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Member since: Sat Nov 30, 2013, 04:06 AM
Number of posts: 21,307

Journal Archives

World Ballet Day 2022: The Royal Ballet; Pacific Northwest Ballet/Dance Theatre of Harlem; ABT

Paris Opera:

Full Frontal, Samantha Bee: How Conservative Book Bans Don't Protect Kids (parts 1 & 2)

PBS: Senator Warnock on prospects for voting rights legislation

Anniversary: Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" ballet, December 18, 1892, Maryinsky Theatre

The New York City Ballet, choreography by George Balanchine.

From Solomon Volkov's "Balanchine's Tchaikovsky, Conversations with Balanchine on His Life, Ballet and Music":

"'The Nutcracker' is Tchaikovsky's masterpiece. He said beforehand that he would write music that would make everyone weep! I danced in 'The Nutcracker' as a child at the Maryinsky Theatre. ... 'The Nutcracker' is a story by E. T. A. Hoffman that was incredibly popular in Russia. ... But Petipa did not develop the plot from the Hoffman story, he took the version by Dumas. ... Petipa was French, he could relate better to the French fairy tale. He never did learn how to speak Russian well. People say that when Petipa tried to speak Russian, he came up with all kinds of inadvertent obscenities.

"'The Nutcracker' is a ballet about Christmas. We used to have a fantastic Christmas in Petersburg. ... On Christmas night we had only the family at home: mother, auntie, and the children. And, of course, the Christmas tree. The tree had a wonderful scent, and the candles gave off their own aroma of wax. The tree was decorated with gold paper angels and stars, tangled up in silver 'rain,' or tinsel. I liked the fat glass pears -- they didn't break if they fell. ... Tchaikovsky remained a child all his life, he felt things like a child. He liked the German idea that man in his highest development approaches the child. Tchaikovsky loved children as themselves, not as future adults. Children contain maximum possibilities. Those possibilities often do not develop, they are lost.

"The second act of 'Nutcracker' is more French than German. Petipa liked the idea of Konfituerenburg because at the time in Paris there was a fad for special spectacles in which various sweets were depicted by dancers. Actually, 'Nutcracker's' second act is an enormous balletic sweetshop. In Petersburg there was a store like that, it was called Eliseyevsky's: huge glass windows big enough for a palace, high ceilings, opulent chandeliers, almost like the ones at the Maryinsky. The floors at Eliseyevsky's were covered with sawdust, and you could not hear footsteps -- it was like walking on carpets. The store had sweets and fruits from all over the world, like in 'A Thousand and One Nights.' I used to walk past and look in the windows often. I couldn't buy anything in there, it was too expensive. ... Everything that appears in the second act of 'Nutcracker' is a candy or something tasty. ... The Sugar Plum Fairy is a piece of candy and the dewdrops are made of sugar. The Buffon is a candy cane. It's all sugar! ... All this makes up Konfituerenburg, land of sweets. It was Hoffman's idea, but Petipa saw that it would be beautiful and interesting in a ballet."

Garrison Keillor: Halloween.

"Halloween was last night. Children went out trick-or-treating, dressed as hobos or rich glamorous people, and some kids went as grownups: wore dark dowdy clothes, walked stiff, talked funny, and got sore at everybody. The candy they received, and sweet rolls and apples and quarters, they richly deserved. It was the end of October, when the long dark places between houses seem to reach out for you, poor innocent child, and draw you toward the shadows.

"Most of the trees have lost their leaves, except one old maple across from Clint and Irene Bunsen's, which was slow to turn color, a luminous phosphorescent yellow -- at night, with the streetlight behind it. It was so bright you could read by it. Most other trees were bare, so sound travels farther, and last night, in the middle of supper, you could hear a door slam half a block away, and hear seven fast sharp footsteps, XXXXXXX. The door whanged when it hit the frame and bounced back open, and there were seven slow footsteps going back to shut it. Thunk. Everyone around the supper table stopped chewing. A man's voice: 'Get in here! It servers you right!' And a boy:'I can't talk to you, you're crazy!' Forks hovered as everyone around the table held their breath, waiting for the gunshot. The door was opened and closed, and there were muffled angry voices. My mother sighed, 'I always dread the week before an election.' she said."

The Raven:


PBS: Chef Tu David Phu's "Brief but Spectacular" take on the memory of food

His parents were Vietnamese immigrants, grew up in a food insecure community and household:

"When I think of family meals that my mom cooked at home, I think of a bare chicken carcass that she got from the butcher shop because it was free. Credit to a lot of our mothers in their efforts to innovate dishes, to create recipes, to nourish their family, to make things delicious, because that's what love is."

Phu tried concentrating on traditional Vietnamese food for his restaurant, but came back to his mother's food. That with all his training as a chef he couldn't cook better than his mother and other Vietnamese mothers who had spent their lives cooking.

Couple of years ago I read a book about a famous chef who used to have an exclusive expensive restaurant. His staff spent days in finicky preparation of complicated high tech innovations, but he said what stumped him, what he couldn't do no matter how he tried, was make a good tortilla. In Mexico he'd watch women make tortillas -- perfect every time.

PBS: It was supposed to be a quiet little cafe in Maine. It turned into a culinary phenomena

The Lost Kitchen. Funny that Judy Woodruff doesn't seem to know James Beard is dead.

Full Frontal, Samantha Bee: How (And Why) Black Voter Rights Are Under Attack

"No one can save us but us. We have to keep fighting."

New Year tradition: 10,000 people performing Beethoven's 9th symphony Ode to Joy.

I post this almost every year, it makes me weep.

First cold weather of the season, time for Laura Ingalls Wilder's "The Long Winter."

"It was growing chilly. The cold crept under the table, crawling up from Laura's bare feet to her bare knees under her skirts."

That happened to me yesterday, the beginning of several days of cold, steady rain. No more bare feet and legs. Tights and socks. Short-sleeved cotton clothing into the closet, out come long-sleeved clothing made with the help of animals: wool, cashmere, suede; leather bag replaces canvas. Windows closed, heavy curtains hung. Blankets and quilts on the bed, flannel sheets, cozy flannel pajamas. Electric fans retire, heaters report for duty.

Hot coffee and tea, not iced. Heat from the stove and oven is welcome now, and I think about gratins, soups, stews. Roasting, baking, simmering. At the market: grapes, apples, pears, persimmons, mushrooms, squash, beets. Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves. I want to make an apple pie and baked beans. Every year I plan on making donuts and don't. Will have to read "Farmer Boy" to get in the mood and maybe it'll happen this year. These books are my comfort read from childhood.

Green pumpkin pie:

"'You may cut the pumpkin in slices and peel them while I make the piecrust,' said Ma. ... Ma put the crust in the pie pan and covered the bottom with brown sugar and spices. Then she filled the crust with thin slices of the green pumpkin. She poured half a cup of vinegar over them, put a small piece of butter on top, and laid the top crust over all. 'There,' she said, when she had finished crimping the edges. ... She slipped the pie into the oven and shut the door on it. ... When Ma laid down the shirt that she was making for Pa and opened the oven, the rich smell of baking pie came out. Carrie and Grace stopped to look in while Ma turned the pie so it would brown evenly. ... For an instant, Pa did not see it. Then he said, 'Pie!' ... 'What kind of pie is it?' ... Pa cut off the point with his fork and put it in his mouth. 'Apple pie! Where in the world did you get apples?' Carrie could keep still no longer. She almost shouted, 'It's pumpkin! Ma made it out of green pumpkin!' ... They ate slowly, taking small bites of the sweet spiciness to make it last as long as they could. That was such a happy supper that Laura wanted it never to end."

Bean soup and baked beans:

"'I'm glad I put beans to soak last night,' said Ma. She lifted the lid of the bubbling kettle and quickly popped in a spoonful of soda. The boiling beans roared, foaming up, but did not quite run over. 'There's a little bit of salt pork to put in them too,' Ma said. Now and then she spooned up a few beans and blew on them. When their skins split and curled, she drained the soda water from the kettle and filled it again with hot water. She put in the bit of fat pork. ... The little shanty quivered in the storm. But the steamy smell of boiling beans was good and it seemed to make the air warmer. At noon Ma sliced bread and filled bowls with the hot bean broth and they all ate where they were, close to the stove. They all drank cups of strong, hot tea. ... The hot soup and hot tea warmed them all. They ate the broth from the beans. Then Ma emptied the beans into a milk-pan and set the bit of fat pork in the middle, and laced the top with dribbles of molasses. She set the pan in the oven and shut the oven door. They would have baked beans for supper."
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