Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Revisiting Rigoletto

Last night I went to a stellar performance of Rigoletto at the San Francisco Opera house. Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak was sublime with a pure soaring voice that could produce those sweet high notes even when she was slumped over dying. And what's more she looked like a sweet young girl too--slim and lovely. Remember those old opera heroines who were as wide as houses?

Rigoletto has always been special to me because it was the first opera I saw. My aunt took me to the Bristol Old Vic, thinking we were going to see The Merry Widow. But she had her dates wrong and it was Rigoletto instead. "I don't know if this is too old for you," she said, but I loved it. I cried when Gilda died and I was hooked on opera forever more.

The interesting thing is that I know what's going to happen at the end but I still want to see it again and I still cry. The same happened when I saw Romeo and Juliet in Ashland this month. I know the play by heart but I still cry.

I guess this ties in to reading the same books over and over. My husband can't understand why anybody would want to read a book more than once. I, on the other hand, visit books as old friends. There are certain comfort reads that I turn to in times of stress--the Agatha Christies of course, Jane Austen, Gerald Durrell. There are books like Possession that blew me away the first time I read it and I got even more out of it the second and third times.  I have read the Lord of the Rings over and over, still savoring every moment.

So how about you? Do you like revisiting old favorites? Do you ever tire of seeing familiar plays, reading familiar books?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Defending Kate

I don't know about you but I'm furious that someone photographed the Duchess of Cambridge naked, and that a magazine published the pictures. Kate is someone who has worked hard to do everything right and with royal dignity.  She has every right to sunbathe topless at a very private and remote villa in the South of France.

Obviously this brings back shades of Princess Diana, hounded to her death by paparazzi  Clearly royals are public figures and as such cannot expect the same degree of privacy as the rest of us. Every time they go out they are fair game and their behavior is on display to be judged. But in the privacy of their own home? No way. What will be next..super long distance lenses catching them in the bathroom or bedroom?

This comes after the Prince Harry scandal, again pictures of him at a private party, in a private suite, leaked by someone at the party, obviously for mucho bucks. He wasn't very wise, I agree, but he is a young single man and at the time he wasn't on official royal business. In fact we now know he was getting ready to fly back to duty in Afghanistan with his regiment, where he will be facing danger daily flying Apache helicopters. So he had a good reason to let his hair down.

This sort of thing didn't happen to royals at the time I write about in my Royal Spyness series. Although the press knew about the affair between the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson they were asked by the palace not to mention it. So it didn't become public knowledge until he announced his intention to marry her. They remained silent for several years while Edward pursued her more and more openly (or rather she pursued him). Can you imagine any newspaper doing that these days?

Why do we feel we have a right to own celebrities? I know that A list people like Tom Hanks can never eat out, walk through a park, go to a movie without being mobbed. Fame comes at a hard price.
Writers like me experience this in a small way when we go to signings and conventions. It's not easy to be standing in line for the rest room and have the person next to me say loudly, "I just love your books. When is the next one coming out?" when all I'm thinking about is the need to pee.

So I feel for poor Kate. In fact I think it's about time the royals employed bodyguards who were instructed to shoot to kill invaders of privacy. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Catching my Breath

I realize I haven't posted for a week, but too many things have come in the way. The first was a wonderful experience--going with a group of friends to Ashland, OR for the Shakespeare Festival for three days. The drive is lovely, past Mount Shasta, over Shasta Lake, through wooded hills and the then town of Ashland is a delight, nestled in fir-covered mountains. We stayed only a short walk from the theaters and saw three plays in two days. The first was a modern rendition of The Merry Wives of Windsor, set in Windsor IOWA. The Falstaff character is a sleazy senator, trying to replenish his campaign coffers by seducing rich women.

The next play was the best Romeo and Juliet I have ever seen. The couple were played as their true ages, 14 and 16, as gawky, shy teenagers, thus making the tragedy even more poignant. At the end there wasn't a dry eye in the house, including mine.

And the last play was... well, weird. Macbeth, Medea and Cinderella. Yes, Cinderella, complete with fairy godmother and a pumpkin turning into a coach. Three plays going on simultaneously, sometimes with almost identical lines. Not sure that it worked but it was interesting.

Also interesting was our backstage tour given by one of the actors. He gave us lots of interesting insights and had a great sense of humor. Add to this some good meals, lots of laughs and some shopping and you have a perfect outing.

As soon as I got back I had to plunge into copy edits for my next Molly book, write two guest blogs and then a complete e-story to be delivered by the end of the month. So not much time to catch my breath. I finished those copy edits today (do you know that I hate serial commas?) and now just have the writing to do. I keep thinking I'll get ahead, but I never seem to. I've also a speech for a writers convention in San Francisco next week as well as panels to prepare for at the Bouchercon convention. Maybe I'll slow down one day.  Maybe not.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Back to School, Scary edition

I have been gearing up for new Lady Georgie releases in October and November and almost overlooked that I have a new release to celebrate this week:

I have a story in the anthology called AN APPLE FOR THE CREATURE, edited by Charlaine Harris of Sookie Stackhouse fame and Toni L.P. Kelner. It's a book of school stories with a horror/fantasy twist to them. Some of them are funny, some scary, some mysterious. My story is called Low School. 

Normally I shy away from horror because I'm too impressionable. I was the girl who watched a scary show on television and then had nightmares for a week. I managed to see movies in which giant ants or tomatoes take over the world, but not movies about haunted houses, possessed people. I still sleep with the light on in the hall. At my sister-in-law's 14th century manor house there is a haunted room. I slept in the room next to it once and lay awake all night watching for the ghost to come through the wall.

So you see I'm an absolute wuss. But Charlaine and Toni are good friends and I was honored to be asked, so I stretched my comfort zone a little and I'm glad I did. If you have a teenager complaining how bad her school is this year buy this book and say, "You think you've got it bad?"