Gingerbread-house pics...

Tonight, TW, TMIL and I went down to visit the Sayville Treelighting ceremony. In addition to carolers, live reindeer* and a hand-bell choir, there was a gingerbread-house building competition. There was a lot of standard fair there, but I've included my two favorites: First, although it doesn't exactly read via my pic, here on the right, is a model of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house. This is the house, and subsequently the architect, that fueled my interest in architecture in general; needless to say, this house was a big hit for me!

But I must admit, that there was one concoction that topped it...

For those of you who don't know, this is the Millennium Falcon chasing, what I can only imagine is Darth Vader's TIE fighter in the penultimate scene from Star Wars: IV, A New Hope...and seriously, this is made out of gingerbread!

* This reindeer, for the record, has what appears to be a single antler; is that unusual? I'm asking my fair readers from up north to fill the rest of us in...


Live-blogging the day after Turkey Day

4:00PM Leaving to watch Twilight with TW, TMIL and about 4 other women. Hopefully I'm not the only man in the theater--come on, that's a softball right there; any takes? No, you sure? all right, good...

3:08PM Finished up watching TW and TMIL finish the tree...next time I witness this, I've got to videotape it--hilarity in many senses. I love the holidays because it's the only time that I can drink a coke without TW shooting me those "you're drinking yourself to death" glances...you know?

1:31PM Watch TW and her mom put up the X-mas tree...I know, what kind of schlub doesn't offer to help his wife and mother-in-law put up the X-mas? But, you guys don't know about putting up a tree until you've seen TW and her mom combine forces to put up the most detailed, perfect X-mas tree in the world...seriously this tree should be in magazines or something---even though it's fake!

12:34PM Continue to catch up on correspondence (as TW says it, seeing as she's truly from another century) as I continue watching TW and The Mother-In-Law (TMIL) decorate the tree

12:15PM Had some leftover turkey for lunch...yummy!

10:45AM After sleeping soundly, I awoke to a copy of the NYTimes and some doughnuts. I did not each said doughnuts however because I planned on drinking a fair number of Cokes today and didn't want to overdose on sugar too early in the day...

Turkey-day wrapup: Pictures edition

I'll let the pictures do the talking today,
because I'm still too full to write anything...

Aren't these placeholders the cutest things ever?
In case you can't make it out, that's an apple
with a lifesaver and an almond, for a face,
toothpicks for legs and feathers for feathers.

I believe this is Kir, after dinner, feeling
like pretty much everyone else after dinner!

Here's Milo: he's a war buff, and we spent some
time watching the movie Gettysburg; incidentally,
he's just started playing lacrosse and he likes
it because "you get to wear armor."

Here's Healy, Milo's older brother, at bartender-in-training...he's got that "I'm dancing in a Peanuts cartoon" look about him, doesn't he?

And here I am, earlier in the day, carving my
very first Turkey...not too bad, but not too
great either...


"What's the matter with his hind quarters?"

My friend Sarah, over at Cake for Breakfast, has obliquely referenced one of my favorite elements of Aaron Sorkin's writing: his holiday-themed episodes. His Thanksgiving episodes are particularly funny; see "Indians in the Lobby," where President Bartlett calls the Butterball Hotline and inquires about the temperature of the stuffing inside the turkey--"Not like that's a deal breaker" if he kills his guests! And "Shibboleth" finds C.J. dealing with 2 live turkeys inside her office, then has to get the President to pardon a 2nd turkey--"Make sure to support his hind quarters" in reference to the turkey, but the President assumes handler's hind quarters are sensitive. Funny stuff...

Also check out the Christmas episode of Studio Sixty--"Hot fun in the summertime" and the Santa doing the Nazi salute...

Happy Turkey Day everyone; I'm enjoying my first here in Long Island, I hope you're all enjoying yours...


More Turkey-break fun...

5:04PM Caught the beginning of Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith...

6:30PM Dinner with TW's sister and (new) boyfriend was good: conversation drifted into bodily functions, and much fun was had by all.

8:15PM Began Trivial Pursuit and watched "Rosie Live" with the sound off. Saw Liza, Harry C and others, but need to watch it on DVR when I return to Boston next week.

9:17PM Finished Trivial Pursuit...TW and I won, despite the other team getting 4 pies on the first try. I was talked out of correct answers on multiple occasions, which allows me to guilt TW in the future--this is almost better than getting the answers actually correct in the first place.

9:19PM Alcohol induced discussion about TW's sister and (new) boyfriend's job: they're both teachers (he's tenured, she's in her tenure year). They just finished parent-teacher conferences and are relaying their horror stories about too-intensive parents.

9:22PM Currently watching the Islanders blow a 3-1 lead...the game's now 4-3 Penguins!

Almost live-blogging Thx-giving day

9:15AM Arrive at TW's Long Island house after an almost 4-hour drive...that's right, for those of you keeping score at home: we left our apartment at 5:15AM this morning.

10:49AM Finally crashed on the couch, after completing my very first meme, check it out in the previous post; fell asleep around 11:45AM and miss the climax of Law & Order rerun

1:04PM Returned from X-mas shopping for the in-laws: helped TW w/1 gift; missed out on a few others; picked up some cheese for dinner tonight

1:28PM Folded laundry while watching another L&O episode

2:15PM As TW drifted off to sleep, I tried to convince her that the past tense of "reached" was "roached." I think I even used the phrase, "You know, from the Latin: roachorum..." Needless to say, TW wasn't buying!

3:10PM TW's younger sister came home. It turns out that her sunny disposition was even brighter as she had recently thrown out her back.

More to come later: we're having dinner w/TW, her sister and (fairly) new boyfriend.

Live-blogging Thanksgiving: Meme edition

I'm a long time reader of memes, but first time writer:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog. Papa Bear Joe over at Joe Musicology got me...

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.

1) I'm color blind: always have been, always will be; and it's a constant source of amusement for people who've just discovered that I am...

2) I had a bad banana incident as a child. I get to blame this on Mom, along with the color-blind genes.

3) I'm left-footed, as in I kick a soccer ball better with my left foot than my right; but, I am not left-handed.

4) I've eaten hot, old-fashioned oatmeal for breakfast almost everyday since I graduated from college

5) I used to sub backstage as a dresser for a musical called Menopause: the Musical, in which I got to help 4 different women do quick changes in the dark, and it's not nearly as arousing as one would think...

6) I'm currently recovering from a mid-foot sprain that was originally diagnosed as a navicular fracture

7) I was a fantastic boy soprano; the fateful switch from boy soprano to boy baritone was absolutely awful, but that's the subject of a separate blog

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.

Sarah (the St Louis One), Sarah (the Swingy One), Allen (the Photo One), Amanda (the Musicology One)

4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

5. If you don’t have 7 blog friends, or if someone else already took dibs, then tag some unsuspecting strangers. (I’m gonna skip this one two….)



Today is a pivot from the visiting Parents (they left yesterday) to becoming a visitor myself (going down to Long Island for Thanksgiving). This lovely little coat (see pic) is one result of my parents coming: they love to buy me stuff! I needed a new coat, and it was bitterly cold while they were here, so fate worked in my favor.

Unfortunately, I am not spending today sprawled on a couch watching
West Wing...I'm sitting here at the booth re-familiarizing myself with this file on my computer mysteriously entitled, "Chapter 2." I did end up doing a little bit on the train this morning and continued some at the booth...more will certainly happen later.

TW and I figured out last night that I spent over $35 in tolls: that's $1.25 each way on the Pike dropping off/picking up Dad ($5 each day), plus $10+ in NYC tolls, plus another $10 in Logan airport fees--yikes, I don't want to see that bill! It was all worth it, however, as both Parents enjoyed their trip--although they are both a little worse from the wear; I think their knees have blown up to the size of grapefruits today.

Tonight my butt will be firmly planted back in the car, as TW and I drive down to Long Island for our very first "holiday" as a married couple. This presents the opportunity to live-blog a family holiday, which should provide a few comments of hilarity--keep an eye out. Finally I need to give myself a little congratulations: I have now been accepted into my second conference. I am now 2/2, and probably should just quit the business right? I read somewhere that someone asked what would Hammerstein do after he wrote Oklahoma? His answer, "Probably shoot myself..." I'm not feeling suicidal or anything, but I'm a little apprehensive about the process of living up to my extravagant title: "Re-evaluating the Three-Part Exposition: Pseudo-Developments, Purple Passages and the Minor Dominant in Haydn's Op. 76, No. 1."

Stay tuned for more developments...next blog will most likely come from NY!


"Take This Sabbath Day"

I include two separate West Wing references here for no other reasons than: a)I like them; b) I'm really exhausted after 5 days of full-on visiting by The Parents; c) tomorrow I'm dropping of The Parents at the airport. So, the lack of sleep and constant contact with one or both of my progenitors has reduced me to my rawest levels: my brain synapses are firing on an all Aaron-Sorkin level. By the way, did you see the write up in the Times today about Sportsnight?

The second reference is from my favorite 1st-season episode: "Take This Sabbath Day" where the President must consider a death-row pardon. In a secondary story arc, Josh meets Joey Lucas, and then hilarity ensues: it's probably one of my favorite, flat-out funny sequences in Sorkin's writing (right up there with Matt Albee's 'phone mojo' in "The Option Period" from Studio Sixty).

I realized I hadn't written too many TV posts up to this point, so I'll be trying to fill that void. Sadly I've just found out that ABC hasn't picked up Pushing Daisies for another season, which is just tragic. Why can't anything get made these days without appealing to the lowest common denominator? Why must we strive for the most general? I enjoy watching shows, or reading books, that are dense and multi-faceted, not one-dimensional and bland...I'm about the spin off into a more in-depth discussion of "Speed-the-Plow" but I don't have the time.

More to come over the Thanksgiving weekend: including, a review of Cryptonomicon, a phenomenal book by Neal Stephenson; more discussion of Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow"; and a funny story about how I've been quoting The Shining to TW for years now and she just figured it out!

"I drink from the keg of glory, Donna; bring me the finest bagels and muffins in the world."

Huzzah, The Parents will soon be flying back to STL!

[title of show], not quite...

It's been quite the whirlwind weekend thus far...The past two days have seen my parents and I in 4 different states (MA, RI, CT, NY) for a grand total of 12 hours in the car: that's 25%, for those of you keeping score at home. Yesterday, mom and I drove TW down to Providence--just for kicks--and then decided to continue on down to Newport to see how the other half lived, or at least how they lived a hundred years ago. After getting some very good advice, although it was barely understandble through the thick RI accent (think Family Guy, sped up) we ended up with a "three mansions for $25" deal. We viewed the Elms, Breakers and Marble Houses; by the end of the day, we decided that they knew a thing or two about building impossibly intricate, and huge, houses! Newport's absolutely beautiful, and there are at least 15 other houses that we didn't even get a chance to check out...next time you're in southern RI, give it a chance.

Yesterday was the crown jewel in this particular vacation. We headed down to NYC to see "Speed-the-Plow" starring Raul Esparza, Jeremy Piven and Elisabeth Moss. It was my first play on Broadway, I know--crazy, and I loved every minute. Spitfire dialogue, intricate characters, philosophically crazy plot that appealed to my inner nerd, and a set that blew me away. Overall the effect of watching the play, from the 2nd-to-last row no less, felt like sitting in a chair and having it injecting right into your spine--very Matrix like!

Afterwards we went to Les Halles for a late lunch/early dinner...We were supposed to hit up a Jean Georges restaurant prior to the show, but that was just a pie-in-the-sky idea...obviously not a feasible one. Les Halles is an Anthony Bourdain restaurant, so the star chef quota was fulfilled...and rightfully so, the dinner was delicious: three separate steaks, all cooked to perfection, and all scarfed down in record time.

On the 3-hour drive back, we saw quite a collection of oddities: in addition to the numerous idiots passing us, and everyone else, in the right lane, and the one idiot zooming in and out leaving-the-city traffic at an idiotic speed, the piece-de-resistance was the flaming car. This car was in the opposing lane of traffic, thank god, and it was completely on fire: from top to bottom, inside to out, with flames at least 7-feet tall--it looked like a movie set, I'd never seen anything like that!

All in all, it was a successful trip. My parents have a few lower-body ailments that impair their ability to get up and down steps, or long walks in general, but they soldiered through and enjoyed the quick zip down to NYC...how could they not? A superstar play, a superstar chef, and a superstar driver/escort to and from to Manhattan (that's me, by the way, celexo)...they loved it!

So, it's quite interesting that no blogs equals no work on the dissertation the past two days. I'll try to rectify that today/tonight. We're hitting up dim sum this morning, and then TW's concert and dinner with the Cousin tonight...maybe I can get some editing down.

Update: Just got back from China Pearl for dim sum. It was superb as always, and it's always nice to have a personal tour guide, in the form of Al--thanks buddy, you're always appreciated! I'm supremely stuffed now, but have a few solid hours booked here on the couch and then at TW's concert today at 3PM. Fun times! See you on the other side...


"Best in Your Row"

Last night, I attended the Dresden Staatskapelle here at Symphony Hall, and although the audience was less than full, they more than made up the difference in affection shown the orchestra at the end of the night. Fabio Luisi, the Italian-born conductor with glorious, bouncy hair, took four separate curtain calls last night--a record for any audience that I've been in.

The program included LvB's Piano Concerto #1, Op 15, and Brahms' Symphony #4, Op 98, and featured an encore consisting of Weber's Overture to Oberon. I particularly liked the raucous off-beat accents in LvB's Rondo, and the entire Brahms symphony kept me rapt and on the edge of my seat: a rare event these days since I hardly go to concerts anymore. The only mis-step of the evening occurred at the very opening of the Brahms first movement: after the string entrance, the bass downbeat sounded scattered and unsettled, which subsequently scattered and unsettled my listening experience...but that moment passed, and soon I was smitten.

At this time, I'd like to mention two things: first, over ten years ago I sat in a Music Theory I class, drinking my huge, honkin' Coke and eating my plain bagel, which pretty much exemplified my breakfast diet in those days, and listened to Josh Budway extemporize on the virtues on one Johannes Brahms. I can still remember his face when he discovered that I hadn't heard the Brahms 4. If you're reading this Josh, I've heard it now and I've drank the cool-aid: thanks for being the world's slowest, yet effective, catalyst!

Second, I've got to mention the title of today's post: "Best in Your Row" is, of course, a reference to the iconic film Ghostbusters. Every time I hear a symphonic performance, I think of Bill Murray's "I thought you were the best in your row" line to Sigourney Weaver in the plaza of Lincoln Center, with that weird roller skater in the background--love it! Another favorite: "Ray, when someone asks if you're a god, you say YES."
The Wife (TW) never gets this reference, even though every time I use it, which is quite often, it's usually to her after a performance; so TW, perk your ears--you'll probably be getting a "Best in Your Row" on Sunday afternoon!

Not too much dissertating today, although I did get to look over the past day's work. I cleaned up some verb-tense issues, and also helped TW with her paper proposal--you're welcome! Tonight we're continuing our full plate of tourist activities with The Parents: last night Symphony Hall, tonight the Boston Center for the Arts and Conor McPherson's The Seafarer.


"The Parents are Coming, The Parents are Coming"

Just a quickie post today because I'm leaving the booth (early, thankfully) to go up the parents' at the airport. I don't know why, but I've always referred to them as 'the parents.' I guess they were more tolerable than other parents I now know, although in high school I liked some people's parents more than their children!

The parents are in town from today until Monday, and we're gonna get our fill of seafood and theater--that's a guarantee. We're going to the symphony tonight, The Seafarer by Connor McPhearson tomorrow, and then down to NYC to see the Mamet play, Speed-The-Plow, starring Raul Esparza (Company), Jeremy Piven (Entourage) and Elizabeth Moss (from West Wing and Mad Men fame!). In addition, Mom and I will hear the New Philharmonia on Sunday afternoon because I have a rootin' interest in that team: I think the horn section is particularly good!

In other news, the drop in weather always affects the B@#tix-booth customers. They are increasingly edgy in cold weather, which also has the unfortunate side effect of creating cold-wet-doggy-nose drips of snot on the window--totally gross!


The dissertation grew by another 2 pages yesterday afternoon and this morning. In addition to a solid two hours of work here at the booth yesterday, when Joey left me all alone, which he is wont to do every now and then, I also got some good work done this morning on the train and before we opening the windows. Huzzah--I might actually finish this thing...finish is such a depressing word.


A Paean to a Pair of Pants

INT. DARK CATHEDRAL-NIGHT CUE: "Kyrie" from Mozart's Mass in C Minor is being sung in the choir stalls

CLOSE-UP on a table full of flickering candles, layered in multiple levels

PULLING BACK SLOWLY on a mid-twenties male sitting in a side chapel, as we hear a voice over:

Walking toward the T tonight, I felt a sharp blast of cold air in many places that I don't normally feel blasts of cold air. It turns out that my favorite pair of jeans had been worn, in public, for the last time. Smaller holes near the crotch and over the right, front pocket had been patched previously, but irreversible damage had been done today during an unfortunate crossing-of-the-legs.

These pants are over 5 years old; their classic, button-up, boot-leg style was both stylish (at a time) and then comfortable and broken in during their later years. I have a personal connection with their purchase as well: they were the foundational purchase of my "post-Atkins diet" shopping spree. Once you drop twenty pounds, you stop wearing jeans and they start wearing you.

Later in their life, they were perfect weekend jeans. It didn't matter if they drooped in the back, or dragged behind my heals; they were the perfect kind of comfort food. And now, they must be put to sleep.

Good night my friends...you and I had many good times; you and I shared an intimate connection; but now, alas, you will only live on in my memory, and you know, this blog.

RBOC: Sci-Fi edition

The Random Bits Of Crap today revolve around my TV choices for the past few days:

* Last night's Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles (TSCC) featured a guest appearance by one of my all-time favorite actors: Richard Schiff. Many of you might have recognized him from his star turn in Jurassic Park 2 (beardless), even though he appeared last night with the rare goatee. I've grown to love him, however, as the bearded speech writer on The West Wing: Toby Ziegler. His role, last night on TSCC, as a machine-enabler returned from the future, gave him very little to do on screen other than sit duct-taped to a chair and receive a little torture. But his final scene does enact one of my favorite sci-fi/time-travel moments: when one returns in time and upsets the future (see Harry Potter 3); gotta love it!

* If you're not watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network, I completely understand. Lucas has dropped the ball in his recent movies, and you're burned out. That said, give this little cartoon a try. It's only 30 minutes, and each episode features a short vignette about some of the more rare characters in the Star Wars universe. The graphics are amazing, and the story lines aren't atrocious. It's on Friday nights, at 9PM, but that's what DVRs are for, right?

* On that note, give Fringe a chance as well. It'll remind you all of your early fascination with The X-Files, for many reasons, but the crazy father (John Noble, as Dr. Walter Bishop) will keep you coming back for more...enjoy! If you like Hugh Laurie's Dr. House, you'll love the delightfully kooky Fringe.

* On to the dissertation, I got a solid 45 minutes worth of work done on the train this morning. I've completely pivoted from Ch. 1 to the current chapter. I'm thinking of this chapter as a gateway to the analysis, which comes in the following chapters. My advisor has proposed that I write those chapters in the style of Rosen's The Classical Style or Sonata Forms, so I'm hoping to keep this particular chapter very simple and straightforward...you know, unlike Rosen's writing--we'll see how successful I am at that.

* I'm at the Bostix booth today (Fanny, if you'd like to stop by), so I'm hoping to get a little more accomplished on the chapter. Maybe I'll get some fun Bostix-related stories to share later tonight.


First attempt

This post is my initial foray into blogging. Ironically, I did not accomplish a single dissertation-related action today, yet I signed up for this blog. Go figure...

In the future, I hope that this blog will serve as a metaphorical warm-up or cool-down for my brain; so, I'll try to blog first thing in the morning, or after I've accomplished my musicological goals for the day. I'm hoping for a little accountability here from the vast, anonymous legions (or at least the illusion) of blog readers out there.