Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer wedding

The Jonas Brothers were on my MySpace login page earlier.  Ugh.

So I've played 3 outdoor weddings in the past couple of weekends. They're not all bad, but when there are thunderstorms in the forecast, anything could happen. Even if it doesn't rain, there's still the dreaded "h" word. I think "humidity" was probably one of the first words I learned as a child. And I soon learned that it was evil...

Some of my favorite wedding stories to tell are the ones where brides requested/chose odd or inappropriate music. But often the interesting weddings aren't the ones with special requests but the ones where the unexpected happens during processionals. Until recently, I would've said the most excruciating processional was when my trio played "Maybe I'm Amazed" for the bridesmaids. Everything was going well--until the ushers started letting tardy guests sit down inbetween the bridesmaids' entrances.* There weren't even that many bridesmaids--it was a small ceremony--but with all the late people, we ended up playing about 14 verses of Paul McCartney's song.**

(Un)fortunately, that record was broken this past Saturday. I played with a friend's group and, once again, it was during the bridesmaids' entrance that it all went down. This time it was a Lennon-penned tune, "Dear Prudence." We started playing. Nothing happened. We continued playing. Still nothing. We started looking around. Finally we saw the bridesmaids making their way from the fenced area to the beginning of the "aisle." But they didn't walk down the aisle. They stopped to take pictures. Not just a few--we're talking full photo shoot. By this time we've played 5 or so verses. Eventually the minister and groom processed. Then the groomsmen processed. One. By. One. Have you ever seen that? 'Cause in my 15+ years of wedding performances, I've never seen it. By now the verse count is probably up to 12 or 13, including a few trips to the bridge and back. As you've probably guessed, the bridesmaids eventually processed. Total verses of "Dear Prudence" played: Around 20. I lost count after a while...

There are many more stories like that one. Maybe I'll tell you another one soon. 

This portion of the post is slightly irrelevant, given that you are currently reading the "more open blog." [In other news, I hope to be moving to a more open blog. I was reminded that my readers can't comment on my posts unless they have a MySpace account. And I wouldn't wish a MySpace account on anyone who has managed to escape the suffering.  I'm currently working on a new blog at (location concealed for now). Will keep you updated.]

Any special plans for Memorial Day? I'm going to hang out with my brother and watch movies. He wants me to see Private Ryan so I'll probably watch it. But I'm going to make him watch something totally unrelated, like Finding Nemo or my Bryan Adams concert DVD. 

Okay, it's (past) time to retire. Enjoy your holiday if you're celebrating and if it's just another normal day, have a great Monday!

*This is one of the many reasons I would LOVE to offer courses in wedding ceremony management (among other things), especially for those brides who choose not to hire a wedding planner. So many awkward moments and disasters could be avoided!!! 

**My trio vowed that though we love Sir Paul, we never want to hear that song again as long as we live!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Star Trek Review - Part II (SPOILERS)

Okay, it’s finally time for the second part of my review. I think it's time to see the movie again. 


5) John Cho as Sulu When Kirk asked Sulu what his hand-to-hand training was, I was like Please let it be fencing, PLEASE let it be fencing! Sooooo awesome.  Was it me or does it seem like his character was the least explained? I feel that he got the least amount of screen time of the main 7 and he was the crewman we learned the least about. Maybe I need to see it again, but I can’t really comment on Cho’s performance because there’s not much to talk about. The fight scene with Sulu, Kirk and the Romulans was awesome, though. 

6) Simon Pegg as Scotty Funniest scene in the whole movie: After all the action on the bridge, Scotty goes “I like this ship—it’s exciting!”  Pegg did a wonderful job of creating his own version of Scotty. But did anyone else cringe at his little alien sidekick thing? I thought one thing: Jar Jar. Maybe that’s a little extreme, but I worry. 

7) Anton Yelchin as Chekov I haven’t seen Charlie Bartlett but now I want to. This kid—sorry, this guy; he only looks young—was great as Chekov. I loved the ego combined with the eager-to-please mentality. The bit where he ran through the corridors going “I can do that! I can do that!” was hilarious and of course the part where the computer didn’t understand his code was classic.

8) Eric Bana as Nero I would say great job on the makeup, but I really think the reason I didn’t recognize him is because I don’t know who the guy is. I know the name but I don’t think I’ve seen a single movie of his! It’s nothing against him, I guess he just hasn’t done anything in genres I care about.

Anyway, onto Nero. Am I the only one who thinks this character was a little weak?  Also, why the heck did they have to change what the Romulans looked like? He reminded me of Shinzon, another under-developed bad guy (IMHO).

Other thoughts: When Kirk relieved Pike at the end of the movie, my first thought was Oh man, dude STILLends up paralyzed. But my next thought was But at least he’s not burnt toast in a black box with flashy lights. He still looks hot. 

The scene on the planet where Kirk ignored the advice to stay inside the shuttlepod was also classic Trek. Very nicely done. And as Matthew reminded me, the Uhura’s-first-name bit was also ingenious.

So that’s my bit. How do y’all feel about it? I still need to see it a second time, though it probably won’t be at an IMAX theatre. I knew it would be more expensive but double the price of a regular theatre ticket is a bit much.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Summer's Here!

I'm sad to say that I'll be skipping the monthly madrigal meeting (yay, alliteration ) tonight. My heart is willing but my body is like Um, no. Remember when you almost felt like dozing off while driving to teach this afternoon? You're going to go to bed. And no we don't dress up when we sing madrigals (everyone asks that, lol!). We just sing & sometimes drink wine. 

That is an awesome smiley.

Okay. Onto other, hopefully more interesting, topics. I played with the KSO on their final big concert of the season. The program was Wagner's Overture to Lohengrin (well, Act III of Lohengrin), Liszt's 1st piano concerto, and Mahler's 5th symphony. What a program. It was demanding but still fun! I would've loved about 6 more rehearsals on that Mahler but you know how that goes. The pianist was simply amazing and his encore was Horowitz's transcription of Stars and Stripes Forever. I almost went straight home afterward because it had been such an exhausting week.  Instead I chose to go to Calhoun's and spend some time with my friends before we all go our separate ways for the summer. It was a good choice.

So now that's summer's here, what's a self-employed musician to do? Well all the symphonies are off until the Fall and I didn't get any summer school courses at Pellissippi, so I'm just teaching and gigging as much as I can. Also working on some repertoire I didn't have time to work on during the school year and recruiting more students for the coming school year. So summer isn't really much of a break but I think I prefer it that way--these stretches of time where I have nothing to do are confusing! 

Anyone want to play some chamber music this summer? I'm totally game. I miss chamber music so much--it was always my favorite part of college and grad school. 

Oh! Random news--one of my violin students graduated from high school and is on her way to college. I'm so proud of her, especially of what she's accomplished in the short time I've had the privilege of working with her!  Congratulations, Rachel! 

And now to take a brief nap...  Leave a comment and tell me what your summer plans are! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek review - Part I (SPOILERS)

Alrighty. I know it's a music blog, but it's also my blog so I can bend the rules a bit, right? Right. I saw the new Star Trek movie Sunday and I'm still on Cloud 12 1/2. I'm totally going to see it again. I think the 2nd time around I'll go see it at the IMAX theatre. So, on the the review. I have so much to say that I have to break it up into chunks. More exciting that way, no?


I’m so excited that people care what I think! Of course by “people” I mean 3-4 friends who know I’m crazy about Star Trek and find my drooling amusing.  But anyway, here goes. This is basically a re-write of a nerdfest I had with my friend Matthew, plus other things I thought of as I typed this up. 

First, some thoughts about casting: OMG Ben Cross as Sarek. I remember Ben Cross as Barnabus, the vampire in the “Dark Shadows” miniseries. Gorgeous then and gorgeous now. And I didn’t even recognize Winona Ryder (Amanda Grayson), which is good. I was a bit thrown when I saw Tyler Perry because I associate him with Madea and “Meet the Browns” and all that. But it’s most likely similar to “24” or “Heroes” fans seeing Zachary Quinto as Spock or Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz/etc. fans seeing Simon Pegg as Scotty. Everyone did a great job though, and any problems with suspension of disbelief were because of my personal bias and not the actors’ abilities.

It was such a cool movie that nothing could distract me from its awesomeness for too long. :-D

How many of you got the least bit misty-eyed at the beginning? ‘Cause I sure did. I mean, it was obvious that George Kirk—captain of the Kelvin for all of 12 minutes—wasn’t going to make it. But it was just written and played so well… Wow. Also, my brother and I totally geeked out (the first of many times, I assure you) as they picked the baby’s name. Very well done.

Onto actors and characters and their similarities/differences:

1) Chris Pine as Kirk Amazingly cool. Some people complain that he didn’t get Shatner’s Kirk right but his goal wasn’t to be Shatner’s Kirk. This is an alternate timeline so stop your whining!!!  And I think he did get the basics of the Kirk we know—not accepting defeat, a bit on the cocky side and humorous. Two of my fave scenes with Kirk were the scene where Bones kept giving him hypos to make him appear sick and then to get rid of the symptoms (swollen hands, numb tongue—classic!!) and the Kobayashi Maru scene where he just non-chalantly ate an apple while ignoring all the “danger” around him. I think that’s one of the times I laughed the hardest.

2) Zachary Quinto as Spock At first I thought he looked a little young, but I did some research and Spock’s only 3 years older than Kirk. Quinto has this almost distracting baby face thing going, but I think I’ll eventually get used to it. I think it reminds us that this is still a young Spock. I don’t have as much to say about his performance—not because it was unremarkable but because I enjoyed it so much and I can’t really put it into words. I think he did a great job of portraying how a young Spock would’ve reacted to illogical situations, losing his mother, meeting his future self, etc. Oh yeah, and marooning Kirk on the planet—I was soooooo mad at him but soooooo amused at the same time.

3) Zoe Saldana as Uhura Gotta get this off my chest. I was not cool with Spock and Uhura being an item. First because it just threw me for a curve and second because I’m jealous, LOL! I always liked Spock and I don’t know if you noticed but Zachary Quinto ain’t to bad lookin’!

But back to Uhura. I’m glad with what Saldana (and the writers) did with Uhura’s character. Because of the time of the show and whatnot, Nichelle Nichols’ Uhura wasn’t fleshed out very much—we knew so little about her, you know? She was from (the United States of) Africa, spoke Swahili, could sing, and was a kickass communications officer. Oh yeah, and she was gorgeous.

Saldana did an excellent job of breathing new life into Uhura, making her intelligent and tenacious. I love how she confronted Spock about being assigned to the Farragut instead of the Enterprise. In case you haven’t committed it all to memory like I have (this is paraphrased, as my memory isn’t THAT good):

Spock: I wanting to avoid accusations of favoritism†--

Uhura: *leans in determinedly* I’m on the Enterprise.

Spock: *does something on the PADD* Yes, you are.

4) Karl Urban as Bones Oh. My. Heavens. This man nailed it soooo well. If any of the characters had to stay the same, it was Bones. (Bones is my favorite Star Trek character of all time so I’m biased of course. I'm such a hypocrite aren't I [go back and read what I said about Kirk]?) Urban was fantastic as a young Leonard McCoy. He just nailed it. The accent, the stubbornness, the irritability… All the things we know and love about the good doctor. Also, I’m glad they chose an actor who was visibly a bit older than the rest of the crew, as Bones was. Can’t say enough good things about Urban’s McCoy. Crazy awesome.

All these years I thought that word was spelled "favortism," like it's pronounced. Wow. Thanks for correcting me, Microsoft Word.


Part II to come within the next few days.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pops Concert!

KSO is hosting Peter Cetera tonight for the last Pops concert of the season. Just got home from rehearsal. I was okay until we got to "Glory of Love" and then I totally started geeking out. Some of you know exactly why that song is special, but for those of you who don't: Karate Kid II.

That was my childhood, y'all!!! I had a
HUGE crush on Ralph Macchio. I don't even remember all the details from the movie (cute guy is wimpy, mean guy fights better, a girl is in the middle, blah blah) but I remember that song. I think it played during the closing credits...?

So in today's rehearsal, when Cetera got to that familiar refrain "I am the man who will fight for your honor..." I was grinning from ear to ear like a complete dork I am.

Speaking of Cetera, his voice isn't quite as nasal as it was in earlier years, which is good. Unfortunately, I think he's a bit of a diva. While the orchestra ran through the charts, he walked around and then hovered over a section while they played, as if he were surveying his kingdom. Seriously, dude--you worry about your part and we'll worry about ours.

In addition to his own tunes, he's also doing some classic Chicago (You're the Inspiration, Hard to Say I'm Sorry, After All that We've Been Through) and some random covers (Lady Madonna, Yesterday, Daydream Believer). Guess who's sitting right in front of the brass and had to ask for a sound shield during Lady Madonna? And it didn't even help because the bandleader asked the brass to STAND when they have the familiar riff. Yippee. I'd better find the souvenir ear plugs I got at Tommy before tonight's show.

All in all it'll be a good evening. The violas actually get some pretty cool licks in a couple of songs and it's a pops show so the audience will be more responsive. Now off to find some dinner, dig up some earplugs, and maybe practice some Mahler.