Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lazy marketing

I get absurd solicitations pretty frequently with regard to Gongfu Girl, but this most recent one is a classic. The email says:

Hey there,

I'm reaching out to you because [company name] is getting a lot of job leads for kung fu teachers, and I'm looking for another kung fu teacher who is interested in taking on more clients.

After checking out your website I think you are a great fit for [company name] and I'd love to start sending you job leads. Please fill out a few details about your skills and rates, and I'll start forwarding you potential new clients.

If you have any questions about what [company name] can provide, please don't hesitate to ask.


All of the links and names have been removed to protect the guilty party, and to avoid a connection to the actual company involved. My response:

Obviously, you did not in fact "check out" my website or you would not think that I was a Kung Fu teacher. My blog is centered around Gongfu (Kung Fu) Cha, which is a traditional method of preparing and serving Chinese tea.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I took these while I was working on something unrelated...
A cup of tea...



Friday, July 22, 2011

Fire Sermons

Bridges of resonance, not burning (in spite of the fire): classic texts and TS Eliot.

Adittapariyaya Sutta
The Fire Sermon

Translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in Gaya, at Gaya Head, with 1,000 monks. There he addressed the monks:

"Monks, the All is aflame. What All is aflame? The eye is aflame. Forms are aflame. Consciousness at the eye is aflame. Contact at the eye is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I tell you, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Marking the centennial of Alan Hovhaness

"My purpose is to create music not for snobs, but for all people, music which is beautiful and healing. To attempt what old Chinese painters called 'spirit resonance' in melody and sound."
- Alan Hovhaness

2011 is the centennial of the birth of the brilliant and prolific composer, Alan Hovhaness, whose work was profoundly influenced by the landscape of the Pacific Northwest during nearly three decades spent living slightly south of Seattle, in what is now the City of SeaTac. This final period of his illustrious career overlapped his position as Composer-in-Residence with the Seattle Symphony, which he held from 1966 until his death in 2000.

His symphonic works are often programmatic and constructed from lush layers of textured sound. Symphony No. 50, Mount Saint Helens (1982), which I heard performed by the Seattle Symphony earlier this month as part of the Hovhaness Centennial Celebration, is one particularly dramatic example, using mallet percussion, double-reeds and pizzicato strings to great effect.

His chamber music, although lesser known than his symphonic works, is also quite wonderful, exhibiting a range of styles and influences, from Renaissance polyphony to the traditional musical forms of Japan, Korea and the Caucasus Mountains. His Suite for Oboe and Bassoon, from 1949, is one particularly notable selection among many intriguing pieces.

Hovhaness was particularly drawn to mountains, whales and other large, epic elements of the natural world, but any list of his works also reveals an affinity for the smaller and more domesticated natural forms of cats.

But he was not limited to the inspiration he found in the natural world. His Armenian heritage and his explorations of Eastern Orthodox liturgical music had profound impact on his sacred works, which are rich and evocative.

Prayer to Saint Gregory, 1946:

To Hiroshige's Cat (Op 366), 1982:

Excerpted from the Hovhaness website:
"Investigation of Hovhaness’s best music reveals a unique and thoroughly convincing assimilation of highly disparate traditions coming to the fore and receding over the course of his career, including Renaissance polyphony, South Indian classical music, Japanese Gagaku music and Korean Ah-ak music. Of course, many 20th century composers flirted with such exotica, but in Hovhaness they find perhaps the most seamless alchemy of all because it was more than mere flirtation. It was a musical engagement on an aesthetic as well as technical level."
Elbiris (for flute and strings), 1944:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This is not a post about traditional tea culture.

This was taken at Dubsea Coffee in White Center, Washington last weekend.

I did not manipulate the cup to make that ring (which looks suspiciously like a power button) on the table. I just noticed and captured it.