February 28, 2015 archive


The Breakfast Club (Thrupenny)

The 3 rules of Opera.

  1. It must be long, boring, and in an incomprehesible foreign language (even if that language is English).
  2. The characters, especially the main ones, must be thoroughly unsympathetic and their activities horrid and callous.
  3. Everyone must die, hopefully in an ironic and gruesome way.

Ballet is the same, but with more men in tights and without the superfluous singing.

Consider La Traviata (The Fallen Woman) celebrated in Pretty Woman.

In Act I, Violetta, a notorious (c’mon fallen woman?  Everyone knows women don’t like sex, it’s just something they tolerate because they like babies) courtesan, spurns Alfredo so she can live her life the way she wants (Sempre libera – Always Free)

In Act II Violetta is living in a country house with Alfredo, whom she’s decided she loves and has completely abandoned her former life.  What?  Did she get kidnapped by aliens?  I swear, I just went to the lobby to visit the bathroom.  Is this the same theater?  The same Opera?  Am I living some nightmarish Groundhog Day where I don’t even get to listen to I’ve Got You Babe at 6 am every morning for eternity?

Cher, I’m expecting your retweet.  Not as funny as Kathy Griffin?  I beg to differ.

Oh, and Alfredo’s Dad doesn’t like her because she’s a sex worker and he’s a hung up old jerk.

Soon enough.

So things are going to perdition in a pedicab.  As it develops Violetta is liquidating her assets in Paris to support her suburban lifestyle.  Alfredo sets off to correct this (us guys, always looking for solutions instead of simply listening and sympathizing) while his father Giorgio asks her to dump Alfredo because her tawdry past is tainting his daughter (Pura siccome un angelo – Pure as an angel, God gave a daughter) and ruining her marriage prospects.

Ah, Twew Wuve-

“He didn’t come.”  It takes talent that, and a firm knowlege of Baseball statistics.  

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgOf course by now I’m looking for a stout stick to bash Giorgio with before committing seppuku with my plastic yogurt spork (What? I visited the snack bar, OK?) and this is just the first Scene.

In the second Scene at a gambling party where Alfredo is trying to raise the money to satisfy Violleta’s debts (because how else are you going to get cash besides Powerball?) after a rousing chorus of Paradise by the Dashboard Light (in Italian Noi siamo zingarelle venute da lontano.  Di Madride noi siam mattadori) Violetta coincidently appears with the Baron Douphol (Beauregard Burnside).  And I’m a handsome Matador from Biscay.  Anyway Alfredo insults Violetta by offering her the money he has won (yes, we’re back to Pretty Woman, did we ever actually leave?  I want the fairy tale.).

Giorgio enters and denounces his son’s behavior (Di sprezzo degno sè stesso rende chi pur nell’ira la donna offende. – “A man, who even in anger, offends a woman renders himself deserving of contempt.”).  Violetta turns to Alfredo: Alfredo, Alfredo, di questo core non puoi comprendere tutto l’amore… – “Alfredo, Alfredo, you can’t understand all the love in this heart…” (cough).

Ok, so the spork was only sufficient to gouge out my eyes and if I’m going to chop off my ears and eviscerate myself I’ll need something more substantial, like a plastic knife.  Fortunately there is a break before Act 3.

Did I mention Violetta is dying of Tuberculosis?  Everyone must die, hopefully in an ironic and gruesome way.  Tuberculosis is fortunately one of those ultimately fatal but lingering diseases that allow you to belt out a few Arias before you (cough) croak (Gran Dio!…morir sì giovane – “Great God!…to die so young”).  

After singing a duet with Alfredo, Violetta suddenly revives, exclaiming that the pain and discomfort have left her. A moment later, she dies in Alfredo’s arms.

Now that’s entertainment.  Pardon me while I dab my tears before descending from the box.

TMC swears she’s going to teach me to be less cynical (as if she were less cynical than I, I’m a warm cuddly Teddy Bear by comparison- ask anyone) and that I will learn to love Opera.  Of course, just like I love children- par-boiled and chicken fried with a pan gravy.  Tastes just like rattle snake.

Oh, so now you want to see La Traviata.  Here it is at La Scala in Milan, all 2 hours and 25 minutes of it.

It has the virtue of French subtitles (Rule Number One).  Now in fairness I didn’t want to be a barber anyway, except in Seville.

Did I mention natural tenor?  Of course I played the Barber.

And now I’m really going, I’ve done what I can do.  So why don’t you get going?

Well. I haven’t actually inflicted the damage I intended.  “The characters, especially the main ones, must be thoroughly unsympathetic and their activities horrid and callous.”

Mackie Messer

Polly, meanwhile, buys a bank, and runs it with Macheath’s henchmen, making him a bank director, and she then arranges surety for Macheath to leave prison. This causes a change of heart by her parents – her father tries to stop the protest march but fails.

Jenny visits the prison, and aids Macheath’s escape: he makes his way to the bank, where he discovers his new status. Brown, whose police career is ruined by the demonstration, and Peachum, also come to the bank and agree to link up.

Now that sounds more like the real world where a pimp and beggar-master, a corrupt politician, and an assassin hook up to loot the people who love them and think they’re heros.

Well, when Johnny was first starting out, he was signed to a personal services contract with this big-band leader. And as his career got better and better, he wanted to get out of it. But the band leader wouldn’t let him. Now, Johnny is my father’s godson. So my father went to see this bandleader and offered him $10,000 to let Johnny go, but the bandleader said no. So the next day, my father went back, only this time with Luca Brasi. Within an hour, he had a signed release for a certified check of $1000.

I have the same thing in French where it’s worth a penny more and I can arbitrage the spread.

And that my friends is Opera.  I don’t really hope I’ve ruined it for you so much as made your existence a spiraling hell where all emotion is sucked into a black hole of despair before you are torn apart by tidal forces you can barely comprehend and debates about black and blue or gold and white.

You can thank me later.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

On This Day In History February 28

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 28 is the 59th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 306 days remaining until the end of the year (307 in leap years)

On this day in 1953, Cambridge University scientists James D. Watson and Frances H.C. Crick announce that they have determined the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule containing human genes.

History of DNA research

DNA was first isolated by the Swiss physician Friedrich Miescher who, in 1869, discovered a microscopic substance in the pus of discarded surgical bandages. As it resided in the nuclei of cells, he called it “nuclein”. In 1919, Phoebus Levene identified the base, sugar and phosphate nucleotide unit. Levene suggested that DNA consisted of a string of nucleotide units linked together through the phosphate groups. However, Levene thought the chain was short and the bases repeated in a fixed order. In 1937 William Astbury produced the first X-ray diffraction patterns that showed that DNA had a regular structure.

In 1928, Frederick Griffith discovered that traits of the “smooth” form of the Pneumococcus could be transferred to the “rough” form of the same bacteria by mixing killed “smooth” bacteria with the live “rough” form. This system provided the first clear suggestion that DNA carries genetic information, the Avery-MacLeod-McCarty experiment, when Oswald Avery, along with coworkers Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty, identified DNA as the transforming principle in 1943. DNA’s role in heredity was confirmed in 1952, when Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase in the Hershey-Chase experiment showed that DNA is the genetic material of the T2 phage.

In 1953, James D. Watson and Francis Crick suggested what is now accepted as the first correct double-helix model of DNA structure in the journal Nature. Their double-helix, molecular model of DNA was then based on a single X-ray diffraction image (labeled as “Photo 51”) taken by Rosalind Franklin and Raymond Gosling in May 1952, as well as the information that the DNA bases are paired – also obtained through private communications from Erwin Chargaff in the previous years. Chargaff’s rules played a very important role in establishing double-helix configurations for B-DNA as well as A-DNA.

Experimental evidence supporting the Watson and Crick model were published in a series of five articles in the same issue of Nature. Of these, Franklin and Gosling’s paper was the first publication of their own X-ray diffraction data and original analysis method that partially supported the Watson and Crick model; this issue also contained an article on DNA structure by Maurice Wilkins and two of his colleagues, whose analysis and in vivo B-DNA X-ray patterns also supported the presence in vivo of the double-helical DNA configurations as proposed by Crick and Watson for their double-helix molecular model of DNA in the previous two pages of Nature. In 1962, after Franklin’s death, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. However, Nobel rules of the time allowed only living recipients, but a vigorous debate continues on who should receive credit for the discovery.

Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan

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Convenience store in Japan welcomes new range of donuts, Evangelion-style

 HougiHayashi ‘Fang’ Hougi

Fans of the popular anime franchise Evangelion would probably get a pleasant surprise if they walked into this particular convenience store in Japan. Instead of putting up pictures of the actual products to advertise their new line of donuts, the creative store employees of this branch decided to take a cue from the popular anime and dress their window a little differently.

Twitter user misoka09 uploaded a few pictures of the Evangelion-style advertisements and soon garnered more than 10,000 retweets as amused netizens gushed over this clever trick.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Salads Don’t Have to Be Green

Salads Don't Have to Be Green photo recipehealthwell-tmagArticle_zpse1017928.jpg

Orange and Radish Salad with PistachiosCredit Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

I used to insist on making a green salad to go with every meal. It is the way I grew up eating – in fact the first thing I learned to make in the kitchen was a vinaigrette, and my first kitchen tasks were preparing all of the lettuces and vegetables for our mixed green salads. Now my salads are not always green. This is especially true in winter, when root vegetables, roasted vegetables, grains and year-round vegetable staples like celery are often at the center of my salad plate.

For inspiration for this week’s salads, I looked at the Union Square Greenmarket website as well as some websites from farms, to see what fruits and vegetables may be arriving in your CSA baskets.

Kasha or Freekeh Salad With Roasted Squash, Pecans and Pomegranate

A delicious grain salad with a sweet and tart dressing that provides an unexpected use for roasted squash.

Celeriac, Celery and Carrot Remoulade

A grated salad that is not quite as creamy as the dish that inspired it.

Baby Greens With Balsamic-Roasted Turnips and Walnuts

The turnips in this salad can work both warm or cold.

Orange and Radish Salad With Pistachios

Pistachios and their oil go beautifully with the oranges while radishes offer a crisp, pungent contrast.

Celery and Walnut (or Hazelnut) Tzatziki

An adaptation of a famous Greek salad dish.


Not a Pretty Girl

Body photo body2.gifI would be remiss if I didn’t include my most successful diary ever as one of the chapters in my autobiography.  Presented here with some minor rewrites, this chapter comes from January of 2009.

The graphic to the left is named Body.  Some might consider it NSFW, but it’s just an assemblage of red pixels on a yellow background.