Followup: singing again

I wrote a week or so back about auditioning for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, which is the chorus in residence for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I had more or less resigned myself to not getting in. After all, I was feeling a little burned out on symphonic choruses in general, and (more to the point) I have standing engagements through May that interfere with my ability to attend rehearsals.

So I was unsurprised when I got a thin envelope from the BSO today. I figured it for the proverbial “thin envelope,” but opened it anyway. And saw to my surprise that I was accepted in the chorus—albeit as a second tenor. There were also lots of notes about how the director has the option of asking an individual singer to be in every concert for a season or just one concert…

So the bottom line: I’ll be singing something, possibly at Symphony Hall, possibly at Tanglewood, definitely with the BSO, sometime in the next year. God, definitive knowledge is great.

And the irony? On Sunday, not knowing whether I would get in or not and not much caring, I decided to talk to the choir director at Old South Church. I’ll be singing with that choir tomorrow night for Maundy Thursday services (singing the ByrdAve Verum Corpus”—how could I resist??). After Thursday we’ll see. From 0 to 2 choirs in four days. Not bad. Too bad job offers don’t work that way.

Review: Music from the O.C. Mix 4

music from the oc mix 4 cover

At some point in the late 1990s, as radio sank further into irrelevance and Clear Channel-approved playlists created a stranglehold on airtime for new artists, television started to come into its own as a way to “break” unknown musicians. One of the best programs for showcasing new artists’ work is—gasp—“The O.C.,” whose strangely moralistic take on the teen melodrama is accompanied by intelligent, thoughtful soundtrack selections. Many of the musicians on the soundtrack would be just at home on an alternative station like KEXP. The show’s soundtrack series—as evident in its latest incarnation Music From The O.C. Mix 4—does what a soundtrack must do: provides memorable musical moments from the show in a musically consistent format. It goes beyond the call of duty by doubling as a new artist compilation.

The collection ranges from quirky rock (the Futureheads, Modest Mouse) to bright and shiny (the New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman, Imogen Heap) to slowgroovy (Flunk). There’s even an old favorite, the Reindeer Section’s “Cartwheels” (from their superb 2002 release Son of Evil Reindeer). The biggest coup? A new Beck song, “Scarecrow,” in advance of his forthcoming new album Guero (see this article for the backstory). The one slightly false note, sadly, is the Matt Pond PA cover of Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova.” While still yearningly evocative, the cover lacks some of the grit of the original and feels a little too much like it’s been sweetened for television.

Still, for a collection of soundtrack stuff to be that coherent, there’s got to be a master mix-maker behind the scene. Thank Alexandra Patsavas, the show’s music supervisor, whose job it is to line up new tracks for the show’s writers to audition and slip into the show, and to assemble these mixes. It’s due to her work that the compilation feels less like a “compilation” and more like a really good mix tape.

If I have one complaint, it’s that, for listeners of the aforementioned KEXP and other hipsterati, too many of the artists come with all their indie cred pre-assembled. Imogen Heap, Sufjan Stevens, Carl Newman, Flunk, Modest Mouse, the Reindeer Section, and of course Beck are all familiar names to most indie rock fans. On the other hand, Pinback, the Futureheads, Aqueduct, Bell X1, and Matt Pond PA are all the sort of lesser known discoveries that I was hoping for from a groundbreaking indie compilation series. Hopefully the next series will showcase a few more promising unknowns rather than relying so heavily on known quantities.

Originally published on BlogCritics.


…is seeing your friend’s album in the iTunes Music Store. I was irritated at iTMS yesterday because the New Releases and Just Added pages weren’t updated, and how can one go and salivate over new music on Tuesdays without information? But this morning when I checked, there was Justin Rosolino’s Wonderlust.

For some general background on Justin and the album, check out my past writings about him. Briefly: if you like singer-songwriters, or performers with amazing voices and senses of humor, go check out some of the clips from the album.

So: one down, one to go.

Other iTMS happiness this week: new Nine Inch Nails single, reissues of a flood of classic Brian Eno albums, and remasters of a bunch of 1960s Atlantic jazz including one of my favorite Coltrane albums and a ton of important early Ornette Coleman recordings. Pardon me: I have some listening to do.

Joining the tagging revolution

As you might have noticed/wondered from my last post, I’m experimenting with tags on this blog. Garrick Van Buren released Tag Maker for MarsEdit, a quick AppleScript that makes Technorati and tags from selected text in posts. I like the for making the tags, but not necessarily the end result—the scattered parenthetical tags are, I think, a little distracting.

Unfortunately, on Manila, I can’t use the suggested alternative, Laura Lemay’s script that places all the tag links at the bottom, because Manila blogs don’t get the Keywords field in MarsEdit.

So I’ll probably end up altering my workflow and hacking Garrick’s script to make it do what I want it to do. Still, some tags are better than none.

Tags: tagging (), MarsEdit (), Manila (), AppleScript ()

The other shoe drops for Manila enclosure support

UserLand () Product News: Frontier and Manila: New Enclosure macros and updates to Manila RPC and MetaWeblogAPI. This is the other shoe whose dropping I anticipated last week when UserLand rolled out a new enclosure support feature. By extending the support for the new feature into the API and into user interface macros, Manila () now gives users an unprecedented level of flexibility for managing the creation and display of content (such as podcasts ()) that contain enclosures. Bravo.

A second, very big, bravo, is due for the long-anticipated full support of the MetaWeblogAPI () for creating new binary objects such as pictures or audio files, using the standard MetaWeblogAPI.newMediaObject. By adding support for this cross-vendor standard way to upload non-text content, Manila bloggers can take advantage of tools like MarsEdit () to manage image uploads. (Note that this announcement is the one that Brent Simmons calls out on the Ranchero blog.)

Now, if my kind host will update our Manila installation so that I can work with these new bits, I’ll be a very happy camper.

It ain’t the absolute height of the spike…

Boing Boing: Infographic of blogosphere traffic spikes. Xeni points out a curious feature of the Technorati infographic, where a point labeled “Kryptonite lock controversy” is as high as “Indian Ocean tsunami.” I say: it’s not the absolute size of the spike, it’s how it relates to its surroundings. (Uh, bow chicka chicka bow bow.)

Based on my experience interpreting online traffic, the metric of merit when comparing two events isn’t absolute amount of traffic (posts, page views, unique users) but the delta they cause from the normal volume of activity. Look at the time period around “Kryptonite lock controversy”—the spike, while high, is part of a consistently high series of spikes that appears to run from July through shortly after the election. In other words, not dramatic, considering the overall blogosphere activity at that time.

The tsunami, on the other hand, reached the same peak of activity in the middle of a seasonal down period in blog posts—in fact, as I recall, a seasonal down period for Internet activity as a whole. In other words, it’s a hell of a lot more impressive that a bunch of bloggers got off their haunches after the holidays to post about the tsunami—when they weren’t inclined to blog—than that they posted in a period of otherwise high post activity.

(This is the second in a series of occasional posts where I offer my meager expertise to interpret a BoingBoing post about online traffic trends. Maybe I should make this a series. Maybe even a sidebar.)

History is bunk, of course

Whiskey Bar: Scenes From the Cultural Revolution. A simple compare-and-contrast between rhetoric and incidents from the current conservative backlash on college campuses and Mao’s “Cultural Revolution.” But we don’t need to worry about the implications of the comparison, right? Because America is different…

The Left has taken over academe. We want it back.

Mike Rosen, Rocky Mountain News columnist
CU is Worth Fighting For
March 4, 2005

In this great Cultural Revolution, the phenomenon of our schools being dominated by bourgeois intellectuals must be completely changed.

Central Committee of the
Communist Party of China

Resolutions of the Eleventh Plenum
August 1966

For those on the right, true freedom requires more diversity—which, to them, means more conservatives in faculty ranks. “If the system were fair,” says Larry Mumper, sponsor of the Ohio bill, “Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity would be tenured professors somewhere.”

Fighting Words 101
March 7, 2005

“We will strike down the reactionary, bourgeois academic savants! … We will vigorously establish proletarian intellectual authorities, our own academic savants.”

Lin Piao, Deputy Chairman
Communist Party of China
Speech to Red Guards
August 18, 1966

Hat tip to Fury for the link.

New mix: “cool covers”

New mix, “cool covers,” published at the Art of the Mix—I didn’t bother publishing it at iTunes because I had a less than 50% “found rate.”

This is the first mix on which I’ve experimented with using spoken word fragments as linking tracks. I used a software package called Amadeus II to do the editing. Good software; reminds me of SoundEdit Pro, the first editing package I ever used back in 1989 or so.

(Republished from a post that was made yesterday that disappeared.)

A blogger returns

My former co-worker Dave Kramer, who briefly blogged before leaving his job at Microsoft about six months before I did, has a new site called Gamestay that provides gaming info for the “casual and grown-up gamers who don’t have time to keep up with every last screenshot and tradeshow video.” The site and his personal blog are both intelligently written, and share some new-to-me tidbits about goodies like the upcoming Lego Star Wars game.

Open source testing: CSS test suite for IE 7

Alex Barnett blog: IE7 and CSS: the Acid2 test – Microsoft has now been challenged. This is a smart way to put the pressure on Microsoft to fix CSS support in their (aging, broken) browser: get a community effort going early in the development process to put together a comprehensive CSS test suite. This would be a good thing for all browsers, btw, including Safari, to work against. Let’s hope that Microsoft jumps on it.

Maybe I don’t want the callback

Boston Globe — Living / Arts News: Levine’s pace proves hard on BSO. I actually auditioned for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (which despite its name is a year-round chorus in residence for the BSO) on Monday. The chorus is involved in far fewer concerts than the orchestra, and the chorus’s director spreads out the assignments, picking subsets of the group for each chorus, so presumably the TFC doesn’t have a lot of instances of blown pipes as a result of Levine’s vigor. I guess we’ll see.

(For recent readers: I’ve sung tenor in various chorusessymphonic, early music, church choirs, glee clubs, a cappella groups—ever since high school. My current singing hiatus, which has lasted the eight months since I left Seattle and the University Presbyterian Church choir, is the longest time I’ve spent outside of a singing group for fifteen years. Which is probably why I’m so out of sorts all the time.)

We could start seriously pushing alternative energy…

…or, as the US Senate decided yesterday in its infinite wisdom, we could just keep looking for those remaining pockets of fossil fuels like a crack addict searching for that last rock that he knows he dropped somewhere.

When one of the last pristine places on earth gets covered in pipes; when the first spill happens; when the caribou go extinct; and when the price of fuel keeps going up regardless, even after we get the first oil from that formerly pristine refuge ten years from now, I want every one of those 51 senators to wake up, look in the mirror, and say, “This is personally on my head.”

Of course, the other question has to be: where was the Democratic leadership? Given the inevitability of the Bush ideology juggernaut rolling over everything, did no one at least try to attach a rider to fund development of alternative energy resources?

UVA gets RSS

Mr. Jefferson’s University is entering the RSS age. I found a blurb on the University of Virginia web site about UVA To Go, a suite of services for news management that includes a streamlined mobile device web site at (as well as a Pocket PC Screen Theme) and an RSS feed of news releases. The service is still in beta, so no orange and white icons can be found on the main page, but they’re looking for feedback, so get out there and let them know how you feel about the school striding boldly into the 21st century.