He was despised by Hillary Summers

I realized that I mostly post sopranos on my blog. There are a number of reasons for that, most of which are not my fault. :)

However, I did find this lovely performance of He Was Despised from the second act of Handel’s Messiah sung by Hillary Summers. Now this is a contralto voice.

And once again, perfect diction! I can understand the words! Even if I can’t understand the language the singer is singing, I want to hear the consonants.

Oh, I do have a post coming up at some point with a baritone.

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Evangeline Meets Gabriel By Samuel Richards

I read Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 8th grade.

Evangeline Meets Gabriel Samuel Richards

This is a drawing of the end of the poem, when an aging Evangeline meets her dying betrothed. It is a sad and moving scene, and I cannot decide whether it is satisfying or infuriating.

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Films About Women 15

1 My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady, the musical based on Pygmalion, stars Audrey Hepburn in a role originally written for Julie Andrews. At the time, it was common to cast actors and actresses and later dub their voices with singers, or rather more specifically, Marni Nixon. Marni dubbed Audrey Hepburn’s voice, as well as the voice of Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Debra Kerr in The King and I.

The film relies heavily on the play by George Bernard Shaw, but with an added romantic ending that is lacking in the original play. Apparently, audiences from the very beginning wanted a romantic ending for the two characters, but Shaw protested this arrangement, and wrote an essay explaining why this was impossible. (I agree.)

The film is very funny, and addresses the rigid class system of Britain in the Edwardian/Georgian era, before the war. Henry Higgins studies speech patterns and believes that, by “correcting” a woman’s cockney accent, that he can pass her off as a duchess. It also addresses the rolls of men and women within society. Shaw’s plays, for all his importance and prolific output, have not fared well in the decades since his death, but My Fair Lady remains incredibly popular.

Audrey Hepburn is wonderful in the role and Rex Harrison, who reprises his role from onstage, is suitably gruff and pompous. The music is incredibly famous, with many of the songs becoming standards. The sets and musical numbers are charming and excellent, and the costumes are wonderful.

Here is Marni Nixon singing (and Audrey Hepburn’s acting) for I Could Have Danced All Night, the most famous number from the film.

It’s the kind of film making and film that exemplifies a style that no longer exists.

2 Norma Rae

Norma Rae was offered to many famous Hollywood actresses, all of whom turned it down. In the end, it was offered to Sally Field, who was mainly known for the television series The Flying Nun. The role won her an Oscar and made her a star. It was very well deserved. Sally Field is wonderful in the role of a southern woman working in the textile industry. The work is hard, monotonous, and very dangerous. She meets a young Jewish man from New York who is a member of the Textile Worker’s Union, who has come to unionize the factory. Norma quickly becomes convinced that her factory needs a union to correct the injustices in the factory and to protect the workers from abuse.

As stated above, Sally Field is a force of nature in the film. In the most famous scene in the film, she rebels against her bosses and demands that they call the national guard to drag her out of the factory. She jumps on top of a workbench and holds up a sign that reads Union, and in solidarity, the rest of the workers shut off their machines. As she is ordered out by security, she triumphantly rings the bell.

The story is also shows life in a small southern town. It is delightful to see films about places other than New York, much as I love New York. (I really do. It’s the greatest city of the world.) It also shows the strain that takes place in a marriage when one partner strives for a vision and a dream. Norma Rae devotes all of her free time toward unionizing her factory, and her marriage suffers.

Norma Rae is also a celebration of bygone people in a bygone era; a time when many Americans worked in factories and fought for unions.

Norma Rae

3 Philadelphia Story

In Part 11, I discussed the film August Osage County, a play turned into a movie with many of Hollywood’s greatest stars. This last film, The Philadelphia Story, proves that this kind of film is nothing new. This film stars Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart (in the role that won him his only Academy Award) and Carey Grant. Carey Grant’s salary in this film was the highest ever paid to an actor, and he donated it entirely to the British War Effort.

The film is about a couple , Samantha and Dexter Haven, played by Carey Grant and Katherine Hepburn, who are divorced. Samantha is about to marry a nouveau riche man named George Kittredge.

It’s a film about a love quadrangle, snoopy reporters, and family secrets. It also addresses the idea of perfection in women, and women who like to be seen as perfect, as opposed to human.

It is a lighthearted film that actually served as Katherine Hepburn’s comeback film. Several of her films in previous years had bombed, and she was earning the reputation of box office poison. She bought the rights to this film and carefully orchestrated her comeback. Jimmy Stewart and Carey Grant were brought in by the studio to buffer the star, because it was believed that she could not carry a film by herself. The film was a success, and Katherine Hepburn re-established herself as one of Hollywood’s top actresses.

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Yuhui Choe in a Pas de Deux

This is Yuhui Choe and Alexander Campbell dancing a Pas De Deux from Act III of Sleeping Beauty.

I’m posting this because it is very pretty and very cheerful, and my last two posts have been neither.

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Medication Frustrations

Part of the problem with taking medication is differing advice. When I was prescribed my Synthroid medication, I was told to take it half an hour before eating anything else. (I had conflicting advice about caffeine.) Of course, I was told the best time to take thyroid medication was in the middle of the night, if I woke up to go to the bathroom.

Anyway, I noticed back in my that my TSH was trending higher. Normally my doctor would call me and give me advice or adjust the dosage, but he did not do that this time. So I thought everything was fine and went on doing what I was doing.

I just had my TSH levels tested again and they were even higher. Then, I noticed a message from three months ago on Cleveland Clinic’s My Chart. Apparently, my doctor was concerned with how I was taking the medication. He wants me to wait an hour before eating or drinking anything other than water. Because I didn’t get a phone call, I didn’t get the message. (He’d never sent me a message through My Chart before.) I continued to follow the advice I was given when I first started taking my medication.

So, now I haven’t been following his advice for three months and my TSH levels are even higher!

Now, this isn’t the end of the world. I’ll just wait an hour before eating anything else and my doctor can up my dosage for a little bit. I sent him a message through My Chart, since that seems to be how we are communicating now. I was supposed to see him last May, but because my insurance situation has been all fouled up (what with being unemployed, or rather without full time insurance) I didn’t see him at the end of May. I’ll also call his office to let him know that I did not receive his instructions, but I will be following his instructions in the future. He may simply want to repeat the labs a little earlier. (Of course, I may have to find a new doctor, since I’ll be switching health insurance with the new job. If not, I’ll try to get in to see him or another endocrinologist sooner.)

Still, I am scared. I need to make sure my TSH does not get too high, especially since it helps to keep the cancer from returning. (Of course, my surgeon said my cancer is not coming back.) Anyway, I also can’t become hypothyroid, because that would suck for obvious reasons.

Now I just have to wait for my doctor to get back to me with instructions. I don’t know what he’s going to do, and I feel terrible that I didn’t see his note. (Of course, if he had called me like he did all the other times, I would have known!) Anyway, I know this is a problem that can be fixed quite easily. I just need to take the medication correctly and then make sure I’m on the right dosage. This is a problem that can be fixed.

Anyway, this is the problem with being unemployed and being on medication. I hate being unsure about going to the doctor, of having to switch doctors. I also hate getting conflicting advice on the medication. Even online, it’s conflicting. Some websites say, “Wait 30 to 60 minutes.” Then my doctor says that I need to wait at least an hour! What is it? Why can’t they have simple answers?

I know that this can be fixed. I just want it to be fixed now! And I will feel nervous until I know what is going to happen next.

Oh, in other, better news, I am officially hired. :) Can’t end on a negative note. I may catch the trapeze after all.

aliya mustafina

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“So why choose fear?”

A few days ago, I saw a customer wearing a shirt at work that said, “No other road, no other way, no day but today.” Everyone who has ever seen Rent will recognize that quote from the AIDS meeting. The people begin the meeting by singing their common anthem.

When Johnathan Larson shared this song, some of his friends complained that the song was too positive. There is a line that says, “Forget regret.” They pointed out that there was a tremendous amount of regret, especially in the early 90’s before the introduction of the triple cocktail. Johnathan Larson accommodated their view by including a dialogue between one of the members of the group and the leader.

In the dialogue, the young man says, “My T-Cell count is low. I regret that, ok?” The leader asks him, “How do you feel today?” The young man says, “Best I’ve felt all year,” to which the leader asks, “So why choose fear?” The young man answers him by saying, “I’m a New Yorker, fear’s my life.”

It’s a funny joke, and reminds me of an even better one. Why are New Yorkers so pessimistic? Because the light at the end of the tunnel is New Jersey.

As funny as it is, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I’m scheduled to start a full time job in early September, and yet I am still scared. I’m scared of the other shoe dropping. I’m scared they’ll withdraw the job offer. I’m scared I’ll get laid off again. I’m scared of many different things.

When I went to my two year follow up last December, my endocrine surgeon said something that terrified me. “Here’s the thing. Your cancer is never coming back.” My first thought was, “Don’t say that!”

It makes me sad because I wish I could choose hope and not fear. And yet the reality is, I seem completely unable to do that. Fear’s my life.

Still, I know that, once the job starts, I’ll feel much better. It’s just difficult now. I feel like the line from Coldplay’s Every Teardrop is a Waterfall. “Maybe I’m in the gap between the two trapeze.”

I love the idea of being in the gap between the two trapeze. It’s so perilous, and yet thrilling, and full of hope. There is hope that the other trapeze is right there, waiting for you to grab onto it.

aliya mustafina

Ok, not a trapeze, but I couldn’t help it. Of course, with Musty, you know she’s going to catch the bar. I just hope I do the same.

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Coronation of the Virgin by Velasquez

I still remember learning that Velasquez was Spain’s most important painter. It seemed strange to me that there was even another painter from Spain, besides Picasso. Since then, I’ve learned to appreciate the artwork of many Spanish painters, including Velasquez and Bartolome Esteban Murillo.


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