June 30

Ancient Spring Rituals Involving Music and Rhythm

ae20Yes, the ancient Spring rituals probably included chanting, drumming, dancing/movement. Many anthropologists and ethnomusicologists believe that early humans’ attempts at what we now call music, came from their attempts to imitate the sounds of nature. The wind through the pines and the palms, the waves lapping the shore, the babbling brooks, and the gentle rain. Then there are the beautiful bird songs, the crickets chirping, and all of the cicadas.

Recently, I’ve been marvelling once again about the glorious beauty of Spring, and how a few little bulbs can keep coming up year after year after year! The flowers and trees in Louisville, KY have truly outdone themselves this year and every time I step outside my home, my breath is taken away by the beauty of the white Bradford pear trees, the golden forsythia, and the gorgeous tulips and daffodils. I’m assuming that these plants have been popping up for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, but did you know that music, singing, dancing, and rhythm have also been an integral part of Spring festivities?

For thousands of years, people have celebrated the return of Spring. After hard and cruel winters, in ancient times, many people could not and did not survive. With the first green leaf, and the first sighting of a robin, it’s not hard to imagine that people were quite ecstatic. How did they celebrate? We know from drawings on cave walls that ancient people played drums, flutes, sang and danced! We can imagine that this was done both individually as well as in small groups and large groups… just like now! One of the most famous pieces of Western classical music in the 20th century is Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” The story goes that people were so enraged at the dissonance in the composition that they literally rioted in the concert hall that night! Of course “The Rite of Spring” is now a staple in the modern concert repertoire.

One of the most ancient symbols of Spring is the egg, probably one of the reasons that the Easter bunny brings beautiful, decorated eggs! Legend has it that on the day of the Spring equinox, somewhere between March 19-21, is the only day of the year that an egg can stand up on its end! That is definitely not true.

Again, legend has it that the phoenix earned its famous immortality by refusing to eat from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. Every 500 years, the bird is said to create a nest of herbs and spices, rest on it, and set itself on fire. After the fire dies down, an egg laid by the phoenix is found among the ashes. The egg hatches, and the phoenix emerges, resurrected. However you choose to celebrate Spring, be sure to enjoy some music as an integral part of it! Spring Legends

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June 20

A Rainbow of Book Club Personalities

ae19“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.” Abraham Lincoln

There are many types of book club friends. Different book personalities (and I mean book personalities not daily personas) that make a book club so entertaining and thought provoking. Every book friend brings an interesting spin at discussion time. Some personalities are down right funny and others take some time to adjust to. Even with the ‘rainbow’ of reading personalities let this be your pledge,”We will always be good listeners, non-interrupters, respectful of comments, and finally, embrace our book natures”. If you follow that oath you will find at the end of the rainbow ‘reading as a group’ pot of gold.

Classifying the book type:

The Classic Austen: Prefers to read only novels from the 1800’s

The Flower Child: Wants to change the world in their reading and picks books that, well, will change the world

The Debbie Downer: Likes novels with no HEA (happy ever after)

The Fighter: Will fight to the end to get their book choice picked

The One Hit Wonder: Only loves one or two authors and be damned all others

The YA’er: Can’t seem to grow out of the young adult section (moderation is the key)

The Modern Reader: Any book that is not a new release is not worth reading

The One Up Ya: I read that book, I read that book, wash rinse, repeat

Goldilocks: The book pick is too short, too long or too old

Question’er: Is it depressing? When was it written? Easy read? Hard read? Who picked this book again?

All book club personalities are special and should be celebrated! If you understand that than your book club will last for years to come. What other, ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ book personas do you see in your group?

Paperback, e-reader or both?

In our group we have ‘the purist’, ‘the e-reader enthusiast’ and whichever is the less expensive copy, ‘the economist’. ‘The purist’ only purchase paperback or hardcover editions. They come to book club with their novel filled with sticky notes and pages marked with a pencil. ‘The e-reader enthusiast’ arrive with their e-books and all comments highlighted on their Kindle. Last, ‘the economist’ will purchase paperback, hardcover or even an e-book all depending on the best price. Those of us that own e-readers agree that being able to add margin notes that can be edited, highlighting important passages and using the built in dictionary (Jane Eyre anyone?) is worth breaking away from a paperback book now and then.

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June 14

How to Become a Model 4 Versatile Tips

ae18When you are first starting out, you will face a very intense competition. It is about how to keep up with others, how to keep up the pace, and most importantly and I cannot stress this enough, is how you have to be different from others, in a good way. If you are outstanding and unique, chances are, you are more likely to be chosen for projects. So the following are some pointers as to how you can become a model, hopefully a versatile one.

1) Keeping fit and staying in good shape

You cannot always eat what you want to eat; you need to ponder about your diet to make sure you stay in shape. A few pounds heavier could shun off potential projects and that is the last thing you want. Modeling agencies and their clients look for models who are fit and in shape, so that they will be suitable to appeal to the big crowd. Moreover, keeping fit and maintaining a good shape will increase your versatility in landing projects. You could be on a fashion runway, sporting commercial and even projects which involve promoting healthy lifestyle; this is why it is so important to stay fit.

2) Be cool about facing ups and downs

The modeling path is always not going to be a smooth-sailing; you will face all sorts of people, events and scenarios. Harsh criticism, rejections and disapprovals will be inevitable, but in reality, you just have to swallow it down and continue improving. Be tough, stay strong and listen to feedback to improve or survive in this industry. Once you have experienced all sorts of drama, nothing will scare you anymore, and that is how you increase your versatility because you are willing to listen to advice/comments and accomplish the task required.

3) Enrich your life and broaden your horizon

To become a model and especially a unique art piece, you need to experience and learn different things that can distinguish yourself from the rest. If you are into sports and exercising, try out different sports, go for the extreme and even the common ones, learn them, know the basics, and know how the game is played. If you are into fashion, learn about the different brands, or learn about the various types of design and the latest trend. The possibilities are limitless and sky-high, so go for it, expose yourself to different platforms, allow your inner soul to be immersed and share the experiences. Trust me, you will not regret.

4) Maintain your appearance

Your hair, your skin and your teeth, etc are some of the most important physical appearances for you to appeal to the clients and the general public. Imagine a model with unkempt and poor hair condition, small breakouts and blemishes on her face and untidy teeth with plaque. How can he or she score projects with such untidy shape? So maintain your appearance, keep your face flawless, tidy up your hair and practice good oral hygiene, because that is how you appeal and stand out.

Just to sum up, of course I am not saying that these pointers will guarantee you to become a model or even a mainstream one, but it is better than nothing right? At least I hope that you have gain some insights about how to become a model from this article and also the fact that modeling is not as easy as you think. Bear in mind, be bold, be unique and be special.

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June 4

Making a Portrait Cast With Life Casting

ae17Making a life cast of any part of the live human body is a complex and interesting project. However, a life cast cannot get more intricate, and therefore more enjoyable, as making a portrait cast.

This is a three dimensional cast of the head, shoulders and chest of a person and is also called a bust. It involves an elaborate and multifaceted process that calls for a lot of experience and skills. Life casting artists first try their hand at various life casts and make numerous face casts before even attempting to make a portrait casting!

How to do it?

Portrait casts require special care because the artist is making a mold of both the front and back of the model’s face. They have to carefully capture the exact shape and dimensions of the nose, ears, eyes and chin. Extra caution is required so as not to disturb or harm the model in any manner whatsoever.

Generally, alginate is the mold making material of choice for life casts. It has to be reinforced with a shell mold of cheese cloth and plaster bandages that will make the mold firm and enable it to retain its shape.

Numerous challenges arise on the horizon – from keeping the nostrils open to applying the mold material around the eye areas and more. The artist has to watch out for air pockets, carefully replicate the hair and much more.

The model has to stay calm and relaxed throughout the process because any kind of negative expression or disturbance will be clearly visible in the mold.

Demolding from the model is relatively easy and inserting a finger or simply wiggling the face will do the trick. The face mold has to be corrected, finished and cleaned properly before moving ahead.

The back of the head, neck and shoulders also have to be similarly captured in body molds. It is a multipart mold with the various parts being carefully joined together to form a complete mold of the upper part of the body.

Moving to the casting, it can be done with plaster, polyurethanes or silicone rubber. This has to be done soon as the alginate mold tends to shrink with time. It can even get distorted. Once a thick coat of the casting material is applied properly into all the nooks and crevices of the mold, it should be left to cure properly. The cast will have to be backfilled with foam or other filler to get the desired feel and weight. Then comes the task of sculpting the eyes, hair and finishing the cast. Later on, the finished bust can be cast in stone or even in metal in a foundry.

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