quasigeostrophy: (Default)
I thought I'd share a bit about Toni's and my recent trip to Minnesota, including photos.

Sunday we drove up to Stillwater, MN, taking the long way through Wisconsin so we could hit Mars Cheese Castle and the Jelly Belly factory gift shop just a little over the border from Illinois. The former was okay, but I think I've been in better cheese shops. At the latter we were hoping to replace my very old Jelly Belly t-shirt, but alas, nothing was in stock that was appealing. We did get some cheese at Mars and some jelly beans at Jelly Belly, though, along with lots of stuff from nearby Pepperidge Farm and Tupperware outlet shops.

We stayed right in Stillwater at the Water Street Inn, since one of the reasons we made the trip was to see Paul & Lorraine (I'd link them, but their domain seems to be offline - they're a quasi-Celtic duo. Lorraine plays fiddle, Paul plays acoustic guitar, and they both sing) play for 9 hours on St. Patrick's Day in Charlie's Pub downstairs and in the Inn ballroom.

Monday, we drove over to south Minneapolis and hit Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore. I'd been there back in the early '90s when visiting a friend who lived and worked in Rochester, MN at the time, and it was pretty much how I remembered: disorganized, dusty, but what an awesome selection. We spent too much money, of course. Afterward, we hit a Borders so I could get an updated map/atlas of the area (my previous ones dated from the last time I was there), and had lunch at Big Bowl, a great Singapore Thai/Chinese fusion place that makes their own awesome ginger ale. And I had salmon pad thai. Then we headed back to Stillwater, hit Valley Bookseller in town, and I took some photos around the (frozen but cracking thanks to 60-degree temps) river's edge. For dinner we went to Freight House, which was yummy.

Tuesday we headed back over to south Minneapolis, this time to hit DreamHaven Books, Neil Gaiman's favorite local bookstore. They didn't open until Noon, so we took our time, also looking for a sign we saw Monday along the way. A tool renter's shop was advertising (that they) "Dump Bodies". I'm tempted to submit that to Fail Blog. :-) Next, we stopped at Uncle Hugo's again and got more stuff there (of course). Then we went to DreamHaven. They had a different variety than Uncle Hugo's, were a lot cleaner, and seemed to venture more into the comics market. They had the obligatory Gaiman shrine rack in the middle of the store, where I picked up a few things we didn't have, and it was difficult not to get signed copies. After shopping trip number two, we went back to the Inn in Stillwater where Toni napped for a little while, and then we headed downstairs to the concert at Charlie's Pub. Paul & Lorraine played there from 3:00pm until 5:30pm, then relocated to the Inn ballroom where they continued from 6:00pm to Midnight.

The concert was a lot of fun. We met several folks Toni had been getting to know online through Lorraine's blog ("Fiends"). She and Paul are great musicians and know how to entertain a crowd. And IMHO, Lorraine could give Eileen Ivers a run for her money on the fiddle. Toni and I stayed until Midnight CDT, which was way past my usual bedtime. :-) Drove home brain dead yesterday, around Chicago at rush hour (blech), getting back about 7:30pm.

Photos are here.

Traditional logic (and likely my advisor) says I shouldn't have gone since I'm working on my M.S. thesis for hopeful defense in late April, but Toni convinced me, and I'm very glad. I needed a break, and I don't think I'm all that behind in my school work because of it, and Toni and I hadn't been anywhere together on a longer trip since I think before I went back to school.
quasigeostrophy: (Default)
But they really didn't need to play It's Raining Men on my way to campus this morning. Really.
quasigeostrophy: (angel goggles)
Why the heck do I suddenly have a Life in a Northern Town earworm?


Mar. 27th, 2007 05:38 pm
quasigeostrophy: (Bugs drag)
Me: "I have an All Along the Watchtower earworm. Does that make me a cylon?"

[livejournal.com profile] soaring_phoenix: "I have an earworm of (ABBA's) Take a Chance on Me."

Me: "Urgh. If that was the Cylon signal earworm..."

Both of us, nearly in unison: "Shoot me now."
quasigeostrophy: (calvin snow)
Okay, I've been a fan of the band Rush since the late '70s. One of my favorite pieces of theirs is the instrumental YYZ from Moving Pictures. I've always thought it cool it was named after the code for Toronto's international airport, but I only just learned that the reason it starts out in the unusual time signature of 10/8 is because the starting beat is "Y Y Z" in Morse code. Am I the last Rush fan to realize that?

(I think I need a good music icon.)


May. 30th, 2006 03:47 pm
quasigeostrophy: (Bucky-Maori Haka)

Last week, when I finally was able to cut the grass after about three weeks, near the back of the garage I inadvertently ran over a nest. All I saw were pink, kicking legs, and, since it was chilly, I ran around front, grabbed a handful of mulch, and gently placed it over the top of what I had uncovered with the mower. I wasn't sure exactly what was in the nest, be it bird or rabbit or what, and I didn't want to get close again to find out since no injuries were obvious.

About 20 minutes ago I started hearing Robins outside the window, in the general area of that nest. I ran for the camera, but too late - mom and/or dad took off when I snuck around the side of the garage and the babies shut up. I can't see the babies without disturbing the reworked camouflage - they used some of the mulch I put there but seem to have rejected some of it as well. I didn't think Robins nested on the ground.

They sure were making a lot of noise!!
quasigeostrophy: (Default)
I've not talked about it much before here on LJ, but I grew up with and still have a great love for, kick-ass Baroque and Classical pipe organ music. In order to play my mother's old spinet organ, I took lessons at a local Wurlitzer from when I was around 5 or 6 until I was 13. At any time I would have been just as likely to be asked by my dad or my sister to turn down a recording of Bach pieces as I would have say a Rush or ELO record.

One of my best friends growing up, A, was also very into pipe organ music. And he had access to an instrument: during our teens we would walk to the Episcopal church his mom attended and tinker on the three-manual one there when nothing else was going on in the church. The priest never minded at all and was amused by our interest. Also nearby was a crummy restaurant/pizza palace (crummy in terms of the quality of food) that held the old, refurbished, mammoth organ that came from the old Paramount Theatre in Oakland, CA, the Paramount Music Palace (that restaurant long having been closed and demolished, the Mighty Wurlitzer now appears to be housed in a similar pizza place in Florida). A and I would go there often just to sit and listen. Once, when we heard that Lyn Larsen was coming, we had to go. It was a moral imperative.

Not long before the Lyn Larsen concert, A and I had checked out from the library a record of French organ pieces, including Widor's Toccata from Symphony No 5 in F, Op 42 No 1 (a RealAudio recording in its entirety is on the linked page). This piece rocks. A and I ended up checking out the sheet music and trying to figure out bits of it. Page after page of black - sixteenth note chords for the left hand, thirty-second note arpeggios for the right, and a busy pedal melody. When we went to see Lyn Larsen at the Paramount, I think we were 14. For the second half of his show, he took requests. A and I marched up to the base of the organ stand and asked him to play "the Widor". He was amazed and impressed that two 14-year olds even knew what that was. And his rendition brought down the place. I would have loved to have gotten a bootleg recording (I have since found a CD him performing it elsewhere).

I even remember going to the church in which Toni and I were going to be married and, having already decided on our music, hearing the organist there playing the Widor and thinking, "D'oh! If I knew she knew how to play that..." Although that church organist did a fabulous job with Pachelbel's Canon in D, which I also find very moving (and now has an extra nice association).

Anyway, this morning, on my way to get my haircut, I had forgotten I had burned a number of classical pieces to one of the MP3 CDs I made for the new car, when the Widor started. I have a tendency, if I am really into a piece of music, to air play. Especially if there is a prominent instrument I know. Let me say that driving and air playing the Widor is dangerous - the pedal part involves both feet. I had to be restrained and avoid the car pedals. :-)
quasigeostrophy: (Puffin - clipboard)
Thinking about guitar playing earlier, I came up with this list, because, you know, I like making unordered lists of things. I can always come up with a few favorites of something, but can almost never rank the lists themselves. These are some of my favorite guitar parts from pop/rock music over the years (not in any particular order, and I think they may prove my comment in a post elsewhere that I must be a musical fogey):
  • Mark Knopfler's coda to Dire Straits' Sultans of Swing
  • Joe Walsh's & Don Felder's duet in the coda to the Eagle's Hotel California
  • Lindsey Buckingham's coda to Fleetwood Mac's I'm So Afraid
  • Buck Dharma's solo in Blue Öyster Cult's (Don't Fear) The Reaper
  • Martin Barre's solo in Jethro Tull's Aqualung
  • David Byrne's repetitive rhythm part and bizarre solo in Talking Heads' Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)
  • Carlos Santana throughout Smooth
  • Alex Lifeson's back-and-forth with Geddy Lee on bass in Rush's YYZ
  • David Gilmour's solo in Pink Floyd's Money

So, what are some of yours?
quasigeostrophy: (Default)
(I'm sure I could Google this, but I can't think of the appropriate search terms and I don't care that much - just curious.)

Is there a term for the act of running one's pick along the length of the string in order to get that sound that Tom Sholz of Boston wore out all the way to the bank? In the short span of time in my early 20's when I was learning to play, I did it a few times but never really knew if there was a musical term for it.


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