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Archive for the year 2007

2007

America Everywhere, Again

December 24, 2007 by  

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The sun cast a fractured shadow at the end of the pool. The shadows looked like lined-up carrots, each of them an oddly-twigged shape that lay side by side, row by row. The crystal blue water looked ten degrees cooler than when I had fallen asleep. How long had it been exactly? An hour, two, maybe longer? I felt goosebumps along my upper right arm. I rubbed my eyes with the knuckles of my index and middle fingers the way a ten year child does after a nap. No, not a nap, after she wakes up from a long car ride on a lazy summer day. I had been to Mexico before but not this far south. Despite my global escapades to more than 2,000 destinations, I had never ventured below Baja, as if Mexico didn’t count as a foreign destination in my mind. Like Canada, it has always felt like an extension of America even though a Canadian or Mexican would shudder at that comparison. It’s not as if they are not extraordinarily different and ardently foreign in countless ways, but the notion of staying so close to American soil when you simply didn’t have to always seemed so…

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Ode to Beethoven

December 22, 2007 by  

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Last Sunday was Beethoven’s birthday. Listen to his Ninth Symphony.  It was written less than three years before he died, long after he had gone completely deaf.   More than an hour in length, it is best known for the pealing Ode to Joy theme of the final movement, and the first two movements have much of the thrust and momentum for which he is famous, but the heart of the symphony is in the third movement adagio. He gives you all this forward motion and then after the big BAM at the end of the second movement he opens up the third with a wide, calm canvas on which he places a series of single notes from the woodwinds, separated like stars in the night sky and that the violins then tie together with a long, peaceful sash.  After all the racing that came before it is as if he stopped in an eternal meadow at night to give us a stunning glimpse of the entire universe, a musical firmament that extends below the horizons, guiding us to the far edge of our spiritual capacities, in the way that only music can.    Beethoven’s later works…

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All Things Change and That’s a Good Thing!

December 5, 2007 by  

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If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.
If you aren’t afraid of dying, there is nothing you can’t achieve.
–Lao Tzu


Stravinsky’s Rake’s Progress

December 4, 2007 by  

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I’m more of a theater buff and musical follower than an Opera lover, yet I’ve seen several around the world over the years, including London, Sydney, Boston, New York, LA and San Francisco. Now that I’m a west coaster, I’m tuning into the upcoming SF Opera House season, where Rake’s Progress opened Friday night, simultaneously playing with Macbeth. Madama Butterly starts next week and I already have tickets for Handel’s Ariodante in June. Two days ago, the San Francisco Chronicle gave Rake’s Progress mixed reviews and I couldn’t have felt more at peace with the fact that he thought soprano Laura Aikin, the main female character, gave a sensitive but small-toned performance as the main character Anne. Says the Chronicle, “she dispatched her show-stopping Act 1 aria, “Quietly, night,” with tender precision and (in the ensuing cabaletta) blazing athleticism, but too much of her performance bordered on inaudibility.” I sat there thinking, “polite.” While she gave us a glimpse into what her voice was capable of, her delivery was emotionless and bland. Lepage and co-director Sybille Wilson transplant Stravinsky’s 18th century England original to the 1950s American West. Lead Tom Rakewell, played by William…

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What Are Our Dreams Worth?

December 3, 2007 by  

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We are young………
Wandering the face of the earth…..
Wondering what our dreams might be worth…..
Learning that we’re only immortal for a limited time.”
–From Rush’s “Dreamline”


Kenichi Ebina at SF Hip Hop Dance Festival

November 28, 2007 by  

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Hip_hop_logo At TED last year, I had the pleasure of meeting, chatting and dancing with performance talent Kenichi Ebina. At this year’s San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Festival, he and new partner Takahiro Ueno blew the audience away with a creative dance duo that mixed mime and hip hop with the playfulness of Gene Kelly on his best day. Kenichi also has such a warm smile that he draws you in, in many of the same ways a leader does when he or she speaks and you long for more. His performances are like that. Hip_hop_festivaljpg_66 Below me with Kenichi and also a shot of Founder and Artistic Director Micaya on stage with all the performers at the end of the festival. My favorites from the line up?  Without a doubt, Nobulus out of Austria (mind boggling) and Kenichi & Takahiro’s “Junction of Worlds – Mirror.” Both were world class. To see a glimpse of what Kenichi is capable of, check out a sample of short videos here, many of which have been uploaded to YouTube. Hip_hop_festivaljpg_59 Hip_hop_festivaljpg_23 A member of the Nobulus dance troupe below. Hip_hop_festivaljpg_42


Oregon Thanksgiving Snow

November 28, 2007 by  

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It’s no surprise that pioneer William Blodgett left the East Coast, embarked on a wild west adventure across country and founded Blodgett Oregon in the 1800s. Much of Oregon’s natural surroundings remind me of the Adirondacks. So beautiful, its no wonder he settled there. In southern Oregon over Thanksgiving week, it snowed, the white powder leaving beautiful remnants of wet dust on the branches of all the trees around a log cabin I slept soundly in for days. Experience this if you haven’t. And often. Cabin_in_ashland_oregon_thanksgivin


Book Recommendations: The Soul of a Nice Guy

November 22, 2007 by  

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Check out The Soul of a Nice Guy, now on Amazon. A snapshot of Aaron Swar’s writing here: The spring school term was mercifully ending, and as I rallied my students to push themselves toward Interior Design excellence, I wondered if I still looked lifelike. Aside from the natural decaying process of dead things, my official entry into the Middle Age contributed to my decomposition, which had begun to lack after Christmas. Hindus believe that the seventh of the seven-year Chakra cycles brings our life’s issues full circle for resolution, to clear the way for a higher second-half existence.


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