Saturday, October 16, 2010


There are just some mornings when reading the newspaper turns into a real lark! This was one of those mornings, and the newspapers involved ranged from the LA Times to our local weekly rag, better left unnamed.

As one who fully understands how words can sneak past the eagle eyes of the best proof-readers (although I’m equally sure that there are no proof-readers anymore) my first laugh came because our little local paper let something slip through that should have been caught. A local gentleman died and because he had lived in our area for many years there was much to say about him…his profession, his military service, his volunteerism and his kith and kin. It was just a bit too much to read every single word of the almost full column-length obituary – but if you read the last short line, you saw the following: “He had been a burglar for over 40 years.”

WHAT??? After a moment of puzzlement, I glanced back over the article to confirm what I suspected – and sure enough, he had been in military bands in his early days in the service. A bugler he was, not a burglar. Proofing is always hard, especially when you are proofing your own writing. You see what you expect to see. That was laugh number one.

Laugh number two was a picture and a story. Seems that a rock and mineral museum in Oregon had discovered a possible break-in and deputies and a search-dog had been called out. Soon the dog got a scent and tracked it to a nearby wooded area, where the large dog pounced on and bit into a big pile of moss. When a loud “OUCH” emanated from the moss, the deputies discovered a man in a “ghillie suit” – which is a camouflage suit worn by military snipers and others.

What made me laugh was not only the article but seeing a sheriff’s photo of the poor miscreant standing in his disguise. He did not look tough and commanding like the picture I used here. He looked sad and silly, probably still smarting from the bite. But it made me think that if Jer and I had a Halloween costume party to attend, we’d go in ghillie suits too. Wouldn’t we be cute?

And then to top off today’s laugh, there was a wonderful article (not laughable) on my favorite conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, leading last night’s concert at the Disney Hall in LA. Listen to the reviewer’s description of the 80 minute piece “Turangalila-Symphonie” by Messiaen.

An 18-wheeler of a symphony on a joy ride, the “Turangalila” –- with French plates, Sanskrit graphics, the eerie whine of a UFO, horsepower and torque you wouldn’t believe, a voluptuous sleeper in the cabin for euphoric sex -- barreled into Walt Disney Concert Hall Thursday night. Olivier Messiaen’s incomparable behemoth has 10 movements, lasts 80 minutes. Performances of it are an occasion.

The symphony required the Los Angeles Philharmonic ranks to swell to over a hundred. Jean-Yves Thibaudet played the monster piano solos. Cynthia Millar was the soloist on the ondes martinot, a space-age (ca. 1928), theremin-like electronic instrument. Gustavo Dudamel, standing in the middle of it all and practically dwarfed by his orchestral multitudes, conducted.

I am unfamiliar with this work, but it sure sounds something I’d like to get to know. But what made me laugh was the photograph of Dudamel taken by Times Photographer Lawrence K Ho. Those of you who know this young conductor know that a whole lot of his persona involves his curly hair, which when he really gets into his element goes flying every which way. Well, what made me laugh this morning was that in Ho’s photograph below, not only does his hair appear to be flying but it looks like he now has bug-like antennae. You can figure out what they are by a closer look, and I thought probably it would have been a better pix if the antennae had been Photoshopped out. Then I thought that all kinds of ridiculous letters to the editor would have rained on the newspaper, so I decided to just let Dudamel have his antennae and be done with it.

Anyway, I did read some real news this morning, but nothing caught my eye like these little minor items.

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