Termagant Tuesday: “Hawaii,” New York Ska Jazz Ensemble


Aloha, Tune Sharks!  Your intrepid blogger is in delightful Honolulu this week — for work.  (I know, right?)  What with the six hour time delay, I only now had a moment to send you a musical postcard.  I hope its weirdness will make up for my tardiness.


Modernism Monday: “Home,” David Byrne and Brian Eno


Sorry for the unannounced hiatus, Tune Sharks – I’ve been at a rodeo (as one is from time to time). I’ve spent the past three days in a location I have never been to before. At certain times, I felt very far away from home. So I spent much of the time thinking about what “home” means. The best friend I visited just moved back to her home state and had been having a bit of a tough readjustment period. I couldn’t have empathized more. Having spent two decades there, how can a few years away make things feel so different upon return? I, too, am considering a move, to make a new home for myself somewhere else. I’ve done that multiple times before but this time it feels scarier, a lot riskier. But isn’t home less about place and more about people? And if I move with and closer to those people in whose company I feel fully myself, safe, and accepted, then why should it feel as alarming?

Home and identity are inextricably twinned. Even people with pathological wanderlust have places that make them feel at home, centered. Home is a major identifier – a way we are binned into categories by people we barely know. People who have been born in one place, grew up in another, and live someplace else, as is my lot, don’t have any idea what to say when asked where they’re from. In a way, they’re both stateless and ambulatory new states – some multi-location hybrid. A territory, population 1. But who am I? Am I anyone recognizable? Will people understand me?

The peril we face as we grow is the possibility of outgrowing either our people-homes or our place-homes. Or, as can often happen, both. We become trees whose roots have punched through the sidewalk and whose top branches recline in the power lines. We are awkward, ostentatious, dangerous eyesores in our communities. We’re show-offs. We need to go. Also unpleasant is that this can make us feel ungrateful: we have used up all the resources we can and are moving on, leaving a depleted moonscape behind us. Now we really aren’t from anywhere, and if we’re not from anywhere, how can we ever go home?

Because we aren’t the center of the universe. Everything is changing, all the time. We can go back home. We can make new homes. Sometimes that’s the same thing.

Before I get to go home, Im getting on another plane to spent a week in another strange place, this time for work. Don’t worry, I promise I’ll write.


Throwback Thursday: “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” Bernard Herrmann


Ok, perhaps I’m going out on a limb posting this as a Thursday song, but I have always believed film scores can fall into the classical bin. So there we go. Tune Sharks, meet Bernard Herrmann. Herr Herrmann composed this in 1958, towards the middle of his career. If this suite sounds at all sounds familiar or reminds you of something else, it might be because this was written three years before Leonard Bernstein wrote the music for “West Side Story.” Herrmann was a prolific film composer, first writing the score for “Citizen Kane,” most of Hitchcock’s films, including “Vertigo,” “North by Northwest,” and “Psycho,” and Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.”

Now that I’ve left you with a few interesting factoids, I’m getting on a plane. Toodle-oo!

Termagant Tuesday: “Don’t Panic,” The Quintet of the Hot Club of San Francisco



So, get this, Tune Sharks.  I have to figure out how to pack for an almost three-week-long trip that will involve three stops, three states, three entirely different climates, two conferences, one week-long meeting, and…a rodeo.


Beyond that ridiculous question, how do I ready my house for that absence?  Do I really have to eat all of my yogurt?  How about my granola?  Do I have to Lysol my baseboards or can I just do my countertops?  What about moths?  What about the ghost who opens my cabinets – should I duct tape them closed?  Can ghosts peel off duct tape?  What about the slight gap between my air conditioner and the world outside?  Should I plug that with socks?  Will I have enough socks left over after I pack my rodeo socks?  Do I even own rodeo socks? What the hell are rodeo socks?  Do hotels have dry cleaning or will I have to bring every suit I own?  And when did I lose the international traveller part of myself for whom a 19-day trip would be child’s play?  But seriously – moths?


Modernism Monday: “Rainbow,” Robert Plant



I’m as much of a Led Zeppelin fan as anyone, but I have always loved Robert Plant’s solo stuff.  His newest album, “Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar,” from which this song comes, is my favorite of his albums.  He’s such a pure musician, traveling everywhere for new ways to access the music that is always inside him.  He’s a lot like Paul Simon in that way, I think.  This track, in particular, is stunning.  For a super cool article with Plant, check out this piece on NPR.

Sacred Sunday: “Steal Away,” Mahalia Jackson and Nat King Cole



Brains are weird things.  This song, for some reason, was going through my head last night as I lay in the dark dealing with both a migraine and food poisoning at the same time.  (How exciting!)  Then, after I finally fell asleep, this is why my fevered brain came up with as a dream.

I was in a bar/restaurant/liquor store and needed a strong drink to help me forget some recent heartache. I went up to the bar to order a single malt. The bartender was Elizabeth Warren. We got to talking and I discovered she owned the place. At the moment I complimented her on her excellent (and enormous) establishment, out of nowhere appeared Sam Waterston in a corduroy jacket and bow tie.  I recognized him as my traveling companion. Elizabeth offered us both a gift certificate to the restaurant plus a year of free drinks if we both agreed to seven years of indentured servitude. Even though it wasn’t clear what, exactly, that meant, Sam declined immediately, looked at me, shrugged, and walked off.  I, startled, said I needed to think about it, and left the bar/restaurant/liquor store to go to CVS, which was managed by, obviously, Shaquille O’Neal.

So, there you go.  Have some Mahalia Jackson and Nat King Cole to soothingly carry you through Sunday.

Salubrious Saturday: “Higher in the Sun,” Nora En Pure



There’s a guy I sing with in my choir who is expecting his first child with his wife this October.  We had a baby shower for them today.  I remember their wedding shower a few years ago.  Continuity is a lovely thing, and it’s touching to be able to be a part of so many of one person’s milestones.

Funk Friday: “If You Don’t Get It The First Time,” The JB’s and Fred Wesley



This morning, I was so spacey that I stepped off the wrong train (the yellow) to wait for the right train (…the yellow) because I thought I was on the wrong train (the green) and as such I’d need to change at Mt. Vernon Square for the right train (the yellow).  And then the yellow came, again, but I couldn’t get on because only the front half of the train doors opened, and I was at the back half, so the train just…left.

Then I finally, miraculously, got to work, and was in line to purchase my bagel and cream cheese, and the guy in front of me had just gotten his change, when another employee said “I can take you over here,” and “over here” was in the absolute back of the store.  Ohhhhkay.

Yesterday I absolutely killed it in a presentation to one of my directors and got a bushel of kudos, after a few weeks of crazy stressing that I was going to bite it, and months of anxiety before that thinking I wasn’t making any progress.  But I was.  …Huh.

My point?  Nothing is static.  Everything changes.  Just keep breathing.  And maybe get a trombone.  That seems to help, too.