Orchestra camp

Our orchestral year culminates this weekend with a retreat and concert. The entire orchestra will spend the weekend in an inn out in the countryside somewhere (I was there last year already, but remind me to download directions because I have no memory of how to drive there) practicing and rehearsing. On Sunday we then have a concert somewhere. I would take the bus with everyone else, but couldn’t get today off from work. In a way, although I will be missing out on a day of practice, I prefer this, because who wants to sit in a bus with kids for hours?

This year will be better than last year, I think, because the inn is said to have doors now. Last year it was under construction and rooms had no doors. It’s in a nice rural location, good place to take walks in your free time or just sit around and watch the kids set things on fire and stuff.

Today will be a bit hectic, I suppose. I must still pack my stuff, run to my in-laws’ place and steal the old Fiat Doblo (they are vacationing in Spain at the moment, in another bus full of retired people) drive home, load the instruments and stuff and find my way to this place in what will by then be a dark night.

We have a total of four public concerts this year, stretched out over several weeks. Still, Sunday will be a bit of a relief, because we will see, probably, that everything works okay. I am thinking positive. I will be able to see my notes, they won’t turn into bedbugs, and I won’t get too lost.

Oh, and Beta’s harp solo will sound even better in concert than it does in rehearsal.

Watching boys

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Originally published Feb. 2004

Gamma is the ocean

Gamma wrote a poem and told me to post it here.

i am the ocean

i am a wave. i am cold. i talk to the animals and seaweed and shells, and with the coral and the other waves. that is the roar of the waves.
when i am the water i feel powerful. then i dance around and sing in the language of water.
i am the animals. i feel beautiful and famous. then i talk to the other animals and run away from the dangerous ones. i talk to the waves and swim around and look for food.
when i am the roar i drown out everything else. then i am inside the water and the waves.
when i am the clams, i run away from sea stars. i play and rattle around and swim.
when i am life then i am everything. i feel good. then i don’t let the sharks catch me, or i wouldn’t be life anymore.
when i am music then i swim through the waves. three seconds after i was in the waves, they make their roar, that is music.

The Disney Effect

Somehow the ride home with Beta last night was enjoyable. I remember chatting, listening to her tell stories and bitch, and laughing a lot. I remember not crashing into the large trucks that surrounded us as we sped through the construction zones thirty kph above the speed limit, and I remember not scraping the cement barriers six inches from the edge of the narrow lanes.
It reminded me a bit of driving through the countryside outside Galway in a rented car ten years ago when Beta and I went over to buy her first harp, especially the high speed driving and the narrow lanes with walls, but there were no spraypainted sheep last night, nor cows, and traffic only went in one direction, and only in the direction I was used to, and the walls were, as I have mentioned, concrete and not stone, and no mad farmers on tractors.

We didn’t go straight home. We went to orchestra rehearsal first. I thought, in the beginning, that I would have to some day blog about what it’s like, because I love playing in an orchestra even though I suck. I love the excitement that is one factor of a rehearsal, especially a tutti rehearsal like last night. I suppose the wattage might be slightly lower in an amateur orchestra than in a professional one, but maybe not.

I love it even though I suck. Even though the boy with whom I share my note stand was playing better than I in places. Actually, I have no idea if he was playing better than I was, since I can’t hear individual musicians when everyone is playing, not even me. I just noticed that the kid was playing sometimes when I was trying to find my fucking place in the notes.

But instead of writing about the electricity, I must instead describe a phenomenon I witnessed last night, which I could call the Disney effect. We were playing three Lehar waltzes plus an an introduction. Three pages of notes with a bunch of repeats – repeats are one of my orchestral nemeses, especially when there are several, being an excellent opportunity to lose ones place.

Lehar was kicking my ass, mostly because of the tempo at which we were playing, and also mostly because I hadn’t learned the piece properly yet. So I was sort of scrambling, and watching the other celli to see where to start what etc, and listening to my daughter’s harp part. As she put it later, ‘all I have to do is make sure the pedals are set right, I don’t even have to pluck any strings.’ Lots of arpeggios and glissandi and shit. It’s a loud orchestral piece, and then everyone stops for a few measures while the harp does what a harp does best.

And then everyone resumed playing, and the oxygen level continued to fall in the room, and the conductor yelled at the rhythm section, and at the horns, and at the strings, and at the cowbell (Lehar is most famous for introducing the cowbell to music), and the notes fell off their little vertical bits and began to crawl around on the sheet music.

And I was all, Dude! This is just like the old Disney movie from 1949 where Mickey Mouse is playing cello in the orchestra after accidentally taking LSD and his notes turn into bedbugs and dance and he’s all OMGWTFBBQ!

I looked at the conductor, and she was Donald Duck quacking apocaplectically. And the violins were dozy sheep, and Goofy was playing bass hurhurhur and the seven dwarfs were playing percussion and Snow White was cranking the glissandi out on her harp and little birds were playing the piccolos.

They opened the windows in the break and everything normalized. Then we played Brahms. Brahms rocked.


A filling fell out last week. I briefly considered putting it back in with super glue but went to the dentist instead. Last night I was squirming in the chair as he drilled into the tooth, or as he put it, ground it slightly, to prepare it for a new filling. He offered to give me a shot of something but I tried it without anesthesia for the heck of it. He assured me it wouldn’t hurt much.
He hit a sensitive spot a couple times, though. Hence the squirming. But then, for some reason, I thought about it objectively. How does this compare to my back pain (which returned this weekend), I wondered. In fact, the tooth drilling pain, besides lasting only seconds, was no where as intense as the back pain, which lasts days.
After putting those two pains side by side like that, the tooth drilling grinding was almost fun.
And now I have a nice, smooth filling there and can stop sticking my tongue into the gaping hole, over and over and over.
I wonder if I could sell the old filling on eBay.
It’ll have to wait until I get yesterday’s shirt out of the wash, I think I forgot it in the pocket…

On the significance of blogging

A beautiful blonde woman just asked me when I was coming to bed, and yet here I am, blogg


What’s it mean when you dream about a 60-year old Truman Capote (played by Anthony Hopkins) laughing, grimacing and masturbating wildly at a table missing the center leaf but covered with a quilt?

My first celebrity dream.

Also, you must watch this.

PS what a nice weekend this was.
Beautiful summer weather.
Lots of yardwork, but in a good way. Also framed two of the pictures Gamma and I made last weekend.
Also, the harp ensemble rehearsed my composition. It will be performed 21 May. If you’re in the area then, please come. Mail me for details.