Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holiday Shout Outs

It's that festive time of the year again! I'm too well stuffed to think of anything interesting to say so I'll cop out by giving a shout out to a few do-gooders I've heard about recently... in no particular order:

1.
Jefferson Lab is making science fun and easy to understand with their excellent
Youtube channel.


This is how real science is done, mates! You observe a phenomenon and make predictive guesses (hypotheses) on what makes it go the way it does. Predictiveness is the key! If this causes that to happen, then what will happen if I do this and that to it? This is what makes a scientific guess (hypothesis) special. You can falsify it against real observation and see if you guessed wrong or not.

2. Rachel Maddow, the adorable (though at times in a rather irritating manner) and
as-smart-as-a-whip host of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show and at Air America Radio is making it hard for me to completely give up on journalism.

Photo: The Rachel Maddow Show

She is quite to the left of me and we disagree on a few issues, but she has convinced me that she always does her very best to get the facts straight before reporting them... And that in the rare occasions that she doesn't she always promptly corrects herself and apologizes. Never mind what David Frum says. The lass is an honest and straight shooter who is also a pleasure to both agree and disagree with!

3. Prince William of Wales spending a homeless night out on the frozen street of
London for a good cause. It is too easy to sit in a well heated home while lumping all street people together as being deserving of their misfortunes. Some are, to be sure, but many more aren't and it really doesn't take much to help them get back on their feet. It takes guts for a prince to voluntarily have a taste of it without shining a spotlight onto himself (only one photo was released well after the deed was performed). Photo: Centrepoint/AP

I think his mum would be proud!

4. Joyce DiDonato. The American mezzo-soprano not only burns down the stage with her intensity and superb skills every time she goes to work, but also keeps a refreshingly down to earth and regularly updated blog that allows us outsiders a good glimpse at life as a deservedly successful performance artist.

Photo: Sheila Rock

She also posted the best holiday greetings on it this year with a generous gesture worth imitating!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday to all my friends and readers, of course! Thanks for putting up with my smorginess all this time. I'm taking your remarkable patience for granted now and hereby impose upon you yet another one of my operatic indulgences...


This is the marvelous Vesselina Kasarova really rocking the boat (or rather, the concert house in Bremen) with Ariodante's final bravura aria, Dopo notte. Merrily accompanying her from the orchestra is Maestro Harry Bicket (obviously from his pace setting... another rock music lover in disguise as a classical conductor!)!

Monday, December 21, 2009

San Diego Bay lighted both naturally and unnaturally

It's the holiday season in San Diego. I was missing the snow and cold of winter until I went to see the 'Parade of Lights' on the bay Sunday night and realize how nice it is here this time of year. Back in the Midwest the Mississippi and the Missouri would be mostly frozen by now!
This is a favorite little hidden corner between the Convention Center and Embarcadero Marina Park - South. A glimpse of lingering autumn?

Anyhow, I got to downtown rather early at the cost of missing the football game. :oP I was rewarded by views like these, though...

Embarcadero Marina Park - South, looking northeast toward the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.

The Fishing Pier jutting into the San Diego Bay at the tip of the park

It doesn't get any more romantic a setting than this, does it?

This was the 38th edition of the Parade of Light and quite a few San Diegans showed up to cheer on the procession of lighted boats of every denomination (there were even some lighted kayaks out there along with the yachts, sail boats, and tall ships!)... after having watched the San Diego Chargers snatched victory from the charging jaws of the Cincinnati Bengals to clinch their NFL division, of course.

In the background is the lighted San Diego-Coronado Bridge.

So... if you hear "Go Chargers!" being roared around in the midst of all the Christmas noels being sung in the clip below, now you know why.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all!

Joyeux Noël à tous!
Frohe Weihnachten an Alle!
Buon Natale a tutti!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

An Apartmentful of Influenza

It's the second week of December and Mr. Winter is enjoying a breezy visit to San Diego, impressing the town with his sheer wetness. My nose is so taken with it all that it is trying to run off with him while I'm being distracted by the heatedly argumentative Mr. Flu (who dropped in uninvited and tried to steal the turkey!). Apparently Mr. Flu has been roaming around stirring up arguments across the neighborhood (what a baddie!). My flat mate is staying clear of him, though can't seem to avoid running into his slightly milder mannered brother, Mr. Cold.
Needless to say, ours is a rather infectious household at the present. Though I should report that I'm ahead in my tug-of-war with that formidable Mr. Winter (Mr. Flu not withstanding) and will likely get to keep my nose (even though it has now gained a rather off-putting runny quality in the process). Another good news is that even though I'm coughing like a meowing fur ball manufacturing machine, there remains no evidence whatsoever to suggest any trans-speciation event from a household Homo sapiens to a Sus scrofa domestica (in other words, I still can neither speak Swinese nor oink convincingly).

Being bummed from having to put up with the duo of microscopic house guests is definitely not conducive to cooking. So I dug out the bottle of cheaters' tom yum curry paste from the cabinet, some mushrooms I found hiding in the forest that is trying to pass itself off as the interior of the refrigerator, and the bag of shrimps that has been pining away in the freezer for months (evidently waiting for the sea level to finally turn my apartment into a beach front property), and dumped them all into a pot of boiling water...

Seasoned the thing with fish sauce, lime juice, and lemongrass... And, voila! A (mostly) liquid bowl of sinus Drano to keep my flat mate and I warm and cozy. One of these days I might learn how to make a proper pot of Tom Yum soup without using the cheaters' paste (they are sold at Asian markets here for around $1.25 a bottle)... But not while sneeze-inducing Mr. Flu and Mr. Cold are still around!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Out And About All Weekend!

I finally got to hear Beethoven's ninth symphony live on Friday night when the San Diego Master Chorale and the San Diego Symphony under Jahja Ling had their first of three performances of the piece at Copley Hall in downtown San Diego.

Those not familiar with classical music would still probably know a bit of Beethoven's 9th as the famous 'Ode to Joy', of course. That bit of music comes over 50 minutes into the piece, though. The monstrous (in more ways than one) symphony is a remarkable composition that looks both backward and forward in its resolve to enjoy life in all its manifestations. A study in musical story-telling (Wagner probably got his 'Leitmotif' idea from Beethoven's last symphony) that made use of dissonance without losing sight of the virtues of melody and harmony. A genius Beethoven was, he was also mindful that music is communication and that communication is a two-way street (in other words, it ain't no fun just talking to oneself when there are others around). He pushed the envelope without forgetting to make sure that what he was trying to say could be readily shared by his audience... (which is definitely not something I can say of many melody-hating composers that came after him).

Anyhow, it was quite a good performance. I should admit that Jahja Ling always strikes me as someone a bit too even-tempered for the Romantic Period music (especially the moody works of Beethoven), but he did some serious exorcising from the podium on Friday night and elicited quite a spirited performance from the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.

In stead of a bass soloist, they used the baritone Nathaniel Webster to ring in the choral
finale of the symphony, so some vocal gravity was missing even though there was an additional shine to the optimism of the piece. Robert Breault (tenor) and Mary Dunleavy (soprano) were in very good form and had no problem soaring over both the orchestra and the (exasperatingly reliably splendid) San Diego Master Chorale. Rounding out the solo voices was pleasingly dusky voiced (if a bit under-projected) mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor. The capacity audience clapped everyone back for 3 well deserved curtain calls. A definite good start to the holiday season!

Saturday morning saw the 46th edition of the North Park Toyland Parade. Even the weather must have been looking forward to it and the multitude of clouds turned up to watch the event while staying high enough above the ground to avoid raining on the crowd of local residents lining University Avenue between Utah and Iowa Streets.

I'm afraid there wasn't any horse this year, though the equine-deficiency was well substituted by the cheerfully wheeled Derby Dolls and a fleet of spiffily shined hot rods.

My flatmate and I also invaded Balboa Park on Saturday evening to catch a bit of December Night celebration. Judging from the size of the crowd, the sluggish economy sure didn't put much damper on the local holiday spirit....

Though the flu is doing a bit of that to my head so I'll have to write up on it later (my nose is putting on a good show of liquefying itself). Hope December has started well wherever you are!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

L'Amour est une dinde rebelle....

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Ok... so these aren't exactly turkeys, but two cute pet chickens roaming an art house up in Julian, California. I'm not discriminating much between species of fowls, though. It is hazardous for winged creatures to pass too nearly by my pad this time of year.

On another note... would eating too much turkey turn you turkish?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

From The Bug's Point of View...


"It is amazing what a lot of insect life goes on under your nose when you've got it an inch from the earth."
- Beryl Markham, West With the Night
Well, I suppose it was actually her 3rd husband, Raoul Schumaker, who ghost-, wrote the book. But that doesn't take any magic away from the curiously observant passage (one among many, to be sure) from my favorite book. I have had the privilege of getting to look at things from progressively barer points of view of late. So when I went roaming about Balboa Park and Banker's Hill again over the weekend I decided to snap a few photos of what things would start looking like to me if the last soprano I snapped at in a review should ever successfully land a hex and turn me into...


a toad?

an ant?

a gnat?

or, god forbid, a tenor? Arrrrrgghhhhhhhhhhhh!

Just kidding, of course. I like tenors.... well, some of them, anyhow. :oP I wouldn't mind turning into a tenor if I can sing (and look) like...



Jonas Kaufmann... There's already a good DVD of him as Don Jose in Bizet's Carmen from the ROH - Covent Garden, a really splendidly sung and acted show, though I rather object to how vulgar Carmen (superbly sung and too realistically acted, for me, by Anna Caterina Antonacci) is in that show. That might be how real life crass gypsy women behave, but it makes it hard for me to fantasize about this Carmen.... even though she really is a beautiful (and amazingly fit) woman!

I suspect that there'll be another good Carmen DVD coming out soon from the Zurich Opera with Vesselina Kasarova in the title role, though. As far as I'm concerned, there can never be too many DVDs of Kaufmann (and of Kasarova) around!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Day Trip To Palm Spring, CA

A few weeks ago yours truly and a few friends hopped on a car and drove out to Palm Spring on the east side of the mountains to catch the Gay Pride Parade there. I had never been to one before, so that was a rather gay (in every sense of the word) experience.

We opted the northern route up I-215 to Route 60 and I-10, and breezed downwind into Coachella Valley, being heralded part of the way by the electricity-generating wind turbines. We only caught the last few minutes of the parade, as it turned out, having arrived at Palm Canyon Drive a bit later than expected. They were playing Village People's YMCA and everybody was dancing to it...

But why is YMCA such a gay anthem to begin with? (I really haven't a clue)

Afterward we went and wander around their excellently maintained Palm Spring Art Museum... and even caught a free piano recital at their underground auditorium (they have this 'Free 2nd Sunday' promotion going. Free admission to the museum and performances!). They have some really cool abstract arts and American Western theme exhibits... I don't know why, but I found myself quite mesmerized by this interestingly proportioned sculpture. Perhaps my math-loving friends could come up with an equation to describe her!
We didn't get back until after 9PM that day. I've been too zapped to write the trip up properly, though. Anyhow, if you'd like a glimpse of the famous celebrity oasis in the California desert, here's a little slide show that hardly does it justice at all.
.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shopping at Vons'

The weather had turned cloudy and cool this week, which means I'm allowed to go out and walk around a bit. Finally got around to Vons supermarket a few blocks away on 30th Street.Here in America we tend to shop at a chain supermarket where you can get everything in one stop rather than going to specialty shops for bread and meat and other stuff. In San Diego area we have the Vons, Albertson's, and Ralph's chain (back in Missouri it was either Dierberg's or Schnuck's).
Being a lazy bum that I am, I'm not all that thrilled with the way they tend to scatter stuff in such a way that you have to walk the entire place to get a simple food shopping trip done.

Here we have the bakery on the north side, next to fresh produce section...
I must say, though, Vons' produce section is quite more varied and more fresh than what I usually find at Ralph's or Alberson's.

A lot of canned food and household items in the isles... Along with the Pharmacy. Water and soft drinks are somewhere close to the south wall... next to the dairy section.

with the Deli counter rounding up the store's south side. They make pretty good sandwiches here. Too bad you can't pay for your sandwich here and go, though. They give you a tag and you have to line up and pay at the check out lanes like the rest of the shoppers.

Vons' price is pretty good compared to other groceries. If you become a member, then you get extra discount, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday And The Symphony

Hey, November sneaked up on me! I had a vague idea that it was coming, but then my flatmate and I talked ourselves into cleaning up the flat and repainting the interior walls along with the porch Saturday morning.

(before)


(after)
By the time we got done afternoon had came a
nd gone and it was time to freshen up and skip downtown for the San Diego Symphony's 2nd of three performances of Mozart's Requiem.

The program was rather unspooky for a Halloween night and kicked off with the famous
prelude to Act III of Wagner's Lohengrin... sadly without running on into the even more famous Bridal Chorus (I mean, since they've already got a great chorus in the house that could really rock that thing, you know!).

I'm afraid we didn't get very good seats for it and the bad acoustic (toward the extreme left of the auditorium in the Main level) skewed the performance for me a bit. I thought the opening number got bogged down a bit once Elsa's theme kicked in. The brass section was having quite a good night, though... I bet they sounded quite splendid up in the middle balcony. In the imbalanced acoustic of where I was they got a bit muffled by the bass and strings section.

The second number was Max Bruch's D-minor violin concerto featuring Jeff Thayer, the SDSO's concertmaster... I'm afraid he was rather overpowered by the orchestra (which really couldn't have been playing more sensitively). Don't know if that was an intentional interpretative effect, but I found the lack of dynamic variation in the violin solo rather dulling on the Romantic music. He got all the notes down at good speed, to be sure, but there was no accentuating the line and practically no story told (that I could discern... but then a lot of that may be due to the bad acoustic of my part of the auditorium).


A lot of folks left us at the intermission and never came back, which was really too bad because the San Diego Master Chorale showed up and really rocked the second half of the evening in the Mozart Requiem.

I have to say that Maestro Ling's tempo for the Requiem was so consistently speedy that even the more solemn movements of the mass failed to spook me. One would expect that the quick pace would work well in the more furious movements like the Dies irae or the Confutatis, but the auditorium didn't catch fire during those either since there just wasn't enough contrast with the rest of the show (speed is no substitute for intensity... especially when you've got only one gear).
But the chorus was absolutely fantastic! They sang this thing like they meant every word of it. Great piano singing when called on, and delightfully lively in the fugue sections.

Also, I had no idea who they were before I walked into Copley Hall this weekend, but I'm mightily impressed with the tenor and mezzo soloists for the evening: Thomas Cooley and Sasha Cooke. Their beautiful voices were superbly used to convey the departing souls they were depicting in Mozart's final composition and I can only hope to catch them in more substantive roles in real operas one of these days. Jessica Rivera (soprano) and Jason Grant (bass-baritone) also sang well after a shaky start.

The ovation was warm indeed... But then it seems that in this town you really have to fall off the horse and bleed all over the stage (after having first flooded the orchestra pit and splattered all the coats in the first 3 rows of audience) to NOT get a standing ovation at the end of a show.

Friday, October 30, 2009

La casa nueva de Kasarova

Vesselina Kasarova's official website finally came back online with a completely new (and much improved) look this morning, thanks to much labor of love by her husband, Roger Kaufmann, and their friend Thomas.


Check it out. Her performance schedule makes me want to move to the more cultured continent (Europe)! The distinctly fascinating Bulgarian-Swiss mezzo is now in Madrid for Rossini's L'italiana in Algeri at Teatro Real which will be broadcast on Radio Clásica on November 10th. You haven't heard a truly feisty Isabella until you've heard Kasarova sing Pensa alla patria!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's Cooking: Panang Curry!

I had recently moved to an apartment (with a real kitchen) on the north side of Balboa Park... My mother would never believe this, but I have actually been using the thing to coax the various food items hidden in my flat mate's refrigerator to transfigure themselves into semi-edible food thingy... luckily without having burned the place down or losing a limb (or an eye) in the process.... yet. I'm not being fashionably humble or anything, but I was banned from mom's kitchen (with the exception of the microwave oven) for good reasons.

Anyhow, thanks to good tips I keep reading at Anik LaChev's blog and watching at ImportFood.com, I actually survived an attempt at a (rather stinky) Thai curry today.... Panang Beef is
the dish, and here are the list of ingredients:
Beef, coconut milk, panang curry paste, a bell pepper, a carrot, fish sauce, sugar

(I know, I know, it's far from authentic to be using sweeteners when cooking. But hey! Both my flat mate and I are bachelors. Do you really think we keep a fully (or properly) stocked kitchen!?!)
It wasn't an entirely successful coup, mind you. This thing calls for a can of coconut
milk, but I haven't got any and so decided to substituted with skimmed milk instead. That wasn't a particularly good choice since it doesn't have quite enough body to give the final result that stomach-soothing milky flavor.... though it was likely a bit healthier for my coronary arteries.

We didn't have any carrot in the fridge either, and decided at the last minute not to try to substitute that ingredient with the neighbor's cat (de-furring that thing would take too long :oP).
- Anyhow, I started by de-seeding the bell
pepper and slicing it into rectangular bits. Then slicing the beef tips into thin slices.
- put a sauce pan on medium heat and add a tbsp or so of cooking oil
- add 2 tbsp of panang curry paste and spread it around a bit
- add 1/4 cup of preferably coconut milk (if not, try real milk... rather than the skimmed version). Mix everything into this pink liquid.
- add the beef, then bell pepper and carrot. Keep stirring... and add another 1/4 cup of
milk
- after a few minutes, add a tbsp of fish sauce (or salt, if you haven't got the former) and a tbsp of sugar (I used 2 packages of sweeteners I brought home from the coffee shop... that was too much :oP). Stir it occasionally until the meat and pepper (and carrot) are cooked.

I should warn you.... This thing stinks the place up worse than a wet dog! The taste is quite worth it, though (it's always served over steamed rice, though you can try make a sub-sandwich out of it). My first attempt was edible, but I'll definitely not dump 2 packages of sweetener into the thing before tasting it the next time around... And I'll be using whole milk rather than the fat-free one, too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's In A Star Rating Of An Item On Amazon.com?

Do you know? Do you? I apparently didn't... and I had written quite a few reviews for that site. :o( Here's something you should look out for:



(issue discovered and exposed by Max)
Intelligent Design is a FAILED postulation. It FAILED in its attempt to masquerade as a scientific theory. It even FAILED in the court of law when Christian parents in Dover, Penn sued to remove it from its wrongful imposition in science class at school there (and the trial, Kitzmiller v Dover, was presided and fairly ruled by a Christian conservative judge!).



What Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort are doing is a disservice both to the Christian religion and to science.... and, most of all, to the intelligence of those they are trying to propagate their willful quackery on. Dr. Ken Miller, the guy doing the lecture in the clip below, is a Christian, which means that he and I have a few things to disagree about. What Dr. Miller is NOT, however, is a sucker who abdicates his ethical will to use his god-given (pure figure of speech here) brain and ability to think in favor of lazily believing the BS other gullible human beings want to put in god's mouth.



Questioning what the certifiably unscientific quacks like Cameron and Comfort say about science is NOT synonymous with questioning god. Think about it.... Is there really a bigger blasphemy than to take whatever idiots like these says to be god's truth without even giving a god a benefit of the doubt that something as mystically powerful as that would be capable of sounding as incoherent and self-contradictory as these guys do?

Aside from KPBS's excellent recap of what happened at Kitzmiller v Dover, those really interested in knowing how Darwin's theory of evolution stacks up against the pseudo-science that is 'intelligent design' should see this very lay-friendly 2 hrs long lecture Dr. Miller gave a few years ago?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Trip to Kobey's

My flatmate and I and another friend went roaming around Kobey's Swab Meet at the San Diego Sport Arena on Sunday. It's a pretty cool place where local merchants (and people who are looking to get rid of stuff they had been hording in the garage) come to dump off their stuff for cheapskate-friendly price on the weekends.
We got there rather late at 2PM, though. It was looking quite gray and foggy, so many of the merchants were already packing up, though not before I had broken my budget and bought up 3 opera CDs and a pocketbook version of Aristophanes... Couldn't believe that I actually didn't have a full CD version of Beethoven's Fidelio! Now I'll get to listen to the whole thing with the amazing Kna (Hans Knappertsbusch) conducting Sena Jurinac and Jan Peerce. A promising cast if there ever was one!
There were also several good fruits vendors there trying to ensnare me with their deliciously ripe persimmons and pomegranates. We haven't got any spare room left in the fridge or in the food cupboard at the moment, though, so no food shopping over the weekend.
My flatmate found a replacement earphone for her iPod, and her friend went positively bubbly at the sight of the foreign currency & rare coins shop. We ran into this cute little soap bubbler and her magical floaty round rainbow making solution on our way out.

She was having quite a time spreading the perks around the swab meet. Too bad I don't chase bubbles all that well these days... only caught 4 or 5 of them while fumbling the rest.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Buy Me If You Can...

Ads twirlers are downtown San Diego's resident street artists. I was walking down 6th Avenue at the eastern outskirt of the Gaslamp Quarter the other day when I ran into this dude at the corner of 6th and Market.

video
He was a good sport and tried a fancy move for the benefit of my little camera.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Interview With Esther Barr, A Metalworks Artist Who Turns Copper Into Living Sea

While walking around the Embarcadero Marina Park (north) in San Diego last month during Artwalk2009 looking at tents filled with fantastic arts and crafts by local artists yours truly ran into a positively entrancing exhibit of repoussé capturing marine animals and birds so vividly that I wondered if I hadn't unwittingly escaped into a 5th dimension and an alternate universe where all living things were made of copper and grew on walls... and that maybe I was much an exhibition to them as they were to me!

The metalworks that had me well surrounded that Sunday afternoon was the creation of Esther Barr's imagination and adept handy work. The metalwork artist from Massachusetts now lives and works in Burbank, California (in Los Angeles area) and was kind enough to grant me a cyber interview posted below:

Smorg: How did you get into metalworks art? Why did you decide on copper repoussé as your specialty?
EB: I was only fifteen when I first saw an artist working in copper relief while on a family trip to Israel. We visited many galleries in Safed, an artist colony, where one of the artists was kind enough to invite us back to his studio while he was working on a copper relief piece. This event did not make an immediate impact on me, as it took nearly 25 years before I finally decided to try to form a design with a piece of metal.

I had always wondered what art medium I was really best suited for. Between films I would sometimes work on an oil painting, watercolors, pastels
or printmaking. One day I decided to look up repoussé on the Internet. I found a workshop given by Sharon Anhorn and it changed my life.

Smorg: You grew up by the sea in Massachusetts. How has your upbringing influenced your art?
EB: Marblehead, Massachusetts was a wonderful place to grow up. We were only a couple of blocks from the ocean in one direction. In the other direction there was open undeveloped land (unfortunately no longer there), and a trail that had once been the old railroad tracks. The arts were very important to the town, and I was lucky to have very talented and encouraging art teachers in the public schools.
Every summer for a week The Festival of Arts takes over "Old Town" which is very historic and has a picturesque Town Hall where the original painting "The Spirit of 76" resides. Boston was a little over 30 miles away, so I was able to frequent the Boston Museum of Arts as well as the city's numerous galleries.

Smorg: Were your parents supportive of your career choice?
EB: There was really never any doubt that I wanted to be an artist when I was growing up. My parents were very supportive of my career choices. They supported me when I chose to study at Rhode Island School of Design as an Illustration major and again
when I decided to change my major to Experimental Film Animation and study at California Institute of the Arts.

The most fortunate part is that we never really talked about how I would eventually make a living while I was going to school. This allowed me to concentrate on first trying to become a better artist, and just letting the future take care of itself. When I
decided to quit animation after a 20-year career to become a fine artist, it was valuable to know that I had to take the time (over 3 years) to develop a body of work before I could even think of exhibiting and selling my metal works.

Smorg: Any favorite artist who influences your style?
EB: No particular artist had an overall effect on my work but I
have always loved the Arts and Crafts movement and especially Art Nouveau, which borrows forms from nature and can be highly stylized. When I began to work in metal I didn't want to just re-create the standard metal work images from the past (gingko leaves, pine cones, etc). Most important to me was that I wanted to be able to continue to keep the same feeling of movement I had when designing animation special effects and to now translate this in my images on metal.

Smorg: You are living and working in California now, though. Is the coast here very
different from back east? Do you look at, say, an octopus here and wonder about its counterpart in the Atlantic Ocean?
EB: I have mostly concentrated on creatures from
the Pacific, but I did create a horseshoe crab piece. I admit that I wasn't sure if anyone here would even know what they were, let alone want artwork of a blue-blooded spider (they are not crabs, and have copper based blood) on their walls. To my surprise the piece got a lot of attention and now resides with a geologist who lives in Utah.

Smorg: You also worked with film companies, providing them with special effects animation. What are some of the films where we can see your work in? Tell us a bit about your experience during the project? Any favorite anecdote?
EB: I preferred moving from project to project, studio to studio. The longest stop in my career was my last at Dreamworks Animation. I had been designing effects for Steven Spielberg's company, Amblimation, when Mr. Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg both asked me to join their new studio. Their first project was "The Prince of Egypt"
The studio was in its infancy, so I was able to get involved in both helping to organize the effects department as well as suggesting designs and concepts for the film. It was a great experience to be at the studio in the beginning.

Smorg: I was mesmerized by your Boundless copper relief. It's a still of a fish jumping out of the waves, I think, but the fish seems to have a past and a future somehow. It isn't that it is lifelike, but that it has a life and would jump off from that copper sheet it is barely contained in if only it could.... which could make for an unsettling occurrence. Anyhow! Did you base that work on any real fish you witnessed in a stream somewhere or is he purely the product of your imagination? How close is the final work to what you had in mind when you started sketching it?
EB: I am really pleased to hear that you could feel what I did when I created this piece, I couldn't say it any better than you did. "Boundless" is an adult Chinook salmon in the ocean, starting to make his final journey back again to his original fresh water birthplace.
Boundless
While traveling the Pacific Northwest I fell in love with travels of salmon and their incredible life cycle transformations, as they migrate from their freshwater birthplaces to the ocean, and later struggle back to return to their place of origin. Their sacrifice perpetuates the species.

When I started this piece, I only had a rough idea of what the final piece would look like. My original designs are often very rough sketches on multiple pieces of paper. Most of this final design was created directly on the copper. I prefer to work intuitively this way and let the piece evolve while I work on it.

Smorg: What sort of music do you enjoy listening to? Do you have it on the stereo while working?
EB: I have a very eclectic music collection, some classical, blues, jazz, rock, Broadway musicals etc, but lately I have mostly been listening to music from the 70's such as Cat Stevens, Leo Kottke, and James Taylor.
I usually have either music playing or one of the two local public radio stations.

Smorg: What are you working on now?
EB: I continue to work on my water creatures but I have decided to also take to the air and feature a new bird series. My first subjects have been hummingbirds.

Using torch-fused glass enamels over my hummingbird reliefs creates a multitude of abstract colors. This is predominately achieved with only one color of glass. The torch heats the metal unevenly causing the copper to oxidize at different rates as the powdered glass fuses. While firing, all I can see are concentrations of bright yellows and oranges, but this gives me a sense of what the piece might become. When the piece is cooled down I finally see the results and either the piece is finished or needs further heating or additional glass enamels.

Smorg: Where can we see your works? Any exhibition planned soon?
EB: I am working on my 2010 schedule of exhibits. Email me from my website for an exhibit schedule and gallery page. You can also find me on Facebook.