Wednesday, February 6, 2019


Gee, this is a great question, and before I ever wrote, all I ever did was play the viola. Then, I came down with essential tremor, an inherited neuro-muscular disorder (my mom was afflicted and never diagnosed, nor treated, poor woman) and until I could get a proper diagnosis and treatment, which normally takes on average six years, but was accomplished in about five in my case, I stopped playing and started blogging and also wrote and completed a NaNoWriMo book in 2013. THAT still needs editing! I'm not sure that I'm cut out for long-haul writing, but I'm damned good at seat-of-the-pants, stream-of-consciousness ramblings. I submit to you this earlier post about a playoff NFL game that somehow morphs into a symphonic stare-down as proof that absurdity abounds and can be found anywhere and is alive and well in my life! I'm back playing, but have writing now for fun! What a great life!

originally posted 1/13/13

I'm totally cheating here; today for the first time since I started with the seizures, psychotic break and tremors, which is about 18 months, I played my viola, and surprise of surprises, I sounded damn good (for about 3 minutes; I have my work cut out for me!) So, that right there is an achievement. My goal for writing still stands, although I have edited nothing, but I'm so over the moon about being able to play. 

I wonder if these are free-range violas, because the price has really skyrocketed!

Q: Have you heard about the latest form of urban violence?
A: Drive-by viola solos.

So, here's a little number I cobbled up during the American Football season last year as we headed into our playoff season. Enjoy!

This is not your typical Sunday check in post. Nope, first off, it's Monday and second off, here in the good ol’ U S of A, it is Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday and President Obama's 2nd Inaugural Celebration! So, what better way for me to celebrate, than to write about yesterday's NFC Championship game between the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers that featured guys running over guys and plowing into unaware guys on the side-lines. That’s right, “UNAWARE” guys on the side lines, during one of two games that will decide which of two teams are going to the Hyper Bowl, er, uh I mean, Super Bowl LXVII (is that 47 or 67? I failed Roman Numerals in Ancient Times class.)

Sing Along: "I see I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV,   XVI, XVII, XVII Wheels"

Anyway, dude got clipped below the knees and fell as if pole-axed, backward onto that hard surface and landed backwards, head-first, with a bounce or two and was thankfully unhurt. Apparently, he works at the Atlanta Falcons field and this was their first ever(!) playoff event, and really, he can’t be faulted for that part of it. The poor guy had his back turned to the action and was most likely, looking at and marveling at the crowd and all of their noise, hoo ha, folderol and mostly, NOISE. And boy, howdy, there was a bunch of it, being as how, my Google says, the Georgia Dome can shovel 71,250 people into permanent seats. 

The first time I ever faced a crowd like that was when I played for the Moody Blues. I was in my mid-30s and had been playing viola professionally for about 20 years, by this time. My performing experience went from symphony-polite-coughing and maybe a standing ovation, or two. Occasionally, the standing ovations were prolonged.

Stunning, wonderous. I love Mozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..... *snore*

Once, during a Grand Pause, or a fermata, where the orchestra came to a screeching halt after a fortississimo passage and it was deathly quiet, I had the great good fortune to hear a bellowed “I FRY MINE IN LARD…” from the back of the audience and then, stunning quiet. Nary a peep, cough, fart or rustle.

The fermata fortunately, is one of those musical devices that has no metered time, so as the Conductor stared us all down, daring us to laugh, and we all played “one potato, two potato, three potato, four…” Concert master and Principal Second Violin and Principal Viola and Principal Cello all sitting there, giving one another, the hairy eyeball, becoming rather like “High Noon,” and I and my stand partner who are on the 2nd stand, not daring to look at one another, because we are truly deranged idiots and jokers, are puffing up like horses around rattle snakes, we’re both holding our breaths, because HolyMotherOfGod, I’mSoGonnaLaugh… I see his viola scroll start to shake out of the corner of my eye and just then? As I start to go eeeeeeeeeee? As the air is leaking out?

Mercifully, the Conductor gives the downbeat and off we go. To this day, I do not remember what on God’s Green Earth we were playing, probably Rachmaninoff. I’ve been ambushed by him a number of times. Him and his G. P.s. Well, that was a digression.

This all changed when we started playing in open-air theaters and stadiums.

Okay, I haven't faced Wembley and I'm sure I don't want to; actually, I probably do. We rocked it at 1-800-ASK-GARY Field. A name like that for a Venue just drips class. I can't wait until Kotex, or Fleet Enema buys a sponsorship and demands to have it named after their company.

In the summer of 1992, the Moody Blues were in a resurgence and instead of having a summer off, we had a tour around the Midwest for a few weeks. We had an afternoon rehearsal with their conductor who told us the basics, micced us up and off we went. We had a full orchestra, and plexiglass partitions between each section. I felt like we were in cattle pens. That night, the orchestra was in place, when the Blues with Justin Hayward took the stage.

There were 10,000 people in the audience. Up to that point, I had never played with that many people in an audience. When that audience roared and that sound hit the stage, the orchestra, who for the most part had not experienced that before, was pretty well aware that this night and this concert was going to be different. But first, we had to get over the shock of all of those people yelling. If we had been zebras, we’d have been dead ones. We all just froze for about 2 beats and then our training kicked in and off we went.

 It was an exhilarating experience I’ve always loved the Moody Blues more orchestral stuff, but the conductor, Larry Greene is also their arranger, and he had gone back and arranged some of their harder rock stuff like “Ride My Seesaw” for strings and that’s a blast to play as well. I’ve found that I like music with a harder edge to it. I’m sure it’s one of the reasons I don’t like Mozart and I revere Beethoven. 

Mozart gets right up to an idea and then backs away. Beethoven takes it in his teeth and ragdolls it. I love that. I also love the fact that he doesn’t bore the violists to death in his orchestral and other ensemble writing. Mozart is precious, hard to play and there’s damn little reward for all of that work; he’s insipid. Oops, lemme get back to our sideline guy.

I’ve enjoyed my rock ‘n’ roll violist career, which has also veered off into blues, metal and a bit of rap, believe it or not. But, back to our poor dude. Man, did I feel for him. Guy stood up; I was so relieved, he fell hard. As he was turning around, the Fox Team, (Terry, Howie, Michael, Jimmy and Whoever) were helpfully pointing out that this was the Falcon’s first playoff Event ever. The guy who had been knocked over was wearing a jacket that said “Event Team” on it.

As the man turned and looked at the camera you could tell what he was thinking: “Oh dear, can I move to Saturn? Maybe to Pluto. Pluto isn’t far enough away… My wife is going to divorce me. What was I thinking, looking at that stupid bunch of loud-ass people? My ass is on the line, here. My ass... is my ass too wide? My grandkids are going to be talking about this and wanting to hear this story, forevah!. This is going to be on AFV, isn’t it? Geez, on National TV, no, INTERNATIONAL, TV! Gack! Did my Aunt in Outer Slobovia see me? I hope I don’t get fired. Geez, does my head hurt. Can I go home?”

Relax, guy, if I hear you got in trouble over this, I’m writing a letter. I’ve done so much stupid stuff in front of the public, it’s not funny. I’ve fallen off stages, fallen out of chairs. Fallen off risers. I very gracefully draped myself across 3 people once, along with my viola and bow, held up over my head and rolled like a barrel down to the floor, protecting my baby, my viola, Wolf. How I managed that, I will never know. I’ve taken bows wearing Taco Bell on formal, black velvet unknowingly, after playing a triumphant Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. To make matters worse, my stand partner’s fly was open during the whole performance. I don’t think Beethoven would have minded.

The point is, a roaring crowd is pretty impressive; I was awed by it when I was on the “receiving” end of it the first time. It does take some getting used to. So, Guy Who Was Knocked Down and Was Embarrassed, don’t be. I hope you get a chance to get used to playoff events as more come your way. I hope you are okay. You totally made my day!
So, I'm glad I got a chance to take up writing and I'm also glad that I got to play again, too. My playing career is not nearly as intense as it was in the earlier days and that is okay, but I'm able to play and enjoy it and it's fun. The writing is great, too. It's the best of both worlds; happy IWSG'ing all! 

Friday, February 1, 2019


What started out as a funny incident related to a very dear and old friend, became a surreal experience as she and I took a fond trip down memory lane. The trip began a few weeks ago, as I was on my way to the grocery store and pharmacy and was trying to wait at the bus stop. I say “trying to wait” because the seats at the actual bus stop have become places where the druggies now congregate, with boom boxes and mini-bars; a sort-of bohemian party-on-the-go, minus the class. This one was particularly obnoxious and I decided I'd had enough of these idiots taking up the citizens' seats, so I discreetly hid behind one of the advertising kiosks placed near the shelter and called the non-emergency phone number for the Tampa Police Department.

Hey! Mr/Ms Policeman! Come and get dem druggies outta my bus stop!

The conversation didn't go very well because my upper denture decided now was the time to come un-stuck in my head, so it went like this: Me: “Herro? I'd like to haf the Powice come and get these dwuggies out of the Bus Sheltew.” Operator: “Can you describe them, please?” Me: Trying to whisper “Werp, they'we dwuggies all spwawled ovew the benches whewe the wegulaw people sit.” Operator: “Can you speak up, please. You're a bit hard to understand, ma'am. Can you describe them for me? What are they wearing? How many are there? Men? Women? What color?" I'm thinkin' "Binch, dey be naked, dere's 50 of 'em. They're troglodytes and purple! I'm tryin' to be discreet here, so they don't beat me to death, binch!"

Just then my upper teeth fall out of my mouth and onto the pavement. Me, having run out of patience by this point and seeing the big, green bus coming, holler into the phone, “Just send a damn squad caw to the cownew of Nebwaska Avenue and Flowibwaska Avenue, m'kay? I have to catch the bus to the Supewmawket!” and hang up the phone, grab my teeth off the sidewalk and run to catch the bus.

This eyesore is easy to see from 12 miles away. Hartline is supposed to keep the bums off the shelter areas, but they haven't the manpower and TPD treats it as a nuisance call. It's still a pain in the ass, though if it's raining or really hot out to seek the shelter that belongs to the patrons.

Later on that afternoon, I call my oldest and dearest friend from high school and tell her all of this nonsense and describe this entire scenario, while I'm laughing. She's laughing too, because the whole situation is funny, although it's really not, because, here we have a bunch of law-breakers draped all over the seats meant for the patrons who are supposed to be able to wait for the bus in comfort; out of the sun or rain and here I am hunched over, like a troll, by this kiosk, while the traffic is screaming up and down Nebraska Avenue, roaring engines, squealing brakes and me, trying to whisper into my cell phone to get these ass-hats, moved AWAY FROM THIS AREA! Calling the cops, to get them arrested, or at best, moved away from this stupid bus stop and I feel like a damned idiot, because my upper plate just fell out of my head and I cannot enunciate properly!

So, my dearest and oldest friend, who has heard all of my stupid stories, from home invasions and me chasing stupid idiots out of my house and being homeless, from my street parkour and broken hip, to my success upon returning to playing. She's been a constant and such a wonderful friend.

Well, after I had described this latest idiocy on my part, I prepared for bed that night. What did I find awaiting me?

I just love this! We used to have the most fun in high school, and when she visited me the summer before last, we were just the same. We're still zany.

This is just the MOST awesome picture ever! She wanted to show me that I wasn't the only schmoe from our graduating class! I musta laughed for 45 damned minutes when I saw this! I still crack up every time I see it.

This picture of course, I would NEVER use without her permission, so I called her today to ask if it was okay if I could use it without naming her. She was of course, fine with it; she is a gracious and generous person, but this also led to more hilarity about pre-PhotoShop pictures.

Somehow we got on the topic of doing your own “edits” once the picture was taken, and I think it stemmed from “Sharpie Lady”, the woman in my 'hood who decided sharpie black and red made great eyebrow pencil and lipstick!

Well, my friend had had a really nice picture taken of herself and her husband at a wedding, and my friend wasn't wearing any lipstick, so she gave herself some lipstick with a sharpie, post-picture-taking and it actually came out pretty well. This got us to reminiscing about the color picture my mom and her family had had taken when my mom was a teenager and it was in COLOR! This was back when my mom was a teenager, in the 1940s and the entire family was seated around the fire-place, with a pet deer(?) for some reason. The only problem was my mom's eyes were shut during the taking of this historic photo, and the photographer, in an attempt to right things, painted my mom's eyes open(!?!?) The effect was pretty startling to say the least. He painted her entire eye blue (at least he got the color right) but as my friend remembers and she remembers right, “It was the most absurd thing I've ever seen!” Let the howls of laughter begin! I am not sure if I still have the picture; I'll have to dig around and see, but my mom used to drag that stupid thing out for laffs. She thought it was a riot! At any rate, it looked something akin to this, googly eyes and all:

My mom was just as goofy as they come. This isn't the picture; I WILL try and find it!

Enjoy! I'll see you all at #IWSG!