We Have A Winner

This morning, at the crack of dawn, Music Standard Time (10 a.m. or so) our intrepid team from Home Office Records went to a breakfast presentation by MIDEM, the huge music industry conference that takes place every winter in Cannes, France.

After the introductory speech, the promo movie, the testimonials from satisfied participants, there was a raffle. And I Won! Yes, me! Me who’s never even won a school fundraising raffle, I’m going to Cannes next January to rub shoulders with all the big fishes in the big pond of the music business. Yeah!

Posted in General Musings |

If it’s Thursday, it must be Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards returns to SXSW.

Also, Slaid Cleaves, Martha Wainwright, Tracy Bonham, and the ghost of Rocky Erikson, among others. And a nice little barleywine from Lovejoy’s to round up the day.

Posted in About Last Night, Music Theory |

Through Rosa-Tinted Glasses

Dateline: Austin.

Elvis CostelloThe sun is out, but I’m still indoors.

After a cold and overcast start, the South by Southwest music conference is finally greeted by a clear blue sky, which is a piece of luck, since this afternoon Linus and I shall enjoy the hospitality of the ASCAP boat ride on the Colorado River (not that Colorado, the other one), courtesy of course of all those underpaid songwriters who frame their $4.13 royalty checks rather than bothering to cash them. Rock on!

Last night, Elvis Costello closed the first full day of festivities with a rousing two-hour performance at La Zona Rosa, of which you’ll hear much more later from Linus who was taking feverish notes. This is just a quick picture –gotta love digital cameras– resized and saved with a program I’m not familiar with: I only use the PowerBook on trips, and this is the first time a digital camera was involved. It’s all about learning. And barbecue, of course. Never forget the barbecue.

Robert FisherOnly other band I’ll mention from last night, the Willard Grant Conspiracy had a hard time at The Vibe, a covered shed kind of a place, rather chilly in the night air and plagued by sound problems that caused serious delays and forced the band to curtail their set. A good show nevertheless, but not nearly one of their best.

OK, time to get out and let room service do their thing.

Posted in About Last Night, Music Theory |

Birthday Pi

Jess of Blind Cavefish points out via her crazy-in-a-fun-way friend Julie that today is Pi day, by which we mean that it’s March 14, or 3.14, which is how the famous irrational ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle begins its long march into infinitesimalcy. It’s also my Dad’s birthday. Happy Pi Day, Dad.

Much as I’d love to do a long piece on pi here — and I would, you know — it’s Monday at the Office, and it’s also Friday at the Office, since tomorrow I fly down to Austin for a week for our annual visitation at the SXSW Music Conference. So it’s all week in a single day. We’ll be writing and blogging from down there, much as we did last year but with more digital cameras.

As far as Pi Day goes, though, I get to trot out my favorite annual mathematical parlor trick. Since you’re not here you’ll have to take my word for it, but I know pi by heart to 22 decimal places. I don’t remember why I went and memorized this in the first place, but it’s been sitting in there taking up valuable memory space for a few decades now. As I say, you’ll need to take my word for it, but this is from memory and it’s not a cut-and-paste job:


Pi takes the path of ultimate sensibility: it’s irrational, it’s infinitely non-repeating, and it’s real. I have similar aspirations. Take a moment to revel in the mystery today at 1:59.

  • The Pi Pages – Pi, the tech specs. More detail than you could ever possibly want to know about pi, plus an annoying applet that calculates it, in French, on the main page.
  • More Pi – When some pi just ain’t enough.
Posted in General Musings |

The Icetree Cometh in Brooklyn

State Street in snow

Again — again — it’s snowing outside. Not any kind of heavy weather, but isn’t it enuffawreddy? I know all about “comes in like a lion.” We’ve had the lions. Time to get over it.

An Open Letter to Winter

Dear Winter,

You had your shot in December and January. It’s not my problem if you weren’t ready. You blew it then, and this is no time to take it out on us. Now please knock it off.



Posted in General Musings |

The Past is So Loud You Gotta Wear Shades

Pierre spends a lot more time on Usenet than I do — I used to go rafting there, but when the spam got ridiculous I paddled to shore and rarely go back in more than ankle deep.

Since we both got digital cameras last week, Pierre has been keeping up with the e-Joneses in their newsgroups. Today he sends along this gem from rec.photo.digital.

A wag by the handle of Cynicor posts,

After we got some snow here earlier this week, I realized that my eyes have slightly different white balance. My left eye tends to see things with a slightly yellowish cast compared with my right eye, which tends to be a bit bluer. Have others noticed slight differences like this, or do I have a serious medical condition that requires immediate assistance? (I haven’t been able to find my manual white balance menu setting yet.)

A concerned reader wonders if it might be a cataract problem, and Cynicor zips back:

God, I hope not. I’m not even 40. Although I did look at a lot of loud rock music in my youth.

Zing! Post of the day.

Posted in General Musings |

Blizzard Entertainment

Snow Go
Snowfields to the Left of Me ...
... and Snowsteps to the Right
Snow Stop

Under the rumpled hands of heavy snow, New York finds a rare quiet. Our last nor’easter was a nighttime proposition, seen above in a few frames from lower Brooklyn Heights.

Posted in General Musings |

Taking Snow for an Answer

Snow on the Customs House
Windows on the Winter
The Little Red Rooftops and the Great White Storm

As near as I can figure it, today’s snowstorm snuck by the gatekeepers in the guise of a little late-winter “snow mixed with rain,” then tossed off its innocent rags and rampaged through the afternoon as a lash of “freezing cold icy snow right in your face you sucka muahaha.” Temps obligingly shot down into the 20′s (windchill right now is 7° above), and tonight is a black ice night. The radio weather just now announced that wind is “howling” through the City. They’re not wrong.

My Day Job office is across the street from the Cass Gilbert U.S. Customs House building, pictured above, and from the coddled indoor bird’s-eye safety of the 10th floor we watched the snow pelt down outside. Last week I took night snowstorm and morning aftermath photos of what we thought would be the last icy roar of the season. I’ll post a few those soon, if I can.

Posted in General Musings |

To Be (Sick) or Not To Be (Sick)

The Head on the Wall What, the Curtains? Dottie's Top Dollar

A week creeps by in this petty pace, and if March is coming in like a lion I’m responding like a groundhog in his sleepy winter prime. The background cough I’ve been nurturing has had me in a plausibly-deniable muzzy grip all week long, and it’s getting tedious.

If you’re going to be sick you might as well be good and sick; this half-moon am-I-or-amn’t-I business is just tiresome. You can’t eat fun stuff or do fun stuff or get anything useful done or gallivant around with any abandon, nor can you fetch up on the bed and moan in self-pity. I’m not about half-measures — I prefer liberty or death, in their smaller-scale equivalents.

On Friday I took the plunge and bought the digital camera I’ve been eyeing shyly across the room for months; I haven’t had the chance to take it dancing in full splendor, but we did go to the burlesque on Friday night, which was the furthest I ventured from home all weekend long. I’ll need to get used to the point-and-pray aspect of it, which requires that a guy carefully set and compose his shot, push the shutter button, and then wait around while the world moves past and the camera eventually takes a picture of where it used to be. In the meantime, though, the first set of shots turned out mostly all right. A few thumbnails are posted above, and the rest of the small gallery is probably safe for work, and after that the battery crapped out. That’s what I get for playing with the setting menus all afternoon and not packing a spare.

Posted in General Musings |


In case you’re watching at home, here we got weather. Apparently we also have side effects of weather: Pierre and I are both independently posting about tea. Well, that’s what I get for larking around on Sunday morning to photograph The Gates in the snow, and then thumping around last night taking flash pictures in the nor’easter blizzard.

No idea how they’re going to turn out, but it’s a really fun thing to do. You get looks. “What’s he taking pictures of?” “I dunno. Snow I guess.” “In the dark? With a flash?”

My throat is tickly and my body is poised on that soft hyper-aware edge where you’re probably about to get sick but you aren’t quite there yet. The cough is occasional and has an angry red clawed sound, as if it’s raking old leaves around the larynx. There’s a light misting of sweat — the immune system testing the valves, priming the pumps, preparing to dump antimatter if the system goes off the rails.

Yogi Tea is my prophylaxis of choice, and I’ve been switching off between my favorite winter flavors. I reached for the tea stash after a particularly hacking round, tears in my eyes, and worked the controls (rip, dunk). When my vision cleared a bit the teabag tag was face up, and it reads:

The whole universe is the stage on which your mind dances with your body, guided by your heart.

I love Yogi Tea.

Posted in General Musings |