This week I planned, and tonight I carried out, a party for one - i.e., me. It was quite enjoyable. I had a late lunch / early dinner at a restaurant I have never visited before (some kind of noodle outfit that majors in cultural diversity, with dishes ranging from Pad Thai to Mediterranean and Italian cuisine - it was interesting at least).
Then I went to see a Sandra Bullock movie called Premonition, which was creepy and interesting and effective except for the bonehead ending. In the movie, Bullock goes through the unnerving and hard-to-describe-without-sounding-unintentionally-funny experience of living the seven pivotal days of her adult life out of sequence. She starts the week on Thursday, then wakes up the next morning on Monday, then jumps ahead to Saturday, then - if memory serves - Tuesday, Friday, the previous Sunday, and finally a climactic Wednesday in which all the missing pieces of the puzzle fall into place...but too late to really change anything. After which a weird little ending is tacked on, an ending that really left me cold. Considering the confusion and desperation that comes out of experiencing a major life-changing event in a before-after-before-after-before-after sequence, it's not surprising that Bullock's character went a little bit crazy. Un-crazying her just seemed to happen too easily, in my humble opinion.
I've been home for a while now. I've been leafing through some new books that arrived by mail order - maybe I'll discuss them here another time. Then I got the party really going by opening a bottle of hard cider, toasting some Italian-style bread (the sesame-seed variety) and adding various combinations of Greek sheep cheese (Kasseri), Brie, and duck-liver pate. I snuck a few bites of the brie yesterday, on rosemary-and-olive-oil crackers, and was disappointed by its lack of flavor - I guess I was expecting something stronger, more in the spirit of the gorgonzola-brie torte that someone always brings to the Symphony Chorus parties. Tonight, however, I discovered that the combination of full-bodied, toasted bread and duck pate brought out the best qualities of the brie, sort of a nutty, pleasantly musty flavor.
I don't always party by myself. Next week, for instance, I'm going to the Symphony Chorus "Hungarian" themed party, in honor of our upcoming performances of Bartok's Cantata Profana. I don't really know what to expect from a Hungarian-themed party, except probably some goulash, some paprikash, and some made-in-Hungary booze out of a bottle with a stag on it (remember, the Bartok piece is about nine young men being turned into stags). The chorus administrator sent out a memo speculating that the dessert might include "chocolate with a heavy dose of barangoltak or, hmm, csodaszarvasnyomra" - a joke best appreciated if you've been trying to sing Bartok's music while pronouncing those words, and many more like it. Apologies to anyone who knows Hungarian; I thought it was hilarious.
Another party I'm looking forward to - or rather, two parties that may almost run together into one - is the release of the 5th Harry Potter movie followed, within two weeks, by the 7th Harry Potter book. Some friends of mine who share my Harrymania are already making plans to line up for the big events, and (in the case of the book) to stay up late together, eating, drinking, reading, and discussing. Actually two of the people I plan to party with are staffers at Mugglenet, where I write a regular column and book reviews (under a very thin pseudonym); one of them is also in the Symphony Chorus. There's a funny story about how we recognized each other as fellow fans.
Last spring, I flew to New York and back with the Symphony Chorus, where we sang a program "presented by Carnegie Hall." One married couple in the chorus sat across the aisle from me on the return flight. It was the wife who emailed me the following week, through the Mugglenet feedback system. She had noticed my byline saying I lived in Missouri, and she wanted to know if I was anywhere near St. Louis. If so, would I be interested in attending one of her Harry Potter movie marathon parties, like a recent one attended by Amy Kaiser, who directs the Symphony Chorus? I replied that not only did I live in St. Louis, but I also knew exactly who Amy Kaiser was, because I was in the chorus and, in fact, I had sat right across the aisle from the questioner on the flight home from New York. Her reply illustrates her typical level of enthusiasm: "AAAAAACCCKKKK!!!! You are effing effing kidding!!!"
Observation 1: Not that my head has been turned, but it is nice to get a bit of starstruck recognition now and again. Observation 2: It's a ridiculously small world, after all! Observation 3: These will be fun people to party with.