kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
Actually, I picked the right week. And I haven’t quit drinking, not really.

Two months ago (it feels like longer!) I took a week’s annual leave, went to stay with my mother, and on the first night I came down with a stinking cold. It was miserable. The runny, bleeding, nose, the sore throat (exacerbated by being in a smoking household) and occasional difficulty breathing – all that was miserable, but I’d been to the pub that evening and had a couple of pints, and the headache and wakefulness made it the worst night in a long time. I lay awake, and I knew that I could have made it very slightly better by not drinking when I knew I had a bug waiting to pounce. And so I decided not to.

I had been feeling for a while that this was coming – it’s been one of the things that came out of The Artist’s Way for me – and, while I didn’t really know why this, why now, and I did not feel at all ready to have done it, doing it hasn’t been as difficult as I expected. Having once decided that I’d already had my last casual pint, I have been able to leave it there. Thank goodness. I am not sure how I'd have coped if I'd found it difficult.

But then I have always been a social drinker. For most of my adult life I’ve avoided drinking alone (the major exception having been last winter, which was a season out of time, really). I’ve drunk in company, mostly as an inhibition-loosener – to get me talking, mask my shyness – or as a shared ritual: ‘We survived this tedious event together: let us drink to celebrate!’ Since stopping, I have often quoted Airplane! (see title of post) to myself during the sort of day that would usually end in a glass of wine, but that has been enough to allow me to see the funny side, and work around the stress. There was never going to be a right week. I wasn’t ready, but I never am.

My work life and my social life revolve around groups and activities that are traditionally associated with moderate to high alcohol consumption – the trade union movement, choral music, the Church of England – and I have no desire to withdraw from any of those. In all the scenes of my life, I would change only the one detail – the contents of the glass in my hand. And I would like the other characters in the scene not to have noticed the change.

I find that I am much the same person sober as I am drunk. It’s the company that changes my behaviour, not the alcohol. Now that I have sorted out at least the top layer of my social awkwardness, I can plunge straight into the conversation. I take my cue from others and expand to ‘raucous’ and ‘slightly hysterical’ as the evening progresses. Also I tipped over a chair and a glass last night, and I have a significant stutter and a tendency to pontificate. Shall we just say that I do not stand out as the sober one? The main difference (so far) seems to be that I am less likely to start crying over people, and that’s helpful. I’d rather do that alone.

I have been paying attention to the associations, and how and why the habit grew in different ways in different settings. There is a difference between a splash of Cointreau in my coffee while I try to write, and my stepmother-in-law greeting me with ‘White wine?’ as I haul a case through their front door; between a mojito with the book club and an experimental pint at the pub because I like the name or the label.

Thursday night felt like a major milestone: a night at the pub with current and former work colleagues, people I know and like a lot – a night that a few months ago would have meant a succession of pints of beer. There was a similar night at the end of that first week, but I was still getting over the cold then, and not yet sure enough of myself to explain it as any more than ‘being doped up to the eyeballs on paracetamol’. Thursday night was my first night with this particular group as a non-drinker. Thursday night I had cola, then lime-and-soda, then lemonade, and it was fine. The warm, gossipy atmosphere, the setting-the-world-to-rights, the how-is-this-person-and-how-is-that-person, the good news shared and congratulated – they were all still there. I rolled home late and stinking of cigarette smoke, same as every time. It was great.

I have not encountered as much hostility as I feared I might. Mostly, people have raised their eyebrows and let it go. They have not seemed to experience my not drinking as a hint that I think they should do likewise. (Which is fortunate, because I don’t! People who look down their noses at other people because of what those people choose to ingest are my least favourite sort of people and I would hate it if I were thought to be one of them.) They accept that this is something that is working for me at this particular moment. There have been a couple of tricky moments, but it hasn’t been anything like as bad as I expected.

I continue to drink for ritual or ceremonial purposes. In practice, that means Communion, toasts, and beer-with-the-current-project (though it’s been ages since I did that, and I should really go and do it again). I also ignore the alcohol content of food. I’m still not really sure why I’m doing this, but eradicating all traces of alcohol from my diet isn’t the reason.

There are a few things that I still haven’t worked out. Firstly, what to drink instead. I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, and I am going to get fed up with fizzy drinks very quickly. (Suggestions welcome!) Secondly, how to tell people. Mostly I just don’t, and answer the ‘what are you drinking?’ questions as and when they come up. Thirdly, there is a certain part of my persona that is built around drinking pints of real ale, and how this is not something that is not necessarily expected of someone of my age and gender, and I’m not quite sure how to replace that. I suspect that something equally outrageous will turn up. I’m happy waiting for that.
princesse_incongrue: Mikelangelo Loconte singing into a microphone in front of a red background (mikele rocking)
 original video posted here

[Disclaimer: when Solal starts naming members of the band and the team, I just transcribed what the names sounded like to me.  I couldn't find a list of the names of the members of the Vodka People online anywhere, so this is my effort.]

Hello everyone and welcome to "Backstage Toulouse FM", the show that brings you behind the scenes of the biggest concerts.  We're all familiar with "Mozart l'opéra rock", a show that was very successful in France and even in other countries thanks to its hit songs like "Tatoue-moi", "L'assasmyphonie", "Vivre à en crever" among others.  Since then, Mozart l'opéra rock has made a big comeback in a different form: a concert.  The biggest songs from the show have been reorchestrated in a symphonic version, with more than sixty musicians onstage, and performed, of course, by the original Troupe.  Today I'll take you behind the scenes for this show, behind the scenes of "Mozart l'opéra rock, le concert" at the Zénith of Toulouse.
 
(Rehearsals - 4pm - Toulouse)
 
I was a fan of Florent right away. He's the reason I loved the musical, but then there were also the sets, the tone, I loved everything about the show, I don't know.
 
You know that tonight it's different, it's not the show-
 
It's with an orchestra.
 
With an orchestra, yeah, and are you still as excited?
 
Yes, I love concerts, I'm a huge fan of concerts.
 
It's totally different, they've had time to- they seem like they've gotten more confident with themselves, with their voices, and I think it's even more interesting to see them like this than in the context of the musical.
 
This concert was born almost two years ago.  They began in eastern countries.  Then they were in Tunisia, but there were so many fans who were dying to see them in concert here, so we couldn't deprive them of the pleasure because we were really enjoying it too.  Onstage there are more than sixty musicians: we have the choir, we have the symphonic orchestra.  It's this marriage that lets the performers be freer onstage.  You can tell they're completely liberated and each one can express themselves without begin restrained by the context of the show.
 
Can you tell me what you're doing right now?
 
I'm gearing up, because we're going to rehearse.  We're testing the sound now, because everyone always tests the sound.  Always.  Yeah.  So we're going onstage, we're going to test the songs, because the orchestra needs to rehearse, to think about the rythm, because that aspect of it is difficult, being a musician.  But it's great.
 
Yeah, we just came back from Montpellier, and now we're doing Toulouse.  In Montpellier we were a little more rock-n-roll, so we know in Toulouse we're going to do the same thing.  We're got to really cut loose, yeah.
 
So you know there are thousands of locals out there waiting for you.  What are they going to see at the concert tonight?
 
They're going to see the skeleton, the source of Mozart l'opéra rock, which was the songs written by wonderful composers, which we really believe in, and which were really successful.  That's why the album sales did so well, it went to diamond.  That's what we'll do.  Even during the show we were aware of that.
 
So we're going to talk about some images, since we're doing this interview I'm going to show you- we're going to look at some photos, and you tell me how they make you feel.
 
Okay.  On a tablet, okay.  Oh!  Okay, Grand Rex.  This photo, it was very, very, very- it was a magnificent moment.  For the first time, we got to see our film that the Korean shot-
 
In 3D, right?
 
In 3D. It was James Cameron's team, who make all the films like Avatar, the Matrix, all the movies like-
 
And how does that feel, to see yourself in 3D on the big screen?
 
It's incredible.
 
I'd like to talk about the Troupe.  It's been, what, more than five years that you've known each other?  Has it become a family?
 
Well yeah!  Plus, here we were with Merwan and Yamin, who we don't get to see in the concert.  But we saw Marwou-
 
Merwan?
 
I just tried to say- Yamin and- Mermin!  We met up with Yamin who came to see us at the PDS... well, yeah, these are my brothers and sisters.
 
Ah, that's our audience!  Well I don't know if it's our audience, but it's the audience.
 
It's the audience. Fans, just in general.  What do-
 
The audience is divided into two categories.  There is the audience that carries us, and the audience that we carry.  The audience that we carry was more common at the beginning.  You have to get them used to it, get used to be loud, to all the shouting.  But there is also the audience that cares about you, too.  That means, that as soon as you get onstage, you don't have to do anything else.  You're just carried on their energy.
 
What's the craziest gift you've gotten from a fan, from a young fan?  You have a really strong link with them.
 
The craziest gift?
 
Yeah, the craziest.  Something astonishing.
 
They've given me incredible things.  They gave me a star.
 
In the sky?  They bought a star?
 
Yeah, they named a star Mikelangelo Loconte. Yeah.  With a-
 
How did you receive that? Personally?
 
It's strange-
 
That's an extraordinary gift.
 
Plus I think it's a part of the place where Sagittarius is, and Orion.  They didn't just pick a random star.
 
"The Future: Next Exit".  This is a nice photo.
 
What does that make you think?
 
It gives me hope.  Because I can be a pretty somber person sometimes, with a dark side, that's why they chose me for Salieri, but I'm profoundly optimistic deep down.  I'm profoundly humanist.  I do believe in- in the people I meet.  It's all the people I've met that-
 
Do you have doubts?  Since it's such a difficult line of work?
 
Always, always.  I saw a quote from someone, I don't remember who, that said "Emotionally, artists experience more in one year than most people do in their whole lives" and it's true.  We really do, it's a rollercoaster, and sometimes it's great but to create a song-
 
It's extreme.
 
It's two extremes, both extremes.  I'm a little like that, too, which is why it works for me, but no, every day we have doubts.  When you're doing something like this, like Mozart, it's different.  Because it's in progress, you go onstage, it's-
 
The songs are already there.
 
Yeah, the songs are already there.  We have doubts, we don't know if it will work, that's why we do all this promo work, that's why we go out and say "Come on, this will be great, you've got to come see it!"  But when you write, when you create, as a creator, you go through periods of a lot of doubt, and the pressure can really test your limits.
 
Mélissa, during hair and makeup when you're getting ready for this show, do you feel the pressure?
 
It's more relaxing, actually.  It depends.
 
And what do you think about?
 
Nothing! I make sure I look good enough to go onstage!
 
Okay, my makeup is a little extreme because the show is going to start soon.  You've got to look pretty, so I made myself pretty..  I'll show you around a little.  So here are the musicians' dressing room, they're called the Vodka People.  Here's Thierry, the conductor.  François Delphin, a superb guitarist.  Mathieu Raboté, we only take the best!  You've got Bryce Bérion who's just behind you there.  The keyboardist.  You've got Laurent Cauclaire, who just lost fifteen kilos.  Here's Maho, who wasn't here a minute ago.
 
Is it hard to work with Solal, Mikelangelo, Florent Mothe?
 
It's tough.  Especially this character next to me-
 
Who is it?
 
This character is my friend Solal.
 
He's great, as you can see there's a pretty terrible ambiance in here.  Here we have our dear producer, Boris Orloff, who's made this incredible experience possible and shared it with us.  I was telling you earlier-
 
Why Mozart l'opéra rock?  Why did you choose this show?
 
Because it's good.
 
It was really all because of me being in it.  If it wasn't for me, none of this would have been possible.
 
Absolutely.
 
Boris, yes, he's crazy, because in these days you have to be crazy to take a chance like this.  We've been extraordinarily lucky.  I was telling you earlier, really, I thank you every day for giving us this opportunity.  Truly.
 
Here we have the Ukrainian musicians who are here, mixed in with some of the members of the chorus, and the concertist- the- what? The musicians, violin, oboe, everything that makes up a philharmonic- or symphonic orchestra.  Woodwinds, strings, brass, et cetera, percussion, and you have the singers, who are said to have the best bass, or low voices in the classical repertory.  They're known for that.  Ukranians and Russians are known for that, so we were really lucky.  It's like Mikele said, every night we have to sing louder and louder to be able to compete with these marvelous voices, and to do them justice.  It's an honor to perform with them, truly.
 
Here you have what's called catering, and it's very important, because to sing well, you have to eat well.  And to eat well, we have a menu that- well we call it catering, but actually it's the cafeteria for all of the musicians, the stagehands, the singers, and I've gotta say, we eat extremely well, we're really well taken care of, and this is the team responsible.  They're manning the ovens now.  All of this team here, they're just- they're just- we're in Toulouse, and, and these guys, they're called Etc Etc, and they're the best catering in all of France.  You can send me a check later, no worries.  There you can see Mikele, who's having dinner, over there.  With Florent Mothe.  Yes, and our sound engineer.  This is where it's happening, right here.
 
Everything's great, and we're really happy to be in Toulouse.
 
As you can see, it's not just the Vodka People who've gotten into the vodka.
 
Apparently they've made us [?], it's a specialty-
 
We don't know what it is, but we'll find out soon, during the show.
 
I have to let you go, because I have to go- well, I'm already in makeup, but- oh, here's Yohann, who's going to do my hair.  He's going to make me even more beautiful than I already am.  Out of respect for the audience who was kind enough to come see us tonight.
 
And the audience in Toulouse really turned out for Mozart l'opéra rock le concert.  The Troupe is on tour now throughout France.  This has been "Backstage", we'll see each other soon!  Ciao!
 

Wednesday What Are You Reading

Oct. 15th, 2014 05:41 pm[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
Currently Reading

The Left Hand of Darkness (Ursula K. Le Guin) - which is a re-read. For a supposed classic, you would not believe how difficult it is to get hold of. I finally tracked it down in Gay's the Word. It's better than I remembered (which is not to say that I thought it was bad before; it just hadn't stuck well in my memory) - I am enjoying the gentle prose and the subtleties of the politics - but ouch, the male pronouns! I've changed as much as the world has - at the time I last read this I would still have been using male pronouns for God - but this would be a very different book if it were written today.


Recently Finished

Castle Gay and The House of the Four Winds (John Buchan) - also re-reads. Again, a couple of things that show that one never steps into the same book twice. I think I mentioned last week how interesting I found the by-election sub-plot, though it's not even a sub-plot, really, it's a background that occasionally intrudes into the plot. And the other thing is how I apparently last read THotFW before I did my A-levels, which seems hard to believe, but I would swear that I never picked up on the parallels with Germany before. Evallonia is Germany without Hitler and moved a bit southwards and eastwards - the youth movement, the war reparations. I would love to know what Buchan would have done with it after 1945.

The Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe) - glorious, glorious trash, which unlike everything else on this week's post is exactly as I remembered.


Up Next

One of the delights I picked up in the course of my quest for The Left Hand of Darkness. Ancillary Sword (Ann Leckie). The Balloonists (L.T.C. Rolt). More Perfect Union (Alan Wilson). The Impossible Life of Mary Benson (which I read when it was called As Good as God, as Clever as the Devil).

A brief update

Oct. 15th, 2014 11:10 am[personal profile] alee_grrl
alee_grrl: (sleep)
I am back home in Virginia. Got in late Sunday night. The exhaustion of the last few weeks has finally caught up with me and I've spent most of the last few days sleeping. When I am awake I've mostly been reading light fluffy stuff, or familiar favorites because my brain is not up to processing much at the moment.

Spoke with my employer today and have arranged to return to work on November 3. This gives me time to go see my Lyme doc, and time to rest and recuperate. Thankfully I do not have to hurry with the Vermont trip this time. So I am going to drive, but break the drive into three parts to make it extra easy on me. I'll leave Friday and arrive in Vermont on Sunday. My appointment's on Tuesday, and I'll probably make a leisurely drive home the following weekend.

I think it may be time to go curl up on the couch for some more sleep.

Sunday Picnic in a Hot Air Balloon

Oct. 12th, 2014 07:00 pm[personal profile] poetree_admin posting in [community profile] poetree
poetree_admin: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)
alee_grrl

Sunday, every Sunday, let's have a community picnic. It's probably been a long week, and it's lovely to have a few minutes to sit back and relax and enjoy some good conversation in a less formal space. Feel free to bring something for the Picnic Basket - a poem you liked this week, a thought you had or something you experienced, or even something completely unrelated to poetry whatsoever that you just feel like sharing. Just take a moment to say hello, and maybe have a bite to eat; no one is going anywhere fast, and the shade promises some relief from the everyday heat. Let’s get to know each other a bit better, here under the branches of the poet’s tree.
el_staplador: A cheerful bird (cheerful)
Hello! Thank you for writing for me! I have stuck with just the three fandoms this year, and I would be happy to receive fic in any or all of them.


Dickson McCunn novels - John Buchan )


Zenda novels - Anthony Hope )


A Company of Swans - Eva Ibbotson )

Wednesday What Are You Reading

Oct. 8th, 2014 09:44 pm[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
Currently Reading

Castle Gay (John Buchan) - for the first time I have made it all the way through chapter two and not skipped any of the career of Mr Thomas Carlyle Craw. I do like Buchan.

The Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe) - also a re-read; I described it as 'magnificently tacky' before I picked it up again, and I stand by that assessment.


Recently Finished

The Lantern (Deborah Lawrenson) - at last. Seriously, don't bother. Read Rebecca instead. As an homage to du Maurier, this is an insult.


Up Next

Still The Left Hand of Darkness, if only I can find a copy. And The House of the Four Winds. (I do not possess a copy of Huntingtower. Disgraceful.)


Abandoned

Cat (Freya North) - I think I tried this before, and gave up then, too. I was hoping that, having been seriously into pro cycling for almost three years now, I would get on better with it this time around. I didn't. It's not so much the fact that this was written in 1999, when Armstrong was racing, and I'm reading in 2014, when he never raced, as the tense changes making me seasick and the extended passages with the narrative voice in dialogue with the characters, in italics to boot, which was just too much like hard work.


Other Media

There is a series about film music on BBC4 at the moment, prompted by which I watched A Fistful of Dollars. I want to watch more films, but I never quite manage to get the to cinema.

Event: "Poetry Fishbowl"

Oct. 7th, 2014 09:01 pm[personal profile] poetree_admin posting in [community profile] poetree
poetree_admin: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)
jjhunter

Comm member [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith is hosting her monthly crowdfunded Poetry Fishbowl today. All are welcome to leave prompts related to this round's theme of 'mad science'.

===
Are you a member of [community profile] poetree? If you plan on hosting an online poetry event of some kind, please let the admins know by PM or mention in the weekly Sunday Picnic post, and we will post a short advertisement on your behalf to the comm.
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