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  • How I Spent My Teen Years
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  • Symphony for Band – an update, with audio
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  • Cats: LA Cat Show
  • Design: Cambridge Studio
  • Design: Dining Room
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  • Design: Kitchen, pt.1
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  • Design: The Austin House, part 1
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  • Music: Self-Publishing part 2: audio
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  • August 30, 2007

    Pizzeria Mozza

    AEJ and I had lunch this afternoon at Pizzeria Mozza, Mario Batali’s (and Nancy Silverton’s and Joseph Bastianich’s) pizza restaurant in Hollywood. We’ve been a few times, and it’s always a treat. We don’t go often, largely because $70 for lunch is a lot to “stomach.” (HA!)

    The place is very small, and it’s mobbed, both at lunch and dinner. Partially due to its size and decor, the restaurant feels very much like New York. The biggest difference is that the staff is all friendly — especially the hostess, who kind of oozed California sunshine (in the most charming way).

    The only reservation we could get was for 1:45pm. We arrived at 1:20 (we were a little anxious), and we squeezed through the front door, only to wait until about 1:50 to be seated, all the while being subjected to the sights and smells of the pizzas as they passed by. Finally at our table, we were brought these little crunchy breadsticks — quite literally the size of sticks. Super tasty.

    We’re having a heat wave here, with temperatures in the upper-90s, so by the time we sat down, I was thirsty, and we both ordered fresh-squeezed lemonades. I think they put a little club soda in them to give ’em a little fizz.

    Our appetizer was the chopped salad, which my mom once described as “the best salad I’ve ever had in my whole life.” My life has been a little shorter, so it doesn’t mean as much coming from me, but I might say the same thing. The tomatoes are fresh and juicy, the salami is homemade, the spices are perfect.

    It’s so good, it’s deserving of two pictures.

    Each pizza is made fresh, so we had a few minutes between courses. Around 2:30, the place quieted down quite a bit. Here you can see some of the nice warm colors they chose. It really is a great room. (It was packed again by 3pm.)

    Oh, and here come the pizzas. We went with one very traditional Margherita pizza with homemade mozzarella, tomato, and basil… (just check out that crust!)

    … and for our slightly more adventurous pizza, salame gentile, mozzarella, tomato, and fresno chiles. This one was spicy — and the best pizza we’ve had there.

    We were offered dessert, but this time, we passed. (We had some great desserts when we ate there for AEJ’s birthday.) I opted for a second lemonade.

    The place is mega-yummy. If we win the $330+ million lottery jackpot tomorrow, we’re totally eating there daily. I may even buy the place. Then we can get super fat. It’s going to be awesome.

    2 Comments

    Kingfishers… in Japan

    One of my newest pieces, “Kingfishers Catch Fire,” will be available on CD this weekend in Japan. (The CD also includes an insanely impressive high school band performance of “Redline Tango.”) I received my copies yesterday.

    “Kingfishers Catch Fire” is currently unavailable in the US, and the Japanese consortium members have exclusivity until December. I’ll be publicly releasing the audio of the piece sometime after September 15. I’m pretty excited about the piece. So far, US performances are scheduled by a high school at Midwest, by Florida State University, by the UCLA Wind Ensemble, and by the Texas All-State Symphonic Band.

    The sky here is usually cloudless, but we had a break from that last night, and as a result, a stunning sunset. I took the camera outside and grabbed a few shots from the front deck.

    And here’s one, slightly less processed…

    Both are (pretty blatantly) using the HDR technique, not necessarily well, and not intended to be realistically, but they’re pretty. And the water really was that pink.

    Back to work! There’s a concerto due on Sunday!

    5 Comments

    August 27, 2007

    Best of Show

    Yesterday, AEJ and I spent the day at the Santa Monica Cat Show. It was a beautiful day for a cat show…

    Once inside, it was cat carriers as far as the eye could see.

    We had only been there a few minutes when somebody walked by with an adorable Tonkinese kitten — for sale, of course. The owner let AEJ hold him. He seemed to want to come home with us. If not for Loki… And there would be many more temptations before the day was through.

    Like this one…

    … and this one…

    … and this Tonkinese…

    Stop looking at me! I thought cats were supposed to sleep all day! Where are the sleepy kitties? Oh, here’s one.

    These guys seem pretty sleepy, too — but they don’t get a fancy homemade pink bed to sleep in. They only have each other. (Tear.)

    Here’s a Maine Coon. These suckers look huge. This, believe it or not, is a kitten.

    I told you guys to stop looking at me! I can’t resist the cuteness!

    No, seriously. Stop looking at me.

    If you’re trying to sell kittens at the cat show, you need a little extra something to get attention. I think this sign, complete with tiny Hello, Kitty stickers, totally does the job. (My favorite thing about the sign, which you can barely read unless you click for the larger version, is the handwritten text below “For Sale – Siamese Kittens,” reading, “yes, but not at this show.” I suppose that’s true. I mean, there are definitely Siamese kittens for sale somewhere.)

    Some people went all-out decorating their cat’s cage. It went from the subtle…

    … to the Tiki-themed. I should explain. The “theme” of this year’s show was the Tiki-theme, but almost nobody embraced it — except this guy. But seriously, if you’re going to get on board with the vibrancy that is tiki, you need to bring a facial expression to match. Dude, you have to sell it.

    The people at the cat show were almost as entertaining as the cats. This woman has a definite “cat show” thing about her.

    So does this woman…

    … and this… wo.. er, man… er… person.

    Some people went all out with their clothes, too. This is a sweet shirt, and I think the guy she’s talking to might be the Jeff Lynne from ELO.

    This guy was kind of out of place. He, coincidentally, was taking pictures with the exact same lens (Canon 24-105mm f/4 L) I was using. The difference was that his lens was on a $3000 body, and he had a fancy flash. I’m guessing he was from Cat Fancy magazine or something. Or maybe National Geographic. Spotting each other’s lenses later, we shared a knowing nod.

    But back to the cats. Some cats had huge ears.

    Some had no ears at all.

    Some cats were crouchy.

    Some stood up tall. (I’m pretty sure this is a meerkat, not a house cat.)

    Some cats were a little aloof towards their owners…

    … and some really couldn’t have been sweeter.

    I told you guys — stop looking at me. Must… resist… buying…

    Then there was the judging itself. This was fascinating. This woman took every cat out of its cage, poked and petted every one, telling us in the audience what she was looking for with each breed. Some cats were totally engaged in the process, and the judge clearly appreciated it.

    She was a bit more skeptical of others.

    Some of the cats really seemed to love the judging.

    Others, less so.

    Only one cat could be judged at a time, and the others in each class waited in their cages. (We really wanted to take both of these cats home with us. The one on the left had the sweetest eyes, and the one on the right was loud as hell.)

    Some cats found the cage-waiting a bit stressful.

    Some used their cage time to look out the window and reflect on cat shows gone by.

    Others seemed to think they could use their magical powers to will themselves out. It looks like it almost worked for this guy.

    They were (almost) all winners to us, but in the end, only one kitten could be judged Best in Show. It was this guy, an Abyssinian.

    The Abyssinian is admittedly a damn cute cat, and maybe the only breed we saw that could keep up with Loki. Still, we were strong. For now.

    There are, believe it or not, many more pictures than I posted here. I tend to go a little overboard with cats, if you haven’t noticed.

    5 Comments

    August 26, 2007

    Here, kitty, kitty…

    I’ve been swamped orchestrating the finale of the concerto, but that’s finally done. I still need to write the first movement, but that shouldn’t be too bad. It’s just a little prelude-type thing. I posted the short score of the finale about 10 days ago. For the curious, feel free to check out the fully-orchestrated version (PDF).

    AEJ and I spent the day at the Santa Monica Cat Show. That’s right — a full day of cats. I took — no joke — more than 400 pictures. I don’t have time to go through the pictures to make a blog entry yet, but stay tuned, ’cause like it or not, it’s comin’. And to give you a hint — just a hint — of what we saw…

    So stay tuned…

    6 Comments

    August 15, 2007

    Getting close

    I blogged about two weeks ago that I’d written the end of the sax concerto. I wasn’t clear about it, but I meant that I had written the end — I wasn’t finished. I had written only the end of the last movement — not the beginning of the last movement. All I had two weeks ago was the last 30 seconds.

    I had set a deadline for myself of August 15 to finish the short score of the finale — and somehow, I made it. So, for the curious, here it is: a PDF of the short score of the entire last movement, cadenza included. (I still have to write the short first movement — so I’m not totally finished yet.) Please note that this is the short score, and it’s entered for MIDI playback, not for practical notation, so they dynamics are for my sampler. No note spellings have been corrected, and there are MIDI and tempo commands all over the place. It’s really more to show the process than the finished product.

    This piece is wicked hard, but I’ve been assured that it’s doable. And really, isn’t that the point of a concerto? — to feature an instrument, and to make most people, even those who can play the featured instrument, think, Wow, that doesn’t seem humanly possible. You don’t want some concerto that anybody can play, right?
    So that’s this movement: just on this side of what’s possible, and hopefully only possible for the best of the best.

    To tie the piece together structurally, this movement pulls material from two earlier movements, “Felt” and “Metal.” It also contains a quote from one of my favorite pieces of all time, and, in my opinion, the best concerto written for any instrument in the past hundred years. No worries; I asked for permission, so hopefully there won’t be a lawsuit. It’s only 4 bars, but it’s the best 4 bars of my piece.

    In a nicely-meta way, it’s a quote of a quote. I quoted John Corigliano’s Clarinet Concerto. The quote I pulled is, in itself, a quote — of Gabrieli’s work, “Sonata Pian e Forte.” Corigliano quoted it because it was likely the first work written for antiphonal musicians, and his concerto fully exploits that technique. I quoted the Corigliano because, well, it’s brilliant, and that piece has been a shadow hanging over me the whole time I’ve been writing my concerto. Before I started my piece, I said that the bar should be set at the level of Corigliano’s concerto. I, most certainly, failed to even approach that, but it was good to have a goal, right? And I have to say, the measures of my piece that quote Corigliano’s piece are pretty damn sweet. Who knew that Corigliano would sound so good with a soprano sax on top?

    To thank him, here’s a picture of Corigliano in my mirrored aviators.

    6 Comments