Archive for the ‘Nerdliness’ Category

What Ben got me for our anniversary:


That’s right, the Disappearing Tardis mug! When you put hot beverages in it the Tardis disappears and reappears on the other side. I remember we had a very similar Phantom of the Opera mug when I was a kid.

Anyway. What I very nearly got Ben for our anniversary:


Fortunately I got him a completely DIFFERENT piece of Doctor Who-related kitsch. Which hasn’t arrived yet, so I can’t post a picture.

Great minds, etc, etc.

EDITED TO ADD: It came this afternoon:



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Like I was saying, last night I went to Contact Contemporary Music‘s “Walk on Water”, featuring the excellent saxophonist Wallace Halliday and equally excellent cellist Mary-Katherine Finch, with supporting turns from Allison Wiebe on piano (who played some thankless music very well) and Ryan Scott on percussion.

If you follow me on Twitter (or, indeed, scroll down this page, where my tweets are all posted), you will already know that I managed to review the concert in precisely 140 characters:

Chang: nice textures; Karassikov: way too subtle; Denisov: !!!; Lemay: very good; Vustin: pretty, new-agey; Leuchter: Schnittke-y & awesome.

As proud of myself as I am for getting all of that into a single tweet, I felt I should elaborate a bit more.

Walk on Water (Dorothy Chang) – some very nice textural writing for the two instruments (sax and cello). The style was a bit cautious and academic, so it felt more like an exercise in sound than anything else. I respected this piece but was not moved by it, but I would definitely like to hear more of Chang’s music.

Casus in terminus (Vadim Karassikov) – before they began to play, Wallace talked a little about this piece and how “subtle” it was. That is an understatement. It belongs to that school of new music (exemplified by the late Morton Feldman) which consists of very quiet sounds played very gently with lots of space in between. While I’m sure this work had a lot of meaning for its composer and for the players, I could not enter into it. This may have had something to do with me having to sneeze the whole time. Also a car honked outside just after the last note (it happened to be in tune with it, too!), which totally broke the mood.

Sonata for alto saxophone and violoncello (Edison Denisov) – I actually wrote a paper on Denisov back when I was in school, but I remember precisely nothing about him other than his name was Edison and he was actually from Siberia, so I was glad to hear some of his music played live. I loved loved loved this piece, especially a moment at the end of the 2nd movement – the cello was holding a high note, and the sax came in with multiphonics. It was an amazing bit of writing, and not just in the “wow, you can do that with only two instruments?” way. Denisov’s writing is very lyrical and emotional – he was great at evoking fleeting emotional states through minimal means, which is awesome. I think I need to pay for a U of T library membership so I can take out some CDs of his stuff, because I very much doubt it’s on Itunes.

Tie-break (Robert Lemay) – A very well-written short piece apparently inspired by tennis. Lemay introduced his piece, saying it was part of a larger work in progress, though being pregnant I’ve completely forgotten what the other two or three movements are going to be called. Tie-break was light and spritely and added a nice note of levity to the programme.

Musique pour l’ange – another very evocative work, so evocative that my mind kept wandering. Tonal and new-agey with lots of floaty vibraphone chords. I actually have a hard time expressing an opinion of it – it was pretty and enjoyable, but it didn’t have a lot to hang on to, if you know what I mean. Maybe a B+? I know nothing else got a letter grade.

Leuchter (Helmut Oehring) – subtitled “Kurz in Mull gestochert” or “rifling through the trash”, this work expresses musically the composer’s feelings towards noted Holocaust denier/designer of execution machines Fred A. Leuchter. Kurt Weill/Schnittke/electroacoustic. Yeah, I know I just did the new music equivalent of describing one indie band in terms of three other indie bands you’ve never heard of. Let me try it with adjectives – jangly, atonal (or maybe bi/tri-tonal – it’s hard to say), snarky, and aggressive. It was totally different from everything else on the programme and I loved it.

And as I also said on Twitter, the playing was excellent overall and I’m very glad I went.

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I’m in Ottawa right now for an independent touring workshop. So far: really helpful for what I want to do (i.e., get Fallen Voices on the road) and I’m really glad I came. I’m typing up today’s notes right now, because I know from experience that if I don’t do it know I will entirely forget what everything I wrote refers to. To illustrate, some of the things I wrote today:

– “Yr a Canadian product! Lk wheat, nuclear reactors!”
– “Be persistent, don’t harrass (diff is hrd to tell)”
– “pure genre pffft”
– “Why 8 PM?”
– “Health Arts __ __”
– “guess ↑ expenses, ↓ income – ASSM SMTHNG WILL GO WRONG”

All excellent advice, no doubt, but if I wait for a week to transcribe my notes I won’t be able to translate them at all. (“Health Arts __ __” refers “The Health Arts Society of Ontario”, an organization that puts on concerts in hospitals and nursing homes. No one could remember the full name.)

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I’m going to have to figure out how to make vegan versions of these:

What do you think – margarine for the butter, flax seed or arrowroot beaten in water for the egg, soy milk for the milk? I don’t know what to use in the place of heavy cream, though.

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The old Progressive Conservative Party is to the Reform Party of Canada as The Simpsons is to South Park.

Let me elaborate: If you, like me, went to Catholic school in the early 90’s you may recall that there was something of a moral panic around Bart Simpson – specifically that he was a terrible role model for children, what with the “Underachiever and proud of it” T-shirts and all.  Or maybe it was just my Grade 6 teacher, Mrs. Fraumeni.  Anyway, The Simpsons Are Immoral and Terrible For Children to Watch was a lesson I absorbed.

Then a few years later South Park came out, and boy did THAT make The Simpsons look good in comparison.  People suddenly realized that while it contains a lot of snark and disrespect for authority – Homer and Principal Snyder are both total buffoons, Mr. Burns the caricature of a Gilded Age aristocrat, Marge subordinate to Homer even though she’s much smarter and a better parent than him – The Simpsons is actually, in its own way, a heartwarming comedy about an idiot who really loves his family making his way in the world as best he can.  The South Park universe, in comparison, is very cold.  The parents are idiots and the children are assholes, and the authority figures are not loveably but dangerously nasty.  It is much funnier, though.

Anyway – I’m old enough to remember when the PC party was the most dangerous thing EVAR that was going to destroy Canada as we know it.  That was when I was about nine.  Then, of course, came the Reform Party and the CCRAP (what a terrible acronym THAT was) and then just plain ol’ Conservatives and now we actually face, you know, destroying Canada as we know it.

And it’s tempting to say, “Yeah, well, everything will probably just be OK because it always is,” but as I covered in my podcast, that’s just a naive and stupid way of looking at things.  Things aren’t going to change overnight but they will assuredly change for the worse.  And then you deal with the change (or you don’t); you survive (or you don’t); and you get proud of yourself for surviving (or get used to whatever state you find yourself in) and forget you had goals other than keeping your head above water.

So in short I don’t know exactly what to do, other than look into starting Evil Diva Productions: The Militant Wing or Evil Diva Productions: The Berlin Branch.

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My friend and fellow Evil Diva Suzanne and I were hanging out on Sunday, doing some corporationy things and chatting politics.  We had a great idea for a video: Daleks doorknocking for Stephen Harper!

So I told Ben about it yesterday, and he made it.  Using a clip from the 2nd Doctor Who serial ever:

Remember, Canada – a vote for Harper is a vote for Davros!

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While I’m in Montreal singing with the Montreal Chamber Orchestra, I’ll be reposting some classic Scintillations for your amusement. Enjoy!

After watching all that Doctor Who, I felt like indulging in some agreeable fluff. So this week I watched the first three Twilight movies again.

YES I KNOW. The Twilight movies are ridiculous, but unlike the books, enjoyably so.

Anyway, after I stopped being distracted by Taylor Lautner’s abs* I was struck by the similarities between the Edward-Bella love story and the Doctor-Rose story arc.

Spoilers for both Doctor Who and Twilight after the jump! Though, if you don’t already know how Twilight ends, I’d like to know what rock you’ve been living under. And join you there.

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