Thursday, March 30, 2006

In which Wealth Has Its Privileges

Most of this post is about toilets. Skip ahead if you can't wait. At the end the subject becomes prison riots.

The Ojai Music Festival has been held in the little California city of Ojai for decades. New music is a specialty of the festival. Ojai is north of Santa Barbara, due west of Pasadena. Click here for their website.

Over the years I've attended periodically. I performed there once - a chamber work by Peter Maxwell Davies that still makes me cringe when I think of it. And a long time ago I was introduced to Olivier Messiaen backstage - we didn't have much to say to each other (it was a language thing.)

Concerts are held in a small wooden bandshell in Libby Park. There are uncomfortable benches in front - and grass to spread out on in the back. It's a pleasant if not great place to hear music. The core audience is, by all accounts, pretty well heeled (rich) - but they know how to dress down.

The 2006 Ojai Festival brochure arrived in my mail yesterday. Musically they're going with the current big fashion plate, Osvaldo Golijov. But the most fascinating item was on the donations page. At the top in big letters it says "Enhance Your Experience!".

  • For a $750 donation you get to "mingle with your favorite artists after the concert."
  • For a $1000 donation you get free parking. (no small deal in Ojai)
  • For a $2500 donation you get "Exclusive access for two to the Red Carpet Port-O-Potty during Festival"
I admit that the general facilities provided in Libby Park are pretty basic - you know, kind of like it was in a PARK! When I checked online for the Red Carpet Port-O-Potty offer, it only got sillier.

  • For a $7500 donation you get two additional passes to the Red Carpet Port-O-Potty.

Click here to see the donation levels for yourself. You can donate your $7500 directly at the bottom on the page.

Consider the per-visit cost for Red Carpet Port-O-Potty access. For a mere ten times what you pay to mingle with "your favorite artists" four people can visit the Red Carpet Port-O-Potty all they want for four days. Obviously this is the way new music in the US can achieve better funding -- by providing exclusive rest room access. Red Carpet Port-O-Potty. Sorry. I can't stop saying it.

Here's some links about toilets: Click here or Click there. Here's some videos about toilets: a Japanese toilet seat commercial, an animated porno clip (Mixed Meters' first x-rated link) and a 10-minute 1953 movie called Good Health Practices showing how Jim and Judy live a healthy lifestyle because they wash their hands after. And this short video shows the dangers of using regular, uncarpeted port-o-potties.

Meanwhile, back at the brochure: I noticed composer Frederic Rzewski's piece Coming Together on one program, touted for its "narrative tension" and "pure drama". No mention of the Attica rebellion in the brochure. Even 35 years later Attica probably doesn't sell tickets to bucolic high art festivals like a Red Carpet Port-O-Potty can.

Just for the heck of it, here's the text to Coming Together. It was written by inmate Sam Melville before the "event" (also called "uprising" "rebellion" or "massacre").

I think the combination of age and a greater coming together is responsible for the speed of the passing time. It's six months now, and I can tell you truthfully, few periods of my life have passed more quickly.... In the indifferent brutality, the incessant noise, the experimental chemistry of food, the ravings of lost hysterical men, I can act with clarity and meaning....
Listening to these words set to Rzewski's aggressive music and knowing what would happen later, makes a powerful, brutal musical statement. In a park. Near a horse trail. Charles Mingus, of the previous Mixed Meters post, wrote a nice piece called Remembering Rockefeller at Attica. Too nice.

A couple Rzewski or Coming Together links: Click here or Click there. And here's a page with one Rzewski link for each variation in his piano piece The People United Will Never Be Defeated. Here's a photo history of the Attica Rebellion.

Music Reviews

Monday, March 27, 2006

Charles Mingus

Here's a joke that arrived in my email today.

After years of hiding the fact that the love is gone, the last child moves out of the house and Mom and Dad announce they're getting a divorce.
The kids are distraught and hire a marriage counselor as a last resort at keeping their parents together. The counselor works for hours, tries all of his methods, but the couple still
won't talk to each other. Finally, he goes over to a closet, brings out a beautiful upright bass and begins to play.
After a minute or so, the couple starts talking and they discover that they're not actually that far apart and decide to give their marriage another try.
The kids are amazed and ask the counselor how he managed to do it. He replies, "I've never seen a couple that wouldn't talk through a bass solo."

Bass players think they get no respect. Janet Davis (a bass player) sent me this. She once told me "No one remembers the bass player's name."

Charles Mingus, however, is a bass player and composer to remember. (Read about him on Wikipedia.) I think of him as an insanely great musician.

Two Mingus videos found me on MySpace about the same time as Janet's joke. They made me think it was high time to add a second item to my list of favorite music. (The first entry, Karnak, is here.)

Each Mingus video shows a live performance of one piece with small ensemble.

Click her for the first clip - So Long, Eric performed in Norway in 1964. Wearing suits and ties and short hair, their compact stage setup would make you wonder if they're playing the Trout Quintet with a drummer. Eric Dolphy, to whom the piece is dedicated, solos on alto. The last few moments, after the tune repeats, are a classic Mingus musical touch.

The second clip is Flowers for a Lady recorded in 1974 in Italy. It's a quintet, piano, bass and drums plus tenor and bari saxes. Hamiet Bluiett plays an amazing bari solo. This was near the time I saw Mingus live on an off night in an empty jazz club in Chicago. He looked angry - I now know he probably was. I was a college senior studying classical music with no clue what I was hearing. Years later, when I discovered Mingus' music, I started to realize the importance of what I'd heard back then.

As I've gradually lost interest in jazz over the last decade, I've maintained - even increased my interest in Mingus. In his recordings you can hear him lead a group on bass, push it from below. I find his compositions moving and relevant and memorable. Like another of my favorite musicians, Astor Piazzolla, writing music for ones own ensemble seems to produce high quality results.

My favorite Mingus album Mingus, Ah, Um - it would still be my favorite with just the first two tracks: Better Git It In Your Soul and Goodbye Port Pie Hat. Here's the lead sheet to Fables of Faubus. There's general agreement this is a great album. But what does the title mean? (For the context of Fables of Faubus - click and then scroll down.)

Another good Mingus experience is a biographical movie: Charles Mingus, Triumph of the Underdog It covers Mingus' entire life with lots of interviews - and way too much Gunther Schuller. Watch for a three-second clip of Milt Buckner at the piano that had me rolling on the floor in laughter.

Music Video

Music Reviews


Friday, March 24, 2006

On the Religion of the Past and the Future

Here's a link to what I wrote during the Mixed Meters Dark Ages about three religious movies: The Blues Brothers, The Life of Brian and Passion of The Christ.

Here's a link to a video mash-up someone did of the climaxes of those last two movies. WARNING - True Believers should not watch this - and the rest of you won't like it either. But it does have Eric Idle singing, so it counts as a Music Video.

Mixed Meters Junkie "S" sent in this link - a compendium of news stories about people who are awaiting the imminent end of the world. These are probably your neighbors and certainly the people who run our country. S liked the Talking Fish story which he connected to Monty Python.

Why are people who see the face of the Virgin Mary in a cheese sandwich regarded as believers, while people who see naked ladies in advertising ice cubes are regarded as perverts. Various explanations and comments about believing what you don't see are here or here or here (the last is a free term paper fnord our student readers.) Poor Wilson Bryan Key - all he really did was carry the thought that someone is trying to manipulate us just a little too far.

Click on the ads for a larger, more enjoyable experience.

Religion Music Video Media Movies

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

30 Second Spots - By Then She Would Have Slept With Him

Copyright (c) 2006 David Ockerclick here to hear By Then She Would Have Slept With Him - the title was said by a young woman describing one of her high school friends.

Copyright © February 24, 2006 by David Ocker - 36 seconds

Explanation of 30 second spots

Copyright (c) 2006 David Ocker
Robot Video!! See Big Dog - four legs, powered by a gasoline engine. RHex is good too.
Or here to see a robot balance on a basket-ball. Why does this remind me of the Jetsons?
Thanks to WFMU Beware the Blog

30 Second Spots
Pictures of Plants

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Amazing Pictures Without Photoshop

This is a picture of a chalk drawing. The person, I suspect, is real. Click here for more reality transcended (thanks to my Aunt & Uncle for sending me this.)

And here's a link I found on my own: colors and designs floating in mid-air Not sure I'd want to live in these rooms.

Here's one on a grander scale.

Beware! Here's an optical illusion carried beyond the limits of taste: eye-catching ad for a plumber

And on four completely different notes: a barbershop quartet video - showing four slugs. It's entitled "Sincere Slugs".

Music Video

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In which David Shoots the Moon

copyright (c) David OckerI hope everyone had a fine Ides of March celebration. It's a good religious holiday for people who expect bad things to happen to them.

Here are two pictures of the moon taken with my old, simple pocket digital. Notice that the moon itself is nothing more than a small white circle. But I thought the framing was nice.

See the new Sidebar feature - a Zoom Cloud. It automatically searches Mixed Meters for oft-used phrases and lets you find the stuff that's least disinteresting to you.

Meanwhile, one of our committed readers has suggested that the true purpose of Mixed Meters is to provide online videos. So, in hopes of wasting as much of his time as possible here are more videos.

copyright (c) David Ocker
A cellist with too much time and too much equipment (thanks to Roger Lebow for this)

A cool cat animation with music I don't like
(poor kitty)

An evil political ad (so scary it's not funny)
(from the WMFU Beware the Blog)

What weird plants do when you're not looking
(I got this animation from, who else, Leslie)

A movie trailer parody
(the Lone Ranger had Tonto, Batman had Robin and now...)

I've posted this before - just go and
watch Fireworks, Roof Sex and Kaboom!

Music Video

Sunday, March 12, 2006

30 Second Spots - Carpool

click here to hear Carpool I was going to call this spot "Caravan" but someone said the name had been used. I think "Carpool" gives that same sense of slow, long-distance travel via pollution-emitting beast.

Copyright © February 22, 2006 by David Ocker - 38 seconds

Explanation of 30 second spots

The top picture was taken by Leslie through a kaleidoscope in a conservatory and the lower picture is of part of a bed in an emergency room. We would have liked to spend a more time in the former and a lot less time in the latter.

30 Second Spots

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Gender Marketing

As homeowners Leslie & I are always on the lookout for improvement ideas. Since there's a large crack in our driveway (a parting gift from a long-gone tree) I was very interested in this advertising card. It came in the mail from a company called Pacific Paving Stones. (click for enlargement)

The lead advertising copy reads "Made for a Woman - Strong Enough for a Man". The problem of gender-specific brickwork for driveways is not well known but I fear that millions of men & women in Southern California are unable to properly park their cars because their driveways are designed for the opposite sex. If you need a uni-sex driveway solution, I urge you to click on http:/ (although I didn't find anything about gender marketing on the site.)

(Maybe someone at that company will do an ego Google search and leave a comment with an explanation of how this particular campaign sells paving stones. Anyone who wants to hazard a guess is also welcome to comment.)


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Real Simpsons

If you asked me to name a perfect piece of music I'd probably say "the opening theme to The Simpsons" written by Danny Elfman. I wish I could write like that.

Someone has redone The Simpsons' animated opening using reality instead of animation. Okay, so Marge doesn't have blue hair and Lisa plays the tenor but I'm not complaining because it's all so wonderful, like the band room scene!!

You know you want to see it. Just click here now. Special thanks to my Aunt Marion & Uncle Ben Shuman in Jerusalem for sending me this.

What I wonder is - just how does Maggie get onto the couch?

Seconds after I posted this an email arrived from my friend Janet Davis with this plucked version for quartet and that solo plucked version of the same music.

Music Video

Monday, March 06, 2006

Prince of the Night

Prince of the NightHere's another music video - an ethnically-attired boy soprano belts out the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart's Magic Flute - really well. Puberty is not going to be easy for this kid.

Here's a site that has the entire opera available for download as a midi file!

Music Video

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Celebrate Leslie's Birthday with Penis Fencing

Leslie as Wilson from Home Improvement - (c) David OckerMy wife Leslie is a marine invertebrate taxonomist - a zoologist who specializes in identifying little spineless sea critters. I marvel over how absolutely, completely, totally head-over-heels passionate she is about one particular class of these animals, polychaetes -segmented worms with bristles. I never even knew these guys existed until I met Leslie. My excuse? I'm a musician. Duh!

Pictures of these animals leave me absolutely slack-jawed with wonder. The strange shapes and colors are only outdone by stories of strange behavior. The most intelligent science fiction movie designer could never create alien creatures half as weird as the photos Leslie is constantly showing me.

Strangely, she insists that I use correct facts when I write. So the following paragraphs have been edited to conform to the facts. I used the wrong names in the first version. My excuse? I'm a musician. Duh! I hope I don't get into trouble with the International Commission on Zoologoical Nomenclature. Anyway . .

. . . There's another type of sea critter - a group of very colorful hermaphroditic flat worms called Platyhelminthes who compete with one another during mating using their extended penises as weapons. If one guy scores a hit on the other guy, he becomes pregnant. This ritual is called Penis Fencing.

Leslie clued me in to a gallery of pictures of two worms caught in the act at the website ppfotos Gallery: look for the section marked Pseudoceros lindae Penis Fencing - read the description and then click to see the pictures. (The slideshow option is good.) In this particular scene both our heroes - Jack AND Ennis -- are impregnated and will soon be proud mothers. Here's a website which Leslie recommended for an introduction and more pictures.

A worm - photo (c) Leslie HarrisIncidentally today (3/5) is Leslie's birthday. When I started Mixed Meters she set two rules for what I can write about her. Rule Two is that I can't tell you Rule One. So let's just say "I married my trophy wife first." (Not a joke. Love you honey.) To hell with the Oscars - Leslie gets the Docker Award for Best Marine Biologist in a Starring Role. Don't you wonder what's in the Gift Basket?

Leslie has become active at the website Digital Diver - where she helps scuba divers identify the creatures they photograph "down there." Click here to see a lot of birthday greetings to Leslie. There are two pages including many pictures of Fan Worm Bouquets.

Samples of Leslie's own worm pictures are available here. The first picture you see when you click (the yellow worm with blue bristles) is a "mother" worm. The children are attached behind. The last and largest offspring will soon break off and go to college. The others will follow eventually.

Look around for more worm pictures by Leslie. The LA County Museum of Natural History has one of the world's largest collections of polychaetes. Be impressed.

Strange Things

Saturday, March 04, 2006

30 Second Spots - Walking Room Rainbow

Copyright by David Ocker I took this picture from the same seat in Starbucks where I was writing this music. Click here to hear Walking Room Rainbow - the title was just "Walking Room" until I saw the phenomenon. It's been raining here - a little bit.

Notice Tommy's Burgers , famous for their chili, somewhere under the rainbow.

Copyright © March 3, 2006 by David Ocker - 69 seconds

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers

copyright 2006 David OckerImagine a ten-minute movie kind of like the musical Stomp only made in Sweden with the plot of a spy movie like Mission Impossible about a daring home invasion and an elderly couple walking their dog, where everything must go exactly as planned as long as the drummers keep to a strict timetable. Oh - and there's no dialogue

Then click on this link to see Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers. How did your imagination compare with reality?

I found this link on WFMU's Beware of the Blog. Lots of stuff going on there now. Extra time? Look for the regular "This Week in Sex" feature. Go and enjoy, give them money. I did.

Music Video
Pictures of Plants