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It is that time of year, when both Ixi and I are off touring different parts of the world.  Tomorrow the CSO departs for a three week gallivant of Europe, mostly Germany and parts of of Spain.  I have packed myself, a ridiculous amount of shoes and portable library to NYC where I am spending the week at the Metropolitan Opera.

My day included a lot of bowings, piano rehearsals for Satyagraha and tours, and the inevitable wandering in stairwells.  Is the library on B level of C level?  Is it one story down from the stage or two?  Where is the pit?  I can proudly say that I didn’t get lost – a first for everything.  My colleagues were warm and welcoming, and along with my host family (who made me fresh espresso to start my day), I can tell this is going to be a fabulous week.

I was fortunate to score prime seats to see Prokofiev’s The Gambler – which was interesting.  The orchestra is amazing, the singers spot-on – but I was not prepared for the pyrotechnics that accompanied this production.  Something to be seen, who doesn’t love a good opera with large casts and bright pretty lights, but read the program notes otherwise the some of the symbolism might get lost.

I love a good period film. I love the costumes, accents (only if they are somewhat consistent between actors), big castles, the whole lot, and I do think this is related to borrowing too many videos from the Free Library of Philadelphia, which I think has about 3 different versions Sense and Sensibility available. I find though, that they are not often filmed very well. Maybe it’s because I’m in a small minority target group interested in such movies, but I was disappointed in the overall cinematic effect in Becoming Jane – but I saw The Other Boleyn Girl this evening and was happy to finally see a well-produced movie.

The plot line of this movie is in fact mostly historically accurate, and at the same time really messed up. I won’t go into too many details for fear of ruining anyone who may have slept through 6th grade Social Studies – I’m pretty sure I might have – but the pairing in relationships is at time ridiculous, true, and reminiscent of dating in the music world. A few fun facts not in the movie:

When Henry VIII died, his only legitimate male heir, Edward VI became king. Eddie’s mum was Jane Seymour, Henry’s 3rd wife after Anne Boleyn. Henry’s 5th wife, Catherine Howard, was first cousins to the Boleyns. Henry met his 6th wife, Catherine Parr, in the court of Mary, the daughter of his first wife, Katharine of Aragon, whom had previously been married to Henry’s bro Arthur. The final Catherine had fallen in love with Thomas Seymour, Jane’s brother. After Edward died, Jane Grey, the great granddaughter of Henry VII ruled for about 9 days before Mary, daughter from the first marriage claimed the throne and had Grey executed. Mary died, leaving the throne to Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn.

“(like Heckelphone) sounds 8vb lower

tippetts – 3ple concerto”

answer=bass oboe


“GM ode to heavnely joy  (das Knaben Wunderhorn)”

answer= Mahler 4


“the Philospher”

answer= Haydn Nr. 22


“in Bb  sounds M2 lower +2 octaves

in Eb sound m3 lower +2octaves

made of metal”

answer= contrabass clarinet


Looks like someone’s studying for something…..

i beg you … to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. and the point is, to live everything. live the questions now. perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer …

rainer maria rilke


I claim Philly as city of origin since I lived there for a few years in college and because I survived the stint residing in North Philly, though I really grew up in the suburbs, some 45 minutes north of the city and because it’s easier then explaining the previous statement. The pace of life for the most part is still the same, though some sections of the area I no longer recognize. The parts closer to the city now have Starbucks, drugstores on every corner, and just about every imaginable modern-day convenience, but the dairy farms, curvy and confusing back roads remain – though the selling of bits and pieces of land have given way to gated communities and golf courses. While I’m sad that the landscape of my memories is becoming but a memory, the Lederach Tea Room is still a constant. They serve a fabulous brunch and full tea service, fresh eggs picked from the hen-house next door, fresh squeezed juices, and of course, a Pennsylvania Dutch treat, homemade apple butter. Not only do they make the best French toast I’ve ever had, but the place literally looks when I left it, specifically the morning I graduated from high school. This was my last stop before returning home, and I couldn’t have been happier to spend it with two very incredible ladies, Liz and Beth, who are practically my little sisters. Somehow they’ve managed to become amazing adults, while I still feel so very young…

A few days ago I decided to grab some YatKa for lunch, and was enjoying the meal, when my suddenly my fortune cookie presented me with: “You have an unusual magnetic personality. Just beware of your polarity”. Yikes. I love YatKa and usually get eerily apt fortunes from them (similar to the horoscopes at the Erie/Marburg Starbucks) such as, “Life to you is a dashing and bold adventure, the word for chopsticks is quai-zi and your lucky numbers are 6,14,32 and 9″ but since when have fortune cookies taken on a PhD degree in psychoanalysis???





I should have been more aware of the ides – but I never put much stock in such things. As per the usual, I never have normal travel arrangements. I’ve flown in and out of random airports, some convenient, most less so, had to have cars towed from Dayton tomy home, really anything is possible. But as I say, I am the optimist, so I thought I’d attempt the Skybus and fly out of Columbus to the ‘Philadelphia are airport’ in Wilmington, Delaware, about an hour from my parent’s house – which is about the same distance to any of the other airports I’ve been known to frequent.

The day started off not so bad – but early for a 12:52PM departure time. I safely deposited Patches at the kennel, who received more attention from the staff then I have almost anywhere I’ve gone in a year, and was off to Columbus. Those unfamiliar with the major cities of the great state of Ohio, it is slightly less than half way from Cincinnati to Cleveland, both very close to the edge of the state,I was there in roughly 2 hours give or take. I managed to park my car, as always I was grateful that we arrived intact, hop on the shuttle and made it through the modest airport fairly easily.

I liked the airport – it was easy to navigate, and I had no wait in the security checkpoint line deal – although I was asked if I had a sockmonkey in my carry-on. I didn’t want to seem hostile or that I was questioning their judgment and authority because I definitely didn’t want to anger someone who could pull me off a flight or give me a body cavity search, so I politely asked them to repeat it. ‘A sock. Monkey. That’s what it looks like on the monitor.’ I shyly said no, and offered them to look through my bag which they said wasn’t necessary. I then prepared myself for the Skybus experience.

Skybus is a really cheap airline that flies in and out of select cities – usually near major metropolitan areas but not actually directly in them, thus Wilmington was my destination. They offer $10 one-way fares in the beginning of a sale and the price increases depending on how many tickets are sold. My total cost for the trip was less than $30, and you can’t beat that. The catch is that every added amenity one pays out of pocket. So a checked bag is about $12, same for priority seating, refreshments on the plane, etc. And it is a completely web-based company, meaning there is no 800 number to call for assistance, and there is no ticket person who has any kind of information. So when the flight was delayed due to fog, I found out via email to my phone before the ticketing agent announced any helpful details. In the end, the flight was delayed 2 hours, which isn’t too terrible. I did see some interesting things while I waited: Many people dressed completely unprepared for the weather – especially the guy in the muscle shirt, two grown men wrestling in the area directly in front of me, and the Quiznos that refused to serve me anything that didn’t have meat on it.

The flight itself was just fine minus some turbulence, and I thought the unusual part of my trip was over. I was wrong. I couldn’t see anything resembling a terminal once we touched down and had no idea where the airport was. Then I realized the smallish structure that I thought was a hanger was indeed it, and it wasn’t much bigger than the size of the bottom floor in an average suburban American family of 2.5 home. I immediately spotted my brother and dad, because the waiting area was only a few feet from the entrance from the airfield. When asked if I had any checked bags, I realized that there was no luggage carousel. Instead, there was a square opening in the wall with a plastic sheet divider where some guy asked what your bag looked like and would find it and pass it to you. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.

Strange behavioral things tend to follow me, or perhaps I’ll own that maybe I invite them. None of this matters much, as I was holding my niece, the ity bit, as soon as I walked in the door…

Someone called me a nerd yesterday. It’s actually true, that is what I am. Right now I’m sitting, it’s 2am, in my dining room with a good friend and fellow music-nerd, listening to different versions of the Rite of Spring in a longer session of music brainstorming. You wouldn’t believe what’s out there. Seriously, there are some deranged people out there. But I love’em. It shows just how awesome music is, how powerful it can be. You’re wondering what versions of the Rite are in existence? I was getting to that. For starters, there’s the four guitar version (with a gratuitous drum), and the Fireworks Ensemble version that’s for flute, clarinet, saxophone, percussion, violin, cello, electric guitar, and keyboard. Pretty funky, but after a couple minutes, you’re into it. If you’ve heard of a genre called Post Rock you’ll know what I’m talking about. Have you heard of the String Quartet tribute to Arcade Fire? Similar thing. Alright, before this gets too out of control, I’m signing off. If you happen to be up too, listening to versions of Mahler 4 for instance, come over, we can watch the sun rise.

Yesterday was a big day for the state of Ohio, and no, I don’t mean in politics.  The very first Ikea opened in the state, and it was a big deal.  People began camping out Monday at 5am.  And it gets stranger from there.

I never did quite understand those people that waited outside, choosing to use a portopotty, sleep in a tent in a parking lot, and sit out in the cold – these are also the same people that wake up at an ungodly hour to shop on Black Friday.  Sure you might get free stuff, a great deal, or even a free meatball – but is it worth it?  And don’t most people have… jobs, or something that would prevent them from spending 3 days sitting in a lawn chair so that they can get another equally priced chair that they will have to assemble?

I also don’t understand those who never have heard of Ikea or what it’s about.  I am spoiled, growing up about 30 minutes from not one but two stores, though even in college I don’t think I purchased anything from them other than a comforter.  In the numerous blogs and articles that have appeared for this event, there has been a lot of questions just exactly what Ikea is.  I honestly don’t know how anyone can not know at this stage – I thought I was going to be stoned when the location was announced and I was in Cleveland – people took it very seriously.  Sorry friends, you might just have to visit me in order to get your fix.

Also included was a Traditional Swedish Log-Sawing Ceremony.  The jury is still out on this one, as I have a job and missed the opening day festivities, but I’d be curious to see this.  If anyone is going to be having some kind of good luck ceremony soon, let me know.

March 2008
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