Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Adventures in Public Transportation

Just got back from Downingtown, Pennsylvania. I flew back to see my niece and nephew graduate from high school. The niece, whom we will refer to as "Diva," will be attending Temple University, Bill Cosby's Alma Mater. The nephew, whom I will call "Mad Dog," is still undecided about his academic plans, but recently started a lucrative job as a manager at a big theater chain.

So Diva Canary needed to go to Temple to take several placement tests. The Most Right Reverend Canary (my BiL) and I went with her for moral support and for to wander the city, while she tested. The family has three cars and five family members. So, to ease the strain and save money (gas prices, ya know?), we took the train, which has a stop not a quarter of a mile from my sister's house.

MRRC and I took in the Philadelphia Art Museum while Diva took her tests. Quite a day. The museum is huge and has lots of art. The best part was the section with Asian art on display. Some great statuary and recreated temples. The Hindu section was my favorite, because I had read a lot about the deities depicted in much of the statuary. A lot of avatars of Vishnu represented.

My problem with art is that I don't know enough about it. If I take in too much, I go into overload mode.

What I enjoyed most was the train trip. I like the idea of public transportation. Someone else drives, while you get to read the paper, have a cuppa coffee, sleep, or whatever. It would be nice to live in an area where they had decent public transportation.

Later that week, I took a train excursion on my own, to Buck's county to check out a folk music store there. The trip took me through some really beautiful scenery. I actually saw a deer poking its head out from behind the brush at one point.

When I got to my stop, I found myself on a road filled with trees and singing birds. I could swear Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony was being piped in. I had a lovely walk and even walked past the music store. Twice. It didn't advertise itself very well. It looked like just another house.

While on the train, I thought about ways I might live a greener life, and save money on gas too. I decided that I ought to try our city's rapid transit system--no trains just buses.

Today I had to get to my brother's house and pick up my mother's car. I decided that having someone come to get me would be a waste of gas--and gas is about $4.75 a gallon around here. So I decided to take the bus, which I discovered would drop me less than a block from Billy C's house. The ride took about 25 minutes in an air conditioned, natural gas burning vehicle--all for $1.25. I expected I'd get lost, but the route was pretty simple. This probably won't be practical for all of my transportation needs, as I live outside of Rio de Nada, but I am going to try to do this once a week and see what happens.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Man in the Hat

I forgot to mention that I saw the Indiana Jones movie. What can I say? I laughed out loud and had a great time. Like Roger Ebert said (and I paraphrase) those of you who like that sort of thing will love it and those who don't--there's no talking to you.

This was old-school Spielberg, with several self-indulgent references to other films--like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Close Encounters. And there was some stock scream that apparently Spielberg, Lucas, and every other film maker try to work into every film they make. Or maybe it's the sound editors who do that.

There were a couple of sight gags that I know were sight gags, but I didn't quite follow them. Harrison looks too old for this sort of thing at first, but then works that into the story very well. The chemistry between him and Karen Allen made me wonder why Spielberg and Lucas ever dropped her from the series. Her character was much more interesting than the others Indiana Jones women.

The character plot twist at the end was not the plot twist I had expected. I expected the special effects plot twist. When you think about it, all of the Indiana Jones films have the same ending: basically that for all of our human curiosity, there is such a thing as too much knowledge and we should accept that.

But this series is a cartoon in essence and should be taken as such. As I left the theater, I realized that I hadn't had a single thought for the whole two hours and that's as it should be.

Dangerous Driving

Yesterday, Billy C, Do, and I were to accompany Princess Canary at a concert put on by her High School's vocal music program. We had a sound check at 11 AM. On my way there, I had to take a busy street congested by due to ongoing construction. I was stopped behind a line of cars for a red light, when this Ford Expedition rear-ended me. I was pissed, but mostly calm when I took down the information from this stupid lady who hit me, but I missed the sound check. My point is, what a crappy way to begin the day. I wanted to kill the woman.

So, performance time. Princess Canary sang beautifully. It is on film somewhere. She sang the Beatles' "I Will," which is the first difficult song I ever attempted. Never really learned it until now because it didn't really fit my voice. It's a cool song with chord changes about every two beats.

Princess has a sweet voice. She's not yet comfortable with it, but once she develops it, will be a fine singer.

Many other students sang solos, duets, and other conglomerations. One thing I felt (and this isn't a commentary on the quality of performances) was that song writing can't be as hard as I seem to think. So many of the songs sung were utter crap. And hits for someone.

Even some of the choral music wasn't that good. Zoe's group, the chambers singers, did some really great stuff, but the other groups did mostly pop tunes. And there was a whole lot of churchy music. Not GOOD churchy music. But current pop, sappy churchy music. Jesus, "Take the Wheel," about a woman in turmoil driving back home and deciding to let Jesus take over. She decides to let go of the steering wheel and I'm thinking, given my morning accident, that's a pretty dangerous thing to do.

This school is located in the middle of a highly conservative Christian community, so I guess many people feel it's ok to have that much religion at a public school. But I just wonder whether a student who wants to do a song about another religious or political view would be allowed to do so.