Friday, December 19, 2014


So, here it is December 19, 2014, the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century. Cool stuff is supposed to be happening, like we all ride around in personal-pan helio-copters that repel themselves away from the earth and (one hopes) each other, as we flit around and do Important things, wearing our onesies that are made out of a combination of tin-foil and Queen Latifah's weave and that also self-repel dirt. We all wear Johnny Quest's friend's Race Bannon's style of sunglasses indoors and out, because, well, we're cool. This is all of the cool stuff I remember from about 1960, and what I thought the world would become. How'd I do?

I don't remember my vision of the future being this blah, or sepia-toned, but heck, I can't draw this well, so it'll have to do.

Apparently, not very well in the prognosticating department, since we still have jacklegs like Kim Il Jung running rogue Dictatorships AND sticking their noses in OUR cultural bidness, which is even worse in the whole “America is a place where you can say what you want, and depict what you wish in the movies, as satire, with the complete understanding that IT IS SATIRE!” Nope, can't even do that any more and no one, who ACTUALLY matters, (I'm looking at you Mr. Obama*, and you, people who run Sony and Paramount Pictures) are willing to take a stand and say “look here, you little worm! We are going to make fun of you, whether you like it or not! So what if we take your head off with a chainsaw? It's all in good, clean fun, and besides we're showing it in OUR country to OUR people. Take a hike, Kim!”

*As of 2:30 A.M. EDT on 12/20/2014, Huffpo published an article stating that Mr. Obama condemns Sony Pictures' Heads decision to bow down to the request of the Dictator of North Korea. All nice I guess, but shouldn't Mr. Obama have been out AHEAD of this and taking up for the "Freedom of Expression" crowd before now? Just a thought.

No doubt I'm on someone's shit list now; but, when am I not? I'll just hunt me up a chorus of "Team America, F*ck, Yeah!" and march bravely off to. . .  whatever.

(note: That is also a team name of one of our better SETI@home teams and with whom we fight with on a regular basis for 64th or 72nd position; I forget which one.)

1st Lt. Glenn Wallace, U. S. Air Force

Granted, the man LOVED to fly, but he also served in WW II in Okinawa, as did both of my mom's brothers, my uncles, Stan and Nile. They were in the Navy in the South Pacific.

But, that didn't happen. I realize I've just jumped right here in the middle, with no explanation, not mention aforethought and no context, but this is really just unbelievable to me. I can just hear my father, who lived through all the shit of the Joseph P. McCarthy era, - with Stalin laughing, saying, “I don't have to do anything to weaken America, she does it to herself!" - in the early 50s, after he left the Air Force and I can remember him talking in hushed tones about professors of his who did lose their positions because people were afraid, and people talked, and cast aspersions, even if they weren't true. Some people took their lives. Were my dad alive today, he would say what I thought when I was reading the article; a quote by Joseph Welch that was televised, when Senator McCarthy began to insinuate a witness was a long, long-ago member of the American Communist Party, “Have you no shame? Have you no decency?”

B-29 Wing, over Korea, circa 1951

Have we no shame nor decency, that we can let the freedoms that were won so hard for us over the centuries and the decades go so easily? Are we really that willing to just brush it off? Or, are we that knavish and craven that we believe the North Koreans and the anonymous hackers are capable of 9/11-era attacks BECAUSE OF the showing of something like the previews for “The Interview” or a midnight showing of “Team America: World Police”, a movie that has been out for TEN years?

At least George Clooney had the gumption to stand up and attempt to do the right thing. He tried to get other actors and people of note to sign a petition backing the Sony Pictures, but was unsuccessful in his attempt. The media did little as per usual; their modus operandi of late has been to run around with their hair on fire making everything seem far worse than it is, and they do little to bring calm, reason, parity and a fair perspective to anything I've watched in many a year.

As far as I am concerned, we should NEVER bow down to dictators, never negotiate with terrorists. Once we start down that road, it is simply too easy to get us to give in on bigger things. It is the “slippery slope” that lawyers and lawmakers and diplomats worry about. Were it up to me? I'd be showing that bastard “Team America: World Police” for free in EVERY THEATER in the country! It's just a movie for crying out loud! (You can watch the damn thing on NETFLIX, which I intend on doing for the next week!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


The-Fallen-Angels-of-Karnataka-3            Enjoy Happy Geek Media’s debut virtual tour of The Fallen Angels of Karnataka

Here is something rather unusual for me; two book tours in one month! Not that I am complaining! This book is much different than "The Next Day" and although I have not read this book and am merely spotlighting it for the awesome Amberr Meadows, I intend on reading the book, as the subject matter is very intriguing and I have yet to be disappointed by anything written by a Swedish author. The book deals with loss and redemption after a journey of the heart, that appears to be doomed and who among us can say that our paths through life have all been serene, calm and that we have always achieved what we set out to do. I know I haven't, but that doesn't mean that my life is a failure or that I am doomed to be unloved. 

I urge you to buy and read this book; I plan on doing so and for $5.99, that is a wonderful deal. Maybe you have a friend who is hurting and would find some solace within the pages. There's also an Amazon Gift Card Give-Away, so you can sign up for that, as well. Buy, read and enjoy! 


The Fallen Angels of Karnataka by:
Hans M. Hirschi
Published by:
Yaree AB
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, LGBT, Social Awareness, Literary, Travel
264 pages
Release Date: September 15, 2014
The-Fallen-Angels-of-Karnataka-1 In an isolated mountain town in Norway, Haakon dreams of traveling the world, pursuing adventure, seeing great cities, finding love. His very first trip to London with friends from university offers much promise, yet soon after tragedy strikes. Still young, and mourning the loss of his lover, Haakon is not ready to give up on his dream, so when a rich Englishman offers him the chance to join him on a tour of the world, Haakon takes it, daring to believe that his dream is finally coming true...but at what price? The Fallen Angels of Karnataka is a novel filled with adventure, life's hard-learned lessons, loss, despicable evil, and finally, love and redemption. See what others are saying about The Fallen Angels of Karnataka on the author's   media page here.



The Fallen Angels of Karnataka is discounted to $5.99 right now, so grab a copy. The novel will not disappoint!

Follow the tour schedule here

Dec 1st Like a Bump on a Blog Kick-off
Dec 2nd DP’s Cafe Spotlight & Excerpt
Dec 3rd Margo’s Red Light Fiction District Spotlight & Excerpt
Dec 4th Desafio in the City Spotlight
Dec 5th Rebecca Hamilton Spotlight
Dec 8th KP’s Cafe Review & Indian Chai Tea Recipe
Dec 9th McClellan’s Books Spotlight
Dec 10th Homeless Chronicles in Tampa Spotlight
Dec 11th Erica Lucke Dean Spotlight
Dec 12th Cupcakes and Flip Flops Review
Dec 15th Inward-Facing Writers Review
Dec 16th Elin Gregory Spotlight
Dec 17th Blogging with NiNi Review
Dec 18th Megan’s Blog Spotlight
Dec 19th Simply Chrystan Review
Dec 22nd eBook Builders Spotlight
Dec 23rd Plain Talk Marketing Spotlight
Dec 24th Like a Bump on a Blog Review
Dec 25th Work, Money Fun Spotlight
Dec 26th Just Olga Review
              The-Fallen-Angels-of-Karnataka-1    The-Fallen-Angels-of-Karnataka-4    The-Fallen-Angels-of-Karnataka-1

Author Hans M. Hirschi

Hans M. Hirschi (b. 1967) has been writing stories ever since he was a child. Adulthood and the demands of corporate life efficiently put an end to his fictional writing for over twenty years.
A global executive in training and channel development, Hans has traveled the world and had previously published non-fictional titles.
The birth of his son and the subsequent parental leave provided him with the opportunity to unleash his creative writing once again. With little influence over his brain’s creative workings, he indulges it, going with the flow.
A deeply rooted passion for, faith in a better world, in love, tolerance and diversity are a red thread throughout both his creative and non-fictional work. His novels might best be described as “literary romance, engaging characters and relevant stories that won’t leave you untouched, but hopeful.”
Hans is a proud member of the Swedish Writers’ Union, the Writers’ Center in Sweden and serves as chair of the Swedish Federation of Self- & Independent Publishers.

           The-Fallen-Angels-of-Karnataka-1 The-Fallen-Angels-of-Karnataka-6    The-Fallen-Angels-of-Karnataka-1

Good luck and happy reading and winning! Tour Hosted by...   


Wednesday, December 3, 2014


The-Next-Day-Tour-Banner Enjoy Happy Geek Media's Debut of The Next Day

I don't launch into a book tour, or a book review cold, and this is no exception. When I was contacted by Amberr Meadows to participate in some book tours for her, I said "Sign me up! Anytime, anywhere." You see, Amberr is THE very first person I met when I started writing and getting involved in social media, and she has been the most generous and kindest woman in the world. She helped me when I hadn't clue one as to what I was doing. She's laughed with me over silly eCards and we've comforted one another when things weren't so great. She's a terrific inspiration for me and others around me, like Andi-roo and Aaron Brinker. We've all been doing this "writing and social media-izing" thing for quite a while and Amberr is a complete pro and one of the best people I know!

This book, "The Next Day" is an intriguing and very satisfying read. I have not finished it yet, but Mr. Milt Mays, the author has written a fine suspense-thriller and his characters have very real human foibles. One of the things I love about his style of writing, along with his clarity, is the rather wry outlook that he attributes to Alex, his protagonist. Alex could be "everyman", if everyman happened to be working with viral codes and on the cutting edge of weaponization of some of these very nasty bugs that the characters work with in the course of the book. 

Given our recent Ebola scare, and the idea of rogue-states, or individuals within these rogue-states getting their hands on and using either weaponized, or just plain, garden-variety viruses and bugs is rather hair-raising and Mr. Mays' approach is far different than a book like "The Andromeda Strain". I recommend this book highly; it is a thoughtful discursive into what could very possibly happen in the near-future and is well-thought out and beautifully written. I'm glad to be a part of this and would read any of his books in the future! Amberr, my thanks and love to you, as well! I'm happy that I could participate in the fun!



The Next Day by: Milt Mays
Genres: Thriller, Paranormal, sci-fi
395 Pages
Release date: November 10, 2014

***** Top secret bio-warfare after 9/11 changes an American geneticist and an Iraqi jihadist into the next evolution of man, one evil and one good, and their end game will decide the fate of the human race. Alex Smith, an adventure seeking American geneticist, remembers 9/11 with crystal clarity. A girlfriend was incinerated at the Twin Towers at the same time he was infected by a lethal virus he genetically modified in an illegal, U.S. bio-warfare facility in the Amazon jungle. Then he changes, physically and psychologically, into a creature he hates and must learn to control before he loses his work, his new love, and his life and country. Jabril El Fahd’s Iraqi mother, a nurse, dies in his arms, killed by the American embargo. His dreams of being a doctor are consumed in the fires of revenge and hate. He becomes a jihadist, Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man, and comes up with a plan to not just cripple, but destroy the United States. Infecting himself with a deadly virus to wipe out the American infidels, he changes into a monstrous creature he loves, and becomes more powerful with every hateful and lustful thought. Nothing stands in his way. Nothing except Alex.                                                                                                         



Book discounted to 99 cents for the holidays! Grab your copy. The book does not disappoint!
                                       The-Next-Day-Follow-the-Tour                                                                 Follow the tour by following the schedule here.    
                                                                                                       Author Milt Mays
                                                                    Author Milt Mays

Milt grew up in Colorado, then spent most of his adult life as a Navy doctor. After graduating from the Naval Academy and medical school, he traveled all over the world with the Navy, the Marines, and a Navy Security Group, finally coming back to rest in Colorado. He’s worked as a fly fishing guide and currently is a primary care doctor for the VA.
Other published works by Milt include the novels The Guide and Dan’s War and the short stories “Thanksgiving with Riley” and “The Dry-Land Farmer.” He lives with his wife in Colorado.
Visit his website to find out more about him.


             The-Next-Day-social-media                     WEBSITE/TWITTER/FACEBOOK



Tour hosted by...

Nov 24 Like a Bump on a Blog Kick-off post
Nov 25th Work Money Fun Spotlight
Nov 26th Unorthodox Blog Spotlight
Nov 28th Erica Lucke Dean Spotlight
Dec 1st John Lindholm Spotlight & Excerpt
Dec 2nd Ciara Ballintyne Spotlight
Dec 3rd Homeless Chronicles in Tampa Spotlight/Possible review
Dec 4th Publishing Push Spotlight
Dec 5th Write as Raine Spotlight & 5 Facts
Dec 8th John Lindholm Review
Dec 9th Terri's Little Haven Spotlight
Dec 10th Becca Hamilton Books Spotlight
Dec 11th McClellan Books Spotlight
Dec 12th KP's Book Nook Review
Dec 15th Fever of a Lava Mama Spotlight
Dec 16th Chrystan's Thoughts Review
Dec 17th Desafio in the City Spotlight & Excerpt
Dec 18th Momma D Saves Spotlight/Review
Dec 19th eBookBuilders Spotlight
Dec 19th Like a Bump on a Blog Review
Dec 22nd Happy Geek Media Spotlight Q&A


            Good luck and happy reading and winning!

Saturday, November 8, 2014


When Mikhail Gorbachev was Premiere of the USSR he first adopted perestroika (перестро́йка), in the mid-80s, along with glasnost (гла́сность) and primarily did so to try and restore a moribund USSR to some kind of economic pre-eminence that it had really never enjoyed, not even under Stalin. To be sure, the power-house that was the USSR had done amazing things, such as improve it's literacy rate from less than 5% to over 95% under Lenin's first five-year plan, even while fighting a civil war with the Royalists; it was Trotsky's magnificent pen and organizational abilities that allowed the Red Army to be built, fight and finally prevail against arrayed enemies sent from Poland and even from the U.S. In an attempt to halt the rise of Bolshevism. But Communism was an idea that took firm root under the hands of Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin, Kamenev, Zinoviev, et al. and would have remained rather benign had not Lenin died prematurely in January of 1924.

Russian Postage Stamp, circa 1988, celebrating Perestroika in the USSR

Copies of his Last Will and Testament had been distributed to several party members of the Duma and stated simply that under no circumstances should Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, better known as Stalin, be allowed to become Premiere, and preferably, should be reduced to a minor role; in short Stalin was dangerous, narcissistic and given to paranoia. Unfortunately, Stalin found out about the will and managed to reclaim every copy and then to do away with everyone who had possessed one. His long-simmering feud with Trotsky grew to epic proportions and Trotsky was forced into exile, all the way to Mexico City. Not content with having him even on the planet, Stalin had Trotsky assassinated in 1940.

Trotsky, my Russian Blue, not Leon Trotsky, the writer and Bolshevik Party Red Army Leader.

When Stalin died in 1953, his mark was firmly embedded on the USSR. The zeitgeist of the country was one of suspicion of outsiders, paranoia, a deep sense of inadequacy regarding it's place on the world stage and yet, a hatred of anything really new. At least that is how it would seem to a westerner. The reality, I believe was much different. The old USSR and now, Russia is a country of brilliant scientists, poets, artists and critical thinkers. It is also a country of some of the toughest people imaginable. No other country has been invaded so many times. They withstood sieges at Stalingrad and Leningrad. The Nazis made it as close as six blocks from the outskirts of Moscow, before the tide was turned against them. This is the country that lost anywhere between 20,000,000 to 55,000,000 people, both military and civilian, in World War II, while the USA suffered 450,000 casualties. The reason the numbers are so disparate is because, while “official” numbers tend to be lower, independent researchers, over the years, have painstakingly pored back over birth records and talked to surviving relatives, in villages in the west. The other issue is that so many people were also still sent to P.O.W. Camps and D.P. Zones (displaced persons) tended to be rather haphazard in identifying remains, as battle fronts were still fluid. Anyway, I digress.

Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher, in 1989

This is really about Mikhail Gorbachev and what he said recently on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Mr. Gorbachev was “elected” Premiere of the old-style Soviet Union after a series of gray-heads came and went. When Stalin died, Georgi Malenkov inherited all of Stalin's titles, but lost out within the month in a power struggle to Nikita Kruschev. As Premiere, no one dreamed that even with all of his shoe-banging and hollering about “burying the United States in the ash-heap of history” that he was a closet subversive and would allow Alexander Solzhenitsyn to publish his “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” (an un-put-downable little tome about a little prisoner's day in the gulag) and THEN allow it's reprint in the west, where it was an instant sensation (READ IT! If you haven't, it's great!). Well, Nikita remained Premiere from 1955 until 1964, when while vacationing on the Black Sea, he was recalled by Leonid Brezhnev, and in a fiery clash, he was “let go” and basically declared a non-person; he quietly retired to a dacha on the Black Sea and is buried in the Novedevichy Cemetery, not in the Kremlin, although he was a Hero of Stalingrad. His son lives here in the United States, now and is a charming man.

Leonid Brezhnev became General Secretary until his death, and a series of “gray-heads” followed: Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko. Their one constant was Andrei Gromyko, who also worked in concert with Eduard Shevardnadze (who along with Stalin, was also from the SSR, Georgia). Gromyko and Shevardnadze had been around during World War II and had negotiated with von Ribbentrop and were people who really got things done. But, again, I digress. When Gorbachev became General Secretary, in 1985 upon the death of Chernenko, he embarked on a series of reforms with the approval of his Cabinet (Duma).

Still, facing the west, with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher proved daunting at first, with the abjurement from President Reagan, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Shortly after that, Mr. Gorbachev announced his ideas for perestroika and glasnost, the two ideas wedded together, essentially meaning “transparency within government and a willingness to open a dialog with the west”. Although this was viewed positively in the west, it became a very hard sell for the Russians; once again, Mr. Gorbachev and his visionaries were battling centuries of suspicion of the west, paranoia and again, perversely a lack of self-confidence on the world stage – even Peter the Great bemoaned the fact that Russians were medieval, as he brought them kicking and screaming into the 1700s, in his effort to join the "enlightenment" then going on in western Europe.

Tsar Pyotr spent 18 months traveling incognito in the west and learned how to build ships and bridges, use telescopes and microscopes and build armies. What he didn't learn, he hired and brought home with him. For several years, he had Dutch and Scottish shipwrights, scientists and astronomers who were part of his vast retinue. Many stayed after his death and they are much written about in Neal Ascher's fine book, "The Black Sea". 

Nevertheless, the wall came down, as both sides really did wish to see this happen. With the fall of Eastern Germany, the rest of Eastern Europe was not far behind. Eduard Shevardnadze resigned and went home, to become Georgia's first ever President and to secure for his former SSR, it's lasting independence. Czechoslovakia broke into two separate states, which they had been under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Poland elected her first president. The Eastern Bloc was no more. Ukraine elected a president, but as a buffer state near Russia, Ukraine, like Belarus and Chechnya are unique. Ethnic Russians have lived in these countries for centuries and as such, they live and speak both Russian, Ukrainian, or Russian and whatever the home country's language is.

This presents a very unique problem for these regions and problems that we, in the west cannot begin to understand. Mr. Gorbachev has recognized this and addressed it today. “We are on the brink of a new Cold War. Some are saying that it's even begun.” This was said at an event marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, close to the iconic Brandenburg Gate.

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany

Mr. Gorbachev's comments echoed those of Roland Dumas, France's Foreign Minister at the time the Berlin Wall fell. “Without freedom between nations, without respect of one nation to another, and without a strong and brave disarmament policy, everything could start over again tomorrow. Even everything we used to know, and what we called the Cold War.”

President Barack Obama seemed to share some of Mr. Gorbachev's concerns, but I feel that he really doesn't quite get it. Even Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher had a clearer understanding of what Russia and her place on the world stage is about. The conflict now in Ukraine is one, that is not about sovereignty so much as it is about appearances. What we perceive here in the west, is not how it really is in Ukraine. The ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians have lived in that region for centuries. As I have mentioned before in my posts, they will feel one way one day about rule or directives from Russia, or a pro-Russian Leader, and then another way, another day. Then, there is Vladimir Putin himself. He will concern himself with Ukraine for a bit, and then get side-tracked by Syria. It was ever thus. Sanctions against Russia will not do anything but cause ill-will and frankly it is ill-will we really cannot afford. We in the west should frankly, butt out. One of the things the Russians DO NOT WANT from us is advice on how to run their internal affairs, and strictly speaking, this is still an “internal affair” even if it does involve another country.

courstesy of:

The perfect map for "busy Americans on the go..." circa 2012, but hey, wait five minutes and it changes, and then changes back, so, this could all be correct, again. The "Commies" part of it is still in play, I believe, and some may have moved farther south to Sevastapol. Whatever. This is a good example for why we should keep our noses and sanctions to ourselves.

President Obama is using a fallacious argument by paying “tribute to the East Germans who pushed past the East German guards to flee to the west”. This is a wholly different situation and Mr. Gorbachev is right to bring Mr. Obama to task. We all want freedom and equality in all nations, but we must look at these situations realistically. Those ethnic Russians in Ukraine are a huge part of the country and they must have a say in their governance as well. That is something Mr. Obama has overlooked time and again. It's time for him to get real; his “shared vision of peace in all nations” is not attainable by his methods. The west must seek an accord with Russia that is acceptable to both parties; not just impose sanctions on a country with no understanding of the real situation on the ground. Mr. Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher understood this better than Mr. Obama and they were supposedly more conservative than the current President.

*My second largest readership resides in Russia. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but I am appreciative for that and for each and every one of you. Спасибо

Well, last Tuesday, we put on an absolutely stellar show at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was even better than the concert we had on the previous Sunday. Tomorrow is our last concert of this series and then we say goodbye to Beethoven. . . for now. It has been an exhilarating, frightening and thoroughly enjoyable experience! I've fallen in love with Beethoven all over again, and it's a love that is deep and wide and will never end. There are times in playing certain figures and passages that still take my breath away with the creativity and the depth of his development; from a simple theme to a 16-measure run of 32nd notes, in the celli and violas, that are meant to be tossed off, light as air and are then echoed in the violins. It is sublime in it's perfection and the execution has been as near-perfect as can be. We have done honorable service to Beethoven's and then some; it is as a benediction and such a privilege to play. Our conductor, Mark Sforzini, Music Director is wonderful and under his guidance he has wrought a miracle. I am so fortunate. Next up, Edward Elgar and Enigmas.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


I live in a neighborhood that veers wildly from the supremely dumb, to the frighteningly dangerous and somehow meets up seamlessly with the batshit insane. Sometimes, it's all three, like dude two blocks away who decided to see if his Hogwarts' Cloak of Invisibility still had a good warranty after his crack ho washed it, and tested it against the Tampa Police Department's finest. After making them stand around in the hot sun on a Sunday afternoon, and after making them evacuate an entire city block who was looking forward to Brunch at the Three Coins Diner after Church, but being unceremoniously kicked from house and home, couldn't get all swanned up for services, so they stood around and participated and bitched for several hours, and after someone in the TPD ranks said "the Hell with this noise" and stormed the house, dude found out the hard way, that alas, his cloak's warranty was invalidated and yes, he was in fact visible to the cops, whilst crammed beneath a bed in a back bedroom. Either that, or he was just one stupid idiot.

Fresh off that triumph, we have Sharpie Lady. This was brought to my attention by my alert neighbor and "adopted" son Alex, who is of like mind. We've spotted Moses, Jesus the Vampire Killer running around da 'hood and Sharpie Lady is actually a close neighbor; she's just a bit avaricious and her avarice makes her, well, a bit dim-mish. Or, maybe it's the other way around. She's the lady in the neighborhood who wants what everyone has, even if she doesn't need it, or particularly want it, unless you have it. We all know people like that. She doesn't seem a bad sort; just odd. 

Anyway, one of the other denizens had found two Sharpie pens, a black and red one, and he gave Sharpie Lady the black one. Here's Sharpie Lady prior to her use of the pen:

I don't draw; I don't pretend to draw. I have a motor disorder. This is what you get; live with it.

This is Sharpie Lady AFTER she used her new black Sharpie pen that neighbor guy (not Alex) gave her:

I've met Sharpie Lady; I'm pretty sure she knows what make-up is and what pens to draw on boxes are. How in the HELL you'd possibly confuse the two is beyond me. Yes, according to Alex, her eyebrow lines were all jagged and crooked. Of course, you can't wash that crap off.

What makes this even more bizarre, is she THEN went back to the neighbor who had the red Sharpie and asked him for it, so she could use the "lipstick". Now, I realize it's getting to be that time of year, but, as a woman with more than my share for tics and oddities, I've NEVER considered using materials that would be better served for construction as items for beauty enhancement. But, to each his own, I guess. Anyway, here is an "imagining" of how the red Sharpie pen would have gone down:

Kinda like Roz Russell on her downhill slide or someone equally hideous. We've seen a lot of weird stuff here on Nebraska Avenue, but this was pretty noteworthy. 

Obviously, no names are being used, and I will NEVER mention this to the woman when I "see" her face to face. I am not unkind. As I said, maybe it's the wanting, or being so poor, that has unhinged her. I really don't know. Poor people have existed throughout the history of civilization, and Beethoven was happy to be paid a commission of a suit coat with brass buttons for a towering piece of music he wrote, when he was in his forties. Poverty didn't faze him.

We had our last rehearsal before we start a cycle of concerts featuring Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. The critics of his day and now are correct; it is a terrifying piece of music; in structure, style and presentation of his material, particularly his 4-note motif. The "V" or Roman "V" for five was used as the sign for victory in WW II by the allies. The rhythm of the opening phrase "dit-dit-dit-dah" is also used for the letter V in Morse Code (thank you, Daddy). Historians claim coincidence, although I have stated throughout my life and continue to believe that there is no such thing as coincidence.

Anyway, the Fifth sounds wonderful, considering that we are also playing that horrible "La Gazza Ladra" (The Thieving Magpie) overture by Rossini, and that is one that is on EVERY audition list for all of the stringed instruments. For violas, it means a lot of playing in 1/2 or 2nd or 4th position, something violists resist. They're uncomfortable positions; the 1/2 and full steps between notes no longer lie naturally between your 1st and 2nd fingers, but between your 2nd and 3rd fingers and your mind must be agile enough to make that transition. It's more a mental trick, than a physical one. Meanwhile, you're madly trying to keep the spiccato bow going (a light bouncing, almost insouciant type of playing). Spiccato on the viola is akin to road-racing a semi. I also have a very heavy hand, and with a very heavy bow. Strength training and developing other ways to "back off" have made it easier for me, with my e. t. It will show up occasionally, especially during repetitive motion. 

So, I've practiced the HELL out of all of this music; is it the best I've ever played? No. Am I happy with the results for right now? Yes. Between, August and to right now, I've mastered everything I set out to do and then some. This is going to be a great year and they will just keep getting better. I know that in my heart.