Posts Tagged ‘music’

Livetweeting a Road Trip and a Snowy Weekend Away

This weekend, I decided last minute to join my parents on their trip to Mammoth. Evan was out of town in Washington, DC, and I didn’t have much planned, so Friday afternoon, I packed a back and my parents came to pick me up.

The drive was particularly long. My dad put on a 3-hour “Climate War” radio program. There was a huge backup on the 405 and the 5 — it took us two hours to reach the 14 from my place when it usually takes closer to 30 minutes. And once we were done listing about how the world will devolve into utter anarchy and nuclear winter, the remainder of the drive was filled with a mix of Peter Paul and Mary, Bette Middler and driving 40 miles through a snow storm with chains on.

Well, to pass the time and document the experience, I was on Twitter. Some of the highlights:

Oh man, The Rose is on. Don’t want to admit it but I’m compelled to sing along “some say love…”

Apparently iphone predictive text doesn’t want to hear kum ba ya either. Its first option: kim bad ya

“Five hundred miles, five hundred miles…” now this song is speaking to me

Now this song is baffling: “Stewball was a racehorse… He never drank water, he only drank wine”!?

Goodnight Irene? How’d this make it on? Seems random. Do think they’re telling us to hurry up, get there and get to bed.

So much snow coming at us we’ve got a warp speed effect going on. Ridiculous speed!

We finally arrived after about 8 hours — it normally takes 5. There were many more updates, but you can visit Twitter to read the rest. Sorry about the spelling — I learned that the iPhone predictive text changes things without me realizing a lot, and I’m also apparently sloppy about checking my updates on my phone.

Saturday we went skiing/snowboarding, though the top of the mountain was entirely in a cloud. We only did one run up top before deciding it was too stressful to navigate the white-out, so we spent the rest of the day on the lower half of the mountain, enjoying the deep, new snow. We didn’t stay out too long because it started getting windy and the snow hitting our faces was getting painful, so we headed back in, climbing back up to the condo behind the Austriahof — always a fun little adventure at the end of the day.

That night we went to Nevados for a delicious dinner. The bread was nice and hot, I got a yummy pasta and vegetable dish, and we shared a deconstructed tiramisu in a chocolate cup for dessert. That was the best part. I couldn’t even snap a picture before my dad had started taking it apart.

Today was sunnier, but a lot windier. I didn’t head up to the mountain, and my parents only stayed out for a couple of hours in the morning. Thankfully, the drive home was a lot easier than the drive up, and it only took 5 hours to get back to my place.

I didn’t mean for this to become the all Mammoth all the time blog, but be warned: I’m heading up next weekend, too. I’ll try to post about some other things, too. I promise.

A Very Hollywood Night: Andy Clockwise at Bardot

After the USC-Notre Dame game, we went to dinner then changed into some nicer clothes to head out to Hollywood. Though we don’t live too far, we don’t head over there often — especially not on a Saturday night, but we’re glad we ventured out this time.

First we met my sister Suzie and her boyfriend Danny at Big Wangs, the ultimate anti-Hollywood bar. The place feels like a college-town sports bar on game night, full of people drinking giant pitchers of beer and eating high-piled plates of chicken wings and cheese fries.

Then, around midnight, we headed over to Bardot, upstairs from The Avalon. Our friend Andrew had invited us to see Andy Clockwise play. We had some trouble finding the entrance, since there was no line and no bouncer visible, but the doorman finally showed up and we told him who we were there to see, and he let us in no problem.


Andy Clockwise, courtesy of the band’s MySpace Page

We walked up a flight of stairs and arrived at the luxe patio. There was draped fabric overhead providing an awning, neat architectural details like arched doorways, and pretty globe light fixtures lining the walls. It wasn’t too crowded and there were plenty of couches to sit on, and the DJ was playing an eclectic mix of indie and old-school songs.

We hung out for a bit, meeting some of Andrew’s friends and people-watching — there were some really intriguing fashion statements going on. We saw a girl wearing a fur hat, another one wearing a wool winter hat with ear flaps, and a rather startling number of men dressed as nerds, with suspenders and giant plastic glasses. We also saw Harland Williams — he walked by me and said something like “Pardon me darling” as he made his way to the bar — and one of the Pussycat Dolls (don’t ask me which one).

The three-person band finally went on at about 12:30, and they were great. We couldn’t hear the lyrics as well as we would have liked because the drums were a bit overpowering (we were standing right next to them), but the songs were really catchy and the lyrics we heard were inventive and funny. My favorite songs were one about open relationships where the drummer, Stella, got up and sang a hilarious relationship-drama duet with Andy, and one I believe was called “Let Them Eat Cake” about dance-floor divisions.

There were plenty of other great songs, and I laughed every time Andy introducing his songs by announcing they’d be performing “The Rose” by Bette Middler or “Freebird.” The charismatic frontman also went into the crowd during some songs, climbing up on the small balcony across from where he was performing and up on the couches, too. I nearly got caught up in the cord for his microphone.

The band played for about an hour, and our ears were ringing when they were done. We finally left a bit after two. It was a great night.

Check out an Andy Clockwise performance from another show (there was no keyboard player at Saturday’s show, and there were no photos/videos that I know of).

Notre Dame Marching Band Does OK Go, Treadmills and All

We just got back from the USC-Notre Dame game where USC won 38-3. The game wasn’t terribly exciting, but the marching bands really stepped things up for the halftime show. The full Notre Dame marching band was on hand — apparently for the first time in 35 years — and they did some of the most impressive formations I’ve ever seen.

My favorite part was when they played OK Go’s “Here We Go Again,” made famous by the treadmill dance music video. Well, the marching band didn’t bring out real treadmills, but they made two treadmills with two men — then had the belts moving, and the men moving, too. I’ve never seen anything like it on a field.

Check it out a little closer up. Too bad I was sitting on the wrong side of the field so it’s upside down.

After the field-scale treadmill dancing, the band started playing “American Pie” and created a field-size car that traveled across the field, leaving a trail of smoke behind it. I don’t usually care much for the halftime show, but this was a real standout. Apparently the Notre Dame band director is actually a USC alum.

The USC band had its own story to tell, highlighting USC’s victories over the past 35 years that the Notre Dame marching band had remained in Indiana. It was fun and typically tongue-in-cheek, though I couldn’t really tell what any of the formations were supposed to be. There were also plenty of dance breaks — it seems anytime anyone in the USC band isn’t actively playing their instrument, they make up some sort of dance, which ends up being pretty entertaining.

New Music: ortoPilot and Other Links

As part of my job at Sugarscape, I’ve been finding a YouTube video to post everyday — usually someone doing a cover of a popular song, though sometimes people dancing or performing original songs or parodies. This week, I stumbled across a new singer songwriter, Matt Hutchison, whose sound I really liked, so I though I’d share his video here, too. His band is called ortoPilot, and they’re from Manchester. I wish I could play guitar like him!

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Another video to check out is Jared and Matt’s Last Guy on Earth — it’s a short clip about aliens running an earth-based reality dating show where they’ve killed off all the men on the planet except for one guy, but, well… he’s not exactly interested in playing the game. They’re going for most views in the month of may, so check it out.

I also finally posted some photos to my Flickr account. You can check out the rest of the Kew Gardens set from last weekend here.

Budapest Opera: Elektra

Budapest Opera

One of Budapest’s must-sees is the opera house–Evan and I have had it on our list since he first came out here, and we wanted to see a show instead of taking a tour because we heard they were comparable in price.Big and stately, sitting on Andrassy Ut, its exterior is a columned and statued and there are delicate details every place you look. Inside, there are sprawling staircases, marble walls, gilded box seats and plenty of busts of people we’d never heard of. We had nice seats in the second tier, one row in, and right in the center. There were four other people sharing box 11 with us.

We settled in and bought a program, since the usher said there was a synopsis in it in English. As neither Evan nor I are big opera fans–I went once to see my friend Elisa perform in a college opera and that’s about it for our total opera experience–we felt we should be prepared. We were seeing Strauss’s Elektra, which is based on the Greek tragedy.

As the story goes, when it starts, it’s just after Elektra’s mother, Clytemnestra, along with her lover, Aegistheus, have killed Elektra’s father, Agamemnon (OK, that part was somewhat familiar to me from high school literature class). What happens next, though, is that Elektra wants to seek revenge and kill Clytemnestra and Aegistheus, and she wants her brother to do it. Unfortunately, her mother tells her that her brother, Orestes, is dead, so she decided that she and her silly sister who is obsessed with getting married should take things into their own hands. She basically starts to go crazy with her obsession for revenge and as things turn out, Orestes isn’t dead–it was all just a plot so he could REALLY surprise his mom by killing her. And, well, he does. And he kills Aegistheus too.

But here’s where things get weird. Our synopsis (as well as Wikipedia’s) said that Elektra dies after jubilantly dancing herself to death while celebrating the avenging of her father’s murder. In our version, Orestes shoots her with a machine gun–before he even shoots his mother! There were other strange things about our opera, too.

First, it was set in a bath house, which seemed particularly appropriate for Budapest, and it seemed a lot like the many baths in the city–complete with attendants in funny white suits. Then, there was an area of the stage which was supposed to maybe be the forest where Elektra is in exile (maybe?), and it was a bunch of bags of soil stacked up into a wall, and one spindly tree growing out of a bag of soil, which gets a surprising amount of abuse throughout the play, with Elektra caressing it, dancing with it, swinging it around, knocking it over and carrying it up stairs. It seemed to be a symbol for Agamemnon.

Also, I know it’s based on a Greek tragedy and there are always weird family dynamics, but we got to see Elektra making out with both her sister and her brother. As well as rolling around on the floor with her brother. It was a bit creepy.

Elektra also did a really awkward costume change right on stage, where she put on a white wrap dress over her black one and removed her poofy black skirt, which gave her quite a struggle. Though I’ve got to hand it to the girl–she was on stage 95 percent of the show and she sang for a huge portion of it with pretty much no breaks. She and Clytemnestra were the strongest singers. The others weren’t very impressive and often got overshadowed by the large orchestra.

But thank goodness for the synopsis, or we wouldn’t have had any clue who the characters were or what was going on since the opera is in German and the subtitles were all in Hungarian. It was quite an experience.

Then we went to Klassz for dinner. Just as good, if not better than our first meal there. The menu was completely different, which was exciting–I had a salad and lemon risotto, and boy does that chef know how to make a creamy, rich and extremely flavorful risotto. Evan had beef bullion and some sort of pork, which he really enjoyed, too. We still haven’t tried their dessert.

blog_opera_014.jpg

Check out the rest of the photos on Evan’s site.

Day Trip to Szentendre

Szentendre Christmas Market

Saturday, Evan and I took a short day trip to Szentendre, a town about 20 minutes outside of Budapest that’s known for being a cute, touristy artist colony on the bank of the Danube. After parking, we just started wandering into the small town, and we heard music and some pretty awful singing coming from the town square. We decided to skip the first part of the show and go to the Margit Kovacs Ceramics Museum, which had a nice collection of the artist’s work.

Once we were done with the museum, we went back out to the main square and found a group of schoolkids performing a cute little song and dance. We lost interest by the time a group of older students started dancing, and decided to check out the music box museum, which ended up being really interesting.

The small museum, tucked away in the back of a souvenir shop, was quite delightful. They had a host of old music-playing gadgets, including orchestrations, a clockwork bird, old gramophones and other sound machines. We even got to hear a number of them and got to turn the cranks ourselves on a few. Some dated back 200 years yet sounded remarkably good. Others didn’t sound as great because the humidity was low.

Szentendre Christmas Market kurtos kolacs

Next we went on to the Christmas market, which wasn’t crowded and had some interesting foods and crafts. We tried out kurtos kolacs, which is essentially fire-roasted coil of dough cooked on a wooden dowel and rolled in sugar, and found our new favorite Hungarian treat. Look at me just drooling over it. It was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and it stayed hot the whole time we were eating it (which really wasn’t very long).

Szentendre Christmas Market kurtos kolacs

Also, in the Christmas market, there were many people walking around with their children and handing out homemade baked goods on trays. We got some cheese bread, which was good, and the whole thing just seemed like a really nice tradition. I believe it was the festival of St. Nicholas.

We tried to take a look at some more museums and churches in Szentendre, but they weren’t open very late, but I did manage to take a great photo of a boat on the Danube before I left.

Boat on Danube

Check out the rest of our Szentendre photos on Evan’s site.

Vienna Museums: Albertina and Haus der Musik

Sunday, we decided to visit some of Vienna’s amazing museums. It was hard to narrow down our choices since there were many amazing options, but we decided on the Albertina art museum, which was holding an exhibit featuring works from Picasso, Kandinsky, Monet, Miro, Rothko, Matisse, Chagall and more. The most amazing thing about the collection is that most of it is owned by one family–the Batliners.

There were also really interesting and informative descriptions about the artwork and how one style transitioned into the next.

We also visited their exhibition of contemporary art, which had some amazing pieces as well.

After a few great hours at the Albertina, we went to a completely different kind of museum–Haus der Musik.

Haus der Musik is all about music and sound and features lots of interactive exhibits that are fun and informational. Evan and I created a waltz with a game that picked musical phrases from a roll of dice. We played with touchscreen exhibits that played auditory tricks on us. We listened to a variety of different sounds–that’s what I’m doing in the picture. And we played with mixing our voices, recording sounds and playing digital instruments that made noises when we moved. One of the most fun parts of the exhibit was a game where we got to conduct a symphony orchestra, standing in front of a big screen with our baton, and the orchestra would speed up and slow down with the movements we’d make. The players would also heckle us in German if we were doing a bad job.

There was also a piano in the lobby and Evan was thrilled to get to play–it’s been six months since he’d been able to. I sat and listened and sketched. I didn’t feel up to playing… I’m way too out of practice. The museum was a lot of fun, though, and very different from other exhibits I’d been to. Also, it wasn’t crowded at all–we saw maybe five other guests, and we got to take all the time we wanted on the exhibits. It’s also open until 10 p.m., and though we didn’t stay that late, it was nice not to feel rushed.

Haus der Musik, Vienna

Evan Playing Piano, Haus der Musik, Vienna