Monday, September 19, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

There's a new post up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope to see you there!

This will be the last announcement of posts at Prufrock's Dilemma here at Raining Acorns.  I hope you'll consider following me directly at PD, if you haven't done so already.

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

New post up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope to see you there!

I'll be phasing out notifications of new posts on Raining Acorns this month.  I hope you'll consider following me directly on Prufrock's Dilemma if you would like to know about new posts.

Friday, September 9, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

There's a new post up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope to see you there.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

There's a new post up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

New post up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

There's a new post up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

There's a new post up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

 There's a new post up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

A new post is up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope you will join me there!

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

There's a new post up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

There's a new post up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 1, 2011

New Post Up at Prufrock's Dilemma

There's a new post up at Prufrock's Dilemma.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Where We've Flown To

Susan Scheid (a/k/a Raining Acorns) can now be found at her new blog, Prufrock's Dilemma.  The first post, about Patti Smith and her book Just Kids, is up today and can be found here.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Time to Take a Break

The Raining Acorns writing collaboration with Carol-Ann and Wide Open Spaces has been a wonderful adventure.  I can’t imagine any two better writing colleagues than they have been.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Farewell for Now

When my lovely blogging partners Raining Acorns and Carol-Ann asked me to join them in this adventure, I had no trouble coming up with my nom de plume, "Wide Open Spaces." It is the title of a Dixie Chicks song that seemed especially appropriate to me as I dipped my virtual toes into the waters of writing for an actual audience. Although the song is written about a young girl just starting out on her own, it also fit my 40-something stage of life.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In Closing

The first piece I wrote for Raining Acorns was posted on November 1st, 2009. It was about clearing weeds from my garden on a summer day in Sarasota, Florida. I seem to have come full circle because, although I’m not a frequent gardener, I was in my garden again this morning - this time to plant new growth. Today is also the day that I post my last contribution to this blog. It seemed like a good time to look back at my 31 previous posts.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Photographing Birds in Flight

A few years back, I received a handsome tripod as a gift.  I’ve tried repeatedly to use it, but I always seem to point it in the wrong direction.  Bottom line, I don’t want to carry it when I’m out walking.  As it is, I look like a newbie journalist, my many-pocketed vest bulging with stuff I can never find and a camera and pair of binoculars criss-crossed like bullet holsters over the top.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

“A Community of Expressers”

Excerpt from Hudson Space Sonnet #1
© Dylan Mattingly.  By kind permission of Dylan Mattingly.

David Bloom walked into Bard Hall, where a recital of student work was to be performed, and did a double-take.  The place was packed out, with people standing all around the perimeter.  He hadn’t been expecting such a crowd.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wedding Fever

It’s hard to miss the sights and sounds of the forthcoming royal wedding. Images of palaces and spires, the strains of a wedding processional, and I’m back in front of a television set watching first Prince Charles’s wedding to Lady Diana Spencer and then, not so many years later, her funeral. Now that Prince William is about to wed Kate Middleton, the girl who will walk into Westminster Abbey a commoner and come out the world's first YouTube princess, I will occupy my spot in front of that little box again.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Kitchen Daughter

"The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." --Mary Heaton Vorse

I have the good fortune to be acquainted with and related to people who are writers. Friends are usually fascinated by the process of writing, particularly fiction writing and have one of two reactions. One, they think it must be kind of easy, because you can make it all up and you get to sit at your computer and keep your own schedule. Or two, it is incredibly hard and they can't imagine even thinking about writing a piece of fiction - it is overwhelmingly intimidating.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Just Some Poems: Du Fu in Translation

In translation, even Du Fu’s name is not a constant.  At the time Kenneth Rexroth translated him, the name in English of this Tang Dynasty poet was “Tu Fu.”  Or, as poet Charles Simic put it, “Du Fu, eh?  I knew him when he was Tu Fu.  A swell guy!”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Water, Water, Everywhere

“…Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink…”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

We could find ourselves echoing the words of the Ancient Mariner if we don't pay close attention to our precious water supply. Unlike seabirds, human bodies lack the ability to desalinate sea water, and most of the water on our planet is in the oceans – a whopping 99 percent of it. Only the remaining 1 percent is usable by humans. And that tiny share is in peril.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Love Thy Neighbor

The following is the tale of a remarkable little boy. Yet it is not really about his story, it is the story around his story. Trey Love (yes, that's his real name) is a 4 year old boy who is fighting terminal cancer. He had been in remission for 2 years, but three weeks ago his neuroblastoma came back. Until March 20th, not many people knew who he was. He had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2008 but most recently was living the typical 4 year old life, playing with friends and rooting for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Searching For Angola in Florida

On the banks of the Manatee River near Sarasota, Florida, is a site that was once a refuge for as many as 700 runaway slaves (aka Black Seminoles) and Seminole Indians in the early part of the 19th Century.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sailing Past Lachenmann: Why I'm Ecstatic

I may slouch along no longer.  The Ecstatic Music Festival, several concerts of which I had the good fortune to attend, has ended, and Helmut Lachenmann, who provided the frame for my “Slouching” series, recently received the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Contemporary Music, with 400,000 Euros in prize money attached:
The jury singled out the importance of his creative works, which “based on an intimate knowledge of the musical past, have enlarged the world of sounds during the last fifty years in a way unmatched by any other contemporary composer."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Minivan, Myself

My friend Jan hopped in my car after I moved some stray schoolbooks from her seat and asked, "What are you going to do when your minivan dies?" Luckily, it only has 93,000 miles on it, so I hope I have a few more good years left with it. Yes, that's right, I like, no LOVE, my minivan!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dali for the Ears: The Sound World of Derek Piotr

The first I knew of Derek Piotr was his response to a post.  I’d commented about Björk's remark that minimalism was her “abyss.”  I hadn’t seen Piotr's name before, so, of course, I had to look him up.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Testing 1,2,3. . .

The month of March means more than the start of training for spring sports and plans for the prom for public schools in the US. It also marks the season of standardized testing - an enormously important event for school district administrators. Under the terms of the federal No Child Left Behind act, states must set measurable goals for all public school students and then assess those students, in order to receive federal funding.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Slouching Toward Lachenmann: Transfiguring the Night

The only person who can help poor Schoenberg now is a psychiatrist.
-Richard Strauss

"You're a slouch not to like it," he said to me one day.  "Studying ordered relationships is ultimately the best there is.  Order is everything."
-Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus

When I was in high school, the curriculum included a mandatory music appreciation class.  In addition to being mandatory, the class marshaled all the worst features of classroom instruction to make its case:  a huge amphitheater of a classroom, an otherworldly teacher who wasn’t able to communicate his love of music to the class, and an approach of pure lecture with the odd bit of listening thrown in.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Oscar's Best Picture "Lasts"

In my previous post, I wrote about Ocar’s Best Picture Firsts. Now that the Academy Awards have come and gone and the Oscar went to 2011’s Best Picture – yes, the “King’s Speech,” Raining Acorns thought it would be a good idea to follow that post with a list of “lasts” in the same vein. Lest we forget, these are the things that we won’t be seeing again when the Best Picture is awarded in the future:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar's Best Picture Firsts

The very first movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture was a war film. It was 1927, the first year that the Oscars were held, and the winner was “Wings.” The most recent Best Picture winner was also a war film, “The Hurt Locker.” The shared genre is just about all that these two movies, 82 years apart, have in common. “Wings” was a silent movie shot in black and white and directed by a man, while “The Hurt Locker” was very much a “talkie” shot in full color and directed by a woman, Kathryn Bigelow. In fact, “The Hurt Locker” was the first film directed by a woman to win an Oscar for Best Picture.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"What (Good) Is the Internet, Anyway?"

This is a story that could not be written, or understood, back in 1994, when hardly anyone, including the hosts of the Today show, knew what the internet was.

(Watch Bryant and Katie try to figure out what email and the internet are)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Conservatory Garden in Winter

The young boy played his flute, calling to birds; his companion lifted a snow-laden bowl where they might drink.  While sparrows flitted near in search of seeds, not one came to visit this snowbound pair.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Listening to Penelope

Penelope "may be the best thing to happen to Homer since Joyce."
—George Wallace

It moves like a live thing in his hands
The story, his story
Bloody and sacred, truth and lie
—Ellen McLaughlin

A few years ago, a series of little novels started to appear, preceded by a book of introduction called A Short History of Myth.  The first novel in the series was The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood.  Atwood’s premise, “to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to the twelve hanged maids,” was promising.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bowled Over

Today is that most American of holidays. No, not Independence Day, or Thanksgiving, or even Labor Day. Today is Superbowl Sunday, the most-watched television event in the USA, and one of the most-watched programs in the entire world. Sports fans, spouses and partners of sports fans, and even non-fans will gather to watch the American football championship game.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Slouching Toward Lachenmann: Who Cares If I Listen?

 Schoenberg is dead.
-Pierre Boulez

Boulez is alive.
-Judd Greenstein

Milton Babbitt, 1916-2011.  In Memoriam.

I’ve been affected, in writing this post, by the Ecstatic Music Festival going on in New York City (through March 28, 2011).  I was able to attend only a small part of the opening day’s Marathon, but the part I attended was sublime.  The Chiara String Quartet played Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartet No. 3, and the NOW Ensemble played Judd Greenstein’s City Boy.  Both pieces were superb, the musicians excellent, and the composers were in attendance.  I was, yes, ecstatic, to be able to attend two more concerts that week.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Coffee and Courtesy

Life is not so short but that there is always time for courtesy.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

For years we have been hearing about the decline of civility - in schools, offices, even our government. That good manners are vanishing due to (take your pick) increased reliance on technology, poor parenting, cable TV, or Facebook. And I must admit that I do see evidence of this everywhere, much to my dismay.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winter à la Sarasota

I have written before about our looong Floridian summers. About how we try so hard to live the outdoor life, faced with a seemingly endless parade of photo-opportunity days that give the lie to what is really a swamp-like climate. But the truth is that we spend all summer hiding out indoors in a sort of hibernating state. We go about our daily lives, moving sluggishly from air-conditioned homes to cars with matching temperatures and tinted windows - into shops, offices, malls and all manner of buildings with piped-in icy air where we take shelter from the invisible onslaught. Even then, the heat and humidity leave us damp before we can get from car to building. The only difference between night and day here is that the sun disappears. The temperature and humidity levels hardly change - it’s impossible to sleep without the air turned really low. Forget about cracking a window.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sailing Alone From Song to Song

I was going wherever I happened to go,
giving myself over to whatever I met,
-Su Tung-P'o

How easy he has made it for me to enter here,
to sit down in a corner;
cross my legs like his, and listen.
-Billy Collins

One evening, in the manner of Su Tung-P'o, I followed the path of composer Missy Mazzoli to New Amsterdam Records, where a new CD of her music was on offer.  From there I spotted a trio called janus, with a first CD just out.  The trio intrigued me because of its instrumentation:  flute, viola, and harp.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January Blue

The first day of 2011 found Wide Open Spaces in downtown Philadelphia in the immediate aftermath of the Mummer's New Year's Day parade. As we parked the car, we watched a few straggler Mummers making their way back home, still in full make-up and costume. We left the garage and exited onto Broad Street and into the largest sea of crushed beer cans I have ever seen in my life. It was impossible to take a step without landing on a can - Coors Light seemed to be the beverage of choice for the New Year's Day revelers.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Voice Made for Radio

A mother and her middle-aged son were reunited yesterday, after many years of estrangement. A mother myself, my heart went out to Julia Williams as she sat on the set of the "Today Show" this morning. Seated beside her was her only child, 53 year old Ted Williams. Although her son had just been catapulted into the limelight and was clearly thrilled and overwhelmed by turns, this mother was holding onto what was obviously a hard-earned habit of skepticism. She told him not to hang around with the wrong people and not to disappoint her. After all, just last week he was a homeless man holding a cardboard sign.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Slouching Toward Lachenmann: Björk’s Abyss

What Weill said in the twenties held true again:  "Once musicians obtained everything they had imagined in their most daring dreams, they started again from scratch.”
Alex Ross

It was like heaven itself had opened up to me and shown me not a vision of the future at all, but better than that, the beginning of the road to the future.  I had come into the world at the end of an old, complex, overweighted style groaning with European modernist baggage, and history offered me a chance to step onto the ground floor of a bold new enterprise.  I didn't even try to resist.
Kyle Gann

Alex Ross, that indispensable source for all things musical, reported that Björk once said, “Minimalism is my abyss!”  This came to me as something of a shock, as Björk had narrated a series for the BBC on that very thing.