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Leslie Caron would have made a fine Commander of the Grey

Author’s note: This post is only tenuously related to music, let alone classical music, but since it mentions Gigi and I occasionally dabble in musicals, and also because I find this story hilarious and want to share it, and also because I seem to have wrangled the coveted music-and-also-general-issue-nerd demographic and this totally taps in, here it is. I originally sent the story in an email to my friend Elizabeth, who is one my only friends who can match my knowledge of old school musicals and has also played Dragon Age. Whatever; it’s a bonus post. Read it.

So I started a Dragon Age: Awakening game last night (that’s the expansion you can play after you finish the main game). I chose to create a new character this first time rather than import, which meant that my new guy had the background of an Orlesian Warden. Since Orlais = France, I decided to give him a French name, which OBVIOUSLY meant I should borrow a name from Gigi.

I was going to name him after Louis Jourdan’s character, but I couldn’t remember the name; when I looked it up and saw it was Gaston I realized this would not work unless I felt like spending the entirety of my gameplay singing about how when I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs every morning to help me get large. So then I thought I might go with Honore, but I thought — hey! I could name him Leslie after Leslie Caron! It’s a legit guy name! Leslie Nielsen made it work!

But then I thought, no, I like the name Honore. Also, Leslie is totally a girl’s name, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding [cue hoard of angry guy Leslies]. And Honore already sounds girly enough (for the juxtaposition, I went with Elizabeth’s “make a burly dude” paradigm, although hers has cornrows while mine has a shaved head).

You may be aware that, while you can change your first name, the game auto-sets your last name based on your background. I’ve never really paid much attention to this, since outside of the noble origin it hardly ever comes up. I did not pay attention this time either.

Flash-forward, oh, about an hour. I’ve just met a new character, and am given the dialogue option to introduce myself. My last name is populated.

It is Caron.

Such an opportunity squandered there.

(I realize now that this is one hell of a lot of exposition for dubious payoff, but I still think it’s funny! :D)


Time for a tune-up; also Medal of Violar nominations

Hee… tune-up.

AB is approaching its second birthday, and I’m embarking on a series of improvements — including new stuff for the AB store, a site re-design, and other tweaks. I went with the vague “other tweaks” instead of something more precise because I haven’t yet decided what these tweaks will be. You have to tell me what they’ll be.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be putting up some polls now and again asking you to tell me about your AB experience. Please do answer them so that I may continue on my undying quest to make you happier every day. I promise they’ll be easy!

The first one is below, but first: in honor of our second Baroquen year, I will award up to three Medals of Violar on the blog’s birthday. Nominate a friend or yourself! You have until October 22. All you really need to provide is a name, but your nominee will stand a better chance of winning if you offer an explanation. Go!

All right, now for poll no. 1:

Oil can! Oil can!

Got some interesting news in my email the other day:

Dust off your instruments, start practicing and mark Tuesday, September 20 on your calendars! Music Director Marin Alsop and the musicians of the BSO invite you to perform with the BSO on stage at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.

This once in a lifetime opportunity, led by Maestra Alsop, will feature the following repertoire:

Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Overture
Bizet: Selections from Carmen Suite No. 2: Habanera and Danse bohème

Check out this YouTube clip of our very first “Rusty Musicians” event!

Deadline has been extended to Friday, September 2. Space is limited and very few remain for winds and brass.

Click here to sign up now!

This program has proven super popular in the past — I still sometimes get hits to former posts on the subject — so if you’re on the fence, I say hop it. You’ll have fun. Personally, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet is the one piece of his that I could stand never to hear again, but most people like it, and Carmen is always welcome here.

Oh, and I have good news and bad news. Bad news first: you still have to be 25 or older to participate. Good news: general admission to the concert is free this year! It’s $50 to register, though; if you make it, let me know! There’ll be an interview in the offing if you’re willing.

“I don’t know why he’s an opera singer”

I’ve been watching a lot of Scrubs lately, and I had to pass this along. And if you have a opera singer friend who wants a part-time job, you should pass this along to them.

That’s not a fortune! That’s a fact!

That was some kinda accurate fortune cookie I got. No, seriously, I got this in a fortune cookie.

It’s my own invention*

Today’s viola joke is my own. I think this is an improvement on the last one I made up, anyway.

Q. In what small ensemble does a viola sound best?

Continue reading

Composer Cagematch!: Handel vs. Haydn

Well, someone finally did it. A composer finally garnered only ONE vote in his match. And it was Leonard Bernstein. I never would have expected that!

Gershwin CRUSHED Bernstein an embarrassing degree, which is why I think so few people bothered to vote — why weigh in on a sure thing? So rather than belabor this point, let’s just say Gershwin won and move along. (Crazy thing is, I think Bernstein really is beloved, just not… as much… I’m not really helping, am I?)

Anyway, I’m not sure if there’s any logic to this particular match up. I don’t know when or why it came to me. They don’t quite make sense as adversaries. Maybe it’s about how they were both brilliant but had the misfortune to be born at the same time as a great genius. Maybe it’s the simple fact that both should have strong enough followings for a decent fight this time. Maybe I’m easily wooed by alliteration. Just remember — it’s not about who’s the better composer, it’s about who you love.

And so in this corner, HALLELUJAH! It’s


And in this corner, SURPRISE! It’s


Best of luck in this one, guys. You’ve got some serious oratorios to think about, not to mention ALL the symphonies. If all else fails, you can always vote based on your preference of Brits vs. Hungarians.

Lies my audience told me

I can’t say I particularly enjoyed my college experience, but there were a few shining lights in the institutional mist, and the brightest was Dr. McColl, the finest professor in all the land.

He taught art history, and my bent is (prepare for a shocker) more toward the aural arts, but he was so enthusiastic and funny and genuinely excited to hear your thoughts on his subject that I took three electives with him.

So he and I are the main characters in this story. The setting: the end of the fall semester of my sophomore year. The fall orchestra concert was Tuesday. Today is Thursday. I pass McColl on the way out of class.

McCOLL: Oh, Jenn, I really enjoyed the concert on Tuesday.

ME: …………. you did?

McCOLL: [fending off a sudden attack of honesty] I… thought it went pretty well?

ME: Really? I didn’t.

Okay, that was probably a little overly blunt of me. I should’ve smiled, accepted his thoughtful compliments, and kept on walkin.’ (This is a directive I do not follow nearly enough.) In my defense, this was after the dreadful concert with the great Hindemith fiasco, and I my morale was low.

But we can debate whether or not I’m a jerk at another time. My question right now is this: if the concert sucked, what do you say?

Some people are self-deluded enough that no matter how crappily they perform you can tell them they rocked your socks twelve ways to next Tuesday and they will believe you. Most, however, are not that lucky. If you tell them they were good, they will know you are lying. And if you half-ass it and say something sorta nice, like “That was great how you all started together” or “I like how you wore matching outfits” or something, they will still know.

What do you say? I am especially interested to hear the thoughts of teachers and parents on this matter.

Take me to your conductor

I took a class in college called “Sci Fi and Film,” and one of the films we watched was Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A classic. I hated it. (I have this thing about loyalty, and the main character was a jerk to his family. I do not forgive him.)

All the same, I did love this scene — when the humans make first contact with the aliens. Do they communicate with binary code? With advanced mathematics? With fancy translators? No, they do it with music. Mr. Williams, this is one point to you.

By the way, I had a hectic weekend and forgot to post reminders about voting in the Composer Cagematch! So I’ve extended the voting period to tomorrow at 9 pm — don’t miss the voting window.

An addition to the BFG’s instrument collection

We’ve been here before.

funny pictures history - You should see the saxophone!
see more Historic LOL