July 29, 2008

Romantic piano

Listening to Poulenc's Sonata in A major for Cello (originally for violin) and Piano from a WGBH podcast. Actually, I've been listening to it on and off for a few weeks, and within that time I'd purchased the four volumes of Amy Beach's piano music performed by Joanne Polk. I can hear their similarities but can't express their differences. I can only cop out and say he has that slight hint of French salon trash and she has that slight hint of New England salon trash. Nothing offensive, just a little gamey. They lived two decades apart--her dying in 1944 and him in 1963. Did she go out to see Bogart movies in her later years? Did he watch The Fugitive on TV? Ever since I learned that I had till I was nine to actually meet Dmitri Shostakovich--unfortunately several years before I was even interested in music--I've been taken by the idea of what these people might have taken in from the pop culture that we ultimately shared.

[ updated 30 July 2008 ]

So now Amy Beach is sounding very impressionist. Debussy's Estampes IIRC. I'm sure I'll start hearing more influences later...

posted by sstrader at 8:54 PM in Music | permalink

July 23, 2008

Earthlink and dynamic IP addresses

So, over the past three days our home DSL account through Earthlink has been averaging 15 IP addresses a day. Considering that I've worked from home the past two days and have had, or rather should have had, a constant VPN connection to my office network, that's kinda shady. I called Earthlink support at 12:45 this afternoon and "asked" them about their policy of high-adrenaline IP assignment.

They wanted to verify how I could possibly know what my IP address was (?!?), and then tried to blame it on (a) my router (did you purchase that from Earthlink?), (b) the various what's-my-IP web sites (what URLs did you visit?), and (c) my company's VPN (contact your network administrator). They then tried to upsell me to a static IP. Dynamic IPs I understand are dynamic, but when I get cycled through up to three different addresses in a five-minute period ... fuck you Earthlink.

Well, since the call at 12:45, I've had ... three updates. At 10:49, 11:09, and 11:29 (my first activity in several hours). Weird that it was smoothe sailing after my disgruntled complaint about them trying to make me pay extra for a fixed IP address because of their shitty service. They can't be that responsive to angry calls. Going on vacation this weekend, so the question is on hold until next week. Atnex is the likely candidate with high ratings at DSL Reports.

posted by sstrader at 11:31 PM in Home Network & Gadgets | permalink

July 21, 2008

Movies and weekend

WALL-E [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] (5/5). Went to see Wanted and ended up at WALL-E. We were planning on going to see it anyway, but really didn't expect to be so taken in by the sweet-but-not-sappy story. A few times during the movie I had somethinginmyeye. The dialog-free opening was silent film genius and ultimately more beautiful than the spaceship sequence in the second half. With no people, the Earth scenes held to their own almost-real reality. The people we were introduced to in space were depicted more cartoonishly. And really, the movie is all about WALL-E and EVE's relationship; the people just get in the way. Definitely a movie to purchase.


Wanted [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] (4/5). Crazy shooting sexy Jolie with the loom that tells the future and secret societies attacking each other. The first 20-30 minutes had a perfect mix of humor a la Office Space with the protagonist schlub narrating his hate for cubicle hell (I hear ya, brother). Second third is his training as an assasin (we need a montage!), which had its moments. Finally there's the twist (not that twisty) and a nice, non-Hollywood resolution. Overall, it was like The Matrix with a sense of humor.

Friday night dinner at Six Feet Under in Midtown West. Fried fish gets a +1, valet parking gets a -1, so it was a wash. Saturday was dinner and drinks at Cypress Street Pint and Plate until 3 AM. Sunday was a late lunch at Noche then late night pizza delivery. Weekend's not a weekend unless you overindulge.

Best part of last week was the birthday dinner at Straits where we saw the owner, Ludacris and had a great meal, plus, Lisa gave me a Garmin GPS unit for my car. I can't drive anywhere now without having it show where I'm at.

posted by sstrader at 10:33 PM in Cinema , Personal | permalink

July 17, 2008

More Prokofiev

My favorite time at the piano for the last month or so has been working on two slow movements from different Prokofiev piano sonatas. The third movement, Andante in G-sharp minor, from the Piano Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 14, and the second movement, Andante sognando in D-flat major, from the Piano Sonata No. 8 in B-flat major, Op. 84. The Barbara Nissman recording I have of #s 1 through 8 (the first complete recording of his Piano Sonatas) is on my desert island list. The works have that mix of lyrical and spikey that I like from the Russians, and Nissman tears into them with passion.

Going through the sheet music makes me appreciate all the more what he does with harmony and multiple voices on the piano. Starting at the end of measure 44 of op. 14's ABAB slow movement, here's the climax of the 2nd A section:

prokofiev.sonata-2.iii.1 prokofiev.sonata-2.iii.2

Broken third accompaniment in sixths in the right hand, then split between the hands, the simple, emphatic melody above, and a wave of G-sharp minor arpeggios (this movement's primary key) in the bass. The phrase's opening chromatically descending sixths in the left hand hint at the chromatically descending tritones in the same hand for the final phrase of the section (shown lighter in triplets). The chromatic lines are then taken up with more of a leggiero feel in an inner voice in the B section's right hand. Even at it's busiest, the piece holds together with an economy of means: broken thirds, sixths, and chromatic scales hold A and B together. This one slice of the work holds the DNA for the entire piece.

Op. 84's slow movement (also a flowing andante but more dreamlike, sognando) is ABABA but with great variation in each repetition. The first A repeats the melody three times with a short bridge inserted between the second and third repetition. Here's the first half of the odd and somewhat patchwork bridge:


I can't figure out his intentions. The overlaps don't seem to flow for me even with the sort of stretto in the different voices. Hmm. I do, however, love the two measures of false return of the second A section (the actual A appears immediately after), especially the right-hand accompaniment:


And finally, the opening phrase of the last A section. Melody in the middle voice, swapped between hands while broken A-flat octaves (the dominant of the key and echoing the syncopation and open intervals of the B section) appear in the outside voices:

prokofiev.sonata-8.ii.3 prokofiev.sonata-8.ii.4

Similar to the chromatically ascending chords in the right hand of the previous example, the accompanying octaves follow a general rule and break it when they need. In the first example, the chords occationally skip whole tones instead of half in order to fit the melody better; in the second, the octaves' jumps vary slightly to fit the empty spaces in the melody. Both movement have simple melodies that are worked with great variation throughout.

posted by sstrader at 7:01 PM in Music | tagged piano performance, prokofiev | permalink

July 11, 2008


Using a common image as your online icon (IM, Twitter, etc.) always holds the risk of being non-personal and non-unique. You may associate with "Brian the dog," but so might thousands of others and so thousands of others might pick the exact same icon. Bugger!

So, I was reading an hi-LARIOUS story about yet another Republican (known for his attacks on gays) getting outed as a ... well, you can guess the rest of the story. Looking at the comments in the story, I was stunned that I had already commented on it! What the fuck?!? Right there, waving to me, was my Felix the Cat icon:


Apparently, a user known as wonderfulwonderful had not only chosen Felix as their icon but had chosen the exact same pose.

I don't know when I first picked up Felix, but it's been at least four or five years. I needed something and he was the first thing that popped into my head because he had a bag of tricks. I thought that was a good metaphor for what programmers do: tough coding problem? Just reach into your bag o' tricks for the solution! I've used it for so long, it was an odd feeling of identity theft when I saw it next to someone other than sstrader. Alas, it's my own fault for nicking a (relatively) well-known cartoon character.

posted by sstrader at 11:00 AM in Personal | permalink

July 10, 2008

Ceiling FISA

One more:

posted by sstrader at 5:27 PM in Politics | permalink

Moby Dick!

I've been downloading (all. day.) the entire Led Zeppelin library from Rhapsody thanks to Reddit. $9.99, 165 MP3s, 256kbs, 16hr 41min of music (sheesh, that's less than the length of Wagner's ring cycle, lazy rock musicians...). I started dl-ing the 1.8 Gig zip file and their site bonked at 200 meg. Broke down and installed Rhapsody's sucktacular download manager... just now finishing up Physical Graffiti and about to move on to Presence. Can't say that they're one of the bands of my youth that I'll spend much time revisiting, but the deal was too hard to pass up.

posted by sstrader at 4:58 PM in Music | permalink


That FISA shit is whack. ACLU article on the vote (ACLU donation page) and EFF article on the vote (EFF donation page). To quote Reddit: You can tap my phone or my wallet, but not both. Unsubcribe me, Obama, and: Obama has to stop treating his internet supporters like an ATM. Obama is getting a larger proportion of the shit from this (at least on the internet) because of his candidacy, but it's Congress and the Democrats as a whole who are the primary asshats in this fiasco.


(photo via Freaking News)

posted by sstrader at 9:53 AM in Politics | permalink

July 9, 2008

Hangul and accents

Hangul is a written script for the Korean language. It was created around 1444 CE in order to overcome the complexity and ambiguity resulting from using the Chinese Hanzi script. Hangul allows the writer to represent the Korean language phonetically--part of each letter is a simplified illustration of how the sound should be formed in the mouth--and so has been described by computational linguist Geoffrey Sampson as one of the great intellectual achievements of humankind.

For the hundreds of years since its introduction, Hangul has battled the supremacy of the tradition driven by scholars and priests of using the Chinese script. Today, in South Korea, writing consists of a mix of Hangul, hanja (the Korean name for Hanzi), and Latin loan words. The Chinese script has slowly lessened in importance. During this transition, the script has also moved from primarily phonemic to a mix of phonemic and morphologic, that is: from sound-centric to sound- and word-centric. Although it seems odd for the users of a script to choose ambiguity over phonological precision, the benefit is that sounds that change across regional accents and dialects become less important within the script itself.

This is a benefit in English and other languages that use the Latin alphabet. Although spelling may not match pronunciation, words do not change spelling across regions. "Yard" in Boston (/jɔːd/) is still spelled "yard" and not "yaughd" like "caught" (/kɔːt/) and certainly not like "cough" (/kɔːf/). If we wanted phonetic precision, we'd use IPA or some other equivalent system.

posted by sstrader at 2:15 PM in Language & Literature | permalink

July 7, 2008

Where was I?

Fighting a cold all weekend (and doing things that only aggravated it). Thursday was relaxin' with Prokofiev sonatas after work until Lisa & I decided to get some take-out from Noodle. Woody Allen's Match Point and silly TV with dinner and not much else.

Friday was relaxin' on Juniper and 7th watching for Lisa in the mass of runners. She must've run right by me, but I missed her for watching all of the crazily-dressed runners. My niece Caroline's assessment when told by Bob that Lisa was running the Peachtree: Aunt Lisa? Aunt, Lisa?! You mean makeup and high heels aunt Lisa?!? We were non-plussed. Afternoon/evening up at Liz and Matt's pool.

Saturday evening up at my brotherandsisterinlaw's place for family birthday and anniversary get-together. Bob's old friend Chris was there (hadn't seen him in a loooong time) along with his cool parents Amy and Mike.

Sunday was going to be hangin' out at the Gay Pride Parade, then we decided we were way too worn out to go, then we heard the absolute insanity as the rain poured down and we knew it was a not-to-be-missed situation. Highlights were: seeing Baton Bob just as we walked out of our building, Wet Bar's Navy ship with confetti canons (!), and the tshirt that said "fagulous" on the back. The rest of the day was at The Vortex watching, alternately, Wimbledon, Ninja Warrior, Extreme Rodeo, King of Kong, and some nature show where people were camping in -40 weather.

posted by sstrader at 5:02 PM in Where was I? | permalink

July 6, 2008


OK. You gays need to get your shit together. Apparently, you've either stopped praying or you've increased your sodomy/hedonism since last year when the weather was perfect. Now, what we saw of the parade was awesome, but when we could hear the lightning above the cheers and disco music, it sounded fearsome and don't-fuck-with-the-religious-fucks-inspiring. Again, I don't know how you've pissed them off, but you better watch your shit.

Oh. Other than that: HAPPY PRIDE!!

posted by sstrader at 8:01 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

July 5, 2008


Lisa finished the Peachtree in 1:05. Even BIFF agrees:

         | L15A  |
         | R00LZ!! |
       o +---------+
      o/|  .~    ~.
  |\__/|  .~    ~.
 /o=o'`./      .'
{o__,   \    {\ 
  / .  . )    \} 
  `-` '-' \    }     
 .(   _(   )_.' 
'---.~_ _ _|
posted by sstrader at 11:58 AM in Personal | permalink

July 2, 2008

Transparency and control

Over the past week, there's been a blog fight of sorts (BLOG FIGHT!) between BoingBoing and Violet Blue. From what anyone can tell, Boing Boing silently deleted a long history of guest posts by Violet Blue from their archives (see "That Violet Blue Thing"--beware, 800+ of comments, large page ho!--for BB's summary and apologia). They gave no explanation until the ...-osphere sussed them out and gave a collective What The Fuck?!? considering BB's lauding of openness, transparency, and ... well, those two are probably enough to bring up the oddities of such a silent attack on someone who had been a BB pal. Violet Blue's befuddled reaction is her article "when transparency does not equal erased". By the unpersoning of VB on BB, her Google pagerank--and subsequent cross-pollination from BB readers--is sure to take a hit. Browsing the writings of both sides, with the impetus still unspoken, BB comes out looking like asses, especially with Xeni Jardin's snarky defense of their silence: Blog fights are stupid.

I had my own fun with blog censorship a while back when a certified wack-o started posting heavily (relatively) to one of my posts on morgellons. She was a shrill troll whose posts had the appearance of fanaticism and paranoia. After a few rants and attacks, I deleted her very last comment (a repeat of previous rants) and blocked her from posting further. She was generally troll-like, and so I was pretty justified in cutting off her microphone. I'll chat with all comers, but my tolerance has a limit when noise outstrips signal.

The issue of whether you should be able to publicly criticize the president came up in drunktalk recently. One person had the position that it makes us look weak and therefore vulnerable to attack. This is a similar situation of transparency and control. If the government effectively controls the discussion group and can censor what it deems to be unpatriotic speech, how free is our speech? Should our government be more open than, say, the Chinese government, which regularly imprisons those who criticize them?

Finally, going further afield, I've often encountered a certain type of "secretive" co-worker. When you have public repositories of documentation and data, hiding your code or documentation or proposals is little more than an act of self-censorship whose purpose can be only to control the expectations of others. This reveals a different drawback to concealment: hiding information inhibits growth. Working within a group who shares information, the people who withhold information hold back the group. First, the knowledge they could have shared with others remains hidden and only for their own benefit. Second, the mistakes they hope to conceal remain uncontested and therefore inhibits their own growth and the chance for them to make a greater contribution to the group.

posted by sstrader at 2:34 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

July 1, 2008

IMSLP is back

Order returns to the universe. That is all.

posted by sstrader at 7:48 AM in Music | permalink