One more for the blogs among you

Sometime over the summer I will celebrate my favorite blogs during Blog Week, as reviewed and selected by me, but this weekend I have a visitor* and another opera (same opera) and a brunch day to attend, and betwixt all that—well, these naps aren't gonna take themselves.

From Tim Bray, Still Blogging in 2017:

I wonder what the Web will be like when we’re a couple more generations in? I’m pretty sure that as long as it remains easy to fill a little bit of the great namespace with your words and pictures, people will.

The great danger is that the Web’s future is mall-like: No space really pubic, no storefronts but national brands’, no visuals composed by amateurs, nothing that’s on offer just for its own sake, and for love.

God bless the amateurs.

via (blog)

*This is my friend Tucc, not a euphemism for a mouse and/or gentleman caller

For a good time, read

Kaitlyn Tiffany is my favorite writer at The Verge, because she's sharp, funny, and charming and appreciates many random, unrelated things with enthusiasm. (!! An important habit / skill.) Also because she loves blogs. As who doesn't? Blogs are the best. Here she is with an appreciation of—what else—Martha Stewart as "the perfect blogger":

Martha isn’t stuck in the past. She loves Facebook Live (see this “FBL” art she made out of blueberries), and she has one of the wittiest and strangest Twitter accounts you’re likely to find. But she realizes and respects the long-forgotten secret about blogging — that blogs are as much about the act as they are about the content, and that consistency and longevity are the only qualities in blogging worth respecting. Anyone can write about the first peacock they buy. Only a world-class blogger will write about every peacock they purchase and every thing that happens to each one. Anyone can share a personal story in hopes of aiding someone with a menial task. Only a truly exceptional blogger will do that every day for over 3,000 days and show no signs of stopping. Martha, possibly, has done her research and knows that blogging consistently is good for you. In any case, she made the promise of being there, and she has followed up.

p.s. yay blogs!

See also: the Jake Gyllenhaal newsletter, the memes of Trump's first 100 days, 10 things you can learn from a terrible twitter account, using Mike Huckabee as the medium's bête noire ("Here’s a tweet that doesn’t have a hashtag. You can see how it’s better."), my winter happy place is Sarah Jessica Parker's weird, gross Instagram, I have owned a Fitbit for one day


Daily intel

The winner for a backpack I can lug all my quotidian crap around in without crushing my clavicle or resorting to a second bothersome carryall is this North Face Pivoter (unisex) rig. In the front compartment alone I can fit: three pairs of glasses (regular, progressive, sun); a makeup bag filled with tampons and lip balm; a book; an umbrella; evacuation shoes; a roll of shipping tape; chopsticks; an apple; some trail mix; and two boxes of kleenex. It's purely accidental that I pack like some half-hearted survivalist in training, so please don't ask questions. Some of us make choices and some of us just chuck it all in there. (The main compartment is for your flatter items such as laptops or magazines or file folders, if you live in 1975.) Why everybody in the world doesn't already own this bag is beyond me! "Stylish" may be a stretch, but still. When I die feel free to bury me in it.

You want a piece of my heart

Look at these two beautiful, hairy bozos in what the internet tells me is 1992, a year (decade) in which I also had a lot of hair (still do btw). I like to think of them as a bumbling comedy duo called Spanx! who solve cute, wholesome crimes to pay the bills, like The Case of the Missing Bowling Shoes, or The Great Pancake Breakfast Caper.

And this is Spanx! at the Beacon Theatre last Friday night, which I spent at the opera/hotel bar area instead, drinking biers and crying, even though this "conversation" happened right here in my neighborhood. New York City has taught me a lot of lessons about loss and the importance of not double-booking one's own personal calendar, that's for sure.

Not so hairy now, are we fellas?

Der Rosenkavalier at the Met

Sublime, thy name is the last 20 minutes of Act III of Der Rosenkavalier. I will also grant you the last 20 minutes of Act I and the 20 minutes that fall somewhere round the end of the first third of Act II, but the rest is a Thanksgiving turkey that's been stuffed with everything inside the refrigerator: pretty on the outside but too too too, too much. (Too much retinue bumbling, for example, too much bellowing from the odious Baron Ochs, and too much laughter had from the forced betrothal of an innocent young woman to the same odious man. So thanks for that, America! j/k, it's obviously German.)

Time, it is a curious thing.

This from the Marschallin, our melancholy heroine, in an opera about love and youth and beauty and everything passing by.

She is feeling old (at 32!); her husband is off shooting things in Croatia and she knows her young lover Octavian (17!) will soon grow tired of her. Rebuffing his efforts to cheer her (Act I), she must then apologize when he begins to cry: “Now I even have to console the boy for his leaving me sooner or later,” she sings, O sadder but wise girl, knowingly sending him off to deliver a silver rose to the one who will unwittingly become his next love. But first she tries to explain her mood to him, a thing he cannot understand because he's 17, and only a boy after all: “At times I get up in the middle of the night and stop all the clocks,” she tells him. “All of them.”

It hurts, this scene, how badly she wants to hold on, and how fiercely she resists. Time is sand. Life is water. We would value nothing if it lasted forever. And we shed a tear for her (well okay, I do), because while he swears his fidelity with all the passionate sincerity a 17-year-old boy can muster, he also up and falls in love—at first sight—with the poor girl to whom he delivers the rose at the top of the very next act.*

*This I know, having seen the opera many times before. Last night, however, we skipped all of Act II and both intermissions (~100 minutes, give or take) and hopped across the street to the Empire Hotel to unwind with a couple of biers. "Life is too short for Act II of Rosenkavalier" is something you can tattoo on my forehead. Feel free to share with others.

Ahem: but all of this, ultimately, is not why one sits through 4+ long hours in the balcony of the Metropolitan Opera surrounded by the Upper West Side's finest. Alas, one goes for three soprano roles: the famed Marschallin (Renée Fleming, all languorous good humor and noblesse oblige), Octavian (a believably pouty and proud Elīna Garanča), and Sophie (Erin Morley, pretty and bright). And, more specifically, one goes for those last 20 minutes, which include the loveliest trio in all opera—what is for two a beginning and one a goodbye.

I chose to love him
in the right way,
so that I would love even
his love for another! I truly didn't believe
that I would have to bear it so soon!

Twenty minutes of music that is the pure heart of longing, so sublime (see?) that I wept and wept, then wept some more. (Newsflash: Sally cried, too.) Not because it’s sad (although of course it’s sad), but because it is glorious. Three voices spinning and weaving and rising so clearly and so high it’s almost impossible to believe—even as you're watching with your own eyes—that their feet do not leave the ground.

I mean, just listen to this goddamn jingle (from the 2009 production):

It’s a sign of the times

We celebrated my Uncle Dick's 80th birthday on Saturday. My brother Scott and I were the surprise.

Customer service

As a recent, if premature, panic shopper of sweatshirts, let me be the first to tell you to buy this sweatshirt. The Bean makes some heinous fashion missteps but this is all thumbs up, and if like me your favorite mode of dressing is "campfire lazy," you'll feel at home immediately. It's thin and soft and roomy ("relaxxxed") and has a perfect wide crewneck (tight crewnecks being the scourge of casual ladies everywhere) and is the best light shade of non-gym class gray. Or navy. Your pick! Let's all meet somewhere in six weeks or so, wearing this sweatshirt. The band at the bottom is loose and the fit is comfortable but not boxy—this is so important! NOT BOXY!—so we can let it all hang out. I think we'll have a really good time.

When things fall apart, or the meaning of life

From Heather Kirn Lanier at Vela Mag, "SuperBabies Don't Cry":

We want a SuperRace because we want to eradicate absolutely everything that terrifies us. We want SuperHumans so we can transcend that thing we are: human. But a SuperHuman would lack that crack in everything through which, as Leonard Cohen sang, the light gets in. There’s something in our suffering that we need. We’ve known this for millennia, and we make it clear in the stories we keep telling. The Buddha gave up his palace and meditated beneath a tree for a week. Jesus of Nazareth said yes to a cross. Our ache is our unfortunate, undeniable doorway. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, says the copper lady with the torch. When we walk into our pain, we sometimes find ourselves on the other side, freed of what we once thought we needed to feel free.

From an interview with Bob Dylan in Rolling Stone, circa 2007:

Faith doesn't have a name. It doesn't have a category. It's oblique. So it's unspeakable. We degrade faith by talking about religion.

Two gains, one loss

1. I switched to a new wash & fold cleaner a couple weeks ago that's close enough to walk to on my way to work lugging a 12-pound sack of filthy laundry. So far they've torn a hole in one sheet and lost three socks, which I am willing to overlook. Socks are tough to track in the best of times and, well I don't know what to say about the sheet except I did not care. It's a sheet. Last week, though, they lost my favorite pair of jeans (slouchy cropped boyfriend, J.Crew, 2 years old) and my favorite sweatshirt (heavy but soft, Eddie Bauer Outlet in Wisconsin Dells, 4 years old). The sweatshirt has since been found and returned to me, although the jeans remain gone with the wind. I've thrown several internal fits about this and have to keep talking myself off the ledge, public tantrum-wise. I do not have luck with jeans these days, or pants, or clothing in general. I've forgotten how to dress and have no idea where to shop. It's nice to know on the weekend that I don't have to care about any of that, only now I do. I'm embarrassed to report how sad I am about those jeans but this is a safe space, and in truth I cared more about losing them than I ever did about my jackets (summer of 2010, RIP). I feel like I've surrendered my security blanket, which is low and pathetic, but now that I've spoken of them here, I have released their hold over me and thus I am free. Hocus pocus, abracadabra, kalamazoo, etc. They're just pants, man. At least that's the theory.

2. I bought this window fan last month in anticipation of the always-painful climate transition that occurs when it's suddenly 75 degrees outside before they turn the heat off inside (I can't control the heat, thanks to New York City's ancient steam radiator system, so I can never close the window). I was a little skeptical that anything so simple and stupid could make a difference in my daily enjoyment but holy moly! It's like sitting on a screen porch on a cool summer night, free from all the care and toil of the world. The problem is it makes me want to nap whenever I sit down. You know the feeling. It's the best.

3. I sense I really reached the bottom of the barrel with this one, blog-wise. But they can't all be winners: that's just a totally unrealistic expectation. I went ahead and posted it anyway, though, as a lesson in hubris and humility, and thus I am free.