Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Saturday, 2017.12.16
It's not an optical illusion, it just looks like one.

		Phil White

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.

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.

2007.04.25

Flying Pig From Seattle, WA

Looks like Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments “found” my $2,000 deposit. Apparently, “posted no later than March 31st” means “April 16th” on the Jensen business calendar. I’ll find out tomorrow if the bank is impressed. Assuming it’s good, it means a modification to the Jensen Musical Instruments web site. Until Mr. Jensen compensates me for lost interest and the cost of the Jensen Musical Instruments web site, it will stand as a warning to others who may be considering doing business with Mr. Jensen. I have heard privately from several people similarly burned by Mr. Jensen that my efforts to shine light on his business practices have yielded positive results for them as well. To that end, I am satisfied and consider it a small miracle my $2,000 deposit was ever returned.

Refund Check

[Edit History]

2007.04.26

Several grammar changes.

2007.04.03

Worthless Words

As was easy to predict, the promise from Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments to return my $2,000 deposit by March 31 has proven to be just as vacuous as his promise to build an electric cello. Here it is, April 3 and not so much as a penny has been returned.

Lying leech.

I’m amending my demand to say I want my deposit and expenses in the form of a cashiers check. I have zero confidence in the ability of Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments to act in an ethical manner. Someone suggested he could potentially send another bell and whistle laden package which would be empty and he could then claim he sent cash. Regardless, any future correspondence with Mr. Jensen will be opened before witnesses and on video tape.

Lying, unethical leech.

2007.03.03

The Paper It’s Printed On

That’s what this is worth…maybe…

Letter From Jensen - 20070303

The letter was sent priority mail, certified and return receipt. Not sure what that was about. Mr. Jensen gains nothing with some sort of paper trail. Is he trying to demonstrate the sincerity of his intent to refund my deposit? I won’t be holding my breath until March 31st. From my perspective (That would be the one of the customer who is out $2,000.), nothing of substance has changed. In this deal, talk has been cheap and promises empty. I’ve been put off before by such chatter and promises from Mr. Jensen.

Neither will I be altering in the slightest the plans I’ve put in motion. Eight bucks of postal pomp and circumstance hasn’t inspired me to call off the dogs. If Mr. Jensen wants to impress me, he can send my money back, plus interest, and cover the expenses I incurred while trying to get his attention. And remember: the terms are cash. It will save the burden of having to spell my name correctly.

Previously:

Ripped Off By Eric Jensen And Jensen Musical Instruments

[Edit History]

2007.03.03

Something about this letter bugged me even after accounting for the postal pageantry and name misspelling (after first spelling it correctly.) It’s dated February 29th, 2007. Typed on a date that doesn’t exist. Perhaps that’s to match his promise? What calendar is Mr. Jensen looking at? I’m thinking the same one he uses to schedule his delivery commitments. Grateful, I am, there is a March 31st. Although, Mr. Jensen doesn’t specify a year.

2006.11.27

Ripped Off By Eric Jensen And Jensen Musical Instruments

I’ve been fighting a number of battles over the past 6 months or more. I’ve also let a few dings go unanswered. Like the General says, you have to pick your battles. It looks to be time for releasing some of these into the wild. As I found with Cherubim Foundation, some folks just don’t respond to common sense, fairness and decency until they realize the rock they’ve slithered under has been turned over, exposing them to the light of day and the view of the world.

Today, the rock I’m flipping over is the one under which Eric Jensen and his business, Jensen Musical Instruments, are hiding. This leech, Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments, robbed me of $2,000.

Last February, I signed a contract for a custom built electric cello and put down better than half the money. I had done my home work and researched a number of potential vendors over the course of 3 months before deciding on Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments. I consider myself a pretty sharp Internet buyer and have never lost so much as a dime due to a fraudulent transaction conducted over the Internet. I’ve been shopping on-line for over 8 years. The BBB said Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments was good, a number of professional musicians credit Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments on their CD’s and I had a good conversation with Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments on the phone where we discussed instrument options and such.

Even so, just how many crooks bank on getting rich by flipping phony electric stringed instruments? The electric cello niche has to be pretty damn small. It’s a small market and if you run a bad deal your reputation will suffer. Or at least it should. That’s the purpose behind this post. I doubt I’ll ever seem my $2,000 again, but I sure don’t want Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments sucking on anyone else.

But the Internet wasn’t the problem. Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments could have ripped me off just as easily if he had a shop here in Denver. But he is in Seattle which complicates the idea of making a visit. The leech no doubt had this in mind as he negotiated the theft of my $2,000.

Follow the links to learn the details about Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments. I have an attorney working on this to explore the consequences of the leech having conducted such a transaction over the Internet, across state lines and such. I’d like to shut down his web site (which I won’t link to) but until I get some kind of judgment this doesn’t look to be possible. Does anyone know anything different about shutting down a web site?

So you know, I have since acquired an electric cello. It’s a beautiful 6 string instrument from Ned Steinberger. The Steinberger was my second choice only because the vapor-instrument from Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments was pitched as having a few bells and whistles which I liked a little better. In addition, the non-existent Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments vapor-instrument was alleged to be slightly smaller and thus easier to travel with (a major purpose for acquiring an electric cello in the first place.)

The Steinberger cello is a beautiful instrument and the customer service from both NS Design and their recommended vendor was outstanding. The Steinberger cello deserves its own post in the near future.

By the way, did I mention that the leech which stole $2,000 from me was Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments? What the leech doesn’t know and certainly doesn’t care about is that this is money from Janet’s life insurance policy. Money I set aside exclusively to bring music back into my life. The fucker stole blood money and may his wretched business life suffer the curse of psychotic customers until he returns my money and re-reimburses me for my expenses. I tried to do business on your terms, leech, but you failed. So now you are doing battle on my terms. Cash only, leech.

[Edit History]

2007.03.07

See update post:

The Paper It’s Printed On

2005.12.06

Picking Up the Cello at Age 44

GPE - Cello

Since I was about age 10, I though the cello would be the coolest instrument to play. Thirty four years later that hunch is confirmed. I’ve started playing cello and it is cool. Its like giving music a hug. Had my first lesson a little less than 3 months ago. Before that I hadn’t so much as touched a cello. I’m certain Janet and my friend Reed Bernstein (a violin maker) were the only people who ever knew of this secret ambition. Janet and I talked on occasion about finding a cello, but the opportunity never happened.

It’s partly an experiment and partly by design in keeping with this year’s “And now for something completely different.” theme. With my world turned on end and spun out of orbit, the opportunity is there for learning new things. Much of my thinking has returned to that childlike state of wonder where all things are possible and no rules apply. Fear not, I’ve retained my values and sense of what is right and wrong. Its just that many things I cared about no longer matter and space has opened up to be curious about anything that crosses my path. There are many grown-up attitudes that more than ever strike me as tragically sardonic, self imposed and needlessly limiting to the human potential. As adults, we limit ourselves unduly with “supposed to.”

I have played piano for many years and own a beautiful Petrof baby grand. Unlike piano, the cello is demanding a far greater awareness of my entire body while playing. The balance required is surprising and it makes the skill of such masters as Yo Yo Ma and Pablo Casals all the more amazing. All those years of piano and I never learned to read music and play anything I wanted at the keyboard on sight. I’d have to pick through the score and iteratively practice until the entire piece was committed to memory. With cello, I have the opportunity to do that differently. After about 3 months of lessons, diligent practice and efforts to read music while playing, the experience just keeps getting better.

My teacher is excellent. A cellist for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, she fits my criteria for having attained a level of recognized mastery. She’s good with adults as well, another important criteria. It must be more challenging to teach adults as there are bunches of things which we must unlearn before new lessons and understanding can result.

About a month into my practice (I’ll give myself 10 years and then decide if I have a chance at being any good.) I hit my first plateau and wasn’t sure if it was related to my clumsy technique or the quality of the cello, a high school orchestra quality instrument borrowed from my neighbor while he and his family spend a year in France. My teacher suggested we find out and handed me one of her cellos (as a professional, she has cello stuff about the place like I have computer stuff). WOW! What a difference! Yes my technique had a part, but so did the instrument. She handed me another cello, “Try this one.” DOUBLE WOW! The good news was that my technique wasn’t so far off the mark and I had already begun to outgrow the loaner instrument after one month. The bad news was the first cello I tried was a 50 year old Italian cello worth $25,000. The second cello was a 100 year old Czech instrument worth bunches more. Ouch.

We talked about what it would take to acquire an instrument which would suit my emerging skill for the next couple of years. So I hooked up with a recommended broker and settled on a $5,000 instrument made last year. It sounds wonderful! Included a better bow in the mix as well. I figured to use the money from a small life insurance policy I had on Janet to finance my studies and cello upgrades. Seems like a good use and a way to honor her musical talents.


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