Monday, October 25, 2004


Schadenfreude.  It means: pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.  What a perfect German word.  Having grown up in a family almost 100% derived from German immigrant stock, I can well understand this concept.  It's that opaque, thrilling joy that strikes when your friend's manuscript gets rejected, or they get a bad review in the paper, or their significant other moves out.  It is that shadowy little hobgoblin that lives in the soul, half black widow, half imp, that perches in the apse opposite hope and sneers and scoffs and even though you turn your back, you can still hear him cackling with idiotic glee.  Schadenfreude.  Oh, and I almost forgot, he has a little square mustache, too.

A Pain in the Neck

I've been seeing a physical therapist for neck and upper back pain caused by too much keyboarding.  She taught me a wonderful exercise for stretching those muscles that go down the back of the neck and connect with the trapezius.  Sitting or standing straight, pull your chin backwards while simultaneously raising the back of your head.  Feel the stretch all along the back of your neck.  Release.  Repeat.

Only eight more days until the election.  I just want it over.  No matter who wins.  I just want it over with. 

Friday, October 22, 2004

An Ovation for Glass

Philip Glass is my favorite composer, having knocked Wagner out of the running years ago.  Here are my favorite composers in order of enthusiasm:

1.  Philip Glass
2.  Richard Wagner
3.  Franz Liszt
4.  Ludwig van Beethoven
5.  Gustav Mahler
6.  Frederic Chopin
8.  Antonio Vivaldi
9.  Johann Sebastian Bach
10. John Philip Sousa

You ask, "are you crazy?  You rated Sousa above Mozart?"  No, I'm not crazy, I'm just dramatic.  I like dramatic, programmatic music, and Mozart wrote his share, but he just doesn't get my heart pounding like Sousa.  Chopin again, is a strange choice, but he speaks to my heart.  Mozart generally leaves me rather stony inside.  I can't help it, it's just me.

Currently I'm listening to a new recording of Philip Glass' oratorio, Itaipu.  An oratorio is a work for orchestra and chorus based on sacred text or dramatic poem, and presented without costumes and sets.  More traditionally, oratorios contain recitatives and arias, which Itaipu does not, otherwise it conforms to the oratorio description.

The older recording, by Robert Shaw and his Chorale (who originally commissioned Itaipu) is a good recording but it doesn't have the resonance, the sonority, the depth and color and nuance of this new recording by the Los Angeles Chorale.  I'm hearing new musical relationships, harmonies and dissonance, which escaped me in the Shaw recording.  And so the piece is coming alive for me again. 

I have followed Philip Glass's career for twenty five years, ever since I was introduced to his unique voice when I was in graduate school, and The Photographer made a national tour.  I missed that performance (possibly because I had to get drunk instead), and bitterly regretted it.  In the past ten years, however, I have never missed an opportunity to see, hear and appreciate whatever live performances of Glass's work come to Seattle.  As such, I've seen the world premieres of two works, his opera In the Penal Colony, and his concerto for harpsichord and orchestra.  At that performance I was able to actually speak to Maestro Glass and offer my heartfelt appreciation for all the spiritual sustenance his music has provided to me over the years.  I'm sure I looked like a fool, gushing, but when one has such an opportunity, one mustn't wasteit by playing coy.

Although Glass wasn't present at the performance of Itaipu by the Seattle Chamber Chorale, I did see the work performed live a few years ago.  It was a religious experience for me, a transcendant musical reverie as the chorus and orchestra gained momentum and power and force throughout the third section of the oratorio, The Dam.  The recording of Itaipu by the Los Angeles Master Chorale is available through RCM records. 

Friday, October 15, 2004

Make it Stop!

Only 18 days until the election but that still seems interminable.  I just want it to be OVER and done with, and in the past.  The president is pathological, and that tone starts from the top, he must be put out.

The latest evidence is this non-story about Mary Cheney and Senator Kerry's innocuous mention of her in the third debate.  He did it to expose GOP hypocrisy when it comes to gay Americans.  Well, Andrew Sullivan makes my point better than I ever, ever could, so hopefully he won't take it amiss if I quote him here:

". . .  the Mary Cheney thing is a brilliant maneuver by the Republicans. Rove knows that most people do find mentioning someone's daughter's lesbianism to be distasteful and gratuitous. So he can work it to great effect, exploiting homophobia while claiming to be defending gays. Again: masterful jujitsu. I tip my hat to the guy. Poisonous, but effective."

The GOP spin machine is a wonder to behold.  I must resist my impulse to luxuriate in hate and fear by watching the news, by reading the news internet sites.  Don't succumb to the culture of division that is being created in the politicial discourse/acrimony of our times.  It's simply too upsetting.  Repudiate George W. Bush and everything he stands for.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


A drop-dead gorgeous black man kicks ass on a space ship several galaxies and millennia away, his braids flying in slo-mo as Wagner's Die Fliegende Hollander howls in the background in time to his blaster shots.  Later, he quips, "they were playing Wagner: I haven't had that much fun in six months!" 

What's not to like?

The scene is from an earlier episode of Andromeda, a Gene Roddenberry created space opera currently showing on the Sci-Fi channel.  Now, Roddenberry passed away almost fifteen years go, so how could he have created a show that started airing in 2000?  Presumably this was a one-page treatment that Majel dug out of his filing cabinet at some point and thought, "this would make a better series than Earth: Final Conflict, especially if we can get Kevin Sorbo."  Well, she was right. 

Andromeda is still in production five years after it began, and seems to have a long, complicated, and not easily understood plot line involving different universes where things are similar but not quite the same.  If you're like me, and you watched the first few episodes, then tuned in again in the 4th, you're entirely lost.  That's why it's helpful that the series is now coming out on DVD.  I'm going to have to get that one of Keith Hamilton Cobb (as Tyr Anasazi) in the aforementioned Flying Dutchman episode.  I mean, a show that has an entire group of human beings subscribing to the philosophy of Nietzsche has got something going on!

Well, I suppose the Nazis might qualify, but let's not go there.  :)

Thursday, October 7, 2004

Man Bites Dog

Once in a while, lawyers get what's coming to them.  And yet, he's still such a lawyer, he's still defending the client that attacked him in public.  Go figure.

Maybe that's the point behind these "activist judges."  You just have to stop and remember that judges are really just lawyers in drag.

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Sacrificing Virgins

With Mt. St. Helens burping, farting and otherwise getting frisky, the time has come to seriously consider which virgin we should sacrifice to the volcano in order to appease the fire god who lives within. 

These days, it's awfully hard to come up with anyone who (i) really is a virgin and (ii) deserves to be sacrificed to the god.

So, we might have to be somewhat metaphorical with regard to virginity requirement.  That certain someone has to at least project an attitude of purity.  So, with that less rigorous standard in mind, my first choice is Rick Santorum.  My second choice would be Arnold Schwartzenegger.  My third choice would be the entire state of Utah.  "This way to the caldera, ladies and gentlemen!"

Monday, October 4, 2004

Another Seattle Nobel Winner

Congratulations to Dr. Linda Buck of the Fred Hutchenson Cancer Research Center for winning the 2004 Nobel Prize for Medicine

In other news: Mt. St. Helens is active again this morning, and Bob Melvin, the manager of the Seattle Mariners, has been fired. 

Sunday, October 3, 2004

Nader: Suffering Rosacea

Man, get a load of Ralph Nader's rosacea.  That's a skin condition that causes reddened welts on the nose and cheeks of the sufferer.  It's not a happy thing, certainly, and I wonder whether stress can intensify an outbreak.  My father suffers from it, and it's hard to bring under control.

But more to the point, Nader says he wants to break up the two-party system.  This may or may not be a good thing.  On the pro side, it would certainly end the "imperial" presidency.  How can someone behave as president Bush has behaved, ignoring the opposition, when they were elected with as little as 34% of the vote?

The one thing that makes the presidency such a powerful office is the two party system, where someone is elected, perhaps in a landslide, but certainly with a clear majority.  Add a third party would mean that the president could be elected with less than a majority of the American vote.  That would have extreme implications for the office of the President.  He (or she, but not likely) would then be more or less forced into consensus building.  Actually, with the track record of our current president, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing after all. 

But not in this election.  Don't vote for Nader.

Friday, October 1, 2004

When's She Gonna Blow?

The rumblings just keep on coming.  Mt. St. Helens is waking up and getting ready to clear her throat.  When do you suppose?  My prediction is for sometime after noon on Monday. 

Ichiro is now within one hit of tying George Sisler's record.  We predict he will get two hits tonight in order to set a new record but also so as not to overshadow Edgar Martinez' retirement party tomorrow.  Ichiro is a sportsman and a gentleman.