Friday, November 20, 2009

This thing on

At last night's Band to Band Combat, the music contest put on by my employer Isthmus newspaper, singer Matt Allen of the Madison band the Selfish Gene tested his microphone levels with an old standby: "Check. Check. Check. Check." He may have thrown in a "one two," but I can't be sure.

In my singing career I've tested many a microphone level, and I suspect I'm not the only crooner who's gotten a little tired of check check check. I've experimented with different approaches. There was a period of about a year and a half in the early 2000s when to test levels I would sing entire verses of "Crazy Arms."

But do you know what? Eventually I came back to check check. It's simple, to the point, effective, and the alternatives I've tried are mostly distracting. Testing microphone levels is one area of artistry where originality doesn't do anybody much good.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sign of the times

At a downtown Madison office building just now, I watched as a woman held a cup of coffee with one hand, texted on a cell phone with the other, and used both elbows to push her way through a revolving door.

Her progress was slow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The haunted desert

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The magic of cakes

Monday, November 16, 2009

Shocking music

The other night I listened to Haydn's "Symphony No. 94," the "Surprise" symphony, and I remembered music appreciation in elementary school. In about fifth grade we were taken to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center for a daytime concert by the Nashville Symphony, and the program included the "Surprise" symphony, or maybe just the "Surprise" movement from the "Surprise" symphony. Before the performance a kindly speaker warned us that the music contained a surprise. We were primed for it, then, so that when the surprise arrived, we jumped exaggeratedly in our seats, and giggled. But I think that we really actually were pretty surprised.
License to ill

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The window to your future