Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscarfishes.



We watched part of the Oscars last night, or at least we watched the first section of it before Tivo pronounced it complete and failed to catch the last hour. These are the dark ages of that technology, right? Soon it will just download our whims and guilty pleasures directly from our iMedula (tm) in order to serve and control us better. Ahh, technology.

Since J had work to do and I wanted to work on Toby's first years journal anyway we poured a couple glasses of nice Merlot and settled in to watch. Toby insisted on a wine glass, too, but we only had one bottle of wine so he had milk. Oh I know, we're spoiling him and setting him up for a lifetime of addiction to vapid startlets proving how taxing it is to utter only words provided by a glowing LCD screen nestled among the foot lights in bajillion dollar get-ups made entirely of Swarovski crystal. But what the hell- he's our first.

Usually I hate the pat-on-the-back shows and celebrity crap in general (look at me, I'm pleasantly shaped!), but I thought this year it had more of an artsy focus. I had also missed about 70% of the shows even nominated, so it was nice to get some viewing ideas.

I loved that they feted Morricone and how sweeet his speech was. Also, he did the score for Cinema Paradiso which is another required film that J has NEVER seen. This necessitated a quick jaunt to Best Bribe, and allowed me to later fast forward through Celine Dion's freakishness entirely. Man, I try not to hate anyone, but...

So if you're feeling carpy (GET IT? Oscar fish, Carpy?!?!?!) you should read this blog in general, but especially for the red carpet reports.

Today I'm in a skirt by TJ Maxx with adornment by Gerber Firstfoods and my haircolor is provided by L'Oreal Feria, though it's a work in progress. I'm not showing you until I get rid of the Raggedy-Ann as streetwalker red. It looked a little higher-brow on the box, is all I'm saying.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

We napped! Oh, and practiced.




O Aumsville, my Aumsville!

Geez, it's nice practicing in a practice room. I've gushed before about the campus at Willamette University, but dang I'd love to teach there. There's old brick buildings, enORmous old pines, and a bubbly stream tastefully lined with tiny yellow crocuses winding through it all. Seriously, I feel smarter and more affluent just walking around there.

So here we are, back in the throbbing metropolis. Sushi! Industrial buildings converted to overpriced vanity space! So much to covet, so little... meh.

profile picture- gotta post it somewhere...


Ignore this, please.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Aumsvillian



So the other day, we drove to Sauvie Island. We got out the jogging stroller (much more of a pain than our tiny backpack stroller) and bundled the kid and arranged both our cameras about our persons. Then we walked over to the trailhead and started taking pictures. THEN we noticed the big closed gate and this enormous red sign announcing our candidacy for village idiots. See, the picture's not out of focus; just like me, it's centered on the friendlier brown sign in the background. Heh. We want to live on Sauvie Island, but we'll need it to move a little further south to be closer to my Aumsville practice retreat.

Toby's got it so sweet there with the grandparents- his entire body pretty much lights on fire when he sees them. I am but a conveyance to him, and we're going there today.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My baby is a carnivore.

Not this baby, silly.











... that one.

I drove a half-hour into the Columbia River Gorge to Damian Dlugolecki's place and got my second viola all gutted up. Mmmm, cow parts. I was prepared for the studio to smell just a little, but it didn't at all. Maybe a bit intellectual- it had the scent of education to it. Booky, with a hint of electronics dust and a pinch of journal ink, know what I mean?

Preliminary report: It sounds neat. A titch fuzzy, but very direct and throaty, too. So now all that's left is to get a whole bunch of seriously historically imaginative and conscientious gigs. Maybe also some Birkenstocks.

And then?! World domination.

You can all say you were there the very day it happened.

Moo.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Muggsy represents.

Photo: Ray Stubblebine, in USA Today.



Because I still belieeeeeve. (Celine, Cher or that currently hairless wonderfreak should have a song that would be the soundtrack for this post. And they should have a way to let us supply soundtracks to posts. Hey, THAT's what we can invent instead of selling drugs to pay those pesky student loans.)

From everybody's bff, Wikipedia:
"The shortest player ever to play in the NBA is Muggsy Bogues at 1.60 meters (5 ft 3 in). Other short players have thrived at the pro level. Anthony "Spud" Webb was just 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m) tall, but had a 42-inch (1.07 m) vertical leap, giving him significant height when jumping. The shortest player in the NBA today is Earl Boykins at 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m). While shorter players are often not very good at defending against shooting, their ability to navigate quickly through crowded areas of the court and steal the ball by reaching low are strengths."

It's hard to be very good at anything. People will have countless opportunities throughout their lives to learn that; teachers & parents are more useful directing a kid with successes, but I don't think they usually have to dissuade them from doing what they love. I would lay MONEY that the worst people on American Idol (or any other "reality" show) have wierd histories and even stranger family dynamics. The problem there is with perspective- no WAY an otherwise sane, well-adjusted person would be as delusional as some of those sad souls. That's why those shows depress me- just like COPS, it's one of the worst moments of their lives and half the time they don't even have the sense to REALIZE it. Not only are they screwing up their lives, they are missing them completely.

Anyway, the original article and study on kids & praise basically said one thing. People do better when they focus on progress and on level of effort, not on an unchangeable/uncontrollable state of being. (smart/not smart)

I plan on teaching Toby how to do school. How to learn, how to figure out what a teacher wants, how to imagine the best version of an assignment. I think the earlier the better on that stuff, because there will for sure be stuff he doesn't want to do (life is hoopy) and stuff he doesn't do well, so why risk either experience defining his academic life?

Anyway, blah blah blah. He's asleep and I need to practice. In some tiny windowless room at 66th & Broadway a violist is playing the crap out of Don Juan.

Inverse power of praise.

Here's an incredibly enlightening article from New York Magazine.
Photo: Philip Toledano for New York Magazine


If you're too busy to read it, I'll just capsulize it: praising kids for "intelligence" rather than emphasizing hard work and the ability to grow intelligent backfires. Immediately.

This is a great piece of information, and it's applicable to so many of my own internal scripts (Do I sound like I've been in therapy? Perhaps that's what I'm missing...).

Especially when preparing for auditions, I am constantly wondering if I'm as good, good enough or talented, period. Most of my teachers have worked on that aspect of my playing- they talk about being able to tell exactly when I start judging myself, and when I'm testing to see if I can play something. It's hard to focus on playing something well when you're thinking about what it will mean if you don't.

It also blends together J's assertion that encouraging kids by telling them they can work hard and do anything screws them in the end (the American Idol syndrome) and my latent belief that given enough focus they probably can do (almost) anything.

One of my best teachers said talent is only potential, and that after the first few years of undergraduate study it means just about nothing because everybody's either worked hard or quit by then. People certainly learn at different rates, but I think even that can be adjusted.

Anyway, I loved this article. I'm printing it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

What to do...

...with all that disposable income? Take it to Elsewares!

We just bought this book for a friend.











And these are all super cool, too.
I want that onesie at the end for our pot bellied sweetie.





Wild Alaskan Conductor Man


Violist and environmentalist original hippie Gordon Wright conducted the Arctic Chamber Orchestra on the first international tour I ever played. We spent nearly 3 months in Spain, which was a very posh way to experience touring and pretty much doomed me to pursuing music as a career. Who wouldn't want a life infused with the scent of fresh baguettes, ripe tomato, musty cathedrals and Euro-diesel busses?

Maestro Wright died this week, but he lived a very full life and I don't think he'd expect sadness at the news. Apparently he was found dressed in warm clothes, sitting under the birch tree growing through his back porch. He was a total character- what in Alaska is known as a "bush master", pun most likely intended. After retiring from the symphony, he lived off the grid in a cabin four miles from any real road, where he had a legendary hot tub and enjoyed gourmet food, famous friends and the occassional bout of communal reefer madness. He spoke on A Prairie Home Companion and had famous people over for cabin parties.

I remember being a little scared of him. He was 6'6" and had a crazy big beard- way more hair than in this picture. He did nothing quietly. I would guess he loved smoked salmon, wine and long New Yorker articles. He smoked a pipe.

He once forgot how many chords there were at the end of some symphony we were playing and stopped before most of us did. That made for an interesting round of applause. "Should we clap, Marge? Was that the way it ends? It sounded so triumphant there until that poor trumpet-second violin-third flute solo on the last chord. Odd, considering Beethoven's not really whatcha call a Modern, but hey, this is Fairbanks and we're friendly- why not let's give them an encore. Bravo!"

On that Spain tour, I once had the hotel room right next to him and his lady friend. I decided one afternoon in angsty teen fashion I would practice the slow, chocolatey movement of my concerto- over and over and over- as Soulfully, Spanish and Deep as I could muster for all my (read: complete lack of) life experience. It must have been pretty annoying to listen to, but he leaned over the balcony with wine in hand to say something complimentary and since I was a high schooler I was simultaneously elated, humiliated and blushing. Of course I had known they could hear me.

It was like him to be merciful- he created the Fairbanks Symphony, which must have been interesting and trying to say the least. Can you imagine the line-up at that first rehearsal, in 1970? This was before the university had a music department, before there was a youth symphony, before any serious music was going on- incredible. Today it's a booming organization for the size town it occupies. While I played there (grades 7-12), we had YoYo Ma, Benny Kim, Pinchas Zucherman, and other big names come through. They take it seriously, and the concerts go well for the level they occupy.


Anyway, I think Gordon's story is inspiring. You can read more about him in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner. I'm grateful for the things he started and hope he knew how many musicians he created by proxy. In my old group of friends alone, 2 went to Juilliard, one to Oberlin, one to Manhattan School of Music and another to Curtis. Not bad for a little town in the desolate wasteland of frozen tundra.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tobias and the Broccoli

Just another quiet morning on a quiet street in suburban Anywhere...

Toby- Fee Fi Foh Fum! I smell broccoli and bananas. Yum.















Banana- "Aw, man. I never get picked first for anything. Stupid colorful tree-lookin' broccoli."

















Broccoli-
"Noooooooo! Not the dismembery ripping! I thought this was to be a noble death, with rebirth as this psycho dude's cheek fat. But this... is worse than being steamed. This is NOT cool."
























Broccoli- "AAaaaaaaiiiiiiiiieieeeeeeeeeee....."





Toby- "Hello Clarice- er, Banana."


Ghosts of Banana and Broccoli in Unison- "We'll get you in the end. Let's just say your waste removal crew is doomed. DOooOMed."

Monday, February 12, 2007

Kjersten

This morning's Oregon Symphony rehearsal was interrupted for a horrible announcement.

Three Eugene Symphony musicians were driving back from their own rehearsal last night when a drunk driver going south in the northbound lanes of I-5 hit them, killing violinist Angela Svendsen and violist Kjersten Oquist. Oboist Kelly Gronli was injured but has been released from the hospital. The accident occured just outside Albany, near the exit where my labor with Toby started. In fact, I was on my way to a Eugene Symphony rehearsal and it was Kjersten I called.

I met Kjersten a little over a year ago and found her to be friendly and possessed of a fine, dry sense of humor. I liked her. It is chilling to have somebody with such similar stats- 30-something violist, mom, portlander- die pointlessly and without warning like this.

I know as a Christian, I'm supposed to have some peace in this life about the spectre of death, and while the dying itself isn't really what gets me, the missing out absolutely does. I cannot fathom losing the chance to be here with Jonathan, with Toby, for a whole pile of years.

Anyway, it's really sad and really stupid that this unbelievable thing happened. The drunk was a 26 year-old woman, who was uninjured, and whose life is pretty much wrecked now too, I imagine.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wifely duty: complete.

Jonathan has never seen Stand By Me.

This came out on our drive to Sauvie Island today, when we saw some loons flying about and I quite hilariously quoted the junk-yard guy, "I know who you are, you're Teddy DuChamp, and you're father's a loony up at Togas... Loony loony loony." And J said, "wha..?"

I almost made him drive us home right then, but we managed to make a day of it.

This movie rocks so incredibly hard. I won't even list the cast. I won't even talk about the structure, the camera work. I'll just sit here with my margarita and love on the whole entire world. I am done: J is now complete.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Story in Pictures

Before...

Yes, it's one of those travel dealies that straps to your own chair and is made primarily of hard plastic and crevices.












Then, today, I found this lurking by our door. The rest is well-crafted Euro history.




















Thursday, February 08, 2007

Oh, Google. You slay me.

So I thought I'd check out this week's guest conductor, David Alan Miller but the link to his bio on the symphony's site is broken.

So I'm all, Hey Google! Riddle me this:
"David Alan Miller" conductor bio

And Google's like:
Did you mean "David Alan Miller" bioconductor ?

Sadly, clicking that got me nowhere despite it's likelihood of being a completely reasonable correlation. Are not even Maestro's but flesh and bone? If you electrocute them, do they not become hot? There have been pastors electrocuted through microphones during baptisms and many conductors sweat and spit a lot. Gruesome, but true.

Petrouchka ZOW!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Funny Bathroom Humor

This is probably the funniest post I have read in a while. And I thought Dooce was good at poo.

If diapers were toilets we could say only Amen, sister.

And doggone it, people like me.

My friend Andrea posted about her not so impressive experience with a group of moms and it just reminded me how much things have changed in the last year.

I have people of no relation to me whom I could call if my car broke down.

Four women come over once a week and my parents hang out with the tyrants downstairs while we bond. Bonding is achieved like it always is: kvetching, consuming decadent foods and doing a really indepth bible study. That last part's the excuse we use to hang out- I'm thinking next time I set one of these puppies up we will include all three elements but add martinis. Our dining room table is totally sturdy enough to support a little liturgically induced dancing.

Just this morning I had coffee and book babies with one of them, and it was fun. She didn't mind when Toby smeared crackers he stole from her baby girl's very hands all over her jeans and I didn't mind when... well, she and her cutie didn't do anything offensive, but if they had I would totally wait to say anything until later, when I would post about it here. Ha.

I didn't dress with any of the library parents' opinions in mind. This group is so different from the smarmy cliquey groups I encountered when I was raw and new in this whole motherhood groove. The one friendship I made there suddenly dropped me a few months back. Maybe I mentioned that I don't buy organic free range lichen or that corporate Borgian bastards Starbucks, Target, Walmart are my motherships. Anyway, I get the distinct impression that a transgression was committed, and frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

Despite my impassioned ranting, there is nothing to this notion of "mommy wars" the media tries to hype. It's just catty, insecure people given belly fruit and let loose on society once again tend to be catty and insecure. Plus, these poor posers are so missing the boat- they could be painting themselves in the role of saintly, all-knowing Experienced Mom and get high off the fumes of superiority. I am so going to seek out new mamas from now on, to smile and nod and fairly glow while I pat them on the hand in a spirit of patronizing unity.

I can almost hear the coffee grinder now...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Can you guess?

One of these is $1200. It's actually the more boring one.
T'other is $570. I love Men In Black, J knows I have had a thing for Will Smith since he did that sweet tune about his little boy, and since we saw him all shirtless and be-Conversed in I, Robot.

What exactly was that simple recipe for highly profitable Meth again? Anybody got the number for that black market organ harvester from CSI? Who wants an (apparently very fertile) egg?






























Here's the one we got (plus a striped cushion for his heini) on a super sweet deal with gift cards from cousins and grandparents.

Self pity in a Haiku

I wanted to post,
but I better go upstairs
to practice alone.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunday, rambly Sunday.

I didn't feel like bothering with church this weekend but was glad that I did. Hey, I'll admit it- the speaker wasn't my cup of tea (boring and possibly dumbing it down), most of the tunes we played were a little stale, and I was tired and a tad cranky (if you can imagine that). But the musicians- God, I love musicians.

There is always something rewarding in spending a few hours of time and effort with them. Sometimes it is an actual, (NON-pastel-doofy-watered-down-Christianese) blessing. Sometimes it's just funny or honest or sincere and I get a glimpse of how we are supposed to be treating one another. Really excellent musicians should run the world.

I believe this atmosphere arises because all musicians make mistakes. Some sets are better than others, even when you're playing for the creator of your universe. There has to be compromise in a group, there has to be stuff you will hate to do "that way". I don't like the way the group I'm in does half our tunes, but am still given a way to do my job and occassionally it even works out for the best. It is continually shocking that there might be methods and tastes out there worth considering beyond my own.

I honestly think that's how church should be approached anyway: with open admission of imperfection. Religion is about men, created by men in an attempt to follow their one true god. Even my own faith, even my own church is inherantly imperfect simply because I am a part of it. Why do people try to pretend it will be otherwise? How do men step into the role of god- of religious leader- without shrivelling up in shame and self-doubt? I wonder this about the televangelists (are there any good ones ever?) and the leaders of catholicism, and the mullahs, and whoever else, and it is depressing.

Once, before I believed Christ was true, I asked my Christian friend why she was given the faith I wanted while I was not. She was terrible at this kind of question and replied that it was "just a gift God gave her". I remember being irate and sad and sort of hurt at that one. If I wanted to know the Truth, and if God had one available, why would there be any barrier left to recieving faith? What kind of faith couldn't be figured out?

Anyway, on break today I was chatting with the singer-chick from our group, Rebecca, who has a very cool deep and cherry colored vocal quality and has been putting these rad curlers in her hair lately- very cute. She told me about her life at a local famous theology school, and how unsimpathetic, juvenile and cold the people she encountered were.

Why aren't Christians more attractive to those around them? Why do some people seem to check out once they think they've "got it"? I am grateful for my faith, my church and my small role in it, but I am also grateful it's just what it is and I'm not responsible for more now.