Tap dancing

I have not blogged. Sin of omission. And today’s post is a cheat, in effect tap, as the title says, dancing.

Having successfully completed the updating and reconstruction of the GHP parent orientation video (12 minutes of narration over video clips which answer everyone’s FAQ so that I don’t have to), I am now going to clean off my table.

I already wrote a Neo-Futurist monolog for last week’s Lacuna Group work session that was nothing but a catalog of the flotsam and jetsam loading down my desk. Today I’m going to be a little more analytical.

My goal is to clear off the table. Have a clear table. I have not a single inch of clear space. I am blaming this fact for my astonishing lassitude in blogging, in composing, in sketching/painting, in anything. So in the tradition of Wallace Stevens’ scraping down the garden, I begin again. My intent is to pick up an object and deal with it, not putting it down anywhere else, but putting it up or taking some action on it.

Starting at the back right corner, I have uncovered a stack of papers. A program for my brother Ken’s Eagle Scout ceremony, along with some photocopied Archive records regarding Hamilton Lyles, private in Co. B, 14th Georgia Infantry (Confederate) and his death in battles “around Richmond, Virginia.” These go into the trash. They were from my grandmother’s things, and I guess I held on to them thinking that someone might be interested in them. I am not.

Some old school personnel paperwork, no longer relevant. A poster from Auntie Mame. Into the trash.

A sweet note from my wife, apparently on the occasion of leaving the child at college, a rough time for both of us, thanking me for the eighteen years it took to get rid of him. That one will go in a Memorabilia folder in the filing cabinet.

A black folder which I found in the Theatre Tech classroom last summer on my last walkthrough of the campus. It happened to be of a Visual Arts student who I knew was a friend of Galen Honea’s, and so I brought it home and even gave it to Galen to give to the kid. But Galen left it here, and so it’s been sitting on my table. I have now addressed an envelope and stuck the folder in so I can mail it tomorrow.

Various cables that have accumulated. Into the drawer.

Last year’s day-by-day New York Times Crossword Puzzle calendar. Keep handy for boredom purposes.

My iPod shuffle, just waiting for me to use it to exercise again. Set it aside next to the external hard drive.

Next stack: Jury summons for the week of February 9. Put it in my computer satchel.

Pencil/conté crayon/charcoal case. Replace into my paint box.

A clipping from the NYT, November 16, 2008, of a Titian painting:

Venus with an Organist and a Dog. I found the painting to be more than a trifle bizarre and thought I might blog on it. So I’m creating a folder called BLOGGING STUFF, and in it goes. The folder goes into the bookends to the left of the monitor.

Another clipping, a review of a play, Elizabeth Rex, by Timothy Findley. A play that looked as if it might be fun to work on. I already have a folder for that.

And now we see the issues of my task: in going to place the folder on the range of folders behind me, I discover an entire pack of folders dealing with William Blake’s Inn in its international children’s theatre aspect. I take those and consign them to the archival WBI tub.

Another clipping, one of affordable sparkling wines. I’ll have to put that in my billfold to see how many our sommelier at Kroger can offer.

An old issue of Utne Reader. Don’t know why it’s up here, although I suspect it got cleaned off the coffee table downstairs with all the other stuff in the pile: Guilford College Magazine, etc. Off to the “take to the hospital ER” pile. American Theatre: “down to the theatre” pile.

A charming pad of paper entitled “Shit List,” one of those clever things one finds at clever stores and I have no idea why it is in my house. It’s still in its shrink wrap. Toss it in the trash.

Printouts from Charles Mee’s Iphigenia 2.0, used in Lacuna Group. Stick it back in the Lacuna tub.

A printout of an online article on speeding up one’s Mac. I am not going to stop to take care of that now. I must create a dreaded “do next” pile.

An antique German Bible, in fraktur script. The covers have come off, and Ginny wants me to fix it. I have no idea that the thing has any intrinsic value. It’s dated 1881 and has no real inscriptions in it and is rapidly acidifying. But I hesitate to apply bookmending tape to it. To school it goes for mending anyway.

A thank you note from Don Nixon for loaning works of art from our collection to the Centre. Memorabilia or trash?

A CD of Handel’s Fireworks and Water Music. Ironically, iTunes is playing William Basinki’s Watermusic II, a trippy space music album which I’ve grown very fond of. Back on the shelf it goes. Well, technically, back in the stack in front of the shelf it goes. The space in front of my CD shelves was just cleaned out of all kinds of storage tubs that had mysteriously accumulated over the years. Not naming names, but I’m grateful for the floor space so I can actually get to my CD collection.

A “Friends of the Guilford College Library” card, in appreciation for a small donation. I am entitled to all the privileges accruing thereto until March 31. I suppose I should put it in my wallet and then see exactly what privileges I can get away with when we visit in February.

Results of blood work done when I applied for a new life insurance policy. No news there. Into the trash.

We’ve now turned the corner and are working on the area in front of the monitor.

2008 City Ad Valorem Tax Notice. Into the tax folder.

The little attachment that goes on the bottom of your camera so you can put it on the tripod. Back onto the tripod.

The USB microphone I used to voiceover the updated sections of the GHP parent video. Back into the drawer.

A recipe for Yucatan Chicken-Lime Soup which I made on Friday. Ultra-delicious! It’s up in my study because I have entered it into my recipe software. Over to the recycle pile.

Hotel reservations for the first weekend of GHP interviews. Driving instructions to the new locale for the second weekend. Into the GHP folder.

This month’s Visa bill. Next life insurance bill. Over to the finances pile.

Old Guilford student account invoice. Taken care of, into the trash.

The receipt for my drill press. Into the receipts folder.

A pair of reading glasses. Into the drawer.

My mother-of-pearl barrelled fountain pen. It has brown ink in it. It’s been a bit balky, though, which is why it has been hiding on my table. Actually, it should have been in my dresser thingie back downstairs. I need to clean it out, but I’m not stopping to do that right now.

An eBay receipt for one of Ginny’s Christmas presents. All right, this is interesting. The Monday before Christmas, Grayson and I went to lunch downtown, and he was talking about getting his mother a digital picture frame. Somehow this led into a discussion of how cool digital photo coasters would be (triggered by the fact that we own photo coasters, but I haven’t printed any photos to go in them). I whipped out the iPhone and googled “digital photo coaster,” and was stunned to find, offered on eBay, a digital aerial photo of the roller coaster at Lakeside Amusement Park in Roanoake, VA. This was the very same roller coaster that our entire wedding party rode after our reception! I have never pressed that Buy It Now button so hard or so fast.

My Moleskine notebook. Back into my pocket.

The Bush Countdown daily calendar. God be praised.

A notepad with scribblings related to the video clips I used to put together the GHP parent video. Take out those pages, set aside for final jiggering, and put the notebook back in the cabinet. Also the script for same.

A printout of the PDF for Final Cut Express HD Quick Reference. Staple and shelve.

A QuicKeys installation disk, from when I was having issues last week and needed the activation key in order to purchase an upgrade. Back on the shelf, which is a whole other cleanup day.

The small Moleskine notebook that Kevin gave me at the Lichtenbergian Annual Meeting as a waste book. It stays on the desk.

The business card of the woman at Amazon Stone on Farmer Industrial who sold me the granite for the center of the labyrinth. I recently used it to email her a photo of the center. I can toss it now.

A Moleskine music notebook. It can go on my drafting table behind me, which also needs clearing off.

A little prismatic kaleidoscope thingie, from one of those Christmas crackers. I think it’s up here because it would make a nice toy of an evening. Over to the nice toys pile.

Another clipping, a play called Animals Out of Paper. Into the play folder.

Bookmarks, sticky notes, and bookplates to use for Book Crossing books. Back over on the shelf.

MacWorld issue. Shelve

Christmas letter from a friend. Trash.

Checkbook. Check.

Dramatists Guild membership invoice. File.

Old lottery tickets, old bills, old receipts. Trash.

A Chick-Fil-A gift card. My GAE membership card, unactivated. Into my wallet.

A VHS tape about polar bears and the DVD I dubbed from it. Back to school.

Moving on to the left of the monitor.

The new book on labyrinths that arrived last week. It’s chock full of mysteries and mathematical coincidences and LIFE-ALTERING INSIGHTS. I just know it is. Down to my bedside reading pile it goes.

The Rider Pest Control bill. Over to the finances pile.

My Lacuna Group notebook. Back over to the Lacuna pile, along with the “what I see when I see us performing eventually” notes we generated last week.

The Masterworks Chorale rehearsal schedule. Back in the folder.

Betty Crocker’s Living with Cancer Cookbook. We’re putting together a set of recipes for Anne Powell to help keep her fed after her chemo sessions. Back to the kitchen.

Bank statement, balanced. Into the records box.

An entire Dining section from the NYT. I wonder why. No clue. Into the trash.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and The Natural Way to Draw. Reference for when I’m sketching. Which hasn’t happened more than once. But it will. Over to the drafting table.

“Hot White Andy,” a booklet-length poem I discovered via YouTube and posted about elsewhere. I ordered it via Amazon.uk. Into the Lacuna tub.

A notepad from downstairs. Back downstairs.

An issue of The Week, open to an art exhibit that I went to look at online. It wasn’t there, but I googled the artist, Tara Donovan, and was very impressed. Into the ER reading pile.

One of the afore-mentioned photo coasters, to remind me to print some photos. Into the school pile, where I have a color printer and photo paper.

A Danish modern tray thingie, used to carry charcoals from the Lichtenbergian Annual Meeting fire to my study, before mailing them off to the members in absentia. Downstairs to the back yard.

A receipt for a refund check. A bulk materials price list from Country Gardens. Trash.

Instructions on establishing my email account as an IMAP account, so that my iPhone and computer emails are synced. Into the “do next” pile.

Email about re-registering all my domains (dalelyles.com, graysonlyles.com, masterworkschoralecoweta.org, lichtenbergian.org, lacunagroup.org, and perioddance.org) Taken care of, into the trash.

Two CDs, the transferred version of Aces & Eights. Into the “do next” pile so I can break it up into tracks.

Brochure for Essentially Choral’s 2009 competition. Deadline of Jan. 9, so into the trash it goes.

A statement from Wachovia about this year’s student loan. Really need to share the info with the wife, since she’s the one paying for this year. Hm… “Do next.”

Funny cards and funny postcards, including Grandma’s Dead: Breaking Bad News with Baby Animals. I think I need to send one to Jobie right now.

My Lichtenbergian chalice, holding my coals from the fire. It stays where it is, my eternal non-flame of rebuke.

My lifetime lease on a square foot of Islay, plot no. 332561, obtained by my purchase of a fifth of Laphroaig scotch. It guarantees a yearly rent of one dram of Laphroaig, to be claimed in person. Also, they’ll give me a map to help me locate my plot, and “for the journey to the plot, protective headgear against low-flying GEESE; a thick overcoat to repel the inclement Scottish mist; a lifebelt and anchor to safeguard againt being blown out to sea; a ball of string for securing trouser legs from inquisitive stoats; and a towel for the Leaseholder to dry-off in the event of unwelcome attention from affectionate otters.” Hm. Into the memorabilia folder.

A phone book. Onto the shelf.

Art and intimacy: how the arts began, the prequel to Homo aestheticus, by Ellen Dissanayake, the latter of which I haven’t finished reading, much less the former. Downstairs.

A business card from an old friend. Transferred to Address Book. In fact, a series of business cards. Transferred.

Random notes on music. Trash.

Membership forms/invoices for AARP and ACLU. Trash.

We have finally arrived at the far left of the table. This is a real dead zone, since it’s on the far side of the stairs to the study. All the active stuff gets dumped on the right hand side. The left side is where things go to molder.

A copy of The 12-Step Bush Recovery Program. A humorous bagatelle. Downstairs for reading.

A small paper plate, Santa Claus, obviously carried snacks up here during the holidays. Trash.

Two stacks of CDs:

  • Psalms of David, Heinrich Schütz
  • chamber stuff, Robert Baksa
  • Gnarly Buttons and John’s Book of Alleged Dances, John Adams
  • … and it occurs to me that I’ve already blogged about this stack before. I will now make the effort to transfer one of these each week to my van, where I can listen to them while I drive and hopefully learn more about them.

Another notebook/journal of various musings. It stays where it is, on the left side of the table.

Mr. Lunch Fold and Mail Stationery, a pad of stationery with one of those oh-so-amusing faux-retro designs. I think I bought it to write people with. Sometimes I do that. Back on the shelf with all my other mostly unused stationery.

Some postcards I picked up in Munich and some photos, all of which usually live on the little organizing rack that Ginny gave me for my birthday several years ago. I think I never got them back on there after last summer’s trek back to Newnan from Valdosta. I shall put them there now.

A set of cards for said organizer that I used last summer to organize my efforts to get all the shots I needed for the GHP parent video. Now I remember that’s why the photos and postcards were not in their usual place. It worked, for the most part. I didn’t lose any major shots at all, and some of them were time-critical, moving in and convocation among them. Since they’re double-sided, I can recycle them for other GHP uses next summer. (I keep track of issues I’m dealing with, for example.)

A plain brown folder with a printout from the very first official Lichtenbergian Assignment, the one about the nuclear waste repository. I think I’ll leave it in the moldering pile.

A CD with one of the incremental recordings I always did of William Blake’s Inn. It goes in the big CD wallet with all the other incremental recordings.

A printout of Mike Funt’s “new” version of A Day in the Moonlight. Back in the pile.

A fragment of a very old piece, a setting of Psalm 100. I don’t seem to have the entire manuscript, and I’m not sure it’s more than a curiosity, not worth reviving. Never performed, of course.

A collection of documents: a printout of an editorial in the NYT back in 2006, by one Edward Tenner, purporting to show that Google has made us dumber. His argument was based on a 2001 study of education grad students in Tel Aviv, who were asked to find on the internet a picture of the Mona Lisa, the text of David Coppefield or Robinson Crusoe, and a recipe for apple pie with a photo, no time limit. They ::gasp:: couldn’t do it!!! ZOMG! Google will eat our brains!!! Except Google was barely in existence in 2001; the grad students used category-driven catalogs like the old Yahoo to do their search. I set two classes of 3rd-graders the exact same task, and of the 38 students, 24 found all three items in less than 30 minutes, without training and without any assistance, other than to explain the difference between the magician David Copperfield and Dickens’ novel. My conclusion? My 3rd-graders must be smarter than grad students at the University of Tel Aviv, sheerly through my teaching. (I actually went to the UTA website and found the original study. It’s perfectly valid, for a Stone Age report.) Into a folder for future reference.

A sketch for a theme for the second movement of the Symphony in G. Over to the drafting table.

Printouts of online articles dealing with overcoming shortcomings in Finale as a playback machine. Lists of instruments on the Proteus 2 synthesizer. Shelve.

A printout of an online Tarot reading back when I retired from NCTC. For kicks, I asked “what next,” and the reading was interesting enough to print. Into the memorabilia folder.

A notecard with some ideas for a choral piece that no longer interest me. Into the trash.

Installation disk for Contribue CS4, my stopgap for keeping my websites up to date, rather than spending the hundreds for the complete Adobe suite, at least until next summer. Shelve.

The books in the bookends on the left. William Blake’s Inn, both copies, autographed. The Big Bug Ball, for possible use by Lacuna back when we actually had hope that we had excited enough people about the international children’s thing to make it a reality. Joyful Noise, another Newbery winner that deserves to be set to music by me. Store them.

A file that says FILE and contains flotsam that needs to be filed. Over to the drafting table.

Fundamentals of Musical Composition, by Arnold Schoenberg. Keep it where it is, use it during my fragment exercises.

My old William Blake’s Inn journal. Store it.

A folder that says FIGURING IT OUT and which contains all kinds of models for structuring self-examination. Keep it.

My desk is now clean. I know this has been an extremely boring post, but it was quite therapeutic for me. I feel as if I have dealt with… something.

Next: the drafting table. Maybe the floor. But first, lunch.

2 thoughts on “Tap dancing

  1. Wow. Impressive. Writing about it must have taken just about as long as cleaning it! I just skimmed, but I did notice your ref. to Lakeside. Barbara grew up going to Lakeside and has many fond memories. She talks about it a good bit. You should bring it up to her at some point. She would get a kick out of knowing that you had your wedding reception there.

  2. Our reception was at the Hotel Roanoke (of course), but afterwards, all of us went to Lakeside just to have a good time. Lakeside was a big deal in Ginny’s family as well. Next time y’all are over, I’ll show her the photo.

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