Sounds Like Now
A blog by saxophonist Brian Sacawa
Archive for December, 2006
This year’s performance of Unsilent Night in Baltimore generated a great deal of interest, especially in the media. There was the CityPaper feature, the article in the Sun, and day-of morning interview on the FOX45 Morning News. FOX also saw fit to send out a mobile cameraman/reporter to film the event and produce a story for their evening newscast. The story, shown above, was shot, written, and edited by Josh Miller of FOX45.
(N.B. Clip info: Unsilent Night – FOX45 News Story on Vimeo)
Christmas cat-blogging is alive and well. Especially among those new-music folks!
The Yule Log, that odd perennial entity that has burned brightly and constantly to the sweet sounds of midi harpsichords and recorders on televisions for forty years, is making news this year. Born in 1966, the original WPIX-TV Yule Log is now being challenged by a “new-and-improved” Yule Log in high definition. (This isn’t the first year that The Yule Log HD has been on the sceneâ€”it’s actually been around since 2003, and it is only this year, perhaps due to the growing number of households with INHD service, that the media has decided to play up the rivalry.) TYLHD was created by some yuppie with a vested interest in INHD and who shows no regard for holiday traditions simply because the film looks “grainy[,] 30 years old [and] is not going to fill up the full screen.” So? What’s wrong with that?
Although The YL isn’t a necessary component needed to conjure up fond memories for me of Christmastime at home, the original WPIX Yule Log has definitely been as ubiquitous a presence in my parents’ house during the holidays as homemade cookies, certain movies, and cats chewing on ribbon. And it’s the WPIX Yule Log I sip the taste of Christmas in front of, not some “new-and-improved” fancy-schmancy HD thing. No, I’ll stick with the original, grainy, old, and whatever YL.
However, I do think it’s a bit ironic that although the original Yule Log was conceived as a gift for New Yorkers without firelaces even in houses with fireplaces (read: spaces for their own Yule Log) as in ours, it’s the Yule Log on the television that the family gathers around. Indicative of modern times, I guess. Or, put a little more eloquently in the AP article cited above: “Christmas is also a day to slow down, to set aside life’s frenetic pace for enjoyment of family, and nothing symbolizes that unhurried attitude better than a picture that doesn’t change for hours.”
The holiday for the rest of us. Popularized in an episode of Seinfeld, the “holiday” is now celebrated in varying degrees of seriousness throughout the world. Here’s a small Festivus primer for your celebration today:
+ The symbol of Festivus is a bare aluminum pole, an icon chosen for its opposition to the highly-decorated and overly-commercialized Christmas tree. During the holiday, the pole is displayed unadorned and praised for its “high strength-to-weight ratio.” (For the DIY-inclined, click here.)
+ The Festivus dinner seems to be undefined although according to the book, it (the Festivus dinner) should be accompanied with hearty beer, rum, bourbon, or wine.
+ Following the Festivus dinner comes The Airing of Grievances, a ritual during which each member of the family tells the others all the ways in which they have disappointed them throughout the year.
+ The final tradition of Festivus is The Feats of Strength. Traditionally, this is where the head of the household challenges another participant in the celebration to a wrestling match. Festivus can conclude once the head of the household is pinned to the floor.
SLN wishes everyone a Festivus Miracle.
(N.B. In somewhat similar off-beat holiday news, don’t miss this article from yesterday’s Times, which considers the rebranding of Xmas. The Christmas makeover was commissioned by WNYC’s Studio 360. Read about and hear the program here.)
“You can only live in music, as it were, if you have other interests, if you see the parallels with literature, if you see the parallels with painting, if you see the parallel with the development of political process, and if you have an interest, and then you have the ability to deduce, then all this becomes part of your innermost being; and this comes out in the music; and therefore, music really becomes your life.”
Daniel Barenboim, Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society
The McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern has been around since 1998, when Dave Eggers started the not-quite-quarterly journal to publish his own work as well as pieces by his friends, many of which (the pieces by his (Dave Eggers’) friends) had been rejected by other literary journals. Over the years, the QC has evolved from a simple paperback volume into a changeable format, which ranges anywhere from an extremely attractive hardcover edition to a cigar box filled with pamphlets and has begun to showcase not only some of the most exceptional and creative contemporary writing but also the work of many fine artists.
QC21 is another great issue. Every piece in this volume is outstandingâ€”and funnyâ€”although these authors stood out to me: Miranda July, Joyce Carol Oates, Yannick Murphy (can’t wait for her Mata Hari book), Roddy Doyle, A. Nathan West, and Rajesh Parameswaran. In order to keep pace with its recent quirkiness, each piece in QC21 is followed by an actual letter received by the office of Ray Charles at various dates throughout 1999 and preceded by a 12-panel illustration of an artists’ (different for each story) rendition of events in the piece, while the front cover of the book has a small flap that can be opened out across the exposed page-edges, creating a 360-degree panorama around the entire volume. If you are fiction-dependent, QC21 is perfect for your daily fix.
Stats: Time: 3:04:40; Distance: 51.67 miles; Avg Watts: 172; Kilojoules: 1906.
Playlist: Warren G, “Regulate”; Amerie, “1 Thing”; Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz, “DÃ©jÃ Vu (Uptown Baby)”; Lupe Fiasco, “The Instrumental”; Jay-Z, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”; Gorillaz, “November Has Come”; Lupe Fiasco, “Kick, Push”; Jay-Z, “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)”; Kanye West, “Drive Slow”; Jamie Lidell, “A Little Bit More”; Mobb Deep & 50 Cent, “Outta Control (Remix)”; The Chemical Brothers, “Hold Tight London”; Jamie Lidell, “When I Come Back Around”; Gorillaz, “Dirty Harry”; Kanye West, “Heard ‘Em Say”; Dr. Dre, “Still D.R.E.”; Jay-Z, “Can I Get A…”; Kanye West, “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”; Gorillaz, “Fire Coming Out Of The Mountain”; Jay-Z, “Kingdom Come”; Kanye West, “Touch the Sky”; Des’ree, “You Gotta Be”; [Repeat 1X + 3 songs]
Items Consumed: 1 bidon of water, 1 bidon of orange Gatorade, 1 20oz bottle of Coca-Cola, 1 chocolate PowerBar, 1 oatmeal raisin walnut CLIF Bar; post-ride: 1 glass of Endurox w/ 2 tablets of creatine monohydrate.
Something I have known for a long time but was reminded of again today: Coca-Cola is the best energy drink, especially 2 hours and 35 minutes into a ride.
As observed at the Ottobar:
+ Newcastle seems to be a favored alternative to Natty Boh
+ No Pikesville Rye
+ Awesome jukebox
+ Saw the dude from the retro furniture store on The Avenue
+ Clocks are set 20 mins fast (wait, that’s the clock to the right of the upstairs barâ€”the clock to the left is set 18 mins fast. Please take note.)
+ Bud is more metal than Boh
Last Friday’s performance of Unsilent Night in Baltimore lives on! Among the throngs of participants and supporters was one of Mobtown’s most renowned experimental percussionists, Bob Wagner, who came to the event packing a recording device and a microphone on the end of a very long boomstand. Bob herocially braved frigid fingers and tired arms to document the event in sound. Bob writes:
The mic I used is a Sennheiser hypercardiod, so there is very little side sound. (Actually I was hoping for a bit more traffic and city noises.) The sound of the boomboxes is very primary. Also, the recording is a mono two track recording- both sides are identical. I did almost no editing . . . [The recording] is slightly normalized. No other effects.
Download the complete performance here.
Update: Photos from the performance are can be viewed here.
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Let me answer the question before it’s posed: Yes, I did just redesign my blog. And yes, it was just a little while ago that I did. Why do it again? Although I enjoyed the starkness of SLN V.2.0 (i.e. the first WordPress version ATP (After TypePad)), it became a little too stark for my taste. Longtime readers of SLN know that I like to adorn my posts with photos, many of which are quite colorful. The photo-as-post-preface makes for a welcoming and invigorating experience for the eyes as the front page loads, especially in certain peacock-like instances. Sadly, SLN V.2.0 did not offer that same experienceâ€”for one to experience the cornucopia of color it was first necessary to click on the day’s post, which in turn may or may not have had a photo attached to it. I know that I’d be disappointed if I took the time to click on the link to read the rest of the post and was not greeted by a nice photo, as I’m sure many readers were. However, color was given a tip of the hat in SLN V.2.0 at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen in the form of a little application that displayed my three latest photos on Flickr. Ultimately though, this was not enough color.
Now let us praise the attributes that make this version of SLN the best. version. ever.:
- Easy top navigation bar provides instant access to all essential information.
- Understated colors put the focus on content, while serving to unify entire design.
- Ten posts on the front page eliminates cumbersome and inefficient clicking to get from one post to the next.
- Five Flickr photos in sidebar instead of three.
- Svelt new font is light, readable, and left-right justified.
- Single-post view frames the post like a work of art, making it feel good about itself.
- Eight headings in top nav bar fit neatly (and quite accidentally) into left column’s 450-pixel width.
- Self-portrait in header will please parents.
- Red links that underline when you hover on them, which, being nearly the same color as my jacket in the header self-portrait, further unifies entire design.
- Title font by Bauhaus 93.
- Now with more irony!