I was browsing CDs today at Borders looking for a 4th CD to complete my "buy 3 get 1 free" deal when I stumbled over a CD of Bach orchestral transcriptions. The CD starts with a couple common transcriptions, like the Stokowski version of the Tocatta and Fugue, and the Webern trascription of the ricercar from Musical Offering. Track 3 is what convinced me I had to buy this CD - it was the Ciaconna. It is absolutely amazing, I hear everything in this orchestral transcription that I have been taught to hear in my head and try to play. It's given new inspiration to my favorite musical work ever.
Incidentally, starting out with a nice, full, D minor chord in the strings section ends up reminding me of the beginning of Bizet's first Carmen Suite for Orchestra. Seems completely random to me, but it is the same chord, and of course I didn't think about it until I heard it in full orchestra form.
Sunday, 20th of March, 2005
Looking at the play at a first glance, we can see where this idea might come from. Shylock, the main Jewish character, is portrayed as an angry, oppressed member of the minority in 16th century Venice seeking revenge in a society where all the Christians are showing mercy to each other. On the surface of things, the Jew is negatively portrayed as the evil character. But we forget the verdict that the Venician court and all those Christian characters gives to Shylock at the end of the courtroom drama. It is an oppression that would be worse than death for Shylock, far from merciful. I think if anything, this play portrays the cruel ways in which the church at the time oppressed people, rather than showed them mercy. And of course, Shakespeare does the usual excellent job of portraying interesting characters, all with their faults. Nobody ends up being righteous in this play, everyone is human, full of faults, deception, and cruelty.
And this movie is an excellent production of the play. The acting was superb, and the setting was nice and moody. It's great that I stumbled upon this, or else I would have never uncovered the controversy that some people are trying to hide about Shakespeare's play. But it really is time to stop shoving the topic of racism under a carpet somewhere in order to demonstrate that somehow humanity has progressed beyond that point in history. The fact is, we are still full of faults like hatred, anger, unfaithfulness, and deception like all those Shakespeare characters.
Incidentally, the movie is rated R because of nudity, which shows up with the prostitutes in the streets of Venice. I don't think it's necessary for that to be in the movie, but it does show how this supposedly righteous and "Christian" society of Venice was full of immorality.
Saturday, 19th of March, 2005
So Honda Research takes this family sedan, strips it a little for an endurance race and stomps around all the other sporty cars there. "The team had only ninety days to prepare a stock TL to NASA Honda Challenge specifications. While the engine, drivetrain and brake system remained stock, the team augmented the TL's 3.2 liter V6 with a cold air intake, and a custom exhaust header from Prototype Racing. A large diameter exhaust, a lightweight flywheel and a performance clutch were provided by Comptech USA. The suspension was modified with custom H&R coil-overs, a Progress adjustable rear sway bar and adjustable SPC camber ball joints and links. Lightweight Enkei racing wheels and Toyo RA-1 race compound tires were used for increased grip. Based on the results of windtunnel testing, an Acura A-SPEC aero kit was applied to lower the coefficient of drag, and a rear wing was added for increased high speed down force. These modifications plus the removal of luxury and convenience features reduced the TL's weight to 2797 pounds (without driver), a 675 pound reduction from the stock TL. "
Amazing what hacking away at the weight and some light modifications can do to prepare a showroom car to do well on the racetrack. Now that's some nice evidence of showroom reliability and speed in a nice package. And of course, the TL completely creamed the rest of its class.
Saturday, 12th of March, 2005
Wednesday, 9th of March, 2005
Tuesday, 8th of March, 2005