Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bulletin From Fat Girl Clothing Trenches

Mail order sucks. To wit:

I WISH I COULD TRY ON THE CLOTHES I ORDER BEFORE I BUY THEM!! I'm startin to get really zasperated about this. I am -- everybody is -- a tricky size to fit, but in my case in order to get things to fit I have to buy clothes (honestly) within five different sizes!!! All bets are off, when it comes to doing this at a distance. It really drives me crazy. Every manufacturer is different, every manufacturer has a size structure that's different, I can't remember from one to the other and when you throw eBay in there...forget it.

I'm tryin to buy a bathing suit right now, and it's like drafting the Paris peace accord. You try one size, they may have the next up or down, they might not, they might not have that color, you may not be able to return it, they may not even have one that really fits, who knows, either way who has the money to keep sending things back-- it's a very drawn-out version of an already annoying activity. I wish I wish I wish I could just TRY THE CLOTHES ON. As it is....I always end up wasting money. I am quite convinced clothing companies count on the long-distance buying process to make money. "Oh I can't send this back one more time"/" I'll just give it to a friend"/"eh, maybe it'll fit someday"...$$$$.

I really am startin to get all het up about this. It feels very ghetto-izing and as if a basic consumer rights issue that is being breached. Internet shopping...not a cure-all.

Review of moviecast of Il Barbiere di Siviglia!

More about what It All Means, later, but for now...

I was dying to find out: could you really eat JuJuBes? The answer is yes, you really can. You can eat candy, put up the armrest, even put up your feet--just no previews. This is the year live opera came to America’s movie theaters--sticky floors, cupholder seats, curtain calls. For $18 a seat the new medium can feed the rabid fan or ignite the neophyte.

As part of their “Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD” initiative, the Met broadcast six different operas live to HD-equipped cinemas, beginning with a user friendly Julie Taymored two-hour production of The Magic Flute on December 30. By the time the whole series ended two Tuesdays ago, the Met had sold more than 320,000 tickets. In many cities screenings sold out and the lines for seating started Star Wars-early. Some productions, such as the March 24 broadcast of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, were so successful--to put it in Variety context, Barber was the 18th highest-grossing US film that week, with over $850,000 in ticket receipts for 275 screens--that they were rebroadcast.

It was this encore of Barber of Seville that I saw, the last broadcast in the series, and I was dying to know (movie JuJuBes pull my fillings out) what it would be like. How would this alter the unique, visceral experience of attending opera? How would it sound? Would it feel the same?

The brutal fact is no, it didn’t. Not really. Not quite. Opera at its biggest, baddest, loudest, is like the fuzz from feedback, right in your brain and your teeth, and you can’t duplicate it at the remove of any recording, HD or not. The medium in this case still changes what it transmits, mostly, to my mind--without aid of comparison of this particular production--in the area of sound. There were times that big finishes felt muted, times when you could hear turns in tone as performers’ primary mics shifted, and instances when big bell-like tones flattened out a bit (voices with a little more vibrato seemed to sound better). I couldn’t help wondering if fundamental evidence of the slightly diminished power of sound lay in the fact that our movie theater audience never clapped nearly as long or lustily after arias as our parallel audience at the Met was doing listening to the same thing. I have equal suspicions, though, that that was just unavoidable movie audience mentality vs. you-are-there energy--hard to say.

The good news is I didn’t really care that the experience wasn’t the same. This medium really works in its own way. Other problems it might have had were either negligible or entertaining in their newness, such as the nervy goofiness of some of the half-time backstage show (it sometimes reminded me of SNL sketches or silly sports interviewing), and some of them were even kind of interesting. Evidence of humanity that you might think would spoil the experience--sweating singers, little mistakes, huge shoe squeaks on the floor--turn out to be crucial to being engaged in the experience. It made me realize why I find movies of operas so boring: you need to see people genuinely working, feel the tightrope of live theater, sense the technical prowess and musical joy and potential for disaster all happening right now. The Met’s moviecast does provide that for you, even if it can’t convey the parts of the opera-going experience you absorb through your nose and your skin and the vibrations in your seat.

It also didn’t hurt that this production of the Barber of Seville (directed by Bartlett Sher, who just won a Tony for The Light in the Piazza), was astonishingly good, and its merits would have shone through a much less technologically sophisticated transmission. The real star, as Count Almaviva, was Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez, the hottest thing in opera these days due to an astonishingly athletic but melting voice that reaches the top of his range (first "Ah, mes amis" encore at La Scala this year since Feodor Chaliapin--first in 74 years--that makes 18 high Cs, I think) with no seeming effort. He’s virtuosic and breath-taking, but human too. Semi-seriously dreamy.

What was not too surprising but still interesting about seeing Florez via pixels is that while we were watching perhaps the best singer of Rossini now alive, demands were made of him as a just an okay actor via close-up camera work that he couldn’t quite meet, not to mention you could see things like just how high his boots were (classic tenor meat, this dude, in some respects). And this made Swedish baritone Peter Mattei, as Figaro, the real star of the show in an all-around MVP sense. Some people have a face for radio; Mattei has a face (and voice) for high-definition broadcasts of opera. He has enormous ease and grace on stage, large expressive features--I know his performance was also reaching the back of the house in New York--a huge lanky frame, a beautiful, creamy voice. Of course he was also playing barber Figaro (as one critic wrote) like Warren Beatty in Shampoo, dripping with babes, but even if he hadn’t been it was hard not to fall a little in love with him. On the other end from Florez, by the way, were the slightly hammy antics of John Del Carlo as Dr. Bartolo, which occasionally seemed a little too much up close, but engaging.

Casting is clearly very important in this new medium, and the Met did it well. There were no clunkers (I liked Joyce DiDonato as Rosina), no hopelessly wooden performers, no purveyors of fantastic facial tics that would look awful writ big (hard to imagine Cecelia Bartoli cast in one of these things). Costumes are also newly important. I found myself scanning the Galliano-inspired clothes for detail or construction failure over and over as I never could at the theater, even with opera glasses. At one point I almost thought--there were many times during this broadcast that I was reminded of Singin’ in the Rain and its "Dancing Cavalier" sequences--that all the cool medallions and necklaces and cameos hanging around singers’ necks hid mics--a major no-no in opera, but I was just wondering how they were capturing sound--it seemed like there was the occasional chest-thumping echo--but the Met’s PR office firmly disabused me of this idea.

The mics were placed around the stage, as are many cameras, most notably behind the passerelle built out beyond the orchestra pit that let singers be closer to the audience (at the very end Figaro handed out his business cards to front row patrons--hilarious). This meant that the fourth wall was broken more than a few times. It was cool and a little scary, to see from their point of view the vast, twinklingly-lit dark on the edge of which the singers perch. I did wish the Met’s editing had given us more establishment shots--it spoiled a few little bits of stage business to see them happening up close too soon, not to mention it was all a little confusing sometimes--but by and large I wasn’t frustrated at what the cameras were showing me. Not to mention I had the sense their presence provided a kind of additional momentum to the performance, which can be kind of jerky-jerky with a lot of post-aria applause.

All in all, I was high when I walked out of the theater. Excited. Still not quite sure what to call this new animal I had seen, but excited. I felt beautifully opened up and put back together again by the music--Rossini was the real star of this production--which is the best you can hope for at the opera any day.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Oh how I love Cecil Parker's voice. I could recognize it at 100 paces and 50 years with my ears covered! Who couldn't. To wit: finally seeing The Weaker Sex. It's heaven on earth for a bpym-loving type. So hopelessly English post-war domestic. There's actually quite an astonishing amount of good diction in this film.

World's best cocoa, a little too chocolate-y for real adults: put a heaping soup spoon of Scharffen Berger cocoa with enough sugar to make the cocoa go the right gritty pale (not quite 2:1) into a nice mug with a pinch of salt. Stir together. Cut open an 8? oz. juice box-sized carton of Rice Dream or soy milk and stir in enough to make a paste. Then slowly stir in the rest, mixing. Microwave for 2-1/2 minutes, just the right time, stirring once mid-way, with a plate under the mug for overflow.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Growing on me: Victoria de los Angeles.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

punkt by punkt

1. I am developing an idjit crush on the Dinner: Impossible mancakes (Robert Irvine). Pritty pritty! It is a combination of watchin his arm muscles and the fact that he's actually Doing Things without enorrrrmous drawn-out food show chitter-chatter.

2. Two people I know online through the fat acceptance world are gonna be on Miami Ink. Sweet! One's a fat girl gettin a tattoo, one's a guy gettin a tattoo of a fat girl. Let's hope it all comes off well!

3. I miss Gourmet's old editorial design; I find the way it's currently laid out almost impossible to separate from advertising.

4. In this world these days, with way too much of this:

There are not nearly enough of these:

(that's a sauce spoon, by the way; the arrow's pointing to the distinctive sauce spoon dent)

5. On the phone tonight with me BFF, in rapid succession (space of about 10 minutes) I brought up Torvill & Dean, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sarah Brightman, Judy Garland, Summer Stock, Queen Elizabeth's hats and the tailoring of her clothes and Mark Morris. Sometimes I out-gay even the gay-boys, I tell you.

6. Recently I have started making LOLCAT/Caturday photos, but with...me. Why should cats have all the anthropomorphizin' fun? Okay, these indicate a new level of major Internet dumbness...pliz cut me slack. Home alone a lot.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I am kind of a sucker for Bull Durham. Think it's a well put-together movie. Have the vague sense that I am probably raging misogynist for supporting film with female groupies as both main and ancillary characters.

However, all I really need to say now is that in the penultimate scene when Susan S. and Kevin C. are sitting on her porch swing in the rain, Susan looks like a blue lizard with a Jheri Curl.


Monday, May 14, 2007

1. Specific type of Mess, level 35-1: The kind of mess that is temporarily convenient. For example: whenever you reach for a seltzer...there's one there! On the floor, on your nightstand, wherever. Because they're all over the place, and as such--magically available. This state of mess is a temporary one, however. Entropy takes over and suddenly nothing is where you want it, nothing can be found. So you have to go back to order, or sink farther into chaos. Oooh.

2. . . . wide open spaces / Room to make her big mistakes

3. . . . And all the rappers in the top ten--please allow me to bump thee.
I'm steppin' tall, y'all,and just like Humpty Dumpty
you're gonna fall when the stereos pump me.
I like to rhyme, I like my beats funky,
I'm spunky. I like my oatmeal lumpy.
I'm sick wit dis, straight gangsta mack
From the nothing's-real-until-the-NYTimes-writes-about-it files, the paper covered Leonard Nimoy's photography of fat nudes yesterday (login required). His work in this area has been pretty well-known for a while, certainly in the size acceptance community, but...yeah, well, whatever. The NYTimes actually is traditionally pretty decent about covering issues of size, although this article had a slightly too astonished tone, not to mention lazily leaned on the word 'fetish', in the loaded, connotative way most people do. If Nimoy had photographed skinny women...would that be a 'fetish'? If there are more technically 'overweight' women in the US than not...how would that term be correct from even a statistical POV? A guy who likes fat women once put it this way: I date women from 200-500 lbs; others are only interested in women from 105-120...who has the fetish?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Le silence ├ęternel de ces espaces infinis m'effraie.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Poiret benefit: a lot of interesting dresses, and thank god lots of color, a lot of bony clavicles and hips and a lot of really badly-dressed HAIR. And Christina Ricci is a terrifying twig.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Okay, admit it--how many of you are watching the St. Elmo's Fire/St. Elmo's Fire double-feature on Oxygen, TV for Women right now? That means you get to see the scene when a seriously girly Rob Lowe (not androgynous, girly) asks Mare Winningham in surprisingly poetic language for her virginity as a going-away present before he goes to make music in New York with his bad bad saxamophone playing bad SNL sax jazz...twice! And the scene where he says, "Let's Rock!"...twice! The most single unconvincing use of that phrase in the history of history.
So proud.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

* Russ Meyer...Alfred Hitchcock? How different are they, really?

* Have you seen the new Kenmore Laundry Plus storage tower? I have never felt such deep lust.

* I am very very very tired of cat hair.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Wildly Obvious Life Experience, 2007

Today at a resto/cafe a woman, sitting across from a very young baby, was having an incredibly animated conversation on her cell phone, a most hidden and tiny of headpieces in her hair. So she was having this entire conversation--hand gestures, watch consultations, reactive expressions--into thin air. With nobody. Or, alternately, with this super-perspicacious infant (seemed funny she was across from it, not next to it). At the end of the convo I expected her to air kiss....the air. Weird.