Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

Though it has been a super-duper lazy blogging year for me (mainly because I've been teaching quite a few courses, editing, and heading out to poetry events), I want to wish you happy holidays before I hop in the shower and get ready for Christmas Eve guests. Christmas Eve is a fun time for our family and friends.

I will try to post more in 2015; if not, most of the links in the archives still work, so check those out. In the mean time, let me share the music of Praetorius and his Dances from Terpsichore:


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Early Clannad

Look here:

This is a playlist of these half dozen early Clannad favs on YouTube:

1. An tÚll (with Enya as lead)
2. Strayed Away (used here as music for an art project video - love this song!!!)
3. dTigeas a Damhsa
4. Ar a ghabhail 'n à chuain damh
5. Mhaire Bruineall (again a video collage)
6. Níl Sé'n Lá

The first and second songs are from Fuaim (1981), the middle ones from the mid 70s, and the last from the first album in 1973.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mobile Tech Journalism

Lisa Gade and Marques Brownlee are two of my favorite mobile tech reviewers. Tech journalism is overwhelmingly filled with sharks putting out bias against the competition and for whoever happens to be footing the bill (i.e. Samsung, Apple). These two above are different, as is this guy:

Flossy Carter! Here's another guy who'll give you honest reactions and make it fun to listen.

You can check them all out on YouTube. There are plenty other good reviewers, sure, but so many of the videos and articles that come out surrounding new technology, especially with regard to cell phones, tablets, or laptops, are just pure bull.

Remember the next time an awesome gadget comes out, and you do a Google/Bing search, and the first article at the top is some schmuck who has been paid to come up with a nasty headline and arrogant observations that belittle your intelligence, check out Lisa, Marques, and Flossy. They will without fail give you what a good journalist should - integrity. Their observations haven't been bought.

As for me, I have been a fan of Windows Phone and will continue to be even if I get an Android down the road - I have my eyes on the LG G3 for sure these days. Alongside the Macbook Pro and the Surface 2, I'd have a nice tech salad. Whatever happens, the fall lineup of phones should be pretty exciting all around for Apple, Google, and Microsoft fans alike. And with those phones and gadgets, plenty of spin. 

You'll have the opportunity to watch sheep bash the competition in the comments sections of articles if that's your thing. Honestly it's a guilty pleasure of mine, but nothing beats a good unbiased review. In the end, facts matter. We all have different needs and tastes. Rhetoric that respects that wins first place. The rest is a circus.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Be Thankful

...for what you've got. Love this tune. Happy July!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An Old Debussy Recording

I can go on and on about my fondness for the Supraphon label and the Czech Philharmonic, but here is something especially different: a 1957 recording of Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune with conductor Antonio Pedrotti. You'll find better sound overall in other recordings from the period, sure, but this is worth your attention.

People who insist on listening only to current recordings of pieces miss out on a whole history of conducting styles, performances, and recordings.  The woodwinds here, particularly the solo flute, are a beauty. I want to hear more of Pedrotti's recordings for certain.

Download here:


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Blind (Maester Aemon)

Here is my brief poem about a minor character in George R. R. Martin's work:
Blind (Maester Aemon)  
My enemies die too slowly beyond the wall,
while those who burst like summer skyfire
live too boldly and too quick. 
I can no longer see the distant campfires
where dark dreams burgeon,
yet here I stand sentinel, forgotten by blood.
Bright were the days of my youth,
bright the memory, brighter still
the promise of coming darkness.

I wrote it yesterday at a workshop run by the Huntington poet George Wallace. Of the many prompts given, one was "My enemies die too slowly..." My mind drifted to Game of Thrones. Less than a week ago I began binge watching the first season and am now at the beginning of the second season. I have been reading the many extensive Wikipedia entries to connect the dots.

Most importantly, I got the first five books of A Song of Ice and Fire on Amazon Kindle. I plan to read as much of the series over the summer as I can. I can tell you from what I've read: this looks like literature of the highest order. I haven't been so excited about fantasy in years.

Though I am a newcomer to all this, I encourage you to learn more about George R. R. Martin, the books, and the HBO series. Martin has fascinating ideas about writing that translate into a massively memorable experience. I can't wait for more!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tax Day

W-2 forms tucked away
E-filing done for the year
Now it's pouring rain


P.S.: This is my Poetry Month contribution :-).

Monday, March 31, 2014

Carl Vine and Douglas Lilburn

Carl Vine's incredible Piano Sonata No. 1 is in this recording accompanied by an equally good second sonata and a number of other lively works, which can be purchased from the Australian Music Centre HERE.

I will provide a link for the first sonata performed by Harvey. It is both modern and very engaging, filled with passion and its own internal logic that convincingly moves the listener from one moment to the next. May it lead to an exploration of the rest of the album and beyond that to his orchestral works, including his Percussion and Choral symphonies... and a really fine piano concerto.

Download here (no password):

Next, I have been exploring the work of Douglas Lilburn, who loved the work of Sibelius. You will find Lilburn's symphonies and orchestral works to have plenty of moments of original beauty. Here is the Aotearoa Overture with the New Zealand Symphony conducted by James Judd:

The artwork in the video gives a panorama of New Zealand art that matches the spirit of the music.

If any of this is new to you, good! Keep listening - and once again please check out Unsung Masterworks and similar channels on YouTube.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Traditional Folk

Here it is, my very own subreddit:

Only a handful of followers so far - join in and add some tunes!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Antje Duvekot

Antje Duvekot is adorable. I saw her live at the Folk Music Society of Huntington in 2012. There are good videos capturing that performance on YouTube, but the above video of her wonderful wonderful tune "Merry Go Round" is a real beauty.

This song is a day brightener and the video is just perfect.


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Envoy in Winter / The Princess of the Rushing Winds

Here are two Ed Luhrs compositions for ukulele, “The Envoy in Winter” and “The Princess of the Rushing Winds,” which are inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin and Frieda Harris respectively.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Sex-Starved Parrot Humps A Radio Transmitter

Photo/Shane McInnes *
(Edited February 14)

The Kakapo, a large flightless nocturnal parrot endemic to New Zealand, is keen to do as nature does. He sees the location device before him. The urge to sire courses through the body, and he begins to hump the machine. The waddling motions are his bliss.

Meantime, the recovery team is keeping tabs on the entire known population, each with a name. The goal is to get the males to hit the right targets more often than not during the mating season. And this does prove difficult: an actual mating ritual in the wild has been witnessed few times, though the unusual low calls of the males can be heard echoing through the night terrain every mating season. More often on film we see the now famous Sirocco, charged with mission, mounting a human head, as was the case in the rather humorous incident with zoologist Mark Carwardine from the 2009 BBC Two documentary narrated by Stephen Fry.

Because New Zealand historically has had no native predatory mammals, the Kakapo, along with many of the islands' birds, have little fear of humans, which in the not-so-distant past led to things such as cooked Kakapo, Maori cloaks and so on. You can certainly imagine the story getting worse after British colonialization, and so it did. The introduction of non-native predatory species nearly wiped out the population altogether. But Kakapo are fast runners and climbers, scurrying through the thickets and sprinting up limbs. They hung on, and today are being tended on isolated predator-free islands in the far south by the Department of Conservation and volunteers using radio transmitters and other kinds of specialized equipment.

Now according to George Gibbs **, the birds’ nocturnal patterns and camouflaged plumage may have something to do with more ancient enemies – Haast’s Eagle, Eyles’ Harrier. The Kakapo took to the evening underbrush seeking refuge, and perhaps instinctively to this day, they are wary of ambush from above, though these aerial predators have been extinct for centuries.

The true enemy now attacks from within. According to Scott Mouat’s 2009 documentary The Unnatural History of the Kakapo (the one in which I witnessed the radio transmitter getting humped), lack of diversity in the gene pool has been producing a number of offspring that do not make it far past the first days, if they make it out of the egg at all. Enter bird fertilization specialist Dr. Juan Blanco, who by massaging the nethermost parts of the males can then artificially inseminate females not in the same family as their male counterparts. This has recently met with some success, and in conjunction with steering the males in the right direction has led to a significant population increase. The team is now looking to slowly reintroduce the species on the larger islands in the Fiordland region where it once dwelled.

The story here, much like Whooping Crane conservation efforts in the United States, is equal parts science and human commitment. The standard radio transmitter has for generations been and is still an integral part of conservation, locating and monitoring the lives of endangered animals for which we have chosen to care. But the ability to map to the entire genome of a species and spot problems identifies solutions in ways never before possible. Without the knowledge gained from genetic research, we would have more limited resources, not only with regard to the Kakapo, but with regard to tackling the challenges of our own bodies. With it, we can begin a greater story; sure, more good for ourselves, with ample room for other possibilities, ones in which we exhibit even greater care and understanding of our place among the creatures in the natural world.

**  (2007). Ghosts of Gondwana: The history of life in New Zealand. Craig Potton Publishing.

Angus (Ed Luhrs)

P.S.: I should also mention the longevity of the bird is unbelievable - by varying accounts between 80 to over 100 years. All the best to the recovery team, and thank you to CrunchBang on reddit, whose comments led me to do some editing. See the reddit thread HERE. He mentions lek breeding - read this article for more detail.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Random Thoughts for 2014

Happy belated new year!

Some people who want to get into orchestral or choral music will ask on various websites what famous works they should start off with. They get answers like Bach, Beethoven etc... sure, all those famous works are good, but enough already! Go for the deep cuts. Try Unsung Masterworks.

Beautiful. Why follow the crowd? Listen to stuff no one knows, especially when it is this enjoyable.

I have also been checking out the classicalmusic group on reddit - that particular subreddit is an extremely friendly place to discuss works of music. That's where I found the site above.

In other news, I recently got a baritone ukulele and recorded a Scottish ballad called "Willie O'Winsbury" - check it out HERE on my YouTube channel.

The photo up top is of me and the Kala KA-B baritone - cool mellow sound. I was singing that very ballad at a performance in Amityville, then went home and recorded the studio version that I put on YouTube.

I am surprised how decent the instrument is. It is right up there in quality with my Kiwaya KS-1 soprano and Mainland mango concert. And I got it on Amazon! Generally I'd be more apt to suggest Mainland Ukes, Uke Republic, Elderly or Mim's Ukes to prospective buyers, but in this case I lucked out. The thing is well set up. I don't know how many of you who are reading are into ukulele, but if you are interested in learning, I'll share my thoughts on whatever questions you have in comments. If not, I'll go listen to Unsung Masterworks.

One more thing. I have been watching bird documentaries, including The Life of Birds with David Attenborough (excellent) and one about the New Zealand kakapo, which I'll write more about soon.

What else? Go visit my Tumblr page for cool Spotify links and YouTube videos. Today's fascination: Douglas Lilburn, another New Zealander. I'll probably write about him soon as well.