Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Mikado (1992)

Comic Opera

The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company puts on a performance of “The Mikado” (or “The Town of Titipu”) at Buxton Opera House (Buxton, Derbyshire, England) in 1992. This comic opera, by Gilbert & Sullivan, first opened at the Savoy Theater in London on March 14, 1885. As much as some things change, much remains the same. Comedy is comedy.

The full play can be found here; and a summary of the plot here. Furthermore, and for your consideration, are two fine reviews: the first by Peter Gutmann here; and the second by Beryl Belsky here.

Some notable lines:

Mikado. I'm really very sorry for you all, but it’s an unjust world, and virtue is triumphant only in theatrical performances.

Pooh-Bah: Don’t mention it. I am, in point of fact, a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite ancestral descent. You will understand this when I tell you that I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic globule. Consequently, my family pride is something inconceivable. I can't help it. I was born sneering. But I struggle hard to overcome this defect. I mortify my pride continually. When all the great officers of State resigned in a body because they were too proud to serve under an ex-tailor, did I not unhesitatingly accept all their posts at once?

Yum-Yum: Yes, I am indeed beautiful! Sometimes I sit and wonder, in my artless Japanese way, why it is that I am so much more attractive than anybody else in the whole world. Can this be vanity? No! Nature is lovely and rejoices in her loveliness. I am a child of Nature, and take after my mother.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Better Times Ahead?

American Prosperity

Westward Bound: “Rear view of an Okie’s car, passing through Amarillo, Texas, heading west, 1941,” Wikipedia writes. John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), set during the Great Depression & the Dust Bowl in the U.S., follows the travels and travails of a poor farming family from Oklahoma, the Joads, who join thousands of other “Okies” on their way westward to California in search for a better life. 
Photo Credit & SourceWikipedia

What does the future hold for the middle-class? An article (March 26th), by Tom Streithorst, in the Los Angeles Review of Books says (using the example of Hollywood) that the old world of job security and economic prosperity for the middle-class is long gone—and has been for at least a generation— and such a way of life is not likely to return, despite the promises of some candidates in the U.S. presidential elections. This proves the argument that believing something is true does not necessarily bring it about. I think this describes wishful thinking or magical thinking, as if the words themselves can engender the desired change. I am not sure if things were generally better for the middle-class thirty-five years ago when I entered the market for permanent employment, but they were sufficiently good for me—even though this was a decade after the end of the post-WWII economic boom  [1945–c. 1970].

Even so, there was no permanent economic downturn. I had a lot of opportunity and viewed my prospects for the future as positive. Viewed from the vantage point of today, it might have been that I was just younger and more hopeful. Or, that given the way the global economy is structured, prospects today are especially bleak and appear worse than they were during the Great Depression. In twenty years, will a good full-time job be the exception rather than the rule, with less people working full-time than not working at all? This is both hard to imagine and hard to accept. That so many lives can be in disarray and disorder. That the transition to better times is unclear and unknown. This does not suggest, however, that it can’t happen.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

For Sale: Saul Bellow’s Roll-Top Desk

Writing Apparatus

Writer’s Desk: Saul Bellow’s beautiful roll-top desk is for sale, but according to an article (March 23rd), by Brenda Cronin, in The Wall Street Journal, there is little interest among potential buyers in New York City (or elsewhere, it would seem) for this antique piece of furniture that Bellow purchased in London in the 1960s. If I had both the space and the money, I would have made a handsome offer. Can it be that nostalgia is not what it used to be?:
“It’s not going very well,” Daniel Bellow, son of Nobel-prize-winning author Saul Bellow, said of the attempt to sell his late father’s mahogany roll-top desk. His classified advertisement offering the massive Victorian-era desk for $10,000 has run in the New York Review of Books and appeared on the publication’s website for two weeks. The desk has a “leather writing surface, pigeonholes” and “appears in book jacket photo,” the ad says. The enticements haven’t yet worked, even among an audience Mr. Bellow considered disposed toward memorabilia from the author of “Mr. Sammler’s Planet,” “Humboldt’s Gift” and other novels. “I guess space is expensive on the Upper West Side. Nobody’s got room for a giant piece of furniture,” Mr. Bellow said. “I thought, well, this will provoke discussion. But it really didn’t.”
Photo Credit: Daniel Bellow
Source: Wall Street Journal

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Freezing Rain March Day In Toronto (2016)

Grey Days

At 10:40 a.m.: Freezing rain and ice pellets coat the trees in the park and a foggy mist obscures the northern view from my sixth-floor apartment.The temperature is currently –2°C (29°F). Temperatures are expected to rise this afternoon to 2°C (36°F), where freezing rain will give way to rain. This melange of  seasonal weather should continue for the rest of the day, the forecast from Environment Canada says. By Saturday, we can expect both the sun and warmer weather to return, a welcome guest.
Photo Credit & Source: ©Perry J. Greenbaum

Monday, March 21, 2016

First Day Of Spring (2016)

Seasonal Changes

Time: 7:14 a.m.
Temperature:–5°C (23°F)

Spring began this year with the vernal equinox on Sunday, March 20th at 12:30 a.m. Spring is a time of indecision and change, or at least the first month is always this way. Then, it settles down and we forget the winter that precedes it. As I write this, I can hear the Canadian geese honking their way home from their southern journey. This is a sign that spring is truly here, although the temperature gives no indication of the presence of Spring. Sunrise yesterday was at 7:20 a.m. The photos are taken from my sixth-floor balcony facing the park.

Time: 8:05 a.m.
Temperature:–3°C (26°F)

Time: 9:20 a.m.
Temperature: –2°C (28°F)

Photos: ©Perry J. Greenbaum, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Pre-Spring Views (2016)

Inside & Outside Photos

Plantation 3 is looking good after being repotted during the winter; a lovely green beauty.

A northwest view from my sixth floor apartment of the park bathed in a foggy mist. It was taken a few days ago.

Again, a foggy mist photo (northern view) from yesterday morning of the park.

Photo Credit: ©Perry J. Greenbaum, 2016