Friday, June 26, 2009

The stars fade but the world keeps turning.

Of course people are talking about the losses we've had in the past few days: David Carradine, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson. My prayers go out to all the loved ones who are mourning their passing, as well as the many fans.

I remember Carradine from Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (I totally had a crush on Chris Potter, Kwai Chang's son) and reruns of Kung Fu. Ed McMahon is more associated with American Family Publishers in my mind than with the Tonight Show w/ Johnny Carson, though I do remember seeing the latter. And I don't think I've ever watched a single episode of Charlie's Angels or any of her other work, but I definitely know who Farrah Fawcett is--even Strong Bad has her poster in his room!

Yet MJ's passing hit me the hardest. As silly as it sounds, I can't imagine my life without Michael Jackson in it. My big brother is a huge fan and he passed that on to me as a child. I remember listening to Bob's Thriller album while he was at college--I played that LP over and over and over, and probably drove my poor parents crazy!! I loved every song on it, but I especially loved the title track. I tried my best to memorize Vincent Price's "rap" and thought it was crazy awesome that he used the word "y'all" (not "yawl" or "y'awl" like many lyrics websites say)! Ever since then I've been a huge fan. I regret that I never got a chance to see him perform live.

I guess soon there will be footage of the 6 pm Moonwalk in London. I look forward to seeing it and wish I could've been a part. I guess we each have to find our own way to remember the King of Pop. I've been watching his videos on YouTube and I'll probably buy some of his albums* soon, to complete my collection.

I'll leave you with three of my all-time favorite videos:
  1. Remember the Time
  2. Smooth Criminal
  3. Thriller

*If you plan on completing your collection as well, I suggest buying the mp3s instead of looking for physical CDs and albums. My guess is that a lot of people have already hit the music stores to grab what they can. Here are the search results for "Michael Jackson albums" at Amazon MP3.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jelly beans + peanuts = crazy dream escape?

This is part of a longer dream. This was the most recent thing that happened right before I woke up so it’s the freshest, most detailed part I can remember.

I was part of the Enterprise (1701 D) crew and apparently part of an away team. The team also included Data, Worf, and I think Captain Picard. Maybe Commander Riker? Anyway, we ended up in an alternate universe. I shouldn’t say it was a mirror universe ‘cause our counterparts didn’t have goatees... But they certainly weren’t very trusting. We'll say "mirror," just for clarity.

I think what happened was one of our men ended up on the mirror Enterprise and I was on the team sent to retrieve him. We materialized on the bridge, freaked out all the people on the bridge, grabbed our man, and then tried to beam back to our ship (and universe). It didn’t work. We tried twice. Nothing. The sparklies showed up but we never left.

So now we were prisoners on this alternate Enterprise. They took good care of us, though—I remember this huge spread of food set up on the bridge. Probably the first time there’s ever been a bridge buffet! Eventually I started trying to find ways to get back to our world and somehow the food got involved. I figured out how to make a jump rope with a string of jelly beans or something and the mirror crew tried to confiscate it. I refused to give it up and instead started hopping and jumping and doing crazy moves with the rope all over the bridge. After those shenanigans, the women of the away team (it was an oddly large away team) were banned from the bridge buffet.

The men of the away team, however, were free to do whatever. The women were also banned from several other things because of my attempts at doing whatever I was doing (I still don’t understand how we could’ve gotten off the ship with a jelly bean jump rope). Were the men even trying to get home??

The next thing I remember is being allowed to go back to the buffet. My friend Sarah, whom I haven’t seen since grad school, was there and I was raving about how we could have peanuts once again. I have a feeling that somehow the peanuts were going to get us home, but don’t ask me how.

And that’s about all I can remember. For those of you who’ve never heard about my dreams before, they’re always like this. I remember them in great detail if I type it all up shortly after I awaken. They rarely make sense. Sometimes they take recent events from my life (say, a Monday night Star Trek: TNG marathon) and sometimes they are completely random in their subject matter. For example, I remember that earlier in the dream I was with the Griffin family in Quahog and several of us were falling from the sky. Instead of reaching the ground we fell into a cloud with a hole in the middle—think, instead of a ring of fire, a ring of fluffy cloud. I haven't watched Family Guy in weeks, so I don't know where that came from!
Robyn ||3: (You like my alto clef? It was created by the awesome @ViolaMaths!)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Road trip with the Symphony

I got home about half an hour ago from a trip to Cade's Cove with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO). The most grueling part was the 2-hour bus trip including lots of curvy roads and lots of going 5 mph because of heavy traffic (but heavy traffic = bigger audience so it's all good!). Once we got there it was great. The scenery was beautiful, and the people there seemed to really appreciate it. As we (orchestra members) made our way to the buses after it was over, many people thanked us and said they enjoyed the music.

The concert was part of a celebration of the 75th annivesary of the Smoky Mountains National Park* (did I say "of" enough times?). The performance featured some patriotic tunes, an original composition by James R. Carlson commissioned by the KSO, a work dedicated to the people of Johnstown, PA (penned by KSO's music director, Lucas Richman), and lots more. We also had a special guest--U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander played the piano with us on three numbers. Out of all the music the symphony played, my absolute favorite was an arrangement of Chopin's Prelude in C Minor. It started with Senator Alexander playing the traditional version and then, after a 2-bar drum solo, the symphony joined in with a 70s-style version. It. Was. AWESOME. When we ran through it at last night's rehearsal, I immediately thought of Walter Murphy's A Fifth of Beethoven from Saturday Night Fever. After totally geeking out, that is.

Oh! I must mention the John Williams piece--we played the overture from the John Wayne movie The Cowboys. The film came out in 1972 and, as my stand partner pointed out, you can already hear a little bit of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and other Williams classics. I was thinking the same thing when he said it--I heard a melody reminiscent of Princess Leia's theme in one spot and the rhythmic drive of the entire work reminded me of Indiana Jones!

All in all, everything went really well. It was a gorgeous day and though it was hot it wasn't very humid (a blessing this time of year in the Southeast). Also, the ominous clouds didn't make an appearance until everything was over (thank you, ominous clouds!) and the ride home was quicker than the ride up to the Cove! :-D

I think I'll reward myself with some ice cream. What am I rewarding myself for? I don't know exactly. But I like ice cream and I shall have some! I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.

*It was not to commemorate the mountains themselves as I originally thought. ;-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm doing my happy dance!!!!!

I totally just screeched like a 15-year-old girl.

I store my 300+ CDs in large CD wallets. It's much easier to pack and move with three 128-CD wallets than it is with 300+ jewels cases and shelves. It's a great solution, unless you're like me and are constantly putting CDs in your car and then switching them out for new ones every few weeks. When I bring in the retired CDs, they don't go back into the wallet like they should. They either go into a pile (which migrates--last week it was on the ironing board) or a box on the floor.

After months and months of weeping and gnashing of teeth when I couldn't find an album that popped into my head, I decided to go through the box and piles of un-filed CDs and put them back where they go. Or put them at the back of the last wallet and organize them later (they were alphabetized until a couple years ago).

I was so proud of myself! I put everything away and even discovered some CDs I forgot I'd bought. I probably went through 70-80 CDs and yet I was still missing some. And guess which ones they were? That's right, my FAVORITES. I found it oddly coincidental that the most important CDs were unaccounted for. I knew they were all together somewhere, just waiting for me to find them. Wait a minute, I thought. I have two smaller wallets I use for the car--where's the second one? I haven't used it in forever. *searchsearchsearch* Could it be in the TV cabinet? Why in the world would it be there? May as well look...


JACKPOT, BABY!! I found all of the CDs I'd been dying to listen to--and was about to buy used at Amazon--plus a few that I didn't even realize were missing. The crazy part is that I thought of looking in that cabinet several times before now but apparently I got distracted before I could execute the plan. Now I shall share with you exactly which CDs caused me to squeal like the teenybopper that I am (at heart).

That's right--it's all boy bands or former members of boy bands. Laugh all you like--I LOVE pop music and you can't do anything about it! Guess who's going to have some new JC Chasez and JT ringtones tomorrow...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Film Festival with a Side of Polyphony

Good day, all! I hope you've had a lovely weekend. The rain finally left Knoxville and I've been enjoying the sunshine.

I'm currently listening to the CDs which accompany the book I use to teach Music Appreciation at Pellissippi (McGraw Hill's Music: An Appreciation, 6th Brief Edition). I am such a music nerd--and I LOVE IT! Oh, man--the harpsichordist is tearin' it up in the solo near the end of the first movement of Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. I haven't listened to the first movement all the way through in a long time. If we had time to listen to all the examples in their entirety in my class, I'd be the happiest nerd on the face of the planet. My students would watch in amazement as I floated up to heaven, riding on the high F near the end of Hildegard's O succesores.

By the way--for those of you keeping score at home, when I typed the title of the blog I was listening to Machaut's Puis qu'en oubli. 150 music nerd points to the first person who correctly identifies the period and genre of the three works I've mentioned. No teachers can participate, sorry (it's not fair)!

Onto the first part of my title. My friend James invited me to attend the Marble City 10-Hour Film Festival screening with him yesterday. Filmmakers are given a list of elements then must shoot, edit, produce, and deliver a 3-minute film using those elements in 10 hours. Seeing all the different ideas that people came up with was the best part. I had a feeling that there would be at least one group who would try to get their "message" across and I was right. One film consisted of a young woman speaking about today's society and how certain groups of people are trying to control our resources and monopolize power. The entire film (which seemed longer than 3 minutes) consisted of mostly tight shots of her face while she delivered her monologue. Images of religious and monetary symbols as well as nature scenes were superimposed on her image as she spoke, and a large part of the dialogue was repeated (same footage of woman with different superimposed images). At first I was interested and tried to follow, but the woman's character was that of a person just rambling on about something. After a while I started wondering when it would be over.

Now, I'm not saying this to be mean and I'm not saying it was a bad film. I'm just saying that there's a time and place for that sort of thing and I don't believe that this festival was the right venue. And judging by most of the audience's reaction--rude shouts, jeering, and the like--I believe I'm not totally off base. However, this could be an opportunity for Marble City Films to introduce a new genre (I can't recall in what genre the film was originally placed) to their festival.

Overall it was a positive experience, preceded by my first trip to Barley's (Caribbean pizza = YUM). I also learned about Rootclip, a really cool collaborative filmmaking site. As they explained, it's kind of like Choose Your Own Adventure meets YouTube. Definitely check it out. I've already been bitten by the filmmaking bug and I know nothing about the process!

I'll close with the link to a movie that I will be seeing this Friday: The Hangover

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Music, Money and Ministry

Have you ever been at a crossroads and didn't even realize it? I had been subconsciously asking myself a question for a while now and I didn't even know until the question was answered today. I firmly believe that God sometimes uses other people to speak to you. It might be because some of us are too dim to understand when he speaks to us directly, but that's another blog... :-D

So anyway a good friend called me this afternoon to discuss a dilemma I'd actually forgotten I had. I've been active in two churches during my time in Knoxville and both times I ended up regularly singing and/or playing an instrument in the worship service(s). It's great because my musical talents were given to me by God and using them in worship seems appropriate...

Enter the economy. Living in these difficult times and being self-employed, I've been trying to figure out how to make ends meet. I got to the point where I said to myself Hey, music is my gift but it's also my livelihood. I get compensated for performing everywhere--except at church. It seems kind of wrong to say "Hey, church--I need money to use my God-given gift here." It's something I've struggled with in recent months.

But there's an even bigger issue--my lack of connection to the body of Christ (aka the church). I end up getting so involved in the musical aspect of my church homes that I don't really get to know anyone outside of that ministry. If you're not in the choir or praise band, chances are I don't know you very well. And I don't even really know the musicians I interact with on Sundays. I chat with them in rehearsal and form mostly superficial friendships, only occasionally scratching the surface to get to a deeper connection.

I believe that God made us to be social creatures. That doesn't mean that every person is outgoing, the life of the party, or anything like that. But he made us to be friends and to be there for one another. Just look at the book of Acts (one of my favorite books of the Bible). People were active in each other's lives--not like nosey, gossipy neighbors but supportive and helpful friends to those in need. The second chapter tells us:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47, NIV)
They shared with anyone who had need and they spent time together, eating and worshiping and just sharing their lives. No wonder more people were being saved--I'm sure others were thinking "Okay, what are they doing that I'm not? They must be doing something right. I need to know more."

I'm missing that community--that fellowship--and my friend helped me realize that today. He said that I'd been on his heart and I know that God put me there. I'm thankful that he did. He (my friend) wasn't even sure if his concerns were accurate, but as I told him on the phone, he hit the nail on the head. I need to plug in to a church home and get involved, whether it's at my current church or a new one. Not just for myself, of course, but in order to make the world a better place you often have to start with yourself, right?