26 April 2009

another university shooting

There was another university shooting, this time at Hampton U., not too far from where I grew up. Three people shot (none killed), including the shooter (self-inflicted). You can read about it here.

The most remarkable part of the article is a quote from Hampton President William R. Harvey, who said "I think we are very, very fortunate. This could have been another - you fill in the blank." That is to say that there have been so many terrible school shootings that he couldn't pick just one. How awful.

Columbine was just over 10 years ago. Virginia Tech was just over two. And many, many other shootings at many, many other schools. There have been so many that we can't pick just one to single out as the epitome of tragedy. We have to allude to them all.

23 April 2009

final preview

I'm sitting in a dark theatre in southern California, watching the final preview of a new play. It's been a long tech process, full of misbehaving scenery, re-writes and re-re-writes, and marathon computer programming. I wrote a carefully-crafted score, with precise placements of melodic symbols, harmonic development, and interesting instrumentation connected with character development, but as soon as we started tech, those ideas were scrapped in favor of 'we need a piece that's 11 seconds long.' Careful consideration was abandoned in favor of proper timing.

This was also the largest show I ever designed on the LCS system, which is a computer-based sound playback & routing system. I've done a half-dozen or so shows on LCS, but this was the first time that I really ran into the limitations of the system. There are some things it does really well, but there are plenty of things that it doesn't do well. I learned those things in spades on this show.

If everything goes according to plan, we'll freeze the show tonight, which means that we won't make any more technical changes and I can walk away from the show. Sarah and are set to see the show open tomorrow night, but hopefully I'll have a day off. In the last five and a half weeks, I've had three days off. Hoping to get another one soon.

17 April 2009

tech for Emilie

I'm in tech right now at South Coast Repertory. During the photo call yesterday, the photog snapped a photo of me, my assistant, and the audio engineer at the theatre. Here's us:

PHOTOPLAY! Mark Johnson, Joseph Wilbur & sound designer Vince... on Twitpic

15 April 2009

Way to go Grandpa!

Recently, Sarah's grandfather was recognized by the Iowa Central College Board for many many years of service. He's been serving on the board for 39 years, longer than anyone else on the board. There was a ceremony, during which he gave a brief (but humorous, naturally) speech. During Grandpa's time on the board, the College grew by tremendous amounts - from 2 buildings to 30, adding a fine arts program, etc. Here's a photo of him getting his award:


14 April 2009

Piracy in Somalia

Okay, so, about these Somali pirates. Of course taking hostages is wrong. Of course killing hostages is wrong. Of course all of this.


There have been two articles in the last 24 hours that have both been about the Somali piracy problem, and both urge us to dig deeper into the social causes of the piracy. The first article outlines some of the social problems in Somalia (no functioning government), the ramifications of those problems (no one to prevent European nations from dumping their nuclear waste off the coast of Somalia), and how piracy provides a bit of a solution (both by making the waters less appealing for foreign ships and by creating press to draw attention to these issues).

The second article, by a Somali musician named K'naan, says the same kind of thing, but more anecdotally. K'naan talks about the benefits that piracy brings to Somalia, and while he doesn't make any apologies for the pirates or their practices, he does point out why many Somalis won't outright condemn the pirates.

Like most stories out there, the Somali piracy story has two sides, one of which gets more press than the other. Now, I'm glad that our American captain is safe, and I couldn't condone any sort of violence (to anyone, not just Americans), but truly, isn't a little revolution now and then a good thing? It seems to me that just over 200 years ago, a group of disgruntled colonists rose up to fight off an imperial power, and that seemed to work out pretty well for us.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today's my mom's birthday! Happy birthday to her!

Here are some more photos of our trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

13 April 2009

a good day, and a time to remember

I haven't been blogging here regularly. As soon as I got back to town after Cincinnati, I've been go-go-go-go-go at work, drafting a score, starting classes, and getting ready for tech. Sarah forced me to take the day off yesterday, and it was marvelous. We went to Joshua Tree National Park for an afternoon of hiking, walking, and such. Here's a tree:

Here's us at the park (see if you can spot me - I'm hiding!):

Also, 13 April is always a sad time, so I want to just remind you all to value who you've got in your lives. I know I value who I've got in mine.