jumping clapping man

Underrated. Forgotten. Neglected. Unknown.

Call them what you will. Re-discovering such divas has always been the pride of Opera Queens the world round, just like hipster punks staking their claim on discovering the coolest, unknown bands. But, back in the day it took the divining powers to wade through the sea of “pirates”! Today, we all know a quick click on youtube takes us places that it would require months of recording research to get to in the past.

So, I’m pleased to share a series of some notable, and some great “would be stars today” divas, suffering from varying degrees of neglect in posterity. No, I’m not talking about Gencer, Cerquetti, Souliotis, or Deutekom…they’re too easy, and hardly forgotten any longer. I’m focusing on dramatic and spinto sopranos (plus a bonus mezzo and baritone), billed by me as Divas With Cojones! Since they are among the rarest operatic fachs

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Trash Treasures of New York City

If you’ve seen, read or heard of “Mommie Dearest,” you know Joan Crawford is infamous for physically and verbally abusing her four adopted children. It’s a bit of a chilling story. So when I went on a Park Avenue garbage removal job and found (what I think are) 1966 signed head shots and a news clipping documenting her daughter’s wedding, in which she was the matron of honor, I was a pretty fascinated.

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Girls Do Film

What Ever Happened To Baby JaneWhat Ever Happened To Baby Jane_

This post is part of the Diamonds & Gold blogathon, hosted by Caftan Woman and Wide Screen World. There are so many wonderful entries, be sure to have a read of them!

They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

An oft-used cliche, especially when it comes to classic film, but one that applies in so many ways to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Robert Aldrich’s much-loved, cult classic. So much of Baby Jane is a product of its time, from the well-developed roles for older actress to the female-dominated cast and the well publicised spat between the two leading ladies, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. It’s impossible to imagine a film like this being made today: two ‘older’ actress, one who clearly isn’t looking her best, embroiled in a battle of psychological wills that doesn’t stem from a love triangle or a broken relationship.

What Ever Happened To Baby JaneWhat Ever Happened To Baby Jane

The movie…

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The Homeless Adjunct

Put simply, universities traditionally have pursued a three-prong mission: 1) to provide excellent educational opportunities, 2) to support scholarly research and study, and 3) to encourage both professional and community service.

There has been a lot written recently about how the adjunct situation has negatively impacted our students’ education – and this blog will be addressing that extensive problem in a future post. But it is the second of the three-prong mission I’d like to talk about now, since I’m not seeing as much attention focused on this equally serious problem.

The adjunct labor abuse problem is becoming more widely reported: Seventy-five percent of America’s college faculty earn less than $25, 000 a year. Often hired one semester at a time with no healthcare or retirement benefits, paid per course an average of $2700, faculty are now academia’s migrant workers.

Historically, it has been the responsibility of our institutions of…

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Radvanovsky: Humble Servant

Posted: August 1, 2014 in August 2014


Tonight at Koerner Hall, Sondra Radvanovsky offered a self-portrait in her recital as part of Toronto Summer Music Festival. It’s not just a huge coup for TSM & Artistic Director Douglas McNabney, the highest profile artist to appear there this summer, but also the most impressive concert I’ve heard so far this year, both for its musical values and the warmth generated in the hall.

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky

Radvanovsky showed different sides of herself, winning a roomful of new friends. Music & drama aside, she is a hugely likeable figure without the pretentiousness that sometimes goes with recital singing.  At times she was having so much fun, we could have been watching a comedienne.

Hmm i wonder if she will try a comic role..?

But this self-portrait showed someone happily settling into her Canadian home, to an audience ready to eat up any and every reference to that relationship.  It…

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a firetender's Blog

It’s time to acknowledge that there is something sick to the core of the Catholic Church in its relationship to children. It’s time to close it down. It’s time to sue it to death. Let’s leave a better world to our children by eliminating a destructive spirit.

Something in the essence of either the Church’s philosophy or its execution is terribly flawed. Its most influential positions attract disturbed individuals who then act out forms of rage against children, often expressing it sexually.

It has been so strong a part of the Church for so long — and not even approached by any other mainstream  religion in its prevalence — that at some point you just have to scream, “STOP!”

These problems are only being dealt with symptomatically by incident, and limited to financial compensation and an occasional apology.  Because of this, the Church and its clergy can no longer be…

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I made the mistake of watching one of my usual brain candy shows on Lifetime or Lifetime Movie Network. It covered the Elliot Rodger incident. As usual, I end up self-diagnosing (not that I am a serial murderer),but there was a psychological pattern  ascribed to him, characteristic of Aspies: collecting injustices.


Now, perhaps, some tend to bear grudges more so than others, but the collecting injustices might perhaps be evident in a person who remembers, say, ten years ago you snubbed me in the grocery store, or when I was four you took my stuffed blue dog away.

And for these sins against me I will never forgive you. Perhaps in my case there might be fantasies of retribution against such persons (more perhaps in later blogs).


Not that Christina Crawford of Mommie Dearest fame is any authority on anything, but I do remember a claim she made about her mother, which actually is one of the few somewhat valid psychological insights she makes in that infamous tell-all:

Mother tended to become riveted on what she considered a personal slight or insult but she would not discuss it with you.  Later, she wouldn’t remember what the explanation for it was or that it may have been unintentional. She silently brooded over the incident and carried it with her inside. She remembered only the insult, however accidental, and it grew as time passed. Usually, such a misunderstanding fades away with time. But for Mother, the process was the opposite. She clung to the image of the old hurt to her own secret image as the deprived, somehow cheated and unloved person.

That image was the bottomless pit into which you could pour years of loving, kindness, and attempts to reconciliation without visible results It failed to erase one mistake. (My words: Christina sent a telegram to her mother on her birthday rather than a card.) It put you at a permanent disadvantage. Your unpremeditated error in judgment became part of a larger aberration that existed privately in the far reaches of her own childhood deprivation, her own alienation and loneliness, her own insatiable need for love. There just wasn’t enough love in the whole world to fill her need.

Is this perhaps why I feel an affinity with Joan Crawford (perhaps one of the few places in Mommie Dearest where the real Joan actually emerges)? I sometimes feel the same way (who doesn’t at times?), but I wonder if my bearing grudges, especially against women in authority positions (no Freudian diagnosis yet, please), takes on a level that could be harmful to myself.

One example: When I was in college, I got a job as a student worker in the library working in the cataloging/acquisitions department. I was quite excited about it. It was a step up from shelving books (my high school job, and there will be a story about my tribulations which still give me nightmares working for the “old gink” Yacko in a later blog). Apparently there was some kind of transition going on in the department, and the head cataloger had to step into the position of head librarian. A part time librarian who had attended the library school (whom I shall call AH) at that campus and had worked in the library in various capacities for about twenty years or so stepped into the head cataloging position.

AH was a socialite; her husband was a famous musician. She was one of those types who went back to school later in life, got a degree; in other words, she could afford a “female vanity job,” AH always looked harried; you know, she did have that big house in the suburbs to keep up, plus function as the wife of a celebrity figure, with all the social function planning suitable to a matron of her station.

She liked me because I could file cards in the card catalog accurately. I, in my desperate and at that time unconscious desire to find maternal figures, tried to squeeze from her a motherly (or perhaps closer to grandmother, given her age) instinct. Didn’t work.

Because with my limited work experience and limited social skills, I also apparently overstepped a power boundary by withdrawing some books on a cart (the instructions were unclear; there was some relationship to books coming in as gifts; in this case, I don’t remember, even though I remember every slight and insult wrought unto me and a dream I had in second grade).


The tension became more apparent after I tried to correct manually typed cards for the Curriculum Library (those did not come from OCLC; clarify: these incidents occurred in the early 1980s) with white out. A no-no.

She also resented the camaraderie I was enjoying with the other women in the department. It was the first time in my life I could call an adult by his/her first name. I was relishing, after growing up in an oppressive Catholic ghetto atmosphere, being treated like an adult.  A coworker. The job was actually glamorous to me. Frightening and in retrospect pathetic.

One time she called and I answered the phone. She said, “This is Mrs. H. Tell Jean I won’t be into later.” Fuck you, lady. I replied, “I will tell her, A.” Ha! I called you by your first name! Ha!

She would bring flowers from her opulent garden and put them out, saying, “Enjoy! A.” Isn’t that special?

And her voice was loud, almost a bellow, that emerged from such a short, dumpy matron. And that issue fed into the main showdown.


I was out by the card catalog (which I was allowed to file in, as, really no one else could do it accurately, I emphasize), talking to a friend. I was not on the clock; I was doing some research for a paper. AH emerged from the technical services area and told me to be quiet. I, enraged, yelled back at her and said I was not doing anything wrong or disturbing. Yes,  Mrs. Loudmouth, whose voice could probably carry over the famous brass section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, had the nerve to tell me to be quiet. Fuck you, lady, Fuck you!  I hate you, you hypocritical bitch. (Oh, the CSO reference is a hint as to who she might be.)

The new head cataloger (who was fired the next year for swearing at a nun and sleeping with a student, a friend of mine), intervened, and I had to apologize to AH, who took it like it was the least of her worries.  (For that response, I’ll give her credit for understanding boundaries and priorities; that’s why she is such a social paragon.)

Miss Slut, the new head cataloger, had the nerve to tell me I was getting a swelled head and that I wanted to run the library. I needed to be put in my place: I was just a student worker.

AH retired a year later. The faculty and staff held a retirement party for her. I told my thesis advisor, a nun who saw scholarly potential in me, that I did not get along with AH.  The nun seemed surprised.

AH is listed in the Palm Beach/Miami/Chicago society social register. There’s stuff on the web about her being in charge of dinners and women’s auxiliaries: the life of a Chicago socialite. Her husband, whom she met in elementary school, is dead. They looked like brother and sister. I mentioned that to one of the ladies who treated me like an equal. They agreed. Creepy.


I still hate her.

I did revenge myself on her a couple years after I left graduate school by calling her house a couple times and hanging up. She was home both times.

Why should I even care about this now? I claim it’s part of a larger dynamic in my psychosocial narrative that involves love-hate relationships with women in authority.


I also, and I admit I am being a self-righteous brat, I want people to know that she is not the social paragon that everyone thinks she is.

And I’m jealous of someone who has NEVER had to worry about money. She landed a talented person who ended up being rich and famous, no denying that. And as far as I am concerned, who is to say, based on her treatment of me, that she really deserved her upper middle class wealthy matron life?

Mimetic desire, to use a cliche, rears its ugly head. I should be a socialite; I should have landed a wealthy, talented person. The gods are cruel; they kill us like flies, for sport.

As a final confession, I’ll admit I’m a “meanie” because here I am picking on an elderly woman thirty years after these incidents occurred.

I’ll also admit that I don’t care how old she is or how long it has been: she is still a rude, obnoxious, phony, loudmouthed bitch, and there is someone in the world who dislikes her.

Anyone else in the world who could not stand this woman? I sincerely hope so!

Email me at Cobelli@aol.com if you think you have figured out who this person is.