Blargh

Feb. 18th, 2016 10:04 am
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Upon arriving at work today, I have taken some Loratidine to sort out whether this is allergies or a head cold.

We got more exciting weather last night and this morning, with high winds and purportedly even some hail.

The bed magnets were strong this morning, in part because I didn't sleep especially well.

I would ask the universe for a do-over, but really I should just shove on and get back to work.

On the other hand, last night I made it further through several piano pieces than I've made it in a very, very long time. I should buy a fresh copy of the sheet music for "Fur Elise."

I have mixed feelings about mostly just wanting to play the popular classical music pieces. When I graduated from high school, my piano teacher gave me a copy of George Gerschwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," but I have never made it all that far in sight-reading through it. What a playful piece. That one college semester where I paid for music lessons, my piano teacher was excited to help me with the "Maple Leaf Rag," and ragtime was fun, but if anything I'll probably keep working on another Beethoven sonata (no. 8 in C minor, op. 13).

Playing music is simultaneously depressing and uplifting. Uplifting because it does certain things to my mind and body that put it into a better state. Depressing because I have to re-engage with some challenging parts of myself and life, related to the Existential crisis. Not that rowing is any different, really.

Pianoforte

Dec. 10th, 2015 09:55 am
rebeccmeister: (1x)
My new house has a piano.

I am so, so, so, so, so rusty.

However!

Playing the piano does something for my soul that is similar to rowing, somehow.

Several high-octave keys stick a bit, and it's not especially in tune. It is still infinitely easier to play than my parents' piano in its current state. About ten years ago, my parents had Deano the Clown replace the felt under the keys, but unfortunately that made it apparent that the springs that return the hammers to their starting position are also worn out and tired. As a result, it's impossible to press the same key with any sort of rapidity, which makes the piano INCREDIBLY frustrating to play. It was already a somewhat challenging piano because the keys are pretty slippery and strangely narrow, but that never bothered me too much while learning on it while growing up. The harp's also cracked, but it was my grandma's piano so there are lots of good reasons to keep it in the family.

I need to do more sight-reading practice. Eventually people are going to notice that I play the same songs over and over again. Not that I really care. They are also going to notice that when they say, "Play Song X!" I am not going to be able to whip the tune out and play away.

Whatever.

Piano!!
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
When I was younger, I used to love falling asleep listening to Soundtrack Cinema on the classical music station in Seattle.

For some reason, the ambient music program Hearts of Space, which airs on the local NPR station on Sunday evenings, generates a similar experience. The preceding show, The Verge, also features interesting classical music.

Does ambient music drive some people crazy? It seems like it would be good music for getting work/writing done.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Continuing to work my way through my CD collection has led to some wonderful surprises, especially in the "mix-tape" department. There's one from S that I haven't listened to often enough, and one from my friend CD. Then there's one from quite a while back when a group of LJ folks got together and had a "Music and Drinks" CD club, where one person per month would send out a mix CD to the rest of the participants. I'm pretty sure my contribution was less than stellar and quite different from the musical tastes of the other participants, but I suppose that's an inherent risk of the concept. However, the "Mango Margarita Mix" CD was good and classy. And last night I listened to one of two mix CDs a friend made for a cocktail party from back in the Garage days.

I really don't need to go out and get more music, especially when I can just shop among the things I already own.

Work is going to be crazy over the next three weeks. That's going to make the April 18th brevet even more crazy and stressful.

Back at it.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
I have tried, multiple times, to like Belle and Sebastian. I know people who fervently adore Belle and Sebastian.

I tried again last night.

I just...don't. I am ambivalent about the sounds that are generated and come out of the speakers.

Farewell, copies of Belle and Sebastian CDs.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Last Sunday, I went on a return trip to RadioShack, to track down the correct size of adapter for a Bose portable CD player I received many years ago. The laser on the CD player on the "ghettoblaster" boombox has gone out of focus, so the only other method I had for playing CDs was to hook up the external CD drive to my computer and then run an audio cable from the computer to the boombox, thus tethering the computer in place. I am so glad to have a functional CD player system again, plus my CD collection, out of the storage pod.

Theoretically, I could also just save all of my music to my hard drive, but stuff gets lost that way because I just don't think in filenames, and there's a bunch of junk mixed in with the music files I actually want to listen to. Encountering the music physically as I flip through the stacks of CDs brings up a separate set of memories. Albums really are a correct unit for music.

I would say that well over half of this CD collection consists of stuff I only listen to by myself. In groups or even just with S, I let other people dominate the music selection. Some of it is stuff that dates back to high school - the old Tori Amos and Ani DiFranco albums, for instance, but also the soundtrack to Pi and American Beauty, and a lot of the classical piano music (I didn't keep the Alanis Morisette album, however, heh). I haven't listened to Tori Amos or Ani DiFranco in years (over a decade?), but lately I keep thinking of the very first DiFranco album, especially the sentiments about being a stranger in a new city. But a portion of my collection is newer as well - it was wonderful to be introduced to Laura Veirs and Neko Case by friends during graduate school. Finding the right sort of marimba music, too, has taken a considerable amount of effort (so happy to have discovered Casey Cangelosi on the InterTube!), and I only recently bought two George Winston albums because it's good music when trying to write because of its earnestness (and lack of words).

I also come back repeatedly to certain ambient sounds, like the Sounds and Songs of the Humpback Whales, and Paul Horn's original Inside the Taj Mahal, as they bring a sense of peace. Those, plus that one album of Beethoven Piano Sonatas (played by Ekaterina Murina), are on my Desert Island list.

When I have to do a lot of emotional processing, I really, really miss having a piano to play.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Google search methods are failing to pull up old blog commentary on the inferior experience of buying music via the interwebs. Grr.

Regardless! Today I was reminded that I really like the song QueenS by THEESatisfaction (music video here). Even better, the album it's on, awE naturalE, is available via Bandcamp. They have a satisfactory music purchasing and downloading system, unlike any and all Amazonia, Google, and iTunes things I have attempted.

Back to work.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
For some reason, today I have gotten a short piano piece from the film Amélie stuck in my head. It took me a while to track down that film as the source of the pleasant earworm (I sidetracked myself into listening to a couple of albums by piano-thumper George Winston in the meantime - his stuff's pretty good, but seriously, he thumps the keys just a bit too much*). I think Amélie used to get played frequently in the long-gone 3 Roots coffeeshop, since I don't seem to already own a copy of the soundtrack.

That, in turn, reminded me of a program that I still deeply miss - Ford Thaxton's program on Classic King FM, Soundtrack Cinema. Here's a small bit I managed to dig up about him. I used to fall asleep listening to his program on Saturday nights - imaginative classical movie soundtracks interspersed with interesting stories about the films and composers who wrote the music. That show is where I first became obsessed with Thomas Newman (I have been listening to the American Beauty soundtrack for DECADES while at work on homework and academic writing). Thaxton has something of a thick, mouth-breather voice, but somehow it was PERFECT for the show - gave me the sense of listening to a fellow, unabashed sci-fi nerd. Rock on, dude, wherever you are.

Does anything like this even exist anymore? Classic KING FM ruined me for other classical music stations. I quickly learned that WCRB in Boston played the same garbageold stuf over and over again, and so did KBAQ in the Phoenix area. No New Music Ensemble in the evenings, just the same symphonies with scraping violins written by guys who died centuries ago.


*but who am I to criticize, really, since I am sure my keyboard technique has gone completely to shit and probably wasn't all that good to begin with anyway. Props to him for writing the stuff he writes, and doing his thing.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
When I'm trying to do a lot of writing (and only occasionally succeeding), I don't listen to much music.

This week, however, I've needed some old Sufjan Stevens - "Come On Feel the Illinoise!"

I didn't know much about Sufjan Stevens when I wound up going to a concert of his, around the time of the Illinoise release, during a brief window in Arizona when, for some reason, I went to a fair number of concerts. That was the era of shows at Modified Arts, when YOBS was in its infancy (more BS than YOBS - that's "Ye Olde Bike Saviours," the house formerly occupied by the bike co-op Bike Saviours).

I have a love-hate relationship with Illinoise, but for what it is, it's an entirely appropriate, self-contained album, and it evokes delicate feelings well. Part of the love-hate could be summarized by what happened to the whole "Fifty States" project. Only Michigan and Illinois, really? And just a promotional gimmick, in the end. But - it's hard, if not impossible, to write such personal music about states, without having a strong connection to each one, as comes from living in them for at least a couple of years. Illinoise is also good enough to set a high standard for any additional states, even if created by other artists in other musical styles.

At least it's more musically interesting than the other two songs playing in a repeated loop in my brain - the duck song and the bananaphone song.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
Oh man, that was fun, although I wish I'd brought earplugs: the bike co-op held a benefit show to raise money so 3 Roots, the mediocre coffeeshop one block from my house, can get a music license and do shows there in the future.

Inasmuch as last night was a night with the locals, tonight was also such a night. Just a completely different set of locals: the youth.

Live music is so much more fun, especially when wacky and strange. Also, when my friends and I do goofy dances. (I hope the Seattle hipsters have recovered from their inability to display any emotional state whatsoever, and will at least deign to dance when they love the music).
rebeccmeister: (Default)
Yesterday I decided I needed to get out of the house, so I caught the bus to downtown Phoenix to stop by a few of my favorite haunts. The bus ride there was a bit more interesting than usual--we passed by a large, black plume of smoke and a pretty serious-looking accident. The guy in the seat across from me snored quite heavily, but there weren't any crazy bums on that ride so things were all right.

The market was somewhat crowded--it had rained during the night and cooled down to 77 degrees in the morning, and the cool air inspired many others to travel to the market as well. I believe the rain came from remnants of the hurricane that hit Mexico pretty hard. Around here it was a welcome relief, although temperatures will rise again through the end of the week. Ahh, rain.

Anyway. I bought a loaf of sandwich bread and some peaches and apples, and then walked up to the Phoenix Burton Barr Public Library. The top floor is closed for recarpeting, but that wasn't my purpose in going anyway; I wanted to see if I could find any good Phoenix-area bike maps, as part of the grand project of making my own Moleskine Bike Travel Book for the Phoenix area. One of the reference librarians in the geography department showed me a few of the decent maps in the collections, but unfortunately I don't think they offer any free maps. I might end up buying copies of the maps that were available, though, because they provide more street-level detail than most of the regional bike maps. Next I just have to figure out how many I need to buy and how to modify them to fit on book pages. Either that or I need to keep looking at maps. I did learn the name of the company that has produced most of the area bikes maps, so I might also check with them to see if they can offer any book-formatted options. Obviously my budget's pretty limited, but I'm willing to spend some money if needed.

So that was nice. Afterwards, I hopped back on the bus up to Lux to drink some halfway decent coffee and eat a cupcake. Sometimes I feel like going there makes me aware of how dissatisfying things in Tempe are, which is discouraging. The reprieve is nice, though, and I don't think I should become complacent about mediocrity. I also grabbed a delicious tomato-mozzarella-basil sandwich from Pane Bianco.

I also just looked up the location of a local record store, Stinkweeds, and noted that it was just a short distance north of Lux, so I decided to try walking there. Lo and behold, I found it tucked amongst a small set of other local shops just a half-mile north of Lux. I wish I had realized that sooner because I've been haphazardly looking for a nice record store for a while now. As an added bonus, there's a super-nice clothing store next door that carries alternative clothing labels (including some local stuff!): clothes that actually looks cool and nice for a reasonable price! They weren't cheap, but were affordable. Heartening, I tell you.

The owner of Stinkweeds was working the register and told me that she's actually the Executive Director of Local First Arizona, which used to be known as Arizona Chain Reaction. It's an association and directory of Arizona-owned and operated businesses, and is designed to promote supporting them instead of the Wal-Marts and Targets and Urban Outfitters of the world. So yeah, that was pretty cool and I'll definitely be going back. If I could afford the commute I'd be tempted to relocate to a liveable pocket of Phoenix to get out of the half-assed strip-mall that is Tempe. Stinkweeds used to have a location near downtown Tempe but moved out because the soul of Tempe has been gutted out by malls and developers. What is worse, the institutional memory at ASU is short-term, so not so many students know or care about supporting local culture. A few businesses have stuck things out, but many more have been forced to close or relocate.

After that, it was back home to put together some food for a party at my advisor's house--she hosted a float-in movie (movie-watching from the pool), which was wonderful. It felt like being surrounded by an extended family, with kids running around and splashing in the pool while we all talked and ate too much delicious food.

ABBA=EVIL

May. 14th, 2007 08:35 am
rebeccmeister: (Default)
Yesterday I accidentally listened to Dancing Queen. The last time I listened to it, it was stuck in my head. For TWO STRAIGHT WEEKS. I woke up singing it again. It's such an irritating song to have stuck in my head.

Yesterday I hung up a picture and a small mirror in a corner that had been lacking decoration. It might be overdecorated now. The picture is a painting of an old man reading a book that I painted a while ago. It's an odd, strangely compelling work. He has a very small kitten sitting in his lap. He's smiling a little bit, suggesting that he's reading something funny or naughty. The mirror is on the wall perpendicular to the painting. I can see the man's reflection in the mirror from where I'm sitting at my desk.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
I went to a LV and John Vanderslice concert last night with L, at Modified Arts. I hadn't been to a concert in a while, aside from going to the symphony in early March. 'twas superfantastique. I love Laura Veirs even more after hearing her again. The sweet thing about Modified is that we were right up close to the stage and the art that's currently on display is nice and funky (there was a piece titled "Comedy raised to high art" that featured four paintings of the "What's brown and sticky?" joke). I like the mixture of visual art and music.

Before the show, L and I visited a cafe that I located through Arizona Chain Reaction, a website devoted to promoting local businesses in Arizona. The food was utterly scrumptious--oven-baked authentique pizza and a nutella and mascarpone crepe. Oh the slurp! Obviously I need to spend more time in downtown Phoenix, because that's the only place with decent food around here.

Okay, now it's time to finally get back to work. Le sigh. I was having sooo much fun visiting coffeeshops and peeps in Berkeley.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
Dear Clap Your Hand Say Yeah! album,

I think it's time that you and I started seeing other people.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
This past week was a bit of a blur between rowing and school and other extracurriculars. On Thursday, I hurried home from teaching, changed into pretty clothes, and went to the symphony with T, A, S, and E. That had been one of the longstanding plots on the plot list, but unfortunately the other STRUDLs had frisbee commitments on Thursdays and were unable to attend, so I am unsure if it can really be checked off. On the other hand, I am strongly inclined to abandon the plot list at the moment due to other circumstances, so perhaps it does not really matter after all.

In any case, the performance was splendid. We first heard "Musica Celestis for String Orchestra" by Aaron Jay Kernis, a contemporary composer. After that was "Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18" by Sergei Rachmaninoff, and then "Symphony No. 4 in F Minor" by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Listening to classical music--especially live--evokes a lot of extensive memories for me. Mostly, I was reminded of the incredible performances I used to go to at Tufts--most of them were free and some of them were some of the most astounding performances that I have ever heard. But of course they were classical performances, so they were largely ignored by the general Tufts population. Then I thought of my friend Ehren, who was an incredible pianist (and person in general), but who I lost touch with after graduation. Then I thought of the last symphony I went to, with annikus, in the brand-new, forest-like Benaroya hall in Seattle. After that, I mostly just thought about what it is like to establish a finely honed relationship with a musical instrument. Musical training is a fantastic skill for a person to acquire because many of the elements of musical training translate into other, wide-ranging disciplines, be they mathematics or sports or medicine or art. I also remembered a long-forgotten music theory course I took at Tufts, which opened up many previously unexplored perspectives on music. I always regretted not taking music theory earlier, but the practice of music has always been sort of a secondary element in my life. I love it, but cannot be wholly consumed by it.

Mmmm.

Feb. 6th, 2006 08:47 pm
rebeccmeister: (Default)
I have a massive headache. But I'm making a sweet mix CD and must finish making grasshopper bars because Wednesday is my advisor's birthday. Yarrgh.

The entire point of this post is the music attached to it.

[livejournal.com profile] annikusrex once described her thinking/vocalizing process as follows: thoughts bubble in her mind, like a stew, and every once and a while a bubble rises to the surface and bursts open and she speaks. I'm not sure if that does justice to the original description, but it works well enough. It's a different sort of stewing than the traditional use of the word.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
I had so many ambitions for last weekend. I was going to wrap things up for the manuscript of doom, enter in some data, prep to teach, put together music for the CD club, and work on costumes for the half marathon next Saturday. I got some minimal prepping done for teaching and started in on the costumes, but that was about it. The party on Saturday was great, but they always take so much work to organize and then clean up after. AND I spent two whole hours working on dance music for the darn thing. The good news is that I won't have to do so much work on the dance music lineup next time (and the music was awesome, if I may say so myself). If there is a next time. Heh. It was fun, but the house always looks like a disaster zone afterwords. The bad news is that I *still* have to put together music for the CD club, which involves making a lot of painful decisions because there's too much fun, funky music out there. But that will be fun because I can also send out copies to other folks, thus working on my New Year's resolution to send out more packages. Whee!

But. I *did* make it to crew this morning, although K (my "arch enemy") and I were both in pretty poor shape and only rowed 2 laps.

It's going to be a busy week.

Now it's time to do some of the reading that I was also supposed to do over the weekend...
rebeccmeister: (Default)
I heart Laura Veirs.

I do not heart the Manuscript of Doom

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