Unhelpful Messages

February 27, 2010

I am collecting my own series of unintelligible computer messages. You know the ones that pop up just when things are going well to dash your hopes of ever opening or uploading or downloading or reinstalling or even simply saving a file. Here’s the first:

“object reference not set to an instance of an object”

I could not think of a more useless and unhelpful message. Thank you Microsoft.

Pictures of Loretta

February 26, 2010

The Lovely Loretta

Loretta, my mistress, is beautiful and demanding. She demands my attention and my strength. I thought it only fair that she should also enjoy some of your attention. I have already posted the poem I wrote about her, “A Taste of Tarmac” on this site, and now I feel a picture or two are needed. 

This a view from her right. And now I am afraid I must bore you with some details. The Frame; Hetchins Magnum Opus 2004. Seat Post: Campagnolo Record mid ’70s. The Head Set: Campagnolo Record 2004. The Stem and Bars; Cinelli ’60s. The brake: Single Mafac Racer early ’60s. Bottom Bracket; Campagnolo Record English Thread. The Chainwheel: Campagnolo Record Track 170 mm 44T. Rear sprocket: Campag Record: 16T; Yields 74 Road Inches. Hubs: Campagnolo Record Track Wide Flange. Tires: Michelin Pro-Race.  Rims: ERD582/ 700C. Pedals: Look Clipless.  

If you look closely, of course, you can see that she has all the braze-ons needed for derailleur mounting. For that we are waiting for around $2000 of loose change to buy a suitable vintage Campagnolo Record set. Until that shows up I am happy to ride single speed fixed as I did in my youth in the sixties.

Finally here is a picture of Loretta from theright  front to show you her pretty head.

Her Pretty Head

 You can find more about Hetchins and other vintage and retro frames at www.classicrendezvous.com . There is also a Hetchins site at www.hetchins.org

Vive le sport! vive le cyclisme!

Stuffing Removed

February 25, 2010

Like and old cushion

Whose stuffing you removed

Excepts its me

Just a few balls of fluff

Clinging to the inside corners

Comprising my soul

Forced up against the stitching

Very Old Stitching

Ready to break and cast

The remainder of me out

But for the moment

For a long moment

The half empty pillow of me

Still offers a worn velour exterior

To those who like that sort of thing.

Medical Fashion Tips

February 24, 2010

Can anyone tell me when it became fashionable for Doctors to wear stethoscopes around their necks like a scarf, with the two earpieces drooping down one side and the business end on the other? My recollection of older (yes I am using that word) TV Medic shows is that this vital badge of authority used to be worn symmetrically, with the earpieces resting on either side of the neck and the always cold disc hanging in front rather like an elephant’s trunk, or popped into a convenient breast pocket. Has there been a dimensional  or weight distribution change in the device that would warrant this what looks to me unpractical and surely unreliable carry style? I do also remember that some physicians would carry their device tangled up in a white coat pocket, especially some of the females. I do expect that we will soon see in new TV Medical show yet more carry styles.

  • The straight drape, over the shoulder with earpieces in front and the disc in back, left or right shoulders allowed, but earpieces in back; never!
  • The waist band insert, where the earpieces are kept tucked into the waist band to keep them warm and the disc dangles freely. variations here take in the whole circumference of the waist, and the rather unsavory reverse waist band insert, which I will leave to your imagination.
  • The epaulette, where the earpieces are worn front and back gripping the shoulder and the disc dropped into a shirt or jacket pocket.

I feel certain that you can think of your own style, sanitary or not.

The New York Times reported today that Ice Hockey fans are upset that the coverage of their sport on TV has been poor. The reason has been that the continuous action of the sport is not all that amenable to advertising breaks. Commercial TV Stations have only themselves to blame if viewers are cynical about sports coverage since they have always been the pawns of their advertiser clients. You have to go to a European or even a socialist state to actually watch uninterrupted sports events via TV. The short attention span of recent generations can be traced easily to the increase in advertising minutes per hour and the decrease of continuous viewing minutes here in America. Not to mention the exact duplicate phenomena with radio. It is really amusing when a program or an advertiser announces that “these uninterrupted minutes have been brought to you by (insert, car, toy, soup, soap maker here).”

Watching my partner in her performances for children one can easily see this trend. Very few in her audience can remain quiet or seated for very long, and young parents seem not aware that their children are watching a performer and not a screen, sometimes even going so far as to carry out a clearly audible conversation with a neighbor. Great example Mom!

Hot and Cold Olympics

February 19, 2010

Ah! The Winter Olympics. Just like the Summer Olympics. Hours and hours of dreary advertising barely interrupted by circus acts on ice.  There is zero coverage of the few winter sports I like. Curling, Triathlon, Ice Javelin,Mammoth Wrestling and Glacier Round Up. And, as an ex field hockey player I find the ice-bound version ludicrous, not to mention meaninglessly violent. Readers may be interested to know that just as soccer and cricket are played by more humans around the world than football and baseball, so it is with field hockey over the frozen idea by a ratio of at least five to one. And lets face it, the Olympics, hot or cold is not about sport, it is about advertising revenues. When the Chinese finally get to control more advertising; as they surely will; I wonder what sports they will choose to interrupt that important retail message?

The Bad News Seminar

February 18, 2010

It is not easy to be a creative person and have a desire to live by selling what you create. And it may not be thrilling to sit and listen to a stranger give you advice on how that can work. As a performing artist I sympathized utterly with my audience tonight. A group of Portland State art students. My one hour presentation was based on a few very simple truths about sales and marketing. All of them boil down to hard work at activities that probably don’t really appeal to them.

So even when I articulate these basic truths about promoting your work, marketing your work and even selling your work; dear artist, my own artists heart hears yours go, “oh no!” Call me if you need to talk. As I mentioned in the class, I am a great listener.

Reading Elizabeth David’s “An Omelette and a Glass of Wine” while I am eating my own creation, “Truit Grillee au Thym” was perhaps not a good idea. At every mouthful I am reading of something perhaps better and available only by flying to a small town in the Ardeche or Normandy region of France. But I soldier on with the fingerling potatoes and asparagus I have chosen to accompany my piscine protein. The plate needed color but it was too late. The spendy Chablis I bought at Whole Foods redressed some of the balance and then; thank goodness, I also find that Ms. David had a nasty experience near Avignon in a one Michelin star establishment in the mid 1980s. Searching on the web for the offender I come across several web-sites that slam the Guide Michelin, especially the NYC and San Francisco editions. How are the mighty fallen? My challenge to anyone reading this is to come and eat with me here at my house and then; at their expense of course, will go to Avignon, Lyon, the Ardeche, Drome, Bresse, Marseille, and see if they are really doing it any better than serious cooks here in Oregon with locally grown produce. I have to go now. I am tasting some Cypress Grove Goat Cheese; Truffle Tremor. More later…au revoir.

A big crowd gathered today at the Backgate Stage  at Artichoke Music to begin a plan / program to keep this Portland gem open.  A raft of performers kept the folks entertained. There are not enough places like Artichoke around. It’s not just a place to play, not just a venue, nor is it just another eclectic music store. It is a Portland institution and it is community in action. In times like these we need community more than ever. Places where everyone is welcome, truly welcome. I am not a ‘folkie’ and yet Artichoke Music and the Backgate Stage is part of my health plan (as someone shrewdly remarked today) and spiritual foundation. It is a “church” that I and many others use.  Check out the web-site and next time you need a pick, a string, guitar or ukulele lessons, or a song book, or even a guitar go down to 3130 SE Hawthorne Ave., and after a chat with Jim or Richard take a look at the performance space and see if your feet don’t start to itch. Artichoke needs some help right now, but if you go there, play there, listen there, and become part of the community it will pay you back in more than spades. www.artichokemusic.com

I usually get into town early enough to pick up my tickets  and slip down to the Heathman for a cocktail before the concert or the pre-performance lecture starts.  The bar is not much of a bar. It reminds me of a British Railways cafeteria in a large city terminus, built when marble was popular, but with a much better stocked bar. I try to sit against the window with my preferred mix;  a Manhattan Up.  From there I can watch the human and metal traffic on Broadway.

The rain held off and I drift up the fifty yards to the Schnitzer dry. My seat is way in the back, the very last row on the aisle. I have the whole row to myself. Perfect. I have the same feeling when the doors close on a flight and you realize you have the space you need to endure the flight. But in the Schnitzer I am not enduring anything. I am enjoying every minute. The bright golden rectangle of the stage glows ahead of me. The dark heads of the people in front of me are calm and still. The program begins.

I am not a big Wagner fan but Siegfrieds Idyll is an interesting challenge to me.  It is less strident than a lot of the composers work and so very complex that I cannot help but float along with the piece. I am really waiting for the next piece; the Prokoviev Violin Concerto. Karen Gomyo is the soloist. Watching her play this technically challenging work is somehow like watching someone disassemble and reassemble a musical Ferrari Testa Rossa in under half an hour and not have any screws left over. She got and deserved a standing ovation. The Orchestra has its own hard work to do and never faltered.

At the intermission my location at the back of the hall means I am first to the bar. The Bartender says, “My first intermission customer!” She does not think there is a discount for this distinction.  I take my drink to a corner and watch the people who are watching each other, and me.  The hall was by no means full and sadly the geezers outnumber the young by four to one.  I find myself in the majority.  Greying hair, bespectacled and concerned about parking and umbrellas.

The Sibelius Symphony Number 2 is as hard work for the Orchestra as the Prokoviev was for Ms Gomyo in the Sibelius.  I am drawn to the large amount of Pizzicato, and the way the Timpanist is constantly bending close to his skins to check the tuning. He does have a huge part in the work and is justified I suppose, but he appeared almost comical, bending and straightening, bending and straightening. But I am not laughing, I am admiring his minute attention to detail, his professionalism.

And it is a delight to sit there in my isolated inexpensive ($32) seat and let the sound wash over me before it hits the back wall. The golden rectangle of light of the stage now a furious source of intelligible energy as the players move toward the climax of the piece.

Leaving the Schnitzer, going into the wet chill of Oregon February air is pleasant with the power of all the music inside me. In April Itzhak Perlman, Pinkas Zucherman and Midori will be in town. I would forgo my cocktail to buy a ticket that I know will be more than $32 and sit in row that is full to hear anyone one of these string gods.