Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Family History

This afternoon I was perusing the dozens of Jezebel articles on my Google reader and clicked on this one about Roe v. Wade. The hypertext in the second sentence caught my eye immediately, but not because it was blue - because I know Marsha and David King, the other two plaintiffs in the landmark case. They're in Atlanta now, and they're the parents of one of my oldest friends.

That link took me to an interview with Marsha. Needless to say, my mind was boggled. In principle it doesn't surprise me in the slightest, but I certainly didn't expect to learn, while poking around on the Internet at work, that my friend's parents are a significant part of our country's history.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

3 1/2 years and 7 pounds of love

Little Man, July 2005
4 months

On September 7, my cat Little Man turned 3 1/2 years old. (I've always been one for half-birthday celebrations. I blame my summer birthday.) Those of you who have met Little Man know that his is not just a clever name - I actually think I may have stunted his growth by naming him that, but, frankly, nothing else took.

Regardless of the cause, Little Man is a total runt: fully grown, he weighs 7 pounds on a tubby day. My sister's cats Bubba and Leroy (and cousin Lily Wolbe) are about twice his size.

In addition to being a runt, he is slightly cross-eyed.

Also, his front right pinky toe (if cats have pinkies, or toes) doesn't really retract, so he can't sneak up on anybody when hardwood floors are involved. Sometimes I call him Pegleg.

Little Man came into my life in May 2005, just over two months old, as an early graduation present from my parents. Most anyone who has recently finished college or experienced the early- to mid-twenties time of life will agree that these are not the easiest of years. I feel lucky that my steadfast kitty-friend has been with me through it all - and he doesn't even seem to resent me for moving him to Syracuse for a year.

Monday, September 15, 2008

In which I avoid bomb-related punnery...

It's not uncommon to hear members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus wishing a Monday night rehearsal were over before it even started or cursing the intense performance-week schedule. I myself have cut back on my commitments to the group this season -- to be specific, I've dropped Chamber Chorus -- because I'm too young to be married to the chorus. Many members have been in the group longer than I have been ALIVE. This being the case, it's easy to imagine how one might take membership in this group for granted or see it as merely a routine task to be completed or a hurdle to be overcome in the course of the week.

In my relatively limited experience with this organization, though, there are always moments when it dawns on you what an amazing privilege it is to be a voice in the ASOC. To sing under Robert Spano and Donald Runnicles. To nit-pick every eighth note or quarter-tone with Norman Mackenzie, as agonizing as it is in the process. (It's especially easy for me to overlook the value of rehearsal with Norm since I see him roughly eight days a week, but he's a brilliant, exacting musical creature.) I've come away from each of our first two rehearsals with a sense of pride in my membership and profound excitement for the performances to come.

This season, as in others, we've got some old, lovely chestnuts of choral-orchestral repertoire on the docket, but the first performance of the "big chorus" will be a concert version of John Adams's 2005 opera Doctor Atomic, which makes its Metropolitan Opera debut this October. I first performed Adams last season and find the opera to be idiomatic with On the Transmigration of Souls in terms of harmony, rhythm and structure, but the libretto* is even more striking, for me, than the Sept. 11 inspired work. I love that there exists a man who hears music in these words and can make it seem totally natural that one would sing these phrases. Reading it now, I can't help but hear the words sing.

Here's a taste of the choral part, which begins the opera:

We believed that "matter can be neither created nor destroyed, but only altered in form." We believed that "energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but only altered in form." But now we know that energy may become matter, and now we know that matter may become energy, and thus be altered in form.

Act I, scene i
The end of June nineteen-forty-five finds us expecting from day to day to hear of the explosion of the first atomic bomb devised by man. All the problems are believed to have been solved, at least well enough to make a bomb practicable. A sustained neutron chain reaction resulting from nuclear fission has been demonstrated; production plants of several different types are in operation, building a stockpile of the explosive material. We do not know when the first explosion will occur, nor how effective it will be. The devastation from a single bomb is expected to be comparable to that of a major air raid by usual methods. A weapon has been developed that is potentially destructive beyond the wildest nightmares of the imagination; a weapon so ideally suited to sudden unannounced attack that a country's major cities might be destroyed overnight by an ostensibly friendly power. This weapon has been created not by the devilish inspiration of some warped genius but by the arduous labor of thousands of normal men and women working for the safety of their country.

This is going to be AWESOME.

*Libretto by Peter Sellars, drawn from original sources

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Last night... was the most incredible night of my life

By last night I mean, of course, this morning. This morning was among the most incredible mornings of my life, and not just because I successfully medicated my cat and have nary a scratch to show for it. No, today marked the grand opening of the Waffle House Museum, located in the restored original Waffle House restaurant in Avondale Estates, Ga. (just over the line from Decatur), and I was on hand to help celebrate.

Merely being witness to this event would have been enough, but by noon I had crossed another three names off my list of People I Must Meet In My Lifetime: Tom Forkner and Joe Rogers Sr., founders and patriarchs of the Waffle House chain, and S. Truett Cathy, developer of the chicken sandwich made famous by his Chick-fil-A restaurants. Three cornerstones of Southern fast food in one day! My little heart was bursting with joy, as you can see.

Tom and me!

Joe Sr. and me, outside the restored original restaurant.
(After we took this photo, he kept his arm around me and
said to his buddy, "If I'm gonna die, I might as well die
in the arms of a good-lookin' woman!" Score.)

Truett and me inside the museum. Bonus!
(He also gave me a signed copy of his latest book,
"How did you do it, Truett?" and a coupon for a free
chicken sandwich. I have totally been doing something right.)