I expect the next few days of blogging to be quiet as I spend some time with the BSO preparing to perform the Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday. Good rehearsal this morning.
The major challenge with this work for me is memorization. The Tanglewood Festival Chorus, which is the volunteer chorus in which I sing and which supports the BSO, performs all its pieces from memory (with the exception, for some reason, of its Pops performances). This has become a point of pride for the TFC and the BSO, for better or for worse (for an interesting discussion on the pros and cons of singing from memory, check this interview with chorus member Reggie Didham).
On the purely practical level for the Stravinsky, I find it much harder to memorize a piece, both words and music, if it has an unfamiliar text; there are sections of the psalms that are familiar from other settings, but from time to time in rehearsals I find myself holding my breath and hoping that I remember the text of the next passage correctly. It certainly makes for an exciting performance, though not for reasons that I would necessarilly recommend to others.
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Over at the Sony Boycott Blog, I just posted a longish (albeit first draft) essay called “Using Blogs and the Media for Change: The Sony BMG Case Study.” It tries to analyze the timeline of media coverage around the Sony story together with events in the case to draw some general conclusions on how blogs can change the world. Comments welcome.
It felt nice to have a three day blog hiatus over the weekend, just as it feels nice to get back on the horse this morning. I guess sometimes just the change of routine is important.
I got a fair amount done on the house over the holiday. I primed the plaster in the newly finished upstairs bathroom (in the process doing a very nice job of painting my hair—must remember to wear a cap next time), replaced light fixtures in our upstairs and downstairs halls, and assembled much of the organizational furniture that Lisa and I purchased during an Ikea run on Wednesday night.
One of these days I’ll have pictures; unfortunately, I can’t for the life of me find the cable that connects my camera to my computer. (Yes, I see the irony; I said we assembled the organizers, not that we actually got organized. Big difference.)
On this Thanksgiving day, a year after my last epic cooking adventures, things are oddly quiet here. We’re much better prepared than I was last year; we’ll be eating an hour later but just about everything is done or pre-cooked so I’m able to relax and write this blog post.
For the record, our menu this year:
(You may detect a few repeats from last year. I must confess: my spirit, and my crowded calendar, quailed a bit at the thought of doing another menu entirely from scratch this year.)
Lastly, my thanks for the past year and a great job, two great choral groups, a wonderful wife, two working showers and air conditioning (and no oil heat or radiators) in our house, our supportive families, and the most ridiculously cute Bichons ever.
Salon: Chris Whitley 1960-2005. I read a note in the paper earlier this week that the amazingly inventive blues/rock/country singer-songwriter had terminal cancer from a lifetime of smoking and had gone home to be with family; I missed the announcement that he passed away on Sunday. I always liked his performances and thought he never got the respect he deserved from the industry or his listeners.
Salon’s Audiofile posts a copy of Whitley’s Dirt Floor. There are other tracks for listening at his official website, as well as a message board where condolences can be posted. Rest in peace, Chris.
I’m going to try to go to IKEA later today, so the concept of “flat pack” refugee housing—an entire dwelling for four designed to be assembled into a shipping container sized package—tickled me. 10 feet by 9.5 feet by 8 feet is not exactly a flat pack, but Vestal Design, the project creators, explicitly credit IKEA with the idea to use space saving techniques to enable mass deployment of housing. They say that, with a typical cargo ship that holds 6400 containers, one can ship housing for up to 100,000 people on a single ship. Thanks to BoingBoing for the link.
I’m going to occasionally post stuff here about the Sony Boycott that doesn’t seem appropriate for that site. Since this site is allowed to be as narcissistic as it has to, these things will end up here…
I’ve previously cited cases where the BBC, the Toronto Star, and others have pointed to me, as well.
I did not tell Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame was an undercover agent. I figure that, as long as we in the blogosphere all come clean, and further vow that we’re not putting ourselves at risk of perjury to do so, we can narrow it down. I like the suspect that Michael Bérubé puts the finger on, but of course there are others. (Just don’t tell Pat!)
Cool new feature on Houseblogs.net, the site that aggregates the home improvement ramblings of housebloggers worldwide: Ask.Houseblogs.net. It’s still in beta, in fact there’s only one question posted right now. But I can think of no better way to leverage the collective bruised fingers and hard learned lessons of all us amateur contractor types than through a model like this. Brilliant, and kudos to Aaron and Jeannie for putting it together.
You can subscribe to the Ask feed via RSS.
Remix albums aren’t normally my thing; generally I end up wishing the remixers had left well enough alone. The exception to my rule has been Verve’s excellent Verve Remixed series, which has treated the source material—killer jazz cuts from Verve’s deep vault—with respect while shining a fresh new eye on the performances. Now the same treatment has been applied to works from Impulse!, the revolutionary jazz label that Verve started managing when Polygram and Universal came together, and the results are consistently mindbending.
It helps that the Impulse! catalog is so good. It’s sometimes known as the House that Trane Built, after John Coltrane, its most famous musician, who recorded some of his most famous albums for the label. But you won’t find remixes of A Love Supreme on the disc—Coltrane’s sole appearance is on the album’s last, and only non-remixed track, a beautiful reading of a poem that Coltrane wrote with musical accompaniment from his son Ravi Coltrane on sax. The album focuses less on the avant garde perspective that Trane brought, staying instead with the more melodic contributions of artists like Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Archie Shepp, Yusef Lateef, Oliver Nelson, and Pharoah Sanders. There’s a fair amount of Latin jazz on here as well, both through Diz’s influence (he contributes an Afro-Cuban “Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac” that is nicely swung by remixer DJ Gerardo Frisina) and through artists like Chico O’Farrill (playing with Clark Terry).
But it’s hard to buttonhole a collection that crosses genres this exuberantly—one freewheels from Diz’s “I looked over Jordan and what did I see/an Eldorado comin’ after me” to a searing remix of Archie Shepp’s “Attica Blues” by The Chief Xcel of Blackalicious, a trance-inducing take on Pharoah Sanders’s “Astral Traveling” by Boozoo Bajou, and—my personal favorite—a sublime reimagining of Oliver Nelson’s great “Stolen Moments” by Telefon Tel-Aviv. I’ve always loved the latter composition—the absolutely iconic melody, the group performance by a first-rate horn line—and thought it a shame that the only contemporary reimagining was the version that United Future Organization did for the Red Hot + Cool compilation a few years back, which to my ears was chirpy and a little soulless. Telefon Tel-Aviv deftly redresses this wrong by re-envisioning the work as an orchestral masterpiece heard through a distant radio station, with strings tuning up and then faintly carrying the famous lines through static and synths. It’s the highlight of a generally excellent collection.
Originally posted at Blogcritics.
I have a fair number of updates from the weekend to post, including Justin Rosolino’s gig at Club Passim, the annual Old South Thanksgiving service at the historic Old South Meetinghouse, and the (all-but) completion of our bathroom renovation—not to mention a CD review. But in the meantime, check out the Sony Boycott blog, where things have been popping now that the mainstream media has picked up the story. And be sure to listen in when I go on the air to discuss the Sony situation, in about fifty minutes.
Now this is what Blogcritics does at its best: White Stripes Nation, a group blog series that performs critical readings of various seminal White Stripes songs in the context of a manifesto for Jack White as Dictator-For-Life. The first post is beautiful, on a par with the Onion’s classic Clinton Threatens to Drop Da Bomb on Iraq:
Greetings, Comrades. This is a communique from Generalissimo AlbertoBarger regarding the present crisis. The current administration is anabject failure. The Bush regime is weak, and incapable of DecisiveAction. Doing the denial twist in the cold, cold night is insufficient.The People demand change. A state of emergency exists.
Therefore, martial law is hereby declared. A directorate of The People has taken over, and a new executive has been chosen.
We must have a real leader, someone with a track record of realachievement who could impart the required principles of leadership andtradition. On careful examination, The People see that there’s only oneperson fit for the task, a man of achievement equal to the job- a manwith a genuine sense of geometry and theology.
Jack White has been appointed El Presidente for Life…
Go see what other magic Al Barger (er, Generalissimo Alberto Barger) and Legendary Monkey have wrought. ¡Viva la revolución!
One feature that Windows portables have long had that I’ve wished for in Macs is a suspend-to-disk (aka hibernate) mode, where instead of a normal sleep session the current contents of memory are written to the hard disk and re-read on startup. This allows a user’s session to be preserved even if the battery drains completely. This appears to have been added as a fully supported feature on new PowerBooks; now Matt Johnson has published an Open Firmware hack that enables the feature on other machines that came to market in the last two years or so. Thanks to Daring Fireball for the pointer.