Monday, May 14, 2007

J. Haydn: The Creation

Valley Choral Society is singing Haydn's oratorio The Creation in our concert this weekend.
Legend has it that on a trip to England Haydn was so inspired by The Messiah that he rushed home to write an equally moving oratorio.

Needless to say, it's not as famous as Messiah, perhaps not unfairly.
I deduct 2 points each time a recit ends with a V-I cadence, so already it has to recover from a 40-point deficit in my "music-o-meter". I also subtract points for beginning a recit/sentence with "And" and ending with "And it was so" or "And it was good".

But it has its moments.

Take, for instance, this passage, a depiction of the creation of days and nights. Corelli himself could hardly pull off a better set of suspensions.

That, friends, is why ole' Haydn is and always will be The Man.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

How apropos...

Subtropical storm Andrea remains disorganized

The first named storm of the season sits and spins just off
the Georgia coast. more

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Texas Tour - Day 5 (3/31)

Day 5: Beer Bike Day, Houston

In typical Beer Bike fashion, it was POURING on Saturday morning when I, armed with a delicious egg-and-cheese kolache, drove to the stadium. I knew I was early, but I didn't think I was that early - there couldn't have been more than 5 people in the entire track. Just as I was really getting confused, Felicia called to inform me that the event had been postponed! There was an unexplained death on campus the night before (I know what you're thinking, but as far as I know it wasn't alcohol-related), and the college coordinators decided it wasn't appropriate to be happy on that day. Not to sound insensitive, but the college coordinators didn't consider the alums who had paid thousands of dollars to travel to Texas and see their old friends. So we got crap for our dinero.

I was about to propose an alternative alumni meeting when Felicia informed me that alums were meeting up at Valhalla, a curious place for an alumni meeting seeing as it is a grad student bar (grads and undergrads have never really gotten along, mainly on account of the fact that they can't agree on who is weirder).

It stopped raining just as I was heading over there. Also, I was lucky enough to run into a handful of folks I knew. Check the photos:

Here is Kevin, just about to complete his MSME at Rice (and totally smokin' to boot); me; Suzy, forensic accountant in Houston; and Keedy, who is a test engineer in San Antonio (also totally smokin', as always) - go ahead, ask him what he does for a living, it's too gross for me to tell you! Everyone's doing fabulous!

Here we have me again; Evan, who is wildly successful at I can't remember what (and smokin') and who is cool enough to have a blackberry; Keedy again; and Uchenna, who also just graduated from medical school. They are also fabulous (see a pattern here?). She asked me to put these photos up on facebook right away and I am taking waay too long to do it.

Which reminds me, folks -I learned during my travel that anyone who is anyone is now a member of FACEBOOK. So go join and find out the rest of the story on these guys!

After that we hung for a while at Woodstock's in the Village, I went on one final run to Taco Cabana with Max (God Bless TC), then I had to head to the airport for an early Sunday morning flight.

So that concludes my Texas Tour, folks. It served to support my theory: for the first few years after graduating from college, most people's lives are shit for a while as they cast about trying to make life match their expectations. Then, after a few years, things finally settle out, the torture of grad/med school ends, first jobs either work out or they don't and lead to better ones, new friends are made, and people can be happy again. Look at the proof!

Texas Tour - Day 4 (3/30)

Day 4: Houston

Friday I met for lunch at the famous House of Pies. Joe just got married! Trying to figure out what to do with his Montrose bachelor pad (dude if I lived in Houston I would so take it).

Andrea and at House of "Pies" - get it?

After lunch I dropped by campus for the first time since 2003. I was a little upset to see that, after the 4 years that I lived in the trash paddy that was the Hanszen quad (complete with mud pits and broken Krylon-decorated patio furniture), they finally got around to fixing it up! Combined with the construction and commons destruction and our subsequent squatting in the Wiess commons, I picked the wrong 4 years to go to Rice!

Overall the campus looks pretty good. The 6400 construction projects from my days have all finished. I dropped by the North campus and had the darndest time trying to figure out which college was Martel and which was McMurtry, and which were the new halls of Jones and Brown. They all looked the same to me.

You heard me right, alums. Rice is building ANOTHER college for the million fafillion new students they are planning on accepting. During a welcome/protest for the new school detailed in the Thresher, I found Eric Libby's identical twin (who is also from Hanszen). I'm not kidding, see for yourself:

There weren't too many professors still on campus that Friday afternoon, but I ran into a few. Dr. O'Malley was out having twins, they told me. Dr. Chapman is still there, but this is the first semester he's not teaching anymore. I think he must be 210 years old by now - I don't think he recognized me. I had the longest chat with Dr. McStravick, who is now sporting a beard. He's doing really well. Detailed to me how Ryon lab and most of the Cox building have expelled the MECH department, which I can't understand at all. I see my alumni donations decreasing by the second...

It was good to see folks and tell them that I'm finally settled with a job I really like. Then came the "Great! So, are you married? Any kids?" Then I had to say "Uhhh, well THAT part of my life still sucks, but anyway-"

That night I caught up with Felicia (my hetero soul-mate) at my old favorite Madras Pavilion (and 3rd Indian restaurant of the week). Once again, the food wasn't as good as I remembered, but the company didn't disappoint. She just finished medical school as will start her residency in September! She also hooked me up with Nick Walther, Scott Berger, and some other Hanszen folks for some bocce ball. Everyone as doing fabulous. Check us out:

Good-looking bunch, huh?

I was staying at the Greenfield Inn just off Southwest Freeway, and the first night I noticed that my bed smelled like stinky guy - but only on one side. I concluded they must not have changed the linens since the last guest! So I slept on top of the covers, and the next morning I specifically asked them to change the linens. Their agreement looked a little suspect, so I took a pen and drew a star on the corner of the fitted sheet. When I got back that night, it was still there! I called the front desk and demanded new sheets, but they told me the cleaning staff had gone home for the night. Man, I wish I had demanded a room change and refund. But instead I was a pushover and slept on top of the sheets again. The next morning I threw all the sheets on the floor in the hopes that they wouldn't do it again to the next guest (just as easy to put new ones on as the old ones, right?). So be careful, and don't accept excuses!!!

On a more sober note, I did get an update about someone who didn't make it into town so I didn't see personally (probably a good thing). They treated me badly, and I found out that something bad had happened to them. That made me re-think the anger I had for him, that I had almost forgotten. Can you still be mad at someone who has had misfortune? It is simultaneously justified - what happens now doesn't change what they did then - and coldhearted - to think ill of someone who has already been punished enough. I can't be selfish and see it as some sort of karmic retribution for hurting me - and I hope it's not because what then happens to me because of the people I've treated badly?

Texas Tour - Day 3 (3/29)

Day 3: Houston

I met Dakao for lunch at another Indian restaurant, a new addition to the Rice Village. They've started charging for parking in the garage, those rotten guys! Dakao's doing well - has taken quite an interest in parcourt (running like hell while bouncing off walls and jumping on/over/off stuff) and capoiera (dance-fighting? I can't really tell).

For dinner I met Max at one of my favorite restaurants, Mai's Vietnamese. The food wasn't as good as I remembered, but Max was as cool as always. After that we caught up with Jing at a tapioca place and got an update from her. They are both successful professionals working in Houston.

Max and Jing and I play Beatniks at Tropioca.

Texas Tour - Day 2 (3/28)

Day 2: Austin / College Station

For lunch I met up with my former roommate Teresa at Chuy's, then went to her house and hung with her 2 little chillens. What a great time we had! She's so happy being a mom!

We gave the camera to Lucas and chased him all around the yard while he took pictures like this...

... until I was able to take this photo by setting the timer and putting the camera on the trunk of my car (way to get the camera centered, Ange)...

After that I headed to College Station. Everlost got me so mixed up on the Great Southern Highway (my nickname for I-35 for those of you who have read Asimov's Nightfall) that I was 35 miles away from 290 by the time I could exit, so instead I took 79 east. I decided that I wasn't lost, I was experiencing a part of Texas I'd never seen before...

For my friends not living in Texas, these are Bluebonnets, now the ubiquitous side-of-the-highway "wildflower" that was heavily planted under the direction of Lady Bird Johnson. I was surprised to see these growing in California a few weeks later, but I realized that they are like Bourbon or Champagne: if they grow in Texas, they're Bluebonnets; if they grow outside Texas, they're lupines.

Here's something funny for my Southern friends: right after I took this photo I stopped for gas, and while in the gas station I ran across a package of Big League Chew - you remember that chewing gum designed to look like pink chewing tobacco? I thought that went the way of candy cigarettes! I had to buy their last bag just to prove to my California friends that I wasn't making this up.

Eventually I got to Loni and Arsenio's in College Station. I tried to get another of my timer-photos with the three of us and their three cats. The cats weren't very big fans of this idea.

We watched Borat (my first time) and chatted and chatted before we finally had to sleep. I tell you, I hadn't seen Loni for years, and now I get two visits four months apart! I'll have to keep up that record.

Texas Tour - Day 1 (3/27)

Day 1: Austin

My hotel room in Austin under the freeways was interesting - for instance, there was a hole in the wall. For another instance, to go from the room to the office involved passing through an overhang with the roof falling off.

Had lunch (reocurring theme: Indian!) with Britton, who now has a Prius, a lawnmower, and a son, then went to a coffee shop for more catching up. He currently works in downtown, and his office building is NICE!

Eventually he had to return to work, and I went back to the hotel to do some work (what was I thinking?). For dinner I caught up with Simi, law professor and mother of two adorable girls with gorgeous names (Andolyn and Mariela)!

I thought my fun ended there, but luckily we finally got a hold of our theatre friend Tom, now also a proud papa. The two of us met him and his wife and closed down the bar catching up on the past 6 years or so.

I noticed at the end of the day that a) I was the only single person among all the people I saw today, and b) I was the only one who had gained weight since college! Yikes!

Texas Tour - Day 0 (3/26)

I decided that I was working too much to the detriment of all else, namely my social and mental health (ironically, in a Japanese company even working too hard is not working enough). So I decided to take vacation to visit some college friends, and what better time to do that than during Rice's revered tradition Beer Bike (disclaimer: although there are bikes involved, there is no beer... anymore).

As luck would have it, only one person I contacted was planning on even going to Beer Bike.
So I decided to take a week and do some travelling to reach everyone. However, (miraculously,) I was able to get at least one meal out of each person I contacted, and didn't have any meals left over, so it was worth it.

I'd never flown on Continental before, but they had what I coveted most out of my trip: a direct flight to Intergalactic Airport (also known as George HW Somebody-or-Other Airport). Gullibly believing them when they announced they would be serving lunch, I didn't purchase any food in the terminal. The lunch was cheeseburgers. When I asked if she had anything meatless by any chance, she said "you can eat what I give you or not at all". They should call it Your Mama Airlines!

I was famished when I landed, and then I had to collect my luggage and pick up the car. Thank the goddess I reserved a navigation system because I got the last one (unfortunately I didn't get the Corolla I reserved - I got a Sonata). The first thing I did when I got out was find a Taco Cabana! Had my first bad experience with Hertz Everlost GPS. When I did finally reach the TC (having not been able to get there by the imaginary roads Everlost showed me), I ate so fast I almost got sick. My gods it was good to have a real tortilla again!

The sun had gone down by this time, and I still had a 3-hour drive to Austin. I couldn't have been past Tomball when the skies positively opened up in one of those rare but harsh East Texas thunderstorms. The rain was so hard I couldn't see the road, I couldn't see the highway signs, I couldn't see the land around me; and so loud I couldn't hear the hotel operator when I called to tell them I'd be late. I was able to make it by luck and following the tail-lights of the only other car crazy enough to be on 290 in Waller County, who I could only hope was staying on the road in front of me.

I finally did get to Austin about 2AM and checked into possibly the loudest hotel ever - at the intersection of Hwy 183 and I-35.

Looong overdue... continued

CZ announced she was leaving the Partnership. I was glad that she was upgrading, but sad that she wouldn't be just down the hall anymore. That stunk. Now she's making up for it by working brutal amounts of overtime.

The CaFCP were asked by First Lady Maria Shriver to run a taxi/limo service for VIPs during the Governor's 2nd Inauguration festivities. Decorum prevented me from taking pictures and getting autographs, so you'll just have to take my word on this: I drove Bob Saget, Jerry Zucker, Tom Arnold, and Tony-winning Dreamgirls star Jennifer Holliday between airports, hotels, and performance halls, while giving the typical Fuel Cell Spiel. Jerry Zucker is really knowledgeable and interested in alt fuels! Bob Saget is a really cool guy who dotes on his children in an adorable way. People said Ms. Holliday was rather rude, but I claim that all my years as a singer taught me how to handle divas. I thought she was pretty nice myself, we had a good conversation as I was taking her home from rehearsal, and when she emerged from Memorial Auditorium after singing at the Inauguration, she ignored everyone else and said to me "Hey, Songbird!" I felt so special!!!

Traveled, traveled, traveled.