Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Good Laugh

As I write this I am high off of my first (well, second now) cup of coffee in forever!

Most people think that marathon runners are crazy. I say the truly crazy ones are the ones who willing purchase pictures of themselves during the marathon. Oh yes, there is this of-the-devil company called MarathonFoto who profits from the documentation of runners' misery and vulnerability in their attempts to cross the finish line. These mean, mean people are staggered stealthily throughout the race course and snap photo after photo of you as you blindly stagger by. Then they charge an obscene amount of money for the purchase of these incriminating pictures. Seriously, I don't know how these people sleep at night!

For a good laugh, go here and check out the look of agony on my face as I plowed through that humbling experience known as the London Marathon.

Monday, April 23, 2007

St. George's Day

Today is St. George's Day... a day likened to St. Patrick's Day, but not a bank holiday here in England. It is also known to me as my 5th day in London!

As I'm currently paying £1 a half hour to use this internet (that's 2 American Dollars!), I'm attempting to make this quick...

A few highlights include: The huge English Breakfast included free every morning, complete with croissants (not as good as the Hungarian Pastry Shop!), hash browns, eggs, tomatoes, baked beans (!), fruit, yogurt, cheese, and more; The Rothko Room at the Tate Modern; sitting in Trafalgar Square; Friday morning's easy 2 mile run through St. James Park; Reading My Heart is My Own, by John Guy, the new book on the life of Mary Queen of Scots I picked up at the Westminster Abbey Bookstore; the 30 minute sports massage I received this morning; and the beautiful flowers I found in my room Friday night from Jenn & Jess (thanks guys- that was the best most wonderful surprise!!!!!!).

Other events include: the marathon expo, exploring Westminster Abbey, window shopping in Covent Garden & Portobello Road, touring the National Gallery & the Tate Modern, riding the London Eye and the Number 15 bus through Oxford & Piccadilly Circuses, marvelling in the architecture of Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament, and yes... the marathon. My marathon was a success in that I finished, and I finished without injury. However, the race itself was not all the training was cracked up to be. Hot temperatures (record highs for the race) and a super crowded field made this race difficult. My watch time was 5:33:13. Official results can be found here.

I have one more day left in which we plan to hit a few more tourist spots (Julie has us on a tight schedule!). I'm sure I will be posting a few more thoughts as I return to America on Thursday and have time to digest this wonderful experience. So far though, I can easily say that I find London to be a charming, hospitable town that I could easily live in and enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Justice League of Jazz

Ok, in all seriousness....

Kelly Fenton and the Justice League of Jazz

What do we think??? Too much?

or maybe I should just stick with the Kelly Fenton Jazz Orchestra...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

London Calling

In a week, I get to use my new passport. I haven't used a passport since I was 5 weeks old, leaving Okinawa, Japan for the States.

On Wednesday, April 18, I'll meet up with Julie and Jason in JFK, and fly over to London, England!!!!!! We'll be there for a week, with the highlight being the Flora London Marathon on Sunday, April 22. I am also looking forward to high tea in Harrods and visiting Hyde Park. But I don't know much about London and have no idea what else to do.

Any ideas???

Monday, April 9, 2007

Is New York darker, or is that just the smog?

As I walked through Penn Station towards the uptown 1 train, shedding my southern drawl for a more comfortable NY hurried pace, the soundtrack of classical music being pumped in creating the usual surreal landscape as what I hear clashes violently with the trash, sleeping bums, and broken tile my eyes observe, I am welcomed as always by an intangible darkness, fighting it's way into my being and expunging the flowering-tree lined streets with sunny sidewalks of a place where I could be in the house that I owned, kissing my babies goodnight. In the crowded train, next to men arguing loudly accompanied by JT's "What Goes Around" busting someone's eardrums, instead of the cool leather interior of my once owned 1999 Volcano Ash Audi A4, radio tuned to the country station, I rode, balancing my luggage bulging of my newly cleaned clothes and Accent On Achievement Beginning Band Conductor's Book. I passed friends on the street just below Toast-Sorry I couldn't make your gig tonight, train was late-Amtrak?-That's the one- before entering my building to ascend my Mt. Everest. Victory is the 6th floor but oh no, there's pissy cat hanging out on our travel gnome welcome mat (he better not spray again because my bedroom still smells like tom cat domination wars). My roommates greet me nervously; the Luke's Diner Shelf holding my precious coffee mugs fell breaking my brand new tea pot and favorite Easter mug, a reminder of the Manor House Days. Don't worry, we'll replace it-No worries, it's cool. Damn walls, too thin- won't hold anything.


Sorry Dad, I'm not moving home anytime soon. But thanks for always leaving the door unlocked.

Pearls Before Breakfast

Thanks to Anyssa for this:

09 April 2007

Joshua Bell Plays in the Subway: A Commentary on American Modernity


Posted by ACN at 12:00 AM

The real question is, would you have stopped to listen?

Thanks, Anyssa!

POST EDIT: After reading this article, go back to Anyssa's page here and read some intriguing responses.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


Today I get to eat sweets again. (read: today is Easter and the end of Lent)

I am not a practicing Catholic, but if I ever to return to the fold, it would be at Lent. I love lent. (Don't you just love Holy Week?!) I experience lent as a time of detoxification, reevaluation, and rebirth. A time to break bad habits, form good ones, and finally get started on those New Year’s resolutions.

On today’s slow 12 miler (thanks again for the route, Pat!), I CBed (Carrie Bradshawed) my 2007 Lenten experience. Here are the results:

Bad Habits Broken:

Drinking 2-3 glasses of wine after every school day
Watching every rerun of Charmed on TNT
Eating sweets when bored, emotional, hormonal, on days that I breath*
Drinking a pot of coffee on days I work from home

*every year I give up sweets for Lent in hopes that after Easter I will eat less of them. This has yet to happen, hence my re-attempts every year

Good Habits Formed:

Waking up at 7:00 on days I work from home
Sticking to my marathon training schedule
Abstaining from alcohol the day before long run (Saturdays)
Detached & nonchalant attitude towards my school’s admin. (This was by far the hardest habit to form! We’ll see how long it lasts…!)
Replacing black & herbal tea for coffee and wine

Habits to work on Post Lent:

Limiting the now legal sweets
Refraining from checking my email/myspace 500 times a day
Writing first thing in the morning rather than later in the day
Practicing daily (yes, you read correctly. We’ll see how that pans out!)
Adding one dance class a week to my work out regime

Happy Easter

Friday, April 6, 2007

Band Name

I'm in need of a name for my big band. Everyone has a cool band name these days. There's Kyle's Awakening Orchestra, Darcy's Secret Society, and Joe and Bob's Cafe Simpatico. To name a band after yourself is passe. I can't have the "Kelly Fenton Big Band!" "Kelly Fenton Jazz Orchestra" is a little better, but still quite uncool.

I was thinking of something from the Wonder Woman mythology. But somehow I don't think the "Gauntlets of Victory" or "Lasso of Truth Jazz Orchestra" quite paint the right picture.

Any ideas?

post edit: What do we think of "The Justice League of Jazz"?!?!?! Hahahahaha.....!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Saint Ralph

This movie is hilarious. Especially if you grew up catholic and are a runner.

It has nothing to do with music, though musicians may find it inspiring.

Go check it out!

The Runner Musician

Julie came up this past weekend for our 20-miler. We’ve been training for London together, long distance, and like our last marathon, deemed ourselves incapable of running the massive 20 alone. So she flew up and we had a wonderful weekend of running and catching up. On Sunday, we finished off our final pre-tapering run with the Scotland 10k, and added Nadje into the mix. It was such a great weekend of running and friendship, that I found myself happily blogging about it on the the Races In Places myspace.

Originally a lot more friends were going to join us on the 10k. Laura, Kate and Sara had all expressed interest, but Kate and Laura were preoccupied with big auditions, and Sara had a gig (that I unfortunately missed) the day of the race. As I mused in my Carrie Bradshaw way about the race and my friends who are runners, I couldn’t help but think that there was something about running that complimented music. (Now if only I had an outdated Apple laptop and Upper East Side apartment!)

But it’s true! I think there is a lot about running that is attractive to musicians. Just ask P. Diddy and Eric Alexander. Initially, there is the kinship of excelling individually within a group. We practice all day long (well… so I’ve heard) so that we can be our best, but most often we display our shiny selves within a group, an ensemble. Running our best, within fields of thousands of runners feels comfortable, normal.

That comfort is a nice reward to what I think attracts most musicians: the seemingly masochistic nature of training. It’s not much different than practicing, or in my case, writing. Somewhere in you, you want to do it, but given the choice between practicing/writing/running or eating pie… mmm, lemon meringue pie… No need to state the obvious. As musicians, we value and relish the extraction of greatness from sheer, hard work. It’s like getting water from a rock, or turning metal into gold. The high from performing, when completely prepared and honestly intentioned, is the sweetest tasting water, the shiniest gold. Finishing a race is no different. In some ways, its better.

Running is concrete. Music is not. To run, you stand, run, stop. You cross the finish line and there is no question of success. No interpretation. No some like it, some don’t, we all hear different things. You crossed the finish line. You are a success. Two people cross the finish line an hour apart, they both get finisher medals. Out of a field of 25,000 runners, only 15 or so actually run to win, and then another 85 maybe to place. That leaves 24,900 runners who are content with not being the best. What a relief to a musician who has to be so competitive to be successful! And substituting for the critics, are the thousands of anonymous spectators, cheering for you, whom they’ve never met and only need to know one thing about you: you are a runner. It has literally brought tears to my eyes in race to hear people telling me that I can do it, I can finish, complete strangers giving me their energy. Such a stark contrast to the music world, where we desperately check our mypace music page for confirmation of our musical existence.

Not to say that running is simple, because it is a quite complex sport. Sort of the way good music on first listen sounds effortless and simply beautiful, but on analysis complex chord structures, shifting time signatures, and challenging instrumental techniques are found. Good form, pacing, preparation, nutrition, discipline, strength, strong recovery, and patience are only a few of the aspects of good running. These facets I try to apply to my musical training. In running, with out them, it’s not so much that you fail, you just make your life suck, really, really bad. What’s worse than being 4 miles into a 12 miler (a distance which should be a breeze if you are in marathon training) and finding your muscles fatigued, dehydrated, you’re freezing, you’re tired, you want to be back in your warm bed, and you’ve still got 8 miles left and because of the route you chose, you can’t quit where you are- you have to finish the run? How about sitting at your computer at 1:13 am, for the 6th hour, sick off coffee, the caffeine conflicting with your massive fatigue, trying to finish your jazz phil piece which is due the next day by noon, complete with bound scores and taped parts, consulting your Adler AGAIN for a double stop because you are not a damn violinist, craving your warm bed, but knowing you will not feel its comfort because you only have 10 measures and even slowing the tempo drastically does not meet your 3 minute minimum- you have to finish the piece. I can say with the confidence of personal experience that that sucks more than the 12 miler.

This marathon’s training started with runs like the afore mentioned 12 miler. It’s amazing how quickly I learned to not go out drinking the night before a long run, to get more sleep during the week, eat better, drink more water, etc so that my Sunday afternoon runs would not suck. I’m not sure I’ve learned my lesson with the writing procrastination, though those experiences are far worse. But being in marathon training, and having to be constantly aware of my lifestyle and how it will affect my back of the pack running, is forming habits that will hopefully be easily transferred to my composition training.

I think that’s the relief we musicians find in running. The lack of the frustrating abstract. While it’s that very abstract and interpretation that gives music, and all arts for that matter, that sparkle, the mysticism, it can also drown the artist in the very cup of coffee she is clinging to. Running is the Baywatch lifeguard that saves you and refills your inspiration. No matter how dark my day, how eaten away by egotistic depression, running pulls me back out. Every time. Because it’s a concrete chemical reaction that I don’t really understand but am extremely grateful for. Often that runner’s high only lasts the bus ride back from the gym, and dissolves as I ascend the 6 flights of stairs to my dark cavern of an apartment. But those 20 minutes are mastercard priceless. I cling to them as my rested mind can better battle the feverish you’re-not-good-enoughs that pepper every musician’s existence.

Running has become my stability. I’m not fast, I don’t excel at it, I half the time don’t even want to run, but it has become a passion parallel to coffee drinking. And like my eagerly anticipated bringer of spring double tall iced caramel macchiato, running is one more giver of strength, stabilizer, and bringer of good habits that will support my efforts to excel as a composer.