Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I recently had the opportunity to see a rare production of TIP TOES ) at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, located in the general Los Angeles area. The show was staged in a small compact theatre which lended itself well to a feeling of intimacy. For those of us in front row seating a bit of restraint was required to quell the desire to join the dancers on stage in some of the more exhuberant numbers.

Yes, I'm a confirmed lover of Broadway musicals, movie musicals as well as select dinner theatres, professional and amateur theatre -- well performed staged productions. I thoroughly enjoyed this show in every sense of the word from the solo performances, the duo songs and acts, to the whole ensemble grand finale'. There are several familiar songs performed in "Tip Toes" including "Looking for a Boy" with lyrics "I am just a little girl (boy), looking for a little boy (girl) ..."; "That Certain Feeling"; "Sweet and Low-Down."

This production attracted me on two counts which includes familiarity with the professional acting career of cast member, Richard Horvitz, who carried off his humorous role in fine fashion with just the right finesse' to keep the audience laughing, and my being enamoured with much of the music of George Gershwin. I've previously written about my introduction to Gershwin musical compositions but was unfamiliar with this particular show among his earliest hits as a young man in his late twenties.

The program, with commentary by the local co-producer, Brian O'Halloran, revealed an interesting personal account of his meeting some years earlier with a petite Broadway star, he describes as "a feisty little lady named Queenie Smith." Years had passed since her Broadway performances in numerous shows and she was teaching a children's acting class just over Kellogg Hill and from where I live, a few miles down the freeway in the city of Covina toward L.A. Many years were to pass, then Mr. Halloran's friend, Mark Trent Goldberg showed him the orchestrations of "Tip Toes" in the Beverly Hills office of the Ira and Lenore Gershwin Trust. The orchestrations for this show had previously been unexpectedly recovered, then restored with a subsequent 1998 Carnegie Hall concert and recording.

Tip Toes was a 1925 musical hit with music and lyrics by George and his older brother, Ira Gershwin. I was fascinated to read an article written especially for the show's program by Miles Kreuger, President of The Institute of the American Musical, Inc. He writes an account of the activities of George Gershwin who started his career, as did many songwriters, just trying to sell a song as a "song plugger" on Tin Pan Alley after he had dropped out of high school. In only three years, he had his first song published. In 1924, when George would have been only twenty-six years old, though he had songs previously in a "dozen shows," he and Ira "collaborated...on a show that changed the entire style of musical comedy during the 1920's: "Lady Be Good!" (12-1-24), starring Fred and Adele Astaire."

The musical activities of George Gershwin during 1924, then 1925, when "Tip Toes" opened on Broadway December 28, were amazing in their number. George was writing and often performing in various settings and for a variety of shows in differing stages of production, requiring his presence: Washington, Newark, Baltimore, Philadelphia, London -- all pre-airlines with no quick easy transportation, so travel to Europe and return would have been by ocean liner. Even the genres of music he was writing was expansive with the commission from orchestral director, Paul Whiteman for his first major concert piece, "Rhapsody In Blue", the music of which captured my soul when I first heard it many years later about which I previously wrote. "Concerto in F" was written on commission from the New York Symphony Society. Mr. Kreuger notes "George sailed back to New York to discover that he was the first composer ever pictured on the cover of Time magazine (7-20 issue)."

Along with numerous other music compositions a favorite of many, including me which probably contributed to my fascination and romanatic notions of France, was his composition in 1928 of "An American In Paris." Years later this became a very popular movie which I enjoy watching to this day starring Gene Kelley and Leslie Caron, but you can experience this music with the trailer on the New York Times link.

My purpose is not to critique the individual performers or to analyze this rejuvenation of "Tip Toes," as compared with additional musicals Gershwin wrote, or those written by others. I simply reiterate I thoroughly enjoyed this production. I liked the Gershwin music and songs, and the performers who brought this show to life in a thoroughly professional, entertaining, fun-filled, lively evening.

If I could be an "angel" (one who finances productions), I would be sorely tempted to provide the backing to see this "Tip Toes" show moved to a larger stage, perhaps, even ultimately to find itself once again on Broadway. They have a cast that could be just as comfortable on a Broadway stage as at the Whitefire Theatre -- or maybe more so!

Sunday, January 28, 2007


THOUGHTFUL Ronni Bennett over at Time Goes By is the first, and hopefully the last, to "tap" (I believe that is the term) me with a "Meme" -- whatever that is. She did remember incorrectly my view on the topic of Memes, or maybe she never knew what my perspective was. I'm just not keen on them, as well as chain letters and some of the other "multicate" missives sent by email to large numbers of people simultaneously. Most of them fall into the same category for me -- just short of spam.

When I first encountered Memes on various blogs, I was intrigued with trying to figure out what they were and what was their point. I never totally figured that out, but soon found myself just skimming them, or skipping them entirely whenever they appeared. I don't even know what the rules of Meme are, but having been "tapped" -- I think I'm supposed to be writing my response on my blog.

My knee-jerk reaction to that idea was, why would I want to do that on my blog? So, I started to answer on TGB, then decided I would defer to what I think is a Meme social grace, conform, and respond here this once, which I think is the expected form. I would be the first to admit that I've been in a rather cantankerous mood of late which seems to manifest itself in amplifying my annoyance toward those things to which I'm pre-disposed to be annoyed, and I've just never been smitten by Memes.

Memes proponents observations do seem to make some valid redeeming points about their having an element of self-revelation, allowing insight, stimulating further thought and even memories, as well as sometimes being quite humorous. To me they seem kinda like a writer's exercise or warm-up, just as one might compose a list of similes and metaphors. Whatever their value, I will acquiesce this once, since, as others have observed, "the list is so short."

My, Me, Meme for Ye, You, Yous

1. What would I give my right arm for?
I wouldn't give my right arm for anything -- at least until I'd
learned to use my left arm equally as well.

2. What's one word that describes how you want people to see you?
I would hope others would see me, in one word, as -- genuine.

3. If you could be any blogger, which blogger would you be and why?
I'm too busy trying to find me as a blogger to want to be anyone
other than myself.

Please don't write and tell me that I'm a poor sport. I'm not in the mood for it!

Saturday, January 27, 2007


The previous post on the life passion topic which included reference to attending college for the first time, also issues about returning to college some years after high school graduation, resulted in some interesting comments that stimulated further thoughts. Thanks to each of you who wrote, beginning with Kenju at Just Ask Judy who expressed a wish for indulging her passion, then fantasizing about being rewarded for her pleasures with a bit more of that green stuff that we all know doesn't grow on trees.

Cop Car (Cop Car's Beat) introduced the idea of "semi-passions" which describes well the changing interests we experience throughout our lives. As she mentioned, however, many women and men have had to consider the need to provide for others and cannot just arbitrarily pursue further education later in their lives, as much as they might desire to do so, and in spite of recognizing the future benefits.

Providing the necessities of life for not only themselves but children, spouses, parents, and sometimes, others, can take precedence over further education in many lives. For some, the additional time involved with classes, studies, might mean a trade-off requiring relinquishing important and pleasurable family time with those for whom the providing is being done in the first place.

Life presents hard choices sometimes, none of which we want. Life is also filled with what I consider trade-offs -- some more worthwhile than others. All we have to do is assess those choices, those trade-offs, reach a conclusion about the desired ones, then implement them.
Amazing how easy it is to sum up in such a few words what we spend our lives trying to accomplish in such a manner that we don't reach the end of our days wondering what exactly we were doing that didn't get us where we thought we were going.

Some individuals are fortunate enough to have the support of family in seeking the further education that they might have forgone at an earlier age, or, as in my case, my return for further training was necessitated to qualify for the work I wanted to do. Emotional support from family members can make the returning student's undertaking a much more achievable goal than the challenging experience through which some must struggle and endure without it.

I strongly believe emotional and family support, especially from a spouse, demonstrates the commitment and depth of love that exists in a relationship, since each would presumably want to see the other develop to be the best person they can be, be able to engage in activities which they enjoyed and in which they could excel. The reality is that not all find they have that degree of support. However, the intricacies of relationships and the needs each brings to the union, or the developing circumstances that sometimes alter that dynamic, is another whole topic better discussed elsewhere.

As for further education based solely on its feasibility due to the student's age, I surely do think whether you're 52, Pattie, (Texas Trifles,) or a 48-yr-old who has a current passion, seeking further education is a worthwhile endeavor. I hope no one ever views themselves as coming up short as a human being for having forgone further education after high school, especially if some of the reasons were a consequence of family responsibilities.

If indeed, as that 48-yr-old said, and I've read elsewhere, many of us are in many ways ten years younger, accordingly, than our yester-year's counterparts, we can then seriously consider opportunities many earlier generations might not have been able to do. As many know to be true, we do all age at differing rates, so we each must determine for ourselves what we believe we are capable of undertaking at any age. For example, when I became aged 50, twenty some years ago, my perspective was I was simply beginning the second half of the rest of my life. I was not so naive as to not recognize I would experience these years differently in many ways from the first fifty years, but it wasn't until entering my mid to late sixties ages that I began to get an inkling of some of those more significant changes.

Another reality when we're young is that pursuing additional formal education just isn't every ones cup of tea for a variety of reasons. Maybe they just have had enough of studies. Maybe their life style at that time was exactly what they wanted. Their employment or plan for devoting their energies to their home life held promise in their view for their life's expectations at the time and in the future.

Unfortunately, lack of a college degree can result in some individuals being passed over for higher level positions in some organizations, especially as an individual gets older. That doesn't mean it's fair, logical or even rational. I'm sure a lot of good employees have found themselves thwarted for just that reason, and I know some of them, both within and outside my family.

A Scottish academic whose professional career engaged him in University publishing in London, NYC and other U.S. settings once said to me that he didn't understand we Americans with the desire to have all our children attend University. In fact, he good-naturedly said, our obsession was such, each American baby should be born with a university diploma.

As a slight digression from the topic, I am reminded this conversation ensued during my early adulthood, shortly after my first child was born and I already had an undergraduate degree. He and his wife were childless, her father had come to live with them from Scotland -- all were a delight and pleasure to know. They also introduced me to the enjoyment of eating tongue -- a pleasure I had been heretofore only too willing to fore go.

But, my friend's view on education was expressed in the early ' 60's before the information age, personal computers, outsourcing of American jobs, awareness and prominence of other nation's beginning and increasing assent to power, and so much more occurred. A college education has seemed to have assumed increasing significance through these years for many. Achieving this goal has become more challenging as the divide between the haves and havenots has become very pronounced in our society, especially in the past six years. To remain among the haves, a college education can provide a key to creating the possibility of making that a reality.

That said, I also believe that college isn't for everyone for whatever the reasons. Each person has to make their own assessment for themselves on that issue. A college or university education is no guarantee as to the level of knowledge of the person with the degree, just as lack of that degree does not automatically mean a person is uneducated. I've met or known of enough individuals in my lifetime who were self-educated to a level that I sometimes found them to be more knowledgeable than numerous others with a degree, myself included. A degree may simply mean an individual has special knowledge in select areas in the same sense a pilot develops skills to fly a plane.

I've known of degree-less individuals who performed all the duties in a position for months, until it could be filled. They were then expected to impart all their knowledge to train a newly hired degreed individual, but would be denied the job themselves, or promotions, solely because they lacked a college/university degree.

Frankly, it made about as much sense to me as a situation in my early young adult years in which I found myself one time, seeking a job where shorthand was mentioned as a desired skill -- one I did not have, and did not want, since being a secretary was not my goal in life. The prospective employer was so impressed with my having the skills he did want, he offered the job to me since shorthand was not a skill he wanted in an employee either, or ever utilized from the person working for him.

Corporate offices in some distant city had concluded that level of work for the pay I required, must also include the shorthand skill regardless of the local official's needs. My future employer-not-to-be disappointedly told me his desire to hire me had been overruled all because of shorthand. He had no other viable candidates. Ultimately, that initial disappointment worked out fine, as a much better job opportunity for me came along a short time later and I was glad I hadn't been committed to that other position.

When viewed in retrospect, this was just one more instance when what had seemed like the desired outcome of receiving that position had been a negative blow to my advancement, the opposite was true. Perhaps, not right away in every instance, but sooner or later an opportunity or much more desirable event took precedence that might never have happened otherwise. I noticed this phenomenon in my life many years ago and this awareness has enabled me to cope quite well with what might otherwise have been interpreted as temporarily devastating experiences on later occasions.

Whatever choices are made regarding seeking a formal education in a college or university setting, or if a choice is made to actively pursue informal self-education, I couldn't concur more with anyone whose approach to learning is to think of the experience as an adventure, in or out of college -- the ideal attitude to have in life. Nourish curiosity with learning and education will follow.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Does everyone have a life passion for the type of work in which they want to be employed? Are there those who've never had a life passion for a specific careeer? Is it possible to develop such a life passion if you don't have one? How does someone determine their life passion? When does a person obtain a life passion? Can a person have more than one life passion?

What does someone do after identifying their aptitudes, their interests, then seeking education in those areas, but finds the career they are pursing is not likely to provide their desired personal satisfaction, level of income or life style? Should they keep trying to find a passion, especially as they near the beginnings of mid-life? Or, should they just seek employment they can do reasonably well that will provide the desired higher level of income? Should they allow monetary rewards to be their passion in lieu of anything else?

As individuals age beyond their twenties, into their thirties, forties and fifties, does their perspective change on seeking their passion, attitude toward educational training and the type of employment they want to pursue? Should they assume their choice once made is set in stone and that is the direction the rest of their life must take, especially if they're in their forties and fifties? Some of those questions have recently been asked of me, and have prompted all these thoughts.

I never thought in language terms of my "passion," at any age, but on reflection, my interests typically translate into my passion. For me the simple questions are, what do I like to do, how do I enjoy spending my time, what stimulates my enthusiasm, am I skilled in my work or can I become so, can I figure out a way to earn income while engaging in that interest, is at least some of what I am doing fun, is it challenging, are the duties varied and/or unpredictable to some extent since this helps fuel my energy? Will I have autonomy, be in a decision-making position? Will others with whom I would enjoy spending time and whose company I will be in daily be drawn to this type career ?

As I was thinking of career passions, I became aware of a recent issue of U. S. News and World Report which identified some of the promising careers for the future which might be of interest to some:

If I am considering employment in an area of interest, depending upon my personal responsibilites for myself and others, obviously I have to think of salary, benefits, commuting requirements among other tangible and less tangible considerations. I also, want to know the potential for learning new skills, the opportunities for increased responsibility and advancement. If I find a broad interest (or passion,) I can cling to that, even branch out to distantly related areas of employment if that's the job opportunity, yet still incorporate that basic interest or passion into what I do in my work, or in activities in which I engage at other times.

I think a person without a specific passion, just needs to go with what interest(s) they can identify at the time and see where it leads them. I think they should always keep an open mind that they can change direction no matter where they find themselves. They must be prepared for the possibility that sacrifices may be required while trying to find a passion and even to pursue a found passion. Learn everything you can about what you pursue even if you aren't sure it's your passion. You never know when an idea or area of interest will take residence in your mind, saturating your thoughts, and you finally discover your interests have evolved to a deeper level, or a different one.

I've always been intrigued by those people who could identify a narrow passion, especially at an earlier age in life, cling to it at all cost, devoting their life to its pursuit. I believe a certain amount of selfishness is needed to reach their goal. I use the word selfishness in the most positive sense of someone meeting their personal needs, though I wonder if often those who lead their life thinking primarily of their own needs must be reasonably comfortable in their mind that others in their lives will be able to cope and will not need them.

I seemed always to find there were others in my life to whom I had some obligation for caregiving, resulting in my needing to adjust and adapt the pursuit of my personal passions to include consideration for them. I was conditioned to this way of life and thinking since childhood. I often found myself thinking in terms of how I could engage in some aspect of my passion, yet meet that obligation I had internalized.

The idea that someone doesn't recognize having a passion, or feels pressed to come up with one because they view the time line of their life to be narrowing their exploration opportunities, is somewhat different than my experience has been. Certainly when I returned to obtain further educational training to begin a new profession in mid-life, my thinking was that I'd have to be satisfied with that choice, since there would not realistically be years left for me to discover at the end I wanted something else.

I knew, given our culture, that if I needed to return to school once again for a second mid-life educational goal, that by the time I had finished training, my age would be such (late 50's, early 60's) that probably no one would hire me anyway, or that if they did, it wouldn't be with the idea of providing me with opportunities for advancement. I figured I would be a "pack horse employee" who joined the herd, did all the work, but could never expect to move beyond my "pack horse" status. That's not to say I wouldn't have worked as though I would be advanced, for it would have been my nature to do so, but I had seen enough of the world in various businesses, been privy to enough innuendos about older workers, and seen plenty of business practices, heard about even more from others, to know the reality of our culture's attitude toward the aging individual as employee.

I've known or read about individuals who say they just knew all their lives, from their earliest childhood memories, what they wanted to spend their lives doing -- teach, make discoveries in a laboratory, be a designer, engineer, lawyer, doctor, nurse, travel the world, be a writer, entertain people, and the list goes on. Others seem to take a different route, exploring different avenues before ultimately settling with a specific area of focus. I don't think there is an age criteria for finding that passion. I believe that occurs at differing ages for different people. Some individuals have changing or evolving passions throughout their lifetimes.

The only way I know to find one's passion is simply to experiment with a variety of different interests. I think whatever our age might be when we give serious thought to identifying our passion(s), we already know some of what definitely does not hold our interest, so we just proceed exploring other areas. I can imagine that as an individual gets older, going into their thirties, forties, and beyond there could be an increasing sense of age pressure to find one's passion, that there is less time to explore different interests.

Individuals do come to a point where personal financial security looms quite large. Ideally they would like the source of their income to be lucrative for the life style they desire. They want their income source to be derived from their passion. How realistic is this? How many people are fortunate enough to lead their lives with a lucrative income source directly related to their passion? Many of the people I know have held a variety of types of employment over the years. They have evolving changes in interests and interest levels.

We do have to narrow life down to what is really important to us. I don't negate the material aspects of life and derive as much pleasure as the next person from many of those luxuries. Some luxuries begin to seem like a necessity once we become accustomed to them, or if we even think we need them for whatever the reasons. There are those times when we may have to recognize there is a risk we will have to accept the bare basics of existence, and we must make up our minds to enjoy life with just those basics. We can continue to work for more, often successfully. Anything that comes to us at that point is extra for which we will likely be uniquely appreciative. Despite our self-doubting thoughts in our darkest hours, surprisingly, with perseverance, we often end up in life with far more than we ever imagined possible.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Aromas stimulate many reactions which a recent Los Angeles Times newspaper article about the subject written by Judy Foreman caused me to think about. I recall the days before so many items were commercially available for pleasuring or distressing our sense of smell. I do remember a time when the "next big thing" in movies was purported to be experiencing the actual smells associated with the movie being seen. I never had that movie smell experience, can't even recall what they called it. All I can think of is "Smellavision" but somehow I don't quite think that's it!

During the mid-sixties, in my younger days, I found myself unexpectedly involved in a discussion of smells, odors and aromas. I remember accompanying to lunch with his friend, the host at the time of the local TV audience participation talk show with which I was associated. Probably now, not many would remember this actor turned mid-west talk show host whose professional name was Dean Miller. He made a few Hollywood movies in the 1950s and early '60s. He was probably best known as a character in a successful TV sitcom series December Bride which aired for several years. The show also propelled names like Harry Morgan (TV's "Mash",) Lyle Talbot ("Carol Burnett Show",) Fred De Cordova ("Tonight Show with Johnny Carson) and others along their television career path. When Dean Miller, departed our local TV show scene, he purchased an Ohio radio station, then later became a TV newsman in Detroit for a number of years. His picture can be seen seventh row, third photo from the left.

What I remember most about that lunch was the intense discussion with which Miller and his friend were engaged. They were exchanging ideas about how they could create a saleable item of some sort which would circulate an aroma through a person's home. If they could come up with a reasonably priced product, then they had to find a way to get it manufactured, possibly by setting up a company to do so. Marketing, of course, would be the next step. At one point my input was solicited, which was a mistake on their part, since I lacked enthusiasm for the whole idea. This was because I experienced sensitivity to some smells, so I had long since avoided incense, other odiferous items, many perfumes, and told them I would not be buying their product, if they ever came up with one. Little did I know their idea was prime for getting in on the ground floor of what has become a burgeoning industry.

Now, when I go to even my neighborhood market there are more products infused with a choice of aromas than I can name, from deodorants, dispensers simply plugged in to light sockets, to cleaning substances, candles and more. To this day I generally avoid aromas via fresheners, aromatic candles or other in my home, preferring odorless products. Most perfumes don't seem to bother me, but I use only certain ones, lightly, and never when I work, lest I encounter some poor soul in the process of recovering their health who might have an unwelcome reaction to aromas.

Some years ago I recall standing in an outdoor line at Universal Studios behind a woman whose perfume had the most over-powering aroma to which I had ever been subjected. I've been exposed to towns with the odors of paper mills, meat rendering plants, countrysides with stockyards, plain ole manure-filled barnyards or chicken coops, and out houses, but none affected me like this. I didn't find the actual aroma objectionable like some of those I just named, but whatever created the aroma of this woman's perfume caused the inside of my head to feel as though it had been set on fire -- an allergic reaction, I guess. I don't know if the composition of her perfume was from natural sources or aritifical chemical ones, but that fact then was of little matter to me. I just wanted relief.

This all came to mind when I read Judy Foreman's Los Angeles Times article "The spell of smells." The subtitle of her article is "A pleasant scent may lift your mood, but there's little science behind aromatherapy" which is defined as "the use of plant oils to improve well-being." Seems there continues to be a group of proponents for the use of aromatherapy. Ms. Foreman reports there's very little data as to the effectiveness of aromatherapy, but some researchers at Ohio State University, with federal funding for a study, are analyzing data on the subject. Three different research study groups have been exposed to lavender, supposed to be a relaxant, or lemon which is supposed to be stimulating or uplifting, or just odorless distilled water. I think it will be interesting to learn what their research reveals.

Other research on which Ms Foreman reports includes "Dr. Charles J. Wysocki, a behavioral neuroscientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia...has spent more than 30 years studying smell." He reportedly found the benefits to be weak, if at all, for the results cited in some claims for lowering blood pressure, with "pleasant odors such as rose, jasmine and lavender."

Other aromas have been the focus of researchers for effectiveness in alleviating various medical conditions i.e. anxiety reduction, pain relief with hospice patients and cancer patients receiving radiation. The results indicated benefits were questionable or not much more than other treatments, or even "not beneficial."

Wysocki is quoted as saying "It's very difficult to demonstrate positive effects" from odors...but, in contrast, easy to demonstrate mood swings in the negative direction." Ms Foreman summarizes his view that "Reactions to odors are also highly conditioned" so we each may have quite a different perception based on our circumstances and experience when we first encountered the odor. Other researchers, she reports, have concluded "expectations also play a huge role in reaction to scents" -- if people expect to feel better, they may.

Foreman also wonders, following a lavender oil massage, to what do you attribute feeling better? "Is it the massage? The oil being absorbed into the skin? The scent of the oil? The attention? All of the above?" I agree with her "take." She suggests, "Enjoy a nice, warm, scented bath if you want to relax. But don't count on the expensive bath oil to help anyone but the company that sold it to you."

That's also what I think about most products being sold to supposedly preserve an aging individual's youthful appearance. All who seek to be perpetually young-looking would be well-advised to examine research carefully and beware, the marketers are zeroing in on your emotions and your pocketbook.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Note: Links have been updated in previous post - "Music In My Soul."

FROM NYC TO L.A. ... is it possible the birds are taking over coast to coast? After reading the post at Time Goes By, I wondered. Before I write more about those birds, I'm reminded of that Alfred Hitchcock suspense movie, "The Birds" starring Tippi Hedren. I felt let down when I saw the movie. I didn't really think it was one of Hitches better movies. I even found the ending not that traumatic though many others were quite shaken by the climax. I thought it was a pretty weak movie compared to "Psycho," but have been cautioned it's a mistake to compare them.

I did a quick perusal of Wikipedia about this movie and found this interesting: "Instead of a typical film soundtrack Hitchcock painstakingly had Oskar Sala create bird sounds on his trautonium, which were then scored to the movie by Bernard Herrmann. The fact that there are no natural bird sounds makes it of interest to the field of musicology. There is a very high-pitched soundtrack of electronic noise through the film which subconsciously adds to the tension experienced by the viewer."

But about birds, more specifically, those which are not native North American residents -- recommend you read Ronni Bennett's interesting piece at Time Goes By . Not only were her observations quite thought provoking about adaptation, but on a more concrete level, comments of others were very informative, too. The comment I felt prompted to make there was becoming quite lengthy. I've concluded when that happens, I should just write a piece here.

I think some of the birds described there are similar to the ones with which I recently became acquainted. Also, I'm convinced the birds I saw here are the same breed as the ones in the recent award-winning documentary movie mentioned that was set in San Francisco. There's a link there to that movie in a comment by Donna where you can see in full color birds like those I saw at a distance, and hear the sounds they produce. Note: Donna writes at Changing Places

New York, Chicago are cited and now I'm adding Los Angeles to that list of cities where non-native wild birds have adapted to life in urban and suburban areas. That's right, we have wild parrots in the Los Angeles County area, too! A couple weeks ago I was being awakened at dawn by less than musical bird sounds. I wondered what new bird was migrating through. Well, morning after morning I heard them. Then one night at dusk I heard them in greater numbers and louder volume than previously. Venturing out of my house at dusk I could just make out fluttering birds in tree-full numbers settling in to roost for the night in a huge tree a couple of houses east of mine, here in a small city in northeastern L.A. County.

By the next day the birds were moving on, just as our local paper and a couple other area newspapers started having articles, and pictures of bright colored green parrots with red heads -- a flock of maybe 300 they said. Seems what Brooklyn, San Francisco, Chicago have reported is similar here. The cause of these parrots "escape" from captivity many years ago is attributed to several possible stories, including "somebody just turned a pair loose," "the parrots escaped from their owners," to "the parrots were hastily turned loose by smugglers trying to avoid arrest." Pick your colorful story, or imagine one of your own, as they all seem to have been offered as explanations about how these parrots came to be here. Frankly, I don't think anybody knows for sure and those who might know, aren't about to admit it.

What is known for sure, is that the parrots have been permanent residents of Temple City, CA for many years, and the thought is the flock has grown so large, this group ventured out for new territory to harvest certain tree pods this time of year, then they move on, or even that they might be looking to settle permanently in a new environment. My next door neighbors said they arose one morning to find their yard filled with the entrancing sight of these red accented bright green birds. I've had my new digital camera at the ready, but the parrots have moved on en masse, and I never did get to see their full beauty, but I have to tell you that I sure do not miss their noise. I am a bird lover, but I might add I don't think I would miss at all what birds in that number might deposit in my yard overnight should they decide to perch in my trees.

Seems there are different types of non-native birds, and probably other creature species, which are adapting to living in our country. Even more adaptation is taking place through moving from the wild countryside to urban areas. Birds such as Peregrine Falcons and Red-tailed Hawks are successfully doing so as you can read at this Nature site:
that mentions "The Wild Side of New York" with birds such as Peregrine Falcons and Red-tailed Hawks and the famous "Red Tails In Love."

In our suburban area we have shared our habitat with owls I've heard and occasionally seen at night. Daytime finds young crows strutting through our yards, swooping through the air trying to avoid the darting assaults of mockingbirds defending their egg-filled nests from these marauders. Our older crows were almost extinguished a few years ago when the West Nile Virus swept through the area taking a toll on
their numbers. I must confess these crows do not substitute for my favorite songbirds, but I do admire how they have adapted as we humans have infringed on their area by moving into the mountains and foothills. Though we're an hours auto drive from the Pacific Ocean, sea gulls are seen soaring through our air daily. Do they come further inland in search of food because there are fewer fishing boats and accessible sea food harvesting for them? I don't know, but I wonder.

At the Nature web site link noted above in the section about "Urban Ecology" I read a quote which we humans would be well-advised to adopt whatever our circumstances and environment: "The more adaptable a species, the better it is at urban life." Or, I might add, the more we adapt at every age, the better we will each be at not only survival, despite what life may send our way, but at actually prospering and deriving pleasure from life, family and friends in the process of living.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

M U S I C ... I N ... M Y ... S O U L

Links Updated 1/07/07

A new jazz vocalist friend brought to my attention a New York Times article (12/31/2006) by Clive Thompson entitled Music of the Hemispheres. This article references a book "This Is Your Brain On Music" (Dutton), a layperson's guide to the emerging neuroscience of music" by Dr. Daniel Levitin. I found this website and the music there intriguing: http://www.yourbrainonmusic.com/

Mr. Thompson's article quotes Dr. Levitin: "By the age of 5 we are all musical experts, so this stuff is clearly wired really deeply into us." Dr. Levitin is described as a youthful 49, exploring music questions as to why and how we recognize music after hearing as little as just one note. He is unique in that he spent 15 years as a record producer before becoming a cognitive psychologist at McGill University in Montreal, "perhaps the world's leading lab in probing why music has such an intense effect on us" writes Mr. Thompson.

The article has some interesting references to Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Elton John, the Beatles, The Boston Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Levitin's work argues that musical and mathematical ability are not inherently linked based on his study of people with Williams syndrome, according to Mr. Thompson, though there are those who disagree with some of Levitin's arguments.

Dr. Levitin's professional music career included his having "a punk outfit," also he appeared once as a backup saxophonist for Mel Torme' the article continues. This brings to mind Torme' who died in 1999, is known to have had perfect pitch. He was a musician's musician, a jazz vocalist favorite of mine, so hearing him sing in person at an intimate dinner club years ago in the 1960's was a real pleasure, though it was reportedly during one of the most difficult times of his career. Much has been written about Torme' including some here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Torm%C3%A9.

These thoughts also come to mind after reading the article, since music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was taught piano for about five years as a young child, had several years of dance, then life's circumstances intervened to the extent I no longer had the opportunity to continue with either. Up to that point though, I do recall Sunday afternoons with my mother in the town where I was born, attending a local philharmonic orchestra's regular performances. Repeatedly mother impressed upon me that the philharmonic orchestra's director was not only from a nearby private university, to which I then aspired attending, but he had been associated with an orchestra led by the highly regarded Paul Whiteman about whom you can read more here:

Paul Whiteman's orchestra introduced George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue," The piece was the first of which I was aware that had embedded itself in my soul. Perhaps the music was already a part of me, merely rushing out to float on the rhythms of Gershwin's melodies when I heard the notes of this "Rhapsody" which bridges the genres of classical and jazz. This is the seed I recall from which my subsequent broad musical tastes evolved. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhapsody_in_Blue

Movie musicals were an entertainment that as a child I was allowed to attend on occasion. I recall pianist Jose Iturbi performing a mesmerizing version of "Rhapsody In Blue" in one such movie. Two other significant music events occurred during those years: I saw my very first movie, entitled Cabin In The Sky with Lena Horne and she was the very first vocalist to touch my jazz soul.

Throughout my life listening to music has been a key nourishing element for my every mood or state of mind. At times I wanted music that reflected my feelings. At other times I've wanted music that contrasted with what I was feeling. In either instance my thoughts flourished while listening to the music, much as a plant responds to the light, to being fed and watered.

Perhaps it is no coincidence I married someone who also loved music, devoted many years of his life to his avocation as a professional jazz musician, both performer and listener. When he died mid-May 2006, I intuitively found needed comfort in music, including many jazz recordings, which for many weeks played from the time I arose each morning, until I went to bed at night. I sought out jazz concerts, which serendipitously for me, I found occurring for a few hours Sunday afternoons (free) only a mile or so from my home, which I began attending regularly.

Various rotating professional musical groups perform there year round. I may introduce some of these groups and/or individual members here sometime during this new year of 2007 and I add some talk of music. My fantasy is to eventually add some photos, audio and even video to these posts -- much for me to learn technically, first. Meanwhile, I'll continue to ponder some of the ideas set forth in Mr. Thompson's article.

Monday, January 01, 2007