Sunday, February 25, 2007

In Which David Listens to Two Radio Stations Alternately

(This is Mixed Meters' 250th post. But who's counting?)

Sunday is the last day I could play a game I've invented to amuse myself while driving around Los Angeles. The RIAA LATTCRS Game. That stands for Riding In An Auto Listening Alternately To Two Classical Radio Stations Game.

The object of the game is to switch randomly between the two Los Angeles Classical FM stations to create a new piece of music out of whatever is currently being broadcast. For you non Angelenos the two stations are KUSC (which they call Kay You Ess See) and KMZT (which they call Kay Mozart but which I still call KFAC the old commercial classical station.)

The game annoys Leslie. In fact she often complains about a lot of the music I listen to (i.e. my non-game listening). But sometimes the music she plays drives me up a wall too. For example, when she put on a Willie Nelson album I made her take it off after 15 minutes. Another time I'll tell you the story of The Mavericks. Although I like lots of different kinds of musics, country is not one of them.

As in any game this one takes a certain knack. I try to find the right rhythm of button poking based on the tempos and harmonic rhythms of the two pieces. And radio tuner lag must be taken into consideration. Since our car radios are now digitally tuned there is an extra lag time when switching. Analog radios were better.

Mostly the game output is not too interesting. Occasionally something really cool results from the switching back and forth, something much more engaging to me than the classic warhorses by themselves.

Quite often two stations broadcast music which blends copaesthetically. It could be in the same or a related key, or for similar instruments and or just in a similar musical style. Once I even caught them both playing the same piece at the same time although offset by about 10 minutes (was it a Beethoven piano concerto?)

But on Monday, KMZT will stop broadcasting classical music on FM and start broadcasting country music. Leslie will be happy, but I will not. This is economics at work, since we in the classical music audience just aren't young enough any more to merit the big buck advertising budgets. Country music has had no FM radio here for a long time, and that demographic is more desirable, ad revenue will clearly be greater for a country station.

For me personally this switch means the end of my radio game. I've found that it doesn't work well with vocal music and besides not much else on the radio is interesting. KMZT will continue as an AM station which we can't get in Pasadena. And even if it did that would mean 2 buttons to switch from one station to another.

The subject of listening to two radio stations at once has come up in these other fine Mixed Meters moments: In which David Plugs a Song About Hearing 2 Radio Stations at Once and In which David reveals what he listens to while listening to NPR

Some of these pictures came from here and here and here.

2 Station Tags: . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . .

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Playing a Giant Clam

Who is this cute young woman? And why does she deserve some blame for our stupid war in Iraq? (Answer at the end of this post.)

Who would imagine a comic book cover featuring composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. Apparently there's no actual comic book to go with the cover, because if it was anything like his music, it would be too long and boring and hard to read. Art by JohnnyHeartBeat From Flikr. He did a picture of Edgard Varese also.

Yes, this man is holding a musical instrument. I suppose no one wonders what an axe this intricate sounds like. I honestly can't remember where I found the reference to this picture, only that they are traditional within a particular Chinese ethnic group. If you can read Chinese (or you want to see pictures of other similar instruments) click here.

This is a doodle I did while listening to answering machine messages. More doodles here. Send your suggestions for what this angry bearded person (the young Docker?) is thinking.

Finally, here's a link to the Pianolina by Grotrian. I've been saving it for seven months waiting for something appropriate to pair it with. I can finally get the icon off my desktop. Click and drag the little square balls and listen as the strange gravity makes "new agey music" as the balls hit the walls. (Sent to me by Roland Kato)

The first picture is Barbara Bush, pre-string-of-pearls, mother of our warmonger and grandmother of the surge.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Blow Up

Can you find me in this picture? It appears on The Rest Is Noise - the blog of Alex Ross, New Yorker Music Critic. You can see my hairline, pony tail and not much else dead center in this photo. Below you can see the blow up I did to prove I'm not making this up.

Photo from Alex Ross' blog The Rest Is Noise

Blow Up of the previous photo - the top of my head including hairline and ponytail is visible inisde the oval
What Ross was doing in Santa Monica last Thursday is probably a better story than what I was doing there. Alex Shapiro was sitting in front of me. Barry Gremillion was sitting to my left.

For hairline comparison purposes, here's a similarly obscured picture of me taken by Leslie at the Huntington's fabulous Desert Garden here in Pasadena two days later. John Adams has told me several times that there is no reason to leave Pasadena. He's right, of course. I've wondered if he's just a little jealous.

David Ocker photographed by Leslie photographing Leslie
Here's a lucky shot I took of a hummingbird at the Huntington that day. Can you find the hummingbird? Leslie says it's either a Rufous or an Allen's Hummingbird. The blow up is below.

Somewhere in this picture is a Hummingbird  Can YOU find Waldo?

There's the hummingbird
For more about how I musically avoided Alex Shapiro, click here.

Helix Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love You, Honey

Click here to read Mixed Meters' Valentine's Day post from last year - The Frequent Kisser's Card

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Friday, February 09, 2007

3 Minute Climax - The On and Off Topic Blues for Alex

Alex is Alex Shapiro - composer, moderator and blogger, a tireless crusader for new music in Los Angeles. Her blog, Notes From The Kelp, could be the only music blog with more items about marine biology than Mixed Meters. Her composer website is here.

There are actually two new pieces that you can listen to. First is The On-Topic Blues for Alex the Moderator. It's short and to the point. By itself it would be categorized as a 30 Second Spot.

Second is The Off-Topic Blues for Alex the Composer which uses the same material, lasts longer and wanders absent-mindedly off the trail, so to speak. Since I prefer you to listen to them in this order I've put both into a single mp3 file, separated by a silence.

Anyone expecting real blues music will be severely disappointed.

Listen now. Afterwards, if you're still curious, read The Backstory (below) which also goes off topic. Otherwise you uncurious types have got better things to do, right?

click here to hear The On-Topic Blues for Alex the Moderator and The Off-Topic Blues for Alex the Composer.

Copyright (c) 2007 by David Ocker - 198 Seconds

The Backstory

It all began with THIS CONCERT about which Jerry Zinser wrote THIS REVIEW at Sequenza 21. (Note the comment by me.) Alex Shapiro, seeing this exchange, wrote to Jerry and myself inviting us to THIS EVENT.

Here's an excerpt from her email:
Next Sunday, the 21st, I'll be moderating another ACF-LA Composers Salon . . . .These are really wonderful gatherings of composer and musician colleagues that we've been doing for nearly six years, about four times a year. I know you'd have a good time!
Naturally I had no interest. This was my response:
My apologies for responding with the stark-raving truth - but a Composers Salon is the sort of event for which I have no interest or patience. I've promised myself that I'll try to use the time I would have spent attending avoidable events making up my own music.

But thanks for the invite - if I actually do write music on Sunday, JANUARY 21, 2007 from 2-5:00 pm, how about if I name the piece after you somehow?

You never know what I might come up with!
And so, dear Readers, it came to pass that on Sunday January 21, 2007 from about 2 p.m. to about 5 p.m. I trekked with my laptop up to Starbucks and composed The On-Topic Blues for Alex the Moderator honoring the fact that Alex, in her job as Salon Moderator, was at that very moment keeping people on the topic, whatever that was. And at the same time I was also avoiding the topic, whatever that was.

Alas, not long afterwards I had an idea. A piece of music that was "On-Topic" ought to be counter-balanced with another that was "Off-Topic. " And so, with the firing of those random neurons, the project was inflated beyond an excuse to avoid being bored.

I took much longer finishing "Off Topic" than "On Topic". As I got more and more off topic I was forced to reconsider what being on-topic meant - and I revised The On-Topic Blues slightly - I cut stuff out of it.

As I worked on it I passed through The Five Stages of Creativity - the emotional roller coaster which all creative artists pass through while making things up. First is Enthusiasm, then Amazement, then Disgust, then Acceptance (or Resignation). The final stage is Forgetfulness. I'm still waiting for Forgetfulness on this one. (Check out THIS INTERESTING ESSAY at Soho the Dog which provoked this idea.)

Alex Shapiro is a very active composer who writes many different sorts of music. I don't know if she's ever written any larger pieces for Concert Band. I do know that the name ARNOLD SCHOENBERG is an anagram for HER LONG BAND SCORE.

Curiously, ALEX SHAPIRO is an anagram for HIS LAX OPERA. I'm not aware that Schoenberg contemplated writing any music about Los Angeles International. (The Anagram Generator is HERE.)

A note about the pictures. The first two are of the same pipes at the same gas station - before and after they changed the color scheme. The last two are actual neon signs in Pasadena photographed last night (while on a mission to procure take-out food HERE) and Photoshopped to a flat red and blueness. Good girls should click HERE and bad girls may also click HERE.

Explanation of 30 second spots

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Juggling Clapping Music

Here's a YouTube video of six (intently focused) guys juggling Clapping Music by Steve Reich. As an ex-juggler I've known that there were rhythmic musical applications for juggling, but I never imagined anything like this. Very impressive.

Steve Reich's Clapping Music performed by jugglers

This piece may be even more seminal because it can be adapted in such an unexpected manner, I suppose, but alas, it's no more interesting this way.

3 Little Balls Tags: . . . . . . . . .

I found this via Sequenza 21.

Here's a Steve Reich 70th Birthday video card I found on YouTube. "Music" performed in his "Style" on Two Pez Dispensers that look like Bert (or is it Ernie?)

Who Is Wieden & Kennedy Anyway

Another television advertisement for basketball shoes with classical music and religion. Instead of a Hip Hop version of the Dies Irae, this one uses music by Mozart. The Lacrimosa from his Requiem.

You can watch the commercial here.
You can read about it here.
Read more here.

Here is the "Money Shot".

These Nike shoes will vanquish your enemies by one point in the last second when all other hope is lost
The ad is real noir. A dark story of crushing defeat as the home team loses by one point in the last second because an opponent is wearing better shoes. Life is like that, huh?

Here are the words to Lacrimosa
Tearful that day,
on which will rise from ashes
guilty man for judgement.
So have mercy, O God, on this person.
Compassionate Lord Jesus,
grant them rest. Amen.
Read about the Lacrimosa at Wikipedia.

Here is my previous post about selling basketball shoes with liturgical music. This post has gotten (and will get) more hits than any other Mixed Meters article - from now until eternity (or whenever Nike stops running the Second Coming commercial.)

Both commercials were produced by the same ad agency - Wieden & Kennedy of Portland Oregon. Here's their website.

Apparently Wieden & Kennedy are eager to teach their methods. Tuition for one year is $15,000. Click here then click on the jangling keys.

An egotistical bird sings original variations of Mozart's A Little Night Music
Meanwhile, Mozart's music continues to inspire musicians of all species. Here's a video of a bird with some interesting ideas about motivic development.

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A picture of a Mozart shoe.
I found out about this commercial via The Rest is Noise. (Actually, in music, a "rest" is silence.)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Buckets for Babies in Pasadena

I think there's a conspiracy afoot here in Pasadena. It could be similar to W.A.S.T.E. in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49.

I'm regularly noticing seemingly abandoned children's car seats on sidewalks and parkings. I've heard them called "Baby Buckets".

What messages are these items sending and to whom? What secrets are the buckles and straps and handles concealing?

After a short time they simply disappear. Who takes them? Where do they go? All this simply must have some meaning or other.

They don't call me Mr. Paranoid for nothing you know.

1 Baby Car Seat abandoned on a street in Pasadena CA
2 Baby Car Seat abandoned on a street in Pasadena CA
3 Baby Car Seat abandoned on a street in Pasadena CA
4 Baby Car Seat abandoned on a street in Pasadena CA
5 Baby Car Seat abandoned on a street in Pasadena CA
And here's a reminder from purveyors of large quantities of scoopable cat sand (or kitty litter) not to let your baby drown while he or she is washing cute little handsies in the empty bucket afterwards.A warning on a bucket of cat sand not to let a baby drown - or maybe a reminder for them to wash their handsTag Buckets: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . .

Oh, here's a fun orchestra piece to listen to wherein art imitates P.D.Q. Bach. I found this via Steve Layton's post on Sequenza 21.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mozart's Penis versus Schoenberg's Penis

My previous post was about the late Molly Ivins, a columnist who was extremely funny and exceptionally relevant.

This post is prompted by Dave Barry, a columnist who is extremely funny.

Thanks to the blog Bits and Pieces I discovered that Dave Barry has a blog. It's just another clip blog (like Bits and Pieces).

But it did contain a link to a story about amputating Mozart's penis. Mozart in this case is an iguana and his organ had to be removed because it was always erect and it prevented him from walking. The story says that iguanas have a spare penis - so losing one is not a big deal.

a Mexican iguana sunning itself on a rock at Uxmal
Here's a quote from the article:
A spokesman at the zoo, speaking with the casual, blasé manner of someone who hasn't just had their penis cut off, said: 'Male iguanas - including Mozart - have two penises, so this is unlikely to be a big problem for him.'
The picture above is an Iguana we met in at the ancient Mayan ruins of Uxmal. It's not Mozart. It might not even be male.

a plastic statuette of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
This picture is Mozart, a plastic Mozart. I doubt the flesh and blood Mozart's face really looked like this and of course his lower organ ranks are left completely to your imagination.

This particular item sat for years next to my family's low-tech stereo system, back in the sixties. So it's a Vintage Plastic Mozart. (The music behind him is what I should be working on instead of blogging.)

As long as we're on the subject of Composers Genitals - here's a fascinating link from The Urban Dictionary about the private parts of Arnold Schoenberg, a famous teacher.

Apparently the phrase "Schoenberg's Penis" is an expletive of sorts - a possible substitute for the F-word. I've never heard it used, but maybe it's common in England where you also might find a muso.

If you've ever said "Schoenberg's Penis" (I mean said it "out loud to another person and meant it as swearing") please leave a comment. I suspect the listing is someone's idea of a joke - someone who probably can't count past twelve.

Anyway, here's the definition plus two sample sentences:
1. Schoenberg's penis
An exclamation, normally to show anger or frustration at forgetting something or at something going wrong. Substitution for buggar, shit, fuck etc. Normally used in muso circles due to it's origin.

"Oh Schoenberg's penis, I forgot to pay the milkman again!"

"Schoenberg's penis, you bloody fool, why did you not tell me about his porn collection?!"
Arnold Schoenberg, self portrait with funny colors
The final picture is one of Arnold Schoenberg's many self-portraits. This one is a hoot. Others can be found here.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Molly Ivins

Several years ago I was driving alone to San Francisco - taking twelve hours to do what some people can accomplish in six. I was almost there and barely awake. I tuned the radio to one of those small, left-wing stations that mysteriously flourish in the Bay area, hoping for something to help keep me alive.

They were playing a tape of a woman with a towering Texas twang speaking about Texas politics. It was side-splittingly funny, car-crash hysterical. I considered the possibility that she was making these idiot characters up. No, I realized, you can't make up stuff that good. Thankfully, her speech ended before I died in fiery laughter.

It was Molly Ivins. This is an obituary of sorts. Here's a real obit at CNN. Here's a remembrance by her editor (plus access to her most recent columns.) Her last one was about stopping "the surge". What a good idea.

Some people have a unique ability to talk back to political stupidity wisely and with humor and good nature. We need more of that in the United States these days.

I hope some political columnist will step up to the plate and become the next anti-Anne Coulter. The neo-cons are probably breathing a sigh of relief this morning that they don't have to be kicked around by Molly Ivins any more.

Meanwhile, here's a Mixed Meters post where Molly has a part - What You Can't Call an Artificial Penis in Texas Watch her in the video.

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