Monthly Archives: February 2005

heart-shaped diary with a lock

2/28/05

After nearly three years of trying, we finally broke bread tonight with oft-commenter Oliver and his significant Sophie at Pepper’s Pizza tonight, and we discussed, among other things, the role this blog has played in my life over the last insane years. I’ve come to realize that I’m pretty lucky when it comes to disclosure; I could give a fuck what anyone thinks of me via this online journal, and that includes future employers. My rationale is that if they don’t want to hire me because of something on this site, it probably wasn’t going to work out anyway.

There might come a day when I’ll no longer be able to maintain a blog for media/legal reasons, like my friend Dan, who works for a huge entertainment mogul and is thus disallowed to share his opinions on the Web in any incarnation. But until then, I’ll keep writing about poop and farts and Celexa and all the other things that will totally ruin my chances for a strong Senate run in 2008.

Funny how so many people still have no idea what a blog is. Even if you do, there are so many kinds of blogs that it beggars description. Very few people have the luxury I do of being honest, as there is no boss around to fire me, and I stopped being self-conscious of my goofy pictures at some point in 1987.

Those who can’t show themselves yet need a place to vent are nicely represented by The Rude Pundit, as well as someone you know quite well and even someone else you might know.

Another kind of blog is best exemplified by our friend Peter, who doesn’t approach each blog with the Here’s Where I Put My Big Thoughts pretense that I do, but is fabulously entertaining all the same. For instance, I have trouble differentiating between my computer icons too, but I just never thought anyone else was as annoyed by it.

Blogs on specific topics are nice too, like our girl Quinn Cummings (yes, THAT Quinn) and Mac Rogers, who discuss parenting and playwrighting, respectively. If you want some serious histrionics on theater, look no further than my brother Sean’s blog, who can rant the chrome off a trailer hitch (by the way, I also heartily recommend Michelle and Kent’s blogs too, for vastly different styles).

Now, besides crowd-favorite-commenter Caren and her blog that mentions “woke up, put on clothes, went to work”™ every day, I think the best blog on the internet belongs to my 15-year-old nephew Lucas, who may have the most honest, pure journal ever.

I mean, this is someone whose entire post says “I hate the name ‘Morgan’. I’m sorry anyone who is named that.” And gets 17 comments! His group of friends on that blog is quick, supportive, and effusive. The blog’s name is “Concerned (but Powerless)”, which sums up the paradox of this particular brand of teen.

I do wonder if the prolific internetting of these kids is leading to their somewhat flat-affect of real-live interaction, and god knows what will happen to them if the power ever goes out, but fuck, I love reading that blog. It’s like intercepting a cascade of passed notes in biology class.

I’d like to thank my publicist

2/27/05

I suppose our screening of the rough cut of The Pink House and the Oscar ceremony this weekend pretty much sums up the spectrum of film entertainment – an unfinished DV feature on one hand, and the completed product of 1.7 billion dollars on the other – but we had reason to be satisfied.

It had been a long time since I’d seen the movie all the way through, and occasionally I forgot I’d written it; I could just enjoy the goings-on as if I’d wandered into the screening. An excellent problem (brought up by long-time commenter Oliver, who was there) is that we were going for a Baz Luhrmann-like bizarre landscape without having finished the movie, which can make all of our weird choices and frantic colors seem like, um, “bad moviemaking” if you’re not careful.

I trust we made the audience understood that “The Pink House” was merely a work in progress, and they returned the favor by laughing at a lot of scenes that I’d forgotten were funny. I have always said that I will pay a dollar for each good laugh in a movie; thus, if I’ve laughed seven times in North Carolina (ten times in New York City), I’ll have gotten my money’s worth. I’d say there were about 12 good ones on Friday night, so we might even be able to show the movie in London or Oslo one day.

Someone who is already showing his movies in Oslo and London is the awesome Jim Taylor, who, along with Alexander Payne, won the Oscar for “Sideways” last night. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer pair of guys, although we’re wondering how crazy it will now make their lives. Awesome to see somebody you actually know and respect holding the gold statuette.

And Chris Rock? I thought he comported himself decently, but I just don’t know if he is the right bundle of energy for something as stuffy and 7-second-delayed as the Oscar show. His material about “if you can’t get the star, wait” was nonsensical, and he probably deserved Sean Penn’s scolding re: Jude Law. I think Law is far too decent an actor to be a punchline. And Rock’s joke about Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz’s tits wouldn’t have been funny in my middle school soccer locker room.

Still, he remained solid, and god knows the show desperately needs some piss and vinegar. There’s something about American culture, after Nipplegate 2004™ and the desperate gnashing of teeth “about our children®!!!! ” that is so pre-chewed and boring that it’s making me want to surf Russian amputee porn just to get some taste back in my mouth.

Right.

*ahem* Time to surf!

rain nor sleet can stay this courier

2/24/05

Wow, that may have been the most miserable drive I’ve ever taken from New York to North Carolina. Except for that one time when I was totally in love with that girl Mauri and I had no idea if she liked me or not and there was a rumor that my suitemate had told her something unsavory about me. You remember that trip?

Anyway, the sleet was blinding and pounding us all 500 miles, and I think Chopin accidentally sat in his own poop in Delaware, making the whole experience a neverending feast for the eyes, ears and parasympathetic nervous system.

To answer all the queries both here and on email, yes, we are going to show the roughest of rough cuts of the Pink House movie tonight, Friday, at 7pm on the UNC Campus, Carroll 111. If you plan to attend, get ready for the disclaimer of your life, because this movie is as unfinished as Schubert’s 8th Symphony.

The 8th Symphony has some very beautiful parts, as does “The Pink House,” but we need at least one giant fix of music, sound and picture before we can let it blossom in good faith. Yes, yes, we know. We finished shooting in 2003, but these things take an inordinate amount of time for a project this ambitious – and as longtime readers of the blog will know, we suffered at the hands of a pathological creature that set us back horribly. I will tell that story in class on Tuesday if it seems appropriate.

If you go, try and see it as it will be. Let my disclaimers wash over you like a warm balm.

In the meantime, how about some pictures of the glorious New Jersey Turnpike in the rectal-crack of winter?

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massive truck explosion and fire

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I can understand bullet holes in an Army jeep, but a white Chevy Suburban with a kiddie carseat? Yay Turnpike!

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I accidentally took this picture while eating Sour Gummi Worms, but I think it captures the dreariness of the Turnpike in February. Christ, can spring fucking come already?!?

set the frigate’s royals

2/23/05

Due to – um, *cough, cough* – a “scheduling mishap” on my part, Chopin the Dog and I got an excruciatingly late start on our road trip to Chapel Hill. This picture of us was taken on long exposure at 1am at the farm tonight, with naught but the Full Snow Moon to light our way (click image for bigger).

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Fortunately, that full moon is bright as shit. When you’re alone upstate, with nobody within fifteen miles, with the temperature hovering around 10 degrees, it’s easy to take solace in the protection a full moon can give.

I will try to make it to Delaware tonight, as we are showing Tessa’s film Five Wives tomorrow to an enrapt class at UNC, followed by a very rough cut of the Pink House movie this weekend.

Madness, you say? Starting a trip at 1am? Not when you have the ENTIRE “MASTER AND COMMANDER” SERIES ON YOUR IPOD. Mainsails and great guns, ho!

XX-XY

2/22/05

China tends to scare the shit out of me, at least in some future incarnation – they seem dormant enough now, but you get the sense that all they need is some whacked-out Messianic leader to throw the entire human race into a fantastic tailspin.

One such abject, stupid, cruel act of the Chinese is their preference for boy babies. Through ultrasounds and abortions, they have 129 boys for every 100 girls in that country, stemming from some ancient ideas about boys carrying the family name, being able to support the parents, and some other such shit. For second kids (and the poorer families), the rate is more like 147 males to every 100 females. Girls that do make it to their birthday can find themselves summarily drowned in the hopes of better luck next time.

Anybody with a long view of history knows how violent nature reacts to any manmade meddling in a perfectly good game of chance. Pack any country full of too many people and nature will invent a disease that will kill off exactly the right number. In this case, China is going to murder itself with testosterone.

What do you think will happen when all of these boys come of age with no chance of love, tenderness or redemption in their lives? In China itself, they will rove the country in lawless packs, living by their own rules, perpetuating a crime wave that will rival the Old American West (itself a victim of too few females in the population).

Outside the country, young Chinese men will roam other countries looking for a way to couple – and, I predict, will become the most unpopular archetypical suitor in the history of social demographics. The future will have a name for these Chinese men, something that will spawn a bestselling humor book in the year 2015 or so. I won’t even venture a guess.

Why do I bring this up? Many of you know that Tessa and I decided not to know the gender of our baby until it was born. This, of course, was met with the usual warm smiles of “how quaint” and an appreciation for how Old Skool we were being. Mostly, I didn’t want to know because I didn’t want to give this unborn baby a gender, a name and a personality before it had a chance to offer its own.

So we got to the eighth month without figuring it out. And when we switched doctors to Brooklyn, we were given our “chart,” which showed the results of the amnio, the ultrasounds and other cool stuff. I knew to leave the manila envelope closed, but the other night, my delightfully-overfunctioning wife pored through the details of our baby’s chart. Not realizing, of course, that it might be fairly easy to “stumble” across the sex of our baby whilst doing so.

In her defense, we were so adamant about not knowing gender that it seemed like it wouldn’t be in those pages anyway. She even read the results of the amnio three times before she realized she was looking straight at the gender of our baby. Apparently, she dropped the chart on the living room floor, realizing what she had just done.

Sheepishly, she came up to our bedroom, and told me the whole story. She asked me: did I want to know what we were going to have? I reckoned that it made our relationship bizarrely unequal not to, and so she told me.

The Chinese may be having billions and billions of boys, but let’s just say that in our tiny little corner of the world, we are bucking the trend. Get ready for our little girl.

SPF negative-25

2/21/05

A few weeks ago, I looked at a calendar of our impending late winter and spring and realized that we had ONLY THREE DAYS FREE between then and the 18th birthday of our future child. Now, Tessa and I have never taken a real vacation. We did have a little honeymoon jaunt in 2003 up to Prince Edward Island, but our time was compressed as we had to get back to another wedding just a few days later.

I have oft heard of this place called “The Caribbean” and the islands known as “The Bahamas” therein. I never thought I’d actually go, because people with my lack of melanin don’t enjoy macadamia-flavored full-body oil. But those three days on the calendar opened up its maw, three boxes all screaming “save yourself, you bastard!”

So I found an excessively cheap fare from Newark, and surprised Tessa with our First True Cheesy American Vacation to the Islands. New Yorkers and Bostonians: I can’t recommend this jaunt more. It’s 2 1/2 hours by plane non-stop, and in mid-February, you can go from this:

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to this:

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I didn’t know oceans came in that shade of blue. On the hotel balcony, I just stared at it, not quite believing this was a color nature allowed. It seemed almost synthetic, but it was deliciously real. For her part, the usually-over-functioning Tessa slipped into the warmth of the Bahamas like a favorite T-shirt. Or at least a T-shirt that has the belly stretched out to eight months pregnant.

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I’d seen a few people parasailing at the Outer Banks, and it seemed a little Excessive and Foolish, but this time I decided to drop my smug snobbery and hoist my preggers wife into the atmosphere. Why is it that I dislike flying in airplanes so much, but will gladly tether my person to a few straps and a canvas balloon 200 feet over a rocky ocean?

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The relationship between Tessa and me has always thrived on intellect, fast dialogue and being unafraid to think about anything too much. But high above the teal sea, I was able to relax into a perfect dream state with my gorgeous mate, suspended in air over a huge body of water, with the baby inside her suspended in water over an ocean of air.

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purple mountains majesty

2/20/05

Today’s blog is canceled to honor three presidents for President’s Day:

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George Washington, who actually did live up to the hype

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James K. Polk, our Carolina alum who fulfilled every campaign promise and made California possible

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and James Buchanan, who was GAY GAY GAY!!!

Ain’t Got Time To Die

This is Sean. My blogs are usually just plain out rants, shit-talking fast food menus, making fun of movies, and generally being an ass for kicks. I hope it’s okay if I drift from that just for tonight.

Although a large part of my social life, and Ian’s for that matter, are the people who went to the University of North Carolina with us, the fact is that I didn’t get there until I was well into my twenties. Before going there, I was a public high school drop out that was taking advantage of the incredible Junior College system in California. I was living in South El Monte, which, for those of you unfamiliar with Los Angeles geography, was just north and east of “South Central”.

I was the only guy in my neighborhood who had no involvement whatsoever with the drug trade, so I was adopted by my neighbors like an exotic pet. I was this goofy white kid that spent hours singing show tunes in his house and had friends over who like to play Dungeons and Dragons well past adolescence. I had a run down two story townhouse that I payed $450 a month for. The laundry machines cost a quarter, and they were outside under a lean-to.

Most of my friends were other public school flunkies, and some of us had decided that, instead of going to Ju-Co, we would join the military. I was heavily recruited. I think the military must have known I was failing out of school, because they thought I was a prime candidate for some toughening up. In my case, this didn’t happen, but I did have some friends who went that route. This was 1989-1990.

When Iraq One broke out, the guys I knew were really excited to go but I was terrified. It turned out that no-one I knew ended up fighting in Iraq One, but there was still this impending sense that they wanted to go, they wanted to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. I was ambivalent, but my extended family, (aunts and uncles, not the lefties that post on this blog) were thrilled, convinced that Hussein was our generation’s Hitler.

The military gave my friends a sense of purpose that they were lacking. These men were not animals, not violent men. These guys weren’t the types of people who wanted to shoot other people. These were strong smart men with a lack of direction and a poetic dedication to their country. I teased them, as I’m sure anyone who knows me can imagine, for their belief in “America”, for their dedication to Bush I, for their willingness to run a 10k wearing 150 pounds of equipment just to prove they could.

This morning, I was watching the morning shows, and they did a story on a young man who was shot in the stomach trying to save a fellow soldier. He was willing to give up his life for his fellow man, for his friend, and it is a miracle that he has lived. He’s been in the hospital longer than any other soldier in this war. The administration found out about his heroics, and he was featured on all the morning shows this morning.

I mean, I know how that works, you don’t get on the morning shows unless you have a publicist, and you don’t have a publicist unless you have a story, and someone’s getting that story out. And this kid saved a life by giving up his own, no matter how you slice it, he is a hero.

I was undecided about this war, and I did a lot of research during the build-up. I believed that Hussein had the ability to traffic in arms, and I knew he was capable of killing his own people in large numbers. I listened carefully to the case made before the war and was frustrated with my knee-jerk liberal friends who dismissed the information as lies. How could people like Colin Powell *lie* to the Congress? These weren’t crazies saying this stuff, this was Colin Powell, these were rational smart people who said the war was necessary.

I was lied to, and I believed it because I couldn’t believe that so much lying was possible. The level of dishonesty was astonishing. When people like John Kerry voted for the war, and then against it, they were voting first on a lie and then on the truth. My knee-jerk liberal friends are still jerks, but this war has no justification, and they were right.

So, when I say I support the soldiers but do not support the war, it means something different than you might think. It’s the junior college dudes, the ROTC scholarship guys, the blue collar underacheivers who are fighting this war, and those are my friends. We’re all in our thirties now, none of them is in the military, but the completely random luck of my birth year doesn’t remove me from the friends I would have had. Those friends who conflated their sense of honor with their ache for a life rich with poetry, and found meaning in being a soldier equal to the meaning I found being an artist, who are fighting and dying for the lies this administration told.

This morning, the father of that wounded soldier started to cry on TV and said, “I wish he had gone to college.” And that’s the worst thing. For many of us, the military is a chance at being a person with dignity, with a paycheck, with a life. And there is a war going on, a war between, on one side, zealotry and fear and, one the other, true democracy and freedom. But those zealots are in Darfur, in Africa, in Iran and Saudi Arabia, in North Korea. Our soldiers should be dying for this cause, but not in Iraq. And fathers, who should be proud, are wishing their sons were sitting this one out.

A soldier has to march into the face of an enemy, he has to put his life down for his country, that’s part of the deal. The military is not a works program, it isn’t there to provide jobs or welfare for young poor men and women, they are there to serve the country, the country is not there to serve them. The fact that it is an option for building character is one of the benefits to the soldier, the life you are willing to lay down is the benefit for the country.

But dying for your country, or laying your life down and surviving by a miracle, in a capricious struggle built on a foundation of lies devalues the soldiers. They shouldn’t ask the questions, they shouldn’t speak out, if they did they would be bad soldiers, they have to have blind dedication to their superiors and they have to be willing to give the ultimate sacrifice willingly and free of second guesses. But we can ask the questions. We can demand that the conversation not end with this election in Iraq. And we have to hold this administration accountable for sending our friends needlessly into harm’s way.

books fall open

I’ve been looking all over the internet for a poster that used to hang in my junior high library. It was a picture of Sting, from The Police, holding a book and looking as utterly delicious as he was before he got all tantricly retarded. Back when he could sing higher than I could, when the shifting shadows on his face in the “Every Breath You Take” video were enough to send my 11-year-old heart into a tailspin. Sting was dreamy, a musician and an intellectual, and I remember looking up his lyrics in the dictionary and still having no idea what they meant (“they subjugate the meek, but it’s the rhetoric of failure”).

Michelle here, by the way.

Anyway, I can’t find the poster. But I’ve been thinking about it all day. Even back when I was a ridiculous pre-teen wanna-be socialite, more concerned with my fluorescent socks matching my top than I was about any world affairs, I still spent plenty of time in the library. I hold a deep affection for libraries still, and sometimes I wish I were an academic just so I had good reason to sit on a high-backed chair for hours, surrounded by my “research”, glasses perched on my head, fellow academics on all sides, accompanied by hushed voices and the smell of old books. Alas, instead, I’m a carny.

I’ve been thinking about that poster, and about my love of books, and how tied my love of books is to my love of music and all the arts. I find the same solace in practice rooms and on stage as I do in the library. I love reading a good book almost as much as I love kicking ass singing a Cole Porter song. I’m a good reader, and a good singer, and I don’t know how much of that is in my DNA and how much was cultivated, but I’m awfully glad I had the chance to explore both books and music when I was growing up.

I now make my living solely through the arts. I’m the director of an arts non-profit, and I’m singing and writing with some degree of regularity for extra cash on the side. And like so many things in my life, I’m astounded every day by how little I know about art, and I’m doubly astounded by how pathetic support for the arts is in this country. I’m going to use my little home as an example. My community has three theatre companies- only three. One is an Equity company, another is dedicated to Shakespeare, and the third is a community theatre. All three of them are folding this year. Not due to lack of talent, lack of drive, or lack of resources in this valley, but quite simply because none of them can afford to rent space to perform. The local venues have all jacked up their prices in order to attempt to get in the black, and there is no community center, no subsidized performing space for the companies to use.

Why should you care? Because this is happening all over the country. And the thing is, these companies also have educational outreach programs to bring arts education into the schools, where arts got the axe many years ago. Without these companies, there are fewer arts instructors, which means kids don’t get exposure to the arts. I’m not going to get preachy, I’m just going to lay out some proven stats: when children are exposed to arts education, they learn teamwork, they develop a sense of individuality, they gain confidence, and- guess what- they do much better in their core disciplines. So when a kid puts a paintbrush to paper, or sings a song, somehow, that translates into better arithmetic scores, better understanding of Language Arts, better SAT scores and a fuller and more prosperous life!

Okay, so maybe I don’t know about that last part. But here in northern California, one of the wealthiest spots in the known world, school closings are on the news literally every other week. Schools are closing because they don’t have enough money to stay open. When they try to save themselves, first they cut art, then the cut the library- the LIBRARY- and then they move on to cutting bus services, and on from there.

Umm, what good is a school with no library? Why is California in such a terrible way? And what the hell would I have done with my life if, as a kid, I had no books and no music? Every artist I know remembers the first time they were on stage, or the first time they put pen or brush to paper and were satisfied with the result. It’s when we were kids. And we do this because we are simply unable to do anything else. I have to wonder how many kids, who are meant to be artists, are going to grow up and live their whole lives with the sinking feeling that they never found their calling because no one ever put a paint brush in their hand, or gave them a song to sing or play.

I’ve been thinking. . .

The Mom here. . .

My #4 son Sean, Ian’s younger brother, has worked with me for some years now, collaborating on music projects. He’s the best vocal director I ever worked with (as well as the best actor I know), and he can make almost anyone sing better than they know how. We don’t always agree on everything that happens in the process of creating a project, but one thing we definitely agree on: Our least favorite thing to hear from someone who has hired us “It doesn’t have to be THAT good.”

Often it’s said because making it less than THAT good will save a little money, but even worse, it is sometimes when we are doing recordings or songs or performances for kids. Kids, some people figure, really don’t know the difference, and, well, it just doesn’t have to be THAT good.

Arrrrggghhh. How will kids ever know what is good or challenging or exciting or inspiring or thought provoking if they are constantly fed a diet of artistic fast food? I mean, a Big Mac will make you not hungry any more, but is it a) good for you or b) as tasty as a really well cooked, carefully crafted meal? It’s been my personal credo that any piece of work you create should have the same high standard as any other, and the best you can do given your particular set of gifts. Whether I’m writing a string quartet or a 12-bar song for second graders, I can’t do it unless the point is to make it as fine a piece of work as I can.

Here’s the thing: It really does make a difference whether it’s THAT good or not, even when the only one knowing the difference is you yourself, about your own work. And I have to believe that those who are watching or listening know the difference, too, if they are paying attention at all.

Last night we watched a rerun of The West Wing, one of the terrific Sorkin-era episodes. The layers of drama were balanced and focused, and the dialog crackled with intelligence, wit, and even (considering the chemicals in Sorkin’s body at the time) wisdom. Watching the shows post-Sorkin, I find them acceptable, especially in comparison to most of the dreck on TV, but going back to a Sorkin episode makes me realize that I want the current show to be THAT good. Sorkin is a genius, and the merely talented who have taken his place just don’t get there. Anyway, I’ve been thinking. . .

What makes a great creative artist? What makes that artist’s work leap up past the “bar” that has been set for most of us. I think that beyond the talent, which is a given, it’s caring whether the result is THAT good, no matter what the venue, audience, purpose, or set of tribulations.

The incomparable Judi Dench never utters a line that isn’t so much better than everything around her that I wonder people even want to play a scene with her. She can play James Bond’s boss, a really silly part, and convince you that she is utterly authentic. She can create a comic, tragic, or regal figure with perfect ease, and make the witnessing of it a joy and a revelation. She won an Oscar in a part that gave her almost zero screen time, for heaven’s sake. Awesome.

Or Beethoven. When I pack for the desert Island, the one piece of essential music I would take is the second movement of his seventh symphony (written when the poor devil was deaf as a post). With the simplest of means as a backdrop… a heartbeat rhythm of “long – short short” beats that permeate the piece, he builds a simple melodic/harmonic riff into a rhapsodic, and finally passionate outburst that nearly took my skin off the first time I heard it. And it never grows old. It is not merely inspired, but so carefully, masterfully crafted and shaped and built that it amazes and humbles me every time I hear it. Sublime

Sean writes about Arthur Miller in his blog more capably than I possibly could, so I won’t labor it here. Except to say: if ever a play existed on multiple levels, working perfectly whether you were aware of the other implications or not, consider “The Crucible.” Beyond good, beyond well-crafted, enduring beyond the particular allegory Miller intended. Pure brilliance

And Shakespeare, whose work is still with us after all these centuries. Probably because even with the mysteries surrounding the author and the “authentic” versions of the plays, there is enough stuff that survives to make his work timeless and evergreen. The words, the words… beyond music. And just THAT much more eloquent than mere drama needs to be. Orlando complains to Ganymede that he is dying for the love of Rosalind. Wise Ganymede’s reply is not, “You’ll get over it” or “You’ll live” but “Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them….but not for love.” Delicious.

Then there’s Michelangelo. His “old Pieta” in the small museum behind the Duomo in Florence, is not his best known sculpture. But working with a flawed block of marble, that required his re-thinking the group of figures when he was part way finished with it, he created a work of such aching melancholy and devotion that to see it is to understand grief, old age, all-encompassing love, grace, and even agony, again on many levels. Worth looking for next time you are in Florence…

Now, Robert Frost was no Michelangelo or Shakespeare or Beethoven, but his stuff is THAT good. Again, on so many levels. Frost’s poetry is evocative and sylish, but the workmanship is admirable. “Stopping by Woods” is in a folded-into-itself form that is easy to miss, because the imagery is so strong. Enjoying the wintry, bleak images, admiring the word-play, and then finding the “AABA BBCB CCDC DD ad ad” form in that poem taught me more about form, shape, color, and symmetry/asymmetry in composition than years of graduate music theory.

Sorry to wax so pedantic, in a venue where my offspring are so constantly amusing, but well, I’ve been thinkin’….

I’m perfectly aware that I will never match Beethoven or any of those other luminous artists. I will be content to know that even though my music and words and images may never leap that genius bar, I will never stop doing my best to make anything I create THAT good.