April 11, 2003

We really did not do much today. Woke up late. Walked to Jack Straw to see if anyone wanted to have breakfast with us. Heather did, but she was the only one there, so we went to breakfast without her, but brought her back a muffin. Then we did laundry. Then we called Ellen to try to get her to have lunch with us, but she was busy. So we walked back to JS and got Joan and Heather to take us to lunch. Then, after they went back to work, we called Tiffany and Ed and got coffee and looked at area music shops. I saw minidisc player, but it had no digital outs. Stupid consumer stuff.
Then we went to the Meet the Artist Night at JS. The first artist was Folasayo Dele-Ogunrinde, a poet. Her poems were short and about wisdom and inspriation, but mostly about love. She was excellent at presenting her poems, with great emoting. Christi bought her book. The second artist was Ben Larson. He’s a evolutionary scientist who beleives that music can evolve like living organisms in people’s mind. To demonstrate this theory, he gave a theme to three different musicians and asken them to interpret it. He played us a tape of the original theme and the re-interpretation. Then he did some computer loop-based thing to it that sounded granular. It was interesting, but I still don’t see the advantage to doing live laptop music than just making a tape ahead of time. The tape and the laptop have equal performance value as far as giving the audience something to look at and you can slave over a tape and make it perfect. Why not play a tape while checking your email? But this made me think that it would be interesting to do re-sampling stuff live. With an ensemble and a laptop. Like Tones. It would be just like playing a tape with an ensemble, but more interactive and hence, has the laptop and the performance aspect. And it’s interesting to re-assmble sounds in tape, so it’s also interesting to re-assemble sounds as they happen. Something to think about.
At the intermission, I discovered that the woman sitting behind me was a Mills alum. She talked about seeing John Cage play piano in the Mills concert hall in 1951. She also said that then all the “Mills Girls” got to play one piece from their senior concert on KPFA radio. This explains all the Mills names in the KPFA tape archive. Very exciting.
The next artist was Hannah Palin. She did a this American Life-esque radio segment called The Day My Mother’s Head Exploded which was about how her mother had a brain aneurism 15 years ago and survived, but changed completely. She played the radio segment. In it she described her experiences in the hospital with her mother. And how her mom changed and stuff. It was funny and poingant and interesting, but it was hard to listen to.
The last guy was a vocalist who recorded traditional ballads and his own lyrics in a folk style. One of the tapes he played was one of the same songs that Ellen played us a recording of herself singing. They both used a similar vocal style. It’s not a song I had heard before, nor a style that I was familiar with. So it was nice to hear this guy, even though his songs were longer than radio-ready format and it made me appreciate Ellen’s music more. cool.
I talked to Hannah Palin and her mother a bit afterwards. We talked about her experiences a bit more. Then we changed the subject to alternative brain healing technigues. Crystals, candles, St. John the Baptist. It’s a lot easier to talk about St. John the Baptist than hospital scenes. But she told me that she cried when doing the show even though it was 15 years later and her mom survived. Scars.
The Christi and I went back to our hotel room and watched When Harry Met Sally. I’m ready to go home, I think. But I’m not going home. I’m going to Connecticut with all my Seattle springtime clothes and none of my wintery clothes, while my poor sousaphone sits at home unplayed.
I’ve only ever watched when Harry Met Sally on vacation. It must get played on hotel cable a lot.

April 6,2003

We decided that we need nice clothes to wear on April 9th. So we went out to the mall in Portland and looked around for a while. Gap. Baby Gap. Gap kids. Large pictures of anorexic models. Over prices flimsy clothes sown in the third world. What is a young pinko transvestite to do? So we went to the Nordstroms Rack, which is a store that seels factory seconds originally destines for Nordstroms. I bought some trousers. Trousers are just like Men’s pants except that they’re made of wool and they’re unhemmed. uh yeah. this is an exciting story. i bought some rayon trousers with no hems and a blue shirt after trying on all the shirts at two stores and none of them fit because apparently nobody who wants a button down shirt with collar is skinny with long arms. the end. Then we went to Powells and I bought Jarhead. Christi’s dad had to rush back to Roseburg to be at an 8:00 AM meeting in southern Oregon.

song! http://www.stud.ntnu.no/~makarov/anthems/internationale-en.mp3

April 7, 2003

We needed to do laundry before we left, but we overslept. Then the soap wasn’t rinsing out of things, so we had to run the laundry twice. Then the dryer took forever. But that was ok, because Christi’s mom ended up hemming my trousers twice. Finally, late in the afternoon, we loaded our car and drove to Coffee People.
And then we went to Seattle. Our hotel is acorss the street from Jack Straw, which is much more convient than the other-side-of-the-university location we had last time. The room is nice. They gave us two beds without asking our preference, though. We could switch for a cheaper room, but we’re lazy. Remember, when you make an ASSUMPTION, you make an ASS out of U and MPTION.
Ellen Fullman invited us over for curry, so we had grabbed a jar of homemmade chutney from Christi’s mom on the way out and gave it to Ellen. The chutney was good. One of her friends came over with computer problems. I gave him a bunch of probably useless advice. I like sounding like I know what I’m talking about, but, of course, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve never owned or trouble-shot a computer running anything microsoft past windoze 3.1. My advice on fixing windoze problems is less than useful.
Ellen is doing a video project called Bridging the Gap and it’s about how arts funding has gone to heck. She was in a bike/car accident last year and lost a tooth. A new tooth will be made, but not yet, so she has a gap in her smile, which is not very noticable. But it’s a front tooth, so , well, you know how you would feel about it if you had a front tooth missing. So she’s getting folks that are artists or work at arts organizations to grin in photos and she’s photoshopping out of their smiles the same tooth that she lost. She’s going to fade from a “before” pitcture to an “after” picture. She showed us the video. It’s very funny.
and she played us a bunch of songs on an album she hasn’t released yet. She’s singing on all of them. They’re all kind of creepy, but in a good way. One of them has sounds that would work well in the incidental music of the doctor Who TV show. I didn’t write this in any of my personal essays, but the Doctor Who music is a big influence of mine. It’s the best music that you’ll find on a TV show. I like the rest of the show too, because the plots are silly and the lighting is bad and the costumes are funny and it’s so darn nerdy, but my appreciation of the music is real, un-ironic enjoyment. The only reason Christi would initially consent to watch Dr Who with me was because she liked the music. Anyway, so I compared some of Ellen’s music to Dr. Who. I’m not sure if the compliment came across 100% clearly.

April 8, 2003

We tooled around Seattle some. We decided we needed haircuts, so we went to a barbershop reccomended by Ellen. It’s in the Freemont district, which is kind of hip. We noticed that on the corner was a giant statue which evoked a strong resemblance to Lenin. We parked near a rocketship perched on a building. On the way, walking down the block to the barber shop, we came upon a thai restuarant and stopped for a really good lunch. Then, after lunch, two doors further, we passed a place offering vegan waffles and vegan bisquits and gravy! Too bad we just had lunch. We also bight biodiesel fuel nearby. My reference said to call the retailer first so I did and he said sure. So we showed up to the address and discovered that they were selling biodiesel out of the back of a van! So we filled up.
Later, we discovered that a coffee shop near our hotel has wireless networking, so I could check my email. Wesleyan wants to know whether or not I will attend by the 15th. I sent them email explaining that I would be back the 15th and could visit them after that. They said that the very latest I could get back to them would be the 17th. So I booked a flight from Tacoma to Hartford flying overnight, Sunday night. Arg.
We went to a copy place to print and copy programs. We asked for 16 copies and they gave us maybe ten times that many. Anybody want a program?
We got James from the airport and introduced him to Joan at Jack Straw and then went for dinner. It was late, so we didn’t go to a movie or a concer or a protest or anything. Seattle is not at it’s most exciting on tuesday nights anyway. This week is spring break.

April 9th, 2003

Early in the morning, we retrieved the rest of our ensemble from the airport. We walked over to Jack Straw to stash the cello and head out for breakfast. We introduced the ensemble + Tiffany and Ed as our “entourage.” Joan was excited that so many people came up from the bay area. We researsed all of our non-tape and normal tape pieces. Those were the ones that either were just the ensemble or only had a normal two track “tape” (actually a CD, but whatever). after we felt happy with those. We took a lunch break. My dad showed up just as we were leaving, so we piled him in to our six passenger rental car too. We went to Capitol Hill, the gay neightborhood, because James said he wanted to go where the cool people were. We ate at a Russian place that served perogies. Then we went to a coffee shop that Ellen took us to last time we came to town.
We went back to the hotel so the ensemble could nap. Christi and I went to JS to lay out the audience piece that Christi wrote. Then she re-editted The Greek of the River to You. Then we came back to change and then showed back up at JS at 5:00, when the sound engineer said he’d be done with the folks before us, he was going to throw them out at 5:00 whether they were done or not.
That didn’t actually occur, but it was ok. I asked him to setup pieces that needed rehearsing first. So we tried to setup MyMom which uses a three track tape. The tape didn’t work. He explained that tapes never work. Right. So I burned a copy of the protools session from Christi’s computer, where thankfully, I had put a copy of it just in case. I put that on the studio computer and we got sound out to the right places and rehearsed that while he hung the projection screen for Aelita. Then I asked him to setup mics so we could practice Tones, while he set up the projector. At every possible phase, equipment failed to work as expected. He would look angrily at the gear and say, “Why aren’t you working, you stupid, goddamn son of a bitch?” This is how engineers talk to their tools. I could tell he was an excellent engineer. However, as every single thing seemed to go wrong, it became kind of unnnerving. When at 7:20, we had not yet checked the CDs, and we were suppossed to start at 7:30, I started to become alarmed. Apparently, I looked alarmed.
We were actually, amazingly ready to go at 7:30. But Joan thought more people would show up, so we waited at least ten more minutes to start. More people did not show up. The Bay Area delegation outnumbered the locals.
All of the pieces went as planned, except for a minor snafu on Tones. I was still nervous as all heck at first, but got more confident as things worked right. When we played My Mom, my dad started crying, which I expected (I should have warned him, but I didn’t…), but so did other people. I co-wrote something that made people cry….
I had been worried about the in-progressness of Aelita. It’s still very rough. But we did it right after My Mom, so I guess they decided they liked us. People laughed at my jokes, even the lame ones. Of course, they mostly liked us already, since Christi or I knew practically everyone there. Maybe I was just un-nervous enough to try making lame jokes. Anyway, Aelita went perhaps more smoothly than I had ever seen it go. In a stroke of luck, James’ drum pattern happened to match up with the on-screen hammering where the worker is forging a sicle. We hadn’t wanted to close with aelita, becase it wasn’t the strongest thing, but we probably should have anyway.
Then the audience got to ask questions. Trimpin asked why I called tape music “tape music” is it was really a CD. Ummm. I don’t remember all the other questions an asnwers. Nobody offered feedback. And nothing got recorded cuz they can’t record while using the speakers in the room. But at least 4 extra people have now heard our music, which is good. I hope they liked it.
Our whole entourage, which had grown by Christi’s mom, Joan and Heather (who also works at JS) went wandering into the restaurant district to find a place that would make us all food at 9:45. We had a nice dinner. Good conversations. Christi’s mom and Carolyn talked about how happy they were that Christi and I had put on nice clothes for the event, for example. The conversations I heard though, were more about arts and stuff. My dad paid for everybody’s dinner. It was very nice of him.
We walked back to the hotel and I said goodbye to everyone who would be leaving early the next morning. Sleep.

April 10th

I promised that I would ride to the airport with everybody this morning, but it was the first night I actually slept since I got here and I sleeply broke my promise in the morning. Christi is letting me sleep so I won’t be as completely exhausted when I get to Connecticut.
Lisa didn’t leave this morning, though, so we went over to Pike’s Market with her. Christi bought a jaw harp and baby clothes aglore for Owen. I wanted to get him a dress, but Christi said that his mother might not be happy about that. Then we went over to the Freemont district to have lunch at the veagn-frienly co-op that I had seen there earlier. It was great. We went to look at the Lenin look-alike statue to see who was made tolook like Lenin. Christi and I had been joking earlier with returning in the dead of night with a brass plaque falsely labelling the statue as of being a statue of Lenin. Anyway, we looked at the plaque and discovered that the subject of the statue was . . . Lenin! It had been salveged from Solvakia. Then we went to look at the rocket ship and found out it was salvaged from the cold war also. the plaque explained that Freemont was the center of the universe. It certainly is a self-consciously funky place. The plaque made the area sound very enamoured with itself. Still, statues of lenin and rockets ships are cool.
We took Lisa to the airport and then sort of hung around for the rest of the day. I’m not in my traveling rythm. Also, it’s a real pain scheduling meetings with professors next week from here via Christi’s laptop. We should meet back up with Tiffany and Ed tomorrow, I hope.

The Update continues

and it would have continued sooner, had i not just spent so much time trying to figure out what was wrong with my stoopid airport network. the base station had to be restarted. of course, it took a long time to figure that out, because my old base station only had to be restarted once in a blue moon. i’ve barely had the new one for a week and already it’s crashed. my old hub (which admittedly, doen’t have nifty features like wireless) which is so old that it pre-dates 100baseT, has never needed to be restarted. New technology is bad. Upgrading is a myth. If you get new software, your old hardware can’t handle it. If you get new hardware, your old software can’t handle it. anyway, i now can connect to the internet (again) in OS9. huzzah! You may wonder while I’m still partly on OS9? Well, apple didn’t put any sound drivers or MIDI support that was good enough for audio processing into OSX until 10.2.3. Now that this update is available, software is struggling to get caught up. I’m not on Jaguar yet. It’s $129 extra dollars and I’m not spending it until all the software I want can run on it (which is also a bunch of extra money). I’d stay on 9 forever, but this machine has head room to upgrade. It was built with OSX in mind, but the hardware was ahead of the software. If you buy the fastest computer you can get your hands on, it lasts twice as long. the upgrade it until it’s at optimum performance and never upgrade it again.
Anyway, when last we left off, it was night time and the 12th was turning into the 13th, a most unhappy birthday, as the other person most intimately connected with that occurance is no more.

February 13, 2002

I am now 27 years old.
We had breakfast with Christi’s parents and then they left to drive their car back to Portland. they dropped us off at University of Washington and we walked around campus looking for the teachers of the Digital Arts department. We left phone messages for them, but to no avail. the digital Arts department is located in the basement of an International studies building. the building directory does not list the department. The building secretary doesn’t know about it. The department head’s office is through a secured door, in the basement, across from the biolder room. He wasn’t there. The whole center was hidden, windowless and strangely hip. It is obviously not the pride and joy of ther University. the music building, which is not connected, is next to the ROTC building. There were a lot of uniforms walking around campus. The architecture is nice though. It reminded me of Copenhagen.
after failing to contact any faculty members, christi and I walked 1.3 hours over to Capitol Hill, the gay neighborhood, where we met Ellen F. for coffee. I had too much (way too much) caffeine, but thelatte was excellent. Better than Gaylords even. We talked about the arts scene in Seattle. Joan wants us to move there. Ellen says it’s boring, but wants us to move also. She left the coffee shop breifly to get a scheduled haircut and then came back and we got lunch. We went over to the international disctrict. On the way, she showed us a building that she wants. It’s a former candy factory. She had a candy factory when she lived in texas and would like to have one again. The former factory (now for sale or rent) is in or around 23rd in the International district. At lunch we talked about lack of arts funding. I’m trying to figure out what to do about this. Ellen is internationally known and her work is really good, but she can’t quit her day job as a graphic designer. The Seattle Times called up Christi’s cell phone to interview her about her piece in the Klavier Nonette. Ellen said that never happens. Joan is trying to make it look as if it’s exciting, but it really isn’t.
After lunch, Ellen gave us a lift back to Capitol Hill and said goodbye to go do some work. christi and I went to a revolutionary bookstore there and asked about the state of the far left in town. (It’s now an open question: relocate to Seattle or no?) The bookstore clerk said it was healthy in the region and reminded us of the anti-WTO protests. Also, we saw anti-war signs everywhere. More than I’ve seen in Berkeley.
we walked back to the uniersity District. Mitch called up to sing happy brithday. It was very sweet. I got the phone number of his sister, but didn’t hook up with her because I was pooped from not sleeping the night before. It’s hard to sleep in hotels. I tried to remember how I slept while travelling for the summer in 2001, and I think it was sheer exhaustion plus a few respites of nice places to stay, like the flats we had in Copenhagen and Amsterdam. anyway, we headed back to Jack Straw where Joan tried to plead exhaustion to get out of our dinner plans, but christi wouldn’t let her, because we are the featured composers for the April composer forum thingee and we needed to know more about that. So Joan agreed and while she finished up for the day, Christi and I popped more coins into the juke box and listened to several more pieces. I think we’ve heard about half of them.
we went to a himilayan restaurant on University Ave. It was excellent. We talked to Joan (actually, christi did almost all of the talking, since the caffeine spring has finally wound down… I must have acted like a maniac around Ellen, being so wried and miserable at the same time…) about war and peace. She hates bush as much as Christi does. as an aside, Ellen said earlier that she was in France during the 2000 presidental elections and the newspaper headlines there said “Coup D’eta.” Joan and Christi also talked about the state of public transit in Seattle (bad but looking up) and the April thingee. We made plans. We are going to write some pieces for Cello and tape (where tape = CD with some niose on it, which Renne will accompany on her violincello). We will also write audience partcipation pieces with boomwhackers (which are long plastic tubes you wach into thhings, like the ground. They’re tuned to different pitches. It’s like low budget handbells). Joan will be in the Bay Area in March and we will meet back up then.
And then we walked back to our hotel room and passed out quite early. Christi was being super-sweet. It would have been a very happy day, had the date not been making me so sad. Alas. woe. poor me.

Back from the Pacific Northwest

I got back Sunday night from the Pacific Northwest. I know you are all anxious to hear about my exciting adventures. Of course, Christi already chronicled them, probably better than me, but here goes anyway.

February 12, 2002

Flew into Portland last night and drove up to Seattle this morning with Christi and her parents. We went to Pike’s Market. It’s a famer’s market, a fish market and a bunch of shops, bot no chain stores. It was nifty and interesting. Also, it goes on every day, which is very cool (and must compete with grocery stores quite a bit). Christi wanted to buy a hat for Owen, but didn’t. Poor owen will have to wait until we go back in april.
then we went to Jack Straw Productions, where we heard our pieces on the toy piano nonette. It sounds much better on the toy pianos than it did in MIDI realizations. the room is small and very live (that’s sound engineer jargon for “echo-y”) so the pieces really fill up the space, but apparently it sounds good in dead (that’s sound engineer jargon for “not echo-y”) rooms too. Joan Rabinowitz, who I met at a confrence last spring and who is the director of Jack Straw, took us on a tour of the building. they have two nice studios and two control rooms. One big and one small of each. They’ve got macintoshes running protools, but also have other tape technology, including analog reel-to-reel. Everything is labelled in Braille, because blind kids come in and do production work. Apparently they really dig the reel-to-reel machine. there’s also a small room of KRAB radio archives. (KRAB was a community radio station, but is no more.) There are many fewer tapees in the archive than KPFA, but the tapes are worse organized and may be in worse shape. they have no production facilities like Fantasy in Seattle, so no professional service can do tape baking for them. (Tape baking: sometims, when tapes get old, the glue that holds the magnetic material to the plastic strip corrodes and the magnetic material falls off, taking all of the sound recording with it. If the tape is heated (I think it’s 200 degrees F for ten hours, but I don’t really know), the glue can temporarily rebind long enough for the tape to be played once, so it can be backed up to something else.)
We checked into our hotel and then went back to Jack Straw (the name has nothing to do with British politicians, btw, the director is a pacifist) to hear Trimpin speak. (Trimpin is the guy who thought up and built the nine toy piano juke box.) Ellen Fullman was there. She was a featured composer at the Other Minds festival last year, and I the driver for that festival. she asked Christi and I why we were in town. christi said, “we came up for this.” Ellen replied, “You did not!” Ellen is also in the Klavier Nonette but hadn’t noticed Christi’s and my names on the list.
Trimpin talked about sonic sculptures and building controllers for them. Before computers, he used player-piano-roll sort of technology. Now, he custom builds processors to control celenoids. His stuff is made out of a lot of scrap-yard pieces. The toy pianos were all broken. many were purchased from ebay and the shipping costs often exceeded the price.
We listened to Ellen’s peice. (Janice Gitech, who was a presenter at the same confrence when I met Joan was also hanging around. It’s the old-girls-network or something). Ellen’s piece uses 64th notes. One piano will start a phrase and another will start the same phrase one 64th note later. It sounds like an auto harp, the notes are definitely sperated, but a 64th note is a very short duration. Her piece has a nice use of spaces and silences. It’s interesting nd beautiful. It’s also her first traditionally notated piece. We went out to dinner with her. Christi’s parents thought that we had just met her that evening. they also thought we had just met Joan. they were confused as to why people kept hugging us if we had just met them. Maybe they’re just friendly. anyway, there’s going to be a festival of Ellen’s work in holland. A whole festival of her and folks collaborating with her. It sounds very exciting.