Art & Music

Art & Music

While I will always have fond memories of the toys, books, and programs listed on the Nostalgia page, my interests HAVE expanded in the past 20+ years…

One of my favorite ways to waste a day is reading Calvin & Hobbes comics. This site re-runs the Calvin & Hobbes strip each day in sequence, just as they appeared in the newspapers exactly 11 years ago. You can also get information about its creator Bill Watterson.

My favorite movies and television programs generally relate to the documentary and/or reality categories. If I am not watching ESPN, there is usually something cool on the History Channel, Discovery, A&E, or TLC.  Some of my favorite programs are How the States Got their Shapes, Storage Wars, MythBusters, and Hoarders.

I don’t read nearly as much as I used to; however, when I do have the time, I like to pick up a P.J. O’Rourke book or article whenever possible and read his wit and sarcasm on contemporary American society and politics, as well as his commentary on other worldwide issues.  Visit the Official P.J. O’Rourke Web Site or the Unofficial P.J. O’Rourke Homepage to get more information on this “Rolling Stone” columnist (born in Toledo, Ohio). You can also sample a few short articles written by P.J. at this web site. My current collection of his books includes: Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut; All the Trouble in the World; The Bachelor Home Companion: a Practical Guide to Keeping House Like a Pig; Enemies List: A Vigilant Journalist’s Plea for a Renewed Red Scare; Give War a Chance; Holidays in Hell; Modern Manners: an Etiquette Book for Rude People; Parliament of Whores. I recommend each and every one. Pick one up at the bookstore and read a few paragraphs or pages to get an sense of P.J.’s humor.  As I am editing this page in November of 2011, I just picked up his latest book at the library: Holidays in Heck.

I also enjoyed reading works of Martin Amis, back when I had the time to read for pleasure. His novel Times Arrow is one you have to read for yourself to experience the full irony and twisted sequence of literally living a life backwards in time. Reviews and synopses don’t quite give you the full taste of Amis’ treatment of this unique perspective. Many Martin Amis sites are out there, but Wikipedia provides a bibliography, a brief biography, and a review of Times Arrow.

I have taken a liking to the following radio shows on National Public Radio and Public Radio International.

For quite a while, I was hooked on NPR, from their Morning Edition a.m. news program to All Things Considered on the drive home. Living in Sandusky, I sometimes listen to WCPN 90.3 from Cleveland, and other times I listen to WGTE 91.3 from Toledo (depending on which direction I travel, the signals grow and fade). Find the nearest NPR signal(s) in your area and check their lineups to see if they carry any of the following shows. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Car Talk: I bust a gut every Saturday morning when this gem is on the air! Tom and Ray Magliozzi (aka “Click and Clack The Tappet Brothers”) help callers to diagnose their automobile ailments, with a bit of humor. For an hour each week I learn and laugh about car troubles. The web site gives you a chance to listen to archives. Funny show… funny web site.

Says You! is a “game of words and whimsy bluff and bluster.”  As the main NPR page states, it is like “crossword  puzzling on caffeine, in front of a live audience.”

And PRI also has a few gems which are carried by some stations:

Whad’Ya Know? is a two-hour comedy/quiz/interview show hosted by Michael Feldman. Feldman’s show includes interesting guests, and a humorous quiz-show where a studio guest and a caller team up to answer insignificant and intriguing questions.

The Savvy Traveler is an hour-long weekly magazine about travel, adventure, and recreation. The program takes listeners to unexpected places, sometimes right next door, and looks at predictable places in unusual new ways.

A Prairie Home Companion features unforgettable comedy sketches, acoustic-based music, and Garrison Keillor’s signature monologue, “The News from Lake Wobegon.”

I am not really an “art aficionado…”

…but I’ve always enjoyed the work of Dutch artist M.C. Escher. His drawings are sometimes chaotic and seem to defy both gravity and logic. I’ll always remember the night about twenty years ago that a friend and I spent an entire evening staring at one of  his staircase prints called Relativity. Before you judge me on that supposed waste of time (assuming you haven’t seen any Escher prints), follow these links to see some of M.C. Escher’s work.

In the spirit of M.C. Escher, Julian Beever has created numerous 3D images on a two dimensional ‘canvas’.  Take a look at his incredible pavement art! This stuff is amazing.

Another ‘artist’ that I enjoy is Michael Moschen. In the simplest of terms, he could be considered to be a juggler, but that term doesn’t even come close to doing him justice. This guy has absolute control over the objects which he manipulates.  Whether it is the fluid-like motion of the small crystal balls, or the rhythmic and visual juggling inside the triangle frame, or the illusions created by his dances with other object shapes, ALL of his performances are mesmerizing. From that perspective, he is much more than what you would think of when you hear the word “juggler.”

  • Here is another Moschen site.
  • He also appeared in the PBS Great Performances Series: In Motion with Michael Moschen. This site gives a breakdown index of the performances on this video. I own it and it is absolutely fantastic.
  • Click here for a link to the listing for the above video and read the various customer reviews for others’ opinions of this artist and performance.

Who doesn’t enjoy movies?

One of my other hobbies is watching movies.  Back when I was single, I probably spent the bulk of my expendable income on DVDs.  I was fascinated by the extra content and commentaries that the movie studios pack on to those discs.  My collection slowly grew to over 400 different titles.

IMDB (The Internet Movie Database) is an excellent source of movie (and television) trivia with cross-referencing links to just about every actor and/or movie ever made.

The Movie Compound is a collaborative effort by a group of movie aficionados who have put their collective heads together to create a great movie resource. I visited this site often in its infancy stages before I had all the responsibilities that come with a family.  The discussion forums were most enjoyable! I haven’t been there in quite a while, but I highly recommend it for ANY movie buffs — novice or knowledgeable.

Listening to music is another of my favorite activities. I enjoy a wide range of styles.

I know I am dating myself somewhat, but in the “rock” genre, my two favorite bands have probably been Aerosmith and Boston — coincidentally both hail from the Boston, Massachusetts area.  Strange how my two favorite bands and one of my favorite professional sports team are all from Boston and I’ve never even set foot in the town. :\

Ironic that Tom Scholz, leader of the band ‘Boston’ is also originally from Toledo, Ohio.  He went to college at MIT, thus the “Boston” connection, but he attended Ottawa Hills High School, which is just a stone’s throw away from the University of Toledo and the Law Center, where I spent three years of my life.

But when it’s time to relax, nothing can beat instrumental piano and acoustic guitar.

Windham Hill records has a great web site with links to each of their recording artists: Will Ackerman, Jim Brickman, the late Michael Hedges, George Winston, and so many others. You can download sound files from the web site to whet your appetite.

  • Also, if you are familiar with Windham Hill, I recommend Will Ackerman’s  enhanced CD 1998 re-release of  In Search of the Turtle’s Navel. The CD-ROM contains a multimedia program which includes an interview with Will Ackerman regarding the beginnings of his musical career and the Windham Hill label.  The interview follows through some of the other artists with Windham Hill as it grew into one of the biggest labels of its kind. A great buy for fans of Windham Hill.

Narada is another great label if you like this type of music. Their web site has more information about their artists and touring schedules. Some of their artists that I recommend include: Spencer Brewer, Wayne Gratz, Michael Jones, David Lanz.

Real Music and Combs Music offer similar recordings. They are established labels in instrumental and new age music.

Piano World has interesting information and some great links to click through.

Scott Strommen is an independent pianist with his own web site. His web site provides downloadable clips from his debut CD “Spontaneous.” Take a listen…

Are there any Enya fans out there? There are plenty of fan web sites devoted to her music, most of them provide a great deal of information. But in the interests of conserving space, I’ll only provide links to a few unofficial pages: The Enya Angle and Moonshadows.

I also enjoy a little bit of jazz…

Dating back to my days in high school, when I played the trumpet, I’ve always had an admiration for the late Maynard Ferguson. Plain and simple, that guy could play the horn! I only saw him play live on two occasions (the last time was in the summer of ’89 in Pittsburgh, PA), but his shows were amazing. Over twenty years later I can still vividly recall the energy and emotion! Visit the Maynard Ferguson Tribute Page, full of biographical information, as well as a number of links where you can purchase Maynard’s music. You can also download sound clips from his various recordings, like the classic Birdland.

Lastly a few personal friends.

I have more details about each them on two other link pages, but the “Two Martins” individually represent music at its finest.  I met the Two Martins during the pursuit of my two degrees.  Martin Doman was a student at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in the mid 1990’s. Martin Koop went through attorney basic training with me at the University of Toledo in the later 1990’s.  The Two Martins each have a unique and tremendous talent with a guitar and microphone


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