Category Archives: family

Hannah and Mark Wood on “Eleanor Rigby”

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At Saturday night’s “Electrify Your Strings” performance with Mark Wood, the first lead violinist of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Hannah was featured on electric violin on “Eleanor Rigby” . . . and she was awesome.

For rights reasons we were asked not to post video of the concert (and video is the work of the devil anyway), but the local news covered it and captured her having an amazing great time — see it here.

The elementary music program is currently on the chopping block. Why music is always considered optional, when it’s an integral part of our everyday lives and one of the most important things to our culture, is just beyond me.

Too much rock for one hand

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Hannah rocks the ViperOr one weekend. Spent the whole day yesterday shooting the great kids in the East Greenbush Central School District strings program preparing for their massive concert tonight with Mark Wood, formerly of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and now the driving force behind the Electrify Your Strings program. It was extraordinarily cool to get to watch them rehearse, see how brilliantly prepared they all are, and watch them have fun by stepping out of their classical training to get a little rock on. They’re doing “Eleanor Rigby,” “Born To Be Wild,” “Live and Let Die,” “Stairway to Heaven,” and a few other rock chestnuts that sound very very cool when played by an orchestra that is stomping on its strings, accompanied by a group of electric violins and cello, led by the guy who made the instruments. The concert is tonight, and it will be amazing. Plus also, Hannah’s rocking the Viper during “Eleanor Rigby.”

Best quote of the day yesterday? “Cellos! You only have one note!” “But it’s a really great note!”

Also, even as we speak, Rebekah is at NYSSMA, the big annual evaluation, rolling through a ridiculously complex piano piece and I’m sure doing very well. It kinda required a third hand, as far as I could see.

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College: shiny and expensive

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Things I’ve learned from our ongoing tours of the finest scientific and technical institutions of the Northeast:

  • Classrooms no longer have wooden seats from before the Great War in which you desperately try to find a comfortable position after an hour’s recitation on the Finnish Resistance, only to find that an entire side of your body has gone to sleep and you are involuntarily groaning as you rearrange limbs.
  • We’ve seen professors eating in the student center. As if they existed outside the classroom. (This may be a trick played on prospective students.)
  • Pools and fitness centers at every campus are more beautiful than the Taj Mahal. (Ours was more like descending into the Grotto of Eternal Dank.)
  • The curriculum is back! Some courses are actually required, Eurocentric or not! (So take that, dead-white-men-hating hippies!)
  • At most schools, arts classes are no longer limited to arts majors. The technical schools even encourage that you use that other side of your brain now and then, and practice rooms are not reserved exclusively for music majors. (In fact, some dorms have rooms for schlep-free practicing).
  • There is coffee everywhere. This is a major and welcome change. In my day, there were two places on the Quad to get coffee, and it wasn’t possible to get through either of them in the 10 minutes between classes.
  • There is also food everywhere. Not sure if that’s good or not, but it’s certainly of a wider variety than we were offered. A bagel was considered exotic back then.
  • Bicycles are everywhere. It warms my heart. (Helmets, not so much, but who needs a helmet in the city, right?)
  • Colleges today actually care if you succeed. They even do things to make it happen. (So take that, student strike hippies!)
  • They not only care if you succeed, they seem to want you to get out and get jobs.
  • At the good schools,  job fairs attract real companies, the kind you hear mentioned on the stock report. At journalism school, our job fair attracted The Weekly Reader and Ranger Rick. And those were the good jobs.
  • Those stores are only selling bongs because of the student interest in materials science that makes heat-resistant glass. I’m so sure. And the hemp advocates are only looking out for the working farmer.
  • Unlike in my day, students are no longer limited to 10 hours of computer time per semester. I think that’s probably a good thing.

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Parental fail

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Since I’m pretty sure I was taught to use a bottle opener as part of my general service as beer-fetcher and opener no later than the age of 6, I confess that it must be a major parental fail on my part that my 12-year-old is struggling with the very concept of getting a bottle cap off of a bottle of sparkling cider. She probably doesn’t even know how to empty and clean ashtrays the morning after a party, either.

The Troll Massacre

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The Troll Massacre

No trolls were harmed, but several hairdos were permanently altered.

This kind of thing happens all the time in our house, where trolls are constantly being found in underwear drawers, bathrobe pockets,dance bags, etc. . . .

Behind them? That’s just a lobster hat.

Sarcasm: it’s genetic

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So we’re sitting around of an afternoon listening to audio clips from The Onion Radio News, and one of the stories features an area man’s failure to buy bread for sandwiches for 62 consecutive weeks. I simply allow as how that’s not beyond the realm of believability, and opine that, domesticity-wise, men on their own is not a good idea. Beloved elder daughter, apple of my eye but, more critically, direct offshoot of my thought processes, and by now well aware of the semester or so during which I sustained myself almost entirely on peanut butter and marshmallow concoctions, flatly states, “No personal experience, Fluff boy.” I am hurt to the quick.

Got any idea?

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Got any idea what banana bread tastes like when you accidentally make it with a pumpkin bread recipe, and find out too late for any but the tiniest remedial action?

Me either. But I’ll find out in about an hour.

Update: delicious.

Recipe: 1-3/4 cups sifted flour, 2-1/4 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves. Separately mix 1-1/3 cups sugar, 1/3 cup shortening, 2 eggs. Add in 1-1/4 cups mashed banana (2-3 bananas). Might want to go lighter on the cloves. Bake for an hour at 350. It’s perfect, trust me.

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ER Double-header

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Our first (and hopefully last) double-header in the emergency room yesterday, a simple afternoon’s skating outing turned into the kind of catastrophe that only seems to strike my kids. There was a grand plan, driven in part by the combined effects of a two-week pizza moratorium and coverage of the Chicago Auto Show on Jalopnik, which gave me an intense craving for a deepdish pizza. I designed an entire afternoon in such a way that I would end up near the Pizzeria Uno — there would be ice skating in Troy, and while we were up there anyway, we would hop over to Latham for pizza. I even went out and got the skates sharpened in the morning so we’d be all set for wherever we ended up going in the afternoon, and after all the homework and instruments were done, we all packed up and headed to the Knickerbacker rink in Troy. Hadn’t been on the ice for two laps before Bek took a fall and landed her whole body on her arm. Lots of pain, but I wasn’t sure if it was just a hyperextension or not, so got her off the ice and out to her mom, who was conveniently with us. (I’m usually in charge of breaking them by myself.) Go back on the ice, get about another half a lap in and catch up to Hannah, who is doing a little backwards work and suddenly loses her balance and flies forward, slamming down face first. Her hands just barely broke the fall, and her head didn’t quite hit the ice, but the frames of her glasses broke and gave her a nice little laceration above the eye which, like all head wounds, bled profusely. She knew there was blood but thought it was her nose, so she was completely focused on getting her broken glasses untangled from her hair, while I was trying to get compression on the cut. Yada, yada. Luckily, we have massive first aid supplies in the truck (which was good, because the rink had only gauze), and we were pretty close to the emergency room at Samaritan, where we were also lucky enough to beat the rush. But of course, all this meant a serious delay in my pizza needs, and I was seriously jonesing by 6:30 when we finally got out of there.

So, six stitches, one broken arm, many lost endorphins, but I did end up getting my pizza, so the day wasn’t a total loss.

(So, whyizzit? The neighbor kids, who could charitably be described as “loosely parented,” can get 8 or 10 of them bouncing up and down on a rain-slick, unbalanced, safety-device free trampoline all day every day 9 months of the year, and there’s not so much as a cut lip. My kids are out on the ice for five minutes and all hell breaks loose.)