After 20 years at the University of Oregon, I have retired. So, I will begin posting about my new experiences here and hope you find them interesting.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Random Act of Culture in Phiadelphia brings tears to my eyes

When I was a girl my favorite music that always surfaced at Christmas time was Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus".  I loved it so much that when I was planning my wedding 42 years ago (Yes, it's been that long!), I planned to have the "Hallelujah Chorus" played when my husband and I turned to greet the crowd after we were pronounced man and wife.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearses in the Salt ...Image by mharrsch via Flickr
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsing in
Salt Lake City, Utah.
Unfortunately, we were married in a church that considered the Handel classic secular music.  So, I was told I could not have the music as part of my wedding ceremony.  Twenty four years later my daughter was married and I asked her if we could have the "Hallelujah Chorus" played as the recessional music.  So I finally got my wish although the CD player we used was a bit cantankerous and I had to signal my daughter to wait a moment while my son who was in charge of the AV equipment got it working!

Of course the most famous version of this classic is probably the one sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  When I visited Salt Lake City for a Historical Novel Society conference several years ago, I had the opportunity to sit in on a practice session of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  (The Choir rehearses on Thursdays and visitors are invited to listen in).  Although they did not sing  the Hallelujah Chorus that day the choir was still a joy to listen to.

Today one of my friends sent me a link to a YouTube video of the Opera Company of Philadelphia singing the Hallelujah Chorus in a shopping mall in Philadelphia as part of the "Random Act of Culture" program.  I must admit it brought tears to my eyes!

"Hallelujah Chorus" from Messiah (Voice)   Messiah: The Complete Work   Handel's Messiah: A Celebration
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Getting Footloose with Kenny Loggins on a chilly August night on the Oregon Coast

I am certainly not a gambler - too many years as a chief financial officer I guess - but as it turns out I am really grateful for the new entertainment opportunities offered as a result of the proliferation of tribal casinos. Last year I wrote about having a wonderful time at a Beatles tribute show presented at the Three Rivers tribal casino in Florence, Oregon. This year I had the opportunity to attend a Kenny Loggins concert at The Mill tribal casino in Coos Bay, Oregon.

We arrived in Coos Bay, dropped off our bags at the motel, then drove out to Charleston to walk around the fishing boats docked in the harbor. I decided I wanted to eat lunch at my late father's favorite fish and chips place named "The Seabasket" and true to form, they served me a succulent order of lightly breaded scallops cooked just the way I like them. I could almost imagine my Dad sitting there with me like he had so many times before.

A sea cave worn into the headlands at Sunset B...Although the water was calm inside
Sunset Bay, there were white caps on
the ocean outside the protection of the
cove.  Image by Mary Harrsch.

After we finished eating lunch, we drove out to Sunset Beach. It is nestled in a cove protected from the wind and I enjoyed walking along the beach taking a few photographs. As I looked out towards the open ocean, though, I noticed a lot of white caps so I wondered how comfortable we would be at the outdoor concert.

We drove back into town and went on over to the casino to have dinner. Since it was a Friday The Mill served a marvelous seafood buffet that included a wide variety of dishes including some of my personal "down home" type favorites like tuna casserole and fresh buttered brussel sprouts. If you don't like either of these two dishes, don't worry. They had crab, shrimp, scallops, white fish, salmon, and oysters fixed in just about as many ways as you can imagine! I sampled a few scallops and they were well done but not quite as delicate as those served at The Seabasket though! My Dad was quite a connoiseur of good fish and chips so of course he knew the best place to get them!

After that great dinner, we got in line to be seated for the performance. The Mill set up the concert stage and seating out on the dock where ships used to load lumber when it was a Weyerhauser production plant years ago. Under normal circumstances, you would think that sitting along the waterfront out under the stars on an August night would have been perfectly romantic. But the Oregon coast gets really cold after dark, even in August, so we all had to bundle up in our warmest parkas.

Unfortunately for Kenny, though, he was in shirt sleeves.

Of course, most of the audience, like me and my husband, were older baby boomers so the songs we really wanted to hear were from the 70s and 80s. Early in the show he sang "This is It" which is one of my favorites on his "Biggest Hits" CD that I have in my collection:

But my very favorites are songs he composed for the movies "Top Gun", "Caddyshack" and "Footloose". As the evening wore on, I feared I wouldn't get to hear my favorites after all as I listened, shivering in my seat, through song after song, quite a few, I'm afraid, unfamiliar to me.

About half way through Kenny's performance, he had to stop and warm his hands because he couldn't feel the guitar strings any more! I was afraid he wouldn't be able to continue but after a short break, he started up again.

He finally said he was dedicating his last song to golfers in the crowd and I knew I was going to get to hear "I'm alright!" Still, I was a little disappointed that I was only going to get to hear one of my favorites.

As the first few notes of "I'm alright" were struck, though, almost the entire crowd leaped to its feet and started doing the "gopher swivel", cheering and clapping deliriously. Apparently that song was a lot of other people's favorite too!

The crowd's enthusiasm seemed to breathe a little more life back into Kenny and, even though he had bid us good night, he came back on stage for an encore and I immediately recognized the opening chords for "Footloose".

Kenny actually went the extra mile and sang four more songs - more during an encore than I had ever enjoyed from any other entertainer. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to hear him play "Danger Zone" but I found out Kenny, who opposed the war in Iraq, didn't like the association the song had with military aggression:
Go to a Kenny Loggins concert today, and chances are you'll hear the chart-busting movie hit 'Danger Zone.' But during the first US-Iraq skirmish in the early '90s, Loggins stopped playing the song, upset that it had been associated with military action.
"Back then CNN was using it as background music for the bombing of Baghdad, and it turned my stomach," Loggins tells Spinner. "So, I didn't perform the song for quite a while."
Of course, the song had already been associated with the military, having been famously used in the fighter pilot flick 'Top Gun' with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. Because of that, it became associated with real-life fighter pilots during the Gulf War a few years later. - Spinner
I certainly respect that! Although the article said you probably would hear it at a Kenny Loggins concert now, he apparently is still refraining from playing it because of  continuing US involvement in Iraq and the ongoing war in Afghanistan.  So we just must be content watching the original video from the movie:

For a couple of months before the concert, the casino had placed a Kenny Loggins favorite song survey on their website and I had dutifully voted for "Danger Zone". Actually, this type of promotion is a pretty good marketing tool for the band if more bands would use it. It's certainly one sure way to be sure you're going to play the songs a particular audience wants to hear!

I see that Three Rivers in Florence has an Elvis impersonator coming in January. My husband agreed to go if I wanted to. I was more of a Beatles fan than an Elvis fan - Elvis was my older sister's heart throb - but I would still enjoy hearing his music and seeing the performance. The casino has divided the music into decades and the 60s is set for Friday night. I think I'll get tickets for it since I was in high school during that time and we might get to sample another great seafood buffet!

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow the Greatest Hits of Kenny Loggins
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Making arrangements for your "virtual" estate

I happen to see this link on Twitter and thought it was interesting since I am one of the ones who discussed my "virtual" assets with my estate planning attorney a few months ago when preparing  my estate plan documents.

I was primarily concerned about all of the effort I have invested in uploading images I have taken of art and architecture to Flickr so others could use the images in non-commercial educational materials to promote the study and appreciation of our shared cultural heritage. I maintain a Pro account on Flickr which costs a small amount per year. I wanted to ensure that part of my estate would be used to cover this annual fee for some years into the future so my social "legacy" was not lost.

I just wrote an article for Heritage Key about the problem of sustainability of virtual environments created in Second Life when funding dries up or project directors turn their attention elsewhere. This is a problem with all funding models that rely on subscriptions for base revenue. I much prefer the model Google uses for Blogger. Blog accounts never expire so all content created and posted to a blog becomes an eternal data archive (at least as long as Google remains a viable entity).

I have already set the licensing on my online image archive to "Creative Commons non-commercial attribution share-alike" so permissions for non-commercial use should not be a problem. As for dealing with inquries about commercial uses of my work after I have "crossed the rainbow bridge" as it is put in the pet world, I am leaving instructions about my online accounts in my estate plan with a request for my heirs to deposit any resulting revenues into a trust account I have established and split the proceeds according to the instructions in my will.

If I have a little time to prepare for the end, I can change the contact information I provide in my online profiles. But, someone may just find me slumped over my computer one day like one of my colleagues last weekend. I still have a lot of information to share so I hope that day will not come soon but life offers no guarantees either in the virtual world or the real one.

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