Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays to All Who Visit This Blog!!! (photo greeting)

And Peace on Earth, for Heaven's Sake

forgotten portrait, originally uploaded by I, Puzzled.

We're all three years older now, but still a tight bunch.

Here's to many more blog posts in the coming year.

Here's some of the stuff I've been listening to:
  • Arafa─Hamza El Din─A Song of the Nile
  • Pallavi Ragamalika─Dr. N. Ramani, flute─Music in the Ragas: Kannada, Kalyanvasanta, Natakuranji, Ranjani, Des
  • Ten Sleepy Sheep─Jessica Harper
  • François Couperin: Les Baricades Mistérieuses─Angela Hewitt, piano─François Couperin: Keyboard Music 1
  • Candy Man─Mississippi John Hurt
  • You Can't Lose a Broken Heart─Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong
  • Graceland─Willie Nelson
  • Alessandro Scarlatti: Son tutta duolo─Cecilia Bartolik soprano; György Fischer, piano─If You Love Me (Se Tu M'ami)
  • Hold Me, I'm Falling─Michael Dycha-Monsoon Wedding (soundtrack)
  • Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?─Bing Crosby
The last ten movies I watched:
  • Help! (1965)
  • Comedian (2002)
  • Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
  • The Polar Express (2004)
  • Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)
  • Ocean's Eleven (2001)
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • Stranger that Fiction (2006)
  • Ever After (1998)
  • Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause (2002)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

shadows on a puddle (photo)

shadows on a puddle, originally uploaded by I, Puzzled.

We're getting some rain finally!

The earth rejoices.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bavarian landscape (photo)

Bavarian landscape on Flickr, the work of *sido*.

a beautiful photograph to inject a little life into this sleepy blog

I've been cogitating heavily about my next blog post, but I haven't been able to get it out in writing.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

revisiting the plainchant thing

In a blog entry back in June, titled the tao of plainchant, I set out to relate, while it was still fresh in my mind, the encounter I had with a group of men in the community who gather on Sundays to sing Gregorian Chant. In that post, however, I all too quickly used up my meager personal blogging resources to fill in the background and describe the history of my interest in the arcane art form, only to cap it off by promising to describe in a future post my experience with the chant group.

Voila, a scant five months later, I’m delivering on my promise! (Sorry it took so long, O’Donovan.).

It was the end of May when I was invited to sit in with the group. I’d known about them for at least 20 years, and had always been intrigued by the improbable idea of a non-monastic (no cowls required) chant gathering in California, and was delighted that it was still going on.

Since Meera was attending Sunday services at a nearby church at roughly the same time, it was perfectly convenient for me to drop her and the kids off at the church and go to the gathering.

I parked my car on a residential street a good distance from the address. I was a little nervous about meeting new people, and I thought a walk would do me some good. The paved road with sidewalks gave way to a dirt road which as it descended into a cool gulch darkly shaded of by eucalyptus trees. Then, as it rose up the other side of the gulch, the eucalyptus canopy gave way to bright sunshine and an enchanting symphony of birdsong.

On this side of the grove I found a peaceful rustic neighborhood. I heard the cluck of a chicken as I made my way, according to the instructions I’d been given, to the back of the main house and entered a cozy work shed, its wooden panels unpainted and weathered gray.

I’d been told that the chanting went from ten to noon. I was 40 minutes late, but there were only two people there, neither of whom were Andy.

I was greeted by a short taciturn man with a trim gray beard, whose name I promptly forgot─something like Voldemort, but I knew that couldn’t be right. The other, named Mark, had a pleasant clean-shaven face and long dark hair in a ponytail.

I introduced myself as a friend of Andy’s. I couldn’t tell if they were expecting me, but my appearance didn’t cause surprise. The two continued a conversation they had been having on various things to do with East European languages and culture, something I was at a loss to talk about. Waldemar, whose name I was reminded of later, was from Austria, Mark was a music professor at the University.

I wanted to talk about Gregorian chant, share some of my own ideas about it, and learn more about the group, but I was shy, and didn’t want to be intrusive, so I just sat and tried to make myself comfortable while I listened to them talk. It was comfortably warm, a wood stove putting out modest heat. I glanced around at the variety of knickknacks and wall adornments that honored music, philosophy, poetry, and art. And saw, near the sink, a large espresso machine. Nice.

It wasn’t till about 11:00 that Andy arrived, accompanied by two more men with gray beards that I hadn’t met before. One of them had ridden his bicycle a great distance, and taken a long time to get there, having had a flat tire along the way.

As everyone got settled, good-natured banter and small talk were exchanged. Waldemar made espresso drinks for the guests, but I declined, having already had my coffee for the day.

At last, with little more than half an hour to go, we gathered around the table, and got down to the business of plainchant. I proudly produced my fine old battered copy of the Liber Usualis, but, because the pagination on my edition didn’t match, I had to use one of theirs, of which there were plenty.

Frank, the regular leader of the group, was out of town this day, so Waldemar directed, somewhat timidly. He wasn’t really adept at establishing the starting pitches and various modes. Mark was better at this, but not so good at reading the neumes. And, besides Mark, none of the men, including myself, were very confident singers.

It had been a while since I had attempted to read neumes, and it didn’t help matters that I had neglected to bring my reading glasses. So, no surprise, it was a very choppy beginning. Waldemar seemed to chafe at the errors and difficulties everyone was having, but said nothing. I’d like to think I was doing pretty well, though, for a newcomer.

When we took up the Gregorian sequence “Victimae Paschali” I gained considerable confidence. I knew it well, having studied and memorized it years ago. This freed me from having to interpret the neumes on the fly so I could concentrate on my tone quality and musicality. The time passed very quickly, and, just when I was hitting my stride, it was time to wrap it up.

Though I was disappointed that, after 20 years, the group wasn’t just a tad more skilled, I greatly enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and camaraderie; and just the very idea of a local Gregorian Chant gathering tickles me. I thought to myself, next time I will be more at ease and confident, and do better, and, once Frank has returned, it ought to go more smoothly.

Unfortunately, the next few Sundays Meera and I had other obligations to attend. And then, the regular pastor at Meera’s church took the summer off, and Meera lost interest in going. Without that facilitating convenience, I never went back One of these days, I will.

May the plainchant gathering continue for at least another 20 years, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.

    Tunes I blogged along to...

  • Not Dark Yet─Bob Dylan─Time Out Of Mind
  • Beautiful Land─Nina Simone
  • Raga Ramdas Malhar─Ravi Shankar, sitar; Ali Akbar Khan, sarod─Ragas
  • Down in the Valley to Pray─Doc Watson─The Best of Doc Watson 1964-1968
  • In the Mood─Glenn Miller & His Orchestra─Ken Burns: Jazz: The Story of American Music
  • Baya Wa Baya/Promo─Dandaro─Ndoenda Baba
  • Mo Ti Mo─King Sunny Ade─Synchro System
  • Embraceable You─Sarah Vaughan─At Mister Kelly's
  • Il pleut dans ma chambre─Charles Trenet
  • The Ploughman─Djivan Gasparyan, duduk─I Will Not Be Sad In This World

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Red Jellyfish, Monterey Bay Aquarium (video)

A brief glimpse at these marvelous and mesmerizing creatures.

We visited the aquarium on Sunday, November 11, 2007, celebrating my son Julian's 8th birthday. Click the photo below to see the jellyfish in motion (and hear the family color commentary).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Kennedy and Specter on Mukasey and the onus of torture

I thought Ted Kennedy's dissenting comments on the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation of Mukasey were very eloquent:

SEN. TED KENNEDY: The Department of Justice is in dire need of new leadership to guide our nation back to its constitutional moorings. Under Attorney General Gonzales, the Department lost its way as a genuine force for justice, too often served as a rubber stamp for the White House and as a facilitator and enforcer of political objectives, rather than the rule of law. After a period of such tarnished leadership in the department, we need a clear, decisive, straightforward attorney general who’s not afraid to stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law, even if it means disagreeing with the President of the United States.

I had hoped that Judge Mukasey could be that person. He is certainly intelligent and has demonstrated an admirable dedication to public service. As a federal judge for almost nineteen years, he was, by all accounts, fair and conscientious in the courtroom and even showed admirable independence at times. But after reviewing and re-reviewing Judge Mukasey’s answers to questions from members of this committee, I have concluded that he is not the right person to lead the Justice Department at this critical time in our history. We need a leader who will inspire confidence in the rule of law. We need a leader who is unafraid to speak truth to power. We need a leader who is worthy of the trust we place in our attorney general to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Michael Mukasey, regrettably, is not that leader.

Like many of my colleagues and many American citizens, I am deeply troubled by Judge Mukasey’s evasive answers about the legality of certain techniques of torture. While the nominee acknowledges that torture is unconstitutional, he has repeatedly refused to acknowledge that the controlled drowning of a prisoner, waterboarding, rises to the level of torture. What is the big mystery here? Over and over again, civilian and military tribunals have found waterboarding to be an unacceptable act of torture.

My concerns began with Judge Mukasey's answers to our questions about waterboarding. Waterboarding is a barbaric practice in which water is poured down the mouth and nose of a detainee to simulate drowning. It’s an ancient technique of tyrants. In the fifteenth and sixteenth century, it was used by interrogators in the Spanish Inquisition. In the nineteenth century, it was used against slaves in this country. In World War II, it was used against us by Japan. In the 1970s, it was used against political opponents by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the military dictatorships of Chile and Argentina. Today, it’s being used against pro-democracy activists by the rulers of Burma. When we fail to reject waterboarding, this is the company that we keep.

According to ABC News, former intelligence officers and supervisors admitted in 2005 that the CIA used waterboarding. In fact, the Vice President confirmed its use. And the intelligence officers and supervisors described the waterboarding this way: the prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet; cellophane is wrapped over the prisoners face, and water is poured over him; unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in, and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to an almost instant plea to bring the treatment to a halt. Malcolm Nance, a former master instructor and chief of the training of the US Navy Seals, described it as “horrifying to watch [and] if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death.”

Judge Mukasey cannot say to this committee that waterboarding is torture? He calls it “repugnant,” and indeed it is. But he refuses to condemn as unlawful. And then, in perhaps the most stunning and hollow promise reportedly made by a nominee for Attorney General in my forty-five years in the Senate, we are told that Judge Mukasey agreed to enforce a ban against waterboarding if Congress specifically passes one? We are supposed to find comfort in the representation by a nominee to the highest law enforcement office in the country, that he will in fact enforce the laws that we pass in the future? Can our standards really have sunk so low? Enforcing the law is the job of the Attorney General. It is a prerequisite, not a virtue, that enhances a nominee’s qualifications.

Make no mistake about it: waterboarding is already illegal under United States law. It’s illegal under the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit outrages upon personal dignity, including cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment. It’s illegal under the Torture Act, which prohibits acts specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering. It’s illegal under the Detainee Treatment Act, which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. And it violates the Constitution. The nation's top military lawyers and legal experts across the political spectrum have condemned waterboarding as torture. And after World War II, the United States prosecuted -- prosecuted -- Japanese officers for engaging in waterboarding. What more does this nominee need to enforce existing laws?

It is the job of the Attorney General to enforce our Constitution laws. The Attorney General must have the legal and moral judgment to know when an activity rises to the level of a violation of our Constitution, treaties or statutes. But this nominee wants to outsource his job to Congress. That passing of the buck is completely unacceptable by a nominee who wants to be the highest justice official in our country. This nominee has failed to demonstrate that he will be a clear, decisive, straightforward leader that the Department of Justice so desperately needs. For all these reasons, I oppose this nomination. After six long years of reckless disregard for the rule of law by this administration, we cannot afford to take our chances on the judgment of an attorney general who either does not know torture when he sees it or is willing to look the other way to suit the President.

And while Arlen Specter voted in favor of confirmation, his statement also reads as eloquent dissent, with an "although" tacked onto the beginning:
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: What do we have to say about the morality of waterboarding? Is it banned by some international commitment, the Geneva rules? A very fuzzy─very fuzzy area.

Justice Jackson made a lot of famous statements, and one of his most famous statements was that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Not a suicide pact. So we're not bound by the Constitution to undertake conduct which would be a suicide, so that it is my thought that Judge Mukasey went about as far as he could go.

I thought he was not on solid ground when he said he wasn’t read into the program, that he didn’t know what waterboarding was. Waterboarding is generally well known. Not being read into the program, I thought, was -- candidly -- an excuse, and a flimsy excuse. Certainly, he had been investigated sufficiently so the President was confident to tell him the highest secrets of the country, and he could have been read into it and could have given us a judgment.

And he said, in answers to my letter of October 24, that he was reluctant to put people at risk, and we know that a couple of weeks ago former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was served with legal process, unclear exactly what it was, perhaps a warrant of arrest. We know that some countries are exercising extraterritorial jurisdiction on crimes against humanity, that Prime Minister Sharon was under indictment from Belgium. And we know what happened with Pinochet, so that there is a risk factor. So I think he went about as far as he could go, and I think now it’s a matter for the Congress.

I want to express one other concern, and that is a concern about what Judge Mukasey may have as a view of excessive executive authority. I’m very concerned about the presidential signing statements, where we pass legislation and under the Constitution he has the authority to either veto it or sign it, and he cherrypicks. But he did it in two contexts, which were very troubling. One was, after his negotiations with Senator McCain, when we legislated on interrogation, he signed the bill and said he didn’t have to follow it. And we passed out of this committee the PATRIOT Act, passed the Congress, and we gave the FBI additional powers on the condition that we had more oversight. Then he signed the PATRIOT Act, and he said he didn’t have to abide by the conditions on oversight.

And I asked Judge Mukasey about that, and I got back an answer which is totally unsatisfactory. He said, “I agree with you. The presidential signing statements should not be a vehicle for creating unnecessary confrontation.” Well, what does that mean? Is there necessary confrontation? And he says he will keep in mind the concerns when advising the President. I think the Attorney General should have said, “If the President negotiates an arrangement with Congress, signs a bill, he ought to stand by it and not act to the contrary.”

But all factors considered, I think that the balance is decisively in favor of confirming Judge Mukasey. And I look forward to congressional consideration of this issue of waterboarding. We’re the people who ought to decide it. And with his assurances in writing that he will back us up, that’s good enough for me.
He might as well have concluded with, "But this is Opposite Day, so I'm voting to confirm him."

    And now! Ten films I happened to watch recently...

  • The Seeker: The Dark is Rising (2007)
  • The Black Stallion (1979)
  • Raising Arizona (1987)
  • Big Fish (2003)
  • The Last Mimzy (2007)
  • Meet the Robinsons (2007)
  • An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
  • Bee Movie (2007)
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
  • Ratatouille (2007)

grokking a bad travel experience

I told myself that my next blog post would be about Maher Arar. You know, that Canadian guy who was changing planes at JFK airport on his way home to Canada, when he was seized by U.S. Officials, and sent to Syria to be tortured and confined for nearly a year.

I watched an excerpt of his testimony before Congress last month, courtesy of Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! (quoted below). So chilling is his story, I felt compelled to talk about it. However, it has been difficult for me to compose my thoughts. Part of it is lazy procrastination, an inability to allocate and manage my time well, sustain focused concentration; an age-old problem for me, and of far too many people in today's society.

I also find that every single day there is something new reported in the news that I feel compelled to speak out about. So many astonishing things going on all at once. With my compulsion to respond to each and every thing firing in every direction, I ultimately write about nothing.

I began my blog as a way to formulate my observations of life, and to share them with anyone who might happen along and take interest. I didn't have a specific focus or structure. It was to be a shadow to my daily life experiences. Lately my attention has been arrested by the things going on in Washington. I've never been that devoted to politics, but now I very much feel like our freedoms are being threatened, and that complacency is extremely dangerous.

What I wanted to apprehend about Mr. Arar's case is the very horror of his experience. I am ashamed of my country's action, and I want to comprehend what he went through. I know that his story reflects the story of countless others who are being tortured in secret prisons at the behest of this administration and in the name of the endless War on Terrorism. Like someone who has overdosed on sedatives, I don't want to fall asleep again. My survival depends on jolting myself with the real sensations of existence.

How many times have we heard "arrested without charge". Do ordinary citizens comprehend what that means? If the victim of extraordinary rendition has an Arab name, are Americans shut out from feeling empathy, and dulled from considering the ramifications?

I'm determined to wake myself up, because I know I have been complacent. You just can't help but distance yourself when exposed by this stuff day after day. You’re liable to go crazy if you don’t. I make a conscious effort to read and listen to as much news as I can every day. I didn't used to do that. Now I feel I have to. And for the most part I feel there's only so much I can do about what's going on.

I recently watched The Last Mimzy, a recent Fantasy/SciFi movie for kids. In it, a family's home is violently invaded SWAT-style by a Homeland Security team, and they are rendered to a detainment facility for interrogation. It's a terrifying part of the movie, it really gets the adrenaline going. It seemed completely at odds with the storyline, which was predominated by a spiritual element

I didn't know what to think about the inclusion of this incongruous plot component. The leader of the operation was for the most part a sympathetic character, doing his job. Eventually it was determined that it was all a misunderstanding, the family didn’t raise objections, but understood that these mistakes happen. I can't tell you how much of a disconnect I had with that. Otherwise, I thought it was an entertaining movie that was done pretty well.

Are we ready, though, for home invasion to be such a mainstay of popular culture that it can serve as a modular plot device to be dropped into the story to keep the audience on the edge of its seat?

I haven't seen the film Rendition yet. I’d like to. I've heard that its good. My hope is through the art of filmmaking they have accurately and effectively depicted even a little of what state-sponsored kidnapping and torture is like. Perhaps more Americans will speak out against it.

Here are two YouTube clips from Democracy Now. Arar's testimony before Congress begins at the very end of the first clip, and continues at the beginning of the second one. I regret that I don't have a clip that is neat and succinct. An excerpt from the text transcript from the program follows.

MAHER ARAR: Let me be clear. I am not a terrorist. I am not a member of al-Qaeda or any other terrorist group. I am here today to tell you about what happened to me and how I was detained and interrogated by the United States government, transported to Syria against my will, tortured and kept there for a year.

Upon viewing my valid Canadian passport, an immigration officer pulled me aside. Officers from the FBI and the New York Police Department arrived and began to interrogate me. My repeated requests for a lawyer were all denied. I was told that I had no right to a lawyer, because I was not an American citizen.

I was then taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where I was kept for the next ten days. After five days of repeated requests, I was finally allowed to make a brief phone call to alert my family of my whereabouts.

On October 8th at 3:00 in the morning, I was awakened and told that they had decided to remove me to Syria. By then, it was becoming more and more clear to me that I was being sent to Syria for the purpose of being tortured. There, I was put in a dark underground cell that was more like a grave. It was three feet wide, six feet deep and seven feet high. Life in that cell was hell. I spent ten months and ten days in that grave.

During the early days of my detention, I was interrogated and physically tortured. I was beaten with an electrical cable and threatened with a metal chair, the tire and electric shocks. I was forced to falsely confess that I had been to Afghanistan. When I was not being beaten, I was put in a waiting room so that I could hear the screams of other prisoners.

The cries of the women still haunt me the most.

After 374 days of torture and wrongful detention, I was finally released to Canadian embassy officials on October 5, 2003.

These past few years have been a nightmare for me. Since my return to Canada, my physical pain has slowly healed, but the cognitive and psychological scars from my ordeal remain with me on a daily basis. I still have nightmares and recurring flashbacks. I am not the same person that I was. I also hope to convey how fragile our human rights have become and how easily they can be taken from us by the same governments that have sworn to protect them.

REP. JERROLD NADLER: I believe that what happened here was that the United States government consciously and deliberately conspired with the government of Syria to have him tortured. That’s why he was rendered to Syria. This was not a case of Expedited Removal, as the Attorney General, I believe, untruthfully testified to our subcommittee. And I think this violates the criminal statute against torture. The obvious -- the only reason to send him to Syria was to have him tortured. The fact that we sought assurances, diplomatic assurances, from a country that’s on the State Department terrorist list and that’s been on the list for ten years of countries that routinely practice torture is obviously a joke.

It’s very difficult to get at the issue when the Justice Department won’t prosecute cases. We’re holding hearings and investigating to bring some of these facts to light. It’s already -- we can’t make it a criminal act, because it’s already a criminal act. So I’m not -- besides bringing this to light and referring this to the Justice Department for prosecution, I’m not sure what we can do.

Now, notice what happened here. He didn’t try to enter the United States. The Expedited Removal statute is designed to stop people from coming into the United States who don’t have proper documents and to give us an expedited way -- I opposed its enactment, but it’s supposed to give us an expedited way, without going before an immigration judge, of preventing someone who’s illegal from entering the United States in the first place -- that is, whose presence in the United States would be illegal. But he wasn’t seeking to enter the United States; he was changing planes at Kennedy on a flight from Europe to Canada. If we suspected him of something, we should simply have sent him on to Canada, which is a foreign country. He wasn’t seeking to enter the United States. Instead, we chose to send him to Syria, where he had been born and where he lived until he was a teenager, but otherwise he had no connections with them. And the only obvious reason to do that is to have him tortured.

─Democracy Now! October 24, 2007

    Music I blogged along with...

  • Khyal: Raga Ahir Bhairav─Lakshmi Shankar─Les Heures et les Saisons
  • El Mariachi (Cancion/Son)─Mariachi Tapatío De José Marmolejo - "El Auténtico"─Mexico's Pioneer mariachis - Vol. 2: Mariachi Tapatío De José Marmolejo
  • Budak Ceurik─Ida Widawati; Ensemble Lingkung Seni 'Malati'─Udan Mas
  • A Sunday Kind Of Love─Ella Fitzgerald─Ella Fitzgerald: The War Years (1941 - 1947)
  • Mad World─Gary JulesMa belle si ton ame
  • Gabriel Bataille: Ma belle si ton ame─Exsultame
  • J.S. Bach: Aria: “Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen”, from Cantata 82a. Kammerorchester C. Ph. E Bach, Berlin, Bach-Kantaten
  • Salieri: Son qual lacera tartana─Cecilia Bartoli, soprano─The Salieri Album
  • Haydn: Piano Sonata No.33 in C Minor, Hob. 16:20: 2. Andante con mota─Emanuel Ax, piano
  • J.S. Bach: Cantata No.27: Coro e Recitativo: Wer Weiss, Wie Nahe Mir Mein Ende"─Gächinger Kantorei, Bach Collegium Stuttgart─Bach Cantatas BWV 27-29

Thursday, October 25, 2007

who's in control here?

Last Thursday on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman was talking with Michael Ratner from the Center for Constitutional Rights, an organization that is suing Blackwater for the September 16 killings in Baghdad. They also represent Guantanamo prisoners, and Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen that our government, if you hadn't heard, abducted, interrogated, tortured, and imprisoned for nearly a year…by mistake…perhaps because they thought they had Bill Maher?

About 31 minutes into the podcast, Goodman presented a clip of George W. Bush from April 2006 that particularly caught my attention (bracket comments are mine):

AMY GOODMAN: In April of last year, President Bush spoke at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. After his talk, he took questions from students at the school.

STUDENT: My question is in regards to private military contractors. The Uniform Code of Military Justice does not apply to these contractors in Iraq. I asked your Secretary of Defense a couple of months ago what law governs their actions. Mr. Rumsfeld --

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I was going to ask him. Go ahead. [He gets a big laugh from the audience, and the student, taken aback, breaks into nervous laughter that takes her several seconds to control.] Help.

STUDENT: I was hoping your answer might be a little more specific. [Bush shrugs.] Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq has its own domestic laws, which he assumed applied to those private military contractors. However, Iraq is clearly not currently capable of enforcing its laws, much less against -- you know, over our American military contractors. I would submit to you that in this case, this is one case that privatization is not a solution. And, Mr. President, how do you propose to bring private military contractors under a system of law?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, I appreciate that very much. I wasn't kidding. [Bush gets more laughs, and giggles sheepishly as he continues to make light of his own ignorance, with mannerisms reminiscent of Johnny Carson.] I was going to -- I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I’ve got an interesting question. This is what delegation -- I don't mean to be dodging the question, although it’s kind of convenient in this case, but never -- I really will. I’m going to call the secretary and say you brought up a very valid question, and what are we doing about it? It’s -- that’s how I work.

Decide for yourself whether Bush is actually dumb, or is just pretending. “You want to weep for America when you see that, ” Michael Ratner remarked, and in fact, I was beginning to do just that, quite literally. Actual tears welled up as his flip joking comments brought to mind all the people hurt, maimed, and displaced─all the unthinkable things that have befallen tens of thousands─ because of a President who lacks the humanity to bother himself with important facts that affect human lives.

Tears welled, but I didn’t actually cry because, like so many Americans, I've become numb to the atrocities that have become commonplace as a result of the unchecked War on Terror. Let's not dwell on secret prisons, torture, the convenient disregard of habeas corpus, and the suspension of judicial and Congressional oversight.

It's been reported that Bush, by his own admission, frequently cries at night. I really don't know what to think of this. I don't see it in the body language of this self-proclaimed compassionate conservative.

So many of the violations of the Bush Administration are done openly because it has a wild card called the War on Terror. When clear abuses of power are confronted with challenges in the courts, they always have the same response: these cases can't go through because it would reveal national secrets and threaten national security.

The national secret that they're guarding most tenaciously is the very fact of their rampant misconduct, and the assaults on the Constitution and the cherished principles and ideals of the United States of America. I believe the quaint but relevant phrase for what they're protecting is Crimes and Misdemeanors.

The stench of mendacity, the arrogance of authority, the audacity of unchecked power pervades our society. It's remarkable that more people aren't marching in the streets, demanding action from Congress, demanding responsible reporting from the major media outlets. How much farther must things go before our outrage finds a natural outlet through effective protests and meaningful action? Will it be too late by then?

The brainwashing machine chugs along. We don't like the idea of starting a war in Iran, but the rotten winds of war are rapidly picking up speed anyway, and reasonable thinking people, all too familiar with the smell, roll their eyes, and say, "That idiot Bush and his puppetmaster Cheney are up to their old tricks again."

Maybe people comfort themselves with the fact that the end of the Bush-Cheney term is in sight. But, how many more U.S. soldiers and Iraqis need to die in the meantime, and how many Iranis must now face the same peril from yet another unprovoked assault?

Well, they could have the knowledge to build a “nucular” bomb, and that's good enough, says our blithe president. This program would create a new front for aggression, violence, atrocity, and the squandering of billions of more dollars, which will of course continue into the next president's administration. Can we stop it, or are we powerless?

As so often happens when I think about the policies of George W. Bush, I have wandered from the specific topic, which, in this case, was Blackwater.

On Tuesday Condoleezza Rice ordered tougher oversight of private guards in Iraq, including tighter rules on the use of force. She also ordered sensitivity training. Now, there's a concept. Blatant disregard for human life is out, boys! I'm waiting to hear what she has to say about accountability and bringing to justice those contractors guilty of war crimes.

I wonder about that young student at Johns Hopkins University. Who was she? She was bright enough to realize this was an important issue way back in April of 2006, even while the President was blissfully and willfully oblivious. She asked an intelligent question, was disarmed at first by a Presidential wisecrack, but then recovered to deliver a cogent follow-up. As Amy Goodman remarked, "It might be a lesson to some reporters on how to ask a question."

    What I was listening to while writing this blog entry:

  • Faux Pas─M’Bilia Bel─Bameli Soy
  • Hallelujah─k.d. lang─Hymns Of The 49th Parallel
  • Without Your Love─Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra─Ken Burns Jazz: The Story of American Music
  • Never Say Never─Romeo Void
  • And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine─Ella Fitzgerald─Ella Fitzgerald: The War Years (1941 - 1947)
  • Devil’s Lullaby─Slaid Cleaves─On the Air: KUSP’s Live Music Sessions
  • Joseph Haydn: Schlaf In Deiner Engen Kammer─Victoria De Los Angeles, soprano; Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Gerald Moore, piano─The Fabulous Victoria De Los Angeles
  • "Louis Collins"─Mississippi John Hurt
  • Weiss: Suite Nr.21 in g minor: La Babilieuse en Menuet─Konrad Junghänel, lute─Sylvius Leopold Weiss: Ouverture & Suites
  • Celia─Bud Powell, piano; Ray Brown, bass; Max Roach, drums─Bud Powell: Modern Jazz Archive, Disc 1: Tempus Fugit

Sunday, October 14, 2007

ten limericks

A while ago I promised someone I would post some of my limericks. I'm occasionally true to my word, so here's a few:

A martini, ice cold, held aloft
Is a sight that I've never scoffed,
But the shape of the glass
Makes it easy to splash
So I've spilled much more than I've quaffed.

A young lass from Kansas named Dorothy,
Said she wanted a mate who was swarthy;
Yet the burlap‑faced strawman,
The tin‑colored woodsman,
And the auburn‑maned lion weren't worthy.

Al Gore stands for me as a mentor;
Unflustered by any dissenter,
He may not have won,
But, son of a gun,
He'll always succeed as inventor.

An Indian Sikh named Arjuna
Had trouble flensing a tuna,
Its viscera burst,
Beheading a tour’st,
And the flesh sank in the laguna.

There's a term on a ship when you're sailing
For the part that is sort of a railing
The word used is "gunwale";
And that rhymes with funnel,
Which leaves this son-of-a-gun wailing.

A captain once sailed from Nantucket
And nailed to the mast a gold ducat.
He wove a wild tale
Of a wan chunky whale
So his men from the sea would go pluck it.

The limerick form is distinct
For its rhyme scheme compatibly linked
With anapest meter,
Like waltz steps in theater,
To deliver a punch line unkinked.

Some limerick types are prolific
Yet stray from the rules quite specific
I say its a waste
To write in such haste:
The returns on good form are terrific.

A stripper there was named Fiona
Whose breasts were well known in Daytona.
The nipples of each,
Just as soft as a peach
Were ringed by a fuzzy corona.

There once was a woman Miranda
Who sat in a large jacaranda.
Its pale purple flowers
Enthralled her for hours
While she completely neglected her panda.

    From a bygone playlists

  • Dopey Joe─Slim Gaillard─Slim Gaillard: Laughing in Rhythm
  • Taksim in Hijaz─Seif Salim Saleh─Global Meditation
  • We Saw Jerry's Daughter─Camper Van Beethoven
  • Don't Think Twice, It's All Right─Bob Dylan & The Band─Before the Flood
  • Tarif "Allah! Muhammad, The Four Friends, Hajji Khwaja Qutb arid!"─Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  • Vaughan Williams: Five Mystical Songs; III. Love Bade Me Welcome─Hickox Conducts Vaughan Williams
  • Gustav Holst: The Mystic Trumpeter, Op.18─Royal Scottish National Orchestra; David Lloyd-Jones, conductor─Holst: The Planets
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: La clemenza di Tito: “Deh, per questo instante solo”─Magdalena Kožená, mezzo-soprano; Prague Philharmonia, Michel Swierczewski, conductor─Le Belle Immagini
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams (Text by A.E. Housman):
    Along the Field:
    · We’ll to the woods no more
    · Along the field
    · The half-moon westers low
    · In the mornings
    · The sigh that heaves the grasses
    · Good-bye
    · Fancy’s Knell
    · With rue my heart is laden─John Mark Ainsley, tenor; Leo Phillips, violin─Vaughan Williams: Along the Field, On Wenlock Edge, Merciless Beauty, Ten Blake Songs, and other songs
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams (Text by Walt Whitman): A Sea Symphony, No. 1:
    · A Song for all Seas, all Ships
    · On the Beach at Night, alone
    · Scherzo—­The Waves
    · The Explorers─Yvonne Kenny, soprano; Brian Rayner Cook, baritone; The London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Bryden Thomson, conductor

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Home and Politics

There has been so much going on in the news lately to utterly exasperate me. Politics. The past several weeks I've been paying more than the usual attention to the news. I feel it is my citizen duty. I worry about the detrimental effects of complacency, but I have to admit, it has taken a serious toll on my peace of mine. The price of vigilance is high anxiety.

I am so grateful to alternative news sources like Democracy Now!, a program I wasn't able to listen to in the past because it seemed so dour and radical and mean-spirited and downright impolite and Amy Goodman seemed like the modern Cassandra. But what she was talking about months ago is now mainstream news. The big networks have caught up with her. So have I. And, lest we forget, Cassandra was right.

Unfortunately, by the time it becomes mainstream news, we are comfortable sipping our tea and discussing the nuances of U.S.-sanctioned torture without it causing any too much personal distress.

There are so many articulate people decrying the hits the Constitution has been taking. I have been chomping at the bit to post about each major issue that makes my blood boil, but I haven't had the discipline to compose my thoughts. Besides, others seem to do it so much better than I do. But is anyone listening?

We don't have cable in our home, so I don't see what the mainstream is dishing out. I have been relying on podcasts of shows like Democracy Now!, To the Point, The Thom Hartmann Show, and On Point.

On the lighter side, there's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me and Le Show. I also listen to Left, Right, and Center on Friday, because I like the weekend wrap-up format.

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me offers many hilarious moments, and can be quite refreshingly irreverent.

The long running Le Show out of Santa Monica is so unpolished, it's kind of lame, but that brings to it a kind of intimacy which intrigues me, and Harry Shearer is so endearing, I can't resist. Plus, the spoofs and satirical songs can be very entertaining.

On Point deals with current news as well as sundry other topics, which I love. Recently a show on Rumi inspired me, not because it was particularly well done, but because the sensibility of the great poetry managed to squeak through even in a stale talk show format. Tom Ashbrook's questions can be kind of goofy sometimes. He's strong on politics, but other areas he can be embarrassingly awkward; e.g., his recent interviews of Garrison Keillor and Nellie McKay.

My favorite is KCRW's To the Point, hosted by Warren Olney. His manner and presentation are rather dry, but I find his topics always to be the most timely and his judgment of what is important to talk about spot on. His questions are intelligent and thoughtful, and he does a very good job of balancing perspectives with his choice of guests.

I like Thom Hartmann because he deals with the relevant and urgent issues in the news, but is optimistic and upbeat in his outlook, believing that popular reason and activism will ultimately prevail over injustice. I just find his frequent didactic tirades against the evils of Reaganomics to be tiresome, however valid they may be.

But Democracy Now! answers to no one but its own reputation, and has
the courage to pursue stories that other outlets won't touch. Amy Goodman is a great blessing, and champion and a stunning example of unleashed free speech. I really wish more people would listen or watch her weekday program.

There is plenty to march in the streets about, plenty to fill letters to barrage our representatives about, but daily life is distracting.

I love my family. My wife Meera, and my boys, Julian and Gabriel. I remember clinging to Julian on the morning of September 11, 2001. I wanted to protect this unsuspecting toddler of mine from the horrors of a new and daunting era that was already apparent in the first hours following the Twin Towers' collapse. But I had no idea how this administration would exploit the event. I was uninformed and naive.

The suffering of the world, the outrageous injustices, are all there for the picking, and there's only so much an individual can do. But individuals have done great things, and effected great change. One person can do only so much, and yet so much. It's luck, its timing. When the masses are ready, the masses revolt.

I don't know what the solution to the world's or the country's problems are, but I do think GWB is a dangerous man, and I praise presidential term limits.

I don't know what my role will be to resist what's going on right now, but I am determined to do something.

I don't think our presence in Iraq does anything but cause suffering. I don't buy the argument that we broke it, so we need to fix it. All we are doing is breaking it more. We need to get the hell out of the china shop, and let the sovereign proprietors begin to clean up the shards.

I realize that my private life, the love that binds my family, is the most precious thing to me. It also binds me to the rest of humanity. But, careful, I don't want to think about the shattered families in Iraq, the result of civilian casualties. Who does? Inconvenient.

I need to put my thoughts to blog. It might not make a difference to those who read it, but it will help me to focus and to cope, even if it doesn't effect any real change. And yet, change is imperative. We do what we can and must do.

This post is scattered and ragged, I know. That's my state of mind. There's too much to think about, too much to speak out about. Too much anguish. But I have hope, and I will forge ahead, and kiss the heads of each member of my family every chance I get.


    From Sunday's playlist...

  • J.S. Bach: Jesus Christus Unser Heiland, Choral BWV 688 (Grande Version)─Lionel Rogg, organ─Bach: Organ Works, Disc 11: Catechism Preludes, 2/Schübler Chorales
  • Gregorian Chant: Halleluia + Psalm 117 (116), 1-2 + Doxologie(10 times Alleluia)─Capella Antiqua Munchen; Konrad Ruhland, conductor─Paschale Mysterium
  • J.S. Bach: Aria (Alto I, Chorus) «Sehet, Jesus Hat Die Hand»─Frans Brueggen conducting the Orchestra of the 18th Century─J.S. Bach: Matthaeus-Passion
  • Christe Redemptor omnium─Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice & Saint-Maur, Clervaux─Gregorian Chant
  • Vivaldi: Et in terra pax from Gloria in D Major, RV. 588─Wren Orchestra, conducted by George Guest─Magnum Mysterium II
  • W.A. Mozart: Missa brevis, K.220 - 1. Kyrie─Peter Neumann; Collegium Cartusianum, Kölner Kammerchor─Mozart: Masses
  • J.S.Bach: Messe A-Dur BWV234; Gloria. Aria─Chor "Pro Arte", Lausanne/Agnes Giebel(S), Gisela Litz(CA), Hermann Prey─J.S.Bach: Missae Breves
  • Gregorian Hymn: "Veni, creator spiritus" and Thomas Tallis: "Spem in Alium"─Rundfunkchor, Berlin; Simon Halsey, conductor─XL: Rundfunkchor Berlin
  • Aria (Pales): Schafe können sicher weiden─The Parley of Instruments; Roy Goodman; Emma Kirkby; Jennifer Smith─Bach: Hunt Cantata BWV 208, "Was Mir Behagt"
  • Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostria ─Choralschola of the Niederaltaicher Scholaren; Konrad Ruhland─Gregorian Chant
From an antediluvian playlist:
  • Lua Nha Testemunha─Cesaria Evora─The Very Best of Césaria Évora
  • Papa pique, Mama coud─Charles Trenet─Trenet: Boum!
  • Quilombo, O El Dorado Negro─Gilberto Gil─Beleza Tropical: Brazil Classics 1
  • Raga Lali─Brij Narayan, sarod; Zakir Hussain, tabla
  • Sylvius Leopold Weiss: Suite No. 17 in F Minor: Gigue─Konrad Junghänel, lute
  • J. S. Bach: Praeludium No. 11 in F Major (BWV 880)─The Swingle Singers─Jazz Sebastian Bach, Volume 1
  • J.S. Bach: Concerto for Oboe and Strings in F Major, BWV 1053─Neil Black, oboe; The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields; Neville Marriner, conductor─J.S. Bach: Four Concerti Transcribed
  • Schumann: Die Rose, Die Lilie, Die Taube─Theo Adam, bass─Schubert-Wolf-Schumann: Lieder
  • Chopin: Etudes Op.25, No.1 in A-Flat Major: Allegro Sostenuto─Maurizio Pollini, piano
  • The Blues Are Still Blue─Belle & Sebastian

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

phiz and fizzle

A time to slack, and a time to post.

Evidently I have not been posting in my blog lately. There has certainly been plenty on mind to warrant posting, but I've lacked the discipline to put my thoughts to screen.

Yesterday I was discharged from jury duty, a month long murder trial. I was a superfluous alternate, which means I was not obliged to cast a verdict. I didn't miss much, though, because deliberations were very brief.

The unanimous verdict was first degree murder, with special circumstances. In our county, that will doubtless mean a life sentence without possibility of parole. They don't go for the death penalty around here. My verdict would have been the same. The evidence was, as they say, overwhelming.

After it was over, I was relieved of a burden I had become inured to, so the relief was kind of a surprise. I and several other jurors had a chance to talk about the case with the judge afterwards, something I also didn't expect. It was an interesting and enlightening experience. The case was very sad.

I decided to write about my experience. The first thing I did was think back on all the other jurors. I identified them by impressions they had made on me. I could account for all but one of them. The local newspaper gave the gender breakdown of the jury. By the process of elimination it indicated that the elusive juror was female.

I spent most of the afternoon yesterday trying to remember who was missing. As I walked around downtown, I looked at a variety of women's faces, hoping that one might trigger the face of the person. It drove me crazy, because every other juror's face was vivid in my mind. I thought about it all night, and still came up with nothing.

When I woke up this morning, the face of the missing juror just popped into my head. It was a man whom I had never spoken to or heard speak during the past few weeks. The Sentinel had gotten the gender make-up of the jury wrong. (Aside from this and other little details, I thought the coverage was pretty accurate, much to my surprise.)

Unfortunately, this side trip fixation derailed me from writing about more substantive aspects of my experience.

Maybe later.
    Specimens from a bygone playlist...

  • Les Collines D'Anacapri─Martin Jones, piano─Debussy Complete Piano Works
  • White Rabbit─George Benson─The George Benson Collection
  • Stay (Live, long version)─Jackson Browne
  • Piece of My Heart─Janus Joplin
  • Palestrina: Motets: Super flumina Babylonis; Exsultate Deo; Sicut cervus; O Bone Jesu, exaudi me─
    Christ Church Cathedral Choir; Stephen Darlington, conductor─Palestrina: Mass for Pentecost and Motets
  • Man of Constant Sorrow─Soggy Bottom Boys
  • Borderline─Camper Van Beethoven─Key Lime Pie
  • Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes─Paul Simon
  • Let's Get Away from It─Fred Sokolow, voice and guitar─Jazz Guitar
    Ten movies I just saw...

  • Firecreek (1968)
  • The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)
  • Hook (1991)
  • Jumanji (1995)
  • Take the Money and Run (1969)
  • Love Actually (2003)
  • Finding Neverland (2004)
  • Harvey (1950)
  • One Fine Day (1996)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Taj Mahal, a world on its own (photo)

The Taj Mahal, a world on its own, originally uploaded by Manυ.
Manu writes:
Stereographic projection of an equirectangular panorama.
If you liked this picture you probably will like my planetoïds and equirectangular

10 films I've seen recently:
  • The Bourne Identity (2002)
  • The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
  • Lost in La Mancha (2002)
  • Petrified Forest (1936)
  • Crash (2004)
  • The Cheyenne Social Club (1970)
  • Excalibur (1981)
  • Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
  • The Hours (2002)
  • The FBI Story (1959)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

for the love of chocolate (photo)

IMG_2319, originally uploaded by dan_singer.

Haven't posted in my blog in a while. I liked this photo, so I thought I'd share it.

There's something Marc Chagallesque about the background figures.

Last 10 movies I watched:
  • Marathon Man (1976)
  • Night at the Museum (2006)
  • How to Make an American Quilt (1995)
  • City of Joy (1992)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
  • Over the Hedge (2006)
  • Lolita (1997)
  • The Simpson Movie (2007)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
  • L.A. Confidential (1997)

Monday, June 11, 2007

the tao of plainchant

Gregorian Day of Wrath, originally uploaded by I, Puzzled.

A couple of weeks ago an old friend of mine, Andy, whom I hadn't seen in years, was in town visiting family and friends. He now lives in West Java with his Indonesian wife and their two young girls. While we were figuring out a time, during his short stay, when we might be able to get together, he mentioned a group of men in the community who gather on Sunday mornings to sing Gregorian chant. Andy was planning to attend, and he invited me to come along.

I learned of this group more than 20 years ago, and had been intrigued ever since. I was delighted that they were still chanting, and still more delighted that I had been invited to participate, and penetrate this inner sanctum of sorts.

As far back as I can remember I have admired the sublime ability of Gregorian chant to invoke calm serenity. When I was in high school I procured a 4-LP Murray Hill* box set of Gregorian chant by mail order. What pure heaven, how soothing to my savage teenage heart!

Okay, I was a weird kid, but there you have it. I'm trying to remember the first time I took notice of Gregorian chant. It was probably as a young child, listening to my father's old recording of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, particularly the bass aria "Omnia sol temperat", which conveyed some of that mystery and wonder I now associate with the Gregorian chant .

I was also fascinated by the "Dies Irae" theme quoted in many symphonic works, namely Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, and Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, but it would be years before I heard the original chant.

So, when my friend proposed I join him for this very casual gathering of non-professional singers who just happen to think it's cool to get together and sing Gregorian chant, I thought to myself, I'm a perfect candidate. I even have my own copy of the Liber Usualis!

To quote Wikipedia:
The Liber Usualis is a book of commonly-used Gregorian chants compiled by the monks of the Abbey of Solesmes in France.

This 1,900-page book contains most versions of the ordinary chants for the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei), as well as the common chants for the Divine Office (a priest's daily prayers) and for every commonly celebrated feast of the Church Year (including more than two hundred pages for Holy Week alone). The "usual book" or "common book" also contains chants for specific rituals, such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, ordinations, and benediction.

All those great tunes! I know them so well from listening to my Gregorian Chant records repeatedly over the years, usually when the stress of life has impelled me to seek it as a means of decompressing. The Liber Usualis also contains detailed instructions about how to read and interpret the neumes and the order of the liturgies, and other good stuff like that.

My LP and CD collection has grown to dozens of discs after all these years. I imagine there are many people who think all Gregorian Chant sounds alike, and see no need to own more than one disc. Naturally, I don't agree, as each recording has a distinct quality, there are many approaches and interpretations, and there are many chants with distinct and catchy melodies.

I have learned that many people resist Gregorian and polyphonic liturgical music because of unpleasant associations with a religious upbringing. I am thankfully free of such trappings, as my mother's modest protestant church to which I was dragged was restricted to lackluster hymns, depriving me the glorious masterworks of the great composers and the poetical beauty of sung Latin. I rejected religion and resolutely identified myself as an agnostic by age 12. I rejected religious faith on logical grounds. So, I approach liturgical music with a purely secular aesthetic, even while acknowledging and respecting the religious passion and piety that probably inspired most of it. But I'm wandering far afield from the subject of Gregorian chant.

Once I learned of its existence, I searched doggedly for a copy of the Liber Usualis. At one point I found a copy in a tiny religious book store. The pages were cracked, crumbling, and falling out, and the binding was taped together in a crude unsightly manner. The price of this specimen was $75.00. As much as I wanted it, I wasn't willing to pay that much money for it...though, had it been in good condition, I just might have. My search continued for another couple years.

I repeatedly consulted with the book experts at the larger used bookstore in town. At one point I asked one of the booksellers whether I should be perusing their music section for this particular item, or their religious book section of their fine store. He gave me a condescending look of weary exasperation, and without saying a word, he jumped up from his chair, darted out from behind the counter, and headed downstairs. I had to hurry to keep up with him.

He walked up to a shelf in the religious section, pulled a book down and, without saying a word, shoved it into my arms, leaving me with my triumph as he headed back to his station behind the buyer's counter. Yes, I read the title with giddy disbelieve, Liber Usualis, and though the leather cover was weathered and cracking, the pages were in fine condition.

Then I opened the front cover to see what this treasure would set me back. Written in pencil, $12.50. I gasped and then scurried to the sales counter to make my purchase, completely self-conscious, completely nervous that someone would bar my purchase, this bookstore coup, and tell me that it had been mispriced. Of course, nobody did. I got away with it, and I continue to cherish my dear old Liber Usualis, though I admit to selfish chagrin when reading in that Wikipedia article: "the book has been reprinted and is easily available." Sheesh, now everyone has one!

But now, years later, with this intriguing invitation to a local male-bonding chant jam, I had a legitimate occasion to use it!

However, I'll have to save the account of that singular experience for another blog entry.

*A budget record label which was an invaluable source of classical music in my youth; at less than a dollar a record, it availed me of, besides Gregorian chant, the complete piano music of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Tchaikovsky, all the symphonies and string quartets of Mozart, and much, much more.

    Last 10 movies I watched...

  • The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
  • The Thin Man Goes Home (1944)
  • Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)
  • MirrorMask (2005)
  • Donnie Darko (2001)
  • The Pink Panther (2006)
  • Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)
  • A Hard Day's Night (1964)
  • Song of the Thin Man (1947)
  • The Graduate (1967)
The sequel to this post can be found here.

Winners of Theme of the Week: Book (mosaic)

1st Place:. Herbal Remedy
2nd Place: hotel register from another era
3rd Place: [Untitled]

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

    From the day's playlist...

  • Händel: Air (Bass): the People That Walked in Darkness─The English Concert & Choir; Trevor Pinnock, conductor─Händel: Messiah
  • Jagged Little Pill─Alanis Morisette
  • No Count Blues─Sarah Vaughan─The Essential Sarah Vaughan
  • Morten Lauridsen: Ubi Caritas et Amor─Donald Brinegar Singers; Donald Brinegar, conductor─Northwest Journey
  • Johannes Brahms: Die Schöne Magelone, Op. 33─Paul Mow, Tenor; Eric Malson, Piano
  • Killing Me Softly─Fugees
  • Not a Second Time─The Beatles─With the Beatles
  • Birthday─Sugarcubes
  • Palm Grease─Herbie Hancock─Thrust
  • Call and Answer─Barkenaked Ladies

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Early evening in Langdale (photo)

"Captured fortuitously, whilst out on my bike...."

    From the weekend playlist...

  • Rachmaninoff : All-Night Vigil, Op.37: Vespers & Matins─Estonian Philharmonica Chamber Choir; Paul Hillier, conductor
  • Thank You Girl─The Beatles
  • Colonel Panic─Jing Chi
  • I Wish─Fantasia, Patti and Yolanda─Happy Feet, Music From The Motion Picture
  • Dixit Dominus Domino meo─Tiburtio Massaino/Niederaltaicher Scholaren; Konrad Ruhland, conductor─Psalmi et Cantica 1400-1600
  • Gregorian Hymn: "Veni, creator spiritus" and Thomas Tallis: "Spem in Alium"─Rundfunkchor, Berlin; Simon Halsey, conductor─XL: Rundfunkchor Berlin

Friday, June 8, 2007

Image us your huddled masses of reading materials! (plea)

Yo, photographic bibliophile types! The Theme of the Week this week is: book, and this Flickr group could really use your contributions: 1 or 2 photos, taken this week, representing that scintillating concept: book.

Please consider making an image will not regret it. (Check the guidelines for the group, to find out what it's all about. Theme ends on Sunday.)


[Edit Update: this plea expired we want your huddled food pictures for the week!]
    From the day's playlist...

  • J.S. Bach: Allegro - Sonate No.4 c-moll BWV 1017─Reinhard Goebel, violin; Robert Hill, harpsichord; Musica Antiqua Köln─J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord
  • I Don't Want to Spoil the Party─The Beatles─Beatles for Sale
  • The History of Utah─Camper Van Beethoven
  • Crying─Roy Orbison

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Slide Terror (photo)

Slide Terror, originally uploaded by ambrosialove.

"Rj stuck him in head first. He wasn't too excited about it. I was laughing too hard to actually ensure all of Drake was in the frame."

(Cf., Gabriel's slide trepidation.)
    From the last couple days of listening...

  • Pictures Of Matchstick Men─Camper Van Beethoven─Key Lime Pie
  • Golden Slumbers/The End ─k.d. lang─Happy Feet, Music From The Motion Picture
  • Yer Blues─The Beatles─The White Album
  • Desolation Row─Bob Dylan─Highway 61 Revisited
  • Franz Joseph Haydn─Piano Sonata No.33 in C Minor, Hob. XVI:20─Emanuel Ax, piano─Haydn: Sonatas 33 38 58 60
  • Schubert: Impromptu D935 No 4 In F Minor - Allegro Scherzando─Albert Ferber, piano
    Last ten films I watched:

  • Shrek the Third (2007)
  • Lost in Translation (2003)
  • Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
  • The Blues Brothers (1980)
  • Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
  • Cinderella Man (2005)
  • The Great Race (1965)
  • Fighting Caravans (1931)
  • The Big Night (1996)
  • The Constant Gardener (2005)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

alignment (photo)

alignment, originally uploaded by I, Puzzled.

    From the day's playlist...

  • J.S. Bach: Fantasie & Fuge in A Minor, BWV 561─Gabor Lehotka, organ─Bach: Great Organ Works
  • Astor Piazzolla: Las cuatro estaciones porteñas─Trio Chromos: Ismael Betancor, Trumpet; José Luis Castillo, Piano; Carlos Rivero, Cello─Trumpet Colors
  • Anonymous: Carmina Burana #63: Olim Sudor Herculis─Philip Picket & New London Consort─Carmina Burana, Volume 1
  • Flying─The Beatles─Magical Mystery Tour
  • Johann Joachim Quantz: Trio in C Major─Members of Kamerata Köln: Michael Schneider, recorder; Karl Kaiser, transverse flute; Harald Hoeren, harpsichord─Florilegium Musicale
  • We Love You─Camper Van Beethoven
  • The King of Spain─Moxy Fruvous
  • Do a Thing─Herbie Hancock─Death Wish (soundtrack)

Monday, June 4, 2007

treading water is harder than it looks (photo)

    From the day's playlist...

  • Bagatelles: Allegro─Alfred Brendel, piano─Beethoven Fur Elise Eroica-Variationen
  • If I Could Talk, I’d Tell You─Lemonheads
  • Like A Rolling Stone─Bob Dylan
  • Goodnight And Go─Imogen Heap
  • We Love You─Camper Van Beethoven
  • Mr. Moonlight─The Beatles─Beatles for Sale
  • New York Town─Cisco Houston & Woody Guthrie─Pastures of Plenty
  • Deadbeat Club─B-52s

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Winners of Theme of the Week: Wheel (photo)

1st Place: Spinning Wheel
2nd Place: Native American Medicine Wheel
3rd Place: Doggles

This week's winners at Flickr's Theme of the Week Group.

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

    From the weekend's playlist...

  • End of the Line─Travelling Wilburys
  • Where Have the Actors Gone─Sunny Wilkinson, vocal; Shelly Berg, piano─Morten Lauridsen: Northwest Journey
  • In The Summertime─Mungo Jerry
  • Jitterboogie─Michael Hedges
  • Changes─Phil Ochs (live)
  • Borderline─Camper Van Beethoven─Key Lime Pie
  • Rachmaninov: Concerto #2 In C Minor - Mov't 1. Moderato─Vladimir Ashkenazy, André Previn; London Symphony Orchestra
  • Hard Travelin’─Ramblin’ Jack Elliott (w/Jerry Jeff Walker)─Friends of Mine
  • America─Simon & Garfunkel─Almost Famous (soundtrack)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Curiosity (photo)

Curiosity, originally uploaded by Troy B Thompson.

    From the day's playlist...

  • I Like it Like That─Sweet Honey in the Rock─On the Air: KUSP’s Live Music Sessions
  • Just The Two Of Us─Will Smith─Radio Disney: Jams Vol. 2
  • The Sweetest Embrace─Barry Adamson
  • Lady (great bass riffs)─John Mayall & Jeff Beck
  • Day Tripper─The Beatles─Past Masters
  • Sylvius Leopold Weiss: Lute Suite Nr.17 in F Minor: Sarabande─Konrad Junghänel, lute

Thursday, May 31, 2007

the glass cage (photo)

the glass cage, originally uploaded by lorrainemd.

her pain is exposed for the world to see...
and she can see all that she can never have.

    From the day's playlist...

  • Chameleon─Herbie Hancock─Head Hunters
  • Händel: Sonata for 2 Violins in A Major, Op.5─London Baroque
  • Don't Bother Me─The Beatles─With the Beatles
  • You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)─The Beatles─Past Masters
  • Godchild─Miles Davis─Birth of the Cool
  • Victor Herbert: Cello Concerto No.1 in D Major, Op.8─Lynn Harrell, cello; Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields; Neville Marriner, conductor

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mel Does the Twizzle (animated gif)

Mel Does the Twizzle, originally uploaded by I, Puzzled.

I'm a huge fan of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and this scene cracked me up.

    From the day's playlist...

  • Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, BWV 648─Hans Fagius, at the reconstructed baroque organ in Kristine Church, Falun─Johann Sebastian Bach: Organ Works Complete
  • Hang Up Your Hang Ups─Herbie Hancock─Man Child
  • Der verlassene Mägdlein─Chamber Choir of the Berlin Academy of Music; Christian Grube, conductor─Hugo Distler - Mörike-Chorliederbuch
  • Crow Waltz─The Be Good Tanyas─Hello Love
  • Granados: Valses Poeticos─Stephen Hough, pianoStephen Hough’s Spanish Album
  • François Couperin: Troisieme Leçon a deux voix─Judith Nelson & Emma Kirby, sopranos; Christopher Hogwood, chamber organ─Couperin: Trois Leçons de Tenebres
  • For You Blue─The Beatles─Let It Be