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?

Peace. Quiet. Solitude.

One of the greatest vices of the modern technological age is not leaving people well enough alone.  I’ve had friends who’ve taken ‘breaks’ from the internet.  I’ve had bosses unable to leave their Blackberrys at home while on vacation.  I’ve seen people on all modes of transportation with things in their ears, whether for business or pleasure.  Constant contact of one form or another is a tool that becomes a habit and eventually an addictive handicap.

It’s not that I think virtual instant contact is ‘bad’.  I can remember when my family first got cell phones.  We never used them to keep in touch, but they were kept in the car in case of emergency or accident.  In such a case, a cell phone would be serving a good cause and would allow help to arrive more quickly.  The internet made my two years in China more of an inconvenience rather than a burden.  New technology has also been handy in the research and the distribution of information, the selling of consumer goods, and increasing close communication worldwide.  But that reliance does eventually get in the way of what i think life should be.

Today the banjo man was playing at Davis Square T stop.  I saw him – I didn’t hear him play.  I had my noise-cancelling iPod headphones on, which are protecting my delicate ears from the screechings and engine turns of the trains.  But I also realized that since I got this shiny new toy for music, I haven’t been listening to the world on my way to work.  I’ve felt the wind, but only on the outside. I don’t necessarily know what my new neighborhood sounds like.

Earlier this week, Yellowstone officials revealed the new draft plan for increased cell phone coverage in the park.  The plan is aimed to address issues of preservation while still allowing for visitors and guests to have the convenience they expect from modern technology, at least in the more built-up areas.  This is probably a valid request, particularly since such an increase will also benefit park rangers who are committed to keeping the public safe and for whom instant communication might be a necessity.  As spokesperson Tim Stevens said, “it’s critical that Yellowstone continue to provide the solitude and peace and quiet that our first national park has to offer”.

Let’s take a moment and consider these three gifts a national park is supposed to provide.  Where do we get peace and quiet and solitude in our daily lives?  Do we take time for it?  Or do we let such things just traipse along by without it?  Are we using the excuse of safety and convenience too much?  Should we just leave our cell phones off more often?  I’m not sure, but I think a part of the answer comes naturally to me, in my own forgetfulness.  if I leave my cell phone at home, it’s really not that big of a deal.

Flop, flop, flop, SWIM!

Ok, I am a sucker for cuteness. Maybe not that artificial cuteness of Anne Geddes or kittens and puppies posed unusually.  But the natural, everyday cuteness and ridiculous awkwardness of life – babies who drool on themselves, old people who smile with few teeth, or almost any animal scrabbling on ice – really get me going.  In recent CNN/iReport news, its’ all about the baby turtles.

The turtles have it all – awkward limbs, a struggle to survive, and people cooing over them with video cameras.  It’s moments like these that documentaries were made for.  I could watch millions of baby turtles struggle to get swept out to sea over and over again. In fact, now that I have this video, that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

But the delicacy of the turtles in those first scramblings for the ocean is made all the more poignant in the video.  many will be eaten in-egg, many more upon hatching, and most will never reach the sea.  For this reason, many beaches have systems in place to preserve the hatchling sea turtles.  Individuals may dig trenches to lead the babies to the sea, or carefully watch egg clutches to protect them from predators.  I’m not sure if these individual effort have had any effect on the greater number of sea turtles.  Still, if there is an effect, I wonder if it’s a good one.  Cute as they are, are there dangerous or harmful consequences resulting from a little protection?

It’s Friday

It is the time of week where I begin to look forward to the weekend.  Ok, really I began to look forward to it Tuesday night, but I’m trying to not encourage the more ridiculous side of my nature.  But this particular moment is when I begin to daydream in a constant flow.  I want to just dive into some liquid-blue shimmer of relaxation.  Ah.  I’m ready for retirement.

Unfortunately the only liquid shimmer I will be experiencing this weekend is rain.  Gobs and gobs of it.  Though I don’t know what a gob of rain looks like, I have confidence that I will be able to tell you by Monday.   Thursday had me fooled – it started out miserable and cloudy, and I expected the weekend to be the same.  But then the sun came out, and dried up all the rain.  And Stacey was ready for a nice weekend again.  Alas.  Today is just as dismal as yesterday morning, and I have no hope of it changing this afternoon.

But there are good sides.  Something about rain causing flowers.  I can certainly say it’s doing something for them – the pollen is everywhere.   And the colors are wonderful.  The sky may be dull and cloudy without the stunning texture of storm, but everything else is vivid.  It’s like all-day afternoon light, with rich colors and deeper hues.  I’m sure some more scientific person could tell you why the sun at the angle past noon and the sun reflected and refracting through clouds causes some wavelength change that makes every color more intense.  For myself, I’m just going to delight in what beauty I can get on a damp and wretched day.

Pigeon herding

Of course I left my wonderful SUPA-cool camera at home again today, so you guys will just have to bear with me and deal with the slightly crappy shots from my phone.  Trees through sculptureSorry.  I am doomed to have my camera only when the world around me is ugly.

Today I had to deliver some ‘important papers’ to main campus and on my way back, saw something most interesting.  Two pigeons were perched on a rooftop.  As I watched, one of them dived off, just falling like a rock towards me, then opening his wings into a glide.  It made me wonder, are pigeons ever afraid?  They are pretty fat birds.  Or does instinct just give them an infinite trust that their wings will keep them from splatting on the ground?  The whole thing was just beautiful – the arc of the pigeon’s wings, the sunlight on iridescent feathers, the display of fearlessness.  I wish i’d caught it on tape.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Pigeons are ugly birds.  They waddle, they eat garbage and they barely keep themselves clean.  Even for someone like me, who enjoys chasing them and seeing how close I can get before they take off or how many of them I can get going in the same direction, I wouldn’t want to actually touch one.  I don’ think they’d make a very good pet, or be very soft to touch.  They probably carry lots of noxious diseases, too.

Sun and TreesBut in this case, all that was beside the point.  For a moment, this mangy flying rat was something more than a city scavenger.  And for that transformation, I’m grateful, both for the beauty of the moment and for the potential it imparts to me to be better than myself, if only for a moment.