Stopping to Listen

Last night, I took my son to a concert. It was an orchestra playing the full suite of The Planets by Gustav Holst. Before each planet, a science teacher stood behind a corner podium and gave a musical and scientific introduction, and each performance had a slideshow of images for each celestial body. Austin has been studying astronomy in school, so for this night The Planets were aligned.

It had been quite some time since I last listened to the full suite. Sitting and listening to them ten years later has given me far more perspective on just how massive this work of Holst’s is.

I remember being bored by Venus and Saturn when I was younger. But with the introduction to Saturn as the dignity in aging and death, the way that movement ended was simple and spectacular. And Neptune works as the great anti-finale. It leaves you adrift, wondering what could be beyond it, knowing full well that there has to be something.

It is something significant about who we are that changes what we hear in and get out of music throughout our lives. The speaker mentioned that Saturn was Holst’s favorite of the suite, and now I can understand why.

There was also something else to the music. It has been a long time since I attended a concert that I was not actively either playing in or working on. So I sat and got to just absorb this art laid out over time.

Music is the only art that requires time in order to actually exist. It is the closest thing we have to a tangible fourth dimension. Anything else can be looked at again, gone back over, re-read, etc. Even plays can be read without being acted and the impact of the art is nearly there.

With music, as any of us who know how to actually read its nomenclature can attest, until it happens, it sits as a potential. No art or impact is conveyed without hearing it, and it can only be heard as part of its own sequence.

So I sat in the audience and just listened. There was nothing else going on. I wasn’t working on something else, I was there just for the music and I got to hear so much more of it. It wasn’t a background to the movie of life. So much great art is thrown to the dogs of daily life without being appreciated.

Jumpin’ at the Fry Side

Searching the word ‘Jump’ in my iTunes library pulls up quite a selection of tracks, I’d say.

Truth be told, I take full responsibility for The Pointer Sisters on that list (since that was what I was looking for; the toddler kept shouting out the word and hopping up and down). Oh and Sugar Hill Gang. Those are definitely mine. I deny any association with The Jacksons or Taylor Swift.

Trio Of Droppings…

Fellow Minnesota automobile drivers, I implore you to look toward your summer selves for guidance while operating your vehicles. I know that the first snow is always a little rough, what with the plows playing a little catch-up in clearing and salting, and the rest of us drivers remembering our winter sea legs as it were. That being said, by the third, fourth, or even seventh wintery precipitation, can we all keep in mind that the lines on the road are to be driven between and not straddled like a lady of the night advertising in a red light district?


Here is how my mind rattles while shopping:

We’re almost out of vodka.

I don’t want to get Smirnoff again.

Hey look, Finlandia is on sale.

You know, I’m a fan of Jean Sibelius.

I purchase the “vodka born from the purity of Finland.”


I just went shopping at Wal-Mart on the night before Christmas Eve. EYE YAM SOFA KING WE TAR DID.

Thanks, George Carlin. I’ll always be grateful.


In the heyday of Steamboat and Rail travel, the pilots and conductors would actually have an assistant dedicated to operating the horn. While their official titles were Sonic Engineers, they were widely known as simply Head Honkchos.
As a historical carryover, this is also the title bestowed on all adolescent lead Bari Sax players.

Aural Experimentation…

I’ve been playing around with downloading whole albums of artists I hear on the radio, namely from The Current.  In fact, it’s very cool to find entire discographies so I can find the good stuff I can dig.
Wonderful artists I have discovered or rediscovered in the past few months have been Björk, Brother Ali, R.E.M., Tracy Bonham, Radiohead, Billy Joel, and Barenaked Ladies.  I’ve really liked Björk’s Post and Brother Ali’s The Undisputed Truth albums.

And then I also downloaded Atreyu.  I heard their song “Falling Down” on the radio and liked its sound.  The guitars had an 80s/Nintendo quality that sounds good to my ears, and the vocalist wasn’t half bad.  So I figured, hey, why not check out their other stuff?

The guitars and drums, for the most part, stay cool.  Nothing particularly ground-breaking or original (but with metal, nothing really is).  But the vocals are worthless.  I do my level best to give any genre or style the benefit of the doubt, but with thier metal sound, and (sometimes) clear vocals, I figured they’d be some ear candy.  I was sadly disappointed.  Oh well.

There’s plenty more out there, that’s for sure.

Money to the Musicians…

My oh my does this look like the death throes of the recording industry?  Perhaps the internet will help herald the end of manufactured ‘music’.  But I suppose as long as people think what’s seen on television is music and that only pretty people can sing, then they’ll be making their buck on MTV advertisement dollars.

Artifact Class Assignment…

I do like to try to post what I can of the work I do in school.  So often, schoolwork appears to be nothing other than time spent alone or off somewhere out of sight from daily life.  Nothing is really produced by your presence.
This was what came out of an assignment to creatively create an artifact to represent my education.  What things I learned, how I changed, what affected me inside and outside of school.  For some reason unknown to me, my artifact became a poem.  I can’t really remember the last time I wrote a poem.  It was probably back in high school that I last wrote anything.

Here’s an excerpt:

Then when I was 17,
It was a very good year.
I read Orwell’s 1984 while near
The fallen Iron Curtain.
I saw the crumbled Wall, the ruins of evil
That compressed humanity.
And there I lived, the foreigner in
A foreign land.
A role I fell into completely.

[Note, I cannot help but put in any small reference/tribute to Frank Sinatra.  Don’t ask why.  Full text after the jump.]

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