Welcome to the Sound and Light Show

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

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.

Monday, October 1, 2007


I have a few things to write about ('Uncle Cracker's' My Little Pony Birthday Party, visits from 'Vince Deadly' and '1/2 Jewish Princess Aprilla' and the last Pirate game I went to) but I don't feel like it right now ... I'm busy and I must gather my thoughts ...

so in the meantime, for some filler, I give you an Eddie Izzard skit (played out by Legos):
(NSFW due to language)