Monday, June 17, 2013

Geek Speaking Wuffles and a Beautiful Moment

Geek Speak: Wuffles!

If I may be honest, maybe make a little bit of a confession here, it really didn't occur to me what I'd done in that first panel until I'd read it a few times. She dresses the dog in tutus and then calls it Ruffles. That's fantastic. It's completely unintentional. If Bob Ross were still alive he would probably call it a "happy accident."

Every so often when my wife and I are out (which happens a lot less now, but that's part of the parent gig) we'll see someone, usually (but not always) older, walking a dog they've dressed up somehow. I've always wondered what the dog might say if it could talk. Honestly, I don't think I'm too far off the mark here. If every living thing has its own sense of dignity, then putting your dog in a pink onesie and bunny ears is a cruel affront to that dignity. The first chance they get they'll find someone who'll treat them with respect...or smother you in your sleep.

New Email

You may have noticed a new addition to the bottom of my comic strip. I've added an email address, This is a new addition, and something new to me. I've crated a new email address you can use to reach me to ask about the comic and about my blog posts. I'll be checking my email on this address at least once a week, and I look forward to ready your comments.

Pachelbel's Canon

In this space for today's blog I was going to talk about getting a baby sitter and going to see Star Trek: Into Darkness with my wife on the eve of Father's Day. Instead I would like to write about something that occurred as I was leaving a showing of Iron Man 3.

As we live in Burbank the local movie-plex, the AMC 16, is an easy one to get to when we want to take in a movie. It's the movie complex we would go to even before we moved into Burbank. With sixteen screens they're reasonably assured to be showing one or more movies we want to watch, it's close, it's no more expensive than anywhere else, and there are a lot of restaurants in the general area to get a meal either before or after your movie.

The area in front of the movie-plex is also a large courtyard and plays host to buskers performing a variety of acts. The typical street performer at the Burbank AMC 16 is an acoustic guitar act, usually strumming out, and sometimes singing, popular music with varying degrees of skill. Every now and then there will be something unique in the courtyard. I once passed a kid who could not have been more than twelve who was dancing his heart out. He popped with great precision and moved with an effortless grace in rhythm with the music so that my mouth hung open in happy amazement. Talent calls out to be recognized.

Today was different. As I was leaving Iron Man I heard amplified music, which is not at all unusual, the performers frequently have amplifiers or stereos blaring their accompaniment. What grabbed my attention was not the fact of the music playing, but the music itself. The melody was a cascade of strings, falling lyrically over each other, like a shooting stars set to music. In a chair a man sat playing a cello in accompaniment to the music with all his heart and skill.

The selection was Pachelbel's Canon in D Major. You know it. It's been used for diamond commercials, and its frequently played at weddings. As classical music pieces go it's a bit overdone. When done with even a modicum of skill, however, it is one of the rare pieces of music that reaches past my ears to some dormant corner of my soul and pulls on my emotions.

I don't know the reasons why, but when I hear this music it transports me, carries me back to bitter and sweet memories of Colorado. I'm in my grandparents house on some summer weekday. I'm in boulder listening to a girl of no more than ten or eleven with a violin play a piece of music that's considered challenging for seasoned adults. I'm at my sister's wedding, and on like that.

Back in the courtyard in front of the Burbank movie-plex I drop three dollars into the cellist's tip jar. It's all the cash I have on me. I let the memories sweep through me for a moment, riding the wave of nostalgia, and I start to feel the tears forming behind my eyelids. With a deep breath and an effort of will I chase them back to the ducts from whence they came. To distract from my own complicated and inexplicable feelings I look around. Other people have gathered to listen.

As I look around an older woman of Asian heritage, probably in her seventies, walks past me to put money in the tip jar atop mine. She then returns to the man with her. He's a shade or two older than she, and probably her husband. They stand close together and watch the man with the cello play his music.

To my left is a younger couple. They stand, arms entwined, and smile at me as we listen to the music. Two little boys pull their mother and father over to listen to the music. Mom watches the cellist, as entranced as her two boys, the father looks critically at the musician, the mood of the others not penetrating some possibly defensive layer of cynicism. I want to call out to him, to make him look around and understand what is happening.

Those of us drawn to the man with the cello, playing to the strains of a piece of classical music we've all heard, are responding to something in ourselves that resonates with the music. In that moment we're joined in a common experience, and wrapped up in a moment of shared feeling. It is a moment of stillness in the chaos of commercial enterprise around us, and it is deeply, achingly, beautiful.

Before I know it, even a little before I'm ready for it to be so, the moment is over as the song ends. There's sparse applause from those of us watching, and the musician looks truly grateful, even a little flushed, to have his efforts rewarded in this way. I suppose it's unusual for people to pause long enough to drop a buck or two in the jar, much less to stay, listen, and applaud. As I walk away I take the moment with me.

I don't know how long I'll remember it. In all likelihood I won't be thinking of it even a week later. What I feel is this; when something is beautiful take a moment to pause and enjoy it. If you can, share it with someone, even if it's just to glance around at share a smile with strangers who are doing the same thing. Those moments can lift you up and carry you through the times when beauty seems far away. 

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