8.29.2006

The Effects of YouTube

So I'm no stranger to YouTube. Recently I've been watching everything from clips of the Emmys (Check out John Stewart and Steven Colbert) to card tricks (which I'm happy to say, Matt and I figured out after a few viewings). So naturally one day I did a little browsing to check out some piano videos. The results definitely had an impact on me.

On the first search all I typed in was "piano" which ended up with a lot of piano renditions of video game themes. Some of them pretty interesting. But not really what I was looking for. So I decided to limit my search a little more and typed in "clair de lune" which is a piece I played in college, but never really mastered. These results interested me for 2 reasons. 1- There was one guy who played amazingly well, although the video camera was positioned in such a way that you couldnt see his face or hands at all. 2- There were lots of videos of people in the "still learning" phase. Which really surprised me. I cant figure out why on earth someone would record and share things that werent 100% correct yet. I know I could never do something like that. But what also surprised me were the comments for these videos. Nothing like "here are the 487 notes you played wrong" or "you suck, give up." Most of the comments were supportive and helpful, even if they were critiques. I remember one said something like "you have a good start here, it would be even more effective if you gave some thought as to dynamics." What... no rulers smashing down on poor piano students fingers? What a foreign concept to me. I guess I'm too used to the blunt criticism of my former teachers.

But anyway, one thing all this YouTubing has got me doing is playing piano again. My shoulder still isnt healed up (that's another issue), so I can't really play like I used to. But I can't stay away anymore either. I've been trying to get Clair de Lune up to 100% and I've come a long way. But I dont know if I'll ever think it's there. I guess it's the perfection curse most musicians deal with. I'll work on getting one section to flow better. Then I soon as that's right, I'll be like "oh now I need to get the voicing correct," then once that's done I think about the dynamics, then phrasing, then the tempo, etc etc etc... There's just too much required to make it perfect. I think I'll always be thinking about what layer of musicality I can add on. I think this is why it takes me so long to learn pieces, and also why I can play a piece for like 5 years and not get tired of it. It's constantly evolving into something better than it was and yet never achieving the greatness I know it should.

Huh... I just realized that last sentence pretty much sums up my playing.

Anyway, the point I was going to make was that YouTube has made me realize that I am far better than the average Joe Shmo when it comes to playing piano, so I need to stop being afraid of it. But I guess I made a different point instead.

8.28.2006

*ensor

So I listened to Pablo Honey earlier today. I never knew that Creep was edited for the radio. the original lyrics fit the tone of the song way better. Stupid FCC (they're the ones in charge of that kind of stuff right?--- well if not, Stupid Censor-Organization).

Other stupid censoring things:

The Green Day song... American Idiot. The radio cuts out a word. They dont bleep it, they cut it out... totally throws the counting off, which drives me crazy.

Bleeping in general. Especially anytime they bleep out the middle letters of a swear word... hmm... wonder what f**k means? maybe fqxk? Seriously, are the "u" and "c" that offensive? And if so, then should we bleep them out all the time? How ridi**lo*s is that?

Changing phrases when a movie is on TV. "that stupid dumb head" in an awkward high pitched voice just doesnt flow as seemlessly as I think the censors think it does. Though my husband likes to watch movies he knows really well on TV to see if he can guess the weird thing they'll change "offensive language" to.

Censoring irritates me.

Tall People Are Smarter

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060825/ts_nm/economy_height_dc

Maybe I should get my back straightened... it might add a few points to my IQ.

8.25.2006

Meme

I've been tagged by Tom. Orignally this started out as a Book Meme, but since I dont read a whole lot I had a tough time answering these questions. So I decided that since music has had such a big effect on my life, I'd change it up a little... and who's going to stop me? So here's the Book Meme with a twist.


1. One album that changed your life: hmm... just one... that's hard... Well one song in particular that changed me was Bob Dylan's The Hurricane. This was my "gateway" song into Bob Dylan. The anger, energy, and conviction in the song opened my eyes to the amount of power a good songwriter should have. It doesnt even matter that Dylan's voice is barely tolerable, I couldnt stop listening to this song. Now I'm a full fledged Dylan junkie. (maybe not as much as other people, but more than I ever thought I'd be). But this has shown me that good music is about more than fast notes, difficult passages, and how pretty it is.

2. One album that you’ve listened to more than once: Okay this question doesnt translate well from the orginial book question because it would hopefully cover every single CD I own. But I'm going to choose The Bends by Radiohead because it definitely needs to be listened to in its entirety (which I think is why they haven't allowed their music to be on iTunes). I highly recommend it.

3. One album you'd want on a desert island: The very best of Elvis Costello and the Attractions. If I were on a desert island I'd probably be depressed and unmotivated so I'd want a CD that had the opposite effect on me. I can't sit still when I listen Pump It Up. Oh and I love the last song on this album, even though it is slightly crazy, it's so good.

4. One album that made you laugh: I'm gonna go with a Mitch Hedberg comedy album... Mitch All Together. One of the very few comedy albums I'll actually listen to (multiple times even, that's how funny it is).

5. One album that made you cry: the Jars of Clay self title debute I suppose.

6. One album you wish had been written: Maybe I'll do one someday. Actually something I'd love to do is arrange and orchestrate simple piano works for small ensembles. Kinda similar to what Ravel did with Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, on a smaller scale.

7. One album you wish had never been written: Well I could probably go without a lot of 80s hair band music and country music in general, but if I have to pick one, I'd say whatever album Living Color's Cult of Personality is on (I absolutely hate that song).

8. One album you’re currently listening to: Lately I havent been able to get enough of System of A Down. Though I've been listening to my own mix of a few songs from Toxicity and Mezmerize.

9. One album you’ve been meaning to check out: Radiohead's Pablo Honey. Mike's been letting us borrow but I keep forgetting to listen to it. So today I'm going to change that...

10. Tag 5 others: I dont like tagging people. But if you want to give this a try, go ahead.

8.18.2006

I just discovered Wikiqoute

"Sounds like two skeletons copulating on a tin roof" — Sir Thomas Beecham, famous British conductor, when asked about his opinion of the harpsichord.

It totally does.

I hate harpsicords.

Fast Food

Have you ever noticed the gutters and drains when you are going through the drive thru of a fast food place? They always have liquid pouring out of them... even if it hasnt rained in days. I have always imagined that this liquid is actually leftover french fry frying oil that they dump down the drain. I imagine that this oil also contains old, gross scraps of food. The thought totally grosses me out. I also think that it smells bad so I usually dont breathe through my nose when I place my order.

8.17.2006

Xanadu

I'm in the mood to watch Xanadu. That movie is awesome! But not as awesome as saying the word Xanadu when you are around me and my sisters. Whenever someone says Xanadu (which you wouldn't think happened too often, but I think people catch on to this reaction, so they find a way to bring it up) we immediately break into the main song of the movie.

Xandadu, Xanadu-u-u, now we are here, in Xanadu... Xanadu your neon lights will shine... for you Xanadu


Olivia Newton John rocks

I love watching musicals with my sisters

The Little Things

Lately Thursdays have turned into my busy days. Today, for instance, I left my house at 8:15am and got home at 9:45 pm. I realize that a lot of people have days like that. And it really doesn't bother me normally... but today was one of those days when the little things started to get to me.

My two big tasks for the day were: get the pianos at church tuned and give 2 presentations in my class. Somehow that took well over 12 hours. But even that didnt really bother me. I worked on my presentations at church while waiting for the pianos to be tuned. I also managed to clean up a little of the paper mess that seems to accumulate with all the music material. My first presentation for my class went well (I presented a website called Classical Music Library which offers free access to LOTS of classical recordings... unfortunatley it's a subscription database, so I can only access it through UMD's catalog and as soon as I'm no longer a student, I'll have no access). And by the time everyone had presented their websites, there wasnt enough time for me to give my other presentation... so I got out of it. Completely. All I had to do was turn in my notes instead. So main items for the day were accomplished. I feel good about that.

Here's what sucked. I got cut off while driving to church by someone who was completely out of line (and then had the nerve to honk at me). Then after writing up my notes for school during the piano tunings at church, I stopped by my parent's house to print them. I'm creating a new law... Jessica's Law: Whenever you have to print something at the last minute, the forces of the universe will cause every possible printing scenario to crap out on you, leaving you printed-less. I couldnt email it to my parent's computer because I didnt have the password to access their network. I tried to connect directly to the printer, but of course my computer didnt have the correct driver to install it. They have an HP 2600 something and my computer had drivers for the 2500, 2550, and 2700 series... where's the 2600??? How can you just skip right over that??? UGH. So then I tried to burn my files onto a CD-R, and for whatever reason my computer wouldn't recognize the CDRs my parents have. So I searched the whole house looking for a different brand (there are 6 people living in that house... all with computers... you'd think there'd be more than one brand of CDRs in there). But that didnt work. So I tried a DVDR (oh by the way, at this point I was about 30 minutes past when I usually leave for school) but that didn't work either... I dont even know if my laptop has a DVD burner... I guess not. So after exhausting every possible option I could think of (I was so proud of being able to come up with so many alternative ways to do this all on my own), I decided at this point it would probably be faster to just re-type the whole thing on my dads computer. So that's what I did. I typed as fast as I could. And when all was said and done (and finally printed) I only had one small typo. Not too bad.

By now I was about 50 minutes past my usual "leave-time." So I got in my car, and started it up, only to realize that my tank was on E. So I went to the gas station... tick tick tick, at this point i was praying that I'd get to class on time. I hit lots more traffic than usual on the Beltway, but somehow managed not to be late for class anyway... this is mostly due to the fact that I leave WAY earlier than necessary.

So then I had class.

On my way home i took my usual route of 495 to the Dulles Toll Road to the Greenway. As soon as I got on the Toll Road and past the first exit after the toll plaza traffic stopped. They were repaving the road and pushed everyone into 1 lane. One itty-bitty lane. And even though it was after 8 (so you'd think there wouldnt be much traffic) it was ridiculously backed up. And of course whenever they close multiple lanes, they do it one at a time, slowly over a certain distance. So I'm doing my best merging (waiting until you get the point where you have to merge, and then staggering with the lane next to me), and when it's my turn to stagger in... 3 cars don't let me. I'm inching my way up and over, with my blinker on, in a clearly marked force merge. The cars ahead of me had no problem with the stagger technique. But for whatever reason these 3 people just couldn't bare to let a car in like they are supposed to. Grr. So I tried to force my way over on one of them, but they didn't like it, and they honked. So i was honked at twice today. TWICE. I'm the most cautious and non agressive driver ever (even to a fault), and I got honked at twice in one day. That's crap.

It took me nearly 2 hours to get home. Usually it takes 45 minutes. Nothing like paying for access to a road in which it takes you 4 times as long as the free road. Awesome. Then I finally make it to the end of the Toll Road, and as I'm getting ready to go through the toll booth to get on the Greenway, the car in front of me stops. He has no smart tag. Why do you go through the smart tag only lane with no smart tag? I understand that maybe you can get confused and end up in the wrong lane, but what happens when you do. The little gate wouldnt go up, so this guy gets out of his car and starts wandering around the lane. I guess he's looking for the magic "open sesame" button. After a minute or two of looking he decides to go down to a booth with a person in it. So he cautiously makes his way across several lanes of tolls to find a person who can help him. Meanwhile there are cars piling up behind me... all honking away. And the guy in the booth motions that he'll be there in a minute. At this point I was just tired of being in the car, tired of the day, and tired of stupid drivers. So while this guy tries to figure out what the heck to do to get through this gate, I was sitting in my car behind him, screaming away. Not screaming at him, just screaming. My patience was shot.

Eventually I got home... I let my dog out, made myself a toasted peanut butter-banana-honey sandwhich (my favorite) and now I'm blogging away my frustration.

Grr to the little things.

8.14.2006

Photography

The following entry made me think about photography in a different way.

http://dc.metblogs.com/archives/2006/08/some_things_loo.phtml#more

8.09.2006

Aesthetics is a word I love to use and see used.

8.07.2006

Tests

Hmm... what to write about... hmm...

Well I guess I could write something interesting about school. I started my new class a few weeks ago. It's okay (I say that with VERY little enthusiasm). Still not as interesting as I would hope, but it's a step I need to take in order to get my degree. So I do it. Last week we had a pop quiz on Singularity and two different Information Theories (don't even ask what those to have to do with each other... the randomness of this class is one thing I haven't learned to cope with yet). Anyway, seeing as how my teacher loves to talk about every little detail he can about every single topic we discuss (the entire history, who was involved, what their parents did for a living, etc) I wrote A LOT, 4 pages of essays. And it all paid off because I got an A+!!! Wahoo! I didn't even know they gave A+s in grad school (I was shocked to find that they gave them in regular college). So I guess I'm off to a good start. I have to say, despite the fact that my hand nearly fell off afterwards, I love essay tests. I have no problem proving that I know what I'm talking about on whatever topic we've gone over in class. And I'm a decent writer when I need to be (despite my very casual grammar, structure, and style I blog with). So I tend to do really well with essays. Multiple choice on the other hand just sucks. I think I over think the questions too much... somehow I can have a question as simple as 1+1=? and find about 10 different ways to interpret the question, each requiring a different answer. I've been tempted to explain my choices on multiple choice tests, but I figure that teachers who give them won't take the time to read any notes I put in. So I tend to do alright on multiple choice tests, but I get frustrated because if it were in essay form it would be much better.

Anyway, that was a fascinating topic (it really just gave me a chance to brag about my grade :) hey I dont brag often, but every once and a while I like to celebrate the fact that I succeeded in something.)