Archive for the ‘Music & musicians’ Category

One of my friends sent me this link today.  Check it out.  There’s another place that explains how the first video was created.   You can find it here.

In my opinion, this represents  what is BEST about computers and the internet.

On another subject, my lilies are blooming.

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So one day instead of just shopping at the little “supermarket” in town, we made the trek down to Alajuela.  There was a compelling need to visit a certain store which purveyed fine cigars; I felt the urge to acquire some to bring home as a love offering to my dear spouse.   And there is also a book store down there that caters to the bookish omnivores of the area.  The particular omnivore I was visiting was starving for new material to digest.  And we needed to go out to lunch, too.

We rode the bus down to town, and proceeded to the book store, then enjoyed a lovely repast.  It was while Jeri was buying money from the ATM at the bank that I had my first little surrealistic moment.   The sidewalk garden by the bank was filled with the sort of plants that I coddle under lights in pots all winter.  I was bemused by the scheffleras, crotons, and ti plants duking it out with the weeds.

Our needs tended to, we walked through the Cathedral Square on our way to the central market.   The Square was gearing up for Semana Santa, so there were quite a few people around.   I was fascinated by this bit of Public Art that was installed near the cathedral.

I’m not exactly sure what the burden of this ceramic art wall was, but the fist clenched around all the little squares sort of made me think “Land Grab.”

The Cathedral Square is furnished with lots of trees, the majority of which are mango trees.   I believe that is why Alajuela has the nickname “City of Mangoes.”   Anyway, these are the biggest mango trees I have ever seen, every bit of 80 feet tall.

Can you just see all the red dots up in the branches?   Those are ripe mangoes.   Here’s a close up view of the same tree.

It occurred to us to wonder exactly what it is that the city of Alajuela does when all those mangoes get dead ripe and start falling out of the trees.   Do they pick them first?  Or do you just know not to sit under the trees?  I suppose you’d learn your lesson after being beaned once or twice.

But the most surreal thing of all was happening over in the corner of the square.   As we were admiring the mangoes, we could hear music.   I opined that it sounded like someone was doing a performance, and Jeri was sure that it was someone playing a boombox loudly.    In my experience, there aren’t a lot of recordings of the sort of music we were hearing, so I held to my position of live performance.   We wandered over in the direction of the music, and discovered that we were both right.   It was a live performance all right, being broadcast out over the square through particularly cheap and horrid speakers.

Yep, there were a couple of street musicians performing on pan pipes and a charango.  They had a drum synthesizer to provide rhythm for their performance, and were doing an engaging set of very jazzy covers of Beatles tunes.   What made the whole experience so surreal was the combination of jazz, Beatles tunes, Andean instruments multiplied by their choice of costume.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all.

All I can say is, surrealism is everywhere in real life.

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I was taking Ruby for her walk the other day and happened to be listening to a radio show that was talking about the year Gracie Allen ran for President.  It happened sort of by accident in 1940.  They played excerpts from some of the shows, and I about wet my pants listening to George Burns interview her.  Gracie went on a whistle stop tour too.   

I was inspired!  “I want to run for office!” I heard myself shouting.  Ruby pulled her head back in the open window in the back seat and chuffed at me.  “What political party should I run under?”  I asked her gaily.  She stuck her head back out the window, so I continued my train of thought silently.  

Given my Libertarian leanings and past, there was no way I could compromise my principles far enough to run as either a Democrat or a Republican.   I had met and hobnobbed with members of the Alaska Independence Party back in the late ’70s right after I graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and they were way too whacko to join up with.  One of our other very good friends was a income tax protester who wound up spending time in prison for his principles.   He never gave up his rights to the Fifth Amendment.  

The other thing is, I’m a lapsed Libertarian.  I have developed what they would deem distressing Socialist tendencies in my old age.  But the Socialists would never associate with me becuase I sort of believe in capitalism.  Less than I used to but I still haven’t broken the habit yet.   After all, I do have shares in a mutual fund where my IRA is.

I have long thought we humans need to band together as brothers and sisters and friends and neighbors and help each other.  We need to provide Health Care (oh no I am descending into Capital Lettersland. . .) and some other socialist stuff like that.

Last night we went out to Jay and Jeri’s and had dinner.   We brought lasagna that was made using leftover spaghetti sauce that was made using leftover meatloaf.  The pan of lasagna that we took with us was leftover from Friday night’s dinner.  So it was leftover leftover leftovers.  And it was really good, too.  We also took a loaf of fresh made bread and a salad we just picked from the cold frames.  

That reminds me, I have promised Kristen elsewhere in the blog that I would post pictures of the cold frames and the support leg arrangement.  I need to go take a picture of that so I can post it, and and the same time brag heavily about my salad patch today.  Be right back.


Okay.   This is what the garden looks like when you enter the gate. Take a moment to notice the compost tumbler.   There are two of them set up out there.  In the left background you can see the cold frames standing open.   See the horizontal bar that connects the legs?  Before Jim tied them together, each leg swung independently in a most whimsical way.  The holes for the wing nuts were so old, they weren’t very tight any more.   The coldframes are about six feet wide, and so it required a quite elaborate dance to put the frames down at night.   Now you simply stand in the middle and control both legs with one hand while you gently lower the glass lid with the other.

The cold frames will get me out in the fresh air regularly and help me prevent osteoporosis by providing me with regular weight-bearing exercise.  But I digress.

Coldframes closed:


Cold frame open.  Notice that we had to build extensions for the old frames to sit on because the mustards and arugula in the mesclun got so tall.


We eat some really good salads, I can tell you.

Okay.  Now back to politics.  After we had eaten dinner, which began with shrimp sauteed in a white wine sauce Jeri whipped up, she and I ran over to Buffalo to pick up ice and other essential supplies.  When we got back, Jay informed me that he was going to corrupt Jim, fill him full of whiskey and a couple of cigars.  I told him to go right ahead, and Jeri and I proceeded to corrupt ourselves to some extent, although we mostly drew the line at the cigars.  Oops.  That’s not true, I smoked a cigar for a while.  I couldn’t do the whole thing though.  I think I had some sort of wild idea of showing solidarity with Jim so he would know I wasn’t going to get on his case for getting stinking drunk and indulging in tobacco.  (I’m still trying to throw off my Puritan ancestors’ influence.)

We went through a rather rowdy discussion of what we thought would be the results of Barack Obama philandering the way Slick Willy did during his administration.  This culminated with Jeri posing as Michelle grabbing Barack’s balls in an iron fist while he stood at a podium making a public apology for his crimes.

That is when I got on a roll about how I was going to run for office someday.  Only, the problem is, I have SUCH a checkered past.   I mean, I’m gingham in all shades of the rainbow.  

Anyway, here is the gist of my announcement of candidacy:  I’m running for office in 2012.  I’m runing as the candidate for the Party Party.  Let me get one thing clear.   “Yes, I had sex with that man!  Now, can we talk about the issues?”  

Oh I can just imagine the first press conference after my announcement of candidacy.  I walk on stage, they greet me and I sit down in the comfy chair across the desk from the anchor.   Then the curtain behind us opens, revealing a very long line of men and a couple of women.  Many more than you can count quickly, let’s not get into details of the numbers.  I recognize quite a few of them immediately:  The Beautiful Soprano, Ivan the Terrible, Soldier Boy, Sailor Man, Wolfman Jack, the Gypsy.   The Terrible Twosome is there as well as the Pair Of Jocks from the swim team plus a miscellaneous lot of musicians and theatre majors.   I start to indulge in a pleasant reminiscence about days gone by when I am jolted back to reality by the dulcet tones of the anchor.

“Ms. Candidate.   Did you have sex with any of these men?”

Now, imagine me reclining on a couch in my friends’ living room in full declamatory phase here.  This is sort of what I said to Jeri.   I was not able to stand up, the couch I was sitting on had swallowed me up.   Jeri was laughing hysterically, and both the boys stopped their heated political diatribes  discussion to listen to me as I went off.

“Yes, I did have sex with that man!   As a matter of fact, I probably had sex with all of them at one time or another. Let me see,” I muse, as I imagine getting up from my comfy chair and walking along the line of men standing there.   Some look amused, some a little embarrassed.   “Oh, yes.   I had sex with him! Mmm.  You too.   Mmmmmmm-mmm.    That was a nice time, thank you very much.   Yep, I believe I had sex with this one too, only I’m sorry I can’t remember the name because he was such a selfish and unimaginative lover I never went out with him again.   Don’t call us, we’ll call you!” I say scornfully to the hapless fellow as I pass on down the line.  Quickly bored, I turn back to the anchor.

“And before you ask, yes I smoked pot.  Didn’t everybody at one time or another? What’s the big fucking deal anyway?   I can’t even begin to imagine how many ounces have passed over my lips in one form or another over the past three decades.  Hell, I even grew it a couple of years.  Stadiums are filling as we speak with myriads of potential witnesses to our debauchery.   Before you ask, I just want to say I also snorted cocaine for a short time.  I decided then that white crystalline powders were not for me; I am not fond of the headache.   I dropped acid once, that happened at a Grateful Dead New Year’s Eve Concert at the Oakland Coliseum in the late ’80s.  

So you’d better have a pretty huge venue for the potential witnesses.   That pool will include a large number of musicians of all sorts (Of course Slick Willy inhaled!  He was a sax player for god’s sake!) scattered all up and down the West Coast from the deepest south of San Diego clear up to the Puget Sound area, as well as almost every male theatre major in the College, Alaska area during the years of ’73 and ’74.  Even one of the gay ones.

Can we talk about the issues yet?  No?  You have more questions?  How intrusive into my private life are you prepared to get?

No.  I never had an “abortion” per se, although I have sufferred through several miscarriages spontaneous abortions as my body rejected the unviable creature that was developing within it.  Those tore me up, I really wanted to have a kid, but I was stuck in the traditional “have a baby and raise it up” version for quite a while.   I am so happy and proud and grateful to have the man we have as our adopted son.  

I’ve known several people who did have abortions, and they agonized and meditated over their decision.  I believe they made the approprate choice at the time, and support them in their decision and the need to make that decision.   It is their body, and their life, and until the fetus is born and can survive on its own without medical intervention, it is a parasite upon a woman’s body, lives within her sucking all the  energy it needs to survive out of her very bloodstream.    When this process is carried to a successful conclusion, with love and desire for the new soul being provided a housing, it creates a bond of love that is lifelong.  If it is done willy-nilly, the bond is lifelong as well, but very twisted.   That being within the mother is fully aware of all her emotions.  Think about it.  What kind of a human will you turn out to be if you know your mother did not want you? 

Now, lets see.   I always lived by the motto that I am not going to allow any one to rule me by guilt.   I have  looked at many people during my life and said, “You can not blackmail me.   If you decide you want to tell what we did, then I will tell everybody first, and louder.”   I’m sure that there was a famous person back in history that said, “Publish and be damned to you!” but for the life of me I can’t remember who it was that said it or what the occasion was.

As a consequence of following this rule, the other Prime Directive “Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You,” and the Axiom “TANSTAAFL” (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch), you will have lots of smut to giggle over, many orgasmic sex scenes to sit through.  You will attend hilarious parties developed around a theme food (like chicken)(or taffy pulls), some amazingly beautiful music of all genres, art gallery openings, political rallies.  You will not find any assaults, battery or murders.   I did steal candy from the Kraft display in Safeway when I was very young.   

I’m running as the candidate for the Party Party.   Our platform is:   Be Nice.   Have Fun.  Don’t Pollute.  Don’t Hurt Anyone.   Take Care Of Each Other.

WHAT??!!  You want to know what religion I am?   Well, I can tell you this right now.  It is not any one of your male dominated organized Guilt Trips.  I am a pagan, I practice Wicca (which by the way is an old word meaning “Wise Woman”) and I have already experienced being burned at the stake out near Toledo Spain during the Burning Times (oh, by the way, I believe in reincarnation too) so you can’t scare me any more.  I’m a witch.  Get over it. Deal with it.

Now that we have dealt with all the things that all the judgmental bastards out there in Religionland think make me unqualified to be your leader, can we please talk about the issues?

Vote for Me!  Thank you, and have a nice day.

I’m Esmerelda Hibblesfinck and I approved this message.

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There are lots of crystals of various sorts in the labyrinth.  

There is celestite that I bought at Quartzite.   I don’t have the faintest idea where on Earth it came from.    I put that on the East Rock of the outer circle.   Over the years it has migrated, so that the only things left out there are the quartz crystals from Arkansas that were with it.   At one time the East Rock had the calcite crystals Jim picked up in Pakistan, but those wanted to move into the Inner Circle where they are sharing space with the rocks from Israel.


The white rectangle is a piece of marble from a shrine in Haifa.   The sphere below it came from Israel.   I believe it came from the mountains near Jerusalem, and the person who gave it to me felt that there was a geode formation within it.   The green and pink rocks are the calcite crystals from Pakistan and the little quartz point below the “Sabra” rock came from the Mt. Ida region of Arkansas.

Right near this little gathering there are a pair of rocks given to me by a friend who lives in San Francisco.   Her mother picked these two rocks up when she was on a tour of The Continent during the 30s sometime.   These were lovingly wrapped in paper that had the place they were picked up written on it and then had beeen taped shut around the pebbles.   The tape was so old it had no glue left at all, and the paper had conformed itself around the rocks.   The red one on the bottom is from Mt Etna in Sicily.   The pink one on top was from the Acropolis in Athens.   They rest against the Mother Rock.


At the very center of the labyrinth, balanced on the sandstone mountain that marks the center, there is an ammonite fossil from Morocco.  It is so beautiful, the nacre that was on the inside of the shell has been preserved on the clay that replaced it, and the spiral pattern of the ancient ammonite is luminscent under the sun.  I suppose I should put some sort of lacquer on it to keep it from being hurt by the sun’s UV rays.  

Down below it, nestled in one of the arms of the sandstone mountain rests a large clear quartz point I bought in Arkansas at a crystal mine there.   It has sustained damage to its point during the mining process.   There are lots of fractures inside it that catch the light and create amazing rainbows when you hold it up to your eyes.   It can hypnotize you with the beauty of its changing inner landscape when you start to gaze into it.    On the faces there are dozens of tiny equilateral triangles etched by the crystal growth.    I believe that this is called a “Record Keeper” crystal, and if it is, it has an awful lot of messages stored in it.    This crystal called me from a shelf of similar crystals.    I believe it knew that it had the best chance of encountering the people it had messages for if it rested in the center of my labyrinth.  

I set up the labyrinth to be a reiki space once after I read about this Reiki Master guy who was putting these beautiful plates down at the poles.   I gathered all the small crystal points and clusters that I picked up in Arkansas, and walked the labyrinth.   At every place I had to make a 180 degree turn, I put a crystal.   I put large clusters on the cardinal points.   At the halfway point of the paths, I put a second array of crystals at the cardinal points.   On the inner circle I spaced 8 smaller crystals evenly around the circumference.   These little crystals tend to jump around wildly.   I think that Ruby kicks them when she chases rabbits through the labyrinth paths.   And of course, when I am weeding the inner circle things get knocked around to a certain extent.   

I lost one of the rocks from Siberia for a couple of weeks once.  It finally turned up in the path a couple of circles out from the inner circle.   I guess that Mike could have given it a good kick once when he pounced on me from out of the deep shadows cast by the grass of the labyrinth paths.   It would have been a lot easier to find if it had been more of a rock and less of a small pebble.  

On a completely different note, I sat down at my piano today to see how my fingers are.   They are limp pieces of spaghetti who cannot negotiate the twists and turns of Mozart any faster than a dead crawl.   But at least the piano is in tune.   It is so cold in here anyway, since it is about 6 degrees this morning.   The room where this computer and the piano are is probably sitting right about 60 degrees F (that would be 16 degrees C, my dear friends).   I had better post this right now and go stand in front of the stove or my frigid fingers are going to send my next client right through the ceiling when I gently rest them at the side of her neck.

Ta ta for now.

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This is in the nature of a warning to parents.

Just because your child has decided on to be a classical musician, do not be fooled into thinking that this means that they have chosen a life that is normal, staid or boring.  Musicians are musicians are musicians, and it doesn’t matter whether they play classical chamber music, pound out punk rock, or sing sweet folk songs.   When the concert is over, they all want to let their hair down and party.  I learned this when I studied in San Francisco at the conservatory of music located there.

The trouble was, student recitals and special ensemble events were scheduled into whatever time slots were left over after the big events happened.   If we were going to perform in a major venue, we had to fit our rehearsals and performances in around the schedule of the ensemble who “owned” the venue.

This meant that quite regularly, someone was feeling a need to celebrate in a big way on a day that fell in the middle of the week.   Needless to say, the ordinary citizens that were our neighbors frequently felt unreasonably disturbed by revelry at abnormally late hours.   To make things worse, after-concert parties usually didn’t even get started until after 10p.m.  It wasn’t uncommon for a large group of excited musicians to burst into a flat or apartment in full voice, so to speak, with no gradual crescendo to warn the unwitting souls who shared a building with the locale of the party.

This could lead to some misunderstandings.

I can recall numerous epic parties.  After a couple of years, I became famous for my annual Halloween Costume Party and Pumpkin Carving Contest.   Of course, there was no question but it MUST be held on Halloween, no matter what day of the week it fell on. One year during that event someone came across my copy of the Complete Gershwin Song Book.   The extreme inebriation of the lucky finders resulted in it being deemed necessary to play and sing through the entire book of songs, the rationale being that as fully trained musicians we ought to be capable of sight-reading and sight-singing the whole shebang.   Unfortunately, this decision was made at around 3:30 a.m. and the resultant more or less harmonic caterwauling elicited pounding on the wall from our next door neighbors.  

The first party I hosted was an impromptu affair shortly after Jim and I had moved into the flat down near the beach.   I believe that the New Music Ensemble had successfully performed a concert featuring the works of several student composers.  It happened to be a Tuesday night, but no matter.   A party was declared, and I rashly invited the group of composers and performers, which comprised well over 30 people, back to my place.   While some people went off to procure supplies, I rushed home to apprise my new room mate of the coming event.

Fortunately, he was still up, and being a proper sailor and an experienced bachelor, was up for a “small” party even though it was a weekday and he had to be at work by 6:30 a.m. the next day.   Since he was used to living in the bowels of a ship, a notoriously noisy environment, he proposed that when he needed to sleep, he would just retire to his room and we could party on.   That is exactly the plan we followed.  

The party was going swimmingly well, everyone was having a wonderful time.   What with the poker game with cheerleaders going on in the living room, the group of people in the front bedroom who were trying to play Beethoven piano sonatas four handed on the piano, and the folks in the kitchen who were just carrying on conversations, and by carrying on I mean carrying on LOUDLY, the decible level was pretty high.  

Suddenly, Jim emerged from his bedroom, bleary eyed and bedraggled.   “Quiet!” he roared in his best sailor-hailing-passing-vessel voice.  Instantly, the crowd fell silent.   In the resultant hush we could hear our landlords, stomping up and down the hall over our heads.   “Good grief, they’ve been doing that for 15 minutes.   Didn’t anybody hear them?”  he inquired bitterly.  Well, of course we hadn’t, we had been making way too much noise.  “They woke me up,” he added, glared at us all, and disappeared back into his room.  

We immediately dispersed, of course.   The next day I apologized abjectly to my landlords and neighbors.   The landlords were cool, they knew I was a music student.   In the future, they mildly requested, if we could just give them 24 hours notice they had cousins who lived in Daly City and they could always go stay the night there.   They completely understood about the need to celebrate important passages like senior recitals.   Just not at the drop of a hat.  

After that, I always made sure to invite our next door neighbors to parties too, to avoid surprising them.   Once the people that lived directly to our north actually came to a party, to our great surprise, and had a wonderful time.

Well, obviously there has to be one event that absolutely takes the cake.   By the time this tale occurred, I had quit playing because of a repetitive use injury to my bow arm, and as a consolation prize been hired as Orchestra Manager and Orchestra Librarian to the school.   I was responsible for renting orchestra parts, acting as a liaison between the orchestra and the conductor, getting instruments and stands and other equipment to places where we were performing off campus, taking attendance at orchestra rehearsal, etc. etc. etc.   I also worked as the early morning receptionist on the switchboard.  The orchestra and I knew each other quite well, and I was considered a character by both faculty and student body.

Every year a major fund raising event for the school was the Sing-it-Yourself Messiah, an event held at Davies Symphony Hall.   The school provided the orchestra and the soloists, the members of the audience comprised the chorus.   The school had really tapped into the possibilities of this event.   Not only do you sell tickets to the actual performance, but for a month beforehand you can extract more money from the enthusiasts by holding training sessions and sectionals, for a small fee of course.  

The thing had to be sandwiched in between San Francisco Symphony concerts and perormances.  At first, this wasn’t hard because it oas only a one day evolutionm,  but it rapidly became so popular it became necessary to extend the run of performances.   That particular year, we had worked hard moving downtown to perform, having a rehearsal at Davies Hall, and then done three our performances.   We fell the need to celebrate the end of the fund raiser plus the fact that the lucrative season of Christmas gigs was upon us.  

Someone had sublet a town house up on Twin Peaks, and felt comfortable inviting the group there.  Late at night a group of approximately 100 adrenaline-filled musicians filled the apartment within minutes, chattering fortissimo, and proceeded rapidly to get even louder, unbelievable as it seemed at the time.

It wasn’t too long after the party had commenced before the doorbell rang, accompanied by an authoritative rap at the door.   Although the blinds in the kitchenwere (mercifully) shut, we could see the flashing red and blue lights in the street that indicated that our visitors were of an official nature.  

“The cops are here!” relayed like a silencer through the throng.   Nobody knew what to do, and of course they looked to me, their “Fearless Leader,” to save them from the upcoming, apparently inevitable, disaster.  I looked within and realized that I was in deep, deep shit, since I knew that several of the partygoers were underage, and to compound the problem there was an ample supply of marijuana on the premises.   I had been too busy chatting to really indulge in that particular vice, yet, and so I was still fairly lucid.    My legal life and future prison career flashing before my eyes, I grabbed the person who held the lease on the apartment and we went to answer the door.

“Good evening, officers,” I cooed in my best sober adult motherly woman voice.   “What can we do for you?”

“We have received several calls complaining about this party.”

“Really?  I’m so sorry we have been making a disturbance.”

“Hmph.  Yeah, right,” the spokes-officer replied, or words to that effect.   “What in the world are you doing?   You do realize that it is Monday night, right?”

“Monday?”  I was thunderstruck, thereby confirming in their minds my complete imbecility.   “Oh, my God, you are right, it IS Monday.”   Suddenly I noticed their bemused expressions and realized what an idiot I was making of myself.  

“We completely forgot what day it is!”  I exclaimed.   “You know about the Sing-it-Yourself Messiah, right?”

“Mmm, yeah, I heard something about that,” the officer agreed.  “But I thought that was last night.”

“Well, it runs for more than one night, and we we just did the last performance tonight.  The orchestra and singers really wanted to celebrate, they have been working hard, and we just sort of decided to come here on the spur of the moment.”   I opened the door of the apartment, giving the fine law-enforcement officers a view down the hall of the apartment.    The tableau was rather stunning:   every single person was either in a long black formal, a tuxedo, or a glittering gown.   The people in the apartment nodded and smiled sedately at the cops, who took in a scene worthy of any movie.  They began to retire down the steps of the building.

“Okay, okay.   Just try to keep it down.  Most people need to sleep on Monday nights.   We don’t want to hear any more complaints about you people,” they warned us as they got into their cruiser.  

Needless to say, they didn’t.   

It was over half an hour before the person who had, as I opened the door to talk to the police, scooped up the baggies and joints, stuffed them in a vegetable bag and buried them at the back of the freezer felt it was safe to reveal where the stash had been secreted.   A certain amount of suspicion had begun to rise by the time he came clean.  This dismay was mixed with shock; no one could believe their close buddies would have ripped them off of so much really fine pot.  Ultimately, we did  agree that he was right in thinking that the cops could have just been waiting for the party to get back into full swing before they came back and busted us.

Musicians know how to party heartier than any other group I have ever associated with, and that includes artists, theatre majors, cavers, and engineers. 

A word to the wise. . .

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