Sunday, May 10, 2009

Extreme Makeover - Tiny Apartment Edition

My roommate and I have been fighting over him constantly being in the living room. I wake up. He's there. I go to work, he's there. I come back from work, he's there. I go to sleep, he's still in there.

When I told him he should think about taking it down a notch before I turned homicidal, he said he didn't want to spend any time in his room because he didn't like it in there. And since his room is basically an air mattress (admittedly a step up from my current pile of sleeping bags on the floor) and a mountain of dirty clothes, I couldn't blame him.

As a compromise, I offered to remodel his room - something I had wanted to do anyway - to try to make it more appealing than the living room.

In my rage, i forgot to take some before pictures, but here's what's been accomplished so far:

My roommate dresses mostly in browns and greens ("he dresses like a shrub" a coworker once pointed out), so I picked green for the paint.

As far as I know, my roommate isn't into magic, but I thought this vintage magic poster was cool so I rasterbated it anyway.

The top left corner is blackened because the spray adhesive I bought wasn't working too well and soaked the paper. The rest of the poster is full of airbubbles because I switched over to tacky glue because the spray adhesive wasn't working too well. Sigh. Still, the air bubbles aren't as noticeable when a camera flash isn't pointing right at them.

The (formerly in the living room) desk may or may not stay in here depending on what I find at Goodwill over the next few weeks.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I recently went to see the Metropolitan Opera's transmission of La Sonnambula, which left me pretty goddamn frustrated.

I should note that I love the idea of New York Operas being beamed into movie theaters across the globe, and it may prove to be a lifeline now that I live in a small town (albeit one relatively close to at least 4 cities with their own opera companies). I've been trying to see as many as my schedule and interest allows and I'll continue to do so.

And I should note that I'm a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to music and not the sort to complain, or you know even notice, when a singer goes for the high B-flat instead of the high C or other common complaints I see when browsing amazon reviews or youtube comments (which are actually often insightful and learn-ed on non-Andrea Bocelli opera videos, which I only mention because youtube comments are usually so insipid that I wonder if the awful IMDB forum users mass migrated). I don't think I'll ever go to an opera put on by a reputable opera company and think "Gee, these guys just aren't up to my standards". Not that I wouldn't like to have one of those ears, but that sort of refinement seems as distant to me as a superpower.

My approach to opera is much more base: I like hearing pretty voices singing pretty music surrounded by pretty sets. I'm always a little disappointed when I go to a show and they've opted for a minimalist set (the Prince Igor production I saw used only scaffolding, the Carmen I saw only used a white backdrop), but even that I can take in stride because, like with shoegaze, I understand that sometimes it's just about the music, man.

But La Sonnambula presented the first time, I think, where I would have preferred a blank white scrim or ugly scaffolding to the grandiose set it used. The story originally takes place in a small village where the townspeople will believe in ghosts before they believe in sleepwalking, but some one at the Metropolitan Opera saw fit to transpose the setting from the quaint village to a modern day Manhattan rehearsal hall. The villagers are now chorus members, the engaged couple at the center of everyone's attention are now literally and figuratively the leading tenor and soprano (Juan Diego Flores and Natalie Dessay, by the way, who are both fantastic singers and it's a shame they were usurped by their garish surroundings), and the "cleverness" goes on and on without actually going anywhere.

Out of context, the set is wonderful - when the host of the broadcast gave a pre-show tour of the set, I misunderstood and thought she was actually showing us around their rehearsal space and I was marveling at how nice it was. In the context of the show, it's a disaster. The idyllic storyline makes little sense in a modern day setting and the jarring juxtaposition continually pulls you out of the story. And the worst part of it was a minor set piece - a cast aside minature model of the Metropolitan opera stage showing an actual mountain village set laid out meticulously - a tease for what we could have had.

My roommate expected them to gradually ease into a the opera's actual setting and a sort of bonus meta-story about how an opera gets put together starting with rehearsal stagings to dress rehearsals to performance. And while I think that would have also distracted from the actual story, it would have been interesting to see it executed.

I don't normally mind modern time and space transposition, not only in opera, but across other mediums as well. It's something that compliments both the author and the audience with its twin implications that the story is timeless and that any of us could stumble across feelings as profound as the character's while running our everyday lives. But sometimes the details of the stories aren't timeless, and ignoring that and proceeding with the updating anyway will only undercut the emotions of the story that could have been timeless.

It's also something I think better left for material that has been and will be performed in a straight fashion time and time again. While I may be mistaken about how often La Sonnambula is performed, I can't recall another instance in the 15 years I've been sporadically going to see operas where I had the chance to see it and since I don't know when I will be able to see it again, I feel cheated.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Finished Tree

I haven't been able to get a good shot of this because I don't have a DIY lightbox in Wisconsin quite yet. But here it is, finally finished:

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Revisiting Perler Bead Sprites

Some sprites I've been able to make since moving to Wisconsin:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wisconsin Death Trip

I think Wisconsin might be trying to kill me. Or the universe might be trying to kill my new roommate (his house was struck by lightning a month before we moved to Wisconsin), and now I've just been sucked into that vicious vortex.

The drive to Wisconsin became pretty horrific around Milwaukee because, as it turns out, Texas windshield wiper fluid freezes and windshield wiper fluid is actually kind of a necessity on salt-ridden freeways (who knew?). Semis and SUVS kept kicking up dirt and salt at my windshield badly enough that my windshield started resembling that frosted glass you put in shower stalls so people can't see ANYTHING. And because of the lack of moisture from not having functional wiper fluid, any attempt to wipe it away would just streak the whole mess across the windshield and make it less like frosted glass and more like glass with white paint thrown across it.

And yesterday morning, after waking up, I found this huddled in the corner of our living room:

I don't know if this is common or not in Wisconsin, but a kid who lived about 15 minutes away from me back in Texas awoke to find a bat in his room and it turned out to be A Big Deal. So after some lengthy debate with my roommate, we decided to play it safe, drama queen it up and go for a series of rabies shots. I just got back from the ER for the first one.

In case you are curious about the bat: after calling animal control who told us to call pest control and calling several pest control places who were all closed because it was Sunday, we just put some gloves on and tossed the bat outside and haven't seen him since - I'm glad he's apparently ok because I like bats, but post internet research says we were supposed to keep him somewhere and get him tested for rabies.

Friday, January 23, 2009

NP: Rolling Stones - I am Waiting

I've made the trek to Wisconsin, but I am still busy with moving stuff, so here's just another quick update:

Thursday, January 01, 2009

NP: Blondie - Accidents Never Happen

Another chance to browse my bookcases:

A good overview of my hobbies and some would-be hobbies is on display here: music (both playing and listening to), movies, cooking, French, math, and on the far right side (it's hard to see) are 3 books on how to be a ninja.

Philip K Dick on the left, Flannery O'Connor in the middle, and HP Lovecraft on the right.

See more of my books throughout my blog or on my flickr.