Category Archives: The Daily Thought

The Postal Service: We Deliver Zombies

RT, Prority Mail, 008Today’s the day. I can just feel it. It’s 10:15 – exactly between the time the Post Office opens when everybody’s trying to get ahead of everybody else and noon when everybody’s sneaking over on their break. I already notice the parking lot’s far less full. Not a whole lot of people mulling around the place either. Yes!

I enter through the squeaky, automatic glass door, turn left, and there they are – twenty-five people, all holding packages, snaked around the long desk in the middle of the room. The shock and awe on my face must resemble what I look like after having sat on a tack. Or the face on the guy in Munch’s painting, “The Scream.” All I want to do is get the right postage to send off an 8×11 manilla folder containing a long letter to my friend.

I should have known better. Next time, I’ll write my letters here, right on the desk while I’m waiting in line – I’ll have time to compose ten pages if I want.

As Customer Number Twenty-six, I try to regain control by calculating just how long I might be here. Too depressing. Bored, I read the poster on the wall, “Summer Stamps.” It’s November now, not summer, which reminds me it was June when they discontinued the automated customer ticket system. Yet, on the digital wall counter, number 32 still flickers, presumably left over from Customer Number 32 on that long-lost June day. I imagine him still standing here, a zombie, holding a parcel in his rigor mortice-stiff arms.

As Customer Number Twenty-seven enters, I now get to enjoy his look of shock and awe. Same with Customer Number Twenty-eight. (Edward Munch must have frequented post offices.) Customer Twenty-nine turns around and leaves (along with impatient Number Eighteen who follows suit). Now we’re getting somewhere!

There’s five clerk postal bays in front of us. I’ve never seen five postal clerks in here – ever. Today’s there’s three. If the customers looked dead, the clerks come across as coldly limp, at best. One goes in the back and never returns. Did she die back there, die with all the others who’ve never returned to serve us? Just wondering.

I notice one clerk’s been with a customer for ten minutes. When did sending mail get so complicated? What could they possibly be talking about? What’s he mailing – air bags, cremated remains, ammunition?

But now I see the clerk smile. Hey, he’s not supposed to smile or chill or chat! He’s here to serve us – and fast. But can I blame him? Why speed up and service 500 irritated customers a day when you can get away with 300? Even 300 – isn’t that slow death for any clerk to serve in one overworked day?

I see the next customer has 8 packages. I hate Christmas. I hate it already. And it’s only early November. Someone embalm me – now.

So, as I stand here waiting in line, I compose my “Ways to Improve the United States Postal Service” list:

*Just sell stamps

*Let customers redeem their two foot-long Post Office receipts for stamps

*Eliminate Christmas altogether

*Or just disband, like aging rock groups do. Living Death, Crushed Butler and Lucifer’s Friend did (their names gone, but not forgotten, explaining exactly how I feel right now – probably Postal workers, too).

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Underage Appreciation for the Long Gone Classical Music Composer

"Orchestra at Ground Level," 15 x 23. Inks on paper

“Orchestra at Ground Level,” 15 x 23. Inks on paper

I turn around from my second row seat in Albuquerque’s Popejoy Hall and see the capacity crowd is standing and clapping. On the stage, the New Mexico Philharmonic conductor bows and the orchestra members stand, but it’s the absent composer I’m madly applauding. It’s too bad he isn’t here tonight to receive the flower bouquet laid at the conductor’s feet because Tchaikovsky’s sixth symphony, the “Pathetique,” is a masterwork.

I’m aghast how this symphony – considered a masterpiece now – was panned by critics and audiences the first time it was performed in 1893. Many great works have been panned after their first public performance, and still are. Classical music has always been owned, at least most appreciated and patronized, by older, wealthier people. I assume it was this base that panned Tchaikovsky’s sixth because, to generalize, older, wealthy people tend to be on the conservative side. Among many changes they didn’t like, perhaps the hardest was listening to the long, somber ending. What, no rousing conclusion to the fourth movement? Anything that feels too “new” or isn’t as great as the composer’s most previous work the musical establishment often scorns.

Caught up in my fervent clapping, as if hoping Tchaikovsky might hear me, I cannot believe anyone ever slammed his sixth. I don’t care what they were expecting. Beauty is beauty, isn’t it? To not be moved, I repeat – moved – by this music, seems then to have fallen upon deaf ears.

While exiting the hall, I hear negative audience response to “Circuits,” a modern piece that opened the program. Again – too new, too different, too soon for most folk? I, too, cannot see classical music evolving to the sound of “Circuits,” a rather edgy 1990 orchestral piece that places an emphasis on experimentation over “beauty.” Then again, beauty is in the ear of the listener. And wasn’t Tchaikovsky experimenting in “Pathetique,” too, a large reason audiences had difficulty with it, especially it’s “downer” ending?

When I hear raves for the night’s highlighted piece, Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in b minor, played masterfully by Zuill Bailey, I mull the fact that as classical music has changed, audiences have not. Classical music audiences tend not only to love concertos that display musician’s virtuosic abilities (and always have), but the majority of audiences are composed of the sixty and over set. My earliest concert memories attending Kennedy Center programs during the nineties were smothered by a preponderance of aging audience member’s tepid response and involvement to the events generally, complete with coughs and snores heard aplenty during them. However, in comparison, New Mexico Philharmonic patrons seem livelier and engaged, but are nevertheless overwhelmingly seniors (despite the availability of great seats for students at a huge discount). This audience loved the violin concerto and Tchaikovsky; not so much “that opening thing they played.” Sometimes when I hear responses like that, it comes across as though the people have been spoon fed what to like.

Tonight, I was caught up in all the glorious trappings that come with classical music events. I admit to my own brand of symphony snobbery by only buying seats located close to the stage. It is there I feel comfortable and most a part of the music. I can see the performers’ physical efforts of perfection, often their sweat; I bask in being surrounding by a world of concert hall browns, dotted by beautiful blacks and whites from the musician’s strict dress code, however upstaged by flower arrangement decor. While music is playing, I have difficulty sitting still like a good classical concert go-er should. And after the music is over, I clap for somebody who’s not even in the room.

I guess I strike a bit of discord with the base of classical music patrons around me, but I’m the happiest one in the hall.

The New Mexico Philharmonic performed this program October  24, 2015.
Artwork and photos by Mike Andberg.

video test, Doodlets 005 UNM stage piano

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The Second That Takes Forever

ArizBlur cr 48bit 800 dust047This just happened yesterday, September 26.

It comes out of nowhere. There’s a car only twenty feet in front of me, sideways to my grill. I push the brake pedal. I don’t even realize I’m pushing until I sense it’s not stopping me fast enough. I’m so close to the car now and it’s not moving away quick enough. Is it moving at all? Or is everything slow motion during this second before impact? There’s nothing I can do. I hear the tires screech but they’re only guiding my missile directly toward the car. It’s almost here. The injury. The hassle. The insurance crap. Having no car. An emotional, angry motorist I’ve hit. I see the driver’s face, looking at me like I’m crazy for hurling my car at his. But he’s moving now, completing a u turn, a stupid u turn, and I’m mad. Take this, you mother fucker! Take this! If I cannot stop, if I cannot avoid you, then take it for all it’s worth, you idiot for luring me into your stupid world of dangerous carelessness.

It’s the unmistakable sound cars make crashing, equal amounts bass and high-pitched treble. His car takes the brunt, getting knocked off course. Mine plows through and stops. No whiplash. No smashing glass. No head to the steering wheel. Clean, precise direct hit collision. Then silence.

My longest second is over. Time for its ugly, timeless aftermath.

I drive to the shoulder, crank the parking brake, open the door and prepare to meet the consequences head on. A hysterical driver? A bloodied driver? A mess I’ll pay for for months?

Nothing. The car is gone. Just over the hill from whence I came, I hear the car speeding off. An entire plastic bumper unit sits in the middle of the road, surrounded by small debris. The guy had no insurance. That has to be it. Why stick around when he knew he’d made a huge mistake – that’s what I think.

An ugly split on my bumper, a slightly cockeyed hood, but nothing else. Like a metal missile just hit a plastic tug boat. He’s gone. I never want to see him again. I’m glad there’s no insurance claims, no police scene. Should I feel bad for saying this? I clear the road of the bumper and various parts while cars slowly pass, passengers rubbernecking to view.

For such a crash, so little damage. For one so unlucky to be the guy behind him, luckier still to walk away. What remains are surprising thoughts, the collision of thoughts that flashed through my mind so quickly, as surprising as spotting a car coming at you out of nowhere.

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Life on High Looking Down Below

Oct 14 fall colors Norski 017#2From the very first step, the trail was steep.  A fellow hiker had said it was steep all the way to the peak. Was I up for doing this?

Not a mondo-hiker type, I wasn’t sure why I was even here. For some reason, I couldn’t get hiking off my mind. Maybe it was from seeing two movies recently, “A Walk in the Woods” and “Wild,” both extreme hiking stories. Unemployed for four weeks, perhaps I had to get out of the house, shake off the growing depression. And suffering through a painful illness was only making my funk worse. Then again, maybe this wasn’t the time to push my limits either.

“Should we go back?” I asked my dog, Rusty, only two minutes in.

Suddenly, we entered a clearing. Nothing but aspens. Dramatic side lighting. Subdued colors. All defining a magical space.

Deeper, higher, steeper we stepped. The aspens went with us, stands growing more magnificent with each five-minute interval. I ignored a wooziness in my back. Worries of irreparable weariness were climbed over. Only a quarter-hour in, I stopped to ask, “Is this most beautiful hike I’ve ever been on?” My only regret was voicing the words in a vacuum, hearing no one echo back their shared thoughts with me.

Then, a spacious meadow, as if trying to top the aspen’s glory. Awed, up, up we went. The darkest blue sky and a widest range of greens escorted us through a dark, forested territory. It wasn’t until hiking through here I’d caught my conditioning equilibrium, and was prepared to swath through whatever changeable terrain was ahead.

A man headed toward us. Like a log rolling uncontrollably downhill, I forced myself at him. “Sir, I’ve lived here twenty years and I believe this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.” My endorphins were revving on all cylinders now.

After trekking over an hour, I still had no vision of what this “peak” was supposed to look like, or when I’d come upon it. I could see the steepest hill of the trail so far through gaps in evergreens.

Out of the denseness, a clearing showcased the horizon line high above me, crisply defining dirt from sky. What was beyond it?

I played a game. Walking slowly, keeping my eyes on the rocky ground below, I withheld my view from the peak until reaching flat terrain. Shedding my invisible blindfold, I opened my eyes to an incredible vista. Within the expansive space before me was yet another mountain to climb, some of it partially cleared, recognizable to all who lived here as the Santa Fe ski area. What scale. What clarity. And I made it up here without aid of a chair lift.

Lunching near the top, I talked with a young couple. I plunged into a conversation with them, speaking about the quality of life one suddenly feels being up this high. I was elevated, elevated by people, ones I usually left by the roadside.

Walking down was like getting twice the hike seeing it from the opposite direction. The light was different, too, with direct sun from above. Every new part of the path was seen in 360 degrees – I would not miss anything.

Along the descent, I conversed with hikers who told stories of other great trails, ones – like this one – few hikers knew about. I was chatted up by a pretty young woman who, unlike most down at city elevation, engaged me in an energetic and unhurried talk. Then, to my surprise, I met a woman who was hiking with her 80-year-old mother, ski poles and all.

Walking is man’s natural 5-hour energy drink (one without expiration), his anti-depressant (one without side effects), and overall tonic for what ails him that’s always free and what his body craves. No woes, no injuries seem too big to move human being’s precious legs forward. I am comforted by this realization, and will always remember the image of that 80-year-old climbing this trail, giving me hope for how I wanted to live when I became 80.

Among the trees, rock and open spaces at higher elevation, people smile. They talk of gratitude. They speak of these places as timeless and sacred, ones that enhance their “other life below.” It’s never work to get all the way up here.

Oh, but that’s just endorphins talking.

I suppose. But I use them whenever I can. As life is high up high, so can it be low down below.

 

(Favio – if you’re reading this, nice to meet you!)

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Labor Day, 1955: Raining on the Picnic, Not the Film

TrainDuet800documnt 48bit dust152Not a drop of rain falls. Even though the river rolling through the peaceful town is muddy, nothing deters the community from celebrating their beloved Labor Day picnic.

This idyllic community celebration is the primary setting of “Picnic,” the 1955 film starring William Holden and Kim Novak, the story of one day in the life of a rural gathering of middle-class folk in mid-America during the mid-twentieth century. The sunny day shines happiness on everyone during the all American holiday, from toddler to great-grandmother.

Enter the drifter, fresh off hitching the rails, and the day begins.

After sowing wild oats for years, the drifter, Hal (William Holden), one-time football player and big shot, says he’s ready to settle down, and this place is it – Small Town America, USA.

Looking for work, he befriends a family and boarders who live in their house. By noon, the entire household has headed down to the huge picnic at river’s edge.

What fun: the 3-Legged Walking Contest, the Pie Eating Contest, the Girl Carrying Contest. A Talent Show, too, not to mention music from Ernie Higgins and the Happiness Boys.

So what’s making young, pretty Madge (Kim Novak) so moody? She has the handsome drifter’s eye, that’s for sure. Better yet, the town’s richest, most eligible bachelor, is after her.

What about her sister, Millie (Susan Strasberg), who’s edginess is obvious with every move? She has a foolish tomboy look no one really pays attention to, but she’s going to college – not Madge.

Is Rosemary (Rosalind Russell), one of the house boarders, angry because she’s an aging, single, schoolteacher when in reality she’s got more life and spunk than twenty others her age?

And why has Hal started to turn after tasting the sweet allure of peaceful small town life?

After all, their Labor Day picnic has everything. The Trained Seal Game, a sort of ring toss contest where women toss rings at the stems of Tootsie Roll Pops protruding from mouths of men on bended knees with hands tied behind their back.

The Needle in a Haystack Contest: boys diving willy-nilly into a huge stack of dusty, dirty hay for nickels, dimes and quarters the older men have thrown in.

The Talent Show, complete with stifled teens singing corny standards and barbershop quartet numbers. Nearby, a cute baby grimaces. Or is it a scoff?

The Balloon Bursting Contest: Which contestant can blow up a balloon to pop first? The long, nerve-wracking tension is broken with a ka-boom, and another baby cries.

But, of course, there’s always the constant upbeat sound of Ernie Higgins and the Happiness Boys lingering in the background.

How could this picnic go so sour?

The entire town bowed to Madge’s beauty. But, from her seat on a rowboat sailing slowly upon the dark water, Madge seemed ashamed by the throng’s gushing, repulsed she’d just been crowned Labor Day Queen of Neewolah (Halloween spelled backward).

The big picnic dance seems transcendent. The handsome, muscular drifter danced so sexually, so comfortably with Madge. Was that what made Rosemary uneasy enough to break up the festivities all by herself?

Even Hal and Madge’s secret, moonlit rendezvous down by the river later is less than romantic, more a moment to exorcise personal fears, flaws and demons to each other. Her pose suggests yearning, yet she changes course, looks off, and says, “But we’ve got to get back to the picnic.”

“Do we?” Hal replies, as a train rambles slowly out of town behind them.

In their own separate ways, in this instant of time, Hal and Madge have realized something. And with it, the dare is on. The train, a vehicle for change, beckons each to go. By stepping up on it, riding the rails, is there life and hope beyond this town?

No, not if they if they’re looking for a better version of it, because there is no town like this. It doesn’t exist. If it did, it would surely be composed of hollow, blind followers.

“Picnic” author William Inge deliberately injects scenes into his story to beg scrutiny about this American utopia. Those boys in the haystack, America’s youth, diving blindly after money. Other youth, bottled up into singing safe and soulless music that won’t offend the elders in control. Men, like trained seals, begging for love as if some game. The gluttony of gorging on food – pie – the all American dessert. Libido should be scorned, pushed out of sight, out of mind. Everyone, everything is under control. When will the balloon finally burst?

Inge saw what many in America couldn’t, wouldn’t or didn’t back in 1955. It makes you wonder what we’re not seeing beneath our very noses today, exactly sixty years later.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/k1A1vqmkftw“>http://

For more film articles I’ve written, click the following.

“The Graduate:” https://mikeandberg.com/2014/12/21/graduate-film-college-parents/
“To Kill A Mockingbird:” https://mikeandberg.com/2014/11/02/nostalgia-film-mockingbird/
“American Beauty:” https://mikeandberg.com/2014/09/09/role-models-american-beauty/
The 2015 Oscars (including “Hollywood Express,” my own documentary on Hollywood):
https://mikeandberg.com/2015/02/21/hollywood-oscars-identity/

 

 

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Delete My Computer, Please. Confessions of an Administrative Aide

RailTrail morning (MikeAndbergdeskplaque) 005 B&WIt’s the first day of my new job. I stroll the clean, quiet halls en route to my office. It’s a long walk. On the way, I see workers in their offices, sitting at desks, bodies visible, but heads obscured by the back of their computer, almost as if the computers were their heads. Well, this isn’t right. I’ll never learn the names and faces of my new work associates doing this, will I?

My own room is cute, although windowless, about ten by ten feet. My boss greets me there, glad to finally meet the person who’s filling the long-vacated position.

“Hit Control-Alt-Delete,” she says, standing over my shoulder by my desk.

That’s funny, I never have to do this at home, and I can’t find Delete anywhere on the gigantic, trumped-up keyboard I apparently have to use here. I find Delete, but try to press all three Control, Alt, and Delete keys simultaneously with one hand and, like failing to play an octave on piano, I hit a sour note on my first job responsibility.

As the day goes on, it’s difficult to accomplish any work. Short of my bathroom break, everything  here is done through a computer. Everything. Any file I’m looking for is in a file within a file within a file within a file, sandwiched between Excel spreadsheets, distribution lists, PDFs, Word documents, technology files, room reservations, timelines and countless other folders. My search for a sense of Control has already been filed under Lost, no doubt sub-filed under Technology.

Anything this computer can do, I can do better. Example: my PC’s office calendar system that magically links everyone’s schedule in my department with each other. I’m not impressed. First of all, by the time I get to the computer calendar with new dates to add, I’ve either forgotten the date, the subject, or both. Worse yet, the computer’s design makes each week’s grid and each person’s calendar look the same. It’s only a matter of time before my doctor visits will be plastered all over the boss’s agenda. I sketch my own calendar on a scrap of paper and hide it in my desk drawer. Far more effective. Confidential. At my fingertips. Surge proof.

Meanwhile, unresolved office emails and phone tag games go on all week. If I merely walked across the hall, couldn’t I personally answer all these people in about five minutes? But no, that’s not the way it’s done anymore. If I had a window in my office, I’m sure I’d be tempted to jump through it about every hour.

I make calls from my office to other companies to update files: No one who was working at these companies a year ago is working there now. Where have they all gone? Were their jobs like mine? Did they leave from job dissatisfaction? I don’t get it.

To keep my job, the handiest survival tip I’ve used has been to write down all tasks that require three steps or more. As sure as the photocopier will go down when we need it most, I will not remember directions beyond three steps. Period. I secure an old Rolodex from the mailroom to organize the fifty index cards upon which I’ve scribbled instructions of three steps or more. They’ve been real ass-savers.

My boss is out sick today, and I’m asked to review all her email for important correspondence she may need. There’s a hundred emails. What madness. And some are personal, and I sure as hell don’t want to discover what I don’t want to know about her or anyone by snooping through their email! After all, isn’t there’s some confidentiality agreement in my job description?

I’m proud of the way I’ve learned to prioritize office duties. The most important thing in my job is knowing passwords, usernames and codes. Actually, they’re the most annoying part of my job, but taping passwords to the wall is handy and I’m far less aggravated by them in doing this. I refer to passwords, usernames and codes an average of twenty-eight times a day. Sure, they’re visible for everyone to see on the wall, but it’s less important strangers see them than I do not. Without my passwords, I might as well go home. Otherwise I can’t do a thing on either my PC, desk phone, company website, Facebook, and a zillion other things.

For some reason, I’m getting really behind. So, the last thing I want to do is spend time on the tutorials I’ve been encouraged to view. The first was on Excel spreadsheets. Then Abobe Creative Suite. Then In Design, whatever that is. But I did see the tutorial about our operating system. So confusing, the company kindly hired out a technology consultant to get me straight. That was back in the beginning before anyone knew I’d need a computer personal trainer.

Yeah, I do get a little sloppy sometimes. There’s no telling what keys my fingers just slid across by accident. I’m somewhere between a loose cannon and someone who can’t get out of his own way. Because of this, I’m paranoid about clicking Forward by mistake when replying to someone by email. Or clicking Select All. Or Reply All. Click the wrong button, and X might see a string of correspondences attached to my reply where Y and Z had been cc’d and X doesn’t like Y and Z said something bad about X last month. I make phones calls whenever possible, being sure to talk very carefully and very slowly.

It’s only natural I look for any physical duty there might be to do around the office now. I volunteer to tack flyers to the bulletin board. Photocopy documents. Staple handouts. Hole punch binders. File folders. Pick up mail. Open the new water jug. Walk receipts up to Finance. And, on the way, walk around and personally respond to everyone’s stalled email and phone messages!

An optional staff development invite pops into my email. I jump on it. Anything to get out of the office. But the seminar, “Decreasing Job Dissatisfaction and Improving Workplace Productivity,” could help me, too. Is there something I could change to make my job easier? Modify about my attitude? Wouldn’t it be nice to be so efficient that I alternate one good habit with another all day long?

The job dissatisfaction seminar leader begins the two-hour discussion with, “First off, I strongly recommend you get rest on weekends.” Come on. What else ya got?

“All that work on your desk? Remember. It’ll still be there tomorrow.” Right. It wasn’t done yesterday because it wasn’t done the day before that either. And, yes, it’ll still be there tomorrow. Help.

“To assist in organizing your day, start with the end first.” Apparently, there is no end to my job, so to backtrack from something that doesn’t exist is insane.

“Despite what we’ve all heard, there is no such thing as multi-tasking!” Oh, right. My job is predicated on the multi-task principle, and everyone else’s, too. I feel no more relaxed or productive now than when I walked into this room.

It all comes down to this. Your boss emails you something to be done. You do it. You email it on. That person sends it to someone else who does something with it, mostly to get it off his back, then on to someone else. She sends it to her boss who looks at it and sends it to someone else because she has rank. Somehow, someway, it may eventually come back to you, at which point you place it in your “To Do” file. I’m aware of this pattern, yet I am still ranked only as an Administrative Aide.

Confounded by yet another day of computer curve balls, I summon the IT Department. They send me a student-level tech person. In less than one hour, he teaches me things I’d never dreamed were possible on a computer! A genius, and only nineteen. It’s obvious to me he could do my job, and in half the time. What’s he doing in IT? What am I doing here?

The best thing this young tech has taught me as an Office Administrative Aide? When to hit Delete.

It’s nice to have gained control again. No passwords required either.

 

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Everything I Love About Opera Has Nothing to do With Opera

Doug Norski 2015 001Suppose you’d never been to an opera. That was me just a few weeks ago.

Then I won a ticket to see any Santa Fe Opera performance I wanted. A big fan of composer Richard Strauss, I chose Salome. After having heard from friends how beautiful the whole Santa Fe Opera experience was, I couldn’t wait to go.

I drive into the parking lot and notice the zest in which Santa Fe Opera people party. They dress like it’s New Year’s Eve and feast around fancy table set ups like its Thanksgiving dinner.

I enter the opera house for my very first time. It’s other-worldly. What a beautiful structure. Streamlined, clean. Comfy seats.

When the house lights dim, a setting sun – as seen through the opera house’s open back-end – turn set pieces into majestic silhouettes. Lights return, exposing a sparse but beautiful set.

Then, performers appear. They start talking, er, singing. That’s when the party ends.

Hearing a ton of German sung on stage, I constantly check subtitles posted on the chair back in front of me. I read Salome’s words, but only hear a song fest. It’s taking some getting used to, but I try to get into the swing.

Fifteen minutes through the production, characters still talk about the same thing they were talking – er, intoning – fifteen minutes ago when the show began. Not only that, but they’re prompting subjects that never come up in normal conversation (let alone ones people might sing about in public if so inclined).

The huge box that centers the stages slowly rotates 180 degrees to expose a new set containing a man sitting at a table in the middle of a room. He barely moves. A woman circles the area, pontificating about his nose. I check the time on my watch.

Fifteen minutes later, the man is still serenaded to, but the woman changes the topic to a musical discussion about his lips. Apparently, she likes him? It is here I believe a love story has entered the opera, but I’m not sure.

Four more watch-check intervals later, the woman holds up the man’s bloody head for all to see. She’s even performed a risqué dance in honor of the severed orb.

Then the opera is over. That’s it.

The guy behind me stands, yelling “Bravo!” Seconds later, the rest of the audience stands. What did I miss?

I glance at my ticket stub and the $118 price. What? This seat is pretty far back and way to the right.

You see, for better or for worse, this is how I see opera.  I come from a generation steeped in television and movies where no one sings instead of talking to each other. Tonight, thousands attended Salome after waiting all year to experience its glory. Authors of the Bible, Oscar Wilde, Richard Strauss, even Al Pacino, have been captivated by Salome’s story, so what happened to me? Perhaps I should never have left the parking lot’s fine dining experience.

It all comes down to this: When a guest suddenly sings across the table to me, “Please pass the salt,” I immediately get the urge to be excused from my own dinner party to go watch TV.

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