This Day In History: 10/09

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

I'm listening to Prokofiev's third Piano Concerto, and I have to say that I really like it. Of course, I'm biased because I listen to a lot of PRKF, but it really is an attractive, little package. Weighing in at just under a half-hour, it's got that characteristic Prokofiev charm, and hints at some American jazz influences.

Today's modal counterpoint presentation went off without a hitch, and there's no doubt that we wowed the screaming fans with our period rendition of Zarlino's counterpoint example on trumpet and steel drum. I expect the recording contract to arrive any day now.

I just picked up a library CD of Henry Mancini arrangements. What makes it unique is that it contains special arrangements of pop tunes from the eighties, like Thriller, Material Girl, and Every Breath You Take, performed by the "Royal Philharmonic Pops Orchestra" and conducted by him. The arrangements have the expected level of Mancini polish, but the orchestra just sounds stereotypically "white", the way the Boston Pops probably sounded at its inception. The things they tried in the eighties...

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Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Part II of V

Inspector Javert: In my opinion, Javert is more crucial to the success of this musical than Valjean. You can't have a game of cat and mouse without a compelling cat; try imagining The Fugitive with Keanu Reeves in Tommy Lee Jones' role. With this in mind, there is no doubt that the best Javert actor is Philip Quast (C, T), whose voice and demeanor illustrate the character's obsession with the letter of the law over the intent of the law. Some of the most compelling scenes on the recordings are the result of Quast's exceptional work showing Javert's conflict between anger and remorse. Terrance Mann (B) is good enough, but his delivery is weak, and he often sounds like he's reciting nursery rhymes.

    Terrance Mann, Broadway (MP3, 703KB)
    Philip Quast, Complete (MP3, 716KB)

Thenardiér: All three actors do a decent job with the character, but the addition of a Cockney accent really adds a lot. Leo Burmester (B) does a good job portraying the comic side of Thenardiér, but doesn't sound dangerous at all. Alun Armstrong (T) is a little better, but has some annoying mannerisms when it comes to placing the notes against the accompaniment. Finally, Barry James (C) really nails the character perfectly. His voice sounds both sinister and sneaky, but is light enough to handle Master of the House as well. He may not be the best singer of the three, but he's perfect in the role.

    Leo Burmester, Broadway (MP3, 579KB)
    Barry James, Complete (MP3, 513KB)
    Alun Armstrong, Tenth Anniversary (MP3, 569KB)

Madame Thenardiér: This is not a major character by any means, and she's more of an offshoot of her husband than anything else. Jenny Galloway (T) gives the most believable performance, while Gay Soper (C) gives the most interesting one. Gay essentially turns her into a cartoon caricature, but in this case, it works out pretty well. The Broadway version is okay, but is hurt by the absence of an exotic accent.

    Madame Thenardiér, Broadway (MP3, 224KB)
    Gay Soper, Complete (MP3, 236KB)
    Jenny Galloway, Tenth Anniversary (MP3, 241KB)

To be continued...

The US government was quick to link the Kuwaiti attacks to al Qaeda. Anything that makes the faceless Middle East villainous to the common folk is newsworthy. No doubt before long, we'll find a Tarot card from the Montgomery County Sniper with 'I am Osama' written on the back of it.

Happy Birthday Mike!

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Thursday, October 09, 2003

The problem with owning a cat is that sometimes you can't tell whether you have a virus or someone just sat on the keyboard all night long.

Happy Birthday Mike!

CD Protection trumped by Shift key
Ghettopoly
Driver confuses pedestrian with matador
Dog starts fire
Super Secret Penguins

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Holiday Trifecta


Happy Birthday Mike Catania!


This is Mike and his brother discovering a new world.


They then trapped and ate a turkey vulture to give thanks for Canadian people everywhere.

Mom made son plant drugs on enemy's son
Do big breasts lead to paradise?
Spider murders teens

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Birth Day

Mike (of Mike and Chompy, and sometimes Jamie) was a fellow composing grad student at Florida State, arriving from an "I just graduated but don't want to enter the real world yet" background like me (unlike the vast "I was in the real world and hated in so now I'm fleeing and sacrificing my salary in the process" populace). In our first semester we had 16th Century Counterpoint and Pedagogy of Music Theory I together -- two-thirds of my total courseload since grad school, as everyone knows, is HARD AND RIDICULOUSLY TIME-CONSUMING OMG.

I didn't really hang out with Mike until October of 2001, because I am an introvert and new people kind of suck. I remember liking some piano piece of his on the October 5th Composers' Concert, back in the halcyon days when this web site was nothing but a politically correct music travelogue with all the personality of Kanye West reading a teleprompter.

Following that concert, a musical gang consisting of Jim Barry, Dimetra, Allen Scott, Mark Connor, Mike Catania, Angela Oh, Kitty Steetle, and Kathy Biddick went to a local bar (it may have been the Irish one) for drinks, and I decided to tag along. From there, we went back to Mike's apartment before it had a pool table, new strains of life growing in the sink, more clutter than the hoarding lady with 400 cats, and a futon with AIDS. In fact, it was so boring that we immediately left for the Waffle House at 2 in the morning.

The next time Mike and I crossed paths was on Monday the 8th, when we did a joint presentation of a Zarlino work in Counterpoint class by playing it on trumpet and steel drums. He liked my font.

Mike celebrated his 22nd birthday with lunch at The Loop with Kathy and me, where I ordered a side of fries, and we spent three hours working on a crossword puzzle because there was nothing else to do in Tallahassee (we also called up Kathy's friend, Julie, in North Carolina to get one of the wildlife-related puzzle answers).

From that point on, we spent pretty much every non-educational moment hanging out at Mike's place where we painted crappy art , carried a pool table up three flights and built it with Keely's levels, made fun of Alex, bought a dog named Ginger who chewed on everything and was rechristened as Chompy, and played lots of Scrabble, Monopoly, and Super Smash Brothers.

Happy 28th Birthday to Mike Catania!

Vick passes 'rigorous' be-nice-to-animals test
Gang punches hole in Monet
Bush makes a lot of decisions

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Capsule Review Day

Iron Man:
I'm usually not a big fan of superhero movies -- most examples of this genre require you to have a pre-existing knowledge of the story from comic books and are packed with lamely ridiculous special effects and character development (It's clobberin' time!). However, I liked Iron Man a lot, even though (as a "superhero origin" story) it ended just as it was getting started. It felt more like a good movie with superhero elements than a good superhero movie, which is just fine in my book. I also liked the literal quotation of "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath in the end credits.

Final Grade: A

Baby Mama:
Predictable, with a couple big laughs as high points in an otherwise low-key affair. Tina Fey is always fun to watch, but Amy Poehler is nearly as annoying as Amy Sedaris in Strangers with Candy. Catch this one on Bravo the next time you're stuck at home with the flu.

Final Grade: C-

Forgetting Sarah Marshall:
This Judd Apatow production was not quite as good as the hype, but still worth watching, and occasionally hilarious. Jason Segel plays the same schlubby kind of guy he plays in all Apatow movies and shows, and Mila Kunis (from That 70s Show) and Kristen Bell take on the roles of competing love interests. It's a little disconcerting to see Kristen Bell and NOT think she's in high school after watching Veronica Mars -- especially in the obligatory Apatow montages where she humps a rock star.

Final Grade: B+

Complete and Utter Failure by Neil Steinberg:
This is the book I've been reading recently instead of studying for Java Certification exams. It's been out of print for years, but after hearing it mentioned in a Bathroom Reader article, I picked it up for a penny on Amazon Marketplace (plus eight million dollars in shipping). I expected a standard bullet-by-bullet list of failures and flops like the endless waves of Weird News and Dumb Criminal books that come out every year. Instead, I was surprised to find that it was an actual narrative, with the author humourously tying the stories of historical flops into his own life story. Among other topics, he talks about how the National Spelling Bee makes one winner and eight million losers, the people who DIDN'T climb Mount Everest first, and Elisha Gray's failure to get credit for the telephone. This is an easy and enjoyable read, perfect for anyone who wants to mix a little nonfiction into their appetite of crime thrillers without getting too serious.

Final Grade: A

Happy Birthday Mike!

Buy this dad a beer
Cartoon SUV might be copyright infringement
An equitable division of assets

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Our last sunset at the Sheraton Resort before leaving for the Kapa'a Sands Resort.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Composing Spotlight: Labyrinth

Movement IX. Egress

Concluding the walkthrough of my Master's Thesis...

I enjoy ending pieces with lots of flash and finality, and intentionally went in the other direction to close out the final movement of Labyrinth. In this case, I started with the original melody from the first movement:

Like a devil-worshipping 60s band, I then flipped the notes around and played it backwards to create the closing melody:

In spite of the "falling through the movements" feeling I captured, and the meandering nature of the thematic content, the piece is actually very symmetrical, opening and closing in the same place, and allotting similar time slices to the beginning movements as the end movements. This high-level design isn't really noticeable to a listener, but hopefully makes the sum of the movements more satisfying.

    Listen to the ninth movement (0:58 MP3)

After three months of score editing and proofreading, I defended my thesis on 3/3/03 at 3 PM, although it was more of a rubber-stamping than a spirited debate. I then moved back to Virginia and put my music masters degee to work writing service-oriented architectures for the DoD.

Jump to Movement: I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Memory Day: Snapshots

Three years ago today, on October 9, 2010, we were in New Hampshire, celebrating the 31st birthday of Mike (of Mike and Chompy). Happy Birthday!

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Philips Norelco BT5275/41 5100 Beard Trimmer:
I got this as a replacement for the trimmer with the awful battery life last month and so far it works well. The original charge has persisted all month long and the motor always seems like it has a maximum charge, eliminating worries that the cut will be uneven. There are a few nice touch-up /detailing features as well.

Final Grade: B+

FitBit One:
This little device tracks the number of steps and distance you travel in a day. (It also tracks sleep patterns, but I never used that). I got Rebecca one for Christmas last year, and she returned the favour for my birthday. For the first month, it definitely got me more interested in walking, and the dashboard of daily activity was fun if awkward to navigate. I was taking about 8000 to 12000 steps per day until last weekend when I lost it in the woods. I'll probably wait a bit on the slim possibility that it turns up in a bag or in the car and then get a new one as a replacement. One negative: The rubber tab that clips the case to your clothes eventually fell off of Rebecca's, and online reviews show that this is a very common occurrence -- replacement cases are needlessly expensive too.

Final Grade: B

Gloom:
This storytelling card game has you inventing morose tales about your own fictional family while trying to brighten the days of your opponents' families, with the goal of ending with the most depressed, deceased family on the board. The storytelling aspect is incorporated as much or as little as you'd like, but the games get more interesting when everyone gets a little creative. Overall, this is a fun game for 2-4 players, and the artistic style of the see-through cards and whimsical card texts add to the ambience. Games can run a little long with more players, so I would recommend cutting family sizes down to 4 (from 5) if you play with many indecisive people.

Final Grade: B+

Raven Locks Act 2 by Dirt Poor Robins:
This new album acts as a sequel to Raven Locks Act 1, with a third act to follow in the future. It stands alone well, but also deepens my appreciation for the first album, with shared motivic material and a similar style. The quality of the songs here actually bleeds more towards musical theater than alternative rock, with upbeat tongue-in-cheek songs like Anthem of the Seaward Suffragettes.

Final Grade: A-

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Friday, October 09, 2015

Off to Blacksburg!

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Monday, October 09, 2017

New Job FAQ

As I mentioned in last month's Highlights post, I got an interesting job offer from my old company last month. Since I've now accepted it (and start tomorrow), here are a few FAQs to describe what's going on.

What's this new job you're starting?

I will be a Solutions Architect, which is essentially what I was doing in 2015 - 2016 but with a fancy title. I'll provide technical writing and reviewing skills on proposals and whitepapers in the hopes of winning new government work for the company, and will distill complex concepts into understandable chunks for audiences of varying technical levels. There will be no software development involved (but I could go back to it in the future).

The key portion of this job is that I'll be classified as an hourly part-time employee who is allowed to work as few or as many hours as necessary each pay period. Based on my baby responsibilities and the amount of work available (proposal work generally ebbs and flows), I might surge one week or go a few weeks with no work at all. I'll probably end up averaging around 18 hours per week (with 1 morning in the Tysons Corner office and the rest from home). Rebecca is still our family's medical insurance breadwinner, but I can also negotiate to go over 30 hours someday if I ever need to qualify for medical insurance again.

In addition, the hourly rate is not too shabby, and I get to work for the two bosses that I enjoyed working with most in my previous tenure.

Didn't you just decide to be a Stay-At-Home-Dad?

Yes, and I still am, mostly! The new job is more flexible than I was in 1989, and is very compatible with my desire to be a SAHD. I will still be taking good care of Maia throughout the week while Rebecca is at work or getting some self-care time at yoga. Plus, I'm pretty sure that it will be much easier to write and review prose with a distracting child than it would be to write working software.

Did this new job have anything to do with you leaving your last job?

No, I intentionally kept the two positions discrete from each other. I left the old job to be a SAHD (because the "startup" lifestyle is not conducive to placing family first). I selected the new job because it was compatible with SAHDing.

Do you regret leaving last year since you're just going back now?

No. I loved the people I worked with and the work I did. The reasons I left were (1) I was getting pushed towards a non-software proposal-writing role but wasn't quite ready to stop writing code, (2) I was unsure about how my code-writing skills were faring, and (3) I wanted to make sure that I could survive and thrive in an environment where I didn't already have an established reputation for getting stuff done (or in other words, "was this guy at the same company for 17 years because he couldn't cut it anywhere else, or because both he and the company had a good thing going?").

I feel like I was exactly where I needed to be on my 10 month break -- I proved that I could still write code and get stuff done, and I can now more easily embrace a proposal-writing role knowing that I won't be permanently shutting the door on my coding skills.

Have any other questions? Ask me in the comments section!

tagged as deep thoughts, day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Montreal Day

For our tenth anniversary, we doubled the big blind by heading north to our second-favourite Canadian city, Montreal. We last visited here in July 2012 when the city was burgeoning with music festivals simply because the Montreal natives were happy to be outside with no frostbite imminent.

Montreal is a highly accessible vacation destination, with direct 1.5 hour flights from VA airports and an efficient subway and bus system. There's just enough French to feel exotic, but everyone speaks perfect English and all signs are in both languages. The only big change from our previous trip was the city-wide revitalization project which detoured our airport bus through Nunavut and closed entire city blocks for sewer and street repairs.

We flew in on Saturday around 1 and reached Hotel Le Dauphin by 3. We spent the afternoon trekking aimlessly through the city, as we are wont to do, and Rebecca bought a warm hat to protect her from the 50 degree temperatures at a kiosk in Chinatown. (The pom pom on top fell out in less than 24 hours). In the evening, we had dinner at a local Ramen restaurant where the chefs were rolling out massive lengths of dough to the delight of every single passerby with a smartphone. The night's entertainment was a three-arrangement contemporary dance show by the Ballets Jazz de Montreal (we went on a whim after finding no music festivals in progress). The dances were impressive although we have been spoiled by Cirque du Soleil and expected more acrobats and death-defiance.

On Sunday, we navigated (by subway and bus) to the top of Mont Royal, Montreal's local mountain. It's less than 1000 feet tall, but apparently people get offended if you call it a hill. We walked the well-maintained trails with the locals and enjoyed the view from the Chalet.

After lunch crepes, we wandered Old Montreal in search of cathedrals, art galleries, and other diversions. Dinner was at Modavie, a mildly-upclass restaurant with great food and ambience. We ate deer osso buco and steak tartare while listening to unannoying jazz performed by a guitar and keyboard duo.

On Monday, our last day, we hit the Redpath Museum on the campus of McGill University, an eclectic collection of oddities donated over the years. We then wondered if we could pass as college students anymore (perhaps if I got some thicker-framed glasses and hipster jeans). After a lunch of more noodles (Rebecca had a cold and this was the cure), we made it back to the airport for some last-minute poutine and returned to Virginia around 10 PM.

Meanwhile, Maia had fun with her new Knuffle Bunny.

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

Friday, October 09, 2020

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Schitt's Creek, Season One:
I started watching this comedy from Eugene and Dan Levy based on the number of Emmies the final, sixth season received. It's pleasant enough but starts to feel a little one-note by the end. Still, it was over quickly and piqued my interest enough to start the next season. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

I Love Beirut by Mika:
This live fundraising concert actually turned out to be a pre-recorded invitation-link-only concert, but this format allowed for a much more interesting 90 minutes, with plenty of guest performances and videos. A few songs had mixing or sync issues. A little sappy overall, but it comes for a good place, and it's always fun to watch Mika perform.

Final Grade: B

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh:
The long-delayed sequel to Hyperbole and a Half is not quite as good. The balance between seriousness and silliness is less effective, with a couple super serious chapters mixed into many more absurd ones. At 500 pages, it's a very heavy tome, but you'll zoom through it to enjoy all of the unique MSPaint art (whose style has noticeably evolved since the first book).

Final Grade: B

The Good Place, Season Four:
The third season of this show was the weakest, but the final, fourth season wraps everything up perfectly. There's a flurry of great episodes in the latter half of the season (with plenty of great guest star appearances), and each character gets the ending that fits. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A

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