Archive for May, 2011

First Look: Hadley Fraser’s Javert

Last night, a mix of current and upcoming Les Misérables cast members performed on the Classic Brit Awards television broadcast, giving us our first look at Hadley Fraser’s Javert.  Here’s the video clip.  (Thanks to summerdress14 for uploading the video and Soliloquy for helping me to find it so quickly.)

Hadley Fraser as Javert, Les Miserables, Classic Brit Awards

Hadley Fraser as Javert, Les Miserables, Classic Brit Awards

Naturally I had to make screencaps.  My thoughts?  It was difficult to capture stills of Hadley Fraser when he wasn’t looking demonic!  Javert is not a nice fellow.  I also believe, and this is just a guess, that Fraser is not in full makeup yet.  He’s looking very young for a guy who’s been chasing Valjean for almost thirty years.  Not that I’m complaining.  I will take any glimpse of him I can get.  As for the new cast, they begin performances on June 23rd.

Update:  Oh, so you want to see demonic?  Okay.  Here.

Hadley Fraser as Javert, Les Miserables, Classic Brit Awards

Related posts:  Please Sir, I Want Some More   Grantaire   Enjolras & Grantaire   To The Barricade!   Sheytoons at Dublin Castle    Les Mis: The Big Opening

Making The Best of Things

A homeless man sleeping in the Panhandle
The Panhandle, San Francisco

If you have to sleep in the park, you might as well be comfortable.


A Touching Idea

Last week, my friend brought me a box of paracetamol from Boots in London.   On the back of the box, there is information in braille stamped into the cardboard!   I think this is brilliant.   I hope US companies start doing this soon.

Information in Braille on cardboard pill box

The Blessings of Food and Music

I’ve been writing about London too much lately, so I decided to get a little more centered—to focus on what’s right here in the Panhandle/Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco.  I moved to this neighborhood two summers ago, seeking peace and sanity after a traumatic roommate experience.  Finding a church where I felt at home was a top priority.  I knew immediately that St Agnes was the right place after hearing cantor Scott Grinthal and the choir sing, led by music director Frank Uranich.   I don’t know why church music is so important to someone who is so unmusical, but it’s crucial to me.  Not that I sing along.  I move my lips, but I’m actually just listening to all the beautiful voices.  Last September, I volunteered to help out two mornings a week  in the church office for the food bank.  It was supposed to be temporary, but I enjoy it so much, they are now stuck with me.  

The food bank gives out 500 bags of food a month.  About 300 bags are weekly lunches, given to the mostly homeless people who live in Golden Gate Park and on Haight Street.  These food bags contain things like granola bars, fruit cups, cans of tuna, juice boxes, and other food that doesn’t need a kitchen to prepare.  We also distribute about 200 monthly bags to people with kitchens, filled with staples like pasta, beans, rice, soup, peanut butter, and canned vegetables.  Parishioners of St Agnes donate both food and money, and it continues to expand.  There may come a point when we have to turn folks away, when the food runs out before the end of the month, but we do what we can with what we are given.  The actual “food bank” is a row of storage cabinets in a wide hallway at the back of the rectory.  When I’m not organizing and re-stocking the cabinets, I’m putting together the bags, as many as I can manage so they won’t run out before the next volunteer come in.  Folks ring the front doorbell, and we mark their names in a card file and give them their food.  We get some fanciful names and some colorful characters coming to the door.  Now when I walk down Haight Street or through the Panhandle, I recognize a lot of the homeless people, and I think they recognize me, too.

Scott Grinthal

Scott Grinthal

     Volunteering has given me the chance to get to know cantor and church secretary Scott, since we chat over coffee breaks.  He and I had similar goals back in high school.  We both had dreams of working on Broadway.  He wanted to perform, I wanted to be a stage manager.  It all began for Scott when he auditioned for The Music Man.   He tried out for Harold Hill, and he was cast in the ensemble.  Not bad for someone who’d never taken singing seriously before.  After years of playing trumpet in school bands, he realized that girls are much more impressed with guys who sing and dance.   He was hooked, and by senior year he was playing lead roles and getting lots more attention from the girls.  Then came college.  His parents urged him to do a “sensible” major, but instead, he majored in voice and minored in drama.  He spent ten years singing and performing for a living, doing everything from equity roles to singing telegrams.  Not all of it was glamorous, obviously, but you do what you must to pay the rent.  I asked Scott if he ever thought he’d be a church cantor.  Laughing, he said it wasn’t something that you plan in high school.  He’d been away from the church for a while when he applied for the job at St Agnes in 1996, but he was surprised to find he still knew the music.  He now leads two masses a week, although sometimes it’s as many as four.  In addition to working in the office and leading us in song, Scott is also a substance abuse counselor, working two to three evenings a week for his certification.   If that weren’t enough, he also sings in a wedding band.  They perform less often now than they once did, since everybody is so busy.  I honestly don’t know where Scott finds the energy to do it all.   He’s an inspiration, and he’s also a pretty fun guy to be around, as long as you don’t mind being teased mercilessly!

Cantor Scott Grinthal, Frank Uranich and St Agnes Choir

Cantor Scott Grinthal, Frank Uranich and the St Agnes Choir

The Rapture

I should have posted this two days ago! 

Of Curbs and Kitchens

I need to re-think my attitude toward reality television.  I really love a good hour-long scripted drama, and I always will.  Except for a few episodes of American Idol, I never watched much reality TV before now.  I have to start giving more of these programs a chance.  I discovered last week at the GLAAD Media Awards that there are some great people on these shows—hosts like John Gidding (HGTV’s Curb Appeal: The Block) and contestants like Yigit Pura (Bravo’s Top Chef Just Desserts).  

Curb Appeal: The Block is a home makeover show where architect/designer John Gidding transforms the front of a house with landscaping, masonry, paint, and architectural detailing.  Well, sometimes it’s the backyard as well.  It depends on the house and their $20,000 budget.  While doing the major makeover, the team also does smaller improvements to other homes on the same block.   They really pack a lot of work into a 30 minute program.  I like how they don’t waste any time.  Rapid editing gets right to the interesting stuff.  Even with the fast pace, they still manage to include some lively—even tense—interactions.  They obviously choose homeowners who have personality and look good on camera.  Hey, it’s television entertainment, after all.  At least they’re not choosing people with heartbreaking stories and building them grand houses they can’t afford to maintain.  People who may be lying and abusing their kids…(don’t get me started on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, please!)  I also like the focus being on the exterior for a change.  I’m no gardener, but I enjoy the landscaping part of the makeover.  I do wonder if the homeowners successfully maintain their new gardens, so I can’t help picturing the team sneaking back months later to check things out. 

HGTV architect/designer John Gidding

HGTV architect/designer John Gidding

My father was an architect, so I spent my early childhood sitting at drafting tables playing with rubber stamps and mechanical pencils.  I also played with my father’s Wright Blocks, never understanding why he’d get so upset when I broke a piece.  Turns out they were rare and valuable.  I thought they were pretty worthless myself, since the furniture shapes were too small for my Barbie dolls.  My father did some work under John Lloyd Wright, but I was too young to remember him.  Any romantic notions I had about architecture were dashed when I worked before college as a receptionist at my father’s office.  He was a consultant on navy contracts.  I spent my days typing government specifications that went something like this: ”The door frames shall not be wider than three feet, two inches by six feet, five inches, and shall not be narrower than two feet, eleven inches by five feet, ten inches.  The doors shall be…” for pages and pages and pages.  The worst part of the job was when the boss made me get out a broom and hose to scrub the bird poop from the front steps.  I got my revenge when I killed the copier by dumping toner into the gears.  It was an accident, I swear. 

 My point to all this reminiscing?  None of the architects I knew growing up looked like John Gidding!  It’s no surprise that he’s a former fashion model.  Having met him, I can confirm that he’s even nicer looking in person.  He’s also personable and friendly, so it’s not just an act for the camera.  I’m definitely a fan now, following him on twitter and facebook and his website.

Top Chef Just Desserts winner Yigit Pura

Top Chef Just Desserts winner Yigit Pura

I also met Yigit Pura, and he won me over.  I have tried to watch the videos of Top Chef Just Desserts on the Bravo website, but all the videos I click on take me to the final segment when Pura is announced the winner.  I don’t know why the website does this.  I want to watch the entire episode.  That’s one of my major complaints about reality TV, actually.  The programs don’t usually merit repeat viewings, so no DVDs if you miss an episode.  Or a whole season, for that matter.  At least I can watch his “It Gets Better” video on YouTube.  Yigit Pura lives here in San Francisco, and he’s planning to open a high concept dessert place in Union Square.  He’s calling it Tout Sweet, and I’m looking forward to going there, assuming I can afford it!  There isn’t an opening date yet, so I’ve set up a google alert.  (I love google alerts!)  I wouldn’t be surprised if Yigit Pura is offered a reality program of his own, since the camera loves him and so do viewers.  Do I normally watch cooking shows?  No, but I’d watch Pura grate lemon peel for an hour.   (Are you reading this, Bravo?!)

A Name That Tickles Me

I was walking near Duboce Park (which I call Pedigree Park because of all the fancy dogs) when I saw this real estate sign.  I love the name Crumeyrolle.  It just makes me smile.

Funny name sign

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