Thursday, September 24, 2009

Get Your Earbuds Ready to Groove

So I may have alluded to the fact that I've been playing with a band recently. Well. We don't have a name yet, but we're close, I think. In the meantime, I can tell you who's in it:

Ethan -- the mastermind...vox/guitars/computers
Amanda -- the cellist...she works with Ethan's wife
Ashley -- the violist with the mostest...she's the one who knew Ethan and got us involved
Theresa -- the violist who is playing violin and rockin' it
Me -- violin

As for the super exciting part of this post, here it is:

Part of our demo...let me show you it!

Side of Life

This one is called "Side of Life." Ethan wrote it. The strings you hear were recorded last night. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wikipedia Prevents Me From Taking Myself Too Seriously

This was going to be a navel-gazing post about self-actualization, and how I've always wanted to do certain things, and how I just decided to go ahead and do them, and how much happier I am as a person because I just went for it. But I wanted to make sure I meant the right thing when I said "self-actualization" (I was pretty close, actually) so I looked it up.

I'm not sure how visible this picture will be, so I will explain: it's a screenshot from the Wikipedia page for self-actualization. Some jokesters have renamed this first section "Self-actualization in Degeneres' Theory." It's not some scientist named Degeneres. It's Ellen Degeneres. Some hilarious fan changed Wikipedia to reflect Ellen Degeneres's theory of self-actualization, which is (as indicated by the purple arrow), "Just dance!"

It may be historically inaccurate, but I like it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Beethoven Festival Was Beethoven-y

The Washington Sinfonietta's Beethoven festival concert has come and gone. It was good! It was a relief, really...that last movement of the symphony was HARD. I mean, it's not technically that difficult...until you play it as fast as the conductor wants it. My arm still sort of feels like it's going to fall off!

There were mixed feelings among my friends about the piano concerto. They really got into the bombast and showy fun of the Egmont overture, and it's hard to argue with a Beethoven symphony: they don't call these things "classical music" for nothing. The concerto, however, bucked expectations. The listeners said that they thought they knew where it was going, and all of the sudden, it veered off into something else. The change, they thought, was not altogether welcome. I found that it had a lot of repetition, but not necessarily productive repetition.

Afterward, we tried to hit up Palette, the restaurant attached to the Madison hotel, for some food and drink. Palette, unfortunately, was closed. However, they sat us in the lobby/lounge area of the Madison and served us from Palette's bar menu. The fried oysters were revelatory (sorry, no photos, but they weren't much to look at anyway), and they also had a mixed plate of small sandwiches (burgers, duck with provolone, and crab salad) and sweet potato fries that were all delightful.

The highlight may have been the cocktail I had, the Park Avenue:

This was a mix of bourbon, vermouth, and bitters, up with a cherry (but could also be served on the rocks). I'm usually a fan of sweeter cocktails, but I think I am learning to appreciate a well-made bourbon or whiskey drink.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Colorful Pittsburgh: The Strip District

I was a little confused when my parents told me that Daniel was taking us to the "Strip District." It's one of those things that sounds dirty, but isn't! It's a bit of floodplain along the Allegheny River, formerly home to industrial stuff like warehouses and probably some steel mills, seeing as how it's Pittsburgh and all. After the collapse of American industry (longer ago than you'd think!), this vacant industrial area was taken over by produce merchants, followed by fish markets, food importers, restaurants, and bars. Here's a history of the place, better than I can tell it.

The places that aren't selling food are usually selling souvenirs, with a few bookstores, culinary tools stores, and hippie clothes sellers thrown in there for good measure. There were also vendors of Italian pastries, shish kebab, and anything else you might want, either set up on the sidewalk or parked on the side of the street in brightly colored food trucks or tents. I took a couple of photos of the strip itself:


I got Pat a terrible towel as a souvenir...the one that has all the Super Bowls on it.


Yes, that's "Yinzers In The Burgh."

There were a couple of places that we really loved, such as the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. It was an Italian market where you could buy olive oil from big vats. I mean, there were lots of other cool things there that I actually got photos of:


This is what you see right when you walk in:


Food is so beautiful!

This is the mural on the way out of the store:


We ate at Wholey's fish market that day (pronounced "woolys"):


It was a great fish market, very famous (see? the photo says it!), and the food was excellent. It was just simple food...I got a fried cod sandwich with some freshly fried hush puppies. The hush puppies were interesting...full of onions and mushrooms, so the bread was really moist instead of dry and crumbly like hush puppies sometimes are.


Oh, yeah, that was good. Fish all hot and crisp, fresh tartar sauce, hot sauce for the hush puppies. Yeah. So good.

We ended up going back to the Strip District another day for breakfast. The sign (and everything we read on the Internet) said that DeLuca's had the best breakfast in town:


(Yes, the dude eyeing me with suspicion is my brother.)

I had cinnamon French toast from a HUGE brunch menu:


I also had bacon, and if you really want to see a picture of bacon, you can find it on my Flickr. This was good, solid food. Nothing fancy, but very tasty!

So, all in all, the Strip District was great! Lots to see, good, decent food...and if we'd gone back at night, it probably would have been lots of fun! There were a lot of restaurant/bars with outdoor seating. In fact, we probably should have gone out. Buying beer in Pittsburgh is the most ridiculous endeavor...and we're originally from a state with fairly restrictive blue laws!! We discovered this about Pittsburgh when we went out there for my brother's graduation back in 2006, but we still haven't gotten over it.

1. If you want a six-pack of beer, you must purchase it from a bar.
2. If you go to a beer distributor, you may buy beer---by the case or keg ONLY.
3. You may not buy a half-and-half case, even though bottles are boxed in half-cases.

It's much easier to just get a bottle of vodka, which may explain why cocktail hour with my family was almost as colorful as the Strip District itself.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Under Construction

This blog is under construction, so if it crashes your browser or looks weird...well...that's why. It'll be better soon. Prettier, I hope!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Practically Overnight

Hey! Do you remember when I said that you should go out and play because autumn would be here soon?

Well, let me tell you something: when I blog, the weather gods of the DC Metro area read it. I went away to Pittsburgh this past weekend for my brother's housewarming party (more on that in a later post, with non-BlackBerry photos, even!), and when I came back, it was FALL. No lie, there was a tree in our parking lot that had, practically overnight, browned all its leaves and dropped them in the walkway. I came back from the airport and crunched through the parking lot to get to my door.

This week, highs are in the low 70's with rain in the mornings, and peep that photo of today's sunset through a fractured sky. I took that on my way out of work this evening, over the Verizon Center. There is no denying it anymore: meteorological fall MEANS BUISNESS.

While on my trip (and enjoying the Labor Day holiday), I had the opportunity to finish the book, "The Post-Birthday World," about which I had mixed feelings. I think that if you click my Goodreads thingie on the right there (not the photo of the book, but the widget itself), you may be able to see my review of it.

I'm kind of unfair...I really only write reviews for books if I don't like them (or have such remarkably mixed feelings), but I try to justify that to myself by saying that the good books make me more introspective and I would rather sit and contemplate them than review them.
This is probably a partial truth.

Tonight, I have to practice because I have two really interesting things coming up. Tomorrow night, I'm headed to this guy's house to play with a band he's trying to put together. He went to school with a couple of violists from my orchestra and he's already written (and fully scored for strings!) an album's worth of mellow rock songs that I really enjoy. If we gel, maybe we'll get serious and gig or something, which could be a completely awesome experience.

The other reason to practice is that I'll be playing a Beethoven concert with the aforementioned orchestra on Saturday, and the rest of the week will be filled with rehearsals for that. If you want to check that out, here's the URL (which I will make into a link later if it doesn't automatically become one):

In any case, autumn is lovely, so I'm still going to tell you to go out and play. I definitely count having a beer on the balcony as "play," and if I manage to find any time this week, you can be sure that that's what I'll do.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry