This Day In History: 04/01

Monday, April 01, 2002

Steve Reich: WORKS 1965 - 1995, Part I of V

I listened to the entire 10-disc set of CDs over the span of a couple days last week, and felt they were interesting enough to do a disc by disc review of various works. I've had no previous exposure to any of his music, and the thoughts below are my instinctual feelings based on one or two listenings -- definitely not serious criticisms or analyses by any stretch of the imagination.

Disc One includes four early works, Come Out, Piano Phase, It's Gonna Rain, and Four Organs. Come Out (1966) and It's Gonna Rain (1965), were both interesting experiments, but I wouldn't be quick to label them directly as music. Really, they're more of "proof-of-concept" works that explore phasing at its most basic level. Both pieces involve a simple spoken line played on two tape tracks that start in unison. One tape track is faster than the other and the lines slowly get out of sync over time (almost imperceptibly at first). These pieces each run over ten minutes long, and in that time, you can really explore the different acoustical effects that can be found in simple sounds. However, I think that both pieces suffer from too much emphasis on phasing at the expense of the other necessities of music, such as harmony and melody. Ignoring any one aspect of music for a time can build tension, but omitting them altogether can kill a piece. That's why I find even the most harmonically interesting pieces boring if there's no rhythmic interest.

Piano Phase (1967) is a much more successful piece for this reason. Reich did away with the two tape loops, and had two performers accomplish the exact same effect on acoustic pianos with no extra mixing. The introduction of pitch levels suddenly brings this piece to a more interesting and rewarding level. I found that although this piece was twenty minutes long, it held my interest for much longer than the spoken word pieces.

The final piece on this CD was Four Organs (1970) which I just hated. I'm listening to it again as I write this, and I still don't really care for it. Some pieces on the later CDs that I didn't care for in the beginning grew on me over time, like Three Movements on disc eight, so it's not just the single listening that kills this piece for me. The work is written for four organs and one set of maracas and does nothing at all with the phase ideas explored in the first three works. Instead, the four organs explore a single dominant sonority in different clusters of chord tones over a continuous maracas part (for sixteen minutes!). Besides being boring, I think the harsh organ sonority reduces my tolerance for this piece. It might have been more successful (for me) with a mellow electric piano sample rather than the organs used.

To be continued...

Looking ahead on my "Calendar o' Stuff to Talk about on the News Page", this week will be devoted to my thoughts on the Steve Reich 10-disc set. Next week's theme will be some of my favourite young adult authors of yesteryear, including Gordon Korman, Lloyd Alexander, John Bellairs, and C.S. Lewis, among others. The final full week of school will be reserved for tying up loose ends and emptying out my topics queue before I start my summer schedule (whatever it may be). if you have an author or topic you'd like to see discussed here, feel free to e-mail me.

On the way home from class, I saw a young squirrel fall out of a tree onto the road. More scared than hurt, it bolted out of the road back to the tree, but decided to headbutt the trunk rather than climb it. It finally made it to the safety of some shrubbery after overcoming its double-smack daze. So much for the grace of nature.

By the way, there's a few new pictures on the Photos page.

tagged as music, reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Bork bork bork bork bork bork bork bork bork,
Bork bork bork bork bork bork bork bork bork.
Bork bork bork bork bork,
Bork bork bork bork bork,
Bork bork bork bork bork bork bork bork bork!

permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, April 01, 2004
Tuesday, April 01, 2008

BU will be busy spreading American consumerism across Europe until April 15th. Regular updates will resume on April 21, although the occasional "on-the-road" post may appear in this space from a seedy Internet cafe, thanks to the PHP magic of Mike (of Mike and Chompy).

In the meantime, feel free to check the News Archives for your daily fix, or visit one of the wonderful blogs in the left sidebar. Au revoir!

tagged as travel | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Memory Day: April Fool's Day

♣ On April 1, 1995, twelve of my close friends received an invitation to an end-of-the-year party. Well-versed in my rambling multi-page invitations and penchant for planning months in advance, invitees were surprised to discover that this party would take place at King's Dominion on a day when the park was closed to the general public. They were more surprised when the last page revealed it to be an April Fool's joke. My dedication to this joke was so strong that I actually put the invitations into the mail on varying days in advance to make sure that everyone (even clowns in Arlington and Fake Alexandria) got them on the 1st.

♣ In 1998, a girl I knew solely from the Internet confided that she was in love with me over ICQ. "Is this an April Fool's joke?" may have been my shocked, unfortunate reaction, which is never what you want to hear in that situation. We talked it out the next day, though, and I normalized my Canadian relations.

♣ I released Augmented Fourth on April 1, 2000, although the only cruel joke in that scenario was the statue with the moveable arm that seemed to unlock a secret passage in the house where inventory was forbidden, but actually did nothing at all. Players were still stuck here over a year later.

♣ April Fool's Day in 2001 was the sophomore recital of Dave Day and Dave Ball (and the world premiere of Clown Facades). For this occasion I created an alternate version of their recital poster, featuring their accompanist, Jim Bryant.

♣ In 2003, I changed every word of my homepage to be "bork" and infinitely looped a clip of the Swedish Chef singing. I also gave a ridiculously hard dictation question to my ear training students, although most of them were too street-savvy to fall for it. One student did try to visit our Blackboard class page to study before the exam, and ended up at Bork-fest instead. She was rather confused.

♣ Last year on 1 April, Rebecca and I were setting foot in London for the first time ever. Though we didn't feel that our presence was any sort of American prank on the British, we did get to say "Cockfosters" in polite conversation all day long.

Your turn! Share your April Fool's Day memories in the Comments section!

Dizzy ducklings plucked to safety
Protest dummy shuts down Boston Square
Ohio man seeks trial over motorized barstool DUI

tagged as memories | permalink | 4 comments

Thursday, April 01, 2010

ADD List Day

One book I'm currently reading

  • Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maarten Troost
  • Four technologies I have never owned (and don't really care about)

  • A Blu-ray player
  • A cell phone
  • Any Playstation
  • Anything with "firewire"
  • Three things I'm going to do in April

  • 4 birthday parties
  • a hike up Old Rag
  • writing a new will
  • Three things I still don't understand fully (but don't care enough about to learn)

  • The whole "9/10ths of a cent" pricing scheme on gas
  • Combinatorics (in which I got a C+)
  • How the Electoral College was ever considered to be a good deal
  • Two projects released on this day

  • Augmented Fourth
  • DDMSence v1.0.0
  • One new due date

  • October 22, 2010
  • Three musicians on rotation in the car

  • The Hoosiers
  • Amy MacDonald
  • Muse
  • Two worst LOST episodes

  • Jack has a tattoo.
  • Sawyer goes to Hydra Island and meets a clone of Tina Fey.
  • 53 Cars Towed From UCF During Glenn Beck Event
    Theme park highlights challenges facing dwarfs
    Man cites boredom after arrest on streaking charge

    tagged as lists | permalink | 4 comments

    Monday, April 01, 2013

    Weekend Wrap-up

    I spent much of the weekend writing open source software, which is much like my day job but with far less money involved. In total, I probably spent 24 hours over the course of three days writing code while listening to the Jazz Funk Pandora station.

    On Friday night, we watched the Director's Cut of Amadeus, which Rebecca had never seen and I hadn't watched in years, over a meal of Chipotle. During the night, I was awoken around 3:24 AM by a return of the ghost raccoons that previously visited in 2010 and 2005. It was not raining, and the visit only lasted about 6 minutes, but things were definitely scampering all over the roof above the bedroom.

    On Saturday evening, we took a shopping jaunt to the Cranston area, in search of tomato plants and ergonomic chairs, followed by dinner at Delmarva's Tap Room and Southern Cafe, which takes the place of the long-expired Ted's Montana Grill. The burger was tasty and they had a nice variety of craft beers, although it still felt like they were working out kinks in the logistics.

    We had Easter lunch/dinner with the Taylorstown branch of Rebecca's family, and then decorated and quartered a bunny cake that looked like a Donnie Darko rabbit until we had filled in the eyes and mouth.

    How was your weekend?

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

    Tuesday, April 01, 2014

    Random Chart Day: 2013 Finances

    Chart Notes

    • The Income spikes coincide with long months that have 3 pay days, or bonuses, or both.

    • The Income line does not include the billions made by Rebecca in her PTA job.

    • On average, our mortgage is 19% of our Income and 35% of our Expenses.

    • There is no Y-axis, because this preserves the mystery of whether we would be viable kidnapping targets on our next trip to Mexico.

    • Currently seeking suggestions for what to do with our pure unadulterated profit.

    tagged as data | permalink | 1 comment

    Wednesday, April 01, 2015

    Memory Day: First Day in London

    This horribly overexposed photo (unless I used to be white), was taken seven years ago today, on April 1, 2008. We had just arrived in London for our big European Vacation, and spent most of the evening walking everywhere around Trafalgar Square. By the time we were hungry, it was 9 PM and too late for most places to still be serving food (the polar opposite of what we discovered in Spain).

    We ended up in the nonsensically-named "Lord Moon of the Mall" pub, where the food was bland and the Coors Light was just slightly cheaper than Guinness. I ate a cottage pie with my obligatory Guinness, and Rebecca had a sausage mash with a Festival Sampler Ale that was "nutty and good". The mash was too heavy for hippie Rebecca though, so we returned to the Jubilee Bed and Breakfast so she could sleep it off.

    I remember all of this because of the notes in my official world traveler Moleskine notebook, seen on the table next to the malt vinegar. It's filled with shorthand, cryptic notes because I didn't want to spend more time writing than experiencing, and now I understand very little of it.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

    Friday, April 01, 2016

    April Fool's Day

    I'm busy traveling around the world today convincing foreigners that I have a pregnant identical twin. Blog updates will resume on Monday.

    Happy 16th birthday to Augmented Fourth and 6th birthday to DDMSence!

    permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, April 01, 2019

    List Day: Currently...

    • Currently listening to... Two Degrees by Illy.

    • Currently reading... Complex Enterprise Architecture by John D. McDowall.

    • Currently playing... no games in progress.

    • Currently composing... nothing in over 7 years aside from baby jingles.

    • Currently considering buying... a screened porch in the coming years to replace our aging deck.

    • Currently coding... minor script updates to support the next 3 years of AWS hosting for the URI! Zone.

    • Currently planning... to get the roof replaced in the next 2 months.

    • Currently learning... nothing new.

    • Currently watching... Sharp Objects and Secret City: Under the Eagle.

    • Currently anticipating... a restart of periodic poker games.

    • Currently exercising... about one and a half hours per week.

    • Currently weighing... 140 pounds.

    This update was sponsored in part by LiveJournal.

    tagged as lists | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, April 01, 2020

    Augmented Fourth: 20th Anniversary Day

    Twenty years ago today, on April 1, 2000, I released my text adventure game, Augmented Fourth. After an awful trumpet audition before King Goosen of Papoosen, you're cast into Orchestra Pit where you discover a peculiar community living in a dormant volcano.

    Since everyone loves round-number anniversaries, I have released an updated version of the game today:

    • Updated cover art.
    • Added a 20th Anniversary Retrospective to the HELP system.
    • Updated one puzzle to reduce the amount of unnecessary NPC cruelty required to win.
    • Adjusted various room exits for better map geometry.
    • Added a few more gentle hints to various obtuse puzzles.
    • Fixed text parser disambiguation issues and minor bugs reported by recent players.
    • Cleaned up source code formatting.

    You can sample the game online with Parchment. If you want to be able to save your progress, you'll need to download the game file and an interpreter to your computer.

    Hope you enjoy it during your self-quarantine doldrums!

    tagged as games | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, April 01, 2022

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    West Side Story (2021):
    It's been over 30 years since I last watched the original movie version of West Side Story (in the last days of 8th grade band following an awful Spring Concert medley of the songs), so I had no expectations going in. I enjoyed this remake, especially how traditional it all feels. From the color saturation to the heavy use of choreography, the movie doesn't try too hard at modernizing any particular facet. Minor faults: I got pretty tired of the sideways lens flares that busy up every shot, and felt like the motivations of the main characters in the build-up to the final scenes could have been explored more. On Disney+.

    Final Grade: B

    Jimmy O. Yang: Good Deal:
    This stand-up special from an actor mainly known for his supporting role on Silicon Valley was moderately funny. A few solid laughs and pleasant stories, although there was a little too much emphasis on jokes about being Asian. On Amazon Prime.

    Final Grade: B-

    Draftosaurus:
    This board game requires players to select and arrange different dinosaurs in a theme park while discarding the rest of their dinosaurs to other players. It moves very quickly and is easy to understand. However, it doesn't feel deep enough to warrant too many replays.

    Final Grade: B-

    Willow:
    I watched this movie ad nauseum as a kid and recently noticed that it was available on Disney+. It holds up pretty well, with charming special effects and comic relief. The whole of the story doesn't make as much sense anymore but it remains a fun, nostalgic journey. On Disney+.

    Final Grade: B

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

     

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