pallas_athena: (tarot)
Today I would like to talk about my friend Liana, an artist who goes by the name Playful Eye. I've known her since 2006, when a random conversation at 4AM turned into a lasting friendship.

You may remember her work from various things I've done, like this poster:

Poster photo WIPflute.jpg
More beautiful images beneath the cut )
The thing about Liana is: She is currently using her resources of wit, spirit and bravery to fight off a particularly invasive cancer (esthesioneuroblastoma). In the USA, this is also a potentially financially ruinous situation, even with insurance. Recently, she posted this:

"My friends, I need your help.
I have been hospitalized with growing tumors all throughout my body. I cannot walk without assistance. My left arm is completely useless. I am being overwhelmed with too many medical bills and an insurance that is not moving quickly enough to settle my finances, and I come to you with most humility to ask for whatever monetary contribution you can give."


There's a donation website up at http://www.gofundme.com/helpliana . If you can spare a beer token or two, then please, please do go and give whatever you can. As well as being a wonderful artist, Liana is truly one of the most loveable people you could ever hope to meet, and I wish her well with all my heart.

More beauty resides over at her Flickr page.

Rehoming

Apr. 10th, 2012 11:33 pm
pallas_athena: (Default)
I have been living in my new house for about a year now. The changes it has wrought in my life are fairly astonishing.

Having a living room which doubles as a rehearsal venue means that I'm meeting all sorts of artists. Not that I have to be super-close friends with everyone who uses the space, but it's always cool when that happens spontaneously.

My friend [livejournal.com profile] mothninja's show The White House was a particular boon; the director and the AD have both since used my place to rehearse other shows, which has been good. Some of the alumni from those are coming over on Friday for a Shakespeare reading-and-working session. That play also introduced me to a circus artist whose aerial hoop class I joined, which has been an enormously fun skill to acquire. And then she moved to LA and left a bunch of her stuff with me, which means I now have an aerials rig in my living room. Hell yeah.

All sorts of people have been using the space, but there's a core of artists now who come by regularly enough that it feels a bit like having a family. To a long-term bachelor like me, that's a fairly mindblowing concept. Obviously these things work best when one doesn't get emotionally overinvested, but I am grateful for and happy with the friends I've made. To say nothing of the dividends of the free-rehearsal-space-for-free-catsitting exchange.
CAT UPDATE within )
So... a family. At least for now. The new house sort of attracted the life that goes with it, and that life turns out to be pretty damn awesome. Obviously I could still wish for more work, but at least the downtime's not being wasted.

Inventory

May. 16th, 2011 04:19 pm
pallas_athena: (Default)
Things I have today that I did not have before last weekend:

- Two married friends. Congratulations, [livejournal.com profile] monochrome_girl and [livejournal.com profile] evilmattikinz!

- The memory of a truly amazingly excellent wedding

- The experience of singing Tudor songs in a Tudor priory surrounded by bubbles from a bubble machine

- Some hula hoops (sparkly). Started off with 3; gave 1 to a hen party encountered on the train, which caused much joy

- Some comics

- A Tenth Doctor sketch by Mike Collins for [livejournal.com profile] speedlime

- A page of Captain Britain and MI-13 by Paul Cornell and Mike Collins

- A sketch of Nightcrawler by Alan Davis

- DUDE. A SKETCH OF NIGHTCRAWLER BY ALAN DAVIS.

- Bounce bounce bounce yaaaaaaaaay
pallas_athena: (Default)
- Watching my friend Pete strut his stuff as an operatic dog in The Doctor's Tale at the Linbury,

- A spectacularly marvellous weekend with [livejournal.com profile] woodlandwildman, who has a way of enlivening my home whenever he's about.

- Time spent with [livejournal.com profile] lostinavebury and other fine people;

- Saturday night's White Mischief extravaganza, at which the Wildman was doing Victorian photography, Professor Maelstromme was selling shiny objects and the worthless love-slaves of Fetishman Comics mounted a fine display;

- The Dead Victorians, back from hiatus and sounding mighty fine. Likewise Professor Elemental, tip-top emcee and genuinely good soul.

- Iolanthe at Wilton's Music Hall with a splendidly talented all-male cast! I did enough G&S at university to become thorougly bored with it, and this is one of those rare productions that actually make it fun again. Do see it while it's on.
pallas_athena: (Default)
My friend Pete was just told, by a former member of Monty Python, that he was being too silly onstage and should tone it down.

I am so proud.

Unmasking

Feb. 22nd, 2011 09:53 pm
pallas_athena: (Default)
Give me a case to put my visage in,
A visor for a visor! What care I
What curious eye doth quote deformities?
Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me.


--Romeo and Juliet, I.iv


I'm packing the masks away, carefully enshrouding each in bubble wrap. They'll sleep in a box until they can glorify the walls of the new place (and also, occasionally, lend me a better face.)

There's the first one I bought at the Maryland Renaissance Faire as a teenager, which I've worn with joy ever since. (That company is now headed by [livejournal.com profile] wildwose; I'm happy to have a few of his more recent creations.) There's the one I impulse-bought at a stall in Whitby that I then discovered bled red dye all over my face. There's the one I got in Venice with [livejournal.com profile] mothninja; the one I got in Leipzig with [livejournal.com profile] orkamedies and [livejournal.com profile] rosenkavalier; the ones [livejournal.com profile] badmagic and [livejournal.com profile] speedlime helped me decide on at DragonCon; the one I made at [livejournal.com profile] fatbuttsheep's wedding mask-making party. And the gifts: the one [livejournal.com profile] wyte_phantomgave me (with a stick), the one my Dad sent me (with feathers), and the one [livejournal.com profile] woodlandwildman presented me with on one of our explorations of Chinatown.

What I guess I'm saying here is that these masks wear the faces of my friends, and gathering them all together now makes me feel fortunate to have the best friends in the Universe. That's you.
pallas_athena: (Default)
They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."


--Wallace Stevens


[livejournal.com profile] speedlime recently dug out her old guitar and posted a picture. I could not put into words what I felt at the time, and so the comment I left her was mostly exclamation points. I still have difficulty finding the words for the effect the sight of that guitar had on me.
Words below )
pallas_athena: (Default)
I have easily the best news of the dawning millenium:

[livejournal.com profile] speedlime is coming to Leipzig!!!!!!!!

*happy dance*
*national holiday declared*
*ticker-tape parade*
*celebratory fireworks*
*accidental ignition of ticker-tape*
*towering inferno*
*collapse of civilisation as we know it*
*apocalypse*
...
*PARTY TIME*
pallas_athena: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] speedlime's visit is something I look forward to every year. It's typical of her magnificent generosity of soul that she chooses to spend her birthday in London with yours truly. (And then I generally spend mine with her family in DC. The German cookies and Glühwein make it a party not to be missed.)

This year we also spent a few days in Paris. While we were there, it snowed, making the whole city look like an especially misty Monet painting. It was beautiful, but also meant that some places we wanted to see were closed. Paris deals with snow even less well than London: it's like the whole city goes Ô MON DIEU QUOI LE FOUTRE IL NEIGE NOUS DEVONS FERMER TOUTES LES CHOSES INTÉRESSANTES.

One of the these places was the Sainte-Chapelle. I'd never seen it, but Speedy recalled being entranced by the windows as a child. Since we couldn't see it during the day, we booked tickets for a concert there that evening: Baroque flourishes, including Pachelbel's Canon in D and Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
So how was the concert? )
Meanwhile, I'm heading back to the US tomorrow. See some of you (including [livejournal.com profile] speedlime) there!

Shopaganda

Nov. 12th, 2010 06:40 pm
pallas_athena: (Default)
In my mind, Christmas most emphatically doesn't start until it's actually fucking December, so I can't quite bring myself to admit that I'm Christmas shopping rather than hunting down shiny objects for friends as usual.

Still, I thought I would share with you some of the sources of things that amused me, which might perhaps further your own shopping agenda.

Firstly, webcomic people generally have class-A swag available for purchase, and John Allison is no exception. I tend to assume everyone knows and loves his T-shirts as much as [livejournal.com profile] speedlime and I do, but he also has some remarkable canvas bags, one for knitting and one for shopping. He also has several lovely posters, including one that's a particular work of genius: Aubrey Beardsley's Lady Gaga.

I also can't say enough good things about the work of Etsy seller SoCharmed. She has all sorts of loveliness in her shop, from Rococo to Baroque to Romantic to rock 'n' roll. She makes weird-ass little cameos out of things like x-rays and secret documents. Oh, and she does "libertine" necklaces paying tribute to Aphra Behn, Oscar Wilde and John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester.

While on Etsy, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my good friend Professor Maelstromme, your source for all things gothic, steampunk and arcane. She specialises in making one-of-a-kind jewellery out of found objects, and also does a fine line in hats and fascinators. Recently she has also begun selling a few outfits made by the fantastically talented [livejournal.com profile] wyte_phantom (here and here, so far.) I must say, $255 US for a corset and bustle skirt is a total steal, so get in there while you can, ladies.

Right, I'm off to acquire one of these terribly educational sewing machine diagrams from the Regretsy shop. Otherwise I might forget which part is which, you know, and that would never do. See you later, shoppinators.
pallas_athena: (brains)
I'm back in London. Fear the Jetlag Zombie, who has no idea what time to eat your brains...

In DC, [livejournal.com profile] speedlime and I were lucky enough to get into the opening night of All's Well That Ends Well at the Shakespeare Theatre, a play Speedy hadn't seen before. There were a lot of good things about the production, but my absolute favourite moment of the night was Speedy leaning over to me to whisper, in shocked tones: "Wow, Bertram's a douchebag!"

Shakespeare's original audience probably said much the same thing.
pallas_athena: (Default)
I first met Tabitha when she and her owner, Melissa, moved into [livejournal.com profile] speedlime's house in Washington DC as roommates. The first time we made eye contact, she hissed at me. Then she sidled arthritically over and dared me to pet her.

I did. Stroking Tabitha was a very strange sensory experience. Her medium-length orange fur was extraordinarily soft and fine, but underneath you could feel nothing but protruding bones. My knowledge of cat anatomy became much more thorough from the time I spent petting her and feeling sharp shoulder blades, ridged pelvis and knobbly vertebrae under my fingers. If you desisted, thinking the pressure must be painful to her, she would scream at you till you started again. That rag-and-bone body contained one hell of a voice.

She liked Petra's house (except the bathroom, which she disliked so much she'd sit outside it for long periods and howl.) She made herself at home, put some weight back on and proceeded to subjugate Petra entirely to her will. If Petra or Melissa came home from work and did not immediately report to the couch to be sat on, the yowling from hell would be unleashed. If they left town for the weekend the couch would be stinkbombed. Eventually the couch was semi-permanently covered with a blue plastic tarp. Petra began calling her Stinkerbelle. I think it was me who contributed Agent Orange to her list of names. Melissa, her actual owner, was much more charitable-- but she'd spent more years under Tabitha's clawed thumb than we had.

Tabitha managed to embody all the worst things about having a cat and still make us all love her. She snarled and yelled and foully stank us all into submission. Then she sat on us and purred.

When I first met her, it was clear that this was a cat on her last legs. Two years later, I'd become convinced she was indestructible and would bury us all. She was only a scrap of fur and bones, but she was sustained by pure anger. No human or beast ever raged against the dying of the light like Tabitha did.

She took her final trip to the vet last week, after having slowed down and stopped eating. She was at least eighteen, possibly more. Farewell, Tabitha, you ancient, irascible, reeking, arthritic, toothless, deaf, demented, foul-tempered orange thing. I miss you.

EDIT: I've uploaded the few photos I could find to Photobucket so you may behold her in all her orange glory.
pallas_athena: (Default)
It was all the quidnunc kid's fault.

It was he who, in this MetaFilter thread, proposed a bet on the England/USA World Cup game: loser to write a sonnet in praise of the winner's nation.

Personally, I think he must have been inspired by Insomnia, Muse Of Amazing Ideas That Come To You At Around 4 In The Morning When All You Want To Do Is Sleeeeeep. That's the level of genius we're talking here. This scheme makes football interesting to poets. It also meant the Universe got to behold the beautiful spectacle of Quid grinding out a fourteen-line encomium to the nation that beat his birthplace 4-0.

For the full sonnet duel, including two by me, I refer you to the MetaFilter thread. In the meantime, I'll shamelessly steal Quid's idea and run with it. Who'll bet? Name your match, name the winner, and you're on. Fixtures here.

(Even if you don't usually write poetry, feel free to join in... nobody said it had to be a good sonnet, right?)
pallas_athena: (Default)
Days spent in Cornwall: 4
Trips to Eden Project: 2
Beaches visited: 1
Pieces of sea glass found: 6
Parties attended: 1

Rainy days: 1
Poems read aloud on sofa with pile of books between me and [livejournal.com profile] suetekh: 8 (at least)
Elegant collages made by [livejournal.com profile] suetekh: 1
Poems elegantly illustrated by [livejournal.com profile] suetekh: 1
Comic strips about man-eating plant pencilled by me: 2
Watercolour portraits of Batman: 1
Admiration for new Doctor Who: Surprisingly high

Sunny days: 1
Toads rescued out of storm drain: 3
Newts rescued out of storm drain: about 12
Satisfaction of carrying bucket of crawling amphibians through Eden Project crowds to the pond: High
Successful ascents of 50ft rock climbing face: 2
Horrible fear of death: Maybe, a bit
Adrenaline: YEAHHHHHHH

Days out in Truro: 1
Tea shops open in Truro: 0
Lurid charity shop dresses purchased as consolation: 1

Being back in London with no [livejournal.com profile] suetekh: Sad.
pallas_athena: (Default)
I have a friend who has an Alexander McQueen coat. Because she is a woman of glory and valour, she let me borrow it once; I wore it to the opera and revelled in style-by-association. Since I heard the news of McQueen's untimely death, my thoughts have been lingering particularly on that coat and that friend.

Moth trails: long-exposure photos of moths and lights, inspired by this picture of a bat chasing a moth.

Drunkenness in bats does not impair their flight, scientists find. It does, however, make them wear little tiny fruit baskets on their heads.

Kitty Carlisle was a classically trained soprano who sang at the Met, among other places. In later years, she became politically involved with the arts, arguing strongly against censorship of such artists as Robert Mapplethorpe. (She was also a friend of my grandmother's, which I think is kind of cool.) However, she's best remembered as the attractive, dark-eyed girl from the Marx Brothers' film A Night At The Opera. The hit song from that movie was called "Alone," and here she is, singing it with sweet-voiced tenor Allan Jones on YouTube.

A few years ago, I found the sheet music to "Alone" in my local charity shop. I was overjoyed, since it's been out of print for many decades. I brought it home, but have never had a chance to sing it in public... until now. Tomorrow night, ladies and gents, White Mischief at Proud Cabaret! Be there! I'm singing 8.30 - 9pm, and afterwards we can all get drunk as a fruit bat.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Tuesday: Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience at the Proms. Good performances, but way too many mortifying memory associations. Promming in an overheated arena full of intensely spoddish people with poor impulse control did nothing to help. However, Felicity Palmer was, is and ever shall be awesome.

Wednesday: Handel Prom: the Sixteen with Harry Christopher conducting; Alastair Ross, organ; and Carolyn Sampson, soprano. Excellent! Sampson's arias from Semele were sung with beautiful teasing mischief. The mirror aria ("Myself I shall adore, if I persist in gazing") is a notorious soprano deathtrap: it's a long one, and if it's not sung brilliantly it can seem interminable. Ms Sampson rose to the challenge and made it sound easy. Well worth listening to on iPlayer.

Later: Philip Glass Prom: the Violin Concerto, followed by the newish Seventh Symphony's first performance in Britain. So amazing. iPlayer: listen to this one late at night. Glass himself gave a brief interview beforehand and took a bow afterwards; one voice booed. However, getting booed at the Proms is sort of an accolade for a composer; sign of the times, I guess. Still, it's puzzling: if the name Philip Glass is on the programme, surely by now you know what you're going to get? If you don't like it, why not stay home and amuse yourself by booing the radio?

Tonight: three short shows at the Tête à Tête Opera Festival at Riverside Studios. This is a festival for new, strange, off-the-wall stuff; it's great fun.

At 7pm, there was Mark Glentworth's Ula, an opera-in-progress about an American writer who encounters some mysterious people on the coast of Scotland; this was well sung, played and staged, but I found the music kind of forgettable.

At 8.30, my friend Pete was singing the part of the Shadow in Shadowplays, which turns out to be a lovely, haunting piece. Lighting and projection were used to great effect, and the company (4 singers, 2 dancers, 2 instrumentalists, no conductor) played together really well. The libretto is kind of lame, and that holds the first scenes back a bit; but later there were some lovely ensembles.

Then at 10, there was the strangest piece of all: Nicholas Brown's As Have I Now Memoyre, not so much an opera as a sound-and-art installation with singers. We wandered into a black-box room awash with ambient sound; then a singer began, softly, to sing; stagehands entered and hung various partitions and curtains in the room, on which a girl began incribing Elizabethan text as we listeners wandered and watched. I don't really know how to describe it beyond that, except to say that it was a lovely, mindblowing experience.

All three of those shows plus others are on again tonight, and still more all through the weekend, at the Riverside Studios near Hammersmith tube: if you're up for some entertaining musical strangeness, I highly recommend checking it out. Tickets are a mere £6 per show, or less if you see more than one; also, there's an excellent bar with a terrace overlooking the river. See you there.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Tuesday: Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience at the Proms. Good performances, but way too many mortifying memory associations. Promming in an overheated arena full of intensely spoddish people with poor impulse control did nothing to help. However, Felicity Palmer was, is and ever shall be awesome.

Wednesday: Handel Prom: the Sixteen with Harry Christopher conducting; Alastair Ross, organ; and Carolyn Sampson, soprano. Excellent! Sampson's arias from Semele were sung with beautiful teasing mischief. The mirror aria ("Myself I shall adore, if I persist in gazing") is a notorious soprano deathtrap: it's a long one, and if it's not sung brilliantly it can seem interminable. Ms Sampson rose to the challenge and made it sound easy. Well worth listening to on iPlayer.

Later: Philip Glass Prom: the Violin Concerto, followed by the newish Seventh Symphony's first performance in Britain. So amazing. iPlayer: listen to this one late at night. Glass himself gave a brief interview beforehand and took a bow afterwards; one voice booed. However, getting booed at the Proms is sort of an accolade for a composer; sign of the times, I guess. Still, it's puzzling: if the name Philip Glass is on the programme, surely by now you know what you're going to get? If you don't like it, why not stay home and amuse yourself by booing the radio?

Tonight: three short shows at the Tête à Tête Opera Festival at Riverside Studios. This is a festival for new, strange, off-the-wall stuff; it's great fun.

At 7pm, there was Mark Glentworth's Ula, an opera-in-progress about an American writer who encounters some mysterious people on the coast of Scotland; this was well sung, played and staged, but I found the music kind of forgettable.

At 8.30, my friend Pete was singing the part of the Shadow in Shadowplays, which turns out to be a lovely, haunting piece. Lighting and projection were used to great effect, and the company (4 singers, 2 dancers, 2 instrumentalists, no conductor) played together really well. The libretto is kind of lame, and that holds the first scenes back a bit; but later there were some lovely ensembles.

Then at 10, there was the strangest piece of all: Nicholas Brown's As Have I Now Memoyre, not so much an opera as a sound-and-art installation with singers. We wandered into a black-box room awash with ambient sound; then a singer began, softly, to sing; stagehands entered and hung various partitions and curtains in the room, on which a girl began incribing Elizabethan text as we listeners wandered and watched. I don't really know how to describe it beyond that, except to say that it was a lovely, mindblowing experience.

All three of those shows plus others are on again tonight, and still more all through the weekend, at the Riverside Studios near Hammersmith tube: if you're up for some entertaining musical strangeness, I highly recommend checking it out. Tickets are a mere £6 per show, or less if you see more than one; also, there's an excellent bar with a terrace overlooking the river. See you there.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Yesterday, to celebrate [livejournal.com profile] evilmattikinz's birthday, he and the fair [livejournal.com profile] monochromegirl led an excursion to the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham, on the threshold of Essex.

It was an excellent day of many cool and informative things, but obviously I'm just going to use it as a flimsy excuse to post a poem. Sir Thomas Wyatt, this is:
The furious gun in his raging ire,
    When that the bowl is rammed in too sore 
And that the flame cannot part from the fire,
    Cracketh in sunder, and in the air doth roar 
The shivered pieces; right so doth my desire,
    Whose flame increaseth from more to more, 
Which to let out I dare not look or speak;
So now hard force my heart doth all to-break.

I'll leave the "breeches explosion" jokes to you, shall I?
pallas_athena: (Default)
Yesterday, to celebrate [livejournal.com profile] evilmattikinz's birthday, he and the fair [livejournal.com profile] monochromegirl led an excursion to the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham, on the threshold of Essex.

It was an excellent day of many cool and informative things, but obviously I'm just going to use it as a flimsy excuse to post a poem. Sir Thomas Wyatt, this is:
The furious gun in his raging ire,
    When that the bowl is rammed in too sore 
And that the flame cannot part from the fire,
    Cracketh in sunder, and in the air doth roar 
The shivered pieces; right so doth my desire,
    Whose flame increaseth from more to more, 
Which to let out I dare not look or speak;
So now hard force my heart doth all to-break.

I'll leave the "breeches explosion" jokes to you, shall I?

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