Friday, December 28, 2012

December 28, 2012

Breakfast was fake eggs with 2% cheese, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee. Dinner last night was Christmas leftovers. Lunch was cheese, crackers, and olives. Temperature extremes since last update 18.7 and 53.1. Music Going Through My Head as I Type This the fifth Rückert Lied. Large Expenses since Last Update new rug for computer room, $265 with tax; mandoline, $60; panini maker, $49. Companies That Have Not Covered Themselves in Glory The MBTA, for running our train back to West Concord 2 minutes early on Christmas eve, thus making us run to catch it.  Companies That Have Covered Themselves in Glory Stop & Shop, for having Vavel Cucumbers in Brine; Whole Foods, for being the only driveable supermarket with dried cherries; amazon, for the panini maker and mandoline slicer. Facepalm Yesterday I had half my driveway shoveled, when the people we pay to do that showed up with their truck Pointless Nostalgic Reminiscence I met and interacted with Seiji Ozawa twice at Tanglewood 1982: we composers stayed in the servants quarters of the Koussevitzky mansion, where they also had Supper Clubs and Brunch Clubs with donors — one Sunday lunch our contact Naneen asked us, while we were lunching, if we could stand one more, and we said okay. In walked Ozawa, with a sandwich — who was a little weary of socializing. I gave him a beer and he thanked me. He shook my hand and his was a limp as a fish; several weeks later at a dance party at Miss Hall's School, where everyone except the composers stayed, Ozawa came up to me in mid-dance to thank me a second time for the beer. Number of Haircuts I got last week 0. Cute Cat Things to Report Sunny wreaked havoc in the garage this afternoon, but we don't know where. This week's made-up word siroioun, the lost art of making pentagonal beads from pasta. Recommendation and professional letters written since last update 4. Something I did recently for the first time Put a double bar on a three-movement piano piece. Fun Davy Fact you won't read anywhere else I use an oval-shaped plastic pouch with a slit in it for change, and I have five in waiting when this one tanksPhotos in my iPhoto Library 22,718.What I paid for gasoline recently $$3.43 in Maynard. Current projects 100 préludes for piano, short piano quartet for Verge Ensemble.  Triathletes never look at this part sticky gold stars, the corner of the bedroom, some wainscotting I forgot about, a head of steam.

And again, a mere two weeks since the last update! I'll try to keep this one short. Maybe even rude. Much of what has been transpiring has been either writing music or grading at Brandeis. Really it has. Oh yes, and Christmas and stuff. So let's get going.

Buying Smaks in 2004
First things first. While at Stop&Shop shopping for various and sundry — I had gone there on a Sunday afternoon just to shop somewhere that wasn't Shaw's, and to find some different Rosé at the wine store in the Stop&Shop shopping center. Checking in the "ethnic" foods section, as I always do, I noticed what I'd forgotten — at Stop&Shop, Polish is a valid ethnicity (think of all the grants I'll get now!). Among lots of Polish dills — many of which I've purchased only to be disappointed, were two 30 ounce jars of Vavel Cucumbers in Brine. I had dimly remembered having some of those in 2002 or 2003 after a New Year's Day party at Lee and Kate's place. I said I loved, loved, loved the pickles they served, and they showed me the Smak jar, and told me where the market in South Boston was that they'd gotten them. Naturally, next time I was in town I went to that market, and got some Smak jars — actually, I bought them out — and the next time I was there, they were out of Smak, but had Vavel and some other brand. So I got the Vavel, which were almost as good. They reminded me of the pickles that used to be free at Happy Burger in New York City when I lived there, and I went there so often and ate so many of the pickles that it seems I might have single-handedly put them out of business. So I bought Stop&Shop out. And they were as lovely as I'd remembered. I even blogged about them. Beff noted that the brand is probably pronounced Wa-wel.

Meanwhile, I looked online for spicy pickles, and amazon brought me to various sponsored links, and eventually I found Old Mill. And I scored again — particularly the hot chips. So I did the only sane thing: I ordered more of them. Meanwhile, the hot garlic dill spears — mildly disappointing.

Later, I finished the first jar of Vavels and took out the second one. They had, um, just about gone by, and while you could tell they were pickles, they kind of tasted like ass. So I had to toss them. But in the meanwhile, Tina had gotten me four more jars for Christmas, I unpacked one of them, and heavenliness was restored. Woo hoo!

So, meanwhile, I had a few days to get back to the piano piece I'd been writing that I'd started back around when school was starting. It's for Nick Phillips's upcoming vernacular project, and I am one of several composers involved. I'd written a blues thing and finished it in September, and started two other movements. Both of which got backburnered as things heated up on the Davy front. (The Davy back is way prettier than the Davy front, but, you know) I returned to the toccata movement which was in limbo, and finished it in another three or four days work, woo hoo! Woo hoo! I say, woo hoo! Then I got back to what was supposed to be a funk movement, and all I had was some mod music that I remembered was supposed to — eventually — congeal into something funky or something. So in another three days, I finished that, and by that time it was time for me to go to Brandeis twice — once for a grad student review, and once to pick up the final projects and take-home exams that were due on the 19th. So thus, on the 18th, I finished and prettified my score and sent it to Nick.

I called the piece Hotfingers, and dedicated it to Gene Caprioglio for silly reasons. Then I figured out how to do a set on soundcloud, and thus you, dear reader, can play any or all of the three movements of Hotfingers right here, dontcha know!

Then of course there was the ton and ton of stuff to collect at Brandeis, and the time to grade them all, and the time to enter them onto the computer and all. And that just about took me up to when Beff got back from her two-week sojourn in Maine. And so we did lunch at the River Rock, and everything, and Beff wrapped presents, and the place got all Christmasy. Just in time for Christmas, I might add.

So then Ann arrived on Sunday, bearing, as usual, much too much food, and various kinds of things were done with it. Walks were taken, and people were used. On the day before Christmas, we started out early and got two identical microwave ovens at K-Mart — one to replace our decrepit one, and one as a Christmas gift for their brother Bob. As usual, on Christmas eve afternoon, we took the train to Porter Square — this time with microwave oven in hand, so to speak — and motored toward brother Matt's place in Cambridge. And Matt himself met us with a dolly(!) to help carry the oven all that way. Which meant we could do some meandering stuff in the area, including buying next year's Christmas cards at the Paper Source, right there in Porter Square.

And we also went into that retro place on Mass. Ave, and Crate & Barrel — where we got candles and a board with numbered glasses on it — and then swung by Bob's apartment to leave off the microwave, and then hunkered down with beer and fatty snacks to tide us through Christmas eve. Brother Jim eventually showed up, as did Bob, and Wiemannen were all around, having those Wiemanner conversations.

At the appointed time, we left to catch the 7:45 train back, and we got a little out of whack by construction on the campus of Harvard. How out of whack? Even with a fast walking pace and all, we had to run furiously to catch the train before it exited the station — two minutes early, I might add. And back at home we went bedwards.

On Christmas day itself, there was the long walk and the cooking of the feast and the brothers arriving and the opening of presents and the feast itself, and there you have it. For the second time all year, we put dishes in the dishwasher. And, without hesitation, we turned it on, after putting dishwasher soap in it.

Oh yes, and we watched some videos and all. We really loved Pitch Perfect — enough that we got the DVD. Now we can watch it, like, whenever, you know?

Yesterday was a very sloppy storm — 3 inches of wet snow followed by heavy rain, and there I was shoveling it when I really didn't need to — and meanwhile, at Crate & Barrel I got interested in a mandoline slicer, which I looked up on amazon and bought one. I think I will like it.

And we had grilled cheeses from the new panini maker. They were very, very nice, thank you. Except now I know to brush the bread with olive oil or butter. D'oh! Tonight's cuisine: leftover turkey panini. Woo hoo!

Upcoming: piano quartet, and the first of préludes book 3, on onomatopoetic titles. Woo hoo! Also, school starts up in two and a half weeks, and then it's nothing but work, work, work.

Below, thanks to the Mac program Diptic (buy it on the App Store!) is the customary monthly picture summary of 2012. And they are, as follows:
  • January. Sunny on an Adirondack chair we had brought out during one of the many, many warm spells last winter.
  • February. First crocus picture, February 22, earlier than the record by a week.
  • March. DuoSolo (Mary Fukushima and Mike Kirkendoll) and Amir rehearsing for their all-Davy concert at the Firehouse Space in Brookly.
  • April. Me and my homey Steve Sondheim on stage after Tony de Mare's Liaisons concert.
  • May. Me, Seung-Ah, Bernard, and Amy (picture taken by Gusty) at Bernard and Gusty's after I'd done a brief residency at the U of Chicago.
  • June. Me and my homey Ross at the Vermont place.
  • July. Kathy Dupuy Simpson, my Tanglewood friend, demonstrating alto sax, which she now plays in addition to clarinet and oboe.
  • August. Beff at our anniversary dinner, at 80 Thoreau restaurant.
  • September. Our new driveway being steamrolled.
  • October. A double rainbow in Provo, Utah!
  • November. Beff trying out her new melodicas, which I gave her for Christmas.
  • December. One of many foggy days, at the Ben Smith Dam.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

HISTORICAL POST: November 20, 2006

NOVEMBER 20. Breakfast this morning was coffee from McDonald's. Lunch was a little box of Kung Po noodles from Trader Joe's. Dinner was Chunky Grilled Chicken soup with salad. TEMPERATURE EXTREMES THIS LAST TWO WEEKS: 34.5 and 67.8. MUSIC GOING THROUGH MY HEAD AS I TYPE THIS Absofunkinlutely. LARGE EXPENSES this last week include dinner and Corsendonks with Jay and Marilyn, $149, lunch with Hayes, $40, lunch with Marilyn, $55. POINTLESS NOSTALGIC REMINISCENCE: Back in our Princeton grad student days, Andy Milburn had a Commodore 64 with a voice synthesis program -- pretty primitive by today's standards. We delighted in attaching it to the TV and making it say things in its ... well, robotic ... voice. We played a game with Martler and Alison where we would type things with numbers in them to hear the computer pronounce them: 4nik8, qui9, 6ual, etc. -- and Alison topped us all with 0ber took my jewels (zero-bber took my jewels, think French accent). Eventually we recorded our answering machine message using this thing, which included the robotically spoken phrases "Davy is bouncing on his bed. Martin is doing limey things". Paul Lansky thought it was so funny that he used to call us just to hear the message -- and then he would leave a message saying, "Oh, it's Lansky again. I just called to hear the message. Hee hee." Dunno why he didn't just hang up. THIS WEEK'S COSMIC QUANDARY: How many pins will fit on the head of an angel? THIS WEEK'S MADE-UP WORD: cirren. THINGS I HAVE GROWN WEARY OF are not being with my STUFF. RECENT GASTRONOMIC OBSESSIONS: are celery with Buffalo wing sauce, single size packets of microwave popcorn, Real Pickles, water with powdered citrus twists. DISCOVERY OF THE WEEK Flatness and rolling hills both on Long Island and Kansas. THIS WEEK'S NUMBER BETWEEN 1 AND 10: 19 (I broke the rules). REVISIONS TO THIS SITE: This page, Performances, Recordings. NUMBER OF HAIRCUTS I GOT LAST WEEK: 0. DENTIST VISITS THIS SEMESTER SO FAR: 5. FRAGILE THINGS DESTROYED BY THE CATS THIS LAST WEEK is the back of my computer chair, actually accomplished over about a four year period. RECOMMENDATION AND PROFESSIONAL LETTERS WRITTEN THIS LAST WEEK: 7 (and still no Guggenheim letter requests). DAVY'S BAROMETER FOR THE FUTURE OF MUSIC this week is 65 out of 100. WHAT THE NEXT BIG TREND WOULD BE IF I WERE IN CHARGE: Republican presidents and vice presidents understand the phrase "you lost". PHOTOS IN MY IPHOTO LIBRARY: 9,946. WHAT I PAID FOR GASOLINE THIS WEEK: $2.37 in Stony Brook, $2.34 on the Merritt Parkway, $2.23 at the local Mobile station. OTHER INANIMATE OBJECTS THAT WOULD BE A BETTER PRESIDENT THAN THE CURRENT ONE a personal anecdote, fifteen of the widest cantaloupes in the field, intransigence, the big thing we haven't given a name yet.

The big news, of course, is that as of yesterday afternoon, this year's raking is finished, for all intents and purposes -- though I may go over the apple tree yard a bit later to clean out some accumulated detritus. Yesterday (Sunday) Beff and I spent time hauling away the issue of the neighbor's big oak tree, which is always last to give it up. I did not keep a running tab of barrels raked this year, but I think it stopped around 90. Compare that with 104 last year, and we see the effect of the big windstorm that knocked down the ailanthus.

It is just short of two weeks since I last posted, and here I affirm that I am writing in the first person singular (synchronize your grammars). Two extensive trips happened in the interim, as well as plenty of driving, flying, being driven, listening, etc. In the middle of all that, I was informed that BBC Radio 3 was broadcasting a recording of the American music concert by Lontano from last May, with commentary, and that it would be available in streaming audio on its website for a week thereafter. Well, I was curious, and when I got to the site, I discovered that a bunch of composers were in front of me on the concert, I was an hour and fifteen minutes into the program, and there was no way to scroll or fast forward into it. So one night I just let it play, turned down the sound, and set an alarm. After about an hour, I checked on it, and it was in the middle of some deadly boring Virgil Thomson choruses. Ten minutes later I saw the message "network timed out. Probably congestion". When I clicked OK, the program started again FROM THE BEGINNING. So I didn't get to hear it. I did check the user comments online, though, caught someone asking who these Americans were, a user mysteriously named "Martle" piped in that Rakowski was pretty good, and someone else reported on all the composer websites -- including one saying that "Rakowski's website includes what he ate on November 7. Apparently he likes to share". Oh, those great unwashed. Literally. 

Much was going on in the actual classroom teaching, although nothing at all was going on in my Thursday composition lessons -- being that I was away both Thursdays. One is being made up tomorrow, another on Wednesday, and both again during exam week. So there, smarty pants. It was chorale writing in theory, and percussion and harp in orchestration. Meanwhile, as much could be done as could be done about that which was done.

So first, a week ago Thursday I drove to Stony Brook starting at 6:45 in the morning, and arrived around noon. There were four major delays on the Hutchinson Parkway, and then a major tie-up exiting 95 for the Throg's Neck, but everything else was okay. It's a four and a half hour drive that was stretched into a stupidly long one. I followed Perry Goldstein's directions to campus and went to the parking garage where I was directed to park, which was marked FULL. After a bit of help, we made our way to the alternate lot, I did some e-mail, we had lunch with Bob Gibson (so good in the 1967 World Series, dontcha know), and I went to my hotel, paid for by Stony Brook. It was a Holiday Inn Express with a lot of amenities, none of which I had time to do. Swim? Not me. Have a conference? Not me. Go to the bathroom? Definitely me. So I then made it in to hear a rehearsal, got there a little early, and saw Rich Festinger -- also with a piece on the concert, and whom I had to direct to the hall ("that way", I said). I then got to hear my rehearsal, and the players were really good -- I just had to make small comments and explain the thrown bow notation (I forgot to say the first time around what it meant), and the performance was stunningly good -- even though I wanted the finale to go faster. Afterwards at the reception, the players kept asking me what else I wanted that they could do, and I said all I wanted was beer.

The day after, in the morning, I checked out and drove into Manhattan, parking near the apartment of Jay and Marilyn, in the 112th Street garage. I had to deliver a Schoenhut toy piano (Model 6637MB) to Marilyn, and she was going to be in her office at NYU all day, so I had packed light -- all I had was the toy piano and a few clothes in a backpack. I cabbed my way to Marilyn's building, and she had said to call her cell phone when I got in. Naturally, it was off, since I got there about 45 minutes early. So I stood at the door to the building with the toy piano on the sidewalk, fielding comments and questions from innocent passersby ("Gift"? "Boy or girl?" "Does she know she's getting it?" "Can you PLAY that?"). Soon Marilyn let me in, we set up the toy piano, and went to the Bowery Bar for lunch. I paid. We both ate. I then spent some time at bookstores and Tower Records before hopping back uptown with Marilyn for dinner with her and Jay. And dine we did. As is usual, we broke out the Corsendonk at the Abbey Pub, and unfortunately they no longer have the "every fourth one free" policy.

The next day I had lunch with Hayes in Chelsea, played with his cats, saw Susan, and went back uptown, picked up Jay, and we both went to a vegetarian restaurant near the Tenri Center for dinner. It was good. The show itself was even better -- the Tenri Center being small, I had a seat very close to the players -- I was cleaning rosin out of my nose at intermission from the viola's bow, and I got to see harp pedaling action up close for the first time. There were a whole bunch of friends and former students there (some of them both) like Jim and Judy (with whom I sat), Spencer Schedler, Rick Carrick, and "Not" Adam Marks. My performance was yet mo' betta, and the Gibson and Festinger pieces sounded quite good this close. Sophie, the pianist, informed that my piece would be on her recital after Thanksgiving, and I solicited a recording from that, too -- not as if I have recordings yet from either performance. She also gave me Rich G's Christmas album, which I treated as an earring for a little while. Jay and Marilyn and I cabbed it back uptown, we stopped for a beer, and went to bed. Next morning I drove off to Maynard before the predicted rainstorm hit.

All that while Beff was at a computer music conference in Utica, New York, and met some of our favorites -- Brian Bevelander, for starters -- and she also just barely beat the approaching rainstorm. Which eventually gave us stormy rain. So for the half day that we actually got to see each other that weekend, we had a fire in the fireplace, and I made salmon burgers from patties I got at Whole Foods. Yes!

The Tuesday that followed was the day for Kansas. I set the alarm for 3:30, since I was being picked up at 4:15 for a 6:35 flight. Geoffy had gotten in late the night before, since he was in town for Musica Viva concerts again, but we did not interface at all. I got up at 3:30, and at about 3:40 as I was in the shower, the phone rang. I hopped out and dripped all over everything, but did not answer it in time. I heard on the answering machine, "This is Orbitz. Your six .... thirty-five ... flight to ... Kansas City .... is on time". They had to CALL me? At such an ungodly hour? With a houseguest trying to get some sleep? Crap, Orbitz is off my list for future bookings. Anyway, I made it to Kansas City on the very nice Midwest Airlines (leather seats! No first class! Cookies!) with a stop in Milwaukee (an "airport that makes up for its lack of amenities with its lack of charm"), and Mary Fukushima was right there to pick me up (I gave her my energy bar from the plane). I had wondered about Midwest's schedule -- since all FOUR of my flights backed away from the gate about ten minutes before the scheduled departure time -- but nobody complained, and all the flights were full except the last one back to Boston. Anyway, Mary took me through the flatness and expanse of the midwest to the Cambridge of Kansas, that liberal bastion Lawrence, and to the home of Dave and Gunda Hiebert -- avid music department supporters, and with beautiful Asian sculptures and structures in and around their house, and a bed on which I got some really sound sleep. At this point I met Mike (Kirkendoll) and Nathanael (May), the pianists, for the first time. I had already met Mary, playing the flute and piccolo part -- for she was the one driving. Duh.

And I was set up to do a thinly-spread residency -- from watching rehearsals and concerts to much dining at the expense of others (it averaged four meals a day), to doing a composer masterclass to talking in an orchestration class. One thing that was a little hard to get used to at first was NOT being in a place where "composer" and "band composer" are two different things (that, and when passing strangers and your eyes meet, they smile at you or even say hi). And one thing that was NOT hard to get used to was having excellent performers to play my piece, at least a time zone away from New York.

Anyway, I got taken to the 75th Street Brewery for lunch by Jim Barnes because I expressed a hankerin' for buffalo wings -- and emerged with just a hint of Southern accent. I then got to hear a rehearsal, and the piece already sounded quite good -- I mostly just made comments about balance and a few things about phrasing. I was sorry that the pianists had to go to so much trouble to deal with the inside the piano stuff -- but unlike other non-New Yorkers, they didn't complain. Not even once. The Guinness book of sports records was used to prop the sostenuto pedal up for Nathanael, and it was the job of the page turner to kick it away when it was no longer needed. I'm sure there's a joke there, but I'd rather make fun of Berlioz.

Hanging out was also David Fedele -- now the flute teacher there -- who recorded Sesso e Violenza during his New York days, and who returned for the encore performance by the Columbia Sinfonietta a year and a half ago (I have pictures), and it was good to reconnect. And make fun of his early 90s promo photo evident in the department. David made lots of appearances, and it was always cool to see him. We did dinner at Indo's with Forrest Pierce, the new junior composer there -- who seems to be making things run really well, at least in terms of the new music ensemble (it is called "Helios" -- or sunflower, as in, Kansas, the Sunflower State) and ... well, standards -- and he is what they call vertically advantaged. After some sort of show, we made a brief appearance at the Free State Brewery, since Gregg had recommended it, and I had an amber. And it was good, brother. Meanwhile, Mary gave me a Kansas Jayhawks big spongy glove and a Kansas Jayhawks frisbee -- I was never to be seen without the glove.

The next day there was lunch at the student union with the piano faculty, who were there explicitly to be shown my etudes. And show them I did, using a Combo-Pak of all 74 (it was agreed that that was a bit many all at once), and there was more rehearsing. The Crumb Music for a Summer Evening was on the show, and beautifully done, though I was falling asleep during it and remembering why I never really got interested in his music during my undergraduate years (it was said he wrote the same piece over and over, and I couldn't find many grounds for disagreement). That said, it had lots of beautiful stuff -- though the slide whistle duet played into the pianos was almost comically dumb -- and the ending came off beautifully.

The concert itself had been scheduled at the same time the KU basketball team -- ranked #3 nationally -- was playing Oral Roberts University, and as it turned out, while the new music was being done, KU got its but soundly kicked (or kickly sounded), and that probably made it easier to get into bars that night. The concert started with a Rzewski piece that was very fun and not at all deep or pretentious, and followed with the Crumb, which sounded even better. After intermission came me, and boy did things click -- listening to the recording, I am actually quite astonished at her nice piccolo sound, which she kept trying to say she didn't have much of, and her control of the harmonics in the final section. David Fedele said the piece was better than Sesso e Violenza, but of course it is only half as long. So I didn't have to try as hard. The concert ended with a Messiaen Oiseaux Exotiques, and it came off very, very well, and finally seemed to be as funny as Messiaen intended. Poor Mike was in every piece, and he had to cram on this piece before the concert. And Mary was the piccolist in the group, and I noticed from my poor vantage point that Mary was the only one in the group whose head moved and bobbed with the musical gestures -- as if she was really playing the music. And Mike either learned the part really well, or faked it incredibly. Afterwards, much of the group went to Old Chicago restaurant, which had lots of beers on tap. And I had some.

And by the way, you can click on the red links above to hear the performance and see the score. This offer holds only for a week.

Then was the business of earning my keep. I spoke to a general music gathering on Thursday morning, introduced by Forrest, and played a bunch of stuff. And I did masterclass in the afternoon, which had a few priceless moments -- first, Beff called me and my cell phone was on, so it played her special ringtone: Beff saying "Davy? Davy? Davy? Davy?" Actually, usually only Mary heard it, and I didn't -- including later, at the Hieberts' house. I tried to get a sense of each composer before I looked at his music; one was introduced as being an organist who was composing, and I tried my utmost to connect: "I took one organ lesson when I was in high school, and I bought the special shoes. Needless to say, I got a lot more use out of them later than I did for playing the organ." The response: "For wrestling?"

That night I was taken to Chinese by Jim Barnes, picked up a little bit more of Southern accent, got deposited at another concert with another performance of the Messiaen, after which Mike and Mary and I went to another dinner and drinks -- I got some good beer on draft, and some textured guacamole (not whack-a-mole). This place closed at 10, and many of the players from the concert wanted to continue, so another venue was used, pool was played (not by me), and Mike and I ended up by ourselves just talking, while margaritas did their dirty work on the bloodstreams of others. Friday I went to the orchestration class, said some things and played some things, went to an open lunch, hung out in Lawrence with Forrest (book stores and Free State Brewery yet again), got taken to dinner at a Mexican place by the Composers Guild (I got the sizzling fajita), caught the end of a flute recital Mike was accompanying, and then went to Mike 'n' Mary's place on the outskirts for some wine. Where we played the game "don't spill your wine while their big dog Kona jumps all over you" -- all of us seem to have won that one. The wine was really good -- I had frankly gotten tired of beer. Briefly.

And Saturday Mike and Mary picked me up at the Hieberts, Mike drove me to the airport, and I had an utterly eventless flight home, with another layover in Milwaukee, which I spent entirely on the plane. I got driven back by AAA, part of the the Mass Pike was closed because of Big Dig crappola, and Beff and I walked to the Quarterdeck for dinner -- I had the clam roll, as usual. Speaking of seafood, I was informed that in Kansas, catfish is considered seafood. Hmm. Where to categorize that?

Meanwhile, on THAT weekend, Beff had driven to Vermont in a rented cargo van with her bro' Bob to get some stuff out of her dad's condo, take some donated books to Norwich University, and bring a few little pieces of furniture back (including a partially spent jar of honey -- okay, that's not furniture, but you get the point). On Sunday morning we dropped the van off, did a Thanksgiving shop, and did the raking thing, and Beff left for Maine, since she promised to watch a dress rehearsal of the concert band (guess what -- they were doing a piece by KU's own Jim Barnes) and I spent most of the afternoon preparing Monday's teaching (lots of Xeroxing, making up a quiz, etc.)

And today, Monday, was a type of day I hate -- drive to school in the dark, and return in the dark. I didn't even raise the shades. And here I am now, and I admit, I am listening repeatedly to the recording of the Kansas performance because a) it was great and b) I have it. I can only say ONE of those things about the Stony Brook performances.

Among other more mundane things -- the Capstone CDs of Michael Lipsey's hand drum CD arrived, as well as a box at the artist rate of Jim and Judy's new CD on Bridge. Both are now available, see links in Recordings. Both are fantafunkingtastic.

Coming up: the Wiemann siblings, possibly all of them, for Thanksgiving. And lots of grading of chorales. Based on my random sampling, I calculated that if all the assigned ones came in, I have 13 hours of grading over Thanksgiving break. Saturday, Maynard door and window takes a look at the pantry in preparation for converting it into a half bath. Tomorrow morning it's dentist time again (number six). Beff gets back either late tomorrow night or during the morning on Wednesday. And then, aw, geez, just a week and a day of classes left. Cool.

As to this week's pictures -- all were taken from my cell phone except the first, taken on Carolyn's (ka-ching!) camera -- it's Carolyn playing the piece of stump as a guitar. Then we have Marilyn Nonken at the Bowery Bar, two shots of the Free State Brewery, Mary Fukushima after being taught how to suck chips to her face, and a bottle chandelier at the place of too many margaritas. Check the red "Uccelli" links above for score and recording of the Kansas experience. For the Stony Brook experience, stand there very still. And for a very, very long time.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13, 2012

Breakfast was sliced Granny Smith apples, orange juice and coffee. Dinner last night was a Smart Choice spaghetti and meatballs microwave thingie. Lunch was Hungarian goulash. Temperature extremes since last update 22.6 and 58.6. Music Going Through My Head as I Type This the third movement of my piano concerto. Large Expenses since Last Update Roland R-26 bundle with XLR cords, carrying case, etc. $499; 2012 leaf removal, $550; emptying of 135 gallons of old ashes from chimney under the fireplace, $325; new stereo receiver, $147.14; Krups espresso maker, $214.13; wine bottle opener, $19; toaster $97.99Companies That Have Not Covered Themselves in Glory Krups, for shipping a defective espresso maker.  Companies That Have Covered Themselves in Glory UPS, for always delivering the packages when they say they will, and for the local UPS store not having long lines; amazon for getting us a new Krups espresso maker 36 hours after I reported the first one defective. Facepalm I started driving to BJ's partly for the discount gas, saw that the tank was full, and suddenly remembered I had filled up the previous day Pointless Nostalgic Reminiscence At Tanglewood in 1982 — we composers stayed in the servants' quarters at the Koussevitzky mansion, because, hey, we were worth it — some of us composers were playing works for each other, and we got to the point of playing our silliest pieces. I played my fanfare for 24 trombones, and Nami's wife Tanya asked, "where on earth do you ever find 24 trombones?" Instantly I answered, "Oh, I just looked behind the refrigerator and there they were." The laughter was nonstop for about five minutes, but I don't know why. Number of Haircuts I got last week 0. Cute Cat Things to Report they occasionally jockey for position on the bed at night to see who can get closer to my head; Cammy usually wins. Also, it used to be Cammy sitting on the back of my computer chair while I work. Now it's Sunny. This week's made-up word garosci, one of several possible decorative edge patterns on high-end ravioli makers. Recommendation and professional letters written since last update 147. Something I did recently for the first time opened a bottle of wine (non twist-top) in about 5 seconds. Fun Davy Fact you won't read anywhere else I figured out diatonic ear-training in my head while doing hikes and stuck at a summer camp when I was 16Photos in my iPhoto Library 22,621.What I paid for gasoline recently $3.59, $3.55 and $3.49 in Maynard, $3.39 at BJ's. Current projects vernacular dances for piano (title: Hotfingers), 100 préludes for piano, small ensemble piece for Verge Ensemble.  George Washington was never interested in any of these sticky gold stars, the corner of the bedroom, some wainscotting I forgot about, a head of steam.

Here we are again, on a month-at-a-time update schedule, dear reader, and you are worth it. I sit here typing (which is the only way I ever do these News updates) on the day after the semester's last day of classes, and during one of those rare blank spots in my schedules in which I have neither any pending letters to write, nor grading to do, nor time-consuming things related to service to Brandeis University. And to that I say woo-hoo! in that temporary way only I can.

Meanwhile, I found round Saltines.

And Drew Williams is memorizing When the Bow Breaks and blogging about it. I also just discovered that his preview performance of it at Fresh Inc. at Carthage College was filmed and put on YouTube, where it has been for months. It is being terrific.

Also, I discovered that my stand-up at the MTAC conference on July 4, 2010 has been on YouTube all this time without me knowing it.

It has been a fairly tranquil month since the last update. Meaning no long drives, no egregious weather of which speaking can have been done by me, and hardly any ladybugs or stinkbugs in the house. In fact, it might be a bit of a chore coming up with interesting things I've done.

Well, pickles. I've done pickles. I got some spicy pickles through an amazon link, some salty ones also through amazon, and some more salty ones from our local Stop & Shop. So palatewise, I've been sufficiently happy. Update: I have had the spicy dill chips, and my eyes popped out of my head. I put them back in, and they popped out again. I seem to like them.

Also, the Christmas packages for relatives were put together and sent out — Beth did all the work, every last bit of it in that regard — and we have already opened the Christmas presents we gave each other, I think. In Beff's case, so she could use them and make sure they work, within the 30-day return period. We also upgraded from our Edirol R-09s to a Roland R-26, in order to get more depth of sound from our rehearsal and performance recordings — it's got four microphones on board, and inputs for two more.

And meanwhile, last Saturday, Beff and I went into the spritzyville that was our weather into the parking lot of the Shaw's shopping center, and up and bought our 2012 Christmas tree. And then we put it into Beff's car, drove back with it, set it up slightly crookedly, and up and decorated it. And watered it. And Beff got a tree skirt for it, because the cats like to drink the water in the tree stand otherwise, and you know, pine needle-infused water is a perfect recipe for making them reset their counters.

Beff wanted the Christmas CD (formerly the Christmas tape) to play while we were decorating the tree, so I put it on, and then the receiver sputtered and sputtered, and finally came on after a substantial wait (but not a substantial weight, which would be silly and fake-profound). It worked okay, but sputtered again later. So I quickly got a new one, twice as powerfull and twenty-eight years younger, from amazon. It works nicely, and even has a remote.

Going further back, though. When Geoffy was here earlier, I had decided I wanted to learn how to make Eggs Benedict. Why? I had gotten microwave 2-egg poachers, so what can you do with 2 poached eggs? Well, you know the answer, dear reader. So I looked up the recipe and got Hollandaise sauce mix, Canadian bacon (packaged like lunch meat) and English muffins — so many English muffins! — because Shaw's had a Buy 1 Get One Free thingie on English muffins. So with our meager, dying toaster, I readied the three English muffins (leaving 9 yet to be consumed), made the Hollandaise sauce, and timed the pairs of poached eggs in the microwave (1 minute 10 seconds was discovered to be the correct timing) and the Canadian bacon in the microwave (20 seconds) so that we had our eggs, 10 minutes apart. And voilà! They were good. Beff also noted, "that's something we'll do no more often than every six weeks, right?" Because, dear reader, it's rich. And leaves a lot of cleaning in its wake.

Very soonly therafter, Hayes and Susan came for Thanksgiving, and we had richness of experience to burn. They arrived in the dark on Wednesday night, and we made pizzas and stuff from the fridge. On Thanksgiving itself, we used more of the English muffins, which with our slow 2-slice toaster was a time-consuming kind of thing. We broke out the many jams my sister sent us in last Christmas's packet and tried them out — deciding against the jalapeño jam, as the piano keys started to melt when it was opened — and settling on some blueberry stuff that was out of this world (which was confusing, since we had just gotten some this world the previous week). And the slowness of the process, and the near-death of one of the burners convinced me we needed a toaster upgrade. So we did.

And then was the cooking for the big meal, which went swimmagely. They brought apple and chocolate cream pies, and, and, and ... it was a nice, and big, meal. Afterwards there was watching of the Addams Family 2 movie, which amused and delighted. We were worth it. We were fatnhappy.

The next day we — all four of us — went to the Gardner Museum and poked around, and then came back, followed by a lovely dinner at J's Restaurant on the grounds of the Nashoba winery. I had great chicken and a calligraphic soup. And what it is, too.

After Hayes and Susan went back home, Beff and I did some various shopping, during which we stopped at the local Ace Hardware store for cleaners and such, and I looked for those Audubon squeezy birds I'd bought there. We had about 5 of them, and one no longer made a squeezy noise. Ace no longer sells them! So of course I looked for them on amazon, and lo and behold! they had just about every variety. I got a bunch. We now have 40 of them.

We also got a new juicer and had fresh-squeezed orange juice twice. Sacre bleu! Can we ever go back?

Then it got foggy for several days, and it was nothing but work, work, work. Work, work. The semester ended, Theory 1 got as far as 4 kinds of 6/4 chords (I gave them a fifth — the Strauss 6/4, and played the trio near the end of Rosenkavalier) and I put together their takehome final (if it were a Latin class, that would be their tecum final). And in orchestration we got to the ta-da moment of writing for orchestra! Which, given how much stuff they'd already done, was only very slightly harder. And I started inventing some banal platitudes about orchestral writing including some of the best writing for orchestra is not writing for orchestra — you know the kinds of things that say nothing but that sound ironically profound. L'Ironically profound, c'est moi.

So, with the service to the Brandeis temporarily off to the side, tomorrow I resume writing for the first time since early October, and I'm stoked, since I have a name for the three vernacular pieces piece — Hotfingers. Hey, I've got a reputation up which to hold.

I also spoke on the phone with Charles Osgood. Nice guy.

So we have a grad review meeting upcoming, Beff isn't going to be home this weekend because of end-of-semester stuff in Maine, my orchestration portfolii and take home finals are due Wednesday, and it's nothing but work, work. It's because, as I say, I'm worth it.

So there.

Also, happy birthday to my niece Candace.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

HISTORICAL POST: December 3, 2003

DECEMBER 3. Moments ago, Beff called and began the conversation in a dry voice: "You haven't updated your website." So now the secret is out. I do this NEWS thing weekly partly for my own ego, partly for the entertainment of you, dear reader, but mostly so that calls from Beff begin, "Hi, it's me." Which is actually inaccurate: even being on the Do Not Call list, all the charities with their hands out and EVERY company with whom we've done business feel free to call at all hours, and whenever I calculate that THIS call must be Beff, I always guess wrong. No panacea, this Do Not Call list. Note to exterminator who got rid of mouse last spring: try your best not to leave scripted messages about the dangers of ladybug infestations this time of year on my valuable answering machine tape. But, oh dear, I seem to have gone rather far afield. Usually what Beff says when she calls (radiated around the house from a tinny speaker) is "Oh, Davy ..... Davy ..... DAYYYY-VEEEEE. ..... Are you there?" If I'm gone, I get to hear that all later, followed by, "...... hmmph. I guess you're not there. Well anyway."

Breakfast this morning was a big coffee from South Street Mahkit and a blueberry muffin. Lunch was a tossed salad and Buffalo wings at the brick oven pizza place in town. Dinner will be something using mesquite grilled chicken -- sandwiches, for instance. Last night's dinner was a large bowl of Trader Joe's miso soup and a bunch of pepponcinis and jalapeno-stuffed olives, as I was improvising before going into Brandeis for a concert. More on that later, if I remember. LARGE PURCHASES for the week included lunch for four at the Korean restaurant in town, MFA tickets, Norton Antivirus for Mac, and a bunch of stuff at Filene's Basement, as will be detailed below.

Last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I was waffling as to whether I would take a Logan Express bus in to meet Stacy and Joe at the airport, or drive in. News reports in the late afternoon spoke of amazing travel crushes going north and west from early in the day. But by 5:00, the Massport website reported smooth sailing into and through the airport, and I decided to drive -- thus spending $17 in parking and tolls instead of $44 in parking and bus tickets. The hour and a half drive I expected took 40 minutes, and the airport was virtually deserted -- leaving me plenty of time to walk from terminal to terminal and try to ignore the incredibly bad muzak coming from the speakers everywhere (oboe is the wrong instrument to play the melody in California Dreaming. I mean, really). Stacy and Joe took ATA, an airline which barely registers a blip on the Logan Airport website, and which, as it turns out, has its very own ONE gate at Logan Aiport terminal B. It was easy to find them, and the drive home was a breeze. And we had beer.

Thanksgiving went as planned, and over time the thrice chocolate cake was inhaled by our guests. We dispensed with the turkey leftovers by Saturday morning, thankfully (which means we threw them away). Stacy took a bunch of arty shots of the stove and the bushes in the backyard with the digital camera (some of which might show up below) while I was cooking. And hey, frozen Trader Joe's asparagus turns out to be pretty good. Friday we commuter railed into Boston to do Filene's basement, the MFA, and Legal Seafoods. Filene's was having a special scratch ticket promotion wherein you were given one when you entered the basement which would give you a random discount at the register if you purchased by noon. Beff and I chose a black dress shirt, a gray dress shirt, a hooded sweatshirt type of thing, and a new bathrobe for me, and our scratch ticket yielded a 25% discount. Meanwhile, Stacy bought socks. At the MFA we saw furniture, Egyptian and Asian art, and musical instruments. And at Legal Seafood I got the wood grilled tuna meal. Saturday we took a tourist type visit to the big graveyard in Concord, and then shopped a bit in West Concord, after which we dined on Korean, and I took them to the airport.

The teaching week was short and barely head hurty at all -- last day of classes was yesterday, though I went in today to teach makeup lessons. In theory, we decided on Monday as bowling and pizza day, I played some Mozart as sonata form archetypes, and then made them listen to modern music -- mine. In orchestration we watched some Looney Tunes shorts to identify the orchestration. And in case any reader thought they sensed the sky falling, yes, Maxwell came to his lesson at his scheduled time for the SECOND week in a row! Yesterday I got in early to make a full-size copy of my Dream Symphony onto good paper in order finally to send it to Mario Davidovsky, whose 70th birthday it celebrates. If "celebrates" is the appropriate word here. After three good lessons, I drove to Staples on the corner of Routes 9 and 27 in Natick to get a large size binding for the symphony, and waited rather a long time, as a very nice guy was very meticulous about lining things up. And then I mailed the score to Mario from the Stow post office, after checking with the bowling alley that they would be open next Monday afternoon. (they will be: in fact, in a composition booklet that they seem to use for scheduling, they wrote in "Rakowski. 3:30. 8-10 students" in the middle of a sea of white space)

And last night I went to the student chamber music concert, music by Poulenc, Schubert, Wolf, Schumann, and Debussy. Yes, every one of them dead, but some of them for longer than others (for instance, did you know that Schubert has been dead 1,225 dog years?). Incredibly, every performance was very good, some moreso than others. It's nice to find out that our undergraduates can actually play, and sing. I told someone that the Poulenc songs sounded like "Faure with a headache," and I had to explain what I meant by that. Whatever happened to self-congratulatory, witty repartee?

They that make weather an inexact science are making the forecast for this weekend extremely inexact. The forecast has ranged from light rain to light wintry mix to Snow/Rain to Snow/Wind to (the current) Snow Showers for Saturday and Snow/Wind for Sunday. Problem is, that's the time of the Women Composers Festival at Brandeis, and I am obligated by duty to hear the graduate student concert on Saturday afternoon, and also the "gala" concert on Saturday evening, on which the composition contest winners' pieces are played -- and I know them both. In fact winner Ellen Harrison -- whom I know from the MacDowell Colony in 1995 -- plans to stay with us Saturday night. If there is a big storm, all bets are off. Plus, there is the issue -- rather soon in the season -- of Beff being able to drive back to Maine on Sunday. So the high temp went from upper 50s on Friday to 23 yesterday. I SO desperately want to teach in Florida until I remember there's no culture there and a Republican governor. Or in California, until I remember the government is broke, energy prices are skyrocketing, and a cartoon character who is also a Republican is governor. Or in Arizona until I remember that our house was built before it was a state.

Bly continues to act strange, weird, and pathetic. How does a cat who craves no attention deal with being the center of it? Oh my goodness, I just wrote a poem. He comes in early now, and meows pathetically about who knows what. And he is so often in SCRATCH MY CHIN OOH I LOVE THAT AAGH GET AWAY FROM ME mode. But then again, that's always been normal for him.

Beff's electric shovel arrived. We shall see if it is useful for her. I have my doubts.

Friday I take the Corolla in for the 30,000 mile service, and in the morning I see Seungah for a dissertation consultation. Then Beff gets home around lunch time. Meanwhile, I shall take the opportunity tomorrow to get the pizza ingredients. More and more, students seem to marvel that someone can make pizza from scratch -- ten years ago, I always made pizza for my undergraduate classes at Columbia, where the response was, "made from scratch? Cool!" instead of "made from scratch? You can still do that?"

REALITY CHECK my theory students were, mostly, born the year I started doing crappy work for Educational Testing Service after graduate school, and also the year I wrote the first movement of SLANGE. Oy.

Today's pictures begin with Stacy and Joe at breakfast on Saturday morning -- that is a flexitone that appears to be growing from Joe's head. Next, a stove picture and an asparagus picture, both taken by Stacy, on Thanksgiving day. Next, Bly sleeping on the couch as a prism shines on him, and a detail from a gravestone in Concord. Finally, a 360 degree pan of the Concord graveyard, flattened.

<360-degree pan not found>