August 15, 2015 archive


The Breakfast Club (More Opera)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgThe 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.

My life is hardship and misery thanks to this opera. Everything about it is wrong for me.  (It is) totally at odds with all that I dream about, demanding a type of music that is alien to me.

Now to be fair, Debussy was talking about another opera he attempted but never finished- Rodrigue et Chimène, a sort of El Cid knockoff.

He was probably unhappy with the upbeat Hollywood ending where, mortally wounded, El Cid dies wishing only for one more crack at the Muslims so they (the Spanish) impale him on a stick like a corn dog, strap him to his horse, point him (the horse, El Cid is dead) at the Moors and give him a kick in the ass (the horse again, they could hardly give El Cid a kick there, that’s where the stick was).

From beyond the grave, El Cid tastes victory again, saving us from those civilized not us.  God and the Holy Roman Catholic Church be praised!

The fact is that his father was a greedy bastard and wanted some of that hot Opera money.  Our Claude however was all artsy-fartsy and gave it up as a bad job, opting instead for Pelléas et Mélisande.

Prince finds mysterious forest girl (that would be Mélisande) and marries her.  He brings her home and she falls in love with his brother (that would be Pelléas).  After years (maybe it only seems like years, it is Opera) of restraint and denial they confess their love in range of the stalking paranoid Prince who kills his brother Pelléas in a fit of jealousy.  Mélisande dies shortly after, in childbirth, never saying if the girl is from the Prince or Pelléas.

And how would she know anyway even if she’d been dinking them both?

As you see it has all the essential elements and sex besides.  You might expect it to be an unmitigated success but it took several years (1895 – 1902) to even find a venue and while regularly performed the reviews were mixed and the box office not boffo.  After the Great War it faded from public conciousness almost entirely.

The other thing about it is that it’s a conscious rebuke to Wagnerian bombast-

It is customary, and in the main correct, to regard Pelléas et Mélisande as a monument to French operatic reaction to Wagner.”

Debussy strove to avoid excessive Wagnerian influence on Pelléas from the start. The love scene was the first music he composed but he scrapped his early drafts for being too conventional and because “worst of all, the ghost of old Klingsor, alias R.Wagner, kept appearing.”

(T)he way Debussy writes for the orchestra is completely different from Tristan, for example. In Grout’s words, “In most places the music is no more than an iridescent veil covering the text.” The emphasis is on quietness, subtlety and allowing the words of the libretto to be heard; there are only four fortissimos in the entire score. Debussy’s use of declamation is un-Wagnerian as he felt Wagnerian melody was unsuited to the French language. Instead, he stays close to the rhythms of natural speech, making Pelléas part of a tradition which goes back to the French Baroque tragédies en musique of Rameau and Lully as well as the experiments of the very founders of opera, Peri and Caccini.

Which is a big plus in my book.  Without further adieu-

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

On This Day In History August 15

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.

August 15 is the 227th day of the year (228th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 138 days remaining until the end of the year.

While there were many significant events that happened on August 15, the most delightful and happily remember is Woodstock. Not many of my Baby Boomer generation remember that today Emperor Hirohito announced the unconditional surrender of Japan or that East Germany began the building of the Berlin Wall or that Malcolm slain Macbeth, it was peace, love and Rock N’ Roll in the mud with a lack of sanitary facilities but lots of music from some of the best at the Woodstock Festivalduring the weekend of August 15 to 18, 1969. The site was a dairy farm in West Lake, NY near the town of Bethel in Sullivan County, some 43 miles southwest from the actual town of Woodstock in Ulster County. During that rainy weekend some 500,000 concert goers became a pivotal moment in the history of Rock and Roll.

Peace, Drugs and Rock N’Roll. Rock On.

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.

Greens for the Summer Heat


Spinach is the green that comes to mind for light summer dishes. It’s available year-round both at farmers’ markets and supermarkets, wilts in minutes, and afterward keeps well in the refrigerator.

In summer, you can use it for cold soups or quick omelets, or combine it with seasonal tomatoes in easy pastas. Spinach contains iron, vitamin A and vitamin C, manganese, folate, calcium, potassium and a variety of other nutrients.

One thing to note: The sodium content can be high in some brands of bagged spinach. A 3-ounce serving of Dole organic baby spinach, for example, contains 135 milligrams of sodium. The same amount from Fresh Express contains 65 milligrams. The difference may have to do with the solution that certain commercial producers use to wash the spinach.

If you do use bagged baby spinach, check the values on the package. A 3-ounce serving (85 grams) should not have more than 70 milligrams of sodium.

Pasta With Tomatoes, Spinach and Goat Cheese

Spinach and Yogurt Soup With Walnuts

Sautéed Spinach With Mushrooms

Spinach Salad With Tomatoes, Cucumber and Feta

Spinach Omelet With Parmesan

The low cost of transgender troops

The New England Journal of Medicine’s current issue includes an analysis by Aaron Belkin, Ph. D., director of the Palm Center and political science professor at San Francisco State University:  Caring for Our Transgender Troops –The Negligible Cost of Transition-Related Care.

With Mike Huckabee basically decrying the potential medical cost of having transgender troops serve this country, Belkin decided to estimate how much we were talking about.  Being a retired math professor, I couldn’t resist double-checking Belkin’s calculations.