Edvard Grieg and his Lyric Pieces

Posted by me on Sunday, the 31st day of December, anno domini 2006 at 7:21 PM, local time.

Edvard Grieg was an amazing composer and pianist from somewhere in Scandinavia at some point in the past (what do I look like, an encyclopedia? Go look it up yourself, I just gave you the link!)

I have always been a fan of his music, ever since I first heard In the Hall of the Mountain King. And sure, the Peer Gynt Suites and such are very nice. Still enjoy them immensely.

But, recently, I have fallen in love with the Lyric Pieces, Books 1-10. They sound so simple and yet evoke such beautiful emotion, ranging from anger to happiness to sadness. Since I had a difficult time finding them quick on Amazon, I went through the short trouble of creating a wish list to make them easier to buy. These fourteen low priced CDs contain a lot of piano music by Grieg, including some renditions of the Suites for piano as well. All are played by the same guy (I think. Most of them are anyway.), Einar Steen-N�kleberg. The guy is pretty good, as far as I can tell.

Anyway, Vols. 8, 9, and 10 are the Lyric Pieces. I particular enjoy Vol. 10, mostly because of Book 8, (Op. 65), which concludes with Wedding in Troldhaugen, which was brought to my attention by some of my friends using it in their wedding. Its this sort of stuff that makes me really wish I had bothered to learn to play the piano.

And! Who know YouTube had so much piano music? And music of all sorts? It seems its a great place to find new music for someone like me, who loves piano music from old dead guys whose copyrights have all since expired. My post earlier is another good example of the gems of YouTube. Some of the music is of rather low recording quality, and some from people who’s talent leaves a bit to be desired (not that I can talk much about that), but by and large there are some very talented people out there. Some other great Grieg examples from YouTube to capture someone’s interest:

Anyway, thats all for this year. Gotta run to a small gathering that will hopefully have wine and other good stuff to drink. See ya in 2007!

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The Amateur, or, Way Too Much Time On His Hands

Posted by me on Sunday, the 31st day of December, anno domini 2006 at 1:01 PM, local time.

Here is something I was going to post about some weeks back, when Kyle (the Mauian) sent me the link. I forgot. Then I was reminded to post about it after Adam posted an article about people with way too much time on their hands. That, of course, was over two weeks ago, and once again, I forgot.

Anyway, this YouTube video is what I wanted to post about. The Amateur is where this nobody records himself pressing some keys on the piano and banging on some drums. Then, through the magic of modern video editing, he resequences the video into something truly amazing. You should go check it out!

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Poutine, or, Those Crazy Folks from Canadia

Posted by me on Saturday, the 30th day of December, anno domini 2006 at 10:55 PM, local time.

Ok, so I was reading Pam‘s blog post about Her Trip to Ottawa, and What She Found There and decided I had to look up this Poutine substance which is all the rage up Nort’. And, not that anyone cares or would be at all surprised, but the standard mixture of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy does not sound all that appetizing. Gravy does not go on cheese. That’s just the way it is.

However, reading further (on good old wikipedia), I discovered a variation that actually sounds quite good: Italian Poutine. Its just like normal Poutine, but instead of gravy (Gravy does not go on cheese, etc., etc.) you use spaghetti sauce, possibly with meat. That actually sounds quite excellent, and I may have to try it sometime.

One link led to another, of course, and soon I was on the wikipedia page about Bolognese Sauce, a variant (and possibly the original version) of the standard meat sauce they use on spaghetti. In this version, there is far less tomato sauce, and instead they first fry up the meat (not ground beef: minced beef! Seriously! Doesn’t that sound good in general?) in a olive oily / buttery / oniony / garlicy mixture, then add some white wine and reduce that for a while. Then you add a small amount of tomato paste and stock and simmer that for about 2-4 hours to get the meat to fall apart entirely. Right before you are done cooking it, add a bit of cream or milk.

I think it sounds fantastic, and I am thinking of trying to make it sometime soon here to see what it tastes like. I can only imagine that it will be excellent.

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Why is this not snow?

Posted by me on Saturday, the 30th day of December, anno domini 2006 at 6:28 PM, local time.

So, what is going on here? All this rain the past couple of days, and not a bit of snow. It certainly makes me sad. Other places have at least gotten a little bit of snow. We get nothing here in Rochester. Even Houghton has some snow, and it continues to snow there.

Think of the snow storm this would make here! I would have several inches of white fluffy snow to play in! Oh, it would make me so happy…

At any rate, moving is going much slower with all this rain, since I have to keep the truck’s cover on, and can only fit smaller items in it right now. This morning, when the rain let up for a bit, I, of course, was sleeping and missed my opportunity to get some of the bigger things over there. Ah well.

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Die Kühe meines Bruders

Posted by me on Friday, the 29th day of December, anno domini 2006 at 11:01 PM, local time.

So a while back my brother was paid in cows for a carpentry job, and so now he thinks he’s a rancher or something. He decided to buy another one. He plans to sell them at auction next year and slaughter one for meat. I’m sure it will work out for him.

That is, ignoring the sensibilities of my niece. She loves the cows and thinks of them mostly as pets, I am pretty sure. He might get away with selling some of them next year, but that would be bad enough. Try telling a 2 year old that you decided to kill her pet because you thought he would taste good grilled as a steak. I don’t imagine that going over very well. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Anyway, here is a picture I took of the three cows up on a hill in front of my brother’s woods.

Just trying out this whole picture-in-a-blog-post thing. Somehow it don’t seem right to me. But everybody’s doing it, apparently.

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Bizet’s Carmen

Posted by me on Friday, the 29th day of December, anno domini 2006 at 2:47 PM, local time.

[Note: For those of you keeping track, I decided that the best way to procrastinate while still getting things done was to put off packing for a bit, then put off writing, then put off packing, etc. That way, everything can get easily procrastinated, but things still get done. Doesn’t seem right, somehow, but here I am.]

So, I was going to blog about this weeks ago when Pam mentioned to me that Carmen was on the television. Well, it turned out that it was but a song from Carmen and I was then urged to get out my CD and listen to it proper. And so I did.

Anyway, Carmen is a great opera. I would go so far as to say that it is one of my favorite operas. One of the few French operas I have on CD, and I cannot say that I agree with the way the storyline goes and ends up, but despite all this, still it is a fantastic opera. Solti’s conducting surely makes it even better. The singing is superb, and Ms Tatiana Trayanos as Carmen is most spectacular. It is quite odd, I must say, to find oneself singing along with a song written in French, with words I do not know or understand, written for a voice about 4 octaves higher than my own. But it is just such a compelling voice and song that you find yourself drawn in and forced to sing along.

Often when listening to opera I am dismayed, one way or the other, by either the overpowering orchestra or the orchestra that cannot be heard. In the recording I am pleased to possess, neither of these things has been a problem. The orchestra is brought forward and recessed at exactly the right moments for great effect and I can only assume that is in some small part Sir Georg‘s doing, as I have yet to have any such problems with any of his conductions.

In short, everyone must go out and buy this Opera (preferably a recording with Solti conducting) and listen to it nonstop for months on end until you too are in love with it as I am. I am sorry if this will take up a large part of your time; but really, you have no choice in the matter.

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The Procrastinator’s Dilemma

Posted by me on Friday, the 29th day of December, anno domini 2006 at 2:15 PM, local time.

So, I have long been putting off blogging some of the topics which have been piling up, and that was going well, until today, when I should be packing up my stuff to move to me new apartment and actually moving. The inevitable problem becomes, which is more important to delay? As I could not decide, I found my gameboy on a pile of stuff I was supposed to be packing and played tetris for a bit. After I got bored with that (I am so used to the new tetris ways, of setting bricks off to the side for later, that I could not do very well at the old version…) I decided I should write a bit. And so here I am.

The Procrastinator’s Dilemma is an age old problem that I wanted to be sure everyone was fully aware of. Surely it can be generalized somehow to all sorts of decision problems. I shall even go out on the limb I have imagined to be attached to the tree and say it is the archetypal decision problem! Ha! Well, perhaps not…

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Sing a Song of Sixpence…

Posted by me on Tuesday, the 26th day of December, anno domini 2006 at 10:08 PM, local time.

So, way back in March of aught six, I posted a random little nursery rhyme I remembered from my childhood, with the intention of occasionally posting more. Here is another for your consideration:

Sing a song of sixpence,
pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
baked in a pie.

And when the pie was opened,
the birds began to sing.
Now, isn’t that a dainty dish
to set before the king?

The king was in his counting house,
counting out his money.
The queen was in the parlor,
eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden,
hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
and pecked off her nose!


A good Holiday Sentiment

Posted by me on Monday, the 25th day of December, anno domini 2006 at 12:39 AM, local time.

So I just thought I would put this quote from my sister, Alaina, up here, since when she said it, I was struck by how hilarious it was. It is the sort of thing some people say on purpose to be funny, but I am pretty sure she was just expressing her present thoughts on the matter. She had just finished some desert (some sort of pumpkin cake roll thing that she had just made and wasn’t too impressed with) and had wanted to move on to some of the other lovely desserts that were available, since it is Christmas time, and there are always many deserts available at such times:

“That made me full. How dare it make me full?!!?”

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Merry Christmas, etc.

Posted by me on Monday, the 25th day of December, anno domini 2006 at 12:31 AM, local time.

So, a quick note from my parents’ house to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and everything. Happy holidays for those who don’t celebrate Christmas. Happy New Year for everybody, coming up here.

I had a nice break at home. Got to see my family and some friends I haven’t seen in a long while, so that was nice. Tomorrow my family and I are heading down to my grandparents’ home for Christmas there with my Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and First-cousins-once-removed, so that will be nice, and it’s right on the way back to Rochester, so I will be back in Rochester the evening of the 26th, I believe. Then I get to finish up the week doing nothing (since we all know I won’t be packing to move, as I should be doing) in Rochester before heading back to work on the 2nd.

I hope everyone’s vacations/breaks/extended weekends have been going well and continue to do so. Once again, merry Christmas!

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