2007 July at John Mackey's Blog



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  • How I Spent My Teen Years
  • New stuff for Fall 2014!
  • UTWE Tour : Shenzhen
  • Wine-Dark Sea – the video
  • Wine-Dark Sea – recording and score
  • “Wine-Dark Sea” – the program note
  • We’re buying a house!
  • Symphony for Band – an update, with audio
  • Xerxes — for metal rock band
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  • Cats: LA Cat Show
  • Design: Cambridge Studio
  • Design: Dining Room
  • Design: Family Room
  • Design: Front Door
  • Design: Kitchen, pt.1
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  • Design: Kitchen, pt.3
  • Design: Kitchen, pt.4
  • Design: Kitchen, pt.5
  • Design: Living Room
  • Design: The Austin House, part 1
  • Design: The Austin House, pro shots
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  • Food: Eleven Madison Park
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  • Food: Joel Robuchon
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  • Food: Samar
  • Food: Scarpetta
  • Food: WD-50
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  • July 30, 2007

    Chuck E Cheese remix

    I rarely link to YouTube videos, but this one is sweeeet. Somebody reprogrammed a bunch of the old Chuck E Cheese robots so that they perform hip hop. It is dope-so-dope, I must say (but maybe a little long). You’ll get the idea after, like, 45 seconds. (The best moment, I think, is the solo that the guy on the right side does around 50 seconds in.) Check it out. (I can’t embed it, because it screws up the formatting on the whole blog.)

    I finished orchestrating “Wood” today, so everything that’s written is now orchestrated. The score is due September 1, so I have one month to write a super-brief intro and… the finale. “Felt” is very difficult (as a concerto should be), “Metal” is high and lyrical, and “Wood” is mid-tempo, completely tonal (it has a key signature, for chrissake), quite easy to play, and is scored with a sort of chamber winds mentality. The last movement, which I’ll start tomorrow, is going to be literally non-stop virtuosity — ie, perpetual motion. The plan is for it to just be a 3 minute sprint from start to finish. Ready, set…


    July 29, 2007

    Skunks and pie

    Our friend Nag was in town for a few hours on Friday, and he took AEJ and I out to dinner. We went to a great place just a 5-minute walk from our house, Gingergrass. As it always is on Friday nights, it was hoppin’ with hipsters. We did have a bit of celebrity sighting at dinner — Lisa Edelstein, who plays Dr. Cuddy on “House.”

    Nag mentioned that my blog had been lacking much of the food photography he’d grown accustomed to. Ouch. It’s true, and it’s because I hadn’t found a good lens for restaurant use. The lenses I had for the DSLR couldn’t focus as closely as I needed in a restaurant. (My closest focusing distance was probably 18″, which is pretty far from a plate that’s right in front of you at the table.) I found a new lens, thanks to feedback from people on the forums of DPReview, and this lens (Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 Macro) should get me back on the food photography train. Or something.

    Last night, we went to House of Pies for dinner. It’s a family restaurant, but they seated us anyway.

    I had something called Eggs Santa Fe, which is basically just eggs benedict but with a massive amount of canned salsa on top instead of Hollandaise sauce. This is the best kind of hash brown. I don’t want home fries. Give me shredded Denny’s-style hash browns any day.

    AEJ had chili. Gotta love the big ol’ slice of American cheese on top.

    Dessert was, of course, pie. AEJ had cherry.

    I went with banana creme.

    We clearly hated it.

    I went for a little walk up the hill after dinner.

    Near the top of the hill, I saw a skunk. Unfortunately, it was pretty dark, so this isn’t remotely in focus, but I swear it’s a skunk. It was crazy — he puffed up his tail and I heard a little squirting sound, but he was a good 15 feet from me, so whatever he squirted at me, he missed.

    There were a few requests for the ale house steak recipe that I mentioned a few days ago…

    So, here it is:
    Ale-House Steak marinade

    1 (12-oz.) can of beer (we usually use Asahi, since that’s what we have in the house, but I think you’re supposed to use something heavier)
    1/2 cup spicy V8
    8 sprigs fresh thyme
    8 sprigs fresh oregano (we use dried; don’t tell)
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce (we use quite a bit extra)
    1/2 teaspoon Tobasco (again, extra is nice)
    Two 12-oz NY Strip steaks (the recipe allows for “8 6-oz boneless NY strip steaks, 3/4″ thick.” I think that would be too much steak for this amount of marinade.)

    In a large resealable plastic bag, stir together all marinade ingredients except steaks. Add steaks, turning to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate 2-4 hours, turning occasionally.

    Heat grill. Pat steaks dry. Season steaks generously with coarse sea salt and cracked black peppercorns.

    Place steaks on charcoal grill, 4-6″ from medium-high coals. We grilled each side near the fire for about 4 minutes per side, then moved the steaks a little away from the heat and put on the grill cover, cooking until the internal temperature was about 135 for medium-rare and 140 or so for medium. This took about 12 minutes total.

    The steaks get a nice crispy crust, but because of the marinade, they stay totally juicy. Not a great picture, but a great steak.

    Maybe next time, I’ll give the recipe for the cocktail in the glass behind the steak…

    1 Comment

    July 25, 2007

    Deeply felt

    About a month ago, I wrote an entry about “Felt,” the second movement of the sax concerto, and I provided a link to the PDF of the short score, which I’d just finished. (Here’s the PDF I talked about, in case you don’t feel like clicking back to that old entry.)

    I’ve orchestrated about 30 pages of the short score so far, and thought I’d provide a link to a PDF of the newly-orchestrated version of the same excerpt I posted last month. Here’s the PDF of the orchestrated version. It isn’t formatted well, so it’s pretty ugly at this stage, but you’ll get the idea. If any of the consortium members look at the excerpt, I hope they think it looks expensive.

    And, just so you have something non-musical-related to look at, here’s an HDR image I made a few months ago, taken from the front deck. Blue is pretty.
    HDR water

    And, hell, here’s one more.
    HDR water

    1 Comment

    July 24, 2007

    Ale House Steaks

    AEJ and I made steaks on the grill tonight. Always fun and delicious. Gotta have the charcoal chimney…

    Hot coals now.

    And then the steaks. New York Strips with an “ale house” marinade: beer (we used a bottle of Sam Adams that Newman bought when he was here earlier in the spring), Spicy V8, Worchestershire, fresh thyme and oregano, garlic, and Tobasco. Awe. Some.

    Oh, and I sent my 10-22mm lens to Canon for a second repair attempt a few weeks ago, and I got it back today. I think the second time was the charm. This is a fun, freaky lens. And look! It’s a cloud in the SoCal sky! I’m told it rained yesterday morning. The largest totalĀ  nearby was in Pasadena: 0.02″. And that’s the first rain in literally months. I have to say that I kind of miss a good ol’ summer thunderstorm.


    July 23, 2007

    Navy Band

    Great — big! — news! The United States Navy Band in Washington (that’s the big one!) has joined the consortium for the Soprano Sax concerto. Timothy Roberts, the soloist with the ensemble, will lead their premiere in January at the 2008 International Saxophone Symposium just outside of DC. This is all insane. It means that the piece will receive a premiere not just with the Navy Band, but with their guy as the soloist, and in front of an audience including 1200 saxophonists from all over the world. No pressure on this piece at all.

    In the mother of all conflicts, I’ll be missing the performance because I’m getting married that weekend. Sorry, Tim! Maybe I should send my dad, a former member of one of the Navy bands, in my place. (Come to think of it, maybe my dad should come to the wedding instead.)

    Speaking of the Navy Band… they performed “Strange Humors” on the Capitol House Steps a few months ago. The group is performing at Midwest in December, and they requested permission to perform “Strange Humors” there as well — and Midwest denied the request, because another school performed the same piece at Midwest last year. I hate you, Midwest.

    I’ve been orchestrating movement 2, “Felt,” for a few days. It’s going fine, but this kind of detail work takes a long time. I’m on page 22 of the short score, with 20 pages to go. I think I just finished the most dense part, so hopefully things will move along a little more quickly now.

    I took a little break a few minutes ago to take a picture at my desk. Our neighbors brought us two oranges from the Hollywood Farmers’ Market yesterday, and rather than eat them, AEJ made them into a sort of orange snowman (an orangeman?) in my pencil holder. Isn’t it… cute?

    I think I’m done working for today. 12 hours is plenty, and my shoulder hurts. I need a cookie.