Friday, April 13, 2007

Musical Journey: Part 2

The children are asleep. At the same time, which is welcome but rare. My biology training serves me well; pack their little bodies with carbohydrates and the blood will rush to their bellies to digest it. In short, feed 'em til they pass out. It's not cruel; it's exactly how I fall asleep.

Plan B would have been to emotionally drain them with a stirring rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" on the harmonica. If they aren't smitten with that, I've also got some Stevie Wonder I've been working on.

Slaughterhouse 5: Part 2

The loss of Kurt Vonnegut has been seeping in over the past couple days like morning dew into a sleeping bag. The Gililland Middle School library where I spent most of my lunch hours had only two shelves of science fiction. As I worked my way through the section, I would pass over Slaughterhouse 5 again and again. The title brought to mind the shoot-em-up space operas that I was discovering I didn't much care for. I might have passed it up for the rest of my life but eventually I had read everything else and I picked up the faded paperback copy, took it to the librarian, and checked it out.

It changed my life. After reading the fluid poetry of Ray Bradbury and the sprawling, world-within-worlds of Frank Herbert and the pitch-perfect camp of Damon Knight, Vonnegut's writing was so fucking wry. I loved it. It certainly set the tone for my upcoming stint as a sarcastic teenager eager to share my biting commentary with the world.

As I read, I would re-examine the spine for the little sticker with a rocket ship that signaled many of the books I liked and think "This is science fiction?"

Vonnegut's work has taught me much. Every now and again I'll be surprised by a wash of grief but it passes quickly. It's hard to feel upset because I know there are several of his books I haven't read yet. The man may be dead, but he is not gone. And I am happily looking forward to spending a lot more time with him.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I've taken up the violin again. My dear friend Jenna is loaning me hers and I've been hard at work to get back to my former proficiency. Last night I finally achieved it. Now, if someone were to observe me playing from a great distance, or perhaps through a very thick window that blocked the transmission of sound, that person might think "Hey, that guy's playing a violin."

But that person would be wrong. I knew how to play the violin many years ago, but I never knew how to play it well. However, I can sure as hell look like I'm playing the violin. Even the most elaborate compositions were no match for my musical pantomimicry. Yet I was still stuck as a third chair violin. Indeed, had there been a fourth chair, a fifth chair, or perhaps a small grass hut just outside of the concert hall I'm certain the conductor would have put me in it. I realize now the fatal error in my fake musical skill. I wonder to this day how long it took before my conductor noticed that I never turned the pages of my sheet music. Not too long, I'll bet. Probably not too long at all.