Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Looking for gift ideas? Got gift ideas to share? Send them to @FunGiftIdeas on Twitter!

Okay, you'll to spend the 90 seconds it takes to get a Twitter account to do this if you don't have one already … 

This is a place to find and share interesting gift ideas. If you'd like to add the ideas to your feed reader, here's the gift ideas feed link.

The place to visit is, or, if you have a Twitter account, you can just follow/send to @FunGiftIdeas.

Probably not every link will be accepted, and there will be a limit on how many new links will be shared each day so it doesn't get overwhelming. Here are the 15 most recent gift suggestions, and below that, a photo frame you can win:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Eugene Ormandy, the Yogi Berra of the Orchestra

From 1938 until 1980, Eugene Ormandy was musical director for the Philadelphia orchestra, famous for his inspired direction and style...and also for his humorous verbal attempts, such as: “I never say what I mean but I always manage to say something similar.”

The orchestra collected their favorites, and here are a few of mine:
  • “During the rests -- pray."
  • “Why do you always insist on playing while I'm trying to conduct?”
  • “Mahler wrote it as the third movement of his Fourth Symphony. I mean the fourth movement of his First Symphony. We play it third. The trumpet solo will be played by our solo trumpet player.”
  • “Let me explain what I do here. I don't want to confuse you any more than absolutely necessary.”
  • “I don't mean to make you nervous, but unfortunately I have to”
  • “Thank you for your cooperation and vice versa.”
  • “If you don't have it in your part, leave it out, because there is enough missing already.”
  • “It's difficult to remember when you haven't played it before.”
  • “We can't hear the balance yet because the soloist is still on the airplane.”
  • “Please follow me because I have to follow him and he isn't here.”
  • “Percussion, a little louder." / "We don't have anything." / "That's right, play it louder.”
  • “That's the way Stravinsky was. Bup, bup, bup, bup. The poor guy's dead now. Play it legato.”
  • “The notes are right, but if I listened they would be wrong.”
  • “Who is sitting in that empty chair?”
  • “The next movement is still in the factory.”
  • “Don't ever follow me, because I am difficult.”
  • “It is not as difficult as I thought it was, but it is harder than it is.”
  • “Start beforty-two.”
  • “Start three bars before something.”
  • “Start at B. Yes. No. Yes. No.”
  • “Did you play? It sounded very good.”
  • “It has no rhythm, but it will because it's so much faster.”
  • “Tonight I'm going to listen with my ears.”
  • “Long note? Yes. Make it seem short.”
  • “It's all very well to have principles, but when it comes to money you have to be flexible.”
And although he also said, “Death is an awful thing. I don't believe in it myself.” Eugene Ormandy died in 1985, and we will miss him.

For a much longer collection of his quotes, see the Arizona State University's collection of Eugene Ormandy quotes.

To keep abreast of news and interesting links on Classical Music, visit or subscribe to @Classical_Music on Twitter.  Want an RSS feed of just Classical Music posts? Here you go!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'll carry you every morning until death do us apart.

If there is love or there once was, don't give up on it without reading this first:

I got home that night as my wife served dinner, and held her hand and said, I've got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes. Suddenly I didn't know how to open my mouth. But I had to tell her: I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly, I thought.

She wasn't annoyed, simply asked softly, “Why?”

I avoided the question, and she got angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted “You are not a man!” That night, we didn't talk again. She wept. I knew she wanted to know what happened to our marriage. But I could hardly answer, I had fallen with my heart for a lovely girl called Dew. I didn't love her anymore..I just pitied her!

Feeling deeply guilty, I drafted a divorce agreement: she would own the house, car, and 30% of my company. She tore it to pieces after barely a glance. This woman who I had spent ten years of my life with was now a stranger to me.

I felt badly for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said—I loved Dew dearly. Finally, she cried very loudly in front of me. I expected this. To me, her crying was a release. The idea of divorce had obsessed me for several weeks, and seemed to be firmer and clearer now.

The following day, I arrived home quite late and found her writing at the table. I went straight to bed (without supper) and fell asleep quickly, fatigued after an eventful day with Dew. When I awoke, she was still at the table writing! I didn’t care and quickly fell asleep again.

That morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn't want anything from me. But … she needed a month's notice before the divorce. She asked that for one month we struggle together to live as normal a life as possible, pointing out our son's exams were in a months time and she didn't want to disrupt him.

I agreed, but she had something more. She asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day. She requested that everyday for the month's duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Dew about my wife s divorce conditions. She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully.

My wife and I hadn't had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mummy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes
and said softly, don't tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest.. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn't looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realised she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me. On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn't tell Dew about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily. Suddenly it hit me, .. she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it's time to carry mum out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly, it was just like our wedding day. But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn't noticed that our life lacked intimacy.

I drove to office... jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind... I walked upstairs. Dew opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Dew, I do not want the divorce anymore.

She looked at me, astonished. Then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Dew, I said, I won't divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn't value the details of our lives, not because we didn't love each other any more. Now I realise that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart. Dew seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away.

At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote:

I'll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.

The small details of our lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property , the money in the bank, blah..blah..blah. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves.

So find time to be your spouse's friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!

- Author unknown

You might also like to read 25 tips on how to stay married.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Classical Music: Learning and Appreciation Resources

Here are a few places to get started learning more about classical music.

Learn the basics of music terminology
Beat Harmony Rhythm
Coda Key Score
Conductor Maestro Syncopation
Divertimento        Orchestra       Tessitura
Finale Prodigy Vibrato

(All terms explained by Miles Hoffman, excerpted from The NPR® Classical Music Companion: Terms and Concepts from A to Z)

Great books to learn from
  1. WHO'S AFRAID OF CLASSICAL MUSIC? : A highly arbitrary and thoroughly opinionated guide to listening to and enjoying symphony, opera and chamber music: The classical music critic for Time magazine humorously makes classical music accessible in an easy-to-read style.
  2. What to Listen for in Music by Aaron Copland: An essential classic written by an author who was himself a great composer. Does not cover music of the last half-century.
  3. The Vintage Guide to Classical Music: A lively -- and opinionated -- musical history and an insider's key to the personalities, epochs, and genres of the Western classical tradition.
  4. The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection : The 350 Essential Works This, the second edition, has one-third new selections and reviews, and a 50% change in discography to keep all suggested CDs up to date.
    Comprehensive references:

    All Music Guide to Classical Music: The Definitive Guide to Classical Music
    The definitive source: covers over 500 composers, 800+ performer biographies, thousands of compositions, with album recommendations for artists. Includes 23 essays devoted to classical music's major eras, forms, and genres.

    Classical Music: Third Ear: The Essential Listening Companion
    This excellent guide to classical music discography ranges over the entire history of recorded sound, with 50-plus contributors covering some 500 composers.

    To keep abreast of news and interesting links on Classical Music, visit or subscribe to @Classical_Music on Twitter.

    The Classical Music FAQ

    Here is the table of contents from the FAQ, last updated in 1995:
    Q1. What are the major periods of "classical" music?
    Q2. I'm new to classical music and don't have any classical recordings. 
          What should I listen to so that I can learn more?  
    Q3. I heard this melody on the radio.  How do I figure out what it is?  
    Q4. When I went to the record store to buy a CD of [insert piece],
          I found dozens of versions.  How do I know which one to buy?
    Q5. Why are there so many recordings of the same piece?
    Q6. How do I find out if [insert-piece] has ever been recorded?
    Q7. What is that music from [insert TV-show/Movie] called?
    Q8. What are the essential reference books on classical music?
    Q9. What distinguishes classical music from popular music?
    Q10. What is the difference between an opera and a musical?
    Q11. What is the history behind Orff's Carmina Burana?
    Q12. What are the words to the first movement of Carmina Burana?
    Q13. How do you pronounce all those conductors' and composers' names?
    Q14. How are composers' works usually indexed?  Why so many ways?
    Q15. What's the point of having a conductor?
    Q16. Will a "DDD" recording always sound better than "ADD" or "AAD"?  What
     do those codes mean anyway?
    Q17. What is "authentic performance practice?"

    Want an RSS feed of just Classical Music posts? Here you go!

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    A touching story of love and loss: Do animals have feelings?

    Here is a story making the rounds on the internet. If this touches you, you might want to visit the Angel Animals blog, read some of their books, or see other stories online. You can also follow @AngelAnimals on Twitter.

    (When people say animals like dogs don't have feelings like humans, my husband likes to say that, no, they seem to have a better version than we do!) 

    The story says “From Republic of Ukraine where the bird is interested quickly to save his wife. Millions of people cry after watching this picture in America and Europe:”
    “Here his wife is injured and the condition is very appalling.”
    “Here he brings her food and attend her with love and compassion.”
    “Brings her food but shocked with her death and try to move her.”
    “Stand beside her and scream saddened of her death.”
    “Finally aware that she would not return to him and she departed him, stand beside her body with sad and sorrow.”

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    New Blog on Love 105

    I'm blogging on the the Love-105 website now!

    I'm sharing some fun links and short notes from my show and day at the station, as well as some pics from my life (and an occasional link back to this blog). Click the L-O-V-E to see it! (You can also catch other daily updates from me as @SarahJL on Twitter.)


    Friday, October 03, 2008

    How much acting skill is required for voiceover? What does it mean to change the "read" of copy?
    As a voiceover coach, I get a lot of people asking me questions about how voiceover works and how to get into the industry.

    Two of the most common misperceptions I find people have about voiceover are that you need a special voice (actually, average voices with very little accent get a ton of work) and that acting skills are more important than speaking experience.

    Here's a great example of using acting skills in getting different "reads" of some short copy for a political ad (advertisement precedes video):