O Sole Mio

Mar. 29th, 2011 01:54 am
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I am crying with laughter. There are no words for how awesome this is.

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Because I obviously don't know where to stop...



And because I thought it would be kind of amusing for not just the painting, but the frame and the wall behind it to be all painted as well. LOL. I am in dire need of entertainment.

At least gilt frames are far easier to paint than brass tubing?

EDIT




Almost there... the frame still needs a little tuning, and there's the wall to texture. Manually. *facepalm*
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So I was finally well enough to go for orchestra practice last night, even if I coughed and choked my way through it, and ran out of breath a half-hour before it ended (and, as luck would have it, we did Harry Potter at the very end. Gah!). The orchestra's received quite a bit of money from the ministry, so we'll be doing *four* concerts this year... beginning with one on 12th March. Which means that, once again, I won't be celebrating my birthday, because you can bet that there'll be an intensive final rehearsal on the 11th. Ah well.

Anyway, we had Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol dumped in our collective lap... and, to my horror, as I scanned the piece, I found OMG  A SOLO awaiting me right at the beginning of the first variation section (with more solo and soli bits scattered elsewhere in it). Okay, so I managed to avert major disaster while sightreading that, but there was this frantic little voice in the back of my head blabbering, are you kidding me, I have been playing this wretched thing for only how long and you want me to play this in front of everyone at the concert, quite possibly at the end of the programme when I haven't any breath left in me?! [flail]. (And the irony of it is that I'm terrified of playing slow, sweet, soft passages, but I'm perfectly fine with long, loud passages crammed with notes. Go figure). Whatever other elements I may be made of, brimming confidence isn't one of them. LOL.

The practice *had* its hilarious moments... or should I say Moment: The trumpeter and trombonist showed up halfway through Alborada (the third section of the Capriccio); after we'd finished the section, our conductor said, "Now let's go back to the beginning." AND LO THERE WAS HIDEOUS CACOPHONY, WHERE THERE WAS NONE BEFORE. And I almost swallowed my mouthpiece in my attempt to suppress the paroxysm of giggles (no easy task when you're playing at the same time), because I immediately realised what the conductor did not: instead of going way back to the beginning of the *piece*, those two had gone back to the beginning of the third section. And, because the two were virtually identical, except that they were a HALF TONE APART, the resulting mash was a perfectly appalling dissonance. ... And one that went on for half the section before our conductor realised that something was horribly wrong with the music and stopped the orchestra. ROFL ROFL ROFL.

And finally, an updated WIP of that ridiculous thing I started before I went on vacation:



I still think I'm bananas for even starting it.
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Just the other day, I managed to smoosh my left ring and pinky in between a couple of 45-pound weights while unloading the plate press at the gym. Admittedly, 45-pounders are pretty good implements where tenderising meat for hamburger patties is concerned... though not so much the Ethical Treatment of Personal Digits. And then, of course, my left thumb decided it wanted in on the fun and jumped into the kitchen drawer as I was shutting it, that same night. Final score: Fingers 3, Far 0.

I wouldn't have mentioned it, but for the fact that said thumb and pinky have had no time off because obviously it is not possible to practice the french horn with only two fingers. (If anyone knows of a way to get an A flat without using the third lever, please let me know). On the plus side (I think?), said pinky is now quite thoroughly numb from tonight's practice, and so does not feel like it's about to explode like an overcooked sausage. Har har.

In other news, a friend just linked me to the following awesome video:




History of the Soviet Union to the theme tune of Tetris!!!! <geeklove> Now, if only high school history classes had been conducted in a similar fashion, I might have been far more interested in the subject. (Though I did still get an A for my O levels-equivalent, which is probably the biggest mystery in the history of my education since I distinctly remember cooking up the entire Meiji Restoration bit).
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1. There's a Corpse Under My Mattress

Everyone's heard that gruesome urban legend about some vacationing couple/other holiday makers finding a highly aromatic, putrefying ex-person under their hotel bed. Well, some of those stories are actually true... and I just found out that my mother's friend knew one of the women who found one of said ex-people lurking under the mattress. Said woman was part of a group of insurance salespeople who went up to our local highlands for a convention/workshop; because they had to pay their own way for accommodations, six of them wound up sharing a hotel room, which necessitated the urgent rearrangement of the beds as everybody wanted dibs on the soft upper mattress rather than the harder support. At which point they found a (thankfully, I suppose) very fresh, deceased female playing sandwich meat to the double bread layer of bedding...

I'm only mentioning this because my mother and her friends (including the one who knew the insurance lady) went up to said highlands resort on vacation last week. Because the story had circulated among them, the two only women who *didn't* go to burn their money at the casino were far too frightened to go to sleep until their roommates had returned. Which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If they're afraid that *their* beds might harbour grinning corpses, why didn't they check under them when they first arrived at the hotel? wouldn't it have been better to *know* for sure that nothing was lurking under your bed, rather than to spend the night in trepidation, and letting your imagination run havoc? And what's so bad about sharing the bed with a corpse? I mean, I suppose it would be a little unhygienic - and probably olfactorily unpleasant - to be bedmates with something that's cooled down to room temperature and is now being systematically broken back down to its elements by microorganisms, not to mention slightly uncomfortable if you have The Princess and the Pea constitution... but it's not as if said ex-person is going to rise again and hurt you? It's not going to do anything; it's not even going to have the courtesy of talking to you (and if you do manage to have a conversation with it, there is probably something the matter with you). It's just actively being... Not.

Heh, people. [grin]


2. Angering the King of Gods

I'll say this much about learning a new thing (be it a new language or musical instrument or technique): you learn so much faster when you're thrown right into the deep end, rather than when you're left to paddle about in shallow waters. I've literally been forced to learn the French horn at breakneck speed since the end of August last year because... nobody else slowed down to give me time to catch up. And last night, I had the 1st horn part for Gustav Holst's Jupiter from The Planets dropped into my lap - a piece that I found already found challenging for the trombone, and I've had years' experience playing that instrument. And which I had to sight-read, never mind that (1) my brain still remembered all the trombone parts, (2) there were *high* notes that I'd never had to tackle before (and never mind all the strange ones, because my brain still works at concert pitch), and (3) OMG SOLI SOLI SOLI. So it did come as a pleasant surprise that I did not manage to completely mess up the piece after all. (And strangely enough, I find that I do much better sighting fast pieces with whole strings of notes, rather than very slow ones with only a smattering of notes. Go figure). Of course, I do have this very sweet new Holton Farkas MDC mouthpiece that I ordered from Hickey's:




which is a dream to play because it's new and plated with silver and so nicely padded at the rim, and works so well when wet. (Compare that to the original mouthpiece that came with the horn, which was so old the finish had come off in places, leaving the rim uneven and abrasive... and furthermore contained nickel, which I was badly allergic to).

I'm no longer so miserable playing this wretched instrument. Even if it *is* disgusting to empty.


3. More Books for the Shelf!

A couple of new reads that I'm very happy with:



Modern space operas are so hard to find, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this collection of short stories by former research astronomer Alastair Reynolds at the local bookstore. Even better, it comes under the heading of hard science fiction (hard, as in the opposite of soft - being science/technology-heavy rather than revolving around socioeconomics/politics) - the last hard SF book I read being Peter Watts' Blindsight  (and which I loved because it was so cold and unemotional). Multiple-universe theory, dark matter, artificial intelligence, cyberpunk, and sprinklings of general physics and astronomy? LOVE. I need to get my hands on his novels now.

A bit of trivia: The short story Beyond the Aquila Rift is hauntingly reminiscent of the mass relay technology in the Mass Effect games. Only, of course, Reynolds' story came first. [grin] <3

And this:



Which arrived at the beginning of the week. ^_______^

Oh god, I cannot tell you how long I have searched for this book. (Okay, so it was ever since I was old enough to realise that the Disney cartoon my granddad and I watched a bazillion times was a bastardised version of a much bigger, darker story that hadn't a happy ending). After years of combing secondhand bookstores, I finally found copies at a couple of online stores... which were expensive enough (given that only two editions were ever published - I think -: the 1967 hardcover, and the 1971 paperback) that I spent a further two years trying to decide if I was willing to part with that much money for an old book. (During which time I also conveniently acquired a credit card). As you can tell, I was. I paid an obscene amount of dosh for this 1st edition - though I would've paid even more if this hadn't been an ex library copy, even though it's in near-mint condition, as you can tell. (If this had been a library book *here*, it would be hideously mangled! And after I carefully removed the original plastic wrapping and rewrapped it in new plastic - a ritual I *always* carry out with old books, because it makes them truly *mine* - it was about as good as new). But it is so worth it. I just wish my granddad were still around - I think he'd have liked to read the original version.

[hugs the book]

And, just because I'm the curious sort, just two days ago I went back to the online stores where I found listings for this book to check the prices again - and found that they'd gone up even farther.[ As much as USD150 for the paperback!! Holy mother of gizkas.]
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Our concert on Saturday night went... a little better than I expected, really. On my part, I managed *not* to mess up the opening for West Side Story (even if it wasn't as legato as it was meant to be because I sacrificed a little smoothness to make sure I managed to hit the notes at all), and didn't panic when the trumpets somehow missed their re-entry in E.T. The Extraterrestrial (how did that even happen...), leaving me to carry the theme on my own for eight gut-wrenching bars. Public reception was generally good, and it was nice that the people I invited enjoyed themselves, even if my mother never managed to work out which parts I was playing. (I was playing the duet with the trombone for the German Carols, mom!).

Went out and got myself two books yesterday: 

1. Andras Szunyoghy's Anatomy Drawing School: Animal. Szunyoghy's (I hate typing his name >.<) Human Anatomy for Artists is my personal bible, and sits on my music stand when there's no music on it, so I was delighted to find this other volume because this man *rocks* at anatomy. I've always had trouble drawing animal movement, mostly because I've never actually had the chance to observe said animals but also because I knew doodly-squat about their musculoskeletal systems. This book not only illustrates the complete skeletons and musculature of select mammals from various angles, but also separate bones and muscle masses as well as the movement of their limbs/bodies and the corresponding position of the bones during said movement. It's too bad the book doesn't cover avians as well; *that* is another area I know very little about, and could use an anatomy book to help me with.

2. Geoffrey Abbott's Execution: The Guillotine, the Pendulum, the Thousand Cuts, the Spanish Donkey, and 66 Other Ways of Putting Someone to Death. Probably not everybody's choice of bedtime reading, but I've always been fascinated by methods of torture and putting people to death - from a purely educational viewpoint, of course. (It's all research!). That, and I suspect that macabre/gruesome books, movies and games are a coping mechanism for when the world gets too stressful or upsetting. [Wait, I already know this: whenever I get upset, I go and kill hordes of zombies with headshots, and feel massively better afterwards.] A bystander should have no claim to distress, but it's nevertheless highly unsettling to watch chaos descend and claim casualties, particularly when they're not anonymous but have names that mean something to the observer, and having no right or business or way to do anything about it.
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Amnesia Diary

How big a wuss do you have to be to hit the EXIT button in panic halfway through a game? >.< That's what I found myself doing after encountering a monster and turning tail to run - only to realise that I'd lit all the candles in all the rooms, which meant I had nowhere to hide, and was therefore DOOMED. (I would've used my lantern instead of lighting all those candles, only I'd run out of oil long ago...). So I took the chicken exit out of the damn thing.

Epic fail.

By the way, I take back what I said about the game not being pretty. It's not clean, high-render pretty, sure, but it more than makes up in highly *effective* lighting effects. This is the one game I've played so far where no light = *complete* darkness. But it doesn't stay pitch-black forever; just as your eyes adjust to darkness in real life, Daniel's eyes also adjust to the darkness around him, which means that when you step into a lightless area, you see nothing at first... and then you start being able to make out shapes and structures. Pretty damn cool.

Oh, and I don't know what's worse: chancing upon a monster in the dark - which is exactly where you'd expect to find one, but which is scary just the same because you can't see it coming from afar - or having a monster appear from out of nowhere when you're someplace you'd THINK you were safe, like that very cosy, warmly lit guest room with the cheery fireplace, and the game suddenly sends you a warning that a monster is coming your way, you have no defences, so you'd better find a hiding place REAL QUICK OR DIE. I have never run for a closet so fast.

What the hell are those things anyway?

----------------------------

In other news, our annual concert is tomorrow. I've been shifted from the right end of my row to dead centre, which, in a way is good: the hearing in my left ear hasn't returned completely (and I think I have some kind of new superpower that lets me *feel*  very low frequency vibrations in said left ear... although it's pretty much useless for anything else), which meant that for the past few days I had trouble hearing the rest of the orchestra from my corner, but now the sound is a great deal more balanced. On the other hand, I do *not* like sitting right in the centre, so am getting a mild case of Nerves. Especially not when they've just dealt out a new  piece and I find that I have two very long duet parts with the trombone. Gah!

[No, this is not the best time to be playing a highly stressful survival horror game either. LOL.]
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I am currently harbouring fugitives. Their names are Martian and Debilitating Cold, and they're currently in hiding, probably somewhere in the vicinity of my lungs.

My first clue that my body had been invaded by rogue microorganisms was when, following lunch on Thursday, I developed an annoying persistent cough. By Friday, said annoying cough had blossomed into a conspiracy to keep my erythrocytes from effectively transporting their little oxygen passengers to the gazillions of cells populating the Sprawling Nation of Far, and thus just as effectively kept me out of the gym. Said pathogens apparently seized control of my communications centre yesterday, which probably wasn't hard to do at all since I practically handed it to them on a plate, having spent two consecutive hours burning a hole in my throat by talking non-stop at Biology class like a Chatty Cathy on stimulants. Meanwhile, my respiratory tract, sensing the inevitability of war, was busy stockpiling mucus and phegm in some remote part of my throat that no amount of throat-clearing or coughing could dislodge. Come evening (and my aunt's party) I was viewing the food served at dinner as unspeakably vile little buggers that would, if given the opportunity, cheerfully invite the contents of my lunch to join them on the serving plates; indeed, vile little buggers with the general appeal of large lumps of celery-flavoured booger. Left in time to get to orchestra practice, where we spent a very merry night playing Various Christmas Songs With A Liberal Sprinkling of Phlegm, and then returned home to play my own Death Rattle Concerto, Opus 44, featuring a very impressive Hacking Cough Solo. To add to the mood, the local temperature dropped to several degrees above absolute zero - and when I say "local" I actually mean, "restricted to the area confined by my skin", since outdoor temperature was registering a nice balmy 27 degrees Celsius - thus necessitating the application of a long-sleeved denim workshirt, socks, one very warm silk floss duvet *and* one comforter the thickness of several loaves of bread. Which, as you may have guessed, did absolutely nothing to bring the perceived local temperature back up to normal, while actually steaming the covered person (ie. me) to palatable tenderness.

However, am very pleased to report that my internal thermostat was fixed by very grudging molecular repairmen early in the morning, and, after spending most of the day comatose, I am reasonably back up to speed (though pieces of my lung are still coming up with each cough...). Except that I was astonished to find, upon waking up today, that I had been transformed into a frog, and thus can only utter the words *croak* and *ribbit* - something that will probably require a kiss from some member of royalty to rectify.
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Dear Mr. Camille Saint-Saëns,

I appreciate the lengths to which you go in reinforcing the "Death calls at Halloween" theme for your Danse Macabre tone poem, but do you not think that deliberately depriving your First Horn of breath for sixteen bars is perhaps a little extreme? After all, your horn player is also human, and requires oxygen for important bodily functions, such as staying conscious for long enough to play your composition to completion. Or perhaps it is your goal to have said horn keel over dead as a result of anoxia? I suppose it might be terribly apt - although you should bear in mind that, contrary to the French superstition you based your piece upon, your horn player will not be rising from the dead to dance to the tune of your violins.

Sincerely,
1st Horn (deceased)

PS: I might have survived the ordeal too, had it not been for the fact that I was playing host to a large Halloween party of bacteria that was having far too good a time in my respiratory tract to even consider the possibility of leaving.
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So I'll come clean and confess it: I'm a fan of Noel Coward's songs. Have been since I caught Mad Dogs and Englishmen at the end of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians (which, incidentally, was the only part of the film that I found interesting at all); anyone visiting me during study hour in college would've heard my Legends of the 20th Century 01: Noel Coward CD playing over and over and over ad nauseam. (Unless of course it was the Pet Shop Boys -- which gives you a pretty good idea of the sort of stuff I listen to). It's almost impossible to get sick of Coward's wit - it's almost like PG Wodehouse set to music - and the songs still make me snicker in spite of the fact that I've just about worn a hole in the CD.

A few years ago I caught a rerun of the 1999 BBC Proms featuring Jeremy Irons - singing Noel Coward songs. I've just found them again, and thought I'd share the videos because Jeremy Irons, while obviously not camp, has a coarser, more nasal timbre to his voice, and has trouble with the high notes, nevertheless manages to more than do Coward justice in his own rough(er) way:



The arrangement for Mad Dogs and Englishmen is hilarious, and sent me into an apoplectic fit of laughter at one point. You'll know it when you hear it.



While the songs Irons picked are among my top Coward favourites, I can't help but wish that 20th Century Blues could've been replaced by The Stately Homes of England... but that would've made it one comic song too many. I would've killed to hear Jeremy Irons sing it, though.



The build-up of frustration and hostility! That last verse!!! It wasn't in my CD; god, I wish it was. (Damn the public sensibilities of the time). The song was awesome enough with Noel Coward singing it, but Jeremy Iron's inflections and body language are *gold*.
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... Even if I *did* all but disappear off the face of the Internet for the better part of two weeks. >.<

I blame it on:

1. My obsessiveness in helping my conductor look for new scores for the orchestra (seriously. I tend to interpret statements like, "If you have the time, could you help look for some more pieces" as "Spend all your goddamn time searching everywhere, and transcribe the damn handwritten scores on Encore if it kills you").

2. My obsessiveness in playing The Sims 3: Ambitions. I blame this one on TankMagnet.

3. My obsessiveness in drawing the following exercise in insanity (and what is quite possibly the *worst* crack pairing in literary history):


Ia$+?$?$Blasphemy
by =DarthFar on deviantART

4. This one series that was recommended to me, that I wasn't even particularly keen to start - and now I can't bloody put it down and I'm reading it for the second time in two weeks. In fact, this is what resulted from said obsessive reading:

(If anyone has any idea at all where this is from!).

My apologies to everyone whom I've failed to reply to/comment on their journal/stories/etc. I promise I'll be back on track... soon?
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We played Johann Strauss II's Vienna Blood waltz tonight. Oh, there was blood all right: *MINE*. My trombone bit me.

You ask how this could possibly happen. If you were asking such a question, you would doubtless also be asking how the same person could have, the the past, hit themselves very hard in the *teeth* and the *head* with same instrument. (And the answer would be: Because it's *me*).

TEXT TWIST 2

I can't begin to tell you just how much I love Text Twist. So when I found out that Yahoo had released a *sequel* to my favourite word game, well. Let's just say that I got absolutely no drawing done last week. (And very little of my dad's accounts either).


Ooh, shiny.

This second game features not two gameplay modes, but *five*: in addition to the classic Timed and Untimed modes, there's now Word of the Day, Lightning and Crossword as well. Word of the Day is exactly what it says: every day you get one new word. The Lightning mode challenges you to unscramble single long words (called "Bingo words" in this sequel), with five words to each level. And Crossword is pretty sweet: it's a crossword with a twist. The bingo word is right smack dab at the centre of the crossword (which you have to unscramble, of course); radiating from the bingo word are a bunch of shorter words that you make from the long one. Of course, the trick is figuring out which goes where, which isn't always as easy as it sounds. Oh, and the game now has 8-letter words as well. Awesome.



Also, in the tradition of so many of the latest games, Text Twist 2 has trophies, ranging from the easily achievable (solve 5 bingo words without twisting) to finger-grinding (complete a Lightning round in 3 seconds or less) to sheer doggedness (twist 10,000 times). Of course, you realise that these trophies and achievements are what make games like Left4Dead and Half-Life 2 so addictive. Goddamn you, Yahoo!

Is there anything I don't like about this sequel? I mean, it's shiny, it's pretty, it has so much added gameplay... and of course, it comes with a price. Namely, 157MB RAM to juice it. (For a word game?? When *Portal* takes takes under 120?). Not to mention Text Twist 1's orderly tracking of your found words (in alphabetical order) is now gone, and your words are arranged in the order they're found, which looks hideously untidy to me. You no longer have the maximum number of words to find either: the number of 3-, 4-, 5- etc letter words are now limited, which I suppose makes it easier for people who can't solve the puzzles fast enough, but it's frustrating to bang out words at a frenetic pace, only to be repeatedly told that "You have enough words of this length". GAH.

Still, the Good is enough to make up for the Bad, and I've been enjoying myself pretty thoroughly. The only problem is: now how do I unhook myself so that I can get some work done?
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I am only slightly less mimsy than a borogove,1 thanks to a string of very amusing (minor) events that are at least partially my fault:

1. After the stress of the previous night's rehearsal, I decided to go jogging yesterday afternoon, to take the edge of said tension. Which was all well and dandy, and left me absolutely refreshed... until I started walking to the car, and Mr. Sky decided I was saturated with salt (and thus exerting high osmotic pressure in my immediate locality), and that I NEEDED TO BE DILUTED BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Score 1 for Mr. Sky, 0 for this sorry, soggy borogove.

2. The clarinets, who have been keeping silent all this while throughout this one utterly nefarious little passage of our finale, suddenly decided last night, OHAI LET'S JOIN IN THE PAR-TAY!!! - and proceeded to crash said party by coming in wrong. And because yours truly the soggy borogove has been practicing to a concert recording at home (in which the clarinets rightly led the passage), I also managed to screw up my first entry in the most spectacular manner, for the first time *ever*. Which is a hideously embarrassing thing, when Enjolras!Conductor is staring at you, knows all your notes and entries, and undoubtedly knows you blew it.

3. Oh, and I think I inhaled a rather healthy lungful of carpet fibres in the hall, because

4. Today I woke up sniffling and sneezing, with a nose that admitted even less air than the late Douglas Adams' honker.2 And the concert is tonight, and I have all these garlands of pretty, pretty, and deadly nefarious harmonies and countermelodies to play. What ho!

Uh... wish me luck? LOL.


NOTES

1 And probably as slithy as a tove as well, particularly if you go by Sir Arthur Eddington's likening of Jabberwocky to quantum physics. Har de har har.

2 That is to say, no air at all.
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Sorry for the week-long vanishing act I pulled, and the entries I missed replying to! But right now I'm so excited:

OH MY GOD I HAS INTERNETS!!!!! ^______________^

The mutant hamsters that generate power for our local server all went up to that Great Big Wheel In The Sky last Saturday, so our household (and a whole lot of other households in our area) suffered Severe Internet Drought for the entire week it took to breed and raise a new lot of hamsters to run the wheels. All is well as of this afternoon, and I foresee no other problems in the near future... unless they forget to feed the hamsters.

One week, and my message boxes overfloweth. On the other hand, I have been practicing my trombone until the neighbourhood dogs howled in pain. So much for gleefully revelling in the dreadfully easy trombone part for George Enescu's Romanian Rhapsody No. 2: last Saturday the conductor called me up front and gave me the transcribed French Horn part to cover (since the only FH player we have is one who moved from the trumpet section, and is still learning the instrument). It was absolutely crawling with notes. The trombone principal was appalled when he saw the notes, asked me, "How the hell are you to play that?" ... After one week of hard work, I can say: with a smaller Denis Wick mouthpiece. And pushing my lungs close to bursting. Ha! ha!

Oh, and here's something interesting: During the Internet Drought, I, having nothing better to do, went through some of my old notebooks. Way back when I was in high school I used to write short stories, and every so often I'd wake up in the morning with names and ideas that I could use, so it was a habit for me then to keep a notepad at hand to scribble said things in it before they disappeared into the hazy mist of awakening.

Well.

Right on page one of this notebook were clearly written two words, presumably names. One was "JANNOCK." The other was - "FEUILLE."

What the hell? I didn't speak a word of French in high school, I hadn't encountered Les Mis yet, and I knew absolutely doodly-squat about fanmaking and silks and leaves. So where the hell did that come from? LOL.

I wonder if I ever made use of those. I should go through my archives and see.
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We played a brand new piece at practice last night: Tan Dun's Internet Symphony, "Eroica". Check out the LSO's performance of the piece:



Beautiful.

This was one of the times when, watching my partner look at the score and *facepalm* in annoyance/dismay, I was very, very glad that I made myself learn to read tenor clef. LOL. It wasn't as if we had notes crawling all around the staves, but still - being able to actually read said notes instead of having to rewrite them in bass clef like my partner did is a massive plus.

The video kills me. Just *kills* me. Wheel rims! Drum brakes! I'd love to see my conductor obtain *those* for our performance.

There's Something Fishy About You


I'm currently reading Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin. I'd already read a little about Jenny Clack's work on Acanthostega, as well as the role of hox genes in controlling the head-to-tail organisation of bodies in Carl Zimmer's very enlightening (and entertaining!) At the Water's Edge: Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea, but Shubin's book traces not only our roots back to the first fish with wrists, but also our similar genetic heritage with everything else that has a body, all the way back to how the 'molecular rivets' in our bodies link us to the humble microorganism. As far as science goes, it's a little lighter on the technical side than some others, but I suppose that makes it more accessible to the general public than just to the scientific community (didn't Stephen Hawking's publisher warn him, back when he was writing A Brief History of Time, that each equation he put in it would halve sales? LOL). It certainly makes for a very entertaining read as well - I had a rather serious case of the chuckles reading the chapter "The Best-Laid (Body) Plans", and could not satisfactorily explain to the rest of the family just what could be so funny that came out of a biology book.

Mass Affection!

And because this is supposed to be partly an art blog:



Garrus Vakarian from Mass Effect, for TankMagnet who was evil enough to get me the game, and who has a massive crush on him. Although I can't, for the life of me, wrap my mind around how exactly you're supposed to romance an alien that's built like a lobster.

Tory, if you're reading this - I want my pod crab. ;) That was another subtle hint.
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I really, really need to re-kickstart Project Garrity again (when was the last time I did an update? May?). So in an attempt to get another chapter done before the end of the year, I'm going to make myself do one panel a day until I have an entire diary entry, and then put it all together on the last day. [keeps fingers crossed]

In which Stephen reminisces about Christmases past.



BARBARINISM

In other news, I finished the Lucien Barbarin picture two nights ago (but never got around to updating here). Will readily confess that I spent far less time on the trombone bell than on Barbarin... but meh. As it is, I've already drawn far more trombones than anybody else on dA, haha. Seriously, I'd devote my entire collection of portraits to classical/jazz musicians and scientists if I could, but then I'd be bogging myself down in one category - which is exactly what I've been actively avoiding, even if it means not having a style to call my own.

darthfar: (Default)
After being inspired by Col. Despard's excellent pastel illustration of Henri, I found myself desperately wanting to try out soft pastels for myself. So I went out and got a nice little box of Saintograph SP-48, never mind that I've never used soft pastels, let alone I don't even know where the hell to *start*, gawddangit.

I'm such a wuss that I did a detailed brown pencil sketch first:



(Lucien Barbarin. Because he rocks my world).

Let's see if I manage to not mess this up royally.
darthfar: (Default)
[WARNING: I will not take responsibility for the state of your eardrums.]

There are Les Mis recordings all over the internet, of both professional and amateur performances - and of much, much better quality than what a Nokia Music Xpress 5800 is capable of recording - but just how many files are there of practices, as heard from... under the chair of the first trombonist? ROFL.

Master of the Slide

With parts like these, who wants to be onstage? Give me the sliiiide anytime. Haha. God, we have far too much fun with the gliss.

And in the unlikely event that anyone's actually paying attention (yes, this means you, Arachnophobe ;) - why're you even reading this, instead of your Brick?), a little digging around in my HD unearthed a very old, very bad, very scratchy recording made in the privacy of a certain bathroom somewhere:

The Holy - What?

I'll say this much: Gordon doesn't sound like a damn trombone. A whiny giant mosquito, maybe. LOL.

Obligatory bad trombone jokes:


What's the best kind of trombone?
A broken one!

Q: How do you make a trombone sound better?
A: Run it over with a lawnmower.

How can you make a french horn sound like a trombone?
1. Take your hand out of the bell and lose all sense of taste.
2. Take your hand out of the bell and miss all of the notes.

What is the dynamic range of a bass trombone?
On or off.

Why do people play trombone?
Because they can't move their fingers and read music at the same time.

A guy walks up to the band director and inquires about joining the band. The director says,"Sure, you can join the trombone section." The guy replies, "But I don't play the trombone." "Well," the director replies "Neither does anyone in our trombone section!!!"

Why are trombones the best lovers?
Trumpets do it with three fingers, baritones do it with four, and trombones do it in seven positions!

What do the letters pp mean to a trombone player?
1. An opportunity for an improvised solo.
2. A polite reminder that he has been playing too loud for the past 5 minutes.

What do you call a guy who knows how to play a trombone and doesn't?
A gentleman.

I swear all this is true.
darthfar: (Default)
LEFT4DEAD 2

Left4Dead 2 unlocks... TOMORROW! Bring out the chips and the coffee, the mice and the headsets, and MAYHEM.

SNUGGLYBUNNIES

If there's anything I'm not, it's a physical contact person. I detest snuggles and cuddles and hugs. Annoying little tumours that behave like snuggly puppies around major blood vessels, even more so. Stop it. Seriously.

Fun Doctor Moment #1


Doctor: ... Here's your aorta. And right here, this black lump...
Patient: WTF it's right off the major North-South highway???

Fun Doctor Moment #2:

Doctor: Have you ever had surgery? Have you ever been under anaesthesia?
Patient: No. ... No.
Doctor: ... Are you allergic to anaesthesia?
Patient: Oh sure, and I gas myself sometimes, just for kicks. Personally I prefer nitrous oxide, but god! it gives me such a hangover afterwards.

MUSIC

Our orchestra may or may not be playing at this local music festival (details are unconfirmed), but in the meantime we're just preparing for it anyway. Last week's practice consisted of playing what sounded like two very mournful dirges masquerading as love songs; I was sleepy enough that I *think* I partially dozed through one section, and wound up skipping one entire staff and why does this sound disharmonic with the rest of the oh my god... LOL! It must have been more boring than I thought; I may foul up notes on occasion, but I have never skipped entire staves before.

The good thing about being a brass player is that you get breaks while the violinists practically break their fingers. The bad thing about being a brass player is that sometimes the breaks are so long you don't know what to do in the meantime. Or just fall asleep...
darthfar: (Default)
My conductor has Russian fever. We were tormenting the spirit of Mussorgsky all night, haha. Partner left early, so had the dubious pleasure of sight-soloing for Night On Bare Mountain. Got embarrassingly lost the first time around because I was counting 2/2 as the score specified, and did not realise until too late that the conductor had slowed the music and was counting 4/4. The rest of practice went decently enough, considering.

[My resolution: to stick to my Denis Wick 4BL mouthpiece! Because I'm still a wuss, and occasionally swap back to my Yamaha 48L when I'm called upon to play high B flats. Don't even know why I do it; the Wick sounds so much more mellow. Not that it can't be brassy when called upon to be.]

Listened to Jon Schmidt's piano arrangement of Can't Help Falling in Love. Loved it, purchased score from his shop. Best $0.99 I ever spent!

On another note, I sometimes wish people would pay me for doing their tech support.

July 2016

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