Monday, May 17, 2010

Seattle Opera's "Amelia"

One of my great pleasures is to see new operas. Some of these might just be destined to become "classics" in their own right. It is exciting to think that this could be the case and that I was among the first people to actually see the work performed. What's on my list? Doctor Atomic, An American Tragedy, and, through the wonders of HD-Casts in the theater, The First Emperor. This weekend I added another, Seattle Opera's "Amelia".

I really enjoyed the first act very much. It was raw and visceral and not too over-the-top. Very strong singing and, well, that third scene was just rough. I felt like I could really connect with the story, etc..

The second act lost me, especially the scenes in the hospital which were so (and I know this is opera) unbelievable. Really lost me when Amelia awakes from the coma and demands natural child birth. The doctor mewling about C Sections was especially weak although I know that this was a big issue in the, what, 80's and 90's. The final scene during the birth just annoyed me. Here we have something that is supposed to represent the continuity of life, the end of doubt, etc. and it devolved into a Marx Brother's comedy accompanied by so much noise. Clichéd representation of women giving birth. Perhaps the ghosts of Dodge and Amelia's mother would have been better set in their clothes rather than scrubs?

Loved the sets and the singing (it was all so very, very strong and exciting really) but the music was pretty unforgettable (it is movie music designed to drive the drama—it did—but nothing more, excepting the Navy Hymn. We ran into one of the people from our opera group who hated the music. 

There were some other things that I just didn't think were as well integrated as they could have been.

Fear and risk is worth the payoff as a theme is pretty good. The Flier and Dodge and having a baby. But the scenes with The Flier, though intriguing dramatizations and contemplation just didn't seem to fit in so well. Neither did the Icarus scene. I understand in my head their relation but they didn't really gel together as well as they could have.

Going in to this we had talked to friends who were deeply affected by the story and the performance (mentioned this in the car yesterday). I wonder also if part of my reaction has also to do with the fact that I have not had a child? I know it to be a powerful event but, again, that is a mental thing rather than something I feel in my heart.

When it was finished I leaned over and said to M that the second act needed revision. We'll see if it does. The audience around us was pretty lukewarm and it took a while for them to get on their feet. Quite a few people, including Stattler and Waldorf, bailed on the second act which, frankly, is a shame because there were some very neat things in this that I hope they are able to refine. It is nice to see such operas coming out of the American context and using contemporaneous themes and characters.

Eaglen? Very pretty singing. Actually, it must have been neat to compose the vocal parts for the specific singers chosen.

Would I see this again? Sure would. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Musical Shoes

And they are my favorites too . . . !

(thanks for the tip-off PuddleThumper!)

Monday, May 3, 2010


Traveling by train is such an interesting experience.

I am sitting in business class which, oddly enough, actually has less leg room than the reserved coach class seat I had on the trip down to Eugene last week. I do have power for my laptop and can go into the Bistro car to use the wireless network there if needed. I might just do that in a bit.

I've been taking photos out of my window at each stop as a sort of running record of the trip. There have been prettier scenes on the opposite side of the train but I've eschewed them. Interesting. You sure see the a** end of a lot of towns this way. Sometimes you don't see anything at all.

So here goes:

Eugene, Oregon

Albany, Oregon

Salem, Orgeon

Oregon City, Oregon


Vancouver, WA

Red Light Hold (just outside of Vancouver)

Kelso/Longview, WA

Centralia, WA

Olympia, WA

Tacoma, WA

Tukwilla, WA

Hold at Boeing Field

Seattle, WA


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Eugene, Eugene

Eugene Marathon 2010

The Bottom Line:

Garmin Connect:

The Director's Cut:

This has been an amazing trip, my very first to Eugene, and I've been soaking up the sun as well as the University Atmos. A really pleasant campus and I gather that I am seeing it in its finest spring sun and bloom. Almost makes me want to trade in my Seattle gray but that might be premature given how little of the town I know. Well, I know it a bit better after today.

Just got back from Espresso Roma on 13th Avenue. I wrote my dissertation at the Espresso Roma in Isla Vista so the place brings back some good memories except that the coffee is not so great compared to what I am now used to and, well, walking in it just smelled funky (closed and humid). I tried to read but was having too hard a time concentrating so I walked home. My legs are tight and tired but I can still manage a standard walk and a rather sprightly clip. It is a very sunny 66 degrees out there and the coffee has given me some focus so here goes!

I was up at 5:00 this morning but that really just meant that I got out of bed having been just below the surface of consciousness all night. Rattled around the room trying to get things going as it were and ate (a banana and scone with OJ) before headed out the door at about 6:30 to get to the start. It was chilly but not too bad and the sun was coming out. It was going to be beautiful day.

Two start corrals to chose from, sub-10 and plus-10, and I got in line at the front of the plus-10. My plan was to go out easy for a warm-up and then come up to cruising speed (9:30's) over time.

Uh Oh!

Standing there I started to get really woozy. I mean like pass out woozy and a bit nauseous. Not sure why this was going on. My HR was really in the mid-90's, this is low for me when I am waiting for a race to start, so perhaps it was just nerves. Kinda scary and I was worrying what this might mean for the run. Even considered bagging it right there but decided to start and see how things went. I think Mac and Cheese was not the best night before dinner for me.

Bump and Go

Didn't hear a starter's gun or anything but pretty soon the lead runners were away and we started moving forward. I didn't start running until I hit the start mats and off we went. Boy can people chatter up a storm during the first moments of a race, before the reality of the effort hits.

By mile two I was doing alright, feeling solid, mouth-breathing away, and trying like mad NOT to go out too fast with all the talking Half-Marathoners.


The course is hillier than I expected it to be but not overwhelmingly so. This is one of the times that I am thankful for living in Seattle. Nevertheless, people around me were actually grousing about it though which became a little annoying after a while.

I was, for the most part, on my own. Water stations every two miles with Gatorade and water and I hit every one, alternating between Gatorade and water (the taste of which was another thing people were grousing about). This went on at least until someone shoved a small bottle of Gatorade into my hands as I went by. I carried that the rest of the way, drinking out of it as needed, while getting water exclusively from then on. By mile 24 I wanted to get rid of that bottle but crossed the finish with it as if it were an old friend. Perhaps by this point it was.

It was nice to see something of Eugene beyond walking around near the campus and also the train station. It reminds me of a Midwestern city like the one that I grew up in. Lots of people out cheering us on which was pretty cool. For the first time in a race I managed a lot of smiling. Perfect running conditions too. Sunny and cool with indirect sun.


At about 9.29 I had to go to the toilet. Actually it was before that and I had just skipped a bunch of Porta-Potties (even thought of turning around). We came back through the start area and so I got to use the facilities there. No waiting and lots of choice. Not sure why this happened but I did lose some time attending to the issue and spent the rest of the race reeling back in all the people whom I had passed.


The interesting thing is that at the 9-ish marker the volunteers were giving out bananas and, well, I am not so sure that is such a good idea. There was mashed banana everywhere along with the peels. All I could think of was that last scene of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World" in which Ethel Merman slips on a banana peel. Yet another smile on my face combined with care in my step.

Far from the Madding Crowd

We split off from the Half Marathoners just about at the 10-mile mark and things got really quiet and very sparse. Eerily so even though we were running along a main road. Running through Springfield (I think) was very neat. The main street was pretty quiet but had lots of interesting shops (not boutiques or anything but real shops and storefronts of a rather human scale). People were out all over the place cheering us on from porches and front yards.

LiquidGold at the half. Man! That is intense! Like molasses. I have to say that I liked it and it did give me energy but the flavor is very strong. I had been gelling every 5 miles as planned and was feeling pretty strong but by mile 10 my stomach was growling and I was getting hungry so this honey and molasses concoction was quite welcome.

Some climbing and then around Autzen Stadium and Allen Baker Park where we went right past a dog off-leash area. It was fun to watch and to be cheered on by clots of people. Being "out" of the city and surrounded by green grass and trees was just refreshing and in the distance I could hear more cheering and muffled drums. Drums!


The closer I got to the 17 mile mark the louder became the unmistakable sound of a pipe band's drums. Disappointingly no pipes just drums but just before I reached them they started up with a nice march, Scotland the Brave. I whooped and waved as I went by. At that moment I would have paid them to run along side me or would have slowed down to march with them the rest of the way. I heard them again across the river on the way back and it gave me a thrill. There's not a Scottish bone in my body but there is something about the pipes that makes my heart soar and the hair on the back of my neck stand to . . .

On the subject of music. Eugene and Springfield sure put on a well-meaning show but it wasn't all that motivating. With the exception of the pipers, a Beatle's cover band (I think), and a middle school dance team everything else was this kind of whiny downbeat rock or acoustic guitar. Don't get me wrong, it was nice to see the people out there playing and I wouldn't trade it but the lack of a beat was a bit hard to take at times.

Bad Garmin! Bad!

After the pipers I noticed that my Garmin had stopped and that my mileage and time was off by about a mile. Bummer.

We were, again, on a bike path next to the river and I was running strongly and feeling alright. It was here that I started catching all the people who I had passed earlier but whom I had fallen behind because of my pit stop. It was also here that people's wheels started coming off. We were a rather thin crowd now and I went across the 30K mats alone. Stomach was growling again so I gelled just after the 30K mark and then when I got to the 20. No wall.

And then it got serious

Of course 20 miles is when the race really starts. 6 more miles. By this time the sun was full out and beating directly down. At least it was flat and even a bit downhill. I just ticked the miles off, trying to maintain a even pace and steady stride. Walked the water stops, etc.. More wreckage. Just before making the final southward turn towards the Stadium I passed a guy who was obviously done in and running with a upper body move that I cannot even describe. Lots of other people limping along too. Then I passed a couple walking along. He was supporting her and she was complaining of being very cold. She looked very pale. I offered them what remained of my Gatorade but they declined. Honestly, I felt like pulling over and vomiting too and I am not sure why.

Then it was onto Franklin and onto the campus. So many people still waiting and cheering which gave me a boost and kicked into a higher gear for the finish. Got passed entering the stadium by a woman wearing a tie-die shirt and running skirt. She zoomed around three other guys running three abreast. I said "good on ya" as she went past.

Turning into the stadium was kind of intense. Not only was I almost done but but I kicked it into sub-eight mode and then felt a searing stitch on my right side that almost made me double over. That would have made for an interesting finish wouldn't it? I held it, looked up at myself on the Jumbotron, heard my name called by the announcer, hit the mats, and was congratulated and high-fived by the volunteers. One guy put a blanket around me and I just walked on down the track smiling I think. I hope.

At the finish area I got a couple of pancakes and hunkered down by a fence to eat them. I had one bite and felt like I couldn't have any more so I ditched them in a compost bin and walked back (slowly) to the hotel. Dropped my stuff into the room and hit the pool for an ice bath that felt so good.


GI issues today which is pretty unusual for me and my face was caked with salt the likes of which I have not yet seen. PuddleThumper suggested that my body just could not take the water and gel combination and that is why things were going off the rails a bit. I think she is right about that. I'll bet my electrolyte tabs are right on the counter where I put them when packing for this trip—a forgetfulness I'll be sure not to repeat in future.


My goal was to beat my (unofficial) Portland time of 4:24:xx and I came close at 4:26 and I'll confess that alongside relief at being finished I was also a bit disappointed that my time was not faster. But looking at the data and considering the fact that I do not feel as beaten up as I did after Seattle Rock N Roll last year I am patting myself on the back for a job well-done. Basically even pacing for the first and second half of the run, a real first for me.

This was such a nice run that I think I would do it again.


See the Register-Guard website:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Night Before

I am ready, at least in terms of fueling and preparations for the night before. Now the mental dance begins. :-)