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This year, I had a plan. I was going to go out and see friends outside of scheduled extracurricular activities. I was going to keep in touch of my own accord, in preparation for the approaching time when I won't have university clubs to keep me company. But instead, I have been an absolutely terrible correspondent ever since May! Not healthy if you want to keep friends.

This lack of communication has really been brought to the fore in the past couple of days. I've added a couple picture feeds (courtesy of Google Gadgets) to my desktop and it had the unplanned side effect of reminding me about people I should contact. In order to procrastinate doing other things, I've been going through my email inbox and responding to neglected messages. It's really quite cathartic.

Here's hoping seeing that picture feed every time I log in will continue to act as a friendly reminder.
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the rules )
the list )
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I just saw a fascinating film, about Johnny Cash's famous 1969 concert at San Quentin prison. After I first heard about that concert (from a radio program), it made me wonder whether conditions are any better in San Quentin now than when that concert took place. To my astonishment, it turns out they're actually far worse in many ways due to over-crowding. Unbelievable.

I don't know much about conditions in other prisons in the States, but I'm pretty sure I've heard the issue of over-crowding raised about Canadian prisons. It makes me wonder what it's like in the prisons here in Kingston.
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After visiting Hotel Dieu for x-rays of my knee (upon which I fell nearly two weeks ago), I had a couple of nifty experiences yesterday evening.

One was randomly dropping by [livejournal.com profile] kejlina and [livejournal.com profile] sugar_lumps's apartment and finding them (more or less) available for some social/pretending-to-study time.

The other one happened immediately before that. I emerged from the Dollarama feeling thoroughly depressed by the crappy music playing in there, to hear the faint sound of a banjo coming down the street. It was carried by a man with a truly impressive number of tattoos and piercings. I couldn't help striking up a conversation, and we had a lovely chat for maybe ten minutes about banjos, banjo music and musical heroes. He was an interesting guy who'd carried his banjo with him while hitchhiking across Canada. Finally, we thanked each other for the conversation and I gave him directions to Wellington Street. Woody Guthrie would have approved, I think.




Spot the Canadian actress in "Prop 8 - The Musical"!
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So... what to say (again)? Yes, I'm still alive... still at school, still in Kingston. At this point--assuming I write my two exams on the 4th and 10th, which I'm pretty sure I will do--I'm half a year away from finally finishing. My life isn't terribly exciting at the moment. Classes were French (for people with 3 or so years of HS French), Intro to Hebrew, Popular Music and Canadian English. I've been getting pretty good marks. Regular extracurricular activities this term were church choir (second year in Anglican choir and now in the soprano section), Trampoline Club occasionally, a ballroom dance class, watching "Doctor Who" on Fridays with friends and helping out (mostly with dishwashing) at Food Not Bombs. The one bit of theatrical excitement was playing accordion in the Drama Department's production of Brecht's 'Drums in the Night'. Any questions?

IM post

Dec. 1st, 2008 01:20 pm
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I'm sending this (very brief) entry from Meebo. If it works, I may (?) start updating my LJ again. We'll see.
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Sometimes it's strange how things work.

Flickr recently added support for videos, so I've been uploading videos from my camera and integrating them into the sets already there. I remember being amused a couple days ago at a video of a people dancing at a staff party at Camera Obscura (in Edinburgh) and a witty comment from one particular staff member. I was feeling pretty nostalgic about my time in Edinburgh in general. This morning, I received a message from the Assistant Manager informing us that he (that staff member) was found dead at his flat--of natural causes, the police believe--on Sunday. It's always a shock to hear of a young person I know dying...
jaala: (theatre)
Probably as a result of being involved in QMT while at the same time looking forward to the movie of 'Sweeney Todd', I'm on quite the musical theatre kick right now. Upon taking an inventory of my CD (and tape) collection, I counted forty-one recordings of musicals and operettas. Not too bad, I suppose, considering that 'West Side Story' was the only musical theatre recording I owned going into high school, but I want more! (And I'm putting together my Christmas wish list.) I'm having difficulty deciding among the many recordings that interest me so I come to you, musical theatre freaks on my friend list, to recommend where I should go next. What essentials am I missing?

Here are the shows I've heard/seen/done and liked but don't currently own a recording of. One or two of these may be a possibility. )

Here are the shows with which I have some limited familiarity that might be candidates. )

Here are some shows I haven't heard (or perhaps I've heard just a tiny bit) but I'm curious about. )

To give you some background, here are recordings I own that I like. )

And ones I own but don't like )

Instead of a list of shows and recordings I hate, here's a bit of a rant about the sorts of things I usually dislike. )
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first trailer
second trailer

Obviously not going to be an operatic version. We shall see how it turns out.

Zowie...

Oct. 25th, 2007 01:01 am
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Some of the readings for "Gender and Popular Music" are (to me, at least) pretty dense at times. Tomorrow's is a real zinger. It's called "Acting camp: Moe Meyer, from the Introduction to The Politics and Poetics of Camp." It's our introduction to queer theory in the course. Sounds interesting, right?

I got so frustrated trying to get through the seven pages of the article that I eventually had to make a compilation of its most impressive passages in order to put myself in a more positive frame of mind. By feeling superior because I'm ridiculing his verbosity... or something

queer identity is more accurately identified as the praxical response to the emergence of social constructionist (sex/gender as ideologically interpellated) models of identity and its, by now overly rehearsed, oppositional stance to essentialist (sexual orientation as innate) models, thus historically situating queer identity in an epistemological rift that predates the advent of AIDS.

a much wider application of the depth model of identity which underwrites the epistemology deployed by the bourgeoisie in their ascendancy to and maintenance of dominant power

parody is an intertextual manipulation of multiple conventions, 'an extended repetition with critical difference's that 'has a hermeneutic function with both cultural and even ideological implications'.

A similarly intimidating article (with references to Freud and Lacan, even!) from a few weeks ago was co-written by our professor when she was younger than me. It made me feel terribly stupid.

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Very very long story short: Camp Towhee was great, even better than last year. Now I'm back at Queen's University studying music, back living in Princess Towers, back in Choral Ensemble, back in oboe lessons, back in QMT (this time as an ASM!), back in Beginner Tap class, and back to borrowing money from my parents. New things include voice lessons, membership in the choir of St George's Cathedral, trampoline club (from which I already boast a skinned elbow and scrape on my face), a cat to be adopted later today, and the tendency to constantly begin sentences with, "Did you know that in the UK...?"

In terms of television (which I actually don't watch that much), perhaps (squee!) things aren't (meh) so (same old) different from Scotland. (Frankly, I'd rather see this than "Maria".)

My courses this term:
  • RELS 398 - Judaism in the Modern World
  • MUSC 399 - Baroque Counterpoint
  • MUSC 475 - Gender and Popular Music

    My courses next term:
  • MUSC 396 - Introduction to Orchestration
  • WMNS 310 - Introduction to Sexualities and Identities

    Though I obviously don't have a full course load, this is the first time I've had so many upper-year courses at once.
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    I had to pay for something today using Canadian change for the first time since October! Things got a bit confused for a few seconds.

    I'm at Camp Towhee for the summer again. The changeover from Edinburgh to home (Canada) to pre-camp to camp was possibly the swiftest succession of culture shocks I've ever experienced. Despite being thoroughly immersed in counselling my cabin of children with learning disabilities and social challenges, I still occasionally forget myself and say "pence", "cheers" or "trousers".

    Here's the description of my cabin we were given during pre-camp:

    A group of gentle, eccentric young men, our oldest guys may seem like ayounger cabin. There are a lot of potentially annoying behaviours inthis cabin (asking questions, difficulty self regulating, bizarre conversation topics)

    Staff: Tolerant and appreciative ofeccentricity. These guys won’t be nearly as fun if you are merely‘putting up’ with their oddness - if you can be amused and engaged by delightful uniqueness, this is the cabin for you.

    Doesn't that sound cool? It is, believe me. It's also really difficult to prevent them from irritating the hell out of one another.

    jaala: (theatre)
    So, everyone's favourite show about a man obsessed with musicals has opened in London. I enjoyed the preview I saw on 20th May--though you could tell that the parts were tailored to the Broadway actors rather than the London ones--and it appears that the press reaction is generally favourable too.

    Richard Ouzounian provides a good summary. Ouzounian has a bit of a history with the show, as I've probably said before... Read more... )

    Aww... he's forgiven them. And Ouzounian has (in my experience) been known to change his opinion of shows.

    Admittedly, the approach towards the Man in Chair has become much more affectionate over the years. You weren't really supposed to like him in the original production, I think. But now (to quote the review on lastminute.com): "[Man in Chair's] quiet, effeminate enthusiasm is completely infectious as he talks the audience through the show, freezing the action for little titbits of Broadway gossip. [...] You’ll fall in love with the loveable agoraphobic to the extent that if you meet Bob Martin you might not be able to resist asking for a big cardigan-ey hug."

    It's true. You desperately want to give the character a big hug--but of course I was too shy to ask for anything more than an autograph from the actor himself. At least Mr Martin let me compliment him on the show and his performance this time, unlike in Toronto where he beat a hasty retreat.

    In fact... )
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    Yes, I've been bad and have stopped updating. (Admittedly, Facebook did have something to do with it.) I feel stupid about not writing entries, especially since my life has been quite... well, not necessarily exciting, but certainly different... during the past eight months. Yesterday, with the idea that something sparse was better than nothing, I added a bunch of entries adapted from email messages I've sent since October. They're more for my own record-keeping than anything else but you're welcome to read them if you like.

    My flight for Canada leaves London on the 20th. I've got a huge list of things to do before I go and panic is setting in as I realize how little time I've got left.

    Then I'm expected at Camp Towhee on the 21st, the very next day! I'm excited to be going back back, but I will be unbelievably tired.

    4'33"

    Apr. 7th, 2007 12:10 pm
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    [Adapted from email]

    Dad: I've never seen a performance of this piece before...

    Me: Isn't it originally a piano piece? So this is the orchestration, then. [The] conducting is especially skillful. My only complaint: notice the font on the score? It's the same font as all the idiotic signs in the Camera Obscura shop.

    Me: Well, now I've listened to it. It creates a very serene feeling, even faintly religious, rather like the Maundy Thursday vigil last night. People took it in turns to sit "and keep watch" in the church (darkened, with the altar stripped) for hour-long slots throughout the night; I was there from 10 to 11pm.

    [Ed - Clearly, I mostly wanted to talk about Maundy Thursday. It was quite the experience. It's quite powerful being in a room with other people where nobody says anything at all.]

    Dad: I thought that the handkerchief after the first movement was a nice touch ...

    Me: And, of course, I do rather like the fact that people save their coughing for the breaks between movements.
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    [Adapted from email]

    Rather to my disappointment, we hardly had any snow this winter, so XC skiing or even sledding ("sledging") was out of the question. Considering how chilly my flat can get even when it's above zero outside though, perhaps that was for the best. There is a year-round artificial ski slope outside Edinburgh that I hope to try some time.

    I'm doing okay, although finding it rather a strain to work two jobs and still have voice left for church choir now that I'm at Camera Obscura from 9.25 to 6.10 five days a week. At any rate, I'm starting Alexander Technique (http://www.alexandertechnique.com/) lessons today and I have a week-long holiday after Easter.

    My working holidaymaker's visa runs out in May, so I can't support myself through regular work after that time. However, the Glasgow International Jazz Festival, Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival, Edinburgh Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe are all registered as "permit free festivals" so (if I understand this correctly) I would be allowed to work for any of them while here on a tourist visa. Thoughts? [Ed - An employee at the Fringe office later told me this was impossible.]

    If only Dad had asked for British citizenship when he had the chance...
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    [Adapted from email]

    I saw a comedy/music show last night (in aid of Bowel Cancel UK, hence the title) that included performances by Bill Bailey, Rhona Cameron, Karen Dunbar, Stephen Frost, Barry Cryer and Eddi Reader. [Ed - Zowie! But the recipient of the email wouldn't have heard of any of them.]

    I thought you'd be interested in Barry Cryer (OBE for services to comedy drama). He started at the Windmill Theatre in London, subject of the film 'Mrs Henderson Presents'. He's written for Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan, Jack Benny, Les Dawson, Kenny Everett, David Frost, Bob Hope, Richard Pryor, The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise (and with Graham Chapman, Marty Feldman, etc etc). He appeared in At Last the 1948 Show, Flying Circus, The Two Ronnies, The Goodies, and All You Need is Cash (Rutles). He's a member of the Grand Order of Water Rats. And finally, his record of "Purple People Eater" was number 1 in Finland because it was released there instead of the original.

    Impressive, eh?

    P.S. Bill Bailey's really good too, does a lot of musical jokes. He did the voice of the whale in the film of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy too.

    P.P.S. Bill Bailey also plays theremin (though he didn't last night) and bouzouki and the lucky bastard's got perfect pitch. The major problem with understanding his humour is that, like Weird Al Yankovic, he references a lot of pop music I don't know that well. However, I *did* recognize the theme to EastEnders, a popular soap opera--not sure if I'm proud of that or not.
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    [Entry written later inspired by an email message.]

    I was excited to receive a QMT Alumni e-newsletter; naturally, I'd been feeling the QMT void in my life this year. Admittedly, I was disappointed that they were still using a huge cut-and-paste list of addresses instead of a listserv as I tried to institute last year... but I was willing to let that pass.

    Then I realised that their list of photo credits was noticeably incomplete: two photos taken by me and two photos taken by others on my camera weren't credited at all. People use the photos I put on the website a lot--which is great--and I'm happy for them to be used for the display board, Bruce's CDs, show DVDs and so on... but couldn't they have credited in an external newsletter? The names of the photographers were all right there on the website.

    I wrote a letter thanking them for the newsletter, wishing them all the best with 'Cabaret' (which I hear was great) and diplomatically requesting that the next edition include more photo credits. There's been no reply; I hope they don't hate me for it, but I think it was justified.
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    After more than two months of living with:
    • wonky radiators
    • a bathtub drain that is basically plugged (and won't respond to drain cleaning products like Mr Muscle)
    • an entryphone that doesn't work
    • not knowing how our fire/security alarm works
    • being unable to get through the thick skulls at Scottish Gas that, yes, this is our address and we moved in on the 20th of December (a arrangement that the agency promised to have all set up for us when we moved in)
    ...and now dealing with a fridge that hasn't worked for at least a couple of days, we are becoming seriously non-impressed with our letting agency. We've called or visited them at least six times to request maintenance visits or hand in incorrect gas bills. (That's in addition to at least three calls directly to Scottish Gas.) They didn't provide any invoice or even feedback of any sort following our first direct bank payments so that we could tell it had gone through, either. "Un-rivalled service", my... foot.
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    I ushered at a concert last night that was recorded by the BBC. Yes, this is a milestone for me. Yes, I'm pathetic. BBC Radio is my daily companion.
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