Monday, December 13, 2010

Rain Outside, Leak Inside

It’s raining! Finally, the winter’s here. I’ll post pics as I can get them.

Last night, just before I went to bed, two things happened: it started to hail (or sleet, I’m not sure which) and I discovered a leaky pipe in the bathroom.

Now, I can change a leaky pipe just fine. But when I tried to close the faucet leading to the toilet tank, it wouldn’t budge. I applied some WD-40, put a cloth around it and tried to turn it gently with a plumber’s wrench. No dice – and I wasn’t about to try to push it.

So I put a bucket under the leak and went to bed to flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder. This morning, I called the plumber. He’ll be on his way sometime before noon. Luckily, I can get some work done at home, so the morning won’t be a total loss. And the leak isn’t that bad. Through the night, it did little more than cover the bottom of the bucket.

And it’s raining. It’s raining.

It’s raining!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Help! I’m About to Be Devoured by a Kittymonster!

Kitty monster

Oh, all right. I’ll come clean: I’m actually about to be cuddled, just as soon as His Fuzziness finishes yawning.

The Friday Ark. The Carnival of the Cats.

And I Never Knew

When I was a student at the Junior School of the The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre back in the early 1980s, one of my teachers was Irma Jurist-Neverow. We called her Miss Jurist. She taught singing and performance, and I enjoyed her classes very much.

Occasionally, Miss Jurist would mention some of the things that she was working on at the time. I still remember how she demonstrated how the actor playing one character in her play should call out the name of another. But when I asked her for more information about the play, she wouldn’t give any. That was understandable because the play wasn’t yet published. Still, I sensed that there was more to Miss Jurist than met the eye.

It wasn’t until many years later, thanks to the Internet, that I found out that Miss Jurist was a noted composer, had had a television and a radio show, and released, together with Leonard Elliot, a novelty record album, Fuzzy Peach Pie and Other Lunacies, an erudite parody of classical music.

Here’s the review from Billboard, dated November 30, 1959:

There’s a takeoff on Menotti’s operas here that alone is worth the price of this disc. Many of the other musical satires included are also hilariously successful, and even those that don’t quite make it are good fun. One needn’t be a musical sophisticate to enjoy the broad takeoffs on German lieder, canonic music, show tunes, etc. Leonard Elliot and Irma Jurist render this mad mish-mash with no holds barred.

But Miss Jurist composed serious music as well, as I recently found out. Here is Nina Simone singing “The July Tree,” (lyrics: Eve Merriam; music: Irma Jurist):

I recently found out that Miss Jurist died approximately three years ago at the age of 94. (Some years ago, I tried, unsuccessfully, to make contact with her.) I don’t know whether she would have remembered me, since she taught thousands of students at the Neighborhood Playhouse, from which she retired in 2001 at the age of 89.

I have so many memories of Miss Jurist from our classes at The Neighborhood Playhouse: how she spoke about performing, how she accompanied us when we sang, how she told stories, and the Hanukkah play that she wrote about Hannah and her seven sons (I still have vivid memories of my schoolmate, Andrea, who was in the class above mine at the Neighborhood Playhouse, in the role of Hannah). Miss Jurist also composed one of the most beautiful Christmas carols that I have ever heard in my life. It’s a shame that the song isn’t out there; I feel that it ought to be.

(And in case anyone out there is willing to help make it so, I still have the four-part arrangement that I created for it in my senior year of high school, when I was studying music theory. When I asked Miss Jurist whether I could attempt the arrangement, she said, “If you want to.” When I showed it to her the next week, she said, “I didn’t think you could do it – but you did!”)

I wish I’d had a chance to ask Miss Jurist how it felt to set Eve Merriam’s lyrics to music and have Nina Simone record the song. I’d been right about her all those years ago: there was so much more to her than met the eye. But back then, it was just a guess.

Miss Jurist was so much more than the teacher I looked forward to seeing every Saturday morning... and I never knew.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Photo Sales Redux

[rant on]

Recently, I got yet another request to allow the publication of a photo of mine in a periodical in exchange for credit. The person who wrote to me explained that the periodical had no budget for contributors. I sent back a polite note saying that I would be happy to allow the use of my photo in exchange for a reasonable fee.

The reply to my email said, in effect: All right, we won’t use your photo, then, and that was the end of it.

But later, on a whim, I looked up the name of the person who had written to me. Turns out that she is a freelance writer with a web page that advertises her services.

Well, I thought, that’s interesting. Here we have a freelancer who charges for her services, but feels fine asking others to give theirs away for free. Then I thought: Hey, be fair. Maybe she volunteers her services for that publication.

Well, if so, then that’s laudable. Many of us donate our time and skills to causes that we cherish. But as I see it, there’s a big difference between doing so of our own free will and being asked to do so by a person we’ve never met. Why should I give away my work for free just because the article in question is about a cause I value?

I’m starting to think that the next time someone asks me for the use of a photograph in exchange for credit, I will say something like this:

“Sure, I’ll let you use my photo in exchange for credit... as long as it’s the same kind of credit that the banks, utility companies and supermarkets will accept. If that isn’t what you had in mind, then please do us both a favor and don’t waste my time. And what is this issue of giving credit, anyway? What value does it have, except for expressing, at best, a vague hope that perhaps someone else at some unknown point in the future will pay me for my work instead of you? Will that make your conscience feel better? Nope, sorry, I don’t think I feel like dying of exposure today. When you’re willing to give me value for my work in negotiable currency, then we can talk. Until then, have a nice day, and don’t let the door hit you in the rear on your way out.”

[rant off]

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Carmel Relief Fund

Click here to give to the Carmel Relief Fund via Israel Gives. The page also has real-time updates about the fire and relief efforts.