Note to self: For future reference, this is how you tie a half-Windsor knot in your tie (click to enbiggen):
For years, I've been tying a shabby and lopsided four-in-hand knot in my tie. Why did I never learn to tie my tie properly? Perhaps because I seldom wear a tie. I can tie a square knot and a bowline and a sheet bend and, for tying the boat to the dock, a clove hitch—but I never mastered the basic half-Windsor around my neck. So last night, as I was dressing to go to the Minnesota Orchestra, I used my internet searching skills to rectify the situation. Google: "how to tie a tie." Welcome to all of my fellow sartorially-challenged people who have come to this blog after running a similar search.
The concert was preceded by an elegant dinner at Manhattans on LaSalle (next to the State Theater box office). I had pan-seared sea scallops. Scallops are one of those things that I love so much that I restrain myself from having them too often. Certain things need to be reserved for special occasions, or their specialness is diminished. For me, that list includes scallops and Brahms' Clarinet Quintet. There was nothing like that on the orchestra program last night, but there were some favorites: the Bach double violin concerto, the Schumann Conzertstuck for four horns, and the Mendelssohn Fourth Symphony ("Italian"), all conducted by Gilbert Varga, with soloists from the orchestra. Clara played the Bach double when she was in high school, and I—well, I played the French horn, but never like the four Minnesota Orchestra horn players played last night.
I've been going to classical music concerts since I was in my single digits. I was conditioned at a young age to sit very still and not make a sound. The same cannot be said of most people who attend the Minnesota Orchestra. The women behind me seemed to be zipping and unzipping their purses through the entire concert, occasionally blurting out a comment in something more than a whisper. After each item on the program, there was a patchy standing ovation. It's not as bad as the Guthrie Theater, where I don't think I've ever attended a performance that wasn't given a standing ovation. Guthrie artistic director Joe Dowling could stand on stage and cough (he wouldn't be the only one), and he would receive a standing o. The Guthrie also has more than its share of restless, blurting audience members. My favorite example of this was when an old man behind me, during an especially tense moment of silence in Sophocles' Oedipus the King, blurted out: "I don't like where this is going."
Okay, I'm a snob. I like a quiet audience. And I like standing ovations to be like scallops—reserved for special occasions.
Special Feature. One of the special treats of living in England for a year was being able to listen to I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue on BBC Radio 4. You can treat yourself by using the BBC's excellent Listen Again feature, available by following the link.
My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .
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