My Marital Obligation

I think most people would call my husband, Thor, and me a little competitive (maybe a lot competitive). We make a lot of bets or are frequently challenging each other on trivial items. I think our biggest fight was the time we were playing the new Super Mario Bros and I kept (unintentionally) dying on a certain level. He accused me of “not taking it seriously” and we may or may not have given each other the silent treatment for 24 hours.

Flashback to 2008: He kept telling me how amazing the HBO series The Wire was, but for some reason I just wasn’t interested. Meanwhile, CBS had just finished a season of Swingtown and I was totally hooked. We made a deal. I would watch the first season of “The Wire” if he would watch the first season of Swingtown. While he held up his end of the bet, I only made it through about five episodes of The Wire and just sort of trailed off… It’s almost like The Wire is just too real, too gritty for me. I need escapism.

…but I swear welching on that bet will be the end of our marriage. He will never forget it. Anytime we start to debate about things, it ends with, “Well you never finished The Wire!” Case closed.

As a teacher, I have a lot of down time in the summer to do whatever I want, including one of my traditions of rewatching an entire series while doing puzzles and crafting (ahhhh the life). One year it was the Sopranos, another year it was LOST, another year it was Roseanne…and so on. But I’ve never forgotten about that marital agreement I failed to deliver on: The Wire. And while technically I only have to watch the first season, I figure the only way to truly make it up is to watch ALL SIX SEASONS. I can do this.

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Cut to 2015: Summer has started and I’m officially done with the first season! and even midway through the second season! Go me. And I’ll admit, it’s getting more interesting. I know, I know – it’s supposedly one of the best shows ever made; I can appreciate that. But when I watch a show, I’m shallow. I want to see sexy people, explosions, and have massive cliffhangers where you can’t help but push play on the next episode (hence my undying love of LOST). But I’m doing it – no stopping now!

But seriously, people, Swingtown was a great show that CBS cancelled because they caved on the objections of religious conservatives who never even watched the show (for if they had, they would see it brought up a lot of questions about controversy of “swinging” and really focused on the culture of social change in the 70s). I’m not saying the writing was as carefully crafted as The Wire (apples and oranges), but if you’re looking for something entertaining to while away your summer hours, give it a shot! However, I will tell you it ends on a massive cliffhanger, and since the series got cancelled, it will leave you hanging forever.

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Here’s a link on Amazon: Swingtown episodes.

#9 – Attend an opera. Check.

Let me tell you that listening to French lessons while driving to the opera might have been the classiest things I’ve ever done.

Today my friend, Courtney, and I went to see the opera, A Rake’s Progress by Igor Stravinsky.

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If I could do things over again, I would major in Art History since that was what I really enjoyed studying in college, but I was given the terrible advice to major in English. “It’s so broad! You’ll be able to get a job in anything!” the academic advisor gushed. Not saying that Art History would have been a largely accepted and lucrative major either, but at least it would have been something I actually cared about. ANYWAY, I did study A LOT of art history nonetheless, and one of my favorite artists became Hogarth.

In particular, the engravings of A Rake’s Progress and A Harlot’s Progress were interesting to me because I like anything that portrays the downfall of man (or woman…but mostly man). Although the details of the story were fuzzy to me, I knew that the basis was that Tom Rakewell would inherit a large sum of money, squander it on parties and prostitutes, and finish it all out bankrupt in an insane asylum.

So let’s talk about what I didn’t like first:

Stravinsky must have taken a lot of artistic license to mix up the story, and instead turned it into a love story gone wrong. That kind of bummed me out. I’m always that person that says things like, “That’s not what was in the book!” Tom starts out singing sweet love songs to Anne, and promises to earn enough money to marry her. He soon inherits his uncle’s fortune, and is whisked off to London to get things “settled.” He does spend a sordid night with a prostitute, but in the opera he seems guilt or reluctant – and in the original artwork I got the impression that he was reveling in the excessive lifestyle.

Later, Tom also ends up marrying a bearded Turkish woman, Baba, and some part of me felt like it was ethnically offensive, although I couldn’t exactly put my finger on why (maybe because his true love was a buxom blonde, blue-eyed beauty?).

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Tom’s final scenes in the mental hospital were also not near destitute enough for me. In the original engravings, he is physically and mentally tormented – a shell of himself – and surrounded by crazies. In Stravinsky’s version, Anne sings a sad and loving goodbye, and he is left to die alone. The end.

What did I like?

The costumes, the artwork, and the sets. I was mentally noting my Halloween costume the entire time.

David Hockney"DROP CURTAIN FOR THE RAKE'S PROGRESS FROM THE RAKE'S PROGRESS" 1975-79Ink And Collage On Cardboard14 x 20 1/2"© David HockneyCollection The David Hockney FoundationPhoto Credit: Richard Schmidt

David Hockney”DROP CURTAIN FOR THE RAKE’S PROGRESS FROM THE RAKE’S PROGRESS” 1975-79Ink And Collage On Cardboard14 x 20 1/2″© David HockneyCollection The David Hockney FoundationPhoto Credit: Richard Schmidt

The Rake's Progress performed by Glyndebourne Opera

The Rake’s Progress performed by Glyndebourne Opera

The Rake's Progress performed by Glyndebourne Opera Topi Lehtipuu ( Tom Rakewell ) Susan Gorton ( Mother Goose )

The Rake’s Progress performed by Glyndebourne Opera
Topi Lehtipuu ( Tom Rakewell ) Susan Gorton ( Mother Goose )

Overall, we had a good time, and it was entertaining – I’ll just have to do my homework on how Stravinsky came up with his own, tamer version of the downfall of the rake. (And where to find a costume like that!)

#13 – Attend a Breakdance Competition. Checkity-check, yo.

While I was potentially willing to travel to another west coast city to view an epic breakdance battle, yesterday I was lucky enough to get to witness one right here in Portland: the Ashes 2 Ashes: Round 5 Battle. And while the Facebook page and Youtube videos promised some legit dancers to be competing, I had my doubts how good they would really be. In my younger days, I attended a bunch of local bboy events since they were often paired with music shows, but the dancers were pretty amateur – and while it was fun, it wasn’t all that exciting.

Yesterday was far better than I expected. First of all, the event was 6+ hours of straight dance battles. First we got to watch (literally) 100 different dancers square up on 2v2 rounds, and then down the semi-finals, etc. A lot of the crews were from Portland, but most were actually from out of town.

The event ended with a 45-minute “King of the Hill” battle where one dancer would have a round to blow the judges mind, and then face a line of nine other dancers to defend their spot as number one. You know how exhausted you feel after 45 minutes of jogging? Imagine 45 minutes of spinning on your head and doing backflips. Those dudes are in the absolute peak of athletic ability, if you ask me. But wait – yes there were a few female dancers (though not many, and they didn’t make it very far).

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I can tell you that if I knew of more events like this in Portland, I would go to every one; or make a weekend of it in Seattle. Perhaps someday I’ll get the chance to see one in Europe (where some of the most intense competitions happen) with all this sudden international travel coming my way. But for now – I’m totally checking this one off my list.

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