Welcome to the Sound and Light Show

Sort of a diary for myself ... but you can read it too.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What did you get for Christmas?

What did I get? I got to learn the ins and outs of my furnace since it decided to stop working on Christmas Eve morning.

Yup ... busted furnace ... thank you Santa/baby Jesus.

Seems that the motor that drives the fan needed to blow the carbon dioxide out of the furnace stopped working. I have a high efficiency furnace so 90% of the heat is removed from the gas burners and the left over Carbon Dioxide is blown out of the house via PVC Piping (since it is too cold to rise on it's own via a flue duct) ... and as a fail safe for the furnace, if the blower doesn't turn on to remove the CO2, then the furnace doesn't light or else I would have a house full of a deadly gas.

I'm now on day 3 without heat. The thermostat is reading 50 degrees. Like I said, the furnace stopped working on Christmas Eve morning. I have a home warranty with a company that is very efficient, they had a local heating company ready to come out to my house within a few hours that same day ... but since it was Christmas Eve, I told them to wait until the morning of the 26th ... figured no one wants to be on call, working on a furnace, the night before Christmas. I wasn't going to be around my house most of Christmas Eve and Day anyway.

Now, today, the furnace people have been here and the part has been ordered. It could arrive later today or it could take as long as Friday before they get the furnace back up and running. It's pretty cold in the house but it's not unbearable ... I'm sure catching a cold is inevitable, though.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chihuly Nights

Last night, I went and saw the Dale Chihuly Glass Exhibit at Phipps Conservatory again. This time I took my parents as part of their Christmas gift. The exhibit was supposed to end in November but they extended it's stay into the new year. It's a wonderful exhibit and I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't go one more time before it's gone. A few of my photos can be found here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Netflix Grrrr.

I wrote a letter to Netflix last week complaining that they just seem to not have enough 'new release' movies in circulation. I told them that it was ridiculous that the first 18 movies in my queue were not available for rental because of 'long waits' but were indeed released ... I wrote that I have been a customer of theirs for close to 7 years and complained (maybe threatened) that I could easily go to a local Blockbuster to get these movies if I really wanted to.

For example, 'Transformers', which came out on DVD in October still has a 'very long wait' on my queue. Now I'm not 'dieing' to see this film ... it's just the principle that's frustrating ... that it's been over 2 1/2 months since it's release and they do not have a copy they can send to me ... also, 'Pirates of the Carribean 3' is on my list and I see ads for it's DVD release on TV every freakin' day but I already assume that I'll have to wait until next year to get it from Netflix.

I mentioned that even though I have some 375 movies in my queu, I was getting sick of watching 'older' movies while waiting an average of 2 months for the new releases to become available. Don't get me wrong, I like me my classics, foreign films, cult favorites and indie flicks, all which are usually in high supply from Netflix ... it's just that sometimes I want to veg out to the latest action flick or stupid comedy i.e. 'Die Hard 4', 'Knocked Up', 'Superbad', etc.

Anyway, since writing to Netflix last Tuesday, newer released movies have been freeing up on my queue. Including 'Transformers', 'Live Free and Die Hard', etc.

Maybe Netflix's customer service actually responded to my complaint. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We're Baaaaaack!

and I heard you missed us!
Great debut night to 'Brotha Mike's' and my new weekly DJ night last Friday. Hopefully this is a start to another exciting and long lived weekly party. It was great seeing so many people come out to support ... some people I haven't seen in many months. Shake it!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Friday Dance Party

The afterparty we threw the other night went extremely well. My buddy and I started promoting around 7pm during the gallery crawl on Penn Avenue (which the afteparty was 'officially' for). We introduced ourselves to all of the gallery owners and invited them down to the party - many of them actually showed up. Around midnight The Shadow Lounge was filled to capacity ... at least 120 paying customers were through the door. Everyone was dancing to the eclectic mix of Funk, Northern Soul, Retro, R&B and Boogaloo sounds provided by the Djs ... and over $600 was collected at the door for our 'special cause'. It was a blast.

The rest of the photos can be viewed here. The party was such a success that the owner of the venue wants to discuss having it happen once a month.
I'm down with that.

Monday, December 3, 2007

oh yeah ...

and Van Halen (the reunited Roth era Van Halen) just announced that they are extending their tour into next year ... and Pittsburgh was added to their list of cities they will be stopping in. Actually, I don't know how Pittsburgh was not on their list from the beginning ... I mean, seriously ... what city is not more Van Halen than PGH? C'mon.

Anyway, I am super psyched about this. I have total faith in these guys that the show will be one of the best rock shows I have ever experienced. In fact, after seeing them I'm confident that I'm going to have to start using a scale of 1 to Van Halen to describe anything that is near awesome.

I just hope they can keep it together long enough and avoid the inevitable band meltdown until they make it here.

Speaking of promoting ...

I also spent the weekend hanging out at the ALTO Lounge in Shadyside ... doing, ah, research ...

Starting Friday December 14th, 'Brother Mike' and I will be resuming our duties as hosts for the only 'House and Techno' music DJ night in the Eastside. We'll be residing over a weekly dance party at this place - every Friday night - offering up soulful house music and funky techno in a loungy, chill out atmosphere.

3 Big DJs from 3 Big Parties

Just when I thought I was out of the 'promoting' game ... this happens:
A buddy of mine and I threw this little party together in less than 24 hours. It will be the official afterparty for the Unblurred First Friday event taking place on Penn Ave. this Friday (even got it cleared with the Penn Ave Arts Initiative). Nice to know that the connections are still there after being out of the club promoting scene for close to a year. Got the venue free of charge, convinced all of the DJs to play for free, got the flyer design donated and even managed to offer up a pretty nice drink special on top of it all. The money collected from the $5 'suggested donation' cover charge will all go to a local benefit that I can't reveil at this time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Films of the future

Ugh ... five (5) days of eating Turkey leftovers, a couple of dinners with friends (some visiting from out of town), one (1) or two (2) hangovers plus three (3) 70 mile round trip drives to and from Beaver County (Quiptown Beatdown) and Pittsburgh (Eastside) which included two (2) family dinners and two (2) days of picking up 'new to me' furniture from my grandmothers house ... this is how I spent the T-Day extended holiday weekend.

But before all of that ... I recently went and saw Beowulf IMAX 3-D. Yup, the hype got me. I usually don't go to the movies. Well ... I venture out occasionally for classic films, re releases, indie or foreign flicks but I rarely go see the latest studio film while it is still in the 'cinaplex'. I just don't like seeing films at these big stadium seating, Dolby-loud-as-hell, usually attached to some mall-type-theaters which are typically crawling with distracting teens who will watch anything and eventually get on my nerves (I was there once). Don't get me wrong, I love film ... I just like to watch film in a controlled environment, like my living room, where I can control the viewing setting and experience the film in it's fullest.

And again, normally, Beowulf would be the last type of film that I would go see on the big screen. I'd get to it on my Netflix queue ... someday ... but a friend of mine and I agreed that we wanted to experience all the hype regarding the IMAX 3-D ... and man, we were not disappointed. The phenomenal 3-D effects were absolutely incredible and put a smile on my face for almost the entire length of the movie ... but it was not the only thing that got us. Surprisingly, the acting, animation and over the top action sequences were all top notch. As for the motion capture work, it was really good. The characters looked extremely real sometimes, and other times they looked hilariously fake, but in the end the filmmakers have come a long way since the 'dead eyes' animation of the Polar Express days.

Of course, at the beginning, there were plenty of gasps and giggles from the audience, mostly coming from the younger crowd in the theater ... mostly due to a few campy 3-D effects (spears and swords thrust out into the audience) and the half Danish and half 'old English-ness' of the dialogue and story, but, after a short while, I think everyone began to calm down and take notice that the film was actually pretty good.

Overall the film was one hell of an experience. It has the thrills for both the action/fantasy fan and the cinemaphile trying to follow the modern progressions in film making. (Is this the future of cinema?) The depth of field that the 3-D gave, drawing the audience 'into' the film itself, was breathtaking at times. On a beastly IMAX screen it feels like you are in the same room as these people on screen. (I caught myself ducking and blinking a few times thinking I was about to get hit by something coming out of the screen) ... but I have to say that the film was also good because of the great direction of Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) and solid script adapation from Roger Avery, Hollywood’s go to man for pulpy comic-book stories (Pulp Fiction, True Romance, Killing Zoe) and Neil Gaimen, our modern representative of fantasy intellectualism (Sandman comics, Mirromask, Stardust). In the end, my friend and I agreed that the film would play okay in 2-D, but we would strongly suggest seeing it in it's big 3-D format if you can.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Light Up Night

I headed downtown last Friday to attend a 'Green Drinks' happy hour at the Bossa Nova club. I was supposed to meet up with my friend and 'business partner' whom I work with in this Environmental Production Company but he was a no show. Not all was lost though since 'Clover', ' Uncle Cracker' and 'the Jones'' joined me down there. (It was definitely more fun this way anyway). 'The Anderson's' and our friend 'Gibb' joined us too. We spent way too much money on drinks and food ... but what the heck ... it was light up night downtown and the city was buzzing with people and we hardly ever party downtown. We even headed over to the Cigar Bar and the Market Square Ale House before the night was over.

Along the way I ran into 3 old friends in each of the 3 bars we went to. Friends I haven't seen in months and years; guys from the old days of DJing. (This is the one good thing I can say I got from working and DJing in a popular nightclub here in the city ... I met and got to know hundreds of people over the years.) The one friend was now married, one friend was supposed to move back home to Turkey but decided not to and the other guy was still doing his own thing, not DJing but still an architect here in the city. It was surreal ... like who was I going to run into around the next corner?

A great night with close friends and good night of catching up.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Polyphonic Spree

I went and saw the Polyphonic Spree last night. The show, albeit brief, was pretty awesome. The Poly. Spree are an energetic band to say the least ... with 23 members including a 10 piece choir, a pair of keyboardists, as well as a percussionist, drummer, bassist, guitarist, flautist, trumpeter, trombonist, violinist/violist, harpist, French horn player, and an electronic effects person.

My only complaints about the show were that 1) it was an all ages show so if you wanted to drink you had to stay in a roped off section out in main the lobby of the venue and 2) since it was all ages, the show had to end at 11pm because of some all ages curfew law.

I can deal with #1. I don't have to drink while watching the band.

and #2 wouldn't bother me so much either ... if only the two opening bands, who I didn't watch, didn't play so long leaving the Poly Spree only an hour to perform before the magic hour of 11pm was upon us.

Seriously, The Poly. Spree didn't go on stage until close to 10pm leaving them 1 hour to perform. They ran through 4 or 5 songs (it's sometimes hard to tell because they play medleys of some songs together) and then they said goodbye and left the stage. They came back onstage for a brief encore that consisted of 1 medley and 1 song ... and that was it ... they were off the stage, house lights came on and it was only 10:58pm.

a one hour concert?!?!

oh wait ... there is a number 3.

3) There was a $5.40 ticketmaster charge on top of the ticket price. The show cost $15 and then Ticketmaster charges 1/3 of that price on top for services. A third of the ticket price in fees!?! I'd definitely rather give it to the artists!

Anyway ... the show was still good even though it was short. They started out big, doing the whole cutting out the heart from the red curtain thing ... and they had these cannons that shot confetti into the audience during the first song ... the energy from the band and the crowd was intense ... too bad it all couldn't have kept going on into the night ... here is set list from what I can remember:

Running Away

Hanging Around / Get Up and Go

Live or Let Die

It's the Sun

Light and Day / Ride Captain Ride + one other song

... and I was definitely disappointed that they didn't play their cover of Lithium by Nirvana.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Film, friends and beers.

Finally made it to one of the films during the 3 Rivers Film Festival last night. My friend '$hell' suggested that we see the movie 'Irina Palm'. Crazy movie about a grandmother working in a porn shop in order to raise money for her ailing grandson. (and by working I mean working) Dark and funny. '$hell' had free passes to the theater so it made it all the better. She and I also grabbed a Hoegardden over at D's before the flick. (best place in town for hot dogs)

A few other friends joined us for the movie. It was a nice night to be out in Regent Square (a residential area town about 5 miles from my house) ... nice to be in an area that has a movie theater and pub that you can walk between. It reminded me of what it was like to live near shops/restaurants/entertainment venues that you can walk to (especially since 3 of our other friends who joined us all live withing a few blocks of the theater and they all either walked or biked over). I miss that about living in Morningside - there is really no where I can walk to to get a bite to eat, grab a coffee or see a movie. I have to drive to everything.

Anyway, my friend 'Soy Sos' was at the film with us last night and after the movie he and I got to talk some more about me remixing a song of his band's latest album, Telomere. We've been talking about it since the Art's Festival this summer. He actually sent over the entire album to me this morning so I could listen to the songs and pick which one I want to work on. Cool deal ... I just need to get off my butt and try to be creative.

I also stopped in at Kelly's for one last drink after the movie last night. Sat with my friends 'Meg F.', 'Selecta' and 'SMI' to do some much needed catching up regarding the DJ music scene in Pittsburgh. I've been out of the loop it seems.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

I set aside the rest of my Saturday afternoon to watch the premiere of the new 2007 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers "Running Down a Dream" documentary on the Sundance Channel.

Covering nearly 40 years of his musical history, the film has Petty navigating every pop sea change that came along in his life ... following him from his days as a hippie kid (in his first band, Mudcrutch) to his period passing as a "new wave" star in the late '70s, to his canny transformation into an MTV video star, then networking himself with the grand likes of George Harrison and Bob Dylan and, finally, to his current role as elder statesman.

The film is 4 hours long (yeah ... that's a lot of Petty) but the length is bearable, feeling like there is not a wasted minute as all of the tension, history and inspiration of the band's life unfolds.
... and they had it all ... typical Rock and Roll BS; corporate chicanery, legal showdowns and a long string of musical mutinies, plus personal stuff ranging from divorce and child abuse to drug addiction and even arson.

A very decent documentary even if you are not a fan.

Cleaning out the attic

My friend Jwan invited me to the Pitt Football game on Saturday afternoon. Awesome invite but I declined because I needed to use the day off to get some things done around the house.

My main objective was to get up into the attic crawl space since I haven't been up there in over a year. The last time I was up there was during the inspection when I was buying the house and I remembered that we saw some boxes up there during this time, something the previous owner was storing up there ... I was hoping that they were still there. But I was basically also just getting up there to do an inspection of the insulation and ceiling of the roof.

Why has it taken me over a year to get up there? ... well ... because it isn't an easy process. I had to take everything out of the closet. Then I had to unscrew the hanging clothes rod and remove the shelves ... then I had to get a ladder and lift and squeeze myself up through the terribly small 16" x 16" hole pictured below. It's your typical attic crawl space entrance, I guess.
... it's just I would rather have one of those nifty pull handles where a set of stairs neatly unfolds when you open the door.

Anyway ... I made it up into the attic. Nothing special to see. I walked around, carefully balancing on the beams between the sections of insulation, checking things out - everything seemed to be in a suitable, okay condition.

... but I was excited to see over in the corner a small pile of various sized boxes, about 10 in total ... the items I saw when I was up there during the inspection last year.

It took me some time to move all the items to the attic hole (door?) and down into the house. It was a tedious and dirty process since the boxes were covered in dust and practically falling apart from age when picked up and moved. And it would have been a lot easier if I had someone there to hand everything to instead of me going up and down the step ladder, squeezing myself and the various sized boxes through the small hole over and over again.

Finally, after getting everything down, I was able to dig into the boxes. Here is what I found; mostly x-mas decorations, which is a little disappointing, but still a neat find none the less:

A couple of boxes of old Christmas lights. I dig the primary colors but I'm afraid to actually use them since they are so old. (crusty wiring and two prong plug)

A box of 'Glita-lites' ...

'they glitter like jewels!' ... now these are pretty cool ... but they come in a string of 6. That's awesome if you only want to light about about two feet of something.

There was also a box of extra Glita-lights called 'Lighted Ice' ...

A box full of cardboard paper Christmas houses

Another box full of die cast Christmas figurines; Santa, Figure Skaters, People riding Toboggans ... and a couple of Double Decker buses.

Plus these two old cool, plastic 'matchbox' type cars were in the box.

There were also two old Samsonite suitcases sitting up in the attic ... the date on the boxes they were in said "shipped on 4/11/1953". Pretty neat.

now this was the coolest find ... because, you know, what could be in a suitcase stored away in the dark corner of my attic? Clothes? Money? Scandal? okay ... I was letting my imagination get away ...

But I got nothing ...

just a business card for a hotel in Ohio. Maybe there is a tale to be told there.

Oh well ... it was a fun afternoon cleaning out the attic.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Back in Pgh ... what to do?

Not much has happened since my return from Atlanta. Mostly because, upon my return, I caught a nasty cold and missed out on all the Halloween festivities.

I did meet up with my father and friends to start this year's batch of our homemade wine. We started the process last Saturday ... it took us roughly two hours to get the 210 gallons of different grape juice ready for 'fermenting' ... we will work with it every 7 weeks until next July when we finally bottle ... with an end production of roughly 850 bottles of wine. I'm sure I'll have more to talk about it as the process goes on.

I also finally made it out on Tuesday night to catch up with my friend Ray Lugo, front man to the internationally known afrobeat band Kokolo. It's always a trip to hang out with Ray ... talking about everything ... mainly music and touring the world.

and last night, I had dinner with 'Mr. and Mrs. Jones' to do .. what else? to keep up with them, of course. After dinner we made a quick stop at a local art gallery for the official release party of the new Pittsburgh Bike map produced by the folks over at Bike Pittsburgh. We then made an even quicker stop at the Brillobox for one more beer before calling it a night.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Atlanta Visit - Day Five

Tuesday, Oct. 23rd

I flew home.

That's it.

Watch this instead.

Tell me this doesn't freak you out? Someone synched up their own music to an old Santana performance. It's pretty funny.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Atlanta Visit - Day Four

Monday Oct. 22nd

We started the day off early (9am) by going to Emory University so 'Mama Jamhands' could get some work done. I occupied my time by going to the Michael C. Carlos Museum located on Emory Campus.

The Museum is housed in a distinguished building by renowned architect Michael Graves. The Carlos maintains the largest collection of ancient art in the Southeast with objects from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Near East, and the ancient Americas. The Museum is also home to collections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century sub-Saharan African art and European and American works on paper from the Renaissance to the present day. It was pretty impressive for a museum on a college campus.

Also present at the Museum, in correlation with the Dalai Lama's visit, was the Buddha in Paradise Exhibit: A Celebration in Himalayan Art. The exhibition was a display of sixteen Tibetan thangka paintings inspired by the theme of the Buddhist pure lands, or Sangyey Dakzhing, all created between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries. This was very nice to see up close but my visit to this exhibit was cut short due to the arrival of a class field trip full of loud junior highschoolers.

After the museum, we went out for lunch and then picked up the MARTA and headed to Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown Atlanta for another lecture by the Dalai Lama. On our walk from the rail station to the park we were able to check out Philips Arena, the Georgia Dome and the CNN Center.

The Dalai Lama's lecture was entitled Educating the Heart and Mind: A Path to Universal Responsibility. He began the lecture talking about his recent installation as a Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University*. He seemed to relish the honor, repeatedly referring to himself as professor and laughing, "As a professor of this university, I think you should listen to me!" He then joked that he's a "lazy person" who won't assign much homework. "I will most likely be a hopeless professor!"

Later, in his address to a crowd that had to reach to more than 10,000 people, the Dalai Lama called the U.S. the world's "greatest, most powerful" democracy and said it should send more members of the Peace Corps, instead of soldiers, to other countries to spread democracy peacefully. "The concept of war is outdated," he said. "Through war, through violence, you cannot achieve what you want."

You can view the entire lecture here. His Holiness begins speaking at about the :47 mark after yet another long list of introductions from Emory Faculty and Atlanta Government Officials.

At the :51 minute mark he gets a few more laughs by correcting one of his introductions saying, "while you introduce me, in the subject of which I study, you also mentioned 'medicine' ... that I don't know. I know how to take medicine but the technical and philosophy side, I do not know!"

A picture gallery of the event can be viewed here.

His lecture was preceded by two musical performances, a Tibetan Music Group and a Jazz Trio.

*Earlier in the day, the Dalai Lama was installed as Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University in a vibrant ceremony including music, readings, and academic ceremonial traditions. Following the formal installation, His Holiness delivered his inaugural lecture as Presidential Distinguished Professor entitled "Reality as Interdependence," based on Je Tsongkhapa's rten-'brel bstod-pa, "In Praise of Relativity." I was not able to attend this ceremony since it was limited to Emory Students, Faculty and Staff only. The ceremony and lecture can be viewed in it's entirety here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Atlanta Visit - Day Three - Part Three

Sunday, Oct. 21st

Enough seriousness for the day. Time for some football!

Unfortunately the Steelers lost to the Broncos.

... and even when we made 'Jamhands' wear the good-luck-Rolling Rock-case-of-beer helmet ...

Atlanta Visit - Day Three - Part Two

Sunday Oct. 21st

Sunday afternoon we attended the First Emory Summit on Religion, Conflict, and Peace building.

This 3,000 person event featured on-stage, His Holiness the Dalai Lama—in conversation with religious leaders from Hindu, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities, including Rabbi David Rosen, Sister Joan Chittister, Professor Rajmohan Gandhi (the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi), and Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im.

The Dalai Lama seemed, as might have been expected, to not talk too much about peace building through religion and conflict but rather through brain development, warm heartedness, peace of mind and parental/friend affection. He was his usual joyful self ... full of humor and innocence. it was such a great experience to hear him speak.

Each of the religious leaders also spoke on how the religions of the world could work together to reduce violent conflict and build peaceful, pluralistic societies.

The whole event was incredible and deeply moving, hearing each of these religious 'icons' speak. I especially enjoyed the speeches given by Rabbi David Rosen and Sister Joan Chittister, the latter getting the most reaction and applause from the crowd.

The summit concluded with a short ceremony of the concencration of the Sand Mandala for Peace and Compassion that the Drepung Monks had been working on all week.

The entire summit can be viewed in Realplayer by clicking here (it is very well worth it if you have 2 1/2 hours to spare)

The first 1/2 hour is mostly introductions from Emory Faculty. At the :41 minute mark you can view Rajmohan Gandhi giving the Dalai Lama the Peace Pilgrim award from the Gandhi Foundation. The Dalai Lama's lecture begins at about the :47 minute mark. His description of affection from animals by mimicking their actions is worth viewing.

Rabbi David Rosen can be viewed at the 1:07 mark.

and Sister Joan Chittister can be viewed at the 1:27 mark.

Atlanta Visit - Day Three - Part One

Sunday Oct. 21st
Morning and Afternoon:

'Jamhands' showed me around.

We compared the shine of the balloon to the shine of my head.

She showed me her jedi-mind-levitation-trick.

and then we had some time on the swings.

Atlanta Visit - Day Two - Part Two

Saturday Oct. 20th

In the evening we attended our first event on Emory University Campus, Mystical Arts of Tibet: Sacred Music and Sacred Dance for World Healing performances. The show was about two hours long and consisted of Drepung Loseling Monks chanting (multiphonic), dancing and playing various instruments. The performance is endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (and produced by Richard Gere ... no, seriously) as a means of promoting world peace and healing through sacred performing art

On a side note: I wasn't at the venue more than 10 minutes before I already ran into someone from Pittsburgh.

As we were approaching the venue, looking around for a line, etc., a woman standing by herself smiled and offered info that the doors to the place had just opened and that they were letting people in. She mentioned that she was waiting for her niece to return from taking her camera to the car since they were not allowing any photography within the place. We talked for a bit then said goodbye and as we turned to walk away I saw a familiar face walking towards me, pointing and saying, "That is my Aunt you are talking to! How do you know her?!" Here it was a friend from Pittsburgh, wondering how it was that we were talking to her Aunt out of the blue like that ... my friend and I had known that each of us would be down in ATL for the events but made no prior contact to meet up or anything. Great synchronicity that we would run into each other that way.

Here is what we saw:

First Performance (1 Hour):

1) Nyen-sen: Invocation of the Forces of Goodness

In a tapestry of instrumental and vocal sounds, the monks invoke creative awareness within themselves and the audience. They enhance the spirit of goodness in the environment as a prelude to the performance of Sacred Music Sacred Dance.

2) Man-del: Purifying the Universe

As they sing in the multiphonic style typical of Drepung Loseling's dominant role at the annual Monlam Chenmo Festival, the monks create a world as seen through the eyes of inner perfection. This is sent forth as an offering for world healing and is symbolized by the raising of a silver base on which mounds of rice are poured in a geometric pattern.

3) Sha-nak Gar-cham: Dance of the Black Hat Masters

This ancient dance for the elimination of negative energies and hindrances is in the style known as drak-po, or "wrathful." The implements held by the dancers symbolize the transcendence of false ego-identification on the outer (the environment), inner (the emotions), and the secret (thesubtle body-mind link) levels. Their movements symbolize the joy and freedom of seeing reality in its nakedness.

4) Tak-tsey Tong-ya: Intense Encounters of the Third Degree

A demonstration of the tradition of Tibetan monastic inquiry. Two monks engage one another in a process leading to the deeper levels and implications of spiritual experience, thus enhancing the mind of enlightenment.

5) Seng-geh Gar-cham: The Snow Lion Dance

In Tibet the snow lion symbolized the fearless and elegant quality of the enlightened mind. When a healthy and harmonious environment is established by the creative activities of human beings, such as through the performance of sacred purification and healing music, all living beings, here represented by the snow lion, rejoice.

Second Performance (40 minutes)
1) Dur-dak Gar-cham: Dance of the Skeleton Lords

To remind the world of the ephemeral nature of all things, and of the liberating and balancing impact of an awareness of this reality, two monks appear as the forces of goodness manifest as Cemetery Lords. These are Dharmapala, or "Protectors of Truth," with the message to point the mind toward authentic being.

2) Ten-trul Yul-tru: Purifying the Environment and Its Inhabitants

Chanting in the multiphonic tradition, the monks hold up a mirror and draw into it the reflection of the world and its living beings. They then purify these through sound and meditation, as symbolized by the act of pouring waters from a sacred wisdom vase over the mirror. Traditionally this piece was performed whenever an environmental, social or individual healing was required.

3) Kha-dro Ten-shug Gar-cham: Dance of the Celestial Travelers

Five dancers, symbolizing the five elements and five wisdoms, together with three musicians, invoke the sounds and movements of the Celestial Travelers, the mystical beings from another world whose blessings strengthen the forces of life and light. These beings visit our world in times of stress and danger, bringing with them the creative energy that inspires harmony and peace.

4) Sang-tsol Zhi-jo: Incense Offering & Auspicious Song for World Peace

The monks send forth the smoke of incense, which the wind carries into the ten directions as a subliminal force invoking peace, harmony and the ways of creative living.

Atlanta Visit - Day Two - Part One

Saturday Oct. 20th was a full day for me.

We spent the afternoon checking out Stone Mountain Park, which is a 3,200 acre park surrounding a giant 1,700 foot tall Granite Rock that has the largest bass-relief carving in the world.

Three figures of the Confederate States of America are carved there: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis ...

... welcome to the South

We checked out many of the attractions at the park including the train ride around the 5 mile circumference of the granite rock and the recreated, surreal 1870's southern town complete with glass blowing, candle making, blacksmithing and your occasional park-worker dressed up like a knee slapping hillbilly, etc. ...

... Yee Haw.

Upon further investigating of the history of Stone Mountain, we found some rather interesting (disturbing) text suggesting the original use of the large granite rock. Yikes.

Atlanta Visit - Part One

I recently spent 5 days down in Atlanta, GA visiting close friends and attending various events surrounding the induction of the Dalai Lama as a honorary professor at Emory University. (we'll get to H.H. in later posts)

I arrived Friday evening, Oct 19th and spent the rest of the day catching up with the 'Bowser-Kyles' whom I was visiting and staying with. It was great to be spending some quality time with close friends who I rarely get to see. I was also reintroduced to their daughter (referred to here as 'Jamhands') since the previous time I met her she was only 8 months old and probably doesn't remember much. 'Jamhands', now 26 months, has developed into a very funny and unique person and it was a pleasure to get to spend so much time with her.

To Clarify, jam hands is like jazz hands but instead refers to the fact that every time she throws her hands in the air, and reaches out and touches you, her hands feel like they are covered in jam ... and it may just be the obligatory baby slobber, the half eaten mushy pretzel stick dipped in peanut butter that she is usually carrying around or even the frozen strawberries she would snack on, etc. etc. ... it all had the same result: jamhands.

Example 1.: Eating raspberry covered french toast barehanded results in some serious jamhands.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Deer do like bread

This is what happened when I put stale bread out for the birds this morning ...

It attracted not one ...

not two ...

but four deer came and ate ...

then left.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tacos, Meetings and Fear and Loathing at the Flea Market.

Friday night was 'Build your own Taco' Buffet night at my house ... beef AND chicken (yeah, you know it). 'Clover', 'Uncle Cracker' and 'JimmyAndrewForest' were in attendance. We drank plenty of wine (5 bottles) and watched the movie, 'Blades of Glory' (which I felt was one of Will Farrell's funnier movies). 'Uncle Cracker' fell asleep (no surprise) but not before launching a glass of wine over my coffee table and across the floor. Still though, no major accidents on my couch (knock on wood).

Saturday, I nursed a hangover all day. I also had to go to a work meeting with the environmental production company I am a part of. We met in the back room of the Coffee Tree in Shadyside to discuss some Restorative Events ... ah ... events. Nice meeting place but when we got there the back room was filled with people chilling and/or studying. Seems the coffee place failed to remember that we reserved the back room the day before. After much explaining and negotiating we were able to get management to kick out all of the people (I know ... nice move on our part). I didn't care either way. I was pretty much useless at the meeting anyway (aforementioned hangover).

Sunday morning, around 8:30am, I set out a plate of old bread in my backyard for the birds. By 9am, the bread had attracted a very large doe to my backyard (I didn't even know deer liked bread). This was perfect because I was hosting breakfast at my house for 5 friends that I invited to go with me to the local flea market. They arrived at 9am, finally getting a chance to see a deer that I am always talking about. After a breakfast of eggs, sausage, potatoes and coffee, we headed to the flea market. It was a beautiful day but the market was slow. No cool finds for me this time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Time to learn your Zip Codes

So ... I was listening to our News - Jazz - NPR Radio Station here in PGH tonight. They were having their pledge drive so I decided to renew my membership with them over the internet (while a nice Tito Puente track played in the background).

After the song was over, the DJ was giving the usual 'shout outs' to the pledges ... mine was the only one they received during the song so he thanked me, pronouncing my last name correctly (which is surprising) and he went on to say that 'Jason is from Pittsburgh, from the 15206 area code. I believe that is the Robinson Township area ... yeah ... Crafton ... that 15206 area out West is a big area ... he's somewhere out there.'

He couldn't be more wrong. I live on the East Side of PGH. 15206 is in the Eastside. I wanted him to know that. Upsetting! I wanted him to shout 'Morningside Represent!'

The DJ barely finished his sentence before my phone was already ringing. Actually, two different friends who were listening to the broadcast heard my name and my location mix up and decided to call me and have a laugh.

Why I was late for work today ...

I knew the deer liked the myrtle I planted in my backyard but now it appears the turkeys like it too.

I spent about 1/2 hour this morning watching two turkeys acting all confused in my backyard. It appears one turkey made it over into my neighbor's yard, which is completely fenced in, and then couldn't find it's way back out.

My neighbor and I sat on our respective back porches, drank coffee, and watched the two confused turkeys try to figure out the whole scenario.

We finally made a big enough commotion to give the 'caged' turkey a scare to get it airborn and up over the fence. I wish I had tried to get a picture of the turkey while it was in the air ... not everyday you see a bird that big taking flight ... plus their wingspan is pretty impressive.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Visiting Pittsburgh

Hello, my name is Jason and I will be serving as your tour guide for the weekend ...

As I mentioned before, I had friends visiting with me from out of town from last Thursday through today, Monday ... I made sure that there was never a dull moment while they were here.

Our activities included, but were not limited to:

... a few dinners and many martinis at Soba, Thai Gourmet and The Red Room

... shopping at the Grove City Outlet Malls

... a nice stroll through the Carnegie Museum of Art - One friend visiting is currently working on his Masters in Art History (with a focus on American Modernist Stuart Davis) at VCU so we went to the museum to see pghs collection. (nice that we have one Davis painting in the collection.)

... an afternoon visit up to Mt. Washington for the greatest view.

... some time at Phipps Conservatory - Glass artist Dale Chihuly is currently on display there. I encourage anyone to see his work before the show is over.

... lunch at Primanti Bros.- the out-of-towners were intrigued to try our city's famous sandwiches

... and some local beer, perogies and prayer at the Church Brew Works

ATF 2007

So the Alt. Transportation Festival went well on Friday. I ended up working at the Southside Works site from 9am to 8pm. 11+ hours in the heat and sun setting up and tearing down tables and chairs, greeting and helping out programmers, sound equipment people and entertainers, helping with the parking of the display bus and cars, setting up bins and collecting recyclables and just some general goofing off with my fellow ATF staff.

Here are some pics I took during the day at our site.
... and a small video provided by the Post Gazette.

The attendance at our site was a little slow during the day but it picked up nicely once the 9 to 5 workday finished. The other two sites of the ATF did really well though and i think everyone was pleased with the information and entertainment that was provided.

I was exhausted, sweaty and very dirty by the end of the day but I decided to stop at a new art gallery since it was First Fridays over in the Eastside and a friend had some new art she was showing. I figured if I went home first, I'd end up collapsing and not making it back out since I was so tired ... plus I needed to unwind with some free alcoholic beverages. I ended the night over at the Sprout Fund for their open house party which was still pretty crowded at 11pm (it started at 5pm). Sprout funded a good portion of the ATF with a nice sized grant so it was cool to see everyone and celebrate a successful event. More free beer, lots of friends and 'J Mall$' DJing some funk & soul tunes ... a pretty good ending to a very long but fun day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Still very busy ..

Tonight and tomorrow should be my final meetings regarding the programming and scheduling of the Alt. Trans Festival happening this Friday. I have not been too involved with the event planning this time around (my biggest contribution was setting up and coordinating people to do Chair Massages at each of the sites during the all day event). Too bad too since they are paying $35/ hr to the people involved in helping with the coordination and execution of this event.

Tonight is also the first planning meeting for the next step in the 48 Film Project. Another short film must be made, this time competing on a National Level. Hopefully I can contribute some more original music to the project.

I also have a few friends arriving from out of town this Thursday to stay with me through the weekend so we can attend our Alma Mater's homecoming. I'm not too big on celebrating the place it took me 5 years to graduate from due to failing grades ... I go up there for an excuse to hit the Outlet Malls.

I also have been working on a new song:
Untitled #10 (incomplete lo res version)
Contains elements of:
Led Zeppelin - When the Levee Breaks (for the drums - sped up and rearranged)
The Shadows - Scotch on the Rocks (for the bass line - also slightly rearranged)
and some song by the Syd Dale Orchestra (for the horns)

'Uncle Cracker' turns 30

We celebrated 'Uncle Cracker' finally turning 30 the other day at Thai Gourmet in Bloomfield(although his birthday isn't until this weekend ... but he'll be away in Philly and Atlantic City partying it up big time).
Big ups to 'Clover' for coordinating the celebration, having a plethora of appetizers arriving at the table as we sat down and also having the staff bring out an ice-cream cake and party hats she dropped off earlier in the day.
You would think the theme of his party was the Pittsburgh Steelers judging from all of the Steeler memorabilia he received as gifts ... but the 'My Little Pony' place settings indicated otherwise.
After dinner, we drank some over priced drinks at the Red Room ...
then retreated back to 'Clover' and 'Cracker's' house where our friend 'JimmyAndrewForest' pronounced 'Uncle Cracker' the winner of the evening.
Thanks to 'Mrs. Jones' for the photos.