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Met at the Movies

On Saturday I went to see the Met at the Movies, a live broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera projected in high-definition in an Upstate New York movie theater. It was my first time watching opera in my jeans and sneakers, and I was extremely curious to see Franco Zeffirelli’s famous production of Puccini’s La Boheme.

Earlier in the week, when I’d gotten two tickets, I couldn’t find a date. Everyone was busy, and the one dyed-in-the-wool opera fan in my family, my dad, had to work. I tried to convince one of my kids to go.

“You mean,” echoed my nine-year old son in faint disbelief, “they sing the WHOLE TIME?!”

I went alone.

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Welcome to The First Volunteer Blog Entry

Thanks to all the staff at WXXI for agreeing to let me set up this volunteer blog. This blog will have many purposes, the main one being to inform all of our volunteers about upcoming events, what volunteer jobs we need to fill and general news regarding our volunteer family.

I really mean "family" because if you were at the Volunteer Recognition Dinner last night, it felt like family. Lots of kind words from the WXXI staff and plenty of remarks from the volunteers about how wonderful an evening it was.

Our thanks to Judy Cutaia and all of the Pink Ladies, who worked so hard to treat us so well.

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It's not you, it's your music

Rachel Donadio’s essay in Sunday’s New York Times (“It’s Not You, It’s Your Books”) explores the touchy subject of reading habits in romantic relationships. Say you liked Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” or “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand and you find out your date didn’t. Poof. Instant turn-off factor. The disclosure causes the same illogical deflation as the sight of someone clutching a fork like a shovel. Some habits aren’t sexy. With books, it’s a matter of taste, so it’s even more important.

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Drawing Eric

The comforting voice of Eric Bibb. Songs of social grace and justiceEric BibbEric Bibb. An interesting conversation that piqued my interest about Roy Bucannan. And just a couple sketches.

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Can we afford "affordable?"

Have you gotten lost in the city recently?

I don't mean downtown. I mean it's neighborhoods, where a lot of people live in rundown houses and apartment buildings.

Most people who drive in and out of the city every day for work do not see these neighborhoods. But there are a lot of them, despite numerous programs to demolish, renovate, or build better housing for people whose income falls below the median. The pace of improvement has been falling far behind the pace of decay for more than a decade.

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A Sound Experiment

I've never considered myself much of a scientist.

So I consider it a stroke of luck when a grant application calling for a "hypothesis" crossed my desk -- just one day after I helped my daughter put together a middle school science fair project. I actually knew how to phrase a hypothesis, and WXXI was awarded money to conduct experiments to test my hypothesis.

So what is a broadcast news director doing in the laboratory?

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Join the Cary Ratcliff fan club

Cary Ratcliff writes by leaps and bounds. The lines of his songs might jump a fifth, slide back down, and hover around a series of pitches before leaping up again. Difficult to perform but easy on the ear. Lyrical.

He’s also a working composer, far from the dreaded ivory tower. On a gleaming black Steinway in his light-filled living room, Ratcliff's written music that’s been sung by thousands of singers of all ages and abilities. His children’s opera "Mice and Beans" is being staged April 26-27 in San Diego. New York City Opera will read Ratcliff’s “Eleni” in May, and in July, the Rochester Oratorio Society will take a section of the “Ode to Common Things” to Beijing and Shanghai.

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Venues, continued...

Venues present themselves like creatures of the night. They get made-up, or don’t, wash up a bit, or not, display darkness and light in codes their customers are lured toPor VidaPor Vida.

It’s all about attitude. It was the Molotov Lounge. Austin in March of 2007.

Bikers, aggressive punks, music critics, folk music fans, feminists, the generally rebellious. They filled this place. I swear in one of the only two booths was a Midwestern family, kids and all. Inside a rather threatening room, what could have brought together such a wildly diverse crowd.

It was Michelle Shocked.

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Venues, part one

One of the most remarkable shows I’ve ever seen was in a punk bar in Austin, 2007. It looked like the inside of an old diner stripped of anything and everything. What could have once been a lunch counter was the bar. No windows, just vacant spaces inside empty window frames.

It looked like a fire had gutted the downstairs of structures and function, then been splashed with dull, black paint to remove any remaining color.

Not the sort of place you would imagine a most memorable show happeningEric Taylor album artEric Taylor album art.

The performer was Michelle Shocked. Sally Timms opened. The venue became part of the show in a way no other venue would have worked.

I’ll get back to that show later.

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Month of the Young Child

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) first established the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) in 1971 recognizing that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later life.

Each April, child advocates celebrate the Month of the Young Child. This is a time when communities and individuals recognize the needs and
rights of young children and their families.

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