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Friday, March 31, 2006

'We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.'
- Tom Stoppard

I'm going to be performing as one of the sopranos in this concert featuring the music of composer Ross Care. Included will be songs from Through the Looking Glass and settings of works by James Joyce and William Blake. It's lovely stuff, and in an odd twist of fate, Ross graduated from West Chester University, is mainly interested in film and theatre music, and has written an incidental score for The Glass Menagerie. Spooky.

Everything is on hold until I finish recording the music for our production of The Glass Menagerie, which will be on April 18, 19 and 20 at the Whitaker Center. I expect to get the gist of the incidental music down on a CD by Sunday, so I'll post a couple of mp3s of that when I'm done.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Minimalist cast does 'Hamlet' proud: "As Ophelia, Melissa Dunphy flew around the set. Her mad scene and beautiful singing voice were mesmerizing. I loved the fluidity of her movement as she portrayed the Player Queen and Lucianus, and her transformations into Horatio and Guildenstern defied the elements of time."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

I have an IMDB profile! Huzzah!

Now I feel slightly less inadequate when compared to Lucy and Anthony.

  • Terrorist 007, Exposed. I find this passage unintentionally hilarious: "Countless Web sites and password-protected forums -- most of which have sprung up in the last several years -- now cater to would-be jihadists like Irhabi 007. The terrorists who congregate in those cybercommunities are rapidly becoming skilled in hacking, programming, executing online attacks and mastering digital and media design..." Oh noes! With their savvy Photoshop and CSS skills, terrorists are poised to take over the world! God help us all if they discover lens flare.

  • The church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is growing.

  • Wal-Mart is apparently supporting organic foods. I want to believe they'll do it properly, but given the pattern I've noticed of HFCS-free foods becoming more and more scarce on Wal-Mart's shelves - not to mention the appearance of apples with fucking artificial flavor in them - it's probably best to wait and see.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I have PMS. It sucks. I can't get anything done.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Musically, I've been recording one of the pieces I wote when I was 17 or 18: a string quartet inspired by the character of Ophelia. I've cleaned it up a little, and decided it sounds better as a string orchestra piece than a string quartet. I'll post it on here when it's done.

Theatrically, The Frog Prince opens on Wednesday, and we have three public performances of Hamlet next weekend.

In the last week, I've felt like a kid lost in the land of grown ups. I'm starting my own business. I won't give too much away, except that my mind has been almost wholly taken up with preparing a business plan, collecting an advisory team, and agonizing over such out-of-character discussions as whether I should form a general partnership or a limited liability corporation, tax rates and deductions, and the pros and cons of incorporating in Delaware.

Can any local readers recommend a good CPA?

I've also fulfilled my Asian female heritage by becoming obsessed with real estate. This may sound somewhat retarded, but the fact that we have two cats may mean that we have to buy a place instead of renting when we move. It blows my mind that landlords can nix you for pets, but babies (which I daresay make far more mess than cats) are A-OK. I've been researching localities and methods of procuring a cheap house or apartment. I'm thinking we'll move to Delaware County - there are some affordable suburbs near Media which aren't too ghetto, and it's almost perfectly equidistant between West Chester and Philly. Maybe we'll pick up an HUD property and fix it up slowly while we live there to increase its value. I'm pretty good at cosmetic home improvements. If we choose carefully, we won't pay much more per month than we'd pay in rent, and by Christ, even if the house depreciates, I doubt we'd lose as much as we'd give to a landlord over the course of three or four years, or however long we're staying there (Hopefully not much longer than that. I'd like to use grad school as an excuse to move somewhere interesting.).

A couple I know is having a baby. Another just filed for divorce. Why do I still feel like I'm just pretending to be an adult?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Here's another snippet from our Community Watch newsletter, the delightful publication which brought you news of the Riverside masturbator with excessive abdominal hair. The following is quoted verbatim.


With spring in the air, we are giving our yearly advice in regard to protecting your personal property. This advice is definitely gears towards the new residents in Riverside. When you bring out your bikes in the next few weeks, do not never, ever leave it unlocked on your porch, patio, front yard or backyard.....not even for 3 minutes. That is all it takes for someone to take it. Do not leave your bike (locked) overnight on porches, unsecured (poor locks) or garages. The safest place is your house or in an updated, safely locked garage. Spring also brings the travelers, also known as gypsies. They travel in groups, case your home and your activities carefully, usually from an alley. One or two may approach your home-fast talking, they will manipulate you into letting them into your house, and then they will rob you. So if you see strangers coming to your door, don't answer the door-lock up!

Oh heavens, those crazy gypsies! If only the Nazis had exterminated them all. You go, Community Watch!

Here's the mystifying last paragraph (in its entirety) of the newsletter:


The word "invasion" apparently is trying to replace the words "breaking and entering". The word "irresponsible" can become "fecklessness". A description of the Olympian ritual of the opening ceremonies refer to the delightful entertainment as the great leavener, "schlock" - schlock is not in my old Webster dictionary.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Here's a tricky question.

I just heard on NPR's Marketplace that Google settled a lawsuit involving click-throughs on GoogleAds. For those of you not in the know, advertisers pay for ads on Google and Yahoo on a per clickthrough basis - every time someone clicks on an ad on Google, the advertiser has to pay Google a certain amount. Apparently a group of advertisers were able to show that some end-users were clicking and clicking on ads with no intention to buy, causing the company to pay for useless clickthroughs. The advertisers alleged that the search engines might either have had something to do with this, or were covering up the extent of the problem.

So here's my question - imagine I'm a regular netizen with no affiliation with Google other than an undying love of the company, and I see a GoogleAd for a company I despise, like, say, Wal-Mart or some right-wing 527. I know that every time I click on that advertisement, the hated company will have to pay Google money. Am I engaging in some kind of fraud if I click on that ad?

What if I am a Google stockholder who does the same thing?

What if I am someone with a grudge against the advertiser, like a disgruntled employee?

I don't do it so much with GoogleAds, but occasionally when I see an advertisement for something horrible on a website that I enjoy, I'll click on the link for no reason other than to support that website. In fact, I never click on banner ads for any other reason. I don't do it obsessively (a method which apparently tipped these advertisers off) or use automatic refreshers or anything. I just click, once, to redistribute a little wealth and force a business who deserves to pay to, well, pay.

Matt points out that Google in all likelihood settled (for $90 million) because the outcome any way would have been bad for them - even if it had been shown that Google weren't to blame for the click fraud, advertisers would have been less likely to buy ads as a result.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

There's almost a poetic beauty in spam these days.

Date: Sun, 05 Mar 2006 11:56:03 -0500
From: Sherryl Lakeesha

beautiful commit pretty again immediate.
news studied am use love?
light he already use
how wrong yours not somewhere,
commit news reply did,
social next news bad find nothing? different companion very.
supposed to a motor? happened wanted happened?
few bought slow music steps corner.

File under "Haaaaaah WOW!": I received an e-mail from Adam, an old friend I used to work with at GE...
Justin was playing a gig at the Hopetoun Hotel a while ago...

Justin is another old friend from GE (the gig was possibly being played by this band, though last I heard, he was in a few different groups). But I'm interrupting the awesome story...
..and afterwards we went to the restaurant upstairs... I don't know if you ever went there, but there are bookshelves lining the walls. So while waiting for the food, I had a wander about and spotted a copy of Cryptonomicon. I brought it back and said "hey - have you ever read this? It's really good..."

Anyway, we worked out that we'd both borrowed the book from you - and then as I was putting it back on the shelf I noticed something written on the inside... "Melissa Shong". How creepy is that? Did you know that's where that book had ended up?

No, I didn't know! In fact, I was just wondering where my copy of Crypto had disappeared to the other day (my first copy, that is. Tony still has my second). C-c-c-c-crazy!!!

I remember the Hopetoun. Played there a few times with a few different bands. I think that was the venue at which I first realized that I'm far less nervous during a gig if I spend a few seconds talking to the audience through the mic during the show. I don't think I ever left Crypto there, though. Mystery!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Today was one of those days when I'm convinced of the possibility of an annoyingly didactic higher power fucking with me.

Our Internet connection has been blinking on and off for the last two weeks, and finally Comcast sent a technician to look at it today. The technician happened to notice while he was checking the line that, for the last 18 months, we've been getting more cable TV channels than our plan states we should receive.

So, after baselessly accusing me of tampering with the cable (fuck you, Comcast, fuck you in the arse), he installed a 'trap.' And now we only get channels 2 through 21.

No more endless hours of Law and Order on TNT.

No more endless hours of Law and Order: SVU on USA.

No Daily Show.

No Mythbusters.

No Crossing Jordan in a convenient timeslot.

No X-Files marathons.

No Project Runway.

Woe, woe is me. And yet, as much as it pains me to say it, this is a good thing, because I have a fucking audition in five weeks. I need to stay away from the idiot box.

Still. Goddamn.

Well, at least I can still watch Medium in a half-hour. Take that, interfering higher power!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I wish I could say I am engaging in an appropriately ghastly and rigorous practice regimen for my West Chester audition, but the truth is that I've merely started practicing for about an hour and a half a day. Lame. If I can triple that by the end of the week, I might be OK.

God, I hate cram-practicing. It's really stupid. I remember doing it for most of my AMEB exams back in high school. It was dumb then, and it's dumb now. Yet, for some retarded reason, I'm never properly motivated to do something unless I have a deadline.

This morning I finished writing down my incidental music for The Glass Menagerie for the first time. During the performances last year, I worked mostly from a few jotted notes and scraps of manuscript on which I'd scribbled a couple of musical snatches that wouldn't stick in my memory. The best thing about being the solo performer as well as the composer is that I don't have to bother writing much down. Now, of course, that has to change, since I have to present something to WCU. While I was at it, I composed two completely new variations on La Cumparsita which I like much better than the original music, but which may actually force me to practice the violin before the show reopens on April 18.

I could ramble for much longer about things like this, but I shouldn't.

Oh, someone came to Frog and Toad this afternoon wearing a shirt which proclaimed in large letters: "ABORTION IS HOMICIDE." What a great idea. Maybe I should start attending children's theatre in my "GOD HATES WOMEN" t-shirt. Oh wait, I don't own a "GOD HATES WOMEN" t-shirt. Damnit.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

We made the cover of the "Alive" section of the Cumberland County Sentinel:
Page 1 | Page 2
I'm mentioned in the article, and I appear in the picture on Page 2.

My audition information for West Chester University arrived yesterday! I'm to audition on either April the 4th or the 11th. The latter is my birthday, but I'd rather have an extra week to practice than take the day easy. Sean thinks I should tell them it's my birthday for that extra edge at the audition.

I'm very nervous about what I'll be playing at the audition, but the aural section looks remarkably easy. They sent an information sheet emphasizing how important the aural audition will be ("Often, students who score well on their audition are rejected due to a low sight singing score ... a lack of experience with vocal sight reading will put you in jeopardy or failing these courses, slowing your time-to-degree and quite possibly making it impossible to get a degree in music.") but it seems like a piece of cake to me. Not only are the melodies in diatonic major keys, there are no difficult skips, and the rhythms are very basic. Plus! I will get extra points for singing in solfege! Solfege is totally my specialty. I can sing in solfege till the cows come home. Fixed do, movable do, you name it. I'm trying to hang onto that for confidence, because thinking about the part of the audition where I play pieces I've prepared and hand them my ultra-slim composition portfolio is making me anxious enough to puke right now.

This week, we discovered that Matt's car (the Elantra) has a bad transaxle. There's metal in the transaxle oil and a bad bearing. I have absolutely no idea what that means, except that we're up for over $1000 in repairs.

In a bid to earn money, I finally threw the corset that's been sitting on my dressmaker's dummy for a month on eBay. Thanks to some blatant self-promotion on the Hotline, it looks like it's going to sell for a decent amount, and yesterday I got almost 30,000 hits to

I had a wacky dream last night. I dreamed that Matt and I bought a new pet, some sort of hybrid of a cat and a dog. It looked just like a kitten, but we took it to the vet to be neutered, and it came out of surgery looking like a puppy instead. As we walked away from the vet clinic, the puppy started displaying all sorts of behavioral problems. It wouldn't heel, and kept tugging at the leash. I walked ahead of Matt and the dog/cat and found myself in a field of long grass. At one end of the field was a tall cyclone fence, and tethered there in the gloomy shade of a tree was something gray and wrinkled with a strangely humanoid face that I somehow identified as a baby hippopotamus. As I walked through the grass, I suddenly realized that I was surrounded by snakes. A bright green tree snake reared up and bit me on the arm. I called out to Matt, but he shouted something dismissive and disappointing.

Interpret that.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Three blurry pictures of me as Ophelia in Gamut Theatre's educational tour of Hamlet. Wanna see it in person without the camera shake? Come to the public performances. $10 a ticket, and it's only 80 minutes of your time ...

File this under "Things that Make Me Sad for America": the other day at the supermarket, Matt and I noticed some new fruit in the produce section. They looked just like apples, but were packaged in fours and labelled "grapples" (along with some crap about how the name is pronounced "grape-ls"). We gave them a sniff and discovered they smelled just like grape juice, and, according to the marketing, they apparently taste like grapes as well. This excited us, because, well, we are suckers for fruit gimmicks, apparently.

However, when we brought them to the checkout, I took a closer look at the label, and wouldn't you know it? "Ingredients: Apples, Artificial Grape Flavor." I took them straight back to the shelves. Unbe-fucking-lievable. Here I was thinking they'd made some crazy new breed of fruit with some whizz bang grafting technique, but no, apparently they just soaked some apples in a fucking ester. Next they'll be injecting high fructose corn syrup directly into the fruit, mark my words.
For A Year with Frog and Toad, Robert and I created wee little kid programs for all the wee little kids. Among the features are coloring-in pictures (drawn by Robert) and funny little bios of all the characters.

Here's me as Mouse.

Sean tells me that in America, nobody says "coloring-in book." It's just a "coloring book."