Notre Fille en France

This is the latest picture of Lauren, who has been
in Bretagne for the past six months.
Doesn't she look great?

He's Bach

Experts have digitally rebuilt the face of 18th century German composer Johann Sebastian Bach—and say the results may surprise his fans.

Using his bones and computer modeling, they have come up with an image of a thick-set man with closely-shorn white hair. The new Bach face, the creation of Scottish forensic anthropologist Caroline Wilkinson, will go on display at the Bachhaus museum in the eastern German town of Eisenach, Bach's birthplace, next month...


I Feel Like I'm in an Arlo Guthrie Song

What a day. It started just after seven when I was wakened by Nettl saying, "Liebchen, we have to leave in 10 minutes." I was prepared for this, however. Since the van quit running we've been down to one car again. Today I had a breakfast meeting with a client, so I had to take Nettl to work (on the extreme east end of town) so that I could have the car. Simple enough, so I took her, then met my client at Perkins (in the center of town) and enjoyed an Eggs Benedict and a full carafe of coffee. I then came home (on the extreme north end)...


Pleading the 4th

Nettl at Life in Shades of F-Major has posted a blog entry that is particularly poignant for those of us who have kids. There have always been issues like this in the public school system and parents are often forced to give in.

Check it out. It's important.


I Eat My Words

Here is a video that some students made to serve as a literature class report on the book I've just finished reading, Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, by James Joyce. They seem to have enjoyed the book a whole lot more than I did. Just goes to show that there are thinking, reading kids out there. Bravo!


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Yesterday, Lynette and I watched Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner starring Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, and Katharine Houghton. The movie is about a couple whose attitudes are challenged when their daughter brings home her fiancé, who is black. It’s a great movie and contains one of the most beautiful moments in film history, that is, Spencer Tracy’s soliloquy in which he addresses the nature of love, both new and old. When my high school literature teacher planned a field trip to Santa Barbara to see this movie, I had to get a permission slip from my parents, due to "objectionable content". Amazing...

How Dumb Can We Get?

The Dumbing Of America
Call Me a Snob, but Really, We're a Nation of Dunces
By Susan Jacoby
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Washington Post

"The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself." Ralph Waldo Emerson offered that observation in 1837, but his words echo with painful prescience in today's very different United States. Americans are in serious intellectual trouble—in danger of losing our hard-won cultural capital to a virulent mixture of anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism and low expectations...

To Mr. H.

“You've got as many lives as you like, and more,
even ones you don't want.”
(George Harrison)


I'm Going In

I'm going to give James Joyce another try. I'll let you know how I fared when I come back out.

Pray for me.

Blame it On Tylenol-3

I'm sick of it all.

I'm sick of the meaningless crap that I see on television. I'm sick of network news that spews out only the spin that supports a biased view and then calls it impartial.

I'm sick of hoochie mamas thrusting their pelvises into the camera like they have something that's new and unique to the world of anatomy...


Pas Beaucoup!

Unable to do much else this week, I've returned to my love of reading. There are two books that I can count on to cast me headlong into the written word when I occasionally drift asea: The Waters Reglitterized by Henry Miller and A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller.

Many of my friends have found it somewhat puzzling that I am such a lover of the works of Henry Miller. Miller, with his honesty and brutal words. Miller, with his nicotine-stained fingers and his cavorting with Paris prostitutes. I love the arguments I have with Miller, of course, but he's the only man who can talk to me like that! I admire him tremendously...



Why is it, some days I can write three entries and others (like today) I can find absolutely nothing to write about? It has been a dry week. I suppose my health plays a large part in this, but crap. I don't like that excuse. So until I can find something worthwhile to say, I'll leave you with something I read yesterday:
"Maybe a half a dozen people in the world really appreciate what you think and do. What then does it matter about the rest? And as for that half dozen—is there any need to convince them? If they are your sort they accept you without the proofs... In the midst of one's work, in the midst of the best intentions, in the midst of doing good for the world, or making the world happy, etc., one begins to have the gravest doubts. One has to find out whether one is acting because he wishes to do good or bring happiness or spread truth, etc., or whether it is out of egotism or compulsion or auto-therapy that one is acting. In other words, the ground gives way under your feet. That is where I am. That is why I give way to inertia. I'd rather not act than act out of false reasons."
(Henry Miller in a letter to Anaïs Nin, dated September 19, 1942)



Sunday has increasingly become the busiest day of the week around here. The only difference this weekend was that instead of people coming to our house, we went out. Consequently, I'm tired.

I don't feel like being creative, I don't feel like working and I don't feel like writing. I want to close the blinds, curl up on the bed and live vicariously through other people on telly, people like Anthony Bourdain. But even he might be too energetic for me today.


Rethinking the Comfort Zone

I watched a movie on PBS tonight, Black Narcissus, and it made me think. Oh, not about anything that it was intended to make be think about, but about how comfortable life has become...


Happy Valentine's Day: How to Love

Love is a strange thing. It can be the most amazing feeling in the world, or it can really hurt, but in the end love is something most, if not all of us, will face. While there are many different ways to define love and there are many different ways to love someone (even yourself), here is a general guide to loving. Love is the continual act of unconditionally putting the needs of others before your own.


Favorite Things: The Art of Fragonard

Last October I dissected for you William Hogarth's painting, Marriage à-la-mode duet, The Tête à Tête, and the response was so positive that I thought I’d give you another one today. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Swing, painted by Jean-Honore Fragonard in 1766.

This has always been one of my favorite 18th-century paintings. In fact, I was introduced to it when Maestro Frank Salazar gave me an assignment to write a paper drawing comparisons between it and Franz Josef Haydn’s Surprise Symphony. I no longer have that paper, but I got an A...


The Great Interview Experiment

A beautiful thing is slowly taking over the web. Neil at Citizen of the Month created The Great Interview Experiment. Here's how it goes: I signed up to join, which means that I interviewed the person who joined before me, and was then interviewed by the person who joined after me. You should join too, because it's a nifty way to meet new people and discover new blogs. Plus, I could read your interviews and satisfy my innate curiosity about the workings of your minds.

Kristabella interviewed mePay her a visit!...


Could Be, Could Be Not

I'm working on a new template again. I may use it and I may not. We'll see. I'll always revert back to this one, but I do enjoy creating new looks.

UPDATE 3:15 am: Well, I did. So there.


Folk Fantasy

In May of 1982 I drove up California's Central Valley to Turlock, where my friend Deni was attending CSUS (California State University at Stanislaus). She and her daughter Nicki shared a big old Craftsman house with some other students and had invited me up for a weekend.

On the Friday night the house filled up with various students and friends, many of whom played guitar. Our friend Dee was there as well and she brought her guitar with her, just as I had.

After a dinner of Polish spring vegetable soup and crusty bread, we sat back with jugs of wine and the occasional joint. Then the guitars came out. Some of us took our turn at leading the group in a song as we played together, singing harmonies. There was an African-American girl who had a great voice and a Latino guy who played Spanish classical guitar. Dee played her "hits" and I sang mine, while one guy who was in a Medieval reenactment group sat in a rocking chair putting his chainmaille together for an upcoming event. When I later fell asleep on the living room couch, I did so feeling completely in sync with folk artists like Arlo Guthrie, John Hartford and Bob Dylan, and when I woke up the next day I was inspired to write two songs in the space of about 30 minutes.

It's one of my favorite memories; I miss that kind of evening. I miss sharing a living room
with a bunch of musicians, especially other acoustic guitarists. It was a great way to share new compositions and get honest, well-meaning critiques. I wonder if this kind of get-together is now something of my past. I hope not. If I could spend this evening any way I want, this is what I'd choose.


What I'm Doing This Weekend

On the landing at the top of our stairs (our bedroom is through a door on the right, two others off of a hall on the left) is a great little alcove where Nettl's desk has sat since we moved into this house nearly four years ago. She used to use it all the time, until I got my Dell, which we share. Then came the laptop, which I use in the comfy chair here in our bedroom while she sits at my desk. Heather, our 17 year-old, has been using the desk on the landing since Joel bought his new computer and gave his Dell to us. Are you following this? We now have two Dells and a laptop, which is also a Dell, but that's beside the point...


My Top Ten Playlist - Meme

I've been challenged to a Meme by my old fart compatriot at Going Like Sixty.

The following are CDs I've listened to in the past week...

Dear God Make it Stop!

“Noise is the most impertinent of all forms of interruption. It is not only an interruption, but is also a disruption of thought.” (Arthur Schopenhauer)

Damn! I hate it when that happens! What a crappy way to start the day.

How does one turn off a smoke alarm, anyway? And should they really be set to go off because one little piece of toast emits the smallest whisp of smoke? Why do they have to keep going for 15 freakin' minutes? And why does every alarm in the house have to go off?...

Seven on the 7th

 It's amazing what a good night's sleep can do. So why am I still up at 2:30 when I promised myself I'd be in bed by 2:00 again?

2  For the first time in my life, I don't feel like I'll have to choose between the lesser of two evils when I vote in November. I'll actually be voting for the greater of two goods...


It Was Good

Today was a good day. Yeah, I know, but since I haven't gone to bed yet it's still today, okay? Around 5am we were hit by a huge thunderstorm, which was cool. Although I heard it going on and could see the lightening flashes through my eyelids, I was under the influence of my Tylenol PMs and slept through it all while still enjoying it. I guess I'd finally really fallen into REM sleep because I was suddenly wakened by a huge thunderclap that rattled the walls. I instantly sat bolt upright and jumped out of bed. Hey, I grew up in southern California, where, when you feel the slightest rumble, you're heading for a doorway. After mumbling something to Nettl, who was about to leave for work, I went back to bed, which is always good...


Tuesdays With Mozart: "She's So High"

"She's so high, high above me,
She's so lovely;
She's so high, like Cleopatra,
Joan of Arc, or Aphrodite."

"She's So High" by Tal Bachman


Not So Graceful

On my desk sits a membership enrollment form to AARP. It's been perched there, leering at me for over a week now and I can't decide what to do with it. Do I fill it out and mail it, or do I toss it in the trash? I mean, 56 isn't elderly. Right? I think of elderly as 70 and beyond. That gives me 14 more years until I have to concede to the harsh reality that I'm no longer 36, or even 46. Hell, I've just made friends with being middle-aged and now I have to embrace being a senior? It's hard because, according to television commercials, I also have to start thinking about burial insurance.

I'm giving myself one more week to sort this out with myself.


Well, Feckin' Duh!

It just occurred to me why I've lost inspiration and passion for my art. It started in the mid-1980s when I started listening to all that New Age weebie-wobie crap about happiness being our birthright as human beings. That may well be for regular people, but the muse never kisses the completed, fulfilled artistic soul. I'm sorry, I didn't make the rules, that's just facts. No wonder the arts are taking a beating. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that almost 85% of Americans believe that they are happy. And that's just sad...