Critics Cringe: It’s Good If You Say So

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Spoiler Alert: I am married to the man that wrote this book. I published the book; The New York Times did the editing. (Big shoutout! Less work for me.) None of that is interesting. What is of note is that I was sitting next to him as he listened to so many of the performances in this book.  I also watched as the world of classical music reacted to his reviews. Most days, they wanted to kill him. And that, folks, is a critic doing a job well. He or she is not there to make a bunch of friends.

Despite the ill will in the business, audience members often came up to him after a performance and wanted to know what he thought. He’d grunt a bit and say “what did YOU think?” When they responded, I never heard him put them down. He always said the same thing, “it’s good if you think it is.”

That is the point. Nothing matters but the individual having a reaction to the material and performer on stage. A “review” can tell you what happened, connect that moment to a longer continuum and give you a vague idea if it’s something you might like. Beyond that, critics really can’t do much for you because it’s about you.Your experience, in the end, is the only one that matters.

Because of him, I often traded in the soul-shattering work on Hendrix for the soul-shattering work of Wagner. My husband’s reaction? Made perfect sense to him because, as he said, “they are both great.” I got him to deconstruct the opening  chords of Baba O’Reilly. He taught the mean beauty of the opera Wozzeck, Lulu and Otello. I still remember Rusalka singing to the moon.  He wrote a piece comparing a Schubert song cycle to Bob Dylan’s 2001 masterpiece, “Ain’t Talkin.” I like to think I had a hand in that.

Like Alex Ross, the New Yorker critic who worked under Holland, these critics jump around, writing about classical as well as all the other music forms, though I’d say Holland is a boob when it comes to rap. These critics attach classical music to a larger world and that matters, that keeps it alive and moving. Holland, in particular, is always searching and reading about history, context, source material. It’s not a commitment to anything, it’s just his curious mind at work.

With Something I Heard, he put a long career of listening to music in one place so that an arc would appear. You’ll have to read it to see. (The ebook is in a promotion and available on amazon for coffee change.)

Is there a future for classical music? What a stupid question. If it’s good, there is. Even this aging rocker feels that Marta Argerich is as good as Tina Turner. Yeah, this is a divided house that stands.

To order: Something I Heard, click on the title.

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Failing through Busy-ness? Stop.

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from Nan Russell’s It’s Not About the Time 

There are many types of pain. Feeling overwhelmed, chronically exhausted, or unable to stretch non-elastic time to t what needs doing is one kind. So is wanting to do one thing and having to do another; knowing the people you love most feel low on your priority list; or giving up hope you’ll ever move toward that life dream.

When you believe you can time-manage yourself out of that kind of pain, which is what I tried for years, life tends to offer its version of a wake-up call: head- aches, illness, anger, outbursts, insomnia, overeating or drinking—you name it. If the pain gets bad enough we seek change.

Consider whether you’re ready:
1. Do you want to move away from the pain of over- whelmed and busy-busy-busy?
2. Are you willing to try something other than more time-management techniques that treat only symptoms?
3. You consider with an open mind that your time- problem isn’t about time.
Consider the statements below. If you’ve had enough and want to change it, check it. If it’s out of control sometimes, but more okay for you than not, leave it blank.

  1. I’m tethered to work 24/7/365; people can reach me via cell anytime and they do.
  2. I use at least part of the weekend to catch up on work.
  3. My life and responsibilities are over owing my ability to get everything I want done.
  4. I don’t have any time to think or be creative and that hurts the quality of my work.
  5. I have out-of-control numbers of unopened emails and just ignore some.
  6. I need to delegate more but have no time to train or hire anyone.
  7. My New Year’s resolution was to improve work-life balance and I broke it in weeks.
  8. Significant others in my life complain about my lack of time and attention.
  9. I feel at the end of my rope more days than not.
  10. I can’t remember the last time I unplugged and relaxed, even on vacation.
  11. I feel compelled to check my phone every few minutes to make sure I don’t miss something important.
  12. I know that stress and pressure are affecting my health and well-being.
  13. I keep hoping things at work and home will change.
  14. 14. There are so many things I’d like to do, but I just don’t have time to do them.

Self-scoring: Only you know if something is too much, too little, or just right for you. However, typically if you checked eight or more, i.e. more than half, there’s a consistent problem that time-management alone is unlikely to solve.

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WHEN BOOKS BECOME DANGEROUS, PART II

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by Nick Redfern, author of Men in Black: Personal Stories and Eerie Adventures

Part-1 of this article began as follows: (QUOTE) “There’s no doubt that over the years I’ve written some weird articles on equally weird subjects. But, this 2-part one just might be the strangest of all. In the last few years I have seen a trend develop that seems to be increasing. It basically goes as follows. I am getting more and more reports from people who have read my books and who, as a result and in the direct aftermath, were seemingly targeted by the very same supernatural phenomena I was writing about. No, I’m not kidding.” (END OF QUOTE)

And here’s part-2.

On the morning of July 16 of this year, I opened the Word document of my new Men in Black book, to finish up the final edit before it went to publication. At that very same moment, I heard a noise from one of my rooms, so I checked it out. For an hour or more, the maintenance people had been working on something on one of the exterior walls of my apartment. And, the vibration of their hammering and power-tools shook 1 of 8 framed pictures off my interior side of the wall. It had fallen to the floor, shattering the glass in the process.

TO READ THE REMAINDER OF THE ARTICLE, GO TO http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/09/when-books-become-dangerous-pt-2/

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To order Nick Redfern’s terrifying MEN IN BLACK: PERSONAL STORIES AND EERIE ADVENTURES, click on the title.

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AND DON’T MISS NICK TONIGHT ON COAST TO COAST RADIO

A Writer’s Path: Ruth Sidransky Remembers First Meeting the Pen, 80 Years Ago

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By Ruth Sidransky

Life is tumultuous, sometimes sumptuous. Life has intervened, interfered with my writing throughout the years. I have written in snatches, on backs of envelopes, on notepads I generally carry with me, and in full concentration in the journals I have kept and continue to keep.

When I was 12 years old my friend Julia and I bought diaries with locks. Mine had a green leather cover with faux gold lettering. Amusing, now. One of the first entries I made was of a kiss. It was my first kiss under the stairwell in the boy’s apartment building on Grant Avenue in the Bronx. He had flaming orange hair and his name was Jack. And that’s what I remember. Was it wet, was it delicate, was it embarrassing? I don’t know. It’s not important. The importance lies in the memory. Perhaps we are made of more than our DNA, perhaps it is the memory of time past and the promise of time tomorrow, and the promise of life at the moment that gives our lives substance, a legacy to be passed on to the next generation and the next, and the next.

And so into my ninth decade of life, I stop, I pause and begin reading my old journals to ask why I wanted to write, to record, to remember. As I read I discover not only my comments on writing, but the life I lived as I wrote. It is as though writing was sandwiched in with the events of my life: graduations, marriages, births, successes, illnesses, divorce, death and all the ephemera that built my life in time gone by. A lesson in me. Startling, revelatory, sad, funny, amusing, spiritual, brave, prayerful, fearful, angry, pages filled with pleasure and contentment…and if I can think of anymore human attributes and failings I shall find them in the thousands of hand written pages, and perhaps include them. If I remember. The writing, however, was me and all me. It was the time I reserved to myself, to think, to tell a story. How my deaf father loved stories. He’d wait until I lifted my hands in sign/speech.

I would create stories for him, and he would ask, with a grin on his mustached face, his hands rising into the air, “Are you telling me the truth?

In mock seriousness I would both sign the word “Yes.” And nod my head.

In return, he signed, “You lie to me. Tell me another story.”

It was a time of deep pleasure, my father and I cavorting with language and the telling of the tales I spun with my hands.

I begin to search out reasons for the gift of storytelling, the gift of witnessing an event, the gift of watching yellow tulips fold for the night and open for the day. There is gift after gift. The primary gift is the gift of language. The gift of pen to paper, the gift of hands to the keyboard and I have been so gifted. The process is mysterious. I do not have the words to describe the muse that enters my soul and the need, the absolute need to write it down, write it out. Whatever that ‘it’ is at the moment.

And so I now make an attempt at writing yet another book on writing. It may be moot, yet, like all writers, composers, painters and artists of every stripe; the process is the same, the process is different. An oxymoron, not so. It is so. I speak to my young grandson, and ask, “How do you compose?” He says, “It just comes through my fingers.” He composes at the piano, as I write, through my fingers, either on a computer keyboard or in longhand.

I prefer writing with pen and ink on a blank white page. The computer offers legibility, speed, and immediate editing, either by deletion or a rewrite, sometimes, a word, here or there. On occasion, I have regretted deleting a paragraph or a sentence; sometimes it might have served a better purpose, if I had saved all the cross-outs. The deletions may have contained a thought-germ, or a phrase I might have used.

There are no deletions of the mind. Every thought is packed somewhere in our brain cells, even those struck out. The mind is the fount of work. Some call work creativity. I shy away from that word. We are all workers who create: music, books, plays, poems, songs, homes, cars, trains, buildings, an apple pie and the list is forever. Working is the touching of another, most of the time. The farmer tills his soil and creates nourishment for our bodies. The mother creates food for her infant. The father (usually) creates income for his family. Doctors create health. Artists create entertainment, sometimes instruction for all of us.

Entertainment for the mind, for the soul, is essential, to understanding who we are, where we come from. And storytelling is my path, my journey, my musings, and this is an invitation to my writing process, to my story as a writer.

Come; join me.

To read more of this extraordinary writer, try Reparations: A Tale of War and Rebirth (click on the title to order) or the charming Woman’s Primer, a perfect gift for the graduating young woman. (Again, just click on title to buy ebook or paperback.)

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