Let’s make music together…

I am not a big fan of the movie All Dogs Go to Heaven.  Sure, the messages of getting a second chance, and changing for the better, and doing the right thing, are all positive.  And the music is catchy.  But something about this movie in particular felt manipulative to me, even as a kid.  Maybe it was the unbelievable innocence of the girl, or even the major premise of the film.  Mafia dogs who go to heaven?  Throw me a bone, please.

Yet sometimes it’s the absolutely ridiculous nature of the tale that tickles my fancy.  Take the opera-singing alligator, for example (crocodile?).  He’s living in the sewers, eating lesser dogs, and is just about to do the same to our hero, when the doggie howls.  Which somehow is a pleasing, not repulsing, sound to the alli, and he insists that they have a sing-along instead of chowing down.  I love that.

I love the idea of the world singing.  I love that whole odd earlier Christian philosophy about the spheres of the heavens giving of some small, ringing music that we could all hear, if we were only just a little bit closer.  I like the idea of every molecule vibrating with some kind of lively sound that we will someday hear and enjoy, when we only have the science.  I like the idea of acoustic harmony bringing some sort of resolution or at least tentative acceptance and tolerance for the conflicting members of a group.  Let’s just make music.

So, what else can we make musical?  Garbage dump supplies?  Been done.  Old buildings?  Yep, that’s taken.  A giant concrete seashore instrument?  I mean I love them, but they’re a dime a dozen.  How about the swine flu?  According to this article, it’s the next big thing.  After a little listen, I’m not so sure.  But the idea of viruses as encoding a natural music all their own…well, it’s just plain beautiful.

Corina told me she was utterly ashamed of me for not blogging about my experiences at the made-up superhero pub crawl this year.  I thought about it, but then I decided being known as Flamebow Brite to the entire internet community might not be a good idea.  Added to the fact that my sister thinks costumes make me look like a drag queen, I’d prefer to say very little and leave my excitement and joy to memory and what pictures are already widely available.  Instead, I’d like to point out a few of the things that the experience shows about me through song.  If I were a song, there would be a brassy trumpet involved.  Sometimes it would be loud, and totally dominate all other songs in the room, but that would only happen very rarely.  More often this trumpet would blare with no real rhyme or reason, almost like an accident on the part of the performer or the composer.  A slip of the pen here, and…..Whoa, trumpet!  There would be some other sounds – a nice bongo rhythm, a breathy set of pan pipes, a little base.  Solid, pleasing, and enjoyable if not genius – except for the occasional squaking trumpet.

So, what’s your song?


Some of you may be familiar with my disappearances from the blogosphere once a quarter.  Ok, let’s face it, recent disappearances have been far more frequent than once a quarter.  But in the past, when I was actually posting one or more times a day, the one to two week absences were more disturbing and unusual.  Usually such hiatuses (hiati?) were due the periods of intense work stress I came under due to quarterly reporting to our governing trustees.  There is a big meeting that I did much of the logistics work for, plus the proofing and assembly of 350-400 page meeting material books.  While I would not consider quarterly reports the pinnacle of my literary achievement (more on that later.  and by later, I mean in a different post, possibly on some other day), I am generally proud of the work I do on them.  I am a good editor, and this is one of the few times I get to use a skill of my own that I enjoy for something that I know is important to the functioning of the office.

And now, that important feeling for me is coming to a close.  For those of you who don’t know, I’ll be moving to Portland to start law school this fall.  No longer will I be a lowly Administrative Assistant at the ‘Glove, but will instead be a legal jargonese pirate somewhere to the far West.  This is my last period of headless chicken running around at the office, and it’s made me somewhat nostalgic and a little sad.  True, this being the last book has also considerably relieved my usual stress.  If I really mess up on the book itself, or the scheduling, or accidentally come to work naked by mistake, I never have to see any of the Board members ever again.  I’m free from some of the stress of making my edits ‘perfect’, because in another little while, people will forget I ever even worked on these things.  I sit here, a few hours early, with everything complete and in order, and I’m not even tempted to take a final look-through for mistakes.

Three hours later….

Ok, ok, I’m a perfectionist.  I couldn’t help but look.  And there were errors.  But now, finally, and at last, I’ve turned in the final version to the printer and I will never do another Board Book in my life.  Oh.  Wait.  Let’s just change where I said ‘final version’ back there to ‘version three’ so I can make two more corrections.  Ehum.  I think I’m having a minor heart attack.

Hammerabi’s Shoes

The ‘original’ idea of law was based on a commercial idea of justice.  A wrong committed against an individual was balanced by that same wrong inflicted as punishment on the perpetrator.  There was a sense of balance to these judgments, but also a sense of trade.  One loss was exchanged for another.  The crime ‘equaled’ the punishment.  Hammerabi’s Code, one of our earliest written records of law, proclaimed that an eye should be taken in recompense for the loss of an eye.  In Classic depictions of justice, the scales of the marketplace are used to balance the fitness of punishment to crime.

But law is not always about a trade.  Social responsibility extends not only to the victim, but to the criminal.  Punishment should not create more loss of life, property, or health, but seek to avoid it.  And can’t the analogy extend in the other direction?  Can we not give and give, as well as take and take?  There’s that whole Biblical thing about giving your shirt as well to someone who only asks for your coat, so it’s not an idea that hasn’t occured to others before.  Sorry i don’t know other religious traditions as well, but here’s a nice Buddist story to tie in:

The Bandit

Buddha was once threatened with death by a bandit called Angulimal.

Then be good enough to fulfill my dying wish,” said Buddha. “Cut off the branch of that tree.”
One slash of the sword, and it was done!  “What now?” asked the bandit.
“Put it back again,” said Buddha.
The bandit laughed. “You must be crazy to think that anyone can do that.”
“On the contrary, it is you who are crazy to think that you are mighty because you can wound and destroy. That is the task of children. The mighty know how to create and heal.”

From http://www.touchtheearthranch.com/buddhastories.htm

There is an organizantion I’ve recently discovered (Thank you, Lucy Costa) that has their own idea of a gift for a gift.  TOMS is a shoe company with a policy they call ‘One For One’.  If you buy a pair of shoes, that means a second pair of shoes is going to children someplace who don’t have any.  True, this is more like ‘spend extra money and we’ll give the extra to poor kids in the form of shoes’, but at least you know your hard-earned cash is going to a company that’s Doing Something, rather than financing corporate glut.  And these shoes are awesome!  I have yet to find the details on their website regarding the greenness and/or fair trade ness of thier shoes, but I will be doing a little more research into this area for sure.  Some of them are vegan as well.  And I want them.  Oh yes, my suede patch fleece lined, or red/silver glitter, or vegan wrap boots inspired by Argentine polo horses, I will have you.  Soon.

Science meets my hair.

Back when I was a young and impressionable teenager, there was a commercial for styling product that involved a big-haired young woman emerging from a bush with twigs and leaves everywhere, and two other females (probably with blond stick-straight locks) running away screaming.  The point of the commercial was that bush-girl found some new product and her frighteningly unmanageable tangle was reduced to soft, wavy curls.  Personally I never much saw the point of the ad, since she still looked gorgeous and probably more interesting with bits of forest twined to her head.  But then, they don’t call me frohead for nothing.

Now that I’m supposedly older and wiser and definitely more conformist, I have begun actually using styling products in my hair.  It’s true that they are minimal, and I will never be the type of person to spend much more time in front of a mirror than it takes to brush my teeth.  But I have felt the need to manage my tangle in a way that’s a little more professional than a Gene Wilder hairdo.  And I’ve newly discovered that the majority of hair products, like the majority of bras, just don’t do what they’re supposed to.

Now, I must say first that my hair si a bit of an unusual type.  Sure, it’s curly, but it’s not a Shirley Temple bunch of ringlets.  Generally it’s a tumble of wisps sticking out at odd angles, with the occasional boingable ringlet thrown in just to be annoying.  In addition, it’s fine and much thinner than it looks.  Which means, of course, that almost any product that has enough holding power to ‘conrol’ my frizzies bogs down my hair so much that I look like the human head equivalent of mange.  Of course, there are some products that are designed to be very lightweight and still smoothing, which I’m very happy with – when I straighten my hair.  Otherwise, they typically flatten out the waves and curls that I’d prefer to maintain.

Enter the good ol’ Oven Glove, which has been leading research into new compounds to combat the humidity that will shortly be rolling into the city.  The company which is marketing the new haircare product, Living Proof, has six different product types listed on their website so far, each meant to do something a little different.  I have yet to try any, but I have high hopes for a company that recognizes that people with curls actually HAVE fine hair.  And a hair care company that ships stuff for free is one of the coolest things I’ve found out about since the discovery that Staples sells (and free-ships) hardwood bookcases.   Of course, all of the Living Proof products may not be as effective when winter rolls around again and my hair is so pathetic and dry that it can barely put out the effort to curl, but they may help with that as well.  I’m content to wait and see.

Oldies by goodies

The past week when I was away from all of you lovelies, I was spending some quality time in Florida with my sister and an aunt and uncle.  While the time reminded me again why I love my family as well as why I need to move further south, it also served as a scientific experiment into some of the most fundamental realms of human nature.

My uncle Herb is no blood relation to me.  His marriage to my aunt was his second, and they have no children, so there is not even a tenuous connection of cousins with some of each family’s genes between us.  Still, he has been an active part of my life since my infancy, and along with my aunt has been a considerable influence.  In my case, the question of nature vs. nurture can be somewhat illuminated through him.  How much has his character influenced me, despite our lack of genetic correspondence?  How much has that impact been dulled or diminished due to his role as an uncle, rather than a non-biological parent?

Let’s take a look at language.  Those of you who know me know that I tend to speak my mind – I am a very honest person.  Very often, this takes the form of me blurting out unreasonable or even nonsensical phrases.  My verbal filter is limited at best.  For the corresponding counterexamples, I’ve taken a sampling of delightful Herb quotes from the past week, with a bit of annotation:

“Addy-do, play my shoe.” – While playing cards

“At that time, I could have been a young, reckless horse.” – In a discussion of Texas and the Alamo

“Shady armpits…don’t get sunburned.” – On the virtues of not shaving.

“I wouldn’t trust Stacey to be recycled.” – As a side note while collecting trash on the beach

Clearly, there’s some correspondence here.  While you ponder, I’ll conclude with some word from my aunt, who I do share some direct genetic material with – “Well that’s a heck of a note!”