Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dallas Opera: "The Marriage of Figaro"

I should have known by the five dead skunks I saw during my drive to Dallas, plus the two that I didn't, how the Sunday matinee performance of "The Marriage of Figaro" was going to be.

The opera is one of my favorites. Humor and wit abound along with the cleverness of Mozart's music. Like the road to Dallas, this production was thoroughly enjoyable and the best I've ever seen for this opera. The laughs were elicited from us by sight gags as well as by vocal phrasing and the performers' timing was impeccable. For example, Keith Jameson, who played Don Curzio, the magistrate, stuttered musically and majestically; we couldn't help bursting out with laughter and love how his stuttering was echoed by the other singers which enticed even more laughter from us. It wasn't just the laughs, either. Susanna Phillips, who portrayed the Countess Almaviva, sang so beautifully that I wanted her arias to last longer and wished we could shout, "Encore!" at the final curtain and get her to sing one again.

However, as excellent as it was, I am almost sorry that I went and I deeply regret buying season tickets; I am that disgusted. It wasn't the horribly uncomfortable seat that will hopefully be corrected with the move to the new Winspear Opera House next season or that I was perspiring until the third act when someone finally got smart enough to turn on the air conditioner.

The skunks were in the audience.

Every other opera I've attended in other cities, when the house lights go down, the audience settles in anticipation. In Dallas, chatter speeds up and doesn't finish until AFTER the music is started...except for the past-their-prime women sitting near me who started talking well into the act while the performers were singing. I couldn't give them the evil eye because they were in my row and wouldn't have been able to see me. I couldn't shush them without creating another disturbance. The only things I could do were pray for them to shut up already and wish my arm was long enough to reach over and head-slap the pair of them.

In addition to the talking were the cell phones. Not only did I hear a cell phone playing a tune that was discordant to the music being played by the orchestra, I heard the bzz-bzz-bzzz of a vibrating phone, and the ting-ting-tinging of a watch alarm. Which part of "Please turn off your cell phones" couldn't the morons understand?

Another skunk was the perfume. Ladies, when you're going to be sitting for hours, shoulder-to-shoulder with others, PLEASE DO NOT WEAR PERFUME OR ANY OTHER TYPE OF FRAGRANCE. All you need is the effective use of bath soap. For those of us who are allergic to fragrance, the watering eyes and congested sinuses are agony. For those of us who think your favorite fragrance stinks, it's misery. How would you like to spend three and a half hours sitting within five feet of a skunk? If you think I'm the only person who thinks this way, there were women in line at the ladies room who I overheard complaining about someone wearing perfume who was sitting near them, too.

Another thing, especially if you were among the group of idiots sitting in the right balcony and clapping when no one else was, here's a clue:

The superscription above the stage means that someone is singing or is about to sing and that you should be quiet and listen. It is NOT a signal for you to start clapping with all your might to drown out the singer's voice as well as the harpsichord being played by the conductor, Graeme Jenkins.

Since the Dallas Opera was founded in 1957, one would think there's been enough time for its audience to learn how to behave. Certainly, cell phones have been out long enough for people to have grasped general etiquette by now and turn off their cell phones in libraries, churches, theaters, AND AT THE OPERA. The mere fact that the performers are singing without microphones gives normal, respectful audiences the motivation to help them be heard by everyone by being quiet, but no, Dallas, you are too rude, crude, and socially unacceptable to exhibit the minimum in common courtesy or to have any degree of couth.

Dallas, it's time for you to grow up and start behaving yourself. I'm giving you the rest of the 2008-2009 season to prove yourself capable of not ruining another opera only because I already have tickets. Yes, I have thought about trying to get a refund or sell my tickets on eBay, but I really want to see the operas. After that, we'll see. There's also opera in Tulsa and Fort Worth's Bass Hall is too fabulous for me to waste nine hours of driving time plus the cost of gas and the ticket only to endure your atrocious behavior no matter how stellar the performance.

In the meantime, I'm telling everyone to stay away from you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Review: Kaweco Sport Eyedropper Ink Roller


Length capped: 4-1/8 inches
Length uncapped: 4 inches
Length posted: 5.25 inches
Diameter: 3/8 inch at the grip
Weight, filled as an ED pen: 0.39 oz
Weight with optional Monteverde mini converter: 0.325 oz
Ink capacity using a Monteverde mini converter: .45 ml
Ink capacity using a short standard international cartridge: .5 ml
Ink capacity as an ED fill: 2.5 ml
Optional clip
Optional pen case holds two Kaweco pens.

Using this pen since April, the Kaweco Sport ink roller remains one of my favorites.

I bought the red Ice which is an attractive, compact pen that fits neatly into a pocket. It's a true red that's not at all orangey. The pen, sold by Swisher Pens, was modified by Nathan Tardif to be filled by an eyedropper and it still accepts a short international standard cartridge or a Monteverde mini converter. I really enjoy viewing the ink in the transparent barrel. I usually write with caps unposted, but this feels better, and is comfortable, with the cap posted.

The ink cartridge that came with the Kaweco lays a bright, attractive blue line that is too broad (.6mm) to suit me. Writing with Montblanc Sepia brought the line width down to .4mm and Noodler's waterproof black brings it closer to .5mm. Very nice.

The Kaweco with the provided ink doesn't write as smoothly as my fine Parker rollerball and requires a bit more pressure with any ink I've tried, but being able to use my fountain pen inks and have different colors makes up for any lack of smoothness.

The best part is that I can write checks that have the carbonless copy using the fraudproof Noodler's bulletproof inks without caring if I'm pressing hard enough for the copy and still writing lightly enough to avoid warping the nib of a fountain pen.

For those who want the fluidity, variety of colors, and earth-friendliness afforded by fountain pen inks but who don't want a fountain pen, I recommend the Kaweco ink roller, especially the eyedropper pens sold by Swisher Pens because of the convenience of the larger ink capacity.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Reminder

Now that the elections are over, many are deeply disappointed or maybe even angry that their candidates lost while others are elated that their candidates won.

This reminder is for us Christians because whoever our leaders are, whether we agree with them or not, we are called to pray for them and all others in positions of authority:

1 Timothy 2:
1. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2. For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

That's what it was all about, wasn't it? Didn't we vote the way that we did because we want quiet and peaceable lives and thought the candidates for whom we voted had the better ideas for our getting them? Or maybe we voted the way that we did because we're so soft and desperate to reach the pie in the sky that we have to have the easy way out no matter what it costs us over the long term.

Personally, I'm not so sure about the godliness and honesty part because I know enough "Christians" who don't read their Bibles, preferring to follow the popular speaker of the year who usually says what sounds good, perverting the message of the Bible. They're not godly or honest because they don't want to take responsibility for what they believe. They're not real Christians because the word "Christian" means "a follower of Christ" (Acts 11:26). However, it's possible that they're baby Christians who simply don't know any better. For the others who aren't newly born-again, since listening to false leaders is a lot easier, that's what they do. They let the deceivers mute their consciousnesses and feed their greediness for personal gain instead of heeding good leaders who encourage us to pray and know the Word for ourselves, as Christ did, as they do themselves.