Friday Night at the Olympics and Open Thread

Apolo Ohno and Lindsay Vonn (skiing with a broken finger) are on tonight.

What's on your agenda this weekend?

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Lawrence Tribe to DOJ. That's (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 09:36:39 PM EST
    news:  AP

    Wow! (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 10:55:28 PM EST
    That's quite a coup to lure him out of retirement. He's one heck of a guy.  Thanks for posting.

    Sugaring season (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 10:57:44 PM EST
    I'm about to make my first attempt tomorrow at tapping a few of my sugar maples to see if I can make some of my own syrup.  I fully expect to make a pig mess of the whole thing, but I'm hoping I'll at least learn enough to do it right next year-- and end up with a small amount of syrup.

    Imagine that, my own maple syrup!

    I'll make the waffles (none / 0) (#10)
    by Radiowalla on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 11:29:44 PM EST
    if you supply the syrup!

    It's a deal (none / 0) (#12)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 11:45:40 PM EST
    I've never been able to make waffles, for some reason...

    We used to collect maple syrup when I was a child (none / 0) (#26)
    by jawbone on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:42:08 AM EST
    in WI -- my mother did the sugaring on a gas camp stove out on an unweatherized porch.  My memory is that it took a long, long, long time to reach syrup consistency. IIRC, it was done only one year, but I might be wrong.

    Good luck!

    We used to drink the maple juice right out of the tree!


    It does take a long time (none / 0) (#29)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:44:52 AM EST
    Takes 10 gallons to make 1 quart.

    Uh, make that maple sap -- and I need COFFEE! (none / 0) (#30)
    by jawbone on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:48:38 AM EST
    yea! (none / 0) (#55)
    by CST on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 09:12:20 AM EST
    VT maple syrup is the best.  I used to go up there every "spring" (still snow on the ground) and ride on the back of a horse-drawn wagon to go tree to tree collecting the sap.

    It really is an experience out of an old story book.  Looking forward to getting this year's batch, even if I no longer have time to follow the horses.

    Have fun!  It sure is messy stuff.


    ice hockey! (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by cpinva on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 12:21:56 AM EST
    US dismantles Finland with surgical precision. Canada barely squeaks by Slovakia. Canada & US in gold medal game, Finland & Slovaki in bronze medal game.

    my money is on the US & Slovaki respectively. i expect the joint to be rocking, as Canada is looking to avenge it's earlier loss to the US. had Canada lost to Slovakia this evening, i fear the entire country would have committed collective suicide!

    while Canada has the edge in NHL players on its roster, the US is, as a group, much younger than the Canadians. i expect this to really start showing in the 3rd period.

    darn, i almost nearly sound like i have a clue what i'm talking about! lol

    Ur in way better shape than the PuckNutz I know (none / 0) (#37)
    by Ellie on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 02:23:49 PM EST
    And these approximate random spectators at home.

    You can still make complete sentences, bring lucidity to the table, and your analytical brain functions appear to be intact. Prognosis: you're doing great!

    Let's Drop. That. Puck!


    I'm listening to various Thomas (none / 0) (#1)
    by observed on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 09:18:38 PM EST
    Quasthoff recordings on youtube.
    What a beautiful, expressive voice.

    Absolutely fabulous (5.00 / 0) (#3)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 10:54:19 PM EST
    He's Fischer-Dieskau with a more open heart, though somewhat less power.

    First time I ever heard him, or heard of him, was when I had 60 Minutes on while I was doing something else many years ago, and this voice suddenly started pouring out of the TV.  My visceral reaction to it was so strong, I began to sob.


    I"m not ahuge Fischer-Dieskau (none / 0) (#21)
    by observed on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 08:59:55 AM EST
    fan. Hans Hotter is my favorite male lieder singer.
    Did you know that FD is/was a heavy smoker?
    I think I read that he was a 2 pack a day smoker during his career.

    Yes, I did know (none / 0) (#27)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:42:12 AM EST
    Just goes to show you.... something.

    DFD is a little too cerebral for my taste, but the warmth and color of his voice were quite wonderful.


    If you have the opportunity, hear Gerald (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:53:30 AM EST
    Finley and/or Ian Bostridge singing lieder live.  Bostridge sounds and looks like he is the poet.

    Segue:  singers.  KUSC FM opera show playing now:  Jon Vickers rendition of parts of Britten's "Peter Grimes."  Host says Britten disliked Vickers' interpretation of the role.  Vickers portrayed Grimes as mentally ill throughout the opera.


    I don't like his voice. Now I know it must (none / 0) (#34)
    by observed on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 12:26:22 PM EST
    be the cigarettes:)
    Hotter was so amazing. His voice after the age of  40 was said to be markedly inferior, but it was still magnificent. I read on wikipedia that he had a back injury which hampered his singing, but I heard another explanation from Vinson Cole several years ago. Cole sang in an opera with Hotter in the early 80's, and he said that Hotter had nearly crippling asthma later in life. The slightly hooty quality of the voice makes that believable.

    Well, there you go (none / 0) (#41)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 05:40:11 PM EST
    I'm not a Vickers fan, although I heard him mostly towards the end of his career, so surely not at his best vocally.

    Ever hear a recording of what I believe was the very last actual Heldentenor, Wolfgang Windgassen?  One of those wretched portly short tenors who couldn't act to save his life, but I heard him repeatedly all over Europe when I was there as a teenager with my family in the early '60s and my God, what a singer.  Just one of those people you have to close your eyes to listen to.


    Oh yes, I heard many recordings (none / 0) (#42)
    by observed on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 05:54:50 PM EST
    of him. Perfect name for a heldentenor!
    You don't think Gary Lakes or Ben Heppner are/were real heldentenors?
    I met Ed Sooter a couple of times in the 80's. One time he sang some lieder at a friend's house.
    He was a very expressive singer but definitely not a real heldentenor.

    I like Vickers.. never heard him live (none / 0) (#45)
    by observed on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 06:41:32 PM EST
    though. I heard Leontyne Price when she was 55-60 ish. She was still magnificent.
    As it happened, I was seated next to the doyenne of Seattle voice teachers, Maryann Weltman,  a woman who turned dozens of promising singers into strange-sounding wrecks. She cattily deconstructed Price's faults for me as the recital went on. I was quite amused.
    I also enjoy reading comments by piano students about how this or that top flight pianist really doesn't have the stuff..hhahah.

    Leontyne! (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:10:23 PM EST
    I sang with her once towards the end of her career and she totally blew me away, or actually turned me into a trembling little puddle.  She was utterly serene, utterly comfortable, totally in command, and just devastatingly expressive.  I think she sang Liu's aria, if memory serves.

    It's quite funny to think of somebody dissecting her technical flaws, given that she managed to sing freely and gloriously far longer than most singers are able to.  I think Leontyne knew her instrument and what she could and couldn't do with it better than almost any other singer.

    No, I wouldn't consider Hepner or Lakes more than approximations of Heldentenors, just not in the same class as Wintgassen or Melchior, who was the greatest we have recordings of.  There were never very many of them, although must have been at least a few in Wagner's time or he wouldn't have written for them so extensively and confidently.

    It makes me sad to think how many great voices there must be these days hiding in Wall Street firms or oil companies making gazillions of dollars instead of pursuing music.


    I've read that acoustical analysis (none / 0) (#48)
    by observed on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:21:50 PM EST
    shows that singers of 70 years ago or so were actually superior---more volume and tone.
    It's hard to imagine that anyone today could match Caruso, for example.
    Hey, here's something about singers you might NOT know. Federica Von Stade is from an old philadelphia family, and an old friend of mine went to Harvard when an uncle of hers was a Dean.
    In fact, the family pronunciation of the name was not German at all, but with the "Stade" rhyming with "daddy", roughly.

    von Stade is singing at Carnegie Hall (none / 0) (#52)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 10:14:47 AM EST
    in April.  Also in Oakland.  

    From the recordings I've heard, I think (none / 0) (#49)
    by observed on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:49:44 PM EST
    her Verdi Requiem is the best. Her Libera me is unbelievable---those B flat pianissimoss...ahhh.
    I've heard Nilsson do the Libera Me, and it's excellent; her final high C cuts through the full orchestra like tissue.

    Ever here Caballe llive? (none / 0) (#50)
    by observed on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:57:11 PM EST
    My opera loving friend said he once saw her in recital, and she sang 16 slow measures on one breath.

    Stade is wonderful (none / 0) (#51)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 09:29:58 AM EST
    Sang with her once when she was a hefty 8 mos pregnant, and she sang fabulously.  The tonal quality of that voice has something in it, some sort of zing, that sends a thrill up my spine (hate to sound like Tweety).  And despite the fact her voice lives in the mezzo range, she has knockout high notes when she needs them.

    Caballe, again, I only heard once towards the end of her career and she was not singing well, big wobble.  Can't remember what the music was.  (The opera subculture, sorry to say, calls her "Monsterfat Cowbelly.")

    Interesting about that acoustic analysis.  I wonder how they do that, given the primitive recording quality.

    I also wonder about modern recording practices, too.  Recording engineers always want to use dozens of mikes all over the orchestra and singers so they can dick around with the balance of instruments on the recording-- bump up the oboe here, muffle the flute there, etc.  But sound is just different, rounder and more beautiful, from a distance, so the closer miking, even if it's just one mike in the mix, is particularly unkind to big-voiced singers, most of whom are not at all pleasant to hear from 12 inches away, no matter how great they sound in the hall.


    Even good monophonic (none / 0) (#53)
    by observed on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 10:18:49 AM EST
    recordings could capture the beauty of tone quite well. I think digital recording of piano can be particularly brutal. It seems to bring out the percussive elements too much.

    Yeah, but 70 years ago (none / 0) (#54)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 09:45:00 PM EST
    you're really talking primitive.

    Agree about digital recording.  It's most obvious in piano, but it's there with other stuff, too.  I'm one of the Neanderthals who's never managed to become reconciled to it.


    What instrument do you play, if (none / 0) (#35)
    by observed on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 12:37:53 PM EST
    you don't mind my asking?
    I'm not a professional musician but I've spent a lot of hours studying piano and singing, continuing with piano off and on to this day.
    Nothing makes my mood improve like working on some impossible Chopin etude or playing a bach fugue.

    I play myself :-) (5.00 / 0) (#39)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 05:33:59 PM EST
    I am, or was, a singer.  Haven't sung in years, and there's no opportunity at all where I live now, at least not at the kind of level I got accustomed to.

    I also muddle around on the piano, having studied for 8 years way back when but not kept it up at all.

    I sang for many years as both amateur and professional, opera, orchestra and a cappella, and also worked for quite a few years in arts management in various capacities, so got to know a lot of singers and conductors from both sides, so to speak.

    I know what you mean about working on a difficult piece, but I simply don't have good enough manual dexterity to get much enjoyment out of fighting through a the technical issues of a difficult (for me) piano piece.

    I once had a fairly new friend come to a concert I sang in, and he was furious with me afterwards.  He was indignant that I'd described singing as such a blast and so satisfying, but sitting in the audience, he knew me well enough to see how hard I was working.  And to him, having a blast and working hard were incompatible ideas.  Not much you can say to someone like that.


    Yeah, who wants the easy life?? (none / 0) (#43)
    by observed on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 06:01:31 PM EST
    After a couple of short false starts I got a magnificent voice teacher. Everything the guy said has been confirmed by what other people told me, later. He was about 71 when I started, and had just given his farewell recital, but he still had a bass-baritone range from low C to high B flat above middle C, and he could sing a high A pianissimo (not falsetto).
    Even though he was in poor health, he  never lost an inch of height from when he was young, because his posture was perfect.
    Anyway, I didn't want a career in singing, but I wish I had more opportunities to sing socially now.
    There's an opera singer I know who liked my singing and offered me lessons, but I don't have the time or energy. Besides, I've been studying piano with some excellent teachers in recent years.
    I've been working on Bach's WTC I #20 fugue (a minor) and the Art of the Fugue IV. The latter is a favorite of many pianists. You can find a couple stellar Gould performances on Youtube.
    The A minor fugue is one I think is particularly difficult for piano--very hard not to make it sound clangy. Even some well known pianists fail at it, IMO.

    A church choir would be good, (none / 0) (#44)
    by observed on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 06:07:08 PM EST
    except that i'm a hardcore atheist. I just don't feel comfortable in most church choirs. I tried it last year, and quit after a few months.

    Funny that (5.00 / 0) (#46)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 08:57:25 PM EST
    I'm pretty violently allergic to the tenets of organized religion, derive my strong spiritual sense more from nature.  Yet if I had to choose only one kind of music to sing/listen to, it would be sacred music.

    Not the crappy stuff composed by morons these days for crummy church choirs, but the great music by great composers known and lesser known.  They were almost all believers of one sort or another, and sacred texts seem to have drawn the best, most profound music from them-- even if I don't believe a word of it.

    I sang for a number of years in a small elite Russian choir, and absolutely loved singing Russian Orthodox Easter and wedding services.  Of course, it helps if you don't understand most of the language...

    The emotions are very real and very passionate, even if the use organized religion has put those feelings to has too often been wretched.

    But singing in a church choir per se I've never done and never would do.  Even if the choir is first-rate and they do great music, there's always some darn preacher involved...


    Interview with Michael Tilson Thomas (none / 0) (#6)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 11:07:01 PM EST
    in Mother Jones.

    I worked with him when he was a boy wonder at the BSO-- vastly gifted, of course, but also phenomenally immature, utterly undisciplined and callow.  It's hard to grapple with the idea that he-- and I-- are old enough that he's now an eminence grise.

    He's San Francisco's (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Radiowalla on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 11:30:57 PM EST
    eminence grise and boy do we love him!

    I always loved the guy (none / 0) (#13)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 11:48:45 PM EST
    even when he was callow and undisciplined.  I've had both some of my best and some of my absolute worst musical experiences working with him.

    By the end of his tenure with BSO, I was literally the only person left there who would speak to him.  SO SO SO glad he got his act together eventually.


    Segue: conductors. (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:11:14 AM EST
    I learned last night in reading "Uncivil Society," by Stephen Kotkin, Gewandhaus conductor Kurt Masur played an important role by supporting the peace marches in Leipzig in 1989, leading to the collapse of the GDR.  Wiki has a somewhat different version--makes Masur more important the described in the book.

    He was a wunderkind at LA Phil many (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 11:10:09 PM EST
    yrs. ago.  Then disappeared to England before taking over, and doing a fabulous job, in San Francisco.  

    Thanks. Interesting read. (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 11:20:18 PM EST
    Ohno's races were really exciting tonight -- (none / 0) (#8)
    by jawbone on Fri Feb 26, 2010 at 11:10:57 PM EST
    Won't mention results as some may be watching later. Women's races also good.

    I missed how 4-man bobsled came out.

    And, I'm enjoying the new speed of my cable broadband replacing DSL.

    The Four Man (none / 0) (#20)
    by CoralGables on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 08:29:27 AM EST
    continues today with two more runs. The sled with the Gator on board sits atop the standings after Day 1.

    are you sure (none / 0) (#18)
    by cpinva on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 04:51:27 AM EST
    that's correct? i should think a 9.5 would generate a tsunami closer to a 100 feet. in any event, i hope all are well.

    Speed skating question (none / 0) (#19)
    by samtaylor2 on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 07:10:30 AM EST
    If someone like Bolt put on skates (and new how to skate) would he have just amazing time, or is the movement completely different.

    The Kanazawa Curve (none / 0) (#22)
    by Politalkix on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:05:41 AM EST
    Link"Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

    The IQ differences, while statistically significant, are not stunning -- on the order of 6 to 11 points -- and the data should not be used to stereotype or make assumptions about people, experts say"

    "The study found that young adults who said they were "very conservative" had an average adolescent IQ of 95, whereas those who said they were "very liberal" averaged 106."

    "Neither Bailey nor Kanazawa identify themselves as liberal; Bailey is conservative and Kanazawa is "a strong libertarian.""

    I wonder if "libertarian" was... (none / 0) (#25)
    by EL seattle on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:41:42 AM EST
    ... one of the multiple choice answers in their research polling.  Kanazazawa says he is a "strong libertarian".  Was everyone who took part in their survey offered that description as a possible answer to the question?

    It will be interesting to see the complete results when they're released.  But if the participants were only offered a short list of possible answers to a lot of complex personal questions, I'd expect that the survey results would quite possibly be nearly completely worthless.  


    LAT politics blog re resignation of (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:29:41 AM EST
    Desiree Rogers:  LAT

    And let me just note--that is a terrible fashion choice--see photo.

    Oof...that dress makes me hear (none / 0) (#40)
    by Anne on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 05:39:04 PM EST
    Heidi Klum's "Auf Wiedersehen," as she bids farewell to the designer of the week's worst project on "Project Runway."

    Met live radio broadcast of Puccini's (none / 0) (#36)
    by oculus on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 01:01:39 PM EST
    "La Boheme" is lovely.  KUSC FM streaming live.