Friday, October 31, 2014

Gas Powered Perambulations

Please bear with me as I take one of my occasional breathers from the world of modeling and delve back into other subjects almost as far removed from poetry and the symphonic, but still closely entwined with art.

A bit of background to catch up my newer readers: my wife is from Vietnam so I have recently had the pleasure of periodic travel to East Asia. While there I've spent most of my time in  a lovely vibrant town once called Saigon and now officially designated Ho Chi Minh City. I've come to the conclusion that one of the more characteristic things about any given place is the way we get around. Ho Chi Minh is quite unlike most other places I've been. (And I've covered some distance in my short life, touching the soil of forty-seven states, nine countries, and three continents. Typically for at least 24 hours and in many cases quite a bit more than that.)  The US is a car country defined by fancy highways of almost exorbitant length, with a few significant exceptions. (And even the exceptions have their share of pavement.) Europe, with less space for roadways and more people per square klick, is remarkably multi-modal.

Asia, particularly South and East Asia, make Europe seem only slightly more densely populated than the moon. I expect most people have seen pictures of Asian traffic; the solid walls of people on the streets of Mumbai, the miles long parking lots leading into Beijing, the trains breathing pressurized human life in and out of Tokyo. Ho Chi Minh isn't quite like any of these. There are no trains to speak of. There is but one highway (though a second is under construction) and it isn't as yet a parking lot. And no one seems to walk much of anywhere. (I'm a little surprised people walk from their bedroom to their front door, but the houses are small and vertical and motor vehicles don't do stairs well.) So what is Saigon traffic? Motorbikes: mopeds, scooters, crotch-rockets, even the occasional cruiser. It seems as though all the bikes at Sturgis have been hit with a shrink ray and gotten very jiggy populating the streets and lanes of a large, but surprisingly compact Southern Florida style paradise by the millions. It may be the largest collection of two-stroke love on earth. And of course everyone is honking or beeping at all times, traffic laws are fluid, and signals are scarce. In short, it . . . is . . . FUN!

Some minor temporal liberties have been taken, but I hope this gives you a flavor of where I'm going. It's a fun town, Saigon, a great place to relax, eat, visit friends and family. It's a busy, bustling place where a lot of people work and play hard. It makes for a truly memorable power-assisted walk in the park.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Work, websites, and piano concerti

My most loyal followers might note that I am, as usual, overdue for the annual fleet review. I am sad to say that this will continue for a little while longer, but do not fear, ships will assemble in the harbor very soon. But first, a bit as to why this has not yet occurred. (After all, the Grand Empress just had her first jubilee. It is that time.)

Ships have lately taken a back seat to music . . . or at least thoughts about thinking about music. Or perhaps more accurately fury at a website lost. For somewhat over twenty years I, your humble composer, have been a minor functionary at the local ShowMe University Inc. I was mostly retained for the sake of hanging heavy things in the air once or twice a year. Well, said University has revamped their HR procedures. They used to purge the rolls of employees who had not worked for one calendar year. Now they do it every six months. One rigger who works twice, or maybe once a year never got the memo.

So I found myself without benefit of the free (though less than completely convenient) web-hosting services I'd enjo . . . excuse me, used for the last eight years or so. I have been reconstructing my website in the wilds of the internet, away from sheltered academic surrounds. In short, I am back. It took some real effort to get here, and there will no doubt be one or two bugs to work out, but I'm back. I may not be completely finished with my U career, since they do still need to hang heavy things twice (or once) a year, but the terms of any engagement will henceforward be different, more interesting. Indeed, more rewarding. And I will maintain my website elsewhere. More fun anyway. I pay a little for the privilege, but I have more freedom and better access. It's hard to complain now that the work is more or less done.

So if you can stand a little music, take a poke around my new demesne. I had long meant to talk about music on this blog and do so only rarely. I even have good reason to do so presently. I'm releasing the first elements of a Piano Concerto into the world on my new works page. This is yet another piece whose thematic material came to me in the shower one day. I like to think of it as Rachmaninov meets minimalism. Sort of. With luck it's one of my more approachable pieces. In any case, I hope that you might enjoy it.

The Composer