Saturday, October 25, 2008

More Burlwood Artistry

I get to see a lot of burlwood sculpture but I always find this particular sculptor's work more arresting. Here are some examples:




Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Neal Hefti

The great composer-arranger Neal Hefti passed on this week.  

Neal and his work had a profound effect on me and I really appreciated him.  Even though he hadn't really written much during the last couple of decades, it seems like it will be a different world without him in it.

My first exposure to Neal was at age 6 when my parents took me to see the Jerry Lewis film Cinderfella which included an extensive musical sequence with Lewis pantomiming to Hefti's tune for Count Basie "Cute".  (Basie also showed up in the film, but that's another story)

I remember being utterly enthralled by that sequence and the music and kept playing it over and over in my head.  

Then, maybe a year later, my parents took us to dinner at Dad's favorite cousin's, Henrietta.  During the evening she gave me a present.  A record album.  Basie Plays Hefti.  It was the Count Basie Orchestra (New Testament version) playing all Neal Hefti pieces including "Cute".

I had only been playing music for a couple of years at that point.  But, looking back on it, oddly I didn't want to be one of the musicians playing that wonderful music.  I wanted to be the arranger.  I didn't understand concepts like voicing, timbre, and structure yet.  I just wanted to be the guy that wrote that stuff.

In the ensuing years I spent a fair amount of time playing big band music and a lot of Neal Hefti tunes.  Also, as my love for film music grew, I learned a lot of Neal's scores: Sex & the Single Girl, Lord Love a Duck, Duel at Diablo, Batman, Barefoot in the Park, and of course the Odd Couple.

When I first heard the Odd Couple there was just something about the way he voiced the mid and low brass that was so touchinh and sentimental I thought I was going to weep.  It's always been a favorite of mine.

Eventually, I joined Local 47 and got my union card.  They used to give you a thick phone book with all the members' contact info.  Well, they shouldn't have given a teenager one of those. Among the many composers and arrangers I bugged was Neal Hefti who was gracious and willing to answer my technical questions about how to get those sounds out of the trombones and trumpets.  He was very kind to take the time with me.

I wrote a lot for brass bands before I got into the 70's and discovered synthesizers and computers.  

But the influence persists in everything I hear in my head to this very day.

Thanks, Neal, for all the charts and beautiful voicings.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's Alive!!!

Just a quick note.  Got a call from my former boss at Cittio.  They've sold the Failover (Cittio High Availability) so it's being released.  My code lives on.  Nice to hear.  

It's not like the immortality you get from writing a book.  Your code will live to be 3-5 years old if you're lucky and it gets cast off without ceremony for the next cool thing.  

But it's nice to have your moment in the sun.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Home -- The Short Form

Just a quick link to a "Sampler" of photos from the last few years to give some new friends a bit of the flavor of my home area.

All you old-timers who have seen this stuff already, go do something productive.

Friday, October 10, 2008

New Adventures in ObjectLand...

The marathon to completing ComputeSpace is getting more interesting.  Last night we agreed on what to show as a proof-of-principle demonstration and the deadline for that is the end of December.

So I'll be pretty deeply immersed in ObjectLand for 3 days a week through the end of the year.  ComputeSpace is 100% object-oriented.  Pure Java code and an object-oriented database.

I'm gonna be busy creating well-behaved planetary objects for a while.

One more thing...

It's a strange world at work at out there...

One the one hand, I don't much want to dwell on either the current value of my house or the stocks in my 401K.  I probably would not have a smiley face on.

Then again, today a company (which shall remain nameless) attempted to recruit me to come on board as a programmer.  They offered $147,000 to start and 3 CATERED MEALS DELIVERED TO MY DESK DAILY!  Now of course we don't do what we do just for money (do we?) . More frightening is the implication that I'd be AT MY DESK morning, noon, and night to get those meals!

Not going for the job and not very excited about doing even more coding at this stage of my life.  In my next career move I'm planning on becoming either a time traveller or a Blade Runner...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Moving Week

Lots of moving going on this week.

I moved over to a charming area called Redwood Shores to be near the office this week. Now I can walk to work, walk to the grocery store, walk to the gym, etc. Very pleasant. The only real driving I'll be doing is driving up to the house to hang out with Angie and the Dude on the weekends.

Also, our team of engineers is vacating our 3rd floor digs to swap space with the sales call center on the first floor. The bad news, no view of the Lagoon. Upside? We get our own kitchen. I just got moved in to my new desk at the beginning of the week. I don't even have any pictures up yet. (BTW, everybody send me a picture and I'll put you upon the rogue's gallery.)

Angie took the Dude out for a swim at the beach this afternoon. They had a good time and did a lot of swimming. When they got back home the Dude barfed 3 times though. Maybe he swallowed something. He's doing better now. We'll go out for a run this weekend.