Monday, January 21, 2008

Endangered Species' Revenge

Over twenty years ago, after a children's recital, one student's well-heeled dad came up to me exclaiming, "You're're a relic, an ARTIFACT!!" The guy exuded so much thrill over his new excavation that I did refrain from the proper response, which would have been approximately, "No, you are a LUNK."
I needed the money.

Yet from what I'm reading online lately, one does wonder. The thoughts flicker past electronics of course--singers chomping on microphones, guitar pedals, hearing-disabled kids--to the sheer VOLUME of life on Industrialized Earth today. It does rather resemble the takeover of an embankment of fern, violets and piggyback plant, by Himalayan blackberries. Once they've gotten a foothold, the bigger, more aggressive species do wipe out entire populations of gentler folk.

Unless they interbreed, of course, like the spotted and barred owls have supposedly resorted to doing...and like a lot of classically trained musicians do now, for a niche and an income. It's simple enough to do, because rock music is so mindless--a wonderfully vacuous set of impulses requiring no burden of talent whatsoever, beyond the conveyance of a sexual prowess or quirk, of some sort. Though perennially hollow, it can be extremely fun.

If Prissy Prim is sounding a little jaded, here, fear not. Today's
so-called Realities will only lead her to sit up straighter in her teacher's chair and enjoy a surge of pride at being, quite possibly, the last of the Passenger Pigeon People. Perhaps a different Administration will issue Endangered Species Acts on her behalf, or perhaps not. It's rather nice regardless, realizing that one is so "rare."

As for classical music's practical uses...well, one could always click back to the first couple of posts in this blog, for reminder. On second thought, how many people could actually tell you that the
reason everybody in the store is so grumpy, is that the music on the intercom is playing an amorphous 3/4 rhythm in minor mode centered on the lugubrious tone of 'A'?

Or that the neighbor's really annoying lawnmower (in January) vacillates over low 'B' and 'C#', and just can't settle on either?

Or that gurgling streams like to talk on middle 'C' and 'F' alot, which i
s why they sound so happy; while winds cheering in the trees above generally contain all of the known tones, subtly hovering around a noble 'E'-flat?

A chickadee's voice contains none of them, because it's so high and pure that it's off the spectrum of tone names.

And never, once, have I heard a 'G' emit
from nature's mouth.

Hmm. Maybe while the rest of the world is leaping off of its ridiculous precipice, the "Endangereds" could concoct a whole new realm of music--a realm far, far more intricate, sensitive, and rarified than what the hogs gobbled up. Wee, mighty chickadee would teach it, of course.

Because for all of their spectacular predations, our dear hogs have failed to factor in their singlemost vulnerability: Prey grown immune.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Madwoman of Cliffside

It finally happened. Prissy Prim flipped. Just ask the poor working stiffs who got stranded at 3:00AM the other night at the tacky starter-mansion that's been trying to be her next-door neighbor for the last 2 years. The men knew it the first time they glanced up and saw the bent cardboard tube with mirrors in it extending from the door to her deck. There was a large eye, reflected in that tube. Further scrutiny would have revealed long, straggly, silverish strands of hair catching in the sea breeze, just beyond that door that had slid open so silently.

But Oh! And Begorrah! Could this be? Could they actually be dismantling the Cliffside Cannibal Cavern? Our dithering damsel continues agitated for as long as the gents keep hauling out armloads of lumber. (It was only carpet, that first night. Mercy! Such hard workers! I hope they're being paid enough!)

Yet alas and's probably just another illegal remodel causing them to gut the place. Drat it all, if true. The house needs to go, you know. It's need
ed to ever since Mr. SlickoSleaze the Contractor came in, signed an agreement not to cut into the old-growth cedar covering that lot, then proceeded to clear-cut the works. "Sorry," he oozed, "just couldn't resist that view!" (We don't know how he got around the legalities, but he did.) I'm sure that the additional $5,000 added to the house's price was well worth the many-centuries'-old effort that those cedars had just expended. Ask President Bush. Er...Cheney.

What neither contractor, nor new homeowners with obscenity-shrieking kids and pink plastic FisherPrice yard decor, nor their three neurotic dogs could know (okay, maybe the dogs did), was that the house and lot were now haunted into perpetuity. That's why, within their first year of
residence-in-the-wrong-place, the parents found themselves--oh, surprise!--divorced. The wife and kids were scared poopless of the place. There were really creepy sounds at night, besides. (It's a spotted owl, stupid. You're parked smack in the middle of its shopping cart.) There were creekings, and groanings (those are fir and alder scratching each others' backs; besides, they don't like you). The storms were terrifying--way too much oxygen going on. The impeccably hydroseeded 55-degree embankment was impossible to mow, and was being overrun by bracken and prickly blackberries that hurt the darling bellowing children's tender feet whenever they stepped outside to kill each other. Besides, there were really, REALLY ugly, croaking big herons and things. Yeeeww. Gross.'t the house starting to tip rather precariously?

Hmhh. They all thought that if they moved in and took over Priss's rural bit of heaven, the grumpy, eccentric Old Guard would be properly overwhelmed and leave. I mean, LOOK at that weird old bat, the rundown A-frame not 50 feet from our fine new front door! Probably doesn't
even earn $50,000 a year! LOSER! (Probably a WITCH or something...)

Yup. Just Prim and the squirrels. MmmBUH-bye, folks. where DID my telescope go?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Problem of Fatness

Too many of us are suffering it, this time of year. But what few realize is what an insideous problem it is year 'round, for the humble piano teacher. Oh, there are a few blessed with overactive thyroids and genetically hyperactive nervous systems, who manage to remain little sparrows through thousands of lessons. But they're in the minority.

As one trained in performance, I'd never had much of a weight problem. Only after about four years of teaching fulltime, did I begin to notice disturbing developments, yonder. The most notable was the addition of a round sort of appendage directly above my lap; in fact, it seemed to sit on that lap whenever one sat down. Admittedly, it did make a nice, dignified resting shelf for folded hands while one stood, but bending over to pick up a dropped pencil had become problematic.

And so, as middle-age approached, war was declared on the Problem of Fatness. (The current war hadn't begun yet, so there were funds.)

First target was the coffee. It was stripped of its enhancements in a single strike. Then all fats were thrown in the slammer, no habeus corpus. Daily walks in brisk marching time were undertaken with gusto, and the regime was strictly observed for four months.

Nothing budged.

Evidently, this was a far more complicated conflict than what had been anticipated, and could only be brought under control via a troop surge of formidable proportions. Venerably pear-shaped pedagogues would hereinafter consume the day's primary meal--generally protein and a salad--in the early afternoon before teaching began, and the evening meal would consist of celery or a piece
of apple. But ONLY after a Jane Fonda or Paula Abdul workout had been completed.

Finally, af
ter three months, the pounds began to shed. Three of them. What was with this body? Was it STUCK? This war was not going at all like the pundits had said it should.

An urgent call went out for private contractors, recruited from an infommercial on late-night TV. Though expensive, they provided a state-of-the-art arsenal of deadly fat-burning capsules that Melanie Griffith swore would destroy the insurgents.

And wouldn't you know, Melanie was right. Within a month, suffering nary casualty nor side effect, our long-suffering soldier had dropped twenty pounds, KERBLAM. It was Shock and Awe's finest hour. The Evildoers had been wiped off of the map. The masses cheered. But the fireworks had only begun, folks. Never, ever underestimate the power of American advanced technology.

As time progressed and all remaining insurgents were obliterated, some rather disturbing collateral damage began to surface in the Press. Whenever Miss Priss sat down, the jolt of bones hitting chair harkened for her visions of Auschwitz. Then there was the matter of the numb feet. "Now, why would my feet be going numb, when they get so much healthy exercise?" she would ask. A team of investigators tried repeatedly to discover the actual ingredients in the deadly fat-burning capsules, but the contractors responded only with a stern, "State Secret!" Executive Order had forbidden public inquiry, citing Security concerns.

And then the suicide bombers began. While eating peanut butter toast and salad one day, our heroine suddenly became aware of a rock of some sort, rolling around in her mouth. Next she knew, she was staring in disbelief at a chunk of a molar sitting in her palm. A crater lay where healthy tooth once had grown and prospered. The following week, it happened again. The Shock and Awe campaign had spilled over into the homes of innocent civilians, and Miss Priss was hot on her way to looking like a meth junkie.

As this was a simple person, rather than an unwieldy nation, it took no debate whatsoever to enact a prompt, thorough troop withdrawal. Major disarmament treaties were signed, and all WMDs were thrown in the garbage.

If piano teachers can't stay trim through regular healthy exercise and diet, then perhaps they might simply try to enjoy the extra padding? Fat was once considered a sign of wealth, afterall, and there are a whole lot of people in Africa and India who'd give their eye teeth and even a molar or two, to have some of it.