From the archives: January 2008

Or, if you'd prefer, return to the most recent posts.

Royal Blue (or: Nick and the King of Siam)

Friday, 11 January 2008 — 5:02pm | Adventures, Classical, Jazz, Music

I can’t seem to mention my favourite developing country without saying a few words about the musical compositions of its presiding Philosopher King, so perhaps I’ll take a moment to devote an entire post to the subject. For those of you who are new to the show: do familiarize yourself with the Rama IX Art Museum Foundation’s comprehensive online exhibit, which I’ve only just had the pleasure to discover myself. It comprises a biographical overview of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s musical background, audio samples of forty of his songs, historical notes on specific compositions, and even lead sheets of the melodies and chords.

And if you want to hear something exceptionally cool: there’s always a lot of talk about how the King once played alongside America’s own King of Swing, Benny Goodman (indeed, that’s the subject of the photograph atop the musical archive’s introductory page), but now I’ve found some aural proof—samples from Benny Goodman’s 1955 concert in Bangkok, in which he plays several of the King’s signature compositions, including the Thai Royal Anthem. I’ve linked to my personal favourite, “Sai Fon” (“Falling Rain”); the song is written as a waltz, but the band plays it in 4/4.

My own interest in King Bhumibol’s music originates from my first visit to his realm in December 2003, when I first heard that he was a noted saxophonist and big band composer in addition to everything else he did (painting, translating Economist articles, ending military coups with a single command, and so on). It wasn’t until after the adventure that I actually listened to some of his music and fell in love with a number of the tunes. But this time around, I went to Thailand prepared—and after traipsing around the country for nearly three weeks, I can absolutely confirm that the King’s music is as ubiquitous as the documents about it claim.

I also returned with a handful of compact discs, all of which I will discuss below.

Continued »

Annotations (0)

Killing Putin softly with our song

Wednesday, 9 January 2008 — 4:58am | Debate

Before I speak of items that are of a more general appeal (Thailand, its wise and noble King, the late Oscar Peterson, the even later Air Canada), a few words about the World Universities Debating Championship: the knockout results and motions from Assumption Worlds are up, but more interestingly, so is the complete tab of the preliminary rounds, for the express perusal of those who like detailed statistical quantifications of their favourite sporting events.

As you’ll immediately observe, the online component of the Tabbie software is really something. It tells me that Wallis and I finished in the top quarter of the 396-team tournament with 16 points, a tremendous improvement for us both (at Vancouver Worlds, her team and mine finished on 11 and 13 points, respectively), and goes on to offer a round-by-round breakdown of our performance that illustrates our place in the standings before and after every debate, identifies our opposition and adjudicators, and retells the story of our tournament by the numbers—from our Round 1 skirmish with the eventual semifinalists from Yale A, to the inexcusable and outrageous decision that knocked us off the warpath in Round 6, to our mathematical elimination in Round 7 when we unsuccessfully advocated for the assassination of Vladimir Putin, to the Alberta-versus-Alberta front-half faceoff in Round 9.

With a combined 62 points spread over four teams (not to mention Sharon’s second place in the Public Speaking competition, which she achieved in spite of being cut off a minute early), the Alberta contingent as a whole submitted its best performance since Toronto Worlds in 2002, when Stephanie Wanke and Alex Ragan finished in 12th place with 19 points and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Since I’m putting off posting my 900-some holiday photographs on Facebook, I thought I’d compile a summary of Alberta’s track record at Worlds. This will probably be of strictly local significance, but you could always skip it and scroll down for some general remarks on the statistical analysis of debates.

Continued »

Annotations (2)

Regarding Oscar

Tuesday, 8 January 2008 — 5:22pm | Jazz, Music, Pianism

I left Canada 21 December and returned this afternoon; only a minute ago did I find out that Oscar Peterson passed away on the 23rd, the day I was stranded in China while my Siamese destination made its way back to democracy. I have a lot to write down, but I think I may have to set everything aside to compose a lengthy and personal obituary.

Oscar Peterson was without question one of the most important figures in my life, and has been since I was old enough to discover the myriad human wonders of the world for myself. On only two other occasions have I been so affected by the passing of a celebrated individual whom I never met (Douglas Adams, Charles M. Schulz), and in both of those cases, I found out as soon as the story broke and shared in the mourning with those who remembered their lives and works with a fondness of similar profundity.

I never did get to see him play.

Annotations (0)

« Back to the Future (newer posts)