Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
In the meantime, I encourage you to check out all the great sites listed under the blogrolls to the right or search the archives of this blog.
I also want to take a moment to express my sadness in the loss of actor David Carradine, who as of this posting was discovered in a Bangkok hotel, the possible victim of suicide. The world will miss such an incredible and iconic actor.
Have a great weekend internet world, and check back early next week for the all new and improved website!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I need some guidance... I'm considering streamlining my internet presence and taking this blog up a notch. The idea I'm tossing around is a single website for the blog and my personal info. This would mean taking down the Dynamod website (which I was never fond of anyway) and closing this blog in lieu of a new one. After switching the Races in Places site from Blogger to a WordPress.com blog, I've come to love WordPress's interface much better than Blogger. However, I'm not keen on the majority of their free themes which has lead me to explore the WordPress.org option, but opened up a huge canful of questions.
I've searched forums and FAQs but cannot seem to find the info I need. So I thought I would pose the question to you, dear reader.
What I'd like to know is this:
- If using WordPress.org, is the blog posting interface the same as WordPress.com?
- Can I use a theme like this one on WordPress.com?
- If I want to use any theme not listed as an "available theme" by WordPress.com, does this mean I need a WordPress.org account instead?
- If the above answer is "yes," how much new info do I need to learn to operate a WP.org blog? (I already spend too much of my composing time doing auxillary interneting, I don't really want to increase this!)
- I noticed that some of the hosters through WP.org, such as Blue Host offer email inboxes. How exactly does this work?
- How do I set up my current sites (Dynamod & Blogger) to redirect to the new site?
- Have a blog with multiple pages so that one page is the blog itself, the others are pages containing info about me as a composer (bio, etc) and the big band.
- I want to host audio, video, pictures, polls & external (non-WP) widgets
- I want general customization as far as font, color schemes, banner image, and basic layout (positioning of widgets, etc) are concerned
- I don't have the budget to pay some to do this and this new venture shouldn't cost more than what I am currently paying for my Dynamod, which is $15/mon.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Fox just announced the Joss Whedon's Dollhouse has been renewed for a 2nd season!!!!!
I'd like to think it was with the help of this online campaign, but whatever the reason, consider me a happy gal!
Now to go write some music like a good composer...
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
WOW! I have not seen such a great movie in all aspects in a really long time! I was thoroughly entertained, fell in love with all the characters, and LOVED the space battles! I already want to go see it for a second time! Plus the music by Michael Giacchino, a J.J. Abrams regular, was fantastic! I walked out of the theater wanting not only to see this movie again, but to go back and watch the original series! In fact, my BF and I made a pact to watch at least one season from each of the Star Trek series, if for no other reason to boost my nerd cred.
As I contemplated this challenge, I felt a small twinge of guilt because Star Trek is not the only TV series that as a self proclaimed "nerd" or "geek" I should know more about. Sure, I have a ton of nerdy TV shows under my belt including Buffy, Dollhouse, Firefly, Heroes, Lois & Clark, Wonder Woman, Alias, X-Files, Veronica Mars, to name a few. But my collection has some glaring holes.
So I came up with the following list. 5 TV series that I should watch to become a better nerd:
5. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
This is a show I almost started watching when it first premiered last year simply because I am a Summer Glau fan. But the truth is I hadn't seen any of the Terminator movies, had no idea what the premise was, and frankly couldn't remember despite the plethora of subway and bus ads when the show came on! But this past winter I watched T2 and was instantly hooked! How could I have missed a franchise based on robots from the future attempting to destroy all humanity? That's right up my Isaac Asimov-reading alley! I have since caught 1 SCC ep, thanks to Fox programing it right before Dollhouse, was shocked to see Brian Austin Green doing a great job, and am really bummed the fall renewal looks so bleak. I have mad plans to watch T1 and T3 this weekend to prepare for Terminator Salvation out in few weeks, and then I want to jump right into the TV show!
Ok, I admit, I have a bit of grudge against this show. I boycotted it from the beginning because I am one of those Alias fans that blames Lost for the demise of Alias! And to be honest, since then, I've abhorred J.J. Abrams and all his work. In fact, until seeing Star Trek, I hadn't forgiven Abrams for ruining what I deemed one of the best shows on television! (apparently I am still a little bitter!) Needless to say, when Lost started the fall after Alias's third season, which was the beginning of Alias's decline, I was too mad at J.J. to try out his new show which I considered the distraction that kept him from fixing Alias. After some persuasion, I gave the show a try, but instantly recognized the same frustrating tactics Abrams used in Alias to create intrigue but never providing the needed release and quit the show, prophesying that like Alias, it would start to suck in its 3rd season, and be done by its 5th. Well, Lost should celebrated it's 5th season finale and is on board for a 6th season so I guess I was wrong! Now that Abrams is almost back on my good side, perhaps I will give Lost a second try.
3. Dr. Who
IMDB plot summary states "The adventures of an eccentric renegade time traveling alien and his companions." How could I NOT be watching this show? With the original show from 1963 lasting TWENTY-SIX seasons (!!!) and the current relaunch slated to enter its 5th season in 2010, that's a lot of catching up to do! But Dr. Who is such a part of sci-fi and British culture that I am remiss for having never seen a single episode! That soon will change!
2. Battlestar Gallactica
This is the show I probably feel the most nerd-guilt for not watching! I absolutely love space travel (I would totally go into space right now if I had the opportunity!) and I eat up Asimov and Orson Scott Card novels that take place in the far future, so it really makes no sense that I not be into a show that is based on that very concept. Now that the current run is over, I feel the need to quickly catch up before a movie or relaunch happens. I think I'll start with the 2004 relaunch first, then work my way back to the 1978 original series. Thoughts?
1. Star Trek
Again, I reiterate: Futuristic Space Travel??? How could I NOT have watched these shows! Really, I think I need to turn in my nerd badge. But thank goodness for Blockbuster online- my deus ex machina! It will also take some time to make my way through all four of these Star Trek series, but if the show lives up to the hype, which I'm sure it will, it should be a pleasurable experience!
Honorable Mention: Angel
I say Honorable Mention because I am currently making my way through the box set I bought for my BF's birthday, who is a huge Angel fan. We just finished the first season and I can't believe I shied away from this show for so long, especially being the die-hard Joss Whedon fan that I am. So far I love how it gives us just enough Buffy references without being completely reliant on the Buffyverse for its survival. Definitely a show worth seeing, and I'm glad I am finally catching up on it!
So... now that I have my summer watching listpreapared and ready to be executed, hopefully I will return back in the fall a geekier, more well-rounded nerd. Any thoughts, comments, or revisions to my Summer Nerd Fest? Post 'em in the comments!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Unless, of course, you are Darcy James Argue and have figured out how to perform alchemy with coffee beans.
I actually wouldn't be surprised if that was Darcy's secret to success. He does emit an air of old-world mystery, like a cohort of Sherlock Holmes or a member of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, of which Darcy openly admits drawing influence and inspiration from.
If Darcy's superhero's cape hides an alter-ego of Musician Alchemist, his daytime face is one of a coffee drinking Brooklynite ready to discuss politics, indie bands, comic books, or the state of music today. He does as much on his blog, or web pamphlet as he calls it, by the same name of his band, Secret Society. There you can find yourself intellectually challenged while being kept up to date on the happenings of his music, the real treat of all this hype. It is also there that Darcy performs his alchemy, turning his coffee-inspired words into financial donations to support the performance and recording of his music. Without his online fund raising campaign, there is no way Darcy would have been able to record this album. You can read more about that incredible effort here.
Tonight marks the release of Secret Society's debut album, Infernal Machines. Darcy's been giving away his music for free on his blog for years in the form of live recordings, and while hearing music live is usually the most powerful way to experience music, especially when there is improvisation occurring, to hear a large ensemble properly recorded has its own magic. With the ability to bring forward the smaller nuances of the music that are not always heard in venues with lacking acoustics, a shy but charming side of the music can be heard. This is definitely the case with Infernal Machines.
While I don't mean for this to be an album review (I feel way too biased in my enjoyment of the music to offer an objective critique) I will share my opinion in that my enjoyment of the CD is two-fold. Two-fold in that I can experience the music two ways- the way I listen to jazz music, and the way I listen to pop/rock (for lack of a better term). I definitely experience various musical genres differently. I listen for different things. When listening to jazz (to speak broadly) I usually listen for the tones of the instruments, the blending, the balance, the melodies and supporting counterpoints, the harmonies, the solos, and most important to me, the overall groove, be it swing, latin, straight eighths, or a ballad. With pop I focus on the overall aesthetic. How it makes me feel is of more importance than digesting what is often (though not always) a more simplistic structure. With Infernal Machines, especially the first three tracks, I can listen a jazz nerd, or casually and enjoy it either way. I think there's something incredible when music can appeal to both the student of the music and still be accessible to the casual listener; I know that is what I strive for in my music. And I think it's something that Darcy accomplishes incredibly well with his music.
Speaking of album reviews, there is a TON of press out there right now surrounding today's CD release (available through it's label New Amsterdam Records on May 12). To link to a few...
"Sounds Heard: Darcy Jame's Argue's Secret Society Presents Infernal Machines" by Trevor Hunter, New Music Box
"The Making of Darcy Jame's Argue's 'Infernal Machines'" by Eric Benson, All About Jazz
"A Speakeasy of the Mind" by Goerge Grella, The Big City
"Darcy James Argue's Metal Machine Music" by Richard Gehr, The Village Voice
"Infernal Machines" by Troy Collins, All About Jazz
"Jazz Standards that Aren't" by Seth Colter Walls, Newsweek
As always, check out more on his blog, Secret Society.
Monday, May 4, 2009
It really is crazy how many festivals we celebrate in America that are not actually American. There's Chinese New Year, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, San Gennaro, and Oktoberfest to name a few. It makes sense, of course, seeing as our country is made up of immigrants who brought their culture with them whether they passed through Ellis Island or jumped the border! It also makes sense that as the distance from each original immigrant to today's generation continues to grow (not of course, taking into consideration today's immigrants), the culture and traditions brought over start to be slowly forgotten or at best confused.
This is most likely what happened with today's Cinco de Mayo. Often thought to be all-Spanish or Hispanic holiday, others consider it to be the Mexican Independence Day. While the Mexican part is true, the Mexican Independence Day is actually celebrated on September 16. And while the 5th of May is important to Mexican history, the huge festivites that surround the day are primarily American. And as it turns out, we as American's may have almost as much to celebrate as the Mexicans! Viva! Cinco de Mayo explains further:
The 5th of May is not Mexican Independence Day, but it should be! And Cinco de Mayo is not an American holiday, but it should be. Mexico declared its independence from mother Spain on midnight, the 15th of September, 1810. And it took 11 years before the first Spanish soldiers were told and forced to leave Mexico.
So, why Cinco de Mayo? And why should Americans savor this day as well? Because 4,000 Mexican soldiers smashed the French and traitor Mexican army of 8,000 at Puebla, Mexico, 100 miles east of Mexico City on the morning of May 5, 1862.
The French had landed in Mexico (along with Spanish and English troops) five months earlier on the pretext of collecting Mexican debts from the newly elected government of democratic President (and Indian) Benito Juarez. The English and Spanish quickly made deals and left. The French, however, had different ideas.
Under Emperor Napoleon III, who detested the United States, the French came to stay. They brought a Hapsburg prince with them to rule the new Mexican empire. His name was Maximilian; his wife, Carolota. Napoleon's French Army had not been defeated in 50 years, and it invaded Mexico with the finest modern equipment and with a newly reconstituted Foreign Legion. The French were not afraid of anyone, especially since the United States was embroiled in its own Civil War.
The French Army left the port of Vera Cruz to attack Mexico City to the west, as the French assumed that the Mexicans would give up should their capital fall to the enemy -- as European countries traditionally did.
Under the command of Texas-born General Zaragosa, (and the cavalry under the command of Colonel Porfirio Diaz, later to be Mexico's president and dictator), the Mexicans awaited. Brightly dressed French Dragoons led the enemy columns. The Mexican Army was less stylish.
General Zaragosa ordered Colonel Diaz to take his cavalry, the best in the world, out to the French flanks. In response, the French did a most stupid thing; they sent their cavalry off to chase Diaz and his men, who proceeded to butcher them. The remaining French infantrymen charged the Mexican defenders through sloppy mud from a thunderstorm and through hundreds of head of stampeding cattle stirred up by Indians armed only with machetes.
When the battle was over, many French were killed or wounded and their cavalry was being chased by Diaz' superb horsemen miles away. The Mexicans had won a great victory that kept Napoleon III from supplying the confederate rebels for another year, allowing the United States to build the greatest army the world had ever seen. This grand army smashed the Confederates at Gettysburg just 14 months after the battle of Puebla, essentially ending the Civil War.
Union forces were then rushed to the Texas/Mexican border under General Phil Sheridan, who made sure that the Mexicans got all the weapons and ammunition they needed to expel the French. American soldiers were discharged with their uniforms and rifles if they promised to join the Mexican Army to fight the French. The American Legion of Honor marched in the Victory Parade in Mexico, City.
It might be a historical stretch to credit the survival of the United States to those brave 4,000 Mexicans who faced an army twice as large in 1862. But who knows?
In gratitude, thousands of Mexicans crossed the border after Pearl Harbor to join the U.S. Armed Forces. As recently as the Persian Gulf War, Mexicans flooded American consulates with phone calls, trying to join up and fight another war for America.
Would things be the same for us here in America if the Mexicans had not fended off the French? Guess we'll never know!
More history here:
While the history of this holiday is definitely important, I honestly see nothing wrong with the hype that surrounds the day. While we Americans have done our best to make it tacky and commercial, at least some places still use it as a day to celebreate Mexican culture with dancing, drumming and menudo. Check out a list of celebrations across the US and Mexico. While I would love to attend one of these festivals, I will settle for some chips, guacamole, and margaritas after work tonight!
Viva el Cinco de Mayo!
Saturday, May 2, 2009
This weekend marks the launch of Bottomless Cup Music, home to all your music creation, preparation, and education wants and needs!
Please take a moment to visit the website at http://www.bottomlesscupmusic.com, check it out, and pass the word along! Thanks!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Who is Kyle you ask? To start with, an amazing composer of large ensemble cacophony who thrives on confusing you by having two bari saxes featured on one tune and an oboe on the next. In addition to leading the Awakening Orchestra, he also co-leads the self-described "elastic.hybrid.chamber.pop" ensemble Alice. Both bands, and his blog can be checked out at his new site Awaken The Music.
I met Kyle the day I auditioned for the Manhattan School of Music and when I found out he was currently living in Fredericksburg, VA, the same town I am from, I honestly thought it was some weird joke and went into my audition slightly dazed and confused. I later learned this was not an abnormal reaction to Kyle. Talking to him is like watching an Elseworld's adaptation of Gilmore Girls if written by Frank Miller- the dialog is quick, witty, uber-dark and peppered with obscure cultural references that I rarely understand leaving you feeling slightly dizzy and for some reason craving strong, dark coffee. Which is why I can't wait to read his blog!
Check him out at AwakenTheMusic.com.