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J. S Bach, English Suite No. 5 – Prelude

I never formally studied this Suite, instead doing the No. 2 in A minor and the No. 4 in F.  Nevertheless, this is one of my favorites to try and stumble through.

I was reading somewhere or other the thoughts of an amateur golfer who argued that there is one kind of satisfaction for a pro who routinely drives and putts accurately and well, but a different, special kind of satisfaction for the duffer who might make one decent shot in twenty.   I feel the same way about my keyboard playing.  Not having the time for it, I don’t formally study my repertoire, but instead content myself with sight-reading them.  A lot of time, I frankly sound pretty terrible.  But every now and again I rise above my normal level of pounding, getting a complicated run, nailing a phrase, naturally using the fingering the book is telling me to.  And sometimes I even get beyond that, as when I have a flash of, “Oh, I see why he put that here…”  Perhaps the pinnacle is when I suddenly realize that I’m not paying any attention at all to the physical mechanics of my playing, but am actually listening to the musick itself.  (Of course, this tends to break the spell and I usually come a cropper shortly thereafter.)

Now all of these things would be par for the course for a professional, or even for an amateur who works at it.  But like the duffer who hits the occassional nifty, I find myself feeling a special sort of pleasure when I actually get it right that I expect is long lost to my betters.

At least, that’s what I like to tell myself.

This morning as all the gels were slowly and with many jibes being made to get themselves dressed, breakfasted and pointed in the direction of school, I could tell that the eleven year old’s internal barometer was dropping like a stone.  Although she got out of bed readily enough, it wasn’t long before she was noodging her sisters and talking back to her mother.   It wasn’t long after that before she was arguing over sufficiency of her book report on a biography of Julius Caesar and whether she had brushed her hair and teeth satisfactorily.  And by the time the gels were headed out the door – after some very cold words from Self regarding her treatment of those around her, she was in full-cry meltdown mode.


As she stumped off to the garage, I couldn’t help thinking again that dealing with a kid on the very edge of puberty is a pretty sticky business.  On the other hand, the more academic part of me is absolutely fascinated watching the ol’ hormones starting to kick in. 

I feel rayther like a storm-chaser watching a mesocyclone getting ready to throw its weight about. 

Goin’ green.

Well, now.

Stanley Steamer came out this morning to give the carpeting in the Port-Swiller basement the biznay.  The fellah in charge of the crew was a personable, articulate, young African American, and as he was ringing up the receipt after they were finished, began to tell me some of his, ah, political views.

He started off bemoaning the current state of the economy, which is fair enough.  I mean, res ipsa loquitor, what?  But then he started spiraling ever outward.  It turns out that he believes The One hasn’t the faintest idea what he’s doing, but is a mere empty suit under the thumb of a giant international conspiracy of financiers and socialists. (I’m surprised he didn’t say the Pope or the Jews, too.)   He also believes that a lot of people only voted for The One out of a sense of guilt or because they fell for his charisma and willfully blinded themselves to his shortcomings.  (I must confess that I believe that one myself.)

Warming to his theme, he told me that the real reason for the new troop surge in Afghanistan is so that if some kind of domestic trouble arises, the Government will have to call in U.N. troops from other countries to deal with it.   He also told me the rayther remarkable fact that the whole Tiger Woods brouhaha was fadged up by the Government and the Press in order to distract the country from the hacked global warming fraud emails scandal.  He went on to say that the EPA and Monsanto are involved in a 20 year plot to deliberately wipe out up to a third of the American population through the systematic poisoning of the water supply and the introduction of genetically-modified foodstuffs.

Then he got on the subject of flouridation.  I didn’t know anyone went in for that particular bogey-man anymore.

What is it about me that seems to attract crazy people? I mean, the guy didn’t know me from Adam.  And while I was polite and smiled and made sympathetic murmurings, I didn’t exactly encourage him to confide in me.  For all he knew, I might be some boot-stomping liberal who would be on the phone to his boss trying to get him fired before he’d even pulled out of the driveway.

Must admit they did a very nice job, but I can’t help thinking that maybe somebody’s been inhaling a few too many cleaner fumes.


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December 2009