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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.