bunrab: (me)

So when we last met, I had mentioned that I was going to attempt to read one of the volumes in Daniel Abraham's current series; two chapters of that disabused me of the notion. It's definitely complicated enough that one would have to start at the beginning. And given the size of each volume - fatter than the volumes of Game of Thrones, for comparison - it would be far more than I want to take on at this time. So back it went to the library, unfinished.

lengthy book stuff )

Now under way: another Patricia Briggs, but this time a series I haven't read before, or even noticed existed before, which appears to include dragons, maybe - at the moment, at the beginning of the book, the dragons appear to be extinct. So that will be the next one I report on.

Also read a graphic novel that sort of counts as fantasy: Beasts of Burden Volume: Animal Rites - cute, not terribly deep, but the dog characters and the cat are sort of cool.

Other things: took the euphonium to a Browningsville rehearsal and played it for about half the time, and there were moments when I didn't make a fool of myself. And saw "A Million Ways to Die in the West" with Larry, speaking of the West, and Seth MacFarlane's West is probably almost as fantastical as the books above, and from the first couple of measures of the score during the opening credits I was laughing, and I think I enjoyed it so much because so much of the humor was audio in one way or another, which is what I was paying attention to rather than the gross and tasteless poop jokes. From the snippets of Copland in the score, to "Mila Kunis" by way of "People die at the fair" and not forgetting the uncredited cameo by Bill Maher, I laughed a lot. I'll probably buy the soundtrack album.
bunrab: (me)
Having complained about LEs Mis, I should mention some movies I liked in 2012. Of course the awards nominations tend to be for movies that happened near the end of the year - they always neglect a lot of earlier movies. And of course, there will always be movies that everyone loved but the critics will NEVER take them seriously and no one will EVER nominate them for an award, even though millions of people had more fun than anywhere else - yes, I am talking about The Avengers - so it wouldn't matter where in the year that opened, it wouldn't get nominated. And I will mention one more movie I didn't like, even though it's been nominated for several awards, and that's Beasts of The Southern Wild. I just did not like that one - I am not a big fan of magical realism, and I'm also not a big fan of "every lifestyle and culture has equal value" - that's just not true, when it's a lifestyle and culture that perpetuates ignorance, poor health, and the neglect of children. OK, not gonna do a long rant on that. But I did not like the movie.

On to what I did like. The Avengers, of course - it was fun, it was funny, it was fast, I was never at any point complaining about the acting or historical accuracy or realism because hey, we all came in knowing it was a comic book, and it was a damn well done comic book!

Moonrise Kingdom. Too neat - right about that year, I was right about that age, and my family, while not rich lawyers with a summer home, was the sort of culturally and intellectually inclined family where kids played "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" on the little portable record players. Besides all the Britten and Mozart in the score, I loved the newer music too, that was written as homage to Britten. And damn, it was a funny little movie, with the omniscient narrator popping up looking like a crazed Jacques Cousteau with a Boston accent, and the heroics of the scoutmaster after his total failure as a troop leader - oh, and the wedding!

Robot and Frank. Can't believe how few people saw this. In fact, I bet most of you never even heard of it. Go look for it. Funny, decently done science fiction touches, great performances by Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon - and how often do you get movies about cat burglars anyway? There were just SO many neat scenes - and though there's a happy ending, there's also the heartbreak in the scene where we find out just how serious the extent of Frank's dementia has been... it was really touching. Go find it and watch it, people! It should be a damn cult classic like Harold and Maude.

Argo - while Ben Affleck apparently can't act his way out of a paper bag and has only one facial expression, ever, nonetheless the suspense in this was great, and a lot of the performances  by other people were superb. I mean, we all already knew how the story ended and nonetheless everyone in the theater was on the edge of their seats, rooting for them and practically holding our breath, until the plane took off, whereupon we all cheered. They really did good pacing and timing on this.

So, there's what I did like in the moooobies this past year.
bunrab: (Default)
and now they go past yours via Twitter:

  • 23:19 somewhere in this noisy diner, someone is whistling the Moody Blues' "Tuesday Afternoon" #
  • 20:18 dem ol' French horn blues done got me. #
  • 20:21 First half of the Canadian Brass concert lots of Bach (and the stuff he stole from Vivaldi). #
  • 20:23 a little odd to be listening to a brass ensemble when we're not surrounded by an auduence of brass players, as we have been lately #
  • 20:24 now S is criticizing my typos; it's a real pain to go back and fix them, on a cell phone. #
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bunrab: (Default)
Stalking the Vampire by Mike Resnick - second in his series about PI John Justin Mallory; I liked it better than the first (Stalking the Unicorn) - it made more sense as a mystery, if one can say that about farcical fantasy. Anyway, John Justin, aided by ex-military Winifred Carruthers and 90-pound cat-girl Felina, have to determine why Winifred's nephew seems to be turning into a vampire. This winds up involving several funeral homes with odd names not to mention the Vampire State Building. This is definitely the other Manhattan.

The Anteater of Death by Betty Webb. Who could resist a title like that? Not I, certainly. I hadn't enjoyed what little I'd read of Webb's "Desert" series, but this is a new series, taking place in a small zoo in California. It's still not a great book, or a great murder mystery, but it's OK, and the details about the animals and their care are interesting enough and funny enough to make up for the stereotypical nasty rich people who populate the surrounding town. Among other things, we get a giraffe giving birth, as well as the banana-obsessed anteater giving birth. Spoiler: neither the anteater nor the butler did it.

The Handicap Principle by Amotz and Avishag Zahavi. Probably the most boring pop-science book I've read in a while, partly because very little has been done to turn it from academese to pop. Excessively long to convey a fairly simple idea, the authors insist on dragging EVERY possible feature of an animal into play as a handicap for mating competitions, including, for pete's sake, why men have beards and women don't. The authors claim, you see, that it's because men fight a lot, and having a beard makes it easier for other men to grab them, so by displaying one, a man is claiming that he can win any fistfight, even with the handicap, thereby making him a more attractive mate. Women don't have beards because they don't get into fistfights. Honest, the authors say this!! Also, besides dragging their premise to absurd lengths, the book has crappy illustrations that do nothing for it. Would be much improved by editing out the more outrageous half of their claims, and filling the space with photos of the animals and some side-by-side comparison illustrations. Also including more rodents, perhaps overlooked here because so many of them aren't flashy and aren't terribly dimorphic in size and therefore would be difficult to stretch into the authors' thesis.

Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin. Known for her work with livestock animals, Grandin here adds pet animals to the mix, discussing how improving our pets' lives by considering their evolutionary environment can also improve our own lives. Some of it is redundant stuff from her other books. The chapter on cats is interesting - a good explanation of why, although cats and dogs are both "domesticated" animals, a cat is a lot less domesticated than a dog.

The Van Rijn Method by Poul Anderson, edited by Hank Davis - a collection of some of the Van Rijn and Falkayn stories, nothing one hasn't read before, but with introductions to each explaining a little more of the big picture of Anderson's future history. Also, at the end, a very good timeline showing how the Polesotechnic League develops and dissolves and the eventual development of the Empire period of Ensign Flandry.

The Fourth Time is Murder by Steven Havill - grabbed at random off library shelves, looking for more to read, this turns out to be a recent volume in a long-established series. It takes place in the Southwest - New Mexico, near the Mexican border - but is NOT, thank goodness, another attempt to be a Hillerman clone. (I get tired of those - all the Hillerman wannabes who toss in a Navajo and a mention of Navajo religion, and then expect that we'll all enjoy their books just because of that, regardless of how superficial or unrealistic it otherwise is.) Main protagonist is a woman under-sheriff. Plot is based around a financial scam we only slowly find out about; side plots include illegal immigrants, perhaps unavoidable given the location.

The Golden Age of Novelty Songs by Steve Otfinoski. Although it hits most of the high points, I can't entirely agree with a book that devotes almost an entire chapter to Alvin and the Chipmunks and only a couple of sentences to "Camp Grenada." And in the chapter about Christmas novelty songs, he doesn't even MENTION "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" - hmph! Includes photos, and does include things you might not instantly think of in the novelty song genre - Cheech and Chong, and William Fries (better known as C.W. McColl), along with the ones you would instantly think of - Napoleon XIV, Homer & Jethro, The Chad Mitchell Trio (my favorites! for their song "Lizzie Borden.")

There, now I'm only a couple weeks behind on the news.
bunrab: (Default)
Dear Composer:

What is it with changing clefs in the middle of a freakin' line?? I can cope with your absurd choice of key signature; I deal with your changes of time signature every few measures; but keep the music to one clef per part, dammit! If you weren't dead, I'd kick you in the shins.


Dear Publisher:

I like reading a book to be an adventure in literature, not an exercise in proofreading. If you do not hire a copy editor, I will hunt you down and kick you in the shins.


Dear #1 Cat:

Stop eating my yarn.

Human #2


Dec. 19th, 2008 11:57 pm
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
So here's what I've been doing the last couple weeks: two weeks ago, caught a cold. Hasn't completely gone away yet. Tried taking pseudoephedrine to stop the snot, and got zapped by my ICD for my trouble. The day after that (last Friday) drove up to Philadelphia to see niece in high school play - she is a freshman, but got one of the front parts usually reserved only for seniors; the family habit of singing loudly in public at the drop of a hat has some uses. Came back Saturday afternoon; played holiday concert at CCBC-Essex with the BSB on Saturday night. Sunday afternoon, I played a holiday concert with the Montgomery Village Community Band, while [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet played one with the Bel Air Community Band, each 40 miles in opposite directions from C'ville. And at that, we missed two other performance opportunities we had for the same afternoon; since Thanksgiving was so late this year, the number of weekends available for holiday performances is scrunched down, so a lot of things were happening at the same time.

Monday, I slept. Well, woke up for meals, but otherwise slept. Tuesday I also slept, though I woke up for taking Chippy-chin to the vet for a follow-up; he is almost all healed up from Darwin's attack. Wednesday, let's see, I believe I actually woke up for a few hours Wednesday, and worked on the many homemade holiday presents I have not yet finished. Thursday we went to the library, and I finished buying the last few little things I needed to buy for assorted nieces and nephews. Then Thursday evening, Cindythelibrarian took us to see a show, as part of her Christmas present to us. The show was "Every Christmas Story Ever Told" presented by the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and it was great. A three-man show doing them all - Charlie Brown, The Grinch, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and (due to copyright issues) Gustav the Green-Nosed Reingoat. If you're in the area, it's playing through Sunday. My favorite part was the first act closer, The Nutcracker ballet. If you're on my flist, chances are you are familiar with Anna Russell's version of The Ring Cycle; imagine the Nutcracker condensed that way and you about have it. Complete with actual ballet dancing, done very well and very funnily. (Funnier for women my age than for men, because women of my generation, if we were anywhere above poverty level and even some below, we took ballet lessons when we were six years old or so; it was just one of those things. Ten years older and you probably didn't; ten years younger and you probably didn't, but all of us who are fifty-mumble took those lessons, whether at a dance school, or cheap group public school stuff on Saturdays in the gym, we all learned the five positions, and plies, and so on. Bit of cultural literacy there.) The second act was a merger of Dickens' A Christmas Carol and "It's a Wonderful Life" and then ended by singing every Christmas song ever written in about three minutes. We really enjoyed it.

And Friday, today (or yesterday, depending on how you feel about nights and stuff), I went to the doctor and got some stuff that's supposed to stop the nose drip without causing hypertension or arrhythmia; we'll see how that works. Also stopped at Jo-Ann's and got some yarn for one last teddy bear xmas present, and at Trader Joe's for freeze-dried strawberries; the chinchillas get VERY peeved if we run short on strawberries, and one really doesn't wish to risk the wrath of a peeved chinchilla. And now I am back to working on those presents - gotta finish place mats for Steph, potholders for Jen, teddy bear for Luke...

I have not had time or energy, outside of concerts and colds, to do any xmas shopping for anybody not part of my immediate family. If some of you normally get a Solstice/Chanukah/xmas present from me, well, this year, expect a New Year's present, or an Epiphany present, or maybe even a Martin Luther King Jr. Day present... There are a couple small things going out in the mail tomorrow to Texas, and a couple more small things on Monday, that might get there before New Year's.

One of the things we haven't done, either, is get up to NYC, which I wanted to do. Since the Museum of Natural History keeps their tree up through the end of the month, I am thinking we might go the week after Christmas; even though it'll be a little more crowded 'cause kids have off from school, a weekday should still be tolerable. Possibly Monday the 29th. (T, I'll call you about possible lunch!)

Now back to work.
bunrab: (alien reading)

Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia - despite the subject, not as interesting to me as some of his books - the anecdotes are quite short, and a lot of time is spent on amusia. One fascinating thing: the incidence of musical hallucinations is much more common than you'd think; estimates are that as many as one in four people will have a musical hallucination at some time in their lives, and that there are probably about as many people who have repeated or near-constant musical hallucinations as there are completely deaf people. So chances are, if your circle of acquaintances is large enough to include someone who's deaf, you also know someone who, unbeknownst to you, has musical hallucinations.
Jane Haddam, Cheating at Solitaire - latest in the Gregor Demarkian series. Partly a Hollywood roman a clef and while I realized promptly that "Stewart Gordon" is Patrick Stewart, it took me longer than it should have to figure out that Arrow Normand is Brittney Spears spelled backward.

bunrab: (alien reading)
A Farewell to Alms by Gregory Clark. Possibly the most annoying book I'll read this year - but I knew it would be going in; I just wanted to see whether the reviews I had read had conveyed an accurate impression. Sure enough, they have. Clark is a conservative English economist who thinks that it's your own fault you're poor if you didn't have the good sense to choose to be born White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. And that the English class system is actually the ideal system for breeding the sorts of person who would be perfectly suited for taking over industrial capitalism. We have graphs that don't show what he claims in the text they show, mistakes of correlation for causation, switching of cause and effect, and a great many blanket statements with no supporting evidence whatsoever.
Countries such as Malawia or Tanzania would be better off in material terms had they never had contact with the industrialized world and instead continued in their preindustrial state.
Oh? While the rest of the world advances?
...there is ample evidence that wealth, and wealth alone, is the crucial determinant of lifestyles, both within and between societies.
And later on he goes to state equally blanketly that wealth, and the amount of stuff you can purchase as a consumer, are the main, if not only, determinants of how happy you are. Oh, and here's another one, wherein he manages to get things exactly backward:
...Europeans were lucky to be a filthy people who squatted happily above their own feces, stored in basement cesspits, in cities such as London. Poor hygiene, sombined with high urbanization rates with their attendant health issues, meant income had to be high to maintain the population in eighteenth-century England and the Netherlands. The Japanese, with a more highly developed sense of cleanliness, could maintain the level of population at miserable levels of material comforts, and they were accordingly condemned to subsist on a much more limited income.
He makes fun of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel and pretends that comparing wages and prices in Malawi in 2001 is not completely apples-to-oranges with English wages in 1800, as though subsistence farming were exactly the same in both, and the types of craftspeople needed, and products needed, were the same in both, and as though initial climate conditions, health conditions, geography, degree of urbanization, etc., were the same in both, so that he can prove that the English are superior in all ways. He feels that the only area where England historically was not perhaps perfect was in the area of intellectual property rights. Really. Enough of that. Let's change the subject, he's not worth continuing with.

The History of the Snowman by Bob Eckstein. Very funny, though those who collect snowglobes may be a little offended at his suggestion that they are the ultimate form of kitsch. This would be a perfect secular winter holiday gift for many people. And the illustrations are the best part - the history of the use of snowmen in advertisements, the very first occurance of a snowman in artwork in recorded history, the world's largest snowman. He runs into feminist criticisms of snowmen, and also a giant French snow-woman representing revolutionary Paris. Perhaps my favorite illustration was the print of an anonymously-done fresco in Italy from 1403, the very first depiction of a snowball fight in recorded history. INcluding a lady in full dress being smushed in the face by a snowball.

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin. A must for biology nerds; perhaps a skip for people who have no idea what a Hox gene is - although portions of the book are about gross anatomy, it's not just molecular biology. I should note that I have been reading this one at supper while [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet has been reading Napoleon's Buttons which is pop science about organic chemistry; we have looked really nerdy. Anyway, Shubin, the guy who more or less discovered Tiktaalik, the fish with wrists, is a good writer, and we hear lots about what it's like to go on paleontological expeditions, as well as how to give a skate an extra set of wings.

The Book of Ballads illustrated by Charles Vess. Introduction by Terri Windling. Various fantasy authors (and Sharyn McCrumb, who uses folk songs in her mysteries) pick their favorite Child ballads and construct some sort of back-story, and then Vess illustrates the backstory and parts of the ballad. Neil Gaiman chooses "The False Knight on the Road" and we see the boy at home with his elderly ma before heading off to school. Jane Yolen chooses "King Henry" which is one of my favorites of Steeleye Span's - oh, and in the back of the book, there's a discography of various groups who have recorded these songs, with Steeleye and Fairport Convention being the main suspects, of course. Sharyn McCrumb chose "Thomas the Rhymer." Midori Snyder chose "Barbara Allen" with perhaps the most complicated backstory. Elaine Lee chose "Tam-Lin" and I was least happy with the illustrations of that - not a style I liked at all. Anyway, there's several more, and if you are fantasy fan or folk-song fan or both (yes, I'm looking at you, [livejournal.com profile] angevin2), you will want to take a look at this book.

This is my Funniest edited by Mike Resnick. An anthology of "leading science fiction writers present their funniest stories ever" thereby proving that an author is not necessarily the best judge of what's funny. My favorite was Waldrop's "Night of the Cooters" but although it's funny, I don't think it's his funniest. Gardner Dozois' "The Hanging Curve" didn't even strike me as funny (and there's an intended pun there.) Anyway, there were enough good ones that it wasn't a waste of time, but not enough that you'd necessarily want to pay brand new trade paperback prices - used would be about right.

More later. Mostly, we've been doing house stuff - spent most of yesterday putting together flat-pack furniture in the new house; today and the next couple days, the electricity is off there while the electricians do the upgrades on the circuit box and attendant matters, so maybe we'll actually do some packing over here instead.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Besides the Manga Shakespeare, I picked up another graphic thingy from the library - Opera Adaptations, Vol. 2 by P. Craig Russell. A mixed bag - I hated the way he interpreted "Parsifal" - he made it all about the rejections instead of the quest. The Mahler songs were depressing in any event, and graphics made them no less so. I am not familiar with "Ariane and Bluebeard" so it made no sense to me. "Pagliacci" was the last thing in the book - and it was done quite well! All the sly nastiness, all the misunderstandings that each character encourages among the others, were brought out. The characters looked just right to me.

Funny Ladies: The New Yorker's Greatest Women Cartoonists And Their Cartoons by Liza Donnelly. Reviewed on Amazon.com and as ever, please click the little Yes button.

How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard. I took this off the library's new-books shelf, and only later noticed that the author was a ::shudder:: French intellectual. I decided after that, that it would be best if I read it as though the author intended it to be an elaborate academic joke, done deadpan. Bayard mentions near the beginning Paul Valéry's contention that knowledge of the author is of no importance in understanding the text (a standard Deconstructionist claim) and at first Bayard seems to dismiss Valéry's claim, but then he turns around and goes further, saying, in effect, that knowledge of the text is of no importance in understanding the text! This seems to be based on two premises, neither of which seems that closely related to me, and neither of which I agree with: (1) What is important about a book is not its text, but only its relationship to all other books in the universe; as long as you know what that relationship is, you don't need to actually read the book (but if no one actually reads any of them, how the hell would we know its relationship?) and (2) As long as someone, somewhere, has read the book and found meaning in it, that's all the meaning you need to know (but if you don't read the book, how the hell would you understand whatever meaning someone else found in it?) Anyway. I'm glad I decided to read it as a joke, because otherwise this would have me starting another screeching rant about Deconstructionism.
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
I was tagged by [livejournal.com profile] jocundushomo. (I'll get you back one of these days, she says evilly...)

A. List seven habits/quirks/facts about yourself.
B. Tag seven people to do the same.
C. Do not tag the person who tagged you or say that you tag "whoever wants to do it".

1. I have great difficulty assigning the words right and left to the correct hands. I know which direction I want to go, but figuring out which word to blurt out to match that direction takes me a very noticeable couple of seconds.
2. I pick up my underwear and toss it in the hamper with my toes.
3. I honestly think inland marine insurance is an extremely funny topic.
4. I finally learned to whistle with two fingers in my mouth when I was about 48. I learned that I could actually whistle a TUNE that way two days ago - I had never tried it before.
5. I think the habit of viewing dead bodies in their coffins is disgusting. I have never gone up for a "viewing" and I don't ever plan to.
6. I once worked as a hot-pants-wearing exhibition model at a car show. Granted, it was for an experimental car designed by a college team who were friends of mine, but still.
7. I don't know if this counts as a quirk - but I really like hashi and hitori puzzles and I don't like sudoku puzzles.

Tagged: [livejournal.com profile] miz_geek, [livejournal.com profile] bcjennyo, [livejournal.com profile] pussreboots, [livejournal.com profile] fritzsmomma, [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet (ha!), [livejournal.com profile] cavia, [livejournal.com profile] crustycurmudgeo (note: I forgive you (any you) in advance if you really don't want to do this.)
bunrab: (Default)
Christmas with Travelin' Light - Sam Pilafian & Frank Vignola. Light jazz with a tuba soloist - need more be said? Pop and traditional favorites.
The Ventures Christmas Album. Ahh, the sixties. This is pretty funny - and they sneak in bits of their own music, too - a piece called "Scrooge," and little riffs from other pop songs sneak into the Christmas carols. Their "Jingle Bells Rock" sounds more like rock than the original did.
Christmas with the Lettermen. Traditional carols, nice harmony, a bit bland (I say that about a lot of things that don't include LOUD).
Christmas - The Players. Lots of stuff on here. Huge variety of instrumentation - you don't often hear soprano sax and cornetto on the same song, let alone both of those with button accordion and banjo.
Psallite! A Renaissance Christmas - Chanticleer. I'll bet [livejournal.com profile] angevin2 has this one, too. Josquin des Prez, Heironymous Praetorius, William Byrd. A must for early music fans.
Christmas Now is Drawing Near - Sneak's Noyse. Lots of English folk carols. Themed medleys. Some stuff that's not commonly heard in the US.
A Froggy Christmas. Novelty album, needless to say. A little of this goes a long way, so it's best played as part of a shuffle rather than trying to listen to it straight through. The back cover text is pretty funny (one of the performers is listed as Ribbit Goulet...)
A Toolbox Christmas. Likewise a novelty album, same caveat as above. "Your favorite carols performed on your favorite hand and power tools." Some spouses think it's funny to put Froggy Christmas and Toolbox Christmas on shuffle with each other (and nothing else). Some spouses are lucky that I am extremely tolerant.
bunrab: (saxophone)
So Tuesday night we played a concert at the Charlestown retirement community here in Catonsville. Audience loves it. By the front entrance of the building we played in are large plant pots, chock full o' ornamental cabbages. So of course, [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet and I starting substituting "ornamental cabbage" in all sorts of Christmas carol lyrics. "Walkin' in an ornamental cabbage" almost even scans correctly, whereas "Hark the ornamental cabbage sings" doesn't, not really.

Wednesday was rent-a-car day since I had to be at rehearsal in Montgomery Village and S had to be at rehearsal in Essex at the same time, each of us with our large conical brass instruments. And it was snowing. So I got to drive my rented Ford Escort (I hate automatic transmissions!) through the snow to MV. About 60% of the band made it to the rehearsal, which happens to be the dress rehearsal for Sunday's concert. The surprising thing? It wasn't a difficult drive. I decided discretion was the better part of valor, and instead of taking the short route I usually take, consisting of 2-lane roads through rural areas, took a much longer route which kept me on interstate highways for all but the last 2 miles: Interstate 70 all the way west to Frederick, then I-270 south to the Mont. Village Ave exit. Yes, it was 20 miles longer, but worth it. The highways were surprisingly orderly - everyone trucking along at about 40-45 mph, no idiots, very few trucks, no accidents that I saw on the 64-mile trip there. Came back via taking 270 the rest of the way south to the DC Beltway which is I-495, took that east, then came north on I-95 to I-695, which is the highway we live 2 blocks off of. That route is about 54 miles. It was also orderly, slowish but steady, and free of accidents. So in about 118 miles I circumnavigated Central Maryland in the snow, in the dark, in a strange car. Was happy to return said car to rental place this morning. The windshield wipers on it sucked mightily - bear grease might have worked better.

This afternoon, we had a matinee performance of the "Sleigh Ride Spectacular" program that the entire performing arts department at CCBC-Essex* is putting on, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Essex Community College. Dancers, singers, band. I played; S was an usher for this particular performance, as the stage is so crowded that only half the band can actually play at a time, so sections are rotating their players. From where I was sitting, I could not see a thing, including the conductor. So I came in on the second note of every piece. I could not even tell WHO was conducting - I don't mean I just didn't have a good view of the conductor, I mean I COULD NOT SEE ANY PART NOR PIECE OF THE CONDUCTOR. At the end of one piece, some people shifted for a second, and that's the first I knew that we were being conducted on that piece by the woman who directs the chorus, rather than by our own conductor! Since the tuba, the euphonium, and I were in a back row which wound up sorta in the wings, completely out of sight of the audience, we felt free to gossip and read during the moments when we weren't playing - felt sorta like we were in Berlioz' book Evenings with the Orchestra. For a while, said tuba and euphonium were busy text-messaging people on their cell phones. Ah, the 21st century.

On the way into the college, two of the three lanes in our direction, and one in the other direction, were blocked by the overturned Land Rover (completely on its side) and the three police cars and two tow trucks that were trying to figure out how to get it off the road. And the road was clear - wasn't even a case of ice or snow causing it!

Anyway. We play there at CCBC-Essex again Friday and Saturday nights (both of us play) and then we miss the Sunday performance of that concert, because I will be playing in the Montgomery Village concert, and S will be playing in the Bel Air Community Band concert, both of which are at the same time, same day. Whee!

With all this performing and travelling and whatnot, we haven't listened to many CDs. Here's one of the few:
A Very Scary Solstice by the HPLovecraft Historical Society - xmas carols rewritten for Solstice, further rewritten to reflect the horrors of Cthulhu. Nicely sung, and clever, but if you're not into Cthulhu, you might not appreciate the album. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog-Sothoth."

*CCBC-Essex, formerly Essex Community College, is the Community College of Baltimore County, Essex Campus. CCBC is not to be confused with BCCC, Baltimore City Community College, formerly Baltimore Junior College.

More music

Dec. 1st, 2007 09:07 pm
bunrab: (saxophone)
You're getting several shorter posts here, JUST IN CASE the modem cuts out again. Anyhoo, continuing with the holiday listening:
Kenny Ellis: Hanukkah Swings. Several traditional Chanukah songs (there are many spellings, children; the joys of transliteration from another alphabet) and several original ones. Ellis does excellent imitations of Sinatra and other Rat-Packers. One number comes out sounding quite like Benny Goodman swing. And there's the Hanu-calypso. While this isn't traditional STYLING of these songs, it's nonetheless a very good introduction to many of them - I think those of you who don't have much Chanukah music and want to hear a little more would enjoy this.
Barry and Beth Hall: A Feast of Songs. Holiday music from the middle ages, performed on traditional instruments. Several of these are songs that are still familiar, but use tunes older than the ones that are currently popular for the same lyrics. Some of the songs are not familiar unless you're an early-music freak - but then, I know there's a few of you on my flist. Several things in Latin. "Personent Hodie" is one of my favorite Latin carols (not to be confused with just plain "Hodie," which is another carol, and not on this album).
Danny Wright: Merry Christmas. Purports to be with the Dallas Brass (before they became Rhythm and Brass) but it's not very brassy. Also includes the Texas Boys Choir. Mostly traditional, mostly not very inspired. Good background music.
Oscar Brand: My Christmas is Best. Oscar Brand is a voice I can recognize pretty instantly. Includes songs from Christmas traditions around the world, and a Chanukah song. Perhaps nicest is "Frere Jacques" which I always knew was about a monk, but many people don't, and I hadn't associated it with Christmas before I first heard this album - I'm not sure whether Brand added the Christmas verses himself. This is on a mini-disk, from one of our old vinyl or tape albums, and I don't have the original album notes. Anyway, the gimmick of the little kid insisting "My Christmas is best!" wears thin, but the songs are nice.
Lisa Neustadt: Shout for Joy. Lots of a capella singing. Another one that's on mini-disk and I don't have the original album notes, but one of the guest singers sure SOUNDS like Jean Redpath! Couple of spirituals in with the traditional carols. A version of "Es ist ein Rose Entsprungen" which uses a different translation than we normally hear, and the carol is here called "Flower of Jesse." There's also a version of "Silent Night" which uses a different translation, closer to the original German words than the version we usually hear today. Anyway, if you're a fan of a capella harmony, you'd like this; if you aren't, you wouldn't. We do.
Trout Fishing in America: Merry Fishes to All. Well, it's Trout Fishing, so it's funny. The first song is "Chocolate Christmas." My favorite is "The Eleven Cats of Christmas." Some of the songs are written to appeal to the 10-year-old boy demographic, but have enough twists in them to be funny for grown-ups too. It's difficult to explain Trout Fishing to people who haven't heard them - they're a folk-music duo that doesn't sing traditional stuff. FWIW, the lyrics to this album are available at http://www.troutmusic.com, if you'd like to get an idea.
bunrab: (saxophone)
Monday: the aforementioned bike ride to Bel Air for the Bel Air Community Band awards banquet.
Tuesday: Baltimore Symphonic Band played at Riderwood Retirement Village, in Silver Spring, to a full house. Playing at another Ericsson community next Tuesday.
Wednesday: Montgomery Village Community Band steering committee meeting before rehearsal. Got all the details finalized for May 20, June 3, and July 4 concerts. It's nice having a sponsoring foundation that accepts as right and natural that the band needs a 20 x 40 shade tent and a few cases of cold water at outdoor concerts; you'd be amazed at the number of non-musicians who wouldn't consider that a necessary expense.
Thursday: Drove over to Delaware, where my brother JJ and his wife and daughters were visiting (they live in CA) my folks, who live near Dover. Ate lunch with JJ & Co, went over to folks' house and schmoozed; ate supper with folks. Attempted to leave Dover about 9 PM, found out after the first 65 or so miles of the trip about the accident on the Bay Bridge, had to retrace our route back about 40 miles and take a 50 mile detour from there, thereby doubling the length of the journey. Neither scenic nor fun. Delaware doesn't have a whole lot to recommend it if one is not enamoured of slot machines.
Friday: our 22nd anniversary. We went to the Kennedy Center to see Peter Schikele with the NSO. He's older than he used to be, but still funny! He does crosswords with a pencil. (Go ahead, ask me how one would discover that during a symphony orchestra concert.) The chorus wore robes - bathrobes. It was an excellent event, and we got our money's worth!

Now: exhausted.
Tomorrow: sleep late. Send [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet out to pick up mail before PO closes, because I doubt I'll be out of bed in time to do it.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Murder Among the Owls - Bill Crider. Latest in his Sheriff Dan Rhodes series. OK, not spectacular. I could guess the killer pretty easily, but it was still interesting watching the process.
Conservatize Me! - John Moe. An NPR talk show host decides to see if there's anything to the neo-con point of view by immersing himself in its icons and idols. Some very funny bits, some very thoughtful ones. He discovers that he could actually think well of Richard Nixon, certainly compared to what came later, but that no one, not even the most thoughtful pundits, can convince him the Iraq war is necessary; he discovers that taken as individuals, most conservatives are nice people, although there are conservative radio hosts who are still *ssh*les. And there's no way whatsoever that he can convince himself that the Family Research Council aren't dangerous wingnuts.

I already mentioned that I re-read the Liaden series; I re-read I Dare, the last book in the series, yet again, 'cause damn, I love a good space opera/romance/military adventure/fantasy/hero accountant/cat story!!

I have been "talking" the ears off my motorcycle list about music theory, specifically even-tempering and the mathematics of different keys of music. (Someone was silly enough to *ask* me to explain a remark about Bach.) Be glad you are not being subjected to that.
bunrab: (Default)
Went to Wolf Trap Thursday evening to attend concert by Austin Lounge Lizards. Purchased new CD, got it autographed, received free pen for Progenitorivox. Great evening, good to see an old friend who had left Austin before we did, and to meet his wife, and also several other people from MWM, whom we will run into again at the Memorial Day RG.

The new album is a hoot. The new fiddler is OK as a fiddler, even better as a mandolin player, and pretty funny as an ensemble member. The concert was being recorded/filmed/video'd - how does one say that? - for eventual release as a DVD, so you too may get to see it.
bunrab: (squirrel_sweater)
gacked from [livejournal.com profile] angevin2:
You scored as Bass. As a Bass, you are passionate and misunderstood. You may have strange tastes, but you are very passionate about them. Though you may or may not be "evil," you can play a convincing villain. Just don't do something scary and laugh TOO loudly about it . . .














Which Vocal Range Suits Your Personality?
created with QuizFarm.com
bunrab: (bunearsword)
[livejournal.com profile] telynor found this, after responding to my poll. I had to have one!
On the twelfth day of Christmas, bunrab sent to me...
Twelve pets drumming
Eleven rabbits reading
Ten cephalopods a-weaving
Nine cavies quilting
Eight libraries a-knitting
Seven pacemakers a-zookeeping
Six countertenors a-bookcrossing
Five old ho-o-o-ouses
Four science news
Three giant microbes
Two nuclear whales
...and a handel in an adjunct faculty.
Get your own Twelve Days:

Actually, cephalopods would be quite good at weaving...


bunrab: (Default)

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