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Russell Collins
26 May 2009 @ 12:57 pm
This has been my favorite opera aria since I heard the Met broadcast.

Sung to the a-bomb.

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Russell Collins
09 March 2009 @ 01:24 pm
Mostly because I know Jenn loves this stuff, here's a series of photos taken in Pripyat. This town on the outskirts of Chernobyl was evacuated in two days in 1986 when the fire broke out at the power plant. It's safe to visit now, but the town is still abandoned.

Take a look.
Russell Collins
12 February 2009 @ 04:23 pm
I've learned an important lesson about my notebook PC; Beth. The fans move so much hot air out to the left side that I can set my tea mug there and it will stay warm much longer. Likewise, I have to put any soda can on the right side if I want to avoid heating it up.
Russell Collins
08 January 2009 @ 01:18 pm
Over the past few months the_stalwart has been working toward the release of his newest RPG, Serial Homicide Unit. A story game in which the players follow the lives of the police chasing down a serial killer, and the final days of the soon-to-be-victims.

It's a unique game for many reasons. First of all, it is an audio rule book. That's right, you don't read it.
A recording of the rules guides you through the game as you play.

Even more interesting is that the voice belongs to me.

Further adding to the interesting, there's some title music to start off the recording, also by me.

So, since my grubby mitts are all over this game, I recommend you go and buy it. (Playtesters should already have an e-copy. If you didn't get one, let me know and I'll pass the word along to Michael.)

Michael has asked me to work up an advert for the game. Once that is ready, I'll post it here.
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Russell Collins
18 December 2008 @ 10:17 am
This one too, is one we tried out in high school but I didn't actually get to sing in concert until Westminster. Only years later have I noticed that my high school choir director put some pretty challenging stuff in front of us; lots of polyphonic works and old Renaissance stuff. I think it's because he was largely left to his own devices.

In geek news, I heard a few good things about the Battlestar Galactica board game from a post by gillan. I decided that I'd seek it out. Then, I made the mistake of watching a few episodes online to get into the spirit of the game. My long dormant love of space opera/conspiracy drama was activated and suddenly I want to watch all the episodes of the show and make any and all available friends play this game. So, thanks Brett. It took me 7 years to overcome the space opera bug after Star Wars was ruined, and now I'm right back in. Hooray. Sigh.
Russell Collins
17 December 2008 @ 03:15 pm
This one takes me back. I first worked with this piece in high school. Our director was feeling out the choir at the start of the semester, to see what we could handle. Though we only gave this piece a few try-outs it stuck immediately as one of my favorites. Just hearing the part at 22 seconds, when the full chorus harmony hits still gets me, even after having heard this one maybe hundreds of times.

This one is also an actual Renaissance work by Thomas Luis de Victoria rather than a modern re-imagining.

Russell Collins
16 December 2008 @ 09:29 am
Here's another English composer rewriting an old classic. Ralph Vaughn-Williams "Wassail Song." Wassailing is one of those great old words. Carousing without the seedy undertones. Eat, drink, sing, and be merry.

That high pitched sound is crappy audio encoding. Sadly, this is the best video of the song I could find.

As a side note, I've posted a few religious works so far but there's no subversive intent here. The concept of a "war on Christmas" was invented by a neo-nazi, so I don't buy into it. If you hear God in this music, that's your thing and you're welcome. I'm just here to point out that medieval style polyphony sounds good.
Russell Collins
15 December 2008 @ 09:27 am
Benjamin Britten is another of my faves. His modern choral works ran throughout my school days from the first Chapel Choir class my freshman year. He was also a lover of the old tunes of medieval Europe and loved to reset texts in Middle English. Here's a choice selection from the "Ceremony of Carols."

The only thing better than a Middle English Christmas carol is one being redone by a twentieth century composer.

It's also fun to see the faces the kids make, wringing as much pathos from 1'15 as is possible.
Russell Collins
I think somewhere around 1950 they stopped making good Christmas music. And even then, I feel we were in decline for about 2 or 3 centuries. If there's one thing I'm a snob about it's my Christmas music. So, go listen to some modern pop diva butcher "Let it Snow" and then come back here and watch this.

See, that's what I'm talking about! Crazy turn-of-the-century British man rewriting Elizabethan carols.

I don't hate other Christmas music. Along with Benjamin Britten's "Ceremony of Carols" I've also sung some great jazz arrangements of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" and the Westminster Singers traditional "Twas the Night Before Christmas." I'm just saying, is it too much to sneak in an occasional "Hodie Christus Natus Est" among the others?

If this makes me a crotchety old man, it makes me a 500 year old crotchety old man.
Russell Collins
05 December 2008 @ 09:59 am
My office laid off 33 people yesterday and we've been told that until the end of the fiscal year we should expect further cutbacks and consolidation. In fact, the organization wants to cut spending by 50%. I guess I'm lucky to still be here, what with my lack of marketable skills. Today the entire building is a funeral parlor and I seem to be the loud-mouthed idiot who doesn't know how to behave.

I keep trying to discuss things in a "business as usual" tone and bring up plans for future projects, mostly about doing things like replacing costly business trips with web seminars and other things that I think are good for us keeping our jobs, and then I'm told I really shouldn't think about the future with so much uncertainty in the organization. So I'm the optimistic one.

Me? C'mon.

Maybe I'm too much a sociopath to feel the zeitgeist of the office. I mean, I caught myself not whispering while a guy cleaned out his cube on the other side of the dividing wall and that's a major faux pas today. So, I'm caught between being disrespectful to the "dead" by trying to think about the future, or looking unproductive by sitting around waiting for other people to want to work again. Scylla and Carbides.

Either way, I really want a double bourbon.
listen:: Lachrimae Pavaen :: Johann Schop