I Saw Him Live

May 15, 2015 at 9:28 pm (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , )

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I got to see B.B. King live in concert once.  I realize that millions of people have, that he toured relentlessly until now when he will never tour again.  But, despite not being unique in this trait, I consider myself special for having experienced it.

It was 2004, and my friend (who had recently broken up with me) had already purchased tickets.  “It’s ok if you take Tim,” I told him.  His room mate at the time is just a big of a music geek as any of us, and quite a guitar player.  Tim would have loved it.  “No,” my ex said, a No I will forever appreciate, “No, I bought them for us to go, we’ll go together.  It’ll be fun.”

To be fair, we’re not the awkward exes of dramatic literature and over played movie cliches.  We’re friends, always were, and hopefully always will be.  I respect him as a human, he is part of what grew me into an adult.  Also, to be fair, even if he had been the ex from hell – I wasn’t going to argue too adamantly about whether or not I got to go to the Eric Clapton Crossroads Concert.  It was Eric Clapton.  It was B.B. King.  It was… everyone who made guitar history ever…

It was beautiful.

I drove up from Houston to Dallas to attend.  In June, in a car with no AC.  I stayed the weekend in dorm rooms that were closed for the summer.  It was worth it just to hear that man play.

It was a hot, sunny day – until the end when it wasn’t and ZZ Top got rained out – sweltering even, but it was good.  It was several generations of men in the most relaxing and amazing jam session on stage that I’d ever heard.  It was Texas in a stadium of fans born and bred in Texas – I’m not great with crowds, but good old country boys listening to the blues is a crowd I can manage.  I was laying in the grass while an old hippie with boobs down to her waistline swayed, clapped, and danced, depending on what was most appropriate for whatever song was playing.

I wish I could record my journal entry from that weekend here for you, but that journal is in storage, and I doubt I was very articulate anyway… I imagine it was a lot of: Oh My God, that was AMAZING.  I do know that I lamented the fact that my now husband hadn’t been able to get tickets and go himself.  It was something I knew he would have enjoyed.  My ex is my friend, but my husband has always been my very best friend – especially then.  Now, I lament that he missed it completely.  Seeing B.B. King together was something I thought we’d get around to eventually.  I should have known better, the man was old.  But he seemed so epically immortal.  Even though he sat through the whole concert, I didn’t see it then as a sign of an older man – I saw it as a sign of a King on his throne.

I remember John Mayer coming out.  I remember being so proud of how respectful he was to all the men who had come before him – especially B.B. King.  I didn’t like John Mayer until that moment, until I saw him bow with such grace to a man that I adored and would come to adore more and more as I aged, as I married, as I had a baby who would live the first year of her life listening to jazz and R&B in our living room while my husband smoked a cigar on the porch after work with the door open so the music and the smoke could play a wafting dance on the threshold.  B.B. King, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald… my child knows these voices well.

B.B. King, you have shaped so many lives with your talent, you beautiful, beautiful man.  Thank you for gracing the world with your presence.  Thank you for all the concerts, all the performances, and all the love for music that has always seemed to radiate from your entire being and existence.  Bless you.  Thank you, and bless you.

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Pythagoras, History , Music, and Reality

May 6, 2015 at 4:39 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

51emwyTkxmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Pythagorean Theorem: the Story of Its Power and Beauty

Author: Alfred S. Posamentier

Genre: Mathematic History

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Length: 320 pages

I’m not sure why I picked it up.  I didn’t even particularly care for math in school.  Geometry was not my strongest suit – but it was fairly easy math that I slithered through with the least possible amount of effort of any of my math courses.  But I was at the library one day and this geometric tree design was staring at me – I’d been collecting everything I could on trees because I am determined to become a certified arborist by the time I turn 40 – and upon impulse I through it in my “shopping” bag.

It might have been because I saw that it was about the Pythagorean theorem, and just a few years ago I attended a MENSA meeting where Andy Tang spoke on the topic.  The lecture was riveting, the discussion entertaining, and the wine pretty great for free stuff.  The event coordinator in me wanted to host his art exhibit at one of the bookstores I work with.  This didn’t happen, but there was such an exhibit led by him in Austin:

The community art exhibition “Pythagoras (and Austinites) Discovering the Musical Intervals” invites you to discover the story of what Pythagoras heard at the blacksmiths’ workshop. Continuing the tradition of passing down this ancient tale, this art show showcases Austin-area artwork through interactive, musical, and visual interpretations. (https://www.facebook.com/events/308042019293116/)

Whatever it was that possessed me, I picked up the book.  I read the book.  I enjoyed the book – a lot.  More than I could have thought I would enjoy a math book.

Although, let’s be honest, I enjoyed it for the philosophy and history, not so much for the endless diagrams and presentations on how the theorem works.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I took that math class, I get it, and it’s cool, but I was really into the book for the tidbits about Fibonacci and then later, Bosman.  Bosman, by the way, is the guy that came up with the Pythagorean tree featured on the front cover.

I read this book for the whole chapter on music – that ties into that Andy Tang lecture I loved so much.  I read this book because I was a “Choir Queer” in high school and loved chamber music and found it completely fascinating how much math and music were so intertwined.  And of course, any one who does math and attempts music theory ends up asking the same questions:

“[…] do we simiply measure the distances between pitches or do we seek some measurable property of the pitches themselves that allows us to determine their relationships to other pitches […]”

Pythagoras had an answer.  And he’s an old, dead dude, and I love reading ancient history and things on or by old, dead dudes.  Except, naturally, Pythagoras was a top secret kind of guy and left no writings of his own behind and everything we know about him is second hand at best.)

Which leaves me diving into Philolaus, Plato, and Aristotle, and itching to get into Xenophon and see if anything is mentioned there because Herodotus didn’t spend nearly enough time on him.

I read this book thinking about Alyssa Martin’s Pythagoras cake bust.  She owns The Martin Epicurean – and cake that looks like a face – how cool is that?

I read this book because I will pretty much read anything, but especially because I love science more than my student transcripts could possibly portray – mostly because I avoided science courses like the plague.  I like the philosophies of science and concepts… I don’t care for the formulas and the math, but I’ll learn them ok if there isn’t any testing. Oh God, my test taking anxiety is insane… but reading up on it all, I love that.  After all, it suits my passions:

“Science is the discipline that attempts to describe the reality of the world around us, including the nature of living organisms, by rational means.” – Dr. Herbert A. Hauptman, Nobel Laureate

This one is a keeper.  I checked it out from the library, but I plan to purchase it when it comes time for kiddo to read it.  It’s an educational must-have.

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HPB Humble Turns 12

September 19, 2014 at 3:03 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

One of the coolest things I get to do as a part time Event Coordinator, is host parties! And not the sit in someone’s living room and sell products parties – but the kind that involve books, exciting authors, food, live music, and art.

As of September 2014, Half Price Books has had an Humble location for 12 years.  This is the third birthday/anniversary celebration I’ve organized for them.

P1000371Literary Agent Lorrie Patel and Author Edward Castro

P1000378Edward draws a crowd while reading his book Hanna’s Magic Light and passing out goodie bags and cookies.

P1000381Art by Shaka

P1000397Author Kaiya Walker and fan.

P1000423George Poe jammin’ on the piano with some curious kids.

We had a blast!

This next Saturday, I’ll be at the 2nd Annual Good Books in the Woods Fall Festival (September 20th), it should be equally awesome.  I love bookstore events, they are my favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

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April Events 2014!

April 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The month of April is full of Earth Day celebrations. More specifically, S. Smith, author of a dystopian young adult series that I can’t seem to rave enough about, has planned a trip to Texas from Oregon!  I’m so excited!

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Earth Day GBitW(1)

Earth Day 2014 revisedShe will also be at the Montrose HPB (hpb.com/011) on Saturday, April 19th, 6pm-9pm.

Then she’ll be making rounds in San Antonio, Austin, and finally Dallas!  Check out her website for more details on events in those cities: http://authorssmith.com/book-news-and-events/

seed savers book marketingAlso, although I am based out of Houston, this is a Dallas event that I support with all my heart and would love to attend if I were able:

Deep Ellum Karyna

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Poetry and Paint

January 27, 2014 at 12:05 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Robert FrostTitle:The Road Not Taken and Other Poems

Author: Robert Frost

Publisher: Dover Thrift Edition

Genre: Poetry

I have a hard time reading poetry silently.  When I’m reading it in my mind, my eyes tend to skip over the words like stones on water.

But aloud – that’s a different story.

Nothing calms us faster in my house (the kiddo and I) than poetry, painting, and a little Alt-J in the background.  I don’t know how I survived sadness and melancholy before Alt-J was a part of my world.

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The latest masterpiece – age 3.

This week we read through a Dover Thrift Edition of Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken and Other Poems.  Like most people, kiddo will probably be far more familiar with The Road Less Taken than any of Frost’s other poetry.  We don’t just read it out loud when we paint, but out on the trails in the woods too.  Poetry is appropriate for painting, Frost is great while tromping on leaves.  He just has a woodsy feel to him.

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Starting a new piece during a poetry day.

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Music To Write To

January 19, 2013 at 12:42 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

writing-and-musicEvery writer has their zone, and sometimes the zone changes.  Due to the nature of my sucky laptop, I’m prone to laying prostrate across the floor so I can pile things on the charger to make it stay plugged.  Currently, said pile consists of my husband’s bible, my journal, whatever book I happen to be reading, and a Noah’s Ark statue of my daughter’s.

It’s not a comfortable way to write, but I’ve made it work… with music.

Nothing reminds you of college like being too poor to buy yourself new tech gadgets, laying on the floor writing half the day, and eating sandwiches off chipped plates while laying and writing.  So, when writing this way, what other music would I listen to than the artists of my so-called youth?

I bought this album as a wide-eyed freshman in college.

I bought this album as a wide-eyed freshman in college.

David Ramirez, Tito Ortega, and Christine Hand were all musicians that filled my college years.  (Select any of those links to check out their music on Amazon.com)  All former students of the university I attended, they often performed in the coffee shop downstairs from my dorm room.  That coffee shop was where I journaled, talked, did homework, came up with story ideas, avoided homework, made friends, hung out with friends, and inhaled a whole lot of sugar and caffeine.  And it’s where I fell in love with these artists and their wonderful contribution to the musical world.  I’ll take them with me everywhere forever.

That’s a long term commitment as far as music loving goes.  As a moody listener, there are a lot of musicians I’ve outgrown over the years.  Some songs just aren’t the same when you’re not twelve, or eighteen, or a newly wed, or whatever it was you were when you were in love with something that just can’t move you anymore.

Girl on a String

Click here to download from iTunes.

Christine Hand will grow with you though.  At least, she grows with me.  We’re roughly the same age, went to the same university for awhile, have liked the same guy, and though we’re in no way the same, I feel like whatever music she has out that’s ‘new’ in the moment, always falls in line with my own existence.  Her latest album has a beautiful maturity that I hope I’ve reached.  It definitely puts me in the mood to strive to write with that same beautiful maturity.

In addition to Christine’s own songs, there is a Bob Dylan cover on Girl on a String.  Who doesn’t like Bob Dylan? And who doesn’t like hearing his songs performed well?  This album can feel comfortable sitting on your shelf with the likes of Norah Jones and Joni Mitchell, and like John Mayer at the Crossroads concert playing with the likes of B.B. King and Eric Clapton, you’ll be impressed with how well she fits right in and holds her own with the greats.

dallas does eaglesChristine Hand plays along side her husband, my friend, Adam Jones, and her father.  The dynamic is pretty neat, but I’m a sucker for family bands, as you’ll see if you ever check out my cd collection from the ’90s where I thought Rebecca St. James was the coolest for bringing her brother on tour with her and I was distraught to discover that the White Stripes weren’t married anymore.  I’m also a long time fan of The Jackson 5 and a completely head over heels for the fact that Nine Inch Nails moved on to become How To Destroy Angels, only to include Trent Reznor’s wife.

Check out Christine’s website here: http://www.christinehand.com/

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Review: Suite Francaise

July 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

I don’t think anyone can truly appreciate this book until they know the following: When Nemirovsky was writing the book she originally meant it to be five parts, but she only finished two: Storm in June and Dolce, these two parts are what makes up Suite Francaise. These five parts though, were each individually fashioned (in writing style) after the five parts of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Storm in June’s chapters are short and sweet, choppy, slightly repetitious in nature. Dolce is a little more long-winded and flowing. Imagine the beauty of the completed work, if she had lived to finish it. Without this critical information I was irritated by her repetition. I thought perhaps it hadn’t been through the proper editing because she died before the novel was completed. But listening to Beethoven and knowing what she was fashioning this all after, putting the war in terms of music, within a novel. Its beautifully fascinating. What made her think of it? How wonderful would the entire book have been had she lived to complete it? The story was interesting and the writing good, but for some reason I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I think I should have. I expected this to be a four or five-star book for me, easily, based on reviews and whatnot. Instead, I just liked it, and was far more fascinated by the appendices at the end. I loved her notes and journal entries, it was so amazing to be inside her head for those brief moments.


Book Title:Suite Francaise
Author: Irene Nemirovsky
Original Publication Date: 2004 (written in 1942)
Edition Read:
2006 Knopf
Total Pages:
395
Genre:
Classic Historical Fiction
Reason Read:
Found on Amazon as a gift for my mother; she gave thumbs up as did Sandy, neither of whom steer me wrong
Rating:
5 out of 5 Stars

“He wanted to write a story about these charming little horses, a story that would evoke this day in July, this land, this farm, these people, the war – and himself.

“He wrote with a chewed-up pencil stub, in a little notebook which he hid against his heart. He felt he had to hurry: something inside him was making him anxious, was knocking on an invisible door.” – Page 179

If you love lyrical prose and character development, I highly recommend this enjoyable book. I really loved this book the farther along I went…

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Music You Can Read To

June 9, 2012 at 4:25 am (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Best Gift Ever

When starting my day, I almost always flick on the switch to the radio and set my mood.  There’s cooking breakfast music, dancing music, workout music, sex music… there’s music you write to, music you relax to, music you mow the lawn or party to, there’s I’m working on the car music, there’s its raining outside music… and of course, every book lover has their favorite reading music.

Lately, my favorite reading music has been Andreas Vollenweider‘s Cosmopoly album.  As a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I still listen to most my music on cassette and cd, and some all time favorites are still on vinyl.  So, even though I love making playlists on my computer, I’m a big fan of purchasing cd’s and have yet to invest in an ipod or whatever is the new greatest way to listen to stuff.  This particular purchase was a fabulous $3.00 item from a clearance sidewalk sale at my favorite Half Price Books store about a year ago.

While listening to the calm, but not sleepy, tunes of Vollenweider’s many instruments, his work suits both jazz and classical moods, and I’ve found it to be a perfect companion to Ayla’s school time.  School time is quite short, as she’s only a year and a half.  But while she masters holding a writing utensil and hanging out at the kitchen table while snacking on cheerios, I’ve been reading segments of Susan Wise Bauer‘s History of the Ancient World to her each morning.  I know, its silly, but I feel so much more cultured when listening to World Music while reading World History.  (We also throw in a story from the children’s bible if she’s being extra focused that day, its got more interesting pictures for a toddler.)  When she’s had enough of sitting still, we put her work away for later, I hang out on the couch and continue my reading and she has a dance marathon in the living room.  Its kind of our thing, and Vollenweider manages to be both soothing enough for me to read and peppy enough for Ayla to go all Flashdance and Footloose with the dogs.

from Eric Carle’s The Very Quiet Cricket, features great reading noise for baby at the end of the book

After Ayla goes to bed at night, I usually read while my husband watches TedTalks on Netflix.  After he falls asleep, though, the music I read to is a little bit different.  Its the music of a quiet house.  My tea pot steaming on the stove, my beagle jingling around the house as he nestles into a cozy place to sleep for the evening.  Through open windows comes the singing of crickets, frogs, and cicadas.  Sometimes I can hear Solovino, our stray cat, pad by the front patio windo.  You would think cats would be quiet and stealthy, he can be, but mostly he likes to taunt my dogs.  Solovino was born under our deck, the other kittens from the litter found homes via neighbor friends and moved away, but Solovino now stalks our street and kills our mice population.  There are about four houses that ‘share’ him.  My next door neighbor gave him his name, she says it means he is “an univited guest that doesn’t want to leave,” but if we were all true to ourselves we would admit that we would hate to see him go.  He is the loudest meower that has ever lived, you can hear that cat all the way across the neighborhood and some days I spend my reading time blocking out his competitive high pitched sing song MEOW while also intermittently egging him on with a cat call of my own.  Now, while I type, the gentle hum of a fan is buzzing and I can just barely hear the hubby breathing in his sleep.  As soon as this post is done, its back to the books, because the sound right now is in that happy soothing place (teetering on the virge of annoying, but too calming to quite get there).

Do you listen to music while you read? What is your favorite music to read to? If you don’t, what is your reading environment like… indoors, outdoors, do you start the kettle to hear the whistle blow, do you wait until night to hear the cicadas chirp?

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Archie Every Friday!

May 25, 2012 at 4:39 pm (Events) (, , , , )

Last time Archie played at Half Price Books he totally rocked the house.  It was awesome.  He was awesome.  The customers were tapping their toes, buying vinyl, nodding their heads at the register, and clapping between book browsing.  People came up to me and asked me if he’d be here every week.  At the time, I had to say no, but now I’m proud to announce that from here on out – yes, Archie will be playing at Half Price Books in Humble every Friday night from 7:00 – 9:00 pm.  Come one, come all, every week!

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Kathryn Hallberg at Half Price Books Humble

May 22, 2012 at 5:30 pm (Events) (, , , , , )

Thursday night! May 24th, 2012 7:00- 9:00 pm at the Half Price Books in Humble.

Genre: Acoustic / Americana / Pop

from SPRING, Texas, US

Website www.cdbaby.com/cd/kathrynhallberg

Record Label River Bend

Type of Label Indie

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