Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Memorial to Maria Fleuette DeGuzman


While reading the Sunday paper this morning, I was shocked to discover that Maria Fleuette DeGuzman had passed away last week, from "complications of a heart attack," according to the obituary. Here's that article (if you can't read it, click on the image to see it enlarged):


I really like how Maria is described here as "a vibrant, compassionate woman whose infectious (though sometimes excessive) enthusiasm was thoroughly enjoyed by those privileged to know her. An avid artist and writer, her unique creativity spilled into all aspects of her life." I didn't know Maria very well, but as much as I remember, that's her to a T.

I first met Maria at a poetry reading I gave in Cedar Falls . . . it's a bit fuzzy now, but I'm guessing it would have been in the mid- to late '90s. She had come to hear me read partly because I am Filipino American, and Maria had been married to a Filipino. In any case, we would often run into each other at literary and arts events. We always had lively conversations — that's the way it always was with Maria: everything was always lively and exciting around her — conversations about poetry and art and sometimes Filipino matters. After her family moved to New Jersey in 2004, we lost touch for some time, but then Maria found me on facebook, and we resumed those lively conversations electronically.

I'm writing about Maria today because I'd like to introduce you to her art and writing. She kept three blogs and they are a wonderful way to get to know her. Check them out. In them you'll enjoy her impassioned personality: fun, effervescent, volcanic, devoted to literature, the arts, and social justice.

First, "The Big Life" at http://lavidagorda.blogspot.com . . .


Second, "theBIGlife Calendars" at http://biglifecalendars.blogspot.com . . .


Third, "DAMN THE MAN!" at http://madasshell.blogspot.com . . .


I'm tempted to say her art and writing resemble the work of Lynda Barry — a Filipino American artist, incidentally, part Filipino — but while there are resemblances, Maria had an interestingly refreshing perspective as a writer and artist that was very much her own.

I won't say any more about Maria's work here. I'd love to hear what you think. Please leave me a comment below. You can also visit Maria's facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1509368934, which has now become a tribute page. (You might have to log in to facebook to see this.)

RIP, Maria Fleuette DeGuzman. You'll be very sorely missed, indeed, Maria.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Google Doodle 4 Les Paul


Friends, today is Les Paul's birthday. He was born 9 June 1915 so he would have been 96 today.

For those of you who may not know Les Paul, he was a truly influential visionary in the guitar world. Wikipedia calls him "an American jazz and country guitarist, songwriter and inventor. He was a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar which 'made the sound of rock and roll possible.'" Amen to that and more.

You may know of the legendary Gibson electric guitar named after Les Paul; in the picture to the right, the man himself is playing one of those guitars. So what you're seeing is Les Paul playing a Les Paul at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City in 2008.

In celebration of Les Paul's birthday, Google has created an interactive logo for today that can be played like a guitar, using your mouse to strum! Push the black button below the logo, and try playing the keys on your keyboard, especially the number keys.

If you're in the US, pushing that black button will also allow you to record 30 seconds of what you plink and plunk, then play it back! After you finish recording, you'll see a web address show up below the logo. You can copy that and send it to people to play in their own browsers. AMAZING! Google, you rock.



Here's the skinny on today's interactive Google logo (or "doodle") . . . http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/doodle-for-instrumental-inventor.html. The designer of the logo is Alexander Chen. If you go to that blog post, make sure to play the tune Chen wrote to be played on the logo. Wow.

On a less musically impressive note (sorry, bad pun there), try playing this on your number keys (the ones above the letters, not the keypad):
5 3 1 3 5 8   0 9 8 3 4 5   5 5 0 9 8 7   6 7 8 8 5 3 1
Yup, 4 is off (should be "4-sharp" — a half-step between 4 and 5, that is) but hey, it's still pretty tremendous. And patriotic.

Okay, all for now. Have fun playing the Les Paul Google Doodle.


The photo of Les Paul was taken by Thomas Faivre-Duboz, and is licensed
under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


Added 11 June 2011: The Les Paul Google Doodle has now moved from the main Google page to the Doodle archive. Click on the link next to the date above the doodle.

I've fixed the links in the text above to work properly (i.e., to jump to the archived doodle).

Oh, also, Alexander Chen's lovely demo tune in the Googleblog page linked above will play properly as well, so go listen to it again.

In any case, we can all keep playing and recording on the Les Paul doodle. Thanks, Google!


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