Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Beauty Tip from Mary Rosicky

Michael and I are reading Willa Cather's Obscure Destinies. Yesterday this passage from "Neighbor Rosicky" caught my eye and piqued my curiosity:

Since I have some grey hair to experiment upon, I tried Mary Rosicky's trick. I rubbed a tea bag on a particularly colorless area of my hair, and after it dried I was pleased to see that my formerly almost white tufts of hair had turned a friendly and natural-looking ash blonde. I found out this morning that shampoo washes most of it out, but it is easy to reapply a dab of tea. Mary did it every day.

Michael tried it on his beard, and it worked for him too. He also noticed that his beard felt softer after being treated with the tea. (We used Red Rose Irish Breakfast tea.)

Mary's trick has been scientifically proven to work! It has to do with the conversion of catechins to quinones, and applying it repeatedly makes the tea dye more permanent.

My next Cather-inspired domestic endeavor? Kolache. Mary Rosicky makes them with apricots, but I think I'll try making mine with some of the blueberries that are in the refrigerator.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Nancy's Composer Friend

This comic is from 1946. My profile picture is from 2016. I only saw this today (thanks to Michael). I swear.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Stefan Zweig on Sports

From The World of Yesterday
Even now, in 1941, I am highly confused as to the difference between baseball and football, hockey and polo, and the sporting page of a newspaper with its inexplicable figures seems to me to be written in Chinese. In the matter of all speed and ability records in sport, I have always been of the same opinion as the Shah of Persia who, when asked to attend the Derby, replied with Oriental wisdom: "Why? I know that one horse can run faster than another. It makes no difference to me which one it is."

Friday, July 15, 2016

2016 Summer Strings Concert

Here is the announcement for the 2016 Summer Strings concert from today's local paper!
CHARLESTON -- Summer Strings will present its annual concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the John Daum Amphitheatre in Kiwanis Park.

The program includes classical and popular works arranged for string orchestra by Elaine Fine. Conducted by Rachel Warfel, Summer Strings members include students, adults and string teachers from Charleston and surrounding communities including Mattoon, Shelbyville, Sullivan and Tuscola.

A wide variety of musical selections include "Till There Was You," "He's a Pirate," "Once Upon a December," "Those Were the Days," "Cinema Paradiso" as well as familiar works by Fasch, Bach, Satie and Offenbach.

Summer Strings offers an ensemble experience for string players of all ages and abilities.

Facilitated by area string teachers, Summer Strings thanks the First Christian Church for providing rehearsal space, the Coles County Arts Council for music printing funds, Fit to a Tee for concert shirts and the Charleston Recreation Department for concert sponsorship.

The public is invited to the performance Tuesday. In the event of rain, the concert will be at the First Christian Church, 411 Jackson.
If you happen to be in the area, Charleston is about an hour due south of Champaign on Route 130 (or Route 57) and about an hour west of Terre Haute. Kiwanis Park has entrances on both Harrison Street and Jackson Street. There is ample parking and admission is free.

Monday, July 04, 2016


My mother's overhauled and restored flute arrived in the mail a few days ago. I have been having a grand old time getting reacquainted with the instrument I played for three hours every day from age 14 to age 16. When I was 16 I got my own open-hole flute, which I sold back in the 1990s to help pay for a violin.

The flute is surprisingly easy to play (particularly after playing the baroque flute), and it has only taken me two days to regain some breath control and technique. But with the return to playing the instrument I used to express myself in adolescence, and the instrument with which I experienced the frustrations of trying to fit into the musical world as a young adult, comes all sorts of emotional "baggage."

Yesterday I decided to make a couple of recordings playing the flute and using the piano generator that lives in my Finale notation program. The pieces I have written for flute and piano sit on a few library shelves and on the hard drive of Subito Music (the publisher that sells some of my music). I don't have any idea if anybody has played them.

I tried my hand at Cante Jondo, a set of pieces with some serious rhythmic complexities. I found that I had quite a bit of difficulty playing and counting at the same time. String playing has taught me to externalize rhythm. The amount of bow and the actions of the bow can replace some of the act of counting for me. And then there is the ability to use your mouth to count (softly) out loud while playing. The flute has nothing external to help, and the mouth is otherwise occupied, so the mind has to do it all.

This YouTube video has four of the five pieces. The fifth one was too difficult to synchronize with a non-living pianist.

"For Poulenc," my other Subito-published piece for flute and piano, started life as a song setting of a Frank O'Hara poem, which I couldn't publish (for copyright reasons). I adapted it for flute and piano, and dedicated it to my teacher, Julius Baker. Here is a recording.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Beethoven Septet Boston Symphony Chamber Players

I heard my father perform this piece often, but this is the first time I have heard the recording (it was recorded in 1980 and released in 1982, while I was out of the country)! Thank you Pawel Rybkowski for uploading this!