John and Pansy
At the end of last semester, I was talking to my boss (and friend) John about the pictures I took of a woman with four dogs on her bike. He remarked that he also has a basket on his bike for his dog, a miniature dachshund named Pansy. He’d told this to a number of people, who’ve naturally all wanted to see pictures of Pansy in her basket. But, he’d never had any pictures to show them. So, I offered to take some pictures once I got my new camera. After a few attempts foiled by bad weather or scheduling conflicts, we finally got together a few weeks ago to do a photo shoot. John and Frannie had Veronica and me over for dinner (a delicious homemade gazpacho with crusty bread and raw milk butter), and we walked over to a nearby bike path to shoot. I ended up taking over a hundred pictures, but I’ve cut it down to the nine best. Click the photo above to see the gallery.
When we were visiting my mom in Nevada last month, one of the activities she arranged for us to do was to take a guided tour of Grimes Point Archaeological Area. Grimes Point lies about an hour an a half east of Carson City, near the town of Fallon. For much of the last 10,000 years, a lake existed in the area — making it an attractive place for native peoples to settle. Fluctuating water levels resulted in multiple distinct areas and layers of occupation. Today, the site sits sort of out in the middle of nowhere, with no sizable body of water in the immediate vicinity.
Grimes Point has two main draws: Hidden Cave and the Petroglyph Trail. Hidden Cave is only open a couple of times a month, so we’ll have to do that on another trip. The Petroglyph Trail is always open, but we had a special guided tour. I’ve seen petroglyphs in a number of places in Arizona and New Mexico, but never in as high a concentration as there is at Grimes Point. Just about every sizable rock had some sort of rock art on it, and many were practically covered. Some of the oldest petroglyphs (roughly 8,000 years old, I think) have been almost entirely reclaimed by the desert, and are only visible from certain vantage points or in certain light. (Most petroglyphs in the American Southwest are created by scraping the dark patina — known as ‘desert varnish’ — off of rocks. The ‘varnish’ is redeposited over time, meaning that the oldest glyphs are now almost the some color as the surrounding rock.)
We saw quite a range of iconography and techniques. Some of the earliest carvings are deep snake-like grooves and little round depressions known as ‘cupules.’ Later work ranges from seemingly abstract geometric symbol and designs to things that are more obviously representational: animals, people, and the like. Some motifs are similar to glyphs at Petroglyph National Monument and others I’ve seen, but the style is completely different (as one would expect from different cultures living in similar but distant areas). One particular example is the spiral — a motif the seems to be pretty common across the southwest. Spirals I’d seen before have very thin lines, lots of rotations, and are quite compact. The one spiral we saw at Grimes Point was constructed from a very wide line that only makes two-and-a-half or three rotations.
I took lots of photos on our walk, many of them attempts to capture the same glyphs from different angles. I cut the collection down quite a bit, and posted 22 pictures in a gallery. Click any of the photos above to view the whole set.
When I was thinking about making recital posters for my multiple recitals last year, I thought a few times about trying to create a bassoon version of Activision’s Guitar Hero (a guilty pleasure I engage in from time to time). I got as far as downloading a hi-res version of the game’s logo and a bunch of screen shots, but I never got around to doing anything with them, and I sort of forgot about the idea.
Then tonight, I happened across this:
Someone (I don’t know who) has had the same idea, and done a very good job realizing it. The artist neatly sidestepped one photoshopping issue that kept me from working on the idea: by placing music stands in front of the players, s/he eliminated the need to erase the bodies of the guitars, which are much wider than a bassoon. The necks of the guitars don’t pose the same problem, as the bassoons’ bells easily cover them. The image is very well done all around; I especially like the Wii-style bassoon controller.
[via Dead Robot]
Through the magic of Facebook, I recently became aware of an upcoming concert at my alma mater, Arizona State. The event, which features a number of student ensembles, will offer alternatives to the standard sit-in-your-seat-and-quietly-watch-the-stage concert-going experience. While listening to the ASU Symphonic Band, a structured improvisation group, and an array of chamber ensembles, audience members will have their choice of activities. From the event page on the ASU School of Music website:
Interactive options include: blogging with musicians in real time, getting a play-by-play of the event from a knowledgeable musician just as in sporting events, immersing yourself in music-related conversation with other audience members, or you can simply sit back and enjoy the music in a traditional concert environment. Please remember to bring your laptop or smart phone with you, should you plan to participate in the blogging activities.
The idea is a very interesting one — trying to attract new audience members by altering the whole dynamic of the event. I assume that the various groups of people will be located in different parts of the hall. While Gammage Auditorium is quite large, I wonder if the play-by-play or the conversation corner will bother the people who opt for a traditional concert experience. I also wonder how many people will actually live-blog the concert. That sort of thing seems to be most popular for political conventions and Apple events.
I hope the event is a success though, and I applaud the effort to shake things up a bit. Gary Hill, the Director of Bands, is very forward-looking as a conductor and music director. Although I only played under him for a couple of years, I got the chance to play a plethora of cool new music — much of which was outside the traditional conception of what ‘band music’ is or should be.
I wonder if I’ll be able to find a live blog of the event, since I can’t attend myself…
When we were in Nevada a few weeks ago, we spent an afternoon and evening at Sand Harbor on Lake Tahoe. It was hot outside, and refreshingly (if initially shockingly) cold in the lake. The water is very clear, although there wasn’t a whole lot to see — near the beach, at least. It was pleasant to go for a swim in a large body of water, dry out on the sandy beach, and realize that I wasn’t covered in either salt or lake sludge.
Stage by the Lake
After we’d had our fill of the beach, we cleaned up and walked over to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival’s outdoor stage, which has the lake for a backdrop. My mom had gotten us tickets to that evening’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After finding our seats, we sat down to a delicious picnic assembled by the various members of our group. The food was tasty, the venue was gorgeous, and the play was… weird. Most of the Athenians were rich yacht club types (a good fit for many of Tahoe’s summer residents), while the rebellious Hermia and Lysander were goths. The faeries were mostly pseudo native American, except for the token black guy wearing a loincloth and carrying a spear. The mechanicals were a variety of blue-collar workers, with Nick Bottom as a guitar-wielding hot dog vendor.
To these disparate (and never satisfactorily explained) groups was added a bizarre mishmash of music. Nick Bottom came out to The Boss’s “Born in the USA.” The various songs within the play were sung in rock-ish settings with instruments played by members of the company. Throughout the play, a new-age Navajo — who was often on stage — played so-called “Native American flute.” Perhaps the weirdest thing came at the end. During Puck’s soliloquy (“If we shadows have offended…”) the flutist played and another Indian conducting a smudging ceremony on stage. The whole thing was a hodgepodge of different and largely unconnected directorial directions. But, at least we had plenty to talk about on the ride back down to Carson City.