Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My professional model shows his stuff, while I waste time professionally

So, what does a professional procrastinator do when she has a large-paper-upon-which-her-academic-career-hangs-in-the-balance to write? You know, that one that I'm supposed to have been diligently working on for the last three weeks but haven't written a word in nearly 10 days? In my defence, the last 10 days have been unusually productive, just in other areas. I finished my sections of a co-authored paper (which had been in my hands since December) and sent it off to one of the other authors. I slapped together a rather nice-looking poster about corpus construction for a presentation on Wednesday. I attended a rehearsal or performance 5 out of the last 6 days. I began dealing with an editing/layout job that I've been ignoring for the better part of 6 months. I paid my taxes (back taxes owing, WAAAH!!).

So what about today? Last week is now out of the way. I can get back to the paper at hand. But what do I do? Laundry. Photocopy articles that aren't relevant to the paper, but might come in handy "some day". Pay bills. Crawl around ON HANDS AND KNEES picking up bits of cat food off the livingroom carpet (this was something of a low point in the day). Inventory my somewhat-neglected knitting WIPs (N = 7) and my long-neglected cross stitch WIPs (N still = 10). Contemplate starting more. Check my email compulsively. Post to a board game bulletin board. Go out to dinner with my husband. Update my knitting pics on my website. Make a midnight snack.

Wait a minute, what was the one before that? Yes, that's right, I finally broke out the time-waster-to-beat-all-time-wasters: I updated my knitting pictures. Just think of how much more time I can waste in future evenings, because I have to post at least one finish to the Knitty board! Why, that could take... hours, surely! I suspect this sudden burst of inspiration to update the WIP pics was brought about by the purchase of two new books: Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker and Big Girl Knits. So many new and wonderful patterns makes a girl want to finish a few things so she can start something new!

Anyhow, here's the highlights of the updates:

Here are the cable clutches that I talked about previously in this blog entry. I made the cables a little poofier on the second one (i.e., a couple stitches wider and do a couple less rows between cable cross-overs). It's also a little bigger overall. I think I'm fairly happy with the pattern, so now I have to make it a little longer and then figure out how to finish them, for which I'll probably require the sewing expertise of my MIL.

Next is the shrug, Shimmer, which I prattled on about here, here, here, here and here. Ford was kind enough to model the full shrug for us:

Here's a closeup of the replacement cuff. It's far, far easier to play horn with this than with that ruffle-from-the-depths-of-Hades (which could be seen in the old WIP picture). I'm definitely not a ruffle gal. The lace band pattern is "Fancy Leaf Edging" from Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge, page 129:

Finally, Ford also insisted on modelling the Marley's Ghost WIP, which I mentioned starting here. I don't know how long I'll end up making it, but I still have a ways to go. Then it will be felted. I've tried to talk DH into wanting one in traditional chain-link-charcoal-grey, but he insists that I do the Tom Baker Dr. Who scarf first - he noted that while I said that would be finished by winter, I didn't say WHICH winter. (DH: "Personally, I just figured it would be a cold day where I am when I get it.") Sigh. :) ANYhow, here's my version of Marley's Ghost, which I might have to start calling "Nearly Headless Nick's Scarf":

I also added new WIP pictures of the Tasha bag and the Shapely Tee.

So, now that I've done all of this, if I don't get some work serious work done on the paper tomorrow, I'm going to have to start freaking out. Did I mention the upcoming meeting with my (eternally patient, encouraging, wonderful) supervisor on Friday afternoon? The one that I'm expected to have a significant portion of the paper written for, lest she become less than eternally patient and wonderful? Right then. Tomorrow will be better. I am far more productive on Tuesdays than on Mondays.

Too bad tomorrow is Wednesday.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

In which I am properly introduced to The Knight of the Woeful Countenance

About two weeks ago, I got a call from a friend and fellow horn player. She does a lot of musical theatre gigs, playing in the orchestra, so she's made her way up the local amateur call-list. It seems a production of Man of La Mancha had lost their previously arranged horn player and was having trouble finding a last-minute replacement. Someone gave them her name, and since she was coming off of two shows back-to-back in the last 6 weeks and fighting exhaustion, she called to see if I could take it. Of course, I have such an enormous amount of free time (since sarcasm isn't obvious in print, let's say it now, that was a snark), so I jumped at the chance. In all honesty, I would like to do more musicals, but I haven't made the contacts to get my name out there and on "the list". I would have been crazy to turn this down.

But - since we're on full-disclosure here - I really don't have a lot of time right now. So she and I agreed to split the work. We would both attend the 4 remaining rehearsals, and then each do 4 of the 8 total show dates. And that is how I ended up in the pit for one of my favourite shows ever. Pure luck. I was so excited after she called (and terrified - I have three papers to write in less than a month!), that I dialed up the ITunes music store and bought the most recent Broadway soundtrack, which I've been meaning to buy for ages anyhow. Then I called Mom, who is a long-time musical theatre accompanist, while it was downloading. It's one of her favourite shows, too.

But no matter how much you listen to a show, or how many times you see it live, it can't prepare you for playing the score. I lucked out, the horn parts for this show are wonderful. That's not always the case, as I found out the last time I did this (for Annie Get Your Gun, which is most definitely not one of my favourite shows). I feel a little bad for the trumpet players, though... they were playing their trumpets upside-down at one point this evening just to make it more interesting (and no, they didn't miss a note :) ) I wanted to snap a picture of them with my fancy-schmancy camera phone, but that would have been bad, especially since the orchestra isn't in a pit below the stage, but on-stage, against the upstage wall, behind a thin curtain dividing us from the action. Visible for all to see, at least, for those with good night-vision.

The score calls for two horns, but we're only using one. Not certain if this is due to budgetary constraints or some other reason, but it's the only bummer in the whole experience. In the rehearsals with two of us there, we occasionally played both parts for fun, and it sounds so much better... this show is lushly and beautifully scored for two horns, with wonderful harmonies. But given the utter lack of space in our playing area, we don't dare try to play a performance together. We briefly considered it, but one of us would have to sit on someone's lap, and that would not be pretty. Alas, it's their loss.

So here is where I put in my plea to musical theatre directors everywhere: if you've decided to use a live orchestra for your show and the score calls for more than one horn - DON'T SKIMP ON THE HORNS!! For goodness sake. No one ever skimps on trumpets, even when half of their part is flourishes and the other half is 'tacet'. Ah, but we can get by with one horn, right? Sure you can. If you like stereo sound with the right channel missing. I understand that horn players might not be plentiful where you are, but surely there are options. In a pinch, you can have a trombone or baritone cover the other horn part - it's better than nothing.

My plea is made. I am off to bed, to dream of knights, dragons and windmills.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Today's blog sponsored by ITunes, and the letter "W"

My husband and I were sharing an enjoyable task the other day - I was ripping a small stack of CDs into ITunes, then copying everything over to the external hard drive so that he could re-synch the IPod. When we bought the IPod last summer, we spent many evenings in front of the television, ripping the our entire (embarassingly large) combined CD collection for posterity. Every few months since, after we acquire a small stack of new CDs, we rip those and re-synch. I mentioned once before that we buy a lot of DVDs. We buy a lot of CDs as well. Starbucks CDs are my current weakness.

Yes, we are multimedia junkies. Moving on.

As we synched the IPod, he started to giggle. The computer was displaying each song title as it synched, 8430 songs in total, in reverse alphabetical order. It was in the middle of the letter W. He started reading aloud, and pretty soon we were both laughing.

So, for your enjoyment, I present a small sample of songs from the letter W. Read it aloud, and fast, and hopefully you'll find it as silly and funny as we did. If you're really bored, try and guess the artist and album for each song.

Who Wears These Shoes?
Who Wants to Live Forever?
Who Shot Mr. Burns?
Who Said I Would?
Who Needs You?
Who Is That Standing At My Window?
Who Is It?
Who Dunnit?
Who Do You Think You Are?
Who Are You?
Who Am I?
Who's The Boss?
Who's That Lady?
Who's That Girl?
Who's Next?
Who's Knocking on the Wall?
Who's Gene Autry?
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
Who'll Stop the Rain?