Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dem Bones?

"Dem bones, dem bones, dem...dry bones..." (fragments) of the Holy Family? Unbelieveable! This would maybe mean that the "Da Vinci Code" may have some truth to it. That's right. Twenty-seven years ago,(1980)in the East Talpiyot neighborhood of Jerusalem, Southern Israel, the bones of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, his wife?, Mary, his mother, two of his brothers Matthew and Jose and his son, Judah, by Mary Magdalene(?) were found in a crypt in ten limestone boxes called ossuaries. The inscriptions on the outsides are interpreted to be authentic.

In 1996, when the British Broadcasting Corp. aired a short documentary on this, archaeologists challenged the claims. Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television. Most Christians believe Jesus' body spent three days at the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City. This is no where near where these bones were found. Do we have a monumental hoax on our phalanges? Is it possible that someone else in the area also had the same names and were buried together? Talk about "a bone(s) of contention" or "... a bone to pick with you"...

James Cameron ("Titanic") now has produced a documentary that more thoroughly investigates the above claims and authenticates them with DNA testing by a forensic lab in the U.S. He further shows the tests of the "patina" or crusts of the ossuaries because one, James, brother of Jesus (father Joseph), was missing, stolen and turned up later in another collectors collection. It is all very fascinating and I saved the TIVO'ed, two-hour presentation to pour over again. They also had a mathematician from Toronto work out the probabilities that this is not the Family Tomb of Jesus, historically. He, at first, put it at 1 in 600 that it wasn't...but then with the discovery of the missing ossuary he put it at 1 in 30,000. The tomb is now sealed up again after being rediscovered and searched. The local authorities hadn't given permission.

I was raised in a church that taught us to celebrate on Easter Sunday by saying and responding, "He is risen...He is risen indeed!" as our mutual greetings on that day. I think its origin might be Eastern Orthodox (Catholic Church). Just think how much of history and how many wars have been fought based on this belief in the resurection of the dead "in Christ". A great portion believe in the "bodily resurection" and therefore will not be cremated. Forget cryogenics. Is there something "special" about bones? Do they contain the "soul"?...if there is one. Do they have special "powers" that "live" on? Some aboriginal tribes ground up the bones and kept them or sprinkled them on special ceremonial sites. Some american tribes put the bodies on stilted platforms where they were desicated and picked clean by the elements and birds.

I have had the privilege(?) or opportunity to witness a cremation at Forest Lawn behind the "Wee Kirk of the Heather" chapel; back when I worked as a "pall bearer/flower carrier" there. The casket is a cheap pine wood covered with thin gray cloth. After the fire turns it all into "ash" it is raked into a wooden box and a magnet is passed through it to pull out the nails and hinges of the casket. There remain small fragments of "bone"...not really ash (wood ash). That is what is then put in an urn and interred. In that capacity, I saw and participated in all kinds of funerals. i.e. both open and closed casket, ceremonial interment in crypts, walls and the ground. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" is frequently referred to...not bones.

To my way of thinking, now, and or my level or depth of faith, or lack of it; I am not changing any of my thinking/faith/beliefs about all of this. Finding historical remains of "the Holy Family", Jesus' marriage, His son existence, although extremely interesting to me, have very little to do with my over-riding faith and belief in a "hereafter", another dimension, another reality. Yes, I believe that there are "mediums" who have been able to communicate with "those beyond" in whatever physical or non-physical shape they are in. I have been to one and have had "things" shared that no one else could've or would've known. This has nothing to do with "bones" or remains on this "physical plane". Now you can see why I really "dig" the popular TV shows, "Ghost Whisperer" and "Medium". No, it's not just Jennifer Love Hewitt. Bob!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Doing a Number(s) on The Disney

"Here's a how-dee-doo...!" Just like a Gilbert and Sullivan lyric. The "keystone kops" filming at the Disney Concert Hall? Can you believe it? Yes, we are finally allowed to see inside this modernistic L.A. Landmark but only to stage a "kidnap and killing" on stage...not a Philharmonic or Master Chorale Concert, but a "lurking sniper's" execution and double cross of a fellow kidnapper. Why? Disney Management? Why? Is it money? or the lack of it to support the on-going cultural highlights and ground-breaking musical tributes that the L.A. Public isn't able to support?

I'm a "Numbers" fan. This is a cutting-edge TV show on Friday nights that uses a Cal Tech professor and his colleagues to help the FBI solve crimes in L.A. It is fascinating the way the theories and theroms and equations are displayed on "see-through" boards on the show. I doubt if any or all of this "math" really exists but it sure sound feasible. This latest show was about a drug lord's son being kidnapped and how he had to cooperate with the FBI, and they with him, to solve the case on a desperate time table. A sub-plot was the "boss's pyschological analysis and therapy all during the case without him even being involved. He had to turn off his cell phone and trust his "team" and talk about them. It was excellent in every way. His brother, the math genius, and his girlfriend (math genius too? yes, a girl math genius) actually have to do some fast, creative probability extrapolations to come up with the location and senario of the kidnapper/killer.

It all ends up out in front of the Disney Concert Hall on Grand Ave. in L.A. at a public phone booth (do they actually have those any more?) and racing labyrinth of phones at Olvera Street and the Union Station all within "running distance" carrying a heavy duffle bag of $3.2 Million in cash. It is "on-the-edge" of your couch viewing and then they throw in the magnificent "interior of the Disney Hall" and all it's lovely wood and accoustics. This is where I go, almost once a month, (season ticket) to my L.A.Master Chorale performances and am not allowed to "take pictures" of any kind. They actually jumped on the stage from right where I sit, stage left, down left. The kidnapper comes out from back stage right with the kid and is killed at center stage by his sniper boss in the third balcony back right. The "logical" math thinking that correctly put him there was a "process of elimination" of exits and entrances and room for a clear shot. The FBI agents are sneaking and laying around all over under the seats and in the aisles on the beautifully colorful carpets.

"Some Pig" i.e. "Some Publicity" for the Hall I'd say!...but I'd rather it was for a wonderful concert...what it was originally built and intended for. Poor Walt was probably "turning over" in his cryonic freezer. I've had some "thrills" there these past few years and plan to continue but frozen my memory is that image of the "killing at center stage" Why? I ask you, why? Yes, I used to teach "drama" and staged many a "fake" killing or sword fight but it is just not the same "Performing Art" i.e. "The First Art" Vocal/Choral Singing. Bob in Bb Minor!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

B Flat Major Blog!

My son Clark called me the other day to share with me a website he heard about while commuting to work and listening to NPR. It was all about "B Flat" (Bb?) the note one and a half tones below "middle C". He plays guitar and sings to his son and knows that, when tuning, this is next to the highest string (B) and it can go flat. I was curious, so after some searching on (mpr...etc.) I found the site and "Krulwich on Science" which was mentioned on the "Morning Edition" Feb. 16, 2007

During World War II, the New York Philharmonic was visiting the American Museum of Natural History. During rehearsal, somebody played a note that upset a resident live alligator named Oscar. Oscar suddenly began to bellow. Naturally, with so many scientists in residence, an experiment was quickly devised to see how to get Oscar to bellow again. After numerous musicians tried, it was found that B flat, one octave below middle C was the sound that set him off. That was back in the 1940's. Robert Krulwich repeated the experiment on an ABC News broadcast in the 1990's, playing a B flat to a collection of gators at a roadside attraction in Florida and recorded their bellows. Maybe a mating call? Or "male bonding"?

In September, 2003, astronomers at NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory found what can be described as sound waves emanating from a supermassive black hole. This black hole can be seen in the Perseus cluster of galaxies located 250 million light years from Earth. Andrew Fabian of the Institute of Astronomy of Cambridge, England, analyzed the waves and announced, "We have detected their sound..." The sound he found (which is really the waves passing through gas near the black hole) translate to the note B flat. But this is not a B flat you or I can hear. It is 57 octaves below middle C. A piano, by comparison, contains only seven octaves. So, if a black hole hums, it hums at a frequency a million billion times lower than we can hear. Talk about "music of the spheres"... This is also how elephants communicate great distances, I've heard...Bb?

I did alittle checking myself in the past few days and found that most of the songs us "barbershoppers" like to sing are in the key of B flat. (as you see above) It has two flats, B and E. My part, the "lead" usually doesn't start on B flat but on the 3rd or 5th above the the "tonic". They are called the "mediant" and the "dominant". In harmonic singing, i.e. barbershop, it is important to "hear" these intervals, also the "leading tone" (7th) which usually resolves to the "tonic" (Bb) "Woodshedding" is a "BS" term for making it up as you go (adlibbing) with 3 other singers i.e. the Bass, Tenor and Baritone. You have to "sing" with your "ears". My favorite songs that are in the key of Bb are: "My Wild Irish Rose" (lead on F), "Let Me Call You Sweetheart", "Shine on Me", "Sweet Adeline" "The Old Songs" (S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A. Theme Song) "In The Good Old Summer Time" etc. (36 of more than 50 I know, are in Bb) The first time I was asked to sing "barbershop harmony" was as a freshman at a North Park College "Gym Jam" (Fall mixer 1957) They needed a baritone. We sang "...while strolling in the park one day". My first job teaching 5th grade in Pasadena at Allendale Elementary was partly due to my baritone voice and the three other men on staff (including the boss/principal) who needed a 4th part. We sang, "...nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina..." I just visited our BS leader in the hospital...and sang him one of his/my favorites...probably in Bb "Thank You, Dear Lord". He is also a retired teacher from the Redlands area. He sang with the "Roger Wagner Chorale" back in the day. Efraim Soto welcomed me to "VLQ" group six years ago. He and his great brother Chechi are great to sing with.

A musician friend of mine just told me today that they used to tune their instruments to the "hum" of the florescent lights in the band room...Bb. I'm betting that the famous movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"...had that 5 note communication with the "aliens" and the octave jump was...Bb's. What do you think? Am I reaching a bit? Or just Bobbing from Bb to Bb? I wonder why they never call it A#? Bob!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Another Da Vinci Mystery?

Could this be an example of what a "Lost Leonardo" might look like now? Whatever did happen to "The Battle of Anghiari," a grimacing crunch of men and horses considered by some experts to be Leonardo's greatest painting? Well, it wasn't buried by Vesuvian flow as this one above was. This is the "Alexander Mosaic" from the House of the Faun, Pompeii, Italy. It is thought to be what is left Philoxenos of Eretria's "Battle of Issus, ca. 310 B.C.E. This is where Alexander humiliates Darius III, the Persian King in southern Turkey. It was a floor mosaic using tesserae (tiny stones and pieces of glass cut to desired size and shape instead of pebbles)

Scientist turned Art Detective, Maurizio Seracini is the only "real" person mentioned in "The Da Vinci Code". For 32 years he has chased a real mystery and he now seems ready to solve it. He has recently been given permission by the government of Italy to restart his search, which involves using the most modern detecting equipment to peer through a 500-year-old wall in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy. On that wall, in 2002, he found a tantalizing crevice behind a Vasari Fresco. He believes that is where the "Lost Leonardo" may be sealed up.

The painting did exist, or at least a part of it depicting a fight for a standard on this particular wall in the former home of the Medicis, his frequent patrons. "Friday the 6th of June, 1505, at the stroke of the 13th hour," (1:P.M.)Leonardo wrote in one of his notebooks, (in his left-handed, mirror writing)"I started to paint in the palace." His younger rival, Michelangelo, had also been commissioned to paint his own battle scene on the opposite wall. He left for Rome and never even began it. Both men produced preparatory cartoons considered not only among the finest ever created but exemplary of the two strains of Renaissance Art the men embodied: Michelangelo drew heroic bathing nudes; Leonardo worked the motions and fury of men and horses in action. He was also marketing his talents as an inventor of "war machines" for the local combative Dukes. He studied war...among so many other things. He started much and finished little. Technical problems plagued him as he experimented with new processes for painting on plaster. i.e. "The Last Supper" not on wet plaster which is quicker but lasts longer but with oils on a wax-impregnated dry plaster. The condition of the hidden battle scene may be even worse than it predecessor, "The Alexander Mosaic". Then again, being sealed up in a wall away from the moister air of Florence, it may be in much better condition.

In the early 1970's, Seracini, a former medical student studying bioengineering in California, took an Art History course at UCLA from one of the leading Leonardo experts, an Italian professor, Carlo Pedretti. In 1975, Seracini returned to Florence, his hometown and again linked up with Pedretti who had begun to search for the "Lost Leonardo". It was then, on a scaffolding, that Seracini found a flag in the Varsari painting that he considered a possible sign of what might lay behind it: the words on the flag, "Cerca, trova," or "Seek and ye shall find." It turns out that that was the motto of one of the companies in the battle Leonardo had painted(?). From then on he developed a career using his engineering training and modern equipment to analyze works of Art. His most contentious finding, also landed him his unwelcome place in "The Da Vinci Code". In 2001, he proved that the paint in Leonardo's "Adoration of the Magi" was not applied by the master himself but much later by a "not very good artist".

The challenge is great. He cannot touch the Vasari, a treasure of its own, and instead must find a way to peer behind it with machines that do not exist yet. He has several theoretical methods, including a machine that would detect the pigments Leonardo used. There are records of the pigments, paid for by the city, of lead white, vermillion and a blue that might be lapis lazuli.

This is why I enjoy studying Art History. There are so many possibilities and causes for Art. I was inspired years ago by a display at the Claremont Colleges of "The Da Vinci Inventions". His drawings were superb and so exacting. He studied so many things and was a true "Renaissance Man". What an example for the ages. Bob!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

It Ain't As Hard Bein' Green

Can you believe this? They can't be serious. Branson has been involved in some "crazy" schemes in the past...like his reality show last year where he wanted to give away his company to the winner of some impossibly "herculean task" that only he could judge. Here we go again.

There are so many questions that occur to me about this, his latest promotion. Poor Al Gore; he's so well-meaning, but does he actually think you can just "suck up" the Carbon Dioxide in our global climate and send it somewhere? Like outer space? or, as an article in the newspaper today suggests, "bury it" somewhere near the town of Thornton. This is one of several government industry coalitions called West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership or WESTCARB. They are looking at two site, one in Arizona, and the other in California near Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley because of the geology. Below Earth's surface, impermeable caps of shale rock overlie layers of porous sandstone that once held natural gas deposits exist in these areas. It will just leak out slowly over the eons. But just how do you collect all this CO2? How do you even measure that you have it? How do you transport it to these sites?

Would you win the $25 million from Branson if you came up with a three-pronged approach? i.e. Cutting energy use through better efficiency and changing lifestyles; expanding the use of energy sources that don't put CO2 into the atmosphere; capturing the CO2 from fossil fuel-burning engines and storing it (underground or in outer space). But then, how would you monitor this? The logistics wouldn't even be feasible.

There's a new show on TV-Cable that is, at least, entertaining. "Living with Ed" Have you seen it? It is supposed to be humorous and plays on the "eternal battle" of spouses. i.e. Ed Bagley's wife who likes to shop and spend and Ed, who likes "green projects" to build and install in his Studio City home...where money is no object. He goes on about saving money but he keeps getting new gadgets that have to cost something. At least he is making an effort to make us all more aware of the so called "global warming" that has now been officially declared by some conference in France. Even Mr. Bush is starting to listen and give it "lip service" in his "State of the Union" address.

Years ago, back when they were still having "Earth Day" and giving out awards and certificates for classrooms and teachers who were "making the effort", we won a "prize" from KCET at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens (with TV coverage) for our efforts with "styrofoam trays" used with our school lunches. We decided to collect them at our school after each lunch, rinse them off, stack them and bag them and send them back to the company that provided them to our district. At first they (the Co.) were reluctant because of the hassle of putting them back into the trucks that brought them in boxes. Our "administrators" were also reluctant with approval on letting the kids "mess with all that garbage". We had to stand over the trash cans and have the kids knock off the left-over food in one can and drop the tray in another. Then they had to be hosed-off, stacked and bagged and stored in a shed near the lunch area. It went fine until we discovered rats and the smell. Needless to say, if we had all this hassle with a mini-green-project, how are Branson and Gore going to handle a global one?

Branson compared the "Project CO2 Suck" with a competition Britain's Parliament launched in 1714 to devise a method to estimate longitude accurately. Six decades passed before English clockmaker John Harrison received his prize from King George III for making a portable, accurate timepiece that could weather the "weather" on board ships in those days. It is just not the same in scope. Sixty years? Think of all the politics involved...(lying, cheating, stealing etc. yes there was)

Weather Science has yet to be that accurate and dependable. "A 40% chance of rain tomorrow." I just wonder what the percentage chance of "global warming" is in the next 100 years? Can we really do anything about it...besides complain? ...and Bob!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cross-Country Hiking and Multiple-Guess Test Taking

Yesterday was a beautiful day for hiking and test taking. I did both with aplomb. I haven't written much about going to Crafton Hills College since I originally checked it out over a year ago and decided to take some classes for fun. I remember, at the time, checking out the "Writer's Workshop" upstairs at the Library. I haven't been back there yet. But I have taken some music classes and Art History. Currently I'm taking a "Total Fitness Class with Chris P. and an Art Hist. II class with Kris A.; two very interesting professors.

My first Chris has us stretching, doing cardio and pumping iron every Monday and Wednesday at 11:A.M. She is very involved and "hands-on" in her approach. You can tell she loves her job and enjoys helping all of us "get fitter". Yesterday she allowed me to hike cross-country up a fire access road above the campus to the gigantic water storage tank (reservoir) on the top of the hill. (the one with the "CHC" written on it among other four-letter words all sprayed out, except one) At first, she was only permitting walking on the level track but now, with the golf class practicing drives there, she has acquiessed. This is a roughly-paved road that winds around for about a mile and a half and has an assent grade of up to 15%. My younger classmates were trying to run up and down with some success. I decided to walk briskly. Well, that soon had to be modified. I like to challenge myself with only "nose-breathing" (like the Indians used to do with a mouthful of water to spit out at the end) Halfway up I switched to mouth breathing big time. Soon I was slowing down and I even tried walking backwards. Chris kept track of me and came back for me on the way down. A bit concerned? Maybe.

On the way up I was remembering an incident near my childhood home on York Blvd. We too had a "water tank" on the top of a hill above our house. We kids used to hike up to it and play catch/ball below it. One particular day, we thought we kept hearing someone yelling/screaming from up by or in? the tank. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that there were some "teenaged boys" swimming in the tank and the water level had gone down and they were trapped and getting tired. We ran home and called the fire department (before 911) and "Saved their Lives" (my first "life preserving") They had been sneaking into the water tank (our drinking water) and swimming (among other things I suppose) but always earlier in the day. Toward the evening, people were watering their lawns and cooking supper and the water level had gone way down and they couldn't climb up the slippery center pole (being too tired). We were never rewarded or recognized for that rescuing act.

I then proceeded slowly to the gym's basement where I had planned to "pump iron" for my arms and shoulders/back. I did, slowly, but by the end of the hour, I was literally shaking. No problem, no concern, I had a test coming up at 1:P.M. with my other Kris professor. It was only later, today, that I found out I had a mild infection going on in my lungs and I'm back on the antibiotic Avelox for the next seven days. The doctor recommends "treadmill only". I'm still alittle achy but I walked my 30 minutes today.

My Hist. of Art professor is so funny especially when she is preparing us for one of her "babies" as she refers to her "M-G-Tests". She is referencing her daughter and the way she dealt with the boyfriend/suitors coming to call. She wanted/wants "No Marks" of any kind on her daughter or her tests. All the marks go on the scantron sheets with a #2 pencil. She was actually quite proud of the the first test over the first two chapters because "we had some input into them" according to her. We had to write our "best" M-C test questions (8 of them) and turn them in (in a timely fashion) She chose from them and combined them with her own i.e. suggested one from the textual materials that professors get. They were "beauties". Every trick of test construction and "distractor writing" was used. i.e. "All of the Above, None of the Above, B and C only etc. You really had to know your stuff or be awfully experienced at "M-C Test taking". I felt pretty confident and finished in good time. But, I must admit that I had to do some guessing. What amazed me was that for a "History of Art" course there was absolutely no "visuals", no slides, no id's, no comparisons of style etc. No creative thinking, or expression was asked for. Wait, what's the matter with me? This is a survey class with 40 + students. It is lecture only with no discussion or "socratic dialogue" That would come with a smaller class wouldn't it? We were turning in the questions but getting no "feed back" on their correctness or authenticity. I'm missing that. Maybe in a future, smaller class we can have that helpful way of learning.(aside: At a summer school I taught on the Olympics and Greece, I came one day dressed as "Socrates" toga and all and "bugged" the students to distraction when I would only ask and answer with questions all day)

I'm surprised that Kris has gotten no help from the college or her colleagues on how to set up and run the slide projector or how to make a "power point presentation" of just the artwork slides juxtaposed for comparison. Has team teaching not come to the college level or has it left already? Kris's husband is an artist who works with computer graphics at another college. Maybe he could help. Ms. Blalock, my Art Hist. professor for part one, could probably help with the technological logistics. I can appreciate the fact that she wants this class to be more "analytical" and not "just memorization of works/dates etc." But I think that my younger fellow students could be asked to participate in ongoing discussions and questions that would only enhance their learning. I was not happy with the "one mid-term, one final" grade either in Art Hist. I. We even did a "research paper" on two museums. But there wasn't that much feedback.

Just like the sudden cross-country hiking without build-up or prep; multiple-guess testing doesn't really test for long-term staying knowledge or learning growth without some preparation on how to effectively write and answer questions that measure facts and knowledge acquired in such a short period of time. I'm guessing that some students paniced and got "shakey" and just left early. Or, they learned how better to be ready for the next "multiple-guess test" by reading the chapter more thoroughly, taking notes better and asking more questions. Bob!

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Renaissance Man

On this Ground Hog Day-Candlemas Day my first moribund task was reading the obituaries. Yes, I was looking for my "shadow". The old belief is that if the sun shines on Candlemas Day or if the groundhog (woodchuck) sees his shadow when he emerges on this day, six more weeks of winter will ensue. Well, the sun is shining bright, it's cool and the prediction is for warmer days here in So.Cal. Candlemas commemorates the occasion of the Virgin Mary bringing her new Son, Jesus, to the temple to meet the aged Simeon and learn in his shadow.

Gian Carlo Menotti, a world famous opera composer and director died at a hospital in Monaco yesterday. He was 95. His opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors" holds a special memory for me. I learned today, in the obit. that he was inspired by "The Adoration of the Magi" a painting(at left) by Hieronymus Bosch, a Renaissance Painter. I am studying his "The Garden of Earthly Delights" in my History of Art class. The question I would like to venture is: would either of these men be considered "Renaissance Men"?...for that matter, would the Three Kings (or Wise Men) be considered "RM's" before there even was a Renaissance? What constitutes one these days?

Gian Carlo Menotti organized music festivals in Spoleto, Italy and the U.S. and helped bring opera to the masses with his repeatedly televised Christmas work "Amahl and the Night Visitors". He has been called the "most-often-performed living composer of opera". Before composing "Amahl", the first opera written for television in 1951, brought forth "The Medium" in 1946 and "The Consul" in 1950. The latter won him a Pulitzer Prize. It was translated into 12 languages and performed in more than 20 countries.

He welcomed the commission from NBC to create a Christmas piece. He took inspiration from the famous Bosch work above and musically wove the touching tale of a disabled boy who offers his crutches (or crutch) - his only possession - to the three wise men to give to the infant, Jesus. Because of his sacrifice, the boy is healed. NBC ran the special for many years on Christmas Eve.

My special memory has to do with our annual Christmas Programs that we used to present in our Public Schools. We I started teaching in 1962-3 we thought nothing of having a Tableau of the Manger Scene and having our little exchange student from Mexico be "Nuestro Angelita". She was so sweet and spoke very little English. We continued to present religious and and quasi-religious plays, songs etc. for our annual festivities. The last year I did that was in the early 1980's (forget the exact year). We were heading up to the High School Auditorium because of the bigger venue/stage. That year, I also had a very special boy in my class. He was the first, "student of a former student" of mine. Yes, I had his father in my first years teaching in Pasadena. He was a wonderful student and could not only sing but act. His mother was a music teacher. I think I remember his name was David Yenoki. We, (I) decided to put on "Amahl". We did everything i.e made the hut(hovel) for him, the crutch, costumes, props, makeup and all with lots of help from parents. This was a "cut-down" elementary arrangement of the opera but we learned the main aria's tunes and words. David had a lovey soprano voice and sang his part beautifully. The Magi were magnificent in their splendor. We only did it once and had "SO's" (standing ovations) We thought it was a hit. But then came the complaints, some written, to our school principal and Board. They were mainly from one or two Jewish families in the school who were there that night. That is when I decided, as did the school and district, not to allow anymore "religious" programs from our public schools. From then on we called them "Holiday Shows" and did secular, popular songs i.e Frosty, Rudolph etc. I think the next year, as a school, we did "Babes in Toyland". I was, from then on, discouraged and didn't do any major works before the Christmas Break.

Menotti's compositions also took a backseat and he decided to organize an international summer music festival in Spoleto, Italy, near his childhood home. He told his biographer, John Gruen, "I became so completely disenchanted with the role of the artist in contemporary society. I felt useless...I felt the artist should become a part of society - a needed member of society - rather than just an ornament...My dream was not really to create a festival, but to create a small city wherein the artist would thrive and be one of the most essential members." He nourished young artists there and in 20 years created another festival in Charleston, S.C. U.S.A. He briefly worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and in 1984, received the Kennedy Center Honor for "lifetime contributions to American culture". He went on, 95 years, to many continued firsts and successes in the U.S. (San Diego) but he always kept his Italian Citizenship.

Is not a "Renaissance Man" one who inspires his peers and his "world" to new heights of creativity? From the meaning of the word, renaissance, "rebirth" didn't he see to that over and over again? Is it not continuing in these festivals? Here was a man who was a "citizen of the world" and willing to travel with his "gifts"...not unlike the Magi of old. Who knows what they started as they returned from their journey following that star. They must've cast a long shadow for all us "groundhogs". Bob!