Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Left My Phone In Barcelona


            
           When you've worked for the FBI, you come to accept that people sometimes expect you to possess powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Sometimes I expected it myself, at least in hindsight. But among friends I've heard, more than once, "I still can't believe you were an FBI Agent." Well, that makes two of us.
            Part of the problem stems from being, at my core, naturally trusting of others while doubting my own skills. The trusting part might come as a shock to some that know me but it's true and probably genetic. My father, who prided himself on his business sense, was nonetheless the most easily cheated person I've ever known. Most of the cars he ever bought, mainly from people he knew, were astonishing lemons yet I never heard him express hostility toward any of the sellers. It never even occurred to him that he might have been had. My mother was even more naive. I think they both had the attitude that everybody thought and acted as they did. They wouldn't think of taking advantage of anyone, least of all someone they knew, and neither would anyone else. I've learned otherwise, the hard way, but it hasn't caused the complete suppression of my natural inclinations and there have been occasional lapses of vigilance. I mention all this as a means of defending myself, in my own mind at least, for being robbed by a couple of goddamned street thieves in Barcelona.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Trombone 102, Are You Man Enough?


Melba Liston

            My last post was about the trombone studio recital at the Conservatoire in Bordeaux and some of the difficulties these young kids were going to face in wrestling with their new horn. The group included a number of girls and this post is for them.
            Not surprisingly, the trombone was not the first choice for most people who end up playing it. I'm not sure I even knew what it was when one was handed to me in fourth grade. And my bet is that even in France, kids showing up for band without an instrument are steered to a trombone. But for a boy it is at least not a girly horn. How they get little girls to play it is beyond me.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Trombone 101


            Last Saturday night, thanks to Alan, a Welsh ex-pat and my new trombone brother, I went to the trombone studio recital at the Conservatory here in Bordeaux. Considering the name of this blog and the picture hereon featuring me holding one I figured it was about time I wrote something about playing the trombone and this recital reminded me of a few things.
            The first was that I have no idea how to take a decent picture with an iphone or if it's even possible. The inspiration for this post occurred to me early in the recital so I thought it might be nice to have a picture or two to illustrate my points. The one you see here is the absolute best of the lot so I'm adding cell phone photography to the list of things at which I'm incompetent.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Driving Mademoiselle Cynthia


© 2013 Cynthia Hinson
            As you might recall, the last post ended with a thought about the type of car we might eventually buy.

             The last cars we had in the States were a Lincoln LS and a Fiat 500. We bought the Fiat thinking that it might be easier and cheaper to take a car with us, an idea that turned out to be one of the most stupid I ever had. And to get the 500, I had to give up my Mazdaspeed6 (MPS in Europe), which Cynthia was not sorry to see go. Even under the best conditions, I'm not a patient driver with the added curse of a lead foot. The Mazda was only the second car I owned that I really wanted (The first was the '65 GTO I bought a frightening 42 years ago at the age of 18) and I drove it like the name suggested I should. At 18 this is expected of you but at nearly 60 it borders on pathetic and stupid, even if it's still damn fun. This will not be an issue here, especially since most of what is sensibly priced runs on diesel.
            Unlike the Mercedes-Benzes, BMWs and other European makes in the U.S., the average car driven in Europe is an underpowered slug, probably because the price of fuel has always been so high. Remember when we saw Monty Python or Upstairs, Downstairs on PBS, thought all British TV was like that and lamented that we couldn't get it here? The reality was that what we got was the best they had and almost everything else was mediocre to down right awful crap. So it is with European cars and it's hard to decide what to buy.