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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Something for Thursday

You know what? You look like you could use a half hour of Mozart. So here.

(And if you don't think you could use a half hour of Mozart? Shut up and listen to a half hour of Mozart.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

Stretching the idea of the "tone poem" somewhat, here is Alexander Glazunov again, this time looking back in time rather than east in direction. This orchestral suite is called "From the Middle Ages," and it is just that: a musical depiction, in Glazunov's thinking, of the climate of medieval Europe. There are big melodic strokes here, to be sure (this is a Russian Romantic, after all), but there are also intimate expressions of medieval dance, the songs of the troubadours, and the marching of the knights off to Crusade. At times this piece almost evokes for me the finest in film music.

Here is Glazunov's suite "From the Middle Ages."

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Something for Thursday

Today is National Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It's not enough to remember that it happened. We must remember why.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

There is something oddly seductive about the way the Russian Romantic composers, while trained in the musical traditions of the west, often looked eastward for inspiration. That exotic flavor lives so sparklingly in the work of Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin, and is also found in the works of other Russians of the time, such as Alexander Glazunov. This work here, the Oriental Rhapsody, sounds like it belongs on a program of such music alongside Scheherazade and In the Steppes of Central Asia. It's a musical tribute to an Asia-that-never-was, born in a time when the word "Orient" was used to sum up virtually a third of the entire world and all the peoples therein. There's no real depiction of an actual Asia here, just an imagined one...but the imagination is powerful.

Here is Glazunov's Oriental Rhapsody.

Monday, April 09, 2018


Just because, here are some photos of the dogs.

(I'll take more of the cats soon.)

I interpret the Dee-oh-gee's expression as being sick of winter's shit. #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #KnoxFarm #EastAurora #wny #spring #overalls #dickiesworkwear #bluedenim #dungarees #biboveralls #doubledenim

Morning Carla #Carla #dogsofinstagram #pitbullmix #pitbullsofinstagram

The surest sign yet of an impending spring #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound

WAZZAT!!! #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #KnoxFarm #EastAurora #wny #winter

2/2 Carla playing with her brother. #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #Carla #pitbullmix #pitbullsofinstagram

Carla awaits the unwrapping of her new ball. #Carla #dogsofinstagram #pitbullmix

Tell Mr. DeMille that Carla is ready for her close-up. #Carla #dogsofinstagram #pitbullmix

Friday, April 06, 2018

Bad Joke Friday

Wow, I need to get back into the swing over here, don't I? Here's something! It's not even a bad joke. I liked it, actually!


Thursday, April 05, 2018

Something for Thursday

I really love the movie Catch Me If You Can. One reason is John Williams's wonderful score, with its mix of caper-jazz and its wistful tone depicting Frank Abagnale's (Leonardo DiCaprio) unspoken wish for some kind of normal life. Williams edited his masterful score, one of his most underrated gems, into this suite.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Something for Thursday

A very young Judy Garland--even before she would travel over that rainbow--sings to a photograph of Clark Gable.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

Max Reger was a late-Romantic era composer who isn't heard a lot these days, owing to his reputation of having written mostly very dense works that aren't the easiest listens in the world. I'm all for difficult listening, but I'm not sold on Reger, whose work strikes me (based on what little I've heard) as very heavy and ponderous. But I'll let you all be the judge: here is Reger's Symphonic prologue for a tragedy.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Running Hound

I've always found it hard to get really nice pictures of Cane as he's running. From certain angles a greyhound running is a magical thing, but from others they look like a randomized collection of overlong limbs flailing in every direction.

I finally got lucky a couple of weeks ago.

Snowhound (1 of 3) ##Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound

Snowhound (2 of 3) #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound

Snowhound (3 of 3) #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound

In other news, it appears that springtime may actually be in the offing. I try to not be overly optimistic on this point, but...well, I can hope, too.

The surest sign yet of an impending spring #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound

And yes, Carla is still here, and yes, she still loves her brother.

1/2 Carla playing with her brother. #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #Carla #pitbullmix #pitbullsofinstagram

Dogs, man. What a life development this has been!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Something for Thursday

It's been a busy week...but not so busy that we can't take some time for Itzhak Perlman playing Bizet by way of Pablo de Sarasate.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Something for Friday

Sorry I didn't get around to posting yesterday, but here is a bit of film music from a movie that is one of the better ones out there at depicting the sense of wonder and grandeur in the universe that science can illuminate. The film is Contact, and I offer this in memory of Stephen Hawking, who died the day before yesterday (on Pi Day, and Albert Einstein's birthday, for a couple of odd synchronicities). Hawking was a complicated person, as most are, but his contributions to science cannot be diminished. He is now one of the "Giants" upon whose shoulders future generations will stand.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Three One Four

It's Pi Day, everyone!

It is also Albert Einstein's birthday and, sadly, this year's edition marks the passing of Stephen Hawking, about which I'll have more to say later. But for now, let's celebrate Pi!

Calculate Pi yourself!

NASA's Pi in the Sky Challenge

A few videos:

(That one's titled "Pi Day" but the video has nothing to do with Pi so far as I can see, but it's a cool video anyway, so there it is.)

And finally:

Happy Pi Day, everyone!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

Film music is often rearranged by the composers into suites that make for better performance in concert settings, and this is one of the better ones. I had this performance on a cassette tape many moons ago, but I never was able to track it down on CD...and then I happened to find it on Google Play the other day. Lo and behold, here it is on YouTube: a suite of John Williams's music to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conducted by Zubin Mehta. This was recorded way back in 1978, before Mehta made his name in a big way as music director of the New York Philharmonic.


Thursday, March 08, 2018

Something for Thursday

In honor of Roger's birthday, in which he turned 65, here is Camille Saint-Saens's Septet for piano, trumpet, and strings. Why this piece? Because it's Saint-Saens's Opus 65!

Happy birthday, Roger!

(It was actually yesterday, but I couldn't do Something for Thursday on Wednesday. That's just not done.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

There's always something fascinating about obscure Beethoven. You can't help listening to it, trying to find hints of the staggering genius that would craft some of the greatest works of art in human history, and not just musical art. You can hear Beethoven's style in this piece, and even though it is fairly obscure (coming from a longer work with choral movements, where only the overture is much heard today), you can still hear the great master within it.

Here is the Overture to King Stephen by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Something for Thursday

Play enough marches in band in high school and college and they get into your blood. I heard this one on the radio yesterday, and while I've known it for years via recordings, I never played it that I can recall. It's The Florentiner March by Julius Fucik, a Czech composer who is best known for his marches, and in the United States for one march in particular, Entry of the Gladiators, which was appropriated by circuses throughout the country. Florentiner is the one I prefer, though. Fucik's output of waltzes, marches, galops, and polkas makes him something of a Czech answer to Vienna's Strauss family, and his concentration on the brass and wind bands in his compositions makes him something of a Czech answer to John Philip Sousa.

Florentiner is interesting in its structure: it starts out full military brass pomp, complete with opening fanfare and then two strains of pleasing martial tunes. But when we get to the trio, the march takes a deeply lyrical turn, and by the end it's pretty much singing its heart out.

Here is the Florentiner March by Julius Fucik.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tone Poem Tuesday

The business of transcription is an interesting one. This is where works that are written for one instrument or group of instruments (or even voices) is rewritten, usually by a different composer than the original, for a different instrument or group of instruments (or, yes, even voices). There are many examples in the classical literature, so while it might sound vaguely disrespectful at first, in truth it is a very common and very old practice. One famous example is JS Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, originally written for organ but later orchestrated in a very famous version by Leopold Stokowski (and recorded for the Disney film Fantasia). Pachelbel's Canon in D has been transcribed for nearly every instrument grouping that you can find, and musicians in wind ensembles and concert bands throughout the country are well acquainted with orchestral transcriptions of music. Some such transcriptions are very fine works in their own right, and provide good opportunities for young musicians to get exposed to some of the great orchestral repertoire or give more honed, experienced musicians something to really dig into.

Here's a piece I heard on the radio today, but not in the transcription that I heard! Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote in 1957 a piece called Variations for Brass Band. This was to be the main 'test piece' at the big competition of British brass bands, which are a pretty unique pleasure in themselves. In addition to their own pieces, there was one work that every band had to perform as part of their overall scoring, and in 1957, it was this by Vaughan Williams. The version I heard today was this same piece rewritten for full orchestra...but the version I'm featuring here is another transcription, this one for full wind ensemble. (A brass band, clearly, has no woodwinds.) The piece was apparently not terribly well-received in its original form, as it is not much of a brass band "showpiece", with almost no opportunities for a band's solo performers to shine. But I found its orchestral version fairly compelling, and I was interested to see that there's yet another version floating around.

Here are the Variations for Wind Band by Ralph Vaughan Williams, transcribed from the original brass band work by Donald Hunsberger.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Dispatches from the Weekend: Wine and Weirdo Doggies

So every year we celebrate my birthday in late September with a weekend trip to the Apple Harvest Festival in Ithaca, NY. (It's always a few days after my actual birthday, but that's fine.) The Wife has despaired of finding a little weekender trip that we could take around her birthday, which is February 25...until last year when she discovered an outfit called Grapehounds, which is a meet-up for greyhound owners and/or aficionados that uses wine and touring the wine country of New York's Finger Lakes region as its centering point and activity. Well, a couple of years ago they started a winter version of the Grapehounds event, called Winterhounds, and it takes place right around The Wife's birthday! So this year was our second go-round. We drove with Cane to Geneva, NY, where we stayed at the Ramada Inn that is located right on the northern shore of Seneca Lake (largest of the Finger Lakes), and we spent two nights socializing with other greyhound owners and most of Saturday driving to wineries for tastings.

Wine tastings are, it turns out, a really enjoyable activity. Last year we only stayed one night and the weather on Saturday was godawful (cold and windy and constantly rainy, making the winery grounds muddy messes), so we only checked out two wineries. This year things were better, so we made it to three wineries and a cider house. That doesn't sound like a lot, but consider that we chose our wineries based on what we wanted to taste, and consider that we made a full circumnavigation of Seneca Lake, which is about 38 miles long, and going to the cider house involved a jaunt to the Cayuga Lakeshore, which is one lake over, and when we realized late in the day that Cane needed a good, honest walk after being in and out of the car all day, we made a quick jaunt to Taughannock Falls.

In short, three wineries and a cider house made for a packed day. A tasting should not be an in-and-out experience. You go inside the tasting room, and you pay for the privilege (tastings were discounted for Winterhounds tourees, and the dogs were allowed inside!), and then you look over a sheet of that winery's offerings, usually selecting five to taste. Then a nice server pours tasting portions into your little glass, and you taste. You can do the whole slurping-through-your-teeth thing, and you can be all pompous and talk about the oakiness and the mouthfeel of the tannins and all that crap, or you can do what we did: "Wow, dear, this one's great! We should buy two bottles of this!" And then you buy whatever you want.

Which is how we ended up with eighteen bottles: fifteen of wine and three of cider. Ayup.

When we arrived, it was very windy and the lake wasn't just choppy, it was straight-up surf-pounding.

Waves rolling in. The wind is coming up the entire 40-mile length of the lake. Brrr! #senecalake #fingerlakes #genevany

Waves were creating spray when they smacked up against the distant pier. The wind was coming straight up the river valley, making for an impressive scene. Saturday wasn't windy at all, but then it picked up again Sunday, allowing for parasailing by these hardcore folk:

Parasailers on Seneca Lake. It's 45 out and the water is surely colder. This is hardcore! #fingerlakes #parasailing #genevany

Before we left for our winery experiences, I hung around in Geneva a little while The Wife awaited our breakfast sandwiches from a little cafe there. Geneva is a really interesting town--in fact, I love most of these upstate NY towns, the ones that were shaped by the train lines in the 1800s and are still holding on even though there's a real sense that the world has passed towns like this by. In truth, I could very easily live my life in the Finger Lakes region, with its railroad-based towns and their old character and the hills and water and the glens and the streams and the vineyards and the forests.

Distance to America'd Genevas! #genevany #fingerlakes

Alley-tunnel in Geneva, NY. It was hard to get the "Covered Way" sign to show up. #genevany #fingerlakes

8-bit masonry #masonry #genevany #fingerlakes

I love when the masonry and pavement is old enough that the trees are shaping it from below. #genevany #fingerlakes

There is simply no time of the year when the Finger Lakes are not beautiful. None.

I could VERY easily live out my days in New York's Finger Lakes region. When I go there I feel like I'm part of something older but which is enduring for the future. #senecalake #fingerlakes

And then, it was on with the overalls and off to the wineries!

Ready for a day of wineries and wine tasting and wine drinking and wine wine wine! #ootd #overalls #vintage #Key #HickoryStripe #dungarees #biboveralls #fleece #scarf #crochet #fingerlakes #genevany

(Oh, check out this little watch pendant I got at last year's Erie County Fair! I'd forgotten that I bought it.)

Pendant watch that I had forgotten that I owned. #watch #pendant #overalls #vintage #Key #HickoryStripe #dungarees #biboveralls

Gratuitous selfie with Cane:

Awaiting a day of adventure! (When The Wife comes out of the cafe with our breakfast.) #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #overalls #vintage #Key #HickoryStripe #dungarees #biboveralls #fleece #scarf #crochet #fingerlakes #genevany

Finally, wine!

Seneca Shore Winery. This is our second visit here; we love their wines. The place is medieval-themed. Note the dee-oh-gee to the right! #senecashorewinery #fingerlakes #wine #winterhounds #grapehounds

Seneca Shore Winery was our first. It's a medieval-themed place, and it's one of the two we visited last year. We loved their products, so we visited again and had just as good a time. Six bottles here. Great stuff! Our favorite is the cranberry wine. It is so good.

Next was Serenity Vineyards.

Serenity Winery, Penn Yan, NY. Our second stop. We weren't as enormed of their wines because they focus on dry wines and aside from cooking, neither The Wife nor I like dry wines as much as sweeter, crisper, fruitier wines. Nice operation, though, and wor

We weren't as enamored of the wines here, but that's not their fault, just a matter of taste. Their product is more focused on dry wines, and both The Wife and I gravitate to sweeter, crisp wines. Their product is fine! We got three bottles.

One notable thing here is that Cane met the barn cat named Stanley, who did not like Cane. Stanley actually scratched Cane's nose and drew blood! It's OK, though. Cane barely noticed and he's fine. It happens. You don't mess with big old barn cats!

The dee-oh-gee's owie, courtesy a big meanie cat named Stanley. Oh well! (Cane's fine. He barely noticed, in truth.) #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound

Next up was Fruit Yard Winery.

Fruit Yard Winery, Dundee, NY. We loved loved LOVED this place. Raspberry wine! Peach wine! Cherry wine! Strawberry wine! Spiced wine! This place was a BIG hit. 12/10, will go back! #fruityardwinery #wine #fingerlakes #winterhounds #grapehounds

I chose this place because its focus is apparently on fruit wines, and not necessarily grape wines. We loved this place and walked out with six more bottles. Fantastic stuff! Cherry wine and strawberry wine and peach wine and raspberry wine. This place will get a return visit!

Wine in the Finger Lakes is a big deal. Some of the wineries are gigantic places, and many parties attending tastings do so via chartered shuttle bus or even limousine. The ones we visited were smaller than the biggies, but there was still a lot of coming-and-going at each. (It's not just wine, either: there are craft breweries and distilleries getting into the mix, too. I didn't investigate the distilleries much, but I will before next year, just in case any are in the rum game.)

We stopped for lunch at Watkins Glen, home of an astonishing state park and the Watkins Glen International Speedway, hence this wall mural:

Wall mural in Watkins Glen, NY. We only stopped here for a bite to eat; I am LONG overdue to hike the Glen itself. #watkinsglen #fingerlakes

While The Wife was ordering lunch at a deli there, I paused to pay respect to one of the giants of NASCAR:

When in Watkins Glen one pays respect to the greats. (This is inset in a sidewalk, it's NOT a gravestone!) #richardpetty #nascar #watkinsglen #fingerlakes

(No, that's not a gravestone. It's like a Walk-of-Fame for car racers.)

After the Glen, we started up the eastern side of Seneca Lake, branching off to drive to the Cayuga Lake valley, which has more wineries, of course. Our goal here was the Finger Lakes Cider House, because we've taken a real liking to sparkling cider of late. (This started because The Wife needed a gluten-free alternative to beer, and she hasn't warmed to any GF beers yet.) This place is a serving-house for a number of local cider blends, a couple of which we actually sampled last year in Ithaca. The Cider House is in the middle of farm country, and the road it's on is somewhere between dirt and pavement...and yet the place was hopping when we stopped. Full bar plus tasting room/restaurant with lots of tables. We bought a "flight" of ciders to taste, which is five four-ounce pours of cider. We bought three bottles of cider here, to go along with our wine. We'll remember this place, too.

Outside the Finger Lakes Cider House. Loved this place, too! Quite busy on the inside, despite a somewhat remote location. I've taken a real liking to sparkling cider of late. #fingerlakesciderhouse #fingerlakes

After the Cider House, we decided to quickly run to Taughannock Falls to give Cane a decent walk so he could stretch his legs and, you know, take care of some other doggie business. With recent rains and snowmelt, we got to see Taughannock with some real flow going over the brink. Usually there isn't much water in the stream by the time we usually visit in late September or early October, and in fact two years ago most of Upstate NY experienced a bad drought that left the Falls completely dry when we arrived. Not so this time! (Also the off-season meant that we were able to take pictures with minimal interruption.)

This is the most water we've ever seen in Taughannock Falls! #taughannockfalls #ithaca #fingerlakes

Cane at Taughannock Falls #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #taughannockfalls #ithaca #fingerlakes

The Wife and the Dee-oh-gee at Taughannock Falls. Aren't they beautiful! 😍😍😍 #wife #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #taughannockfalls

The dee-oh-gee and me, Taughannock Falls.

Of course, the main focus of the event wasn't even wine, but greyhounds! And there were so many. I've never seen that many in one place.

So...many...greyhounds.... 😍😍😍🐢🐢🐢 #winterhounds

So many wonderful greyhounds at this weekend's event! #greyhound #grapehounds #winterhounds

More greyhounds! 😍😍😍 #greyhound #grapehounds #winterhounds


All in all, quite the weekend for all! And now it's over. But at least we still have seventeen bottles of wine and cider to remember it by!

Trip's over! So...THAT happened. Wine touring, it turns out, is an absolute blast. It's also a good way to empty wallets. Fifteen bottles of wine and three of cider purchased in one day...but only seventeen total bottles made it home because we drank one

(Oh, you were paying attention above? Yes, I did say eighteen. But we drank one already, you see.)