Saturday, June 18, 2011

Signs..Signs..Everywhere There's Signs

Clockwise from top left: Tokyo, Las Vegas, Brooklyn, and Grand Canary Islands.
(Click pictures to enlarge)

“One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain.” ~Thomas Sowell (American Writer and Economist, b.1930)
I have a photo of a group of Canada geese standing on the shore of a local lake next to a sign that reads... "NO SWIMMING". It is as if they wonder... "Does this mean me?" These signs are from around the world.. some three dimensional, some profound and some simply different. Since I don't travel much these days, those from overseas were taken by my brother. The first, from Tokyo shows businessmen and women waiting to cross the street, although I must admit that I wondered if they were male models posing... then again... no, no way.. waiting to cross the street. All of them in black suits or skirts, black jackets or dark gray coats and white shirts; uniform in nature... conforming....expected. But the huge red LOVE sign in the background POPS off the page and gives it a strange twist (which is why I wondered if there was a photo shoot going on for a magazine cover or something). The "LOVE" also feeds into the next sign... M&M's. I do so love M&M's, either plain or with almonds (peanuts are ok but almonds are heavenly). The crazy bright colors and the three dimensional look of the lovable and sweet (in more ways than one) characters make me want to walk right into the store and buy all the M&M's my suitcase can hold. This sign would stand out here at home, but in Las Vegas... everything is gaudy and everything is brightly colored and over-the-top. You can see the Coca-Cola store next door with its oversized bottle... anyway... I love M&M's.

The next sign is one of several on the outer walls of the Brooklyn Public Library, profound and true. Even in these days of instant downloads of Kindle books, I still like to walk through the stacked shelves of the library; to smell the pages of the books and see the worn page edges. If I can check it out from the library for free, I won't buy the book to download. In any form, electronic or hardcover... books are definitely the inheritance of generations.

I thought the final sign in this group was cute... it reads "pedestrian zone".. so someone painted pedestrians on the wall behind the sign. In doing so, the artist fulfilled the intent of the sign... now it IS a pedestrian zone!

My brother is the central figure in this opera sign. Posted by Picasa
Yes, my brother is the large central figure in this opera poster sign... he's the one with the gun pointed at his head. Operas always put these large signs to advertise the coming event or the opera currently playing. Here in the United States, opera isn't that popular and the opera companies are much smaller, as are the productions. In Japan, however, the people are wild about opera to an almost fanatic degree. Stephen has performed several times in Tokyo, in this case the only opera written by Mozart... Fidelio. It is one of those comedy/drama stories... he plays Florestan, a nobleman, who has been kidnapped and imprisoned by an evil governor who spreads the word that Florestan is dead. Leonore, Florestan's wife, suspects he is still alive and she pretends to be a man (Fidelio) and manages to obtain a job as the chief jailer's helper. She smuggles provisions to her husband in the dungeon.

However, the daughter of the chief jailer, falls in love with Fidelio (not knowing that he is really Leonore) and rebuffs another young assistant who is mad for her. The governor tries to get the chief jailor to kill Florestan when he discovers that a high minister in the government is on his way to inspect the prison. The minister, Florestans close friend, will surely find him and the governor will be in real trouble. The chief jailer refuses, so the governor goes to do the murderous deed himself... the minister is within sight on the road. Lenore as Fidelio is in the dungeon with her husband and flings herself between the governor and her bound husband. She reveals herself and the pistol she has smuggled in; but as she prepares to shoot the governor or die trying to save her husband, the trumpet sounds... the minister is here... Florestan is saved! Leonore releases her husband and all is well. Oh... the chief jailer's daughter is a bit rattled that Fidelio was actually Leonore, but she quickly gets over it when the young man who is mad for her again professes his love and she accepts. It's one of those "happily ever after" endings... well, except for the evil governor... one that is not often seen in opera. In fact, this is one of the few parts my brother plays that does NOT die in the end.

While Stephen was still singing as a house tenor in Linz, Austria, they did a production of "Peter Grimes". Opera is sung in the language it is written in and this was written in English. He plays a rustic fisherman and of course, dies in the end. For the pre-opera advertising, they shot photos of him in his costume... a thick sweater, jeans and old fisherman hat.. with thick nets. The ocean was in the background and he was kneeling on the sand. This was the opera poster shot and they made it into a large billboard as well. He told me it was always disconcerting to walk down that street and look up to see a multiple times life size picture of himself. Life-size, he is big and imposing. The billboard.....really scary.

Carmi is collecting "signs" this week... I know he is going to have a lot of great ones. Actually, when I read what he wants over there... it really isn't this. I probably SHOULD have posted the geese with the "no swimming" sign. Oh, well. I am this far into it so I am just going to go with it... just won't link it over there. This is why one should ALWAYS read the instructions AND any fine print. However, the Saturday Photo Hunt, which I missed of course is on "informative". I thought this meant an informative post.. and this is one, in a way. But signs also are very informative.. at least sometimes. So, better late than never... on to the Photo Hunt.

(end of post)
Saturday Photo Hunt ~ "Informative"


Ginny Hartzler said...

The M & M's sign is my favorite, too! What a plot this opera is! Since they are rarely sung in English, I never know what the plot is.

Sandra Hangey said...

i don't know what carmi wants, but i really like all of yours. especially the pedestrian zone and your brother. it looks like an ad for a movie. i tried to pick one of the M & M's off the post, did not work

fredamans said...

One of your signs made me extremely hungry.

Credman said...

My sign says "Home is Where the Story Begins." That's a pretty compelling sign your brother is in, seems more of a movie sign than opera!

Col said...

The M&M one is fantastic.   Such a good selection here.  And I so agree with you about walking through a library... one of my most favourite things.    I recently got myself a Kobo e-reader and one of its best features is that it allows me to download free library books.   But I still like nothing better than spending my time browsing the walls of real time books.

Ramblingwoods said...

My Father and my father-in-law (now gone) are and were great opera fans...I grew up listening to my father's records....I love the plain M&m's. Peanuts seem to get in the way...

lesley said...

I have a meme just for signs - of any kind - the linky goes up on Wednesday afternoons. Feel free to join us if you wish at

Daughter said...

Hey Madre! Please tell me you kept that poster of Uncle Stephen!! I wanna copy to frame!!