easily amused


Eileen got up yesterday and told me that she was going to deal with my recent second insurance fail. That’s the one where once again the pharmacy at Meijer told me my insurance was denied due to lack of payment.

This was particularly frustrating since we have OVERPAID our insurance because of a mix up on policies. So one policy is showing up as underpaid, and there is no record of where the money actually went.

Eileen got in the car and drove to our insurance company’s office. She was very frustrated  but somehow with the help of people there when we went to Meijer my prescription went through. Weird.

Once again I spent most of my morning sort of on hold mentally. I’m beginning to thaw out of it. I rehearsed with Dawn the cellist and Amy the violinist yesterday. Bach, Brahms and Mozart were the composers we played through. I think all three of us find this very satisfying and inspiring.

Recently there was an online discussion on Facebook between organists. One person asked others to talk about their tastes in music. Specifically if they listen to music that is not “classical.” I was pleasantly surprised that most people responded that they routinely listened to many kinds of music. Trained organists are some of the most rigid and narrow musicians I have known.

Conversely I have known many untrained musicians who also tend to be narrow and usually specialized in one kind of music.

Inspired Play By Ear Guitarists

My string playing friends in my trio are obviously trained musicians and have much more conservative tastes than I do. While I tend to love the music they love, I also love a lot of music they find distasteful.

This has been my experience with many degree bearing musicians. On the other hand, it seems that non-classical music has come to dominate our society more aggressively. One of my objections to this is that with this domination has come a dilution of criteria for just what is effective and meaningful music.

If your idea of success is economic, you may define effective and meaningful music as the music that sells well. Unfortunately, this leads to music that is made primarily for mass consumption and often seems phoney to me. I say this as a musician who likes a great deal of popular music and realizes it has helped defined my own aesthetic.

I will go further and say that I find an aesthetic that routinely rejects genres alarmingly narrow.

As a person who embraces a wide variety of arts: musics, literature, poetry and the like, I oscillate between thinking I’m obviously correct in  my tastes and then thinking that I’m probably a bit shallow and that’s why I like so many different things. Easily amused.

I’ll close with an excellent quote from Ralph Ellison that I read this morning in my copy of The Auditory Culture Reader. 

Just as I was encouraged by the wide variety of tastes that organists on Facebooger, I was gratified to read what Ellison wrote in 1972.

Those who know their native culture and live with it unchauvinistically are never lost when encountering the unfamiliar. Living with music today we find Mozart and Ellington, Kirsten Flagstand and Chippie Hill, William L. Dawson and Carl Orff all forming part of our regular fare; all add to its significance… In doing so, it gives significance to all those indefinable aspects of experience which nevertheless help make us what we are. In the swift whirl of time, music is a constant, reminding us of what we were and of that toward which we aspired. Art thou troubled?  Music will not only calm, it will ennoble thee.” Ralph Ellison, “Living with Music” in Shadow and Act (1972)

KIrsten Flagstad was an opera singer,

Chippie Hill, a blues singer.

I had to look them up.

Fighting Homelessness, One Smartphone at a Time – NYTimes.com

Exciting program of providing smart phones with internet access to the homeless. Very cool.

Starving for Wisdom – NYTimes.com

A clear argument for studying the humanities.

almost there


Only two full days of ballet classes left: next Monday and Wednesday. I think it is the church work that primarily has burned me out, but I will take any relief I can get at this point.

I was pondering this morning how working with a church choir involves many psychological challenges. My goal these days is to be the person in the room who is in the best mood, keeping my sense of humor. I don’t get too much help with this.

It was discouraging to me last night that the strategic planning committee had scheduled its meeting at exactly the same time as choir rehearsal removing three of my singers. Of the remaining twelve singers three more were missing for one reason or another. This left us with nine singers.

Still I worked hard at preparing for this first post Triduum rehearsal. I spent my afternoon cleaning out choir folders and stuffing the new anthems. I have scheduled a couple anthems that will require singers to sing more in a high range.

Before rehearsal last night I consulted my reference books and came up with some exercises to help voice sing in their high range with more ease. These worked very well last night and I will continue to use them.

I told Eileen you know you’re burned out when you have a few days off and it feels like you are facing more work not time off.

This is my problem, but I’m working on it.


Blackwater’s Legacy Goes Beyond Public View – NYTimes.com

I have been in restaurants with people from the rich West Michigan family whose money funded Blackwater. Living in Western Michigan is a constant reminder to me of Hannah Arendent’s ideas about the banality of evil. I don’t think that people are evil. But I do think that we all are in danger of doing evil things, that those who do things that seem so atrocious are not that different from me.

Recently I have seen some odd comments on Facebooger that I felt were probably racist or classist. One person was complaining about the people who come to judicial court in their pajama bottoms. Another chimed in about the lack of respect of the defendants in the lower courts, preferring the protocol of Federal courts.

Both complainers were rich white people , the people they were complaining about were mostly likely majority black and poor.

Then there’s this unfolding story:

Atlanta School Workers Sentenced in Test Score Cheating Case – NYTimes.com

Although the prosecution team was black, the judge (who is described reports as angry) was white. I think it’s odd how the  judge punished the convicted teachers with heavier sentences when they would not submit to public shaming of apologizing to the victims of their crime.

And about that crime. It has seemed to me all along to be a more complex story than is generally being reported. I have bookmarked the following article suggested by one of the commenters on the NYT article to read:

A Middle-School Cheating Scandal – The New Yorker

What Drives the Bile Against Obama? – NYTimes.com

I put up this link because of the following comment by a letter writer:

For 34 years, and counting, our G.O.P. has steadily impoverished much of its own base with tax cuts for the wealthy, uncontrolled military spending and an erosion of help for low- and middle-income Americans while feeding that base a steady narrative of welfare slackers, unrestrained criminality, affirmative action beneficiaries and illegal-alien predators. Attacks on the president fit seamlessly into this process, generating fear that translates into political support

This seems obvious to me. But I know many people who allow their ire to be stoked and at the same time are suffering at the very hands of the people they admire and get their news from: rich politicians and tv and radio announcers.

The Servile Individualist – Rants and Things

This is a new blog by a friend of my daughter. It looks like fun.

Chimps That Hunt Offer a New View on Evolution – NYTimes.com

For some reason I find stories about how chimps behave socially interesting.