which just opens all sorts of other worm-cans.)

You might be thinking to yourself, "But, MezzoSF, wouldn't you be *happy* if troops had shorter deployments and were allowed to come home earlier? Don't you know people over there fighting? Wouldn't you be glad if P could come home and be safe from all the killer acronyms he faces on a daily basis (see: IEDs, RPGs, EFPs)??"

My answer: YES. Of course. I would be a heartless automaton if I didn't admit that yes, it would indeed make me (selfishly?) very happy if we could just pull out all the troops and everyone could be safe at home with their family and friends. If indeed we could just implement and fully-execute Obama's four-point plan, then life might really be full of hope, unicorns and sunshine! And Change! (Can't forget that Change!)


- BUT -

Here's the thing: I'm not hopping on the BarakO-bandwagon just because he voted against the Iraq war, which is a popular reason many are choosing to vote for him. But (IMO), it doesn't matter NOW what anyone thinks about how or why this war started. It doesn't matter NOW who voted for or against the invasion way back - what - 6 years ago? What matters NOW is the fact that we are heavily entrenched in a counterinsurgency (COIN) war in Iraq (and even Afghanistan, for that mattter). And to pull up stakes now would wreak havoc on the entire area. It has been a long, hard war already, but too rapid (read: by the end of 2009) of a troop redeployment - before Iraqi forces themselves are fully capable of handling their own country - might indeed see Iraq descend back into pre-surge, pre-Awakening, pre-milita-truce chaos. Progress IS being made (Basra, anyone?) . . . it's just slow. I think folks of my age have no concept of that. We didn't grow up with a Vietnam. We grew up with Desert Storm (I was in 7th grade), which was a completely different war than this one. We're the get-rich-now, get-instant-gratification generation. But that is NOT the nature of the COIN beast.

It would be such an insult to all of the troops who have already sacrificed life, limb, sanity and relationships over the last 5+ years (and who continue to do so over multiple deployments) to have everything get bumped back to square one.

But this is just my opinion.
More opinions:

David Satterfield, State Department advisor on Iraq, talks about how a power vaccuum in Iraq would invite all sorts of trouble (like the kind we're trying to avoid) with Iran in this article.

You can also read an Iraqi perspective.

Political Reality Online has a good summary of Iraq in 2008 - and what the future might hold for the coming years.

Read part of embedded journalist and former Green Beret Michael Yon's take on things.

Shoot...even Angelina Jolie puts in her $0.02.

Military folk's opinions:
Maj C has more than one post about this.

SSG Wyld posts a still-relavent letter written in 2004 by Lt. Kevin Brown (Navy) about exit-strategy.

11 June 2008

Sasquatch Jones' great sushi adventure

Sibling and I had a nice evening. Before this weekend, we literally had not seen each other in almost three weeks. And we live in the same 1000 square-foot home. Go figure. So, it has been nice to spend some time together over the last few days.

We started off with sushi at one of the best sushi places in SF, which is not that far from our house. We sat at the 'sushi bar' and it was like having our own personal sushi-chef. Basically, we asked him about a few of the specials - what was good - and also just let him make some random stuff for us.

(I have had sushi many times . . . and I usually don't stray from a few things I know I like and which are either cooked ie: ebi or California Rolls, or vegetarian. Even though I've had sushi and sashimi which tasted really good, there is a certain texture - really fatty, thick pieces of sushi - which I just can't get my palate around.)

Tonight, however, I tried some new things, some of which I liked, some not.

We had:
1)Crunchy Roll: Spicy tuna, avocado, crunchy little...something (not sure what, actually) all wrapped in soy paper. It was delicious.

2)Dragon Roll: BBQ Eel, crab & tempura shrimp. Everytime I try eel, I think I might like it that time. And I never do.

3)California Roll: Real crab meat & avocado. The old standby, which happens to be really tasty here. And not too much (if any? can't remember) tobiko.

4)Ebi nigiri: Cooked sweet prawns. Yum!

5)49er Roll: Salmon, avocado, lemon, and tobiko. Sibling's favorite. Nice taste, but the texture is not my favorite. Sibling was on his own to finish this one.

6)Medium Toro nigiri: Nice flavor - but it was so thick and had a pretty fatty-feeling texture. I couldn't do it. I tried, but ended up giving most of my piece to Sibling.

7)Kobe Beef sushi: A thin slice of raw Kobe beef served nigiri-style and with a nicely spiced dipping sauce. I was surprised by how much I liked this. It was incredibly tasty, and probably one of the most exotic/strange things I've ever eaten. (I had to work up the courage to try it, but I'm glad I did.)

Once sated (and having spent only $14 - after applying Sibling's frequent-diner discount and a gift-certificate) we ambled down the street for some coffee before heading over to Pub Trivia.

We got to our local Irish pub early enough to finish watching game three of the NBA Finals, and then had to come up with a name for our trivia team. It ended up being just the two of us. Sibling suggested "Sasquatch" and I wanted to have a last name...so I picked jones. And thus, team Sasquatch Jones was born. Sounds like a cross between a pimp and a mountain man. Or something.

Anyway. We held our own at trivia, and finished in the upper half. What we lacked in age/experience, we more than made up for with creative answers to the ones we for sure didn't know. hahaha!

It was a lovely evening...and now? Time for bed!

09 June 2008

looking ahead!

Due to the fact that in this current production my character doesn’t make an entrance until the end of the first act, I suddenly find myself with an entire week without rehearsals!

This is good because:

  • I have to finish memorizing everything – and this is the week to do it;
  • I get to spend time with my non-opera friends doing fun things around the city and (beyond)!

What I’m looking forward to doing with all of this free time – besides working on my score:

  • Lecture/concert by Mark Delavan. He’s performing at SFO in Das Rheingold – I have tickets to go see it in a couple weeks. I’ve never heard him sing before (recorded or live) – thus I am very much looking forward to hearing him in both an intimate setting and in the opera house.
  • Pub Trivia Tuesday night with Sibling and hopefully a couple other folks (SF people – interested? Come join us – email me for details.)
  • Seeing the aforeblogged Trap Door “video opera”.
  • Heading to Vegas this weekend with this gal and this gal, (along with a couple others) to celebrate this gal’s 40th birthday.
  • Hoping to get a hair appointment scheduled for this week. The BEST part is the head and neck massage they give whilst shampooing and conditioning. It is awesome.

spoiler alert

It was a wacky weekend - something for everyone: laughter, drama, crime, romance, tears and really good people watching.

Part of it I can't talk about - because they are not my stories to tell. What I can say is that I still have the ability to be shocked by:
1. The capacity of humans to harm one another;
2. The fagility and complexity of the human brain;
3. That laughter really can be good medicine.

(I say "I still have the ability to be shocked" because I feel like I've become desensitized to a lot here.)


The parts I *can* talk about:
-S left for Philly yesterday - many tears shed all around here at Casa di MezzoSF.

-Reunited with my Motel 6 colleagues for brunch (those 4 of us who all roomed together at local Motel 6's during the run of this last show). I think this is going to be a regular event...which is awesome!

-In an attempt to cheer Sibling up after S's departure, we walked up to the Haight Street Festival. I can't believe I didn't take my camera with me - there were SO many great photo ops. One of the best SF summertime festivals for people-watching, and it was a gorgeous day to be outside!

-SPOILER: We also went to see the new Indiana Jones flick. I really liked it - even if it *did* get all sci-fi there at the end. It makes perfect sense for a movie set in the 1950s. I mean - that was during the Red Scare, Nuclear bombs and the start of our culture's fascination on a mass scale with aliens, ufo's and the like. Add in all the throwbacks to the original Indiana Jones trilogy - and it was an enjoyable afternoon spent at the movies.

-The romance portion also came in movie form (ha) when Rona came over and we watched Music & Lyrics. Nothing like Hugh Grant shaking his tush...lol

07 June 2008

a silly song

It's the rare occasion that *I* am the one cracking up my brother - usually it's the other way around (as he's so freakin funny) - but, yesterday, as we were in the car for a few minutes together - I suceeded.

Me: "Dude! I have a song for you!"

Do(ugh) I'll need, to buy some beer
Re...The guy who sells me beer
Mi...The guy who drinks the beer
Fa...A long, long way for beer
So, I think I'll have a beer
La - La, la, la, la, la, beer!
Ti? No, thanks, I'll have a beer
That will bring us back to...Beer...

Sibling: [Laughing really hard]

We decided that we needed to sing it at the Pub for S last night. Which we did. Though, by that time, Sibling was well enough on in the night that he couldn't remember the words. It was highly entertaining.

06 June 2008

weird

I am headed out shortly to a going away shindig at our local Irish pub for Sibling's girlfriend (and our housemate), S. MAN! I'm SOOOO sad she's moving...and I know my bro will be feeling it hit him this week... :( So, tonight's one last hurrah...and then we're having brunch tomorrow before she has to head to the airport.

anyway...something has been bugging me all day...and I had to look it up on the interwebs just to make sure I wasn't crazy.

It's June 6 today.


Ring any bells?


D-Day for the Invasion of Normandy. You know. < sarcasm >Just a small little blip in world history.< /sarcasm >

I was shocked because I haven't hear/read anything about it today...and usually that's one of those things that's at least mentioned in like...NPR's almanac and stuff. But no. Nary a word. And it has been niggling at the back of my brain all day long...I had to check it out. And, I am waiting for my dinner to be ready, so I got a minute to kill.

Anyway. It reminded me of my France trip last year. We were not in Normandy, but in Saint-Raphael, where there are other beaches and landmarks where the Allies landed.

Here are some pics from that trip:
1. Plaque about the landing. I specifically took this picture because I *might* be possibly related to the Admiral Hewitt in question. Not sure - but that is one of our family names...and it's not that common!
2. View from the beach
3. Old US boat left behind


Friday Five - snapshot

1. How important is the "big picture" to you, do you need a glimpse of the possibilities or are you a details person?
I am capable of seeing the “big picture” – but I tend to focus on the details. Sometimes this is good…sometimes it can cause troubles.

2. If the big picture is important to you how do you hold onto it in the nitty gritty details of life?
I am the opposite…I have to either force myself or be forced to set my goals high enough. I have many childhood memories about psychological torture in the form of excruciating “goal-setting” exercises I had do endure either with teachers or my mom. Yup, I’ve been this way since I was a kiddo. Otherwise, I am content to sail along, getting mired down in focusing on the details. I have to be reallllly passionate about something in order to set that goal in the right spot…otherwise? I get bored way too easily and just can’t be bothered (to borrow an expression from the Brits).

3. Name a book, poem, psalm, piece of music that transports you to another dimension: Barber’s Adagio

4.Thinking of physical views, is there somewhere that inspires you, somewhere that you breathe more easily?
Two contrasting places: Rocky Mountain National Park or a nice, rocky-shored beach (a la the ones we have up here in NorCal)

5. A picture opportunity... post one if you can (or link to one!)
(This was taken about an hour's speedboat ride from Ketichikan, AK.)


05 June 2008

Trap Door

I am … in an emotional twirl. Two colleagues of mine are singing in a new opera called Trap Door (see the review below from today’s Chronicle) and I am going to try and see it next Thursday. As I was typing out an email to them wishing them luck for opening night, I was overcome suddenly and tears came to my eyes . . . just reading the review was enough to get me started. This is a close-to-home topic for me, and though I want to go see this opera…I know it will not be easy to sit through. Maybe that’s good, though. I need a good cry, I guess. And, well, I’m just glad there is something in the Chron about soldiers that has NOTHING to do with Code Pink, Nancy Pelosi and/or protesting. (Yes…that is a sweeping generalization, but well, I never claimed to represent anything other than my own POV on this here blog.)

So. Here’s hoping that my night off from rehearsal next Thursday is still my night off, and I can go see this:

'Trap Door': A soldier's uneasy life in Iraq
Reyhan Harmanci
Thursday, June 5, 2008

The inspiration for Lisa Scola Prosek's video opera "Trap Door" came to her, literally, as a dream last year. She was reading contradictory accounts of U.S. soldiers in Iraq - some said they used crass language but others spoke of their propensity to quote Hemingway - and a story came together in a furious vision. She wrote it all up and sent it to Mission art and performance venue the Lab, which contacted her later that week.
"I woke up in a sweat, it was horrible," Prosek says in between music-teaching sessions. "I felt all of their suffering ... then I had to turn it into a comedy, a black comedy."
Prosek spent the past year researching and writing dialogue and songs for "Trap Door." The narrative echoes Camus' "L'Etranger" but also takes a real story from a Princeton grad, Nate Rawlings, who went to Iraq. The protagonist is named Able. He's a smart guy who goes to the Middle East expecting to "kick ass" along with his fellow soldiers but quickly finds himself fighting against an invisible enemy who booby-traps the country with IEDs.
He also learns of the strange relationship between hired contractors and actual soldiers. Prosek says she did much research in this area. "The soldiers were sending all these videos home, and there were all these times where they are next to a contractor making 10 times as much money as them, and the soldiers were washing their clothes. It's humiliating," she says. To compound the insult, when the contractors got in a jam, the soldiers would be the first to be called to protect them, she says.
So, after Able is deployed, wounded and then redeployed, he gets into a scuffle with a contractor and shoots him. "His homecoming is under arrest for shooting an unarmed man," Prosek says. "It's a big feature for the media. He's under arrest, on trial, just like Camus." The media circus propels the situation into new territory. There is, she says, a strange "glamorization" to the proceedings, which make the soldier a celebrity.
Throughout the action, the set is video projects. Prosek uses footage from Iraq to establish the sense of place, and colors, like an intense orange, to make the audience feel the heat. Also, this isn't a play. It's an opera. Prosek wrote 20 songs, most less than two minutes, and promises the show won't be a total bummer.
"I've learned that the work has to be entertaining," she says. Still, though, being immersed in such heavy research has taken its toll. "Oh, man, next time, I want to write about flowers," she says.

04 June 2008

All I have to say...

is that you know it's bad when even the native sons and daughters of SF are slamming Pelosi for her comments on Iran. You can listen to the podcast here.

Girl is crazy certifiable!




(And yet another h/t to Maj C for the link. Go check out his blog!)

Defining

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Click the links above...and then check out more people you should know about.

oh, and since we're talking politics

...just to cover all the bases tonight:

WTF, California? Why on EARTH did we have a divided primary this year? That was like...the stupidest decision ever.

Most folks came out in force to vote in the "important" (read: Presidential) primary earlier this year. But today's primary? There were actually some important city issues on the ballot...I just hope enough people voted!

*headsmack*

03 June 2008

let's get political, political

I can't believe Hillary just gave a ... like 30 minute non-concession "concession" speech. Seriously? She needs to just freakin' concede already. Support your colleague and get. Over. It. "She did everything but offer Barack Obama the presidency"...someone on CNN just said that, but I didn't see who it was. HAHAHA.

And I also can't believe I'm listening to a recording of Tina Turner's "Simply the Best" playing during the aftermath of her speech (don't tell my father!)

CNN's saying Obama is the winner of the Democratic nomination...a fact about which I have mixed feelings. Although I'm glad it's going to be him and not Hillary.

I think it's awesome that in my lifetime we have had both an African-American man and a middle-aged woman in the serious running to be the next POTUS. I mean...the 1960's weren't that long ago, really, and I would dare say that if M.L.K., Jr. were still alive today...he'd be proud to see his dreams coming true!

All that being said, I disagree with Obama on some issues (foreign policy, for example). I disagree with McCain on some issues (roe v. wade, for example). And I just don't like Hillary.

Hell....I'm thinking Bob Barr! Anyone?? Bueller...? Bueller...?
It's going to be an interesting few months running up to November...

(Side note: Obama is milking his "victory" speech right now talking about caring for our military....interesting considering he's been ignoring them lately. H/T to Maj C for the link.)

ack ack ack

I am undergoing some allergy testing later on Wednesday. Which means I haven't had any allergy medicine for almost a week now (and I have bad allergies and asthma).

I was okay for a few days...and then yesterday...I started getting itchy!! ACK. It's so weird. My back and legs and arms all itch...like, I've been through poison ivy or something (and I have not!)

NOTHING in my routine has changed except for the meds. Weird. I'm just ready to see the doc, already.

02 June 2008

speaking of the dark side

I think I have a great appreciation for dark humor - black comedy, gallows humor - whatever you wish to call it. I don't know why. I also enjoy other types of humor (slapstick, wordplay, etc) but I don't think I got this proclivity for the dark humorous arts from my parents...perhaps it's cultivated? (Unlike my goofball side - which most definitely comes from my Father.)

For example: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation movie. My most favorite part in the entire film? The bit that cracks me up without fail? When the cat gets electrocuted chewing on the Christmas lights! Oh! That just slays me, every time. It will never get old to me. I'm sure this must put me on PETA's shitlist. And also makes me out as a bad San Franciscan to boot. But I'm allergic to everything with fur, hair or feathers anyway. So there!

01 June 2008

...interesting parallel

I've been reading Michael Yon's Moment of Truth in Iraq. It's quite interesting. One of the things Yon has done is juxtapose two letters: one from George Washington to Benedict Arnold, shortly before Arnold led an expedition up to Quebec during the Invasion of Canada in 1775; and one from General Petraeus to the Troops in Iraq in May of 2007.

The subject of both letters is certain values during war: repecting human dignity, doing the 'right' thing and keeping one's integrity. I guess - from what Yon was writing - that some folks had a hard time with the Petraeus letter, saying that these "decencies", might make the Troops appear weak/soft. But on the contrary, Yon put in Washington's letter to show that no - these ideals were not something new - but had been around since, well, the birth of our country. Interesting ideas to mull over.

Here's the letter from 1775 [I've edited some of the spelling and capitalization for ease of reading]:

TO: COLONEL BENEDICT ARNOLD,
Camp at Cambridge, September 14, 1775.

Sir: You are entrustd with a command of the utmost consequence to the interst and liberties of America. Upon your conduct and courage and that of the Officers and Soliders detached on this epedition, not only the success of the present enterprise, and your own honor, but the safety and welfare of the whole continent may depend. I charge you, therefore, and the officers and soldiers, under your command, as you value your own safety and honor and the favor and esteem of your country, that you consider yourselves, as marching, not through an enemy's country; but that of our friends and brethren, for such the inhabitation of Canada, and the Indian Nations have approved themselves in this unhappy contest between Great Britain and America. That you check by every motive of duty and fear of punishment, every attempt to plunder or insult any of the inhabitants of Canada. Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any Canadian or Indian, in his person or property, I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such sever and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause: but I hope and trust, that the brave men who have voluntarily engaged in this expedition, will be boverned by far different views, that order, discipline, and regularity of behaviour will be as conspicuous, as their courage and valour. I also give it in charge to you to avoid all disrespect to or contempt of the religion of the country and its ceremonies. Prudence, policy, and a true Christian spirit,will lead us to look with compassion upon their errors without insulting them. While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious of violating the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to him only in this case, they are answerable. Upon the whole, Sir, I beg you to inculcate upon the officers and soldiers, the necessity of preserving the strictest order during their march through Canada; to represent to them the shame, disgrace, and ruin to themselves and country, if they should by their conduct, turn the hearts of our brethren in Canada against us. And on the other hand, the honors and rewards which await them, if by their prudence and good behaviour, they conciliate the affections of the Canadians and Indians, to the great interests of America, and convert those favorable dispositions they have shown into a lasting union and affection. Thus wishing you and the officers and solders under your command, all honor, safety, and success, I remain...etc etc.

Now. Go back and read that again - but substitute "Iraq" for "Canada" and "Iraqis" for "Canadians" or "Indians". It's interesting - and still applicable today, is it not?

I also suggest reading Petraeus' letter. You can find it here. It is not a call to the Troops to deny the fact that they are (and have been trained to be) Warriors...but is a call to remember that we (they) are all still human.

Just...interesting thoughts. I've been reading several war memoirs and the like. Reading books on war is not a particularly new interest for me...I must have read Fallen Angels and Killer Angles about 10 times each in high school and college...but the sheer volume of books being produced right now about Iraq and Afghanistan by the Troops on the ground (Soldiers and Marines) - as well as by embedded journalists - is staggering. There are pro-war books, anti-war books, books with nail-biting accounts of the battles for Fallujah, Mosul, Sadr City, and books which focus on the day-to-day of a life lived in the desert. It's astounding. These are first-hand, non-fiction accounts . . . not historical fiction (like the Angels books above).

I must be a glutton for punishment, because I can't get enough information about what is going on over there. I can't read too many books or too many milblogs. I can't get enough of the gory details. I even went and saw Stop Loss for cryin' out loud - and the first 15 minutes of that film almost made me walk out. It's strange...and sad...that it took me knowing someone actually getting deployed to make me tune into to what is happening with the GWOT. If I didn't know anyone over there...would I care half as much about what was going on? Honestly...probably not. Which is where the sad part comes in.

I look around me at folks living their lives completely apathetic or content to go to monthly protests and fulfill their quota of being a good San Franciscan...and I cannot help but think: Do you even *know* who Nouri al-Maliki is? What about Moqtada al-Sadr? Can you point to Baghdad or Basra or Mosul on a map?

And yet..I cannot judge...for even a year ago, that was me (in the apathetic camp). Totally oblivious, no clue and having no care in the world outside of "Will this audition be successful and if not, WTH am I going to do with my summer?"

I guess in my old(er) age I've started to finally pay attention to the world at large. Maybe it's for selfish reasons - or started out that way, at least - but nevertheless, I think it is a good thing.

spleen

I love that Baudelaire entitled some of his poems "spleen."

What a wonderfully descriptive and so very un-French word for him to choose.

I have no idea why I was thinking about this. I am not in a spleen-like mood myself - in fact, I am quite content. But the thought struck me all the same.

I've always enjoyed Baudlaire's Les Fleurs du Mal poems. Perhaps for the same reason that my musical tastes tend to run towards minor keys: I enjoy their melancholic nature. Their affect, if you will. Never underestimate the power of the dark side.