kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Monday, December 24, 2007

R.I.P, Oscar Peterson

OK; I stole this from the A.P.

If you haven't heard Peterson's music, it's never too late to start.

Jazz great Oscar Peterson dies

By ROB GILLIES, Associated Press Writer

Oscar Peterson, whose early talent and speedy fingers made him one of the world's best known jazz pianists, died at age 82.

His death was confirmed by Hazel McCallion, mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, the Toronto suburb where Peterson lived. McCallion told The Associated Press that he died of kidney failure but that she did not know when. The hospital and police refused to comment.

"He's been going downhill in the last few months, slowing up," McCallion said, calling Peterson a "very close friend."

During an illustrious career spanning seven decades, Peterson played with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. He is also remembered for touring in a trio with Ray Brown on bass and Herb Ellis on guitar in the 1950s.

Peterson's impressive collection of awards include all of Canada's highest honors, such as the Order of Canada, as well as a Lifetime Grammy (1997) and a spot in the International Jazz Hall of Fame.

His growing stature was reflected in the admiration of his peers. Duke Ellington referred to him as "Maharajah of the keyboard," while Count Basie once said "Oscar Peterson plays the best ivory box I've ever heard."

"The world has lost an important jazz player," said McCallion. "It isn't just a loss for Canada, he was world famous."

Born on Aug. 15, 1925, in a poor neighborhood southwest of Montreal, Peterson obtained a passion for music from his father. Daniel Peterson, a railway porter and self-taught musician, bestowed his love of music to his five children, offering them a means to escape from poverty.

Oscar Peterson learned to play trumpet and piano at a young age, but after a bout with tuberculosis had to concentrate on the latter.

He became a teen sensation in his native Canada, playing in dance bands and recording in the late 1930s and early 1940s. But he got his real break as a surprise guest at Carnegie Hall in 1949, after which he began touring the United States and Europe.

He quickly made a name for himself as a jazz virtuoso, often compared to piano great Art Tatum, his childhood idol, for his speed and technical skill.

He was also influenced by Nat King Cole, whose Nat King Cole Trio album he considered "a complete musical thesaurus for any aspiring Jazz pianist."

Peterson never stopped calling Canada home despite his growing international reputation. But at times he felt slighted here, where he was occasionally mistaken for a football player, standing at 6 foot 3 and more than 250 pounds.

In 2005 he became the first living person other than a reigning monarch to obtain a commemorative stamp in Canada, where he is jazz royalty, with streets, squares, concert halls and schools named after him.

Peterson suffered a stroke in 1993 that weakened his left hand, but not his passion or drive for music. Within a year he was back on tour, recording "Side By Side" with Itzhak Perlman.

As he grew older, Peterson kept playing and touring, despite worsening arthritis and difficulties walking.

"A jazz player is an instant composer," Peterson once said in a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. interview, while conceding jazz did not have the mass appeal of other musical genres. "You have to think about it, it's an intellectual form," he said.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hey You!

Too busy to write anything of substance, and anything about politics or baseball would be filled with too much invective for this time of year. China stories are on their way; in the meantime, if you want to see pictures, here's a public link to my facebook gallery of images.

China pictures with stupid captions

Some people get mad if I say one thing or another around the 3rd week of December; others get mad if I don't. Christmas, Hanukah, Festivus, Kwanzaa, Divali, Ramadan, Solstice: sometimes they all seem like pleasant enough things, grounded in a long history of tradition and superstition. Not really the best of grounds to get apoplectic about someone doing it wrong.

I'm tempted to stick with "Hey You!"

I hope it's okay, but for those of you who don't have to work a couple of days next week, for whatever reason: good. Have fun.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bill O'Reilly Gets It Absolutely Right

Some of my reader(s) may think I'm a biased, left-leaning dogmatic ideologue—and they may be right—but I think it is only just and fair (or fair and balanced) to point out when someone with whom I disagree gets something right. Especially if it is someone with whom I disagree with as often and as consistently as the good Bill O'Reilly. I offer this quote from his show on Monday, without comment: it seems to me to be as accurate as anything he has ever said, and as accurate as anything he ever will say. Fair is fair.

There are few journalistic standards left these days as we have proven on this broadcast again and again.