Friday, April 27, 2012

House sings Saint James Infirmary

My fiddle class (taught by the stellar Cathy Clasper-Torch) just started learning Saint James Infirmary a couple of weeks ago. Okay, I prodded and wheedled, and so she taught it to us. I had heard the song in an old Betty Boop animation by the Fleischer Brothers, drawn by Roland Crandall, performed by Cab Calloway and his band.

Later, while browsing my friend Ysanne's website (ilovestrings), I heard her new version with David J., and I had to use it on my demo reel.

So, yes, I geek out about this song.

And then, happy day, today I heard one of my favorite actors, Hugh Laurie (of Jeeves and Wooster and House, M.D. fame) discuss and perform a tidbit of the music on Fresh Air. If you want to listen for it, it's in the last three minutes of the interview.

He says that it could have originally been an English song, about the infirmary that was once in the Saint James Palace, although he only learned it through Louis Armstrong.

 Wikipedia (yay!) goes on to mention that this infirmary was dedicated to leprosy in the 1500s...

The song was also known as "The Unfortunate Rake." Makes me think of David Hockney, and his series of etchings for The Rake's Progress. (The image below resides at the Tate Gallery)

For more of my posts on fiddle tunes: Improving on the Fiddle,  Giraffes and, well, fiddle songs about drugs, House Sings Saint James Infirmary,  Ashokan Fall,  Setauket, a Mystery So Far,  Fiddle Advice, Noveling Novelties, and Wildness,  Learning Vibrato as an Adult, and  Improving on the Fiddle

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What next? Crows.

I have to admit that I am disappointed. The (fully funded) post-bacc program in math at Smith College told me that my math grades were not high enough. True, I did goof off a fair amount back in the day...

So, now what? Laurent suggested thinking about what was important to me in a career. Here is my ordered list:
-Helping adults
-Using my brain
-Being creative
-Getting some recognition
-Living wage

This looks quite a lot like teaching, to me. I had been planning to teach math, and haven't given that up completely, but I'm still thinking about teaching art and English for foreign language learners.

In the meantime, I have started doing studies for another animation, this time on crows:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Les bon mots d'Alain

My mother in law gave me a book of writings by the French philosopher Alain. This quote is from short essay written in 1906:

Quand on voit les choses en courant, elles se ressemblent beaucoup.

When you see the world at a run, all things look alike.

Wouldn't he have been surprised by the blur today?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Playing with that trope. A little.

There's this thing called whimsy, a style of painting that is known for it's sincerity, and for it's tendency to include unicorns and pretty colors. And my paintings from grad school did fall loosely within the category. Not in a cynical, edgy kind of way, but featuring girls with girl power and unicorn horns to bring down their enemies. No (whimsically) tilted heads and outsized eyes, but still within the trope, I would say.

I got some skepticism, and probably never brought home my point, that imagination can be under threat in a world that wants only hard, cold reality. Or maybe I did, but for the wrong audience. Who knows? I was interested in the vulnerability that comes to people who have lived through bad situations and still manage to be tender and authentic. I think this still interests me.

So, I've been working on a painting I never finished from before graduate school. Notice the critters? Those are new.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring colors

I have been working up to this painting for a while. The canvas itself has been in my possession for ten years, and has crossed the country once. It's about four feet by two, and was meant to hang in our bedroom. But I realized that I prefer blank walls, or animals, or landscapes, in a bedroom. Not people. So, where do I put it?

We finally destroyed the support for the jacuzzi (I say "we" because I tried to do it, and eventually had to hand off the axe and hammer to Laurent. Not much for physical labor, I have to admit.) We found that the underside was infinitely more beautiful than that monstrosity had ever been. Wisteria roots had pried up bits of rubber and glue that I couldn't, and made us a landscape. Laurent took photos.

Lucy is still enjoying horseback riding, and Emile is working on his Tai Chi. Actually, no, he is trying to stretch himself from one side of the door frame to the other. It's all about positioning. Sometimes he manages, and then the joy is great.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The kid without a chance

I have been feeling a lot of guilt and mourning during the discussions about Trayvon Martin. Mourning for obvious reasons, that a child was murdered, that someone now has blood on his hands, and that so many parents are afraid of this happening to their children.

Guilt, because of the quick judgments I have made, and about the one boy I evicted from a class of mine, when I was teaching "at risk" (quotation marks just because I'm quoting, not because I think it's false) kids in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He harassed his teachers, he used violent language, he mocked, but, ultimately, he just wanted to be left alone. Unfortunately, I, finding that I could not teach him, and frustrated by the disruptions, asked that he be removed from the program. I now wish I had just quit, and let the director take over. After all, I was the one who couldn't handle it. And now where is he? He is an adult now, and I wonder what chances he has. I wish him well.

All that to say, as horrible as it is, I understand feeling threatened when there is no threat. I hope Mr. Zimmerman finds peace. My apologies if I sound pious, I just really do wish that for him. Because I wish it for myself.