Life is like musical theater on A Good Reed Review
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Personal Essay: The pine cone mystery
…Since the pine tree in the back has been gone, my patio has been free of pine cones and pine needles, until this week. Early in the week as I do periodically, I swept the accumulated leaves from the trees that still loom more meekly over my fence. A few hours after I finished, I noticed a single, large pine cone on my patio that hadn’t been there in the morning when I swept. Since there was no way for a pine cone to fall from the tree in front all the way to the back patio, I wondered if someone had thrown it over my fence for some reason. There’s occasionally a good bit of foot traffic on the path that runs beside my house from the driveway in the front and the common area in the back. In addition to random walkers sauntering by, kids from the apartments next door occasionally run along the path to retrieve badminton birdies or balls that have magically flown over the fence separating the apartments from our townhouses. Still, a pine cone magically making its way over my back fence was mysterious. [Continue reading]
Personal Essay: My magical musical journey: Part 9 – For the love of music
Music can be all-encompassing whether making music or just listening to it. It can be healing. It can be invigorating. It can also stimulate the brain in ways that nothing else can. Music encourages artistic and emotional connection and expression. And unfortunately in our profit-centered world, it can also be far too expensive. … What about those who just want to play for the love of music making without regard for payment or even performance? While a large portion of the arts community has returned to live performances, for many who remain cautious and crowd averse in our pandemic-laden world, live performance is fast becoming a distant memory. [Continue reading]
Personal Essay: You can’t run a theater on a shoestring anymore
After hearing about the Tabard era coming to an end, I thought back on some of the community theaters that used to thrive in years past. One such community group was The Shoestring Theatre Company, later renamed Shoestring Family Theatre. Shoestring was a little different than most theaters. It hearkened back to what community theater was in a bygone era. The Andrews family was the driving force behind Shoestring, and they got the whole community involved. [Continue reading]
Fiction: What a Rat Race
Robert was restless. He looked around quickly and then took off running through the lab, climbing over various apparatus, leaping from landing to landing, until finally stopping atop a bookcase in the corner. It was late, the lights were dimmed, and he wanted to play. This was not an unusual occurrence after the scientists left for the day. [Continue reading]
Personal Essay: What is an expert?
With the advent of the internet, and more recently the widespread availability and influence of social media, what constitutes an expert has been challenged in the media and in the public sphere. … In this information age, anybody with a connection to the internet can search for answers to any question imaginable or pontificate their own claims on myriad publicly visible platforms.
Just because somebody writes or speaks with assurance doesn’t automatically mean they are an expert or even that they necessarily know what they are talking about. Possessing academic credentials alone doesn’t guarantee that the speaker or writer is an expert either. Further, having purely academic credentials isn’t always necessary for somebody to gain proficiency or even expert level knowledge in a discipline. Mentoring and apprenticeships can be effective ways to learn and hone expert level skills in areas as varied as the performing arts to vocational trades or even some more academically oriented pursuits such various types of engineering. It depends on the quality of the mentor, the aptitude and dedication of the mentee or apprentice, and the educational requirements of the discipline. [Continue reading]
Book: A Fatal Grace, by Louise Penny
A most ungraceful exit
A Fatal Grace is the second of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache stories. It was first released in Canada as Dead Cold in 2006. Although it takes several chapters before the primary murder of interest occurs, Armand Gamache ends up back in Three Pines again. For a small village outside of Montreal, Three Pines might rival Cabot Cove in Maine for the most murders per capita, and this is only one of the murders being investigated by the famed Chief Inspector this time. He has two investigations going on. The primary case occurs on Boxing Day in Three Pines and involves his full team. The secondary case is one involving the murder of a homeless woman in Montreal that occurred a few days earlier though most of his team is unaware of the Montreal murder. He keeps that case close to the vest as it is a recent one that he’s investigating on the side for a friend with the Montreal Metropolitan Police. Gamache is a Chief Inspector with the state police – the Sûreté du Quebec, and he and his wife (Reine-Marie) have a Boxing Day tradition of combing through the cold cases brought by Marc Brault of the city’s force while Brault does the same with some of Gamache’s more stubborn cases. Why such a recent murder would be a cold case intrigues Gamache. As for the trade, new sets of eyes could sometimes break the logjam. [Continue reading]
Book: Hell’s Corner, by David Baldacci
The Camel Club’s final case
At the outset of the story, Stone is pulled back into the government fold, though not as a Triple Six assassin since that division no longer exists. He has other skills that they desperately need, so the president makes him an offer he that cannot refuse. Stone has been living off the grid for the last thirty years or so, constantly looking over his shoulder because even his own government has been after him. After his recent retaliatory actions to remove his two biggest threats it actually has a valid reason to pursue and eliminate him. The president recognizes his value despite Stone’s sometimes rogue behavior, so he offers him the opportunity to work on a high stakes case. If successful, the president promises that he’ll allow Stone to live out the rest of his life in peace. Stone agrees and is due to embark on a grueling training course after which he’ll be put back in the field on a case he really isn’t expected to survive. [Continue reading]
Book: The Very Nice Box, by Eve Gleichman and Laura Blackett
Everyone needs a very nice box
The Very Nice Box is a quirky, sensitive first novel by Eve Gleichman and Laura Blackett, released in July 2021. Gleichman and Blackett’s debut novel deftly takes on social stigmas, office peculiarities, loss, grief, relationships, and happiness wrapped up in an engaging story filled with humor and unexpected twists that keeps readers on the edge of their seats anxious to find out what happens next. The story centers on Ava Simon, an able engineer who leads a design team for STÄDA, a company in Brooklyn somewhat reminiscent of IKEA providing a wide range of heavily branded products meant for functionality above all else. These products are fashionable and cover almost every area of furnishing and function a person could need for their home, office, and personal care. Ava designs an essential furnishing that everyone needs – boxes. Her passion project is to design and build The Very Nice Box, something destined to become one of STÄDA’s signature products. [Continue reading]
Book: Memoirs and True Confessions of a Disinformation Warrior, by Teri Kanefield
The dangers of disinformation in a compelling novel
Teri Kanefield is many things. She’s a former appellate defense lawyer who helped those who couldn’t afford representation. She’s an educator who taught at the high school and college level. She’s an author who has published informative works of nonfiction as well as compelling novels. And most recently, she’s tirelessly working to educate the public in hopes of helping people understand the political and legal minefield that has been thrust upon us by the rising authoritarian threat. … Most recently, Kanefield has given her regular readers a gift. … Kanefield released the story, entitled Memoirs and True Confessions of a Disinformation Warrior, in three lengthy posts on her blog, initially linked from the end of her 18 March 2023 entry about Trump’s imminent arrest. The pieces of the novel can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. [Continue reading]
Book: Divine Justice, by David Baldacci
Justice in Divine
Divine Justice is the fourth book in David Baldacci’s Camel Club series. The Camel Club is a ragtag team of eccentrics who are attuned to and intent on exposing the missteps of our government from all sides. They are led by John Carr, AKA Oliver Stone, a former government-trained assassin from a highly secret (and fictional) branch of the CIA who’s been on the fringes of society since his ouster by the corrupt leadership that had his family executed when he wanted out. When he went on the run, he took the name Oliver Stone because he saw real conspiracies everywhere. The other charter members of the club are Reuben Rhodes, Caleb Shaw, and Milton Farb. … Divine Justice opens with action immediately following the end of Stone Cold. Stone had just committed high-profile murders of two corrupt government officials and was on the run. [Continue reading]
Book: King and Maxwell, by David Baldacci
The end of the King and Maxwell series
King and Maxwell is the sixth and final book in David Baldacci’s King & Maxwell series, and it doesn’t disappoint. The last three books of the series, First Family, The Sixth Man, and King and Maxwell are closely coupled, each picking up where the last one leaves off. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are looking to get back to a more normal, less life-threatening routine when they come upon a teenager running through the woods with a gun in a vicious storm. The boy, Tyler Wingo, is frantic. He’s been informed that his father, Sam Wingo, was killed in combat in Afghanistan. The trouble is that Sam Wingo is very much alive, and he’s a hunted man though it takes a while to determine that this is the case. After some negotiation and being threatened by various government and government adjacent thugs, King, Maxwell, their client Tyler Wingo, his father Sam, and a couple of innocent bystanders are in grave danger. No matter the risks, they aren’t deterred from their quest to clear Sam’s name and get him and Tyler to safety. [Continue reading]
Book: Woodwind Instruments: a practical guide for technicians and repairers, by Daniel Bangham
The book every woodwind player and technician should have
Woodwind Instruments: a practical guide for technicians and repairers by Daniel Bangham is a new release that will be a useful reference for woodwind technicians and players alike. Expected in late October 2022 through The Crowood Press, Bangham’s book provides instructions for setting up a complete workshop to repair and maintain clarinets, flutes, saxophones, oboes, and bassoons. The detailed repair instructions for technicians include most routine and complex repairs they might encounter. For players, the book can serve as a guide on caring for their instruments along with what to look for when they are encountering problems going so far as instructing them on some stop gap measures until they can get their instruments to a repair shop. The book is aimed at technicians, particularly given the specialized equipment needed to affect repairs, but understanding more about how their instruments work helps players get the most out of them even if they don’t want to try to make the repairs themselves. [Continue reading]
Personal Essay: What is reality?
In our current world, there is a great deal of effort being expended to bend people’s perceptions of reality to gain personal, organizational, or even national advantage. I’ve written about the dangers of propaganda before, and in modern society with its current technological advancements there are more tools available today than ever before to impose false realities, i.e., to create mythologies. … Taking a step back from current world events, it’s instructive to consider something that Yuval Noah Harari observed. In his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, he introduced the idea of common myths, upon which all of our modern societies are based, suggesting these myths may have primed us all to be open to persuasion in direct conflict with our own observations. [Continue reading]
Profile: Val is making the world a better place through the arts
Every so often we are fortunate to cross paths with somebody with that intangible spark that makes them stand out in a really good way. They bring enthusiasm to all they do, and they inspire others to reach far beyond what seems possible. I ran into such a person some years ago, and I’ve been amazed by what this young fellow has done and continues to do.
I first worked with Val Zvinyatskovsky when he was but 10-years-old. He played the role of Jojo, one of the leads in a youth production of Seussical that I was music directing. This particular group used live orchestras drawn from the greater musician community to give their young actors the privilege and thrill of performing in musicals in a way that would prepare them for potential careers in professional theater. Through the rehearsal process, this young actor stood out as one of the most skilled, prepared, and polished young thespians I’d seen. He not only had all of his lines and blocking down pat long before the cast needed to be off book, but his musical timing was impeccable. He never missed. Even so, it wasn’t until we got into the run of the show that I realized just how accomplished and curious this young man was. [Continue reading]
Fiction: A World Without Lies
As happened most nights, Alex and Rowan Jeffries were having an impassioned discussion over dinner. The twins had been sharing a house for most of their lives, Alex a professor of biochemistry and Rowan a professor of music and religious studies at the same university. Having grown up together and only living separately as university students because they attended different schools in different states, it was both comforting and financially practical to have come together again once their student days were over. Neither had ever been married, and they considered one another perfect roommates. They relied on each other and were the best of friends even though they had a few notable philosophical differences. In fact, those differences often helped them, though they really only differed dramatically in a few areas. In other areas of their lives, they were often in agreement even when their approaches sometimes diverged. This evening, they were engrossed in a discussion in which they agreed for the most part, but differed in application. The subject this evening was honesty, or more directly, the value of truth and dangers of lies. [Continue reading]
Book: REMEMBERING MOM AND DAD
In REMEMBERING MOM AND DAD, I make the jump from analyzing the stories to telling them. The book is a collection of nonfiction essays and short stories written over time remembering Bayla and Jerry Jacobson. The stories include personal recollections from my experience along with the retelling of numerous events related to me in conversations over the years. Some of the stories included are: “Music in the House”, “The Parenthood Plunge”, “The Jacobson Pet Parade”, “Disney Days of Summer”, and many more. Interested?
Purchase the print edition:
- Online on Amazon
- In person at Leigh’s Favorite Books in Sunnyvale, CA
Purchase a digital copy in Kindle or Nook formats.
Read the full Introduction.
3 thoughts on “Home”
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Alexander, in a sense there is a donate button now that A Good Reed Review has joined the affiliate program with Amazon. The products and references that are listed in conjunction with those help to emphasize the subjects we discuss on A Good Reed Review, and they also help us out a little to keep this site free.
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