Opera and Hallowe’en

I like chamber music.

I like opera.

Ughn. Apple pen. Chamber opera.

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This Hallowe’en (technically Oct. 30) was my first City Opera Vancouver event and first chamber opera, even though I do like both chamber music and opera and it makes sense to like this, too. I guess it’s a little off-putting that they hold their events at churches… But how often do you get the chance to hear Mozart’s “lost” or unfinished operas? I didn’t realise any existed! So B-cat and I headed downtown to the varnish fume-filled Christ Church Cathedral for his month-early birthday.

It’s likely all artists have half-finished work somewhere, but according to the essay [that I just realised was written by my old opera prof!] in the programme, Mozart was fairly happy with the music he had in these fragments — i.e. it wasn’t like sitting down to read someone’s first draft. Like you’re doing now. I’m so sorry. The music is distinctively Mozart, and while the second act’s Zaide (first performed on what would’ve been the composer’s 110th birthday) is the most complete and therefore most absorbing, the story Maria Reva wrote to weave three operas into one is excellent. The company seems to do clever things with a small wardrobe as well, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s conductor Bramwell Tovey, whom I thought was there in a cameo, is fun to see in the main non-singing role.

Good music, good voice, good acting. City Opera Vancouver’s next production runs from November 1 to 11, unless you have money to blow on the ferry to Victoria.

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Female Riddler (with a free book from the tour)

I figured that was it for Hallowe’en, but on the 31st, B-cat took me on the “Lost Souls of Gastown” walking tour… despite being on double crutches himself. We were lucky it wasn’t raining, because the lovely maple and ginkgo leaves everywhere did make the ground slippery.

Like the COV opera, this tour links a multitude of pieces — here, BC history — with a skillfully written frame story. It is not at all cheesy: the struggles and sorrows of Vancouverites past are what will haunt you.

Another Cosmic Night

B-cat and I went to our nth Cosmic Night at H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, this time with his science pals. The theme was the science of science fiction, with “science fiction” being the earliest examples of the genre and… Star Wars.

Someone commented after the event that there was too much Star Wars and not enough Star Trek. My interest in sci-fi doesn’t extend far beyond what I grew up on, i.e. late-1800s to mid-1960s fiction and Laputa, so I didn’t know what an X-Wing was and could’ve used less of either Star.

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(Me, A., B-cat, and R.) I’d obscure faces, but this turned out to be a nice shot of them all. Don’t sue.

We made origami X-Wings and played beer-less pong, in which A. was the only one uninterested and the only one who won (prize: H.R. Macmillan-logo asteroid stress ball). Then we caught three presentations/shows:

  • Half an hour on aliens and exoplanets, in the small theatre
  • Over an hour on the early days of science & sci-fi, in the large hall
  • An hour on other worlds in the universe, in the planetarium

The first was just a lot of fun; the host joked about “the type of people [conspiracy theorists and kooks] who’d come to an event like this” and the audience laughed knowingly, confident they weren’t the weirdos described…

The organisers would’ve been pleased with B-cat and A. (a computer scientist), though, for chatting up other guests about moon rocks and radio signals like well-adjusted adults. R. (who’d worked for Microsoft) and I, uncomfortable speaking to/bothering strangers, snuck into the cheese and meat instead.

We skipped the trivia contest to hear UBC’s Dr. Jaymie Matthews, who wore a large plastic banana around his neck and prepared more material than time allowed. Fascinating stuff, lots of Orwell. The planetarium show was narrated live this time and thus not as organised or artistic as Black Holes.

At the end, B-cat piled leftovers on a plate and then passed it to me because of his injuries/crutches. I was standing there with my hands full of stolen cheese when A. drew over a staff member (who, to be clear, said we could take as much as we wanted). Now you know whom not to recruit for a heist.

See the Seven Wonders show, with a lecture by a UBC archaeology prof, at the Space Centre on October 21.

Space-Time: A Reason to Rhyme

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First-hand observation of the ill-fated astronaut Inflatey [not actual name]
Saturday, June 4th, was (Summer) International Lolita Day, and the Vancouver community visited the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre before afternoon tea.

I was disappointed the planetarium show turned out to be Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity, the one we saw when it premiered last November, minus the presentation by the UBC astronomer. H.R. MacMillan has already been advertising the dark matter show for months, so I didn’t expect the black hole one to still be on.

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Shots of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield in the back

The mini show in the Ground Station Canada Theatre (big name for a small room) was fun, at least; Space: A Dangerous Place, like the Colour of Fire mini show preceding it, involves a lot of burning. The host talks about things like the hazards of space travel while demonstrating the insulating effects of water… and the incendiary properties of torches and fuel, I guess.

Even physicist B-cat learnt something!

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B-cat and me (from group shot)

In retrospect, I should’ve stayed for the 4 pm mini show instead of rushing onto the next venue. Our group was early for our seating at Rose House Vancouver, but still waited two hours for food — no explanation/apology from the restaurant, either. It’s amazing how bad customer service can get when a business and its servers are expecting the automatic group tip.

Grumbling aside, I had a good time at the space centre and hope to catch The Dark Matter Mystery eventually. H.R. MacMillan has shows every day — here’s the show schedule if you’re better at planning than I am.

He Sees Me Rollin’

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On Feb. 13, I took B-cat to the Richmond Animal Protection Society Valentine fundraiser. We liked the burger buffet and goody bags, made use of the donation cupcake table, and tried the coin toss for booze, but B-cat’s favourite was the guess-the-number game.

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Cupcakes!

Like its high school/office/supermarket variations, this involved a container (an oversized novelty martini glass here) filled with candy (cinnamon red hots), the number of which you’re supposed to estimate. Instead of guessing like anyone else, B-cat the physicist sat down to serious calculation and was only 100 pieces off the total of 2950.

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Cupcake in hell

He won a pretty backpack, speakers, and a large bottle of Grey Goose vodka (from France!). We don’t drink, but he was planning to buy vodka just for making vanilla and mint extracts anyway.

This is what you show kids when they say they shouldn’t have to study math in school “because you never use it in real life”.

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Math, yeah!

 

Hello, 2016?

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B-cat at the ballet

B-cat and I started 2016 doing what we didn’t do last New Year’s: heading out to sea. For some reason, the surrounding park closes at 5, so I probably shouldn’t discuss trespassing… We did have a scenic walk alongside a sewage pipe, or at least it would’ve been scenic if it weren’t too dark to even see our breaths in the freezing air. Didn’t make it to the pier by midnight, either, but the picnic by the water was lovely. We even counted down on an analog clock this time!

And the sewage smell was somewhat filtered out by our layers of scarves and mucous, too, thanks to the Christmas cold from B-cat’s little nephew and the flu from the waiter coughing on everything at Edo-Ya Sushi in Delta.

Other than that, I’ve only dragged myself outdoors a few times, like for the previously mentioned Ballet BC/Ballet Alberta Nutcracker. (I promise I didn’t cough on anything.) The tickets B-cats gave me for my birthday were for the best seats I’ve ever had at the ballet. I was right in front of the centre stage marker, close enough to see the lace detail on costumes, and just far enough to admire the dancer formations as a whole.

S, who met up with us there last-minute, thought the production was lacklustre. I think the stage looked bare with hardly more than two dancers on at a time, and part of the choreography made no sense (Drosselmeyer rode off in the Snow Queen’s sleigh, leaving her to walk alone to her palace, where they met up to drive back for Clara??), but the costumes were tasteful, the dancers had solid technique, and no one made mistakes as in Goh Ballet’s last production.

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We brought cough drops

B-cat’s family made this the best holiday season I’ve had, and this ballet evening out with B-cat still managed to be the best day of the season.

Now if I can get my beloved 10-year-old laptop repaired, I could be equally optimistic about the upcoming year!

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2006 Asus, shimmery white with silver edging, my love

My brother gave me this laptop after two years of use (and numerous drops, I might add), and I’ve been typing at high speeds, playing MMORPGs, Photoshopping ads for work, watching movies, and simply Internetting for long hours over the past eight years. This was the last of the Taiwanese-made Asus laptops. I suspect manufacturers who say laptops break down after two or three years are making excuses for their Chinese-made wares, but either way…

It’s the end of an era.

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Ballet BC’s next performance is in March, by the way. March!