31 July 2005

Did July About Not Celebrating the Fourth?

Here at band camp, we proudly host students from all over the world. There's some British faculty who teach here, and they cross the pond with several students from the great Isle every summer. The British students are often really awesome and exited to be in the States, as it is sort of a "holiday" for them. They are very balanced - knowing just how to have lots of fun, while at the same time, practicing their music diligently.

One such British student was a girl who came for the first session was a bit disgruntled at the fourth of July activities being hosted in the area's local towns. Band camp arranged for buses to shuttle everyone to the events, namely to a fair with fireworks in the evening. When Sheila, the British student's RA, asked her if she'd be going out with everyone, she said no. Sheila asked why, and the girl replied with a clever, outlandishly funny, and witty response: "I won't be celebrating the fourth of July with you because my country actually lost that war."

The whole irony of the situation is that the British camper ended up going to see the fireworks anyway! I'm not sure if she decided at the last minute because all her friends were taking the plunge, or what.

Either way, the girl told a tall tale about not celebrating. She was kidding about not going. Lying even. Julying.

30 July 2005

Canin In Any Key

So, it turns out that Martin Canin is one of the most amazing pedagogues and pianists I've ever met. There is something about him that is so honest and pure. Sort of like he loves music for all the right reasons - because it communicates light and life to those who listen to it and play it. He shares his love for music not necessarily by talking about it, but by the way he teaches and interacts. I've had the opportunity to study with him this summer, and my last lesson was just yesterday.

During my time with him, I played Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin. After playing my pieces, he was always complimentary, like a nurturing musical grandfather. Not complimentary to the point of overkill, but just enough to spark my desire to learn and to restore my faith in music, or in anything good, really. The suggestions he made were not just helpful, but they fixed a myriad of weaknesses simultaneously, sort of like feeding many birds with one hand. He often spoke about fingering (for musical purposes), rhythm, and tempo (at Juilliard, they call him "Dr. Beat"!). His advice truly remedied things I never knew it could.

He's really funny, too. At one point, he suggested a different fingering, and he turned to me and said, "You know, you could either work too hard at the fingering they give you here, or you could just use 1-2-3"...It's always easier that way."

"Hmm", I smiled. "I could get used to that! Maybe then, I'd only have to play with these fingers", and I waved my first three phalanges. We had a good laugh.

Just yesterday, he told me that a different edition of the Bach piece I'm playing has an A-flat in the bass as opposed to the G in my score. "I'm going to write it in there and then I'll even sign it", he said. So, in my score he wrote, "A-flat is better", and then he signed it "J.S.B." (J.S. Bach)! Again, we had another good laugh.

We talked about the pros and cons of new music, visual arts, and even the misbehaved kids at band camp. The whole time he imbued honesty and life into everything he spoke about. He plays beautifully too. I heard him perform the Dvořák Piano Quartet, and he infuses a lovely simplicity into the music that is so rare to come across.

What a special, special man. You rock, Mr. Canin.

29 July 2005

This Is What It Sounds Like, When Ducks Fly

So, here at band camp, Sarah thought it would be fun to catch the young musicians in the act of breaking curfew, as it is rumored that they check-in when they are supposed to, but later sneak out like little hoodlums "without the resident advisors knowing".

Below is Sarah's email us other RAs, inviting us to hide outside of their dorms and bust them as they surreptitiously attempt to do who-knows-what in the late hours of the night. Her email was written in some sort-of bizarre ninja duck code, but strangely enough, we all seemed to understand and immediately reciprocated responses in the same language. Following the RA responses are the results of our adventures.


Top Secret : Members of FNAUF (Female Ninjas Against Underage Fornication)

The Mission : Thursday, the duck flies at midnight. Or actually, any time. He's a flexible duck. He will continue to fly until he busts some underagers.

The Supplies : It is a camouflaged duck, a duck of dark feathers hidden by the night, with only his waterfowl eyes shining from beneath the blackness. The duck recommends shoes that promote stealth creeping, along with dark clothing that breathes and bug repellent to ward off the six-legged enemy. The duck is also armed with a frisbee and a wiffle ball bat, so as to thwart the evil intentions of young cavorters looking to pickle one another in the wee hours.

The Recruitment : This mission is top secret. You have been selected as amongst the loyal. (And as the people who expressed an interest in being ninjas.) Should you feel back-up is needed, you may supplement our forces with additional loyalists, but remember - should treason be suspected you will both be killed.

Confirm your intent to participate in the mission to Agent Ebisumaru-Sarah immediately. Further instructions to follow.


Carrie (personally, my favorite response) :

I suggest the 'flying V' formation--it allows for the greatest resiliency and seethes with opportunity to exhibit super-macho ninja prowess. Ninjas, unite. Ahrrrrrr! - Mighty Duck-Pirate of the CarrieBean*

*Note how funny this is because Carrie's last name is Bean.

Amanda :

This duck is perched and ready to swoop. - Dark Wing Duck Sauce Ninja Lord Amanda

Bonnie :

Quack. - Einnob Choi*

*"Einnob" is "Bonnie" backward. You probably noticed this, but I didn't...

Me :

This flexible duck will fly high like a sleek jetliner, however not too late as she has a piano lesson the next morning at 9.30 a.m. with The Great Winged Master himself: Martin Can-in* a pond. Super Samurai Sophia Ninja is ready for any and all action and bustin' satisfaction. This is what it sounds like, when ducks fly.

*Martin Canin is my piano teacher.


The ninja ducks assembled in our apartment at 11 p.m., all dressed in dark garb. Amanda wore a spelunking head lamp and held an orange wiffleball bat in hand. She and Sarah both had black socks on their arms, and Carrie sported a dangerous skull scarf. I didn't have any really tough apparel, so I wore my sleeping eye mask from the Body Shop and carried a feather duster, but I sure looked mean.

We made our way over to the dorms, running and hiding from tree to tree, and performing covert drop-and-rolls when necessary (and they were always necessary). Waiting for the underagers to sneak out got a little old, so we kept ourselves busy by practicing ninja moves. I began to hug trees. I felt a little bad that we were really trying to bust the campers, but then I remembered that they really shouldn't be out at night by themselves because it can be dangerous. Band camp is liable if anything happens to them. I got all back into my ninja-ness and layed low to the ground.

Just when we were about to call it quits, we heard a door creak open. Out walked two unsuspecting teenagers. Us ninja ducks cocked our heads, made our move, and began running after them, while simultaneously attempting to conceal our identity behind large trees. The teens saw us coming and scurried back into their dorm like little field mice. Shiela, one of the ninja ducks, and I followed them up with stealth and agility. As their RA, Sheila knew where they lived and busted the two little trespassers!

Full of ninja pride, Sarah and I ventured back to our apartment. I wondered why the girls we busted didn't ask us, "Um, why are you guys all wearing black, and why do you have a sleep mask and a feather duster?" If we would have told them we were ninja ducks, they might not have understood. I think it was better that they didn't know.

28 July 2005

Mime After Mime

So, my friend Matt forwarded this animated web movie a few years back called Mime After Mime; click here to view it. It's a take off of Cyndi Lauper's 80's wonder hit, Time After Time. Here's the pre-movie description from the brilliant creators: "In this heartwrenching dramedy, Candy Lauper deals with her doomed love for a mime. After all, when you're a mime, you can't say 'I love you'."

This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Be forewarned; the ending is abrasive and sad.

27 July 2005

Alliterated Produce

Cory and I had a nice little IM session again the other day, and out of the blue, he began to alliterate produce (sort-of as a follow-up to our alliterated animals; FYI - I found another blog post of alliterated animals). Here we go :

Banal Bananas (Cory)
Misbehaved Mangos (Cory)
Gratuitous Grapes (Cory)
Passive Peas (me)
Strenuous Strawberries (Cory)
Leechy Lychee (Cory)
Ruminating Romaine (me)
Tumultuous Tomatoes (me)
Cumbersome Cucumbers (me)
Spanked Spinach (me, perhaps the misbehaved mangos should've had a talk with the spanked spinach...)
Pernicious Papaya (me)
Resentful Rosemary (Cory)
Amateur Avocados (me)
Envious Endive (Cory)
Pompous Pomegranates (Cory)
Calibrating Coconuts (me)
Narcissistic Nectarines (Cory)
Peculiar Peaches (me)
Curious Comquats (Cory)
Licentious Lemons (me)

26 July 2005

Rainbow Bright Sheng

So, last night, I played the piano part for Bright Sheng's "Two Poems from the Sung Dynasty", a work written in 1985 for soprano and chamber orchestra.

We were conducted by the composer himself (pictured at left), which was fun. However, that's not the coolest part.

I mean, it was cool that Mr. Sheng was conducting, but Sarah pointed out the coolest part to me - the piece called "Two Poems from the Sung Dynasty", and it calls for a soprano (who sings)! HA. I love it. Let's be honest, this pun was not intentional, but I just like to think that it was. Who knows, though? Maybe Bright Sheng is totally into puns. I debated asking him about it, but I recoiled in fear and shame.

I was asked to perform the piece on Friday afternoon and the concert was Monday night, so I was debating whether or not to play it because of the crazy short notice compiled with all the other music that I'm suddenly learning ASAP. Once I realized that Sheng is quite possibly a very witty man, I took the plunge. I learned the music for the sake of the pun. I mean the fun. Or the pun. I was delighted to take part in a punny performance. All's well that puns well.

25 July 2005

Hey, Wasssab[i]?

Great news...I know who the WASABI vanity plate man is! (See my Vaine entry; he's the owner of the car with the first plate on the list.) I mean, not really know him, but sort-of know of him now. It turns out that he comes to our band camp concerts. This past Friday night, I missed my first concert all summer to stay back on campus and practice, as I was just handed a whole lotta 20th/21st century piano music to learn for performances coming up very soon, the first of which is tonight.

Sarah, however, attended the concert. Before it began, one of the administrators (the "drum major", if you will) allegedly announced that a lime-green Beetle with the plate WASABI had its lights on. A tall, groovy man in his 40s (Sarah said "he was over 30 and under 50"; she only caught a faint glimpse of the back of him) scurried out of the hall to remedy the situation.

This made me feel all happy inside! To put a face (or at least a description of the back of his body) with the vanity plate makes the experience so personal.

So, if you're reading, cheers to you, Mr. WASABI. May your wasabi always be green and your ginger always pickled.

24 July 2005

The Hissing Watermelon

So, on Thursday night, as Sarah and I were cleaning up in the kitchen after a little soiree, we heard a peculiar sound. At first I thought she was trying to quiet me down by "shushing" me, but after looking at her, I realized that she wasn't doing that at all. In fact, she had stopped dead in her tracks because she had heard the same thing.

"Um, what is that?" I asked.

"I think it's coming from the watermelon," she said.

"Uh, yeeeah, it is." I nodded toward the melon. Not only was it hissing like a banshee, but foamy juice was mildy erupting from its rotting side as well.

Suddenly, eerie flashbacks of this past fall appeared in my mind's eyes. One dreadful October afternoon, I opened the door to my room only to find nasty juice (courtesy of a rotting pumpkin sitting smugly on my armoire) dripping and seeping its ugly stench into my silk scarf and burgundy shag rug.

I shook that awful vision from my mind, and amidst the shrieks and squeals, I managed to maneuver my hands around the squishy, tempered melon and dropped it into the trash can that Sarah brought out from under the sink. We were like brave and valiant warriors. I mean, basically, we were pretty much super-heroes. I think they have TV shows for people like us.

We hissed right on back at that melon. That melon meant nothing to us. It had nothing on us. Nothing. Nothing at all. That melon was hisssstory.

23 July 2005

Pro Bono and Beethoven

Let's be honest, my all-time favorite musicians are U2 and Beethoven. It's no secret (this is a U2 allusion to The Fly; I am shocked and pleased if you caught it) that I really enjoy U2, but I haven't really openly talked about my obsession with Beethoven, unless you know me personally. For those of you who know me from school, you might have noticed that the room numbers in the hallway outside of the graduate studies office include 109, 110, and 111 - conveniently the opus numbers of Beethoven's last sonatas. Sometimes (and by sometimes, I mean usually) when no one's around (although this is not necessarily true; there are normally people around), I sing the opening themes to the sonatas as I walk by each corresponding room. It's actually pretty darn tricky if you're in a hurry...

So, interestingly enough, I link to Alex Ross's awesome blog, who in turn, links to On An Overgrown Path, which in turn, linked to an article in The Guardian - "Beethoven (1.4m) beats Bono (20,000) in battle of the internet downloads". When I saw this, I was SO excited - Beethoven AND U2 in the same headline! What could be better?

So, to make a short story long, this article became the impetus for today's blog entry. I've always pondered about the parallels between U2 and Beethoven and shared my thoughts with generous listeners, scowlers, and judgers, but have never written them down. Please hang on; it'll be a fun ride.

What I love about U2, I love about Beethoven. Here are some of the musical parallels I've noticed between the two. A stretch? Perhaps. But I think I might be on to something. Please note that I have only listed a few examples for each similarity; I could go on and on, but after all, it's only a blog entry, and I'm only human. Some of these ideas (i.e. - octave displacement and minimalism) are obviously exemplified in other composers' and artists' work, however, I am focusing on U2 and Beethoven. I've included numerous Beethoven piano sonatas as examples; the piano sonata was the genre to which the composer made his greatest contribution (symphonies maybe tie with sonatas, or come in a close second), and I also happen to study piano! The common appearance of late Beethoven sonatas in my comparisons is due to the fact that I've studied them the most thoroughly and because they are the most widely discussed out of the thirty-two. My observations are in no way exhaustive; I encourage you to read with a large grain of sea salt. After all, I'm just having some fun. Enough with the disclaimers; here we go :


U2 has established themselves as a timeless band of coolness. The raw sounds of Boy and October permeate the radio waves of classic rock stations all over the country, and they're still looked to as bulwarks of early 80s groovy tunes. When Pop was released in 1997, U2 was completely ahead of their time with the transient and techno grooves that emanated from this album, now popularized by the likes of Paul Van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, and Groove Armada. Like Beethoven, U2 points back and looks ahead.

One of the many reasons for Beethoven's broad appeal is that he's bi-focal, that is, he both looked back to the Classical Era, and pointed ahead to the Romantic era. He utilized the techniques of the high Classical style in his early period - his first set of sonatas was dedicated to Haydn, Alberti bass figures are used (Op. 2, No. 1, I), and four-movement structures are more frequented. However, he also foreshadowed the Romantic era, namely in terms of large-scale sweep across a whole formal structure (see his later sonatas - Op. 109, 110, 111). Incidentally, every classical music history course ends with Beethoven, and every 19th Century / Romantic course begins with Beethoven.

OCTAVE DISPLACEMENT (when a theme is repeated an octave lower or usually higher, my personal favorite) :

U2 - Ultraviolet's chorus - "Baby, Baby, Baby, Light My Way", later in the song.

Beethoven - Op. 101, III, Allegro - Pick-up to mm. 33 in right hand, pick-up to m. 41 in left hand.


U2 - With the brilliant sound engineers and and groovy people like Brian Eno working with them, U2's layers of sonority and color is amazing. My favorites are Surrender and the chorus of Lemon (actually, pretty much the whole Zooropa album).

Beethoven - Op. 110, III - The use of "Bebung" - the repetition of a single note connoting a sense of heightened emotion. Also, at the beginning of Op. 27, no. 2 (Moonlight Sonata), the composer designates that "the entire piece must be played as delicately as possible and without dampers." The resulting effect is an incredibly mystical and magical sound, especially effective on a period forte-piano.

MINIMALISM (the idea of using a simple, repetitive, yet effective idea over and over) :

U2 - Always Forever Now, and pretty much the whole Passengers album.

Beethoven - Last movement of Op. 111 (especially at m. 89 and ff., all that "doodling" in the treble clef). Although this is not officially considered minimalism per say, it clearly utilizes the same sort of technique. Isolated from the rest of the movement, you might think you're listening to a passage by John Adams!


U2 - The end of Falling At Your Feet - The beautiful chorus is cycled.

Beethoven - Op. 57, III, coda - A frenzied repetition of the opening thematic material.


U2 - Music loaded with spiritual undertones - I Will Follow, 40, Falling at Your Feet, Gloria, Yahweh, With A Shout, Rejoice, Crumbs From Your Table. Music imbued with political meaning and/or social commentary - Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bullet the Blue Sky, Silver and Gold, Numb, Daddy's Going to Pay for Your Crashed Car, Discotheque, Love and Peace Or Else, Pride, MLK, One Tree Hill, Mothers of the Disappeared, Peace on Earth.

Beethoven - Symphony No. 9 - Yearning for the divine, sublime, and unification of humanity. Op. 110 - It is said that the second movement utilizes two German folk tunes that say : "My cat had kittens" and "I'm a slob, you're a slob". In the final fugue of the last movement, the second movement's theme comes back in a more of an exalted, more learned fugal style, thereby redeeming the prosaic folk tune. This piece was written at a time when Beethoven was shunned by others because of his ever-increasing deafness. It was one of his worst fears stated in his Heiligenstadt Testament - that he would be misunderstood...Now, in this sonata, the profane was redeemed, perhaps what Beethoven himself desired.

As always, comments are warmly welcomed.

22 July 2005

Word From the Underground

21 July 2005

Fun ^ Infinity

If my calculations are correct, then

20 July 2005

I'm So Vain...I Bet I Think This Entry's About Me

I feel bad bashing the Maine-ites in my "Vaine" entry. I'm really the one who's vain. I was even vain enough to change the words to the Carly Simon song, You're So Vain to fit my blog entry title. I also began all sentences in this paragraph with "I".

Yesterday, I left the apartment just before 10 a.m. after vigilantly checking my blog for any new hits and listening to Sarah McLachlan's Do What You Have To Do on repeat for 45 minutes. I didn't even workout.

I went to practice piano, and after listening to myself play Haydn's F Minor Variations for 2 + hours, I thought I'd reward myself with a trip into town. I went into the library to check my blog for more hits. I even mustered up enough nerve (although this wasn't all that difficult) to email tech support at blogexplosion.com and ask them just why my blog doesn't come up when you enter "philosophy" (because it's in my blog description on that site). So, yes, that means that I was looking up my own blog. VAIN, VAIN, VAIN! Out of the kindness of their hearts, a technician emailed me back, and he even put a little smiley face on his reply - soooo sweet.

Still at the library, caught under another vicious wave of self-indulgence, I decided to look through the magazine section for the journal that features me in a full-page ad for my undergraduate institution. After thirty painstaking minutes flipping through three months of the magazine in the library's "quiet area", I found it. The other readers breathed a sigh of relief as the loud and obnoxious out-of-town page-turner exited the premises. I left the library and the "oops, you took a book with you" alarm went off. Knowing full-well it wasn't my fault (who do I think I am?), I marched on out and decided to reward myself yet again (for what?). I bought a journal (which actually was much needed, or needed...or maybe just much wanted) - a really cute eurotrashy one made by British designer Roger la Borde.

I traveled back to my apartment and fixed myself a late lunch of cracked pepper water crackers decorated with herbed Brie and Fontina cheeses, deep red grapes, cherries, and a rich almond biscotti. With a glass of cranberry + lime seltzer in a clear with white frosted polka-dotted martini glass, I toasted myself for kicks.

Who do I think I am?

19 July 2005

INDIA A-for-Real-IE?

So, I was just trying to be all cool and witty with the title:
"INDIA ARIE" (the band) + "INDIA, FOR REAL?" = "INDIA A-for-Real-IE?"

I Pink, Therefore I Am

18 July 2005


Last night at band camp, a New York Times critic and radio personality lectured on the state of classical music and presenting oneself to the media. He touched on many fine points; namely that in order to keep classical music fresh, musicians must be active, innovative and engaging. He was a strong proponent of community concertizing, as am I (to be blogged about very soon).

However, what he did not talk about was the idea of "communication in music" (see my title), which I think is at the heart of the matter of the classical scene and "the state of classical music", if it's really in a "state". It was my graphic designer friend, Nathan, who got me thinking along these lines. For example, someone can style a really hot website, but it can be so difficult to use that its utilitarian purpose is lost. This sort of artistic masturbation pleases the creator with its focus on design over content, but leaves the audience or viewer out in the cold. I mean, I don't believe that art needs to be strictly utilitarian, but I also believe that art solely for art's sake or music for music's sake is pretentious and snobbish. I am somewhere in the middle between the Bauhausians and the other side...Let's put it this way: if you're going to create something wildly esoteric, don't expect the masses to consume it unless you're willing to explain it to the audience (even if you just say "it's to coax out a visceral reaction"). This is what communication is about.

Here I am, fast approaching my second year as a masters student in piano performance and literature, and am looking forward to a career in non-profit management. Although I will not pursue a performing career, I care deeply about classical music and it's transformation into the modern age.

From an early (musical) age, I think that students should be encouraged to think about and articulate just WHY they play classical music. Is it because it is a beautiful means of expression that words cannot describe? Is it a form of leisure or entertainment? It is a means to an end of acquiring certain skills such as focus, discipline, interaction with others, problem solving, non-specific transfer, etc.? For me, it revolves around communication. I think that once we understand why we do what we do, we become convincing to our audiences. People usually start thinking and talking about why they play music only when they're tired of playing or practicing. I know - it happened to me. I think we should start ruminating over this before"the going gets rough", so to speak.

If I set out to play a Boulez piano sonata with the purpose of expressing the composer's aesthetic to a group of high-schoolers, I need to carefully consider just how I will relate to my audience. Even in terms of stage set-up, the Marxian notion of a large, dimmed, formal hall loses its efficacy if I'm truly interested in communicating with a young group of students. Maybe, I wouldn't play on a stage; I would play in the classroom where we were on the same level, so to speak. I can write program notes, talk and demonstrate before I play, phrase more overtly (so as to bring out motives, etc.). I wouldn't scowl if they clapped between movements.

Perhaps the issue at hand is that our culture is indeed changing, and that because more people are removed from classical music (i.e. - it is not a part of everyday life as it may have used to be), we need to communicate with others about it. My high school AP English professor didn't just assume that I was reared on Shakespeare when I came to class the first day. Perhaps we can take this course of action when we approach classical music. It's presumptuous and pretentious to assume everyone appreciates and understands classical music. Why not assess the audience we are performing for? I mean, after all, we size up our performing venues. We focus our sound more in a big hall and lay off the pedal in a room with a wet acoustic. It doesn't diminish the meaning of the music, it just presents it in a different manner that more conducive to its environment. I believe this notion can be applied to presenting music to different audiences. The quality of the music isn't compromised; instead, the manner in which it's communicated is renewed.

17 July 2005

Cart-iac Arrest

So, yesterday, I made a trip to the same grocery store where I slipped on the grape in the produce section and pierced my thumb on the sharp piece of plastic sticking out from the bottom of the cart.

I was hoping that this trip would be smooth and sans any major issues, but there was something else in store for me. The scene of the crime: the parking lot.

I was flying solo on this trip to the store, as my trusty sidekick Sarah had a coaching. My mission was to acquire food and drinks for an RA meeting we were required to hold for our residents.

As I was making my way out to the parking lot, to the right of my car, I noticed a little red car with an even littler man in it. He was sitting inside with the door open and reading a magazine. As I came closer to my vehicle, he looked up at me.

"Is this your car?" he kindly inquired.

"Why, yes, it is!" I replied back.

He proceeded to climb out of his car and said, "I came back out and you know what I found?" (No time for me to ask "what?") "I found a cart rammed between your car and mine. And look what it did."

He pointed to a small scratch on his driver's side door and the flush of face began to rival his vehicle's crimson hue.

"And YOU did it!" he growled, growing more and more excited about his wild story.

"I did this? I understand that you must be terribly upset about this sir, but with all due respect, I did not ram a cart into you car." I shook my head.

I really didn't. I actually avoid carts in the parking lot like the plague. I'm careful to return them back after I've used them, and I don't let them touch my car. In fact, I move them away.

"You did do it; there's NO other explanation for it," he cried, waving his arms. "How can you explain a cart being stuck between our two cars? When you were entering the lot, you must've seen the cart and pushed it with your car, thinking you could nudge it away."



"Then what should make me think that YOU aren't the cause for this -- that you, sir, didn't push the carts in between the cars? Here your are accusing me of doing something that you did not see happen."

The enraged man was blatantly using stupidity to support his logic, which was just unfortunate, but cool because him look even stupider. We went back and forth for awhile, before I resolved that he wasn't going to climb out of his hole.

"I tell you what, since you are so upset about this, why don't we call the police and file a report here and now. I'll get your name, insurance information, plate number, and contact information, and then, we'll go from there."

"NOOOO! I don't want to do that!" he cried. "I will not sit around and wait for the police to come."

"I think it's a good idea, particularly if you're interested in making a case against me. You're going to lose credibility if you don't wait for the authorities." I was trying to help him out.

"NOOOO! I don't want my groceries to spoil." he yelled.

I gave him one last chance as he drove off in a fury. I jotted down his plate number, which I was hoping to be a vanity plate so I could add it to my "Vaine" blog entry, but much to my disappointment, it wasn't.

I found some of the grocery store employees and asked if they saw anyone shoving a cart between our two cars. They had just arrived, but said that there were surveillance cameras that would have captured just who did what. Reassured, I drove back home with my trunkload of goods.

I called the local police office. The sympathetic officer I spoke to said that the crazy man hadn't reported the issue yet and that I did everything I was supposed to do correctly.

So, I don't think I'm going to shop at that grocery store anymore. Three's a charm, but I royally struck out.

A special thanks to Sarah for the witty title.

16 July 2005

I Want to Be European

Your Inner European is Italian!

Passionate and colorful.
You show the world what culture really is.

I've taken the "Inner European" test so many times that I've already come out French, Swedish, and Italian. The latter was the most recent.

FYI : Euro spellings and "isms" will frequent this blog entry.

It's not that I hate the United States. I just love Europe. I want to be European so much, it hurts. As a half-Pakistani and half-Russian girl (a "Paki-Rusko", if you will), I have not one ounce (or, should I say millileter?) of European blood in me, although it is rumoured that our Russian ancestors had a fifteen year layuber in Austria-Hungary...I like to hold on to this as long and hard as I can.

I love everything about Europe. I love the fact that their history is so darn rich and vibrant. The art is astounding. I am particularly fond of the historical beauty and colours in Italian art, the realism and juxtaposition of the new and the old styles in German art (especially architecture), and the carefree, wistful, and "joie de vivre" nature of French art. The coolest grafic design comes out of Europe too. The other day, Toby (the British first violinist in my Schumann Quintet) was wearing this awesome t-shirt with a large red letter on it. The shirt was so wicked I immediately knew it was from Europe. That's not the extent of the coolness though...Toby got the shirt for free because he went on a hike sponsored by the French Tourism Bureau, and at the end they handed out rad complimentary shirts. Only in Europe.

I think Europeans live the most fully experienced lives. They know how to live. When I think of Europe, I always visualise a wistful picture of an old man riding his bicycle into the dusk with a baguette sticking out of the rear basket. Of course, he was returning home from a day filled with a morning stroll on the Mediterranean, a stop at the cosy local cafe for fair-trade coffee, a visit to one of the eight galleries within a stone's throw of his garden where he was just reading, a bit of work and a trip to the loo just to put everything into perspective, a chat with the local shop owner, and a quick stop at the town centre's patisserie (to pick up the baguette, of course). I mean, not all Europeans are old men with bikes and bread; some are eurotrashy, which to me, is even better. This is the life.

And, they have their heads on straight when it comes to priorities and political agendas. Europe is much more socially and environmentally conscious than the States, and they have all the organisations to prove it (Oxfam, European Environment Agency, etc.). You say "the grass is greener on the other side", well you're right. They really are greener over there. Thanks to my friend Zach (who happened to study in Europe this year), I just bought NiMH batteries so as to be a bit more earth friendly. Of course, when I clicked on the site's coolest-looking batteries (remember that I judge things by their covers; see the "Soup Her Fish Haul" entry), it said that "the batteries have been shipping in Europe for several months". Of course, Europe has already led this trend. They even have zippy little cars that don't inhale and compulsively swallow gas like cars made for Americans do.

They have accents. I want an accent. And not an American one. They have the BBC. They break for tea. We don't even brake for ducks. I don't know how much more I have to convince you.

Having traveled to Italy, France, Monaco, Spain, Czech Republic, Austria, und Hungary, I've been amazed by all the distinct cultures pressed into such a small continent. I used to think that people from New Jersey were an entirely different species than people from Pennsylvania. (Actually, they really are.) I wondered why one didn't need a passport to get into the next state. Back in the day, I thought there were fascinating differences between the nations at the "World Showcase" in Walt Disney World's Epcot Center. That adolescent experience was a foretaste of what was to come when I crossed the big pond. Europe's like that for real, love.

Dirty Day

You can hold on to something so tight, you've already lost it. | U2

15 July 2005


I have never seen as many vanity license plates as I have in Maine. The plates aren't vain per-say, but there is an overwhelming number of vehicles with personalized "Officer, you must have been driving pretty fast to catch up with me" identifiers. And these plates don't come free, folks. They're an extra fifteen dollars to customize.

Here are a few I've noticed in my three mile radius (I've seen some of these while driving, so I've done my best to remember them) :

WASABI (a lime green Beetle - cute!)
TOODLES (this poor unsuspecting driver had no idea that I was memorizing her plate as she was sitting in the car next to mine)
HRTBRKR (this is very Mariah Carey)
2KBUG1 (it was a Beetle, probably a 2000 model)
835 AD (this is when the Catholic Church [via Pope Gregory IV] established the commemoration of "All Saints Day"...although I'm not sure if this is why the plate says this)
LUCKY US (a vintage convertible Mercedes...this really is vaine)
EGG YOLK (a yellow car)
2 LOUD 4 U (this car was indeed blasting music)
FOXEE (an elderly person was driving this car)
VEGANS (a nice little environmentally-friendly car)
JFINN (um, Juckleberry Finn?)
SMCHUCK (? - this car was flying down the road...it might have been SCHMUCK)
JEEPERS (ha - this was a red Jeep Cherokee)
SIVICK (a Honda Civic)
HUBRIS1 (this was a gas-guzzling SUV)
P IRISH (this was a green car)
1 BIG EGO (this was an SUV)
A1UFO (that was some "out of this world" barbeque sauce!)
ZINGHA (they really meant "zinger")
DEBLES (perhaps he was dumped by Deb)
MERCEDZ (this vehicle was not a Mercedes, FYI)
SCR MOM (a mini-van)

JUELZNT (word, dawg..."I wear my juelznt and that's no shniznit.")
C NILE (ha - either they've seen the Nile, or they're senile)
I GO 2
(a plate with a message)
AD79 (Vesuvius' eruption, destruction of Pompeii...perhaps their car survived?)
744 JK (I'm not sure this is really a vanity plate, but if it is, maybe it's like, "I was born in July 1944...just kidding!")

Ok, one afternoon, I just went to the bank and post office, maybe one or two miles away:


DEFRAG (um, computer geek)
JZ 95 (a rapper, perhaps?)
BCHBUM (I like to think this could go two ways: "beachbum" or "*#%!bum")
88 MU (a pianist? - 88 keys on a piano)
92 MU (maybe neither this nor the previous are vanity plates, or else this person goofed and thought there are 92 keys on a piano)

The following were hanging on the walls of a local pub:

WEBBA (their last name's really "Webber")
MZ FITZ (this is cool)
NIMBLE (Jack be)
ACTPRN (ha - "accident prone")
(which obviously wasn't a problem for this driver...or maybe it was, which is why their plate's hanging on a wall)
(...at those darn mosquitos, see my Small Town Adventures entry and you'll understand)
(maybe A PIRATE and SHIPYRD knew each other..."arrrgh, matey.")

I rest my case.

14 July 2005

Eagles May Soar High, But Weasels Don't Get Sucked Into Jet Engines. | David Brent

Sophia's deep thought of the day.

13 July 2005

Soup Her Fish Haul

Reader, have mercy; I'm bearing my soul.

I wish I could say that I'm a really deep person. But, let's be honest, I'm not sure that I can. I think I'm superficial. I judge things by their cover. Literally, I do. I probably won't buy a book if I don't like its look, unless it's required for school. I read and consume products that are presented to me in a more stylish fashion. If, for example, there's a good text and the cover's ugly, I'll wrap it in brown paper to give it a "earthy" look. I like Gala apples better then Granny Smiths, however, I like the color of the latter better...So, I eat Granny Smiths.

I really don't mean for this to happen. I like to give things a fair shot, I really do. I actually think I'm getting a lot better, having experienced life for twenty-some years now. And just to clear the air, this superficiality is limited to inanimate objects; it (mostly) does not apply to people.

Judge me if you will, but then, I might be all surfacey and judge you right on back. Because I'm all superficial like that.

12 July 2005

What's Your Political Dance Party?

I've been listening to Van Dyk's "The Politics of Dancing" while I work out (and even when I'm not working out). Not Anthony Van Dyck, as in the Flemish painter, but Paul Van Dyk, the awesome Berlin-based DJ master-mind. My friend Tom introduced me to this amazing double-cd. I move so much faster when I'm listening to his mesmerizing electronic dance grooves.

All this talk about politics and dancing has made me ruminate over my political dance party. I am a resolved Techno-crat. There are some who are Republi-can-cans, Anarkickin' up the volume, hey Greeeeeen margaritas owwww!, So-cha-cha-lists, and even Liber-tarian' up the dance floor.

Speaking of dancing, Sarah sucked me into her bizarre world of what she calls "crazy dancing". There is really no specified time for it, but she just yells, "it's time!", and we turn up Dr. Theopolis or whatever happens to be lying around. We scramble downstairs and flail our limbs in every which way. In my first crazy dancing experience though, I was actually dancing for real. She got really mad at me and said, "Noooo STOP! You're dancing too well. You have to do this!" And she proceeded to wiggle her body and throw her arms in various directions. I caught on quickly, and crazy dancing is now one of my favorite pastimes.

So, pick your political dance party, crazy dance, and have fun. Just as long as everyone's dancing.

11 July 2005

Small Town Adventures

So, last night, Sarah and I decided to make an important outing to the grocery store. It was important because she only had a few Zone bars left, and all of my greens had turned brown. And they're called "greens", not "browns".

I had to stop for gas, as I hadn't filled up since Saturday's wedding. We pulled into the station that lets you watch TV as you pump the gas, and I was all over that as I haven't seen a TV since I took Sarah to the ER a few weeks back and convinced her to stay a little longer so we could watch CNN. While we're on the road to a tangent, I might as well keep going...Sarah had to go to the hospital because of an ever-growing insect bite on her ankle. There's actually a hospital that's much closer to the band camp we're at, but we're "not supposed" to go there because there's a board member who works at the hospital that's further away by Walmart - the center of all the action in this little town.

So, there at the ER by Walmart at about midnight, we met a friendly couple. The guy hurt his arm from a rollerblading accident. While he was being examined, I asked his partner to elaborate on the disgusting mosquito situation in northern New England. She was eager to offer advice as to how to keep the sick creatures away; she suggested garlic and a strong bug repellent. The next day, Sarah bought garlic pills, and I placed ten heads of garlic on our kitchen table. We sprayed bug spray all over like it was Chanel No. 5. I also told the woman about our living situation..."Yeah", I said. "We have no microwave, no TV, there are large insects creeping around, the screens are out or broken, and no internet access." "Are you camping?" she asked. "No, we're just at a music festival." On the positive, there aren't as many bugs around thanks to our fixed screens, and our internet access is back in full-swing. Still no microwave or TV.

Back to the gas station...While I was pumping, I thought it might be a brilliant idea to wash my entire car with the squeegee they reserve for car windows. I didn't want to put Sarah through the embarrassment though, so we proceeded to the grocery store.

The last time I went to the same grocery store, I slipped on what I thought was a piece of onion across the produce section floor. I really slid far - about four feet or so. I landed on my left knee, and when I got up, people quickly started looking away and re-stuffing their corn into plastic bags, as if they didn't see my calamity. As I limped away from the scene, I tried to find Sarah or someone to notify about the obtrusive piece of onion out on the prey in the produce section. I ran into (almost literally) the store manager and told him about my predicament. He asked if I wanted to fill out any "paperwork" (in case of a lawsuit). That's when the wheels started turning. I thought of all the money I could earn, the debt I could pay off...But, let's be honest, I wasn't too hurt. I just had a severe burn on my knee. I refused the paperwork, but insisted on showing him the onion. When we arrived, he immediately saw the long streak of onion juice that stretched from the red bell peppers to the packaged spinach; he had to turn his head to see its whole length. "Uh, yeah", I said. "It was pretty severe." As we crouched down to examine the onion, we realized it was actually a grape. He again offered me paperwork, but I declined.

So, this time at the same grocery store, we were in the paper goods section, and I decided to stuff a twelve-pack package of paper towels under our cart. Little did I know that our cart had knife-like protrusions facing downward out of its bottom. As I placed the monstrosity into the under-cart compartment, I let out a yelp when sharp plastic penetrated the base of my left thumb. It started bleeding, and I was tempted to get a band-aid from customer service, but I didn't want the manager to see me again. I was afraid he would banish me from the store because of my last experience. I resolved to fasten my tongue to my thumb while we finished our shopping. Although this turned out to be far more humiliating than asking for a band-aid, all the looks and stares were more inviting than the disapproving manager's voice: "Um, yeah. You're not going to be able to come here anymore."

10 July 2005

If You See Da' Police


So, I went to this wedding yesterday that was just about perfect. I inadvertently missed the ceremony (TACKY!) due to unusually large volumes of southbound traffic around Hampton N.H. (Who would've thought? I was busy inwardly laughing at all the travelers stuck in northbound traffic.) I made it in time to catch them at the church, and we proceeded to Aldrich Mansion (where "Meet Joe Black" was filmed) for the reception. There was so much love in the room, I felt that I could approach a complete stranger and realize that we had some sort of connection. And, that sort of did happen. I met the neighbors of my boss from the music festival I interned at last summer. I saw lots of undergraduate friendlets (two of them were popping-out pregnant) and my rockin' former apartmentmates, one of which was the bride. Her middle name is Joy, and as of yesterday, her last name is Ober, hence "Oberjoyed".

The Ralph Lauren-like color scheme of pale pink and light celadon green was perfectly carried out from the bridesmaids dresses of baby pink with a green sash, to the pink cummerbund and bowtie the bride's father wore, the pink and green homemade candies placed in the bathrooms and on the tables, the table numbers, to the adorable outfits the guests of honor wore as they left the party - the bride in a J.Crew "Sophia" dress in jade, and the groom in a blue button-down dress shirt, dress khakis, with a green bowtie. They danced to "This Will Be An Everlasting Love" before they were swept away in their limo to who-knows-where for the night. A honeymoon in France will follow. Personal touches were everywhere; the bride's mother made the beautiful and amazingly yummy cake (white with pink and green polka-dot seams, of course), and her aunt supplied cookies from her award-winning greater Boston area shop of goodness: Lakota Bakery.

The cocktail hour was on an outdoor terrace that boasted a stunning view of the ocean. It actually rained very briefly during dinner (while everyone was inside, of course) only to be followed by a majestic rainbow that stretched over the ocean. We could actually see its whole arch (and the pot of gold at the end, too).

This wedding put a lot of things in perspective for me. I am close to the mid-point of the music festival I'm both playing in and working at. (The festival will from here on out be referred to as "band camp", the festival participants as "campers", and the director as the "band leader".) It's nice to be around so many musicians I think, however, attending this wedding was such a nice reprieve. The amount of joy and celebration was so tangible that it drowned out all the notes that have emerged from my practice room in the last couple weeks.

To top it all off, while driving home, I heard "Amazing 80s" on an ambitious Rhode Island radio station. Included was U2's "New Year's Day", Madonna's "Express Yourself", and Taylor Dayne's "Don't Rush Me". On a different set, I also heard Collective Soul's "Shine", and I graciously provided an echo to every line the song. It truly sounded horrendous, but that didn't stop me; I continued throughout the whole darn thing. I also supplied a one-armed interpretive dance to Everything But the Girl's "Like the Deserts Miss the Rain". I contemplated pulling over so I could use both hands but reluctantly decided it wasn't worth it. It doesn't get much better than that, folks.

09 July 2005

Applausible Case for Clapping

Maybe I should've been more kind to the "heavy breather" behind me in the concert on Wednesday night. Maybe he was moved by the music and was trying to express his feelings by loudly exhaling between movements...Maybe he was clapping on the inside.

One of the glaring qualms I have with classical concerts is that the audience, governed by some unspoken rule, is only supposed to applaud only at the end of an entire work. If someone dare clap between movements, he/she gets stared at and ridiculed mostly by people who are too pretentious for their own good or would never start clapping on their own, but only after they've heard a good few people already start, dare they be "the lone clapper". I, on the other hand, enjoy being the "clap-starter".

I personally think that we should clap when we want. In jazz, after a soloist shows what she's made of, the audience shows some love. Likewise, at a U2 concert, when "With or Without You" emerges from a sea of sonority, the crowd goes wild at the first hearing of that sexy bassline.

Why not in classical music? After a groovy cadenza in a Beethoven concerto, why not clap? It wouldn't really bother the soloist because the orchestra comes in afterwards anyway. Although this is rad idea, let's be honest, I might even be too intimidated to do this. But, maybe I'll still try to bring back applause between movements. Even in (Clara) Schumann's day, an intelligent audience would recognize the creative genius of the composer by clapping when the music really spoke to them instead of drawing their claws in preparation for the unsuspecting clapper who is merely following his/her heart.

I say bring it back. Clap on, clap off. Eric Clapton. Wear your baseball clap. Total eclapse of the heart.

Here's what New Yorker music critic Alex Ross says about the situation:

Concert-hall managements often insert little etiquette codes in their programs. As Richard Taruskin sardonically notes in his new history of music, the most familiar of these litanies takes the form of Biblical commandments on the order of "Thou shalt not...," accentuating the fake churchiness of the ritual. Some organizations, thankfully, are starting to send a different message. Here's what the Houston Symphony says in response to the question "Is it proper to applaud between movements?":

As music in the schools wanes and technology and popular culture become ever more engulfing, symphony orchestras are trying to attract the widest possible audiences to classical music to ensure we have music-lovers for the future. Therefore, today's audiences consist of young and old, novice and experienced listeners, first-time visitors to Jones Hall and subscribers who have been with us for decades. While we believe in presenting the best possible musical experience, we also want to encourage spontaneity and comfort. Applause between movements can be seen as an encouraging sign of new and enthusiastic additions to the classical music fold.

Notice that the Houston Symphony stops short of endorsing applause between movements. Instead, it gently implies that experienced listeners might want to think twice before going ballistic on the issue. Wouldn't it make more sense to be happy that new people are in the hall? Perhaps be friendly to them if they're sitting next to you, instead of scowling?

08 July 2005

Sometimes, I Go to the Bank for Free Coffee

The title says it all; I really do this. For example, if I have to deposit a check, and I have the option to use the drive-through or the ATM, I won't, if I know the bank has free coffee. Instead, I'll park my car, walk into the bank, deposit my check, and then act surprised (like Mark Summers after his face-lift) that there was coffee there, waiting for me to consume.

In fact, I would choose to bank at a place that offers its customers free coffee. If it came down to it, and one bank was a little further away or was a little less convenient, I'd still go there, as long as I can count on the coffee. The (broken) lollipops and pens are a nice bonus, but not necessary.

The coffee is mandatory.

07 July 2005


We love you, London.

Alliterated Animals

Here it is, the post that some of us have been waiting for: alliterated animals (which, in and of itself, is an alliteration). It all started when my friend Cory thought it would be funny to say "tainted turtles" in a small coffee shop next to our school while we were "studying" for our piano literature (which Cory likes to call "pee an o litter richer") exam. We laughed so hard at his quirky little phrase that we just couldn't stop ourselves. Between that fated hour and another night the next week in which I joined the graduating seniors for an all-expense paid dinner at Macaroni Grill (compliments of our school) and sat with another funny senior - Samus, my dear friend Kathryn, and Cory, we came up with a few funny alliterated animals. See for yourself. Please note, they're much more humorous if you actually say them aloud. Because I am obnoxious about giving credit where credit is due, the creators of the alliterations are also listed :

Tainted Turtles (Cory; I know I mentioned it before, but it's truly my favorite)
Seductive Snails (Kathryn)
Elusive Elephants (Samus)
Subversive Salmon (Cory)
Proverbial Pandas (me)
Lugubrious Lemers (Cory)
Chilly Chinchillas (Samus)
Fastidious Flamingos (me)
Worrisome Wombats (Samus?, see above picture of what I think looks like a worrisome wombat)
Pointillistic Pigeons (Cory)
Penultimate Penguins (me)

06 July 2005

My Pic, Heavy Breathing

This is me, happy as a clam. So, I couldn't put a picture of myself on my profile because the file was too big, so this will have to suffice for now.

I just went to a classical music concert tonight and was perplexed when between the movements of every piece, the person behind me exhaled the longest and loudest breath I've heard in awhile. I completely understand the need to breathe, of course. However, did this person hold his breath throughout the whole movement and then let it all out at once? Like, "Phewww, it's over!" Or maybe it was just because he felt moved. Either way, it was rather curious. I understand that people freeze in awkward positions during the course of a piece and then feel the need to violently wiggle about during movement breaks, however, the heavy breathing caught my friends and me by surprise.

First Off

If you are reading this, you are defying all odds...I was really wondering if anyone would look at this. Even if no one does, I know I will. So will my apartmentmate, Sarah, so she says. (However, I will not hold her to this.) My apartmentmate rocks. She's the reason why I started this blog (she has a rad blog herself - Confessions of an Overachieving Dilettante) and she convinced me to join Friendster. I think Friendster will be fun, but considering that I only have 10 friends as of now, I feel like I took a turn for the worst...

I'm hoping that someone other than me thinks my blog title is somewhat creative and/or funny. I am a fan of puns, of any sort, shape, or kind. My name is Sophia, and so "philosophia" seemed to work. I actually had originally named the blog "because cranberries grow in blogs" (Yes, another pun, because of course, cranberries grow in bogs, not blogs. This was Sarah's idea; I just added the "because" to "make it mine"). So, I started with a pink and maroon cranberry color scheme. I actually love this color combination, and it not only went along with the whole "cranberries" idea, but it matches the skirt that I was and am currently wearing, sans the paisleys. However, after I changed my blog name to "philosophia", I decided to modify my template to a soothing zen-like one called "Rounders 4". My anal retentive self is now pleasantly satiated.

I like to think that I'm somewhat cool. Not super cool, but groovy and perhaps, rad (a word that coincidentally, both Sarah and I are trying to bring back). I am usually a patient person who's eager to learn about other ideas and other people, for that matter. While some people are passive aggressive, I like to think that I'm just plain aggressive.

I'm really not sure how to end this, but stay tuned for an update on alliterated animals.

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