Friday, June 22, 2007

Marathon Man

Dean Karnazes is an Ultrarunner. Meaning he is crazy. He has completed running feats such as running 50 marathons, in 50 states, over 50 consecutive days, concluding with the NYC Marathon (lucky!). He's run across Death Valley as well as the South Pole. He's famous in the running world for his extremely long run runs and the severe conditions in which he runs them.

Now he's done it again. This time, on the Summer Solstice, he ran for 24 consecutive hours on a treadmill suspending in the air in Times Square!

Curious? Go here, here, and here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Philadelphia Marathon

I'm thinking of entering the Philadelphia Marathon this November.

(who needs the NY Marathon anyway! Not me! grumble, grumble)

Anybody out there run it before? What about Philadelphia? I've never been.
Thoughts on the city?

Thoughts on anything...?


Please... distract me from the writing!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Help Wanted

I'm having a MASSIVE ATTACK of writer's block.

Deadline is one week from Sunday (June 24th). Page is currently blank.

Someone help me... suggestions PLEASE!!!!!!

(I think I need another cup of coffee...)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Missed Marathon... AGAIN

Once again I am missing out! This time I do refer to a running marathon: the ING New York City Marathon, my running nemesis.

This will be the third year in a row that I have failed to be drawn in the lottery, the NYRR's system of keeping the number of participants from completely taking over the city.

The good news is that when a runner such as myself has lost the lottery three years in a row, said runner is given guaranteed entry for next year's marathon.

So ING NYC Marathon 2008, HERE I COME!!!

The Sad Song

Unfortunately, I cannot post the video, but go here and be uplifted by this sad song.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

60 Second Rule?

Turns out we have more than the standard 5 seconds to eat our dropped food off the floor!

The Chicago Tribune reports:
Dropping a piece of food on the floor and then picking it up and dining on
it is a germaphobe's nightmare.

Streptococcus. Staphylococcus. E. coli. Oh, my!

But how bad is it?A college professor and her students have challenged the
prevailing wisdom of the so-called 5-second rule, which for generations has
governed how long little morsels can remain on floors uncontaminated.

The window, the Connecticut team has concluded, is really 30 seconds.


"The students wanted two different types of food sources: a wet source and
one that was a dry food source, to test any differences," [Anne Bernhard,
assistant professor of biology at Connecticut College in New London] said. "You
would think that a wet food source would be more likely to attract bacteria very

Each food item was dropped in triplicate for specific intervals that ranged
from 5 seconds to 5 minutes.

"We did this experiment in the main dining area, and about 2,000 students
traffic through that area," [student Nicole Moin] said Wednesday. "So you'd
think there would be a multitude of bacteria on the floor."

In the first set of tests, moist apple slices were dropped.

And what researchers saw after 5 seconds were pristine morsels. Not until
the 1-minute interval did they find bacteria developing on the apple slices. It
took 5 minutes for organisms to colonize a Skittle.

The conclusion, Bernhard said, is that instead of a 5-second rule for moist
foods that have fallen, the standard should be 30 seconds: As long as you eat a
moist food within 30 seconds of its fall, you're very likely to be in a zone of

For dry, less porous foods, she added, you might be safe even if you allow
them to stay on the floor for 1 minute.

For the full story, go here.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Who wants to come?

I'll bring the vino, you bring the pain & fromage

Friday, June 8, 2007

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

Now judge Englishmen if it be good to change Queens. Oh uniting confounding! When rude Scotland has vomited up a poison, must fine England lick it up for a restorative? Oh vile indignity! While your Queen's enemy liveth, her danger continueth. Desperate necessity will dare the uttermost...

-from A Detection of the Doings of Mary Queen of Scots, touching the murder of her husband, and her conspiracy, adultery, and pretended marriage with the Earl of Bothwell. And a defence of the true Lords, maintainers of the King's grace's action and authority.

My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots by John Guy

Read it. You'll love it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Monk for the Masses

Some of you have no doubt seen this already, but for those of you who haven't, it's hilarious! It takes about 4 minutes to view, so if you haven't the time, skip ahead to here.


A Promise Is...

*sigh*... a promise.

ACN recently told me that she's been doing some pencilling. I promised to put up a drawing of mine, if she put up a drawing of hers. Well, she called my bluff and put up a beautiful drawing of Glenn Gould. Go see it, it's good!

Mine, sadly, is not as much. But a promise is a promise, so here I give you, from 1997, (note the torn corner and the Yucca Valley Plumbing stationary!), my interpretation of a John Byrne Wonder Woman:

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Missed Marathon

No, not another running marathon. This time I refer to Bang on a Can's annual Marathon. It was this past weekend and I had no idea. I am so sadly out of the loop.

As it turns out I wouldn't have been able to go anyway as I was up in Mount Vernon the whole weekend playing in the what had to be the world's most bipolar high school production of Dreamgirls. I say bipolar because the incredible lack of organization in the production which enabled the pit band to sometimes play, sometimes not, sometimes start just to stop halfway through a number did not matter to the audience who was there only to hear these quite talented high schoolers belt their way American Idol style through the plot. While a bit painful at times to play, it was mostly likely a pleasure for the community to watch.

While I did somewhat enjoy getting paid to play a continually out of tune flute (that auditorium was SO hot and I just could NOT control the pitch!) and smooth jazz saxophone licks (I actually prefer the out of tune flute!), I do wish I could have partook in the all night music down in the Financial District.

Lucky for me, Darcy James Argue chronicled the entire event. If you too were absent, check out his write-ups and photos here, here, and here. You'll be sad you missed it, too!

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Bad Plus's Blindfold Test

In response to a request by Destination: Out! to select the best 10 jazz albums of the 1990’s, The Bad Plus decided to post on their blog, DO THE MATH, 4 mp3s from albums that did not make the cut.

Typically, I am petrified of blindfold tests. What easier way is there to make a complete fool of yourself by not recognizing someone completely obvious? At least that is the fear. After listening to the aforementioned tracks, I can safely say that only the first track sounds at all familiar to me. And by that I mean the first saxophonist. The third track is supposedly inspired by Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”. I find the fourth track, while unrecognizable, beautiful. But that’s all I will say.

Go listen for yourself, keep your ideas to yourself if you like, then check back (there, not here) next week for the answers!

Friday, June 1, 2007

It was 40 years ago today

Sgt. Pepper taught the band, and the world, to play:

Parade Magazine reports:

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Beatles’ completion of Sgt.
Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a tour de force that elevated the rock album
to art form and taught generations of bands to play.

The 13 tracks on Sgt. Pepper’s were conceived in a magical span of 700 hours
over five months. The Beatles began recording on Dec. 6, 1966, and finished
the album on April 21, 1967, when they created the final track, an avant-garde
seconds-long pastiche of sounds—including a high-pitched tone inaudible to
humans put there solely to annoy your dog—that was later dubbed “Inner
Groove” for its bizarre placement within the concentric circles of the LP.

“When Sgt. Pepper's came out, it was an album that surprised people on every
single level,” says Mark Lewisohn, author of The Complete Beatles Recording
Sessions. “The vast majority of the millions who bought it had never seen a
gatefold sleeve, they’d never seen lyrics on the cover, they’d never seen a
cover like that—a real piece of art—and they never heard music like this. The
combination was so dynamic that it’s still being talked about 40 years later.”

Lewisohn wrote the booklet for Sgt. Pepper’s CD release and is currently
writing a three-volume biography of the Beatles, to be completed by 2016.

“Sgt. Pepper's was the last time there was a real collective sense of purpose
among the Beatles that they all wanted to achieve something very special,”
Lewisohn says. “After that there began to be other agendas in the way they
functioned. And by the summer of ’69, they were splintered.”

Sgt. Pepper’s won four Grammy Awards in 1967, including Album of the Year and
Best Album Cover. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it No. 1 of the 500 Greatest
Albums of All Time.

Rolling Stone reported:

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important rock & roll
album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover
art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time.
From the title song's regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the orchestral
seizure and long, dying piano chord at the end of "A Day in the Life," the
thirteen tracks on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band are the pinnacle of the
Beatles' eight years as recording artists. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George
Harrison and Ringo Starr were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit
of magic and transcendence.

Issued in Britain on June 1st, 1967, and a day later in America, Sgt.
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is also rock's ultimate declaration of change.
For the Beatles, it was a decisive goodbye to matching suits, world tours and
assembly-line record-making. "We were fed up with being Beatles," McCartney said
decades later, in Many Years From Now, Barry Miles' McCartney biography. "We
were not boys, we were men . . . artists rather than performers."

At the same time, Sgt. Pepper formally ushered in an unforgettable season of
hope, upheaval and achievement: the late 1960s and, in particular, 1967's Summer
of Love. In its iridescent instrumentation, lyric fantasias and eye-popping
packaging, Sgt. Pepper defined the opulent revolutionary optimism of psychedelia
and instantly spread the gospel of love, acid, Eastern spirituality and electric
guitars around the globe. No other pop record of that era, or since, has had
such an immediate, titanic impact. This music documents the world's biggest rock
band at the very height of its influence and ambition.


Yet Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the Number One album of the RS
500 not just because of its firsts -- it is simply the best of everything the
Beatles ever did as musicians, pioneers and pop stars, all in one place. A 1967
British print ad for the album declared, "Remember Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts
Club Band Is the Beatles." As McCartney put it, the album was "just us doing a
good show."

The show goes on forever.

Joy of the Ode

Beethoven again. Last week I went to hear the famous Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, the “Choral” Symphony, performed by the Juilliard Choral Union & Orchestra (my 5th grade clarinet student would be so proud). I had never before heard the work in its entirety, least not in one sitting. I must admit that as I eased into my seat at Avery Fisher Hall, I felt a bit of pressure to like what I was about to hear. It is, after all, considered to be one of his greatest masterpieces. It (supposedly) is the reason for the initial 74 minute length CD. It’s “Ode to Joy” theme is the anthem of Europe! What would it mean about my own musicianship if I didn’t agree with the Big B’s musical choices?

Rather than worry about that, I found myself dwelling during the first movement about society’s expectations in art. One can hardly stand up and proclaim their disdain for the world’s favorite “Ode to Joy” with out being pelted with a few stones for being an arrogant traitor. One would at least expect an extremely well supported explanation for their treachery (see DJA’s Milton Babbit quote in “We’re Separated At Birth”).

Regardless, I was relieved when I recognized and fully enjoyed the second movement. The third movement was beautiful, but I must admit to being lulled into a zone of mindless wondering. This in turn instigated a thought process on my short attention span for concerts. I am SO guilty of this and like the media blame my Nintendo and PC versions of Splinter Cell and Tomb Raider. Actually I don’t blame them at all, but I do wish I had the ability to focus on the intricacies of longer works of music.

I was roused from this reverie as the third movement ended and the much anticipated fourth began. Oh, the excitement in the air! People woke up, leaned forward in their chairs, bodies tense as they waited to hear that famous melody. I realized that I was not actually familiar with this movement despite the melody and was shocked then awed to hear “Ode to Joy” begin in unison cellos and bass. Interesting… I thought to myself. As the line repeatedly moved across the orchestra, I felt I finally understood the terms “genius” and “masterpiece.” It was this incredible development of the theme that made the deepest impression on me. I wasn’t the only listener enjoying this movement; people all around were nodding their heads as if at a rock concert! They LOVED this music! It really was the most surreal experience I’ve ever had at a classical concert.

Of course the question I immediately asked was did they like it because of the high level of musicianship in the performance, or the genius of Beethoven’s writing, or the drama of Beethoven writing it while dealing with his recent loss of hearing, or because this melody is pounded at us in church, commercials, even cell phone rings? And then… did it matter? These people enjoyed the concert. Their day was made better. You could maybe go as far as say their lives were improved. And I don’t think the media’s propaganda of this tune is the sole reason people love it. They love it because it is a well written hook that is easy to sing along with making it accessible to all people regardless of their musical training. Interesting.

One last note about Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony: Only Beethoven could get away with writing a piece that requires over 100 singers to wait almost an hour before getting the chance to sing.