Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fear No More


Happy Halloween, biscuits!!! 

Now, to be honest, I’m not really that big on Halloween.  Not really for any other reason than that I don’t like putting a costume together.  I dread being invited to a Halloween party with a “costume only” policy.  Ummm, can’t I just go as some tool who doesn’t like Halloween, ‘cause I’ve got that one in about 25 different versions.  I generally just revert to wearing a pair of orange Prada shoes I have and carrying around my orange umbrella, which worked fine in Michigan those four years because there most likely was rain (it’s Fall up there this time of year for those Texans who wonder).  Here, however, it’s currently 82 degrees and freakishly sunny outside. 

untitledNot… amused. At Monica’s (shout out, girl!) after our “candy lock down” because we were out of it in 5 minutes

Don’t worry, it’s not like I was deprived the opportunity to dress up as a kid or anything.  Liz Kelly and I made a pretty fantastic Superman and Supergirl if I remember correctly.  I could be wrong (I was also superyoung) but I think that was the year Jenny Yates’ costume had been professionally made or something… it was all the buzz amongst the Jordan School mom crowd.

I do have one funny Halloween story from Michigan, though.  I went to several parties throughout the evening and woke up the next morning with this voice mail:

Hey, Joseph!!! So excited to have you joining the band! Don’t forget rehearsal is tonight at 7:30… see you there!”

And then my conversation with my roommate, Drew, who had gone to the party as well:

Me: Um, why do I have this voice mail?

Drew: Oh, yeah… you heard this guy talking about ska music and interrupted their conversation: “I LOOOOVE SKA MUSIC.” Upon hearing this he said: “We’re looking for a new lead singer, interested?” “Well you’re. in. luck, because I am IN SCHOOL to be a SINGER. Plus I have, like, so many songs of ska music on my iTunes.” [I have two.]

Me: Well this should be an interesting phone call to make.

At any rate, today I thought I would share a couple of Halloween flavored items from yet another blog I frequent:  It focuses on all things science fiction (and fact)—from astronomy to film to architecture to pretty much anything that makes you say “whoa, that’s pretty cool!” Basically it’s the perfect website for the inner fan-boy in all of us you.


John de Lancie reading Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven



Coffin technologies that prevent you from being buried alive <--- click for full article

safetycoffin2    safetycoffin

“In the eighteenth century, rumors swirled about people accidentally buried alive when they lapsed into a deathlike state from cholera. As a result, the safety coffin was invented. Here's how it worked.” … 



And finally, a picture that probably only one person who reads this will even understand! (Yay for alienating my readers!)

500x_10-30-2010_001Best. Jack-o-Lantern. EVAR!


Artist: Stephen Sondheim/ Album: The Frogs

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Honey Can I Put on Your Clothes?


There are several websites that I check daily—I have already mentioned my love for, and all of my friends’ blogs.  Today I thought I would feature another site I frequent, first introduced to me by my sister-in-law, Joanie., as well as her sister sites,, and (is there an owl in here?) offers one item every day at a discounted price and once it is sold out, there is no other item to purchase until the next days offer.  I can’t determine if Joanie loves it because she went to Texas A&M (WOOT!) or because she loves a good deal, but I imagine it’s a little from column A(ggie) and a little from column B(argain).

Today’s shirt:

The_Last_Leaf52cDetail“The Last Leaf”

Although I have never bought any of the shirts I do enjoy perusing them every day! Below are some of my favorites and the names given by their respective creators.

Music_is_Lifel2fDetail Tickles_to_TinklesywhDetail

                                “Music is Life”                                                          “Tickles to Tinkles”


 The_Tag_Along421Detail Fractal_Tree1tdDetail

                           “The Tag Along”                                                              “Fractal Tree”


 Coffee_MantcuDetail The_Discovery_of_firen14Detail

                         “Don’t Call Him Mr. Coffee”                                         “The Discovery of Fire”


 5_Second_RulewpzDetail The_Black_Holem41Detail

                           “5 Second Rule”                                                              “The Black Hole”


King_Konga_Line82bDetail Shakespeare_A-ZziuDetail

                           “King Conga”                                                                 “Shakespeare A-Z”

Artist: Barbra Streisand/ Album: Songbird

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fisherman’s Song


Tuesday night Jennifer and I again went to Houston Grand Opera—this time going to the final dress rehearsal for their production of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes.  (Click here if you want to read more on the opera.)  A friend of mine from Michigan, Stephanie, is now a coach for HGO and was kind enough to give us two of her comp ticket… and let me tell you: the offstage organ has never sounded more elegant!

 2010-10-26 19.01.10

Orchestra seats, baby!


2010-10-26 19.20.01

Said orchestra


2010-10-26 19.27.20

That’s me and Jennifer in 50 years

As if knowing one person in the production wasn’t already cool enough, Kiri, a friend from Baylor who is in the young artist studio, is playing the role of Prince Yamadori one of the nieces!! It really was amazing having the curtain rise and seeing her up there :)

Pictures by Felix Sanchez:

73914_463773714757_112472199757_5252064_1466854_n             Kiri and her “sister” in the show. They basically used Brittany and Santana from Glee as inspiration.     It. Was. PERFECT! (seriously, btw)


72429_463767809757_112472199757_5252030_2372069_nWork that runway, Peter!!!

 72709_463773129757_112472199757_5252059_4382712_nNO MORE WIRE HANGARS!!!!!!!!! (I’m pretty sure that’s in the libretto…)


I also did get a chance to go back stage and say hello to Kiri and Stephanie, with photographic evidence!

GroupStephanie, Joseph, Kiri 

The show officially opens tonight, so… in bocca al lupo, ladies!

And finally, if you care to watch, here are some clips from the production!




Artist: Carly Simon/ Album: Have You Seen Me Lately

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Leader of the Band


I’ve seen this video floated around facebook by my opera friends and thought it was most definitely worth sharing.  Or as my sister-in-law’s sister, aka my friend Meg, put it: “I watched that and thought: ‘Did Joseph and I have a child and I completely missed it?’ “


Artist: Dan Fogelberg/ Album: Greatest Hits

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Catalogue Kids


Well I’m sure you are happy to know that my extremely important issue with Pottery Barn has been a bit mollified with a fun little “easter egg” discovery on the Pottery Barn Kids website.  I was helping a customer in the store look for something online and I happened to come across this:


Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Close Up

Coincidence?  When I saw this I thought to myself: “Wouldn’t it be funny if Pleasant had that put in the catalogue because she knew my mom LOVES plaid? Wait, does she even know my mom likes plaid?” Pleaseant—a more aptly named person I do not know—is a friend of mine from high school and is now a buyer for Pottery Barn Kids.  I know that in the past she has used the names of friends’ kids for the children’s merchandise and so I sent her this:

Me: Just so you know… in my head the plaid “Roberts” tree skirt on the pb kids website is your doing.  You know, because I’m sure you know about my mom’s obsession.

Pleasant: Totally was!!! Did you notice the Dawson [another Crockett family] in there too?? :)

How cool is that!!! I told two of my managers and their collective eye-rolls of disbelief could put even Liz Lemon to shame.

I don’t got nothin’ to prove to you Jenny/Brian!

So although Pottery Barn may not get music so much, they definitely got my mom… which I guess in the long run is better :)  THANKS, PLEASANT!!

(And no, Jan, I can’t make requests so don’t ask! lol)

Artist: Operator Please/ Album: On the Prowl

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Music is the Victim


As I mentioned earlier this month, Christmas is already in full swing in the retail world and this past Sunday a group of us Pottery Barn crazies employees worked a 6pm-2am shift in order to partially put up the new holiday floor set.

2010-10-24_23.54.57 This was one of my main contributions


           2010-10-24_21.14.19         2010-10-24_21.40.55

Lissa: “Where the heck did all these pillows come from?!”                     “Shhhhhh… don’t tell!”



Can’t see the Tori for the trees


2010-10-24_21.13.49 2010-10-24_21.46.12

                                   Lisa and Illiana                          WHERE THE HELL ARE MY REINDEER NAPKINS!



Mmmmm… 10:00 pizza break!!!



Pottery Barn: a hot bed of testosterone


          2010-10-24_21.50.28       2010-10-24_21.50.56

                          Kirsten, our resident ginger.                     Seeing if blondes actually do have more fun



Santa, you made the pants too SHORT!


As often comes with doing these floor sets, one is able to see the new holiday products arriving in the store before the customer’s do.  Not to harken back to “Letter Gate 2010”, but I have a bit of a bone to pick with the Barn.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really that invested in the letter “I” being left off our shelves.  My last name is Roberts, therefore I’m not in any true danger of not being able to find anything with the letter “R”.  (Sorry, Jan.)  HOWEVER, as a musician I took take a bit of offense to our newest glitter candle:

2010-10-19 10.12.48  2010-10-19 13.52.20  2010-10-19 13.52.31

Okay… SO. First of all, this isn’t music (unless Pottery Barn has gotten all John Cage on us). There’s no key signature or time signature, I have no idea why there is a rest in between staves, and I’m not exactly how two eighth notes equals two quarter notes. Not to mention the sharps, flats and naturals are about as slap-dashedly applied as a Real Housewives makeup.  I’m just gonna go ahead and file these under our “non-educational” product much like the re-released first episodes of Sesame Street come with this disclaimer:

"Welcome to Sesame Street Nostalgia. I am Bob, your host, and I want you to know that these early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grown-ups and may not meet the needs of today's pre-school child."

Yeah… because in the first episode you basically teach children it’s okay to follow a stranger who offers you cookies and milk to go into some bizarre neighborhood.  Anyway, Pottery Barn has a pretty strong tract record with the exception of one of our globes that unfortunately misspells the name of our neighbor to the south.


I LOVE “Tex-Max” food!!!

Artist: Scissor Sisters/ Album: Scissor Sisters

Monday, October 25, 2010

Turning Japanese


I had a weekend full of things out of the Land of the Rising Sun, so it’s time for a theme post!

Friday evening I went to a preview of the new exhibit at the John Cleary Gallery of Takeshi Shikama’s Silent Respirations of Forests.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go to the full opening like I did last time, but knowing the person running the show doesn’t hurt.  Or as Catherine put it: “Yeah, I’ve changed his diapers.  You know… when he was younger, not recently.”


Mt. Chyokai 23, 2004: platinum and palladium print


     Takeshi_Shikama_Mt_Ushigata_4     Takeshi_Shikama_Mt_Cyokai_39

      Mt. Ushigata 4, 2005: platinum and palladium print         Mt. chyokai 39, 2005: platinum and palladium print



Toyosawa Lake 1, 2009: platinum and palladium print on gampi


Sunday, my friend Jennifer and I added to the western centered weekend two fold: Sushi and the Houston Grand  Opera’s production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly!!!


Saucy Sushi (as opposed to Sexy Strawberry).  Saucy of course referring to the soy and not Jennifer’s “come hither" glance



… and of course I was hungry by intermission!


For those non-operaphiles amongst the group, the story of Madama Butterfly revolves around an American naval officer who is stationed in Japan and marries a geisha, who dismisses all of her culture in order to become a “true” American bride.  The officer leaves to go back to the States and eventually re-marries; meanwhile, Cio-Cio San waits faithfully for his return.  Three years pass and he does return (with his new wife), completely unaware that Cio-Cio San has a child from their marriage and, heartbroken, she kills herself so that her son can go back to America and have a better life.  So… you know, a regular Tuesday night in the opera world.  If the plot sounds somewhat familiar, the musical Miss Saigon is based on the same story. THE MORE YOU KNOW *shooting star*.  Madama Butterfly ranks as number one in Opera America’s list of 20 most performed operas in America.

Patricia Racette singing “Un bel di vedremo,” probably the most recognizable piece from the opera


Besides the fact that the opera itself is fantastic, the thing I was looking forward to most seeing was the lead soprano, Ana Maria Martinez.  I saw her first sing Liu in Turandot with Jennifer several several years ago at HGO as well as more recently as Nedda in Pagliacci at Chicago Lyric Opera.  Basically I’ve been in love with her for years and to see her sing her first Butterfly was so thrilling.

The first thing I ever saw/heard her sing.  Gotta love the high note… and Domingo conducting.

Artist: The Vapors/ Album: One Clear Day

Sunday, October 24, 2010

God, That’s Good!



It’s been quite a while since I’ve made a movie recommendation and this one stems from the University of Michigan’s performance this weekend of Steven Sondheim’s Into the Woods (I’m counting this as a movie even though it is just a filmed version of the original Broadway cast, but the fact that you can watch it on DVD is my justification). U of M is known throughout the country for having one of the top musical theater programs and the entire four years I went to school there I secretly wished they would have done a production of what is my favorite Sondheim show.  So, naturally they do it the first semester I am gone.  Wah wah!

Like my previous selections The Fall and Clue, I have seen this waaaay too many times to count in the last decade (at least three times a year). The show itself, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, premiered on the Great White Way in 1987 with Bernadette Peters as the Witch and the absurdly fantastic Joanna Gleason as the Baker’s wife. Act I of the show deals with the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Little Red Riding Hood, a young baker and his wife all wishing in different ways for their lives to be better.  Act II focuses on what happens after “happily ever after.”  And we’re not talking the Disney incarnations, either… this is Grimm in many definitions of the word.

I say it is my favorite, but to choose a favorite show by Stephen Sondheim is like asking if Mel Gibson prefers beer, liquor or turpentine: “THEY’RE ALL SO GOOD, now clean up this hamburger grease from my chin!!” I will say, though, that by the nature of being a fairy tale I feel like this show has the greatest opportunity for Sondheim the wordsmith to deliver some quite amazing perspectives on the human experience.  In essence this is a show that everyone can relate to because so many different facets of humanity are represented along with the joys and challenges that accompany them.  Isn’t that what fairy tales are after all: adult lessons being taught to children veiled in fanciful stories?  Also, ANY chance to see Bernadette Peters rapping about vegetables is kind of a must see.

If I could specialize in ANY kind of composer it would hands down be Sondheim.  His text is like a veritable Rubik’s cube of witty repartee and wisdom and his music is just as intriguing and complicated.  Every time I listen to it I hear a new rhyme or evolution of a theme. The only other composer I listen to in a similar way is Benjamen Britten, and even he didn’t write his own libretti.

In which I provide the lyrics (or parts of) to six of the songs:

Little Red Riding Hood after escaping from the Wolf: “I Know Things Now”

And I know things now,
Many valuable things,
That I hadn't known before:
Do not put your faith
In a cape and a hood,
They will not protect you
The way that they should.
And take extra care with strangers,
Even flowers have their dangers.
And though scary is exciting,
Nice is different than good.

Now I know:
Don't be scared.
Granny is right,
Just be prepared.
Isn't it nice to know a lot!

And a little bit not…

Cinderella deciding what to do “On the Steps of the Palce”

He's a very smart Prince,
He's a Prince who prepares.
Knowing this time I'd run from him,
He spread pitch on the stairs.
I was caught unawares.
And I thought: well, he cares-

This is more than just malice.
Better stop and take stock
While you're standing here stuck
On the steps of the palace.

You think, what do you want?
You think, make a decision.
Why not stay and be caught?
You think, well, it's a thought,
What would be his response?
But then what if he knew
Who you were when you know
That you're not what he thinks
That he wants?

And then what if you are?
What a Prince would envision?
Although how can you know
Who you are till you know
What you want, which you don't?
So then which do you pick:
Where you're safe, out of sight,
And yourself, but where everything's wrong?
Or where everything's right
And you know that you'll never belong?

And whichever you pick,
Do it quick,
'Cause you're starting to stick
To the steps of the palace.

It's your first big decision,
The choice isn't easy to make.
To arrive at a ball
Is exciting and all-
Once you're there, though, it's scary.
And it's fun to deceive
When you know you can leave,
But you have to be wary.
There's a lot that's at stake,
But you've stalled long enough,
'Cause you're still standing stuck
In the stuff on the steps...

Better run along home
And avoid the collision.
Even though they don't care,
You'll be better of there
Where there's nothing to choose,
So there's nothing to lose.
So you pry up your shoes.
Then from out of the blue,
And without any guide,
You know what your decision is,
Which is not to decide.
You'll leave him a clue:
For example, a shoe.
And then see what he'll do.

Now it's he and not you
Who is stuck with a shoe,
In a stew,
in the goo,
And you've learned something, too,
Something you never knew,
On the steps of the palace.

The Baker’s wife after having a tryst with a prince in the woods: “A Moment in the Woods”

Just a moment,
One peculiar passing moment...
Must it all be either less or more,
Either plain or grand?
Is it always "or"?
Is it never "and"?
That's what woods are for:
For those moments in the woods...

Oh. if life were made of moments,
Even now and then a bad one-!
But if life were only moments,
Then you'd never know you had one.

Let the moment go...
Don't forget it for a moment, though.
Just remembering you've had and "and",
When you're back to "or",
Makes the "or" mean more
Than it did before.
Now I understand-

And it's time to leave the woods.

The Witch, pointing out the other character’s hypocracy: “The Last Midnight”

You're so nice.
You're not good,
You're not bad,
You're just nice.
I'm not good,
I'm not nice,
I'm just right.
I'm the Witch.
You're the world.

I'm the hitch.
I'm what no one believes,
I'm the Witch.
You're all liars and theives,
Like his father,
Like his son will be, too-
Oh, why bother?
You'll just do what you do.



A note to parents: “Children Will Listen”

Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see.
And learn.

Children may not obey,
But children will listen.
Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.

Careful before you say,
"Listen to me."
Children will listen.

Careful the wish you make,
Wishes are children.
Careful the path they take-
Wishes come true,
Not free.

Careful the spell you cast,
Not just on children.
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you see
And turn against you...

Careful the tale you tell.
That is the spell.
Children will listen...

Finale: “Into the Woods (Reprise)”

Though it's fearful,
Though it's deep, though it's dark
And though you may lose the path,
Though you may encounter wolves,
You can't just act,
You have to listen.
You can't just act
You have to think.

Though it's dark,
There are always wolves,
There are always spells,
There are always beans,
Or a Giant dwells there.

So it's
Into the woods
You go again,
You have to
Every now and then.
Into the woods,
No telling when,
Be ready for the journey.

Into the woods,
But not too fast
Or what you wish
You lose at last.
Into the woods, but mind the past.
Into the woods, but mind the future.
Into the woods, but not to stray,
Or tempt the Wolf or steal from the Giant-
The way is dark,
The light is dim,
But now there's you,
Me, her and him.
The chances look small,
The choices look grim,
But everything you learn there
Will help when you return there.

Into the woods-
You have to grope,
But that's the way
You learn to cope.
Into the woods
To find there's hope
Of getting through the journey.

Into the woods-
Each time you go,
There's more to learn
Of what you know.
Into the woods, but not too slow-
Into the woods, it's nearing midnight-
Into the woods to mind the Wolf,
To heed the Witch,
To honor the Giant,
To mind,
To heed,
To find,
To think,
To teach,
To join,
To go to the Festival!

Anyone still hangin’ in there with me?  I’ll admit that even as great as the lyrics are, when placed in perspective with the rest of the show and accompanied by music, they’re buh-mazingness is only proliferated.  So I really recommend taking the time to watch this show… I think you’ll be a better human being as a result.


Artist: Stephen Sondheim/ Album: Sweeney Todd

PS. I wanted to show clips from the video but they are blocked from youtube by the publisher, so just rent it already!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sexy Lady


Once again I am poaching a topic from Jan’s blog. (At this point we should just go on and create a joint one.)  To paraphrase:

Not a fan of The New Scooby Doo's "upgrade" of Velma. Velma doesn't need (nor would she want) fringy bangs, new glasses, or a bow in her hair!

I can’t help but read this and think about my friend, Nate’s, abhorrence at what he calls the slow sexification of Strawberry Shortcake.  He loves his alliterations, that Nate. 

Let’s just take a quick look at the evolution of an American (Greetings) icon:

 strawberry-shortcake1The first, and still the most delicious, incarnation



Lil’ miz Shortcake actually began as a greeting card character and then grew into the children’s cartoon.  Seen here in her ‘80’s incarnation with her beloved cat, Custard



2002 re-launch: Taking a page pagina from Dora the Explorer it appears



2009’s new Strawberry: Where is Custard?! Why are you lounging like that? And most importantly, WHERE IS YOUR DIGNITY!?!?!?!?!?


If you keep going in this direction I fear this is your future:



DON’T DO IT, STRAWBERRY!!!!!!! You’re hair’s not even red any more you little tarte.  Pretty soon you’ll be sharing a jail cell with another high-profile former red-head *cough* La Lohan. *cough* (Yeah, still not fixed from the other day).  Was life in Berry Bitty City really that bad?

A few interesting side notes (as if I haven’t embarrassed myself enough):

  • My favorite pet from the franchise is Marza Panda, for obvious reasons. Deal with it Apple Ducklin
  • My favorite foreign version of the character is “Frangelica Dolcecuore” which I’m pretty sure translates to Strawberry Sweetheart but I also feel sounds like a really fantastic drink of the alcoholic persuasion
  • Nate does a pretty fabulous impersonation of the Peculiar Purple Pie Man of Porcupine Peak (told you he liked alliteration)


And, although it is unfortunately too late to save other classic children's characters like Rainbow Bright and a 2011 live-action/CGI Smurfs (full disclosure, I’ll see anything with Alan Cumming, Neil Patrick Harris or Modern Family’s Sofiya Vergara), I’m still holding out hope that they’ll keep their filthy paws off my Tail Spin!

Artist: Susan Graham/ Album: At Carnegie Hall