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Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Non-Bleak Midwinter

Kiwi, via Kevin. This chokes me up more and more every time I watch it. I think I can relate.

The other day I finally made it to Butchart Gardens, though I didn't actually see any foliage. We went at night for the staff family Christmas evening, and saw all the lights which had finally been juuust about perfected for the opening of the Christmas lights show. It was pretty darn impressive. I liked the Three French Hens--they were chickens, eating a meal of chicken, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. The Eleven Pipers Piping kind of creeped me out... nearly full-sized puppets with those glassy taxidermy eyes, dancing on strings according to some mechanization, while eerie flute music piped through the colonnade. Some of their fingers moved. Very impressive, though. The best part about it being staff night (aside from the fact that no tourists were allowed) was that people were fiddling with things here and there, hopping over fences (to fix a taxidermy eye that was awry, for example). Not me, mind you. Just staff. Very blurry pictures on Facebook.

I finally found out the order of my music exams. Orchestration will be out of the way first, fortunately, so that I can go to Winter Harp and hear some music performed by a range of harps, modern instruments, and obsolete instruments including "the ethereal-sounding bass psaltery (the only one like it in the world), the 12th century organistrum (the other one like it in Canada is in the Museum of Man in Ottawa) and the nyckelharpa." It will take up the evening in between exams... so I have to just trust to fate for Baroque, I guess.

The end is in sight. I just have to finish my extra Codicology paper (which, much to my well-hidden dismay, was upgraded from 7-9 pages to 15 pages on Friday... just 4 days before its deadline). Then the music exams, then the hefty final English paper.

Ryan comes back from CERN today! Yay!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

snip snip

My composition teacher employs a teaching method that I can only describe as "snipping." Like this. It amuses me to no end.

I've only just discovered that I didn't know what C-Score meant. And that I can't reliably transpose transposing instruments from written to sounding and vice versa; the problem is that I hadn't really been exposed to orchestral—or even band—instruments until I started this Orchestration class in September. Not having had any sort of music program whatsoever in all my years of schooling is coming back to haunt me. Unfortunately, I have less than three weeks to sort this and other problems out.

I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, a sports fan. In fact, every time I walk home and the Basement Dweller happens to be in his suite, I have to stifle a wave of rage at his blaring TV which always has some sort of sports game playing. But, I'm happy (and proud) the Roughriders won the Grey Cup today. I even secretly checked the status of the game online (and by "secretly," I of course mean that I'm blogging about it for the world to know). There's a vast chasm between wanting to know how the score ends up, and being willing to watch a game, though.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sweet Life

For some reason, everything always comes back to Starbucks. Or caramel frappucinos, if you want to get really fundamental. Sitting in Starbucks, morosely sipping a caramel frappucino and seeing that Hiring Baristas, February 13 sign across the street. Incorrectly answering "I'm partial to frappucinos" when asked what my favourite coffee shop drink was during my interview (frappucino is a failproof identifier of a Starbucks customer). Ducking into Starbucks on lunchbreak, feeling mortified when the head barista there outright asked me where I worked and triumphantly cried "I knew it!!" upon my answer.

The coffee shop has been in my mind a lot lately. Perhaps because I pass by there once in a while these days, and try to peer inside from the opposite side of the street without having them see me. Mostly, I see the owner grinding espresso beans, making the shot, doing the milk, pouring the drink, grinding espresso beans, making the shot, doing the milk, pouring the drink... and I think how awful it must be to do that job for the rest of your life. All he's really doing is taking pride in making the most beautiful drink in the world so that some Joe Cool can take one glance at it before gulping it down. Over and over and over every day. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of sweet Mrs. K and wonder how she's doing, and if she'll ever retire. Lots of times I wonder where my coffee-brother coworker went; I'd like to see him again. It was good times, even if the rest of it wasn't.

I stopped going to that Starbucks after I quit at the coffee shop, and I haven't really gone back there until today. But today I did go back there, and even though it was freezing outside I ordered my usual caramel frappucino and muffin. And the same old barista was there. I tried to remember his name while I stood in line, but since it had been 6 months since I'd been there, and I wasn't wearing my old uniform, I didn't expect him to recognize me anyway.

So I sat at my little round table, eating my muffin and sipping morosely at my caramel frappucino, wondering where all the time goes. Where all the people go, who slip in and out of your life. If they remember you, like you remember them. "Hey, do you work over at Dolce?"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

All About Exams

I've been on Reading Break for the past three days, which has been hypothetically excellent. I didn't really think about school, except for today when I had to meet with a professor. I've been trying to learn as much Orchestration as I can, in preparation for the exams in December, which, as it turns out, I seem to maybe be registered for.

In the first place, I couldn't register for the exams online, which really confused me. They had all sorts of exams listed that you could register for, but not the ones I wanted. So I had to phone them up in Toronto and actually ask them how to register. Turns out you have to do it on paper for those ones. At my last lesson, my teacher explained that this is because these exams are so uncommon that I'll probably be the only person in the country taking them this year. RCM will probably have to make the exams just for me. For some reason, that doesn't comfort me.

So today I checked online to see if my old-fashioned paper application went through all right by fax, and that I was registered. Apparently, I am registered to write one exam in Subject description not found on December 7, and another exam in Subject description not found on December 8. I hope a) they know what they're doing and send out the right exams; b) they let me know which exam I'm writing on which day ahead of time; and c) I don't find out at the last minute that one of those Subject descriptions involves something alarming like history or something.

The guy who owns my aquarium told me they're relaxing and cut down on stress. This one does nothing but give me grief. I usually feel like hurling my laptop at it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

You know what I love about this newfound drawings fame? This, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this, for one. It's so rewarding to see a single drawing quoted eight times by a single person on a single forum! I think I should join and point out that I am awesome. Or maybe I should change the jpg so that the drawing says "Sade totally sucks!" "Oh man, I know!"

I'm pretty much overwhelmed with school. There was a hysterically complicated personal-governmental situation that came up just in time to ruin Thanksgiving weekend and the ensuing days. Between that and a week of being sick, not much progress has been made of late. I'm starting to wonder if it's physically possible to finish everything in time. I can't understand how two grad classes can be so much more work than five undergrad classes.

Music class is as awesome as ever; the homework I have been neglecting. Class is great because we'll be looking at my works next week; we looked at two of them briefly a few weeks ago, and after listening to my choral piece he gave me Arvo Pärt's Berliner Messe to mull over. Now I'm to write a Kyrie, but all I can think about is Pärt's Kyrie (which is devastatingly beautiful, and possibly the awesomest Kyrie ever written in the history of music). I could do without all of this at the moment, though; with two music exams coming up in December there is by far enough to concentrate on with just Orchestration and Baroque.

I need to go write 4 papers and prepare a presentation by November 5 now. And start writing a Mass.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy 50th Anniversary, Sputnik.

Scientists Ask Congress to Fund $50 Billion Science Thing   "The scientists spoke for approximately three hours about the complicated science machine, which is expensive, and large, telling members of the House Committee on Science and Technology that the tubular, gamma-ray-using mechanism is vital in some big way..."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Here we have a graph depicting the visitors to my alphabetized drawings page since everything went online in June:


Today there were 53 unique visitors. 53. With 136 pageloads. That's freaking insane. Notice (it's a small picture, so you probably can't) that it's always been 1 before, and on one occasion 2. This is baffling me.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nutella Dreams

Last night I dreamed I met TR. He had this weird East German accent and I asked him about two songs in my iTunes library that I don't know the names of, and he suggested that we watch Live Earth. So then we all watched a music video of Sarah Jessica Parker lip synching some jazz song about her love for a transvestite named "Bingo" (because at that point a few more people appeared and we were sitting on a grassy slope, looking at a giant TV that was standing in the middle of nowhere).

The best part was when he accidentally touched my face. When he was handing something to me... handing it to my face... sure, I'll just grasp that sheaf of papers with my face, Trent.

It's all very... enigmatic. I don't usually dream.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Turning Back History

I took a year of Voice Performance in University. The summer after, I was fortunate enough to be chosen as the Saskatchewan soprano for the National Youth Choir. I recognized at the time that NYC was the single most important, most worthwhile, most lifechanging event I had ever participated in, and I felt that it set me in my musical life course. I prepared to return to classes in the fall with no doubt in my mind.

Three days before classes were to begin, I was at the University volunteering for First Year Orientation. After I had given my tour for the day, I wandered over to my college, asked to speak with the adviser... and then and there I formulated and carried out a plan to switch faculties, change classes, exit music and enter English. I can't remember, now, if I had had any premeditations on the idea beyond a few days prior to that day.

I mention this because it seems very fitting that I should now be doing almost the very opposite procedure, if not in fact at least in spirit.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Well, everything has changed. I'm now in my new place on the beach, which is right across from a park that is very dogs, if you know what I mean. The photos below are my new place (I live in the triangle), my rented pet prawn (who likes to molt and then play with his corpse), the view from my window, a view of Ryan playing our new digital piano (which is pretty darn awesome), and a freaking awesome Soliton-type cloud (also see this Strangequarks thread for some links on Morning Glory clouds and other Soliton discussions) we saw one day.



I shall go beachcombing every day. My collection of beach glass will be astounding.

But I won't, because classes also started this week, and the workload—even the reading list for a single class alone—is terrifyingly intensive. I feel like nothing has prepared me for what I need to put into these classes, and I have very little to contribute. I think I'll just sit there and say "For shizzle!" whenever a prof asks my opinion. Seriously, I haven't even heard of any of the theorists the other students toss around in class, much less read them, so I sure can't use them in discussion without doing a whole lot of extra reading and research, which I simply can't do.

Added to all this is music, for which I must finish writing my fugue by Monday night's first lesson. Yikes.

Biggest change of the day: Ryan is gone to CERN for three months :(

I am going to read Chaucer and Gower straight until Tuesday.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fyre Fyre

Greece is burning. The whole darn southern part of the county. How much can this world take? How much can it rebuild? I just read an article on how they're rebuilding New Orleans. While it's sinking, and while the ocean's rising, and while hurricanes like Katrina will become more frequent. I quote the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers, when advised by John S. Hoffman of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1984 of the long-range threat of rising sea level due to global warming: "Given the uncertainty of projections of sea level changes, an attempt to accommodate such changes in the design of the project...would represent a very poor use of funds." Ah well, I'm taking this to the Obsolete Forum.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Lest You Forgot

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me. Happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthDAY TO ME. I would go into a birthday rant, but I've already done that elsewhere. I must say, my birthday was utter crap, not having seen any humans the entire day. But right now everything is right where it belongs, and I couldn't ask for much more than that.

Well, summer's trips to Saskatchewan are over. My brother's wedding was luverly (many congrats to him and Lisette). Here's the audio for the song Amy and I sang at it, complete with all the authentic background wedding noises. Sounds like they're searching for the rings again or something. I arranged the love theme from The Godfather with an added voice and in a major key so that it wouldn't be so mournful. It's remarkable how many songs marketed as "wedding songs" are singularly inappropriate for weddings in some way or another.

Have I mentioned how amazing Ryan is? He's devised and implemented scripts for the Music Encyclopedia that make it so that I no longer have to do nearly anything for it. Woot! That's not why he's amazing, though; it's just indicative of his amazingness. (psst... you're awesome!)

The Britons race is now over, since I finally got rid of my cellphone. I'll assume I won, since they seem to have given up.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Everybody cuss at Banjo for a little while

I did it. For all my despairing on Facebook yesterday, it was really only about an hour's fiddling this morning to reconstruct the search engine for both the Lapsionary and the new Music Encyclopedia (which is still in very early stages). Go ahead. Give it a try. Look up "note value" or "just intonation," or (my favourite), "cluster," or even try "Pythag" or "Lmiz" and see what turns up. Now aren't you impressed? But the database only has up to "C" or so, other than what's on the actual mainpage right now. I could just make it entirely search-based, but then nobody would ever look up anything, and all my work would be for nothing. This way, at least, I can go browse it once in a while.

Can you believe, Banjo had 58 separate emails of Lapsionary pages as backups, but no backup of the search script that made all those pages obsolete? (I'm referring to Banjo, the person, whom I put in charge of backing up my old site. Stop looking at me funny.) Pages and pages of wandals and mandals and femankeys. What on earth am I even saving those for? Fortunately, he also had the Lapsionary database, which was how I was able to reconstruct the script. My mind was working after all. But Banjo really is awesome. Everybody loves Banjo. The best thing about Banjo is that so many people are aware of him. I used to use him in my writing all the time during my undergrad. Probably one of my greatest ideas ever. Tee hee, tee hee. The memory of it is making me titter.

If you've been attentive (which you probably haven't been), you might have noticed I've been more active than usual on all my accounts. Feel free to join in; it's how you participate in the Pickwick Club. It's also my answer to the infuriating conflict between being incredibly drowsy, unable to sleep, unable to wake up in the morning, and having restless, dream-filled sleep. It's highly annoying that everybody else doesn't have 7 blogs that they update at 2 am to entertain me. What do you people expect me to do now? There are still 36 hours until I board my flight.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I Musici

Earlier this week I attended a cello masterclass, where the best student played the first movement of a Shostakovich sonata. I never knew which sonata it was at the time, and because I'm so completely unknown within the Conservatory, I didn't dare ask anybody what it was. But it was the most beautiful piece I'd ever heard. Tonight the Master himself, the fabulous Yuli Turovsky, played the entire Sonata (in D minor, Op. 40, if you're interested). Shostakovich fascinates me. I wouldn't even have known what his music sounded like before this week; I might have guessed he was something like Shoenberg.

At one point during the masterclass (at many points, in fact, but this one in particular) Mr. Turovsky stopped the cellist and said, "In Russia, there is a profession among women who go to funerals, and cry." Those words gave way to a demonstration of how the cello should simulate this (a sung demonstration). It is absolutely impossible for any instrument to be more heart-rendingly beautiful than the cello. I simply must learn to play it.

The concert was fantastic, and Mr. Turovsky is amazing. And Shostakovich is entrancing. And, although it's a little excessive of me to insist on learning to play every instrument after hearing a piece played particularly well on it, the cello is an exception.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Symphony Splash 2007

40,000 spectators spill over the land fronting the parliament building in front of the inner harbour, into the water in canoes, dragonboats, and barges that now jostle for the best position from which to view the stage. Those who have water permits have been there all afternoon, as have the people who have staked claims on the best chair locations all afternoon.

Rich people in black suit coats and white gowns lounge on a rooftop patio on the Empress, which stands grandly facing the inner harbour across the road which is just starting to rumble with the drums of the Canadian Scottish First Regiment Piper Band as it starts to march towards the parliament building. A radio personality suggests that the patio people in black suit coats and white gowns rattle their jewelry so that the pipers may perhaps hear them, but they pay no mind.

The stage is a barge anchored in the inner harbour, and on it various bands and radio personalities have whiled away the afternoon in anticipation of the main attraction of the evening, which has finally (almost) arrived. The pipers pass along and are gone. Now the stage is dominated by the Symphony Orchestra.

Fast forward: the greater part of the two-hour concert is over, the sun has finally sunk out of sight and the water has stopped glaring at me, and then it begins. Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture starts with the old Czarist Russian National Anthem, "God Preserve Thy People." Then the French and Russian National Anthems are heard in conflict with each other. Suddenly, the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets set off their cannons, and five shots ring out, smoke rising over the water to the left of the stage barge. All eyes are on the spot where the smoke is now disappearing, when suddenly bells begin pealing out along with the symphony from behind the audience where the carillon tower stands near the parliament building, which is now aglow in its nightly lighting. All heads turn, and murmers of "the carillon" run through the crowd. The music builds, builds, then explodes in a shower of fireworks at the climax. It is exactly V for Vendetta, without the destruction of the parliament building.

It isn't quite over; the Canadian Scottish First Regiment Piper Band has stealthily been boarding the barge for some time, and now they take the stage and play two encores along with the orchestra.

It is the most spectacular symphonic event I have ever witnessed. And they do this every single year, they have done this for 18 years without fail. It is certainly this city's greatest tradition.

***

Not much is new in my life since I last wrote anything of substance, but in many ways there is not much that is unchanged. It's another time of upheaval, and I don't quite know how to deal with it.

One thing that is most definitely different from my last post (actually, it changed the following day) is that I did receive my violin after all. As foreseen, I do indeed bring out the worst in it.

I spent a week back in Saskatchewan and had a great time at the traditional St. Swithin's Day Picnic (the first annual traditional St. Swithin's Day Picnic, I should say). Many a photo on Facebook. I got a new camera. I slacked off in music theory a lot and ended up frantically writing fugue expositions the day before my final lesson, then got there and he only had time to go through one of them but he said it was such a good effort that I'm to spend August reworking it into a full fugue. I return to Saskatchewan for my brother's wedding, at my favourite time of year. I hope my new camera can accurately capture my favourite colours of autumn: pea stubble, aspen groves. I suppose I missed that magical moment of a field of brown caraway swaths lying on the green stubble beneath.

And then it's back in time to move houses, then starting up classes, then arranging composition lessons, and possibly instrument lessons. Then saying goodbye, for now.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

My violin is stuck in a mobius belt

Somewhere, right now, someone is enjoying a free violin. Damn them. Damn them all. It's probably the same person who is raising a toast to bacon double cheeseburgers. And they live in Langford. For some reason, my kindly seller is opting to let Bacon Double-Cheeseburger keep my violin, and is going to have a new one sent to me, even though UPS is in the wrong for delivering it to the wrong address. Meh, just so long as I get a violin out of all of this. Interesting, though, how everything I attempt goes awry, even when I'm barely involved as in this case. And by gosh, if they give this violin to Banjo Double-Bacon...


  • "Overall, [Lapsura] received 1 comments, while she commented 0 times, making about 0 comments per day since she joined DA. This means that she received Infinity comments for every 10 that she gave." That's right, I wear the mobius belt. I am master of Infinity.

  • And the secrets of the universe are laid bare for all to see.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Deathly Hallows

One of the major bus stops is right in front of Chapters. Chapters' doors are always propped open, just so that I can wistfully gaze in through the bus windows.

Today, the open doors were a portal displaying an entire pallet of boxes, with "CAUTION" yellow security tape wrapped around the entirety. Boxes and boxes and boxes.

Written on them with a sharpie: "HP 7"

Chapters is just taunting me.

In other news, I bought a fantastic book called "Inventing English" by Seth Lerer. My theory teacher had been saving all the excerpts printed in the newspaper for me, and I got fascinated. It's rekindling my interest in Anglo-Saxon as well as my anticipation of beginning my M.A. in the fall.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

what the dickens?

I bought a violin today! Now to wait for it to arrive. I fully expect that it will not be a great instrument, and that I will bring out the worst in it. I also bought a hat, to shield myself from the cruel, cruel sun.

There are finally a few new drawings up.

Fun fact: The phrase "the dickens" was coined by Shakespeare in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

To do this summer:
  • delve further into Orchestration I, Baroque I, and History I
  • wield my super-pass and go watch music lectures/masterclasses/concerts
  • fiddle around on violin (great pun there)
  • do 1 more interview/article for Luther
  • wander around the city a lot
  • go back to Saskatchewan, twice
    • July: 1 wedding; 1 giant family gathering; 3 doctor appointments; visit family and friends; eat raspberries/saskatoons/hazelnuts/whatever else I can forage from the ol' orchard
    • August: 1 wedding (my brother's! at which I will be singing a duet), collect useful textbooks and transport them to BC; visit family; forage some more; possible school reunion
  • find place to move to; move
  • do some composing and transcribing
  • finish website

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

ow, my stomach hurts

My theory teacher is so awesome. "Are you sure you don't play a string instrument?" That's pretty flattering, since orchestration is unknown territory to me. Also, last week: "Why do you know how to do this?" I should have said I'm a prodigy or something.

Monday, June 18, 2007

the lineup

First Class Honours in Analysis V!

I'm temporarily looking forward to grad classes. Here's my lineup:

FALL/WINTER

1. Studies in Literary Theory: The Subject and Postmodern Culture
"...focuses on the impact of deconstructive, (neo-)marxist, and psychoanalytic theories on postmodern self-understanding of decentered and commodified subject. Blah blah blah paradigm shift." I'm contemplating substituting University-course-teaching class with this, but probably not since the idea of a teaching internship frightens me.

2. Studies in Middle English Literature: Moral Fictions—Ethics, Aesthetics, and Medieval Texts.
Most likely to be an awesome class involving a lot of Chaucer.

3. Studies in 19th Century Literature: Film and the 19th-Century Novel.
Good books, good movies, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen... and some crappy novels, but you win some and you lose some.

SPRING

1. Introduction to Textual Studies and Methods of Research
A required course, but one that doesn't involve giving presentations. Basically a class on library sleuthing and making annotated bibliographies and such.

2. Old English Poetry
The class designed for me, involving continuous translation and Anglo-Saxon verse. And Beowulf, but that was self-evident.

3. Studies in 17th Century Literature: Poetry and Protestant Culture in 17th-Century England.
My introduction to Milton.

Hopefully I'll also be doing some sort of grad-research-related work, or working in the Writing Clinic or something.

Meanwhile, I will be continuing with Orchestration I and Baroque I, though I'll be taking it at an easier pace next year.

Also, I'm going to start learning cello so that I can hopefully take an exam at the end of the year, so that I'll be eligible to join the cello orchestra (and possibly the First Level regular orchestra, though I have a feeling that would be me and a bunch of little kids) when I really start cracking on my ARCT. Plus there are two choirs I can join when I start it: Conservatory Chorale ensemble for adults which does Baroque to Contemporary, and Ensemble Laude which is a Medieval/Renaissance women's choir.

Ooh, I just discovered a Conducting class... add that to the list. ARCT days will be busy. And it would appear that the ARCT might just qualify as full-time post-secondary studies, despite being entirely private-lesson-based. It would also appear that I was supposed to talk to the Registrar of Post-Secondary Programs prior to registering ):< I'll get around to that next year.

The VCM music festival kicks off tonight with some guitar works by Beethoven.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

and then a masked cat crawled in the window and graffiti'd my domain

New transcriptions on my music page: Nanou 2 in the Aphex Twin section (which is completely playable as a duet! but not so much otherwise) and, my preciousss, The Frail (version) from Things Falling Apart in the NIN section. It's a string sextet! God I wish I were a string sextet, or soloist or something. The cello has got to be the most beautiful sound in the world. So, transcriptions are there at any rate.

Except, they won't be there for long. Because guess who now completely owns her own domain! (me.) Gosh, it was so easy to wrest it from the grip of that loathsome Autumn character; I don't know why I didn't do it before. Be sure to thank the Sun Gods if you've never had dealings with him/her/it. Anyways, I'm getting me a *real* host, pretty soon.

Facebook is getting too cluttered... but I love the new graffiti!

Oh, and BEST THEORY LESSON EVER.

And now it is time to go to sleep. It's a pretty rare thing that will motivate me to stay up all night, though I'm not a bit tired for some reason. I think it's because I'm sleeping less these days... the more I sleep, the more tired I get. I should just give it up entirely. More time to do stuff!

That and I have to stay up and ward zombie cat burglars off. Or the little dog next door that followed me right down to my door.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Music definitions you won't find in Grove's

Music definitions you won't find in Grove's

OBBLIGATO: being forced to practice
CON MOTO: yeah baby, I have a car
ALLEGRO: a little car
METRONOME: short, city musician who can fit into a Honda Civic
LENTO: the days leading up to Easto
LARGO: beer brewed in Germany for the Florida Keys
PIU ANIMATO: clean out the cat's litter box
CON SPIRITO: drunk again
COLLA VOCE: this shirt is so tight I can't sing
IMPROVISATION: what you do when the music falls down
PRELUDE: warm-up before the clever stuff
FLATS: English apartments
CHORDS: things organists play with one finger
DISCORDS: thing that organists play with two fingers
SUSPENDED CHORDS: useful for lynching the vocalist
TIME SIGNATURES: things for drummers to ignore
MELODY: an ancient, now almost extinct art in songwriting
KLAVIERSTUCJ: A term used by German furniture movers attempting to get a piano through a narrow doorway
MUSIC STAND: An intricate device used to hold music. Comes in two sizes - too high or too low - always broken.
TONIC: A medicinal drink consumed in great quantity before a performance, and in greater quantity afterwards.
DOMINANT: What parents must be if they expect their children to practice.
CONCERT HALL: A place where large audiences gather, for the sole purpose of removing paper wrappings from candy and gum.
SOTTO VOCE: singing while drunk
AGOGIC: playing high enough on an oboe to make the eyes bulge.
CADENZA: slapping noise on office furniture
FANDANGO: grabbing the pull chain on the ceiling fan
PRIMA VOLTA: jump start with a battery
REFRAIN: proper technique for playing bagpipes
SMORZANDO: with melted chocolate and marshmallow
MINOR SECOND: two oboists playing concert A

Sunday, June 03, 2007

TDWWA (still)

Expanding my horizons. I really don't know what the proper procedure is for scoring guitar. Suggestions?

It is now June 3, the day lapsura.com expires. Soon it will be mine. All mine... why isn't it expiring yet, gosh. It's June 4 already in the rest of the world. Anyway, heads up for approaching moving.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Drukqs

Introducing... my new project: Aphex Twin transcriptions! [thanks Ryan :) ] I need to clean up my website, and/or redesign it. So disorganized. So many pages that need updating/link-fixing.

In other news, I had a whole hour theory lesson yesterday! It was awesome. He even busted out a recorder and I got a tonguing lesson. Although, when he was assigning some orchestration homework, he said "of course, you'll never hear it. That's the thing about composing: usually you only get to hear it in your head."

Also, my string quartet is now on my music page in its present entirety, if you care to have a listen. Remember, it's all at uniform dynamics because I'm lazy and don't want to re-Reason the whole thing. Comments? Please?

Monday, May 28, 2007

DONE

I FINISHED MY STRING QUARTET IN TIME!! In a last-minute effort to pull it together in time (after completely giving up for too many days) I went through all 9 variations x 4 instruments = 36 files (er—2 more files and it'll be good enough) multiple, multiple times, and finished the final variation. Took me all freaking day, but it's done in time to print off and hand in tomorrow. Well, it's missing the second-last variation, but I'm submitting it anyway. I almost gave up on it, and was going to submit my choral piece instead... but now I'll just submit them both :)

Here is the final variation (or, failing that link, just go here: http://www.freewebs.com/meganmain2/TheRoseQuartet%2DVariation8.mp3). It's the only one I wrote knowing anything about strings, which is why it involves double stops and artificial harmonics while none of my other variations do (and why some notes in my other variations are unplayable). Except, Lilypond typesets harmonics great but doesn't know how to render them in MIDI, so it just sounds like shrill piercingness in my audio file. Try to imagine it. That's all I can do, too, since I don't have a great idea of what harmonics sound like anyway. And, Reason has pretty decent strings samples, but also no harmonics. And no dynamics on the audio, I don't feel like fighting with Reason; Lilypond sapped all my energy. If you don't understand why Lilypond is such a headache, then you should be informed that it's purely programming that bears no resemblance whatsoever to a score; here are 8 measures of 1st Violin:

r2 f8\mf-.^\markup { \italic {pizz.} } r f-. r
f2\downbow\<^\markup { \italic {arco} } ges4\!\f( bes)
c8\downbow( bes) f-.\upbow r ges-.\mf^\markup { \italic {pizz.} } r aes-. r
aes4\f(^\markup { \italic {arco} } ges) f( ees)

ees8( f) aes-. r f-.\mf^\markup { \italic {pizz.} } r f-. r
aes2^\markup { \italic {arco} } f
r4 ges8-.^\markup { \italic {pizz.} } r r4 c8-. r
c-. r bes-. r r4 f8-. r


Now it is time to watch Corner Gas until I run out of episodes.
  • The new Chad Vader episode is possibly my favourite one yet. [Edit: my mistake, that's not the newest one; episode 8 is newly out.] Although... you should still watch the first 3. They're awesome. On a related note, episode 6 reminds me of PRIMUS: "I will go ahead and switch your long distance service for you." Ha, actually that whole phone conversation sounds like the one I had with PRIMUS... except they actually did switch mine over. Blasted jerks. They actually told me that it wasn't optional.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

shut down all the elevators, lock up all the knives

So I was battling with Lilypond again, and finally got frustrated enough to email them asking why their blasted documentation told me to do things that Lilypond says are impossible... and then two minutes later, it dawned on me that I've been using the documentation for a slightly older version of Lilypond than I have. Ahhhh[choir of angels singing]! Things are unsurprisingly much easier when you do things the program's designed to do.

I brought all my Tales From the Bean home on my last day of work (that's the Awfully Waffley version of Drawings From the Library), but my camera cord has gone the way of my entire acrylic paint collection (i.e. wayward), so I'll have to get a new one before I can post them. Or the guy I lent it to could return it. Either way. My "lending" stuff always turns into me buying a replacement.
I need a project. Something big that I can accomplish and feel proud of. Something other than vacuuming the house. Like, taking a pile of broken clam shells, some twine, five staples, assorted ivy leaves... and building an authentic Stradivarius out of them or something. Or something realistic but equally rewarding.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Happy AIR Day

HAPPY AIR DAY! It's also Trent Reznor's birthday. Actually, it's AIR day because it's Trent's birthday.

Q. What is this AIR thing anyway?
A. It stands for Art Is Resistance.

Q. What is it resisting?
A. Apathy in general. Anything you want, in particular. (That site is fairly new, not sure how great it will turn out, but it's a start, it's not unwieldily full of info that people are likely to skip over, and it links to some other good sites.)

It's been quite a while since I last posted... lots has changed since then.

1. Work: last Sunday was my last day at the Awfully Waffley. I left on good terms, surprisingly. Xetch was not so lucky, and actually got fired for no reason (is that even legal?). Mrs. Cuttlebort said the nicest thing anyone could possibly say to me: "I will miss you." I'll miss her too.

2. Analysis: last Saturday was my exam. I was the only one writing it, so I was in a room full of noisy little kids writing Rudiments. Thankfully they left after an hour. My exam envelope was roughly 35x thicker than theirs. The exam itself was pretty lengthy, and they had way too much harmonic analysis on it—the hard kind, too, where the chord changes every bloody eighth-note, with French sixths and all kinds of C.T. chords and what appeared to be cluster chords in a freaking Beethoven sonata. Oh Beethoven, my bane and my hero. Sonata analysis is time-consuming enough without having to symbolize the entire introduction. The exam wasn't overly tough, just tiiiime-consuming, and requiring fast and furious cogitation. I rushed like mad the entire 3 hours and, not only did I have NO time to look anything over at the end, I didn't have time to peruse the fugue and sonata in search of some 1-mark answers. I was sorely tempted to write "this question is dumb" on the 20th-c section, but left it blank instead. Goodbye, anticipated 90s.

3. ARCT: my half-hour Analysis lesson has morphed into three classes. In one half hour. Two of those being ARCT classes, and ARCT being "more work than a Master's but less than a PhD." One class is History 5, the single remaining theory exam I need to take in order to get an ARCT in voice performance. I'll do most of that on my own and maybe even get the exam out of the way in August. The ARCT courses are Orchestration I and Baroque Counterpoint & Analysis I. I am going to love Orchestration! Though, I know he doesn't teach during the summer, so I don't know what will happen with this... maybe wait until the fall, maybe put it off a year while I do the English interlude. But the ARCT is my life's purpose (found it!)... I don't want to put it off.

4. University: Officially starting in September. They've admitted; I've accepted; it's all settled. Which means, come September I will be working on two master's-level degrees simultaneously. Won't I be quite the educated one when all this is finished? I'm hoping I'll be far too busy to wallow in loneliness next year, though I could just as easily be far too busy wallowing and obsessing to do homework.

5. Composing: my first-ever choral piece only made it to quarter-final status in the competition I submitted it to, which is still something to be happy about I guess. I've got 2 variations to go on my string quartet, so I could realistically finish it by the June 1 deadline, though it will be far less polished than I should like. And god damn Lilypond; I spend hours writing the variation and then typing in the PERFECTLY GOOD code in Lilypond, and it spits out this, and I have to spend another hour going through the bloody thing and tweaking. This was by far the most extreme example, though, and at least it actually makes the score rather than saying "I can't do it! You must fix it first!" so I can see where it went awry.

6. Writing: having a few articles under my belt has translated into a raise to 15¢/word, which doesn't sound like much but is 50% more than last time. I only took on one article this time, which needs to have been approved by the interviewee, edited, and in to the magazine by the end of May. Oh, and yet another magazine rejected my poetry. I guess the world is just not ready for rhyme schemes involving mathematical symbols.

7. Random Facts:
  • I have a sudden and strange desire to play croquet

  • I need to take T'ai Chi, or Chai Tea, or something relaxing. I'm getting way too uptight and snappy and anxious and whatnot. Trying harder.

  • I'm rattling around in an empty house for a few days, and pretty much at loose ends as to what to do with myself.

  • the killer tortoise. titter titter... I was waiting for it to eat the cat's face off.

  • You know Harry Potter is big when it has its own entire tab on the Chapters website.
Megan Nell --

[noun]:

A poltergeist sent back in time to change the course of history forever


How will you be defined in the dictionary?

Friday, May 04, 2007

typing this instead of being at work

I called in sick for the first time today. Actually, I didn't call in, I made my miserable way to the store, looked green for a while, and then asked politely if I could go home. I didn't think I'd make the bus ride home. So glad for the day off, because the next two days will be grueling. How I'd love to request all weekends off for the next month. I already booked next weekend off for my exam, so maybe that will fix the glitch in the schedule that currently has me working EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND CLOSING SHIFT.

I've finally gotten around to playing with the Year Zero garageband files. Besides stripping away the vocals to varying degrees upon request by macless ETSers (strange... people don't like Trent's voice?) I made a very brief remix of My Violent Heart and a decent mashup of Zero Sum.But further fiddling must wait, because the VCM composers' competition is fast approaching its deadline.

I dyed my hair a little bit again, this time bright red (but just part of it) and yellow. Needs more yellow.

I got good news on the Composition/Theory deal, and will hopefully be starting Baroque and Orchestration (or more likely one of those) next fall, when I also start my Master's. Violin lessons for the summer are also a go, though Mr. Brown sometimes has derisive comments about the Susuki method going on next door during my lesson. Mr. Brown's so awesome.

But what's really awesome is that I snagged an all-access pass to the music festival on the day before the price doubled. So, for a mere $99 I get to go to lectures, masterclasses, and concerts every day for nearly 2 months! <sarcasm>Unfortunately</sarcasm>, this means I must quit my job, which I plan on doing at the beginning of June.

p.s. May the fourth be with you

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

impeaching season

Everyone should call this number right now and say that you support the impeachment of Bush/Cheney: 1.202.225.0100. Maybe do it twice. Or thrice. It's anonymous, you don't need to be American, and it's legit. Nancy Pelosi (Speaker for House of Representatives) is hosting a phone survey to gauge public support for it.

Reasons to Impeach the President

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A much more restrained post than originally planned

We went to Don Giovanni yesterday, the "greatest opera ever written" according to some. I'm inclined to disagree; it was pretty good, but there are a lot of pretty good operas out there (probably).

I've been getting terribly irritated and angry at just about everything lately (especially ties, people with babies on the bus, the bus, hot panini, my alarm clock, the sun glaring into the bar, the rain in general, the cold, work people... I've got a whole angry post about it all but am not about to post it. But I get the next couple days off work so it's all good for now.

I haven't had anything to do with music for three weeks. That's another thing I'm unwontedly angry and irritated about, though it's entirely my own fault. I don't mind not doing Analysis homework, but I want to be composing, playing piano, transcribing music (oh so angry), learning new instruments, attending lectures and masterclasses. Instead I tend to fall asleep after work. And my exam is in less than 2 weeks. And I haven't had a lesson in 3.

I'm now officially going to do my Master's here in September.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Question of the Week

At the bottom of the "Things We Desperately Need" chalkboard at work is the "Question of the Week." It used to simply pit two characters against each other, who wouldn't normally be in a dueling situation, so to speak. Like Elmer Fudd vs Fred Flinstone. Old School Ozzy Osbourne vs Old School Alice Cooper. A buffalo with a shark tied to its back vs an eagle clutching a crocodile. At least, there used to be a question of the week, back when there used to be a manager who invented the concept and devised the questions. In recent weeks, the Question of the Day has remained blank.

The owner's mother now works at the new store. She is the one whom all us old-school employees trained with. Somehow, she manages to instill the strictest sense of loyalty and discipline just by being present. You address her as Mrs. K——. You do what she says. I've actually bowed to her on occasion. Seriously, bowed; subtly, yet undeniably. She sometimes struggles with English, but if you even think about sneaking a look to a coworker for a little translation aid, you're doomed. I love her to bits.

I was cutting up a baguette the other day, after being enlisted to do so by Mrs. K——, except we don't refer to her as Mrs. K—— unless we're actually talking to her. Let's pretend her name is Judy. There is one other fulltime employee who, along with me, is the last surviving member of our particular training group. Work is terribly dull, long, and tiresome when he's not there, but an endless series of jokes (practical and otherwise) and laughing when he is. "Do you understand the desire to break things into the smallest possible pieces and stuff them into cups?" he asked, glancing over from where he stood rinsing dishes two feet away. Actually, I do. Luther. I replied in the negative. "What are you doing?" "I was told to do this," I replied. There was no need to specify who had told me to do so. "If someone told you to... eat whatever's in this sink drain," he said, fitting gestures to words, "would you do it?" That's an easy question. "If Judy told you to eat it, would you?" I hesitated for a full 10 seconds before honestly saying, "I don't know."

It's not written on the chalkboard, nor is likely to ever be. But, the best question of the week to date is, "What wouldn't you do for Judy?"

Monday, April 23, 2007

musicless

Gosh, this is the second week in a row that my Analysis class is canceled. Analysis is the one regular thing in my schedule these days, and it's also one of the most calming things in my schedule. I'm going to start on a new composition; it's been too long. It's also been far too long since I've even seen a piano, much less played one. ...actually, I just saw ~20 pianos in the music store the other day... but that doesn't really count.

It's harder to walk up the hill to the bus stop when it's sunny out, like today. I just feel like lying down on the grass and dozing. I'm thinking, blue next, soon.

Wake up and give a shit

AAAAHHHHH!!!! no WAY! Why on earth would you sell that??? Some of those contained cell phones, and last Wednesday the lucky people who got those cellphones experienced this. That is so freaking, freaking awesome; I severely wish that I were part of it. Although, it seems to me that it would be all too easy for some crazy fanatics to turn this into something nasty. All those people who went to the surprise concert signed waivers and gave up all forms of communication with the outside world. I guess people are willing to go pretty deep into this. Open Source Resistance describes it thusly:
On April 18, 2007, Open Source Resistance hosted a gathering in LA. Musicians, artists, and ordinary people gathered in support of a simple message: speak up to defend the things that matter to you. The concert planned to end the evening was broken up by police.

If They stop you from speaking, they’re killing freedom. If you just can’t be bothered to speak, freedom will
die just the same.

Wake up and give a shit.
Year Zero has every potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, if only because of fanatics. Not that that's bad; I'm a fanatic myself. I think the line between the ARG and reality is blurring. I mean, have you seen all those AIR posters plastered everywhere? (I haven't; I wish I had.) Look at this:
(I swiped that from an ETS thread.) That's the tv tower at Alexanderplatz! In Berlin! And that's just one example. You should also check out the artwork that people have submitted to OSR, here. I notice a lot of them say things like "you have a voice; use it." I don't really believe this. I've never felt as though I had a voice, at least not as an individual. Individuals don't have voices; it's only when we band together that it makes a difference. Or maybe I'm wrong. I hope so.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Earth Day

Oops, apparently today was Earth Day. I celebrated Earth Day by working an 8.5-hour-shift and then eating some crackers. I don't go to Starbucks anymore, I just sit in a corner at the Awfully Waffley and read Pickwick.

Fun Fact: UVic's English Grad Studies department has ~80% SSHRC students this year, or something crazy like that. The Graduate Chair is trying to entice me by saying it's "the most lucrative department in Canada" and by adding another thousand to my fellowship. I'll be meeting with him on Tuesday, to "discuss" things like "funding" and "research." I expect their idea of research is translating old moldy Latin or (much worse) Anglo Saxon. I'm still undecided on this whole grad studies dl.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

(almost) all about work

Yesterday was a great day at work. I poured a near-perfect rosette; wish I'd had a camera. Haven't so much as practiced with water since then, though. I'm starting to get a barista hand; all that remains is to get espresso grounds permanently worked into the cracks.

But the really great part, which was even more of a personal triumph than the rosette, was when The Frail started playing on the ipod, though I was the only person in the store who could hear it since I was lounging right in front of the only speaker (the sound system having been previously croasted at the staff party). I got all excited and incredulous at that first chord (for a generally deaf person, I pick up some things pretty quick), and started babbling at my coworker [who had never listened to NIN before :0] about Year Zero, which, I might add, is express-posting itself to me as we speak!

The owner is away on a 3-day holiday, which means his brother is acting in his stead, which means I got to listen to Radiohead all morning. So much better than the Verve Remixed, though that returned in the afternoon.

I think the Awfully Waffley's suspicious about where I go on my breaks. The owner remarked that I always look like I'm going to a top-secret location. My co asked me where I ate lunch, and I (truthfully) told him I don't really eat lunch. I think of a muffin more as second breakfast than a lunch. Today the Starbucks people called me a traitor, but they're pretty proud that I go there. Yesterday they asked me if I needed more hours, and if I'd come work there too. I don't dare tell them that I'm the supervisor.

I'm hatching a plan to get the screever to come draw on our walls... I don't think it'll go down too well, even though he's an incredible artist.

The VCM is having a 55-day, first-ever, annual music festival. So many great masterclasses; I wish I were taking an instrument. Hopefully I can take violin lessons this summer.

My online grad studies application still says "refused" :( I'd really like them to change that soon.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Breathing easier

This weekend was terribly stressful, but things are starting to get ironed out now.
  • UVic initially refused my application(!), which worried me all week. But then I told them that must be a mistake, and they agreed that it must be, and would I please do my Master's there if they gave me $4000 on top of my SSHRC. The Master's program there will only take 12 months to do (it's course-based), so maybe I can look forward to doing my ARCT sooner than expected. But, I should really become semi-proficient in Anglo Saxon and Latin before September.

  • Work is getting crazy. Due to some political maneuvers and fatal errors, the ex-manager is now banished to the old store. This means I have been thrown into baristaing. It may also mean they will need me during the week rather than on weekends, which suits me just fine. But, for some reason I've been sliding steeply downward in all areas at work, and am no longer good at anything. It's very embarrassing.

  • Analysis exam is fast approaching.

  • I think I'm going deaf. Or maybe my hearing is too sensitive. One of the two.

    • Deafness: I can't hear what anybody says most of the time, which has caused me to pretty much be under order-taking-probation as of yesterday, which means I get severe flac(k) whenever I ring in drinks wrong. It would help immensely if people didn't have accents. I mean, if you ask me for "skeeeem meeelk," is it any wonder I give you steamed milk?

    • Sensitivity: I haven't been able to steam milk into proper microfoam consistency at all lately, because I can't tell when it "sounds" the right consistency. It's not the deafness, this time, it's quite the opposite. The owner keeps telling me that you can tell the milk is right when you hear the pitch change. Then, when he's demonstrating, he stops it at a certain point and says "there, did you hear the pitch change just then?" Actually, I hear the pitch changing the entire time. It doesn't just suddenly drop a pitch, it's a continual downward glissando from the moment you stop chirping. Like, beeeeeaaaaaaauuuuuuuoooooooooo-p, except much longer.
Anyway, all of this has sucked out any fun that was ever in work, and I'm afraid to do anything other than grill panini there. Although, I did make a London Fog for someone who said it was "the best London Fog [she'd] ever had."

I'm glad I got accepted to UVic, but that won't make September any easier.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Waiting (probably until Year Zero rolls around)

What is frustrating? This and this, and there's nothing to do about either except wait.

I'm on 5-day weekend until Wednesday, after which time I'll be training on weekends.

Year Zero makes me want to write a book like 1984, except set in the present. Maybe they'll let me put my SSHRC towards comparing dystopian literature/media; that would be awesome. All these great ideas I have just happen to be already done or in progress. The writer in me marvels at the creative genius behind this; I mean, all these clues that nobody knows what they're about have some place in the world of Year Zero, and will come to light in their proper place. It's like a novel that's currently going on, in real life, and that elapses at the same rate that we do. But much more involved and intriguing.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Road to Baristaship

I was trying to stay out of the Year Zero conspiracy (or whatever you call it). At first I thought it was probably stupid, just a marketing scheme or something and definite time-waster; then I thought it looked pretty interesting but still would require a lot of time to catch up on. But now I've finally listened to the album (which I LOVE and will probably keep on an endless loop for a long time) and perused some of the websites, and it's definitely awesome, creepy, and yes, it will take me weeks to catch up and explore everything that's been discovered so far, not to mention everything that isn't yet well understood or is still to come. If dystopian worlds interest you, you should check it out. The whole thing makes me feel slightly sick, though; I always get confused when I get caught up in dystopian worlds, and start thinking the real world is actually kind of like that, and get all anxious and worried. Same thing happened after I read 1984 and watched V for Vendetta.

The rest of this post is part of what I was going to post yesterday:

Bah crap, today has been a pretty horrid day. First off it took 2 rounds to get rid of a worser sort of migraine, which probably made me look like I was totally stoned at work, which is probably why the owner asked me if I was bored with my duties ("You look like you're bored") and wouldn't I like to try something else? How about culinary? No? Barista, then. We need a weekend barista, so why don't they just go ahead and schedule me in for next weekend, and I can feel free to come on my own time to practice.

Oh, but I forgot the first two parts, where I got in trouble first for using the wrong coat hanger, and second for stacking two identical dish covers.

Two hours of steaming milk. Two hours, I tell you, in which I went through roughly 8 litres of milk in the pursuit of perfectly concocted microfoam. So frustrating at first, because it all turned out the same, and it always looked the same to me, but it was too thick, or too thin, or my "vortex was too violent", but I had to "ok, try again" time after time until the end of my shift.

At any rate, apparently I've mastered 2% and skim microfoam on my first day, whoopdido. All I was able/allowed to turn out were one chai latte ("that last one was much too thick... oh look, there's an order for a chai latte; that needs to be thicker, so try to remember what you did last time and do it again") and some skim microfoam for a latte (which someone else poured). And brought on the second half of the migraine. The right side doesn't make me quite so nauseous, but it does make everything between my eyebrow and chin go numb.

So why was I thrown into barista traineeship in the first place? It's rather comical. The owner has been hinting for a few weeks that I should have a meeting with him to decide where my future with the Awfully Waffley should lie. Today he kind of tricked me into suggesting an answer (I said something to the effect that I'd much rather be a barista than build saucy cold potatoes all day) and proclaimed that I would henceforth train to be the weekend head barista manager person. Well, I don't want to work weekends, blast it all. Plus, the girl who started with me has been training to be weekend barista for over a week now. I said, well she really wants to be barista, I know, so why don't I try something else? That's not on weekends? He said, well, I think it would be good to have a little competition, to see who will become weekend barista fastest, plus she's a student and won't always be available on weekends. I said, oh ok, but I'd like to sit down and talk with you sometime anyway, about my future here. He said, no, we'll try you as barista, it's a good skill to have anyway, and if you decide it's not for you you can try something else after.

I'll give it a week, or maybe a little more, then break the news to him that I shall also soon be a student who is required not to take full-time employment. And that I will definitely not be working weekends while I'm a student. And might not even be here anymore by then anyway. And that I wasn't bored, I was just having a bad day. And if my weeriness is well-founded, medical concerns will force me to not be a barista. The steaming makes my eye pound and temple throb; I also can't handle the caffeine involved in the job. A barista has to keep tasting the shots every day to make the necessary adjustments. "You're not a coffee drinker, are you? You'll have to start tasting the espresso." It all tastes the same to me anyway (bad; like alcohol which tastes bad no matter what the drink is but you just have to pour it down your throat so as to avoid the tastebuds, that's why people always laugh at me for guzzling drinks so quickly). How should I know if it's sour, or if the shot was 4 seconds too long, or whatever?

The only good part of the day was when my nemesis trainee came in and asked me if I would take her Sunday shift. I have never been so firm or unhesitating as when I replied "NO." And my muffin at Starbucks was pretty awesome.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More Wednesday Medley-ing

I don't know what's worse: the consistency of cold potatoes; cold potatoes that are coated in sauce; being obliged to forgo one's daily Starbucks ritual in order to stay and "try" a heaping helping of cold potatoes coated in sauce, or; being obliged to praise said cold potatoes coated in sauce. I guess it would be good if one liked potato salad. I couldn't quite bring myself to finish them. Don't you just hate chewing and chewing on something you really don't want to swallow? But the Atlantic salmon grilled in lime juice and coated in basil, crab, and shrimp was delicious. The owner had concocted a variety of new lunch items, and insisted that I stay and try them all for lunch. Woot for free lunch!

He also insisted that I crack down on lousy newbies. If I weren't weery of being hated (even more) by all the new people, I'd have a lot of tongue-lashing to do. I have an unfortunate habit of smiling excessively when I tell people to do some blasted work for a change (or that they're doing things wrong), usually just to make it seem like I'm cool with their negligence. I'm pretty certain that I could get away with being harsh if English wasn't my first language, because then I could at least pretend that I don't know how to word criticisms in any nicer a way. I wish I had adopted a German accent from the very start. "Vaht you are doing? You may not stop for a beeah! You must vork at all times." Everybody likes to stand around chatting and laughing all the time, while I clench my teeth and place silent hexes on them as I clean up the mess they leave even though there's a sign that clearly says "Clean yer slab or yer scrubbin' the grill." Right by the "Thar be pitchers that need a-washin', yo ho." Yep, it's almost universally pirate-themed, except for the coffee maker instructions which are Star Wars-themed. But about the accent: I could be harsh with a German accent. Nobody expects smiles and niceties from a Goerman.

Tangentially-Related Sidenote:

Doesn't matter if you sing out of tune,
So long as you're German;
Doesn't matter if you can hardly croon,
So long as you're German;
So if you haven't got a note in your head,
Put on a silly accent instead,
And people will stop wishing you were dead—So long as you're German.

Doesn't matter if the notes are all wrong
And people are squirmin',
Just make the tune up as you go along;
Pretend you're German;
And if your voice sounds like it's coming through a strainer,
Sing it out of synch, like Marlene;
And soon you'll be compared to Lotte Lenya
Who was German.

Nich hin auf slene sprech gesang Zauberflöte wunderbar Johnny!
Viener Schnitzel Bundesbank Helmut Kohl Eurostar Johnny!

So, if you ever wonder what you have to do
To sound like a Hun;
Just chain-smoke from the tender age of two;
That's how it's done;
And if the audience is all walking out,
Just make believe that you're a Kraut,
And open you're mouth and shout
In German.
In German.
In German.
Auf Deutsche.
Jawohl.


I saw that song performed at a musical theatre class in the Regina Festival once; it was so freaking awesome.

Back to DV: I'm so highly esteemed in the management, it's awesome. The old store wants me back quite badly, and it would sure mean less work for me if I did go back there. I think I'm also currently winning some sort of competition with the manager. That's just my (well-founded) opinion. I'll reserve details of the competition for new drawings, of which I have some great new ideas but am still lacking unlined paper.

I'm going to start saying "Welcome to the Vaguely Bagelly."

I can't believe how rude people can be. So very, very rude. Personal attacks, too. Gosh, it's just coffee; you wouldn't catch me drinking the stuff. Though I do drink entirely too much hot chocolate. It's probably time to do up some dieting :S

Analysis lessons have resumed. I'm almost ready to ace the exam, provided I can complete it in the necessary time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Nothing to fear and nothing to doubt

I jumped in the river and what did I see?
Black-eyed angels swam with me
A moon full of stars and astral cars
All the figures I used to see
All my lovers were there with me
All my past and future
And we all went to heaven in a little row boat
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt

I jumped into the river
Black-eyed angels swam with me
A moon full of stars and astral cars
And all the figures I used to see
All my lovers were there with me
All my past and future
And we all went to heaven in a little row boat
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt

There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt

—Radiohead Pyramid Song
aka my new favourite song. It's one of ~10 songs on a perpetual loop on the ipod at work. In my sleep-deprived state, I tear up a little (a lot actually) every time [see Wednesday Thoughts on Facebook]. Now that I know the words I love it even more. I've been informed that my future at work is wide open: I can be a cook, barista, weekend manager. The reason: because I'm "so awesome," in the owner's words. I'm tempted to go into management just so that I can control the ipod. That would be the awesomest perk imaginable. Details on Facebook.

I wish there was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt. Life seems to be headed toward infinite fear and doubt. The final path must soon be forged, and I'm afraid I'll fail (as usual) to make my dreams happen.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Where have all the weekends gone?

Today was the Pacific Festival of the Book. I was supposed to be volunteering from 8:30—6:00, but I managed to duck out a little after 3:00. I need to stop being so flexible. "Sure, I can start volunteering any time that day, and I can stay as long as you need me!"

There were a few very interesting things at the festival. My favourite part was when Herman Melville (a.k.a. Roderick) was roving around the Lobby and came and entertained us at the Registration Table for a while. He also told us about I Spy Craigdarroch Castle, March 17—April 1. That's where you get to go sneak around Craigdarroch pretending you're a spy, possibly accompanied by a chimney sweep (though the webpage would indicate that there is in fact only one chimney sweep). I'm not too sure how that differs from what you regularly do at Craigdarroch (excepting the chimney sweep, of course, but I doubt it will be an authentic one anyway; probably won't be a speck of coal dust in sight).

I didn't get a chance to go to any of the workshops, which is too bad because there were some self-publishing workshops that I would have found highly interesting and potentially useful. I caught the end of a book-making demo, though, so now I'll be able to make some awesome chapbooks. Not like those crappy chapbooks that I can't even get rid of for free. I'm thinking that all my new chapbooks will be originals (like, each book is different in both architecture and content). Details at eleven. Wolves are making a comeback.

The most hilarious part of the festival was when some crazy lady took the open stage (she was one of the roving performers, I think) and yelled vowels into the microphone. Many of the exhibitors chose to take cigarette breaks at that time, and one lady came out of the room exaggeratedly plugging her ears. An Irish-accented guy kept having to come back to check if the vowel lady was gone before he returned to his exhibit ("She's not married, that's for sure. Otherwise she'd be dead.") That was during my 2-hour vigil in the empty hallway, guarding the door. I should have just gone to the festival as a civilian.

I hate closing shifts; they're a whole hour of manual labour, plus it seems to take me five times longer than everyone else to sweep or mop the place. I know why, too: I sweep it as though it's a granary. Far too meticulous. It's just a cafe, it's not like we're storing grain on the floor or anything. (I haven't taken that mandatory food safety course yet, by the way. It's probably an optional mandatory course.) I've discovered that pretty much nobody at the new store has a work ethic on par with me, which makes me secretly seethe a little whenever I see something that obviously needs to be done and the newbies just say "ho hum, I think I'll have a cup of coffee." (Back in my trainee days, we didn't dream of helping ourselves to free coffee.) There's really only one trainee who would last more than five minutes at the old store. As it is, the guy who trained with me almost got fired from the old store (he now has a raise ):< ). I think everybody should be trained there, because that's where weeding out and pruning seems to get done, if you know what I mean. I have one untrainable trainee right now, and I don't quite know what to do about it. She's untrainable in the sense that she ignores what I tell her, and even decided that she could grill a panino (fun fact: panini is a plural; panino is the singular) well enough on her second day on the job to train someone how to do it. I ended up getting to tell her, "Oh, by the way, whenever you ruin food like that, you need to put it in the kitchen with a note saying how it happened, with your name and the date." She also butchered the brand new grill that the owner was so adamant that we treat well. And, she touched the new espresso bar, the one that was handmade in Italy, the one that nobody but baristas are allowed near. The barista had to come stop the burst of steam that she set going. I have plenty of other complaints, but it's probably bad form to blog about work in the first place. We'll just pretend I've been talking about school, that's perfectly permissible.

Tomorrow I agreed (again, too readily) to pick up a shift someone canceled at the old store, so it's two solid weeks of early mornings and not enough downtime. Plus, I don't have Analysis this week, so not having a weekend today and tomorrow pretty much makes this a 12-day workweek for me.

I've decided that weekends will henceforth be Megan times. No more of this non-weekend, non-sleeping-in nonsense. After all, I'm pretty sure that two of my top three biggest regrets in life will end up being 1) not spending as much time as humanly possible with the people who matter most, and 2) not sleeping in nearly enough.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The purple haze in Hogwarts

Boy, do I ever love Analysis class. The Conservatory looks like Hogwarts, and there's always a medley of music floating down from the windows. Perhaps some day I will teach in just such a conservatory, or at least sit in it and write music. Mr. Brown was playing Purple Haze on the piano to demonstrate chords. But then he said "You don't need me anymore," and that we'd only have a few more lessons :'( How tragic.

The new store opened almost on time yesterday, and the pace picked up some more today. My job is now much more like the ideal coffee-place job I had always envisioned, but training people really sucks. Mostly I tell them how to do something, then I show them how to do it, then I notice that they never do it or even check if it needs doing again, then I ask them to do it while I'm out on break, then I come back and do it myself instead. I had to cover up for so many mistakes and general negligences today that by the time I left I felt like the grumpy snappy lady who occasionally takes my bus. I also hate closing; today was the first time I had ever been there for closing, and did one heck of a lot of mopping. The day also felt 5 hours longer than usual. I much prefer interacting with customers (shockingly!). The new store is extremely beautiful, and I like it a lot, but I acutely miss working with the old-store crew.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Prescription: 1 Caramel Frappucino

The grand opening is now set for Wednesday, and as of today I am the new supervisor (woot phoot). Of the entire staff in the new store, I am older than everybody except the owner and the manager. I also kicked a migraine using only scones, pineapple, and a caramel frappucino (because I wasted my last migraine-stopper on a regular headache, blast it all), plus I will get paid for orientation as well as my regular shift today; it's been a decent day all round. And to top it all off... I don't have to wake up tomorrow morning! Phootacular.

The new store has ample wallspace, so the management is proposing to use it to showcase local art. If I had my paints, I'd claim a wall tomorrow. I think there's enough room for a baby grand, but I doubt if anyone else would agree.

There would be new drawings now if I had any more paper, but they will have to wait.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The rural horror brewery

Happy St. Patrick's Day from yesterday! There seem to be so many days to celebrate recently. Yesterday also happened to be my great uncle & aunt's 62nd anniversary, so we had a small gathering for that at my first cousin twice removed's place (I don't know what removed means, but it sounds neat so that's what I call her). Their house is so awesome, it's a heritage home built in 1913-14 and almost everything in it dates from that era, or is at least antique-y. It's like a museum where you're allowed to sit in the furniture, play with the grammophone, and touch things! And dining feels like High Tea at the Gatsby. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't touch things, but their cats have been known to sharpen their claws on the rugs and vinyl records and spray the bronze statues.

Between Thai food there (food poisoning?), and perhaps a touch too many refreshments for St. Paddy's day in the evening elsewhere (hangover :S), I've been feeling terribly ill all day. The only time I've ever felt worse is when I had a 48-hour stomach flu in university; I foolishly tried to go to class and it ended up taking me 2 hours to get back to Luther from the Ad Hum building, mostly because I had to stop and take a nap in the restrooms to build up strength for the next leg of the journey every so often. But then Jacenta took care of me so it was all good.

I had been waiting for St. Patrick's Day to roll around so that I could debunk it (kind of like my Lest We Forget rant) but I can't remember what that was all about, and the book that does know is back in Saskatchewan. Oh well, I'll just look forward to St. Swithin's Day instead.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Pides of March

Happy Pi Day and Happy Einstein's Birthday from yesterday, and Happy Ides of March today. Beware. I propose we create a new two-day festival called the Pides.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Call me... "Wrap Factory"

My head is finally purple (not bright purple, unfortunately), but the haircut's not as unusual as I had hoped. In fact... it turned out to be pretty much my usual. Blast. I wish it were sky blue with pink and purple streaks. That would be awesome.

I got to be a wrap factory at work today, and also made soup for the first time. Making food is awesome, because it makes time go by swiftly. I hope I get to make all the food in the new store, and leave serving to my underlings. It seems like everything's breaking at the store, though. Today there was no hot water (except in the coffee machines) and one of the πpods wasn't working so we had to listen to the same 4 Bob Marley songs over and over (shudder). But broken things take people's attention off of me and my mishaps, so that's all good.

The Herr Brown quotation of the week: "Well, I'm not going to look closely at this. It must be right." I love it when he plays the piano for me. So jazzy.

How much you changed....

TEN YEARS AGO
How old were you? 12
Where did you go to school? Sedley High
Where did you work? nowhere/farming?
Where did you live? Francis, Saskatchewan
Where did you hang out? Negative
What was your hair style? either quite long, or really short... probably really short about then, actually
Did you wear glasses? never
Who were your best friends? Angela, Sam, Jennifer, Adam... as always through school
How many tattoos did you have? again, negative
How many piercings did you have?: 2 (ears)
What car did you drive? the good ol' station wagon (but only around the country, I was 12)
What was your worst fear? going to school, every single day. Got over it in about grade 11/12
Had you driven yet? yes, especially swathers
Had you been to a real party yet? no
Had your heart broken? no
Single/Taken/Married/Divorced/Bitter: single

FIVE YEARS AGO
How old were you? 17
Where did you go to school ? Sedley High
Where did you work? nowhere/camp in the summer I turned 18
Where did you live? Francis, SK
Where did you hang out? umm.... does drama club count as hanging?
How was your hair style? long & layered
Did you wear glasses? never
Who were your best friends? Angela, Sam, Adam
Who was your regular-person crush? A guy in another class
How many tattoos did you have? none
How many piercings did you have?: 6 (ears)
What car did you drive? the Carsicle (a.k.a. LTD)
What was your favorite band/group? Treble Charger, and probably also Marilyn Manson
What was your worst fear? leaving home
Had you been to a real party yet? yes
Had your heart broken? not really
Single/Taken/Married/Divorced/Bitter: taken, then single

MARCH 2007
How old are you?: 22
Where do you work? Dolce Vita Coffee Art
Where do you live? Victoria
Where do you hang out? possibly Starbucks, if wolfing down scones by myself and leaving quickly counts as hanging
How is your hair style? shortish, layered, and PURPLE
Do you wear glasses? never!
Who are your best friends? Ryan, Kate, Blake, Angela
Do you talk to your old friends? some of them
How many piercings do you have? 6
How many tattoos? 0
What kind of car do you have? a bus (that someone else drives)
What is your favorite band/group? so many, but if I had to pick most grooves per capita it'd be a tie between Nine Inch Nails and Amon Tobin
What is your biggest fear? being left behind, and to a much lesser extent running out of Maxalt
Have you been arrested, if so how many times total? no
Has your heart been broken? somewhat
Single/Taken/Married/Divorced/Bitter: taken and smitten

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Century of Humanity

I dreamed last night that it was 2058, and the world was a strange place. In fact, it was on the road to ethnic cleansing. Actually, the whole world wasn't 2058, just when I climbed a mountain there happened to be a futuristic civilization up there. Must be due to general relativity or something.

I finally finished Shake Hands With The Devil, which every human should read. Here are some quotations from it:

"In the aisles and on the pews were the bodies of hundreds of men, women and children. At least fifteen of them were still alive but in a terrible state. The priests were applying first aid to the survivors. A baby cried as it tried to feed on the breast of its dead mother... The night before, [two Polish MILOBs] said, the RGF had cordoned off the area, and then the Gendarmerie had gone door to door checking identity cards. All Tutsi men, women and children were rounded up and moved to the church. ... the gendarmes collected the adults' identity cards and burned them. Then the gendarmes welcomed in a large number of civilian militiamen with machetes and handed over the victims to their killers. ... By the destruction of their cards, and of their records at the local commune office, these human beings were erased from humanity. They simply never existed. Before the genocide ended, hundreds of thousands of others would be erased." (280-81)

"I had long been arguing with New York that RTLM had to be shut down, as it was a direct instrument in promoting genocide. The UN did not have the means to stop the broadcasts, either through jamming, a direct air strike on the transmitter, or covert operations, but it made a formal request of the United States, which had the means to try all three. The issue was studied by the Pentagon, which in due course recommended against conducting the operation because of the cost—$8,500 an hour for jamming aircraft over the country—and the legal dilemma. Bandwidth within a nation is owned by the nation, and jamming a national radio station would violate international convention on national sovereignty. The Pentagon judged that the lives of the estimated 8,000-10,000 Rwandans being killed each day in the genocide were not worth the cost of fuel or the violation of Rwandan airwaves. The death toll, which was estimated at 200,000 by the end of April, reached 500,000 by the end of May and 800,000 by the last day of June." (375)

"There were remnants of a barrier here, and many people had been killed and thrown in the ditches and on the sides of the road. As I got out to wait, I looked at the bodies, which seemed relatively fresh. Just as I glimpsed the body of a child, it moved. I wasn't sure if it was my imagination, but I saw the twitching of the child and wanted to help. I leaned down to pick the child up, and suddenly I was holding a little body that was both tingling and mushy in my hands. In a second I realized that the movement was not the child but the action of maggots." (401)

"'The Interahamwe made a habit of killing young Tutsi children, in front of their parents, by first cutting off one arm, then the other. They would then gash the neck with a machete to bleed the child slowly to death but, when they were still alive, they would cut off the private parts and throw them at the faces of the terrified parents, who would then be murdered with slightly greater dispatch.' Khan [Shaharyar M. Khan, appointed SRSG June '94] was wrong when he wrote that the veterans of the genocide had become hardened to such things. We were simply putting off our feelings until later." (462)

"...the U.S. 'has taken a leading role in efforts to protect the Rwandan people and ensure humanitarian assistance. ... [It has] provided $9 million in relief, flown about 100 Defense Department missions... strongly supported an expanded UNAMIR, air-lifting 50 armoured personnel carriers to Kampala ... [and is] equipping the UN's Ghanian peacekeeping battalion.' Clinton's fibbing dumbfounded me. The DPKO was still fighting for the Pentagon for military cargo planes to move materiel. The Pentagon had actually refused to equip the Ghanaians as they felt the bill was too high and that Ghana was trying to gouge them. And who exactly got the $9 million?"

[Many, many times throughout the book, the US blocked all efforts to reinforce UNAMIR (the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda) and was the constant frustration of UNAMIR. You can't help but feel outraged at the US, who had so much potential to help and not only did nothing, but actually prohibited efforts to help.]

"... during those last weeks, we received a shocking call from an American staffer, whose name I have long forgotten. He was engaged in some sort of planning exercise and wanted to know how many Rwandans had died, how many were refugees, and how many were internally displaced. He told me that his estimates indicated that it would take the deaths of 85,000 Rwandans to justify the risking of the life of one American soldier." (498-99)

"In the last decades of the twentieth century, self-interest, sovereignty and taking care of number one became the primary criteria for any serious provision of support or resources to the globe's trouble spots. If the country in question is of any possible strategic value to the world powers, then it seems that everything from covert operations to the outright use of overwhelming force is fair game. If it is not, indifference is the order of the day." (519-20)

I wish I could find the part about how many tens of thousands of bodies had been pulled out of Lake Victoria.

Many times throughout the book I had to stop and just be incredulous and outraged at what had happened. We always think, "How can such things happen in the world?" Well, because we rarely do anything other than just be outraged. Outrage is not enough. But what the hell, I don't know where to start.

I apologize for only giving these various quotations without my opinion on them. I used to routinely get flack about not having coherent arguments or opinions, but my method of thinking is somewhat Impressionistic: I hold all these disparate images in my mind, and come out with an overall picture that isn't defined in very fine lines, but is there nonetheless. I can't put my thoughts to words like other people can, and I can't explain myself very easily. But I hope you share my feelings about things like Rwanda.

"In the future we must be prepared to move beyond national self-interest to spend our resources and spill our blood for humanity. We have lived through centuries of enlightenment, reason, revolution, industrialization, and globalization. No matter how idealistic the aim sounds, this new century must become the Century of Humanity, when we as human beings rise above race, creed, colour, religion and national self-interest and put the good of humanity above the good of our own tribe." (522)

Friday, March 09, 2007

floating on cherry blossoms

Because I always arrive at things way too early, I take a detour while walking from the bus stop to work every morning. Cherry trees seem to be as populous in Victoria as elm trees are in Regina, and right now they're blooming. I love walking on a carpet of pink petals early in the morning. It's like being in a painting.

And because I'm apparently doing awesome at work (who knew?), I will not only get a raise effective when the new store opens on the 20th, but they also want me to be a supervisor there. This is "very exceptional," they tell me. I don't know why I'm the one who was lucky enough to get the first shift, or why I get the most hours of all the new people, but... well lucky me, I guess. I wasn't even going to go to work today because I've been rather ill for a couple days, but then I did because I'm too chicken to call in sick. I'm glad I did go, though, because it happened to be pay day as well as promotion day. Wooo! Except Maxalt + Codeine = me in a cloud. Or in a London Fog, as it were. I'm so glad it's the weekend. Time for theory and tax returns (lest the horde of tax men come after me again).

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Beats Me

I have a strong urge to watch Requiem for a Dream. Or maybe just listen to the soundtrack over and over. That and Amon Tobin (I definitely have to get Amon Tobin hooked up on the ipod at work, I'm absolutely certain it would go over with immense success, at least in the new store. Maybe not so much in the old store where anything heavier than Mozart is forbidden during my shift. OMG I'm listening to it right now and it's almost inconceivable how awesome it is). And Nine Inch Nails. And especially Massive Attack. And all my miscellaneous favourites. Maybe I'll just spend Thursday listening to music. Playing the piano would be even better. I'll have to hook myself up with a practice room if I continue RCM studies in the fall.

The Mr. Brown quote of the week: in answer to an RCM question about what he himself was thinking while writing his own composition (I left the question blank, I had no clue), he thought for a few minutes, offered some token answers that the examiners might accept, then wrote down this. I love this class so much. I almost didn't get the most important part of this week's assignment done—I ask you, why does The Bay not sell dividers, or even paper?? Most inconvenient.

Still no tips... For that matter, no wages either. Pay day had better come soon, or I shall mount a protest. I don't even have a tip jar. Apparently tip dispersal is backed up by a week or so, so that should be remedied someday. How am I supposed to go eat lunch at Starbucks every day if I have no petty cash? Maybe that's the idea, they're trying to discourage that. One of these days I'll have to try our Wicked Soup though, because it smells delicious and makes me increasingly hungry throughout the day. I'm the designated apple strudels and quiche baker, which I've finally perfected. The latest goal is to open the new store on March 22. I hear there are chandeliers in it. It's also much much bigger. I still can't think of any drawings ideas.