Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Musical Interlude

It's like this. Everyone knows Renee, Anna, Cecilia, Joyce... and soon they're all going to know Liz. So, dear readers, you'll all be able to say, "Well, I was listening to her before you knew she existed," if that's the type of thing you're apt to say. Whether you say it or not, it'll be true. Watch it here, or go to YouTube and read all the comments. And, of course, add your own, if that's the type of thing you're apt to do.

Soprano Elizabeth Caballero sings Adina's first aria from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Opera Birthday!!

My mom turns 81 this year. She is an opera lover too. I mean, it didn't just pop up in me overnight. I grew up hearing the Saturday Afternoon Broadcast, well, every Saturday afternoon, and many other operas on the stereo system from those LPs that come in boxes because you need like 6 records for one opera.

So my parents live in South East Florida, where all respectful New Jersey Jews go to when they retire. Everyone has a New York or New Jersey accent.

My mother hasn't been to the opera in like 45 years, even though, before she met my dad, she had a subscription to the (old) Met and went one a week for years. Gee, thanks dad. So for her birthday, I decided I was going to take her to the opera. But how? So I poked around and discovered that Florida Grand Opera holds some of its performances at a theater about 20 minutes from where my parents live. And next Spring they're doing Nozze di Figaro. AND... Liz Caballero has the part of the Countess. !!!! So I got the tickets - air and opera. My mother is THRILLED. AND I told Liz we were coming and she said to remind her to put us on the backstage list. Is that not the coolest?

SOOOOO I'm going to the opera. Again. In April. In Florida. With my mother. And we'll see Liz perform. Dove Sono... Porgi Amor better bring a box of tissues. (Yeah, I know the links aren't of Liz, but it's Renee so stop complaining.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Continual Amazement

Yeah, I know. Parents always go on and on about how their kid says stuff that amazes them. Well, here's mine for today.

We were at a party in a house that had a piano. Alex was at the piano playing the highest scale. As he went up he said, "Now the sun is rising." Then when he got to the top note, just before he went down the scale, he said, "Now the sun is going down," and down the scale he played. I asked him if his music teacher did that or if he made it up, and he said he just made it up. I think that's so cool, the way he's taking the music and matching it to a corresponding event of something going up and down. This is a new one for him. Before, he used to call the high notes "young" or "new" and the low notes were "old." Pretty cool the way they think before they're told how things are "supposed" to be.

Was going through old video files and posted this one, this one and this one to YouTube. Oh and this one too. We used to do that in the car all the time, repeating back and forth. I'd change the pitch and the words and he'd keep up with me. These videos are all 30 seconds or less.

He's amazed me from the start.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Exclusive Photo, blah blah blah

My request has been granted. I have permission to post the EXCLUSIVE photo from a recent Pearl Fishers rehearsal at the Lyric. I feel like Opera Chic!!

Ok, so it's kind of blurry and sort of... orange... but, hey, it's an EXCLUSIVE photo.

See if you can figure out who's who.

In spite of its orangeness, you can see just how gorgeoso the Lyric is.

Thanks, person who gave me permission!!! And no, I'm not a worshiper, just a... (running to thesaurus ... ok got it) I'm simply an ardent admirer. Of the music. <-- yes grammar nerds I know it's a fragment, get over it. In fact, I'm not into those bare-chested photos, believe it or not. I used them in the video because they're from the production, but honestly I find them a bit ridiculous.

My Drooling Memory

Third post today because I can't believe I forgot to include this, especially since I had the entire post pretty much written in my head last night. I probably thought I had already posted it.

So Alex, our favorite future opera singer, had his music class at Westminster Conservatory on Wednesday afternoon. Parents join the class for the last 5 minutes, so I had some time to kill after I dropped him off. I wandered around campus and came across the student center and book store. "Oh good," I thought, "I'll need a place to hang out when the weather is unpleasant." So in I went.

Ah the bookstore. It's tiny, but there was more sheet music there than I could ever hope to learn in my lifetime, so it's tininess is irrelevant. I just walked past, trailing my fingers across the covers and drooling.

Then I tiptoed over to the textbook section and drooled a little more, until I saw the prices. Ah, college, where they can charge $82 for a small paperback and you have no choice but to fork over the cash.

So then yesterday, Thursday, I had my voice lesson. (Also at Westminster but at a "satellite" campus.) Before the uncontrollable giggle fit I had in the middle of the lesson, yes, I do believe it was before, my teacher says, "I think it's time you thought about what kind of sheet music to buy," and she pulls out this book:

I love when stuff like that happens. Yeah ok I can hear you saying, "Stuff like what?" Y'see, Wednesday was my first time (believe it or not) looking through racks of songs wondering how I'd ever be able to figure out which ones to buy. The very next day my teacher made a suggestion. And that's what I'm talking about. Ok yeah I know, it's not much, but I was going to post about the bookstore anyway, before I went to my lesson. Just play along and pretend it's like this huge fabulous coincidence, ok?

"Real" Video Would be Better, But...

...the slide show is ok too.

How beautiful is this??!!! The music I mean...the MUSIC!!

Cats in My Tessitura

Voice lesson yesterday. Wasn't finding it. It was in me. I had it the day before. Had a bit of tension in me though and couldn't figure out how to get rid of it to relax and open my throat. It's so frustrating. Why can't I produce That Sound, that rounded, full and beautiful Sound, all the time?

We did vocalises (sp??) for much of the class just to practice that. I have to get the memory of the sound into my muscles, into my body, so that the whole thing comes together when I want it to.

My homework is to go over Ouvre ton coeur, aaaahhhs only, then vowels only, and not to add the consonants back in until next Tuesday. So Tuesday will not only be the first day of Rosh Hashanana, it will also be Consonant Day.

Wow that all barely makes sense but I'll restrain from editing it.

I have access to a photograph that you, dear reader, may find interesting, however I must pursue the Proper Channels before posting it. It's possible that the Channel may say "What? Are you f'ing kidding me? No way!" but it's just as likely that the Channel will say, "Sure, whatever." So if the picture appears in a future post, you'll know the answer. If not, you'll just have to wonder.

Cat Pic Friday:

Viola glares at the paparazzi.

Diego cozies up to his scotch.

This next one is blurry but I love how it makes his canines look longer. Why felines have canines is a subject for another post. Uh... another post on another blog.

Arrggh, get away from me scotch or I'll bite ya with me canines.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who It's About

I've mentioned before that I'm a member of a popular social networking site. This particular site has people finding old classmates, coworkers, ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, random opera singers and so on. Oops did I say random opera singers? Well some of them ask for it. But that's not the subject of my post. I mean, that particular opera singer isn't.

Right, where was I?

Ok, so I'm sure I've mentioned before that back in college I was a member of a radio comedy troupe. We are now, of course, finding each other on that social networking site and are having a mini-reunion. One of the many fun things about the site is that you can type in a "status update" as in, "Susan is writing in her blog right now," and your friends can add comments. So one of my college comedy friends had a status update about wanting to be the weird neighbor on a sitcom, and the comments evolved from there. Not only do they give my own personal history, but they show the type of relationship we all had in this strange nerdy clique: (names have been modified to protect, oh I don't know, the "innocent." Not that there are any.)

Mike wants desperately to be the wacky neighbor (tm) on a sitcom. 8:49am - 19 comments

Susan at 8:51am September 24

Art imitates life?

Mike at 8:51am September 24

And Art will be hearing from my lawyer, just you wait

Amy at 10:48am September 24

I'm trying not to be a desperate housewife. I need a better job!

Susan at 10:52am September 24

I almost have the name of one... yet I've never seen it... hmm not sure where I'm going with this. Can I be Dr. Who's new sidekick chick?

at 11:10am September 24

I think you'd make an excellent companion for The Doctor. You always had a definite Bonnie Langford quality about you

Susan at 11:13am September 24

The curly red hair?

at 11:17am September 24

That, and your penchant for breaking into song for no apparent reason

Susan at 11:19am September 24

There's always a reason. Did I do that "back then?"

at 11:21am September 24

Yes, you did. Trust me. My memory of those times isn't impaired by the chemicals I used to ingest. I think. What's my name today?

Susan at 11:22am September 24

Wow this is totally going in my blog. http://luindriel.blogspot.com.

Mike at 11:30am September 24

I swear I had no idea about your work with the local opera company, but that only proves my recollection about you breaking into song correct (see, this is how conspiracy junkies' minds work; the mind is a terrible, wonderful thing)

Susan at 11:31am September 24

It's voice lessons, Mike - I study voice. I'm silent on stage with the opera. ;)

Mike at 11:32am September 24

Just work with me here......;-)

Susan at 11:34am September 24

Yes, I'm the star (servant, townsperson, monk) with the local opera company.

Mike at 11:35am September 24

Now you're getting it! And don't forget to talk about your husband Adrian Paul...

Susan at 10:18pm September 24

Hey can I quote this thread on my blog? I'll remove your name to protect the innoce... well, I'd remove your name.

Mike at 10:23pm September 24

Of course you can; you don't even have to remove my name (just don't put my email address). I'm flattered

Susan at 10:30pm September 24

Oh don't be. It's not about you. Bwuaaahaahaaa!!!
look, see:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's Still Happening

Just for fun, I checked the blog tracker today. Sorry about the formatting, I did my best to make it look pretty, but...

Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : Illinois
City : Chicago

Time of Visit
Sep 21 2008 12:36:38 pm
Last Page View
Sep 21 2008 12:36:38 pm
Visit Length
0 seconds
Page Views
Referring URL
http://www.google.co... gunn naked&aq=f&oq=
Search Engine
Search Words
nathan gunn naked
Visit Entry Page

Seriously, what are people thinking???

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Will Post Videos to YouTube in Exchange for Girl Drinks

Ok everyone, watch it here, but then go to YouTube and comment, rate and favorite this. Thanks.

In Chicago I had this yummy pomegranate "martini" with a slice of candied lime in it. YUM! I want another.


Friday, September 19, 2008

In and Out of My Tessitura

Voice lesson yesterday. My teacher used the word tessitura. Love that. Working on Ouvre ton coeur. For anyone whose not familiar with the piece, here's a clip of Beverly Sills singing it. I actually meant to link to this one, which I think I like better than the Sills clip, because it sounds more, I don't know, realistic. Like, I listen to it and think, I can sing this. I don't think that when I hear B.S. sing it. Ohh found another with the lyrics...

So anyway... my tessitura... It's those darn middle notes. I can do the lower ones, I can do the higher ones, but those middle ones... not in my neighborhood. At least not that day, not those notes. Have to work on getting those middle notes into the range so there are no gaps, no discomfort, no lack of confidence. My teacher pointed out that that's one of the reasons the evaluators recommended this particular song - to help me learn just that. Of course, I've been practicing all summer in controlling my breath for the higher notes. I need to use more breath to hit the high ones (got to a D flat in my lesson!!) but then I feel like I'm forcing it all out, sort of blurting out the note without any control. It's frustrating. I know I just have to practice the breath control. I remind myself (and my teacher keeps reminding me) how far I've come - a year ago I never dreamed I could sing this high and forget about vibrato. But now it's like, I've had a taste of my potential and I want to gobble it up. I have to slow down. I know that if I keep practicing, I will get better at relaxing my throat. I'll get better at using my diaphragm only to push out air. My breath control will improve so that I can hit the high notes with control - loudly or softly whenever I want. It's like I'm slowly changing from a harpsichord to a pianoforte.

So it looks like the psychological benefits of the voice lessons have returned! What a relief.

Cats First, The Other Stuff Later

Must... stay... awake... Oh never mind.

Freaky devil-cat.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Mozart Effect

I've noticed that people who aren't "into" opera or classical music seem to think that Mozart was the only opera composer. There have been two instances in the past few weeks that confirm this hypothesis.

When I was in Traviata, I was, of course, humming and singing bits and pieces of it all the time. Then I expanded my Verdi humming repertoire to Rigoletto. Alex, of course, followed suit, and spent a day or two humming Caro Nome. So one day when I picked him up from school, in the thick of the knock-knock joke phase, his teacher told me some knock-knock joke involving Beethoven (I don't remember it exactly) and then said she found that joke in honor of Mozart, because Alex had been singing Mozart all week. "Oh!" I replied, "Has he been singing Papageno?" and Alex replied, "No, the banana song." (I'll add the link later - it's a clip of Renee Fleming on Sesame Street, singing a counting song to the tune of Caro Nome, and there are these bananas in it that freak me out.) I held my tongue about the composer mix-up because really, it wasn't worth it.

The other interaction was with an old high school friend on that social networking site almost everyone belongs to. I have videos there of Alex and me singing a medley from La Fille. This h.s. friend commented that he liked it, Mozart opera, his favorite. Umm... this time I did reply with a comment and a correction.

While I'm glad that the Non-Opera-Lovin' Public at least knows the name of a classical composer, it's not all about Mozart. It easily could be, but it's not.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's My Opinion, And Theirs Too

Remember all summer I kept going on and on about how great Elizabeth Caballero was, not only her fabulous voice that moved me to tears, but her acting and her stage presence as well? Well Opera News wrote a little review of Traviata and the reviewer agreed with me. Not that I doubted my own opinion, but it's nice to have confirmation from the experts. Of course if he hadn't agreed with me, well first off I wouldn't even bring it up, and secondly, if I did bring it up, it would be only in the context of asking if he were blind and deaf.

The link doesn't bring you to the review, but someone I know was nice enough to scan and forward the page to me. Well actually I think she was planning on scanning it anyway for an official purpose... but here it is. I think you have to click it to make it open big enough to read.

I am confident that one day I will be seeing her perform a leading role at the Met.

And since you're already looking at videos, take a look and listen to her here:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Oper fur alle

My voice lessons have resumed. I don't quite feel the psychological benefit yet. Part of that is my fault. Ok, it's all my fault. The day before my lesson, I had a bizarre and dare I say, bad, dream about my voice teacher. I dreamed that I arrived for the lesson and it was in this glassed-wall building, like a store-front. Some guy was playing the piano and she was there insisting that I sing, and I kept saying that I didn't know the song so I wouldn't sing, and there's no way that these minutes were counting toward the lesson. In the dream we were yelling at each other. I finally left. Later I tried to call her to apologize but I couldn't get through. I learned that the guy playing piano was her brother and he didn't like the way I was yelling so he told her she could no longer get in contact with me. I finally went to a dinner party where they both were, and we were watching a movie about her life, and it became real (yay, dreams) and it was a part where she gets raped by some guy she had one date with. I was her roommate and I knew what was going to happen but I had to leave the apartment because I couldn't interfere with history. It was terrible. The whole thing was terrible. Then the next day I had my lesson - so that's why I wasn't able to open up. I felt guilty about the dream. I felt guilty IN the dream. Weird stuff. Gotta get over it so I can get back to work.

That said, it was a pretty good lesson. I told her about singing for my friend's mother and the other guests, and about how I rehearsed all summer, and watched the professionals, and finally how I managed to relax, use my abs to push the air and my throat just opened, allowing me to hit higher and rounder sounding notes. She said she could definitely hear the improvement. I sang Una Donna and it was much better than ever. Of course I can always do it better at home or in the car than I can during a lesson. What's up with that? Anyway, I can hear that I'm singing better, she could hear it and I could see that she was excited about it. Another of my many problems is, when she gets excited I start laughing. I had to turn my back on her at one point, and other times I just kept my eyes closed. But I can't always sing with my eyes closed, can I?

We worked on Ouvre ton Coeur. You'd never know that I studied French all through college - the pronunciation is driving me insane -- I have too much Spanish and Italian interference. Plus we were doing the words before I felt confident with the notes. Must remind myself (and my teacher, in this case) to slow down. My plan is to feel totally comfortable with each part of the song before putting it all together.

Look! One of her friends is from and/or went to Germany and brought her a t-shirt that she gave to me:

Next lesson: Thursday, Sept. 18.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tickets In, Tickets Out, Tickets In Again

So just for fun I went to StubHub to see how much people were asking for La Sonnambula tickets for March 24. Go ahead, click the link (to open in a new window, of course) and take a look-see. I'll wait.
.(hmmm hmmm hmmm la la la)
Over $300 for Family Circle seats? Are people insane???? The only date I found Dress Circle tickets for, they're asking $330 per ticket! One row back from my seats. My jaw dropped open and stayed on the floor for a quite some time as I processed the information.

So next I trolled through Craigslist for NYC, just to see if anyone was selling opera tickets, and if so, how much they were asking there. Never thought I'd find someone wanting to purchase tickets for it! So I popped that person an email with this photo

(Note how I smeared out the barcode just in case... of what, I'm not sure.)

and offered to sell them for $175 each. I was going to ask $150 but I figured they might come back lower, ya know? Well, they came back and said yes! I just made and extra $150 that I never planned on. That pretty much pays for my two Met operas this season, which means no guilt over the Philadelphia ones. Of course now I'm like, dang, I should have asked for $200! But I'm not out to make a profit - it's nice, but honestly I'm excited that someone out there wanted to see Juan Diego Florez and now they can!

Next step: Call the babysitter and see if he's free any of the nights Italian Girl in Algiers is on in Philly and then purchase the $72 tickets. Ha ha with taxes and fees it comes to $155.

The Craigslist guy and I "finalize" the deal on Monday, so I guess I shouldn't jump up and down just yet. Ok, maybe just a little.

Ah well, all because my friend said no to the overnight. Thanks, friend.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Remembered Just In Time

Chased the cats around with the iPhone to get something up here for cat pic Friday. These pictures are very very fresh. Be careful - the paint is still wet.

Viola's small head shows how small her brain is.

Diego's head looks big in this picture, but don't be fooled. It's small.

Dilemma Deleted, Collection Commenced

After getting an embarrassing rejection from my friend who watched Alex last April, ( HIRE BABYSITTER!) (YEAH I WOULD IF I KNEW ONE), I searched through all the dates for La Sonnambula at the Met and finally found what I'd consider acceptable tickets, two seats together, for Wed, March 11 in my "regular" place, the good ole balcony. This time it's Row B, Seats 116 and 118, right in the center. AND the tickets are just $65 each plus all the taxes and fees. So before finalizing the purchase I checked with Husband and my opera companion to confirm the date was good. So I now have two sets of tickets for La Sonnambula. I seem to have a habit of collecting opera tickets for performances Juan Diego Florez is in. I'm thinking I should buy HD movie tickets for it too, like I did for La Fille last year. Maybe that'll open up a couple of Matinee tickets in the balcony for me.

So, dear readers, would any of you like to purchase the original tickets? The info is:

La Sonnambula
Conductor: Evelino Pidò
Amina: Natalie Dessay
Elvino: Juan Diego Flórez
Rodolfo: Michele Pertusi

Tues March 24, 2009
8:00 PM

Dress Circle, Row C, Seats 26 and 28. *(Or maybe 24 and 26, I forget)

I paid $217 for both tickets. Any takers out there?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Las Vegas Dilemma

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water...

So hooray I have my tickets for La Sonnambula at the Met for Tuesday, March 24. Yes we've established that in at least one if not more prior posts. Right.

Now, Husband is an Academic and as an Academic is an active member in the Association pertinent to his field. The Association has an annual conference at which Husband often presents an academic paper. This year, if you recall, Husband was away in Boston for such an event when I went to see Nathan and Julie Gunn at Zankel Hall. That was mid-April.

Well. In 2009 the conference is in Las Vegas. I've never been, and truthfully the idea of all that... that... stuff out there in the middle of the dessert, all revolving around money, makes me a little queasy. On the other hand, as a purely sociological experience, (ok and for the food), I wouldn't turn down a trip there. So last year when Husband learned that the next conference would be in Las Vegas, we talked about Alex and me joining him.

So what's my point? Because there is one. Oh yeah. Guess when the conference is in 2009? Go ahead, guess. April again? Oh no. Not April. Guess again. That's right. It's in March. March 22 - 28. Yep.

So there goes Las Vegas for me. La Sonnambula is pretty much sold out unless I'm willing to peer around a pillar to watch from a spot very close to the ceiling of the Met near other desperate fans who waited too long to get tickets and were willing to risk whiplash and eye strain just to be in the same very large room as their favorite singers, and as appealing as all that sounds, I think I'd rather sit in a seat with my own sense of personal space. (**The previous sentence gets an award for being the longest sentence ever here on the blog.**) And we're talking Juan Diego Florez and Natalie Dessay. Again. And Bellini. But... Husband is going to Vegas... his airfare is paid for... as is his room... and now I'll need to find someone to watch Alex and pickings are getting slimmer and slimmer on that front. So.

Do I try to get tickets for another night and go with Husband to LV? Or do I try to find a babysitter and stay home?

Let's think about this. Taking a 4 year old to Las Vegas... They must have family-oriented things there. I don't think we'd plunk him down in front of a slot machine with a roll of nickles, although I bet he'd like that for about 5 minutes. Hey, that's 2 minutes longer than he usually sits still. Hmm... ok, no. So the casinos would be out. Doing anything after 8 or 9 at the latest would be out due to bedtime. So the ideal situation would be, get tickets for a different night, find someone to watch Alex for the week and go alone with Husband to LV. As if.

Well, I suppose that if you have to have complications in life, they might as well be this kind - annoying and inconvenient but not unpleasant.

And now, as usual, I have a totally unrelated note. However, I can't comment on it at all. This totally unrelated note is unrelated to the other thing I couldn't comment on a few posts back. But to be annoyingly cryptic, I will say that I have made some indirect communication in a direction to make a small change in something that in no way at all affects my life, or anyone else's, for that matter, except in an amusing and perhaps charming way.

Voice lessons resume on Thursday. What a relief. Here's hoping I can reproduce the sound I've been working on since my vocal revelation last month.

ps Spell Check wants to change "Sonnambula" to "snowmobile."

Friday, September 5, 2008

At Least It's Not Just Opera (and a cat pic too of course)

"Oooohhhh," I thought when I saw that Cirque du Soleil was performing one town over. I've always wanted to go see them. Then I looked at the ticket prices. $95 and $75. Two tickets to that is actually more than two tickets to The Italian Girl in Algiers. No opera, no circus.

Cat pic time, seeing as it's Friday and all.

Diego caught in the act! Of what I'm not sure.

Finally, a quick report on the Future Opera Singer. Good thing he likes opera because he won't be pursuing a career as a piano player if he keeps this up. And of course these things always happen when Husband isn't home. In yesterday's case, he was at a baseball game.

I got a free plastic travel mug at work and gave it to Alex to play with in the bath. The lid comes apart into two pieces. One of the pieces has a hole in it. Silly Mommy wasn't thinking that would be a problem until Alex stuck his finger in it and couldn't get it out! I tried liquid soap, I tried lotion, I tried cutting it off with my flimsy scissors, all to no avail. Finally I called my friend across the street. She came over with an armload of tools, including a pair of heavy duty scissors that finally did the trick. Here she is, 7 1/2 months pregnant, kneeling on my bathroom floor, trying the pliers first. OK, it's just her arms, but I had to throw that pregnancy mention in there.

Thankfully she got him out and I avoided an embarrassing call to 911.

And no, I didn't run to get the camera. I had my iPhone in my hand trying to reach Husband by phone and by text message. He finally called after it was all over, and since everything turned out fine, figured he'd stay until the end of the game. And there's yet another difference between men and women.

Luckily I don't think it's possible to get your vocal cords stuck in a hole... is it???

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Supers, Patrons, Chorus. But mostly Patrons.

It's a three-thing post.

Numero Uno:

The super captain sent an email asking the supers for our background and so on so he can put together a flyer or something to send to the director of the upcoming winter opera. He's heard that they don't need any supers, and he's also heard that they'll need 3. Love that.

Number 2:

Had another chorus rehearsal at work today. We sang Silent Night in English and German. It's weird singing in a chorus that anyone can join. Some people think they're singing but they're just monotone. What's up with that? But it doesn't really matter. The idea of the chorus isn't to be technically perfect, but to have fun and perform around the holidays. We're doing a set of international Christmas carols. Oops I mean, holiday music. It's not all about Christmas... just 99% of it is.

And finally, C:

Still debating the tickets for Italian Girl in Algiers in Phila. They're so expensive!! It adds up so quickly. Cheapish seats are $72 x 2 = 144 + 11 processing fee = $155, and then we'd have to pay a babysitter like $50 or more, plus either gas+parking or else 2 train tickets, plus dinner, equals a whole lotta cashola that we just don't have right now. I don't want to sit in the nosebleed and/or partial view seats, and I don't really feel like going alone. Really what I need is to find a personal patron who, in the interest of my cultural education, is willing to fund these things. In exchange I'll uh... let's see... oh I know, I'll dedicate my blog to my patron. Anyone interested?