Monday, February 17, 2014


Saturday evening we braved the dark and stormy night to go hear the Seattle Symphony Orchestra perform.  We had front row third tier seats, which while fabulous for sound are vertiginously terrifying, as one is seperated from an untimely plunge onto patrons below by a not very high railing.  Gives a je ne sais quoi frisson to the whole experience.  We heard a piece by a French composer, Chabrier, a cello concerto by Schumann, and Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz.  The SSO conductor, one M. Ludovic Morlot - unforgettably renamed Ludicrous Merlot by one M. Beloved Spouse - has introduced several French composers to Seattle symphony goers, Chabrier among them, along with Varese, Dutillieux, and others.  The cellist playing the Shumann was wonderful, but I didn't much like the piece. Perhaps Schumann is an acquired taste.  The second half of the concert, however, was wonderful.  Berlioz, according to the program notes, was obsessed with a young actress he saw perform the role of Ophelia in Hamlet, and wrote this symphony as a result.  It was... bizarre, but amazing.  The final movement, called The Witches' Sabbath  - not sure why - was about the most rousing finale I've ever witnessed.  FOUR bassoons, nine violas, two harps, seven basses, the usual raft of violins, lots of brass, and several "skin beaters," as the beloved spouse calls percussionists. Many loaded guns, so to speak, and all went off. Absolutely gorgeous.  I feel so lucky to be able to hear such music.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

On the bus

Been taking a nearby bus up to visit my mother when I don't have a car.  The 358 runs up Aurora Avenue North to the Shoreline area. "Aurora Avenue" is a poetic-sounding moniker for a really hideous drag that goes on up to the Canadian border; it is in fact Highway 99, and runs south into California as well.  There may be more scenic stretches of 99 elsewhere. The particular stretch I have come to know rather more intimately than I would have liked serves a very desperate, vulnerable and needy population of human beings; also a goodly number of dirtbags and scoundrels, which I have no problem mentioning.  The needy range from handicapped people in wheelchairs, to elderly folks I cannot imagine managing the logistics of getting to and from the bus stops on a regular basis.  Sometimes there are parents with kids.  Often there are drunk and/or drugged out people, carrying on, transacting drug deals, menacing one another, or just generally talking shit.  One young woman was discoursing loudly the other day about a band she liked: "They're an Aryan Nation German metal band!  I just don't listen to the words, their music rocks!"  I had to get a glimpse of who would say such a thing; she was a brown-skinned Asian-looking woman wearing a furry cheetah hat.  Only in America?!
Ah, such dialog I hear on this bus;  Tarantino would be envious...