Mahaffey Theater

I wrote about two favorite songs way back, but I have never written about what I believe is the most beautiful piece of music that I have ever heard. I heard it back in late 2007 at the Mahaffey Theater. It was my first time seeing an orchestra and for $7 student tickets I could not pass up the opportunity. I would have suspected that because they were student tickets that they would not be the best sets. Thankfully I was wrong and my friend and I were right up front. Dead center. I was thrilled. Only once had the two of us sat in the front and that was when we saw The Producers.

In the middle of the program Alexander Glazunov’s Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 82 was due up. At the time I had never heard of Glazunov–actually of none of the composers–but I quickly devoured his works after getting home that night. Violinist Jennifer Frautschi blew me away with her performance. My eyes never left her. I was mesmerized by her movements and her facial expressions as she played. I kept thinking of how long she must have practiced to reach this level and if she still felt a strong emotion to the music while she played. I wondered if she also got this sense of jubilation and triumph knotted in her heart, because that is what I was feeling while listening to the music. Strange images kept swirled through my head as the music played of a heroine in armor fighting thousands upon thousands of soldiers wielding short swords and shields. She would lunge at them and beat them back only for them to regain the ground lost, but ultimately she prevailed and stood upon their defeated bodies; battered, bruised, exhausted but triumphant and victorious. Sometimes when I listen to this piece the scene changes to an old town, with cobble stone streets and old looking lanterns and with a woman in the middle of the town square holding books arguing back and forth with citizens of the town. I guess I associate this concerto with a strong woman.

I should put this on when I write.

Have a listen to it yourself.

A Poem for the New Year

Carlos  —  December 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

New Year

 

New Year’s Day–
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.
-Kobayashi Issa

Favorite 2011 Albums

Carlos  —  December 26, 2011 — Leave a comment

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I love Year End “Best of” lists. I look forward to lists from various publications about the best new recipes, television shows, books, movies and my favorite best albums of the year, which I use to discover new music and to get upset when some of my favorite bands don’t get a high enough score in certain lists or are completely left out. Usually, I get really upset at Pitchfork for leaving someone out or putting one band higher than another, but then again Pitchfork is a very frustrating online music magazine—I love and hate them.

So there really isn’t an order to the list. I just added them as I searched through my iTunes library to see what was released this year, so the number 1 spot is not really the number 1 album per se to me, it just happens to be the one I happened to list first. By the way, this is much harder than I thought it would be. I am always afraid of leaving something out or what to say in describing the albums. I eliminated getting heat for ranking an album higher than another by putting the disclaimer of it being ranked in no particular order. I know its a cop-out, but this is my blog and you will deal with it! I could have listed them in a bulleted list, but I started with numbered lists and I was too far ahead in making the list to change it.

  1. Wilco- The Whole Love: Okay, so I lied. I have to list this as the number one album on the list because they are my all time favorite band. I was anxiously awaiting this album, and it did not disappoint. To me the very first track of a Wilco album has really set the mood for the entire catalog of songs, and “Art of Almost” is this wonderful medley of noise, pops and wizzes which ends in a head-bopping Nels Cline shred.
  2. Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues: This was my second most anticipated album of the year. I loved the first Fleet Foxes album for its rich harmonies, beautiful melodies and deep lyrics and their sophomore album did not disappoint. To be quite honest, this is the true album of the year and the last track on the album, “Grown Ocean”, became a favorite of mine. I love that song so much that I have it as my opening track in a playlist entitled “To Get Yourself Pumped Up”.
  3. The Decemberists- The King is Dead: This is probably one of the most underrated albums of 2011 in my opinion. Usually a The Decemberists album is created around a theme, concept or story, but this one is not. Its a more Americana version of  The Decemberists, that still retains their unique Decembersists sound. Its a solid album, and it perplexes me as to why it is not in a lot more Best of 2011 lists.
  4. Destroyer- Kaput: I discovered Destroyer when I was listening to my favorite podcast The Dinner Party Download. I decided to check them out and I loved the album so much. Its not an album I would expect to love, but its fantastic. Next time a band tries to emulate 80s soft-rock, sign me up to be a fan!
  5. Bon Iver- Bon Iver: This is the year that I learned how to pronounce Bon Iver correctly after being a fan for a while. By the way, in case you’re interested its not pronounced Bon Eyever but pronounced Boni Ver. A friend once told me that he always pronounced Bon Iver by imagining himself walking in a freshly snow covered forest in Norway. Sounds about right.
  6. Cults- Cults: This is such a catchy little band. Someone I follow on Tumblr posted “Going to see them tonight” and a link to their song “Go Outside”. Instant falling in love, guys. I fell for them hard.
  7. Real Estate- Days: I also randomly heard of them thanks to a random post on Tumblr. I “loved” the track and reblogged it and as the original poster blogged more and more of their tracks I went out and bought this album and their previous album. It was a very wise decision.
  8. Jay-Z & Kanye West- Watch the Throne: Was this the most anticipated album of the year or what? It did not disappoint at all. I had it on repeat several times since it came out.
  9. Childish Gambino- CAMP: While Watch the Throne was all about excess and how their huge megastardom has affected both Yeezy’s and Jay’s lives, CAMP is the complete opposite. Here Donald Glover does not talk about how fame has changed him, but in how he has struggled to not ever belonging into any worlds and how that has affected him. He just wants to be Donald.
  10. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks- Mirror Traffic: I really liked how Beck put a stop sing on some of Stephen Malkmus jams. Not to say that I did not like his jams, but sometimes they felt a bit too long or that they did not fit in a song. It still sounds like a Malkmus release, but its more polished. Thanks Beck!

Others albums I enjoyed this year were:

  • Mariachi El Bronx- Mariachi El Bronx II- Punk + mariachi music? How can you not love this. In the words of my mother “This is disgusting and vile”, but its so damn good.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.- It’s A Corporate World: really fun album, even funner name.
  • Of Monsters and Men- My Head is an Animal: I heard them on NPR and found out they’re from Iceland. Also, this is as good as time as any to say that I cannot stand Sigur Ros, but this band gets a pass because I can understand them.
  • Feist-Metals: Just put on this album and enjoy the melancholy.

So there you go! My favorite albums of 2011. If you have Spotify there is this wonderful playlist that has all the best of 2011 albums in one convenient location. Its four days of wonderful music and its from your wonderful friends from Reddit! If you have Spotify just click on this link right here to open the list.

Its worth protecting

Carlos  —  November 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

I’ve always felt that videos like these highlight the beauty, wonder and complexity of our planet and that they are the ultimate tool to raise awareness of how precious this planet is and that we, in the grand scheme of things, are merely children who are playing very roughly with this amazing gift.

I don’t get people who don’t want to help preserve the planet. Even if you’re not a believer in global warming/climate change, being proactive about curving environmental damage is never a bad thing because at the end of the day it barely matters that environmental regulations “stifled” your profits because you can’t pollute as much as you’d like to. I place a higher priority on making sure that this planet and its gorgeous ecosystem are around for future generations to enjoy. I want to make sure that future generations enjoy scenes like that in person, and not in an internet video and say “Oh wow, too bad we don’t have that”.

Be right back, I’m going to hug a tree.

NaNoWriMo

Carlos  —  October 27, 2011 — 4 Comments

National November Writing Month starts this upcoming Tuesday. For those unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, its a 30 day challenge in which you try to write a 50,000 word novel. For several years I have wanted to try to do NaNoWriMo, but I have been preoccupied with school and the semi-brutal holiday shopping season at work for me to actively focus on it. This year is different: I have free time–well, sort of. I don’t have school so I just need to focus on making sure things are running smoothly in my department at work during this month and trying to get ready for DATG.

So why would I do this? For the challenge, and to finally be able to say that I have written a novel. I know its not going to be pretty, and that there are going to be a lot of crap written, but quantity over quality is the game here. Out of the 50,000 words that are going to be written I am bound to find some gems in there. Who knows, maybe with a little polishing my month long experiment can actually amount to something!

So what will I be writing about? Well, I got the idea from my friend Zach when him and I were talking about time travel and he mentioned something about how wild would it be if someone went back in time to live a second life at the same time of their younger self. This spun to traveling in time for a specific purpose and changing the time stream and pivot points in that time stream. Out of that conversation I came up with the idea of people known at catalysts, who their seemingly ordinary choices let to the creation of the time machine. These people are spread throughout time—some of them live ordinary lives, others are semi-important and others must make choices that will affect other’s lives, but each of them plays a role in setting the ball in motion for the creation of the time machine. There are three forces at play here: the catalysts themselves, the time travelers helping them/watching them to make sure everything is going along what is supposed to be and then there is a group who fear the time machine and see it as evil and do everything in their power to stop it from ever being created.

Hopefully I will be so focused on my novel that I will be just like this lady after I get to the 30,000 mark:

NaNoWriMo enthusiasmWish me luck.