Saturday, April 26, 2014

argleblargle herpderp

The moving process will now be shifting in a higher gear, which means (a) my already-infrequent posting for the last few weeks will become almost a complete stop, (b) I won't even be writing this week as the last few sessions I have found nearly impossible to focus, and (c) my head is near to exploding. Hey, what're you gonna do, heads explode every day!

Anyway, I'll try to drop in a time or two between now and The Move, if only to post a couple of throwaway thoughts, like these pictures of kitties.

(No, that was not Lester.)

That was Lester. And here's Julio.

Be excellent, Internets! I'll check in when I can. And if you read a weird news item about some dude's head exploding, it's probably me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

It's William Shakespeare's birthday! He'd be a likely very cranky 450 today.

What's your favorite Shakespeare play? Or your favorite Shakespeare quote? Or your favorite movie based on something of Shakespeare? Or you favorite musical work (any genre) inspired by Shakespeare?

Friday, April 18, 2014


The last few weeks in photos! I knew I had missed this feature last week, but I didn't realize I also missed the week before. Ouch!

(A word here: I was taking a back way from Clarence to East Aurora a couple weeks back, and I came across this bridge. I was so startled to see a bridge with HP Lovecraft's face all over it that I had to turn around and go back just so I could get this photo.)

(Yes, hot-pepper jelly on a burger is amazing. Try it and thank me!)

(Yes, sausage and banana peppers are the best things to put on pizza. Try it and thank me!)

(Gummi raspberries, where have you been all my life!)

(When I get typing fast, this is what my fingers do. Because they're dumb-asses.)

This is the cat bus from My Neighbor Totoro. I want one. It belongs to The Daughter, and I am jealous.

Sitting on my new doorstep!

Cazenovia Creek

Those boxes contain my books. Some of my books, anyway.

Believe it or not, I do long for shorts-weather eventually. Overalls, how can I miss you if I have to wear you constantly!

Wow, lots of photos!

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:


Monday, April 07, 2014

Cats being jerks to dogs

I feel that I should at least post something here just to show you folks that I'm still around (Lord why can't we just be moved already this sucks why do we still live here GAHHHHH), so here are some cats sleeping on the beds belonging to their much-bigger canine housemates, and saying to those housemates, "And there's shit you can do about it!"

More posting to follow, sometime....

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Something for Thursday

Sorry to be late on this today, folks! I'm in a Rodgers-and-Hammerstein place right now, so here's Philip Quast singing "Some Enchanted Evening". 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Why I don't hang out with film music fans online anymore

On a lark I decided to drop by the FSM boards just now -- why, I have no idea, as I have little functional interest in film music these days other than what I hear myself along the way, and certainly none at all in discussing it -- and I saw a thread called something like "Daniel Craig's message for Bond fans". The lead post in thread is a photo of Craig offering an extended middle finger to the camera -- he's dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, and a ball cap, so I assume he was flipping off some intrusive photographer while he was on holiday -- and then the thread turns into a big "We hate Daniel Craig" circle-jerk, with a few people who don't hate Craig chiming in, but not taking it all that seriously.

This is a truly representative comment, cut-and-pasted verbatim from the site:

Daniel Craig gets to use the name, but he is not playing James Bond. He's playing something else. If he read all the books, he couldn't begin to tell you who and what James Bond is because he doesn't get it. He is not Bond, and he will never be Bond. If he is reincarnated as a Sean Connery / George Lazenby / Roger Moore / Timothy Dalton / Pierce Brosnan look-alike, he will still not be James Bond. The deconstructed, politically-corrected, Mother-fixated, pug-ugly character played by Craig is a Mad Magazine version of Bond. When it's all added up by historians and the fans in the near future, Craig's films will have dated the fastest, and his performance will be recognized for the false ejaculation that it is. The franchise makes money no matter who plays the role, so don't take the financial success of Craig's films as some kind of endorsement. If a different actor had worn the suit in the same films they would have earned the same amount of money. Your idolatry for this pathetic actor and his pathetic Bond films tell us more about you than it does about the franchise. Your farting on this board is exactly what I would expect from a Daniel Craig fan. You have the same mentality in common: crass and with no class.

Yeah. And the funniest part is that a few posts prior to this, the same poster indicates that he isn't all that personally invested in the topic. Not as much as others, you see.

In truth, this isn't just film music fans. I don't hang out on any fandom sites of any kind. Drill down far enough, and it gets really ugly. And yes, I hate things too, and I occasionally post about stuff I hate in this space, but at least this is my space.

It's crunch time for Mercado!

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a new project coming to Buffalo, Mercado Revolution, which is to be a marketplace and dining establishment featuring all things local and artisanal in Buffalo, as well as also featuring young and rising chefs who will be working to bring to Buffalo some of the new techniques and thought processes regarding food that have been thrilling the culinary world but have been oddly slow in coming here. The Mercado project is being funded by Kickstarter, and the funding window has just over two days left as of this writing, so if by chance you're a local who hasn't already heard of this project, please consider backing it!

In my earlier post I mentioned some questions I had about the project, questions which have now at least partially been answered. The Mercado folks have really done a masterful job at being able to make sure they have something new to get out, information-wise, nearly every day, mainly in terms of people and vendors who will be involved. There is a lot of exciting stuff slated for Mercado: a test kitchen for Lloyd's Taco trucks (a food-truck business whose quality is so high that in just a handful of years it's become an almost beloved feature in Buffalo and WNY food circles), a Lake Effect Ice Cream shop (this excites me, as their main location is in Lockport, which is just too far for normal trekking for us -- it's about 35 miles one way), and the Bavarian Nut Company (how nice to not have to wait until the County Fair to buy their products!). And many others.

The Mercado drivers have also been very much engaged in the social media scene, engaging people and answering questions almost immediately on Twitter or Facebook. Last Saturday afternoon I asked two questions and both were answered within minutes. (The first had to do with food allergies, as gluten is an issue at Casa Jaquandor -- Mercado will be cognizant of food allergies and accommodating, although obviously they can't make every single item comply -- and the second was whether Mercado would be more geared to dining-in or carrying ingredients for home cooking. The focus will generally be on eating there, which makes sense.) There's just so much about the way they've been going about this thing that feels right.

Another person asked why they are using Kickstarter, and it seems to me that doing it this way creates a sense of community ownership before the place ever chooses a location, breaks ground, or even opens. You can virtually guarantee that a person who has donated is going to visit, just to see what they were supporting; given that it's a food place, they're likely not coming alone; and then after that, the word-of-mouth will spread. It's a unique approach that demonstrates that there's hopefully a critical mass already in place in this region, waiting to support something like this. I'm no expert, but I imagine that would be a big factor in helping the Mercado founders to secure funding later on through more traditional means.

Anyway, I personally find this project deeply exciting. It's interesting that it happens when my own family is on the cusp of moving into a home with a kitchen that is actually conducive to a lot more cooking than we've ever had before. I'm looking forward to being able to do more with food, and do it with higher-quality products and techniques that I haven't been able to do for lack of decent space.

It's time for Mercado. Please consider supporting!

UPDATE: Forgot this: local teevee station WGRZ did a feature on Mercado the other day; you can watch it here. Just ignore the fact that the anchor mispronounces "Mercado" at the beginning, and all the stock footage taken from the Taste of Buffalo festival, which I don't entirely think is what Mercado is aiming for!

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

It's 2:00 in the afternoon and you're feeling your attention start to flag a bit and your eyes are getting droopy. Assuming an outright nap is not an option, what's your afternoon pick-me-up of choice?