Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Methinks...

The secret to having a great marriage is to have lots of extramarital affairs with one's own wife.


Sunday Morning

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Collective Anticipation

It's just about that time again. The SFJazz festival is on, and the latest CD of the SFJazz Collective has just been released, which chronicles their work over the Spring season, when they interpreted works by Herbie Hancock, and chipped in with their own original compositions.

Now I haven't received the disk mind you. I did pre-order it earlier this year, but they've only mailed out the copies this week, so you can understand my drooling jitteryness. In preparation (one must prepare, of course), I've been listening to their live 2005 CD, and for the last 4 days I simply haven't been able to keep my ears off it.

Most engaging are the original contributions by Joshua Redman ("Half Full"), Matt Penman ("Sega Games"), and Eric Harland ("Development"), but I was particularly impressed by Miguel Zenón's "2 and 2". The man is truly a master of his meter. Hats off to the rest of the band for being able to play along. After playing it about 30 times so far, I think I've figured out that the initial segment is something of a 21-beat cycle, but beyond that I'm left stymied*. In the interests of preserving my marriage, I'm going to desist and simply concede defeat.

In the meantime, while I wait for the imminent arrival of their next installment, I present to you, gentle reader, my interpretation of one of jazz's most revered standards:

Autumn Leaves

*Update (2006-11-19): Joshua Redman's solo in the middle of the song is done to a 11-11-11-10 meter.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Escape to Moss Landing

The missus' birthday dropped in this weekend. Now, I've learned something over the last 8 years of marital bliss: no matter what you think of the beastly things, birthdays are a big deal to a woman.

So instead of sitting around and working diligently on the publication of my second chin, I surprised the aging w. with a trip to Moss Landing; a semi-comatose little town about halfway between Santa Cruz and Monterey. We lodged at the Captain's Inn, a delightful place run by Melanie & Yohn Gideon, with views (from our windows) that looked like this:





Impressive no? If you're shameless enough not to be content with that (like we were), there's also the ocean about a 10 minute walk away, and Phil's Fish Market & Eatery, which has seafood to simply die for.

Yohn also runs the Elkhorn Slough Safari, and for a modest fee, he'll strap you onto a pontoon boat, and take you for a spin about 4 miles up the slough (pronounced "sloo", not "sluff", "sloff" or "slau"). It's an impressive amount of wildlife that's infested this tiny area. In the span of about an hour, we encountered rafts of sea otters, seals, egrets, pelicans, even a blue heron or two, and several brightly colored species of kayakers.





To top it all off, I've scored enough brownie points with the old ball and chain to last the rest of the year. :)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Next Week

It's an SFJazz week with:
  1. Thursday: Joe Zawinul Syndicate
  2. Friday: Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussein, Eric Harland (Sangam)
  3. Saturday: Alice Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane, Charlie Haden, Roy Hanes
Mercy, mercy, mercy!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Erik Mongrain

Arjun pointed me at a YouTube link a few days ago that I couldn't view since I didn't have sound enabled on the machine I was at. I saw it today, and was just floored. Here's another one by the same guy:

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Opening Night

It's a measure of the excellence of the San Francisco Jazz festival, that they have the audacity to open with the saxophone colossus himself: Sonny Rollins.

Orrin Keepnews introduced him, it being almost exactly 50 years since they met during a recording date for Thelonious Monk's Brilliant Corners album. Orrin said that since there was very little creative control that anyone could ever exert over Monk, he just accepted Monk's choice of this new tenor saxophonist without question. One of his better decisions.

Sonny is one of the few living jazz masters in the world who can command a 3-minute standing ovation before playing a single note. And last night showed us exactly why he deserves such reverence. Through the 110-minute performance, this 76-year old infused his audience with a joi de vivre that most improvisers a third of his age don't have. He was just so happy!

5 years ago, when I saw him perform for the first time, I was too untrained to realize what a brilliant mind was behind those improvisations. His charm lies in the fact that he can take even the most banal motif through 12 choruses (an average number for all his solos last night), and find a distinctly engaging way of presenting it in each cycle.

And the man has chops. He may not have the intensity or angst of Miguel Zenón but I'd be willing to bet that in just sheer inventiveness, he'd leave him in the dust.

He didn't do an encore, but at the end of the night he got a 10-minute ovation anyway. We would've happily made it 110.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Foot in blog syndrome

I think it's funny as hell that the post on how much we value security, is followed by the one explaining that our blog was hacked into.

I love my company :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Flashback

Apologies are due. Knowing that the wild fanbase of this humble blog (yes, all three of them) hangs on my every word, I am indeed remiss for not having updated it in such a long while.

We've started going for swimming lessons. Yes, every Saturday afternoon, the wife and I toss ourselves into the wild blue yonder (well... more like "tame blue hither" really, being all of 4 feet deep) at the nearest YMCA, and try not to make asses out of ourselves. Personally, I think we're doing quite marvellously. Jayita is down from 3 floatation devices to just one, and of the three essentials of kick, stroke, and breathe, I'm up to doing any 2 out of 3 (which I'm told is not bad) at the same time.

In other news, we've also started Spanish lessons! You see, Jayita and I have realized that we're somewhat lacking in the linguistic breadth necessary to obfuscate rude comments we would like to make about people while in their presence. Between the two of us we know about 3.5 languages (ok fine, 2.5 --- C++ doesn't really count), and English and Hindi are out since most of our friends and family (about whom we would like to make those rude comments) know those already. Initially we thought of Japanese, but then settled on Spanish since travelling to South America seems cheaper than a trip across the pond.

So there. That's the update for the moment. Salud, amor y pesetas!

Upgrade

I switched to the new "Blogger Beta" this weekend. The downside was that I lost some of the customization that I'd done to the old template, but I like the new interface much more than I did the old one. And we finally have labels! Oh joy! I had tried the roundabout del.icio.us route before, but that was simply too cumbersome to last more than about 2 posts.

Mmm... even has that new blog smell...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Review: "Half Life 2: Episode One"

Last weekend I finally caved and bought "Half-Life 2: Episode One". First of all, kudos to Valve. Their Steam content delivery platform is awesome. Credit card, click, and about 20 minutes later (depending on the speed of your pipe), I'm killing Combine.

For those kindred souls who felt betrayed when the credits scrolled at the end of Half-Life 2 ("but I only just started playing 73 hours ago!!"), this is going to be akin to the feeling one gets when opening a bleary refridgerator and finding that the pizza isn't over after all.

Pros:
  • You get to play (almost) the entire game alongside Alyx. She's kinda hot. And kicks ass with a shotgun.
  • Fighting in the dark (whenever your flashlight battery runs out). This is scary and pretty cool. Kinda Doom-esque.
  • Nice progression of the City 17 storyline. As always, they've done an incredible job meshing story-arc and gameplay.
Cons:
  • No real novelties with respect to the gameplay, weapons or enemies. But for those of us who just wanted more, it's enough.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

New Home

The old lab server went titsup about 3 weeks ago, and I've been without a web home while the hard drive gets some recovery work done. So I finally bit the bullet and picked up a domain I've been eyeing for a while.

Welcome to my new home. I even did the decor myself. It's somewhat sparse on content, but that'll get fleshed out whenever I get another 3.8 minutes to spare.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Deeelishious

A couple of months ago, Jayita was rummaging through one of the many corners of the web and uncovered Deeelish. According to the website, this was an establishment in which one could saunter in, slap together a dozen gourmet meals, vacuum seal them and shove off with the whole lot, all in the duration of about an hour.

"How so?" you ask, do you? Well, the idea is that they allegedly do the shopping, chopping and cleaning, while you do the "assembling". The result is a bunch of meals (with cooking instructions that anyone with more than two braincells could understand) that are ready to be served with at most 15 to 45 minutes of preparation time, and a smug sense of accomplishment plastered on one's mug. At first I tended to look at this entire scheme with something of a jaundiced eye; assuming --- true to my cynical nature --- that it was just another scam designed to afflict the unsuspecting Bay Area inhabitant, leading inevitably to heightened yuppiness and moral degradation.

But I didn't have the heart to dissuade the dear girl. After all, that shine in her eyes could only come from one who suffered from the full forty-three hunger pangs that she daily endured. So she did try it, after conning another friend (Vandana) into accompanying her and splitting the fare. Here's a sampling of the results:
  • Mustard encrusted pork loin
  • Maple-soy glazed salmon
  • Artichoke-tequila chicken
Well, jaundiced eye be damned.

After a hasty bit of math, we realized that this scheme worked out to an average of about $5 per meal, per person, which is way less expensive than eating out (something we end up doing too often if we're lazy). And after listening to her drool on about the atmosphere of the place, and the cleanliness, and the fresh organic ingredients, I'm almost tempted to accompany her on the next round.

For now at least, we've justified it to ourselves by interspersing the Deeelish meals with our regular cooking, and only consuming them when we feel the need to have something more exotic. So maybe I've turned more yuppie, but I think it's great. I'm one of the few men in the world whose wife is happy to arrive home bellowing "Hi honey! I'm home!" with 24 servings in tow.

Some assembly required, of course.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Methinks...

Religion is the funniest and most tragic practical joke that humanity has ever inflicted upon itself.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hot Saturday Afternoon

Mother Nature must be going through "the change". If today wasn't the very definition of a hot flash, then I've grossly misunderstood the term. Nevertheless, the rising mercury does have it's benefits: The last time I saw summer skirts so short, I believe they were called cummerbunds.

Still, despite the heat, we mustn't let standards drop. Stiff (if sweaty) upper lip, etc. We had a plan for frittering away a Saturday afternoon, and we stuck to it. Well, sort of. We postponed it to frittering away the evening --- when it was cooler --- instead. Stanford theatre was showing Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo". Awesome movie. Followed by awesome gelato (from a shop which was doing a day of the briskest business in years). Yum.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

'Tis the Season

It's upon us again! No, not the next round of "Pirates of the Caribbean" with the swashbuckling Jack Sparrow. Johnny Depp can buckle all the swash in the world if he dares, and I really wouldn't bat the uninterested eyelid.

No, I speak of that other annual wonder: The San Francisco Jazz Festival. Jayita and I wandered into the city this morning (at 8:30am on a Saturday, mind you) to pick up tickets. Here's what we're attending:
  • Listening party with Zakir Hussein
  • Planet Drum: Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussein, Sikira Adepoju, Giovanni Hidalgo
  • Sonny Rollins
  • Joe Zawinul
  • Sangam: Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussein, Eric Harland
  • Alice Coltrane, Ravi Coltraine, Charlie Haden, Roy Haynes
Good, no? I thought so too.

Now that in itself would be good enough to pour a spot of sunshine into spirits of the poor sod who woke up one morning to find he had no e-mail access with his morning caffeine. But we don't stop there. Jayita and I wandered into the Ferry building across the street from the Embarcadero, and spent the next couple of hours wandering the aisles of the farmers' market, people-watching, picture-taking, sample-nibbling, and generally doing nothing in particular. One of the most productive mornings of my week, if you ask me.

Cherry tomatoes

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The All-Too-Short Weekend

Providence is indeed cruel to juxtapose such a long month with such a short weekend. Still, after much travel, enduring dishevelled meals and interminable schmoozing, arriving back home to my superhero wife (whose super-power is sweet delusion) is almost enough of a treat to make the separation worthwhile. If I were allowed to drink, I'd tip the happy glass to a weekend of hiking, running, playing with a new macro lens, and catching up with Pelham :)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Weekend in Point Reyes

We have a pair of dear friends who have a 6-month old baby. Outside of that minor deviation, they really are quite a perfectly intelligent couple. In fact, we hold their mental faculties in such high regard, that this weekend we decided to take their recommendation to heart, and visit a charming little place called Point Reyes; about an hour's drive North of San Francisco.

As some proof will testify, if you're looking to drop all your worldly cares and spend some time without a single 802.11 radio wave to bugger up the mood, this place is the real tabasco. Some of the complimentary charms include:Other oddities include a plant called the stinging nettle which took some offence at me consuming it for lunch, and proceeded to inflict its revenge upon my calves that evening on a nature trail. Vindictive flora aside, we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. A repeat visit is not unlikely.

Monday, June 12, 2006

'Tis a Good Evening

Looking over some of the archives, I realized that I devote a significant bit of real-estate on this blog to ranting. But really now, you can't blame me can you? I'm naturally cynical, on top of which, I have a job dedicated to eliminating webspam, and indexing that holy grail: "good content" on the internet (ha!). Oh, and having sarcasm personified as a dear friend doesn't help either. Besides, in case you didn't know, I'm not drinking until November (some drivel about me going jaundiced).

Ok, I'm ranting again. But today was a good day! Jayita and I decided to head out to a local South Indian restaurant. After carefully wrapping ourselves around several idlis, we drove back facing one of the most magnificent sunsets I've seen in a while. Well, I was facing it anyway. Which made Jayita not a little jittery since I was supposed to be driving. But back to the sunset. It was one of those performances that make you want to stop the car, stick your head out of the window and yell "Bravo!", or "Wah ustad! Wah!", or something like it. Dashed decent of it to put up such a show, even if it was its 1.2 trillionth rerun.

So there. Now back to our regularly scheduled ranting...

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Recap

It's been a while since I gave the blog some love. That's because... oh yeah, I've been swamped. It hasn't all been work though. Here's a recap:
  • 5/2-5/5: The workplace sent us off to the Seascape resort in Santa Cruz for 2.5 days for a workshop.
  • 5/6: Danilo Perez opens for Kenny Barron. I preferred Danilo Perez (and got my CD signed!).
  • 5/13-5/14: Arjun (a roommate from USC,) visits the Bay Area with his folks.
  • 5/20: We hang out with Rick and Kathy in Japantown. Izumiya has awesome sushi.
  • 5/27: Hike at Russian Ridge with a couple of docents to show us the last of the wildflowers.
  • Right now, I'm in London speaking at SES, and hanging out with childhood friends.
  • Oh yeah, and I've lost 7 pounds and I'm now running 3.1mi in 30 minutes. Body fat is down from 18.5% to 15.5%. Finally being sub-150lb again is goooood!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Manual" is the new "algorithmic"

A recent conversation with a friend about the whole Web 2.0 madness got him to flatter me into pimping my opinion on the subject to the blog. The title of the post was (of course) inspired by a conversation with the other wife.

In the beginning, there were directories (think Yahoo! and the ODP). These were manually populated by some trusted community of people, who made sure that the links pointed to relevant content. Eventually the amount of content on the web grew way beyond the capability of manual discovery, and fairly complicated algorithms crawled and sifted through the mounds of crud to find the data relevant to most queries (think Google).

Once it became obvious that search was an incredibly powerful driving force for web commerce, it wasn't long before an entire community of black-hat search engine optimizers (SEOs) popped up to manipulate the rankings to their advantage. After all, "There was GOLD in them thar SERPs! (Search Engine Result Pages)". Most search engines of course have groups of people dedicated to making sure the ranking algorithms are wise to their tricks.

Fast-forward to 2003(ish), and the pendulum swings back to manual labor. Del.icio.us and Flickr introduce this novel concept: Let users "tag" content (URLs and images respectively) with words representative of the content (like "family", "poodle", "jazz"). This works great. Free labelled data! Naively, one could use this as a direct relevance statement. An object tagged with the term "jazz" must obviously be a valid search result for the query "jazz", right? Quite so, but the real power of this turns up if you can generalize the labelling to unlabeled content on the web. That's exactly what machine learning algorithms do. If Yahoo!'s smart, their boffins are using their acquisitions of del.ico.us and Flickr to do exactly that.

From a naive point of view, it would appear that we're done. We've solved the relevance problem if the users themselves tell us what's relevant. Right?

Not quite.

Keep in mind that the only reason index spam wasn't a problem with algorithmic search from 1998 to about 2002 was because it didn't (yet) drive commerce. Once Yahoo! really does start using that label data, and the black-hats catch on that tagging is being used to influence search results, what's going to stop an SEO from tagging affiliate pages for online casinos with "cooking"? Pretty much nothing. At that point the value of the labelled data is zilch. We'll have to resort to natural language techniques for summarization to automatically generate tags. Guess what? That's back to algorithmic information retrieval again.

So that's my $0.02. We're in a temporarily happy phase where "manual is the new algorithmic" (smile Coe). In a couple of years' time we'll be back to where we started. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

"i" is the new "e"

iPod, iMac, iRobot, iGoogle, iCan't really understand what the fascination with this letter is. It's like back in the days of the dot-com boom when people would prepend an "e" all willy-nilly to any idea and instantly receive venture capital.

Now Nintendo's gone and named its next generation console "Wii" (pronounced like "We") since it's a "console for everyone". Ooh-ooh, I have a couple more:
  • iPii: Especially after all those cups of coffii
  • F#$k yii: Suitable invective if yii bii annoyed by superfluous "i"s

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Misplaced in Translation

A recent trip to the motherland (pun unintended until I noticed it) made me realize that growing up in India placed a few words in my vocabulary which --- while rarely used now in the Republic --- bring a nostalgic sniffle:
  • gum-boots: Hideous rubber boots that we wore to school during the monsoon at the age of about 6. Wonderfully watertight, but that only meant that the water dripping into them from the raincoat sticking to your knees had nowhere to go.
  • lift: Elevator. But not the fancy-schmancy stuff with the automatic doors. These are the ones with the collapsible metal grating which you have to drag open and shut. Oh, and if you don't shut it completely, you'll be haunted by the midi-style "Jingle Bells" all your life.
  • "yoo-dee-clone": This mysterious fragrant stuff that my grandmother believed would cure everything from colds to fractures. When I got around to reading, I found out it was eau de cologne.
  • flat: Apartment. Not rented but owned; in a building where everyone knows everyone else and their birthday.
  • chai: Not the strawberry-raspberry-mango flavored foo-foo crap that Starbucks foists. This is the real stuff. Sold at most street corners (milk and sugar included) and strong enough to make you sit up and bark. Perfect during the monsoons while those gum-boots are drying off. If you're in a hurry, you can ask for a "cutting" (half) serving. By the way, do any of my non-desi readers realize that chai means "tea"? So when you ask for "chai tea" (with or without the passion-fruit infusion) you just sound kinda silly?
Anyone else have a list they want to throw in?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Allana

I've noticed that my friends are starting to fall into a couple of categories. Those that we are grateful have absolutely no hope of offspawn, and some others who have simply the most adorable kids ever. I mean, listen to the man. Doesn't he sound positively ga-ga over the little object?




And in case you're wondering (as I know my dearest aging relatives are); no, Jayita and I love our friends' kids because they all have this eminently endearing property: a return policy.

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SFJazz Collective

Jayita and I just returned from attending the members-only concert of the SFJazz Collective. Outstanding performances all around, especially from Nicholas Payton (trumpet) and Eric Harland (drums). One of Payton's compositions -- "Sudoku" -- captured the spirit of the game perfectly. The arrangement had a pecking staccato melody, broken up into intervals of two or three notes performed by each instrument, with each leading into and weaving around the other. One immediately felt the hunt-and-peck nature of the game's solution, while the sections which had flurries of simultaneous chords alluded to the cascade of solved cells that usually results from a breakthrough.

The most awesome part of the evening? Getting to meet the band members after the concert. Oh yeah, those are the autographs I got on my CD :)) Jealous yet??

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Google Calendar

I had to keep my trap shut about this for far too long, but now that it's been released, Google Calendar rocks! :))

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

New Toy

Picked up this little beast yesterday at Fry's. I'm happy. Very happy. They even gave me a discount to match an online deal that was $100 cheaper. Did I mention I was happy?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Overdue


Meant to post this on the 21st of March, but I (naturally) forgot to carry the USB cable for my camera. Now that I have the picture... Happy 95th birthday, Grandma.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Why Google won't give you driving directions in Mumbai

Because nobody knows what the street names are. Or which direction (E-W/N-S) they run. Everybody goes by these really absurd landmark-based instructions like "Turn left at the second signal after the big lotus shaped petrol* station". Sometimes the directions require prior knowledge: "Do you know where Lilavati Hospital is? Right. There's a church adjacent to it, across from which is a lane, with a bank on the left. Across the street from the bank is the building you want".

We're doomed. No matter how much research you put into it, I just don't think directions like "Make a u-turn after you pass the wall with the paan* stain that looks like the Virgin Mary" is something an algorithm can spit out.

*For my American readers^H: petrol=gasoline; paan=chewing tobacco;

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Visiting India: Day 10

Oh this is just the most wonderful time in the world to be alcohol-deprived. I could drink of course, but with the medication I'm taking, it might mean sacrificing my eyesight.

Don't think I'm chicken though --- oh no!! I'm only complaining because it's the wrong sense; if I (at least temporarily) lost hearing instead of eyesight, I'd be inhaling the stuff.

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Air travel -- Indian style!

The bit that really amused Jayita and me as we were flying up to Delhi on Tuesday, was that the meal actually had this little dairy-creamer-sized container --- with achaar! (pickle). Even better, the after-meal "mint" was a little sachet of saunf. Compared to the "budget" airline services back at the republic, getting great service at the budget price was a pleasant change.

Unfortunately, Indian passengers seem to be the most boorish bunch of twits in the world. For some reason, the wheels touching down are an immediate call to unbuckle seatbelts. Before the plane has even come to a stop, our daisys (as a dear friend likes to call us) are already rummaging around in the overhead bins for their loot. And while actually leaving the plane, the idiots can't wait for you to remove your own bag before trying to squeeze past. I thought we were supposed to be a "patient people"? Jayita commented that it was sad that Indians now have the money for en masse air travel, but not the commensurate courtesy.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

(Not Just) Jazz by the Bay

On Saturday, Keith (my cousin) calls up and says "Hey, do you want to come to a concert at JbtB this evening? We're performing." (I should mention he's a bassist). Of course, I jump at the chance since:
  1. It gets me out of the house.
  2. I get to listen to some good music.
  3. I'm going to be in one of the nicer clubs in Bombay surrounded by really hot women.
A most excellent evening. I got to hang out and chat with Gary Lawyer who was performing. I've never liked his original stuff, but he did some nice renditions of a couple of Frank Sinatra and Al Jarreau standards. And he seems to be quite a likeable guy. The evening eventually wound down at about 2am, by which time I was thoroughly exhausted.

Btw, Indian women do sizzle.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Homesick for Hitler

The trouble with visiting a real democratic, secular nation is that the inmates actually expect one to be... well, democratic and secular. Dashed inconsiderate of them, I say. These problems are non-existent back in the good old republic. There one simply "exports democracy" because any fool can see that the less of the stuff one has in one's own country, the better.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Visiting India: Day 1 (encore)

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!
<deep breath>
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

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The Poet: Bill Evans

I've always regarded Bill Evans as my dream jazz pianist. The following quote from an article by Gene Lees sums up how I feel about his music:
Oscar Peterson raised the level of playing the piano in jazz to the proficiency long the norm in classical music. One musician made his apt observation: "It was said in their own time that Liszt conquered the piano, Chopin seduced it. Oscar is our Liszt and Bill is our Chopin." The poetry of Bill's playing compels the comparison to Chopin, whose music, incidentally, Bill played exquisitely.
...from the 1988 collection Meet Me at Jim and Andy's.

Visiting India: Day 1

Oh yeah. Now I remember why I chose to live on the other side of the planet.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Visiting India

Sunday afternoon I fly off to India to visit the aging flesh-and-b. Jayita joins me there in a week. Watch this space for updates :)

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

NicNac, jazz, and a Coezy weekend

The Coeman was in town for the weekend. Spent Friday evening at Nacho's celebrating his engagement to the lovely Nicole. One can't have Coe in town and not go to a jazz concert, so we caught Roy Hargrove at Yoshi's. I thought the pianist's solos were awesome with several shout-outs to Monk. Another point of mention: the sake at Yoshi's was exceptionally good. Too bad I can't drink for another 8 months.

Next week Ron Carter comes into town, but with the amount of work I have to get done this week, I see little hope of catching him.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

SES @ NYC

All of last week, I was at the Big Apple for the Search Engine Strategies conference.
  • Black-hats' tongues get a little looser after they've slathered some alcohol over it. Doubly so if they have to impress a female colleague.
  • Talk about a small world. As soon as I landed, I called Dhiren (friend from high-school, now in NY/NJ) and told him I'd be there for SES. His answer: "Really?! We have a booth there!". Sweet. Managed to hook up with him, catch up with his dad and brother, and meet the lovely Esther. Btw, his brother was one of the guys heading up Morgan Stanley's handling of Google's IPO.
  • Vanessa and I went to this Egyptian restaurant on Wednesday. She laughed at me slipping money into the moving targets which were the belly-dancer's hips, and I had my turn when she was picked to dance with her.
  • Central Park is pretty in the morning. Especially when it snows.
Unfortunately, I was too busy to catch any jazz. Next time.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

The Real McCoy

Last night I attended a concert which has to take the top spot. It was all-time best concert I've attended.

The great McCoy Tyner does a 2-week residency at Yoshi's every year; each week playing with a different lineup. This year:
  • Week 1: Lewis Nash (drums), Joe Lovano (tenor), Dave Holland (bass)
  • Week 2: Eric Harland(drums), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Ravi Coltrane (soprano), Charnett Moffet (bass)
Week 1 was an outstanding performance. This was the first time I'd seen Dave Holland, and the guy's got some amazing skills. He complemented Joe Lovano's screaming tenor really well. McCoy was a little subdued; letting the rest of the band do their thing. While I left that concert pretty impressed, nothing could've prepared me for what was to come the following week.

Eric Harland has to be one of the most intuitive drummers in jazz today. I've never seen any drummer gel with the other performers as well as he did. And his solos lit up the stage. Rick mentioned that apparantly when this guy was a kid, he weighed in at 300lb. Now he's a bloody rail. Being so large he didn't have much of a social life as a kid, so he just stayed home and practiced.

Also the first time I'd seen Charnett Moffet. Talk about a virtuoso. This guy's all the way up there with Stanley Clarke and Charles Mingus. He started playing bass (his 3rd instrument) at the age of around 8, and by now, his technique is unstoppable.

Old man McCoy's looking older each year, but this evening the man could've been 20. He was just so energized. It was awesome to see the effect of having great people to play with.

Rick and I almost attempted to get tickets for the next set, or for the next day, but we should've guessed; they were sold out. I'm really looking forward to catching the SFJazz Collective this season; if only to see Eric Harland and Bobby Hutcherson perform together again.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Wobbly Windows in Luminocity

This is some of the slickest stuff I've seen in a long, long time. You have to check out the videos.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

F@#$ Windows!!

Destroyed my partition table. I'm wondering if I should just keep it on a separate drive. Of course, the problem is they don't make 5GB drives anymore.

I wish I wasn't such a game-addict. Ah well, backups are a good thing :)

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

SFJazz Pre-Season Listening Party

Yesterday Jayita and I attended the SFJazz pre-season listening party at the Herbst Theatre. It was supposed to feature Joshua Redman (the artistic director and front-man for the SFJazz Collective) talk about some of the music we'd be hearing in the coming season. Instead we were pleasantly surpised when the master vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson took his place after he came down with the flu.

As we listened to some of the Collective's music, Bobby chimed in with one story after another about the music, and the people making it. A couple of cool bits:
  • Bobby's sister Peggy (on whose passing he composed the song "Psalm for Peggy") was one of the Raylettes. She also happened to date the pilot of the plane that flew them between cities for their gigs. Once night during the flight she decided to go up to the cockpit to meet her beau, and found Ray Charles at the plane's controls (uh huh... yeah... the blind guy). And he (very matter-of-factly) told her that he did that every night after everybody had gone to sleep so it wouldn't alarm them. Oh yeah!!
  • Besides being an awesome drummer whose style Bobby likened to that of a "fencer", Brian Blade apparantly plays guitar really well.
  • Danilo Perez once said "Bobby and Brian... beans and rice!"
It was a wonderful evening just for the stories. This year, the Collective will be featuring the music of Herbie Hancock, and it even includes a song from the Fat Albert series. It's going to be a good season :)

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Holiday Calls

Over the last week, Jayita and I have been calling the folks back home several times (the holiday season, plus a slew of anniversarys and birthdays). The first few seconds of the conversation are normal until one (or both) parties realize that it's a call from the US. That's when they feel the sudden inadequacy of the telephone system to bridge all those miles, and need to raise their voices several tens of decibels, just so that it can be heard on the other side of the world.

Of course, the telephone system wasn't really built for mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps (sorry Wodehouse), and distorts each yell beyond recognition, resulting in even further escalation of the vocal arms race.

Them: Hello?
(one of) Us: Hi there!
Them: HI<NAME>!!HAPPYNEWYEAR!HOWAREYOUDOING?
WHENAMIGETTINGGRANDCHILDREN?HOWWASYOURTRIP?
Us (minus eardrum): ebbeh...

Note the secondary effect of compressing an entire conversation's worth of questions into a single sentence -- just in case that connection drops.

It's "the most wonderful time of the year"... it really is...