Vacation’s been letting me listen to many things. I’ve been listening to the radio on my mp3 player, and one night, I caught a bit of Shostakovich. Because I used to get him mixed up with Schoenberg, I thought that he was some crazy Russian guy who wrote dissonant long bangy senseless stuff with peoples’ initials carved into ostinato bass. Last summer, though I didn’t become a lifelong fan of Schoenberg, I developed an appreciation for his music, and also some creations of his contemporaries. Appreciation for Schoenberg developed, but image of crazy bangy Shostakovich remained. But that bit of Shostakovich I caught was hardly bangy. [duh, it was a symphony, not something for piano.] Instead, it was joyful, energetic–like an overexcited hedgehog. I had listened to his 2nd piano concerto before and found it gleeful and also played an overture and found it happily tonal, but I thought that those were just trifles he wrote for fun, not serious representations of his style.

Another form of ‘listening’ I’ve been doing is DDR. My ear picks out insignificant bits of theory in the songs: there’s one with 7ths all over the place. My feet imagine the horror of what a polyrhythmic, romantic DDR course would be like–you could set it to some Brahms, throw in some jumpy things where one foot has to cover three arrows, insert trickly runs at ends of sections…

Or you could have contrapuntal DDR, on 2 siamese pads or something. Maybe even a fugue that requires you to magically grow 2 more feet. Oy.

I made a refrigerator cake! I shuddered in horror at being able to buy 3 springform pans @ Walmart for less than the price of a Vente..mocha-superwhip-key-lime-green-tea-thing, and then stood amazed at discovering that marshmallows are essentially sugar and gelatin. The cake was good, if not a bit dry (we forgot the cream). Te suplico que vengas a mi casa y lo comas! Mi familia no come todo lo yo cocino para que no nos engordemos. (come to my house, eat my food; we can’t eat it all.)

Good book: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I thought it would be some cliche WWII story, but it’s actually the moral and motoring adventures of an aging butler.

My parents have recently redoubled their efforts in getting me to prepare for the SAT. [Actually, it’s my dad–my mom is less crazed.] He found this stupid ol’ (expensive ol’) internet SAT math prep course. I signed up for their free trial and looked through a few pages–there were actually some things I didn’t know, that Kaplan would definitely skim over. Since the course was developed by some Chinese guys, my dad trusts it (but he’ll trust anything with a sales pitch). It also alleviates some of the “omg we’re 1st generation immigrants and can’t help our fledgling 2nd generation daughter” angst, I guess. The faults of that site are that it leaves out articles (a, the) and has a completely unusable, cumbersome interface for grid-in problems; the problem with the entire college-testing situation is that my dad overvalues it, causing me considerable annoyance. [He also happens to be uninformed about what the test is like, but I’m pretty sure American parents don’t know much about the SAT either, besides that it’s “important” and “long.”]

But at least they care. Though they overvalue a test, they cherish education, though their definition of education can be somewhat different from mine. At least they’re not obese descendants of illiterate hog farmers in Mississippi who go, “Honey, whahhh ha’int you dropped out of hahhhhhhh schoooool ‘n stahhhted workin’ at Waaalmart? They got some real good opportunities tharrrr,” or “Aiii Payee? Whassis ayyyye payyeeee and S ayyyye tayeee? [I’ll stop with the exaggerated dialect now.] Why should I pay money so you can take a test? Why should I pay for you to go to college when you could be bringin’ home the bacon workin’ in construction?” and stuff.

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  1. For Shostakovich my progression was Symphony 5 -> Cello Concerto -> Violin concerto -> viola sonata -> string quartet 8 -> Symphony 10 -> other more obscure symphonies/ quartets
    In retrospect I’d say the cello concerto is one of the easiest things to wrap your head around before moving on to other stuff. As for whatever sounded gleeful, listen for iorny and a dark side to it all. Like the 2nd movement of symphony 5 for example… or the 2nd movement of the violin concerto. Sounds kinda light, but if you think about it it sounds forced and sarcastic and a little grotesque. Because he had to deal with Stalin he had to write his feelings discreetly into the music as to not piss him off and get jetted to Siberia. haha

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