song without words

Oct. 28th, 2016 09:31 am
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
[personal profile] jazzfish
One of the main goals I had when I started learning the viola was to be able to, oh, let's be honest, play in a music circle with PNH and Steve Brust and eBear. Or, more reasonably, Klagor and other Rainforest folks. (I have, in my head, most of an instrumental setting for Lorde's "Royals". Haven't tried it out yet; not even sure it's possible, the viola may not be deep enough.)

Tegen's remarkably accommodating of this desire. Starting last spring she's been trying to teach me some basic music theory, chords and intervals and all.

This is really hard for me. I can hear different intervals but I can't necessarily identify them, a fourth from a fifth (why is this hard? fifths are what my strings are tuned in, i've been listening to fifths for three decades) or a sixth from a third. And it's worse with chords, everything just muddles together and I can't hear what I'm even supposed to be listening for.

A couple of weeks ago she finally said "look, don't worry about hearing it, just /feel/ it. I is the root, V pulls back to I, IV ... doesn't, and vi is the only one of these that's a minor. We'll work with those." That helps. The minute I try to name the chord I lose it, it takes me several seconds to put a name to it and I'm wrong half the time, but I can feel where it is.

We've been doing some improv as well, "here are some chords, work out what notes are in them, then noodle around while i play the chord sequence on the piano." Results are variable, but it's fun.

On Tuesday night the improv /clicked/. I could know my own notes and feel the piano chords. By the end I could consciously try to make the one line up with the other while not, I don't know, degenerating into rote mechanics.

We got to the end and Tegen said "That was great! Do you have any questions?"

I needed three tries before I could say "Music makes me unable to word." It took another minute or so before I could explain more coherently that whatever I had been doing right then had turned off my access to words. Not just speech but words as a whole: I normally process the notes I'm playing in words, and in retrospect that ... wasn't what I was doing this time.

This is interesting. It's not "I have something important to say and I can't quite bear to get it out," it is literally I have no words. It's like the Ansel Adams exhibit years ago, only instead of passively experiencing I'm an active participant in the overwhelm.

I have no idea what it means but I suspect it's important.

(no subject)

Oct. 27th, 2016 07:51 pm
bjornwilde: (Default)
[personal profile] bjornwilde
 Ok, this is genius...Postmodern Jukebox covering Queen's Don't Stop Me Now as inspired by Tina Turner's Proud Mary.

I'm going to try and tag in bar tonight. I need to try and get some mojo going and tomorrow is likely to be challenging. Her Ladyship is going in for a procedure. It's just a diagnostic thing for the nausea and pain she's been suffering, but she will be under general anesthesia, Can't help but worry.

I can also tell I want to play as I keep getting tempting thoughts of new pups. Like Symmetra or Ana from Overwatch, or Chance from the old comic book, Leave It To Chance.

dinner first though.

(no subject)

Oct. 27th, 2016 12:20 pm
bjornwilde: (Default)
[personal profile] bjornwilde
 Work is sucking but I am laughing at my idea and photoshop for Rollo's costume.

(no subject)

Oct. 26th, 2016 11:33 am
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
[personal profile] jazzfish
Finished my third read of The March North last night.

... I am just about certain that the last chapter contains a passing reference to the old joke about the guy who buys a bunch of roses, eats the petals one by one, and throws away the stems.

*narrows eyes*

Museli musings 2

Oct. 25th, 2016 09:46 pm
lovingboth: (mini me + poo)
[personal profile] lovingboth

Following on from my previous post on this, Aldi have been continuing to change things. This lead to at least one frightening* period when all three stores in vaguely easy reach didn't have any of the not-so-good stuff, never mind the good stuff.

To my surprise, they're now back to selling 750g packets… but in cartons that are almost the same thickness as the 1kg ones. It's at times like this that I'm glad I kept one of the old 750g cartons! Sadly, I don't have any receipts from that period, so I can't check if the price per 100g has changed, but I don't think it has.

I am now wondering what's behind this: a couple of months wasn't very long to try a marketing the new size. Was the move to 1kg a complete disaster in terms of sales?

The related** change is that their clone of Muller Light yogurt six packs have changed from being half strawberry and half raspberry and cranberry to being half strawberry and half cherry. I'm not nearly so keen on the cherry one. It's fine to have with pies etc, but not for breakfast.

Fortunately, Morrisons currently have a 12 for £3 offer on the real things – cheaper than the typical offers of a pack of 6 for £2 or two packs of 6 for £5, depending on the date – and you can pick your own flavours…

* Well, fairly scary.

** To me, anyway, because I have my museli with fruit and yogurt.

Mirrored from my website's blog, The deranged mad of a brain man.

music and words perhaps

Oct. 25th, 2016 01:12 pm
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
[personal profile] jazzfish
A thing I forgot to mention: when my grandmother died, my dad wound up with a beat-up violin that ... o, I don't recall all the history, I believe it's been in the family for at least a century. They got it refurbished and now it sits waiting for a budding Taylor-family violinist.

That's not me, but I did take it down and try it out while I was there. It's surprisingly playable with a couple years of viola under my belt. Mostly my fingers just feel even more gigantic and squished looking for the right notes. I can't imagine trying to play higher than about third position. I did a few scales, played through a few phrases of 'Canon in D' (NOT the cello part)

... although holy cow this "Antidote for the Pachelbel rant". James Ernest says there are two kinds of juggling tricks: those that look harder than they are, and those that are harder than they look. This is a cello trick that is harder than it looks. THE GUY IS HIS OWN CELLO TRIO.

... anyway, 'Canon in D' and a couple of easy Suzuki pieces. Nice to have a skillset. I don't know that I believe Tegen when she says violin is inherently easier than viola, but I don't know that I don't believe her either. Regardless, I certainly prefer the richer viola sound.

Also, tuning a violin with normal wooden pegs and fine-tuners ... difficult at best. The pegs are stiff and far too blunt an instrument, and the fine-tuners are in an awkward place. I have been seriously spoiled by the mechanical pegs on my viola.

On Friday afternoon at the VP reunion, I read, out loud, something I've written, to a bunch of writers.

I was pretty confident that it was decent. It's a good read-aloud bit: conversational, two people sniping at each other like you do while still getting the job done, amusing, not a lot of necessary context, and short. I'd read a fragment of it, unrevised, at Rainforest last year, and people enjoyed it. And reading aloud ... is something I can do well. It's just voice, and voice is just words in performance, and that's what I do.

I mean, I was pretty confident right up until the person before me stepped up to the podium, at which point my brain went into a minor panic. I am sure whoever was reading and did a fine job with whatever it was they read. I think I even applauded.

And then I was up. "Um. Hi. I'm Tucker, from VP 15." Brain locks up. "... My cats think I'm hilarious." Scattered laughter. "And ... this is from Blood on Her Hands And a Stone at Her Throat." And I was off.

And ... people chuckled in the right places, and 'A light-fingered dame in a red red coat...' got at least one gratifying "Hmm!" of recognition. And then it was over, and under the applause I heard Steve Brust say "That was /excellent/!"

So, you know. That went well.

Of particular note among the many noteworthy things read: Suzanne Palmer's "The Cover Letter", which was almost as much fun to watch TNH's increasingly horrified reaction to as it was to hear.

After the reading (after both Steve and student Karen A-- specifically snagged me down to say "that was pretty great") I went back to my room for a bit and collapsed, and then back out to dinner. And ... what I remember from the actual Viable Paradise experience, other than being totally overwhelmed, is usually the sense of having found my people. Thing is, most of that didn't come until afterwards. When I was actually at the workshop I was tired and battered and usually lonely. The first day or two of the reunion felt like that as well, both familiar and depressing.

But somewhere between the reading and dinner something sort of clicked over and I felt like I belonged. Dinner was wonderful, and musicking afterwards a delight. As an added bonus, someone played a couple of Dar Williams songs, "Iowa" and "You're Aging Well," and I got to make some progress towards reclaiming Dar from the emotional wreckage of the 2000s.

The next morning I said what goodbyes I could, rode the ferry out with a few other folks, and thence home. And it was good.

As an added bonus, I read over the scattered fragments of Blood on Her Hands, and surprised myself with how much I like it. Hard to say definitively that there's a good story in it in this state (though I think there is) but the individual scenes are just fun to read.

And I had what may be the insight I needed to break open the recalcitrant soggy ending, that being: if you're going to model your protagonist after John Constantine, model your protagonist after John Constantine. Laine Hollister is a bastard and she had damn well better start acting like it.

(no subject)

Oct. 25th, 2016 08:44 am
bjornwilde: (01-Sabine: scuse me while I kiss the sky)
[personal profile] bjornwilde
 Well, a quick keyword search and Google provides a costume for Sabine.

In a fantasy world were I didn't have tons of shit to do and had lots of spoons, I'd be tempted to bring Izana in as a Jedi again, using the same artwork from Star Wars day..

Catching another Don

Oct. 22nd, 2016 03:30 pm
lovingboth: (mini me + poo)
[personal profile] lovingboth

The current season of ENO opened with a new production of Don Giovanni, and I gave a little 'eek' when I realised that it was nearly at the end of the run before I'd got around to arranging to see it. I have seen 'quite a few' productions before,* but it is the greatest opera ever written and each of them has shone a new light on it even if, as in the case of ENO's last but one production, it was on how not to do it.** But if I am ever allowed to direct it, it's this one I shall shamelessly steal – erm, improve – the idea of the opening from.

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, the opening features Don Giovanni being disturbed with his latest conquest, Donna Anna, by the arrival of her father, the Commendatore. The latter is killed and given how long it is since it was first performed, it shouldn't be a spoiler that this is not the last we see of him… Watching and commentating on all this is Don Giovanni's servant, Leporello.

So there are two questions that the director has to think about because they affect how we see the Don from the start. The first is how consensual is the relationship between Don Giovanni and Donna Anna. The libretto has Don Giovanni masked and one of the problems between them is that he won't tell her who he is, but is it attempted rape? The second is how accidental is the killing of the Commendatore: is it murder, manslaughter or misadventure?

During the overture, this one has a series of women walk past Don Giovanni and Leporello, stop, turn round and go through one of a series of doors with him before coming out again. I've seen others where this sort of thing has happened, including ones like this where there's also been one man in the queue of conquests. What doesn't convince me is that he doesn't do anything to pick them up: we're expected to believe that merely walking past is enough to get the stream of nine or so people into bed. It's fair to say that the role isn't performed here by Brad Pitt. The other improvement would be to have some of the people exiting the door be adjusting their clothing / having their skirt tucked into their knickers at the back or something.

I guessed that the last in the queue would be Donna Anna and indeed it was. The moment I sat up was where the set opened up and there were two rooms, one of which had the pair inside. There is some mimed negotiation and Donna Anna wants a masked man wielding a knife to 'assault' her. Even better, her father enters the other room with a woman very unlikely to be his wife who he begins to top! He hears Donna Anna's cries, enters the other room and is 'You want it? You have it' stabbed by the Don.

It fails to work with the plot – Donna Anna is supposed to only realise later that Don Giovanni is the one who's killed her father etc – but it's nearly brilliant.

What I'd do is project something like the screen of someone using Tindr etc during the overture. With a masked profile picture, the Don is going 'yes' to anything in a skirt, and ends up in text conversation with Donna Anna who says that her fantasy is… But I'd keep the Commendatore being up to some extra-marital sex in the next room.

Alas, that's the highlight. Some of the other ideas – like having Donna Anna's boyfriend, Don Ottavio, be her husband rather than just engaged to her – are pointless and contradict small bits of the plot. Some – like having the statue of the Commendatore be as unlike marble (what they're singing he is) as it's possible to be.. up until he enters the room, when he's a bit marble, but more like the resurrected body – are 'huh?' Another of the latter is the number of doors people go through for no very good reason. Some ideas – like having Don Giovanni attempt to seduce a servant over the phone rather than by standing underneath her window*** – are mostly harmless, but serve to raise a question or two. The call's made from a phone box with a rotary dial, so when is this set?

The final idea – having Don Giovanni escape Hell by sending Leporello in his place – is something I've never seen before, is sort of in character, but only works here in terms of explaining WTF someone looking like Leporello's clone has been pointedly wandering through the scenes throughout: he just replaces Leporello as the servant and it's back to the opening corridor and its stream of walking past, stopping, and… It could work, perhaps, but my favourite ending is still that of the Francesca Zambello production for the ROH, where we see a naked Don in Hell, carrying an equally naked woman.****

The set design – a series of greys and drab olive (taken from tank camouflage paint tins?) – is uninspiring and the rest of the design isn't up to much either, with the exception of having Leporello look like Michael Caine. The English translation is also ok rather than great.

But you could close your eyes and listen to this one, and I'm very glad to have seen it.

Two more performances: Monday and Wednesday. I'd bought a 'secret ticket' – you pay £20 and only find out where you're seated the day before. I'd guessed that it having been at the Tkts booth in Leicester Square for £30 meant that it was likely to be a good seat rather than up in the balcony, and ended up in the middle of the fourth row of the dress circle, normal price £125.

* A quick count says about twelve 'live in theatre' ones, some of which were seen more than once, plus a couple of 'live from..' satellite broadcasts and at least half a dozen on DVD.

** Normally, if the production is badly directed and designed, you can shut your eyes and listen, but even the singing was poor in this one.

*** Best line from any 'outside the window' production was one in the mid-90s: 'This worked quicker at Kensington Palace…' Now Princess Diana is long dead but we've another woman PM, you could have 'Downing Street'.

**** This was the production I paid HOW MUCH to see live and was definitely worth the money. Sky Arts were showing it at one point and it's also available on DVD.

Mirrored from my website's blog, The deranged mad of a brain man.

(no subject)

Oct. 21st, 2016 08:04 pm
bjornwilde: (01-Hank: Beast)
[personal profile] bjornwilde
 Rewatched Days of Futures Past and yep, Mr. Trigger Happy "Take Her Down Charles" McCoy still pisses me off. Like if he showed some regret for the advice or struggle in giving it, I might buy it, but he's supposed to love Raven and he's telling Charles to invade her mind? No.

Today's fun challenge

Oct. 21st, 2016 10:57 am
bjornwilde: (i don't know what i expected)
[personal profile] bjornwilde
 I tweaked my back getting out of my car this morning and now I am having trouble standing up straight. Whee!

how the light gets in

Oct. 21st, 2016 08:02 am
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
[personal profile] jazzfish
All this week I've been coming into the office, turning on the light if necessary, unlocking my computer, and thinking "crud, one of the overhead fluorescents is dead, it's darker in here than it ought to be."

Then I remember that the overhead fluorescents are not actually over head but off to one side. I don't notice because I'm right up next to the big window, and normally the ambient sun makes up the balance. But between the autumn cloud-cover and the later sunrises, it's suddenly a bit of an issue.

Sunreturn may have a solid physical meaning for me this year, in addition to the symbolic.

Lots of good cloud on the mountains this morning. I'm going to miss the view from the tower after we move. Worth it, though.

(no subject)

Oct. 20th, 2016 11:39 am
bjornwilde: (01-Hank: Beast)
[personal profile] bjornwilde
 Oh wow, the Logan trailer has lots of feels.

Also, I happened to spot that Izana's ride is now about half the price it was a year ago. Still $35 I don't have to spend on toys, but nice to see it going down in price.

again books

Oct. 19th, 2016 03:36 pm
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
[personal profile] jazzfish
What are you reading?

The March North, by Graydon Saunders. The beautiful thing about these is that there's always more than I saw last time. In this case, the context of having read the sequel sheds a great deal of light on a number of conversational asides and worldbuilding choices.

I mean, there's also the Captain's massively understated sense of humour, understated to the point that I am not entirely convinced it exists at all. ("Do that, and it's a tossup whether the [Army] or Parliament hang you. One specific time, it was both, because neither was willing to not do it themselves.") The flashes of gorgeously descriptive prose. The fundamental /decency/ of the Commonweal as a society. The occasional heartbreaking passage. The giant firebreathing warsheep named Eustace, covered in "a grey stiff wirelike substance" because of course Eustace has steel wool. The almost total lack of gendered identifiers.

So good. I'd love to do a review but I don't think I'm capable of distilling what it is that makes these so awesome.

What did you just finish reading?

I needed to see how much of myself I recognised in a particular character / situation, so I found it necessary to reread The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford. (Such hardship.) Answer: less than I'd expected, but more than I would have expected had I thought about it a bit more.

This is such a weird book. It's much less about the "plot," and more about the world and the main character's ... growth and relationships? Something like that. This time through I noticed how little space the antagonist actually takes up in the book. It's kind of impressive. And still Danny's loneliness and damage and deliberate isolation get me every single time.

In some indescribable way I think of Last Hot Time as a companion piece to Growing Up Weightless. Weightless ends at a much darker and more bittersweet place; LHT breaks me open no less despite its wonderfully satisfying ending.

What do you think you'll read next?

A Succession Of Bad Days and Safely You Deliver, and then I have no idea.


Oct. 18th, 2016 02:39 pm
jazzfish: a fairy-door in a tree, caption $900/MONTH + UTILITIES (The Vancouver rental market)
[personal profile] jazzfish
... actually not all that many: the end of the VP reunion, [REDACTED] ("it feels like I said 'That mountain over there looks like it's got a nice view' and next thing I know I'm hanging off the back of a motorcycle, whipping along twisty cliffside roads at 150 kph"), and housing. It just seems that way. Sleep will help.

housing )
azurelunatic: Prayer to the Bastard from Lois McMaster Bujold's Paladin of Souls (Default)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Monday was a quiet day. I had dinner with Purple. It was unremarkable, other than the way I was a little sneezy.

A little sneezy turned into explosively sneezy and then my sinuses were an impassable wall of woe. I got approximately three hours sleep, out of 7+ horizontal.

Tuesday was not a great day. I realized that I should not be driving anywhere. I also had a care package to send, a package to pick up, and building plumbing problems. I made the best of it, and walked to the post office to grab a shipping box.

On the way there, the sleep department in Oakland called me to let me know that they saw that I had an appointment in SSF, did I want to take that appointment in Oakland too? I wasn't near the computer, so I had no idea; I wasn't expecting the call, and I had three hours of sleep. I had no idea, and very little vocabulary to put things together. I informed them to email me.

I sent a care package of old tech off to my Gentle Caller. The great thing about flat rate boxes is, it's the same price to send a small box with three bits of old electronics as it is to send that same box with three bits of old electronics, two plastic bracelets with a plastic recorder and a plastic maraca each, a baggie of glitter, and a handful of dark chocolate.

And that was only Tuesday. )

(no subject)

Oct. 14th, 2016 09:53 pm
bjornwilde: (01-Ahsoka: time of my life)
[personal profile] bjornwilde
I am a little afraid I do not have an Ahsoka voice any longer.

Spoilers from the Ahsoka novel behind the cut... )