Friday, April 29, 2005

How to Recapture Symphony Patrons

Many venues and symphony orchestras are suffering from poor attendance nationwide. There are lots of reasons which people give. Tickets are too high priced, the music is boring, no place to park, too far away, and lots of other half baked reasons. I think I have the real reason. The seats in most symphony halls are too darn uncomfortable. If I have to park my butt in one for 3 hours I want to be comfortable.

At home I listen to music of the same type. I get a nice cup of something pleasurable, set it beside me, sit back in my big red overstuffed chair, turn off the lights and drift away. I get lost in the music. I'm an active listener. I can't stand good music as background music if it's written and performed well . I shut my eyes and disappear into the depths of it. BUT if my butt hurts or I'm cramped like I was in a 737 airplane seat it's much harder. If you owned a movie theater and you said, "darn it all, those seats were good enough when I was growing up, they're good enough for my patrons." We would soon see a movie called "out of business" on your marquee.

Here's my iconoclastic suggestion to the musical performance arts community. Take a hint from the movie theaters. Gut your auditoriums. Put in big comfy chairs that hold full sized German American's which weigh an eighth of a ton each. Make them wide, deep, soft and with lots of leg room. Put in cupholders. Serve coffee and/or other beverages for people to consume at exorbitant prices during the concert. You aren't filling those seats now. Why not make those few refugees like me that attend more comfortable. Who knows people might actually come back if your weren't exacting such a physical as well as financial price for attending.

Don't give me all that guff about people that attend football games on bleachers and survive. Do you really want the wave during Mahler? So who'll be the first to go? Anyone, someone, anyone? (Ferris Bueller).

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sci Fi Sickness = 42

For most of my life I have been a science fiction nut. I belonged to the official nerd conclave, the Science Fiction Book Club as a pre teen. Every month I received 3 tomes. Read them with passion. I have many many of these yet. Even today, I virtually never read fiction except science fiction. I read only non fiction and things which look like non fiction but might be. I mean space aliens among us today is non fiction, right, right??

So it is with a great deal of pleasure that the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is coming out. I have read very little about it. I was a fan of the old BBC series in the 70s on Public Television. I have been a towel head since. Arthur Dent always wore a long scarf and Ford Prefect used a towel to ward off all kinds of evil.

But the most fun has been 42. Don't read this further if you don't want the plot given away.

Ok you're not reading this, good. The answer to life, reason and everything is 42. That would be funny except for the fact that it may be non fiction. Maybe in fact the answer to life is in fact 42. Consider these links and ponder. I know you have more weighty things to exercise your brain on, but this is really fun if you are a genuine nerd. If you aren't, never mind.
The meaning to life

The universe and everything
The Real 42

PS: The statue of Liberty's outstretched arm is 42 feet long.
42 a few more

Extra Extra, Stop the Presses, Men and Women are Different

About every few months some magazine or newspaper will print an article proclaiming "Men and Women are different". I subscribe to Scientific American (something I got with frequent flyer miles) I was privileged to read the latest pronouncement in this area. Men and Women's brains are different. Wow, who'd a Thunk it!

Now, I have lived long enough to have heard all the enculturization and genetic arguments. I just know that if you get little boys together they make guns from sticks and make motor sounds driving a rock over the ground. If you get little girls together they build or make things, they talk (all at the same time) and they play "nice" or fight. They Play act. They are boys and girls from conception.

So whenever I see or hear of one of these studies which are presented as if they just discovered that in fact the moon is made of green cheese I am amused. I guess it keeps researchers in research money to continue to prove what the Bible and history has taught us from the very beginning. God created man and women. That's two different things. I have been married to a wonderful woman for nearly 40 years and still know she is cat I am dog, Mars / Venus, apple / orange, coffee / tea, et al. Viva la difference.

A Story that Changed my Life and Marriage

In the 70's Peggy and I were at a Dale Carnegie convention in Texas. I was an instructor and organizer for many years. During the convention they showed a film called "The 8 Cow Woman". I didn't know it then but it was produced by the Mormons. I'm not Morman. The story is worthwhile. I was going to tell it as I remembered it, then in poking around on Google I found it in it's original. I also found several entries on blogs objecting to the dowry system represented in the story. Please put your North American idealism on hold, read this allegedly true story for what it's worth. Have a little cultural understanding and extract the truth contained. I have and do know of many women who when treasured by their husbands, fathers, or significant male other have blossomed into the most charming beautiful people you ever will meet. I have seen the opposite. It's sad.

As a husband who loves his wife I owe her (and myself) an 8 cow treatment. I hope I have succeeded.

One last thing, the movie more than the following story showed not an abusive father of Sarita, but a disdaining one. One who treated his daughter as ugly, stupid and worthless. Because the most important man in her life treated her this way she became that. This story is about transformation.

My trip to the Kiniwata Island in the Pacific was a memorable one. Although the island was beautiful and I had an enjoyable time, the thing I remember most about my trip was the fact "Johnny Lingo gave eight cows for his wife." I'’m reminded of it every time I see a woman belittle her husband or a wife wither under her husband'’s scorn. I want to say to them, "You should know why Johnny Lingo gave eight cows for his wife."

Johnny Lingo is known throughout the islands for his skills, intelligence, and savvy. If you hire him as a guide, he will show you the best fishing spots and the best places to get pearls. Johnny is also one of the sharpest traders in the islands. He can get you the best possible deals. The people of Kiniwata all speak highly of Johnny Lingo. Yet, when they speak of him, they always smile just a little mockingly.
A couple days after my arrival to Kiniwata, I went to the manager of the guesthouse to see who he thought would be a good fishing guide. "Johnny Lingo," said the manager. "He’s the best around. When you go shopping, let him do the bargaining. Johnny knows how to make a deal."

"Johnny Lingo!" hooted a nearby boy. The boy rocked with laughter as he said, "Yea, Johnny can make a deal alright!"

"What'’s going on?" I demanded.

"Everybody tells me to get in touch with Johnny Lingo and then they start laughing. Please, let me in on the joke."

"Oh, the people like to laugh," the manager said, shrugging. "Johnny’s the brightest and strongest young man in the islands. He’s also the richest for his age."

"But " I protested. " if he's all you say he is, why does everyone laugh at him behind his back?"
"Well, there is one thing. Five months ago, at fall festival, Johnny came to Kiniwata and found himself a wife. He gave her father eight cows!"

I knew enough about island customs to be impressed. A dowry of two or three cows would net a fair wife and four or five cows would net a very nice wife.

"Wow!" I said. "Eight cows! She must have beauty that takes your breath away."

"She’s not ugly, " he conceded with a little smile, " but calling her ‘plain’ would definitely be a compliment. Sam Karoo, her father, was afraid he wouldn'’t be able to marry her off. Instead of being stuck with her, he got eight cows for her. Isn’t that extraordinary? This price has never been paid before."

"Yet, you called Johnny’s wife ‘plain’ "

"I said it would be a compliment to call her plain. She was skinny and she walked with her shoulders hunched and her head ducked. She was scared of her own shadow."

"Well," I said, "I guess there’'s just no accounting for love."

"True enough." agreed the man. "That’s why the villagers grin when they talk about Johnny. They get special satisfaction from the fact the sharpest trader in the islands was bested by dull old Sam Karoo."

"But how?"

"No one knows and everyone wonders. All of the cousins urged Sam to ask for three cows and hold out for two until he was sure Johnny would pay only one. To their surprise Johnny came to Sam Karoo and said, ‘Father of Sarita, I offer eight cows for your daughter.’ "

"Eight cows." I murmured. "I’'d like to meet this Johnny Lingo."

I wanted fish and pearls, so the next afternoon I went to the island of Nurabandi. As I asked directions to Johnny’s house, I noticed Johnny'’s neighbors were also amused at the mention of his name. When I met the slim, serious young man I could see immediately why everyone respected his skills. However, this only reinforced my confusion over him.

As we sat in his house, he asked me, "You come here from Kiniwata?"


"They speak of me on that island?"

"Yes. They say you can provide me anything I need. They say you’re intelligent, resourceful, and the sharpest trader in the islands."

He smiled gently. "My wife is from Kiniwata."

"Yes, I know."

"They speak of her?"

"A little."

"What do they say?"

"Why, just " The question caught me off balance. "They told me you were married at festival time."

"Nothing more?" The curve of his eyebrows told me he knew there had to be more.

"They also say the marriage settlement was eight cows." I paused. "They wonder why."

"They ask that?" His eyes lighted with pleasure. "Everyone in Kiniwata knows about the eight cows?"

I nodded.

"And in Nurabandi, everyone knows it too?" His chest expanded with satisfaction. "Always and forever, when they speak of marriage settlements, it will be remembered that Johnny Lingo paid eight cows for Sarita."

So that’s the answer, I thought: Vanity.

Just then Sarita entered the room to place flowers on the table. She stood still for a moment to smile at her husband and then left. She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. The lift of her shoulders, the tilt of her chin, and the sparkle in her eyes all spelled self-confidence and pride. Not an arrogant and haughty pride, but a confident inner beauty that radiated in her every movement.

I turned back to Johnny and found him looking at me.

"You admire her?" he murmured.

"She's gorgeous." I said. "Obviously, this is not the one everyone is talking about. She can'’t be the Sarita you married on Kiniwata."

"There’s only one Sarita. Perhaps, she doesn’'t look the way you expected."

"She doesn’t. I heard she was homely. They all make fun of you because you let yourself be cheated by Sam Karoo."

"You think eight cows was too many?" A smile slid over his lips.

"No, but how can she be so different from the way they described her?"

Johnny said, "Think about how it must make a girl feel to know her husband paid a very low dowry for her? It must be insulting to her to know he places such little value on her. Think about how she must feel when the other women boast about the high prices their husbands paid for them. It must be embarrassing for her. I would not let this happen to my Sarita."

"So, you paid eight cows just to make your wife happy?"

"Well, of course I wanted Sarita to be happy, but there’s more to it than that. You say she is different from what you expected. This is true. Many things can change a woman. There are things that happen on the inside and things that happen on the outside. However, the thing that matters most is how she views herself. In Kiniwata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. As a result, that’s the value she projected. Now, she knows she is worth more than any other woman in the islands. It shows, doesn’'t it?"

"Then you wanted.. "

"I wanted to marry Sarita. She is the only woman I love."

"But " I was close to understanding.

"But," he finished softly, "I wanted an eight-cow wife."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

My Mind is a Terrible thing to Waste

I have been blessed/cursed with a brain that seems to do what it wants. As I get older it seems to be more that way. There is alzheimers in our family. Every time I have a brain hiccup I worry. I mean if 60 is the new 50 (I keep telling myself that) then there is nothing to fear, right?

On the plus side, I have nearly a photographic memory. I can walk by a situation, glance at it and recall detail from the image in my mind that astounds even me. I can read a document and if I care, recall the whole thing even to quoting from it in detail. Bible passages, doctrine stories etc flow out of me easily. 2000 Latin plant names and details about each one which is very boring to most.. Every sermon I ever heard or given. If I read it I can recall it. Jeopardy is my favorite. I'm loaded up (a quote from the Matrix). Speaking of the Matrix, I can rehearse nearly all the dialogue from that movie. This is very weird.

On the Minus side. Your name? My own? Words don't show up. It's a cloud. I will be talking and a word I know well will be right there but unspeakable. I have a wonderful wife who shares the other half of my brain so when I hit pause in my dissertation she can fill in the blank. I am really bad at crosswords, wheel of fortune.

As I get older my certitude becomes greater. The world is less gray and more black and white. I have solutions for nearly everything. I haven't been this smart since I was 17.

I have flashes of what I construe as pure genius. And then quiet spells.

I remember when my dear Uncle and then Father Earl was my age. He said to me, "I have more ideas and concepts than I could ever execute in a lifetime." I don't doubt it. He had a creative mind. They just rolled in his 50s and 60s. Now the struggles of genetics are attacking this brilliant man who once ran for Governor of ND. What a waste.

That's why is is so important to ME (probably not to you) to write my sense of self and my observations. It may be more reliable than my own memory someday.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Friends I have never met

I have come to appreciate the world of Blog. I read several every day. They come in 6 categories (my opinion)

1. Opinions on current events

2. Links discovered surfing the Internet and reading the news

3. Personal experience and observations

4. Things people are angry or irritated about

5. Comments on other people’s blogs

6. Original opinion, prose and sometimes poetry

I read blogs that others recommend. When I see a blogroll I click down it hoping to strike gold. Only a very few make it to my personal bookmark list. Here’s why:

My favorite types are those comprised of mostly #’s 3 and 6.

I almost never read #’s 5 and 2. (I’m guilty of doing this myself however)

I don’t mind reading 1’s and 4’s but they have the potential to be tiresome.
(Sometimes I do this, I need catharsis too.)

I enjoy those that are transparent, personal, and elegant. My first read every day is Julie Neidlinger. I have never met her, never talked to her on the phone and other than a few emails back and forth not communicated with her much. But she is a part of life, as I know it. I guess people felt that way about Mike Royko in the dead tree press years ago. Every day people had to read what Mike had to say.

This is better, more current and I would miss her if she stopped. She has no peer I have found to date. I hope to be a good as she is at the Art of Blog in this lifetime. I love this new art form. I’m glad to be a little part of it.