Music

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Originally posted Feb. 2004.

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Mission notes

On my home planet I was trained in slime mold.
I am a highly-trained slime mold specialist.
Anything you want to know about slime mold, just ask me. I’m your man.
I was sent to Earth as the slime mold member of our research team. That was the assumption. The culmination of years and more years of specialized training.
So when our anthropologist was eaten by dogs and they picked me to replace him, it came as a surprise.
It caught me unprepared.
Certain slime molds, the going gets rough, the individual organisms can band together into a sort of larger organism, the individuals specializing in certain tasks such as locomotion, protection (dying to form a protective “skin”), perception (forming a rudimentary light-sensing “eye”) etc.
Humans, though?
With that caveat, here a couple observations.
Driving through their urban habitat yesterday, I observed a couple.
She was on the skinny side, with a lank blondish mullet hairdo that looked as if she cut it herself. About 35 years old. The man she was walking with, who seemed to be her partner, judging from body language, was recovering from a recent injury. This could be seen from the way he moved – large, round careful movements, with a larger space of vulnerability around him than humans normally have, moving his head slowly as if his eyes stuck out on 5-foot stalks and he had to be careful not to hit anything with them. Slow, careful steps.
Also, his head was completely bandaged except for one eye, with fresh bandages.
Just like this kid in a story I’m currently writing.
The woman was looking out for him. They appeared to be taking their first trip outside their apartment since his return home from the hospital. Get some fresh air. Some exercise.
She was losing patience with his whiny, overcautious demeanor and wished he would recover as fast as the heroes in movies. He was traumatized by a dangerous world and fearful of all its sharp edges, dirt and large, hard, noisy things full of momentum.
They stood there and waited for the traffic light to change.
Later, in the boardroom of an international organization, I observed a second couple. She was about 22 and beautiful. He was in his forties, small and appeared intelligent, well-educated and successful. Both were well-dressed. She entered the room from a door near where I sat and signaled to him where he sat across the room.
They communicated with hand signals and mouthed words. This proved insufficient for them, so she walked over to where he was and they had a whispered conversation.
Later they were standing by me talking. I couldn’t hear what they were saying. But it seemed likely that they were having an affair, although they didn’t touch, because she was wearing a man’s watch. A small man’s watch, as in the watch of a small man, the size and sort he would wear. Expensive, rectangular “doctor’s watch”, leather band. Too big for her, the band, she had it on the smallest setting, the last hole, and it still hung down loosely around the trapezium and pisiform bones of her hand, so to speak.
And women wearing guys’ watches is at least as sexy as women wearing men’s shirts.
Moreover: a human recently told me I was more attractive when wearing my reading glasses and should wear them all the time. This I did yesterday, when not driving, and had the following experiences:

    Executive summary: a whole bunch of women made contact with me. Conclusion: either glasses cause women to talk to me, or they’ve been doing it all along and I didn’t notice before because I wasn’t wearing glasses.

A woman in her early forties (blonde, attractive, well-dressed, nice shoes, red mini-dress, elaborate diamond/gold ring on the ring-finger of her right hand i.e. married as that is the custom in Austria) came over to where I sat in a low chair in the lounge working on my Apple iBook and asked if the seat next to me was taken. I replied that it was not, to my knowledge. She then said, “cool computer,” and crossed her legs in such a manner that the battery charge on my iBook instantly increased from 28% to 35%. I responded by smiling and saying, “heh.”
Then I returned my attention to the work I was doing on the iBook. No further conversation ensued.
Between five and ten minutes later, the woman rose in what struck me as an abrupt manner and walked briskly towards the elevators and out of my field of vision, her nylons throwing sparks sufficient to light a medium-sized room or power an electric razor, and the heels of her high-heeled pumps making clicking noises although the floor was carpeted.
I feared she was on her way home to kick her dog.
I missed dealing with slime molds and wondered what else I should have said. I wondered whether I should have replied, Yes, and you’re pretty, and my batteries will be dead in 45 minutes but you’ll still be pretty. (I decided not).

Later, it occurred to me that the events had progressed in an optimal way because here I had said nothing at all and still pissed her off, some relationships are better off dead you know?
Later, two women in the conference, after checking me out for a long time, asked me if I were someone else. I replied that no, I was me, and apologized for that fact. The first one left without further incident, the second felt the need to explain that she had been given the description of a man who must be my cousin and gave me this hand shake/hold/squeeze thing humans do sometimes at funerals when they are consoling someone. It felt out of place.
Afterwards, I wondered whether I could have gotten more entertainment out of the situation by telling her, when she mentioned the description/cousin, Oh, you must mean George Clooney, that happens all the time.
I concluded, probably not.

Reporting live from inside the ABC conference on XYZ

A large, WIFI-equipped conference room full of highly-educated, highly-trained diplomats; and one blogger (that I know of, there could of course be more, we’re all over). The distinguished delegate from, from… from a Baltic country, okay? walks by and everyone goes, Hey, strappy size 38 (European) Manolo Blahnik pumps. That was yesterday. She was too distracting so I sat somewhere else today. Apparently she’s into the shoes, she had on these pointy black Batman villainess things today, little bootlets from the front, all straps in the back. Long natural blonde Baltic hair. Pretty in a haughty round-faced Nordic Eicca Toppinen way.

Anyway. All these educated people debating topics vital to international security and the distinguished delegate from Ahem is distracting us so we sit somewhere else today, behind the delegation from the Republic of Supermodels, purely accidentlly, and their distinguished delegate likes to plant herself right in front of me, back to me, and bend over at the waist to discuss policy with her low-seated colleagues.

It’s a hard life.

A brief remark on playing the cello

Had a cello lesson recently, expected my teacher to flay me over my playing at our first concert, instead he got out a Romberg piece for the class recital end of May.

I’d tried it earlier, months ago, to my dismay. It’s a romantic piece, towards the schmaltzy end of the spectrum, and sounds awful without vibrato; also there are plenty of fast bits that threw me back then.

Sounds better now. Am beginning to vibrate, and the fast bits aren’t as fast as the fast bits I am just shy of being able to play in the orchestra, meaning it is feasible that I will be able to master this by the end of May. I mean, of course I will master it.

Last weekend? At orchestra camp?

Orchestra weekend statistics:

  • Violins flattened by falling piece of wood propped up against bathroom doorframe because motion detector kept turning on fan the noise of which disturbed the third violins rehearsing in that room: 1

  • Exploding double-basses: 1 (A woman knocked her instrument against a chair and the back split off).
  • Hours I thought I might be having a heart attack because I mistook my back pain (from tension and sitting and playing cello for hours and hours) for chest pain: approx. 24 I told Beta how much I loved her, just in case.
  • Number of doors in my room: 0 (the hostel was under rennovation. I stole two mattresses and used them for doors instead. Less dangerous than big boards.)
  • Number of nights I woke up at 3 and couldn’t fall back to sleep because the other guy in my room was snoring: 1. At breakfast I asked him how he had slept and he said he thought okay, and asked if he had snored and I said a little and he said, I must have rolled over onto my back, you should have just gone, TsTsTs and I would’ve woken up and rolled back over onto my side and I said, I’ll remember that next time.
  • Number of evenings I sat around with the other adults (there turned out to be about ten or so of us, both teachers and “musicians”) talking, and drinking, more drinking than talking as I waited for something to occur to me to contribute to the conversation, and then someone makes fun of turtles as pets and I go onto a 30 minute monologue about what great pets tortoises make (which monologue is cited with humorous effect during the following night’s conversation): 1
  • Number of times I grabbed my wonderful co-cellist and dragged her out to my car and showed, then demonstrated my tin whistle to her (because tin whistles had come up in a chat we were having), while my aura stood beside myself watching and shaking its head: 1
  • Number of women who think tin whistles are hot instruments: ?

Beta and I enjoyed the weekend and got a lot out of it, I think. We concluded that musicians are cool. The kids were well-behaved. There was a pub attached to the hostel. I built a bonfire where the girls roasted bread dough on sticks, and the boys wrapped their dough around their sticks, added dough testicles and went hr-hr-hr. The orchestra sounded good in its first public performance/rehearsal/whatever, in a freezing cold church. A musician’s life is a hard one, don’t let anyone tell you different.

If an orchestra is composed of disparate sub-organisms/organs that work together to produce the effect of a larger organism, then the conductor is the eyes, ears and brain (ours impressed me very much). The harp, I think, is the glitter gland, showering the rest of us with wonderfulness. The double basses provided the heartbeat.

I felt like the ass.

The Albinoni piece we placed went well. Mozart (Mitridate) was going well, until I thought to myself, THIS IS GOING WELL! whereupon my mind went blank and I turned into a mime. What’s THAT one doing honey, fighting an invisible wind? Climbing an invisible staircase? No, he’s trapped inside an invisible box. Or wait, he’s playing the cello.

My problem, at times, was the notes were too fast for me. At other times, it was trying to devote 50% of my attention to the conductor, 50% to my sheet music, 50% to my bow direction (to avoid stabbing someone or getting stabbed), 50% to turning sheet music pages at the right time, and 50% to not getting confused by my cello teacher, who sat next to me but played the 3rd violin part on his cello because I gather we had too many cellos and not enough violins.

It is a lot of fun.

Little-known facts about the jellyfish

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  • The jellyfish is more graceful in water than on land.

  • According to one website, most jellyfish are asexual, but the author goes on to say that means the jellyfish have both male and female sexual organs, so they probably mean hermaprodites, and some hermaphrodites probably get more sex than lots of people, but in fact, some jellyfish actually are asexual, if you know what I mean.
  • People often think the jellyfish thinks it’s soooooo smart all the time because they mistake its shyness for haughtiness, but it actually doesn’t think so.
  • The idea of going away to an orchestra workshop for a weekend ends up freaking the jellyfish out way more than an orchestra workshop could actually freak anyone out, in reality, despite the prospect of sitting in the string section getting stabbed by the bows of 12-year olds (and stabbing them as well) and the jellyfish knows this, and so despite the freakedoutness it also looks forward to the camp, because nothing could be as bad as it is fearing, so no matter how it turns out it will be better than it currently is in the head of the jellyfish, unless the jellyfish drops dead or something, in which case the jellyfish will be dead, so who cares? Have fun at the orchestra camp, is it’s motto. To the extent that fun with kids is legally possible.
  • Assuming the jellyfish can actually find the camp, since all it has are vague directions downloaded from the Internet and a capable but snarky 16-year old navigator.
  • The jellyfish remembers, though, that there will be at least two hot adult women at the workshop. Relatively hot, anyway.
  • The jellyfish is a rather simple organism.
  • The jellyfish’s main opening is its mouth. In fact, eating is the jellyfish’s main source of pleasure, but not in any weird way. It just happens to enjoy it. Other people watch the jellyfish eat, and it makes them hungry too, the depth of the jellyfish’s enjoyment. The jellyfish should be in advertising.
  • Some people think the jellyfish is, or started out as, a collection of disparate organisms that somehow came to work together, each specializing in one function – you do the locomotion, you do the eating, you handle the existential questions, I’ll be responsible for reproduction, like that.
  • Which is actually quite fascinating and makes you wonder if humans are like that too, and identity is just an illusion. Here, says the brain, I’ll handle the thinking.
  • Sometimes the jellyfish thinks there’s nothing more beautiful and varied than rain.

Take out the garbage, v2.0

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Originally posted February 2004

Posted by in The Bug

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