Memorial memories

>> Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of times I spent with my Dad watching World War II movies. Dad has always been a lover of history, most especially WWII. When other family members, ie my mother and younger brother got sick of watching war movies or trekking Civil War battlefields (I've probably seen almost every one--most certainly the major ones and even some of the minor ones), it was always me who would stay up and watch The Great Escape, with him, even if it was the tenth or so time that I'd seen it.

Yesterday, being Memorial Day, and a day that The History Channel devoted almost entirely to WWII, I watched a special broadcasting of several episodes of Steven Spielberg's WWII series that he and Tom Hanks produced for HBO in 2001, Band of Brothers, the story of Easy Company, the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Paratrooper Division. I found myself remembering those times spent laying on the couch while Dad would lay on the floor, a pillow rolled up under his neck, watching some WWII flick that we'd both seen at least a dozen times. Most generally he'd fall asleep. He could probably quote every word of every line and every time we'd watch one, he'd have to explain to me, once again, where the battle took place and when, (even though I remembered from the last 100 times he told me). I recalled the time that he took me to the theater, when I was seventeen, to see A Bridge Too Far, about the efforts of allied troops to capture a series of bridges in Holland, culminating in the failure to capture the final bridge at Arnhem, costing the allies tens of thousands in casualties and setting back the allied effort to reach Berlin by several months. Only a year later I would travel to the Netherlands and see that bridge and take a photograph of it to take back to my Dad.

It might seem strange to you that this rather feminine "girly girl" would be as involved in this interest as I was with my father. Other than the fact that I share his love for history, I believe that it was the only real mutual interest that my father and I had, and for the most part the only real, quality time that I spent with him. I treasured those times with him and still do. My Dad and I have had and continue to have our share of sharp and even bitter disagreements. But one thing remains constant no matter what--if he were to call me up and ask if I'd like to watch a WWII flick or trek another Civil War battlefield with him, I'd be there. It's just something special between Dad and me.


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Lied for voice and piano, Das Traumbild, K. 530

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One of those days

>> Saturday, May 27, 2006

It's been one of those days when I haven't done too much. Well, actually I've done a lot. I vacuumed the stairway and the entire downstairs, cleaned spots on the carpets, cleaned our bathroom, dusted the living room and our bedroom, and cleaned the kitchen. So I guess I've done a lot more than I give myself credit for.

My musical feature for today is one of my very favorite Mozart works, and is considered one of Mozart's very finest operas. The role of Zerlina, almost surely, was composed for Anna Storace, as she was slated to return to Vienna in 1788. However, due to the escalating war with Turkey, Emperor Joseph could not afford to pay her the salary she demanded and contract negotiations fell through. It is unfortunate, for Anna would have made the perfect Zerlina!


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Don Giovanni, K. 527

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School's out for the summer

>> Friday, May 26, 2006

Today was the first official day of summer vacation with the exception that both the girls have to return to perform in tonight's graduation ceremonies. Heather is singing with the Pioneer Chorale and Lauren playing in the band. On June 9th, Heather goes to spend the summer with her dad and Nathan officially moves out to go and live with his dad. He will start high school next year in Wichita, Kansas. Lauren will be a senior and Heather a junior. It won't be long and they'll all be up and out of the house! Lauren has plans to spend a year in France with the foreign exchange program before entering college, so next year we'll have only Heather, who will graduate in 2008.
They're not babies any longer!


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, K. 526

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Our Love Is Here To Stay

>> Thursday, May 25, 2006

It's very clear, our love is here to stay,
Not for a year but ever and a day;
The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know,
May just be passing fancies and in time may go.

But oh, my dear, our love is here to stay,
Together we're going a long, long way;
In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble,
They're only made of clay;
But our love is here to stay.

Happy 5th Anniversary, Mein Lieb!


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Serenade for Strings in G major, Eine kleine Nacht Musik, K. 525

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A brand new toy!

>> Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Steph's new computer arrived late yesterday afternoon! It was like Christmas around here when the Fed Ex guy arrived! We all ran to the door whooping and hollering, shouting "It's Santa Claus!" He had a big grin on his face.

This computer is amazing... 17 inch digital flat screen monitor, an incredible sound system, and more space for all kinds of cool programs than you can imagine! Dude! We have a Dell! Steph stayed up all last night transferring files and installing programs. She's still not finished and probably won't be for a while.

More good news is that I get the old computer, which will be perfect for me. Steph is really the one who needed a new one with all the web design jobs she's been getting lately. Her old one was purchased Christmas of 1999, had only 8 gigs of hard drive. It's amazing, with all the programs and web designing that Steph did, that it lasted this long. But Steph is an incredible trouble shooter and kept what was a very temperamental machine in beautiful working order--although there were many occasions when I would hear a string of explicatives emanating from our bedroom. " You FART-KNOCKIN' *&#$##@ piece a shit!!" That usually meant that Windows "Titanic" 98 had frozen, most usually when Steph had just finished a long entry on her blog or in the middle of designing a web page, and she hadn't remembered to hit "Control S". I don't know how many "enemas" it's had, nor how many times it has been completely re-formatted--more than either of us can count. We would always say that if something ever happened to that computer, we'd be up shit creek. So she held it together with "duck tape", and it made it through until Joel bought this new one for her, knowing how much she needed it.

So here's to the old HP, which will continue to serve us well, I'm sure. And thank goodness for Joel, the hero of the hour, who has shown his love and appreciation in a very generous and tangible way.


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Lied for voice and piano, An Chloë, K. 524

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Abendemfindung

>> Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Today's musical feature is the subject of today's blog entry. Mozart's most haunting and in my opinion, most beautiful of all his Lieder, is his Abendempfindung, (Evening thoughts), K. 523. It was composed in the summer of 1787, during a time in Mozart's life when he sensed that things were beginning to unravel. With his English friends, including Nancy Storace, leaving earlier in the year, the loss of his father, and his popularity in Vienna waning, he felt, perhaps, an impending doom. It would only be three-and-a-half years later that Mozart would succumb to his final illness on December 5, 1791, at the age of thirty-five.

This particular Lied is especially close to my heart, as it is the piece that I sang in the film Mozartballs, and is featured in the DVD release this summer. Click here for German text along with the English translation.

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Bravo's commitment to diversity not as strong as it's commitment to the dollar

>> Monday, May 22, 2006

Over the last several weeks as I've tuned into every episode of Top Chef on Bravo, I couldn't help but notice the commercial sponsors. One of the most prominent sponsors is eHarmony.com, a popular online dating service founded and operated by Dr. Neal Clark Warren, a Christian minister/psychologist formerly associated with James Dobson, founder and CEO of Focus on the Family, one of the most notoriously anti-gay, and bigoted organizations in existence in the United States. Focus on the Family is the parent organization of Exodous, an ex-gay organization that deals in "reparative therapy" and encourages gays who can't control their homosexual urges through celibacy and prayer to submit to castration (read "Ranchhand's" story).

What has intrigued me the most about this particular sponsorship is the fact that Bravo has "come out of the closet" regarding their commitment to "diversity". I have been impressed with such programming as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy which has unapologetically promoted the bridging of the gap between the gay and straight communities by showing the gay community to be made up of sensitive, talented, and helpful individuals who are about a whole lot more than just sex. They have also featured many gay individuals in programs such as Top Chef and Project Runway, as well as programs like Boy Meets Boy, and Gay Weddings. And lately they have been running ads about their commitment to diversity using Queer Eye's Jai Rodriguez. With these things in mind, and knowing of eharmony's blatant and unapologetic discrimination against gays, I was surprised and appalled to see that they were one of the leading sponsors for programs like Top Chef and even Queer Eye.

I emailed BRAVO and shared with them my concerns and questioned if their commitment to diversity was as deep as their commitment to making big bucks off of their bigoted sponsor. I received the standard automated response and the commercials still remain. So I'm here asking you, my readers, to register your thoughts with BRAVO concerning this obvious hypocrisy, and let them know that you demand that they quit talking out of both sides of their mouths. Either you're committed to diversity or you're not. You can't ride both sides of the fence!


Today's musical feature is Mozart's A Musical Joke, K. 522

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More dreams of Vienna

>> Sunday, May 21, 2006

Steph and I have been working towards a dream of moving to Vienna in 2008, a dream that Steph has had for over twenty years and a vision that I only seriously bought into last summer after we traveled to Vienna together for the filming of Mozartballs. It has been so real for Steph that she is manifesting her day dreams into her dreams at night. I had not yet started doing that until last night when I had a dream of us in Vienna that was so vivid and real that I actually believed in my dream that we were there and I was genuinely disappointed when I awakened to find that it was only a dream.

You know what they say about dreams. "A dream is a wish your heart makes," and my heart is dreaming of Vienna.


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Piano Sonata for Four Hands in C major, K. 521

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The lowest common demoninator

>> Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sometimes Steph and I like to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation in the afternoons. However, the only channel that plays it at this time is Spike TV, a television station that caters primarily to teenaged boys and young, straight men. Given the previous descriptor, you can only imagine what the programming must be like.

Lately I've been disturbed more than usual by the commercials that appear on Spike--commercials for violent horror flicks such as Hostel, and the newest from-the-dregs-o'-hell offering, See No Evil. Then there are Spike's commercials which depict scantily clad nymphs touching one another all over and sitting in provocative and inviting positions, women making sexual advances on other women--encouraging voyeurism, and sex mixed with violence in almost every depiction. It's an appeal to the basest in the male, testosterone-ridden nature, the lowest male common denominator, and literally sets my teeth on edge.

I find me asking myself "what happened to the women's movement for God's sake?" In the 1980's women wouldn't have stood for crap like this! Have we slid so far back that we've literally gone back to the cave? If Spike is any indication, then yes, we have, and it's really scary. I fear that the next generation of women have no idea what they are facing, and it frightens me for them. It seems that we passed this precious, hard-won, golden baton, entrusting them with something that women for generations before them have fought for diligently with their blood, sweat, and tears, and this new generation of women, in their indifference for what was won for them, have dropped it.

It's time to get back on the wagon, ladies, before it's too late.


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Lied for voice and piano, Als Luise die Briefe, K. 520

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Wednesday Wheee!

>> Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tonight I don't have to do any taxi-cabbing. Lauren doesn't have to work. No one has a concert. I don't have a meeting or a concert. Everyone is home. So to celebrate, I am kicking back with a few Margaritas, enjoying Steph's famous burrito bar for dinner, and watching the first half of the Top Chef finale.

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Lied for voice and piano, Die Alte, K. 517

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Things my mother taught me

>> Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day holds mixed feelings for me, as my mother passed away five years ago this coming June. Combine that with the fact that I lost three years worth of Mother's Days when my ex and his now ex-wife moved my children out of the state to get them away from me and my "sinful lifestyle", then you can see why Mother's Day might be somewhat painful for me. I got my children back two years ago when it was revealed that their step-mother was physically and emotionally abusing them, so this will be the third Mother's Day that I have had with them since then. However, it still holds some painful and lonely memories. The first Mother's Day without my mother was also my first Mother's Day without my children.

How I got through those painful years is a mystery to me. I attribute it to the strength that my mother instilled in me. My mother, for good or for ill, was quite stoic and possessed an inner strength and determination that she passed on to me. I learned by watching her, how to face pain and adversity with strength and dignity, and I will always be grateful to her for that. As a tribute to my mother's inner strength and beauty, this Mother's Day I am listing the things that my mother taught me that have made me a better person:

  • She taught me the value of a good education.
  • She taught me how to be a warm and gracious hostess.
  • She taught me how to cook and about the importance of balanced nutrition.
  • She taught me how to be a nurturer.
  • She taught me how to set a beautiful table.
  • She instilled in me the value and importance of the arts.
  • She laid for me a strong spiritual foundation.
  • She taught me the value of womanhood.
  • She taught me the importance and value of sacrifice.
  • She showed me how to demonstrate compassion.
In loving memory of Iris C. Erwin, August 30, 1934 through June 20, 2001.


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Rondo in D for Horn and Orchestra, K.514

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In Transition

>> Saturday, May 13, 2006

For you women out there who have gone through labor and delivery, you will know exactly what I'm talking about when I say that at this point in my life I feel as if I am in transition labor. It's the shortest, yet most painful part of labor and it is usually the point where you're looking around the room for the person who did this to you so that you can grab them by the throat, rip off their head, and shit down their neck. There is nothing you can do but wait through it. You can't make it stop. You can't change your mind. You can't bear down or push. You just have to lay there, stay as calm as possible, and get through it. People are standing all around you telling you that you're doing great and don't worry, it's almost over and you're thinking to yourself, "Easy for you to say, JERK!" I feel trapped, stuck, uncertain, unable to move. I'm ready for this part to be over!


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Mentre ti lascio, o figlia, aria for bass & orchestra, K. 513

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Top Chef

>> Thursday, May 11, 2006

Last night we watched the latest four episodes of Top Chef with our friend, Jacey. She brought over a bottle of Chardonay and we sat on the bed and watched while the whole group piled in on Tiffani, the redheaded bitch whom everyone loves to hate because she's a back-stabbing liar who pretends to be full of "humility" and "integrity". It was amazing how the camera made Stephen look like such an asshole, and kept Tiffani from looking as bad as she really was. It just goes to show how easy it is for the media to manipulate our thoughts. Stephen won my respect when he admitted that he had come off arrogant and that he had learned a lot about himself and his attitudes through watching himself on camera. He very sincerely apologized to Candice, with whom he had a 37 minute argument earlier in the season, for putting her down and making her feel inferior. He seemed genuinely sorry, and it took a lot of class for him to admit that he was wrong in front of everyone. Tiffani on the other hand, got defensive and ran out of the room when she was accused by others in the group of turning burners either off or up in an effort to sabotage her competitors. I don't know if she did what they accused her of, but they all seemed pretty confident that she did.

The finalists are Harold, Dave, and Tiffani, who are going to Las Vegas for the finals, which will be aired in two parts. I hope that Harold will win, but fear it will be Tiffani. I love Dave, but I'm afraid that his emotions will get the best of him.

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Wrung out, literally

>> Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Last night Steph and I went to the Chamber Singers' end-of-the-year party at conductor, Mark Lawlor's home and we had a great time! This is an intelligent, articulate, and artistic group of people who enjoy good food, good wine, good conversation, and good music and we enjoyed every moment we spent there. However, after we returned home, both of us were hit with a terrible case of what we call "the bads". It hit me first and then a couple of hours later, Steph. Both of us spent the better part of all night in the bathroom, with poor Steph so miserable and distended that she couldn't breathe. We're thinking we had some kind of an adverse reaction to something we ate, not that it was bad food, but that it had something in it that didn't agree with either of us. So this morning I had to call in sick from work so that I could recover and re-hydrate after the night's onslaught.


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Six German Dances, K. 509

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Chamber Singers take on Bach

>> Sunday, May 7, 2006

There is a reason why I don't like to sing Bach but I couldn't exactly put my finger on it until the Stillwater Chamber Singers started rehearsing for this concert. Bach is damned difficult! I daresay this is our most challenging concert yet! In addition to Bach, we're performing some pieces by Handel, Lotti, and a French motet by Sweelinck. And this time the orchestra is top notch and the guest Tenor soloist, Kim Childs, returns to grace us with an incredible performance in the Bach Cantata no. 78, Jesu der du meine Seele.


Today's musical feature is Mozart's Canon in three parts in F major, Heiterkeit und Leichtes, K. 507

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What does it feel like?

>> Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Our film, Mozartballs, premiered in Toronto this weekend at the Hot Docs film festival to a packed house of 500 viewers. Reports are that it was a smash hit. The audience loved it and they loved us and our story. We received a phone call from a friend who asked what it felt like to be "stars". I said that I didn't know yet because I'm still here in the middle of Oklahoma! My life hasn't changed--yet. But I get the sense that it won't be long now...


Today's Musical feature is Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25 in C major, K. 503

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