An Interview with Dulcimer Players Patricia Delich and Wayne Jiang

[Article by Michaela Elias]

It is said that sometimes the greatest pleasures in life are the simple ones. While a guitar has six strings, and a piano has numerous scales, the dulcimer has a mere three strings and a single scale. So why bother? You may ask. What is the appeal of the simple dulcimer, especially when it can only be played in a few keys, making it difficult to play with other instruments? Why would anyone take up the dulcimer when they have the choice of a more complex versatile instrument like the guitar? But in its simplicity, the dulcimer, which resembles the guitar and is basically played in the same manner, is both charming and accessible.

Wayne Jiang and Patricia Delich are two dulcimer players in the process of documenting the Dulcimer Renaissance in the 1970s. “If it was 1940, you probably wouldn’t have heard of a dulcimer because when it first surfaced outside of the Appalachian Mountains, it was rarely seen,” note Wayne and Patricia. But the light, melodic sound of the dulcimer did not go unrecognized for long. As more and more people started playing the dulcimer, the once obscure instrument gained popularity, picking up during the folk revivals in the late fifties and early sixties. “Every dulcimer has its own sound and personality and it’s a joy to see the variations of dulcimers,” say Patricia and Wayne. “The creativity and craftsmanship in dulcimer building is constantly evolving. There is no wrong way to make or play the dulcimer. If it sounds good and works for you that’s what you do.” Wayne and Patricia have seen every shape of dulcimer with various shapes of sound holes from hearts to butterflies to birds and they have their own incredible collection of dulcimers which they have acquired from places like eBay.

To inquire about this article, contact Michaela Elias at mitabe@optonline.net.

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A Conversation With Sarah Katherine Lewis About Her Self-Published Book “My Boring-Ass Rehab Diary”

[Article by Tapati McDaniels]

I enjoyed reading Sarah Katherine Lewis’ previous books, Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire and Sex and Bacon: Why I Love Things That Are Very, Very Bad For Me, so I was delighted to read her new, self-published book in .pdf format, My Boring-Ass Rehab Diary.* I wasn’t disappointed. It was so engrossing that I felt like she was in the room and I wanted to ask her questions. I’ve become acquainted with her over the last few years online and realized, why not? I can do an interview. The result was a ninety minute conversation by phone where we realized we talk entirely too much. Perhaps there’s a rehab program?

TSM I sent you the first question in advance because as I was reading some of your problems with the paradigm they were operating under I found myself wondering, if you could be in charge of a program, how would you redesign it?

SKL [sigh] Yeah and I thought that was such a great question and I’ve been thinking about it since you sent it to me. I don’t know how I would design a program because I think one of the genius things about the 12-step program is that it’s like McDonalds and there are franchises everywhere and even if what they’re offering is not delicious to everyone it’s at least acceptable. You could be anywhere in the world and you can go in and buy a Big Mac and be pretty sure of what you’re getting.

I think that kind of consistency is really helpful to some people. It’s not something that I seem to need but when people get into addiction one of the things that happens is that their lives become really chaotic and at the same time they feel like they have less control over their lives, and so there’s this thing that you can choose to do wherever you are, you can go to it pretty much at any hour of the day and it’s pretty much the same. It seems to me that would be grounding no matter what the activity was. It could just as easily be, you could come out and go bowling for an hour, or come out and press flowers for an hour. I don’t think the activity matters as much as the idea of control and consistency.

TSM That makes sense. But then in your book you write about how it turns some people off so much that they resist going,

SKL Right, well really what was the main problem that I had with what I was being asked to participate in, the whole ‘powerless’ thing, because it seems to me like what I was doing was being anything but powerless. I had worked really hard to get into rehab. I had pursued the whole thing with Writers in Treatment because I knew I couldn’t afford it on my own, and I followed up and followed up and sent in my tax returns and you know, got with the whole thing while they were trying to get funding and stayed with it and stayed with it…I mean, I felt like for the first time I was actually being powerful…and it was kind of frustrating for me to sort of feel for the first time like I was doing something that was really important for my health and really important to sort of get back on track the way I wanted to be and then as a necessary condition of that I was asked to pretend as if I believed I was not a prime mover in the situation and that I was simply a vessel for the will of a higher power. It did not feel authentic to me at all, particularly after what I had experienced, being powerful for the first time in many years.

TSM As I was reading this a lot of thoughts were coming up for me and among them, that initially people have to admit that they have been powerless over this problem because whatever they were doing before they came to the program wasn’t obviously working for them.

SKL Yes, but what’s wrong with saying it like that? Why do we have to get into who is powerful and who is powerless? Why can’t we just say, you know, we admit that the addiction wasn’t working for us anymore, or we admit that we didn’t like what our lives had become, or we admit that we were scared and we didn’t know what to do and we didn’t know how to fix ourselves–all those things seem like they could be true, but they also seem like they are left potentially alienating to somebody who does not identify as powerless. you know? I never, I never identify as powerless. I feel like I can always do something.

* My Boring-Ass Rehab Diary can be purchased directly from SKL for $20.00 U.S. via her PayPal account: markedformetal@yahoo.com. Her website is currently being reconstructed. If you prefer another payment option you can contact her at that email address to arrange it.

Tapati McDaniels is the former publisher and editor of Uppity Women Magazine and is currently writing a memoir. Excerpts can be found at http://tapati.livejournal.com/ where you can contact her with questions or comments.

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Whose Brain Is It? [Oct 2011 – Leena Prasad]

Whose Brain Is It?
by Leena Prasad

“Eli, what are you on man?” John says.

“What do you mean?” Eli says, “You know I don’t do drugs.”

“Cigarettes are a drug.”

“I’ve cut back on those.”

Eli and his friend John are playing a video-game.

After Eli wins the game, they go out for dinner.

“That’s the first time I’ve won in a few weeks,” Eli says as they walk towards their favorite pizzeria. “You are losing your edge, man.”

“You have been playing better than usual.” John says.

After dinner, Eli turns down John’s offer for a ride and walks the ten blocks that it takes to get home. It’s 11:30pm when he gets home but he’s feeling energized. He buys online tickets to see a local band, pays off a few bills, and reads until he falls asleep after midnight.

Next morning, he is alert and energized despite lack of sufficient sleep. After work, he goes to a dinner meeting with an investment club. He has been reading and learning a lot lately about financial planning and has made some good investments. Maybe that’s why he’s been happier than usual lately, he thinks.

Eli’s moods have been relatively positive for the last few months. He has also been calmer at work. Instead of getting frustrated with a colleague whom he considers dim-witted, Eli has grown slightly more patient and understanding.

A few weeks later, he’s watching a tennis game on television with his sister. An ad for Prozac comes on.

“Are you taking that stuff these days, Eli?” his sister says.

“What stuff?”

“You know, Prozac or … whatever it was that you were taking a few years ago.”

“Nope.”

“You seem more relaxed these days,” she says.

He nods but doesn’t really know what to tell her. He has already told her about the breakup with the girl he was seeing and that there’s no one new in the picture. Nothing much has changed at work or otherwise.

“How’s your tennis game going these days,” his brother-in-law asks.

“Oh, I found a good partner and I’ve been playing three times a week for several months now.”

The change in Eli’s attitude may partly be a result of the regular exercise that he’s doing.

Leena Prasad has a journalism degree from Stanford University. Her writing portfolio is available at www.FishRidingABike.com and she can be reached at leena@fishridingabike.com.

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Art by Fabio Sassi

ABOUT THE ARTIST:

Fabio Sassi currently lives and works in Bologna, Italy. Sassi began making visual art after various experiences in music, writing, and photography. He is also inspired by the news and by the human condition and its shades.

Click here to access the artist’s website. Email fabio.sassi@ymail.com for more information.

Synchronized Chaos Magazine – Sept 2011: Beyond the Ordinary

Discovery is always within reach… whether it happens via the limitless encyclopedia and image library that is the World Wide Web, or by flying to a different country and immersing yourself in another culture. “The Great Beyond” means something different to everybody.

In this issue, Beyond the Ordinary, we can see how other perspectives, cultures, and influences can shape our everyday lives and artistic meanings.

Jewelry artist Kate Moore’s work is inspired by international culture and history.

Photographer Prashant Palsokar uniquely blends art and science in hopes of showing a new perspective of the everyday. Palsokar’s method in working is very precise, so that each photo shows great definition.

Robbie Fraser travels to Chiang Mai, Thailand, and shares with us his experience of living in a uniquely fun and art-focused area. Fraser describes Chiang Mai as a great place to absorb Thai culture without the “cheesy” tourist aspects of traveling.

Michael Widman is on a quest for other intelligence is his interesting article about The SETI Institute: A nonprofit organization in Mountain View, California. Widman talks to Seth Shostak, SETI Senior Astronomer, about what is currently happening at SETI.

We are featuring 3 book reviews this month:

Bruce Roberts also reviews the performance of Ophelia: A Musical, held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California.

In poetry, we are delighted to publish returning contributor Tatjana Debeljacki. Debeljacki’s poems in this issue focus on love and insecurity, lust and betrayal, and contradiction. The work is published in Croatian with English translation.

Also featured is poetry by Dave Douglas. Douglas’ piece, Nothing to Write, will have you feeling its considerable emotional undertones.

Bruce Roberts’ poem, Tiny Bubble/Tiny Tears, is about relationships and family. The result is both surprising and tragic.

Check out Leena Prasad’s monthly column: Whose Brain Is It? Presented as a mystery with fictional characters and clues, this is a monthly column with a journalist’s perspective on brain research.

In addition, last month, we featured paintings by Artist Erik White. This month, we are including White’s essay, Gravitational Art is God’s not Pollock’s, which further explains what “gravitational art” really means.

Thank you for reading Synchronized Chaos Magazine! All of our contributors are always open to your feedback and questions, so please don’t hesitate to leave your comments or use the contact information provided.

Photography by Prashant Palsokar

Artist statement:

I am a self-taught photographer who likes to blend his two passions: Creativity and Science. I have been interested in photographing cities, landscapes and other still life imagery for several years now. My inspiration comes from things that awe me, or from presenting everyday scenes from angles that other people haven’t noticed.

I am a technologist by training and education, with a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and  business. My “daytime” job consists of architecting and designing e-commerce systems.

On of my favorite techniques featured in several images in the selection, is known as HDR (High Dynamic Range) and consists of blending multiple exposures (between 3 and 6 usually) of the same scene to obtain definition in all parts of the picture.

-Prashant Palsokar

To contact the artist, email masterjockey@sfcamerajockey.com. Visit the artist’s website at www.sfcamerajockey.com.

Jewelry Art by Kate Moore

Artist statement:

I started making jewelry in 2002 in Indiana. My life has been one very long adventure ever since. I started with stone bead work and only teaching myself how to create unique and interesting pieces of jewelry.

Armatora catena has been my company name since 2009 with an Etsy site and a jewelry blog under the  armatora catena name. Armatora catena means ‘chainmaille’ in Latin. I have been making chainmaille for 6 years and have created anything from earrings to full armor out of chainmaille.

I am currently a regular artist at CityArt Gallery in San Francisco, CA and show in the back room shows every other month or so. As well as the SF Arts Market among other art shows and galleries in San Francisco, CA and other parts of the United States.

– Kate Moore

E-mail ancienthistorykem@gmail.com for more information.