November went by far too quickly and now it's time to drag out the Christmas decorations again. I hope everyone had a good vacational weekend and did more than play Monopoly all day long. I've made a few minor updates throughout the site, most of them too minor to notice (so minor they're diminished! LOLZ). I finished a new report for www.battlereports.com that's already gotten a gold and this time you get two games for the price of one. There's a few new pictures up on the Photos page as well.
The last day of classes is December 6, and I'll be driving back to Virginia early on Thursday the 12th. On the composition side of things, I'm hoping to finish at least one more movement before I leave town.
I really need to update that mug shot below, since it's almost a year out of date and doesn't show off my rippling muscles. Usually my backlog of old news hides it.
Michael Vick ran 48 yards for a touchdown in Overtime yesterday during the Falcons-Viking game . He might not be the brightest guy in the world, but he sure does have the instinct for finding holes.
This morning after my alarm went off at its normal 7:00 setting, I had an incredibly clear dream that involved eating breakfast, composing, going to class, getting back a quiz, and then teaching. After a full session of teaching, I was walking home when I woke up to see that it was 9:55. So as a result, I missed the first class of my graduate career, and ironically, the second to last class I'll ever have. The details of the dream were incredibly accurate to a normal Monday schedule, and were probably the reason that I didn't wake up shortly afterwards like normal. Looking back, the only detail out of place was that I was teaching my class vector geometry instead of music fundamentals. What the hell?
To break the monotony of soup and sandwiches at lunchtime today, I had a can of Chef Boyardee's Macaroni and Cheese. It was horrible, but slightly good in a way that only cheap canned pasta can be. There used to be another brand of canned macaroni I devoured as a kid that came in a bright yellow can. The company was too cheap to actually make macaroni, so you'd get one long noodle in a plasticine goop of cheese that you'd have to cut up on your own.
The latest CD burning software has the ability to encode track and artist information onto a CD. It was pretty neat to put a new burned CD into my player (which is about two years old) and see the name of the song scroll across the front panel. For computer CD players like WinAMP, online track databases have been standard for years now. If you insert a commercial CD, the online database gets pinged for all the track information you desire. Of course it still isn't infallible and won't do well with custom CDs -- I inserted a teacher-burned CD of some final exam music (a Haydn string quartet), and the online database diligently told me it was "Schism" by Tool.
I finally got around to a much needed haircut this morning.
Thesis composition is going slower than expected, though now it's a matter of knowing what needs to be expressed and not knowing how best to put it to paper, rather than having a dearth of ideas. My major obstacles are placement, timing, and order right now -- I know what materials I'll be using for the last four movements.
The problem with composition is that, unlike other fields, you can't step away for a while to resolve a lingering problem. In another field, the time away can subconsciously bring about a result, but in composition you've got to keep plugging away without break or else you'll just distance yourself further away from the solution. The blind alleys and wrong passages you write are necessary to getting the right answer. If only it could be like a brain teaser, where you go away and think about it for a few days, then suddenly come up with the perfect solution.
It's the last day of classes at FSU. My semester went out with a whimper, since the classes I taught on Wednesday and Friday were optional question-answer periods. I have to give and take an exam next Monday and Wednesday, and then I'll be on the road on Thursday.
When was it clearly apparent that Michael Jackson retained no hold on sanity?
Feel free to answer by e-mail. I may post particularly interesting replies.
At the end of this past week I did some more rearranging in my apartment, although the placement of the air-conditioner prevents any crazy changes. I sacrificed the faux surround sound setup I had in the bedroom and put the two rear speakers on the endtables in the living room. Now I can listen to music from the computer, CD player, or record player in the living room without blaring.
Virginia Tech lost to Miami 56-45 in a crazy game that played like a textbook of examples of fumbles, interceptions, and key plays. It would have been interesting to have a #14 team beat a #1 team, just to see the resultant effect on the BCS rankings, which have never had to deal with a slew of defeated top teams.
I wrote about a minute and a half of keepable material this weekend, so I should finish my sixth movement tomorrow or Tuesday. On the downside, I've been working on this section so closely that the blasted motive is stuck in my head. Ostensibly I'd like to get a good chunk of the seventh movement done before I leave since it will only be about half a minute long. I'll post another MP3 of the work in progress on Wednesday.
My long term goals are to finish the eighth movement the weekend before Christmas and the ninth movement before New Years'. That will give me the month of January to edit the score with an aim for a late February defense. If things go accordingly, I'll be done with my Masters' by Spring Break. So keep me on task if I'm not composing.
We had another basketball practice yesterday, and it looks like the games will be a fun diversion from my normal state of non-exercise. I do wish we had some say in the name though; Diminished Five sounds like we're horribly crippled, either mentally or physically.
Virginia Tech is going to be playing Air Force at the "Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl" in San Francisco. What the hell? When I've become independently wealthy from the ad revenues on this site, I'm going to host the URI! Bowl at some sufficiently apropos location, like BU or the University of Rhode Island.
There was a good steel drum concert last night. If you missed it, you undoubtably missed the last opportunity to instill hope in your drab, wretched life.
A burst of activity hit the SCI listserv this past week, resulting from this semiliterate troll:
In the spirit of ridiculous listservs, I thought I'd post highlights from the Dave McGarry flame war on the VT Music listserv in 2000. A former student, Dave faked a recital announcement and then used the listserv for an April Fools' joke that culminated in a shameless plug for his music. This is only a small sampling of the billions of posts that resulted.
Carly: hey, you are more full of it than any other human being i have ever known, but you make me laugh. have fun in "prison" and maybe i'll see you sometime next year.
Linda: Please stop sending around messages that have nothing to do with our lives as music majors. I'm sure you think it is very amusing, but everytime this happens, that's one more extra junk email that we have to deal with. The list serve was started as a service to help us find out about important events in the music department, not to use as a joke. Please take it more seriously.
Ryan W: I agree, it reminds me of the time I went to see a movie at a movie theater. You know in Europe they spell it Theatre, but that's a different subject. Well, I was sitting there watching the movie. It was ok, but the theater/theatre seats sucked. They were coated in some sort of vinyl material. That vinyl inhibits any sort of moisture evaporation. So what ends up happening is some sort of Hiney Oriented Greenhouse Effect. The moisture just hovers around that area creating condensation. To make ashort story long... it kind of sucks, just like having to read people's messages about how they don't like having an extra piece of "junk" e-mail when in effect, now I have 2 "junk" pieces of e-mail.
Tim: Hey...I totally agree with Linda and Ryan about the junk e-mail thing. Props to Ryan on the greenhouse effect exposé! BOO-YAH!! I felt so alone about my greenhouse effect problem until Ryan's touching e-mail. Thanks for your truly inspiring story!
Dave: For those who'll listen: Here is a startling testimonial of my own design. (MP3, 2.8MB). Write back if you like it... heh
Dave: Due to an overwhelming demand I've set up a mirror site so you all can download my Mexican mp3 file faster. Thanks- I love you guys.
Ryan H: THE PURPOSE OF THE MUSIC MAJOR LISTSERV IS FOR IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS THAT PERTAIN TO MUSIC MAJORS. AS COLLEGE STUDENTS, I'M TRUSTING EVERYONE READING THIS ACTUALLY HAS ENOUGH INTELLIGENCE TO KNOW WHAT AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT IS. THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE ABOUT IRRELEVANT TOPICS. THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE POINTLESS INFORMATION THAT A MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE ON THE LISTSERV DO NOT CARE ABOUT. IF YOU HAVE THE URGE TO WASTE TIME, PLEASE WASTE YOUR OWN. NO ONE WANTS TO SORT THROUGH POINTLESS EMAILS. IMPROPER USE OF A LISTSERV IS A VIOLATION OF THE ACCEPTABLE USE POLICIES FOR VIRGINIA TECH INFORMATION SYSTEMS, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, ITS A WASTE OF YOUR FELLOW MUSIC MAJORS' TIME. THANK YOU
Sunday afternoon, several music major's schedules were drastically interrupted by a message sent to the music majors listserve. The Message Which reportedly contained ALL CAPITAL LETTERS befuddled many who read it, causing a massive disturbance in their daily practice schedules.
One anonymous Music Major stated: "my afternoon was completely shot, I struggled with the message for several hours before I realized that it contained all capital letters. That's just not something I'm used to."
Christopher Fraker, a student double majoring in math and music performance added: "I lost three hours of practice sitting in the calc lab trying to figure this thing out. I wanted to leave, but I was strangely drawn to the message. I was fixed on it." Fraker concluded that "[it] seems like this whole disaster could have been avoided if the sender had checked his 'caps-lock' key before he hit send. It's quite unfortunate."
At this time it is not known whether the message originated on Virginia Tech's Local LAN, where it would be subject to the acceptable use policy. Of the aftermath, student Jeremy Miller added: "we are left with a vague sense of defeat. It seems like this kind of thing could happen at any time. This kind of reckless abandon cannot be tolerated, these messages are very distracting at this time. Especially since one of our most loved peers is rotting away in a Mexican Prison located just out side of Warez, Mexico.
As a result of Today's email fiasco (which plagued many students of Virginia Tech's Department of Music), student Stephen Oberheu discovered a solution to his email woes.
"I found out that there's this way you can transfer all messages from a certain address or addresses, whereby THOSE MESSAGES are placed in a discreet mailbox. At first I was like, HEY SWEET, but then I was talking to a friend and he said that that's like been around forever. I'm glad I realized it before I sent any embarrasing messages rebuking other list recipients."
Since Mr. Oberheu's discovery, many other list recipients have discovered the "hidden" option in various email clients including EUDORA, Microsoft OUTLOOK, and nearly every other email package on the market.
"It seems like they try to keep this stuff hidden," says Chris "Doobie" Fraker. "it's like that DOOM level that they stuck in Microsoft Excel a few years ago."
Dave: I just want to thank all of you who contributed to our Discussion list today. You have made my first Sunday in prison positively delightul. On a personal note, I'm glad to see that many of you have gone and checked out my songs. Since my original posting several hours ago, there have been 104 ftp connections, many of which were successfully completed. My Little cable modem is going crazy. I say this to bring up the point that quite a few people didn't think my postings were garbage. I encourage you all to listen to the stuff and drop me a line if you get a chance. Think of it as a music review... I REALLY want to know what you think. I wrote all the music, played guitar, and sang, and several other VT music students performed in the recordings (Including: Maureen Fish, Chris Booher, Pete Harmatuk, Jeffrey Crouse, and Steve Oberheu... to name a few). I'll be adding more new songs soon- I have been lucky to gain access to The Warez Prison Recording studio. Well... it's time to go make small rocks out of big rocks.
Anonymous: I'm utterly ashamed that these evil bastards have warped the music major listserv to their own nefarious purposes. Gone are the days when the listserv was used for good and the dissemination of important information. Some people would dissent and say that there has never been an important message here, but I remember many wise witticisms of our noble Department Head and Staff from the Golden Years. Someone should really lay the SMAC down on them.
Dave: I agree. But that Dave McGarry Guy.. you have to admit he's a riot though...He's funny without swearing... well.. without swearing very much ...heh
Calvert: OH MY GOD!!! STOP USING LISTSERVE FOR THIS CRAP!!! it's totally annoying! send it to specific people you want to read it and who you know will WANT to read it. PLEASE???
Jackpot: Don't pop a vein. I like this stuff. It makes my day more amusing. Let's all just kiss and make up.
Dave: Be nice
Dave (reposting to the list an email sent directly to him, in its entirety): I couldn't finish this one.... it made me ill..alright... no more from me ...heh
i particularly enjoyed the anonymous e-mail that said somebody outta lay the SMAC down on this current list-serv upheaval. so, being the rejuvenator of a once active organization here at tech i decided to take the liberty of forwarding all the messages that have been sent this weekend to mr. husser. he deserves a good laugh and some of his precious time wasted too! speaking of wasting time, another duty i thought i should take upon myself is making sure that i waste as much of your time as you have wasted of mine this weekend. this e-mail is the first in the series (8 more to go!). for every e-mail you send to the list-serv i will send one back to you personally (i know you'll love that!) that is of equal importance to your life as your so-called 'prison stories' are to mine. and i may do a few humorous things here on campus that will make me feel good even though you'll never know about them. i may spread rumors like the one about you last year when everyone in your human sexuality class... [4 more pages of virulent insulting that was included in the listserv post] ...
it's sad to think that after leaving tech people can turn out like you have. i do believe that there is a 'nice' dave mcgarry under there somewhere. if you were as carefree about showing your nice side as you are about showing your immature/rude/stupid/annoying side i'm sure you'd lead a much more fulfilling life than you currently are leading. but, luckily, it's not my job to prove that to you b/c as already noted it would be pointless and what would i get out of it? obviously you have some 'issues' you need to take up w/ a professional. i'm angry at anyone who has hurt you to make you act like such an asshole....how can people like that live w/ themselves? so, like i said, for every message you send to the list-serv i will send you a personal reply...it's not a threat; it's a promise. and if you really are in prison (which is becoming more and more of a pleasant thought w/ each e-mail you send out) i hope you get beaten up by some big fat hispanic men who are pissed off that you are hogging the computers. enjoy the rest of your evening and i'm looking forward to wasting your time! hasta luego!
p.s. one almost positive aspect about this fiasco is that w/ each response people make to your e-mails, other music majors get to find out who the assholes in the department are! although, if they are as outgoing and friendly as i am (god, i love my sarcasm!), they uncovered these poor souls earlier in their academic careers!
Skippy: what a bitch......oops.....batch reply.....sorry, list
I, like many others are very concerned that the leadership of SMAC does not properly represent the majority of music majors. Once a strong advocator of SMAC (well not really), I am deeply concerned that our leader has deep rooted and strong aggressions to work out.
I know that our leader feels she is "the rejuvenator of a once active organization here at tech", I think her current e-mail has overshadowed her tireless efforts (I'm assuming she has done something to justify her garish remarks). Many innocent people have been hurt in this communication war and now it seems many music majors are afraid to approach our leader with ideas how to improve our department.
As a personal friend of Dave Mcgarry I thought her comments were inappropriate and cruel and as for her prejudice remarks about homosexuals, well we don't need any law suits taking more money away from the department. Many members of the music industry are homosexual and I feel if our leader feels strong enough to insult them and insinuate that the members of Delta Mu are gay (through comments like "do men","date men", and "d#@$ me") then she can not be neutral enough to properly represent our interests. Obviously there are many more comments in her e-mail that can be disected, but I feel this is enough food-for-thought.
Dave: To those who feel my Aprils fools joke this year was inapporpriate, I'm sorry for wasting your time. I did not intend to hurt anyone's feelings, but I thought a little festive levity might be acceptable.
Shac: Thank-you so much for your apology. You are wise and true.
Jackpot: Actually...I find this all very amusing. Thanks guys.
Michelle: I also find this quite hilarious. thank you for making me laugh.
Dave: Man.. that letter from Jenny ____ scared me. That's why I sent it out to the list...I'm still shaken. She made personal threats to me.
Skippy: truly must apologize for wasting everyone else's time and energy to click on that one button instead of clicking on the other.....as for the content...well...lighten up...practice...do your homework...enjoy college...and quit sweating the little stuff! btw, how do i get removed from this thing anyway?!
(Dave): Very we are grieved to find that our David prisoner has been abusing privledges of the email in our computer science systems. You can be assured that he will be precise and reprimanded firmly. They have moved it to confinment solitary and will receive the rations of a quarter for the two next weeks. It please does not try any correspondence with the prisoner, because this will give rise to the additional punishment. adios, Carlos Marquez Early Watchman, Prison De Warez
mbraid: Dear firstname.lastname@example.org, we in no way intended our comments to sound as if we thought Dave McGarry was a jerk. Quite the contrary, we support Mr. McGarry's attempts to placate guerilla skirimishes in the department.. We were making a "fusishus" reference to the messages from ryan w. and tim (a big time jerk if I've ever met one) which are now not very funny at all, as all this other funny stuff has happened. We apologize to the members of DM for any misunderstanding. We also apologize to jenny ___ for whatever happened to her as a child. I guess we are finding out who the real assholes are, eh?
Although he may be responsible for starting the veritable avalanche of unnecessary electronic mail, it was the responses of other people that ultimately pushed it over the line. Remember, only you can prevent the phenomenon known as "spam". Writing a response to a listserv, whether censuring or annoyed, does nothing but increase the amount of bandwidth wasted. If mail such as the aforementioned "April Fools Warez" saga should reach your in box, the ONLY paths to take are immediate deletion or ultimate enjoyment.
I for one found the original April Fool's joke to be quite amusing and undeniably "McGarrish". Even so, the resulting backlash and humorless nattering was twice as enjoyable in its hypocrisy. For every person who's day was brightened by the Saga, there was another unamused soul sending messages to the listserv, complaining about people sending messages to the listserv.
The listserv was set up to be used by music majors. No other constraints were set upon it. As former students are allowed to traffic the listserv, Dave McGarry did nothing illegal by posting to it. If something is wrong with this, Dave should not be the person smac'ed around. Instead, the more useful approach would be to appeal to the Department Head and have the listserv abolished or moderated, or at the very least, have the damnable reply-to address reverted to the sender, and not the list at large.
Let's all take a moment to bask in the glory of Dave McGarry and the angry mob that's out for his blood (and apparently, his sexuality as well). For they have provided us with some fine entertainment this weekend. Really, don't you feel more popular for having 15 messages instead of the usual 2?
"Yeah, sense of humor."
Tank: Alright!! Enough is enough! Ive gotten 47 emails from you stinkin music majors and Im gettin kinda sick of them. Cut it out.
Ryan W: I agree with mbraid. Tim is a jerk. I feel this way even though he lives with me. He's always going around farting and not cleaning up his dishes. Even right now, I know he's over there in the next bedroom listening to me type this e-mail. Well listen up Tim, old boy, I THINK YOU ARE A JERK. YOU ARE A MORON. YOU SHOP AT WAL-MART AND DON'T EVEN SUPPORT THE TOWN!
Calvert: right on
Matt: Wow, people get so pissed over nothing.... Personally, I liked the pissed off rebuttals better, it reminds me that there are some things in life that have to be taken in perspective. I mean, their just emails -- you see they are addressed from someone you know will send you crap, just erase it, or laugh at the other people who are losing their heads over this. I mean, there really must be something else making people mad than a few missaddressed emails... something about mother, perhaps?
Anonymous: No one wants to hear this crap anymore!!! make your own listserv and go nerd off on your own time!!!!
Jackpot: I don't know..I still find this slightly amusing.
Ryan W: Well I am writing this to apologize to Tim for my uncouth remarks to him about being a jerk. He is not a jerk. Tim Galyen is a real stand-up guy. He is the quintessential gentleman and the pinnacle of manliness. He is a true pillar of our society. And his hands are ever so soft.....JUST KIDDING!
Pip: for the love of god.....take me off this listserve
Skippy: i'm sorry that some people think that i feel the need to be "crass and callow", however, at that moment i did however feel angry and reacted in an inappropriate manner. i make no bones about greatly disliking Jenny ___, publicly or privately, but i do realize that this departments' student forum is no place for my personal remarks. for that, i apologize.
BU: Hi everyone, If you're using Eudora as your e-mail client, there's an easy way to ignore all of these messages. [Cut instructions on Eudora Filters]This works lots better than adding to the messages already on the listserv.
Diego: I totally agree with whoever the f_ck wrote this. I am not, however, afraid to reply with my name attached. I think it was all good for all of 4-5 hours - but please SHUT THE F_CK UP!!!!!!! Dave and Skippy, you're cool dudes - and we talked already - but this is getting really f_cking annoying. I want to thank Brian for educating me on how to remove myself from this shitty ass annoying listserve. God knows I like most of you so please do not take this personally. Get a life and do something better with your damn time then f_cking us over with these emails. I know take my own advice - right? Well who the f_ck would have figured? I did for 48 hours, but I had to say something and speak on behalf of the majority. See ya! P.S. I hope I do not sound like Jenny cuz dude she really sucks!!!
Jackpot: I'm glad that the majority of us are replying for the majority of us.
Anonymous: SMAC is a music major organization? i don't remember voting for anything or anyone ever. it must be a dictatorial system. how can i expect them to represent my opinion if i never had a say in who ran it???
Anonymous: Mock not the SMAC, for the "Left Hand of Delta Omnicron" has an evil reach and prying eyes everywhere. We will hunt you down and do bad things to you.
Anonymous: Personally, i think this whole listserve thing should be abolished. But if that doesn't happen, and i see anymore of these damn flame wars , i swear i'm going to register the whole damn listserve with a porn site. I'm sure that would be a more productive and fun use of this stupid listserve anyway. If y'all aren't going to use this site for actual music related and serious messages, then you might as well just sign up with a normal newsgroup and leave the rest of us out of it. We didn't have any choice about being put on this listserve, so please be considerate of the people on it. Otherwise i will follow through on my threat. --The uNiBomBer. p.s. be glad i didn't decide to just send the entire works of Shakespeare to the listserve unanounced, one word at a time, from entirely different email addresses. That would just have been too much fun!
Jackpot: go for it
Andy: Peers, I've been doing my best not to contribute to this whole situation but I am not a big fan of being threatened by people who think that just because they are on the internet that they are untouchable. Peter ___, I'm referring to you and this anonymous email you tried to send threatening me and the rest of the music majors. As for acceptable use at the University, that only pertains to ListServs that are created for class use. They do not pertain to open forums like this one. Finally, please remember that you are not talking to a box, but in fact you are talking to your fellow music majors, so write wisely.
Peter: Andy and Peers, What makes you think I sent that threatening message? I've been filtering these to the trash since soon after Dave sent his first message. I only found out that you accused me of this when a friend told me about it and forwarded it to me. I'm glad to see I'm so respected by my peers. Thank you so much. As to your other points, per acceptible use of Information Systems, you may not remember a wonderful email sent back in November after the lottery for Sugar Bowl tickets created tons of misuse of such listserves as this one. The email was sent to all people in the entire VT mail system explaining that misuse applies to all University email accounts and to all Virginia Tech network accounts (and of course listed all things that counted as an offense of such). Since I have to make a response to defend my name, I might as well put in my two cents about this deal. Dave's April Fools joke was pretty funny, but out of place on this forum. People make mistakes, though, and we can forgive them. What bothers me is that people don't realize that such mistakes should simply be ignored, or if people think such a thing is funny, the appropriate reply would be to email only the person who sent the joke saying that it was funny, but that a different forum should have been used. As soon as I saw responses to his joke appearing on the listserve, I knew this "flame war" would happen (I've seen it happen far too many times, and it always starts out the same). Once people started encouraging it, I knew the whole listserve would go to pot for quite a while and started filtering my messages. My personal opinion is that this listserve should be replaced by a moderated one, since (as has been shown on several other occasions as well) the students in the music department obviously aren't mature enough to make appropriate use of this listserve by themselves. This is a shame, since it could have been (and at times was) a rather useful listserve. But I guess that's too much to expect from college students, isn't it? Well, before I decide to lapse into my own affronts or threats, I suppose I should end this email. Take care, and I hope things turn out for the better with this listserve (who knows, maybe people could start having discussions relating to different analyses of a given piece of music, or some other nice cerebral discussion that would be just as argumentative yet far more productive). As for me, I'm not listening to you all any more, so go ahead and say what you want.
BU: The message from Unibomber was from IP 126.96.36.199. This is assigned DNS name pschatz.campus.vt.edu. Just because Hotmail says it anonymous doesn't mean it can't be traced. If you didn't send it, I'd strongly suggest to find out who's been using your computer... or stop attempting to deny it.
At this point, the listserv was abruptly destroyed by the faculty.
I finished the sixth movement of my thesis yesterday although the ending is still a little rough. I'll soften the edges on my trip tomorrow and finalize it this weekend. I'm pretty much on my target schedule again. For anyone interested, here is an MP3 of the work so far (MP3, 12:38 11.5MB). I'd be interested to hear from composers and non-composers alike. I have less than four minutes remaining, as it looks like the piece will round out to about sixteen minutes.
This will be the last News update until I'm resituated at home sometime next week. I'll be make the arduous trip back to Virginia in one sitting starting tomorrow morning at 5 AM, armed only with a book of CDs and a bag of chocolates (and a car). Enjoy the wasteland if you're remaining in Tallahassee, and load your shotguns if you live in northern Virginia.
I'd take another picture of myself waving goodbye like last year, but it involves mirrors and oblique angles, and takes far too long. Plus, the camera is already crated.
I've been home since late Friday night but still haven't gotten around to getting an Internet connection on my computer. Rather than install the bulky free adware service my parents use, I'll probably just stay net-less, and upload sparse updates from one of the family computers.
I left Tallahassee early Thursday and arrived in Blacksburg that afternoon. Construction on the 460 bypass is finally complete, and the road drives an S around Christiansburg and Blacksburg, with the real 460 slicing through the center to form a figure 8. Tech hasn't changed much beyond the new buildings that always pop up on the outskirts. The Music Department is in bad shape from all the budget cuts, and they've been forced to retire several professors and leave their positions unfilled. Pretty soon a Music degree at Tech will be completely self-study. The Marching Virginians were also gearing up to head for San Francisco, but only 100 of the full 330. Dave McKee was hard at work rewriting all the drills (including the ubiquitous state of Virginia) for 1/3 of a band, and supposedly drum majors will be forced to march when they aren't conducting.
Beyond school folks, I also had the chance to catch up with some old friends (although there aren't many around anymore) and visit other folks around campus. I finished the trip Friday afternoon and got home arond 9 PM after a brief stop in Chantilly. Since then, I've been busy cleaning out my file cabinet and getting situated in my room, which gets a little more filled with random paraphernalia every time I visit.
This evening I'm treating some friends to a showing of Les Miserables at the National Theater in DC, so we'll be braving to cold to take the Metro into the city in a few hours.
The production of Les Miserables at the National Theatre was extremely well done, and no one on the cast was particularly disagreeable. In particular, the Eponine was easily the best Eponine I've heard so far and the Javert was almost as good as Philip Quast. Valjean, Fantine, Marius, and Enjolras were excellent but not quite as good as my preconceived images of the characters. The only character that didn't really shine was Cosette, but in her defense it's hard to do anything with a character role that isn't much more than a prop.
The staging and set changes were interesting, from the revolving stage to the Transformer-esque barricade. Sometimes the ancillary action of extras would detract from the focus on the main characters, but usually things ran well. The orchestra played well, if the trumpet was a little lacking to my trumpeter's ears. Because I know the score by heart, it was weird too hear how minutia had changed to shorten the show -- 4/4 transitions reworked in 3/4, or agogic accents shifted to allow passages to be sung in briefer spans. The one issue I've always had with Les Mis is the relative sameness of the orchestration. The colours are used so frequently that it becomes impossible to find a fresh sonority, and by Act II, all the orchestration has just become a static wash of sound -- still sweet but a little too syrupy.
All in all it was a good show. You should watch it sooner than later, since it'll be closing in March.
Last night's episode of Alias was easily the best one of season, although they're getting tough to top.
It's too much of a hassle to update regularly from home, and not much is going on anyhow. Updates will be sporadic until I'm back in Florida on January 2.
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