snow, winter

Reasons to turn off your TV and tune in to the Interweb

Ok, so I may be a hopeless bore at the water cooler once I start hanging out around water coolers, but here are some reasons I don't miss not watching television (we did recently figure out how to get network channels on our TV, but much of what comes through is plain dismal).

To watch:
These two above plus Netflix have been keeping us busy.  Any more suggestions?

To listen:
  • This American Life - every week, the most touching, thought-provoking, inspiring show on the radio waves.  People stories.  One reason to get Showtime channel on cable is to watch the new TV version of the series...
  • On the Media - ditto.  Tales of media innards, power and corruption, good and evil. 
And all the other wonderful podcasts and radio programs from NPR. 

The most wonderful thing is that you can enjoy most of the above anywhere you are in the world!  Just to think that even a YEAR ago, much of this wasn't out online...  
snow, winter

Portraits time!

Check out two wonderful portraits of me and thesoupasonic by the Brooklyn-based photographer Bill Wadman.
Bill is working on a series of portraits, one each day, for the entire year of 2007.  You can participate in the project, too - it was really fun! 

  • My picture HERE - taken during the snow storm on Wednesday, March 8th.  I'd title it "She could kill with a smile..." :)
  • And thesoupasonic is HERE - taken during soundcheck before his show at Barbes. 
And while we're in portrait-sitting mood, drop us a line if you'd like to experiment with portraits yourself.  We realized we have next to none fun creative shots of the two of us.
snow, winter

On continuous play...

While unpacking and sifting through thesoupasonic's and mine CD collection after our move back to NY, I was thinking how out of this formidable wealth of musical expession, only three recordings have in some sense withstood the test of time for me.

These recordings are like good old friends - I never get tired of them, they comfort me, whisk me away from any troubles and gently caress me back to life. I am not quite sure what unites these three, but why analyze that which is quite simple: I am immensely fond of these recordings and if you have some spare time and cash, I hope you check them out:
  • The Velvet Underground by the Velvet Underground.
  • Nigunim by Frank London, Lorin Sklamberg, Uri Caine
  • Danubian Trances by Karoly Cserepes (this is the most recent addition, and I'm not sure whether you can get it in the States, but do check out the MySpace link with some of the tracks)
Happy listening!
snow, winter

Sometimes I feel...

It's always fun when law and music overlap in my life...
Sometimes that happens
when past fans become future colleagues (you know who you are),
or contracts and license agreements begin to make more sense,
or songs about lawyers strike my funny bone (my favorite of the genre is "My Attorney Bernie," immortalized by the great Blossom Dearie).

And most recently, something I learned in law school opened up a beehive of creative possibilities and collaborations.

This is where Creative Commons Licenses come in. Creative Commons Licenses provide a user-friendly legal framework for sharing your music and other creative works in ways less restrictive than Copyright. If you create and release something under a Creative Commons license, you are giving permission to use that work - with some restrictions - in ways that would be covered by Copyright. You could require licensees to give you credit, or you could allow using it only for non-commercial projects, or you could forbid changing the work in any way - it's as easy as checking of a few boxes, and voila! you've given a green light on future creative exploitation of your work under those terms. Much more on that at the Creative Commons Website. Note that there's a reason to be careful about stamping a Creative Commons license on your work if you ever plan to make it a huge commercial hit - revocability of Creative Commons licenses are questionable at this point (according to at least one Copyright scholar according to a recent talk I attended). But I digress...

Recently, I've been intrigued by the idea of collaborating online through sites like ccMixter and SpliceMusic - ccMixter (via Creative Commons) provides the legal framework for easy colalboration through Samples Licenses; SpliceMusic also offers a very impressive online sequencer and community tools for music collaboration with very little know-how and no upstart costs.

thesoupasonic has uploaded some very specific viola gestures and textures -- odd sounding notes, whacks, crashes -- sounds which can't at all be found in ordinary sample libraries. He also uploaded one of his newest tracks, an Indian-inspired "Heat Me Up", posting all the parts of the tracks (melody, bass, plucks, etc) and inviting a remix (see here: Meanwhile, I uploaded an accapella version of the Spiritual "Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child", and in the near future, I'm hoping to record various vocal gestures, riffs, ornaments.

Several intriguing re-mixes have already been posted by users, but one collaborator stands out, and he goes by the name of Minimal-Art. For those of you in the know, it should be no surprize that this collaborator is from Budapest - the city where cutting-edge musicality is served with every sip of palinka.

So here is Minimal-Art's take on "Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child":

snow, winter

back in blog

After a prolonged unjustified hiatus, I'm back to blogging...

Why? Mostly as a platform for reacting to the myriad of experiences in my life, and a way to share recent discoveries in music, film, readings, etc etc etc. I've also discovered that I love reading other people's personal blogs - somehow daily activities of complete strangers or casual acquaintances are often more inexorably fascinating than novels by master writers. Call me a voyeur...

And once in a while, I'll engage in shameless self-promotion and bragposting. Because... why not? :)

Life update: So in the last couple of months, [info]thesoupasonic  and I got back to New York after a 4-month soiree in Budapest and beyond. Some of our stay in Budapest was documented at We spent the first month catching up with friends and adjusting to the culinary shock to the system - our neighborhood has more Thai restaurants per square foot than all of Budapest, and a few more cropped up while we were away. One of these days, I'll blog on my favorite Thai restaurants in NY.

On the bragging front, we played a sold-out show at Joe's Pub in mid-January. It was a double bill with my band ROMASHKA and Ljova's new project THE VJOLA CONTRABAND. Ljova got a tremendous review in Newsday for the show, and Romashka was featured in the Global Rhythm Magazine, which favorably compared me with Edith Piaf , oui oui :) And the New York Observer featured a beautiful shot of both of our bands on the eve of the show (see above, photo by Nina Roberts).

And for the romantics among you
, the New York Observer also featured our engagement story in their Love Beat column, see here:

So that's the happy news so far. I'm enjoying a light semester at school, and devoting much time to all the activities I won't have time for in just a few short months - swimming, reading, surfing the web, walking, shopping.

And finally, a music recommendation: a wonderful recording of Gavin Bryars "After the Requiem" by Bill Frisell and members of the Balanescu Quartet. It'll seduce you into a meditative state, and caress you into blissful solitude. A cross between Philip Glass and Messiaen, with a healthy dose of electric guitar.
snow, winter

Holiday Party Excuse Maker!

Flamingo Xmas
Originally uploaded by NPRDigiMedia.
You've GOTTA check this out: devilishly clever, cute, and so useful!

Holiday party excuse maker:

Enter a few details about the party, how you feel about your host, and voila! a ready-made party-pooping excuse - carefully customized to your needs. And the animation is just adorable....

Plus one creepy feature - it seems to be able to identify your geographic location! For my custom excuse, it helpfully mentioned that the reason I can't make the party is because "I'll be on vacation in Budapest..." - which is exactly right! (and that's where I am now)
snow, winter

A memento from Bucharest

Ljova is back from Bucharest, and here's a little brag-photo from his stay there (this is when I came to visit him last weekend).

We just got our tickets back to New York on December 30th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now just hesitating on what to do for the week before our departure - Turkey and Israel are our options on the table.

In the words of the great DJ Joro-Boro of Mehanata:
"globetrotting, jetsetting, globalizing immigrants, you!"
snow, winter

Exposure pays?

Originally uploaded by innabar.
There are times when my band is asked to play at benefits or other charity functions or parties for free for exposure... To this, one of our band members likes to pun that "Exposure kills"...

Here's a different spin from a little blurb I saw in the Daily Mail & Telegraph on my way from Bucharest to Budapest:

    An obscure concert violinist was asked to appear on a major British television show and was told that his fee would be $50...
    "I'll do it, and I'll put my check in the mail today!" was his response...
History is silent on whether the violinist has remained obscure...