Sunday, May 16, 2010

Some Notes on Ronnie James Dio

I just found out that Ronnie James Dio died of stomach cancer early this morning. Some of you may not know who that is, so I will tell you: He was a pioneering heavy metal singer. A very small man with a very huge voice. He dressed unabashedly dramatic, in capes and armor. He carried a sword in most of his videos. There were often dragons and pyrotechnics at his shows. He was the age of my father, and his heyday was a bit before my time, but if you know metal, you know that we respect our forefathers.

In addition to singing for Rainbow and Black Sabbath, he did his own thing, which was just called Dio. Their logo was a lovely calligraphy that all the metalheads learned to draw -- except this one. But I had friends. So my notebook too had "DIO" emblazoned across it in that perfect calligraphy all through junior high and high school.

His wife's report to the media said he died peacefully, and I'm glad for that. He was young for a normal person, but old for a rock star. I'm glad we had him for as long as we did and that he died in a dignified way, with his family beside him.

I'm not a huge Dio fan. I tend to favor deep, growling, harsh voices. Ronnie James Dio was an operatic-style singer. But I always appreciated his focus on the battle between good and evil. One of the reasons I began to love metal when I was 14 was that it addressed spiritual matters in a serious way. Dio is part of the reason it does that, and so he is part of the reason this music has been such a comfort and inspiration to me for such a long time.

And so this is the little thing I've written in order for my voice to be added to the many who pause to mourn and celebrate him. As a performer, he was grandiose, and fun, and a legend who never disappointed us, even in death.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Been a long time since I rock 'n'rolled...

Sorry I've been absent! In the land of mist and snow, there is little mist, there is no more snow...Except I heard there WAS some snow while I was down south in Brooklyn last weekend!

Here's a quick update, and I'll get back to regular blogging eventually:

1. We are finished teaching for the summer! I'm still going into work to grade, have meetings, etc., but at least I don't have to enact lesson plans or deal with "I didn't do my homework, so what am I supposed to do?" scenarios. (Answer: You are supposed to quietly make the best of the situation. You are an adult. Figure it out.) (But 90% of my students are scholarly angels.)

2. There is green everywhere in the village. The restaurants are open, the boats are out. Lawn furniture is coming out in yards, and the summer people are airing out their cabins and lake houses.

3. The people who lived here before us planted red and purple and violet-and-white tulips, so we have flowers.

4. They are putting in a new sewer line in front of my house, so every day these men come with machines that look like giant chainsaws that you can drive. So far, they are digging huge holes. I don't know what they'll do next. It's neat to watch.

5. My house is a disaster area. That's because I wrote another novel. When I do that, everything disintegrates around me. And I have an idea for another one. I think. So before that one gets started, I'm going to try to get this place at least hygenic.

6. Because I'm going home to Oklahoma soon. Really soon. Dreadfully soon. Northern New York is so beautiful and fun in the summer! But I'll be glad to see my family, my tribe, my musician friends...and I'll be glad to be really, really hot. They don't get really, really hot up here. It only gets into the 80s.

7. Okay...I have to actually go to work now. But we're nearly finished!