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March 20, 2007

Putter, Putter

Had a late evening, attending the Hazelbrook Spring Concert. Renee was in Beginning Band, playing her flute. I felt she acquitted herself well. The Advanced Jazz band was almost good. Their choice of music made up for a lot of the roughness, mainly two of my favorites, Fly Me To The Moon, and Birdland.

Upon getting home, I just wanted to unwind, sit in a padded chair, rather than have my butt put to sleep by institutional plastic chairs, so I settled in and watched the last episode of Machine God Roar: Demonbane. Lots of cheesy plotlines and formulaic battles culminated in the melodramatic climax, then the false sad ending for the hero, alone again, followed by, taDAH! Reunion with his partner, the grimoire Al Azif!

Oh, I do so love my formula anime.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2007

Why don't you get out of here, Finchley?

I had fragments of the above phrase running through my head this morning, with a vague notion that it came out of my vast store of useless pop culture junk phrases. Somehow I knew that Jean would be able to home in on the source, and asked "Jean, where does 'why don't you get out' come from?" She immediately replied with the title phrase, and said Twilight Zone! Yep, the story of a conveniently unlikeable fussbudget hounded by machines.

That started me off on the topic, as there is an upcoming movie based on a story I read when I was a kid, Mimsy Were the Borogoves, by 'Lewis Padgett'. I use quotes as Lewis Padgett was a pseudonym for the husband and wife writing team of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore. Anyway, in the story, a couple of kids come across a box of 'toys' which are actually educational gadgets that have somehow fallen through a rift in time from the future. In the story, as I recall, the kids were gradually transformed by the toys, basically becoming transhuman. I'm sure the Hollywood version will involve explosions somehow.

After describing that one to Jean, I mentioned that there was another story about a device from the future, that messes up an ordinary guy's life. I read it about the same time as 'Mimsy'. It was called The Twonky, and lo and behold, it was also by Lewis Padgett! This story was made into a rather corny movie that I remember seeing, starring Hans Conried.

To bring things full circle, while I was digging for links to this article, I discovered that Kuttner and Moore wrote another story, this time adapted for the Twilight Zone, called What You Need. Neat.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2007

Costello Music

You can find an EP of Scottish sensations the Fratellis at iTunes United States, for instance, but their hit glam singalong "Chelsea Dagger" is in nearly every country except the United States. (Their randy burlesque video for it, naturally, is all over YouTube.)

The insanely great songs Apple won't let you hear

So the album, Costello Music, was not available on iTunes Music Store (US), as the article mentions, but the song, Chelsea Dagger, was really cool. So I took it into my head to search the net for it. Internally, I promised myself that if it became available in the US, say on the iTunes Music Store, I'd buy it.

I've been listening to the bootleg on and off for weeks now, and it's one of my favorite albums of the last year. And a day or so ago, I noticed it on the 'new releases' list at iTunes Music Store. So I bought it. So there, I'm an honest man again.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2007

Solo Flute Recital

Today was Renee's solo flute recital, at Lake Oswego High School. Hundreds of kids from all over the area converged on L.O.H.S. today to perform and be judged. I didn't want to make her more nervous than she already was, so I didn't take my camera to the event. Instead, I snapped a few pictures of her wearing her solo outfit, one of which is now in the banner.

She chose a piece called "Allegro" by Mozart, which is short, bright, and a little bit challenging. She's been practicing it for days now. We arrived at the high school nearly an hour before her time slot, as perr the directions of her flute instructor, Denise Westby. We went to the practice auditorium, where a couple dozen soloists and duets were each practicing their pieces at the same time. Cacophany reigned supreme.

Eventually, Renee's time neared and we wandered over to 'Flute 2', one of presumably two rooms devoted to examining flautists. We entered near the end of one exam, after a young woman had performed her piece. The judge was walking her through various drillls, and giving her advice. It was fascinating to watch, even though I'm completely uneducated in formal music. This young woman was obviously quite advanced, and the judge took that into account, pressing her to do more and more. Eventually she let her go, and it was time for another young woman.

This young woman had picked a piece that was clearly beyond her. She hit sour notes, missed beats and generally had a difficult time. The judge was kind, and came up to walk her through some of the issues the young woman had been having problems with. The judge asked her how long she'd been playing, and though I can't remember the particular answer, it was for significantly longer than Renee has been studying.

Next came Renee's turn. She was obviously a little nervous, but she handled herself quite well. She introduced herself, and her piano accompanist, Miss Davis, who is also her teacher in band class at Hazelbrook. Then she launched into "Allegro", suddenly quite confident. I have untrained ears, but she sounded perfect to me. Apparently the judge agreed, as she said she really liked it and wished it were longer.

Then the judge began probing Renee on her techniques, trying to find out what she had been exposed to, and what she could make her flute do. The judge took out her own flute (something she had not done for the other two young women while we were there), and began giving Renee some tips on various techniques, illustrating them on her flute. The demo on harmonics was really neat. She was playing Reveille and Taps solely using harmonics (keeping her fingers in the D position and changing notes only with mouth shape and air pressure). Renee attempted to duplicate her, and did a pretty darn good job.

"How long have you been playing?", asked the judge.

"Around seven months."

The judge was amazed and pleased. She asked Renee how old she was, and where she studied. Renee told her, and the judge said "I started at your age, and took private lessons too. It's really the only way. In band, a teacher cannot hear if you flub a note, because there are forty other students there."

As we were leaving, Renee asked the judge how she did. The judge looked up and said "One Plus!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)