Several years ago, my friend Nina was walking into the art building at Houghton College when she noticed something lying on the ground. It was a clay head—sculpted, fired, and then, apparently, despised and rejected. Nina studied its flat features, twisted lips, and Medusa-like hair. She asked around. Nobody claimed it, and so she carried it home and planted a snake plant in the open cavity on the top of its head.
The plant thrived in its dirt brain for a couple of years until my friend accepted a new job teaching at Bowling Green University in Ohio. While we were packing up, she yanked out the plant and stuck the head in a heap of junk to throw away. I noticed it.
The RPO’s excellent Gershwin CD didn’t make the list of Grammy contenders announced today in Los Angeles. About pianist Jon Nakamatsu’s 2007 much-praised collaboration with the RPO, my colleague Mordecai Lipshutz said, “At least they’re selling well.”
"That's not right!" exclaimed my friend Carl Pultz when he heard the news that the RPO had been left off the list. Carl says this proves the nominating system is "corrupt."
The last time was Friday on my way to the Plum House, a Japanese restaurant on Monroe Avenue. I swung by his old house, curious to see if the new owners had ripped out the hulking evergreens blocking the front porch, the bay windows, and the lights within.
Before he died, composer David Diamond said he wanted his ashes to be spread between the graves of his parents in Mount Hope Cemetery. His long-time friend and former neighbor Sam Elliott did that for him, with some of the ashes. But Sam got an idea. He divided the remaining ashes into thirds and poured them into three 6-inch plastic vials with screw caps.
"And I need you like a heart needs a beat
But it's nothing new - yeah
I loved you with the fire red-
It's too late to apologize, it's too late
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late whoaa ohhh . . . "
- from the song “Apologize” by Timbaland
How many times can you listen to the same song over and over again?
A commercial radio station in Philadelphia had faith that its listeners wanted to hear Timbaland’s song “Apologize” 123 times. In one week.
That’s a record, according to Jeff Leeds’ recent article in the New York Times. “Apologize,” by the modern rock band OneRepublic and producer Timbaland also broke the national record for the most plays of a song on Top 40 stations in a week. It played more than 10,000 times.
I must say, it’s fun to walk into a concert hall with no expectations.
On Tuesday night, I entered Kilbourn Hall with my fashionable friend Carin, a notebook, and two kids: I told my children to sit wherever they wanted to and draw pictures. They hopped up to the back row.
We went to hear Ossia (pronounced “oh-SEE-ah”), the student contemporary music group based at the Eastman School with a time-honored tradition of omnivorous, unpredictable programming.
On another operatic note, Bryant Manning, a music stringer at the Chicago Sun-Times and Time Out Chicago sent an e-mail to the NEA Fellows I met in New York last month. He writes:
“Yesterday I interviewed the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and
he voluntarily brought up Renee Fleming. When we were in NY, Ms.
Fleming was lambasted by some as a terrible and overrated singer. So
for entertainment purposes, I thought *some* of you might be surprised
he said this:
Maybe I’m too scattered to concentrate on reading a novel. Maybe I’m becoming too obsessed by blogging. Maybe I’m going through a phase. Whatever the case, I’ve been reading a lot of short stories lately, flipping through Anne Panning’s new collection Super America and the new anthology edited by Stephen King, The Best American Short Stories 2007.
Writer Anne Panning speculates that since we usually expect novels to end on a happy note, short stories provide a vehicle for loneliness and bleakness in a way that novel can't.
The thought crossed my mind the other day when I picked up the November 19th New Yorker and started reading Antonya Nelson’s engrossing short story, “Or Else.”
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