Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Monday, 2017.10.23
It's like deja vu all over again.

		Yogi Berra

2008.07.03

What’s Wrong With This Picture

I really liked this framed set of prints:

But something about the piano really bugged me. Something didn’t look right and it took a minute to key into it (hint, there.) First I thought the guy playing the piano was inordinately small. Then it struck me (another hint). The keyboard is too big. Looking at the enlarged print…


…reveals 117 keys, plus or minus one, and not the usual 88 keys. OK, so it’s “art”, but I’m a musician and things like this have to be closer to accurate than not if the mood of the image in this particular case is to be believable. Picasso or Salvador Dali can go all cubie and bendy to their artistic heart’s delight. But that’s not the style here. I have to wonder if the artist ever really saw a piano in person. Unfortunately, with something like 30 extra keys, it makes the print look a bit cartoonish. No sale.

2008.06.27

Mythological Facts In Dispute

I’m not a believer in astrology, in the sense that I find it at all useful for solving problems. But it is entertaining and kinda fun. Stumbled upon this entry in Wikipedia this morning, actually captures the essence:

It’s the “factual accuracy” that is disputed. I’ve been wanting to ask an astrologist what happened to the art when Pluto was downgraded? Or what about the other planets that were discovered in the galaxy. And arn’t they neglecting the influence of other large objects moving about in vacuums like astroids and Michael Moore?

I’m just askin’…

2007.09.25

Marcel Marceau

I had to dig to find this, but it was worth it. It’s the autographed program from when I saw Marcel Marceau perform here in Denver in 1980 (click for larger image):

Marcel Marceau 1

I studied French for 5 years and used it only twice in my life for actual conversation. Once while traveling through Canada and once after waiting near two hours at the back entrance of the theater for Marcel Marceau. I told him, in French, that I thought his performance was fantastic and asked for his autograph (Yes, I have spoken with the mime!), which he gave. Still a memorable performance and an inspiration after more than 27 years.

I was saddened to hear of his passing.

2007.09.05

Largo from Vivaldi’s Lute Concerto in D for the Cello

Finished transcribing Vivaldi’s Lute Concerto in D for the cello. Please drop me a note if you find any errors or have any suggestions for additional notation such as fingering, bowing, etc. Click here to download the PDF. The score was created using lilypond.

[Edit History]

2008.02.28

Updated PDF file to reflect a more pleasing arrangement in measures 50 to 58. This change was inspired after listening to an old recording by Leona Boyd of the piece.

2007.07.19

Duty Calls…

[What follows is a transcript of the press conference held today on the West Lawn of the Java Zen campus. (Note: that would be the West Lawn just East of the Main Pavilion and not the West Lawn just South of and kitty-corner from the North Gazebo. For those of you who missed it, you really should learn to read a press release.) The press conference was called to answer questions in light of the disclosure Mr. Engel is up for the National Endowment for the Arts position in the Burge/Goldstein Administration (Come on, people. It’s gonna happen. Accept it and get on with your lives.) So. Having sussed this required some sort of obligatory deed of good word on behalf of Mr. Burge, the Java Zen Table, Desk and Counter Intelligence Teams were mobilized to do what ever it is they do and make something happen. Well, it took some time, what with the sheer volume of police reports and court depositions that had to be dug through, but find the good points they did and so prepared for the anticipated barrage of questions.]

Reporter: Is Dave loyal? I mean, can we trust the bastard?

Gregory Engel: Hell yes. Dave stood by me through that unfortunate “misunderstanding” with Queen Elizabeth II, just like he said he would once it was clear I wasn’t in as much trouble as originally thought. How was I to know the Queen couldn’t swim? And that hair really DID look like a wig. What this means for the country under a Dave Burge administration is clear. There’s, like, no way he’s gonna sit still and let some podunk despot pants the good ‘ol USA.

Journalism 101 Student With A Press Pass: What makes you qualified for the position?

GE: I happen to be a good authority on all things well endowed and I plan on bringing that expertise to a new definition of Art and revised criteria for what gets funded.

Guy Standing In Corner Holding A Broom: What kinds of cultural initiatives would you support while in office?

GE: In addition to National Talk Like A Pirate Day, I’ll have National Talk In Iambic Pentameter Day, National Bang On A Drum Day, National Paint By Numbers Day, and work to make Film Noir the national language. In response to our wildly popular Poetry Out Loud program, I shall expand that to include Pottery Out Loud, Carving Out Loud and, something I’m particularly proud of, Knitting Out Loud. As a collaborative effort with the NEA (The other NEA, National Education Association), I’ll initiate a partner program with the NEA’s “No Child Left Behind” program called “No Child Allowed Ahead.” Together, we shall achieve the perfect balance of mediocrity in education and the arts. I’ll work to see Antonio Vincenzo gets the recognition he deserves for painting the Sistein Chapel baseboards. And The Bean in Chicago…I’ll see to it that thing is spray painted gray. What’s up with that thing? You can’t even straighten your tie while looking into it.

Associated Press Shill: What date do you support for the full withdrawal of the imperialist pigs from Iraq so that the freedom fighters may once again enjoy the human right of killing each other at their convenience? Next Tuesday or Wednesday?

GE: That’s a difficult question. It will depend on whether or not Congress approves of my proposed plan to choreograph the withdrawal as run-away performance art. The costumes will be expensive as will be the extensive stage lighting required for the event.

Reuters Lacky: Can I get a picture of you with your finger up your nose?

GE: With what? You’re holding a banana.

Reuters Lacky: (Damn! Those office dweebs photoshopped the camera out of my hands again.)

Helen Thomas: To date, there are an estimated 700 million pictures without frames in the United States and another 3.8 billion exposed to excessive sunlight due to inferior quality window treatments, the condition of which is worsened by the effects of global warming and rising crime rates in all major metropolitan areas which it has been substantiated that the average Iraqi disapproves of highly in light of the ongoing and uncontrolled rise in health care costs but still the government insists on charging admission to view national treasures. Is that something you will change?

GE: Like changing a diaper on a baby, you bet.

Wolf Blitzer: Can you promise us a good scandal out of the NEA? This beat is sooooooo boring.

GE: I’ll see if I can rearrange the rotunda statuary to suit your needs. Thank you all for coming.

2007.04.29

The Truth Never Changes

Except when it does. The Truth defined by Claudius Ptolemy stood for some 1,400 years before the Truth defined by Nicolaus Copernicus ground Ptolemy’s cosmological Truth to dust. The Truth had changed. When one Truth, however, stands as long and has as deep a roots as Ptolemy’s, it can take a great deal of time to be eroded by the new Truth. Such was the case with Copernicus’ Truth. When so many of a society’s beliefs have been built upon a particular Truth, society is loath to relinquish the old Truth in favor of the new.

It is the same for personal beliefs and what each of us perceive as the “Truth.” An attorney friend of mine leverages this inertia when questioning witnesses in court. He begins with “Would you agree the Truth never changes?” The answer to this question is usually “Yes.” The one exception I know of was when this question was asked of a research MD expert witness. Science types, if they learned the idea of science at all, know the Truth changes. But the average bear believes the Truth, as they understand it, is as solid as a block of stone. My attorney friend then skillfully guides the witness into acknowledging the Truth of the case he is presenting. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

When the battle is between one who knows the Truth changes and one who believe it does not, my money is on the one who knows they are dancing on quicksand.

There are, of course, areas of human experience where the unacknowledged absurdity of immutable Truth make the experience what it is. Take this for example…

The Bean

It’s “The Bean”, as the locals call it, in Chicago. I took this picture last week while there on business. Is it art? Does it reveal a Truth to you?

Most of the visual arts are lost on me. I know what I like. Asian calligraphy and the works of David Lee and Frances Ku are particular favorites. But “The Bean” wasn’t revealing any Truths for me that day. That is, not until I looked no further than my own feet. There it was. The Truth revealed just as clearly as if it had been, well, chiseled in stone.

AT&T Plaza

It’s a commercial. (I did say most of the visual arts are lost on me. That’s probably why I play piano and cello rather than muck about with paint or clay.) But what about this…

Wacker 1

Found this after wandering East on Wacker to Lake Michigan. Again, no Truths were revealed, not even chiseled in stone. But I do know it had puppies…

Wacker 2

I shall leave the subject of Truth from Art alone and instead focus on the Truth that drives, reassures and comforts most of us. It’s the Truth of “reality.” But here again, there is an often unacknowledged contamination of subjectivity. There is the Truth of facts and the Truth derived from those facts, the interpreted Truth.

Just West of where I live can be found baked into the stone footprints from some long dead giant lizard. Virtually everyone agrees to this fact. The footprints are there. The creature, and any such creatures like it, have long since vanished from the planet. Where the Truth of these footprints becomes schizophrenic is in how the fact of those footprints are interpreted. My interpretation, and the resulting Truth I carry around, says those footprints were left there millions of years ago. Others interpret those prints has being no older than a few thousands years, what with the Earth not being older than some particular reference claims. A single Truth of fact with two associated, yet incompatible interpreted Truths.

A popular and politically correct Truth to hang your hat on these days has to do with global warming and whether or not it’s an established fact. My read is that it isn’t. Man’s experience with the weather is just too small a window from which to claim having any kind of clear view of what the global climate is doing. One hundred years ago, some scientists and much of the press was all abuzz with claims that the next ice age had begun.

I believe it is a good thing to reduce the amount of pollution we, as a species, spew into the atmosphere. I’ve believed that since high school when the high pollution alerts in Denver, compounded by the city’s infamous temperature inversions, left the air smelling like a sewer for weeks. Today, even with the population having growing significantly, the air is much cleaner. The global warming hysteria has not deepened my conviction in this regard.

So Al Gore is burning tons of jet fuel to haul is ass around the globe in order to set up circus tents and parade his “An Inconvenient Truth” dog and pony show. (Sidebar: When was it the Academy created a slide show category for it’s award?) I’m left with several questions. Who’s Truth is Gore selling? Inconvenient for whom? How can such a complex issue contain just one Truth? Frankly, I don’t think the Earth gives a damn about us. 4 billion years ago it was a sea of molten rock with no atmosphere. Life has been wiped clean from the surface and recreated anew probably more times than we know. The hysteria about global warming is a self-serving one and those on Gore’s band wagon are more interested about their own skin that saving the planet. The planet will save its self and will do so with the same indifferent cruelty and violence from which it began.

Listening to Gore and his evangelists leaves me with the creepy feeling that the solution to the “problem” of global warming is for others to solve (usually through some sort of sacrifice) so that they can continue living the life to which they have become accustom. (Man, are they going to be pissed if some killer asteroid is discovered for which they can’t buy impact offsets.) Setting the problem to rights, assuming it exists, will take something Al Gore and the eco-elites are apparently incapable of: An Inconvenient Effort.

[Edit History]

2007.05.01

Interesting article from ScienceDaily (“Earth’s Climate Is Seesawing, According To Climate Researchers“) illustrates my point about our window to the nature of Earth’s climate being rather small. For all their credentials, the scientists really don’t know for sure what is happening with the climate. Those that claim to be sure, probably aren’t honest scientists. (H/T Bryan at Hot Air)

2007.05.02

Added link to David Lee’s work at Lahaina Galleries.

2006.08.27

Cow Town Redux

I remember back in the early 1970’s, as part of the opening ceremonies to the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo every January, promoters would drive a small herd of cattle down 17th Street in downtown Denver. For those who don’t know, 17th Street is the heart of the business district in Denver. At least, that’s where all the banks are. Eventually this was done away with as it was felt this projected the wrong image, at least according to those seeking to “elevate” Colorado to Blue State status. They didn’t want to be living in no gall dang (spit) cow town. No sir. Git along little dowgies. Git.

Well, they’re back. After my morning cups of joe at The Market, I walked amongst the herd of properly sanitized and stylized she bovine. Let’s start here…

Cow 01

Yes, ladies and gentleman. Doesn’t she look stellar? Graced with green leggings and city scraps, this little lady is dressed to carry you off to sleep and into your worst nightmares. But move over missie, for daylight, she’s a comin’.

Cow 02

I hate it when the omen for the kind of day I’m going to have is a pink streaked cow. Looks like is going to be one of those pepto-bismol days.

Cow 03

This one is wearing a much loved sweater I had as a kid. So that’s where it went. Hey, my parents told me it ran away!

Cow 04

In need of a few antibiotics, it seems. Maybe something in a convenient hose on dosage. (I didn’t touch this one.)

Cow 05

Nothing to see here. Moooove along now. (Just a little freaky.)

Cow 06

Well, we know which are the recessive and which are the dominant genes. Time to close the book on that particular experiment.

Cow 07

That’s just not right. There ought to be federal legislation against putting cows in grass skirts.

Cow 08

Ouch. Occasionally known as the Denver Donkeys (during bad seasons), the Denver Cows is about as docile as you can get. Even the Denver Pigs would be better. At least pigs know how to be mean on occasion.

There you have it. Denver. Cow Town Redux.

[Edit History]

2006.08.27

Edited for clarity.

2006.008.31

Added link to The Market.

2006.08.07

Gary Musselman – An Original

I had first read about Gary Musselman on Amy Alkon’s blog in an article titled “It’s Like Jazz On Paper.” And indeed it is.

I know this not just by the images displayed by Amy, but from first hand experience of Gary’s art. I commissioned a phrase.

I’d like an original of the following phrase:

Hobo Kore Dojo

The phrase is Japanese and basically translates as follows…

“Hobo Kore” is a little difficult to translate. Roughly, it means “this place where you are at” or “where ever you are.”

“Dojo” is a place of learning, community and personal commitment. While it is often thought of as a physical place, such as a school or a monastery, the deeper meaning is that of a space without walls and alive.

So the entire phrase comes to mean “each moment in life is your school” or “each step you take in life has a lesson.” I first encountered this phrase when I began Aikido (a martial art) training. The school’s founder and chief instructor is a Japanese immigrant and had carved this phrase in Japanese calligraphy on a large piece of wood and hung it over the dojo entrance. The phrase has helped me keep a healthy perspective on life ever since.

As far as colors, I suppose I’d like blues and greens with a slight touch of red.

Take Care,

Gregory Engel

I was told Gary was inspired by the story behind the phrase and that an awesome piece was in the works. And so it is. Truly awesome.

Hobo Kore Dojo
Hobo Kore Dojo

Many thanks to Amy Alkon for shining the light and to Scotty Todd for brokering the deal on Gary’s behalf. I am a proud owner of a Gary Musselman original work of art. But the true original is Gary himself. The inspiration of his story absolutely radiates out of his art.


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