Monday, April 13, 2009

Opera, goodreads, and other goodies

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Rome is, indeed, a marvelous city. That handsome young man on the right, there at the Pantheon, sold me tickets to hear a concert of favorite arias from operas, one of highlights of my trip. There at the Pantheon.
Goodreads is a great family site. I got on it because my granddaughter asked me to. Family-friendly sites are so important for the kids today.

As to this book, "Who's Afraid of Opera?" I'm not surprised they don't have the book cover. I'm probably the only person who's read it, I don't know.

Well, I love opera and found it very enjoyable. Perfect what I call "airport fiction." And, BTW, Lufthansa has an opera station on their earphones. Another reason to live in Europe ...

So here are some great quotes from this book, Who's Afraid of Opera, by Michael Walsh - you'll recognize his name as music critic for TIME magazine.

BTW, I took the what opera would you be quiz on facebook and I'd be "The Magic Flute." That's Mozart, and I can't think of a "nicer" opera to "be." This is the best starter-opera, in fact it was mine, and wonderful for kids as well as adults. While I prefer Verdi and Puccini, operas with the dynomite arias (like "Othello" and "Madama Butterfly"), what's not to like about that magical magid flute opera?

OK, ready? Here we go --
  1. The opera is like a husband with a foreign title: expensive to support, hard to understand, and therefore a supreme social challenge. (Cleveland Armory)

  2. I have always believed that opera is a planet where the muses work together, join hands and celebrate all the arts. (Franco Zeffirelli)

  3. To write an opera demands a range of skills that are not limited simply to the musical. The opera composer must also be a judge of literary merit, able to work collegially with a partner (the librettist); a student of the theater, knowing eexactly what effects are possible on stage, and an impresario, adept in the ways of money-raising and patronage. [It is no wonder these men were giants - Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Rossini]

  4. Words were of paramount important to both Verdi and Wagner.

  5. As proud as Boito (the librettist) might have been about his own contributions, though, the sense of his letter ... makes it clear that his words are meant to serve the composer, who, in turn, is serving the dramatic situation .... Which in the end, is what opera is all about.

  6. The essential condition of opera is .... that it have something to say to us about the way we live our livews, and the social and moral circumstances in which we find ourselves.


  8. It has been said that more has been written about Wagner than about anyone else with the exception of Napoleon Bonaparte and Jesus Christ; that's how important Wagner was, and is.

  9. [In the Rhinegold and the Ring] Wagner created a metaphor for society and social disintegration that is even more potent today than it was a century ago.

  10. Mozart admired Papa Haydn above all composers.

  11. For it is the composer who gives moral shape and meaning to the story through his marvelous music.

  12. Otello (Verdi) is, indeed, an opera to die for.

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My Trip to Europe


I just got back from a trip to Europe, where we toured London, Paris, Lucerne, Florence and Rome. We hit the highlites, making notes for what we wanted to come back to.

The Top 10 Things I Learned

#10 - There are cultural differences, but there are also individual differences. On the whole, the French don't care much about rules, but our French Guide was the only one who said "If you aren't back on time I will leave without you and I will not come look for you."

#9 - It is not illegal to do graffitiin Italy. It is considered a form of self-expression.

#8 - Order your meat 2 degrees more well-done than you would in the US. 3 degrees more. i.e., if you want it "rare," say "well-done." I'm warning you. And don't ever order anything called "faux filet."

#7 - Everything in London is about 3 men: Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, and Napoleon Bonaparte. Understandably.

#6 - Our guide considered Nero's "fiddling while Rome burned," to be "urban renewa;" on the part of Nero. Ouch.

#5 - I M Pei built the most incredible underground city underneath the Louvre.

#4 - If you can drive the Champs d'Elysees you can drive anything.

#3 - The Autostradad del Sole, from Lucerne down to Rome, is an out-of-body experience.

#2 - Why did the US ever start allowing billboard?

and the #1 thing I learned -- a smile and quiet respect is the Universal Language.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

How Grandparents Help Kids, and Kids with ADHD

Are you the cure for ADHD?

I quote this in full from Dr. William B. Ferril. To receive his
House Calls eletter click on the link.

It's sad to see what happens to the children in our lives when they are forced to take mood-altering drugs.

I've always believed those drugs should be dumped and buried at the bottom of a deep hole, because there are real, natural and healthy alternatives that can help children diagnosed with conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Now, a new study finds another alternative therapy that could help many children: grandparents.

That's right – if you're a grandparent, you might be able to treat a troubled child better than any medication.

What could be more natural than that?

The study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, was based on interviews with 1,515 kids between the ages of 11 and 16 in England and Wales. The researchers found that the more these children spoke with their grandparents, the less likely they were to be troubled. They were also less likely to exhibit behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and disruptiveness. What's more, they got along better with other children.

You know what I like best about this one? It didn't matter one whit what those conversations were about. A kid asking a grandparent for a little spending money had the same impact as coming to them for sagely advice. In other words, it was the mere interaction with the grandparent that had these amazing effects.

Having a healthy relationship with a grandparent helped kids across all family structures. But the researchers found it was especially beneficial to kids going through traumatic family changes, like divorce or separation. Adolescents in single-parent households or stepfamilies adjusted to those situations far better when they could lean on Grandma or Grandpa.

So when you're spending time with a grandchild, you may be doing more than just spoiling them. You may be treating them. And the side effects you bring include love, affection, attention, and wisdom.

There's something you can't put in a bottle.

This memo is more important to parents than grandparents, because grandparents just naturally fill this role, if allowed to. Yes, grandchildren and grandparents have their own form of conversations. Let them! It helps. P.S. I think it's about "enduring" as well as love, affection, attention and wisdom. But then that's wisdom.

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