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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Your Sunday Burst

Oddities and items of questionable interest to occupy your time this Sunday morning!

:: How Secret Societies Stay Hidden On The Internet.

It all started with a Facebook message from a dead guy.

Seems to me a wild-and-wooly adventure novel, full of globe-trotting exploits and hidden treasures, should start with a line like that. Someone needs to write that. (Not me, I'm booked.)

:: It turns out that actors don't always like other actors, and are sometimes quite willing to say so. For example, Rex Harrison on Charlton Heston:

“Charlton Heston is good at playing arrogance and ambition. But in the same way that a dwarf is good at being short.”

Ouch. More actor-on-actor insults here!

:: I am forever fascinated by questions of artistic process, such as "What's your desk look like?" or "What's the atmosphere of the room you work in?" or "What pen do you use?" Well, the world hasn't gone completely to electronica: Creative Types on their Favorite Writing and Drawing Instruments.

I will show up at a client meeting with a museum director and curators with a bowl of about 50 Sharpies in different colors. People just never see that. It’s like candy. When I start sketching, generally the purple comes out first – it is strong, but not too out there. I also love orange. The different colors help you clarify things: layering, floors, spaces, doorways.

--Architect Kulapat Yantrasast, who loves Sharpies.

:: How they make Ramen noodles:


:: A brief history of Sambo's Restaurants, which aren't all gone yet.

I don't recall ever once eating at a Sambo's, and if we did, it was likely on a road trip of some sort when we needed breakfast. I never knew about the racism in the name until the places were all gone.

:: Kevin Smith on walking on board the Millennium Falcon. (Salty language warning.)

:: Scared of heights? Don't go to these places. I, however, would love to go to each one! (I'm not doing that "tether myself to the CN Tower and then lean over the edge" thing, though. That way, madness lies.)

:: My new life goal is to have a book of mine summarized on Thug Notes.

OK, that's about all for this week. Enjoy and stay weird!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Symphony Saturday

I meant to get this one done last week, but time intruded (I can't believe how much time I spent trying to make my book trailer work!), and I never got the post written. I could have written it, really, but for this series I never write the post without having given the symphony in question a fresh hearing, and this one's on the long side. Up now is the Faust Symphony by Franz Liszt.

Liszt is far better known as a composer of piano music than for his orchestral output, but that's not an indication of quality so much as his life's focus, as Liszt may well have been the greatest piano player in history. He's certainly on my short list of musicians I would strive to track down and hear were I to gain access to a TARDIS or Doc Brown's Delorean or Bill and Ted's phone booth or...you get the idea. Liszt was so great a pianist that his life took on a rock star quality. He used his performing fame to fuel a full and complete musical life, as a composer and a conductor and essayist. Franz Liszt was the total package as a musician. Falling squarely in the Romantic era, you can hear in Liszt a great deal of the connecting tissue that led from Beethoven to Wagner. His music looks back and forward, and though he can be long-winded, his works invariably have moments of searing incandescence.

Years ago, when I was studying music in college, I attended a recital put on by the faculty, which they did once or twice a year. This particular recital ended with one of the piano professors, Dr. Reuter, playing one of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies. It was a showpiece that, among us music students, pretty much brought the house down. I'd love to be able to hear Liszt himself, at the height of his powers, working that magic on the keyboard.

As for today's symphony, A Faust Symphony is something of a hybrid, combining the symphony with the idea of a tone poem (or "symphonic poem", as Liszt would call it). The full title of the work is actually A Faust Symphony in Three Character Sketches after Goethe: (1) Faust, (2) Gretchen, (3) Mephistopheles. It is not intended as a musical telling of the Faust story, but as a depiction of the characters themselves. I've never read Faust, and my only real familiarity with the story comes from the large number of musical works I've heard, most from the 19th century, that were inspired by it. (Chief among these is Berlioz's amazing La Damnation de Faust.) The story of Faust had quite a hold on the imaginations of the Romantic era's great artists, and Liszt was no exception.

This symphony employs typical symphonic construction, particularly in its opening movement, before becoming a cyclical work of tremendous drama in the third, after the lyrical and tender second. In this work Liszt does something quite Berliozian, while anticipating the musical language that would later be called "Wagnerian". It's a fine, fine work, atmospheric and brooding and dramatic...it's Romantic, with all that the word entails. Here is A Faust Symphony by Franz Liszt.


Next time, we return to France for one of two symphonies written by a composer who achieved immortality by writing one of the most popular operas of all time!

Friday, July 25, 2014

An act of scarvery

I suspect that "scarvery" isn't a word. Oh well.

In a bit of retail therapy this week, I made my first ever Etsy purchase, from tartx.com. The item in question? A new scarf! Check it out:



Yes, that's old Will himself, the Bard, Mr. Shakespeare to you.

Here's a closer look at Mr. Shakespeare:


And the printing at the scarf's other end:


I can't wait for scarf weather to return! Actually, for this one, I don't even need really cold weather, because it's a much thinner material than my other scarves. I might wear this one on our annual trip to Ithaca in the fall...scarves and overalls are a way of life, folks!

I also made one other small purchase for the library decor, but I don't have it on the wall yet, so that's going to wait. It's cool, though. Really.

"Some infinities are bigger than other infinities."


I've complained a bit about the time I spent over the last several days watching my computer try to run Windows Movie Maker, with less-than-reliable success. (Part of this is likely because it's a pretty basic program, and another part is undoubtedly that my computer isn't tricked out with all kinds of extra memory for tasks like video editing.) There was one upside to the time I spent not writing, though: I passed quite a lot of the time I was waiting for the computer to do stuff reading John Green's The Fault In Our Stars.

Spoilers follow, so I'm putting this after the break.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Something for Thursday

Revisiting a favorite work of mine today, because sometimes you need to remind yourself that once in the greatest of whiles, someone on this planet really does achieve perfection. Of course, perfection is a more reasonable goal if you happen to be, say, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. For the rest of us, it's something to aim at in hopes of just getting better. For Mozart, "perfection" is what happens on a startlingly regular basis. That's what made him Mozart, after all.

I find myself liking performance by school groups and youth orchestras more and more these days, because what you might lack a little bit in polish, you tend to make up for in fresh liveliness of the musicmaking. I have a greater appreciation for flawed passion of late. Here is a chamber orchestra, with soloists, from the New England Conservatory, playing Mozart's Sinfonia concertante for violin, viola, and orchestra in E-flat major.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

So, how frustrating is it when stuff that's supposed to work wonderfully in this new gee-whiz techno-wizard world just doesn't?

I had another post in this space earlier, but I had to take it down because it involved a link to another blog and I could NOT make the link work using Blogger's mobile app. I tried a bunch of times and kept ending up with a broken link. Then I tried fixing it in Blogger's web version (still on my phone), but that didn't work either, so I'll use that one another time.

This all comes on the heels of some enormously frustrating time I've spent lately with Windows Movie Maker, trying to make a book trailer for PRINCESSES. All I'm doing is literally stitching a bunch of brief movie clips together just to convey a bit of what I hope the book feels like, but this makes the program choke constantly. Again, something that should be pretty easy turns out to be a headache.

So again, how do you react when even your relatively modest expectations for your technology end up going awry?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Argleblargle

Sorry about the complete lack of content the last few days, but I've been busy doing stuff. Important stuff. You've no idea, folks!

One thing I've been busy working on is a video trailer for Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title), and it turns out that Windows Live Movie Maker is an enormously frustrating program to use. If I had time and motivation, I'd chuck it and learn to use a different program. Luckily I don't intend to post the trailer until September or October, but I want to get this done, and this program is giving me major fits.

Anyway, stay tuned!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Instaweeks!

Been a while since I did one of these, so here is some recent photographic evidence of my misdeeds!

So far this summer has been one of many blue skies.



...and much green.


I've added to my library a little:


And that top book, about how to make drinks, has turned out quite useful, as the wonderful Mojito has become a staple at Casa Jaquandor!


The cats continue to discover the magical realm beneath my desk. Julio, the resident foot-fetishist, especially loves curling up around my feet when I'm trying to work.


Writing continues, slowly....







At 9:00 am on a Saturday morning, downtown Buffalo is abuzz with activity.


Lester and Julio guard the upstairs. Patience and Fortitude, they ain't.


Lester does not wish me to be successful.




It's all about caffeine and air flow.


It's also about reading outside and sipping Scotch.


It's been an oddly cool summer thus far. Usually I spend July suffering endlessly and not even thinking about wearing overalls, but on the 4th of July this year, it was cool enough!


In fact, by the time the sun was dropping and it was time to start thinking about heading out for fireworks, a sweatshirt became handy. This is unprecedented, folks!


From afar, at dusk, Buffalo Niagara looks like this.


I also baptized our new fire pit.


Some stuff I haven't done:



One day the rains came...


And an hour later, were completely gone....


Minty M&Ms!


Drink up, folks!




Friday, July 18, 2014

Shorter Jeff Simon

"In any article I write about Roger Ebert, half the words will be about how I hate Gene Siskel and that teevee show that proved that they were both better critics on teevee than I'll ever be in print."

Seriously, this guy's inability to ever ever ever mention Ebert without also venting his eternal hatred of Siskel and their teevee career is at this point pure pathology.