A Glass of Chianti

Saturday, July 29, 2006

What you miss when you don't read Mixolydian Mode

Don has a great find: The Overworld theme from The Legend of Zelda played on...

(wait for it)

the theremin!! Yay!

He also links to a fairly in-depth article on Léon Theremin which includes an image of his wife, Lavinia Williams (who, incidentily, is waaaay hotter than you're thinking).

What more could you ask for? (Other than penguins, of course.)

Friday, July 28, 2006

If all goes well tomorrow

I think that it looks to be smooth sailing from now until the wedding (and, obviously, after the wedding, too). I haven't felt so sure the past few months and it's nice to finally feel on top of things. Now I just have to do the fun stuff like sell the Debaucherymobile, figure out what Angus and I really need from my random accumulation of crap (hint: it's mostly stuffed penguins, books, scarves and clarinets I have to offer) and find out once and for all how many of the boxes in the garage are really mine, realizing that most of the contents is probably going to need to be given to charity.

Tomorrow's plan: a Mass of thanksgiving in the morning and then I'm going to do some long-desired reading. Maybe (if I have time) I'll get back to feeling sane, too.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

You know who's awesome?

The Yankee. (Just thought you needed to be reminded.)

Friday, July 21, 2006

It's no Peasant Quest

But the bonus Strong Sad mode of Kid Speedy maybe made me smile a little. If nothing else it's the cutest novelty mode I've seen in a while.

Confidential to someone who may need a study break: The T-Word!!!

LAN party on Mars

This story, which details a team of engineers who want to drop 1,000 ball-shaped probes with hopping capabilities on Mars (ostensibly to "explore"), makes me wonder if they don't just watch a little too much TV. I think they were closing in on a deadline and had to come up with something to show the boss, so they just took the first commercial that popped up in their heads as inspiration.

Link via Dappled Things

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Vatican museums + modern art?

When I read this teaser of an article quoting the director of the Vatican museums as saying that new purchases ("above all in sectors like contemporary art") were in the works, my heart started beating a little faster. Never having been to the museums, I thought it might be helpful to browse around a little just to see what Mr. Buranelli was already working with in the hopes of doing a little Saturday morning quarterbacking*. Unfortunately, it didn't help and I had (and have) other things to do. Before giving up entirely I thought I'd try a shortcut - find the "mission statement" of the museums, and work off that. Less looking, less thinking.... it's a perfect Sarah plan! From the museum director (quoting our Great former pope, John Paul II):
The museum's "function ... remains that of 'expressing the renewed will of the Church to seek dialogue with humanity in the sign of art and culture, putting at the disposal of everybody the heritage with which history entrusted her'".
I've read that at least a dozen times and I still have no idea what that means, let alone how that will serve as a guide to future acquisitions. I'm not ever mistaken for one with even moderate intelligence, so I guess I shouldn't feel so bad that it quite goes over my head.

The more I think about this the more I realize that it's really a difficult job to have. Much of modern art at its best is that which addresses the subject of what, exactly, art is and the like. The collection is going to be a coda at any of the Vatican museums, and I'm not sure that meditations on that question would make for a satisfying one. I am excited to see where Mr. Buranelli goes but I do feel the project will only be a success if the vision is clear from the outset. The "we'd like to have a Picasso" thing in the article makes me worry a little that there isn't much behind the acquisition strategy. There are a thousand points that one could step off to make a nice collection of modern art that puts the human condition front and center (my personal favorite that doesn't seem a very good fit at first but then it all starts falling into place- a late Boccioni) but I'm having trouble of conceiving of one that begins with or is centered around a Picasso.
I guess the consolation is that we won't see how this shapes up within the next 50 years or so. By the time things really get going, I likely won't even care.

*Which, in Texas, only occurs on Thursday in any meaningful sense.

An exchange that is so, so very familiar

"Why have I stopped conducting? No, not because it's lunchtime. Nor am I feeling tired. If you are tired you should have gone to bed earlier"...
Read the rest if you want to know what sectionals during the summer are all about (or if you want a sneak peek into my plans for the next few weeks).

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Two words

Pecan Praylines

UPDATE: Fixed link. You know, you people could tell me when I do something stupid like that. I know who has clicked on the link and seen nothing, after all. My referral logs are amazing like that. ;-)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bastille Day!

Grousing about Bastille Day on the Internet is sooooo 1999, but why are you not reading this to celebrate? (My excuse: my copy is packed away pending a move to, well, God only knows where.) While I'd like to take up the cause and say that the French Revolution wasn't all bad (that contrarian stripe is a powerful one) I just can't seem to muster the will to even pretend an attempt. Save for inspiring a seriously great trilogy of movies, the whole Liberté, égalité, fraternité thing never did much for me. The Enlightenment inspired many powerfully bad things and the French Revolution was just one more addition to the list.

So, Happy Bastille Day, I guess. Now, go watch a Polish movie or two. That's what I'd be doing if I weren't otherwise disposed with job-hunts and house-sitting and other hyphenated activities.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My birthday is in February

Just saying... (scroll down to the bottom of the page)

And, you know, I never did get that Christmas gift I not-so-subtly hinted I'd appreciate...

The Yankee doesn't know this yet

But we just decided on our dining room theme. I will say that the company's presidential placemat offerings are promising, especially as it is a strong desire of mine to have the children be able to recognize a likeness of Coolidge at 20 paces. Unfortunately, the designer of the musical instrument placemat has made two critical errors:
  1. He doesn't seem to understand that "wind instruments" are not the same as "woodwind instruments" but even more importantly...
  2. Theremin not included
Also, unintentional placemat humor here.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Gone YouTubing

It's no Schlitterbahn but it is a way to distract myself from the misery that is the summer*. Terry has a new list of YouTube links on his sidebar and they show not only his pretty uniformly great taste in all things but also his patience in sifting. Get thee browsing over there**. Now!

Some of the highlights:
  • This Mel Torme selection is interesting for about a half dozen reasons. The introduction is guaranteed to make you think.
  • An Artie Shaw clip from Second Chorus. All I needed to hear was Artie Shaw and Burgess Meredith to know that I had to look this movie up at my first opportunity. Honestly, though, I never pictured Mr. Meredith as a trumpet player - he kind of struck me as a low brass type making it feasible that I could date him. (Smart girls learn early not to trust the trumpet players.)
  • If I had a summer listening list for my students, I'd have this Van Cliburn clip as the first entry. You think you know where this interpretation is going, but then around three minutes in, everything changes and it's even more brilliant than you thought it was going to be. The middle five minutes are must-listens. If you don't, just consider yourself disinvited to reading this blog any longer. ;-)

Two picks of my own:
  1. In the great Artie Shaw/Benny Goodman debate*** I tend not to take sides. My head says Shaw**** but my heart vehemently disagrees. Terry has some Goodman on his list, but since we're wanting an even comparison (movie clip for movie clip) how about looking at this Goodman performance from A Song is Born side-by-side with the previous Shaw entry?
  2. Louis Prima and Sam Butera mynah birding in Italian. Yes, it's a schtick but it's a pretty great one and a fairly good example of why I think that pair is one of the most interesting in jazz history.
*I know it's a "mild one" but we didn't get a fall or a winter this year so shove it. Seriously.
**Because no single click will take you to a more than 10 minute selection (and most will be around the 3-4 minute mark) it's a pretty great mechanism for controlled management of free time.
***Gene Krupa vs. Buddy Rich: Buddy.
****One of my favorite stories from the past couple of years in helping students pick out band instruments: Grandfather comes in with his grandson to test all the different things he could play. The grandson asks me what I play and when I tell him that my main instrument is clarinet, the grandfather sighs and says that he wished he played the clarinet "because of Ava Gardner".

Because I want to feel better

And bragging makes everyone feel great. Look at how the second-most awesome blogger in the world stopped by here and commented!

My goals when I started writing the blog included getting two pie-in-the-sky entries:
1) Coax Mansfield Fox (before he got the cool nickname, of course) into linking to a post of mine
2) By some bloggy miracle attract the attention of the great Eve.

I can't tell you how much better I feel when I stop and think: "Eve Tushnet wuz here this week!"

It's, like, almost like being in love.

Check your driver's license now

If it says something like "The Yankee" you need to read no further than this sentence (even though I still love you) because it has nothing to do with you.

OK. Now that we're alone can I tell you non- The Yankees something?

I'm kind of not doing well.

I'm frustrated and a little overwhelmed and, well, so very, very isolated right now. And, yes, I know it could be much worse. And, yes, I know that I shouldn't be complaining. And honestly, I do keep the vast majority of it to myself because I know that it isn't fair to add to the general Yankeeland stress level. But (since it's just between you and me) I'm pretty worried about some things. I won't detail them here as it's not the appropriate forum but the fact that I really don't have another forum is one of the things that I think is making this whole experience even more upsetting than it should be. Plus, I'm sick.

Just in case you were wondering, it does really suck to be forever away from The Yankee. The physical distance makes me feel impotent when I'm trying to help because I can't gauge the effectiveness of anything I say or sense if there are any subjects I need to stay away from or if there is something under the surface that's bothering him because there's nothing to base anything evaluation off of. I must say, though, that the physical distance isn't half as bad as the general feeling of being out of touch. I never know what is going on until after it happens. More troublesome is that I'm very much in the dark because I know that I don't know the right questions to ask or the questions that I should avoid or any way to make anything better. Because I don't know an alternative, I just sit here with kisses at the ready feeling pretty helpless and unprepared overall. It's a lame and ineffective approach, but it's the only one I've been able to come up with so far.

I just hate feeling so incompetent and so helpless.

I think that besides the whole continuing need to walk on eggshells for fear of the stress level not doing so would cause, the most frustrating thing is the fact that I'm unable to watch "Futurama" in the evenings. Honestly, I think if I had a good dose of holophoner, everything would be fine. Well, some holophoner opera and some penguins to give me a backrub and a haircut. So, if anyone has a penguin hanging around that they aren't using or some opera recording that they need to get rid of, I think I have an idea as to someone who would be able to benefit.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Prayer request

Nothing health-related or even super serious, but I know The Yankee and I would appreciate some prayers for a couple of special intentions of ours if you had any to spare over the next couple of days.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The FX programming gods are working against me

A "King of the Hill" marathon when I have important-to-my-sanity things that I really need to be doing? Are they trying to sabotage me?! *sigh*

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Angela Lansbury alert

The very odd electronic accompaniment notwithstanding, the version of The Pirates of Penzance that I'm watching now on television now has made me very happy. Just saying.

Why, given my minor obsession with the leading lady and G&S adaptations, have I not heard of this before today?

Good post

By Dan (over at The Shrine) about how to bring about change to the music of the Mass. The summary is something like this:
- You're right to be annoyed by the crappy music every Sunday
- You're not going to get Palestrina next week
- The way to get Palestrina in the next twenty years is to not act like a snob
- Don't adopt the attitude "if it's not Latin, it's crap" - you'll never be happy

This is something very close to my heart as I am (and have been for longer than you'd like to know) been working on some liturgical music of my own. I'm about two thirds of the way done with a Requiem Mass setting (in Latin, of course, with tweaks for the English translations) and have sketches of a plain, old, crazy Mass kicking around my head and my composition notebook in various stages of development. I have no illusions that they will be used by anybody (reading between the lines here, for example will refresh your memory as to why, even if they were good enough, you'd probably not hear them) so they are merely intellectual exercises. Plus, with the new approved English translations coming down at some point in our lifetime, they'd probably need a little (or more) reworking. (That's the excuse I use anyway - I can't work on the Mass now! What if the approved translation comes next week? All that work would be for nothing!)

Anyway, Dan says some fascinating things. I gather his ideal Mass setting is much heavier on the choral arrangements and organ than I'd prefer as I'm not a huuuuuge fan of choirs*. I also think that it's not quite as easy to incorporate as he'd like to in places outside of population centers like Chicago (the parish he mentions has one Spanish-language Mass on Sunday and it's in an alternate location from the main church) and, say, New York (where there are lots of "ethnic" parishes that people go to even though they may be outside the territorial bounds leaving non-"ethnic" parishes probably much more like the one Dan attends back home**) and places where the Catholic culture is more widespread (Ohio, perhaps?) than it is down here in Texas. He brings up a book that I had meant to comment on (Thomas Day's Why Catholics Can't Sing) but have not yet. It's still on my mind and as much of my criticism of the book has to do with the same kind of narrow view of Catholicism (Yankee/mid-West) and lack of attention to the issue of music education that Day kept promising and hinting that he'd address before he ultimately dropped the whole thing.

My contribution to the discussion anon, not now.

*I'd say more, but I really shouldn't.
**I have absolutely no personal experience to base this on. It's just a hunch.