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beyond the Kuiper Belt, over the sea

Posts Tagged ‘music’


Thursday, July 9th, 2009

It’s a wonderful thing.  I stood the other night up to my knees in water, with Allie, for a good long while talking as the sun set.  We saw a shiba-inu.  If I ever were to get a dog, that’d be the breed.  Also, Princeton is a pretty great town, and I miss it.

Tonight, Chris came over and there was music and cooking and computer-talk.  The meal is worth recounting: it was a fruit-based almost-stir-fry.  Apples, peaches, clementines, around onion, garlic, ginger, cardamom, pine nuts, cinnamon, and all tied together with coconut milk, and underlined by habaneros.  Delightful.  Served over couscous.  Oh, also, sultanas and dried cranberries.

One thing Chris was sure to point out: habaneros are the necessary choice of pepper for this, as they have a real time-delayed effect.  This allows the sweetness of the fruit to be enjoyed, and then the spiciness to hit you.

At long last

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Well, I’ve done it: I’ve brought my concertina to the session.  And I could not have picked a better day; small, small, only three others there, and all the nicest of folks.  Two I know well, one I’ve just met.  And so, I played.  Not a tune, but a song, and it was lovely; I played well, with some minor slips, but all-in-all acquitted myself quite well.

Soon, I will get Rocky Road to Dublin down, and have a tune I can contribute.

Brain Dump

Monday, June 15th, 2009

I finally finished Silas Marner; pleasantly written, but thin.  Not much there there.

I made great spanakopita this weekend, and biked, and hiked, and played frisbee.  I was productive, too—I achieved in 2 hours what would have likely taken me a day to a day and a half had I been in the office.  This is consistent.

I was sent this link, which made my day.

I played concertina, I sang.  I began to learn a new song, Farewell to Nova Scotia.

And yet, I still feel the pull of the East as strong as ever.

Vienna and Athens

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

A friend of mine went to school in Hong Kong with someone named Athens FitzCheung (correct me on this, Karen?).  This name is awesome.  It only recently struck me that Vienna Teng has a surprisingly similar name.

More to the point, Austin and I saw her live tonight, at the etown taping at the Boulder Theater.  She is more amazing than anticipated: pretty, socially conscious, really smart, and most of all astoundingly talented.  With versatility like you’ve not seen in a long time.  She went from classically-informed current singer/songwriter to “didn’t Alan Lomax record this?” in a moment.

Bottom line: check her out.


Monday, April 27th, 2009

I’m there again.  Sick, again, of being here.  I’m enjoying Austin being here, but I know he’ll be leaving and, frankly, I want to leave with him.  There are a lot of things that go into this.  One which I know is contributing to my foul mood, but which I think I should discount, is the simple fact that when I am working on a software project and it feels blocked (in this case, by my inability to grok the stupid stupid world of GUIs and the particular brain-dead library I’m using, because it’s the only thing with good sound-playing support I could find), my mood gets real bad—I enter a pretty persistent funk matched only by the joy I get on the other side, when I make things work.  But in the realm of GUIs, there’s something profoundly unsatisfying about getting them to work; it’s just fiddly crap, not satisfying wrapping-your-head-around-an-algorithm stuff.

So that’s part of it.  But part of it is feeling intensely like, despite being here, going out, doing things, trying to be here in an honest fashion, and trying this for 6 months, I’m still not succeeding.  I have made beginnings of friendships, and shied back from them, or found them uninteresting—even out of the people I knew back East who are out here, I’ve seen all but one of them, managed a few times, and then, really, lost interest.

And then, on the other side, I need more singing.  I think if I had managed to keep going to Meeting, I might have enjoyed the occasional singing there, but it runs deeper than that in any case.

There’s the one thing that really gives me pause, though, and that is the fact that my job is basically awesome, and it’s hard to envision a better way to be employed*.  So… do I risk that?

(A somewhat strange realization: one of the things I am particularly missing right now is late long summer evenings on Karl’s porch singing and picking.  It’s almost bringing tears to my eyes right now.)

* I choose my words carefully; for me, the idea of working for someone else is a little strange, since I grew up with self-employed parents doing something that they basically made up.  This seems to me the ideal.


Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Last night was a great Ladysmith Black Mambazo concert.  Just for the record, their founder and still-leader has the best name ever: Bhekizizwe Joseph Siphatimandla Mxoveni Mshengu Bigboy Shabalala.  The last time I saw them, I was very little, and fell asleep up in the balcony.  This time, I was feeling ill and left a bit early, but every moment I was at the concert was worth it.  They were filled with energy, of course, but more, they were filled with (apparent?) spontaneity.  At a certain point, one of them lifted the shirt of the guy next to him and rubbed his belly, to the other guy’s apparent shock and surprise.  That sort of thing kept happening.  At one point, the group behind Mr. Shabalala wouldn’t stop singing the baseline once he had finished the song.  It was pretty fun.

However, I’m still feeling a bit ill.  This is a particularly bad time for it, as it sort of precludes open water certification this weekend, which precludes getting that at all before Zanzibar, which is sad.  I could perhaps spend two days and get open water in Zanzibar, but… I am not holding out too much hope for that.  It’d be a lot of time in a cramped schedule.

Further thoughts

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Two things:

First, an addendum regarding Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet.  If there were an extended musical scene at Jabba’s palace in Firefly, they would be the band: the mix of Chinese and Appalachian influences makes that clear.  But also the moment of musical apotheosis when two banjos, a cello and a fiddle play Eleanor Rigby, really, was just amazing.

Second, I watched a wonderful movie last night, War, Inc. John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Marisa Tomei, Ben Kingsley, Dan Akroyd.  Sort of a spiritual successor to Grosse Pointe Blank, a favorite movie of mine.  It is a sort of near-future corporate dystopian view of war, and a satire of US foreign policy and corporate greed.  Blatantly but excellently done.

Under the moonlight, something happens… and the race goes on

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

That line is a translation provided in the show I went to tonight of a song they did, in Mandarin.  This show was amazing.  The Sparrow Quartet, consisting of Casey Driessen, Ben Solee, Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck.  Four amazing musicians on their own terms, and so tight together.

The Sparrow Quartet in action

Their music has all something needs and more: it has the old, the ancient, the modern, and the future.  A song inspired by making a mashup of Turandot and Woody Guthrie songs, bluegrassy Chinese and, in one case, Kazakh songs.  It would be inspiring if it were just done alright, but it is done so well.

There was one thing before the show that was a bit distressing, though: three police officers subduing a woman, and really hog-tying her, then putting a bag on her head before taking her off.  We didn’t see the cause, but those ahead of us in line told us that she had apparently been in a bit of a brawl with some young guys who were also at the scene; it had stopped, and then, apparently unprovoked, she had rushed one of them and knocked him over.  I am unsure that the police response was quite commensurate, though…

Good Things Keep Happening

Monday, January 12th, 2009

I don’t know quite what’s gotten me on this blogging binge, but I’ll keep at it as long as I have things to say.

What I have to say now concerns serendipity, and a positive attitude.  I feel that, in my life, very little happens that is bad, very little goes wrong.  In fact, there are a number of things I can think of that may have seemed like they were bad, or went wrong, but in fact turned out for the (likely) better. (more…)