Pat's Log
Sun, 22 Feb 2009

20090222 Last night a group of us from work went to see an encore presentation of the 1927 silent movie Metropolis. I had heard it was good, but my expectations regarding an 80-year-old science fiction movie were quite low. I based this on what I knew of fifties an sixties sci-fi. Was I ever in for a surprise.

The film was brilliant. There was a bit of comic overacting that is typical to the times, but the scenery, visual and special effects, and overall design were staggering. In many cases, as good as or better than what would be in movies from the sixties. The format is 4-to-3; it actually predates widescreen. The story was also significantly ahead of its time, I thought.

Then there was the live band. Hats off to these guys, who played for over two hours straight. It wasn't the original score, but it was very appropriate. The music was a much more modern than the movie, but it definitely brought the "sci-fi" feel to it. It was perfectly coordinated with the picture. The band consisted of keyboards (one was a "bass" keyboard), electric guitar, bass clarinet and flute, and percussion. The sound was jazzy-industrial, a great fit.

In conclusion: awesome.

The theatre was packed. Quite literally every seat was taken. The presenter of the movie noted this, pointing out that there is never that kind of attendance or enthusiasm for a modern film. So, they will be doing this kind of thing more often. The next silent film is supposed to be in April.

Later in the evening they showed Re-animator. It was well made, but not my thing.

[] | posted @ 18:30 | link
Sat, 21 Feb 2009

20090220 After literally months of procrastination and more visits to the store than even the most difficult customers, I finally bought the last thing I'm really missing from my apartment: a piano.

The unit I purchased is what I feel is the best electric piano Roland produces, the HP207. It has their best technology. The sound is, frankly, astonishing.

For the longest time, I really wanted a real acoustic piano. My thinking changed after the fourth-or-so visit to the shop, when I seriously started considering the higher end Rolands. The key is that this simulates not an upright piano, but a grand. And it really does. It even lets you tune settings like the angle of the lid and the length of the piano's body. The advantage of this unit over the ones that cost less is the excellent additional sound system right below the keyboard (near the player's knees), as well as a simulated ivory/wood finish to the keys. The advantage over the more expensive units, besides the price, is that the control panel actually makes sense and is a lot more friendly.

Roland samples their sounds from a real Steinway & Sons grand piano. Apparently, they don't interpolate, everything is sampled individually, and all harmonics, string, and damper side-effects are accounted for and adjustable! The key action simulates the weight and behaviour of a grand piano very convincingly, even the feel of the escapement as the key reaches the end of its run.

I spent an hour this evening playing on this instrument. Having grown up on mostly electric pianos, it revealed all of the same shortcomings I have when I play acoustic; too much pedaling, improper balance between the two hands, that sort of thing. The only thing missing on this unit compared to a real grand piano is the feel of the vibration of the key when you a deep note; it's there, but not as pronounced.

All in all, having tried twenty-or-so different pianos, this is the only one that fits just right. It's the balance of practicality and playability.

[] | posted @ 04:28 | link
Fri, 13 Feb 2009

Wow, I can't believe I've gone so long without writing anything here! I guess it's been a busy year, and Facebook covers the need to express myself from time to time.

But for more important things I want to keep track of, this is still the place.

Today's news is that I finally went ahead and bought the necessary equipment to make my own beer at home. I also got a kit of The Brew House's Red Ale. Last time I tried the finished product I was quite impressed with it. Hopefully, my batch will turn into something passable as well.

In the meantime, the wine from last September is just starting to mellow out to perfection. Fun stuff, this brewing.

[] | posted @ 03:53 | link

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