Friday, December 14, 2012

Comforting music for a tragic day in my homestate. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MI 5

Kind of forgot to blog for a while... now I am blogging about something utterly unimportant but need to get it out of my system.

I've been watching MI-5, aka Spooks, on Netflix for a while, and finally got to the last episode this evening (though I'm not 100% sure the show is over, the last episode was from 2011, so I guess it must be?  Though BBC shows sometimes take gaps it seems).  I really do enjoy the show.  I love the BBC in general, always have.  I think that they have better actors, given England's great theater traditions, and that they cast based more on talent than looks (as opposed to TV in Hollywood).  But the talent makes the actors more attractive, even though in general the actors are more average-looking (there are still plenty of pretty people, the percentage just isn't quite as unnaturally high as it is on American shows).

But.  I did get tired of the Americans always being the bad guys.  I know the show started in 2001 when we were getting involved in stupid wars and stuff, but, we remained the bad guys all the way through til the end.  Is this revenge for revolutionary war movies that make the Brits evil (even though the American settlers came from England?), or for all the bad guys having British accents in Star Wars (but so did Obi-Wan!)?  Really, when I think about it, British characters in American movies are more likely to be the good guy these days, especially WWII movies.  Traditional villains are more likely to be Nazis, communist Russians, or lately, Middle Eastern.  Just like the rest of the villains on MI-5...

In general, the show seems kind of obsessed with the American shoddy treatment of England and the formerly "special" relationship, which seems to have been downgraded.  Like high school girls where one used to be more popular and then the other eclipsed her, and now the formerly more popular one is obsessed, but the currently popular one couldn't care less.  Even in a recent episode, Ruth scoffs that one of the passcodes at the CIA is "1776."  Frankly, I find that unlikely, and if I pulled all of my ideas about Great Britain from watching this show, it would appear that they're still more upset about that whole revolution thing than we ever were. 

Also, the UK has ABSOLUTELY NO MORAL HIGH GROUND over the US  historically.  How about several hundred years of imperialism, so much so that "the sun never sets on the British Empire"  was the saying.  India.  IRELAND.  Nuff said.  OK.  So stop acting all holier-than-thou about American policies.  And really, the show considered a "special relationship" with RUSSIA to be morally superior to one with America?  I mean, I know we have our problems over here, but RUSSIA?  Land of Vladimir Putin?  Whatevs.  At least you had a more even portrayal of Mid-East politics than American shows do.

Also, some of the American accents just sucked monkey balls.  Sarah Caulfield in particular--I think she was supposed to be from Boston, but when I first heard her speak I thought she was supposed to be Irish (not coincidentally the birthplace of the actress who portrayed her), then maybe? southern?, but never really Boston.  Nothing against that actress, I saw her in something else and she was fine, but surely they could have hired someone who could really do a proper American accent, or, (heaven forbid!) an actual American?  I think the poor American accents stuck out to me because in general the acting is very good.  Or maybe because I can't hear if someone's doing some sort of UK accent poorly.

Finally, my last point.  This is sort of moot because if it really bothered me that much I should have just stopped watching the show, but, it was just so GRIM sometimes.  I mean, I should have known from that early episode where that poor lady gets her head deep fried (nearly stopped watching after that, it freaked me out so much), but really.  I doubt security services really has that poor a track record where multiple people in the same department die each year.  I think you'd really be doing your jobs wrong if you had a record as bad as that.  But maybe I just am unaware of just how many spies die each year (which I would have to be, I suppose).  Couldn't any of the characters just have had happy endings?  Like, hey, this job was great, but I'm ready to give it up now and become an elementary school teacher, or whoops I'm pregnant, bye!  or smell ya later I'm gonna go vacation in the Galapagos for a year and then start a new career as a dolphin trainer! or I met this girl and she's awesome and I'm gonna movie to Cardiff and coach a kids soccer team!  No, everyone had to die.  Violently.  And finally:  [SPOILER]

WHY DID YOU KILL RUTH?!?!?! For fuck's sake.  Unnecessarily grim.  You couldn't have given Ruth and Harry a happy ending?  Harry could retire and garden and play the stock market or whatever, maybe even take up a new hobby like water polo or something, and Ruth could do her new job, living in that cute house, maybe they could even have had a family,  who knows.  I don't buy this whole "We're not meant to be normal happy people" crap.  I'm sure they could have managed fine if they'd given it a try.  OK, goodbye MI-5.  I enjoyed watching you, even though you infuriated me. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Saw Once Upon a Time in the West at the Aero tonight, so I had to share these:

Cheyenne's Theme
Harmonica & Frank Themes (duel)

Great movies, great music, great theater!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Another Gabrielle I am proud to share a name with!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Someone also posted these National Geographic photo contest winners on facebook.  The photos are all pretty amazing:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Couldn't help but post this one too, since it's not only true, but also a Doctor Who reference:

Friday, May 4, 2012

Peter Sagal's visit to Walter Reed.

Monday, April 30, 2012

I came across this article in the LATimes today.  I sometimes have difficulty making an argument verbally; I'm much better at writing, where I can take my time and clearly organize my thoughts.  Therefore, sometimes when I get in a discussion or argument with someone, what usually happens is that I have all these half-formed ideas that I want to get across but I'm unable to do so.  And then an hour or so later, I think of all the things I should have said but couldn't.  When this happens, it's very frustrating, and I remember it for a long time. 

So this brings me to this time when I was in Italy in 2003 (yes, I remember being frustrated in an argument from almost 10 years ago!).  I was studying Italian in Perugia, and I was hanging out with some fellow American students in the program as well as a handsome Dutch friend we made in Perugia.  Let's call them Michelle and Daniel.  I think that Michelle was somewhat smitten with the handsome Dutchman, even though he wasn't interested in girls.  But his good looks and his distinguished foreigner status held some sort of sway over her.  Or she was just caught up in something that I feel is common among some liberal Americans:  the idea that Europe is somehow more liberal and enlightened than America.  That they are somehow more intellectually advanced than we are.  And unfortunately, I think some Europeans also think this way.  Daniel seemed to be among them.

Keep in mind that this was during the early years of the first Bush administration and at the start of a very unpopular war that brought ill will towards all Americans, whether we supported the war or not.  Basically, Daniel and Michelle were saying that Americans had slavery and racism and were anti-immigration and that Europeans didn't have a problem with these issues.  Coming from a DUTCH person.  What about Indonesia?  What about South Africa?  What about the ENORMOUS problems they've had with Muslim extremists and the integration of immigrants into the Netherlands?  Of course I couldn't think of any of these things at the time.  Almost every European country has had colonies and immigration problems, same as us. 

But what I really wanted to say was, people are essentially the same everywhere.  They will always be afraid of the different, the other, the foreign.  That fear and suspicion is part of our evolution and has enabled us to survive for thousands of years.  If we were openly trusting of everything new, we would put ourselves at great risk to those who actually DO mean us harm.  We HAVE to make generalizations.  If one of the tribe got killed by a tiger, and we were unable to make the connection that we should avoid large, orange-and-black-striped cats, and then simply welcomed the next tiger we saw (hello, kitty!), we would have been annihilated by tigers a long time ago.  So I guess what I'm saying is, that article about immigration fears in Europe just proves my point from all those years ago, that they are no different than we are; and that while obviously we shouldn't shun those different from us, their fears are deep-rooted and part of me can't really blame them for that. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

I heard this article on the radio yesterday.  Come on Vatican, I know you're still stuck in the 16th century, but could you maybe at least try gaining towards the 19th or so?   And then, "Her group was also cited in the Vatican document, along with the Leadership Conference, for focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage."  (

TOO MUCH OF ITS WORK ON POVERTY AND ECONOMIC INJUSTICE???  Have they ever even HEARD of Jesus Christ?  Exactly how much did he talk about abortion and same-sex marriage?  Uh huh.  Now how much did he talk about poverty and helping others who are less fortunate?  Forget talking about that, how much did he DO to help those who were less fortunate?  Yup.  Regardless of the church's stance on these abortion and same-sex marriage, poverty and economic injustice should definitely come BEFORE them, in my humble opinion.  And also, the church needs to allow women priests. I know it moves at a glacial pace, but I would really love it if that happened sometime in my lifetime.  OK, this blog isn't really a place for me to discuss religious matters, but having grown up at least marginally Catholic, this just really bothered me and I needed to vent.  I might take the post down but I needed to get this off my chest first. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I've seen this article circulating on facebook. While I think it brings up some interesting points, I don't think it brings up any solutions, or really addresses the root of the problem.  One of the biggest mysteries to me is, why are there SO MANY young musicians out there who love classical music so much that they want to devote their lives to a career in music, and yet there are so few people willing to support symphony orchestras or even attend concerts?  I really don't understand this.  And while it would be nice if we received more support from the government, maybe that's not the answer.  Although I would love to have a job a in a good orchestra, maybe these organizations need to change if they are going to survive.  Other parts of the music industry (record labels, for example) are facing similar challenges; it remains to be seen how music will be purchased and enjoyed in the future.

At any rate, no one is going to even know what classical music if we continue to slash it from education.  In my experience, children love making music of any kind, and are often very open to all sorts of music (much more so than adults).  I think the answer lies in continuing El Sistema projects and making an effort to include music education in public schools.  I also think in the future salon-style concerts and other, perhaps yet-to-be-discovered, concert venues will be the answer unless symphonies can find a better way to engage their communities.

One other aspect of musical life not mentioned in this article:  elitism within (not of) the classical music community.  Whereas I think that there is actually less elitism in classical music than people give it credit for (it's generally less expensive to buy symphony tickets than tickets to a major sporting event or pop concert), there is elitism amongst musicians.  The more I play music and continue to be in the bottom of the pile (not in a major orchestra, not playing major recording sessions) I see the classical community as having many rigid tiers, like 18th century British society, and I think that this tiered system is affecting our success as a genre as well as the public's perception of us.  The 99% vs the 1%?  Look no further than the Los Angeles freelance community, where the same 1% of musicians get the vast majority of recording work, not even allowing the rest of the 99% to even get a foot in the door (and the union only solidifies these rigid tiers, if you ask me).  To me, there is sometimes, among some (NOT ALL, in fact, not even most, but it's still there) musicians with orchestra jobs or regular session players, an attitude of superiority.  There is a divide amongst those who perceive themselves as talented, above the rest, and those who do not.  I even see it in young students, who think that playing the violin well somehow gives them license to play by different rules than everyone else, and that their music is a gift that they are bestowing on to an audience who should be grateful.  This attitude needs to change.  The way we make money from our music needs to change.  The way the often completely isolated classical music community interacts with the world around it needs to change.  I'm not sure precisely how, but I do think it involves a lot more community activism, more music education, and a ton more flexibility.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Been rewatching Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead on Netflix... now I remember why I've had a little crush on Gary Oldman since watching this movie in high school.  Also, a really good play!  And it makes me want to go see Hamlet somewhere, too.  I've read the play and seen a few movie versions of it, but alas, I've never seen it live.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RIP Grover Schiltz

Handsome men playing oboe in movies

Robert Downey, Jr  in Resurrection

Jeremy Irons in The Mission

Action shot of Jerermy Irons as Father Gabriel (of Gabriel's Oboe fame, thanks Ennio Morricone)

Tony Musante in The Anonymous Venetian

Friday, January 27, 2012

I've been rewatching some Doctor Who, as it is excellent reedmaking material, and I've been having some reed issues and been spending too much time at my reed desk.  Such a great show.  This meme (is that the right term) appeared on my facebook feed, and I love it.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Oboe Repair Fun!

John Peterson, oboe repairman extraordinaire at RDG woodwinds in Los Angeles, has created a series of videos for oboists looking to make their own basic adjustments on their oboes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

"At the College of Saint Mary Magdalen in New Hampshire, he commented on John F. Kennedy's famous 1960 separation-of-church-and-state speech delivered to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association.
'I had an opportunity to read the speech and I almost threw up,' Santorum told the small crowd, 'In my opinion, it was the beginning of the secular movement of politicians to separate their faith from the public square. And he threw faith under the bus in that speech.'" ( 

Really, Mr. Santorum?  I would like to officially excommunicate you from membership in Italian/Irish Catholic community.  You have betrayed us.