mojosmom: (japanese icon)
A bakery in my neighborhood is moving to a spot just a half block from me. Yum! Cinnamon buns with fig jam! Strawberry-rosemary scones! But really bad spelling. They're doing the build-out of the new place, and I noticed the other day that the window lettering said "ALWAYS FRSH". I figured the sign painter had screwed up. But then I saw that another window had a sign with the same "ALWAYS FRSH" on it. This is a university community. People pay attention to this sort of thing. I wonder how many people will say, "Hey! Your sign is misspelled!"

Yet another reason to avoid Amazon. I came home the other day to find that their delivery people had left a package in the foyer of our building that was meant for someone elsewhere in the neighborhood. After a bit of a search, I found a way to contact them to tell them of the mistake so they could pick up the package and deliver it to the correct address. They wouldn't do it! The customer "service" rep told me to keep the package and (presumably when the intended recipient complained) they would resend it or give the person a refund. Basically, they told me to steal the package. That's a crime. Idiots. So I'll take the package to the other building myself. I think I should send them a bill.

One of the non-profits for which I volunteer had an event for major donors at a high-end designer fashion boutique. Students in the fashion design program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago had created designs based on the Robie House. All the designs were displayed and the two top winners had had the garments created (they were fab!). The Development Director invited me because, he said, I am always "well-attired"! I went, but did not buy anything because I will not spend $1200+ on a dress even if it is gorgeous and absolutely "me". I did, however, drink their wine and chat with the Fashion Resource Center director, whom I know. It was fun.

Yesterday was quite busy. I had my Italian literature group, then a board meeting at my club. In the afternoon I gave a tour at the Rookery for a group of deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Rather than a sign language interpreter, we had a court reporter who typed what I was saying, and the text was transmitted via WiFi to the group, all of whom had tablets or smartphones on which to read it. This was the first time we'd done this, so it was a bit of an experiment, and, for the most part, worked pretty well.

In the evening, I went to a great concert, by the early music group, Sequentia. It was in the same neighborhood as Robie House, so at the invitation of the woman who organizes it, I stopped in there beforehand for their After Hours event (drinks, noshes, and a jazz musician or two). That's always fun; I often volunteer for it. The concert was delightful, and there was a bit of rueful laughter from the audience when they did a piece about "fortuna", the wheel of fortune, one lyric of which was about "the loudmouth becomes a statesman". Ha.

I ran into a friend at the concert, and ran into her again today, along with other people we know, at a symposium on "Sites and Soundscapes in Renaissance Italy". A really interesting discussion of sound, architecture, and public and private spaces in Florence and Venice during the Renaissance in the morning, and in the afternoon a performance by the Newberry Consort, on whose board I sit. It was a good day for being inside, because it was rainy and windy and chilly, definitely not what "almost May" should be!

Since I was at the symposium all day, I missed our local Friends of the Library book sale, which was probably a good thing. I also did not stop into the book shop at the venue of the symposium, though I was mightily tempted.
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: (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: (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: (Chicago)
I think winter might be really and truly over. (Having said that, it will probably snow.)

Yesterday, it was 60-ish. I went off to my AAUW meeting, a wine tasting, so what if it was only 11:00 in the morning? Well, maybe 11:30 by the time we started pouring the wine. Then I headed over to the Chicago History Museum, just a short bus ride away. See, my courtroom partner is a Civil War re-enactor, and he let slip that his troop was going to be participating in an event there. Naturally, I said I'd have to stop by with my camera, which got him all flustered and embarrassed. But when I got there and found him, he was quite the actor. He posed for me with a rather inauthentic empty plastic the vodka bottle, which was highly amusing, because he never drinks.
Ricky (a/k/a Henry Simonton)
(My partner is the guy standing up.)

In the evening, I went to a lovely concert of 16th-century Italian vocal music, with three fantastic sopranos, a harpsichord, and a variety of violins and lutes.

Today, it was at least eighty, and sunny, and gorgeous. I was inspired to heights of cleaning, mostly because I want to get the place straightened up before I leave for Washington. This afternoon, I went to a rather curious opera, Death and the Powers, by Tod Machover, with a libretto by Robert Pinsky. It's got robots performing an opera within an opera, about a very wealthy guy who dies and goes into "The System", which he has invented to immortalize himself through technology. I kind of liked it, but I don't know. When an entire page of technology notes precedes the synopsis, I have to wonder about the priorities involved.

It was a short opera, just one, 90-minute, act, and because it was such a fabulous day, and the Park Grille's outside seating area was open, I treated myself to dinner there. Salmon tartare, risotto con pomodori secchi e salsiccia, and a sweet potato chiffon (like a mousse) for dessert.

I also managed to finish two books this weekend, Laurence Cossé's A Novel Bookstore, about a shop that sells only good novels, chosen by a secret committee, and James Cain's Mildred Pierce, which contains one of the best passages ever: "Are you insinuating that my daughter is a snake?" "No -- is a coloratura soprano, is much worse."

Now you must excuse me because it's time for the new Upstairs Downstairs!
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
I went to a pre-retirement workshop earlier this week, with a speaker from our pension system as well as someone from Social Security. Much of what they told us, I knew, but I did learn some things. I'm back and forth in my head about whether or not to start taking SS now, or wait until full retirement age. I'm leaning towards the latter, as, fortunately, I don't need to take it now.

I was asked yesterday by a colleague, "Where do you want to have your retirement party, if you do want one?" IF????? You better believe I do! Not so much because I want to be fêted, but it's an opportunity to make sure I'm able to say a fond farewell to everyone (or at least a lot of the people) with whom I've worked.

Long sentencing hearing yesterday on that murder case I did back in December. The result was not as good as I'd hoped for, but better than I expected.

I am being very good this weekend. I am not going to: a book sale, my favorite thrift store's 50% off sale, a fashion sale (with shoes, yet). I do not need more books or clothes. That doesn't ordinarily stop me, but it's getting ridiculous, and I'm trying to avoid temptation. Indeed, I'm starting to make a pile of books to ship off to D.C. for the BC Convention. I didn't even stop in at my local Borders' today, even though it's their last weekend and things are 75% off. I've been in too many times already, and was starting to eye the bookcases!

Mildred Pierce is coming to HBO as a mini-series, and I went to a sneak preview at the Siskel Film Center. There was a reception before the showing, with HBO springing for a lot of good food and an open bar. (Seriously, when was the last time you went to a reception where the cater-waiters were passing out lamb chops?!) We were shown the first two episodes, and some scenes from the rest, and it's good. Everybody applauded when Mildred finally smacked Vida. It's not a remake of the Joan Crawford film, but is truer to Cain's novel. In a bit of brilliance, they've used "Der Hölle Rache" from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte in the music. Unfortunately, I don't get HBO, so I'll miss the rest of it.

This is an early music weekend for me. My Lyric Opera season ended at last night's opening performance of Handel's Hercules, directed by Peter Sellars in a very interesting production which portrayed Hercules as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the impact of that on his relationships, particularly with Dejanira. It sounds a bit odd, but it worked. (Story from WBEZ.) Alice Coote as Dejanira and Lucy Crowe as Iole stole the show.

Tonight, I'm going to Rockefeller Chapel to hear the Newberry Consort singing the Cantigas de Santa Maria and back there tomorrow for Bella Voce and the Callypigian Players (yes, that's really their name) doing Handel, Vivaldi, Corelli, etc.
mojosmom: (sisters)
Both my sisters are in town because this afternoon we are attending a 90th birthday party for an old family friend. Cathy arrived Thursday evening, so I picked her up at the airport on my way home from work. She had a gorgeous day to walk around the neighborhood on Friday (mid-60s!) and took full advantage of it. Among other things, she did some grocery shopping and cooked us an excellent dinner, after which we watched Julie and Julia. Cathy hadn't read Powell's book, but had read My Life in France, and her reaction to the "Julie" part of the film was the same as my reaction to the book: "When is she going to stop whining?" We agreed that it was half a good movie, and wished that it had been entirely about Julia.

Saturday, the first day of spring, it snowed. And was cold. And blustery. So we stayed inside and hung out with the cats. Stacey was driving in and hoped to get here before six o'clock. However, she got to Toledo and her transmission went out. She had to leave her car at a garage there to be fixed, and rented a car to drive the rest of the way. The only place she could rent a car was at the airport, so she had to get a cab out there, and they managed to send her a cab driver who didn't know how to get to the airport! I didn't know such people existed. I mean, that's a cabbie's bread-and-butter, right? As a result, she didn't get here until about 8:30.

Cathy and I had gone out to hear the Newberry Consort (17th-century violin music, with a harpsichord thrown in), but had left her some of the excellent pizza we had had for dinner (olive oil glaze, chèvre, caramelized onions, kalamata olives and roasted red peppers). I have really gotten into using HomeMade Pizza Company lately. I can run in on my way home from work, have them create something interesting, and throw it in the oven when I get home. As easy as a frozen pizza and it tastes way better. They also had a special ice cream, Chocolate Almond Bark, which I bought.

I continue to fight a cold. Last Sunday, I went up to my friend Fran's for dinner, came home early in the evening feeling fine, but later developed a nasty sore throat. The next day, I felt rather punk, and my voice was going. I went to work, but left early, I felt so bad, and took the next day off. Felt better on Wednesday, though if I hadn't had a phone conference that would have been a pain to re-schedule, I might have stayed in bed. I'm at the point where I feel fine, but sound pretty raspy, and am mildly congested.

I've been to a couple of plays lately, one excellent, one not. Court Theatre is doing The Illusion, by Pierre Corneille, freely adapted by Tony Kushner. (Story: "Legend has it that the Hartford production was more overtly haunted by Corneille. As Sylviane Gold describes in the New York Times, the production was beset by technical difficulties until Kushner and director Mark Lamos decided to reprint the program to say not “The Illusion by Tony Kushner, based on a play by Pierre Corneille” but “The Illusion by Pierre Corneille, freely adapted by Tony Kushner.” All the technical glitches stopped on cue, save for one: Kushner’s name was mysteriously wiped from the marquee on the night before the show opened. The play continues to be performed and published under this revised heading, lest the original author return to seek his due.") It's marvelous! Love the play, love the staging, love the acting.

Rebecca Gilman's A True History of the Johnstown Flood, not so much. I'm not a big fan of Gilman's, as I find her work to be rather heavy-handed and didactic. This play was no different. It was also rather predictable. The actors were good, and there was excellent staging, but that's not enough to save a bad script.

The four of us went to dinner beforehand at 312 Chicago, a place we like a lot. They are celebrating their 12th anniversary, and each night have twelve entrées and twelve bottles of wine available at $12 each. Which is quite a deal. Usually, the least expensive glass of wine is about $9, and I don't know where you can get such a good ribeye steak in downtown Chicago for $12 on a normal night!
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: (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.
mojosmom: (Default)
On Monday, instead of our regular session, my Italian class went up to Northwestern University to see Corpo di Stato: Il delitto Moro, a theatrical monologue by Marco Baliani. In 1978, the leader of the Christian Democratic Party, Aldo Moro, was kidnapped and, after 55 days, murdered by the Red Brigades. This event had a significant impact on the student movement, on Italian politics. Baliani's work looks at the event from a personal standpoint, addressing his own involvement in the student movement, his relationships, his role in the events. It was quite fascinating, and I saw many parallels between what he was talking about and the radical student movement here in the late '60s-early '70s. There were subtitles, which were helpful, though I found I could understand a fair bit without them.

Tuesday night, I went to a concert by the University of Chicago Early Music Ensemble, directed by David Douglass and Ellen Hargis of the Newberry Consort (who are artists-in-residence at the U of C), with a couple of other professionals as guest artists. The program consisted of Venetian music of the 16th and 17th centuries, and the students did quite a creditable job. I talked to David and Ellen before the concert began, and told David that I probably wouldn't get to his lecture the next day at the Newberry (he was talking about Handel) as I was "early musick'ed out", but he said I'd probably heard everything he was going to say already! (I do make an effort to go to all the pre-concert lectures, so he was probably right.)

I had switched my Court Theatre tickets, and went on Friday instead of my usual Sunday, which meant a later start (8:00 rather than 7:30). The play was August Wilson's The Piano Lesson, on of the plays in his Century Cycle, ten plays (nine set in Pittsburgh) about the African-American experience, each set in a different decade, and with some overlap of characters and history. The Piano Lesson, set in the 1930s, is one of two that won the Pulitzer Prize. It revolves around the relationship between a brother and sister, and whether or not they should sell the family piano, on which are carved the images of slave ancestors. It's about the importance of honoring the ancestors and remembering the past, yet also recognizing the need to move forward in life, and not be chained by the past.

A wedding reception yesterday. One of the women in my office was married a few months ago, but as it was an out-of-state wedding, her parents threw her a big reception locally. It was really lovely. The setting was the Meson Sabika, a beautiful old mansion build in the mid-1800s. Although the event was indoors, the weather improved enough during the day that we could wander out onto the terrace. The food was yummy, the bride lovely, and there was plenty to drink!

Then I came home and did laundry.
mojosmom: (Default)
The Cultural Stuff )

Non-cultural stuff:

Yesterday was beautiful, so I decided to walk to the dry cleaners. On the way, I noticed that signs had been posted for the annual yard sale that benefits the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (which really should be the Avon Walk against Breast Cancer, no?). I got a couple of clothing items (belt and cotton blouse), two books1 (Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking and Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell), and two rather unusual items:

Al Pha Bet, an educiting game:
Al Pha Bet Game

and a sparkler wand:
Lulubelle's Sparkler Wand

I was moved to diligence today, perhaps in part because the lovely weather induced me to want mildly to spring clean. So I can now inform you that under those piles of papers there was an actual desk!


1 See, the reason I run out of bookshelf space is not necessarily the number of books, but the size of the books. These were both hardbacks, and you know how thick Clarke's book is! They're probably 4-5" between them. Two books.

stuff

Mar. 24th, 2009 03:33 pm
mojosmom: (Lilith)
There's a guy on LibraryThing who is a conspiracy theorist, and he's posted on a couple of the loonier groups about an anti-Obama video we're all supposed to watch. I looked at his profile. He has 666 books catalogued. Coincidence? [Cue eerie music] (I was going to comment thus on one of those threads, but I figure he probably has no sense of humor.)

I forgot to set my alarm the other day. Fortunately, the cats woke me up a mere half-hour after I usually get up, and, since I always get to work way early, I wasn't late.

I went to a lovely concert of music from 14th-century Florence (mostly Francesco Landini) the other night, at the Oriental Institute. I love the space there, very intimate with excellent acoustics.

Sunday, I went up to Gurnee to have dinner with friends. We drank champagne and ate a lot. What else is new?

Tonight, I'll probably do laundry and taxes. What an exciting life I lead!
mojosmom: (Venice)
The Newberry Consort, with Piffaro, did a fabulous concert last night, called "What a Difference a Day Makes: Venetian Music for Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday". It was the first in what they hope will be annual concerts in memory of Howard Mayer Brown, the University of Chicago musicologist who is known as the godfather of the Chicago early music community, and who died of a heart attack in Venice, at carnival, just after buying his mask. The sacred music was especially good, because the concert was held at Rockefeller Chapel, which, naturally, has great acoustics for that sort of thing. The music for Fat Tuesday was, of course, written to be played outside, and they couldn't exactly do that last night, in the cold and snow!

After the concert, there was a reception for the musicians at Jim & Kevin's apartment (which happens to be the same one where Howard and his partner lived). I wore the mask I bought in Venice when I was there for Carnevale:
Mask
mojosmom: (Music)
Tomorrow, I will go to a party to celebrate the inauguration of a new President of the United States. Yesterday, I went to a party to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the coronation of Elizabeth I. Such fun! This was a benefit for the Newberry Consort. There was food, drink, and music.

But the best part was a showing of a 1912 silent film, Elizabeth I, starring Sarah Bernhardt, accompanied by music of the period played by the Consort. It was utterly fascinating. For some reason (my friend Kate and I speculated that it was because she had lost her figure), Bernhardt was not in Elizabethan garb, but rather those flowy Victorian things she liked to wear:


Curious continuity weirdness: after Essex is beheaded, Elizabeth goes to mourn over his body. His head is still attached!
mojosmom: (busy bee)
Tomorrow, I am going to the annual Christmas dinner with my XYZ group, so this morning I made the sweet potatoes that I am bringing (we'll reheat them at Julie's), and wrapped presents (with "help" from the cats). We didn't have our monthly meeting in November, so I'm bringing Peggy's birthday present as well. I've had it (well, them) sitting in a closet since late July! Books. Lovely small (in size and number) editions of plays by her distant relative, Kenneth Sawyer Goodman (after whom the Goodman Theatre is named), on gorgeous paper, a couple of them letterpress. Found at the Newberry Library book sale for a song!

I took Thursday and Friday off from work, and basically lazed around during the day. Thursday evening, I had a ticket for a concert at the Art Institute, the Newberry Consort playing a program called "All In a Garden Green: Renaissance English Music in the Lowlands". It was one of a series of events at the AIOC put on in conjunction with the exhibit, The Divine Art: Four Centuries of European Tapestries. I haven't seen the exhibit yet, but definitely will do so before it closes. There was actually supposed to be a short tour through the show after the concert, but the concert ran a bit long, so there wasn't time.

I went downtown early, because I wanted to browse around the Christkindlmarket at the Daley Center, and check out the tree:
Daley Center Christmas tree.

There was time at the Art Institute before the concert, so I checked out my favorite galleries, as well as the new Alsdorf Galleries of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Islamic Art. There was also a jewel of an exhibit in the Ryerson Library, Art Through the Pages: Library Collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, that included a couple of stunning Sangorski & Sutcliffe bindings, among other nice things. I bought the Museum Studies issue on the exhibit.

After the concert, I decided to take myself to dinner. As I often do, I went to the bar at the Rhapsody, which is in Symphony Center. It's not too noisy, despite being a bar, and the food is good, not too huge portions, and it's less expensive than the restaurant. A good spot for people-watching, too, and, in fact, I ran into an acquaintance.

The snow held off until late night/early morning, so Friday morning I had to dig my car out. My neighbor came home while I was doing so, and, after a bit of a struggle getting through the snow into his parking space, he muttered something about how he could have put in his resumé in San Francisco. I had to dig the car out because I a) had errands to run, and b) went to the opera last night and it was too cold and slushy to take the bus(es). Kevin treated us to dinner at The Tower Club, which is in the Civic Opera Building, so mere steps from the theatre, always nice on a nasty night. The opera was Lyric's first production of Porgy and Bess. I liked it, though some of the voices were not strong enough to stand up to the orchestra, and Bess really overacted in the first scene, though whether that was the choice of the soprano or the director, I can't say. The absolute best voices were Lester Lynch as Crown and Jermaine Smith as Sporting Life, as well as Eric Greene and Laquita Mitchell as Jake and Clara. The audience gave the show a standing ovation, which, enjoyable as it was, it really didn't merit.

And the latest at [livejournal.com profile] croc_sandwich
mojosmom: (busy bee)
that's what comes of not having posted anything of substance since last month!

Shocking.

So, what have I been up to?

I went to a program at the Goodman Theatre, part of the Horton Foote Festival, called Anatomy of a Trial: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Scottsboro Boys and the Jena 6, and felt the need to shoot my mouth off during the Q&A. (Surprising, I know.) They did a couple of excerpts from the play of To Kill a Mockingbird, and there was a general discussion of race, reportage and the law. The panel consisted of a law professor, a reporter cum lawyer cum actor, and a couple of theatre people, none of whom knew much about the reality of courtroom practice, particularly as regards criminal law. So the Q&A was actually the most interesting part of the event.

A bit of sadness this week in the book and paper arts community. Aiko's Japanese Art Materials
Paper samples
closed Friday, the victim of a combination of slacking sales and a decrease in the availability of quality stock. There was a reception for the staff Tuesday at the Newberry Library, and Chuck (the owner) had a closing "party" on Saturday. He brought out a few special items and had a silent auction, the proceeds of which will go to the Aiko Fellowship at the Center for Book and Paper Arts. It was a beautiful store, with wonderful, helpful, knowledgeable staff, and will be sorely missed. The husband of a local book conservator has put together a book of photographs to help us remember.

Friday, I went to Symphony Center to hear Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, with a program called Do You Know What It Means?. When Mayfield came on stage, he was followed by a security guard. This video shows why. It was an awesome concert - it went on for two hours without a break, but it sure didn't feel like two hours. Time flew.

Last night was the last concert of the Newberry Consort's '07-08 season. The news is that they will be moving the Hyde Park concerts from their current location to the Oriental Institute's Khorsabad Gallery (warning - monster huge picture - it was the only one I could find). Also, this year, unlike previous years, their open rehearsals will be free, so if one finds oneself with nothing to do on Thursday afternoon before the concert, one can stop by the Newberry Library and hang out. They did an audience survey last night, and, if you returned it at intermission, your name was entered into a drawing for two tickets to next year's benefit, which will be a showing of the 1912 silent movie Queen Elizabeth, starring Sarah Bernhardt, with music provided by the Consort. My friend Jim was chosen to pull the winning name (the Consort director said they asked him because he is a) a longtime supporter of the group and, b) lives in Howard Mayer Brown's old apartment - Brown was an eminent early music scholar and the Consort is doing programs in his memory). Jim did an excellent job at this - he pulled my name! So I know where I'll be on January 18, 2009. ;-))

Today, I went to the Spertus Institute for a program called Unbuttoned: Clothes and the making of American Jewish comedy, given by Ted Merwin, author of In Their Own Image: New York Jews in Jazz Age Popular Culture. It was a very interesting program. However, among the clips Merwin used to illustrate the discussion was a recording of Fanny Brice singing "Second Hand Rose". As a result, I can't get the tune out of my head!

Most important, my car passed its emissions inspection, which means they'll let me renew my registration.
mojosmom: (Default)
Cross-post from [livejournal.com profile] croc_sandwich
This was a tough one - not due to a dearth of material, but due to too much! I went out to take photos last weekend, and when I got home and started adding descriptions, I realized that just about every building I'd photographed was by Holabird & Roche. As a result, this was going to be a Holabird & Roche-fest, but there were a couple of others I couldn't resist posting, so it's not. But it is all Chicago!

Holabird & Roche )

Not Holabird & Roche )

Other things

Friday night, I went to Cineforum, Casa Italiana's movie night. They were showing De Sica's Umberto D, a 1952 neo-realist film, which I had never seen. It was very good, and generated much discussion afterwards. It's the story of a pensioner, who has no family or real friends, other than his dog, and his struggle to make ends meet in post-war Rome.

Yesterday, I was back at the Newberry Library for David Douglass' discussion of the Consort's last concert (which I mentioned in this post). There was much digression into music theory and notation, which, even for a non-musician such as myself, was really quite interesting. David dropped a bit of information about some of their plans for the next couple of seasons. Among other things, they are going to be dedicating concerts to the memory of musicologist Howard Mayer Brown, the first of which will be Venetian music from Carnevale and Ash Wednesday, as HMB died in Venice at Carnevale.

Last night, I went to the Goodman to see Horton Foote's Talking Pictures. What a marvelous play! Set in Texas in 1929, it deals with the changes wrought by technology and how people cope (or don't cope) with them. The main character, Myra, a divorcée, supports herself and her 14-year-old son by playing piano at the picture show. But with the advent of talkies, her job is threatened and she has to figure that out. The two teen-aged sisters of the family she boards with, Vesta and Katie Belle, are a study in contrasts. Vesta prefers the known, she's the sister you know will "tell" if the other does something outside the norm. Katie Belle, on the other hand, is the one who makes friends with the son of Mexican Baptist preacher (her family is Methodist, so whether it's the "Mexican" or the "Baptist" part that shocks Vesta most isn't certain), sneaks off to the picture show and wants a wider world. The acting was so great that, at the end, when Katie Belle says that she wants to go to Mexico someday, you feel certain that she will.

Goodman is doing a whole Horton Foote Festival, in fact. As part of one of the regular subscription series, they are also doing Trip to Bountiful. But off the series, they are doing an evening of two, one-act plays, and they've offered free tickets to subscribers, so I'm going to that, and also to some other "free to subscriber" events, such as "A Conversation with Horton Foote", with cake and champagne to celebrate his 92nd (!) birthday. But the one I am looking forward to most is a program called "Anatomy of a Trial: To Kill a Mockingbird, the Scottsboro Boys and the Jena 6". They haven't said who will be on the "distinguished panel of historians and social activists", but I'm hoping this will be as interesting a program as it ought to be!
mojosmom: (Default)
My friend Kate and I planned to meet at the Newberry Library to see their map exhibit. I got there a bit early, having had a few errands downtown that took less time that expected. But I figured I could browse the bookstore there while waiting. Wrong! The bookstore turns out to be closed on Mondays. Fortunately, I had a book in my bag (as always). When Kate arrived, we went into the gallery, only to be confronted with Library staff removing the exhibit! It had closed on Saturday. We called up to the conservation lab, figuring that at least we could drop in on our friends who work there, but no answer; they probably had their heads under a fume hood or something.

But we are nothing if not flexible, and decided to hop a bus and go to the Art Institute instead. They are having an exhibit of Indonesian textiles that is stunning. I'm always very impressed by weaving - the mathematics of the pattern-making is mind-boggling when you think about it. The descriptions were full of phrases like "gold-wrapped lacquered paper threads". And the dyeing! There was one piece that had been resist-dyed with designs of shadow puppets, each image different. At first glance, it looked like paper cuttings. Simply amazing.

Then we went and looked at furniture and decorative arts, from the simple modern work of Ray and Charles Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright, etc., to the European Decorative Arts galleries, where some of the design philosophy seemed to be "throw everything at it and hope it all sticks" (though there were some quite nice pieces there as well). We lunched at the Garden Restaurant, made a bit more affordable because we get a 10% member discount.

I don't see Kate often enough, and I'm very glad we were able to get together.

Yesterday I woke up to greary dray weather, so mostly did stuff around the house. When I did go out to the produce store in the afternoon, it was surprisingly warm; the thermometer on the back porch said 52º. Of course, it was raining. (Today, we were in single digits.)

Saturday night was a Newberry Consort concert, The Play of Robin & Marion (Li Jeu de Robin et Marion), by Adam de la Halle, and some other medieval French love songs. A bit of post-Valentine's Day music. It was such fun! It's a pastoral story, Marion a simple shepherdess, Robin and his cousins being given to japery and fart jokes. There is a villainous knight (played with great gusto and an over-the-top phony French accent by Mark Rimple) who tries to seduce Marion, without success, and the country folk picnic and play a game that is the medieval French equivalent of "Truth or Dare"! I think the musicians enjoyed themselves as much as, if not more than, the audience.
mojosmom: (Music)
Yesterday, I went to the Cultural Center again, this time for a concert by the Baroque Band, one of Chicago's newest early music ensembles. The music was Vivaldi, Purcell, Bach, Corelli, Telemann and Pachelbel (yes, that one, you'd think he never wrote anything else!). Before the concert, I went to Millennium Park to check out the Museum of Modern Ice. What can I say? I was underwhelmed. Although some of the pieces had interesting patterns in them, the whole was rather dull and uninspiring, and the colors were garish. You can see some of the artist's work here. Then I wandered over to the skating rink, where some people were having fun!
Spinning

Tonight, I went to the Oriental Institute, where the Venere Lute Quartet and two members of the Newberry Consort were giving a concert of Renaissance music in the Khorsabad Court. Here's hoping the OI hosts more concerts there! It's a nice space, and if you get there early you can check out the mummies. ;-)) There was a wine-and-cheese reception afterwards, which I hadn't expected. I was talking to the director of the Consort (who is also a member of the Baroque Band), and he said that they are trying to a) find larger space, or b) give two concerts in Hyde Park. So that's very good to hear! He had to reschedule the seminar he gives the week before each concert because a recording in which he and his wife, soprano Ellen Hargis, participated has been nominated for a Grammy, and they are off to L.A.! So wish them luck.

It's been a very foggy day here. All flights were cancelled at Midway, and at O'Hare they were either cancelled or very late. The drive home tonight required care and attention! But the fog makes everything beautiful.

When I did get home, well, it was kitty heaven! And why? Because I got a parcel in the mail - a nice big box filled with packing peanuts and bubble wrap. Just perfect for cats! For me, an antique Japanese sewing box, which I plan to use for jewelry. I saw it on Chuu.com, one of my favorite, and most dangerous, websites, and it was quite reasonably priced, so I ordered it immediately!
Antique Japanese sewing box
mojosmom: (Music)
No, don't go rushing off looking for tickets. Here's what happened.

I went to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last night. The first piece of the second half was Webern's Five Pieces for Orchestra. Before it was played, the conductor, Mark Elder, addressed the audience, beginning, "I know most of you came for the Brahms . . .", and then discussed the Webern a bit. A then he said that, after the concert, they would play the Webern again (it's incredibly short - about five minutes), and said that he would invite us (or as many as could be accommodated) to join them on the stage (it's a small orchestra - 19 - for this piece), to, as he put it, "enter our space". So I stayed! It's an intriguing piece, and it was most interesting to listen to the musicians sitting behind them, seeing the hall they way they see it. And Elder talked about the piece for several minutes before hand, having different musicians demonstrate with a note or chord or two what Webern was doing with the instruments. I had such a good time!

This shows the importance of having subscriptions*. I rarely go to the Symphony (not a lack of desire, but a lack of time, money and organization!), but I got talked into a four-concert series. I'd have missed this! CSO is getting a bit more, well, "informal" comes to mind, but that's not quite right. It's more a "demystification" of classical music, via this sort of educational component, early evening "after work" concerts, etc.

Before the concert, I stopped off at a home décor boutique across the street from where I live, as they were having a holiday open house. I had a pomegranate martini (excellent, by the way) and scoped out some cute things. I didn't want to buy as I didn't want to carry packages downtown, but I'm going to go back tomorrow and take advantage of their 20% discount on holiday decorations. Saw some very pretty artist-made Christmas tree balls that will make nice stocking-stuffers.

Last weekend, I went out in the nasty weather for a concert of German Renaissance Christmas music by the Newberry Consort. It was at Saint Clement Catholic Church, which is a gorgeous, Byzantine-inspired church on Chicago's north side. Wish I'd brought my camera! It's not, though, the greatest place for a concert, despite excellent acoustics, at least not for the Consort, because it lacks the intimacy that I associate with this group. (Not to mention that the altar is between the audience and the musicians!) The music was glorious, lots of Praetorius, plus some other folks, including Martin Luther himself (who was, by the way, a very accomplished musician, composer and singer).

*Speaking of which, Danny Newman, who practically single-handedly invented the subscription series, died recently. Danny Newman obit behind the cut )

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