Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pachelbel Rant

(Thanks, Red!)

Monday, July 16, 2007

An impossible swim possible, sadly

"I am obviously ecstatic to have succeeded, but this swim is a triumph and a tragedy," comments Lewis Gordon Pugh (above) on his recent 19 minute swim in the just below freezing waters of the North Pole.

This 37-year-old British lawyer and swimmer hoped the success of his swim would prove a point to politicians around the world about the effects of global warming.

"A triumph that I could swim in such ferocious conditions but a tragedy that it's possible to swim in the North Pole."

More here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Music of the Late Night

Came across this on The New York Toimes and wanted to share it too...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

$20 to talk

Last night, I went with Janelle down to Smalls to hear the Gilad Hekselman Quartet. With Gilead (guitar) was Orlando Le fleming (bass), Ari Hoenig (drums), and Joel Frahm (t. sax). Now I'll be honest, I'm not always that into guitar, but I had never heard Ari before and I always enjoy hearing Joel. So I decided that despite how incredibly tired I was from this long week of teaching (more on that soon), I would go ahead and cough up the $20 to hear the show.

We got there at the end of the first set. As we descended the stairs and turned the corner into the bar, we were immediately hit with an insane amount of notes coming out of Joel's sonorous tenor, as well as an insane amount of... talking! Aghast, I scanned the room and sure enough, everyone in the back of the bar was chatting away, completely oblivious to the incredible music that was being created at the front of the room.

As the night went on, this obnoxious behavior continued. Even during extremely sensitive parts of the music, when it was just Gilead picking out a beautiful, melodic arpeggiation, the crowd at the back continued to talk, laugh, and be completely disrespectful. I was not the only one annoyed as several times members of the audience banded together in loud "Shhh"s and evil stares.

I found myself shifting through several emotions as I listened. First, I would become entrapped by the music. It was a really good set. Gilead's compositions were beautiful and it never came close to the smooth jazz line that I often begrudge guitarists for getting too close to. Ari was completely and pleasurably out. I found myself focusing on his playing all the time (even during the sax solos!) trying to anticipate where he'd go next. I just had to try not to look at him too often as, I'm sorry to say, his facial expressions reminded me at times of Steve Martin's portrayal of Ruprecht, the "clinically-barking brother," in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels ("you've been banging on your pots again, haven't you" ...hee hee). Joel, as always, sounded beautiful. I truly love his tone and his ability to not always play the million notes he is capable of all the while carefully inserting his deep-seated blues licks where appropriate. Janelle and I both agreed it was fun to hear him in this non-standard vein and that it was his playing that added a certain element, an aesthetic grounding almost, to this group that would skillfully avoid time, off in their own practice rooms, just to spontaneously (so it sounded) come together and land precisely on 1.

As I became absorbed in the music and my listening became more acute, I continued to pick up the ridiculous amounts of talking in the back. I simply cannot stand talking during live music. I find it to be one of the rudest activities possible. I consider it such an offense that I literally spend the first 10-15 minutes of each music class I teach (with the exception of band) having the kids practice "formal listening." Every class I remind them of the difference between "casual" and "formal" listening and we discuss when it is appropriate to talk or sing along to music and what we should be listening for when practicing "formal" listening. I take it very seriously and lower grades when students talk or act up during the formal listening.

The patrons at Smalls clearly had no understanding of "formal" listening. Try as I might, I just could not mute them out and became incensed by it. How dare they come to a jazz club and spend the whole time talking. I mean, this was not some cafe with recorded music in the background. They had to pay a whopping $20 to even get through the door! And come to think of it, so had I! Now I was getting mad at the establishment. How dare they allow this talking! I did not pay $20 to hear people talk! It certainly made me more appreciative of the clubs that enforce a no talking policy.

Not that this behavior is limited to expensive clubs. It's everywhere. At my elementary school's Spring Concert the talking amongst the parents was insane. It was so bad by the end that Francesca, the director of the Chorus and Advanced Keyboard Program literally stopped her performance and addressed the audience, requesting them, in essence, to shut the hell up.

Why is this such a problem? Why do people pay $20 to sit in the back of jazz club and talk? Why do they willingly attend live music just to not listen? And why must those who are listening be disrupted by these barbaric offenders?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Why I <3 Ethan Iverson

Obviously, Ethan is a phenomenal pianist and The Bad Plus has been rocking my world since I randomly picked These Are The Vistas up off a shelf in Borders back in early 2004. These days I'm equally entertained, and often enlightened, by their blog, Do The Math.

To date, their most recent post, written by Ethan, is having me love him (and the band by association) even more. I'll give you a tease: Dr. Who, and Buffy.

Now to be honest, I've never actually watched Dr. Who, though I am a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Joss Whedon fan. But that doesn't matter as I am completely in awe of anyone (Ethan) who can compose such a LONG correlation between two fictional characters and then post it for the entire internet world to see. Usually, I keep such geek-outs to a quiet closeted whisper with a small, like-minded audience. In addition, Ethan mentioned reading the Whedon penned Buffy: Season 8 comic that I too am collecting!

Ethan, I <3 you like I <3 Joss!


What's with these online addictions?

In an act of procrastination to doing some copy work that really needs to get done, I joined Facebook.


Another distraction! Whoopee!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Fate & Free Will

From Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love:

Destiny, I feel, is also a relationship- a play between divine grace and
willful self-effort. Half of it you have no control over; half of it is
absolutely in your hand, and your actions will show measurable
consequence. Man is neither entirely a puppet of the gods, nor is he
entirely the captain of his own destiny; he's a little of both. We gallop
through our lives like circus performers balancing on two speeding side-by-side
horses- one foot is on the horse called "fate," the other on the horse
called "free will." And the question you have to ask every day is- which horse
is which? Which horse do I need to stop worrying about because it's not under my
control, and which do I need to steer with concentrated effort?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Will the REAL Catman please stand up?

Catman: Thomas Blake, a reformed villian in the DC Universe. Formerly a pathetic foe of Batman, now a disturbingly hot, conscientious bad-ass whose loyalties are still questionable despite his membership in the Secret Six.

A fictional character.

Wildcat: Ted Grant, old school DC Superhero, former heavyweight boxer, and current member of the Justice Society of America.

Also a fictional character.

Stalking Cat: Dennis Avner, a man of Huron lineage, who in the Huron tradition, is transforming himself into his totem, the tiger.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Where in the World Is?

I recently bought the coolest world map from Amazon. It now hangs in my office and I study it everyday in attempts to overcome "Dumb American" syndrome.

To test my recent cramming, I visited this site. Sadly, the only quiz that I achieved a 100% on was Australia, and that is due only to my Australia magnet courtesy of Nad. Damn those Aussies for only having 6 states and 2 territories!!!

Check it out and see how well you do!


Yesterday, I turned 29. Today, I stayed in my pajamas for all but the 5 minutes it took to run downstairs to buy a cheap $7 bottle of wine. Now, I am watching NBC's coverage of the fireworks celebration of the 4th of July. I always think I don't care about such occasions at watching fireworks for a national holiday until I find myself on my second glass, in my PJs with dirty hair, watching other people happily celebrating. Then, the inevitable thought, "maybe I should have gotten off my a$$, taken a shower, and not stayed a hermit once again." Sigh. Oh well, too late now.

The last few weeks have been, to understate, quite intense.

First, I had my school's end of the year Spring Concert which proved to be much more stressful that I anticipated. I hope to post mp3s from that concert soon (they really are quite cute!).

Then came the week of mad writing to finish this piece for my grandmother's 85th birthday. This became quite an undertaking. Don't believe what they tell you- it is MUCH harder to write music about real people than fictional superheroes! After many manic nights of hammering down the usual initial writer's block, overcoming the insecurity that always plagues me when the time comes to actually call players for the session, rushing late to said session in a cab secretly feeling a little like a rock star, and the final consumption of the god's sweet nectar also known as a Venti Caramel Macchiato (thanks Heidi!), I had a decent recording of "Ike & Ellie."

Of course on first listen I immediately regretted much of what I wrote and have massive plans for a rewrite. Luckily, the fantastic musicians pulled off my shotty writing and at this past weekend's family reunion, enough tears were shed during the playing of "Ike & Ellie" that I know the gesture was well received.

Nevertheless, I am exhausted. Hence the all day veg, and lack of internet correspondence for the past few weeks!

My birthday yesterday was actually quite nice. I had a birthday breakfast with Laura before she flew out to Austria for the summer, then a quick sojourn to Central Park to start my new book before heading out to Queens for a 3 hour meeting with my principal, Fran (the other AWESOME music teacher at my school) and Lucy (the equally AWESOME dance teacher) to discuss scheduling for next year. Then off to teach just 2 lessons up in Eastchester followed by margaritas at the Heights with Jess, Jenn, and Nad. The day was full and I had to carry around my clarinet, flute, and sax all day, but I felt so relieved not to be spending every waking second thinking about writing or teaching.

I suppose I should say something profound about turning 29.

Anyway, camp starts tomorrow and I admit I feel more like a career teacher than career writer, but I suppose that will do for now. Believe it or not, there is more gratitude in teaching:

Happy 4th of July.