Sunday, August 29, 2010

Czech it out

          If you are wondering where I have gone, let me assure you that I will return to the blogging shortly. I am just temporarily submerged in my Dvorak opera score and a sea of Czech diction tomes. I wanted to look up "Wish me luck" in Czech, but at this point that would take me an extra 40 minutes, because Czech is just so damned foreign and my brain is mush.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Letters from Mom Part 2:

Dear, Dear Kate,

I bought a new purple, sparkly pen. Isn’t it pretty?


Covers that are better than the original

I defy you to tell me that this isn’t beautiful:

They's so fresh and fine/ I loves you Porgy

          This is so incredibly lush with that piano line and the orchestration that it makes me ill. From what I can understand with my limited knowledge of Porgy and Bess, the opera from which this originates, the first section of this particular version is extracted from what the strawberry vendor sings in an opening scene that takes place in a market. The rest is Gershwin’s beautiful “I loves you Porgy”. But this version is infinitely more romantic than the original setting. I want to say that it was originally Billie Holiday who did a more pared down, ballad-like rendition of the tune, but I’m not sure. The aria, as written for the opera is actually uptempo and is affective in a pleading way. But I think Nina Simone’s several renditions are simply the ultimate.

          That dark, smooth timbre she gets when she sings that first “Don’t let him take me” continues to change my life everyday. That combined with some of her quirky spliced sounds in the intro, makes the whole color scheme quite admirable. This is something I am striving always to do more of in opera, to enhance the color contrasts of every section of every piece. Brava Nina.

          You might even say, as I am inclined to: It rips my heart out of my ass.

A wicked good time

          If you are wondering in suspense how I did at the company outing, I did not, in fact trip and fall on my face or lose the final point for my team. The theme this year was a “Townie tour of Boston”. So we were shipped in vans to various points of the city, including Revere Beach, Bunker Hill, Castle Island and finally the Aquarium and the waterfront Marriot Residence Inn for dinner and dancing (and drinking). At each point there were two challenges presented: a team challenge and then a personal challenge, for a representative from each team. Highlights of the challenges included a potato sack race, a marshmallow shooting contest and “Pin the speedo on the guido” (Revere Beach). We drew numbers at the beginning of the day and when my number came up at the penultimate personal challenge, lo and behold, I was told I had to sing an Irish ditty while wearing a pot-of-gold costume. I felt pretty lucky. I chose "Oh Danny Boy" and apparently, my performance kept my team from losing completely. We came in 4th out of 6 teams.

          Aside from the team awards, they were giving away Flip video cameras for personal categories such as “Best team spirit” and “Best competitor overall”. I felt sure that I would win the award for “Best performance”. Sadly, it went to Ed Flynn for his stunning display of ramen-noodle-mouth-exodus during the eating contest. Alas. Ed may have taken my victory in the form of a swanky piece of technological equipment but I walked away with the knowledge that my athletic retardation was not put on display. Ok, I still would have liked that camera.

This link is not for the faint-hearted:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wear sneakers and bring a change of underwear

          Tomorrow is our company’s annual outing. I have been looking forward to it with a certain amount of dread. The events of the day are a super-secret surprise but we have been told to wear comfortable clothes and sneakers. I have received a T-shirt to wear. It indicates that I am on the blue team. This frightens me because of the obvious threat of athletic games. Someone at work asked me if I didn’t care for athletics or if I weren't good at them. I told her that I don’t like them because I am not good at them. I have very poor hand-eye coordination and running gives me a painful, dry feeling in my esophagus. I fear people seeing me all day involved in competitive sports because, as my college roommates liked to remind me, I “run funny”. Also, I have poor reflexes. You can ask my friend Avi who takes delight in throwing things like Nerf balls at my face in public to prove the fact further. Events like this tend to remind me of how I was always picked last in gym class in elementary school and of how I was again picked last when I was a camp counselor for staff dodge-ball… at the age of twenty. (I was on the music staff). My fear of being the Woody Allen of the company is so palpable that my colleagues who have been here longer have assured me that there will most likely be trivia portions of the day and/or a scavenger hunt.

          This is the one time I regret not still working in the suburbs where the people of my company were generally older and larger. At last year’s company outing I played several rounds of Bingo, painted a piece of pottery, and laid in the sun for an hour while HR panicked at our having run out of activities. My hydrangea bowl garnered the attention of all the middle-aged ladies of the company and when it returned from the kiln, there was a high amount of viewing traffic at my desk. But now I work with people with actual degrees in art so even if we have a similar component I will be screwed. Can’t there be a “Singing 19th century German art song” portion of the day?

          It seems that all those lectures on how to throw and catch after day camp have only produced more anxiety. My dad would practice with me and analyze my every sports-related endeavor, as Dads will do. But my complete disdain for any problem that could not be solved intuitively ultimately got in the way of my success on the field. (See also: math and my inability to add. But that’s another blogpost for another day). I recall enjoying “Woodbridge Recreation” when I was younger. But the older we got, the more sports started to replace arts and crafts activities. I have a lot of memories surrounding the dropping of balls and skinning of knees and the ensuing humiliation and fighting back of tears. I do also remember however, that on my last day of camp for the summer one year, after many weeks of failure in the outfield of tennis-racket-baseball, I finally caught a fly ball. I remember the exhilaration of winning that game and the feeling of finally having my teammates' support and approval after a summer-long struggle with my coordination. The next day I told my parents that I did not wish to return to Woodbridge Rec anymore. Even at age eleven I knew to exit on a high note. I just didn’t think that at twenty-seven I would have to worry about this particular brand of performance anxiety anymore. I still have to find my only pair of sneakers. Wish me luck tomorrow.