Thursday, September 20, 2007

Some Minor Observations

Saw a guy dressed head to toe in camos ripping through traffic on a super ninja bike. Didn't strike me as a very good fashion choice for rush hour traffic.

There is a tee shirt shown here that I'd like to have. I reminds me of a time when I was still smoking. I used to stop at a downtown convenience store to get smokes almost every morning. The store changed managers and staff quite often. This day as I walked in I hear, instead of "Good morning," "How you doin', Boss?" New manager, black guy grinnin' at me. I just looked at him and got my smokes and left with a "goodbye." Next day same thing. The third day he gave me that greeting I responded: "Do you call all your customers boss or only the white ones?" His face went blank/hooded. He never greeted me that way again. He was gone a few months later.

Years ago I had a black co-worker who had a great tee. It had that red "Danger" sign and below it was: "Educated Black Man."

My favorite tee was on a young woman working at the feed co-op in our part of Canada:
"I may not be perfect, but some of my parts are excellent."

We've had the windows open, now, for almost a week. Except for a few bugs slipping through the cracks the screens leave, it's been great. The electric meter is now in slo-mo mode. Duke power worry.

Here is one reason I am ripping off all self-applied labels. I am still registered as a Democrat, but that can change. How stupid can a gang of Democratic Senators be? (Chorus: How stupid are they?) Warriors go to war. They need time off, yes. But the best way to get them home is to hand off the defense of Iraq to the Iraqis.

Dammit, I used to know who was on my side and who was against me. Now, all I can see are friggin' idiots posing for cameras and pandering to varied interests. My voting pattern used to be: "When in doubt, throw the incumbents out." From what I can see, the challengers bring even less to the fight.

BRB is Write (and had better stop)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It Is Symphony Season, Again! Yay!

Our Sunday series of concerts started last Sunday. The feature work was the 1812 Overture by one of my favorite dead white guys: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. I really like this work 'cause it starts in an almost pastoral manner with a theme played by the violas and cellos. And it ends with Napoleon and all the French getting smucked by church bells, organs, and cannons. Really cool. The cannons, in our concert hall (The Stevens Center), were synthesized by a massive sub woofer/amp firing cannon speakers. I'm not sure how the brass section survived, as they were right in front of the speakers.

The opening work was by von Weber: Jubel overture. The work was composed to celebrate some German King in 1818. It is very listenable and ends with the tune "God Save the King," or "My country 'tis of Thee," for you Yanks. It is a very fitting ending to the piece since all those 19th Century European Monarchs were related to each other anyway.

We also heard a new work, a premiere, if you will, by Dan Locklair, a live white composer, no less. The work is called Phoenix for Orchestra. I would buy a recording of this. It has antiphonal horns, melody, harmony, a commanding organ and lively parts for the orchestra. I whined about having to sit through another 21st Century piece of atonal, loud crap. What a pleasant surprise. I have sore ribs from Ms CPB elbowing me to remind me of my whining. What a great work, and our orchestra was up to it.

Sumdood playing the cello was the guest artist. I guess I do him an injustice. He is Zuill Bailey, a young cellist of note who has played with many large orchestras and in some prestigious halls. He couldn't have been better matched to the concerto he played: Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra in E Minor, op. 85 by Edward Elgar. E minor, Elgar, Romanticism, expressive instrument (cello), emoting soloist, all worked together. It was very enjoyable if I kept my eyes off of him and concentrated on the orchestra. As an encore, he played variations on "Yankee Doodle Dandy." He showed a lot of technique (as if I knew) and drew admiring looks from the rest of the cello section (especially the women). Forty years ago, one would have had to play variations on "Dixie."

Again folks, even if you have the best recordings by the best orchestras and soloists, the best playback electronics and the best speakers, it is not comparable to being there for the live concert. Live concerts bring the dead white male composers to life. For a small city orchestra, the Winston-Salem Symphony is superb. The musicians are drawn from the NC School of the Arts and from some of the other colleges in town. The director, Robert Moody, brings enthusiasm and energy to the whole program.

We will get Van Cliburn next month for the fundraiser, like we got Perlman last year. We have had Midori as soloist and will get Evelyn Glennie in the spring.

One last thought on live concerts: I know professional musicians have studied, worked, practiced and rehearsed for years. They love their craft/artistry and will play most anywhere, as long as they can play. But, damn, for people at work, they all look like they are having much too good of a time.

Support your local orchestra; you and they deserve it.

BRB is Write (and looking forward to Piano Concerto #1 by dead Russian and played by live Texan)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Weather Breaks!

Not much of a headline?; not worth my time, your time, or the space here in Pixelland, you say? We have set more records here in our part of NC in the month of August than at any other time. More days recorded a high of 90 degrees F. in August than any year ever recorded. Al Gore weather. Duke Power got more of our money since the Italians spent the winter here late last century. (That's another story.)

I have the air off, and the windows open to the woods, 65F at 6am and 57% humidity. All of August at 6am it was 74F and 90%. It never rained. We are still in the midst of a drought, but rain is promised for tomorrow.

The deer and other animals are going to start moving again, and the slaughter will continue: deer vs autos. I need to get my neighbors to shoot more. I don't shoot deer, 'cause I wouldn't eat it; I like to eat what I kill, e.g. fish.

Speaking of this time of year: School is in, and school buses are clogging the roads. Please give them all the attention you can while driving: put the coffee down; turn off the cell phone; watch for kids. Know the rules for stopping for a school bus which is loading or discharging kids. You can look it up, I did. If you are on a four-lane road with a median, divider, boulevard, and are not following the bus, do not stop; those of us who have read the rules may run up your butt if you do. The same applies for a five lane road with a center turn lane. Don't stop if not following the bus. The routes are arranged so that kids don't have to cross major highways to get to the bus. Following? stop. Opposite direction, keep rolling.

That's my yearly rant about that. We now have some traffic circles where stop signs used to be. Many drivers don't understand the concept. Here it is in a nutshell: You yield to those in the circle. If you are in the circle keep going to your exit. That ain't hard, now, is it? Too bad none of my local traffic circle users will read this.

Nephew and his wife added to the earth's population yesterday and enlarged the greater family by one baby girl. Congrats to them both. All are doing fine, even the father.

BRB is Write (and loves the fresh air flowing through the house; take that, Duke Power!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Musings on This September 11

First of all, I forgot what date it was when I got up. All I knew was that I had a job interview at 9 am. Then when we got out to take Ms CPB to work and me to the interview I noticed lots of flags at half-staff. Ms remarked about the date and that we had a great-niece due to be born today. Damn, I forgot. I'll never forget that day, and nor will lots of others. I don't know how unique PDB's response was, but it was interesting. Check it out.

I hate job interviews. "So Mr BRB, tell me about Bruce." Do I lie, embellish, brag, be totally honest, a combination of all of the above? I don't lie very well, so I try to be honest.

So here it is, 9-11, and I have to walk voluntarily into the Federal Building here in town. Ok, I've got the chutzpah for that. If I say that the Feds were particularly security conscious today, I don't blame them. They all but asked me to undress to get through the screening at the entrance. Made it to the 7th floor and had my interview.

I should explain that I was applying for a clerking job at the regional Veterans' Administration office. Downtown Hyphen-town, where last year an abandoned car sat between the city court house and the federal building on main street for a WEEK! Oh well, the federal building looks a lot like a concrete bunker plastered with sandstone stucco. So did the Murrah building, as I recall.

I had a board interview with three of the VA's finest management types for this clerking job. "If you should get this job BRB, where do you see yourself in five years?" I didn't say retired.

What ever happened to all of the little flags that sprouted up like dandelions in the Spring right after 9-11? I guess we all tend to react and then to let things pass into memory rather than into memorials.

So here I am, 9-11-07, listening to "Forest Flower: Charles LLoyd at Monterey." It was recorded live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1966. Hippie jazz some called it. Charles LLoyd on tenor sax, Keith Jarrett on piano, Cecil McBee on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums; just an outstanding group playing live outdoors. In 1967 I ventured into Compton, CA to buy the album. Don't know Compton? Think Williams sisters, Athern Model Trains, south-central L.A., Watts, and you are close. I could have stayed in that record store all day and bought every album I had heard on our local jazz station, KBCA. I had money for one and got Forest Flower. Forty years later it is still fresh to hear; I still marvel at the improvisation and solos. It is a comfort album: one that brings back some rather painful times, yet remains remarkably relevant to me.

Back to this 9-11. I hope I get this job. We could use the extra income (who can't). And in some small way I can serve my fellow Vets, which is the primary motive in any case.

BRB is Write (and may have left it too late)