Happy: November 2004 Archives

store-bought cut celery

Overheard from the loudspeakers at our neighborhood Whole Foods this afternoon, clearly audible above the sounds of colliding shopping carts being pushed by harried people with long shopping lists, [almost] all prepared for elaborate home-cooked feasts tomorrow:

". . . calling the lady who wanted the cut celery, . . . calling the lady who wanted the cut celery; your cut celery is ready at customer service . . . ."
I looked around and caught the attention of the store's excellent produce department's wise sage. He rolled his eyes upward. I smiled at this discreet admission of his dismay, and I shrugged my shoulders in an acknowledgment of its source.

For the sake of the other guests at the Thanksgiving meal she certainly will be sharing, I hope she doesn't have any more complicated assignments.

When I told Barry about the announcement he had an immediate explanation for the woman's strange request. "Maybe she didn't have time to cut it and still put the Cheez Wiz in it."

[image from ClubChef]

running throughChelsea.JPG
seen on the south side of West 24th Street, Saturday at 6 pm

We hit a number of Chelsea galleries this afternoon, but we were both more more relaxed, and better dressed for the weather, than this gentleman.


"In Minnesota," this morning's NYTimes headline reads, "Flu Vaccines Go Waiting."

Setting aside the question of how we got into a situation where throughout the country this year there are only a fraction of the flu shots which should be available, how can we get a bigger supply of this kind of people?

In most places, people are clamoring for flu shots - waiting in lines, calling every clinic in town, even going to Canada. But in Minnesota, the opposite problem has emerged: even people considered most vulnerable are forgoing the shots so there will be enough left for others.

This puzzling reaction has left state health officials charmed, but also urging an estimated 1.6 million high-risk residents to be vaccinated.

Concerns about quality control at a vaccine plant in Britain led to a shortage of flu vaccine in the United States and led health officials to ask that shots be limited to those most susceptible to complications from the flu, including children younger than 2, adults older than 65 and the chronically ill.

But in Minnesota, officials said, more high-risk people are passing on the shots than in years past.

Ann Thiel, 88, of Inver Grove Heights, said she had gotten a flu shot every year for the past decade after a case of the flu caused her esophagus to rupture. But after hearing about the shortage, she decided not to get her annual shot.

"I think an awful lot of money is spent on people my age at the expense of younger people," Mrs. Thiel said. "I think I've had more than my share of good luck."

[image from Northwestern Health Sciences University]

Wednesday, the stage at the New York State Theater, before the lights darkened

We went to New York City Opera Wednesday night to see Charles Wuorinen's new opera based on a short novel by Salmon Rushdie, "Haroun and the Sea of Stories."

Almost totally bummed because of the national disasters reported over the previous 24 hours, we really weren't expecting to be greatly amused. According to the reviews we had read we would find a delightful story seriously handicapped by its dependence upon the composer's complex 12-tone techniques.

We both loved it on every level, for each of its elements.

We knew the story and it really is delightful. It's definitely not simply a children's story, although there were plenty of smart New York kids there with their parents. It was written while Rushdie was forced to hide from the mortal threat of the fatwa directed against him because of his writings. The book is a fable about free expression. It's as fresh as tomorrow morning's bread. In Act II the evil Khattam-Shud complains about the limits of his dark authority, singing,

Inside every single story
There lies a world, a story world,
That I cannot rule ar all.
It is beyond my control . . .
It spoils everything!
The libretto by the poet James Fenton, necessarily more condensed than the book, did so with great success, tightly playing with the pleasure of words both real and imagined, in delightful groups strung together and wound around or threaded through each other.

I admit that serial music holds no terrors for me and under normal circumstances I would have been delighted to be looking forward to a live performance of an entire opera using its forms. We have a large wall cabinet stacked with the sadness of 12-tone opera sound-only recordings, their visuals unfulfilled. I was surprised and delighted to find that Wuorinen's score was a perfect foil for the story, the singers and the glorious sights unfolding on the stage.

And what sights they were! In their totally uninhibited color and movement, and with imagination not bound to any reality or even to the usual conventions of fantasy, the sets and costumes fulfilled the promise of the story. I don't think I've ever seen anything more delightful on a stage, opera or otherwise. I'm not normally sighted shrieking in glee from a seat in Linclon Center.

Election? What election?

There are still three more performances, one tomorrow afternoon and one in the evening on Tuesday and on Thursday.


The skys are blue again, all over the world.

But the real work is only beginning.

It's not going to be easy rebuilding a nation and removing the curse which has rested so heavily on the planet [the cultists will remain to plague our wounded polity, and a hundred thousand lives have been wiped out in Iraq alone], but tonight Barry and I will be celebrating a new world with champagne. It will be French, of course, by definiton - and by choice.

Listening to: Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection" (Klemperer, Philharmonia, Schwarzkopf, Hilde Rössel-Majdan)

[image taken on Sunday afternoon outside our windows, about the time I was first convinced that Bush would not survive this referendum, at least without overturning it]

This page is an archive of entries in the Happy category from November 2004.

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