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  • gilwilson 10:05 PM on January 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , bertold brecht, church doctrine, , galileo, galileo galilei, , , , , science,   

    “The Life of Galileo” by Bertold Brecht (produced by L.A. Theatre Works) 

    Brecht_TheLifeofGalileo

    “The Life of Galileo”
    by Bertold Brecht
    translated by David Hare
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by L. A. Theatre Works
    Approx 2 hours

    I was getting ready to start a couple of audiobooks that were time consumers (any audiobook over 10 hours falls under that label for me). Not only were they long but they were both going to be espionage/government cover-up type stories and those require a huge commitment, especially since I was going to start them both at the same time. Before I tackled those two books, I wanted to listen to something that swallows you into the story, so I reached for one of my favorite go to publishers of audio, L.A. Theatre Works. I have a list of several go to(s) that I know will entertain me. What I like most about LATW is that they are plays that have been performed on stage and the producers take special care to record all the audio so that nothing is missed.

    As a proud owner of a degree in theatre, I have always been aware that theatre is a visual medium, especially if you ask all my theatrical designer friends, but also being a proud owner of a Radio / TV broadcasting degree I know that the theatre of the mind power of radio is a strong power. L.A. Theatre Works takes the time to make sure their performances that are transferred over to an audiobook format take the visual artistry and make it work in an audio format. This is achieved with excellent sound effects, music and of course the great acting. When an actor is describing a prop that is seen by the audience, the production and performance create the image in the listener’s mind that ensures nothing is missed.

    This production features a full-cast performance featuring: Neil Dickson, Roy Dotrice, Jeannie Elias, Jill Gascoine, Stacy Keach, Peter Lavin, Robert Machray, Christopher Neame, Moira Quirk, Darren Richardson, Alan Shearman, Simon Templeman, Joanne Whalley, Matthew Wolf

    What attracted me to this particular production from the vaults of L.A. Theatre Works is that the part of Galileo is played by Stacy Keach. Every performance I’ve ever seen or heard with Mr. Keach, whether comedy or tragedy, he has owned that role. Not so long ago I listened to an LATW performance of “Death of a Salesmen” in which Keach played Willie Loman and that became my favorite performance of that play. I will always be a fan of his.

    This play portrays Galileo Galilei as he shatters the world’s beliefs which have been dictated by the church for two millennia, in that we are not the center of the universe. When Galileo first lays his hands on a telescope and observes that the Earth is one of a few planets in the solar system that revolve around the sun and that the planets and stars are not held in suspension through crystal spheres, as believed by the church, he becomes a target for the Holy Inquisition. Committing such heresy Galileo is made to suffer torture, mentally and physically under the inquisitor. Galileo provides proof that only needs to be observed but the church stands firm.

    In a play that shows how advancements in science are hindered by long held beliefs this production from L.A. Theatre Works, is one that should be heard by anyone seeking truth.

     
  • gilwilson 7:54 PM on February 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , education, gary marcus, guitar, guitar hero, guitar zero, learning, , , , science,   

    “Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning” by Gary Marcus 

    “Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning”by Gary Marcus
    read by (and with music performed by) the author
    published by Penguin Audio
    5 hours and 33 minutes

    I wasn’t really sure what I was in for when I decided to give this book a listen but I’m very glad I did take the time. All my life, I’ve wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument, I’ve tried the guitar, I’ve tried the keyboards (yeah I would say piano, but when I wanted to be in a new wave band, we called them keyboards), I even tried the harmonica. But like the author Gary Marcus, I had a bad sense of rhythm. Even when I tried breakdancing, I was good until the rhythm became an issue. So what’s a fella to do? After all they say that If you want to become a musician you have to start out when you’re younger, because your brain is wired in such a way at younger ages you can learn and absorb. Gary Marcus, is a research psychologist whose work focuses on language, biology, and the mind at New York University, sets out to find out whether that myth is true. Marcus wants to learn guitar and thinking he has no sense of rhythm, he can’t even play the video game “Guitar Hero” without getting booed off the virtual stage.

    What turns out to be one man’s search for whether or not he is too old to learn guitar turns out to be a very unique book that discusses the science of learning and then develops into the science behind music, creativity, thinking and training. As I listened to the book each chapter would engross me more and more when topics would be explored. Marcus used many musical examples and interviews in the revealing process. Some of the items mentioned are how Jimi Hendrix would modify his guitar to make it do what he wanted, how Hendrix spent every living moment with his guitar. How Pat Metheny says he never stops learning and practicing. How Bob Dylan decided to go away from the traditional folk music scene and start writing unique lyrics.

    Lots and lots of great modern music history references as well as examples in studies as to how the mind works and what all is involved in becoming musical. Basically it all comes down to all you folks that play Guitar Hero or even Rock Band and think, “Hey, I can do this for real,” and then go to pick up a real guitar only to get frustrated, Gary Marcus explains why you can press colored buttons in perfect rhythm but may not be able to master a real guitar anytime real soon. First of all the body and the mind have to learn many things. The body needs to learn to press down strings on a fret board in positions the human fingers weren’t meant to be in. There’s also the varying amount of pressure it takes to hold down the strings to get the right sound, the memorization of different notes and chord placements. Then there’s the ear training, what each note sounds like and what notes work with other notes (same with chords). Very different from colored buttons on a plastic guitar mold controller.

    Not only does the author cover the science behind playing instruments but he also discusses the science behind creativity. There is a section when talking about the difference between being musical and being creative where Steve Vai says that while he can play every single not Jimi Hendrix played and make it sound exactly like what Hendrix did, what gets him is how he was able to come up with the ideas in the first place. Which brings up another aspect of being a musician, whether one is born with the ability or if it is learned and if so why are some people more apt to be musical.

    This book is perfect for the professional musician or the novice and better yet for anyone with just the slightest interest in music. Another person that would benefit from this book would be anyone in the education field. So I guess just about anyone would find something in this book that would pique their interest, especially if personal re-invention is in the works and someone is seeking to reach their full potential.

    What I got out of the book is not only the old adage of “practice makes perfect” but how to make that practice more perfect for me.

     
    • Jeff 8:34 PM on February 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I was interested in reading your review of this when I saw you were listening to it. I’ve played guitar since college. In fact, the first good guitar I bought was a cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard similar to the one on the cover. I’ve never tried Guitar Hero as it seemed silly and nothing remotely the same as actual playing. I hope you revisit learning to play guitar, if that’s what interests you. –JEFF

      Like

    • gilwilson 8:49 PM on February 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Jeff, I may try again, especially since I have watched my step-son excel. I had the guitar (an old yamaha classical w/ nylon strings, yeah I wanted the fat fretboard) sitting around gathering dust and my , then 11 year old, step-son asked if he could check it out. Sure, no problem, I was too frustrated w/ my fat fingers and lack of coordination. Jump to now, he turned 19 today, and the “kid” is a musical genius. I watch him play and think wow, could I have done that? Of course he spent every waking moment playing guitar from the time he picked that guitar up to today. Not only did he have the talent but he’s developed it into something phenomenal and out of jealousy I may have to try to learn again. That means I’ll ask him to give me lessons.

      Like

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