Friday, December 28, 2012

Play Dead—so that your eyes will stay open

To die your whole life [he is quoting Kafka]. Despite the morbidity, I can’t think of a better definition of the writing life. There’s something about writing that demands a leave-taking, an abandonment of the world, paradoxically, in order to see it clearly.

Jeffrey Eugenides offered this pearl of wisdom in a speech give to the 2012 Whiting Award winners.  It's printed in the New Yorker and well worth a read.  He was talking to up-and-coming writers.  Writers who have been published, are young and probably have a long life ahead of them.  Musicians, actors, directors of all ages could also benefit from what he has to say.   

Don't listen to what others tell you. Don't let it cloud your creativity. Write for yourself.  Create as if you were dead or dying.  You wouldn't care what anyone thought at that point.  Kennedy Center Honorees Led Zeppelin and David Letterman have followed this path.  Do you think Zeppelin or Letterman care what others think of their art?  I don't and that is what makes them great.  Dance all you want to a different drummer. 

Eugenides closes with the line that should be in the forefront of every creative person's head:
Play dead—so that your eyes will stay open.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Trains, Trains & Buildings

If you're looking for something enchanting to do over the Christmas break, pull into the NY Botanical Gardens for their annual Holiday Train Show. 

Chrysler Building
If you've never been (this was the first time I finally went), it's a wonderland of buildings made from nature's gifts.  Most of the scenery is recreations of old New York.

And of course, there are the trains.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Don't Wait Until Tomorrow

If you're in San Antonio in the next few days, see Annie at The Playhouse San Antonio.  I will disclose that I'm close to the show.  Marissa Ramon who stars as Annie is my niece. I might be a little biased, but watch this clip of her signing Tomorrow on WOAI this morning, her talent shines  (Marissa starts singing with 2:11 remaining).  She takes the song to a place it hasn't been, which is refreshing and poignant.  Her performance is so touching there are more than a few tears in the audience.   Word has it that the interaction between Marissa's Annie and William McCrary's Daddy Warbucks is magical. 

We also have another family member in the musical. Sandy, my in-law's Golden Retriever, is Sandy. 

Annie runs until December 23rd at The Playhouse San Antonio, Russell Hill Rogers Theater. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Best Summer

The best summer was 1963. His dad took just him on a road trip in England.  They stopped in Liverpool, you might have a hint of what happened. 

The photographer Ethan Russell Tweeted a link to this story by the writer Bobby Stevenson.  It's a very touching account of the bond between he and his dad, that summer when he was 10 years old.  It would make a great movie. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Dave Brubeck

My husband and I have a dinner ritual that usually starts with firing up Coltrane, Monk or Dave Brubeck's legendary album, Time Out

In  1959, Take Five was the first jazz single to sell a million copies.  He was also the first jazz musician to grace the cover of Time Magazine.  Brubeck was touring up until last year.  He died this morning, one day shy of his 92nd birthday.

According to the NY Times, Brubeck's mother forbid listening to the radio.  She believed that if you wanted to hear music, you should play it.  He and his two brothers learned instruments.  He was born cross-eyed so he couldn't read music.  He played by ear. 

One of the more interesting stories in the article is crediting Brubeck's wife Iola for his early success.
She was a pioneer promoter.

In 1953 she wrote to more than a hundred universities, suggesting that the quartet would be willing to play for student associations. The college circuit became the group’s bread and butter, and by the end of the 1950s it had sold hundreds of thousands of copies of its albums “Jazz at Oberlin” and “Jazz Goes to College.”

The fur and hammer sound is what got me.  The songs are so melodious, but there was an aspect of attack.  I liken it to  living in New York City (even though Brubeck settled in Wilton, CT). 

Here's my favorite, Blue Rondo ala Turk.  Check out the use of "green screen" in this video.  The Quartet is magic carpeting over an LA freeway.  That would be the best way to get around LA.  The cops can't ticket you if you're playing music on a magic carpet.