Thursday, February 28, 2013


And this is not just any artwork. This is artwork of the finest photography taken by my ever-shaking hand. Call me the anti-YumaBev. In terms of clarity, form and content. This here is some murky stuff. Just take a ramble through some of my fine pictures:

JC and cat napping. If you look in the left 1/3 of the picture, you can imagine two white paws, very restful. Price: free.

See, I helpfully pointed them out. This is free also, should you wish to possess it. Actually, just copy the damn thing.

Animals make cute subjects for photographers, since I am not one, I find them to be a singular pain in the ass to try and take pictures of, yet I persist. This is what happened, when I was testing my new camcorder one night, which also has no night filter, and lent that extra-special dimension of creepiness we all hope for when we're taking pictures of the family doing family things about the house.

I think I had some artsy-fartsy idea of seeing the cat through a victorian era lamp, but what I've appeared to have captured is some Lovecraftian "Colour Out of Space" horror that resides in our living room. Best call out Chthulu from under the kitchen sink. He's been napping far too long anyway. Price: I give you Skittles to take this off my hands.

Before I took the famous picture of Mama kitty napping with JC, I had to test the camcorder to see if it was recording or if it was taking moving pictures. Since I don't see well in the dark (or the light for that matter) it was necessary to stand in the kitchen and press several buttons at once on a device about which I knew nothing. This is what we referred to as "learning" when I went to school to become a computer engineer. We had these things called "books" but hardly ever read them. This was a much more fun way to learn and also un-learn the messes we made that were referred to as "programs."

Anyway, I discovered the proper sequence for producing still photographs after many stops and starts and some amazingly amazing non-action sequences of my stove-top. Of course, I couldn't be bothered to turn on the light, because, eyes and I didn't want to wake the little darlings snuggling in the next room. 

Bonus points for my finger in the lower right. Price: Let's haggle.

I haven't even gotten around to the videos yet. YouTube pisses me off. Every time I upload one, they say, "this seems a bit shaky, do you want us to fix it?" What, and ruin my great art? How do you know that's not part of my artistic statement on the world, YouTube?

Here's a picture I took of Mama and then I kind of morphed it with Pic Monkey. She was all sprawled out on the bed, happy as a clam.

It was too blurred, so I filtered it. She loves to sleep like this.

The only other pictures I've ever taken that were worth a damn was the one down below of her and the ones of my viola and the one I took of the house down the street. I'm no photographer, but it sure is fun taking pictures.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


What did we ever do before we got cable? I’m sure we would have still been highly entertained, but my God, has the human race gotten stupider, or have we really just lowered the bar on crap on the TV? It’s still possible to see some interesting stuff via PBS or National Geographic, but for some reason, we seem to find ourselves a-wallow in the likes of TRU-TV. Because? Because, as Stephen King puts it, we love the "siren song of crap."

If you haven’t had the pleasure, TRU-TV is apparently where intelligence and the human race has gone to die. I do enjoy watching “The Smoking Gun,” primarily for the comments made by the 5th-rated celebrities who are on this thing. It’s a real mixed bag of folks. Every one from Gary Busey to Lief Garrett, Danny Bonaduce to Tonya Hardy (who is pretty funny) to Todd Bridges throw in comments about the clips. The format is this: countdown from #20 to #1 of the “World’s Dumbest _________.” This week it’s been Brawlers and they have been doozies.

I wonder if this was one of those last man standing kinda things?

Lots of fights from Russia. The best one was the one in Krasnoyarsk, which is in Siberia, so you’re already about 4 removes from civilization. As a bunch of drunks fight in a liquor store lobby, the cops show up and stand around. Chuck Nice’s comment “It went from a brawl to a Halloween party, people dressed as cops showed up.” They finally manage to evict the brawlers; no one goes to jail and then to top it off, one of the managers and one of the brawlers proceed to get all emotional and waltz around in the lobby of this store. Total bizarro world.

They're actually discussing the merits of a Peace Treaty in the Russian Duma. In Parliament. In Moscow.

The whole show has crap like this, and I guess it’s my guilty pleasure. I’m not much of a TV person, with the exception of police procedurals or weird stuff like the “X-Files” or Kevin Bacon's new show, "The Following,” as grim as it is. And indeed it is.

The notion of one person being able to manipulate many people is not new. Think Charles Manson. But the ultra-creepy patina of using references to Edgar Allan Poe’s works and what they mean gives this show a very specific kind of horror. Some of the critics have been less than kind, but I think it is very well done, precisely because it is so very dark. Kevin Bacon has also shown himself to be a master and the complete opposite of the serial killer in the way he also can manipulate people, even if he is the protagonist of this story. Meaty stuff.

Yes, it's bizarre, but I can relate.

The other show I started watching again, and I find astonishing is “Twin Peaks.” On the one hand, it’s almost camp. Kyle McLaughlin’s portrayal of the FBI agent Dale Cooper is all over the map. He’s hale and hearty and four-square for the Twin Peak folks. The denizens of the town are beyond bizarre; pretty hilarious, in some cases and some of the situations are just ridiculous. However, the undercurrents are deadly serious and poignant, almost unbearably so. The transference of grieving for the dead Laura to the longing for things unnamed is almost palpable at times.

But what truly makes this show stand out is the musical score. Angelo Badalamenti wrote the score. The opening itself is singular as there is hardly any development and so ethereal. The soundtrack throughout is reminiscent of 50s be-bop, Stray Cats, kind of West Side Story-like and is very much a character of the series itself. Not only does it set the mood, it also seems to drive the action, almost tone-poem like. I’m having fun with the show, but there’s a lot in it that is really “out there.” Of course, being David Lynch, that’s what you get.

That’s pretty much what we’ve been looking at. The commercials are awful. I think of any segment of the population, with the exception of the government, advertisers thing we’re the stupidest things on the planet. But then, there is TRU-TV to prove that maybe the advertisers aren’t so far off the mark.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Well, the stasis continues, sort of. I had a moment there, when I thought I might be in high dudgeon over something, but it turned out to be a low to medium dudgeon, so I decided it wasn’t worth the effort, I guess. Now, that I seem to be getting over this nuclear flu or whatever it is, the old “Parkinson's Disease or not-Parkinson's Disease, that is the question” symptoms are returning. Boy howdy, did I miss them. From weird pain, tingles, tics and twitches, to fake strokes and heart attacks, all of my old friends have shown up for the auld lang syne.

Can’t say that I’ve missed them a bit. Tonight, I made tacos. By the time I got through in the kitchen, it looked more like somebody had tossed a bunch of lettuce, tomato, taco meat, rice and shredded cheese in the general direction of some taco shells and 2 plates than actual meals. “Come and get it while it’s hot!” I warbled. JC is on his own; he very gallantly retrieved what he could. The cat enjoyed the parts that had fallen on the floor.

If my tacos did this, I'd be calling the taco exorcist.

The only thing I’ve been irritated about now that the insurance mess is more or less straightened out is this: what in the name of all that is holy gives men the right to think that I want nothing more in my life than to talk to them? Especially strange men I do not know? I’m really not pleased by this at all. Women don’t do this, do they? JC has not been able to get around for some time, so I have to go out by myself a lot. I’m not flirtatious, I don’t exude flirtatious, or come hither hormones, but this is really annoying. I know it’s not just me, I see it happen to other women. WTF? If I wanted your scintillating company, I would talk to you. Since I’m not talking to you, don’t talk to me, m’kay?

Case in point. Dude comes up while I’m looking at hamburger and practically stands on top of me. “Did you have a good outcome?” He asks out of the blue. I look at him. “What?” He points to my cane and glasses. “Did you have a good outcome?” I’m flabbergasted. “Does this look like a good outcome, you fucking moron?” Loud. He turns tail and runs. Meat guy at Sweetbay laughs.

The week before, I was in the soup aisle, bent over getting my favorite soup, which is on the bottom shelf. I hear, “Hi, My name’s Tom. Are you from around here?” I stand up to see “Tom,” who’s a good 18 inches from me; too close. “No, Tom, I’m on loan from Neptune.” I back up with my cans of soup, held close as if some type of man-shield. Just then, Shianna, the lady who sells the homeless paper and whose name I never remember comes running up and hugs me. “Hey girl! Whatchoo been doin’ since we got out?” Out of what is never specified and I can’t remember if it was the homeless shelter, the loony bin, hospital, or jail. I’m pretty sure I haven’t been there, guess I’ll have to run my own name through Crime Stoppers, but am not sure, so I totally Scooby her. “Oh you know, a little of this, a bit of that, helpin’ at the soup kitchen. I saw Shaneiqua and Shalala the other day, they said to tell you “hey.” Whatchoo doin?” I ask her in a shriek.

Tom is edging closer to the end of the aisle, praise the lord. Shianna yells back, “I’m sellin’ these here newspapers, only a buck a paper. Tampa has a no pan-handling ordinance and people like Shianna works to earn money to feed herself. She’s been a staple around here since I have. She’s neat and clean and works hard to sell her little news papers. Today, I give her a 5.00 bill and she tries to give me 5 papers. “Nah, go buy your coffee.” I get a big hug and smile and off she goes. I always have a momentary fugue when I see her, because she was in my shelter briefly, and now is at the Salvation Army. I see her here at the market periodically and since my psychotic break my short-term memory is really, really bad. It’s more fun this way.

I’ve also noticed that when 2 homeless or formerly homeless people get together, it’s glee unbounded. Probably because the mortality and morbidity rates are so high. So, when we get together, we can’t talk like normal people. It’s a reunion! It’s counted a success if you make it through the day. If you get your SSI and are able to pay rent, the gods have smiled upon you. If you get SSDI and you make it through your wait period to Medicare, that is good fortune indeed. I have made it. So, my blessing becomes blessings for others, as I see it. ViolaFury may be a bitch, but she can be a generous, empathetic one.

I see nothing derogatory regarding Italians here.

With the exception of dude who yesterday in the Walgreen’s in an attempt to get my attention, once again, made a trés stupid comment. My friend Alex and I stopped at the store to see if they had hair clips. They didn’t have any that I wanted. My radar kicked in, and there was a noid wearing a knit cap at the check out counter. There were a bunch of t-shirts, 3 for 10.00, various colors. I found some for JC, but they were these hideous day-glo colors, pink, orange, green, just horrid. I said to Alex, “Dayglo pink for JC won’t cut it.” Knit cap, with a smirk, said “you just made a racist Italian remark.” I looked at him. “Did you have to think that up all by yourself, or are you really that stupid?” Dumbass. Outside, Alex said, “Boy, you sure do attract ‘em.” “Like shit drawing flies,” I said.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


After a whole buncha starts, stops, false starts, halts due to lack of interests, fighting with bugs that are or aren’t the flu, but are raising pure hell with essential tremor and pain, I decided to just go for it, type any old damn thing and hope someone reads it and finds it somewhere in the neighborhood of diverting. If it comes anywhere near the zip code of amusing, that will well nigh be a mighty victory, I’ve felt nothing close to hilarious, lately. This makes me a grouchy person. Well, sort of.

I have discovered though, that I really am at the point where I shouldn’t eat around people. They keep getting food baths. JC is pretty tolerant and Mama Baby has all sorts of fun chasing down whatever I fling. Forks are out, although, stabbing myself in the eye wouldn’t really matter much. Even finger food can be a challenge. It’s kinda like that mechanical claw toy at the Fair where you put a nickel in the slot (I’m sure the price is like a dollar now, inflation and all) and drunkenly maneuver the claw around to crab the stuffed bunny and put it in the hopper. The good thing is, they treat me like I have Parkinson's Disease at the hospital. They gave me cough medicine that wouldn't make my tremors worse!

Well, I “see” 2 claws and my hopper is my mouth. I mostly make it, with the French fries, or the pizza rolls, or whatever. I’m no so good with soup. Steak I fixed real easy. Throw away knife and fork and revert to the Wallace method; eat with your hands. We’re fucking barbarians anyhow. My dad was grilling one night and I was watching him anxiously as he grilled my steak. It was still dripping when it was cooked to my satisfaction. “You little pagan; next time, I’m just going to warm it up under my armpit.” Yeah, that’ll work. Yum.

So, the ‘hood is being the ‘hood. The President of V.M. Ybor stopped by and gave us the newsletter for the neighborhood gardening times, watch list, break dance scheduled and ‘bangers ball. Knife fights to follow. Just kidding. Lots of stuff to do though and lots of renovating going on. The fact that the Black Market Grapevine is still alive and well and we still know who’s running around free as a bird and who’s behind bars where they belong is part of our provenance; Nebraska 33602, sort of an alternate Neighborhood Association, if you will. Mr C still rides the bus with his golf clubs and his cute little golfer togs, along with the ‘bangers and their hos. This still makes me laugh.

The fact is, it’s been rather quiet around here. Most of the excitement has been online. First, I tried to do something (it was more than 5 minutes ago, so I forget precisely what it was) but it had something to do with the margins. I had it so fucked up at one point that I had one column that was precisely one letter wide and went on for pages and pages and pages and was, well, truly unreadable. The most entertaining commentary in the world would not have kept the stoutest-hearted of fans interested.

I did what any good process-software engineer, or SME (Subject Matter Expert) would do back in my working days at IBM and Verizon would do; I hid it. Eventually, I fixed it, but then Blogger, in it utter awfulness of being a one-size-fits-nothing program of hashed together legacy code and shit written by 3rd year interns, decided that we no longer had to look at pictures, thus we were unable to up load them from our hard drives. I had just installed LifeCam5000, another one of Microshit’s fine programs that doesn’t work with any of it’s other products. So, I uninstalled, LifeCam and as I’d already looked at Google’s so-called “help” topics, I started a new one, which started a small fire storm.

I just started uploading my pics in HTML formatting, anyway. I won’t use WordPress because of the JAVA issue, which reminds me. Apple was hacked today through their JAVA security hole. JAVA is bad. Oracle is bad. Anyway, blog is resuscitated, until, I updated my RealPlayer. I did this on Sunday, after having spent the day in the ER. I have pneumonia, which is exacerbating my COPD, essential tremor and my pulse (which has been as high as 120 at rest) and apparently, my judgment. Shame on me; I take good care of my computers, even if my blogs are horrible.

RealPlayer is an Apple Product. I went ahead and let the system perform the update without running Spybot. I said “No” to all requests for Tool Bars and asinine add-ons. I was tired and irritable. Damn! I knew right away something was wrong the next morning. I immediately ran Spybot and found these 2 files, that are the most important ones in terms of doing the most damage. They are Trojans and they mutate by dropping a bit at the front of each string of code during each iteration and will get into the kernel of the operating system.

When all was said and done, after running Spybot and using some of my nuclear Malware rootkiller, I had to uninstall and reinstall Chrome. All is fine, but I’ve had to rebuild all my favorites, and that will take time. The Trojan had already started to dig into the system. No more RealPlayer for me, but I was never an Apple fan anyway. Still, ANY software that you have, any application that wants you to download as an update should be run through Spybot, BEFORE downloading. One guy let the SmitFraud go too long and even after a deep system re-format and reload, the damn thing was still on his computer. BE CAREFUL.

The reason I hate JAVA is that I updated it per my work, when I worked from home, from JAVA's OWN website. I got a Trojan horse that I chased for 3 days and I was not able to defeat it. I ended up having to re-load my entire system. That was an unbelievable pain in the ass. I didn't have half of the original drivers for the keyboard and mouse setup. There were several programs that were no longer published. I vowed then, NEVER again. If this had gone that far, I actually do have a system back up, but really? A Trojan from a huge software publishing house? It happens more often than you think. I will not run Java and I don't need it. I use one thing that might use it and that's Runescape, so I play from their client. The last thing I need are more bugs and security holes. recommends killing JAVA.

My blog just looks as horrible as it has always looked, so it’s okay too. Anyway, this is just not much a post, topic-wise. I’ve been pretty sick and although I feel better, I still do not have much stamina and when I go out in public, I feel that inner core weakness and trembling that will translate to outer fury and rage if the wrong thing is said or done. Why that should be I don’t know, I just know that what is always there is like an animal, ready to spring, only the tethers feel frayed, worn. I am weary and until I regain my strength, it is best I keep the world at bay. It’s not the world’s fault.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


In what is become an unfortunate habit of late, I seem to churn out a batch of words around check in time and then go merrily off about my business. Lately, this has consisted of baiting idiots in the psychiatrist’s waiting room, going to the ER and playing a whole lotta Runescape. When I got sick, ambition was probably the first fatality. The house looks as though it were a bear den. That speaks more to my level of domesticity than any lack of ambition, although I believe the two are related.

My new pet, Sparky, in Runescape

Actually, a quick side note. I was at the ER on Sunday, and although I have Congestive Heart Failure, it is minimal. I also have COPD and emphysema. This flu or streptococcus of the bunghole or whatever this shit is has exacerbated all 3. My pulse is running 112 to 120 and I'm short of breath. More annoying? My essential tremors are horrible. I'd like to take my fists and stuff them up that neurologist's ass and let them churn around and see if "we're still not convinced you have PD." Well, you can tell I'm feeling better! But, I digress.

One of my stupider husbands had the temerity to complain about my domestic skills to my mother after we married. She looked at him, like he had just grown a 3rd eye, and said, “What are you bitching about? You lived with her before you married her. You knew she was as domestic as a bobcat. What do you want me to do, take her out to the wood shed? She'll eat me alive!”

He had at least one more brain cell than Hubby number 2, who I met on a gig. Playing the viola. At the time, I was laboring under some dumb-ass delusion that anyone who makes art must be a beautiful person. If this isn’t one of the more deranged notions in the history of forever, I’d like to hear the winner. I cringe just writing this. Anyway, Phil played viola, ergo, he must be just an awesome guy. Plus, he was single, which was a big asset. With no other inner savvy than that to go on, you can see how we were a match made in oh, I don’t know, Planet Bizarro?

After a whirl-wind 3 week engagement, we got married. After the honeymoon, I did not turn into the Piccolo player, or the String Bass player, or any thing OTHER than the Viola player that Phil had married. Plus, he drank, but went to AA and made a big deal about what a great AA-er he was. He stopped going to AA, but made a sudden decision to go back, the night he put his hands on me. That resulted in a right upper-cut and a left-cross. I let him explain that to all of our orchestra colleagues. I took the week off and gardened, registered for school and got the hell out of Dodge City, the following year.

Yer can keep yer Gah-damn Viola!

So, I have no brain cells or luck when it comes to men. JC was sent to me by God. I am absolutely certain of it. We all lived in those 2 houses side by side. 80 of us, most of us with some kind of physical disability, or down on our luck, or fresh out of prison. 80 people in 2 houses meant to hold 12 tops. There is every kind of chicanery, con, drug deal, bad thing going down there. The ex-felon mentality is strong. Some people never lose it, and sadly, they stay in their bars. Jurisprudence and penal systems in this country are flawed, deeply flawed. People are walking around who should be behind bars for the wrongs they’ve committed. Extrapolate on that for a minute. Homeless person; person released from the can. How's it working? Fucking Awesomely beautiful!!! Bar none, the best thing that has ever happened! Happy? Ecstatic! Oh, by the way? This is our little secret. It wasn't a choice. It was meant to happen.

Other people have made mistakes, been in the wrong place in the wrong time, and with no malice aforethought and no evil intent and have been railroaded by the system and had years stolen from them. They are then further stigmatized with labels and made to pay money for “therapy” that is more akin to show-and-tell.

Yet, there’s one guy here on Nebraska, 33605, Ray-Ray who’s a psychopath. A TRUE psychopath. Read about him here. He’s an habitual offender and he’s out for the 4th time. He and I have a serious mutual hate and that’s fine. He thinks he’s entitled to everyone’s everything. He does some low-level informant work for the Federales and he sucks, because if I know this and I’m hooked into absolutely NO-ONE’S gang, how clandestine is this asshole? He’s been locked up for drug possession, grand theft, domestic abuse, running from the police, failing to register; just unreal. Yet, he’s out here running around, free as a bird.

Ray-Ray is like Prison Break, only there's just one guy, no smarts, no driven FBI guy like Mahone, no Sucre, no C-Note. Ray-Ray isn't even a T-Bag. Although he COULD be, that's why he's so goddamned scary. He's lost all access to easy money.

In a culture where everyone gets a second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. chance, just because a person doesn’t have money, they are slapped with a label and stuck in a pigeon-hole. I have my own labels. “Bipolar” “Asperger” “Baker-Acted” “Crazy” I play to it; happily. I admit it and I revel in it. “Homeless” has no sting anymore, because what came after was so much worse. So, yeah, I tell the world proudly.

Like I said to “50 Shades of Douchebag” who was hating on Indians in Dr. V’s waiting room, because Dr. V, the head doctor wouldn’t right his buzzed ass a script for a bunch of pills; after his fucked-up tirade “You wanna schoolyard it? Let’s go! Outside! I’ve been Baker-Acted. I can go again. I used to have to wear dresses and bows 'n shit. My ma thought I wouldn’t fight. My dad called it camouflage. C’mon, Rambo…” Sometimes, labels are an advantage. Rambo left in a huff. I thought of the old Groucho Marx joke, "Don't leave in a huff, you can leave in a minute-and-a-huff."

Anyway, when it came my turn to see Dr. V, I felt it important to apologize on behalf of America, because “we’re not all like that.” He seemed to appreciate that. Afterward, I went out and sat at my bus stop and waited for my bus. The day was warm and the sun felt good. There was a girl who was just getting off of her day-labor job. She was funny and affable and we sat there and chatted. I was glad to get home. JC told me the story about Mr. Cantrell's hunter that he spent a mint on. Apparently, that dog is still running.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I almost wasn’t going to write a post for today. It was one of those stupid weeks, where, while trying to remain “Optimistic” and “Upbeat,” I was feeling crappier and crappier. Worse yet, I was beginning to develop an “attitude.” Let me explain, when I get an attitude, more often than not, it involves the police and time out for a while. JC hasn’t been well, and I really didn’t want him to be alone, but as the saying goes, Gah-damn! people say and do some stupid shit and as much as I pretty much can overlook it, because I do tons and tons of stupid shit, my “turn the other” whatsis was running seriously off of its rails. So, I've been walking around with a glazed stare and a fixed grin that resembles nothing so much as a rictus associated with rigor mortis. My usually garrulous conversation had devolved to "BUH" and "DUR." My true human interlocutory exchanges reserved for JC. 

Even my online presence has suffered; my usual book-and-a-half of commentary has more closely resembled Barbarian 101: "Gort must die," in agreement with a colleague's seeking of validation of a 3rd party's asshattery, or "Kitty pretty," in response to the Geminites, whom I adore, then left it at that. Probably because I was busy coming down with my own severe case of streptococcus of the bunghole or whatever this shit is. I can’t just get normal stuff at normal times, like normal people. Nope, the flu done flued and left, according to the “Call me Felix*” medical student at the ER last night, only to come back with his bigger and nastier brother, 3 weeks later.
*Name changed to protect the utterly wonderful and going-to-be-great doc-in-training

 I want to be happy and Optimistic! The bugs in my nose and lungs look like this! Pah-ty!

Gee thanks, Felix. Just then, the x-ray lady came with a wheel chair and hauled my carcass off to the chest x-ray place, this dark room and she says, “Stand in front of the light (the fixed light of 4 squares, where they can zero in on your lungs to give you enough roentgens to glow in the dark for a year.) I helpfully stood behind the door, in my confuse-a-what fashion. Finally, the word “light” filtered through all the verbiage, trivia and other garbage in my brain and I sheepishly walked to stand in front of the light. I could hear “tee-hee” from behind the screen.

“I meant to do that; you don’t want a boring job, do you?” She said, “Oh no, it’s never boring around here.” That I can believe. X-ray taken, off we zoom back to my room, where Felix awaits. We talk, where I tell him I once worked at a teaching hospital and loved working there. I also see that one of my favorite ER docs is on staff that night, Dr. Arnold. Felix says, “He’s the man.” I say, “He flat out rocks.” Dr. A has dealt with my Parkinson’s symptoms and talked to me when no one else would; a born healer. Felix’s in good hands.

First do no harm... Then, try and convince your patient they'd make a wonderful petri dish!

Which is good, because after we got the results of my x-rays back and blabbed some more and Dr. A came in and we blabbed some more and I talked about all of the great times I had working at the Teaching Hospital, Felix had this brainstorm of an idea! See what you think. “Well, we can treat this, or we can wait and see what percolates!”

Umm, back in the day, I used to let some of the nurses practice giving me injections. A few bruises, no biggie. I’m really not of the mind to be a test-tube for viruses, or harbor dangerous microbes, which judging by their ability to multiply and change color to hues which exist in no known spectrum, I would prefer they do so elsewhere, so I reluctantly tell Felix, “Gee, I was hoping for a life expectancy longer than a green banana’s.” Felix understood. “Besides, I’m about 90 billion years old. Why tempt fate?”

So, then I have to get home, which is another odyssey. Seriously. I call a cab. It never shows. I end up on the Bus, going back downtown to the Marion Transit Center, where the Sant Y'ago parade is letting out and the town is full of drunk pirates; in other words, like normal. Shit. I can't take the bus the rest of the way home, because there are werewolves after dark in my part of town. 

So, I finally call and get a cab, but the driver is wayyyy more confused than I am. I could have driven us home. This is the world's longest day in the history of forever. I've been up since 1397 and have witnessed the first production of the first Gutenberg Bible, that's how long I've been up. Dinner? Dinner Shminner. How about lunch? Like tomorrow's. That's how long I've been up. 

The cab driver is on the freeway. Why? I don't know, but I'm in that land of make-believe, where I figure he's got some magic Hogwartian way to my house that I don't know about. The next thing I recognize is my grocery store, which is 2 miles north of where we're supposed to be. The cab driver insists we're going south. We're not. We're going north. I have him exit at MLK Blvd. and take a right. He goes left. I tell him we're now west of the Interstate and he insists we're east of it. He makes a few turns and oh happiness and joy! We're in "Suitcase City," where the werewolves are badder and meaner. 

Keep your eyes peeled for some wayward snacks!

Every city in the world has a "Suitcase City." This is where people go who are too bad to live in da 'hood. I tell him, "Drive, and ignore all lights. Follow my directions and pray. Now, floor it."  Bless his heart, he did what I said. I think he could tell from my tone of voice that I was pretty serious. I'm not afraid of much, but I do not want to be there after dard. We zipped through some stop signs, no lights, and hit Floribraska. From there, it was 2 blocks from my house off Nebraska. 

I felt bad for him. When he repeated the address he said "20th St." and I'm on "20th Ave." It all worked out though and he was a good little driver. Damned GPS.

As for the “attitude?” Today, coming home from getting my prescriptions, the Jehovah’s Witness guy in the wheel chair, who proselytizes on the street to the drunks, didn’t want to move when I came down the street, with my cane. He finally did, at the last movement, with some smart ass remark about “Ms. Cane,” to which I replied, “For a man of God, you sure are an Asshole.” I feel better already!

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Today, I was listening to a hilarious song on You Tube called “Shoes” by somebody I never heard of, named Kelly. A friend of mine, Bryan, directed me to this song with no better recommendation than this on Facebook: “I was pulling into the parking lot of work, and this guy pulls in next to me with his windows down and the song “Shoes” blaring full blast, right when the guy screams “Fuck You!” It made my day!” Well, it made my day, too.

Bryan, is me, 37 years ago. We are so much alike it’s scary. So, with no more to go on, I race over to You Tube and scare me up some “Shoes” songs. It turns out it’s pretty funny and the “Fuck you!” part is, well, loud. After I listen to that, I see the Sibelius Violin Concerto, played Maxim Vengerov with the Chicago Symphony. This is probably one of my favorite violin concertos ever, although I do love the Prokofiev Violin Concertos and the Shostakovich Violin Concertos as well. Less so, the Tchaikovsky and the Mendelssohn Concertos. The Beethoven and Brahms violin concertos are in a separate category for different reasons, because, Ludwig and Johannes.

Mozart, no. Not at all. Garbage. Impossible to play, impossible to access emotionally. Just my opinion. One night I had to sit through a performance of a very-well known violinist’s rendition (I was actually in the audience, a sort of bus-man’s holiday, for a change) of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5. I was practically homicidal by the end. This violinist, who is technically perfect, has one speed for vibrato; “on.” This type of mechanical, Suzuki-arm vibrato is just impossible to vary. You cannot intensify it to impart passion, you cannot slow it down, you cannot speed it up. You can turn it off, with little success. I’d rather hear “3 Blind Mice” played on a car horn.

I once had a stand partner who had been taught this kind of fucked-up vibrato. We were playing a piece by Lloyd-Webber, a suite from “Cats” and the conductor wanted the last measure, which was just reduced strings pianissimo to use no vibrato, AT ALL. Done right, it is very eerie and effective. This was a pick-up orchestra, kind of thrown together at the last minute, filthy lucre and all that. My stand partner ended up playing “air viola;” he couldn’t stop that damn arm-vibrato. Kudos though, that’s a professional. If you can’t make it sound good, at least make it look good.

I'm not proud; I played a lot of this shit along with Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, et al. We're all whores.

I had the great good fortune of having tiny hands, I guess. I had to learn to crawl around on the fingerboard, although my viola is small. I use a combination, finger and wrist vibrato, which makes it easy for me to run up and down the fingerboard. I learned early on, too, that the closer I keep my fingers to the fingerboard, the faster I can play. There’s nothing stupider than being ½ beat behind in Tchaikovsky's "Marche Slave” during the exciting part. 

I was the Russian still buckling on my saber, while the Turks were overrunning the ramparts! I tried not to do that again. Instead, I developed what was politely called "premature articulation." Fatal in a man, more overlooked in women green-as-grass violists, this one is easily fixed. After having to watch conductors mouth "where's the fire," at me during the exciting parts (and yes, we really do LOOK at the conductors) I finally, and definitively, developed the fine art of listening and timing, using a metronome; the beat does go on.

When I get up into the high, high positions, which sound neato-keeno on Wolf, I have to use a combination of arm-wrist-finger vibrato which is very cool. Believe it or not, it took 2 coaches here in Florida to explain the mechanics to me. Along with a Professor of Cello, we were all able to somehow scrape together some semblance of a violist.

I kid, but I learned something along the way and it’s this; we’re all basically self-taught. My friend Kathy confirmed it and I've heard it time and again. I watched wonderful violinists. Joseph Silverstein has the bow arm to emulate. Maxim Vengerov has a left hand that is picture perfect. His bow arm is stiff to me and he has a tendency to play a bit too “glassily.” At times, he’s on the verge of almost losing control of his bow, or so it sounds; most great fiddlers sound that way. We emulate what we like and craft what we want.

At the end of the day, it’s a very personal thing. I have a tiny frame, but I have a big sound, because of my 72-gram bow, which is the heaviest of viola bows. It’s a German bow, made by Richard Grunke. It’s a nice bow and weighted so that I can skip around on the strings and play spiccato (which, just between us? Is probably my worst talent. Let’s NOT play “Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Mendelssohn at my next audition, m’kay? Let’s play Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony. And Screw Mozart! Mozart blows dog wenuses)

Being self-taught means the teaching never stops. After I spent lots of quality time with my teachers, who became my coaches, who became my colleagues, who became my friends, a certain mind-set employed and then I became even more hard-wired. I think that this is true for everyone who has been down this path. I dissect everything; not everything is found wanting, but some things are, not to their detriment necessarily. There's plenty to enjoy.

My friends and colleagues who have trod this path, have their own stories and their own journeys. They may not have the same outlook and obsessions that pertain to me, but we all understand one another. What I’m trying to say, is that I cannot look at a video of musicians or anyone playing without, at some level dissecting it. I certainly do enjoy it, but there’s this overarching (background only) part of me that is saying, “hmm, tempo is a bit off.” Bum-ba-da-dum-dum. “God, I hate Barenboim’s interpretation, he should have stuck to the piano, fuck his conduction.” Bum-da-da-bum-bum. “hmm, it sounds as if Vengerov was a bit out of tune on those harmonics; could be my ears.”

Maxim Vengerov

That kind of shit is just part of the package. I get that; for me to get the “chills and goosebumps,” it has to be “found” music. Something I stumble across. My brain has to be ambushed. This is still pleasurable, but I pick it all apart. With the exception of Beethoven. Well, that’s not entirely true. I get an immense amount of pleasure out of listening to music as I’m dissecting it. It better be pretty good, though. If it isn’t, I’m gone.

Mozart? Nada, bupkus, zippo. I know; I’m beating a dead horse; lemme illustrate. I love to watch the show “Angel” on Hulu+ and I really get a kick out of the character, Spike. Spike shows up in one of the 1st season’s episodes, “In the Dark,” and turns Angel over to a torturer named Marcus, to get the location of the ring of Amarra that will allow vampires to walk around in the daylight. Well, while Marcus is working on Angel, he’s playing Mozart’s 41st Symphony. It’s just so goddamned annoying. At one point, in what is an otherwise very good, suspenseful and funny episode, Spike mistakenly refers to the “Brahms music.” Marcus tells him it's Mozart's Symphony 41.

Ah, Spike, Ya had me goin' there fer a moment, laddie, but ye hae nary a brain in that pretty head or an ear. Twon't work a'tall! I can't abide havin' ye scamperin' aboot like th't, aight?

I must interject here, I just love me some goddamn Spike, way more than Angel, who’s pretty dishy. Angel’s just trying to be good and redeem himself and while I love that and I see grace in that concept. Here's Spike and he just couldn’t give a shit. Plus, he’s hilarious. But, Jiminy Christmas! Spike! You LIVED through the flippin’ classical era. You were around when Mozart was top-40! And you were STILL around when Brahms was hitting the charts. What the Fuck? Mozart is eons way different than freaking Johannes Brahms. Brahms is the precursor to the 2nd Viennese School. Mahler and Alban Berg. Hello? Arnold Schoenberg? 12-tone music? Are you fucking tone-deaf? 

Mozart is “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat!” for God’s Sake. Brahms is “In A Gadda Da Vida!” Fuck! You probably think Justin Bieber is music for the ages and the Beatles were a passing fad! This will not do! I have to tell you, alas! I actually ditched a guy once because he was tone-deaf Yep, he was perfect, or so my mom said. He had money, was an attorney, but damn! That man couldn't carry a tune in a suitcase! I sent him on his way. So, you might want to brush up on your musicological whatsis, and do some ear-training for God's sake, Spike, m'kay?

Well, now that I’ve worn Spike out, we can look forward to the Stupor Bowl tomorrow. I hope Guy Who WasKnocked Down and Embarrassed doesn’t have a repeat performance and there are no copycats. JC and I are going to veg out and hope somebody wins.