albadger: (Default)
Two days since I posted, which means I've seen two shows -- Tristan und Isolde in a "normal" modernist production, and with the BEST Tristan I am ever likely to experience in my freakin' life. Score! And then on Tuesday, back to the Ring, but not quite yet, says my fragile insides, and I was feeling too ill and unsettled to make it to act 1 of Siegfried. Fortunately, the hour-long intermissions meant I had two hours to recover and get to Act 2. And, hoo goddie!
Set of "Siegfried" from Bayreuth 2016
Set of "Siegfried" from Bayreuth 2016
This is the set for Siegfried -- it opens on the Commie Mount Rushmore (I still think that Lenin looks more like Samuel L Jackson), and then rotates to reveal the Alexanderplatz plaza in Berlin, complete with working Atomic Clock (which I had just seen last April!). I'd seen pix of this but watching it in action took my breath away. Far and away my favorite thing here so far.

In terms of music, it was as with the other pieces, superb, and the direction, as with the other Ring operas, seemed half-baked and juvenile... but I didn't care this time, I loved it, especially at the end, when Alexanderplatz became infested with crocodiles, and Brunhilde fed a beach umbrella to one of them. The "forest bird" who leads Siegfried to Brunhilde is usually just an off-stage voice, but here she was a Vegas showgirl, and nearly got eaten by a croc! Siegfried saved her at the last minute. I'm told that when this premiered in 2014, he didn't. I'm having fun imagining the director FUMING at his artistic vision being tampered with.

ALSO took great delight in the loud booing! There was some at the end of Rheingold but not like this, angry and sustained -- though the crowd switched to cheers when the singers came out for their bows, and then back to loud booing. I was in heaven!

Only opera thing left on my Bucket List -- go to La Scala and have the crowd jeer the tenor. With my luck the tenor will be great that night and nobody will throw anything. Not even a cabbage.
albadger: (I think you're evil! EVIL!)
The damned idiots who are riding thrill-rides at Tivoli, only a block north of here. Just checked in; very nice, centrally-located, affordable and tiny-roomed, just the way I like 'em, and ready for one last night of sleep before flying home. I'm sure there's a very long German word for not wanting a trip to end, but DuoLingo hasn't taught it to me yet.

Last night was the last of the 7 operas at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, the Flying Dutchman, in a serviceable but vaguely cheap production (after that Ring cycle I'm not surprised, gotta cut corners somewhere). Nice concept though -- Daland and the Dutchman are captains of industry, instead of captains of ships; Daland runs a factory that makes fans (???), so when we get to Act II (or Scene II, since there were no intermissions), there are cardboard boxes everywhere. The Dutchman is "new capitalism," he does something that makes him rich, but who the hell knows what -- hedge funds? oil? cocaine? It actually made sense of the story, instead of fighting it at every turn, which the Ring production did (mostly to delightful effect, true). All musical values superb, as usual, and so fast -- it took only 2 hours 15 minutes! By my count, I sat through 24 and a half hours of music, which taken at the SF Opera's clip would have lasted 3 hours longer. Didn't feel rushed at all.

But that's done, as is the 12-hour train ride back to Denmark (I forgot to bring a 4-year-old with me, but, fortunately, nobody else forgot), and the trip's over. And I'm sad. It was a truly great 2 weeks, both the time here in Denmark and the Festival, and made much greater by friends old (hi Erling and Johan!) and new (hi Stephen!). Problem is, sure, I accomplished all but one goal of this trip (I didn't get a magnet at Bakken), everything went great, but I just WANT TO BE HERE, not the USA. If I had a billion dollars, I'd just live here, I would. But I don't, so back home... I know, it's SO SAD, you're CRYING. NOTHING SADDER EVER. Except when Leonardo DiCaprio died in Titanic. That was the saddest thing ever.

Well, off to bed, then plane, then home, and I swear I will take up my knitting again! Also, I will tell you the horrible story of why I stopped knitting. Scariest thing ever.
albadger: (Baby Hitler)
Two days since I posted, which means I've seen two shows. AGAIN. Since the tummy upset that made me miss Act 1 of Siegfried I have been very cautious, not really doing any other touristy things, just hanging about the hotel albeit giving the maids time to do the room (I don't make much of a mess. Not like I'm at home or something!). So I was able to attend all of Wednesday's Parsifal and Thursday's Götterdämmerung without any hitches, and even mail off a number of post cards (if you get one, you know, and if you don't, why? Message me).

Parsifal is the year's new production, and part of the reason for visible police presence, since there's clearly the worry that this staging will tick off some fanatic or other... since it's quite openly set in 2016, in northern Iraq, and has pretty accurate representations of the area's Christian, Jewish and Moslem communities. Um, "accurate" isn't right. The "flower maidens" of Act 2 are Moslem girls in enveloping black coverings, who gleefully strip down to belly-dancer attire at the sight of a handsome blonde Marine. That's less realism than 1930's music hall... and the "Christian" grail ceremony of Act 1 has Amfortas stripped to a loincloth and cut by a monk, who then gathers the dripping blood in a cup and shares it with the community. If somebody's going to attack this, makes more sense if it's somebody Orthodox instead of Sunni.

Still, the telling didn't get in the way (as the Ring stagings have), and the performance was transcendent; not my favorite Wagner but this hearing upped my opinion of the piece.

Götterdämmerung, on the other hand, continued the combination of gigantic delightful sets with graffiti-tagger direction as in the previous Ring entries, but was neither as annoying as Rheingold or as fun as Siegfried, mostly because this last entry is so plot-driven, there's little room for nonsense. Mind you, I won't forget the image of Brünnhilde shaking cans of gasoline over everything, including herself, and the slutty Rheinmaidens helpfully offering her their cigarette lighters. No real flames, alas. One thing I noticed was the real chemistry between Brünnhilde and Hagen. A shame they couldn't have gotten together, he's way better a match for her than Siegfried or Gunther.

Today, the opera is the Flying Dutchman, and doesn't start until 6pm, so I have a few extra hours, and I rode the bus up to Wahnfried, which had been Wagner's home here. Mostly reconstructed, since WW2 pretty much demolished the original, but still cool, with a museum on the side filled with set miniatures and full-size costumes from previous productions. I'm still sorry I missed the Lohengrin where all the people are lab rats!
albadger: (Viking and Satyr)
This is it -- this is why I'm doing this trip! And, yes, I'm good. It's worth it.

Bayreuth is a charming smallish town, good bus system but no trolley or subway, so mid-size for this area. My hotel is a ways from the Theater, but right next to the cobblestone pedestrian-only streets that make the downtown shopping area, and I've got a bus pass now, so I'm getting the feel.

But it's the Wagner Festival that got me here, and I've now seen 2 of the 7 shows I have tickets for, and I'm kinda in heaven. I think this isn't that different from what roller coaster aficionados feel. Or heroin addicts. Just guessing of course.

For the Ring, I got the cheapest seat I could, and it's not even a seat, really, just a bench tucked into a little cubbyhole on the balcony, but it's got a fine view of the stage, and so steeply raked that heads in front of me aren't a problem. Also, my right shoulder is against the wall of the cubbyhole, so that makes my reptilian hindbrain happy.

Musical considerations first, and this is glorious. The orchestra pit is REALLY a pit, with barely a slit for the sound to come out of, which tips the scales to the stage, and lets the singers ring out beautifully (also gives the orchestra an interesting shimmer). Even the weakest of the singers is a joy to hear.

Visually, more of a mixed bag. I love the sets so far -- both are giant 3-story structures on turntables, amazing engineering feats. Das Rheingold is in a sleazy motel/gas-station apparently near Amarillo, Texas; die Walkuere on a massive oil-extraction structure apparently in Azerbaijan. The theme appears to be Greed is Bad. I like a wacky Ring but I'd like wackiness with a more complex intention. This just seems cluttered, especially in Rheingold, when nearly the entire cast of 20 (14 singing roles, 5 homeless drug addicts in swimwear, and the gas-station attendant played by a young David Cross) is jammed into the tiny upstairs motel room; I was hoping the girl with the hat would show up and ask "Is my Aunt Minnie in there?" (That's a reference to "a Night at the Opera," which if you haven't seen, do). Also off-putting was the constant and usually pointless use of video projected on large screens.

All the "magic" moments have been effectively botched (Alberich turning into things with the Tarnhelm, the Magic Fire, etc.), but I'm thinking this is intentional. The text in the program (7 Euro) talks a lot about irony; this is less irony than adolescent mockery, like when I was 19 and a friend and I re-imagined the Ring in pedestrian terms; instead of a sword in a tree, a switchblade in a Formica breakfast table, that sort of shit. Fortunately, nobody gave us a pile of money and a famous theater to wank around in.

Still, I feel kind of small complaining about how poor the visual production is when the audio is so fine. After Walkuere, the conductor got the biggest ovation of all, and it went on for 10 minutes. And such a fast reading! On the stairs out, a little French gentleman engaged me in conversation, and compared the conductor to Usain Bolt. "Un heure cinq minutes! Olympic sprinter!" he said. "Ja, mach schnell!" I replied, completely oblivious to any language issue.

Here's some good reviews from Parterre Box:

http://parterre.com/2013/08/23/first-impressions/

http://parterre.com/2013/08/24/flame-off/
albadger: (Lisa and Bart Screaming)
Now I'm in Germany, which usually has such high standards... take for exmaple the train ride here. First half was the Copenhagen-Hamburg train that goes on a ferryboat, which I did last February and is great fun, but I was in the "quiet zone" of 1st class, and instead of quiet, we got a constant BEEP... BEEP... BEEP... that would stop for a few minutes, then start again. I asked the ticket agent what it was; she listened intently for a few beeps, then with a big smile said, "that's a cell phone!" Really. Where is this cell phone, and more importantly, when somebody on a train asks you the ticket agent what a horrible annoying noise is, it really means HOW THE #@#$%@#$%!!! DO WE STOP IT." I was able to move to the "Noisy" section to get some quiet, but that filled up a few stops before Hamburg, and I had to return to my torture. At least by then I wasn't alone.

Best part of the day was getting a knockwurst at the Hamburg train station from a hot bearded knockwurst vendor who was totally into me, I swear, no way he flirts with all the customers like that.

The Hamburg-Nuremberg train didn't have an irritating beep, but it did have a tantrummy toddler with amazing lungs and enviable stamina. His long-suffering mother got off the train at Hannover, and, more importantly, took him. After which, another child was ushered in with her grandmother, and proceeded to... No, surprise! She was an absolute angel, and quite the My Little Pony aficionado

Now I'm in Nuremberg; after checking in and showering, I went down to the street to get some food; nearly did Burger King, but I remembered that I had standards, and had a Subway sandwich because I remembered what my standards are. Gosh, there are a hell of a lot of prostitutes in Nuremberg. Some of them are very pretty!

Tomorrow, Bayreuth, and the Walk Up the Hill. Das Rheingold to begin with. You can't bring cushions in this year, so it's good to get my butt broken in on one of the short ones.
albadger: (B. J. Lang presents)
Last full day in Denmark! Erling had an idea, and we rolled with it, up to Helsingor (sic, I forget how to do the O with the slash through it) to tour Kronberg Castle, and enjoy scenes from Hamlet played in various locations by a troupe of very game English-speaking actors. We got a recorded ghost smack-talkin' Claudius, but the rest was live-action -- Polonius trying to make sense of Hamlet, in the main courtyard, then up to the king's council chamber to hear Polonius sucking up to Claudius and Gertrude, and down to a cellar for "the Murder of Gonzago" done as a puppet show. There were other scenes, but there were lots of stairs. LOTS. Still great fun.

Tomorrow off on the train to Hamburg, which goes on the ferry across the sound, which I did back in February and is really neat, and then from Hamburg to Nuremberg. I am of course imagining all sorts of scenarios like "we don't have any reservation in your name" to "we had a reservation but somebody claiming to be you called and cancelled it," so I'll be pleasantly surprised when the Nuremberg hotel lets me stay there. Pessimism is the highest form of optimism.
albadger: (Brendon is a pretty lady)
Back at Erling's after an enjoyable day -- Johan came down & the three of us took transport to a beautiful beach, from which you could see Russia Sweden, after which we walked to Bakken, which is really cool, even though we didn't ride any of the rides, not even the self-pedaled swan balanced on a single rail in mid-air. I did take some picture of the horrifying art, which I will post later, as it's late now & I'm too tired to figure out how to upload them.

From there on to downtown Copenhagen, where we enjoyed the annual Open House at the Leather Club, with all the lights up so you could see all the interestingly designed furniture, some of which I can't imagine curling up in to read a good book, cat in lap. Others, I could imagine this.

I also got enough post cards to send to everybody on my list. I'm kicking myself for forgetting to get any cards at the amusement park, but I did pick up a few at the leather club. Who gets those? Who's been good?
albadger: (Hank with Welcome Basket)
Here we are at Erling's, watching a Scissor Sisters concert DVD while eating Nutella on rolls for breakfast! We native Californians forget how verdant the "real" world is, and it's high Summer, and Denmark is covered in green, and it's not in danger of catching on fire at any instant the way plants back home are.

Yesterday was jet-laggy recovery day, but easy and relaxed -- Erling came out to the airport to meet me and took me back to the city on the VERY efficient light-rail system; I'm still a big vagued out but since I can just follow him around like a puppy-dog, it works. Today, Johan will be joining us, and we'll be up for some more touristy stuff. Tonight is Open House at the Leather Club! I didn't bring the appropriate clothing for the venue, so this is perfect.
albadger: (Smarf at the keyboard)
...because I never update when I stay home. Heck, I barely update status on LazyFace. I'm not lazy enough for Twitter.

Currently in the G102 gate area at SFO, waiting for the flight to Copenhagen. Actual destination is Bayreuth, in Bavaria, for the Wagner Festival, but the SAS flight into Denmark was about a thousand bucks less than any connection I could get into Germany, so more than covers the train ride (plus, I love trains). Added advantage, my friend Erling said "come a few days early and stay with me, it's Pride Week!" So that works out wonderfully. I even made a crochet masterpiece as a hospitality gift for him! No pictures yet since it's a surprise for him, I'll put up pix after he gets it.

Next stop, Copenhagen! And since I've already seen the Little Mermaid, Copenhagen's equivalent of SF's Alcatraz, I can go farther afield in the tourism department. Something exotic like Tivoli Gardens perhaps. We'll soon know!
albadger: (What Badgers Eat)
I didn't post from Scotland but I have an excuse - a tour guide who saw to it that I had NO energy at the end of each day. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] hantsbear I got a great if exhausting first taste of Edinburgh, and every evening when we got back to the hotel, I collapsed into a stupor unconducive to blogging.

Now I'm in the BLOC hotel at Gatwick, with a window out onto the runways, so I can see planes taking off - still about 5 hours until my flight out. Rainy and gray (grey?), but the hotel is right in the terminal, so I don't have to go outside even for a second. Pretty minimal digs, the "shower" is just the bathroom once you've closed the door, and half the rooms don't have windows at all (ick). This is a repurposed office building; these were cubicles. Still, cheap and convenient.

Lots of adventures I'm still savoring. I got to see "the Tempest" in the new Sam Wanamaker Theatre, which is modeled on the indoor theaters of Shakespeare's day, and (for the performance) is illuminated ONLY by candlelight. Super cool. My train out that evening wasn't until 11:30pm, so the hotel clerk suggested I leave my bags with them and enjoy the city a bit more -- I took the Tube to Picadilly Circus, and on a whim got a cheap ticket for a ventriloquist show (this gal, the monkey was particular fun). London rulez.

As does the Caledonian Sleeper, the night train I took up to Edinburgh, though I was of course sleeping through most of it, it was dark, and the train track seems to run through a trench most of the time. Nonetheless, even my first glimpse of Edinburgh was stunning -- with the ancient buildings on the rugged crags right in the heart of the town, there are few cities with more distinct a skyline. I took the very new (2014) tram out to the airport and collected Steve, and we celebrated with sushi and gyoza, in the traditional Scots manner.

Saturday was the Edinburgh Zoo, which has pandas, penguins, lemurs, meerkats and KOALAS! Only koalas in the UK. I could spend hours there. Kind of want to, since the koalas are at the very back and very top of a very steep hill, so once you're up there you'll want to make it last. Yeah, there were pandas too.

After Zoo, to the heart of the city and Edinburgh Castle. Afterwards, back on Princes Street, I looked up at the height and thought, "I walked up THAT?" but I did, and it was worth it. Then to a fairly posh restaurant in what seems to be the hipster quarter, and Haggis Wellington.

Haggis. Heard of it for years, very curious, in spite of Groundskeeper Willie's description of it... always assumed it would be a bit runny and oily, like that little pellet of white fat that's always in every can of pork and beans, and you TRY to eat it but you excuse yourself and spit it out into the toilet. An acquired taste. But NO. I like haggis. It's dark, for one thing, kind of grainy, and very salty, with a nice tang. "You do realize that was on the breakfast buffet this morning," Steve told me, and I kind of had realized that, but I wanted the first taste to be SERVED, not just grabbed from a counter. Once that line was breached, mind you -- for the next 2 mornings, I piled haggis on my breakfast plate. I'm a fan. Perhaps even a cult member. I may form Haggis Eating Kia Soul Owners and combine my two great loves into one movement. HEKSO!

We had more fun on Sunday -- I'd mentioned my obsession with the Forth Rail Bridge (ever since "the 39 Steps" really), and Steve said, "let's go" -- bought us return tickets to a random down on the north side of the Firth, so we crossed the Bridge twice. I would never have thought of that. My OCD approach to such things would require an actual destination on the other side, even if just a restaurant or bookstore, but Steve's right, and now we've crossed the Forth Rail Bridge! After that we headed back to the town center and rode a hop-on/hop-off tourist bus to see other sides of the city, which filled up an hour until it was time to meet Steve's friend Colin, who is a great fellow, and with whom we gabbed with little regard to time until dinner approached and we had to part ways.

Steve and I hit the Zoo again and visited the koalas on Monday, since his flight & my train were both in the afternoon; got rewarded by rather a lot of activity from the males (the lone female was in the exact same spot she had occupied on Saturday, still glaring down). Then a sad parting, and the Virgin East Coast Train back to London.

I have had a great time on this trip, but my favorite parts were the meetings -- [livejournal.com profile] linuxcub in Copenhagen, [livejournal.com profile] hantsbear and Colin in Edinburgh. My normal travel is rather solitary -- ride a train on my own, go to shows on my own -- but the company of great people will be happiest memories from this jaunt.

In a few hours, off to LAX, and then transfer to Southwest to get home to Oakland. I'm brining my own snacks!
albadger: (Hitchcock)
There's a Sainsbury's in Euston Station, and after I get back from the theater it's more convenient (and cheaper!) to buy dinner there & carry it back to the hotel. So of course I need to get a new bag for 5p every time. I know they will be of good use!

Today I took a little detour that I've been dreaming of for years, and rode out to the Leytonstone station on the Central line to see the Hitchcock Mosaics... I took pictures of course, and they're horrible, other people have documented these better than I did, but it was great to see them in person.

Matinee was "the Master Builder" at the Old Vic, with Ralph Fiennes in the lead, solidly translated and performed, and, even better, my seat was next to a pillar AGAIN! They make the best seatmates, though the lady on the other side of the pillar engaged me in conversation and was quite interesting. She approves of my plan to eat haggis in Scotland but warned me that "there's good haggis and there's bad haggis."

Evening show was Hangmen from aging infant terrible Martin McDonagh. Enjoyable enough from moment to moment, but it failed to build and repeated a lot of the writer's go-to tropes. More to the point, if anybody gives you a free ticket for Balcony A-26 in the Royal Court Theater, DO NOT GO. Don't go even if they offer you money, up to $750. It's not really a seat, it's a little angled bench tucked off the side of the stairs, with barely room to side facing sideways, and you have to turn at a painful angle to see the stage properly. Only 20 £, which by my count is 558.38 £ overpriced. Happily, Sainsbury's has aspirin. And I have another Sainsbury bag!

Tomorrow, Shakespeare in the indoor theater at the Reconstructed Globe, and then the Caledonian Sleeper! Very excited by that.
albadger: (Named Death the Streetcar Is)
Did I not post in Amsterdam? No reason to, a very brief trip, nothing much happened. I actually turned the TV on to Comedy Central and just knitted. Comedy Central in the Netherlands, as it seems to be in Germany, is just repeats of American sitcoms, mostly the animated ones. In Germany they dub them all, in the Netherlands it's all in English with subtitles. Bob's Burgers and Archer are the best in either case.
Then the ride from Hoek van Holland to Harwich, a "ferry" that approaches a cruise liner in ambience, including two decks of very nice cabins. Those cost a pile for the night crossings, but in the daytime they give them away for peanuts, so I grabbed one and had a very refreshing nap. Perfectly calm seas, and we were part of a HUGE convoy, so it seemed -- in reality it's such an incredibly busy shipping lane there will always be a bevy of ships out your window. Also passed an offshore wind farm, very dramatic. The bus ride from Harwich to London, a bit less so.
Now at a hotel next to Euston Station (pronounced "Houston," and a flash back to the Netherlands here, Gouda is pronounced "Howda"). Tuesday through Thursday are about going to theater, and it's total conicidence that every one of the shows I'm going to is right on the Northern line of the Underground, which goes through Euston (actually here because the sleeper train to Edinburgh leaves out of this station).
Tuesday being over I can talk about the first two shows. I hadn't bought a Tuesday matinee ticket ahead of time, assuming I'd be spending all day getting laundry done, but laundry only took an hour, and the St. Martin's Theater being nearby, I tubed over and bought a cheap same-day ticket to <a href="https://www.the-mousetrap.co.uk/Online/" target=new>the Mousetrap</a>, world's longest running play. Meh, it's okay, serviceable content-free clockwork in the Christie style, and the lead role was played with a great deal less subtlety than the community theater in Castro Valley managed a few years back. But the theater itself more than worth the price, a delightful 1916 jewel-box, so I had a good time. A short refreshing nap during Act II did NOT mean I didn't enjoy the show. Just that I found it restful.
Evening show was much better, Jeff Wayne's concept album <a href="http://www.dominiontheatre.com/theatre/war-worlds/" target=new>War of the Worlds</a> is being staged, with Wayne himself conducting. Kind of a must-see, though I was a bit worried when the publicity material played up Liam Neeson, who pre-filmed segments. Was it all going to be canned, I fretted. No need to worry. Live (if heavily amped) 13-piece string section and 11-piece rock-style band, chorus of oodles, all the sung parts done live. The theater's been rigged up for fancy lights, fire effects, projection screens, and surprise giant props. Actually came off more like a rock concert than musical theater, and was great fun. But this will NEVER get brought across the pond, I'm afraid. Oh, extra points for the understudy who went on for the Artilleryman, and was both Fabulous and Boffable.
Trying to keep the theater to things that WON'T cross -- tomorrow matinee is an Ibsen at the Old Vic with Ralph Fiennes, so probably not transferring to Broadway. And that's also on the Northern Line!
albadger: (Bill Oddie -- Mister May)
Now I'm in Hamburg, after one of the neatest train rides I've ever been on -- the train goes on a ferry and spends 45 minutes crossing the Fehmarn Belt. I've never been on a train on a ferry before, and probably never will again, since there will be a tunnel here in a few more years, so you should all take advantage of the opportunity while you can.

Now in Hamburg, in a hotel room furnished entirely in IKEA, so this won't be a long entry, since the chair is really uncomfortable. But beautifully designed and easy to assemble.

Tomorrow, off to Amsterdam! Day after that, on to the Ferry from Hoek van Holland to Harwich! Another new adventure, braving the North Sea even though Eurostar is there and I could do the whole route without risking seasickness. Livin' on the edge!
albadger: (Hank on the phone)
Last night in Copenhagen! But I only had two, barely a taste. I like this better than Stockholm, but that may be because I got to spend time with a wonderful friend, [livejournal.com profile] linuxcub, but the city in general feels friendlier. Flatter, that's for sure, and I'll get a bike next time I'm here. Today was a repeat of my full Stockholm day in the sense of riding the hop-on/hop-off tourist bus and then taking a nap. Tonight, a production of "King Lear" that was advertised as "in German with Danish subtitles" but was actually in Danish, though one guy spoke English or French depending on which character he was playing.

Tomorrow, off to Hamburg, on the special train that rides its own ferryboat! I anticipate a good deal of knitting while riding a train that's riding a boat. I will get a bicycle next time I do this.
albadger: (Hank with Welcome Basket)
First full day in Stockholm -- my ONLY full day in Stockholm actually, so I'll have to come back to really see the place, though the hop-on/hop-off bus helped. Did get to the ABBA Museum, and the far larger & more impressive Vasa Museum, a huge structure created solely to house and display a very large testament to royal incomptetence. But I didn't get to any of the art museums, and I didn't walk in the parks (below freezing even at Noon), and the locals...

...I'm not sure how to put this. They're not rude, or mean. But they're not NOT rude. It's really hard to describe, and I'm assured that once I get to know them, the Swedes seem much warmer. Of course, it still is Winter...

Tomorrow morning, back on the train, down to Copenhagen. There used to be a non-stop train, but now you have to change trains in Malmo, because of the "refugee crisis" or something. Damn refugees inconveniencing me! That last sentence was satire, don't hate me.
albadger: (Vitruvian Badger)
Here I am in Sweden! And I know I'm in a foreign country because I've already pissed off a convenience store clerk, which I never do in the United States.

The impetus for the trip was my wonderful friend [livejournal.com profile] hantsbear, who wanted to show me Scotland, and the clincher was the newish airline Norwegian Air Shuttle, which flies direct to Europe from Oakland airport at insanely low prices. I booked with some anxiety, but the flight was good; I paid extra to get the exit row seat, which had ample leg room but (because TV and tray were in the armrest instead of the non-extant seat in front) were narrow. Opera upper balcony narrow. I fit but nobody bigger than me would. The entire cabin crew was of east Asian origin, and spoke as little as possible.

Now at the ominously-named Hotel Terminus, across the street from the Central Station. I did try to walk about a bit, but so creaky from the 10-hour plane ride that I moved slowly & didn't get far, but got to see why it's compared to Amsterdam - water everywhere, though the architecture is more monolithic. This has obviously been a center of power for centuries. Tomorrow I will be riding the "hop on hop off" bus to the various sights, in particular the ABBA Museum. Then I have a ticket to see Moliere's "the Miser" performed in Swedish. When everybody else laughs, I'll laugh.
albadger: (Film Film Film)
Year 2015 in Review! Yes, this should have been up weeks ago. The nice thing about the past is if you go away and come back it hasn't changed.

Movies I saw in 2015. 119 movies, which includes short films that were in the "Oscar Nominated Short Films" program, so, a little padded:

Alone in the T Shirt Zone, the Amazing Mr. X, American Sniper, Ant Man, Atari - Game Over, Avengers Age of Ultron, Aya, Beat the Devil, Beyond the Time Barrier, the Big Short, the Bigger

Picture, Black Sabbath (1963), Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, Boogaloo and Graham, the Bourne Supremacy, Boyhood, Bus Story, Butter Lamp, the Cabin in the Woods, Captain America: the Winter

Soldier, Carl Panzram: the Spirit of Hatred and Vengance, Cinderella (2015), Claudelle Inglish, Contagion, Crimson Peak, Crisis Hotline - Veterans Press 1, the Dam Keeper, Death Promise,

the Devils (1971), the Donovan Affair, Dragon Wars, Duet, Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam, Edge of Tomorrow, Ejecta, Emak-Bakia, the Evictors, Ex Machina, the Fantastic Four (1994), the Fantastic Four (2005), Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Feast (2014), Fight Club, Footprints, the Great Gatsby (2013), High Wide and Handsome, How to Train your Dragon, the House of the Damned, the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, I Frankenstein, Ida (2013), Inherent Vice, Inside Out, Invasion U.S.A. (1952), Joanna (2013 Poland), the Judge, Jupiter Ascending, Jurassic World, Kingsmen: the Secret Service, Kon-Tiki (2012), l'Inferno (1911), Lot in Sodom, Mad Max: Fury Road, the Man from Planet X, Many a Slip, the Maze Runner,
Me and my Moulton, Menilmontant, Minions, Mr. Holmes, Mr. Turner, the Muppets, Nightcrawler, Norrtullsligan, Now You Tell One, One Million Dubliners, Our Curse, Parveneh, a Perfect Murder, the Phone Call, the Reaper (2013 Mexico), Revenge of the Red Baron, Robot Overlords, San Andreas, Scourge, Selma, Shaun the Sheep Movie, a Single Life, Some of my Best Friends Are, the SpongeBob movie: Sponge Out of Water, Spotlight (2015), Star Wars: the Force Awakens, Still Alice, Strange Magic, Sweet Cocoon, Terminator Genisys, There It Is, Thrilling Bloody Sword, Tomorrowland, Two Days One Night, Unbroken, Underworld (2003), Underworld: Awakening, Underworld: Evolution, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, the Valiant, Vice Versa (1948), Visages d'enfants, Waitress, What We Do in the Shadows, Whiplash, White Earth, the White Parade, Why Be Good?, Wild, a Wild Roomer, Wild Tales, Zombeavers


Favorite new movie is Mad Max: Fury Road, which has, bizarrely, been nominated for a bunch of Oscars, but will probably lose to snoozefests like Spotlight or, worse, the Big Short, which thinks you're stupid and will only pay attention to financial misdeeds if there's a pretty girl in a bubble bath.

Also loved last year's Oscar stuff Boyhood, Mr. Turner, Whiplash and Two Days One Night; insta-classic the Cabin in the Woods and unjustly neglected classic Bluebeard's Eighth Wife. OTOH I really despised the Judge, Nightcrawler and Inherent Vice. Especially the Judge.

On the animated shelf, Shaun the Sheep Movie is blissful perfection, and the Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water is better than drugs. I hated Inside Out but not for any failing on its part; it just pushed a lot of really painful buttons for me (a lot of my friends had a similar reaction to Wreck-it-Ralph; I think it depends on what kind of scars we carry from childhood.

Next time, what books I read -- I don't read enough but I read some...
albadger: (Smarf at the keyboard)

Potholder!

Oct. 20th, 2015 09:57 am
albadger: (KNITTING!)
I'm still new to knitting, but I already know that "potholder" is to knitting what "ashtray" is to ceramics: you may have started with other plans but this is what you ended up with. Nonetheless, here it is, my first project that looks even faintly like what it's supposed to! Gifted to the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] progbear, but I forgot to tell him that it's a ceremonial potholder only, and should never be used to hold pots, since it's acrylic wool and it might, ya know, melt.
albadger: (KNITTING!)

Today's adventure found me at the doctor's office. They got the labs back from Thursday, and the verdict is:


  • Blood Pressure: Great!

  • Blood Count: Great!

  • Blood Sugar: On the high end of Great, but still Great!

  • Cholesterol: Why aren't you dead yet?

I think this is partly hereditary, but those numbers are high -- so high that the doctor took out her pen and drew a diagram for me on the roll of paper covering the examining table -- and I have consented to take the anti-cholesterol meds that she prescribed. For now, at least; I'm hoping that a good weight loss regimen will bring those numbers back into whack, as it has before.

More to the point, I brought my KNITTING! with me to while away the lenghty delays (this office does accept Medi-Cal after all). I'm still very new at this, and when people ask what I'm making, I say, "experience," because until I can knit a Colorado that doesn't look like West Virginia, I'm not making anything else. But even at my tyro stage, it's very calming and centering. One of the nurses (not the lovely big bear nurse alas) saw me, and grabbed her friend so they could chat about it with me. I'm... this is a cult, isn't it? Not that I'd stop if it is, but I'd like to be forewarned if there's any rituals or sacrifices I'd be expected to make.

I know some of you will be watching the Democratic "debate" tonight -- these things aren't really debates, they're parallel interviews, and I'd love a real debate, with a topic, and people assigned at random to argue pro and con -- but I'll be at the opera watching a Scottish lassie flip out and murder her husband on their wedding night. Here's a stage credit I'd love in my résumé: "Charlie Martinez makes his San Francisco Opera stage debut as the stand-in for the murdered Arturo, found naked and bloody in the wedding bed.” And I have no idea where my binoculars are, dammit.

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