First, bless the clicker, then the opera

This Jottings ran on June 10, 2009.
I make a lot of smart-aleck remarks to strangers. And, thankfully, I usually get a smile.
I saw a woman in a grocery store with an overflowing basket of goods. I asked, “Have you got room for anything else?”
She smiled, “Hopefully, only one more thing.”
At a plant sale I saw a woman with several flats of flowers. I asked, “Is your husband going to help you plant them?”
She said, quickly, “Only if he can’t find the tv clicker.”
Which segues me into another random question: Isn’t the tv clicker just about the greatest invention ever?
It shuts off unwanted vocal noise. Stops all those stupid, repetitive commercials. Eliminates time fillers on ball games (you know, those who are hired to tell us what we have already seen in the original action, plus 16 repeats).
Why do tv networks feel they have to fill all the air time with both views and noise?
Bless the clicker. It gives me silence, it moves me quickly away from cartoon dramas, “Dancing with the Stars,” “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent” to reruns of “CSI,” “The Closer,” Tiger games and the Comedy Channel.
One more tv clicker-worthy ad. Last week I saw an advertisement for ‘Obama’ walking shoes. First of all, I thought presidents of the U.S. can’t have their names used commercially. Of course, that was my pre-Obama thinking.
But, there it was. Obama walking shoes for just $49.95, marked down from $89.95. Left out was the, “If you act right now we’ll include extra shoelaces, a special cleaning brush and a personal anointment.”
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In the original novel, Carmen is one of four or five hundred women who work in a very hot cigar factory. So hot, many women work in a state of undress.
That wouldn’t do for the Detroit Opera House, or any other, so they are seen dressed outside the cigar factory taking a smoking break.Young bucks come from miles away to see the women, and soldiers are there to keep them away.
In strolls la Carmencita, the beautiful, sensuous and fearless gypsy. Don Jose sees Carmen and has to have her, though he is destined for priesthood. The quest and rejection thereof is sung beautifully, in French.
However, the Detroit Opera House has installed a translation screen above the stage, making it understandable and very enjoyable to the inexperienced opera goer, like me.
I’d hardly entertained the thought of seeing an opera. Ignorance is a great rejector. But when friends asked if I’d like to see Carmen I quickly nodded.
It was a great story of gypsy and aristocrat. The quintessential free spirit, for whom love is an exhilarating adventure and who prizes her freedom above life itself.
On the other hand, aristocrat Don Jose wants to have and to hold all for himself – and if he cannot possess her, he will make her eternally his own by taking her life.
So, in the end Don Jose stabs Carmen.
I asked my opera-going host about the killing. She said, “At least there was only one death. Sometimes the entire cast is killed. That’s opera.”

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