Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bad Joke Friday

A classical music joke:

Was Mozart's posse called...

...his Wolfgang?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Something for Thursday

Wow, Jerry Goldsmith really did score a lot of bad movies, including The Haunting. Nevertheless, his music is always worth a listen. Here's the final scary music selection of the month!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tone Poem Tuesday

Antonin Dvorak wrote this work, The Noon Witch, after his return to Europe from the United States. It is a musical telling of a horrible story:

A mother warns her son that if he does not behave she will summon the Noon Witch to take him away. He does not behave, and the witch arrives at the stroke of noon. The witch, described as a horrible creature, demands the child. The mother, terrified that the witch has actually come, grabs her son, and the witch begins chasing them. Finally the mother faints, grasping her child. Later that day, the father arrives home, and finds his wife passed out with the dead body of their son in her arms. The mother had accidentally smothered their son while protecting him from the witch. The story ends with the father's lament over the terrible event.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Symphony Saturday

The American composers of the Romantic era are an interesting bunch, because they exist in a kind of musical purgatory. Their music is not heard much, mainly because it's all pretty firmly ensconced in the European symphonic tradition, and thus isn't terribly interesting in any nationalistic sense. But a lot of their music is still quite good, and the trouble with musical purgatory -- especially as time passes -- is that it captures works that might not rank with the greatest masterpieces, but which also don't deserve the sad obscurity that awaits most works of art.

This symphony popped up as a recommendation for me on YouTube a while back. I had never heard of John Knowles Paine before that moment, and I listened to his Symphony No. 1 on a whim and found it quite pleasing, muscular and dramatic and at times very lyrical. The knock on the American music of the time -- that it is too essentially European -- is in evidence here, quite strongly. There is nothing about this symphony that sounds the least bit uniquely "American", but that doesn't mean it's bad, just that the American voice had not developed yet into its own sound. That would not happen until the early 20th century, when jazz finally came along. Instead, the work should be heard as a fine piece in the Brahmsian tradition (Paine was almost an exact contemporary of Brahms).

Here is John Knowles Paine's Symphony No. 1 in C-minor.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bad Joke Friday

From a newspaper in 1859. I'm so glad that bad humor is timeless!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Something for Thursday

Continuing with scary music! Or music for scary movies. Or...you get the idea.

Here is a suite from Wojcech Kilar's wonderful score to the rather uneven film Bram Stoker's DRACULA. While the film is uneven, the score is a classic of the genre.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

When things collapse....

This past weekend was...an adventure.

The groundwork started the previous weekend, when a large puddle formed at the corner of our street and the street that leads to it. It had rained a bit that weekend, so I didn't think anything of the puddle, except it persisted all week, through dry days. Never shrinking. Just...there.

Turns out it was a water main break.

I got home from work Friday afternoon to no running water as the crews were starting the repair right then. I don't know what made them choose Friday night, but I'm guessing that something happened which forced their hand. So no water that night, which wasn't a huge imposition (we keep water bottles filled and have jugs of water on hand at all times), except that I couldn't shower. I shower after work, not before, because the nature of my job doesn't always leave me particularly clean. Plus, showering after the job helps me make the mental switch from Day Job Me to Writer and Homebody Me.

But Friday? No water until 10:00pm, so no shower. No big deal, really; I figured I'd just shower Saturday morning, after The Wife showered and went to work and I got the dee-oh-gee's walked. Fine.

Except The Wife leaves and calls me from the road, two minutes later. The water main is now broken again, and impressively so: it's making a little geyser and flooding the street in ankle-deep water.

Welp. Water main break on my street. Supposed to go to a party later, but if I can't shower.... #argleblargle


A cop is already there. Within minutes a Water Authority guy is also there, and within the hour the water is back off and the crews are working. This time there are even more big machines and big trucks involved, and the water doesn't get turned back on until between 5:30 and 6:00. Again, not a gigantic deal, except that I was now two days removed from my most recent shower, which led me to conclude that I should not attend the work party that had been scheduled for that afternoon.

That sucked. But, the water was back.

Onward to Sunday. Hiking at Hunter's Creek Park with Dee-oh-gee 1.0. Pretty autumn day, nice colors, warm weather if a bit windy.

Vaguely ominous spot in the trail #hunterscreekpark #wny #eriecounty #autumn #EastAurora #nature #hiking #trees #forest

Hunters Creek. Maybe my last creek-walk of the year? #hunterscreekpark #wny #eriecounty #autumn #EastAurora #nature #hiking #stream #runningwater #forest

Another week, another adventure #hunterscreekpark #wny #eriecounty #autumn #EastAurora #nature #hiking #trees #forest #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #overalls #dungarees #denim #biboveralls #zacedenim

But later on that day? A wind and thunderstorm barreled through, knocking out power to Casa Jaquandor (among a LOT of others).

For seven hours.


The worst part of this was that our power company's website is supposed to post updates as to status of outages, with estimated restoration times, but they never posted any such information. Every street was listed as "assessing", which they say means that they haven't even figured out what work needs done.

This went on and on and on. At least I got some writing done by candlelight...

Night time power-outage longhand by candle. #amwriting #writersofinstagram #writerinoveralls #longhand #fountainpen #candlelight #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #dungarees #denim #biboveralls

...but still, not fun. Especially when we discovered that our back-up sump pumps, which had been working fine, were now overwhelmed and our basement was starting to flood.

Luckily that's when the power came back on and the main sump pump engaged and cleared the rest of the water pretty quickly.

Everybody lived and nothing was lost, but the entire weekend was, for the most part, one headache after another.

At least it's over.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tone Poem Tuesday

Another hallmark of scary classical music: A Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sub-optimal function

As a rule, the underground pipe that supplies water to your domicile should not be doing this:

Welp. Water main break on my street. Supposed to go to a party later, but if I can't shower.... #argleblargle


Showering is postponed indefinitely. Luckily for you all, who are reading this on a screen.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Bad Joke Friday

It's not a bad joke, actually. Seen on Twitter:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Something for Thursday

(Oops...as often happens, saved as draft and forgot to actually publish.)

Continuing our month of spooky, scary music...here is a suite from Bernard Herrmann's seminal filmscore, Psycho. No intro needed other than that!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

At least THAT happened in 2017!

Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself, tweeted my name.

Here's how it happened.

It began with, surprisingly enough, William Shatner:

Mark Hamill, cited by Mr. Shatner, replied:

Funny reply! Until, that is, a Star Trek geek from the Buffalo, NY area felt the need to point out that Mr. Shatner never faced the Borg on Star Trek. They came along for Patrick Stewart's tenure as Enterprise captain.

Sayeth the Trek geek from Buffalo:

And then, replyeth Mr. Hamill:

Squeee! Proof for eternity that for a period of time--who cares if it was mere seconds long--Mark Hamill was aware of my existence!

I, of course, couldn't allow Mr. Hamill the last word, so:

And as of this writing, there we stand.

Sometimes the future is kind of cool, in amidst the moments of existential dread and the ongoing awareness that everything is terrible.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tone Poem Tuesday

Here's something I've never heard before: The Mask of the Red Death, a work for harp and string quartet by Andre Caplet. Caplet was a French composer and a contemporary of Claude Debussy, and in fact his most noted work seems to have been orchestrations of the great master's works. Caplet's work here is based on the famous story by Edgar Allan Poe, and it is an eerily effective piece of mood music, employing a number of sonic effects throughout in addition to tonal moods that suggest atonality.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Something for Thursday

For the month of scares, here's one of John Williams's rare forays into the world of horror: a suite from his score to the movie Dracula.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

On the Pleasures of Raw Denim

Obviously denim is one of my favorite things on Earth. Few things are more comfortable than well-worn denim that has been broken in over years.

Reviewing my notes. Parts of this book flow wonderfully; others, not so much. #AmWriting #overalls #DoubleDenim

But lately I've discovered another pleasure: raw denim. I know, I know -- raw denim is stiff and unforgiving. Its color is uniform, with none of the wear of use. Wearing it, raw denim doesn't hang correctly and doesn't conform to your body the way broken-in denim does.

Raw Lee overalls

That, however, is part of the charm.

I have, of course, discovered this by several lucky purchases of raw denim overalls.

You can find raw denim overalls pretty easily. Any Tractor Supply store or other workwear establishment will have them. (A good local place is McKay's Work Clothing in South Buffalo.) Vintage raw denim overalls are another matter. They often go for princely sums that are way higher than I'm willing to pay for such things, but it's always the case with places like eBay that you never know. You might go months without seeing a good deal on the thing that you want, and then one day, there it is, and for a decent price, too. This happened for me twice in the last year, when I was able to buy two different pairs of raw denim Lee overalls for a song (both for less than what a new pair of Carhartts would set me back these days).

The Lee overalls of the "vintage" era, roughly the 50s through the 80s, have always been my "platonic ideal" of what overalls should be. I love the shape of the bib pocket, the shape of the back part, even the shape of the back pockets and the brass hardware. When I think of overalls, this is what I tend to picture.

(Photos chosen via a Google image search.)

I've owned several pairs of Lee overalls for years now, two in blue denim and one in hickory stripe.

Detail. This outfit made me happy. #ootd #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #scarf

Red and blue: classic combo! (Waiting for my grilled cheese sandwich to heat. Also, I read a fascinating article yesterday that suggests that humans might NOT have been able to perceive the color blue until fairle recently. Science! #overalls #vintage #Le

Another good writing day in the books. G'night, world! #amwriting #overalls #vintage #Lee #HickoryStripe

These were all nicely broken-in when I bought them, but now I've acquired two in unworn, pristine raw denim. They even came with the tags attached:


What's so great about raw denim? Its deep blue is almost black, and the fabric is stiff. Oh my, is it stiff! But the denim is a wonderful super-dark blue with no fade at all, and no creasing anywhere. The pleasure, here, is in the working with "raw" material (hence the name!). It's the denim equivalent of cooking from scratch, or building a piece of furniture not from a pre-cut kit but from uncut lumber. As another writer puts it:

Raw denim is a true nerd’s category of clothing, the rare subset of fashion that is the domain mostly of men, and thus overrun by complicated terminology and geeks eager to tell you you’re doing it wrong. Basically, though, what “raw” amounts to is denim that wasn’t washed to soften it up (and remove excess indigo dye) before it was sent out into the world — though mine had been Sanforized, or soaked, to pre-shrink them. Raw denim is also usually made of nearly pure cotton — so minimal-to-no Lycra or spandex or what have you, the stuff that gives stretchy jeans their elasticity. What you lose in immediate flexibility, you gain in durability: They’re harder to stretch, but also harder to stretch out. My pair arrived on my doorstep deep blue, stiff, and difficult. Then it became my job to find the patience and persistence to wear them into shape.

There's a process with raw denim, it turns out: you're actually not supposed to just toss them into the washer and dryer right off the bat, nor are you supposed to wash them frequently. An initial soaking-and-drying, without soap, followed by wearing a lot with intermittent re-soakings and gentle washings (hand-washing in a tub with a bit of soap is recommended) followed by line-dryings only, is what's called for. In this way the denim will slowly break in and wear in exact ways that correspond to your body and the way you wear it.

Here's how the ran denim overalls compare, side-by-side with one of my long-broken-in pairs:

Raw Lee overalls

Step one is to put them in the bathtub and hose them off to rinse out as much of the extra dye as possible (I'd have done this outside but the weather was crappy on the day in question):

Raw Lee overalls

Raw Lee overalls

Then I soak them in a bucket for most of a day, periodically wringing them out and changing the water.

Raw Lee overalls

(I was doing to same treatment with a new pair of hickory-striped Dickies.)

Last, they hang on the line to dry. This takes forever. When you thoroughly soak denim, it holds water for a long time. This is not a process for the impatient.

Raw Lee overalls

The result of all this? Well, once dry, you can wear them. The look is great, in my opinion: the denim is still new and dark, with some new wrinkling already starting after the initial soaking and rinsing of the dyes.

Raw Lee overalls

Think Pink! The pinkification of my wardrobe commences! I've been looking for a pink dress shirt and finally scored this banded collar one on eBay. Score! Pink is awesome! 😊 #pink #thinkpink #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #dungarees #denim #rawd

New overalls V: Head to toe! #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #dungarees #denim #rawdenim

From the back #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #dungarees #denim #rawdenim

Remember the raw-denim Lee overalls for a great price on eBay that you were all supposed to talk me out of getting? Yeah. Heckuva job, Internet. #nofilter #lovethem #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #dungarees #denim #rawdenim

Now, if I could just get the weather in my neck of the woods to dip reliably into the 60s, I'd be all set!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Tone Poem Tuesday

It's October, which is usually my favorite month of the year. We're off to a rocky start this year, aren't we...but life still must go on.

I'm doing a theme to the Tone Poems for this entire month, starting today. Since we're approaching Halloween, we'll be doing spooky music, or music that meditates on life's darker aspects. Here is one of my favorite works of all time, by one of my very favorite composers of all time: "The Isle of the Dead" by Sergei Rachmaninov.

(The performance and sound are terrific here, but the accompanying movie may or may not work, depending on personal taste.)