Two early videos (Hamline lecture, 1998; walkabout in Minnesota and Wisconsin, 2002)


I have finally converted and uploaded two big video files that I made in Minneapolis when I was living there.

The first is a lecture (57 minutes) that I gave at Hamline University in St. Paul MN on February 25, 1998, on the Liberty Channel in Minneapolis, while still on crutches from my hip fracture.  The lecture outlines the concepts in the “Do Ask, Do Tell: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back: book (1997, 2000).

The URL is here.

I would give a similar lecture at the University of Minnesota on March 31, 1999.

The second film (33 minutes) is a hodgepodge of soliloquies and little walks taken with a Sony camera in 2002, in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  I sent it to the late Gode Davis (“American Lynching”) and he was not that impressed, well technically.  I will probably do some work on this in Final Cut Pro.  The link is here. I do think a lot of ideas here are still pertinent today (even the stuff about maintaining freedoms in the face of terrorism and “asymmetric warfare”.

This is VERY independent film.

See also the earlier post Feb. 16, 2014.

(Published Monday Nov. 30, 2015 at 7 PM EST)


The “miniatures” in my piano composition output — a plan for eventual publication


It’s time to provide an update on my music composition work.

Back in the early 1970s I sketched out a “symphony” in five movements that would have a lot of short voice (mostly solo) episodes interpersed with orchestra — not exactly “Das Lied …” (Mahler) but maybe distant related.  Some of this got sketched manually while I rode Eurailpass trains over northern Europe in the summer of 1972 (especially on the train from Kiruna back to Stockholm).


There are several “self-contained” little episodes in this mix that could be presented or published and played on the piano as distinct pieces, ranging in length up to about 4 minutes each.

There is a page where I summarize my music output to date.  It’s likely to be replaced eventually, but here it is for now, link.

The pieces that I would proposed to publish would be


SU102 “Fanfare” preceded by a prologue mostly in eighth notes, tempo accelerating (not shown yet), 2 min,

SU506Bf,  an Andantino in B-flat minor, 4 min, tends to use a base line from the SU102 piece (whose ideas set the tone for all the pieces).  The piece will resolve quietly in B-flat major with some harmonic experiments, toward simplification  (MP3 shown). This had been conceived as a vocal song called “Losing It”.

SU601G:  Adagio Placido in G Major.  2:47, MP3 shown

SU602Ef:  Andante, E-flat Major, rather chromatic, 2:10 MP3 shown

Su603Af:  Andante, A-flat Major, could be a trio to 602 or stand alone  2 min

SU604Df  Hymn, D-flat Major  2 min


(Not shown)  Moderato, E-flat Major

There is also a 2-minute “Adagio Religioso” in B Major, called “Chorale Theme” near the top of the link shown there, that is in relatively presentable shape.  That appears as a “middle section” episode in the slow movement (third) of the currently planned Sonata 3.


I’ll take a stab at predicting how this will affect the completion of the Sonata 3, mainly the Finale.

The Finale starts (in C “Major”, more or less) with some scale-like passages the quickly move to a playful toccata-like, fugato-like piece, with some vague references to an idea in the last movement of the Mahler 5th.  The music tends to slow down a little, then goes into a self-parody, introducing a minuet-like theme from the 1972 work (not shown here), and possibly an allegretto theme in 3/8 vaguely like the gentle “waltz” that provides the finale of the Beethoven Tempest Sonata.  All of this is more or less an “Exposition” of a first theme group, with a lot of ideas.  There is a question as to whether scherzo-like material can lead to a climax (although Rachmaninoff does it in his Second Piano Concerto, and Eugen D’Albert accomplishes this with the stunning conclusion of his little known First Piano Concerto, a teen composition).

There is an extended, very chromatic hymn theme in F# Major, which I call the “Hold Applause” theme which came to me in a dream.  It would be possible to construct it as a separate piece, and it would be singable as a church hymn, except for the constant tonality changes, going through intervals of minor thirds to finally circle back to F#.  There is a vague similarity to the Chopin A Major Polonaise Militaire, but I don’t want a salon effect.

Instead of a conventional development, there will be a “middle section” stringing together the themes from the pieces above (starting with a condensed version of SU102, sped up, to provide a reference for what follows).  In counterpoint, the fugato theme will dance around constantly, with the materials above providing “ground bass” material, but with less repetition than in a lot of modern music based on the idea.  The music will grow more dense and work up to an unresolved dissonance.  Toward the end of this section, the four-chord theme that open’s Scriabin’s “Black Mass” would be referenced, followed by some material (in toccata style)

There will follow a candenza, starting leggerio, fighting off being dragged down by a new element, a transplant of the “octave theme” from the Bruckner Ninth, while a little of the fugato is “recapitulated”.  It will mount to an even more desperate unresolved dissonance, before the “big tune” F# Major Theme appears, which must find its way back a tritone away, to C Major.

There will be one more brief slowdown to pianissimo (faking those who like quiet endings), and an allusion to the dissonance, in C# Minor, before suddenly resolving to C Major and staying there for a grand conclusion.  In about 16 measures the rising theme from the Bruckner 7th plays once, as well as the controversial “Hallelujah” motive (from the “unfinished” Bruckner Ninth) in the treble, on top of the toccata stuff, before the music crashes FFF on two C Major chords, and one more reference to the Applause.

Note that on that file, the Sonatas 2 and 3 are in handwritten PDF format.  Sonata 2 is in reasonably readable shape.

I will look into products that might make this flip on the iPad. For example, there is a free PDF Page Flip Reader

(Published: Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 at 11 PM EST)






Informative videos showing what Europa and Titan would look like if we were there


The Open University has a series on Moons in the Solar System, and two of them are particularly interesting

Video 1 is about Europa, the moon of Jupiter that is covered with an ice sheet and is likely to have a 60-kilometer deep ocean heated by tidal friction.

Europa has been considered by some astronomers as the most likely other place (besides Mars) in the solar system to have (underwater) life. But Ganymede may have a similar structure, and possibly even Callisto.

In the movie “2010: A Space Odyssey” (based on Arthur C. Clarke’s novel), aliens convert a “leprous” Jupiter to a sun, so that Europa, which is to be left alone, to another earth.

In the 2014 movie “Europa Report” and undersea creature releases the Earth’s spacecraft so it can go home.


Above is a NASA artist’s idea of what a cryobot might see in the Europa ocean (P.d., wikipedia attribution link).


The Video number 3 in the series is about Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, and the only one in the atmosphere with an atmosphere.

The Cassini space proble landed the component Huygens on Titan’s surface in early 2005.


The moon, larger than Mercury about with about 1/6 the gravity of Earth, features methane seas and rain, and low ridges and plains of sandy material.  The atmosphere contains thiols, which contain organic materials that could constitute precursors to bacteria-like organisms.  Most artists conceptions show an orange sky that is surprisingly bright with reflected light from Saturn.

Titan also appears to have an under-surface water layer, which could conceivably harbor life in a manner similar to Europa.


Above is the public domain photo of the Titan surface from Huygens (NASA), wikipedia attribution here.


Above is a NASA artist’s drawing of what a balloon landing on Titan could look like, Wikipedia attribution here.

There is an 84-minute NASA lecture on YouTube.

My own unfinished script “69 Minutes to Titan” (about the length of time light would take to reach it)  views Titan as a place that could be settled by “angels” (earlier descriptive link, March 4, 2014; old treatment); and my “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” also imagines a space station on Titan.  Here’s a script for a little short film “Suprisie Planet” or “Welcome to Titan”, link.

(Published Thursday Nov. 12 2015 at 1:45 PM EST)

Videos on Brown Mountain, Road to Nowhere, and Cumberland Gap Tunnel


I had meant to get to Brown Mountain in North Carolina last month but couldn’t fit in the time for days away, so I did a few one-day trips nearer.  I’ll try to visit it in the early Spring 2016 after daylight savings returns and snow is melted.

I visited the general area in July 2013, driving through the Smokies from Charlotte and Hickory to (eventually) Oak Ridge, TN.  I drove up NC 226, the next highway to the West.  The pictures here are a close as I got to Brown Mountain.  Had I known more about the subject then, I would have chosen the 181 route.


Brown Mountain is a ridge that extends somewhat perpendicular to the Blue Ridge, on the county line between Burke and Caldwell counties.  Linville Gorge is to the north, and the nearest town is Morganton, with a viewing overlook on Highway 181.  It’s a fairly easy drive for people in the Charlotte area, and the server farms of Apple and Google, around Hickory, are not far away.

The ridge typically runs around 2800 feet, with many sharp rocks and crags.  It somewhat resembles Old Rag in Virginia (80 miles from Washington DC), which has a similar relationship to the Blue Ridge by jutting out to the southeast.  The lights, which may have a reddish hue (like a “red shift”) often appear below the ridge top and may rise above somewhat, but they are usually not “high in the sky” like most UFO sightings.

There is a local cable TV episode in “Carl White’s Life in the Carolinas” called “The Mystery of the Brown Mountain Lights” (21 minutes without commercials), by LITCTV, from March 2015.

This episode cuts through the UFO myths and gets to the science.  The most likely explanation is that magnetite and certain forms of quartz (which has pizo-electric properties) occur together in the same area.  Heavy rain can dissolve tannic acid in fallen leaves.  The resulting reactions seem to release phosphorescent gas (with some sulfur compounds) which some say can resembled ball lightning (which normally would occur only in thunderstorms, not in the late fall when these lights are most likely to be seen).

Quartz (including blue quartz) and Magnetite occur in many locations in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge and valleys in both Virginia and North Carolina, but not usually in exactly the same place, as is the case on Brown Mountain.  Another area with similar deposits may be the Blue Ridge east of Wytheville VA, another area with supposed UFO sightings (especially in the late 1980s).  The Appomattox area NE of Lynchburg may be another such location.  Roberts Mountain SW if Charlotteville may have attracted the Monroe Institute as a location for similar reasons.  This sort of “pseudo-ball-lightning”, which seems harmless, may sometimes be seen at other locations in both states.

The Brown Mountain lights became the subject of a film “Alien Abduction” by Matty Beckerman, reviewed by me on Blogger in Aug. 2014, here.

Another attraction in the “Tarheel State” is “The Road to Nowhere: Abandoned Mountain Tunnel“, itself the subject of a mystery film by Monte Hellman, reviewed by me in July 2012 here.  This was an unfinished highway project near Bryson City NC and Lake Fontana, itself a location in “A Walk in the Woods” (by Kewn Kwapis, review link).   A filmmaker (who sponsors “Adam the Woo” on Tumblr) has a walk through the tunnel at the end of an obscure road.  It looks like it is about 3000 feet long (a little shorter than the Paw-Paw tunnel on the C&O Canal in Maryland, and much shorter than the Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnels).

Finally, let me share the fact that I visited the Cumberland Gap in February 1990, 500 miles from DC, in a rental car from Johnson City TN, on a gratuitous weekend trip.  That was before the tunnel on 25E was finished.  The construction of a tunnel, at 1600 feet elevation, to go under a 500 foot ridge seems gratuitous, when you consider that the Pennsylvania Turnpike took out the Sideling Hill, Rays Hill, and Laurel Hill tunnels in the 60s, and may take out Allegheny Mountain by 2020 (story).  In Maryland, officials made a 350 foot cut in Sideling Hill rather than build a tunnel on I-68 near Hancock MD. I prefer tunnels to “mountaintop removal”.



Here’s the “Cumberland Gap Tunnel”, simultaneous north and south approaches, filmed by Michael Kincaid.

(Published Wednesday Nov. 4, 2015 at 1 PM EST)