Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Snowman And The Snowdog

I love the original, but the new sequel to The Snowman is actually pretty good.  Though the flying song just doesn't compare.  But check out The Snowman And the Snowdog!  It's very sweet.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This Onion article is both really funny and really sad at the same time:,34732/

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tony Musante

RIP Tony Musante, previously featured on this blog for his role in the 1970 Italian movie about an oboist, Anonimo Veneziano.  We share Italian ancestry, a home-state, and some time at Northwestern University, according to his obituary

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pious Orgies

I must admit, my curiosity was piqued by the aria entitled "Pious Orgies."  I wonder, Handel, what you were thinking when you wrote it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cabotto Day

I came across the Oatmeal's "Bartolome Day" rant, shared by several facebook friends, and it has inspired my own rant-back.  While indeed Bartolome certainly holds the moral high ground over Christopher Columbus, he's kind of missing the original point of Columbus Day, which he glosses over briefly:  "Columbus Day was established in the 1930s by a male-only Catholic Organization known as the Knights of Columbus.  They wanted a male Catholic role model their kids could look up to, so they pressured Roosevelt into making it a federal holiday."  First of all, why does he say "male-only Catholic" like it's evil or something?  For one thing, the Knights of Columbus organization is just a group that tries to do good for its community, much like other male-only community clubs such as the Rotary Club or the Elks Lodge or the Lions Club.  Yes, it's Catholic.  Have a problem with that?  I can't tell you how tired I am that it's totally PC to bash Catholicism but pretty much no other religion.  Yeah, the Catholic Church has done some hideous things over the years.  But also some good things.  And pretty much every other religion has also done some shitty things. 

Also, in the 1930s, Catholicism was the religion of the unwashed masses of immigrants flooding in to America for the past hundred years or so, starting with that damn potato famine in the 1840s.  It was looked down upon by the establishment, hence why the Knights of Columbus wanted a positive role model for their kids to look up to (as far as being male, it was the 1930s, I don't think it would have occurred to anyone to find a famous female role model yet).  Finally, my most important point, the KoC wanted an ITALIAN role model for their children.  Because the Irish had already arrived a little sooner and spoke English, they were already pretty well established in the US.  They had also found their way into the political system and thus into power.  Plus they had St. Patrick's Day to celebrate!  The Italians were still struggling to find their place in American society, and they wanted their own celebration of their heritage, so they turned to Christopher Columbus.  Pardon their ignorance (Howard Zinn's People's History had yet to be written); they thought Columbus was a famous Italian with a connection to the New World, and a man the who could represent them well.  They were probably completely unaware of the baggage that went along with Columbus.  So they could have made a better choice.  While Bartolome sounds like a swell guy, he was Spanish, not Italian, so he wouldn't have fit the bill.  Which is why I propose:  John Cabot, aka, Giovanni Cabotto. 

Cabot sailed for England in 1497, so he wasn't the first. But he did land in North America, not South America (technically Canada, but that's closer than San Salvador), and he didn't enslave the native population.  Also, in sailing for England, he was probably more instrumental in the eventual development of the USofA from the British Colonies than Columbus was in sailing for Spain.  So, my proposal:  Cabotto Day. Rant in honor of:  Richard Castriotta and Orson Cook.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Best Burger in New York / The Genius of Mozart's Gran Partita

So I made a pretty amazing discovery tonight (well, amazing in a completely nerdy but awesome way).  I've been watching a lot of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix lately, especially when I'm working on reeds.  I was just finishing up some reeds, when I saw the following clip from the episode, "The Best Burger in New York:"

Something about the way Marshall says, "and then . . . a pickle," rang a bell in my mind.  It reminded me of that scene in Amadeus, the one where Salieri is describing the genius of Mozart, particularly in the Gran Partita:  "and then . . . an oboe." So I found it on YouTube:


Amazing, no?  Marshall's hamburger soliloquy is an homage to Salieri's in Amadeus!!!  If you listen very closely to the scene in HIMYM, you can even hear the Gran Partita in the background :)  I am pretty impressed with the creators of HIMYM that they were able to insert "high culture" into this scene in such a sly way!  And I love everything involved: the Gran Partita, hamburgers, the oboe, pickles, HIMYM, Amadeus, and of course, Mozart. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Paris, Part 7

Saturday was my last day in Paris, but I had Dawn with me the whole day, which was nice.  We started our day with coffee and AMAZING pastries from the bakery at the base of Dawn's apartment building.  Armed with our delicious pastries, we revisited the Eiffel Tower in the daylight.  Unfortunately, the elevator to the top was closed for repairs, so we just saw the view from the ground. That view wasn't too shabby, either:

I can't remember for sure, but I think we did some more wandering, just enjoying a beautiful fall day in Paris. We visited the lovely Tuileries Gardens (which I still associate most strongly with Pictures at an Exhibition).  Here are a few photos from our wanderings.

Riverboat on the Seine, with graffiti. 

Love locks on a bridge.

Tree sculpture in the Tuileries. 

 Flowers in the Tuileries.

Finally came another highlight of my trip: learning to make eclairs from Dawn's friend Yann.  This process was highly enjoyable and delicious.  I left it to Dawn to actually remember the details of how to make them, I'll have to bug her about it next time I see her.  But here is the general process:

1.   Have awesome kitchen utensils from IKEA. 

(well we didn't actually use these, but still).  

2. Have your French host show you how to perfectly squeeze out the eclair dough he has graciously already prepared for you.  Fail miserably in your own attempts.

3. Also make chouquettes and cover them with this awesome sugar. Bake the eclair shells.

4.  Help add flavor (lime and caramel) to the eclair fillings your host has also graciously made for you.  

5. Clumsily follow your French host's example in filling the eclairs with the flavored center, then top with glaze. 

6.  Enjoy the fruits of your labor. 


After that, we had grand plans to have dinner and then do a boat tour on the Seine.  But in typical Parisian fashion, by the time we finished dinner (no trip to Paris would be complete without a rude waiter), it was too late to do a boat tour.  So we wandered around Paris in the evening.  It was lovely.

And so my time in Paris came to an end.  I left early to the next morning to return home to Los Angeles, inspired and energized to begin the busy season ahead.   Many thanks to Dawn, Michelle, and Yann, who were such wonderful hosts.  You are always welcome in sunny Los Angeles! 

Paris, Part 6

On Friday morning, I headed over to the Loree oboe office!  I was slightly disappointed that the main office is in a different place than the factory, and the factory is outside of Paris, so I couldn't watch the oboes being made.  But the De Gordon family still runs the place, and they make the finishing touches at the main office, so I was able to meet them and play a few instruments.  I wasn't really in the market, so I felt a little bad, but it was still fun to meet the people who made my beloved instruments.

After visiting Loree, I headed over to the Montmartre area and Sacre Coeur.  I have to admit, I was also excited to visit this neighborhood because I saw on the map that there was a Rue Gabrielle, and hey, there aren't too many streets with my name on it, so I was anxious to see it!  It was a very nice little street; I was not disappointed.

I even had my own bus stop:

The Montmartre area was really pretty.  It was fun to imagine famous artists struggling to make a name for themselves here over the past couple hundred years. It might be a little touristy, but it was so pretty I didn't care.  The Sacre Coeur church is also really gorgeous, inside and out.  When I went into the church, there was a mass going on, and nuns were singing beautiful music.  I wish churches in America still sang old masses.

View from the steps of Sacre Coeur

Front of Sacre Coeur

Belltower of Sacre Coeur

Beautiful little park nearby

Church doors in Montmartre

Parisian street with a view of the roof of Sacre Coeur

Dawn met up with me at the steps of Sacre Coeur once she finished work, and we wandered around Montmartre a bit more, into some cute little shops and around the streets.  Even the water fountains in Paris are pretty:

After a little while we headed back over to toward the center of Paris, to L'Art Brut, a nice little bar where we were meeting up with my Asto Wamah friend Michelle and some of her friends.  We had a great time--we got tipsy a bit faster than anticipated because there was some confusion about the kind of food that we ordered and we ended up not having enough to eat in comparison to drink.  It was a fun night!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Frite of Spring


Plus this:

Equals this:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Paris, Part 5

On Thursday, I tried to get up early to make the most of my time in Paris, but I was so tired and still feeling sick, I ended up not leaving the apartment til around 11am. My destination: Ile St. Louis, Ile de Cite and the Notre Dame Cathedral. I think this area and Notre Dame itself were my favorite part of Paris. I just loved the Cathedral. Its age (almost 850 years!) is awe-inspiring. It's one thing to visit ancient ruins, but a building that has actually been in (pretty-much) continual use for that long is another thing entirely. It's also just a beautiful building, and I love love LOVE the gargoyles. I strongly recommend going up to the top of the cathedral (if you're OK with narrow twisty staircases), because not only do you get to meet all those wonderful gargoyles, you also get a fabulous view of Paris. I took loads of pictures. Here are a few.

Front of the Catherdral

Gargoyle rainspouts :)

Rose window

Starry cieling

Flower gate enclosing a chapel

Flower closeup

Beautiful stained glass windows

This was from a carved nativity scene. It might be hard to see, but I love Mary's expression here. She looks a little bit like McKayla Maroney Is Not Impressed.

Closeup of a rose window.

Notre Dame.


Oboe/shawm-playing angel!

Majestic Interior of the Cathedral

Colored light from the stained glass

The organ

Front doors. My favorite is St. Denis, carrying his own head!

OK, lots of gargoyles next:

This one looks like a sea monster to me. For some reason, he also seems very content.

This one looks like Sam Eagle.

This one looks a little confused. He's also got an eye on another shawm angel.

The shawm angel.

Lots of fanciful gargoyles, gazing down upon the city.

A gargoyle and his city. Montmartre and Sacre Coeur in the background.

This one looks like he is deeply engaged in a conversation. Wonder what's he's saying.

This one's ravenous.

So's this one, but apparently he's vegetarian.

Aww, he seems like maybe he's afraid of heights, poor thing.

There were also some great views of the city.

Riverboat on the Seine.

Eiffel tower. Gives good perspective on its relative size.


Bridges over the Seine.

The roofs of Paris (like the movie!)

The giant Emmanuel bell. 13 tons, built in 1681, ringing an Eb

After spending quite a while at the great Cathedral, I wandered around the Iles for a while. They are lovely just to walk around on a pretty fall day. I grabbed a crepe somewhere for a late lunch, and then met Dawn with some friends of hers after work at the Musee D'Orsay, formerly a train station.

Unlike the Louvre, the Musee D'Orsay has a modern layout, with lots of information about each work, and everything is arranged in a way that's been thought out and is therefore fairly logical. The purpose of our visit was to see a new exhibit, based on the life of Parisian socialite/muse, Misia Sert. This lady knew everyone who was anyone in early 20th-c Paris, and married or had affairs with half of them. She was good friends with Coco Chanel, and supported, among others, Picasso, Stravinsky, Diagalev, Satie, Ravel, Renoir, Proust, Monet, Mallarme, Toulouse-Lautrec, Debussey, Jose-Maria Sert, etc. Therefore the exhibit included paintings from many of the visual artists in this list, some of the paintings specifically dedicated to her or even of her. It also had actual costumes from the Ballet Russe, videos of some of the early productions (including Rite of Spring), jewelery and clothing she had worn, recordings and scores of music that went with productions, and more. It was a fascinating exhibit of a truly remarkable woman and the lives she touched. It was also very crowded, more so than I am accustomed to in American museums!

I might also have enjoyed the Musee D'Orsay all the more because this time I just said I was an art teacher, showed my Crossroads ID, and got a free ticket :) Perhaps a slight stretch of the truth, but worth it. After the Misia exhibit, Dawn and her friends indulged my desire to see a little more of the Musee D'Orsay and its regular collections, so we wandered around the museum for a while. I was particularly tickled to see this particular Van Gogh painting featured in Doctor Who, among some other impressionist art. After viewing the museum to our satisfaction, and a discussion of French manners versus American manners (my first instinct was to use stairs and let the older and less physically mobile people use the elevator when there was a line to use it; my young French friends thought that was silly--we used the elevator!), we left for dinner.

We went to a restaurant a bit of a walk from the museum, just a normal French restaurant whose name and exact location I of course have forgotten. I think I split two meals with Dawn so that we could try more things, and I remember a really delicious raspberry dessert, but I can't remember for sure what we ate. We did drink a lot of wine though. It was a typical leisurely Parisian dinner, and I enjoyed getting to know Dawn's friends a little more. They were a lively and humorous bunch! By the time we finished drinking our wine, it was time to go home once more.