Friday, August 31, 2007


Here I flutter.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tam's good with words 

Tam's had some great book quotes, which I am reproducing shamelessly:
To me, that's when you know you're reading a great read; when you notice the part of the book in your right hand is noticeably slimmer than that in your left, and you slow down as much as you can to stretch out the magic of the story.
That's from here.
One morning at a gun show, just before the show opened, my boss noticed me with my nose in a book and asked "Whatchoo doin' there? You a bookworm?" Not ten minutes later, someone strolled over to our tables and asked an obscure technical question. Without looking up, I piped up with the answer and my boss, completely without irony, asked "How do you know all that stuff?" I nearly bit my lip off choking back the cascade of smartass replies that sprang immediately to mind. "See the squiggly black marks between the covers here? They're a secret code that conveys information."
Full story (and read the full story) here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Cult of the Amateur 

Did anyone see Andrew Keen appear on the Colbert Report? I think he was trying to promote his book, The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture, but he really came off as an asshole. He claimed, among other things, that artists were people who were paid to produce their art, but amateurs were fouling things up for real artists by offering things for free and by stealing from artists. He claimed to know more about the Internet than Stephen Colbert, said he (Keen) was an elitist and proud of it, and praised Colbert for creating art on his show. I got the impression that art is simply stuff that people value enough to pay for. Or stuff that is paid for. So Danielle Steel is an artist and Emily Dickenson is not.

I'm not being fair, and I promise I will read his book. I'm sure he didn't come off the way he wanted to during Colbert's difficult interview (Colbert's a comedian, not a reporter, so his interviews are...hard on the interviewee).

I had already bought and planned to read his book. I'm a little soured to him, but I'm telling myself not to let a 3-minute TV appearance keep me from reading and trying to understand his arguments. The book is close to the top of my reading pile, so get ready - I'll talk about it again when I finish.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Secret House 

The Secret House: The Extraordinary Science of an Ordinary Day by David Bodanis

This is a great little book. Bodanis explains the science all around us, from the biology of the critters living in the lawn to the chemical composition of toothpaste to the physics of a thunder storm. I think it's a afscinating premise, and Bodanis uses the narrative of day and night to contain all the biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, and whatnot that a trivia lover craves. The book reads slow, but that's a feature, not a bug - there's some very tight and nicely explained science here, accurate from all I can tell and accessible to the average interested reader.

I'm mailing my copy to my nephew. He's a wanna-be know-it-all. He'll love this.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam 

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse---and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness---
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

Music (not books) 

When I was growing up, the only music I did was piano and choir. Junior and senior year, I was in a Madrigal group. Most people practiced hard and auditioned and failed. I got cherry picked by the director, not sure why, I think he needed more second altos and everyone wanted to sing soprano. It was a small group, maybe 12 girls (I went to and all-girl school), usually divided into 4 singing parts. So I got good at holding my part, even alone, with really complex harmonies. But I couldn't make up harmonies on the spot like some of the other girls could. I could sing the harmony part to songs on the radio, but they could make up new harmonies. They coveted the solos. I'd sing solo when told to, but while my singing was technically excellent, it was boring. Choir singing, where the goal is to blend.

I could be more creative with the piano. I can feel the instrument breathe. Different phrases breathe at different times, and I can control that. But I can't let go. Improvising is difficult for me. Keeping time with other instruments is difficult, because I'm used to feeling the music and how I think it wants to slow down or speed up to breathe. One time I had friends over in high school. We made music. I played piano. Kevin had his guitar. Rose had a recorder and Amy had a flute. Pam had a cheap drum of mine. We had fun. I got high on music. I was actually jamming, somehow I knew what I was doing. When they left, my mom said I couldn't do that again, because the room we were in, the room with the piano, had white silk couches and she didn't want my friends sitting on them. We could have broken the glass table, she said. My friends didn't say hello or chat with her. We made too much noise.

And that was that.

I'm remembering this because I'm settled (more or less) into my new house. My electric piano has arrived. And I can play and sing, and the acoustics are grand. Music is back in my life.

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