Archive for March, 2010

The magic and the power of music

March 31, 2010 | By | Reply More
The magic and the power of music

Back in the 1970’s, when I was 17, I assumed the role of co-leader of a St. Louis 8-piece jazz-rock bank we called “Ego.” It was great fun (you’ll find a photo here). We learned a lot about performing music and we learned even more about people. I loved playing music back then—it unleashed something in me, something ineffable. Five years later, though, I was fully absorbed with law school, because I had come to the conclusion that I needed to have a stable career. I made this choice assuming that I could always play music on the side. But then I became a lawyer, a career that is a demanding mistress. Over the years, there was always something else that had to get done, much of it law-related, so I haven’t played much music for the past few decades, not until this past year. During the past year, I’ve been working hard at becoming a better guitarist, and there’s no better way to do that than by practicing an hour every day. That’s what I used to tell hundreds of guitar students during the nine years that I taught lessons. I told them to practice every day and that they would see dramatic results, guaranteed. It’s absolutely true. I’ve also worked hard to improve my singing over the past year. I never considered myself to be a singer, though I occasionally sang. Over the past six months, I’ve received a few voice lessons from local musician Leslie Sanazaro, and more recently a lesson from Charles Glenn, the other co-leader of Ego, whose talents are well-recognized in Saint Louis. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the result of putting time into music again. My guitar chops have improved dramatically. I am now a better jazz player than ever before. My voice is now something that no longer embarrasses me; I now see my voice as an instrument that has the ability to command at least as much attention as my guitar playing, and I’ve worked hard to shape my voice to mesh with various types of tunes.

[caption id="attachment_11977" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image by clearviewstock at Dreamstime.com (with permission)"]Image by clearviewstock at Dreamstime.com (with permission)[/caption]

Last week was a benchmark of sorts. I performed at the Culinaria, a downtown grocery store for three hours. I was joined for thirty-minutes by an excellent violinist named Stephanie To, but the remainder of the three-hour session consisted of me playing the guitar and singing (pop, jazz and folk). Since that performance, I was invited to sign up to perform two additional gigs, and there are several others in the works at local Saint Louis establishments. I am now feeling that once again I can honestly and proudly claim that I am a “musician.” It was ironic that after making music a significant part of my life again, I came across Yusuf Islam’s DVD, Yusuf’s Café. Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, is an extraordinary musician (songwriter, guitarist, pianist and vocalist) who rebelled against the pace, the superficiality and the artificiality of life (his lyrics were autobiographical in these regards). As a result of this mismatch back in the late 70’s, he jumped from his then-hectic world into a much simpler world permeated by the Islamic faith, a world where his family and his God were priorities. For almost thirty years, Yusuf Islam had been under the belief that the Islamic faith did not allow the performance of his type of music, so he totally gave it up. He didn’t even own a guitar.

Share

Read More

Spectacular Hubble Images

March 31, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
Spectacular Hubble Images

You owe it to yourself to view these ten spectacular images, all but one of them taken by the Hubble telescope. This series of images was featured in Discover Magazine. I find myself imagining what Galileo himself would have said if he had been able to see these images. Or how Edwin Hubble (1889 – 1953) would have reacted. These are truly billion dollar pictures. Below, the Spindle Galaxy:

Ngc4866 Galaxy (NASA)

Share

Read More

Teabonics

March 30, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More
Teabonics

This Flickr page features the spelling deficiencies displayed by many “Tea-Party” protesters. The title of the photo page: “Teabonics.” The allusion is to “ebonics.”

Share

Read More

The immense strength of the Israel lobby in the U.S.

March 30, 2010 | By | Reply More
The immense strength of the Israel lobby in the U.S.

How much sway does Israel and its AIPAC lobbyists have over Congress? More than you’d ever believe:

Aipac has persuaded more than three-quarters of the members of the US House of Representatives to sign a letter calling for an end to public criticism of Israel and urging the US to “reinforce” its relationship with the Jewish state.

Share

Read More

Call For Interest

March 30, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More
Call For Interest

This is a link to my own website. The post concerns the career of a writer of my acquaintance—me. I’m taking a moment and perhaps a few liberties to do a little personal business here on DI and I hope you all forgive the (somewhat) commercial intrusion.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Share

Read More

The power of a nickel

March 29, 2010 | By | Reply More
The power of a nickel

Look what happens to the use of plastic bags used by grocers and restaurants when you require the merchants charge five cents per bag. This is a big win for the environment:

In its first assessment of how the new law is working, the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue estimates that city food and grocery establishments issued about 3.3 million bags in January, which suggests a remarkable decrease. Prior to the bag tax taking effect Jan 1, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer had estimated that about 22.5 million bags were being issued per month in 2009.

Share

Read More

Photo on a wing

March 29, 2010 | By | Reply More
Photo on a wing

I flew to Los Angeles tonight on business. On the way down, this image caught my eye and my camera caught it (click the image for an enlarged version).

Image by Erich Vieth

Share

Read More

Our bad food is as addictive as cocaine

March 29, 2010 | By | 4 Replies More
Our bad food is as addictive as cocaine

Slate reports:

A new study published in Nature Neuroscience suggests that high-calorie, high-fat foods may be just as addictive as cocaine and heroin. “When rats consume these foods in great enough quantities, it leads to compulsive eating habits that resemble drug addiction, the study found,” Health.com reported.

Share

Read More

Fluid space

March 28, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More
Fluid space

Here you’ll see and hear a beautiful Hawaiian evening sky to go with beautiful music. Such a spectacular way end a long day! Strongly consider watching this short video in HD:

The vivid fluidity of the star-filled sky in this video is something I’d never before viewed. There is an ocean of stars up there, including the vast edge of the Milky Way galaxy itself. Watching the “movement” of those stars allowed me to feel, like never before, that our own orb is moving through space. I’ve long known, intellectually, that the Earth is spinning and rotating through space, but this time-lapse video really brings that point home. We are moving too, in a dramatic way, every second of every day. We aren’t the stable platform from which one can objectively view the rest of existence. This video seemingly pushed me to an Archimedean point.

Bravo!

Share

Read More