Monthly Archives: May 2016

Mind Your PDQs

Mind Your PDQs

During my senior year in high school, I took a music appreciation class, and that’s when I was introduced to the work of composer and musical satirist, Peter Schickele, and his alter ego, P.D.Q. Bach, the lesser known and highly controversial offspring of Johann Sebastian. Now, this was in the days before videos; Mr. Grammer, our teacher, put a vinyl LP on the phonograph, and this is what we heard:


Photo by Peter Hummers; cropped

Schickele was born on July 17, 1935, and attended Swarthmore College and Julliard School of Music (where he also taught). The music of Spike Jones was an early influence.

A prolific composer in his own right, Schickele is perhaps most famous as the musicology professor at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople who discovered the manuscripts of the black sheep of the Bach family.

For more than fifty years, Schickele has been delighting audiences with his compositions that sound vaguely familiar…

Anyone who knows a little bit about classical music will find themselves chuckling with recognition while listening to P.D.Q. Bach’s pieces. For example, any piano student who worked through the elder Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier will appreciate the Short-Tempered version:

For everyone who’s ever sung in a Madrigal ensemble:

The elder Bach was a devout Lutheran. No doubt, so was P.D.Q., if the O.K. Chorale is any indication.

Opera lovers (and haters) will appreciate this excerpt:

P.D.Q. Bach was a great innovator, often inventing instruments to produce the sounds in his tortured imagination:

To get a little bit of insight into Peter Schickele’s mind and process, watch this interview:

Are you already familiar with the works of P.D.Q. Bach? What’s your favorite of his pieces? Please share in the comments below.

To learn more about Peter Schickele and P.D.Q. Bach, search YouTube or go to their official website.

Monday Morning Wisdom #52

Monday Morning Wisdom #52


From the Creator’s Heart #48


Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy (Psalm 33: 1-3 NIV).


A Snippet of The Unicornologist, Chapter 5

A Snippet of The Unicornologist, Chapter 5


It’s time for Weekend Writing Warriors! Every Sunday, a bunch of writers post 8-10-sentence snippets from their WIPs on their blogs. There’s a lot of reading, commenting and great writing. Click on the link to see the full list.

The setting is New Jersey in June, 1967–back in the days when MacDonald’s had no inside dining room. Dave and Beth (two of the antagonists) are on their first date.

            Dave paid for the shakes and handed one to Beth. They poked their straws through the crosscuts on the lids and sucked down their first sips of the sweet, thick, frosty confection. “Mmmm. I love MacDonald’s shakes. This is nice. Thank you for inviting me.”

            “You’re welcome. I’ve wanted to ask you out ever since I saw you at the first Silent Spring discussion at the library.” Dave gave Beth his best movie star smile as he led her back to his Chevy C10 pickup and opened the door for her, so they could continue enjoying their shakes in comfort, rather than sitting on the hard benches built into MacDonald’s exterior walls.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 5? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please leave your comments below.

Can You Draw a Duck?

Can You Draw a Duck?

Did you know that the United States government sponsors an annual art competition? If you think it’s under the auspices of the National Endowment for the Arts, though, you’re wrong. It’s actually an outgrowth of the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the Department of the Interior.

Once upon a time, North America teemed with wildlife. But soon after settlers from across the seas intruded, native birds, animals, fish, and vegetation began to decline. Some were killed outright by hunters, for food and other products, such as feathers for fashion and leather for shoes. Others died when their habitat turned into farmland, housing developments, and industrial centers.

duck-illustrationBy 1934, loss of wildlife assumed epidemic proportions with many species driven to extinction. In order to promote conservation, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, designed to stop the destruction of wetlands vital to migratory waterfowl. Under the act, all waterfowl hunters 16 years of age and over must annually buy and carry a Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp–better known today as a Federal Duck Stamp.

Ninety-eight cents of every duck stamp dollar goes directly into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to purchase or lease land for inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System. This ensures there will be land for wildlife that will be protected for generations to come.

Since 1934, $800 million from stamp sales has gone into that fund to protect more than 6.5 million acres of habitat. One of the reasons for the Duck Stamp’s success is that anyone can buy the stamp, which can also be used as an annual “pass” to national wildlife refuges charging entrance fees.

Conservationists buy duck stamps to support the effort, knowing that virtually all the money will go directly toward conserving habitat. Stamp collectors purchase the stamp anticipating increases in value. Hunters willingly pay the stamp price to ensure the survival of our natural resources. And many hunters buy two duck stamps each year–one to comply with the regulation, and one as a collector’s item and an additional contribution to conservation.


The very first Federal Duck Stamp in 1943 featured a design by Jay N. “Ding” Darling. For the next few years, noted wildlife artists were invited to submit designs to be considered for the stamp. In 1949, the Fish and Wildlife Service established a contest to determine the stamp image. See last year’s winners here. Realism (think John James Audubon) seems to be a plus with the judges.

The current Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Art Contest is open to all U.S. citizens, nationals, and resident aliens who are at least 18 years of age by June 1, 2016.

We’re dealing with the government, so there are lots of federal guidelines. Complete information, entry forms, and regulations can be found here.

But I’ll summarize them:

Five or fewer species of waterfowl are selected each year and one of these is required to be the dominant feature of your entry (defined as being in the foreground and clearly the focus of attention). The waterfowl species eligible in 2016 are:

  • Brant
  • Canada goose
  • Northern shoveler
  • Red-breasted merganser
  • Steller’s eider

The design must be the contestant’s original hand-drawn creation. The entry may be in any media EXCEPT photography or computer-generated art. Each entry must be 7″ x 10″ and matted over with bright white matting. The matting must be 1″ wide.

The deadline is fast approaching. Artists may submit their artwork and entry fee beginning on June 1, 2016. No early entries will be accepted. All artwork must be postmarked no later than midnight Aug. 15, 2016.

What does the winner get? No money. Basically, just bragging rights. And yet, competition is fierce. Last year 157 entrees were accepted. You can see them all here.

Will you enter? Share in the comments below if you’re going for it.





One of the beautiful hotels in Waikiki–but not the one where we stayed. My entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge with the prompt: architecture.

Photograph © by Andrea R Huelsenbeck

In the Meme Time: Arting a Living

In the Meme Time: Arting a Living

Found on Twitter:

Earn a Living