The Countdown Begins – One Week Until Pub Day

My book Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing With Others comes in exactly one week! July 2nd is my pub date!! I am so excited and hopeful I’m barely sleeping anymore, and I can’t do anything except everything I can think of to get the word out about this book. Pretty much all the advance reviews, both from professional reviewers and from regular readers, have been so positive and glowing. I am, as they say, walking on air.

I went around the city this weekend taking pictures for a presentation about the book. Thank God I did this before the heat wave hit. One of the places I wanted to take a picture of was a wall of a local prison, but the guards wouldn’t let me near it. I’m not easily daunted, however. I walked around until I found a spot where I could shoot it from a distance, which, ironically, turned out to be from a overhang in front of One Police Plaza. Ha.

This shot of the inside of the magnificent Grace Church, where I sing, was a much easier picture to get. The caretaker working at the time couldn’t have been nicer. One week!! ONE MORE WEEK!

World War Z

See it. I was expecting it to be awful, after reading not only the mixed reviews from critics, but equally mixed reviews from the regular audience. It’s not a great movie or even a great zombie movie, but it delivered. I was on the edge of my seat most of the time. It’s nothing like the book, but I already knew that was going to be the case and I understand why they couldn’t follow the structure of the book. The book told the story through a collection of oral histories. You get different characters every chapter, it’s quite complex, and that would have been nearly impossible to pull off in a two hour movie. I knew they had to do something else.

That said, there are a million interesting details in the book which made it enormously interesting and entertaining and those could have been exploited in the movie. The author, Max Brooks, clearly has given zombies a lot of thought. Just what would happen in a zombie apocalypse? What practical problems would occur? What are some things they can do in their undead state that we can’t? He thinks of things no one has ever though of before, things that make sense, and then uses them to dramatic advantage. (I don’t want to give anything away. Read the book, it’s a perfect summer read.)

The movie makers could have sprinkled these bits all through the movie and made a picture that was a lot more terrifying, a lot more engrossing, and unlike any zombie movie that has come before. I do not understand. Actually, they did use one bit, but not as well as it was used in the book. Still, it was good. And sad.

There is absolutely no character development. 28 Days Later made you care more about a bicycle messenger in the first five minutes than this movie did about Brad Pitt’s UN … [something] in the entire film. Pitt makes it work through the sheer power of his presence. Anyway, after I wrote all that I have to say it’s still well worth seeing. You’ll feel like you got your money’s worth and had fun. I felt better about this than any other movie I’ve seen so far (like Iron Man and … what else have I seen? I can’t even remember they were so forgettable).

I took these shots cutting through Washington Square Park on my way to the movies. First this dancer, who had the right idea, it was so hot out, and …

Dancer in Washington Square Park, New York City

There was this piano player. It’s part of some art project that I’ve posted before. Someone puts pianos all around the city.

Piano player in Washington Square Park, New York City

Do we ever stop missing them? And World War Z.

From time to time I come across a picture of Buddy (my cat who died last year) in some tucked away corner of my computer. Man, I miss that cat. It’s insane.

I’m going to go see World War Z today, I’ve decided. The reviews are so mixed, it looks like I’m sure to be disappointed. But I can’t resist the lure of a zombie movie. I will report back.

My New Favorite Song: We Believe in Happy Endings

I couldn’t sleep the other night and on the tv was an episode of American Masters about Garrison Keillor. Early on Robin and Linda Williams sing We Believe in Happy Endings. 2 in the morning and I leapt up and starting googling. UNHAPPILY, I discovered I couldn’t buy a recording of them singing this song.

The best I could do was bookmark a Prairie Home Companion show from 2007, which begins with them singing this song, and then playing it over and over. I’m playing it right now.

Put this on an album Robin and Linda Williams. I’m begging you.

A shot of my choir before a concert.

Choral Society of Grace Church

Choral Singing and Aging

There’s a New York Times blog post today titled A Search for Harmony. It begins with the question: “Can choral singing really help people age well?” I already know the answer. (Yes.) You cheated and read my answer, didn’t you? Well, read the article too. I’m quoted! And it’s a good quote.

The Times post was prompted by the movie, Unfinished Song, which is opening tomorrow. It stars Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave and a choir of older singers from the UK. Must see. After World War Z. I’m sorry! I can’t resist zombies.

Here’s Finney on an end table. It’s so hard taking pictures of Finn. I had to use this post-production tool in iphoto which lets me light up the shadow areas. Otherwise he’d look like he only had one eye. Pirate kitty. Argh. Me Matey. Okay, that’s all the pirate-speak I got.