Friday, October 24, 2008

Madame Butterfly - I can't forgive Pinkerton

It's been a crazy couple of days at work, so this post is a little belated, seeing as I saw Madame Butterfly on Wednesday, but it's still a good thing to think about so I'm writing about it anyway.

First off, here's a Reader's Digest synopsis of Madame Butterfly: This US Navy Lieutenant named Pinkerton wants a Japanese wife while working in Nagasaki. He negotiates a house and wife - his wife's name is roughly translated as Butterfly in English. He leaves her, telling her he'll be back in the spring.

Three years later he does come back, after everyone told her he wouldn't ever come back and she was unfailingly loyal, but the only reason he's back is to pick up the son they conceived while he was there three years ago. He says it's to give the son a better life in America with his new American wife. Butterfly is told of this plan and says Pinkerton can have their son if he comes to get him - Pinkerton bolted before she came out of her room. She kills herself just in time for Pinkerton to catch her dead body.

It was AMAZING - hands-down awe-inspiring. The colors, set, lights, costumes, emotion and the singing were all spell-binding. The little boy was especially well-trained and disciplined. He caught the audience's attention and hearts and kept it there when he was on stage - when he was supposed to be asleep, he would lay still even when the orchestra was going crazy, cymbals and all.

Getting to the discussion part of this post: there was an essay in the program about forgiving Pinkerton for his actions because he was young and foolish, sucked in by the contract culture of Japan; he thought his marriage would be a contract he could nullify anytime without undue consequences.

I don't buy it. As me and my mom talked about it, people can have character at any time of their life, and they should. Being young is no excuse for anything - especially marrying someone and then leaving them to wait for your arrival, which he promised would happen in less than a year. He knew what he was getting into. One of the conversations with his friend during the wedding scene is a warning to consider Butterfly's feelings and to not take the marriage lightly. How young would he have to be to have the responsibility of a lieutenant on a ship? Also, if all he wanted were *ahem* intimate relations, why didn't he just pick up a geisha instead of marry one? He said it was because he wanted to capture the Butterfly for good. How incredibly selfish can you get?

Even at the end, he supposedly wants what's best for his son by taking him to America with him, but he doesn't consider Butterfly at all. So, what is she supposed to do - go back to being a geisha? I love that his cowardice won't even allow him to face her until she's dying. Okay, I don't really. He says he's sorry for what he's done, but he can't even tell her that to her face.

I think Puccini probably painted him this way on purpose - as the antagonist of his opera - but even at the end when he's supposed to have his redemption, I wasn't feeling it. Are you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Of mice and women - to kill or not to kill

I know, I know, two bad cliches in one blog title...just bear with me.

With Becca being as crazy busy as she is these days, and with me being moderately crazy busy as I am, there are days when we don't see each other at all in a day.

So, I try to make an effort to see her when I can - usually keeping her up needlessly at night after I get home early from some rendezvous with Caryn.

In one of these awesome times the other night I noticed something moving in her window well.

"AH!" I screamed.

Okay - I didn't really scream. Although, one of my friends had a peeping tom hop in her window well, so I guess I had a valid reason to be scared. But Becca allayed my fears.

"That's just the mouse living in my window well," Becca said.

"Um...kay," I said. "So, what are you going to do with him?"

"Mom told me to leave it in there," Becca replied.


Now - I'm not an animal lover or anything - I don't parade around in picket lines with "Oxen free!" written all over signs I've made - but when it comes to letting an innocent creature die, I don't feel that great about it. Especially in a cold, cold window well.

Therefore, I decided to capture him in the window well and let him free into the wild.

As always, life never turns out as you plan it. He ran away from me and hid in the corner of the window well for a solid five or ten minutes, meaning I had to climb in there to attempt to trap him.

Yup - he came out of the open window and into Becca's room as soon as I climbed in there.

Another ten good minutes was spent chasing him from under her bed, then to under the dresser, then back to under the bed, at which point Becca pointed out that no one needed to know there was a mouse in the house.

I agreed, but it didn't necessarily mean Becca had my back, since she told my mom the next night.

Benedict Arnold. I mean, I heart you Becca! :) And you, Mr. Mouse.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An A to the MR (An Adventure to Mt. Rushmore)

*Length warning- this post is rather long...

Well all, I finally did a pretty huge thing on my bucket list - I went to Mt. Rushmore.

The whole idea started with National Treasure 2 - Caryn, Lisa and I were all watching it and all of a sudden I said, "I've always wanted to go to Mt. Rushmore, but my dad didn't want to and so we never did as a family. He said there wasn't anything else to see around there and he didn't want to drive forever just for Mt. Rushmore."

Caryn turned to me and told me it was the same way for her in her family.

"Me and my roommate were going to go there Spring Break, but it never happened," Caryn said.

"Let's take a trip there sometime soon," I said, rather spur of the moment.

"Done," Caryn said.

Sometimes these kinds of things get talked about but never actually executed - and I thought this might turn out to be one of those things.

I sometimes get bored at work, and subsequently, one day I looked up what kinds of other things there are around Mt. Rushmore. I was a little surprised to find hot springs, a giant maze, paint ball, rock climbing walls, go-karts and horseback riding. We also figured out that Mt. Rushmore was about 9 hours from West Jordan - and actually started planning the trip.

The only problems came the week of: namely, Caryn's car breaking down, my car not getting the tune-up it needed and no one being able to go with us.

It was looking grim until Caryn called her sister, Adriane, who not only would let us borrow her car but wanted to come with us, too.

We left Friday night at 7:30ish and drove our brains out - switching every two hours until we got into Casper, Wyoming at 3 a.m. - which was not to be our last visit there. We got off the freeway about then, and since we hadn't really planned on staying the night there, we didn't know where to go.

Joy. So, there we were at 3:30 a.m., driving around, checking hotels in Casper, Wyoming, feeling cranky and tired. Finally, we caved and stayed in the Holiday Express Inn, which was like $130. Dah! Who knew rooms could be so durn expensive? I now understand why my dad never wanted to stay at a hotel. Yes, yes, I know - I admit it.

We decided to get directions from the hotel at the "business center" and promptly were on our way to Hill City, South Dakota, to our KOA campsite.

Lots and lots more driving later, we were there. Or, at least, we were pretty sure we were there - we drove past it before we realized we had missed the turn-off. After turning around, we saw the men on the mountain - which was my introduction to Mt. Rushmore.

The Park was amazing - we started out in information, where Caryn and Adriane decided they wanted to become Junior Rangers. I decided I did not - mostly because my siblings had to do it at many national parks they visited, and I rebelled where they could not. :)

We started in the hall of flags - every flag of every state in the good ol' US led the way to a great overview of Mt. Rushmore. We took our first pictures with it here.

Then, somehow, hot poses started...

Then it was time to go to the museum, with all sorts of facts about Mt. Rushmore and the presidents and the sculptor who dreamed it up. We watched a 13-minute movie on it - and I correctly guessed that it was Tom Brokaw who was narrating. Boo-yah!

I was pretty much amazed at all that went into carving four presidents on the mountain. I guess I never really thought about what it would take, from the conceptualization to the actually blasting: 17 years. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, had a vision about making presidents he viewed as the founders and shapers of the nation immortal in rock - he was an incredibly dedicated, well-thought out man. He actually died before he finished it completely.

90% of the rock removal was done by dynamite - which I thought was pretty cool.

This is a to-scale picture of an eye. It was slightly creepy...

From there, it was time to "hike" around the base of the mountain. And take more pictures.

At the end of the trail was the sculptor's cabin - where it had the scale model they used to carve the mountain. It was closed, but you could kinda see in if you blocked the light out. We were sad it wasn't open.

Then it was time for Caryn and Adriane to get sworn in as junior rangers and get souvenirs. My favorite were mugs with "Mt. Rusmore" on them, although the Mt. Rushmore pocketknives were also hilarious. Hee hee...

We then ran to the Black Hills Maze - thinking we'd have a good two hours to get lost in the maze before they closed. Except they looked pretty much closed for good - with a fence and everything.

We were sad.

So, instead we drove farther in Rapid City and found a place to eat called Firehouse Brewing Company. It has amazing food - like awesomely amazing.

And we got plastic fire helmets.

It was time to go back to our campsite, get nice and fire-smelling, almost set the tent on fire, watch part of X-men before my lappy died and turn in for the night.

We awoke to fire-toast, courtesy Adriane and the grill attached to the fire pit, and hilarious neighbors on a month-long cross-country trip. We packed up and headed to church in Casper, Wyoming.

After church we went to On the Border - a pretty good Mexican place that they don't have in Utah, but they do have in Texas, where Adriane lived for awhile. Except the service pretty much stunk - Adriane didn't get her order correct initially and even after an hour, had barely received the correct food. We were all kind of razzled at that point, and therefore didn't blink twice before deciding to go north on I-25.

Yeah- big whoops. About Buffalo, Wyomingish, we realized our folly and turned around. We'd already lost an hour and a half, so three hours round trip later, we were back in the hated Casper, filling up yet again, anticipating another good six hours to get home.

Of course, it's this time some deer decided to cross the highway - three at the same time, right in front of me driving. Ah, slamming on the brakes. Thank the heavens for anti-lock brakes.

After that, Caryn and I talked for the rest of the time, in between listening to music on my iPod and trying not to fall asleep.

I finally got to sleep about 1:30, safe and sound in my own bed. And thus ended the Mt. Rushmore adventure.