Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts



The Price of Enjoying Live Music

Last Wednesday, 1/30/2019, schools were closed in Western New York State because the Polar Vortex came calling. The temperature hovered around zero and the wind blew gales. We had pre-purchased tickets to hear The Canadian Brass perform at our world famous Kodak Hall Eastman Theater. I half wanted my husband to say we weren’t going. Instead we put on our fleece lined jeans, a couple of layers of shirts and wore our warmest winter coats. So did everyone else. In our glamorous theater there was not a suit or dress in sight, except on stage. The music did not disappoint. In fact it was fantastic, catchy, even awe inspiring. The performers were also entertainers and we went home with happiness in our hearts and a new knowledge of an instrument we found out was a contrabassoon. Neither my husband nor I had ever seen one. The lady next to me showed me one on her phone, during intermission. The Fox model 900 costs $28,995.00. That’s more than my present car. I digress. Continue reading “The Price of Enjoying Live Music”

Music – Music – Music

This week in Rochester, New York we are enjoying the 17th year of The International Jazz Festival. It’s a nine-day music festival with 13 indoor venues and four outdoor. The outdoor stages provide free music from 4pm to 11pm. The indoor venues are mostly $30.00 shows and each night there is a headliner that tickets are normal concert prices. My husband and I have a nine day pass for the first time this year which means we can walk into and out of any show except the headliners, depending on the lines of course. This event is taking place downtown among our high-rises on blocked off streets. Not all the music is jazz, but a good portion of it is. And there are food trucks and open restaurants and lots of people and even more beer. I don’t know why, but walking on a public street with a glass of beer in hand, past one of the many police officers keeping watch, gives me the feeling of getting away with something. It’s fun. Continue reading “Music – Music – Music”

Music to Party By

On the day before gathering around the turkey, gather around the nearest jukebox to celebrate National Jukebox Day! The day before Thanksgiving is known as the best drinking day of the year (in my neck of the woods anyway.) Continue reading “Music to Party By”

Chance Meeting

My husband and I like good music (mostly jazz), an adult beverage and gathering with friends. This past Saturday we had a once-in-a-lifetime experience with a much closer than six-steps away connection. All the way home at the end of the evening, we kept saying, “What are the odds?” Continue reading “Chance Meeting”

I’m Glad Others Buy Them

It’s National Buy a Musical Instrument Day. I’m not going to run out and get one myself, but I sure do appreciate those that do. My husband and I like music. We enjoy watching the old musicals on TV and often go to dinner where there is live music, mainly jazz. In my sewing room I listen to Country because I identify with the stories in the songs.

Recently we spent five days in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Dixieland Jazz is prevalent. We enjoyed it so much we want to go back. One band in particular called the James Rivers Movement, we are still talking about. James, according to Google, is somewhere between the age of 76 and 81. He has been appearing in the New Orleans Jazz festival for the last 40 years. He played all the woodwinds, sang, and then surprised us by turning from the audience and turning back around playing a jazz melody on the bagpipes. We sat with our mouths open. He is not only a good musician, but also a showman. No one left the room until the evening performance was concluded.

When I was a kid, I took piano lessons and in school I played the trumpet and then moved on to the french horn. I got the music appreciation gene, but not the one that likes to practice. I can still read a music staff and tell you how long to hold the notes, but that’s as close to it as I get other than listening.

We have multiple musician friends who we follow from gig to gig in our area. Sometimes they are playing in a church, a club, or at a festival. I guess you could call us groupies. We have even donated money to some of them so they can get a new CD launched. Like I said, we like music and the people who make it happen. An interesting side note; they all seem to have more than one instrument. I’ll leave the buying a new instrument to them and gush over it like it was a new baby the next time I see them.

Claiming My Heritage

It’s National Tartan Day. I’m proud to say I have the bloodline to wear a few different Scottish tartans. My father was a Carmichael, his grandmother was a McIntyre and they could prove lineage back through the Royal Stewarts. In the old days, I’m talking 1700 and 1800’s, a tartan was a visible sign of where one lived, and who that person was loyal to. Wearing a tartan you didn’t have the bloodline to claim was a punishable offense.

I lived in England from September 1974 – April 1977. My Aunt Ruth Carmichael came to visit the summer of 1976. I was talking with her about wanting to get a coat made with the McIntyre Tartan. She asked, “Why not the Royal Stewart?” then explained that it was acceptable to wear the tartan of the highest ranking family you could prove. I was elated, the Royal Stewart Tartan is bright and attractive. I got that coat, and wore it until the butt was thread bare. I even got stopped on the street one day in Thetford, Norfolk, England, and asked if I had the bloodline to wear it. How fun it was to say yes and know what I was talking about.

.royal stewart                                                           Royal Stewart Tartan

If you study tartans, you will learn that there are two or three plaids that “belong” to each family. One is worn for everyday and another for dress-up occasions. They were woven in cotton for summer wear and in wool for the winter.

Of course when I see a tartan, my mind jumps to bagpipes. I always wanted to learn to play them. I’ve been told I have enough hot air to do so. Anyway, on our recent visit to New Orleans, weren’t we surprised when one of the musicians that had been playing all of the woodwind instruments, and the harmonica, turned from the crowd, and turned back around playing a jazz harmony on the bagpipes. Everyone’s mouth dropped open. I wouldn’t have believed it was possible had I not seen, and heard, it myself. What a treat.

These days anybody can wear a tartan plaid, but if you are in Great Britain, don’t be surprised if you get questioned.




National Radio Day

It was in the 1920s when the first broadcast stations began airing programs.  These first programs were those of news and world events.

  •  Radio ownership grew from two out of five homes in 1931 to four out of five homes in 1938.
  • According to FCC statistics, at the end of 2012, there were more than 15,000 licensed broadcast radio stations in the U.S.

WBEE is one of the local radio stations where I live.  Their format is new-country which means they play the music of the young country music artists.  The sound gets more “rocky” every year, but then I get older every year so maybe that’s why I hear it that way.

There are six major radio personalities that work throughout the day.  Three of those I know well enough to walk up to in a crowd and talk personal news with.  I consider that a privilege and honor. You see, from listening to them for years, I know them better than my own sisters because of the personal information they share over the air waves.  For instance, I can tell you Terry’s doctor’s name; where Steve’s wife works and what kind of beer he drinks;  where Newman grew up and what store he stops at for milk.  It also helps that I have donated a quilt to a local golf tournament every year for the last thirteen years and “my DJs” are usually in attendance at the awards dinner because WBEE is one of the sponsors.

When I was working I heard things on the radio in the early morning that became topics of discussion at work.  Some of my co-workers seemed very out of the loop because they often didn’t know about happenings in the local area especially road closures and current events.  Mind you, once in a while the conversation is of no real importance, like this morning they talked about whether an individual should wear anything to bed or not.  They decided it was a personal preference.  I’m not telling!

We have all seen pictures of people gathered around a radio in the past, to hear war news or listen to a baseball game.  Now we turn on the TV and switch channels until we find the information we want any time of day or night.  Sometimes I wish a lot of the news was still harder to get; maybe there wouldn’t be so much angst about what is going on in another country.

I’d be lost without my radio friends to spend the day with.  They share their thoughts, foibles and dreams, along with country music, traffic reports, and one minute news blurbs.   And let’s not forget the commercials;  most I can tune out, but not all.  I clean house, sew, cook, relax and never feel like I am home alone.  I almost forgot, the cat is here too, on my lap, under foot, or pushing me out of my chair so he can sleep in it.  Like I said, never alone.  Thank you WBEE.


National Vinyl Record Day




  • Vinyl records are referred to based on rotational spee.  The RPM’s, or revolutions per minute of the more popular vinyls are:
  • 45s
  • 33 1/3
  • 78s

Other features of vinyl records included reproductive accuracy or “fidelity” (High Fidelity or Hi-Fi, Orthophonic and Full-Range), their time capacity (long playing or single), and the number of channels of audio provided (mono, stereo or quadraphonic).

Vinyl records were also sold in different sizes such as:  12 inch;  10 inch;  7 inch

Vinyl records left the mainstream in 1991.  They continued to be manufactured and have started to become increasingly popular with collectors and audiophiles.


When I was in grade school our house was the local teenager hangout in our little town.  We had a good record player in a brown wood cabinet and lots of 45’s.  Most of them came from the local bar when they were rotated out of the juke box.  My sisters and their friends would sit on the floor and discuss in which order the records would be placed on the spindle.  The player could handle about eight but any more than that and they wouldn’t be level anymore so the speed would be off and the words would come out in a drawl.   Sometimes someone would put the record on so the B side played and there would be a commotion about, “Who played that?”  I tell people I learned to walk to the music of the ’50’s.

My neighbor had a record player and a few 33’s.  You had to have good coordination to set the needle in the free space between songs so you could hear just the song you wanted.  We would go to her room and shut the door so her little brothers couldn’t bother us.

My time as an Air Force dependent wife was spent married to my high school sweetheart.  When he was stationed in England in the mid ’70’s we would go together to the local Pub.  He would make a bet with an older “Bloke” that he could tell them the year one of their favorite old songs was popular.  They all thought he was too young to know, so they would take the bet.  He got a lot of free drinks with that ploy and no one cared it was me that knew the answer.  Good memories.

I’ve lived and gone to weddings in a lot of different states and in England.  The thing that makes me feel like I’ve come home is when I get to dance in the locale I grew up in and I dance like everyone else does.  Until I traveled I didn’t know dancing was colloquial like language.


Website Powered by

Up ↑