This Day In History: 11/27

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

So on January 1, 2002, Florida State will play Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville (thanks to Mark for the word on the street). Number 13 plays an unranked team just two years after going for the National Title in the Sugar Bowl. From my position, the inherent irony oozes out like filling from a trampled Ho-Ho. Actually, one of my friends back home noticed that Virginia Tech started losing after I graduated, and Florida State started losing after I moved here. I must be Tech's secret weapon. I'm in the process now of arranging ticket sales with my old Tech brethren, but as always these things move too fast. Tickets go on sale today at Tech and will probably be sold out by tonight.

Eight days until the next Masters' listening exam. I've studied forty-seven works to the point of at least tentative recognition and have eighty-two to go. Good thing they offer it more than once...

I was sorting through my MP3s yesterday and found a recording I'd forgotten about. It's the demo track of a friend from Virginia Tech named Jason Chrisley. He was a music ed major and trumpet player, although he wasn't so great at the latter. After placing in some statewide karaoke competition, he abandoned his music degree to sing country music in Nashville or somesuch. Although the backup singers they gave him on this tape sound like retarded Muppets, you can tell that he really does have a good country singing voice. Here's an MP3 excerpt, if you're into country music or local success stories (750K).

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Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Gone fishin'.

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Thursday, November 27, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving!

Scout leader shows how not to light a fire
Gravity doesn't like the KKK
Bush destroys the royal garden
Crazy man on a bulldozer

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Monday, November 27, 2006

List Day: Ten Things I Learned Over the Break

  1. If you wait three years to buy the Indiana Jones boxed-set, the price drops from $90 to $30.

  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom did not age very well. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is still top-notch.

  3. Refactoring code is a fun pastime.

  4. Metroid Prime 2 is still more annoying than fun. You don't make a game involving copious exploration and then put time limits on how long you can explore the dangerous bits before you die. Boss monsters should also not respawn after save your game.

  5. Virgina Tech is still capable of shutting out UVA, 17-0.

  6. Costco doesn't have their little seafood kiosk after Thanksgiving. From now on, I'm going to make bacon-wrapped bacon.

  7. You can get a Bacon, Egg, and Cheese breakfast with an extra hash brown at McDonald's for $5.11. However, you can get a Bacon, Egg, and Cheese breakfast with TWO extra hash browns for $5.12 because of the Dollar Menu. This is why America is collectively fat.

  8. Mashed potatoes made with a hint sour cream are tasty. Black olives are tasty too, but probably not mixed with the mashed potatoes.

  9. If your house has a smart-heating system that shuts off after you go to work, but one day you decide not to go to work, it will be rather chilly when you finally wake up.

  10. Wii merchandise may be sold out everywhere, but you can still find plenty of copies of HANNAH MONTANA for the Gameboy DS. Miley Stewart is living a double life as a teen pop sensation known to millions as Hannah Montana. Her best friend Lilly is the only one who knows the truth -- or so she thinks. Someone is threatening to reveal Hannah's secret! Miley and Lilly investigate their school, the boardwalk, stadium and the beach to uncover clues. Help solve the mystery and keep Hannah Montana's true identity secret so the show can go on!

Happy Birthday Susan Wollersheim!

Monk chops off penis because it was distracting him
Woman killed by bookcase
Washing hands prevents stab wounds

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Museday Tuesday

in which I have thirty minutes to write a thirty second song

Chirk: (v.) to make a shrill chirping sound; to cheer up

My Composition (0:30 MP3)
Old Musedays:
Sidelong
Moodily
Obnoxiously
Obsessively
Spikiest
Leggier
Carsick
Dinkiest
Reclusive
Trifid
Frowzy
Trampled
Surefooted
Gamy
Chichi

For this Museday word, I pictured a plethora of Disney wildlife creatures flying out of the forest to cheer up the scullery boy / princess / orphan / cancer patient.



The Elite Costco Shopper
Announcer sacked over spoof messages
The Fragmentation of American Music

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Music Tuesday: Spectralism and Other Gimmicks

Mike (of Mike and Chompy) came out for a visit a couple weeks back and mentioned his interest in going back to school for a music composition Ph.D. When asked what sort of musical fads were getting all of the youngsters excited these days, he described spectralism, which is a compositional style based on sonographic representations and mathematical analysis of sound spectra, where timbre is the most important element.

In order to become an overnight expert in spectralism, I used Google to find a page with three or four songs embedded, including Lichtbogen by Saariaho, and listened to them multiple times without judgement. What I found was that I still probably wouldn't do very well in a doctoral composition program because I can't commit to taking music like this seriously.

My musical language is happily stuck in the early twentieth century with a little bit of jazz mixed in, and unlike my professor who listened to Schoenberg as dinner music, I will never set the mood with a fine bottle of wine and Ligeti's Continuum. My main issue is that most contemporary gimmicks of composition are self-serving and don't speak to the general populace. Music needs to be a dialog to be successful, and music like this is more of a one-way prepared speech in a foreign language (unless you mix it together with visual elements).

Composers will argue that the listener's experience needs to be broadened to increase the acceptable range of weirdness, which is true, but that's really just raising the barrier of entry. Yes, I might enjoy your song a little bit after hearing four others like it and understanding the structure of the piece, but life is short and I have no reason to do so when other composers can connect with me directly using my current limitations. Composers should be challenging the listener without leaving them behind.

Really, the only purpose that contemporary academic music should serve is to broaden the musical palette of composers. Young composers should be forced to write in all manner of weird styles to get the mechanics right and build the biggest compositional toolbox possible. Then, they should use the tools sparingly in their work, and only when it serves a purpose. An entire piece written with spectralism is just as bad as writing a TV drama with a plot twist every four minutes, or one where every scene starts with "Forty Eight Hours Ago..."

Unfortunately, you end up with a positive feedback loop where academics spend more time listening to weird music and build up a heroin-tolerance to weirdness. Then, their students feel like they have to write weird music to be successful academically, and you end up with a whole pile of music that becomes increasingly irrelevant to mainstream listeners. And let's be honest: most performers are not going to want to play this weird music either. All of these hopeful composers will fail at composing in the real world because their music doesn't connect with performers OR listeners, and they'll end up teaching composition at a university, perpetuating the cycle.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stuff in My Drawers Day

Cartoon sketches from the notebook I took to Boy Scouts, circa 1994.

That T-Rex is super excited about fake butter.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Overwatch Highlights Day

I haven't done much video editing work since Microsoft killed Windows Movie Maker (and I don't have the PhD or patience necessary to learn Adobe Premiere). However, I recently discovered Shotcut for lightweight movie editing and finally put together a highlights reel of all of the Overwatch Plays of the Game I'd amassed over the past couple years. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

We may have done these holidays in the wrong order.

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