Being the Ongoing Chronicle of the Anticks, Misadventures, and Odd Deeds of an Overalls-clad Wanderer.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Something for Thursday (the Crappy Mood Enhancement Version)

My mood sucks and is in need of adjusting.

Why is this? Well, everything I saw in the news yesterday pissed me off. I gave a brief (and not even exhaustive) list on Twitter earlier:

Yeah, I'm in a crap mood. So, time to pull out the big guns: a few songs that always cheer me up when I hear them. I've posted some or all of these before, but so what? Mood enhancement

OK, that ought to do it. Onward and upward! Zap! Pow!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Crunch Time again for Mercado!

I've been remiss in updating about Mercado, the Kickstarter-led effort to open a culinary market in Buffalo. The original Kickstarter effort failed to reach the funding target, but undeterred, the Mercado folks have migrated over to IndieGoGo, and this effort ends tonight at 3:00 am Eastern Time (or midnight Pacific). Check it out and donate!

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

Have you ever played MONOPOLY all the way to a single winner? Heck, has anybody ever done this, or does every game of MONOPOLY just kind of peter out at some point?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What the Painters Hath Wrought!

Remember, we're moving soon. Into a house that had awful colors. Remember the colors? Here's a refresher!

Well, we contracted one of them "painter" outfits to make these colors go away, and they have accomplished their mission!


Ahhhh, that's more like it. In truth, we could have likely done this job ourselves, if not for the scale of it. Every room needed painting, save a single bathroom. As many an Aaron Sorkin character said, "We just don't have that kind of time." The shades don't show perfectly in these quickie photos, but you get the idea. Everything is brighter and airier; light doesn't get swallowed up in these enormous walls of dark awfulness, and the rooms just feel bigger than they did before.

Meantime, the books continue making their exodus; with luck, I should be able to have them all over there by the end of next week. Bookcases will make the trek through that time (luckily, most of my existing bookcases are the folding kind), and I will be buying some new ones as well. The weeding of the collection continues as well; I have now donated five shopping bags full of books to the library for use in their used book sales.

This is really quite exciting -- a fresh start, a seizing of a life we should have had years ago had we not been sent down various detours, some happy and some not. We'll have room to live, a fire pit to burn things in, a kitchen we can actually cook in, and...a driveway to shovel. Oh well, so it won't be perfect.

But it'll be ours.

Monday, April 14, 2014

But on the other hand....

Last week I cited an example of why I find most interactions of the fannish variety maddening anymore, and thus I don't bother. Fairness would seem to dictate that I give a rare good example, so here's something written by a fellow named Nicolai Zwar, whom I know from way back in the days of Usenet! He and I didn't agree across the board, but his opinions were always worth hearing, because they were usually sensible.

Here he is responding to someone who has opined that they only need to own one version of a given musical work.

[This is a quote to which Nicolai is replying.] David told me the following in 1971: " With film scores you buy the (one) record, or you don't. With classical a music piece might have 50 records of the same music opus. I only buy one good, solid performance of the music, I don't want the other 49 records. I want different records in my collection, not duplicates of the same music."

A perfectly acceptable practice.

[Nicolai's words now] Sure, to each its own.

It's far removed from my listening habits though. If the music has any worth or interest to begin with, it should also be worth to be recorded and performed.

For me, it is about the music, and it is NOT about any given recording of the music. Music is a breathing, living, fluctuating thing.

I don't like my listening experience of Brahms, Beethoven or Stravinsky to be caged into a single recording. That's like saying you won't ever see another version of HAMLET because you have already seen a good one. In case of Beethoven, for example, two of my favorite recordings of the sixth symphony are MILES apart in interpretation. I would not part with either, and I do have several more.

I recently picked up the Salonen recording of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps... even though I already own several recordings of that piece. Still, when I listened to that, it sounded all fresh and unexpected again.

A musical score is like a play. The written notes are there to be performed. Just because it has been performed very well before does not mean it should not be performed again. Great actors and great directors can do great things with a great play just like great conductors and great orchestras can do great things with a great score. And often, the resulting performances (of either play or score) differ considerably. For me, that is part of the enjoyment of listening to a new recording of a score I already know.

Now I will grant that not all film scores necessarily possess the substance to require several interpretations; lots of it is first and foremost "functional" music, but in case of Rozsa, I'd say: hell, I am very happy if at least some of his works exist in more that one version. They are that good.

Owning multiple recordings of works has never struck me as an odd thing. It's not just for classical lovers, either; why do so many live concert recordings of various artists exist? Why would you want to hear a concert album of the Beatles, when you already have Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band? This explains it all.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Burst of...a lot of stuff

Time to clear the decks of some stuff I've been saving up! Some of this stuff has been lingering in my Bookmarks folder for a while, and I've long-since lost track of the sites from which I originally filched the links.

:: The Uncomfortable, an art project described thusly:

The goal is to re- design useful objects making them uncomfortable but usable and maintain the semiotics of the original item.

:: My Husband's Stupid Record Collection, in which a woman is listening and reviewing her way through her husband's record collection. Despite the word "stupid" in the blog title, she is really making an honest effort with each record. If I remember correctly (it's been a while since I bookmarked this), she calls the collection "stupid" because they've moved a few times, and thus so have the records. Moving a lot of records is a pain in the ass if you do it a lot. (Kind of like...books...hurg!) It's interesting to read reviews of music from the perspective of someone who likes music just fine but isn't really into it.

:: Weird American things that Americans don't realize are weird. I don't disagree with some of these; mainly this is a list of things someone not from a place found odd about the place they visited. It just happened to be our place. (If you're an American reading this, that is. If you're not, you're likely reading this list and nodding along, thinking, "Yeah, you guys are weird!")

:: Two older ladies go on an airplane. For the first time in their lives.

:: Wow:

On a nature hike along Germany's Baltic Coast in 1913, 20-year-old Richard Platz scrawled a note on a postcard, shoved it into a brown beer bottle, corked it and tossed it into the sea.

The bottle was recovered from the Baltic last month. Researchers haven't yet figured out what the note said (conditions and age have faded it badly), but they did manage to identify the author and contact his living granddaughter, who is 62 now.

:: The worst jerseys in the history of the NHL. I'm not a hockey fan (in fact, I tend to be irrationally anti-hockey owing to the game's odd emotional hold over this area), but I link this because a recent Buffalo Sabres jersey makes the list.

And to be honest...I didn't hate the infamous "Buffaslug". I liked that more than the red-and-black "angry goat" that the Buffalslug replaced.

:: Romantic pictures from Russian dating sites. I don't for one second claim that this bit of oddness is unique to Russia, because Lord knows you can find a lot of bizarrely creepy photos on good old American dating sites. In fact, it's kind of endearing (or depressing, not sure which) to learn that "creepy dating site profile pics" seems to be a universal thing about our species.

:: Everything you don't know about tipping.

:: Worst excuse for criminal behavior ever:

Police say an Iowa City man claimed a faulty belt was to blame after he dropped his pants in front two women.

Most amusing to me is that this happened in Iowa, which is the overalls capital of the universe. And I know, I went to college and found a Wife there!

:: Finally, pies in the slow motion!

OK, that's it. Back to packing. Damn, I have a lot of books....

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Symphony Saturday

OK, folks, obviously I'm not sure I'll be able to get these posts done on the weekly schedule I'd hoped for at the outset (whilst moving is in progress -- by the second week of May, the dust should be in the "settling" stage), but you never know. That's my way of saying, at the same time, "Sorry for last week" and "I may well miss next week". But for right now -- Robert Schumann is in the offing.

Schumann was one of the archetypal Romantics in not just the history of music, but the history of art. If you went to make a fictional biography of a full-blown Romantic figure in all his glory, the resulting life might well look like Robert Schumann's. He was enormously gifted, but suffered from mental illness, which led him to spending the rest of his shortened years in a sanitarium after he tried to kill himself by flinging himself from a bridge into a likely filthy river. He had one of music history's great love affairs in his marriage to Clara Wieck, who was under the legal age when he met her and their affair began. Schumann was a brilliant and fiery soul who burned himself out quickly. One of the oddest stories about Schumann is that he might have become one of history's greatest pianists, had he not injured one of his hands permanently in the course of trying to strengthen his ring finger by rigging up some kind of contraption to restrict its motion while playing.

Schumann wrote pretty much everything, although I suspect nowadays it's his piano music that is best known -- the great Vladimir Horowitz, for example, nearly always used Schumann's delicate and gorgeous "Traumerei" as an encore -- but his orchestral music is quite good. It takes a pretty good conductor to expose Schumann's orchestral textures, which can be on the "dense" side. In this performance, conductor Daniel Harding (whose work I am hearing for the first time) does an excellent job of making the various textures shine through in the orchestra (in this case the Mahler Chamber Orchestra). There are places in this performance where the strings become almost ethereal, particularly in the third movement. This symphony is one of Schumann's "sunnier" works, but it still has moments when it broods. The opening passages here are of particular interest, with a brass chorale over gentle churning in the lower strings. That brass chorale comes and goes throughout the work.

And speaking of brass chorale, get a load of these trumpets!

Those are what you call natural trumpets. Note the lack of any valving or extra tubing. On natural trumpets, the player changes notes by shifting the lip muscles in certain ways (it's hard to explain in technical terms, but it's not unlike how one changes notes when whistling). These may be a more modern type of natural trumpet called a "baroque trumpet", which is a modern variation on the natural trumpet that includes finger holes to allow for better intonation. It's just always cool to see these types of instruments in action, as the valve trumpets weren't invented until the early 1800s and didn't become really the standard until the latter half of the 19th century. Once a trumpet geek, always a trumpet geek!

Here is Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 2 in C major.

Next week: I'm actually not sure yet. Maybe more Schumann; he did write four symphonies, after all. Or maybe not. You never know!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Be careful what you ask for, Roger!

Be back later. Moving going great. Painting is done. Brain is exploding.

Oh, and here's some music. Heh!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

So last night, feeling a bit mischievous, I posted a strong negative opinion of mine. I expected some pushback, but I got more than I expected! So I put the same item to you, folks.

What do you think of sweater vests?

UPDATE: I'm talking about these things: