Wednesday, January 31, 2007

On Leonard Bernstein

Sometimes when I'm listening to Leonard Bernstein I get confused. At first I think I'm listening to Copeland. Wide, rolling harmonies, and subtle folk influence. Then, a little while in, the piece will suddenly take on a jazzy swagger, and I'll think I'm listening to Gershwin. I mean, there are a bunch of reasons for that feeling - Gershwin and Copeland shared a teacher (Rubin Goldmark), and as a conductor, Bernstein loved to conduct both Gershwin and Copeland's works - but it makes the feeling no less remarkable to have explanation. This morning it was Bernstein's "On the Town," a piece written for ballet (I believe) that was evoking Copeland/Gershwin memories in me. I always thought that, in addition to being a Copeland fan, Bernstein's works had been slightly influenced by Copeland. But in doing a brief search and bit of reading on the net, I can't find the evidence to support my recollection. Perhaps in looking deeper or longer I'd find something, but I should be getting back to work. You know, as a point of interest related to this subject, when I was about 4 or 5 years old I had a list of favorite composers. Copeland was #2 (second only to Debussy). I'm sure on my modern day list he'd still be somewhere in the top 10. I should work on that list one of these days.

Also, as a random side note, I had a weird, scary dream last night where I killed a bunch of cows by cutting their Achilles tendons. And then a bunch of people that I work with got sad about the dead cows, and started jumping out the windows of my building. I decided to leave the building then, but it only made the people at work more antagonized, so then they started trying to jump on to me when they jumped out the windows. It was freaky. Aiiight, peace.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You know you're busy at work...

...when you have to schedule time in Outlook with yourself.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

NJSO - Shoes all shined up

Wow. Keith and I went to an NJSO (New Jersey Symphony Orchestra) concert tonight at NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center), and boy have they shaped up! Not only are the renovations to the theater absolutely beautiful, but the orchestra itself is blooming under their new conductor, a personal favorite of mine, Neeme Jarvi.

Let me start at the beginning. First of all, the NJSO has a great student program with regard to ticketing. Keith and I were able to purchase what's known as a "Class Pass." Costing $32 per person, a class pass is 4 vouchers to future concerts that can be redeemed as tickets are available. So Keith and I redeemed our first set of tickets to this past Saturday's concert - "Russia's Mighty Five." We were seated (for our $8 each) in row T of the orchestra section. Now most people would probably be impressed with the quality of seating given to student ticket holders, but true aficionados of the symphony know the best acoustics are actually in the balcony. In row T we had a wall just 2 rows behind us, off of which the percussion section's sound was bouncing all night, causing an abundance of beat for Keith and I. But that was okay because we knew it was the fault of the acoustics and not the orchestra.

The lineup of the concert was based on a group of composers credited with developing what we think of as "Russian sound," and known as "Russia's Mighty Five" or "The Big Five." These composers are (in decreasing order of fame, to most): Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Modest Mussorgsky, Mili Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, and Cesar Cui. A lot of pieces with which I'm very familiar, but have never heard live, were on the lineup. The first portion of the concert was a solo pianist (who I've never heard) Jie Chen, performing works by Mussorgsky, Cui, and Balakirev. After the first intermission, the orchestra came on stage and performed the same Balakirev piece Chen had just finished, "Islamey," as it was orchestrated after his death by one of his students, Liapounov. Neeme OWNED this piece. He was a sprite, a pogo stick, a ringleader on the podium. He really made you know just what you were supposed to feel from the piece, and he interacted so dynamically with his musicians you could practically see wires connecting them to each other. He was like a puppeteer. And "Islamey," what a piece! The next piece, was the posthumously well known "Night on Bald Mountain," given more widespread exposure through Disney's "Fantasia." I thought that Neeme missed the mark on this piece. He seemed, in the most climactic parts, to be blunt - too eager to "blow his load" as it were. And he lost touch with the orchestra, in my opinion, because of this eagerness. They weren't as clearly with him as they had been in the last piece. Also, he over dramatized the contrast between the climax sections and the slow interludes, and build-up sections. I dunno, it just wasn't doing it for me. Leopold Stokowsky pretty much takes the cake on that piece. After Mussorgsky was Borodin's appearance with the "Polovtzian Dances" from Prince Igor. I was pretty pleased with these, though I thought the second dance (more of a pavane than a dance) was a little (again) rushed. Mostly, quite beautiful though. There was a second intermission at this point, followed by the epic (42 minute) Scheherazade of Rimsky-Korsakov. Though the two main themes of this piece are clear and quite dominant throughout, it is still captivating for all 42 minutes, changing tone and feeling quite often. For me, at least.

So overall, I'd say a stellar concert. Also, I forgot to mention that before the concert they now do "concert talks" where they discuss some aspects of note in at least one of the works they intend to perform. Very cool, and very much in the spirit (which I appreciate) of make classical music "more accessible." So in short (or long) I can't wait for my next NJSO concert!


I have cable!! The cable guy just left my apartment. Thankfully, he was nothing like Jim Carey's version of this occupation. He was totally normal, and other than being late, right on. I'm just excited I can finally watch CSI in syndication on SpikeTV again. I'd been missing the opportunity to watch it. I never saw it when it was on primetime (or is it still?) because I didn't think I'd like it, but I've been watching it on Spike and I LOVE IT! However, I gave two of the spin-offs a try, and PU! No good in my opinion. Alright, gotta run. Honey and I are going to a concert at NJPAC tonight. The NJSO perform's "Russia's Mighty Five." Be back with a review later!!

Friday, January 26, 2007

The many uses of dryer sheets

As I reheat my fusili leftovers, allow me to preach for a moment on the many uses of fabric softener dryer sheets. There are SO many things you can do with these frickin things. First, obviously, put them in the dryer so your clothes come out smelling nice and feeling fuzzy and wonderful. Next, use the sheets to clean dust off of sensitive television and computer screens. They have no abrasive parts to their surfaces and their negatively charged static state encourages the dust to hop off the screen onto the sheet. Similarly, if wet slightly, they can be used to clean/dust horizontal blinds with great success. Again the negative static thing is helping to pick up the dust, but it's also transferring some of that property to the blinds and encouraging them not to attract dust quite as much as before. But perhaps my favorite use of dryer sheets is on my hair. Yes, that's right, my hair. Did you ever have a morning where you get up and your well tended coif is static-y as hell? And every time you run the brush through it the hairs just stand up higher? And you think, well maybe I can wet the brush just a little and it will tame the static. But, OH NO, you remember, your straightened hair is only staying straight because you blasted it with heat and then flattened it with an IRON. And if even the slightest degree of moisture gets back in it, it will wave (or curl depending on your hair) back into the rat's nest it was pre-straightening. (Why we never straighten our hair on really humid days too.) Well I have a solution for you!!! Take a (fresh, not old) sheet of fabric softener and gently rub it down the sides of your head. This will tame your static infused hair, and leave your hair perfectly straight. Woo! I'm sure there are even more ways to use dryer sheets - experiment and love their wonder! (yes, I'm aware this post makes me a total freak!) :-)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

I really liked this movie. There were a few things that I thought were a little weak about it, but overall I think it featured stellar performances, a clever and entertaining story, and a good time. It's always amazing to me when so many bad things can happen in a movie and yet you're left at the end feeling good, happy, and satisfied. I don't even know which of the actors to rave about first, perhaps Greg Kinnear as the success obsessed (but totally unsuccessful) father who tries to parent out of a book. I thought Toni Collette was also awesome as a totally frazzled, desperate mother, who's willing to show she does NOT have all the answers. Interesting to me that the actors who got the nominations, however, were child actress Abigail Breslin, as Olive (little miss sunshine contender herself) and Grandpa, or Alan Arkin, for his heroin-addicted fuck-em-all grandpa. Craziness. I'm almost still too full of the movie to really give a cogent review. My favorite character might actually have been Dwayne, the son. I've never seen him in anything before, but I thought he did an amazing job. That climactic seen in the van just before they reach the pageant. Whew. And he and Steve Carell achieve a great dynamic together. Although one of their scenes is one of my complaints. I felt like that scene on the dock was also supposed to be sort of a climax, not so much for Dwayne or Frank, but representing the whole family's attitude change. And I thought the script (for such an important point in the film) was actually rather weak. "Fuck beauty contests. Life is just a long series of beauty contests." I'm not sure I think that quite sums it up. But maybe I misunderstand the point of the scene and it is just more Dwayne resolution. Anyway, the movie was great. Go see it if you haven't yet.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fun New Time Waster!

The WSJ had an interesting article today about a really cool tool that's new to me. As the article is appropriately subtitled, "Time Waster," I can see myself wasting quite a bit of time with it. The tool is a history of presidential buzzwords. It scans all the major presidential speeches from our history (state of the union addresses, inaugural speeches, war declarations, etc) and indicates which 100 words appear most frequently in a given speech. Then it uses a format called "Tag Clouds" to show which words have been used most frequently out of the 100, and which of these words are newest or oldest in the overall presidential lexicon. Use the slider to change speeches. Links to all speeches (usually hosted by Britannica) are at the bottom left of the page.

It's a cool project that this guy has thought of, so check it out. I know I'll be perusing it for the next few days. Another fun trend I've already noticed besides the ones discussed in the article, is that Teddy Roosevelt's favorite word seems to have been "corporations" which soon fades with Taft, makes a slight reemergence after the stock market crash in '29, and then completely falls off the radar again until like Reagan or so.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


So I took a step forward into the 21st century today (a small one) - I joined Netflix . I think it's probably the right move. While occasionally I'll have the month where I only rent 1 movie, far more often Keith and I will rent upwards of 4 or 5 movies in a month. So to counter those months when Keith and I aren't doing a lot of movie watching, I've got a bunch of films in my queue that are just things I want to see (and that he doesn't care about.) So I'm going to give it a shot. I get 2 weeks of free trial, and I'll probably stick it out for another month after that, just to see how well it works for me. I picked the $14.99 plan, where they send you 2 dvds at a time and you can have an unlimited number sent to you in a given month. I'm excited. My list of "movies I need to see" is long and diverse. I'll be happy to start knocking some off the list. Plus they have TV!! Which is great, because recently I've been getting Keith into Buffy the Vampire Slayer (we just finished season 2.) And I was thinking, "Damn, I really can't afford to buy any more seasons of this right now, so what are we going to do?" but now I can just happily borrow it from Netflix! Woo! I'll keep you posted on how it's going, and I'm sure you can also expect many movie reviews to start appearing here. My first 2 dvds are supposed to arrive on Thursday! :-)

Monday, January 22, 2007

I remembered! Pilates and Dinner!

One thing just to throw out there quickly. Ever since the second week or so of December I've been off program. For those who don't get what that means, I'm referring to Weight Watchers. I've been doing it with my Mom for the past three years. Usually when I tell people that I've been doing it for a couple years, they express extreme surprise (since I've only lost about 30 pounds in that time.) But my feeling on that subject is that I'm doing it the right way - changing my whole lifestyle and not just "dieting." Plus weight that comes off too fast is less likely to stay off. Regardless (I'm off topic here) I have been needing to get back on program in a serious way. Even though I'd been walking consistently through most of December (as in walking for exercise) my food habits were all over the place. So I figured I might feel more encouraged to get back to better foods if I kicked my exercise up a notch. Explanation for this being that I am actually less likely to go crazy with food if I feel like I have some behavioral leeway from my exercise. So the whole point of this is just to say that I went back to my hour long pilates class at the gym today, and it felt great! I hadn't been since somewhere around last August (06). My abs, of course, had something to say about it which was "WHY???? OH GOD, WHY?!?!" but they'll get used to it again soon I hope.

The other reason for the post was that I made an awesome awesome new recipe tonight. Extremely healthy and very tasty. Here it is:

Fusili with Yellow Pepper Sauce

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 large yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 2 cup uncooked fusilli
  • 4 tsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, minced
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste (I used more)


  • Combine water, pepper, onion, tomato, oil, salt, and ground pepper in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates, 15 to 18 minutes. Add more water, 1/4 cup at a time, if liquid evaporates too fast.

  • Meanwhile, cook fusilli according to package instructions. Drain and put in a serving bowl.

  • Transfer vegetables to a blender or food processor. Add ricotta cheese and purée. Pour over fusilli and toss to coat. Serve, sprinkled with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

If yellow peppers are unavailable, red or orange will work just as well. But steer clear of green peppers - the flavor is too strong. Also, if you're a weight watchers member, this can either be 2 dinner sized servings for 8.5 points each (and 2 veggie servings!) or 4 lunch sized portions at 4 points each (and 1 veggie serving.)

So there you have it - I highly recommend it, and hope whoever reads this will give it a try!

Visit Picture and Else

Had a great time visiting with my cousins in Riverdale yesterday. I don't have too many cousins who are young so it's fun to play with kids every now and again. I took a bunch of pictures, but rather than subjecting you to all of them, I'll just throw one up here. That's my sister, brother, and cousins Henry and Lucy preparing for a group nap. As it turns out, the nap never happened. Henry perpetrated an alien invasion and Lucy's hand had a tug of war with my foot instead. And then chocolate chip cookies were brought out (baked by my excellent Mother) and all hope for a nap was lost. :-)

There was something else I wanted to post about today, but I can't remember what it is at the moment. Perhaps I shall post again if I remember. Somehow I think it had something to do with politics. Sigh. Mind of a sieve.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

We lost

Gawd dang-it. But at least it was kind of an exciting game. Jagr's goal in the 1st period was a beaut, though I have to say that both goals scored by the Thrashers were kind of lame! One was a slow drift through Lundqvist's legs that he ended up turning around and tipping in with his stick (though it was going in anyway). The other showed an Atlanta player tap it in while deflecting it off Lundqvist's legs. There was a very exciting moment in the second period where Lundqvist had to face down a penalty shot (and did so successfully) because the ref decided Tyutin threw his stick forward to stop a Thrasher who was on a breakaway. Seth and I thought the call was dubious, though my Dad (who says he saw the replay on TV about 15 times) thinks it was definitely Tyutin's fault. Though he has some Tyutin issues anyway, and might be letting his bias get in the way. Anyway, Seth and I had a grand time despite the Rangers' loss.

More fun plans for today. My immediate fam (minus Aaron) are going into NYC to visit my cousins who just moved from Manhattan to the Bronx. It's really my Dad's first cousin, though I think of him as my cousin, and his wife and two kids. The kids (Henry and Lucy) are ADORABLE! I might have to post some pics when I get back. Actually I should be running, I'm late for my weight watchers meeting in Fairfield!!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The other thing that annoys me + Hockey!

(About blogger that is): There is so little room for creativity if you don't want to mess around with stuuuupid cascading style sheets. Arg arg arg. Just had to throw that in there. I guess I'll have to dig out my old programming book from freshman year and take a look. Because I don't think I can handle this cookie cutter nonsense.

In other news, I am totally pumped today because I am going to the Rangers game with my brother. I bought him tickets for Hanukkah, so I've been waiting for over a month for today to come!! I have been watching many of the games this season on TV with my Dad and having such a great time. I sort of lost interest for a couple of years when the Rangers were so so bad, but there was a time when I was 10 or 11 and could recite the whole lineup. They're playing Atlanta today, who I've never seen in action, so that should be fun. What I know of their team is that they're a bunch of young guns with a lot of energy, and that they've beat the Rangers all three times they've met so far this season. Which hopefully means I'll be doing a lot of cheering to urge us on! Another new fun thing is that I'll be sitting in a section of MSG I've never sat in before (for a sporting event or concert) - the 300s. Back when my dad used to work for Ogden we always sat in the 100s, and ever since then I could only afford the 400s, so this will be a new experience. I wonder if I'm allowed to bring my camera? It would be neat to document the view. I can supplement my old collection of pics from my younger days - I have on where I'm about 10 inches (and a layer of glass) away from Jeff Beukeboom - a hulking former defenseman of the Rangers (now retired.) He was on the 94 cup team.

Alright, enough for now. I'm heading over to my parents house (ha! so funny to say that now that I have my own place!) to get some more stuff I forgot, and then I'll be off for the 1 o'clock start!

Friday, January 19, 2007

And here we are

I'm annoyed that I have to do this, but so it goes. My company that shall remain nameless (and in fact never be talked about again after this post) has stalked me worse than big brother and limited my ability to be truly honest in my blog, so I've had to move. And will have to remain anonymous. If you know me, you know it's me. So hello. I'm back. Yee-ha.

Ok...I guess adding a picture doesn't make me that anonymous. But it has no caption, and the file title is "short hair" so it'd be pretty hard to google just my picture. So I have two identifying elements - my first name in the title, and the picture. Three I guess if you count the fact that my profile name is the same as the name of the old journal. But I had to give people some way to find me. "You get the idea....Goulet." Alright, enough messing around for tonight. Peace.