July 2005 Archives

Don't Panic

I finally got to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy last night. Woot! There were definitely changes from the books, but not a single one of them bothered me. It felt like they had captured the tone and the spirit just right.

There wasn't a single performance that stuck out in a bad way, and many that tickled me. Stephen Fry was just the voice for the Guide, just the voice indeed. So quintessentially, unflappably British, just like his Jeeves. Martin Freeman perfectly captured the frustration and bewilderment of Arthur Dent. Mos Def had the casual charisma necessary for Ford Prefect. Zaphod always has gotten on my nerves, but that is kind of his function, so Sam Rockwell had it just right (did I detect a note of Dubya in that performance?) The fabulously named Zooey Deschanel played a sweeter Trillian than I was expecting, and gave a semi-reprise of a scene in Elf. And, of course, Alan Rickman voicing the perpetually depressed Marvin had me in stitches.

If you have not yet seen it, be sure to stay through the credits, least you miss an extra treat.

Dance Magic Dance

Wednesday night, at the Concert on the Square, I was sitting near a group with a little girl of nt quite 5. The concert ended with music from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. The girl danced around to both pieces, displaying an amazing degree of natural grace and rhythm. Her dance was very unself-conscious and a joy to watch, and at the end, at least half of the applause in our area was from people who had been watching her.

I started thinking about Reviving Ophelia, and I prayed that that little girl would always be able to dance with that much joy and abandon. I pray that as she grows up, no one will be able to stifle the dancer she is.

A4C Update

The Artists for Choice event page has been updated, with more of the bands that will be playing.

Also, as a note of interest, guess who designed the logo?

Not Spoiled

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Last night I finally got around to watching The Village and I discovered that somehow, sometime, someone had indeed given away the twist for me. And yet, even knowing that small bit of knowledge ahead of time, it did not spoil the movie for me. I thought it was beautifully filmed and well-acted.

I was particularly struck by Adrien Brody's performance as Noah, which was the best portrayal of a person with autism that I have seen in the movies. Take that, Dustin Hoffman.


I've been trying to decide if it is time for an Irving Place site redesign. I still really like the current design, but then, I hardly ever look at it. I mostly see the site from the code end, and the Movable Type menus. So I'll put it to you, the readers:

Time for a change: yay or nay?

This announcement features 20% blatant self-promotion, 80% social
awareness and is 100% low carb friendly. Contains no artificial
sweeteners. Come check it out, either on one of the six event nights
or drop by any time from August through October to peruse the walls.
(Psst, check out the Sept. 1 featured artist.) Fun for the whole
family!...Well, most of the family...


Join Planned Parenthood in supporting Artists for Choice!
Artists for Choice, is a state-wide alliance of pro-choice artists who
encourage individuals to manage their sexual and reproductive health
through patient services, education, and advocacy.

Artists for Choice Exhibit
August - October, 2005
Café Montmartre
127 E. Mifflin Street, Madison

Art Exhibit
From August through October, the Dane County Area Artists for Choice
is partnering with Café Montmartre to highlight a three-month long
exhibit featuring pieces from Artists for Choice. Artwork will be
viewable during business hours at Café Montmartre throughout the
three-month exhibit. Several of the pieces will be available for

Live Events - check back for updates
Events designed to bring awareness of reproductive choice through live
music, performance art, and documentary film will be held at 8pm on
the following nights at Café Montmartre in Madison. Cost for each
event is $3/person.

Thurs, August 4
featured performers: Mahela, Nicole Gruter, BoxElder
featured visual artists: Lynn Lau, Nancy Peidelstein, Jennifer Utley

Wed, August 17
featured performers: Stephanie Rearick, The Dorothy Heralds
featured visual artists: Sara Naatz

Thurs, September 1
featured performers: Olive Talique, The Buffali, Jimmy's Comet
featured visual artists: Katherine Olson

Wed, September 21
featured performers: (Men for Choice) Andy Ewen, Moe Jabbar, Jim
Schwall, Greg Winkler
featured visual artists: Nick Winkel

Thurs, October 6
featured performers: Mad Rollin' Dolls, Screamin' Cyn-Cyn & The Pons,
The Back 40's
featured visual artists: Maricio Parra, Chani Becker

Wed, Oct 19
featured event: Trilobyte Pictures presents "The 70th Anniversary of
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin", other local independent film

Contributing Artists
Chani Becker, BoxElder, The Buffali, Jimmy's Comet, Mad Rollin' Dolls,
Andy Ewen, The Back 40's, Tret Fure, Nicole Gruter, The Dorothy
Heralds, Eric Hester, Moe Jabbar, Kealynn Kees, Molly Krochalk, Lynn
Lau, Mahela, Sara Naatz, David Nevala, Katherine Olson, Mauricio
Parra, Nancy Peidelstein, Trilobyte Pictures, Screamin' Cyn-Cyn & The
Pons, Stephanie Rearick, Ann Sautter, Jim Schwall, Brian Strausburg,
Firecracker Studios, Olive Talique, Jennifer Utley, Nick Winkel, Greg
Winkler, Hawley Wright

To join Artists for Choice, or for more information on the exhibit or
events, contact a4c@ppwi.org (subject line "Artists for Choice")

Brief Fiesta

My plans for yesterday afternoon included a stint at the Planned Parenthood table at Fiest Hispana at Warner Park. Last years's fiesta was muy divertido, so I was looking forward to it. It started to rain buckets about a half hour before I was going to start to walk over.

It stopped right when my shift was to start, so I dashed over to check that everyone was still there, and then dashed back home to get my lunch and my forgotten rain coat.

As I was walking back to the park, I saw the black sky rolling towards me, accented with flashes of lightening. I raced the rain back to the tent, and discovered that all of the tables had been swiftly abondonned. It seems that a particularly strong gust of wind had pulled the stakes on one side of the tent completely out of the ground. There were people yanking on the ropes to keep things stable until the contents of the tent could be cleared. I helped the other volunteer grab our stuff and haul it back to her car, then cadged a ride home from her.

It did clear up in the late afternoon, and it may be that the Fiesta reconvened when the sun came out, but it was too late for me. Well, here's to next year.

Sail away sail away

I had another lifetime first last night--I went sailing. 'Twas a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.

My sister and I joined a group of seven others on Soma, the Wisconsin Union Hoofers' "cow boat". We got underway at sunset, and cruised until a little after 10.

The skill level on the boat ranged from very experienced to "well, I canoe" (this was pretty much just my sister and I). Never-the-less, everyone on board had some work to do. I helped to jump the mast and to tack a number of times, and I also spent some time as a trimmer. I decided not to take a turn riding in pulpit, and I also declined a chance to steer, though Gretchen took up both offers. When I was asked if I wanted to steer, it was during the first time in a while when I wasn't required to do anything but sit in the stern and enjoy the ride, and I wanted to savor the moment.

The hairiest moment for me was while I was taking a turn as the grinder on the port side and the boat heeled at such an angle that it almost felt like the deck was vertical. I held onto the winch and jammed my left foot onto the toe rail as lake water rushed up to meet my sock. I didn't like the idea of being the "man overboard", so I held fast until we leveled out.

The moon did not appear while we were out (though I did finally see it on my way home) but we did get a treat in the sky over Warner Park, with the post-Mallards-game fireworks. We also got a bit of a show from the "Anything but Clothes" party going on near the pier, and some sweet tunes from the jam band playing on the Terrace.

I may go again this summer, if I can get my schedule to allow it. However, I am now more committed to the idea that next summer I will actually sign up for lessons.

The Motorcycle Diaries

The last time I rode a motorcycle was ten years ago (and before that was when I was 7 or so). On that trip I mistook the exhaust pipes for the foot pegs in the dark, and melted my shoes.

This time, I was so much smarter (right). I was very, very careful about looking where I put my feet. No melty soles. However, when getting off the bike, my leg briefly touched the pipe...merely a split second, and I burned the hell of of it. Yes, I should have been wearing long pants instead of shorts, but I wasn't expecting to be on a motorcycle when I left the house in the morning. So there.

I've currently got a giant blister on my left calf, and an even larger red spot. But it doesn't hurt, so it's just annoying.

Still, burn or no burn, it was a fun trip.

Opera in the Park

This year was the 4th year for Opera in the Park, and my 2nd in attendance (I was at #2). Once again, I decided to forego the purchase of a glowstick, but I did not feel left out.

The evening was lovely: warm, but relatively bug-free and illuminated by a glowing gibbous moon. For about an hour before the start of the concert, Sean Michael Dargan and Tom Greenhalgh moved throughout the grounds playing bagpipes to get the evening started.

John DeMain conducted a Madison Symphony Orchestra filled with substitute players. For a group that was mostly newly formed and little practiced, they preformed exceedingly well. Kudos to all those who stepped in at the last minute. They opened the night, after the National Anthem, with a spirited take on the Overture to Mozart's The Magic Flute.

The vocalists for the evening were superb. Donnie Ray Alber, the baritone, made his debut on the Madison stage as did Elena Bocharova, the mezzo-soprano. Kyle Ketelsen, the bass-baritone has performed with the Madison Opera in the past. He was also the bass soloist for the Mahler Eight this spring. Word to your Pater Profundis! Ted Lee, the tenor, was most recently on the Madison Stage as Calaf in the fall production of Turandot and will be returning this fall as Cavaradossi in Tosca. Barbara Quintiliani, the soprano was also featured in Turandot as Liu and has also performed with the Madison Symphony.

Mr. Albert sang a number of excellent pieces, but he really raised the roof (or would have, had there been a roof) with "I, Don Quixote" from Leigh's Man of La Mancha. It made me want to leap to my feet and go fight some windmills immediately.

Ms. Bocharova's stand-out number, in my mind, was the Seguidilla from Bizet's Carmen. Even without the costumes and other theatrical augmentation, she thoroughly conveyed the seduction of the aria.

Mr. Ketelsen was admirably wicked in Gounod's Faust Serenade. As he sand, his face was the face of Mephisto and his chuckle was suitabley demonic.

Mr. Lee knocked everyone's socks off with a reprise of Turandot, allowing Puccini's Nessum Dorma to soar out into the park.

Ms. Quintillia sang "Vilia" from Lehar's operetta The Merry Widow, as the audience swayed along with their light sticks.

The Madison Opera Chorus had several chances to shine on their one, including a rousing rendition of the Chorus of the Matadors from Verdi's La Traviata.

The night ended all too soon, even with two encores. I am looking forward to the 2005-2006 seasons for both the Symphony and the Opera. In fact, I'm thinking about auditioning for the chorus, if I can balance that with Choral Union. We shall see.

Into the Green (take two)

This year I had enough forethought to plan ahead and organize a group ticket purchase. We were early enough to take advantage of American Player's Theater's "Bellyful of Laughs" package, which provided us with tickets and a picnic for a very reasonable price.

We started out the evening with a fabulous picnic, courtesy of the Hubbard Avenue Diner in Middleton. The main feature of the meal were cold Italian marinated salmon filets and and assortment of delectable salads: chicken salad with grapes and walnuts, Mediterranean pasta salad with artichoke hearts, confetti bean salad, and a refreshing fruit salad. A highlight of the meal, for me, was the fresh baked baguette with a wheel of brie and pesto aioli. Dessert was amazingly rich chocolate brownies. In addition to all of that bounty, one of the ladies brought along a fresh green salad, and fluffy yellow cake. Topping it all off were several bottles of good wine. It was a total foodgasm.

After the meal, we made our way up the hill in high spirits, and settled in to our seats to watch The Merry Wives of Windsor, as directed by John Neville-Andrews.

Colleen Madden (Ford) and Kathleen Pirkl Tague (Page) played the Merry Wives of the title. They were good-naturedly wicked as they intrigued against the lecherous old Sir John Falstaff (Jason O'Connell) and sent Master Ford (Jim DeVita) into a tizzy of jealousy.

O'Connell was wonderfully disgusting as the fat, lascivious knight. Every word he uttered was dripping with earthy and lewd suggestiveness. He made good use of the girth provided by the traditional fat-suit, and even his laugh (a leering sort of chuckle) tended to bring a responding giggle from the audience.

However, it was DeVita's Ford that stole the show. From his ridiculous pirate get-up for his disguise as Brook, to his failing, shrieking temper tantrum in his own home, he completely upstaged Falstaff. The longest laugh in the show came when Dr. Cauis (Scott Haden, delightfully understudying an absent Mark Corkins) and Master Page (David Daniel) had shut the raging Ford into the infamous buck-basket and were sitting upon it to hold it closed. The audience was already in tears of mirth from the wild carryins-on of DeVita, and the actors paused to let the laughter die down. It took a while to subside, and the pause grew quite long, which in turn caused the laughter to rise again several times before the scene could finally continue. I didn't check my watch, but the show seemed to have stopped for at least a full minute, possibly more.

James Ridge, portraying the language-mangling, Welsh Parson Evans also made me smile, particularly during the "fairy revel". The spry little clergyman hopping about in furry Pan-legs gave me echoes of Ridge's turn as Puck in the summer of 2000.

Sarah Day, who by now has played Anne Page and both of the Wives in her 20 years with APT, shows her brilliant comic chops as the distractible though good-hearted Mistress Quickly.

I heartily recommend this production to any and all in need of a good belly laugh. The play runs until October 2nd, when it will be the last performance of the APT season.


I was almost finished typing up a very extensive review of my night at APT, and the power suddenly went out. It was only out for a minute, but that was long enough. Waaaah! I don't know if I have the energy to do it again tonight.

The title of the concert was a leettle bit off, since the concert began at 7 and was done by around 9. The half-moon was in attendance, but the stars were not yet out, as the sun was still setting.

Guest conductor Huw Edwards stood in for Andrew Sewell, trading a Welshman for the usual Kiwi. Christine Buckstead provided the soprano solos for the evening.

Among the pieces played that evening were Jean Joseph Mouret's Rondeau from Suite de Symphonie most familiar, Mr. Edwards explained, as the opening theme music to Masterpiece Theater. He joked that it was quite funny that the theme to a BBC television showed should be by a French composer. Also played were Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks" and Bizet's "Carmen Suite No. 1".

Ms. Buckstead gave an entertaining rendition of "Olympia's Song" from Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman, complete with wound-down mechanical doll action. She also sparkeld as Cunegonde, singing "Glitter and Be Gay" from Leonard Bernstien's Candide, though I found the spoken section of the song to be slightly tedious.

The evening was as lovely as the music, and I was lucky enough to have placed my blanket amongst people who didn't feel the need to chatter non-stop throughout the music. I'm looking forward to this week's concert, themed a"Night for Dancing" and featuring the Manhattan Rhythm Kings.

Culture in the Great Outdoors

In the past week, I have been to a Concert on the Square, Shakespeare in the woods, and Opera in the Park. It has all been very fun and surprisingly bug-free.

Now for the reviews.

Boat rides and Rainbows

This evening, my Little Sister and I took advantage of the wonderful MSCR Pontoon Boat Program. For just $3 each, we were treated to a 90 minute tour of Lake Mendota (we were offered the choice of Mendota of Monona, since the rides start from the Yahara River between the lakes, but the majority of the boat wanted Mendota).

The air was cool and the sky was grey when we started our ride. Sure enough, shortly after we'd passed under the dripping gates of the Tenny Park locks and were passing the Governor's Mansion, a light rain started to fall on us. As there was little wind and no sign of lightening, the passengers and crew decided to continue on, despite the wet.

The sky on the western side of the lake was tantalyzingly clear, though we were not able to get close enough to that side in the timeframe of our trip to be able to take advantage of that fact. However, the blue sky and sunshine in the west provided us with the most amazing rainbow, which lasted until the sun set--almost the entirity of our trip. It was a full arc and incredibly vivid. It spanned (in our view) from Maple Bluff in the north to the new Porter Boathouse on the UW campus in the south. Even better, it was a double rainbow, though the reverse was only visible up the sides, and not at the top of the arc. We kept gazing at it in wonderment and the rest of the lake and the shoreline turned shades of gold, purple, and pink in the dying light. Truly a spectacular sight.

The rain finally started to die out as we passed the Lakeshore Path and came upon the Terrace. The skipper was friendly guy and full of interesting information. It was my first time out on either lake (or the river) and even with the rain, it was definitely an enjoyable experience. I am tempted to do it again, and would recommend it for anyone looking for an affordable summertime excursion.


It's amazing how quickly time can fly past you. It seems like just yesterday that I was first sitting down at a table in Cafe Montmartre with a group of mostly strangers who were there to discuss an embryonic idea (edit: okay, I now realize that may be an odd word choice in this context, but it's going to stay that way) called "Artists for Choice".

And now, here it is with under a month to the opening of our three month show at that same cafe. There will be a display of wall art that will hang from August through October, and a series of six events featuring local musicians, poets, performance artists, and filmmakers. We had a meeting tonight to go over some of the last details, and there was a feeling in the air of "this is really going to happen!"

Of course, this also means that I really need to get my ass in gear to pick out which pieces I want to display and get them framed. Given my basic joblessness in the summer, I'm going to have to be as frugal as possible with the framing, but at the same time, I want to do a good job of it. Still... ugh. (I hate not having a "real" job. Poverty is a drag for so many reasons.)

Soon I will be transformed into a publicity generating machine, especially as I get the final word on who is going to be performing at each event, and as we get closer to the event dates. However, the information that I have now is as follows:

All events start at 7:00 p.m. at Café Montmartre 127 E. Mifflin St. Madison.
Thursday, August 4
Wednesday, August 17
Thursday, September 1
Wednesday, September 21
Thursday, October 6
Wednesday, October 19


In case anyone was wondering whether The Transporter was any good, rest assured: it's not.


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"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, ..."

Er, sorry no, not Ginsberg. Howl's Moving Castle, one of my favorite books by Diana Wynne Jones, as adapted to film by Hayao Miyazaki.

I watched it in Japanese with English subtitles. At some point I would also like to see the English dub, though I have to admit I'm pretty leary about Billy Crystal as Calcifer.

As far as Miyazaki films go, it was everything that was to be expected: beautiful, whimsical, and strange. As far as adaptations of the book go...well...it was unusual. I expected, of course, that some things would be changed. The first half of the movie fit those expectations fairly well. Somethings were different, but it kept in time with the book closely enough that I was able to guess what would be happening next. Then, at the halfway point, when Sophie is going to blacken Howl's name to the King, it takes a left at Albuquerque. There are the typical twists and turns of a Wynne Jones story (which are anything but typical) and there are the typical twists and turns of a Miyazaki (again, anything but typical). To some extent they match up, but where they differ this got the full on Miyazaki and I no longer had any idea what was going on, nor what would be happening next at any given moment.

It was an odd feeling. When I watched Ella Enchanted I was rather disappointed and repulsed by the changes and liberties that were take with the story. Here I was disoriented, but not displeased. The book and the movie are both wonderful, but entirely different creatures.

Aw Damn

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