Thursday, September 29, 2005

Feels like the first time

Last night, we went to the opera for the first time. It was an interesting choice for a first opera: the very modern, world-premiere production of Doctor Atomic. The site sums it up better than I can, but in short, it is set in 1945 New Mexico as scientists race to build, test, and possibly use the first atomic weapon. The plot centers around the moral issues involved in building the weapon, its use on other humans, and the genuine fear of simply not really knowing what it would actually do (the opera makes reference to a theory that it could have potentially ignited the atmosphere, literally killing the world).

We were invited as guests of the director (felt semi-important for a minute there!) to the final dress rehearsal, so there were producers scurrying around throughout the performance, checking light and sound levels, making copious notes, and generally taking me out of the moment. The music is amazing: it is beautiful and soft one moment, then discordant and angry the next. Many of the vocalists were clearly not going "full volume" for the final dress, so it was tough to understand them sometimes, but Gerald Finley, in the role of Robert Oppenheimer, was outstanding.

We are thinking that we now need to go see something a little more classical before we make our final judgment on whether we can be "opera people," but this was certainly a fascinating introduction.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I see London, I see France...

Today was an example of bad planning turning into some fun. We thought about going downtown to test-drive a car, and hopped on the train. As the stops went by, more and more people wearing leather and little else were getting on. Pretty sure that there wasn't a Village People reunion concert going on, we started to realize that the odds of driving anywhere downtown were nil: it was Folsom Street Fair weekend, and that means several blocks of downtown shut down for the leather-and-chain clad masses.

Or I should say, leather-and-chain clad masses if you are lucky. To get your ticket/sticker to enter, you have to walk past the "No Nudity" sign to the topless girl selling the stickers. Ahem. Once past the ticket booth, it was literally anything goes: I can't even imagine the level of self-confidence involved in walking around wearing nothing but a leather hat, shackles, and flip-flops, but there were dozens of people who could clearly answer that question. I think my favorite part was seeing the line of people waiting to get spanked for a donation of at least $5 to a Hurricane Katrina relief fund. I love this city.

Didn't get to test drive the car due to the street closures, but certainly didn't go away bored! We also found this cool Spanish restaurant that had amazing tapas and some of the best sangria we've had in a long while. It's cool to eat the fruit out of the wine glass, right?

Good afternoon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Litter or recycling?

I have been watching an interesting phenomenon on the train recently: people littering, and doing so completely free of guilt. Here's what they do: as they finish a section of the newspaper, they fold it up, and drop it on the floor under their seat. I have seen this happen a few times, and finally asked this guy who had just dropped the financial section of the Chronicle under a BART seat. His response: he was leaving it for someone else to read. I asked him if he got it off the floor originally, and he said no. So I asked the next Larry David-esque question: would you ever pick up a newspaper off the floor of the train? He looked at me like I was being a jerk (he was partially right, in that I broke a cardinal rule of transit ettiquette: don't speak. However, I really did wonder if he would), and then got off at his stop without answering.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Devil's haircut

Yesterday, I did something I haven't done in close to fifteen years: I got a haircut. If you know me, you know that during this past decade and a half, my hairstyles have been variations on the same theme: something that I could do at home with my own set of clippers. Therefore, I invested in a $20 set of clippers lo those many years ago, and have been cutting my own hair since.

Why the change, you ask? Not sure I could tell you exactly. Part of it deals with our bathroom: there is only one outlet, and it is so old that the plug falls out, meaning I have to hold the plug in with one hand while I cut with the other. Awkward, to say the least. Related to that is the idea then of where I have to cut my own hair: I usually did it in the shower (always a good idea to take an electric device into the shower, kids!), but due to the outlet, I was cutting it over the sink, which was just messy and annoying. Honestly, though, I think I was also just tired of cutting my own damn hair.

So the streak is over. I paid $10 (outrageous!) for the cut at a little salon down the street, which was far better than the $18 (scandalous!) the barber shop next door wanted. And, I have to admit, it was nice. No clean up, nice and neat, even the neck looks good.

Might have to go back before 2020.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sex shy, take two

So last night, I watched the movie Kinsey, figuring that since I had just finished reading the below-reviewed book, I would compare it with another fictionalized version of Prok's life. It should be noted that the movie is told from Kinsey's point of view, whereas the book was from the POV of one of his interviewers.

There were a lot of similarities, but the most striking difference was the portrayal of Kinsey himself. In the movie, Prok is shown as a more compassionate person, laughing, understanding that love is important, struggling with his father, etc. In the book, the opposite was true: Prok was a domineering, overbearing taskmaster who drove his team and all those around him with imperious precision.

I don't know which is true, or if the real man (as is probably often the case) was a combination of both, but one scene that occurs in both the book and movie was very telling: Kinsey having sex with his male researcher. In the book, Kinsey is clearly the aggressor, beginning choreographing, and guiding the affair from the beginning as sort of a "test" to see if indeed the young interviewer will be effective and not "sex shy." However, the movie plays the same scene very differently: Kinsey is hit on by his interviewer, and is shown to go along , albeit somewhat reluctantly, with the young man's advances.

Is it an important distinction? My guess is that there was an actual affair between the two men. However, for the movie version, I'm guessing the producers felt that the idea of their leading man Liam Neeson seducing a younger man may have been too much for the audience? Ironic, given the subject matter and content of the film, and an unfortunately short-sighted decision, given what Kinsey himself was trying to promote.