Schoenberg the romantic

Missed in the shuffle of the big snowstorm, my Las Vegas trip, food poisoning, etc. was this article in the Globe on February 12 about Schoenberg and Beethoven. The link between the two is a lot clearer in a monumental work like Gurrelieder, which we’re performing starting tomorrow night at Symphony Hall.

The first orchestra rehearsal was today. As always, singing with the BSO is a real privilege, especially with a show like this one where they are being stretched beyond their normal comfort zone. (While the Gurrelieder is romantic, it’s also extremely difficult.) It’s also interesting to make the case that 20th century music evolved from the late High Romantic works rather than growing as a new, separate thing; some of the melodic passages in the piece have a harmonic quality that presages the austere intervallic language of Copland (in both his popular and obscure works). It should be a good concert—even if the Tanglewood Festival Chorus is only singing about 18 minutes of it.

Rapid round trip

Sitting in BWI after a blitzkrieg business trip. I flew in yesterday evening after two intense days spent preparing for a surprise demo that ultimately ended up going poorly, then left our site near the Delaware border and hauled butt back to BWI.

Ah well. At least we got to have dinner at Phillips last night.

Back on the road…

For a day or so, anyway. And I don’t have a lot to say, except that untangling someone’s spaghetti SQL code is even less fun to do when it’s been developed in Crystal Reports.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m griping about, thank your lucky stars.

Mastersingers USA come to Boston

A musically eventful Sunday at Old South Church this week. Our guest group, Mastersingers USA is a men’s choral group who according to their official biography all “have some connection with Bruce McInnes,” who was assistant conductor of the men’s glee club at Yale and went on to lead groups at Amherst and University of Wisconsin. They were today about 75 strong and sang a mixed program of men’s sacred music for the prelude, then went on to do a joint work with the Old South choir, two movements from Vierne’s Mass for Two Choirs.

I had missed that men’s glee club sound. But unfortunately I also noticed something that I hadn’t realized when I was singing in the Virginia Glee Club but have since noticed listening to recordings of various men’s groups: an American all-male choir can sometimes have a thinner sound than a full choir. The ideal vocal sound for blend for a four part men’s choir is a little less rich and vibrato laden than the symphonic sound, partly I suppose because of the difficulty of blending rich men’s voices across the entire male vocal range. It may simply also have been rust; the group only tours every three years, and this is their first time on the road since 2003. It was nevertheless a pleasure to sing with them and I hope I get the opportunity again at some point in the future.

How to pitch

Courtesy of Sloanblogger Cybersam, a little insight today into the MIT Enterprise Forum’s latest offering, discussions of how to make a great business pitch from a CEO perspective and a VC perspective. A lot of the advice from both sounds familiar from years gone by, but I didn’t (foolishly) blog it at the time. Very good stuff.

Friday Random 10: Quailtard Edition

Not much to add to this week’s low post count, other than that I’m finally starting to feel a bit better. And oh yeah: quailtard! quailtard! quailtard!

  1. “This, gentlemen, is a death dwarf…,” William S. Burroughs, Call Me Burroughs
  2. “No Girl So Sweet,” PJ Harvey, Is This Desire?
  3. “Near Wild Heaven,” R.E.M., Out of Time
  4. “False Ending,” Yo La Tengo, Electr-O-Pura
  5. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” Frank Sinatra with Bono, Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
  6. “The Science Fiction Film,” Woody Allen, Standup Comic
  7. “Looks Like I’m Up Sh*t Creek Again,” Tom Waits, The Early Years
  8. “Down By the River,” David Rhodes, Plus From Us
  9. “On the Road to Mandalay,” Frank Sinatra, Live in Australia with the Red Norvo Quartet
  10. “The Messenger,” Daniel Lanois, For the Beauty of Wynona

(And yes, I know the Yo La Tengo is a repeat. But do me a favor and don’t tell my iPod, OK? It’s just seen me order a replacement for the G4 laptop and it’s a little edgy.)

(And, oh yeah. How weird a world is it when I look at the headline “Man Shot by Cheney Leaving Hospital” and think Oh my god he’s at it again! Where are the dangling modifier police when you need them?)

Elapsed time to MacBook Pro: 3-4 weeks

I knew I should have ordered the new Intel-based MacBook Pro when it was announced. I put the order in tonight and saw “estimated ship: within 3-4 weeks.” Sigh.

Backing up: my PowerBook G4 has been pretty good over the last few years, but it’s starting to show its age. In addition to the fact that Dashboard and Spotlight cause some significant slowdowns, and the spinning beachballs of doom, there’s the broken hinge, which is slowly causing the two halves of the case around the screen to separate. And the MacBook looks to be a significant step up from the 1GHz model.

But I definitely shouldn’t have waited until the day its availability was announced.

Ughgh. Ghghghghg. Gh.

… is how I felt the last few days, thanks to a surprise gastrointestinal upset that hit about 4:30 am on Wednesday morning. Fortunately the convention floor was already closed and I didn’t have to do booth duty—which would have been very difficult, since the exhibit hall was a good long hike from the men’s room.

I was fortunately able to change my flight, which had been scheduled as a red eye with a connection through Long Beach, and got home in time to get a reasonable night’s sleep. I’m starting to be able to keep fluids down too. I guess what they say about men being the worst patients is true; I want to stand up and cheer that I’m not visiting the bathroom every half hour. “Yay me! Fluids aren’t passing right through me!” What do you want? A cookie?

Only in Vegas

I think my Vegas experience (outside the business aspects) is summed up, so far, by the following experience that happened as I was checking in at about 1:30 this morning:

My colleague and I leave the check-in counter and begin the long trek toward the elevators (which, as in any good Vegas hotel, takes us right through the middle of the casino). Even after the long day, I am taken aback to see in the middle of our path two young women—girls, really—wearing fishnet stockings, tiny leather bikini bottoms … and honestly I don’t know what else, because I was too busy turning to my colleague and saying, “Only in Vegas…”

Are you lookin’ at my daughter???” comes a female voice to my right. I turn and there’s a couple, probably not old enough to be the girls’s parents (but you never know). Actually the parents? Pulling my leg? Hard to tell. Playing safe, I reply, “Excuse me?”

“You lookin’ at my daughter?” comes the reply. She’s making eye contact and not smiling. The last thing I want to do is get a beat-down before the conference starts, in the lobby of the most expensive hotel in Vegas.

“Ma’am,” I reply, “I’m trying awfully hard not to.” And we keep on walking for the elevator.

If my luck were any worse, or if I were a Wil Wheaton calibre storyteller, the offended mother would have attacked me there. Fortunately I moved on without incident and the rest of the day went OK.

Escape from Boston

I managed to get one of the last flights out of Boston tonight, after the storm passed by. Only JetBlue was still flying — just barely, as we had to wait for them to rustle up a flight crew before we could take off — but there were no problems getting off the ground. Which makes me wonder: why couldn’t any other carrier get it together long enough today to get any flights moving? You would think, since they’re practically all in receivership, that the threat of losing paying seats would motivate them to start flying again as soon as the storm passed through.

Anyway, I’m at the Bellagio right now, and we’re off to a roaring start. $10.95/day for Internet and only one electrical outlet that’s accessible without moving furniture. Plus I had to take a “smoking permitted” room. Hard to believe that in a hotel this size they could run completely out of nonsmoking rooms. Maybe I can switch in the morning.

Stranded by the snow

Well, I was scheduled to fly out this morning at oh dark thirty. Alas, fate, in the form of the almost Blizzard of 2006 (we aren’t quite up to 35 mph sustained winds), intervened. My first flight was cancelled late last night, and I rescheduled to a 3:55 flight this afternoon. At noon after blowing the snow off the driveway, I came in to learn that that flight was cancelled too. I am now on the last flight out to Las Vegas, and am hoping that the snow slackens enough in the next three hours to let me get out of here.

Bode Miller style

We are having a great time watching the Winter Olympics here. Unfortunately I slept through Bode Miller’s qualifying rounds this afternoon. Background: when we were in Austria, we told our German hosts that our skiing would be conducted “Bode Miller style,” and they obliged with rounds of jagertee and gluhwein on the slopes. Wonder how Bode is feeling today, and how he’ll be feeling after tonight?

Interesting too, that Google is going Bode Miller style. If you search on Bode’s name, or the name of any other Winter Olympian, you get his biography and the schedule of events in which he competes.

Friday Random 10

I can’t top Zalm’s witty deconstruction of this week’s Grammy winners, so I’ll just shut up and post my Random 10:

  1. “False Ending,” Yo La Tengo (Electr-O-Pura)
  2. “Ocean Size,” Jane’s Addiction (Nothing’s Shocking)
  3. “Martha’s Foolish Ginger,” Tori Amos (The Beekeeper)
  4. “A Conjunction of Drones Simulating the Way In Which Sufjan Stevens Has An Existential Crisis In The Great Godfrey Maze,” Sufjan Stevens (Illinoise)
  5. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” U2 (Rattle & Hum)
  6. “2. Section 1,” Steve Reich (Music for 18 Musicians)
  7. “San Francisco Waitress,” Eberhard Schoener and Sting (Video Magic)
  8. “Language is a Virus,” Laurie Anderson (Home of the Brave)
  9. “Drilling,” Minus the Bear (Menos El Oso)
  10. “Walk Around My Bedside, Roscoe Holcomb (High Lonesome Sound)

Apple flagship in Back Bay: Mac lovers rejoice

For those of us Boston area folks for whom Applephilia borders uncomfortably close to obsession, the news of the coming four-story flagship store on Boylston Street comes uncomfortably close to contributing to delinquency.

Not that I’m complaining. And not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Heck, it’s right down the street from Old South. I may have to stick around Back Bay a little longer after church services on Sunday.

Too bad the store is two years out. And hey, I would be surprised if their demolition plans don’t push it out any further.

My wife is the coolest ever.

My wife decided to surprise me last night. We won’t be able to spend Valentine’s Day together this year—I will be at the Pink Elephant IT Service Management Conference—so she decided that we would celebrate it last night. I had already been planning to grill some steaks, but she added a surprise to the mix: a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for our computer, and an AirClick USB to allow me to control iTunes playback from other rooms. Very important, since the Mac is now the source of our dinner party music.

I’m very lucky to have a wife who likes Apple and speaks geek.