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This happened a few months ago and I have no idea what caused it, but one day my Mac's Launchpad – you know, the hidden application launcher that makes your Mac look more like an iPhone – freaked out. The result was actually rather pretty. That's it above, along with a picture below of what's it's basically supposed to look like. I consider it an example of found generative art (if there is such a thing.) Now I just have to figure out a way to do this kind of thing on purpose.
It turns out that "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne is in F# minor. What?! (See Ozzy and his hardworking guitarist Randy Rhoads above). Here it is confirmed on MusicNotes.com. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about F# minor:
Very few symphonies are written in this key, Haydn's Farewell Symphony being one famous example. George Frederick Bristow and Dora Pejačević also wrote symphonies in this key.
The few concerti written in this key are usually premiere concerti written for the composer himself to play, including Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1, Scriabin's Piano Concerto, Wieniawski's Violin Concerto No. 1, Vieuxtemps's Violin Concerto No. 2, and Koussevitzky's Double Bass Concerto.
In addition to the Farewell Symphony, Haydn's Piano Trio No. 40 (Hob. XV:26) and String Quartet Op. 50, No. 4 are in F-sharp minor.
Mozart's only composition in this key is the second movement to his Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major.
And, of course, Crazy Train.
Below are two video renditions.
- Taylor Swift Wins a New, Unlikely Fan: Ozzy Osbourne (kvil.cbslocal.com)
On our way down to California for a few weeks, we stopped in Cedar City, Utah, for the super-fabulous Utah Shakespeare Festival. (It really is fabulous: a few years ago they received the "Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre." Then, more recently, the founding director, Fred Adams, received the "Burbage Award for lifetime service to the international Shakespearean theatre community" - quite a mouthful.)
While we were there we saw Love's Labour's Lost, which was lovely, but their production of Peter and the Starcatcher completely stole the show. It was possibly the funniest show I've ever seen, with a standout performance by Quinn Mattfeld as The Black Stache (i.e., He-who-will-later-be-known-as-Captain-Hook; as shown above). Here's a review of the festival's production in the Salt Lake Tribune and the official trailer below. If you like in Utah, the production runs until mid-October and absolutely justifies the 250 mile drive to Cedar City. Here the link for tickets.
A few months ago I was excited to see that the NEA had funded several video games as legitimate art projects. As a follow-up to that, I am thrilled to see that the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City has officially added video games to its permanent collection! Here are their initial 14 acquisitions (and you can go to their announcement for more info on each):
- Pac-Man (1980; Played it, of course)
- Tetris (1984; Same)
- Another World (1991; Don't know it)
- Myst (1993; Never played it, but I was in graduate school then, so I have an excuse)
- SimCity 2000 (1994; Got it)
- vib-ribbon (1999; Never heard of it)
- The Sims (2000; Know it but never played.)
- Katamari Damacy (2004; Have this on my iPhone and on our vintage PS2, it's hilarious!)
- EVE Online (2003; Downloaded but never played)
- Dwarf Fortress (2006; Have it but couldn't get it working!)
- Portal (2007; Got it, cool)
- flOw (2006; Got it)
- Passage (2008; Never heard of it)
- Canabalt (2009; Have it on my phone, love it)
Again, I spend about 100x as much time cleaning dishes as I do playing video games but I'm very happy to see this happen.
Woo hoo! The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has made it official: Video games are art. Or, perhaps more accurately, video games are a legitimate medium for legitimate art. Just all oil paintings can be art (but certainly not all oil paintings...), so can video games. Here's a link to a great post on four game projects that were funded in 2012 as part of the NEA's Arts in Media grants.
Now, I should mention that I never really spent that much time playing video games as a kid or as an adult. For that matter, I don't really read much fiction, either. (I prefer poetry and nonfiction.) But I'm thrilled by this development nonetheless.
Poet and Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska — that's her, right above — died last week at 88 years old. I have included this poem in my data analysis classes for a few years because: (a) I love poetry; (b) it has statistics; and (c) as a social psychologist, I believe it summarizes human nature wonderfully.
Out of a hundred people…
those who always know better:
doubting every step:
nearly all the rest
glad to lend a hand
if it doesn’t take too long:
as high as forty-nine
because they can't be otherwise:
four, well maybe five
able to admire without envy:
induced by fleeting youth:
sixty, give or take a few
not to be taken lightly:
forty and four
living in constant fear
of someone or something:
capable of happiness:
harmless singly, savage in crowds:
half at least
when forced by circumstances:
better not to know
even ballpark figures
wise after the fact:
just a couple more
than wise before it
taking only things from life:
(I wish I were wrong)
hunched in pain
no flashlight in the dark:
sooner or later
thirty-five, which is a lot
worthy of compassion:
a hundred out of a hundred.
thus far this figure still remains unchanged.
- Wisława Szymborska, 1923-2012 (sophiemalik.wordpress.com)
- Wislawa Szymborska - "The Mozart of poetry" - is dead at 88 (bookofjoe.com)
- "Life lasts but a few scratches of the claw in the sand." ~ Wislawa Szymborska, poet (poietes.wordpress.com)
- Wislawa Szymborska's Parable (cubiyanqui.com)
While I had my lunch in the lovely café space of the University of Utah's Marriott Library, I watched a little of the film Objectified on my iPhone. (Living it up on the small screen!) I love this movie because it's all about industrial design, a topic that I hold near and dear to my heart. Anyhow, in one part of the film, legendary designer Dieter Rams claims that there is only one company that truly cares about design. The answer? .......... Well, it's Apple, of course. (Geez, did I really need to tell you that?) Anyhow, watch the film and you'll see why he says that. And it's something that I've long believed. You and me, Dieter, you and me.
I'm listening right now to "Central Park in the Dark" by Charles Ives. And while he may not have been a multitasker in the purest sense, I love Ives because he was phenomenally successful in his music (even though much of it was never performed while he was alive) and in his day job as — of all things — an insurance agent. (In fact, I understand that Ives' work in estate planning is taught to this day.) Nice to see the analytical and artistical (a neologism in the spirit of Ogden Nash) coexisting so nicely. I've always admired his music so much because he was just too enthusiastic to be restricted by things like harmony and time signatures — a joyful, exuberant cacophony. (See, especially, the "orchestral raspberry" at the bombastic end of his Symphony No. 2. You can see and hear Leonard Bernstein conducting this piece on YouTube right here. The fun begins at 11:30 (where the brass come in) and peaks at the very end, at 12:38. Whee!)
And, while we're at it, it looks like Ives was also an accomplished athlete, having been the team captain and pitcher for the Hopkins Grammar School baseball team:
Way to go, Charles!
I was just listening to Marian Anderson, the American contralto, and remembered hearing the story of her concert debacle/triumph in Washington, DC, in 1939. Anderson was considered the greatest contralto of her generation and she had had great success on the concert circuit in Europe. (Interestingly, she didn’t like to perform in operas, although she sang many opera arias in recital.) She was scheduled to sing in Constitution Hall in DC because it was the only place large enough to hold her audience. That is, until the Daughters of the American Revolution, who owned the hall, found out that Anderson was, well, you know, black, and there would be none of that in their hall, thank you very much. After much drama, Eleanor Roosevelt — who resigned from the DAR as a result of this — arranged for Anderson to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of 75,000. (You can see the performance on YouTube right here.) A very nice poke in the eye to the DAR and a huge success for Anderson and African-Americans. Plus, she’s an extraordinarily fabulous vocalist and it’s wonderful for her to get the audience she deserved.
And more power to the contraltos of the world!
Tonight we'll be going to see Benjamin Britten's War Requiem at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City (here's their announcement). It's an enormous, gorgeous piece that, because it requires such a broad vocal cast, is rarely performed. I'm a huge fan of Britten's vocal work (e.g., the operas Billy Budd and Peter Grimes) and I'm thrilled this is happening. (The fact that it's just down the street from me — the Madeleine is at 331 E. South Temple — and that it's FREE only make things better.)
As a note, the piece was composed to celebrate the reconstruction of Coventry Cathedral, which had been destroyed during World War I. It uses both the text of the Latin mass and the poetry of Wilfred Owen, who was killed one week before the war ended. (That's his poetry in the picture above.) And, finally, here's the writeup in the Salt Lake Tribune this week.
Hope some of you can make it!
As a public service announcement, I wanted to let every single one of you know that Repertory Dance Theatre, one of Utah's three major professional dance companies, is having its season opener this weekend (6-8 October 2011). RDT is a modern dance company that, in addition to creating new works, also has the unique mission of preserving the history of modern dance.
In this spirit, their first performance, called "Vanguard," features several historically significant works: Scramble by Merce Cunningham (1968, and with sets by Frank Stella!), and Trio A (1966) and Chair Pillows (1969) by Yvonne Rainer. The concert also features a new composition by the RDT dancers themselves.
My wife, Jacque Bell, is a modern dance choreographer and dancer who has long time connections with RDT. Also, I have been on the company's board of trustees for several years. (As part of that responsibility, I have been pursuing a pet project to have the US Congress declare RDT a Living National Treasure! We'll see how that goes.)
- Lots of Bach (the library has the Complete Bach set)
- Bine Katrine Bryndorf
- Duets and Cannons by Bowers-Broadbent
- Cameron Carpenter
- Christoph Maria Moosmann
- David Hicken
- E. Power Biggs (I listened to him on 8-track when I was growing up)
- Philip Glass
- Marie-Claire Alain
- Saint Saëns
- Virgil Fox
- Alfred Brendel: The Complete Vox, Turnabout, and Vanguard Solo Recordings
- Janáček: The Cunning Little Vixen, From the House of the Dead, Jenůfa, Káta Kabanová, and The Makropulos Affair
- Messiaen: St. François D'Assise
- Monteverdi: Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi
- Saint Saëns: Misc. orchestral music
- Scarlatti: The Keyboard Sonatas
- Blink-182: Neighborhoods
- The Book of Mormon (Listened to this about 1000 times and eventually saw it live in NYC)
- The Kraftwerk box set
- Lady Gaga: Born This Way (They were giving it away online and I still haven't actually listened to it)
- Led Zeppelin box set
- Red Hot Chili Peppers: I'm with You
- Thundercat: The Golden Age of Apocalypse
- 311: Universal Pulse
To close out my music-listening-reporting for 2010, it's been more opera. And while the picture above is posted in jest, I actually love Wagner. And note the three non-opera albums at the bottom. Great stuff all around.
- Isaac Albéniz
- Marie Nelson Bennett
- Gaetano Donizetti
- John Eaton
- Carl Orff
- Thomas Pasatieri
- Sergei Prokofiev
- Gioachino Rossini
- Giuseppe Verdi
- Jaromír Weinberger
- Scott Wheeler
- Anonymous 4
- Johann Sebastian Bach
- Marc-Antoine Charpentier
- Barbara Bonney
- Carlo Bergonzi
- Cecilia Bartoli
- Christa Ludwig
- Diana Damrau
- Fritz Wunderlich
- Joan Sutherland
- Jon Vickers
- José Carreras
- Jussi Björling
- Kathleen Battle
- Kiri Te Kanawa
- Leontyne Price
- Magdalena Kožená
- Michael Chance
- René Pape
- Titta Ruffo
- Will Perkins (my brilliant nephew, current working on a doctorate at Indiana University!)
- Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's piano sonatas
- James Carter "Present Tense" (amazing saxophonist)
- Digital version of "Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films"