Sunday, December 8, 2013


On December 14, 2013 I head to Cuba for 9 days of musical research, touring, listening, performing, and embracing new culture. Stay tuned for posts!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thailand Trip


From Bangkok to Pattaya Beach and back again. Golden Buddha, Emerald Buddha, riding an elephant, watching snake/elephant/muay thai/dancer shows, chilling on the beach. Particularly fascinated by the huge loops of wires on the streets of Bangkok.


Pristine, perfect, upper echelon - they call it 'a fine city', i.e., fines for littering, smoking in non-smoking areas, owning a car more than 10 years old. At the same time, beautiful - especially the night view from along the Singapore River barge ride.


Malacca, Genting Highland, Kuala Lumpur. A country that is 60% Muslim filled with beautiful mosques and beautiful burka-wearing women. Twin Towers, a cable car ride to the casino, lush/rich tropical foliage, 400 million year-old Hindu Batu Caves.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New York, New York


I had the wonderful opportunity to study filmscoring at NYU for 12 days. Not only did I learn an amazing amount about the technology of scoring, but I had the good fortune to be able to wander around this incredible city during non-class times. Check out my scored film clip

Being in NY brought back such wonderful memories of visiting there with family - especially with my Mom - as we would go to Bloomingdale's every August to buy the latest fashions for the school year (Pittsfield was always shocked at what I would wear each fall, but then be wearing those styles 3 years later :) Wednesday matinee Broadway shows, lunches at Sardi's, the ticker tape parade for returning astronauts, the U.N., the Museum of Modern Art ... all great experiences.

This time I hung with some great folks in Washington Square park - lots of musicians and creative types to spend time with including the lovely Natasha (my roomie) from Argentina and the equally lovely Girardo from Columbia. I also had dinner with former SF resident artist Stevenski, a great day with my friend Patty McCabe who drove in from Philly, took the sunset Circle Line cruise, and went to see the amazing production of "Memphis".

Nights I spent walking in all directions - from Ground Zero and Battery Park to Central Park in the north - from the East River to the Hudson - through Chelsea, the meat-packing distriction and the Lower East Side. Played 'Top the Peaks' at an open mic, heard some amazing poets and the Nuyorican Poets' Cafe, enjoyed the beautiful sculpture in Madison Square each evening, and lived as a student for a while ... Thanks everyone for such a great time!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wendy in China

16 days traveling in China with my '16 reptiles'. An adventure that was amazing, fascinating, and an opportunity of a lifetime!

My first impressions of this massive country with 1.3 billion people was of a teenage boy growing too fast, too quickly. The heart, soul, mind, and joints can't seem to keep up. The reptilian brain is focused on food, fight or flight, fornication - thus I named my 16 heterosexual male travel companions (between the ages of 21 and 56) my reptiles. It was like seeing behind the curtain into the men's locker room.

The trip was organized brilliantly by Zhong Luo who was born in Southern China and moved to the Bay Area 12 years ago. His father is famous martial artist Grandmaster Mai Yu Qiang who taught his son beginning at age 3. Zhong (pronounced 'Jong' - 'zh' in Chinese is said like 'j' in 'judge') is my teacher's teacher (called 'Segong' in the Chinese martial arts tradition). For ease of understanding in this blog, I will call him Z. He is standing to my left in the photo above - with his arms crossed.

I took 443 pictures. It was difficult to select just a few photos for this blog - so if you are interested in seeing the full slide show, send me an email and I will forward you the link to the Walgreen's site.

We spent the first week in northern China. 3 nights in Beijing where we climbed the Great Wall. There are over 1,000 steps straight up at this pass - 7 of us (including me pictured at left) made it to the top. Very cold and very exhilarating. Went to the site of the 2008 Olympics, Summer Palace (where the Emperor 'summered' with his family when Beijing was too hot), Tianamen Square, the Forbidden City. The power of Mao Tse Tung and the Chinese military government are palpable. The power of the Qing Dynasty Emperor are equally felt. The constant contrasts of old and new world abutting are everywhere.

Additionally in the Beijing region, we went to a Chinese traditional medicine center, a jade museum, and a pearl factory.

We then flew to Nanjing and worked our way across by bus east to Shanghai, staying two nights in Nanjing, one in Suzhou (prounounced 'Sujo'), Wuxi ('Wushi'), and Shanghai. Highlights included seeing silk made at a factory, walking through an ancient village in Wuxi where the elderly live in a style that has changed little in 100 years, a gondola ride on the canal in Suzhou (named the 'Venice of the East' by Marco Polo), a visit to the Universal Studios-type site where many martial arts movies are filmed, the mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat Sen (the first elected President of China and developer of the first Eastern/Western medical collective), the Yangtze River bridge crossing, Lake Tai, and lovely XiWi park ('Chiwi').


The Buddhist temples are beautiful, reverent, red and gold reflections of the mysteries of worlds beyond.

Shanghai was the most international and cosmopolitan city we visited. I was reminded of an Eastern version of New York City. A bit frustrating to have just one night there, but this was just a 'taster' first visit. The hotel rooms were interesting. There was a huge picture window between the bedroom and the bathroom as the clerk said 'to provide the mystery of viewing the naked body'. Since all rooms were being shared by the reptiles - meaning me with a male roommate - we had to figure out that by drawing 2 shades in the bathroom nothing could be seen! I loved the night boat trip along the Shanghai Harbor ... a cross between the NY Circle Line and Disneyland.

From Shanghai we flew south to Guangzhou ('Gwanjo') for 8 days staying in nearby Foshan, Z's hometown. In the south the dialect switches from Mandarin to Cantonese and the energy shifts to many fewer visitors. Everywhere we go, we get stares and awe.

I love this picture I took in Foshan that so reflects the contrast of the old and new China.

Z stayed with his family in the south, so the rest of the reptiles and me were able to stay in the same hotel for a week (without packing and repacking each day) ... quite a luxury!

By now I was generally used to the food and could pick out the veggie dishes - as opposed to the chicken with head, fish with head and eyes, snake, eels, snails, and at one restaurant (that I missed by energetically misdirecting the taxi) that served endangered animal food (bear claw, turtle, `armadillo, dog).

The street food was yummy - anything you wanted stuck on a stick and cooked over the smoky fire. I liked the lotus roots, green veggies, tofu and mushrooms in a nice spicy sauce.

I did 3 demonstrations of my '5 claws golden dragon' White Eyebrow style kung fu set while in the south: at Z's mother's birthday party(photo shows Z's father seated), at a school competition in a square in Foshan, and at a school about 1/2 hour outside of the city.

Quite an amazing experience - and as a blonde, American woman unique!

Here is TK doing his cane set.

While staying in Foshan, we took a day trip to visit Guangzhou (which included a visit inside Sports Island where Chinese athletes train for the Olympics in barbed wire, prison-like buildings), another day in the country to relax in the natural hotsprings, and then had several days with some free time to explore Foshan on our own. One evening we took a boat ride on the Pearl River ... so calming!

I did not see the sun for 16 days - the air is very polluted. I also got used to squatting over bathroom holes. And then there was the moment in the Buddhist temple tea garden where we all ran for cover during a sudden downpour ... and I had a nonverbal, peek-a-boo communication with a 4-year-old Chinese girl. No words were necessary for our fun and laughter!

Some closing photos. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I love SF !!!

Yesterday was a glorious day in San Francisco! The weather was a perfect 72 degrees, sunny, blue sky with a few cumulus clouds, a light breeze, and the SF Giants were returning home victorious as World Series champions. The positive energy everywhere was palpable.

I headed down to the Civic Center area where thousands were gathering in various orange and black attire (Halloween and Giants colors mixing as one) - all attempting to get a glimpse of the winners.

I did manage to see the players ride by in the cable car - followed by families and people of power. A bit tricky to see over all the heads and even more cell phone cameras suspended in the air!

The return home provided a challenge with all of the trains and buses burgeoning with fans - so I decided to opt for walking (about 5 miles with one major hill and several little ones). Here are two photos from my walk - a large item (huge sculpture made of chains) and a teeny house squeezed between bigger buildings.

The house is for sale (1 bedroom, 1 bath, no garage) - guess how much they are asking for it???

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Phoenix Rising in Hollywood

Phoenix Rising (aka flutist Monica Williams and me) attended the Hollywood Music in Media Awards in November where 2 songs from the 'Ascension' CD were nominated for 'best new age/ambient' and 'best classical' songs. Although we didn't win, we were thrilled to be in the short list of 5 out of thousands! Great show, ambience, networking, and - of course - the thrill of the red carpet where we hustled filmmaker friend Victoria Giordana in as a press member to take lots of extra shots of us.

The next day we were able to have a bit of time to be tourists so we spent the afternoon visiting the LA Museum of Art and the amazing La Brea pits next door. La Brea is Spanish for 'tar' - the museum and adjoining grounds were fascinating to explore and learn about the many species of animals who were trapped in the tar up to 60,000 years ago. The excavations are still going on and 'Pit 91' is one of the largest in the world. Here I am taming the savage beast ...

The following day was spent in an intensive all-day conference where we heard talks by and met one-on-one with publishers, music supervisors, and the decision-makers in the music and film business. It was a great networking event! That evening we performed at the Sudan Hope fundraiser for the film 'Without A Voice' - check out their site at It is a worthy endeavor and some very warm people who run the show.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Massachusetts Mini-Tour

Thanks to the generous donation by an anonymous donor/arts lover COPUS was able to travel to Massachusetts in August for 3 performances, a bit of networking, and a lot of fun! Along with poet Royal Kent, flutist Monica Williams, and bass player Patrick Mahon, we flew from San Francisco to Boston. Led by Wendy's wandering internal compass, the group spent a few hours walking through downtown, along Boston Harbour, and then having lunch at Faneuil Hall. Check out Patrick and Royal, the original revolutionaries!

After a light dinner at Bukowski's (appropriate for poet Royal Kent - also thought of you, Julianne, and the early COPUS days on Hayes Street!), we played a gig at Outpost 186/aka the Zeitgeist Gallery, a very cool, independently-run theatre in Cambridge. Although there were not a lot of a people there, they were a rapt audience and we all hung out together afterwards for discussions about music and life (I had a wonderful chat with a man who has spent considerable time with the mystic Sai Baba in India).

The next morning we got on the Mass Pike and headed across the State to Pittsfield for the 1st annual WordxWord Festival. We were booked for 2 nights at the Heart of the Berkshires Motel on Housatonic Street where brother Michael was going to join us (driving from Fredonia). There was a 40th anniversary of Woodstock festival going on so downtown Pittsfield was thriving - here I am at the Mexican restaurant where we gathered for dinner with COPUS, guest artist Craig Harris from Chicopee (playing percussion), and Michael.

The Festival was outstanding! There were 3 performing spaces: a theatre for the written word (plays), a Spanish club for the sung word (singer/songwriters), and an art gallery for the spoken word (poetry - and COPUS poetry with music). Both nights we had great performances and the feedback from the attentive listeners was outstanding. Jim Benson did an amazing job of promotion and organization. After our performances, we went to the club to hear the singers and were awed by the diversity and excellence of all the artists. Can't wait to go back next year!

We had some time for local sightseeing with Mike at the wheel. For me, it was a great pleasure and deep family connection to be in the Berkshires again ... seeing the houses we had lived in, visiting Pa's favorite Balance Rock, driving through Lenox and Stockbridge, taking photos in front of the building with the rickety almost vertical stairs where we took our first piano lessons with Mrs. McSweeney. And then there was walking through the mist around Tanglewood ... glorious, magical, memorable Tanglewood with memories of the summers as a counselor for the Days in the Arts program, volunteering, picnics under 'our tree' with Ma's amazing gourmet delights and silver candleholder. When we came to the small theatre shed, there were 2 pianos unlocked and Monica suggested I go play - and Royal jumped in with a poem. Now I can say 'I played Tanglewood!'