mojosmom: (Busy bee)
Last week was kind of Russian on the cultural front. I saw an excellent production of Uncle Vanya at the Goodman Theatre on Wednesday, and on Thursday I went to hear Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony perform an oratorio based on Prokoviev's music for Eisenstein's film, Ivan the Terrible. Both had me on my feet at the end, and I don't do that lightly. Also having me on my feet was Friday's Lyric Opera performance of Norma, with Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role. She's amazing.

Went to my book club yesterday. We had read The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America, by Ethan Michaeli. Very well-written, fascinating account of the newspaper, and very much a history of race in America as well. Michaeli, who worked at the Defender for several years, was present for our meeting (we often have area authors attend), and it was one of our biggest turnouts.

I've got a number of projects going. The Newberry Consort gala is next weekend, and I've been busy with that. I'm doing work for Wright+, coming up in May, and I've gotten involved in another project the Trust is doing, interviewing and writing about the founding volunteers. On top of that, I'm helping out the Library Committee at my club, cataloguing and culling books (seriously, who dumped a couple of dozen ratty volumes of the Loeb Classical Library on us?), and spearheading an event about Carl Sandburg (it's the 50th anniversary of his death this year).

So you can see why I chose the "busy bee" icon for this post!
mojosmom: (Default)
I'm meeting a friend for lunch (it's Chicago Restaurant Week, hurrah!), and this evening I'm going to the Lyric Opera's event announcing the coming season. My original plan was to take public transportation to both. Then I woke to the weather report which said that we'll be in the 50s today, but it will drop to the 20s this evening, and decided I'd take the bus and el to lunch and drive tonight (found a cheap - for downtown - spot - $10! Yay for SpotHero!). But now it's pouring. And I really don't want to stand at the bus stop, walk to the el, and then walk a few more blocks to the restaurant in torrential rain. So I think I'll drive and valet my car.
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
I woke up to a very gray day, such that I would probably have stayed in bed if I hadn't had a conference call scheduled for 9:00. (This was just for a status on planning for a concert/gala for the early music group on whose board I sit.)

Now it's raining/sleeting/wintry mixing. I registered to go to a showing of one of the Commissario Montalbano films at the Italian Cultural Institute tonight, but I am really thinking of bagging it because of the weather. I may just stay home and watch Barack. (I did not even consider getting up in the wee hours of the morning to go stand in line in 4º weather to maybe get a ticket.)

In fact, this week and last have been fairly quiet for me, not much scheduled, and with some very cold weather last week not much incentive to change that. But I have done a couple of fun things. I went Sunday afternoon to hear Paul O'Dette and Ronn McFarlane play lute duets, Italian and English. Their encore was Dowland's "My Lord Chamberlain, his Galliard", which is written for two to play upon one lute. Rather fun!

I saw a production of "The Magic Flute" which, while the music (of course) is glorious and so were the voices, I didn't like. Why the director felt the need to stage it as though kids were putting on an opera in the backyard, I do not know. It lost all the magic, you never felt it was really happening.

The dishwasher has arrived, so I am slowly filling it with enough dishes to run it. Honestly, I'll probably not use it a whole lot, but it's nice to have.

When I imported my LJ entries, comments didn't come along. I did it again, and find I have a slew of duplicate entries. So I am gradually going back and deleting the duplicates, making sure to delete the ones that don't have comments. Only a minor annoyance, though, and worth it, because I like having everyone's comments! I'll shut down my LJ shortly.
mojosmom: (My House)
Just as I was thinking about getting out of bed on Saturday, my phone rang. It was one of our next-door neighbors telling me that as she was walking her dog, she noticed water gushing out of the sidewalk in front of our building. I dressed quickly, and went out to check, and, boy, it sure was! I called the Water Department, though it turns out the call actually goes to 311 - the city's non-emergency number - and was told they'd be out "as soon as possible". Our water pressure dropped precipitously during the day, but, fortunately, one of the first things I had done Saturday morning was to fill a slew of pots and pans with water, so I did have tea and, even more important, I could flush! By Sunday morning, the water pressure was so low that we effectively had no water. I called 311 again and the issue was marked "emergency". Very shortly thereafter a crew came out to assess the situation. I spoke to the crew leader and she told me the afternoon crew would be out to do the repairs. In fact, they arrived shortly after 11:00 a.m. and were there until about 4:30 p.m. with all sorts of equipment to tear up the concrete and dig down to the pipe. I'd gone out in the afternoon, and stopped on the way home to buy bottled water - just in case - but it turned out I didn't need it.

The good news is multiple: they did not have to shut off our water (which would have meant shutting down the boiler when it was about 7º F.); the leak was on the city's side of the valve, so the city did the work instead of our condo association having to find a plumber on a holiday weekend; and, most of all, we are not in Flint, Michigan.

In other stuff:

I'm really annoyed at myself. My club had a reception for architect members on Friday evening, and I completely forgot about it! I don't know why. It's in my calendar. But I did go usher at a lovely concert in the neighborhood, the Baroque Band, playing Handel and contemporaries.

A friend and I planned to go see a film at the Siskel tomorrow, but we may not. It's going to be cold again, though compared to today not so bad. Today we're in the single digits and tomorrow it may heat up to 17º.

I went to the Lyric Opera's announcement of next season. Heavy on French opera, a couple of bel canto works, the start of their new Ring Cycle, and some odds and ends. Sadly, no contemporary American opera. During the Q&A, someone asked if they were ever going to do some Meyerbeer. Sir Andrew Davis put his head in his hands, moaned, and allowed as how he really dislikes Meyerbeer. So I guess that particular patron won't be getting his wish!
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
Is everyone ready for the holidays?

I had pretty much all my shopping done, other than random, impulsive stocking-stuffer type purchases, or at least I thought I had! I have friends with whom I exchange gifts, and waaaaaay back in November I was at World Market and saw some nice mugs with initials. I decided to buy these but a couple of the initials I needed were on a high shelf, so one of the sales people got them down for me. "Give me two Ds and a C", I said. And I put them in the cart, paid for my purchases, which were nicely wrapped in tissue paper, went home, and shoved the bag in a closet. Fast forward to Thursday, when I decided to wrap presents. And discovered that I had two Cs and a D. I went back to World Market, and, of course, they no longer had anymore Ds. However, they say they'll get more in and will call me, and one of the people who has that initial won't be with us the day we do the exchange, so I have time. But I do wish I'd checked sooner!

Both my sisters arrive tonight, and we are making plans. We'll go to friends on Tuesday for the traditional gourmet mac-and-cheese, vespers at First Unitarian on Christmas Eve followed by our traditional latke dinner, and dinner with other friends on the 26th.

There have been a slew of parties this year - last Saturday I had two in one day, an afternoon open house and an evening dinner.

I've been to a couple of really good music performances lately. I mentioned in my last that I was going to hear Judas Maccabeus, and it was a rousing good performance! I've also been to Bel Canto, the opera commissioned by Lyric Opera based on Ann Patchett's novel. Really excellent, particularly when you consider that neither the composer, Jimmy Lopez, nor the librettist, Pulitzer Prize playwright Nilo Cruz, had ever written an opera before! Thankfully, they eliminated Patchett's ridiculous epilogue, which was a real clunker. The singers were splendid, particularly countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo as César and mezzo J'nai Bridges as Carmen. Loved the set and lighting as well.

Then I went to a recital with Patricia Barber and Renée Fleming, Fleming singing mostly Barber's music, arranged as art songs, with sometimes Barber and sometimes Craig Terry and sometimes both accompanying on the piano. Barber's quartet also played, and we did get to hear her sing, though not enough for my taste! They sang together as well, notably a bunch of Christmas songs. The only real failure was Fleming's singing of You Gotta Go Home. But it was a grand and successful experiment in joining jazz music and classical singing.

As part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the S.C. Johnson Company sponsored trips up to Racine for tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Administration Building and the Research Tower (recently opened for tours). They provided buses from the Chicago Cultural Center up to Racine and back. On most weekends, you also get to see Wingspread, designed by Wright for Hibbert Johnson and his family, and now a conference center. It's all free! So I did that last weekend, and it was a great treat. Kudos to the Johnsons for hiring Wright in the first place, and for appreciating what they have and sharing it.
mojosmom: (Default)
And here I swore I was going to do better. ~sigh~ What did Robbie Burns say about one's best laid plans? Well, he goes around with a bird on his head, so who is he to talk?
Robert Burns with a seagull on his head (and his feet

Anyway . . .

Since we last met, I've been madly giving tours at Robie House, and having a good deal of fun. I have also been discovering all the perks! The Preservation Trust has a "Volunteer Warehouse Sale". No, they don't sell volunteers. They let the volunteers buy "distressed" and discontinued merchandise at steep discounts. Including books. Then I did two tours last Saturday, and when I signed in, I found a coupon that said, "Thanks for working on a holiday weekend. Here's 20% off at the gift shop." So I bought a pair of earrings.

I've been to a couple of good movies. The Siskel Film Center had its European Film Festival, so I saw the French movie, Becoming Traviata, a documentary about a production of that opera at Aix-la-Provence, with Natalie Dessay. Also Dormant Beauty, an Italian film about end-of-life issues. Both recommended.

Oh, and I was right. I do mix up my French and Italian. Not so much in my Italian class, but in my French lessons, I'm always doing it. "Ma" instead of "mais", and the like. I've taken to watching "Le Sang de la vigne" (The Blood of the Vine), a French mystery series featuring an œnologist who tends to stumble on bodies. I quite enjoy it. Also Maigret, occasionally. Both in French with English subtitles, on the "International Mysteries" show, where I also watch Italian shows.

Opera season ended with "Streetcar named Desire", great singing, especially Anthony Dean Griffey as Mitch, but uninteresting music by André Previn. It was pretty much just the play set to music.

The Latino Theatre Festival is going on at Goodman, and I saw a fabulous play yesterday, Pedro Páramo, by Raquel Carrío, based on a book by Juan Rolfo, which I now have on hold at the library. It was a co-production with Cuba's Teatro Buendía, with some of their actors and some Chicago actors (including folks I know). It's a rather spooky play about a young man who goes in search of the father who abandoned him, and discovers a town where everyone is dead (though he doesn't realize it at first).

The cat and I both had fasting bloodwork last week. If you ever want to piss off a cat, take her food away. She was not happy.

I'm off to Cleveland on Wednesday to visit my sister (and her cats) for a couple of days.
mojosmom: (Default)
Music has been on the agenda a lot recently. I went to hear Too Hot to Handel, a jazz/gospel version of Handel's greatest hit. It's been presented at the Auditorium for the past several years, but this was the first time scheduling allowed me to go. It was wonderful, particularly the mezzo, Karen Marie Richardson. They had some video, the first year they've done that, which wasn't very good (bad quality, distracting), but it certainly didn't detract from the music.

Then last week, three days in a row. Last Thursday was Lyric's Subscriber Appreciation Concert, at which they showed their appreciation by allowing us to pay more money. ;-) Renée Fleming and Susan Graham did a fabulous recital of French songs, with a killer encore by Graham singing La Vie en Rose accompanying herself on the piano.

Then from the sublime to the ridiculous. There's a truly funny musical, Das Barbecü, a country-western take-off on Wagner's Ring Cycle set in Texas. Sounds weird, and it probably helps to have some familiarity with Wagner, but I enjoyed it very much. It was produced at one of the local colleges, with young professional singers, and they did a fine job.

Saturday, I went to hear the Newberry Consort, a local early music ensemble, at a concert of 18th-century Scottish music, including a lot of Robert Burns. This was followed by a party at the home of some friends, so I didn't get home until quite late.

I've also seen more movies in the last couple of weeks than in a long time. I saw Lincoln at our new neighborhood movie theatre. It's really good, although, if I'd made the film, I'd have ended it sooner. It's not like we don't know Lincoln was assassinated (oh, sorry, was that a spoiler?). Then I saw Diana Vreeland: the Eye has to Travel at the Siskel Film Center, a documentary made by her granddaughter-in-law. What a fabulous woman! On a more serious note, they also showed Point of Order, about the Army-McCarthy hearings. I'd seen it before, but it can't be seen too often.

I'm on a committee at my law school now, to set up a scholarship named for a relative. My great-aunt was married for a time to William E. Rodriguez, the first Hispanic graduate of my law school, and also the first Hispanic alderman in the City of Chicago. This year is the 100th anniversary of his graduation, and another alum contributed funds to set up the scholarship. It's not a lot, but every little bit helps.

Tonight I'm scheduled to have my practice tour over at Robie House. Parts of the tour are outside, and it is really cold! Typical Chicago weather. We set a record on Tuesday for the warmest day (it hit 60º), and today it's in the teens (probably in the single digits tonight). So I will bundle up, though it's possible we'll stay inside (the volunteer coordinator said they've done that in the past).

I am planning a couple of trips. My older sister and I have finalized our plans for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. We're going for the second weekend, but will stay a full week to see other things. We're staying at a B&B in the French Quarter, and, once again, I'm taking the train.

In June, I'm going to France! A couple I know, both of who are artists, along with another artist couple, take a group every year to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, one of Les plus beau villages de France®. In the past, the trip has been designed for artists, but due to popular demand they have now arranged it for non-artists as well. It sounded so lovely, and another friend wanted to go, so we are.
mojosmom: (japanese icon)
It's practically summer here! Seriously, we're expecting a high in the 80s today. I can live with that. I have thrown open all the windows and am letting the breezes blow and the sun shine in. I might even make some iced tea.

We have a visiting cat next door. I came home last Friday, and, as I was coming up the last bit of back stair, saw this lovely cat, who looked far too sleek and well-fed to be a stray. Turns out that my neighbor's cousin is visiting to help him out with some renovations on his apartment, and the cousin always travels with his cat. Cat can't stay inside because my neighbor is allergic, so he hangs out on the back porch and stairs, or in the cousin's van. Meet Diesel:

Lots of music lately. The full production of Rinaldo certainly lived up to the promise of the dress rehearsal. The day prior, I'd gone to the Symphony to hear (finally) Ricardo Muti conduct Cherubini's Requiem. He was supposed to do it last season, but got ill. The program also included a vocal piece by Brahms and Schoenberg's Kol Nidre. The chorus got a real work-out. Sunday, the Newberry Consort played a concert of sixteenth-century Ferrarese music at Rockefeller Chapel. Such a sunny day that, at one point, the soprano and a couple of the musicians had to move their music stands because the light shining through the stained glass windows put too much glare on the music! And most of the audience went outdoors during intermission.

I went up to my friend Margaret's for dinner on Saturday, and she showed off the new addition to her house, a lovely sun room that can be accessed from her kitchen and from what she now is using as her dining room (it had been a study/office). Her nephew did all the work, and it's gorgeous. Light wood paneling, windows on three sides, plus two skylights, and a small deck leading outside.

What else? Oh, a very fun lecture at the Art Institute by Sarah Burns called "Better for Haunts", all about how Victorian American architecture has become the archetype for the haunted house, with references to Chas Addams, Psycho, and Edward Hopper.

I have done my civic duty and voted duty. Despite the gorgeous weather, turnout seems to be light, but there's really only one major race in the Democratic primary, and that's in the top judicial race. Sadly, most people don't pay much attention to those. So as there are very few Republicans in my neighborhood, the poll workers will probably need to have brought a good book.
mojosmom: (Default)
Since last I wrote, I have had quite a bit of music and music-related events in my life. Georg Friedrich figured prominently in a couple of them, hence the bad pun in my subject line.

I went to the dress rehearsal of Rinaldo at Lyric, which is basically little different from seeing an actual production. Some of the singers don't use full voice, and there is always the possibility of repeats (though none occurred on this occasion). It's absolutely marvelous, and I am looking forward to the actual event in a couple of weeks.

The next day, the Apollo Chorus (140 years old and still going strong) and the Elmhurst Symphony performed Handel's Dettingen Te Deum and Mozart's Requiem at Rockefeller Chapel. Both pieces were magnificently performed, and the setting was perfect:
Dressed for Christmas

On Sunday, I went back to the Civic Opera House for their backstage tour. What fun! We got to see all the various departments (wigs, wardrobe, props, etc.), and learned lots. So I can say that I have been on stage at Lyric and in the orchestra, and it wouldn't be a lie. And I got to wear a crown:
Crowned head
(The weird head position is because it was too big and wanted to fall off. "Uneasy lies the head", as they say.) Lots more pics here.

As you can see if you click through to the set, they're doing Showboat, which was, in my view, a waste of Lyric's resources. I don't go to Lyric to see musicals. It didn't help that it was miked, and not well, or that there was no chemistry between Magnolia and Gaylord Ravenal. Fortunately, their next foray into musical theatre will be outside the subscription series, so I can calm down about it.

Yesterday, they had a press conference to announce that Lyric has commissioned an opera based on Ann Patchett's book, Bel Canto, rather a natural, when you come to think about it. I am particularly thrilled that Nilo Cruz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, will do the libretto. Teatro Vista has done a ton of work with him, so I feel even more connected.

After the tour, I dashed off to the Smart Museum for a short concert of food-related music, ranging from Purcell to Schubert to Ravel to Comden & Green. The program was done as part of the events around the exhibit Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art, which I didn't have time to see that afternoon, but will go back to view.

In non-classical music events, I went to a wonderful film last night, Chico and Rita. Set in Cuba, New York and (briefly) Las Vegas, this animated film tells the story of two Cuban jazz musicians, pianist Chico and singer Rita, and their star-crossed love affair, from when they first meet in 1948, up to the present. I loved the animations, particularly the cityscapes. And the music, well, it just can't be beat. See it if you can: or

And in non-music . . .

My financial advisor decided that, since I have now been retired for several months, we should have a meeting to review my situation. All is well, all is, indeed, very well, and I have decided to transfer another account I have over to her. I've actually been thinking about that for awhile, and now it's done.

I went to an interesting lecture at the Art Institute about restoration (and faking) of old masters, and how conservators can figure out what's been done.

Today bids fair to be a fair day (it was already in the '50s at 8:00 a.m.!), so I am going to go out and enjoy the day. It's personal pampering day - I'm getting a manicure this morning and a haircut this afternoon.
mojosmom: (Default)
I got home from a concert a short while ago, and now it's lightning-ing and thundering! Guess I made it home just in time. Yes, I skipped the Oscars in favor of Mozart, Hadyn, Beethoven and Schubert.

Fabulous production of Lohengrin at Lyric on Friday night. Five hours just flew by! Emily McGee was Elsa, Johann Botha was Lohengrin (though he did look as if he'd be more at home in the sumo ring that sword-fighting), Greer Grimsley was Telramund, and all were excellent, but I thought Michaela Schuster's Ortrud stole the show.

Yesterday, I went to the Art Institute for a lecture on their new exhibit, Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France, and then went to the exhibit itself, which has some absolutely splendiferous pieces. There's a Jean Fouquet illumination, The Battle between the Romans and the Carthaginians, with some very curious marginalia. I'll definitely go back again.

There was an anti-Qaddafi demo going on a couple of blocks from the Art Institute, so I stopped and took some pictures.


This morning, I again went to Borders, where all is now 60% off, and did some more damage. They had an Italian-English dictionary, so I picked that up because the one I've been using is falling apart. And a few other things as well. They've got about a week left; we'll see if the discounts get even deeper!
mojosmom: (banned books)
I was rummaging in my junk closet, looking for some Kraft paper to wrap a parcel, when I knocked a wooden clothes hanger off the bar. It hit me on the bridge of the nose (don't worry, I'm okay), and managed to break the plastic frame of my glasses right down the middle! Fortunately, they're just cheap readers, not expensive prescription glasses.

After mailing the parcels and dropping a few things at the dry cleaners, I went over to the Smart Museum to see the exhibit, Echoes of the Past: the Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan. As not infrequently happens, I'd been intending to go, and suddenly realized it was the penultimate day! It's a fascinating exhibit. These stunning pieces were carved into the rocks of the caves in the 6th-century, and remained intact until the beginning of the 20th, when Buddhist art became collectible and the caves were vandalized to obtain sellable items. The exhibit includes a number of pieces from the caves, but also has digital reconstructions. More here.

(As it happens, the exhibit is traveling to the Sackler Gallery in Washington, and will be there while the BookCrossing Convention is taking place. I'll definitely want to go to the Sackler; they will also be having exhibits on the Shahnama, on Whistler and the Victorian Craze for Blue-and-White, and a couple of other interesting sounding ones.)

What I hadn't realized was that the Smart was also showing the David Wojnarowicz video, A Fire in my Belly, that was removed from the National Portrait Gallery after a bunch of idiots who probably never even saw it got all upset over one image of a crucifix crawling with ants. Apparently, a whole slew of institutions are now showing it, thus once again proving that censorship is the quickest way to disseminate that which is censored! It's actually rather difficult to judge quality of the video itself, which is made up of quick cuts between a wide variety of images, including a lot of archival footage, because it is unfinished. It's disturbing, but it needs to be. After all, he's raging about the AIDS-related death of a friend.

They also have a new piece in the reception area, the first of what will be an ongoing series. It's a huge and gorgeous ink drawing by the Chinese-born artist, Bingyi, called Cascade, that evokes traditional Chinese landscape paintings. If you go to Bingyi's website, click on "Projects", "2010" and then "Cascade", you can see more about it.

Last night I went to a great concert, Allen Toussaint with Don Byron (sax & clarinet) and Nicholas Payton (trumpet). Mostly stuff from their album, The Bright Mississippi, but other pieces as well. Symphony Center was rockin'! Gosh, I do love New Orleans jazz. I'd missed dinner because a friend came out to the courthouse to file some documents and we went out for coffee/tea, and I got home just in time to change and head to the concert. So afterwards I went to the bar at Rhapsody (in the Symphony Center) and had steak frites and a couple of glasses of Malbec.

I see I haven't mentioned the Lyric Opera production of The Mikado. I could have done without it. Not that it wasn't well-done, but a) I'm not a Gilbert & Sullivan fan, and b) Lyric Opera isn't the house for G&S. However, Stephanie Blythe was wonderful. A friend has pointed out that updating this to the '20s is a bit odd, as the Mikado would be the Taisho emperor and Nanki-Poo would be Hirohito. I don't think the production team caught that nuance.
mojosmom: (opera)
First opera of the season Friday night! The first trick was figuring out how to get to the garage where I normally park, as there is major construction on Lower Wacker Drive, and I can't get to it from my usual route. I called the building, and they were very helpful, even emailing me a map with all the various closures and alternate routes. But, in the end, I found a simpler way, though any route involves going north and east to then go west and south! We had decided to have dinner at the Corner Bakery at Michigan and Wacker, and then take the water taxi to Madison where the Opera House is. Since I parked near the Opera House, I took the taxi both ways. The Madison St. stop is by one of the major commuter train stations, so a lot of people use it for commuting, but it's also a great way to get a view of downtown that you wouldn't ordinarily see.

The opera was Verdi's Macbeth, and was directed by Barbara Gaines, who is the artistic director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. It's her first opera production, and was quite successful. Of course, it didn't hurt that Lady Macbeth was sung by Nadja Michael, who is gorgeous, physically and vocally, and was, as one of my companions described her, "a force of nature". Thomas Hampson was Macbeth.

Today, I went to the Chicago Symphony. It was supposed to be Riccardo Muti conducting Cherubini's Requiem, but he has cancelled his fall appearances due to illness, so the concert had morphed into Pierre Boulez conducting Mahler's Symphony No. 7. Though Cherubini is definitely more my speed, I did love the Mahler! It's hard to believe that when it was first performed people found the music "incomprehensible", as to the modern ear it is quite melodic. One hundred years certainly changes things!

So I bought this sweater yesterday (ignore the price, I never pay retail!), in the gray/black. The picture doesn't do it justice. From even a short distance, the collar looks like crushed velvet, and it reminds me of architect Jeanne Gang's Aqua tower.

Okay, there's a kid somewhere in the 'hood learning to play the trumpet. I can hear him when I'm in my study. He's not very good. I sure hope he improves! ;-)
mojosmom: (Default)
Friday night, there was a going away party for one of our investigators, not that she's going far, just over to the Sheriff's Office, but still, we had to have a party! So I missed the Second Friday Open Studio at the Fine Arts building, but that's okay.

I was up fairly early on Saturday, because there was an estate sale I wanted to go to, primarily because I wanted to see the house! It's the gatehouse at East View Park, the only freestanding residence, a 1925 bungalow, and I've always been curious about what it's like inside. It's adorable, and if I had a spare half-million, I'd buy it. I did end up buying a few things, some throw pillows and a print. I had my eye on a couple of other items (an art nouveau-style lamp and a Japanese chest), but I have no place to put either, so I refrained. I also went to a rummage sale to benefit the Avon Cancer Walk, and bought a gorgeous black evening coat. I'm not sure what the material is but it has a really interesting texture. It's at the dry cleaners right now.

It was raining most of the morning, which was worrisome because I wanted to go to the Lyric Opera's annual concert at Millennium Park in the evening. Around 3:00, though, it cleared up, the sun actually peeped out and it began to get warmer. So I fixed a picnic dinner (poached salmon, potato salad, leftover edamame, tomatoes, with strawberries for dessert) and took that, along with a half-bottle of Riesling, and got down about an hour and a quarter before the concert began. The place was already packed, but I did find a spot to spread my blanket. By the time the music started, it was wall-to-wall people, quite literally, and the sidewalks on either side of the lawn were also full with standees. Very nice to see! And the concert was lovely, as always.

On Sunday, I went to the annual "We Hate Macy's, Bring Back Marshall Field's" demo:
Thank you, Field's!

This year, it was followed by an author reading/book signing at the Borders down the street, for Gayle Soucek's new book, Marshall Field's: The Store that Helped Build Chicago. There were several former Field's employees in attendance, and there was much reminiscing and nostalgia. Afterwards, several of us went to have a bite to eat and say more rude things about Macy's.

Yesterday, I went to another author event, also at Borders (though a different store). Tim Gunn! The awesome, sexy, charming and erudite Project Runway Tim Gunn. He was great, though the event was a bit chaotic and disorganized. There were at least 400 people there (based on 8 different colors of wristbands at 50 per color!). There was a Q&A for about half-an-hour, and then he started signing books at about 7:30 p.m. I left at about 10:15 and he was still signing books, and still being incredibly gracious to everyone. We have this in common: we both collect architectural pop-up books. Between the wait for the event to start, and the wait in line for signing, I actually finished the book!
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
I went over to Betty C.'s house to help stamp/address postcard invitations Teatro Vista's benefit on April 12. About halfway through, we realized that a whole slew of the address labels didn't have zip codes! So rather than risk them not being delivered, we split up the pile and I've spent a fair bit of the evening looking up zip codes and making an errata sheet so we can update the mailing list.

I was a bit tired, as I went to the opera last night, The Marriage of Figaro, and it's a long one (but excellent, so well worth it). I took a friend home and didn't get home until nearly midnight. Unfortunately, I had to get up way early as it was my weekend to cover bond court. I was going to take a nap before going to Betty's, but didn't, so took a short one before dinner.

In real exciting news, I took my car to be emissions tested yesterday. I passed.

It's been a busy week for me. On Tuesday, I went to the Newberry Library for their Associates Night. There was food and drink, and a talk about Shakespearean drama (with actors), and the bookstore was open and having a 20% discount for members.

Then on Wednesday, I went over to International House for a presentation of kyogen plays by the Shigeyama family, assisted by some adorable little kids from a local elementary school playing the part of mushrooms. It was tremendous fun, the only downside being that my camera batteries were dead so I didn't get any pictures.

On Thursday, I went to the Hyde Park Art Center for the Not Just Another Pretty Face salon. This is a project they do every couple of years to match patrons with artists. They discussed the process, showed slides of some of the artists' work, and also talked about the cost. Some of the artists, particularly the more established ones and those who work in certain media or on a large-scale, would be way out of my league to work with. But there are some, including some whose work I like, that I could afford. I'm thinking this might be a fun thing to do, it'll help the Art Center (they get 50% of the cost, and there's an exhibition), and I've always wanted to be a Medici! ;-)

Best part? All three of the above events were free.
mojosmom: (Default)
Went to a lecture this afternoon on the work of Irving K. Pond, whom none of you have ever heard of. Neither had I, until I saw the announcement of this program! He was a Chicago architect, trained by William LeBaron Jenney, was a friend of Jane Addams, built the town of Pullman, and did some houses in my neighborhood. Architect David Swan recently edited Pond's autobiography, and he gave the lecture and showed slides of Pond's work. Afterwards, there was a walking tour of his local houses, but it was a bit chilly and the drizzle had increased to actual rain, so I passed on that portion of the event.

Took my car in for service yesterday, and I barely recognized it when I picked it up. It was clean! It had gotten really grungy from the snow and slush, so I was glad it was warm enough for the dealer to give it a wash. The car had to be there for several hours, so I went home and cleaned my kitchen floor, which was in an absolutely disgusting condition.

One of the ways that the economic situation seems to have affected cultural institutions is that they are having free, or low-cost, events in order to promote themselves. I've been to two such lately. Chicago Opera Theatre recently hosted an event to introduce the upcoming spring season. It was held at the Mars Gallery, sort of off the beaten path in the gentrifying West Loop area. Various members of the artistic staff gave brief speeches, costume and set designs were on display, and there were nibblies and drinks, including a delicious "operatini", consisting of gin, sour mix and honey. That particular event actually cost me more than the ticket price, because I noticed this cross, by Shelley Barberot, a New Orleans artist, and had to have it:

Cross - by Shelley Barberot

A few days later, Steppenwolf Theatre Company hosted a free event to promote their production of "The Brother/Sister Plays", which I'm definitely going to try to get to, probably toward the end of the run, between my trips to Europe and New York! It was held at their rehearsal space, in the landmarked Yondorf Hall, and featured excellent food from a restaurant near me, as well as a performance by the Muntu Dance Theatre, followed by audience participation:

Teaching the girls to dance

There were a couple of other events that night I was thinking of going to, but this one went on a bit longer than I expected, and I was a bit tired, so I didn't.

The people who run the Community Supported Agriculture program I was involved in last summer have started doing a Sunday brunch at a local café. Last week was their first, so I stopped by and the food was great. They do a buffet, but you can also get an entrée, together or separately. The buffet is all vegetarian, but one of the entrées is not. Last week it was salmon, and was very good.

Berlioz' Damnation of Faust at Lyric on Friday was just okay. The singers were great, but the opera isn't a favorite and the production was just so-so. They did some "updating", which generally was okay, but the descent into hell just isn't as scary when the demons are guys in suits and women with baby carriages. And, frankly, neighbors descending on Marguerite with pitchforks and frying pans because she's fornicating with Faust seems a bit unlikely in modern times! But I had an enjoyable dinner with the Harrises and Jim & Kevin. J & K were just back from a trip to Australia and New Zealand, where they had covered much the same ground as our friend Jamie (who missed this time because he's in Arizona with family) did a short while ago (visting the same friends, etc.), so the conversation had a bit of a déja vu feel to it!
mojosmom: (Librarian books)
You may remember that I wrote a while back that I had attended a poetry workshop at my local library. While there, I recommended to the group Stephen Fry's book, The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within. Yesterday when I was there returning books, she came over and said, "I ordered that book you recommended!" Maybe I should make a list . . .

Cultural stuff )

shopping )

The board meeting itself was good. We're in the black, having made actual profits at seminars and the annual dinner, and membership is way up. We're planning a party, an "Irish wake for Clarence Darrow", which should be tremendous fun. We'd just co-sponsored a two-day forensics seminar, which I attended, and which was really an excellent program. So we are quite happy, and voted a raise for our executive director (not that she's making much - it's a very part-time gig - but she deserves every penny).
mojosmom: (Default)
Italian classes started up again last Monday, and I brought a chocolate panettone that I found at my local produce store. (The family that owns it is Italian, and so they also carry quite a variety of imported Italian goodies.)

I don't remember if I posted that my boss was named a judge, so they're looking for a new Public Defender. On Monday, the list was narrowed down to six names. I know three of the people (one currently in our office, and the other two I know from other places), all of whom I'd be happy with. The other three are unknown quantities.

Tuesday night was the Teatro Vista board meeting. The majority of the actors from the Chicago production of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity will be in the New York production. I'm probably going to go to New York a day or so earlier than I originally planned, so I can meet up with Eddie before he leaves on May 31.

Thursday night, I was thrilled and delighted to watch the start of season 7 of Project Runway, back in New York where it belongs. Quite a variety of points of view among the designers, and there was color! and pattern! on the runway. I think this may turn out to be a very good season.

Tosca at Lyric on Friday night, with a bit of unplanned excitement at the end of the second act. Fortunately, all turned out well, but just as Tosca stabs Scarpia, and orders him to "Muori dannato!", a woman a few rows up from me collapsed, and there were calls for a doctor. Another audience member who was obviously a doctor jumped out of his seat and went to help, and she revived and was helped out under her own steam, though the ushers said later that she left the building in an ambulance, but was okay. (P.S. Loved the opera - it's a favorite!)

I have been very lazy this three-day weekend. I went out to a concert Saturday night (eighth blackbird, and Suzanne Mentzner) and a play last night (The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion, based on her book, which I suppose I should now read), but during the day I haven't done much at all. Today, I'm playing catch-up on this and my other blog. I ran into a former colleague both Saturday and Sunday night! She is doing volunteer ushering. I rarely see her, so twice in two nights was a surprise.

Off to class soon. We had to write a few sentences describing our "casa dei sogni", house of our dreams. I said mine would clean itself.
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
I actually stayed home Wednesday.

Tuesday night was the Teatro Vista board meeting. It went pretty well, and Betty had made an absolutely delicious vegetable stew (she generally provides food when we meet at her place). I brought some Turtles® that I got in an office gift exchange, because I desperately needed to get them out of my office so they'd stop tempting me!

There's a small theater run by the Department of Cultural Affairs in Chicago, called the Storefront Theater, even though it's not really a storefront. They have been running a play called "Carnival Nocturne", performed by the Silent Theatre Company. I went on Thursday and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's told in music and mime and a bit of voiceover. In the story, the Ringmaster's wife is accidentally killed during a trick, and he and the rest of the company make a deal with the devil to a) bring her back to life, and b) get eternal life. But they have to sacrifice someone once a month, and it happens in the form of a young woman who is tricked into repeating the circumstances of the wife's death. The costumes and music were quite beautiful. The play was described as "combin[ing] the styles of Tim Burton and Edward Gorey" and I'd say that's not far off.

Earlier that day, I'd gotten an announcement from the Gene Siskel Film Center that they had passes to a screening of the new film version of Sherlock Holmes, so I stopped by and got the very last one! I should be seeing it on Monday evening (the pass has a "get there early, we overbook to make sure the place is filled" warning).

Last night we saw The Merry Widow at Lyric. Lovely set and costumes, a couple of good voices, but a lot of the performers didn't have strong enough voices for the house. But Lehar is always enjoyable. We had dinner first in the new bistro that's in the building, and I expect we'll go back. The food is good, there's enough but not too much, and it's reasonably priced.

Today I bought a Christmas tree, and put it up. I now also have little red spots all over my inside forearms! So I will wear something with long sleeves to the party I'm going to tonight (and also when I decorate it).

Tomorrow is Do Nothing But Read Day, so I plan to do nothing but read (well, I'll eat, too).
mojosmom: (opera)
When I was at the Spertus Institute for one of the Chicago Humanities Festival events, I saw a flyer for a performance last Thursday by a group called Vagabond Opera. I checked them out and was very intrigued so I decided to go. Unfortunately, I got hit by a bad cold, and, although I did go, I spent most of the evening sniffling and generally feeling lousy, and left after the first set. Which was a shame, because I really, really liked their music! So I bought one of their CDs on the way out. Their music is sort of a combination of klezmer/gypsy/cabaret/jazz.

I did get home in time to curl up with a cup of tea and the finale of Project Runway. I sure hope Season 7 is better.

I was still a bit under the weather on Friday, but went to work anyway. Why? Because I'd signed up for a Wellness screening. How's that for ironic? Having it done means a break on my health insurance costs, so I didn't want to miss it. Mid-morning, though, I decided to head home, take a nap and hope that I would feel well enough later to go to Lyric. Which I did. That few hours extra sleep + cold medication helped tremendously. The opera was Verdi's Ernani, with Salvatore Licitra in the title role and Sondra Radvanovsky as Elvira. She was particularly stunning. I enjoyed the whole thing, even if it does have a silly plot.

Yesterday, I did a lot of errands, and started shopping for my annual Sunday-after-Thanksgiving open house. I also stopped by a neighborhood pet store where Hyde Park Cats was having an adoption event. (No, I didn't.) On the way home, I stopped at a couple of used book stores, and picked up some books on Florence (a history, some essays, and guides to the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Vecchio), as well as a memoir by Norman Hartnell (Elizabeth II's favorite designer) and another memoir of a Parisian concierge.

I'm off today to the grand opening of Open Books' bookstore, so I might do some more damage.
mojosmom: (opera)
Friday night at the opera, first. None of the various people I go with could make it. Jamie was teaching at a seminar in Springfield, and wouldn't get back in time. Beth & Duncan's son was in a soccer tournament. And Jim & Kevin were headed to Michigan on Saturday and so had to change their Newberry Consort tickets to Friday night. Lyric has just opened a restaurant and a bar with food on the premises, so I decided to try the restaurant. They do two seatings: one at 5:00 for those attending the pre-opera lecture and one at 6:00. It's a four-course prix fixe menu, and was very good.

So was the opera. In fact, it was astonishingly wonderful! It was Gounod's Faust, one of those operas I've seen quite a lot (and the same production, too). I can't quite put my finger on it, but it was a performance where everything, singers, orchestra, staging, etc. just clicked perfectly. The soprano, Ana Maria Martinez, has a rich voice and is a good actress, too. I was particularly impressed by her portrayal of Marguerite's insanity in the final act. There was a marvelous bit of stage business in Act 4; when the soldiers return, Valentin gives a folded flag to several war widows. One fainted, one was stoic, and one spit in his face. Excellent work by the chorus members! We had the second cast for the roles of Faust and Mephistopheles, but it turned out not to matter. Though I had been disappointed that I wasn't going to hear René Pape, Kyle Ketelsen did very well, indeed.

Last night, I drove very carefully through hordes of trick-or-treaters to Rockefeller Chapel, for the Newberry Consort's first concert of the season. In a departure from their usual early music fare, this was a program of American music from the mid-nineteenth century, called "Beautiful Dreamer: Music of Lincoln's America", designed to connect with the Newberry Library's current Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition. Still a historically-informed performance, with some period and period-style instruments. They did traditional music, along with Stephen Foster songs and Louis Moreua Gottschalk piano pieces, among other things. All was interspersed with contemporary readings by Canadian actor Paul Hecht. What a voice!

Today, I slept late, despite the time change. Then my morning got thrown off because my newspaper hadn't been delivered! This, however, turned out to be a good thing, because when it was re-delivered and the carrier rang the bell, we discovered that the door buzzer doesn't work. (That's not good, but knowing the problem exists is!) I had thought about going to a vintage clothing show over in the West Loop, but decided not to expose myself to temptation. So I bought groceries instead, and will shortly commence doing my homework for tomorrow's Italian class.

June 2017



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