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Seussical the Musical

I had originally wanted to do another "set analysis with pictures" post, but I'm running off to the theater now and pretty much won't be back home until Monday.  So, that post will come Monday, but here are a few pictures as teasers (and the remaining show times, since I still haven't gotten the hang of the whole "tell people about the show BEFORE Tech Week sucks all of your time" thing).

...argh, crap, LJ isn't playing nice with me about uploading images.  Here's a link to a good photo gallery instead, even if the pictures were taken before the set was completely finished.  And they focus on the actors instead of the set, but hey. :-)

Seussical is playing at the Footlight Club
7A Eliot Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02103

Remaining shows are
Sat 12 Nov, 2pm
Sat 12 Nov, 8pm
Sun 13 Nov, 2pm
Fri 18 Nov, 8pm
Sat 19 Nov, 2pm
Sat 19 Nov, 8pm

The Weight of Numbers

I've been noticing that my brain seems to assign more weight to even numbers than to odd numbers.  If I step on the scale and it shows an even number, my first impression is that I have gained weight; if it shows an odd number, I feel like I have lost weight.  This even holds true if I know darn well that the scale read 155 the night before and now it reads 154; doggone it, I don't register that the number is smaller on an instinctive level.  On a conscious level?  Sure.  4 is smaller than 5.  DUH.  But somehow 4 = heavy and 5 and 3 = light.

It works that way for my email inbox, too.  Today, I've been slowly working at responding to and clearing out old emails that I've allowed to pile up in the "important" folder.  This is, of course, complicated by the fact that more email trickles in as the day goes on.  But just moments ago, when I finally cleared a message from last week, the tab still read INBOX - 6, so I groaned, assuming I had gotten more mail in between the time I clicked "archive" and went back to the main page of my inbox.  But no, no new email; the recently-archived message had in fact been number 7 moments before.

This only seems to hold true when I'm glancing over adjacent numbers.  3 is smaller than 8, no problem.  4 is larger than 1, sure.  But 4 versus 5, on a one-glance, gut-feeling level?  I actually get it wrong on occasion.  Something about numbers that are applied to me personally translates into even numbers carrying more weight than they should.

Brains are weird.


All right, all right.  I'm not normally the "share cute animal links with EVERYBODY" kind of person, but this had me in stitches.  It's not just that the kitten is putting on a tough-cat display for two utterly immobile pieces of fruit, it's the fact that someone took the trouble to synch the epic-battle background music to the kitten's movements.


Water, water, everywhere

Right now, I feel downright lucky to live in Boston.  We don't have to worry about hurricanes like they do in the southeast; we'll get a healthy nor'easter now and then, but those don't cause catastrophic damage.  We're outside of the range of Tornado Alley -- and thank heavens for that, this year.  We don't worry about earthquakes, like our friends in California do.  Finally, we're nowhere near the Missouri River right now.

I remember seeing high river levels a few times in my childhood, but only once did it get so that in Missouri that they had to close down sections of the interstate.  Right now, the flooding is so bad, entire sections of the interstate are closed off right next to where I spent the first 17 years of my life.  I'm seeing pictures of wide expanses of water with overhead interstate signs sticking up out of them and thinking, holy crap, I've driven on that road.  Or, on what used to be that road.

I haven't heard too much about the flooding on the news around here; most of what I know is coming from my parents.  Dad's been sending me links to collections of impressive (if worrying) aerial photos.  (Photo #9 is just north of Omaha; I've taken that interchange so many times, and I can't even fathom how much the river has to flood to cover it like this!)  My parents, thankfully, are both high and dry and out of harm's way, and both are interested enough in nature to be taking a keen interest in the flooding and finding lots of pictures to send me.

Right now, several damsites and lakes upstream of Omaha are being held at top capacity, mostly because the College World Series is held in Omaha.  Once that is over, they'll start increasing the flow and relieving the dams, which will raise the river level downstream even further, and they're pretty sure that the parking lot at Rosenblatt Stadium will go underwater.  They're not certain yet whether the runways at Eppley Airfield, which is nestled in a bend in the river, will also go under.  Here's a photo off Eppley, under the cut.
Eppley Airfield, dry for now.Collapse )
This photo is looking south across the Iowa/Nebraska border.  Eppley Airfield itself is at the top of the picture, with the normal bounds of the river outlined by the double curve of trees on 3 sides of it.  The mostly-underwater cloverleaf is the interchange between I29 and I680 (the same one from photo #9 in the link above).  My dad's house, where I grew up, is about 8 miles to the west (that's to the right in this photo).  For comparison, the distance from the landing strip to the cloverleaf in this photo is about 3 miles.  Yes, that's right -- there are miles of land underwater, just at this one little section of the 2300-mile long Missouri River.

Wow.  Just wow.  The natural world is made of things that are unfathomably BIG.

But I *want* one

So, The Secret Garden closed a week ago.  It was, without a doubt, the best orchestra pit experience I have had to date.  I loved the music, I have a whole lot of respect and fondness for the music director, and the rest of the musicians in the pit were good.  I felt a little outclassed, truth to tell.  Being 5 years rusty on the instrument may have had something to do with it -- but then again, trustworthy audience members reported that I didn't stick out as sounding bad or different, so maybe it's all in my head.  Besides, the flautist and I blended marvelously, and I looked forward to our frequent harmonized passages every night.

But still, the highlight: playing a bass clarinet for the first time.  You have to understand, I have well over a decade of experience with the Bb clarinet.  It's my instrument; it's my voice.  I see a note on the page, I hear it in my head, my fingers do their thing, and out comes a note very much like the one in my head.  Then I got a (borrowed) bass clarinet in my hands and it's LOUD and it's LOW and it's like bwaaaam and it VIBRATES and it made me very, very happy.

In the process of returning the bass clarinet to its owner, I realized that I've GOT to get myself one of my own.

Problem is, bass clarinets are oh so very expensive.  A cheap, plastic, student Yamaha model will run you *gulp* $1500.  It's by no means a bad instrument (the one I played in the pit was in fact of this variety), but I was raised by a music teacher, and I am picky about my tone quality.  Even in the hands of a professional, you can hear the difference between a cheap instrument and a professionally crafted one.  But a high-end wooden professional Buffet model will run you *choke* over $9000.

No.  Not even an option.

So, what I'm hoping is that my Ebay luck will once again make an appearance.  When I was in high school and playing in enough orchestras to really want a clarinet pitched in A, I looked on Ebay and struck gold.  Someone was clearing out a relative's estate, didn't really know what they had, and put this early Selmer up for just a handful of c-notes.  I won the auction, took it in to a repairman for an overhaul on the corks and pads, and walked out with a Brevete series clarinet from the early 1930's.  It's a bit quiet -- it takes coercing to get it to speak clearly -- but it has a sweet, mellow tone and holds pitch even better than my Bb.

Now, if I can just get that to happen again, but with a bass clarinet, I will be a very happy puppy.

The Secret Garden

Oh, right, show spam!

The Secret Garden (with the Longwood Players, at the Cambridge YMCA Theater right off the Central T stop) opens tomorrow!  Well, today, kind of.  Hell, I don't even know what day it is, any more.  Thanks a lot, tech week.

May 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 at 8pm
May 14 at 2pm
820 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA

Since I'm in the pit orchestra (yeah!  I'm in the pit orchestra!), I have only the foggiest idea what the show looks like, but I can tell you with confidence that the show sounds awesome.  A lot of strong singers, and I totally have a crush on the voice of the actress who plays Lily.  Oh, and the set looks pretty awesome, too -- it's meant to evoke an old, cluttered attic full of memories, so the stage is utterly covered with all the victorian-era props they could borrow from every theater group in the area.  The Longwood Players is good at attracting talent, and as I may have mentioned before, they put on high-quality shows for a community group.  If you've got some time this weekend or next, come check it out!

And the pit orchestra is pretty damn good, too. :-)

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

I LOVE today's SMBC comic.

That is all. :-)

Laugh of the day

I've apparently been summoned for jury duty...

...in Nebraska.

I'm thinking, "no".

Party + sleep dep = ?

I've been good recently about trying to get out and do something social once a week or so.  I am rewarded by being reminded on a regular basis that I know a lot of really neat people, and they know a lot of really neat people, so it stands to reason that I will find good company if I just get my ass out of the house and go to a party once in a while.

Case in point: last night, I went to Dog's birthday party.  He grilled tasty food, there was an impressive variety of good liquor on hand, and I felt right at home with the other party-goers, despite knowing the vast majority tangentially at best.  They were mainly people of a variety that I don't get to hang out with often: LARPers, writers, and geeks more tuned to the literature and art side of the spectrum.  Also, for whatever reason, a lot of them had awesome hair in the bright, distinctly unnatural colors that I'm fond of.  Some quiet little voice inside of me took note of this and whispered, iwnnaflsctmhk.  "What?" I whispered back, but it had already fallen silent.

I enjoyed the party for a solid 4 hours before other, more irritating interior voices made it clear that it was Time To Go.  As I was saying goodbyes and hugging the awesome people farewell, the quiet little voice spoke up again, more urgently but still indecipherable: IWNNAFLSCTMHK.  NOW.  "Now?" I whispered back.  "Now, what?  What do you want?"  But all I heard was the murmering stream of too many people smoke outside chattering chattering have to press against bodies to get anywhere get out get out i will drive you crazy if you stay get out too many people can't hear myself think get out it's only safe at home and I politely left for home.

When I got home, I took off the bandana I've been wearing for about a month, now.  I had gotten lazy about cutting my hair and decided at some point that maybe I was trying to grow it out again.  I like my hair short, less than 3", and I like my hair chin-length and longer, but there's an unpleasant in-between stage where I can't make it look like anything other than a pomeranian with mange grafted to my scalp.  So, out comes the bandana, and every night I run my fingers through unruly hair and fight the urge to just shave it all off.  I looked in the mirror, still tingling with nervous energy from the party, and ran my fingers through the unruly hair.  The quiet little voice had had enough.


Well, how could I say no to that?Collapse )

Thoughts from a Party

1) I love talking to artists.  Even if -- no, make that especially if -- their medium isn't something I have a whole lot of experience with.

2) I just realized tonight that perhaps one of the problems I'm having with my career path is that a lot of my current friends are 10-15 years older than I am.  That is, I'm comparing myself to my peers (as humans are wont to do) and finding myself unsatisfied and lacking -- but they have a good decade more job experience than I do; of course I'm not doing well comparatively.  The thought makes me feel a little better, but I still need to do something about my relationship with my current company.

3) People do tell me I'm hot or good looking now and then, and as someone who rarely hears it, it's awfully flattering.  However, I find it bemusing that the vast majority of the people who do say so are gay men or straight women.  I think there's an entire post waiting in this train of thought (like, on one level this makes sense, because it's easier to give a compliment when the recipient knows you have no ulterior motive), but it's late and I'm tired, so I'll get to it some other day.

4) With a bit of concentration, I can hit a snooze button on my brain gremlins.  It's noisy and crowded in here; leave before you suffocate!  Fuck you, this conversation is interesting. *snooze*  But just like silencing my alarm clock too many times in the morning will eventually lead to bad things in the form of me being late to work, silencing the brain gremlins only works for so long before they refuse to shut up.  It's good when I can still make a graceful exit.  Things are improving!  Maybe one of these days I'll be able to start staying at social gatherings as late as I want to.

In the key of Bb

Over the last few days, life has certainly been looking up:
--My cold has mostly subsided, and I can breathe freely again.
--I have sourced and picked up a bass clarinet to borrow for The Secret Garden pit.
--I found a place in Cambridge that rents music rehearsal rooms for an entirely reasonable price.
--I spent last night dreaming about buying a double clarinet case on Ebay, then opening it up and finding two ancient (like, five-key Mozart-era ancient) clarinets inside.  I woke up still giddy and thinking about clarinets.

I was all primed to come home from work, contact the rehearsal room place, and start preparing pit orchestra music for the first time in 5 1/2 years.

And then.

Hey, would I even be posting if I didn't have a good reason to be cursing Murphy and his stupid, stupid law?

And then: as I walked to work, I watched this dingy white van struggling to pull into the street from its parking spot in a snowdrift.  It spun its tires, reversed and spun again.  And again.  And again.  Finally, when I was about 2 car lengths behind it, the driver put the car in drive, stomped on the gas, and in a sudden fury of spinning wheels, luched over the hump of snow into the street.  At least, I imagine it lurched drunkenly over the hump of snow; I didn't actually witness that part -- simultaneous with the sudden fury of spinning wheels, I felt a sharp *ping* and the right side of my mouth went numb.  Alarmed and confused, I put a hand to my face to find a swelling lump, and I tasted blood.  As the van lumbered down the street, I realized that its final frenzy of wheel-spinning had kicked a chunk of ice into my face at high speed.

A quick inspection in the reflection of a nearby shop's windows revealed that I had small bleeding cuts both where the ice had struck my face and inside my mouth, where my projectile-driven cheek met resistance in the form of my teeth -- but other than that and the chipmunk swelling, everything checked out all right.

So, it's not a big deal and I'm going to be just fine, but of course my lip is bruised and too swollen to form a proper clarinet embrochure for at least the next few days.
*shakes fist at the sky*

Anyone want a small TV?

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but it escaped me.

My dad last visited Boston in October.  When he sat down to watch a movie with me on the tiny television that I've faithfully lugged around since 2005 (three moves ago!), he squinted, sighed, and said, "Sweetie, for Christmas, I'm going to get you a bigger TV."  He did, and I now have two things: an awesome 26" flatscreen (nearly triple the screen area!) and the cute little 14" Toshiba that I now no longer have room for in my apartment.  And before I attempt to post it to Craigslist (or something of that ilk), I'd rather give it away to a friend for free first.  (Or for chocolate, if you're like me and feel illogically guilty about getting free electronics.  I will totally trade you this TV for chocolate.)

As mentioned above, it's a 14" Toshiba, model 14AF45.  Approximately this.  Not HD, not a flatscreen, but in perfectly good working order.  Good for someone sharing a small apartment, or as an auxiliary TV for those of you living in houses.  Leave a comment or email me if you want it, and we'll see about getting it over to you.

EDIT: It's been claimed!  Thanks for playing.

Phrases that will seal your doom:

"What's the worst that could happen?"

"Evacuate?  In our moment of triumph?  I think you overestimate their chances!"

"I think we can handle one little girl.  I sent two units; they're bringing her down now."

"Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!"

(to a bunch of drunken friends) "Hey, guys, watch this!"

"Nothing can stop me now!"

(to an actor) "Macbeth Macbeth Macbeth.  Good luck!"

(to a doctor) "I'm in excellent health.  In fact, it's been almost two years since I've had to take a sick day!"
All righty, here's the setup:

The Longwood Players is doing The Secret Garden this spring.  I had agreed to play the pennywhistle parts, but then it turned out that their regular clarinetist couldn't do the show, and I was like "Ooh!  The clarinet is my favorite instrument!", and then they were like "Yeah, but then who will play the pennywhistle parts?" and also "The clarinet part also calls for bass clarinet", but furthermore "I guess if push comes to shove, the piccolo can cover the pennywhistle parts, and we do need clarinet more."

So, I'm looking for one of four things (in decreasing order of probability that I'm going to find them, but increasing order of what I hope I can find):

1) A clarinetist who owns both a Bb and a bass clarinet who would like to play in the pit for The Secret Garden (performs first two weekends in May; first orchestra rehearsal is April 16, so it's not a huge time committment).

2) A bass clarinet that someone would be okay with loaning to me.  Or, better yet, selling to me. :-)

3) Someone who can play pennywhistle and would like to play in the pit.  And then I have an excuse to buy a bass clarinet.  Hey, that's what the Rainy Day Fund is for, right?

4) Option 2 plus Option 3: I borrow a bass clarinet, and also there is someone who can play pennywhistle and would like to play in the pit.

For options 2 or 4, please email me.  For options 1, 3, or 4 (that is, you or someone you know would like to play in the pit), please email the music director (Jason Luciana, hisfirstname.hislastname@gmail.com) and please cc me so I know which part to practice.


I'm feeling loved

For whatever reason, over the past week 6 people have contacted me about doing various theater things.  Stage manage here, design the set there, TD over yonder.  I can't do most of them, due to time/energy constraints, but the fact that that many people think highly enough of me to keep coming back to ask me to work with them is heartwarming enough to bring a tear to my eye.

Also, just last night I was offered a small part in the pit orchestra of The Secret Garden (the Longwood Players' production).  It's just the pennywhistle part, which doesn't have a lot to do, but I am ecstatic about the thought of playing in a pit again!  It's been since 2005 since I've played in something resembling a full pit orchestra and I'm delighted to get the chance.  This is just the kind of low-key involvement I was looking for this season!

Life is kinda good right now, I gotta say.

Decaf: check! Now what?

Since I've now survived two full months and a Mystery Hunt without caffeine*, I think I can declare my caffeine habit well and truly beaten.  Mountain Dew even tastes different, now.  It doesn't taste bad, but it's no longer nectar-of-the-gods delicious.  Perhaps if I'm careful, I can go back to using caffeine only occasionally when I really want the rush -- like Tech Week.  Go, stubbornness and determination!

So, now what?  What's the next self-improvement project?  Take classes in something?  Draw more?  Brush up on my German?  Naw, too easy.

I want to figure out perfect pitch.

If I break out my ipod first thing in the morning, before I've heard any other tones or noises, I can guess the starting pitch of the next song on shuffle pretty accurately.  Like, 6 days out of 7.  Not perfect, but I figure this means there's something somewhere in my brain that Knows What Pitches Are.  (If I have been listening to my ipod on shuffle, I can guess the starting pitch of the next song with higher accuracy, but I chalk that up more to having a good handle on relative pitch, not absolute pitch.)

There seems to be contention in the literature about whether perfect pitch can be learned, or whether it is entirely a genetic you-have-it-or-you-don't kind of thing.  I figure I'll start from my instincts (knowing that the next song starts on this pitch that I can sing) and then go over to the piano and figure out what note it is.  That could progress into knowing what pitch the next song starts on, and it's an F#, and possibly from there to have someone say "sing an F#" and I'll know what the note is.

That's my plan, anyway.  I have no idea if it will actually work, but I suppose I'll know in a month or so!

*excepting that which occurs naturally in chocolate, of course

Curse you, inner monologue!

Yesterday at work, I was half-listening to my coworkers talk as I finished up a project.  They were talking about dating and got into a discussion about the politics of who should pay for meals.  This whole topic annoys me, so my focus drifted into my own head, where eventually my inner monologue spoke up with this gem:

"If I were to buy someone Indian food in an attempt to get on their good side, does that mean I'm trying to curry favor?"

*slow facepalm*

Sign language music videos

I've been watching this guy's videos for like an hour.  He records music videos of pop songs with sign language interpretation, and really shows off the theatricality and poetry available in ASL.  It's downright hypnotizing!

I love watching artists who work in ASL.  Does anyone else remember the awesome interpreters at the Orpheum when PMRP performed for First Night?  Storytelling in ASL is an art form, man!

Anyway.  I'm going to go back to watching... this.  Also: damn, those are nice abs.  Damn.

Mystery Hunt 2011

While I have run entirely empty on my stockpile of Deal With Crowds (and thus am hiding at home recovering instead of eating dinner with my team), I'm otherwise in quite a positive mood from this year's Mystery Hunt.  And since the longer I wait to write about an event, the smaller the chance that I actually get around to posting, let's get cracking!

Somewhat sleep dep'd and rambly, but I think it's spoiler-free.Collapse )

I am a sick, sick puppy

So, I just got home from Mystery Hunt.  I staggered zombie-like through the front door, laden with all the acoutrements of three days of Hunt.  It occurred to me that I hadn't checked my mailbox in three days.  Several seconds of fumbling and package-juggling later, I managed to unlock my mail drop.  But once it was open, I immediately perked up and felt some energy return to me.

My mailbox contained an issue of Games World of Puzzles Magazine, and I had gotten excited about the thought of having more puzzles to solve.

Dear brain: you are sick.  I love you, but you are sick.