For the Fourth of July: the National Anthem, from “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”

national anthem boy named charlie brown

I’m not terribly patriotic, so I never know what to put here for these patriotic holidays.



Then I remembered this very cute little segment from the 1969 animated movie “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” in which Snoopy manages (with very limited means) a very dramatic presentation of the National Anthem.









I was waiting for the University shuttle the other day, and it was snowing very lightly. The temperature was probably twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit.

And the snowflakes were perfect.

I watched them as they landed on my jacket, one by one. Each was a six-pointed miracle, and all of them were different.

Did you know that you can actually preserve snowflakes? You can use something called Formvar, or even clear acrylic spray paint. If you do it right, you will have perfect little gems that will last forever.

(I first read about this in a children’s magazine in the 1960s. I have always wanted to try it. But I know in my heart that never in a billion years would I ever get something like that to work.)

It’s nice, in any case, to think of nature’s infinite variety: that every snowflake is different from every other snowflake.

Except – surprise! – it’s not true.




The short answer is no. Despite what you may have heard some snowflakes are exactly the same shape and size as other snowflakes.

Of course they are.

Linus and Lucy knew this as long ago as 1963:






Happy (belated) birthday, Ludwig van Beethoven

beethoven schroeder

Beethoven’s birthday was a few days.

How do I know this? Why, the dear late Charles Schulz, of course.

Charles Schulz was the artist behind the comic strip “Peanuts.” He created the character Schroeder, who played his toy piano as if it were a grand piano, and who especially appreciated the music of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Schulz said later that he loved the idea of a child playing real music on a toy piano, and he showed this by showing Schroeder playing the actual (complex) Beethoven scores. You can always identify the music that Schroeder is playing; Schulz reproduces it perfectly, note for note.

And every December Schroeder remembered and celebrated Beethoven’s birthday, on the seventeenth of December.

Was Beethoven really born on the seventeenth of December? No one is sure. He was baptized on the seventeenth, in any case.

In belated honor of Beethoven’s birth (and baptism): the lovely ethereal opening movement of the late E major piano sonata No. 30, op. 109.





I am not feeling much like Christmas this year. My feelings for the holiday have been diminishing for a couple of years now; I used to enjoy decorating, and looking at lights, and giving gifts, and getting gifts in return. Now it’s just a list of things to do: buy a few things, mail some cards, write emails to those people that I’ve been neglecting shamelessly for months now. Partner and I will go away for a few days between Xmas and New Year’s, just for the hell of it, and to break up our routine.

This is exactly the way my parents felt about Christmas when I was a kid. I hated their bad attitude, and swore I’d never be that cynical.

And here we are today.

I have decided, though, that I’m not going to rain on anyone’s parade this year. My mother used to whine and complain about Christmas to anyone who’d listen. I do not intend to follow her example. Why ruin other people’s fun?

Better to light a candle, etc., etc.

But not everyone agrees:


you stupid darkness

For Sunday: the Vince Guaraldi Trio tell you to “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”

Vince Guaraldi, one of the leading figures in the 1960s San Francisco jazz movement, was chosen by the 1960s Charlie Brown animators to write music for their cartoons.

You know “Linus and Lucy”: it’s a classic. You also probably know some of his other music.

But this is a lovely pre-Peanuts piece. It takes me back to my childhood when I hear it.  It won the Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition in 1963. It’s gentle and winsome and very freeing.


For Sunday: “Snoopy,” from “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”


I love this musical, and this song. This is an animated version, and I don’t know the name of the singer; I wish I could have given you the original Broadway version, with Bill Hinnant as Snoopy, but this will do. And the animation is nice.



This is dedicated to all of us who, now and then, need to bite someone.





For Beethoven’s birthday: Sonata in F-sharp major, op. 78, first movement



Beethoven celebrated his 241st birthday this last week. Nobody’s quite sure of the exact day; some people say it was the 16th of December, others the 17th.  Remember Schroeder in “Peanuts”?  He always commemorated it.


Here’s my commemoration: the remarkable first movement of the op. 78 piano sonata in F-sharp major, as fresh today as it was when he wrote it.


Enjoy it.


04_Klaviersonate_Nr._24_Fis-dur_op._78_„A_Therese“-I_Adagio_cantabile_–_Allegro_ma_non_troppo.mp3 Listen on Posterous



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