Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"But.. but..."

Puffy-Faced Gatwick Immigration Officer: (in abrasive East London accent) How long will you be in the UK?
Me: My vistor visa is about to run out, but I'd like permission to stay for three months.
Puffy-Faced Gatwick Immigration Officer: WELL YOU'RE NOT GETTIN' IT FROM ME! APPLY TO THE HOME OFFICE. (violently stamps passport)
Me: *blink* *blink*
Puffy-Faced Gatwick Immigration Officer: PLEASE EXIT THROUGH THE DOOR ON YOUR LEFT.

I can sort this out, everyone. No problem.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Okay, so it seems I have managed to freak out pretty much every one I know with that last post, along with one charming Canadian that I don't know. Sorry about that, folks.

I considered deleting the post, but I think I'll keep it up, because it is was accurate description of my mental state. Here, though, is a slightly more reasoned account of my current situation:

I have to give a hour-long (okay, maybe 45-minute) colloquium at Oxford on October 11. I had planned on a getting a draft to MAS on September 26. I have spent, like, the past two months or more in that now all-too-familiar situation during which I manage to convince myself that I'm getting work done, while, in fact, I am getting almost nothing done at all. So after BQ's visit I finally sat down to collate the various parts of the talk that I have finished... and I suddenly realized that I have miles and miles to go before I sleep, as it were.

This is simply getting far, far too routine. when I orginally agreed to do the talk, I speficially told myself: great, a long term project, there is nothing else on my plate. I can for once get a piece of writing done at a liesurely, non-frantic pace. Then, somehow, the summer was over.

One highly-respected correspondent suggested that I cancel the talk. It is the first talk of term after all. The other bad opion is to simply read the paper I read at Cambridege. The big reason I cannot do this is, of course, my CV. My sad, neglected CV. Although the status of certain CV items has changed in the past year, the only actually new entries are, I think, the IHR talk on Garcia, and the Oxford talk. This feels like a big deal.

So, you see, my anxiety about doing a good job on the Oxford talk dovetails very neatly into my anxiety about getting a job.

Oh yeah, and also: I don't want to leave England.

So I'm going to Rome for two days. It will be good to see A—, who is always musicologically stimulating. (He needs a pseudonym: The Prostitute Expert or something? Hmm.) I need to go to Rome, because I put off making an appointment at Croydon for so long that I now can't get an date before the visa expires. And, as one reader of Greg's London Ramblings discovered, it is expensive. And the visa centers are now appointment-only. I could do it by post, but then they would have possession of my passport for a month so I couldn't go the AMS.

So I'm going to Rome for the purpose of flying back INTO the UK, to ask for an extention at passpost control in Gatwick. This really shouldn't be a problem -- I have a printout of the visa rules that state I'm entitled to an extention as long as (1) my project isn't finished, (2) I have money, and (3) I'm not working. (I think this is why I'm not in your position, H—; since you were here on a student visa and I'm here on an academic visitor visa, I have the legal right to stay until the project is finished, not just the course of study...)

Of course proving that I have money is a teensy bit difficult, because my fellowship check (orginally cut on August 20) still hasn't been deposited. Because I wasn't registered for classes then, so the couldn't do direct deposit.

Do you see how all my procrastination is self-reinforcing?

Here's a ray of sunshine: it has become undeniable that since I started running all those weeks ago, I've lost at least an inch from my waist. Go me! Except now none of my trousers fit. And isn't weight loss one of the items on the depression checklist?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Things are bad

I just wrote a whole long post venting my depression and anxiety about everything's that's going wrong. Then I hit the wrong key and deleted it. Typical.


Everything is going down the toilet.

Nothing is working out.

I can't explain to myself what exactly I've been doing for the past two months that I've let things get so out of control.

I'm going to Italy in order to take care of my visa (this is the best option, really)

Thanks to those who have sent encouraging words, but there will be dark days for a few weeks.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Paralyzed with Inertia

I have been so incapable of doing anything worthwhile since BQ left. This includes of course, writing here about his wonderful visit, which involved, among other things, drinking four nights in a row, houses of parliament, an arts and crafts style pub that has to be seen to be believed, and Andy Bell of Erasure.

Other things I have been too lazy to do:

• Finish three Mundo Clásico reviews
• Finish a bitchy Londonist post about Pavarotti
• Start several other substantial L'ist posts (ROH preview, gay photographer, etc)
• Deal with my visa
• Sort out my fellowship check
• Uhh, and... write more of the paper that I will sending to MAS in, like two weeks.


Tomorrow everything will change.

Oh and I saw Bang on a Can with Iva Bittova in lieu of Dom Sebastián. Because I am a bad musicologist. (Thanks to all of you who offered your opinions on which I should see. That is, one of you. Hmph.) Actually the BoaC thing was pretty worthwhile. Love those David Lang "Lou Reed Songs." And Bittova is, in fact, better live.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Music-Related Things

My computer is back. Anyone care to place a bet on how long logic board number FOUR(!) is going to last? Phone is still in the shop, but today they gave me a loaner phone, so I'm not quite so dead-to-the-world. Everyone has chosen this weekend as the weekend to be in London, which is good.

But this is a post about music. First of all, I need advice. If you had to choose between going to see the Bang on a Can All-Stars with a Czech lady in a really tiny church, or going to see a concert performance of Dom Sebastián with some really good singers, which would you choose? On the one hand is an ensemble I idolize and yet have never seen. On the other is a work my advisor edited (and is she getting money for this?) and which might well prove useful for the half-completed paper I'm going to be reading in Oxford in six weeks or so. Oh fatal choice!

Second, Adès's new violin concerto... that shit is weird. Like, weirder than it seems, I think. You can listen to it for the next five days here (select "Prom 69"). And you all should. Y'all remember how RT called Adès a "musical surrealist," right? Well, I wasn't entirely convinced that was the best way to understand Asyla, but it seems exactly the right word to describe what's going on in this new piece. It has to do with structure more than anything -- the way that beginnings and endings and the introduction of new musical ideas aren't just surprising, but seem to be calculated to come at exactly the wrong time. Not at a random time, but the most wrong time. I can't quite explain why. Also: The first two movements begin with what sounds to me like an evocation of Walter Fähndrich. Also: The third movement begins with a hootchy-kootchy dance. What's that about?

Third... I'm not totally satisfied with my Vienna Phil post, but it's okay. It will be obvious to many of you how RT looms larger over my life and habits of though that one might have expected. I had a wee crisis of confindence right after I posted it, and made all the L'ist kids tell me it made sense.

The Vienna Phil concert itself (on Wednesday, conducted by Zubin Mehta) was actually sort of amazing. (I'm listening to the second of their two concerts on the radio as I type this. I sort of wish I were there -- could I possibly be beginning to like Bruckner?! -- although a certain correspondant was so vicious in his hatred of Eschenbach that I don't feel too bad.) Anyway, so the big news about Wednesday's concert was the first piece, the Haydn "Drumroll" Symphony. There's this spot in the second movement with a big violin solo -- actually a little string quartet forms. The violin solo is cute and charming... AND THE CONCERTMASTER OF THE VIENNA PHILHARMONIC FUCKED IT UP ROYALLY. Oh my god it was shocking. Apparently he was thrown by the extreme technical demands of shifting into second position. It was incredible. You can listen to this. If you go to here, select "Prom 71", and wait exactly 16:00 minutes in, you will hear shockingly shoddy playing. Vergogna!

The Berg Wozzeck Fragments were nice, and Dalayman is a credible dramatic soprano. Hated her sprechstimme, though...

And then there was this Rite I swear I heard inner voices, and structural divisions, that I had never heard. I'm not sure if this was a good thing or not. It was also, I think, the noisiest Rite I've ever heard (during the "Dance of the Earth" he had the guiro doubled up). At time there was more bow noise than pitch coming from the strings. This was great. At there was this moment, just before the "Sacrificial Dance, where the orchestra builds and builds, and then there's a few beats of vamp before the dance gets going, right? Well, when they arrived at the vamp, Mehta just straight-up stopped conducting altogether, and let the orchestra blast away for several seconds without him. It was as if he was gatehring his energy, before giving a huge cue for the melody to start. I can't express how awesome this was.

I should say something about the Vienna Phil itself, but what? I mean, really, I'm not a conoisseur of orchestras and recording in the least, but I'm pretty sure no other wind section sounds like that. No other brass section sounds like that. And yet, and yet...

(Oh and can any of you tell me if it's normal that horns 5 and 6 switch to Wagner tubas at the beginning of "Procession of the Sage," or is that just a werid thing that Mehta and the players decided to do? It was... good, I think? But weird.)

Last thing: my Klinghoffer review will be up at mundoclásico.com very very soon. Calm down, the sign telling you to subscribe disappears after 10 seconds. I think it will be posted in both Spanish and English, but Mr. Smearcase and Rachel are required to read the Spanish translation and tell me how it sounds.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

No Phone, No Computer, No Sense of Self

So, my computer went back in for repairs, although because it had been in so recently the repair is "prioritized." Have I mentioned how much I dislike that particular usage of that word? I'd prefer to keep it meaning only "place a list of things in order of priority." But no one asks me.

Anyway, my phone is also in the shop. It works fine, except thje screen is blank. Luckily, they believed it was under warantee, even though I lost the receipt, since I had the little warante form filled out. This serves as a lesson to fill out those dumb little forms.

With no phone and no computer, it is as if I am dead. Seriously.

Anyway, the rest of Edinburgh was great. The final performance I went to, of the Bamberg Symphony doing Ligeti, Strauss and Mahler, was actually something very special. I'm not sure if most of the crowd realized how extraodinary the programming or the performance was. I'll save the details for my Mundo Clasico review.

We all took a day trip to Durham, to see the famous Cathedral, and the tombs of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede. It was great.

I will leave it here for now, since I'm running out of time in this dumb internet cafe, and I want to get to the Royal Albert to hear Ades's new violin concerto...