mercredi, janvier 17, 2007

More food, Ableton Live, and more theatre

So, after a bit of sleeping-in, I headed off to Greg's place to help him pack together stuff that he'll be leaving with me (mostly kitchen stuff, of course). Once everything is packed up (and once I'm done coveting the apartment of the family across the street) we head off to the subway. When we transfer to my line (the #11), we find that the train isn't going anywhere. As the train gets more and more packed with people, and Greg and I are sandwiched between a golden retriever and a couple of talkative locals, we hear the announcement "Following a technical incident, service on the 11 line has been interrupted." No indication of how long it will take, no indication of what alternate modes of transportation are available, no explanation of what they're doing to fix it. In other words, it was just like the last time this happened.

Taking my cue from that previous experience, we eventually got ourselves out of the station and caught a cab. The cab took a bit longer than the métro (it was midday), but at least we got there. Now under a bit of pressure, we dashed upstairs--but not before Greg dumped some crème fraiche all over himself. It was fantastic; in a brief moment, Greg single-handedly inaugurated the "après-spooge" fashion trend. When you start seeing runway models covering themselves in yogurt, you'll know who started it.

Anyway, we made it upstairs, Greg wiped the sweet dairy love off himself, and I got to making the patacones and papas a la huancaína (with help from Greg, of course). Much starch was consumed. I had originally planned on getting a roast chicken from one of the butcher shops nearby, but that went out the window with the massive métro problems earlier on.

I also helped Greg to set up an iMic with the Mac's built-in Core Audio to create an aggregate device. The bonus of this is that certain programs (i.e., Traktor, Ableton Live) don't allow you to spread your inputs or outputs between audio devices. In Traktor, you're pretty much limited to one device, whereas in Ableton Live you can send output and take input with different devices, but all input must come from one device and all output must come from one device. What aggregate devices allow me to do is take two devices and hide them behind an abstracted "umbrella" device through OSX. Then, the operating system presents this abstracted device to audio programs, who treat it as if it were one device. The only real trick to the process is making sure that you know which inputs and outputs correspond to channels 1, 2, 3 and 4 (and more, if you have them).

Anyway, after Greg dashed off to his Portuguese class, I looked continued to play around on my version of Live, beginning to finally re-familiarize myself with the program. I'm still a long way from doing anything remotely productive with it, but I feel a bit more like I practise music and not just write about it (although a part of me hates myself for not respecting the dancing I do every weekend as a form of musical practise).

Afterwards, I headed off toward the Cartoucherie in the Bois de Vincennes to catch a play with a group from the University of Chicago. The play, in the Theatre du Soleil, is entitled Les Éphémères and is directed by Ariane Mnouchkine. Mnouchkine and her troop are obviously well invested in the "A collective a day keeps fascism away," since all of the writing credits are collective and the notes in the program make a point of declaring the script "improvised, dreamed, worked-out" collectively.

As one might guess from the title, the play is a mosaic of vignettes, mostly unrelated to each other, although certain characters seem to reappear (partially because they are played by the same actor), and certain vignettes continue previous vignettes. And, as one might guess from the format, it was pretty hit-or-miss. The opening vignette was this overwrought vaseline-over-the-camera-lens bit about a daughter selling her dead mother's home to a guy who just had a baby, while having these very nostalgic flashbacks about how wonderful her mother was. I don't know who "improvised" that scene, but please work out your issues with your dead mother's gardening some other time. On the other hand, there was a very cute vignette about a transsexual American woman living in Paris who catches a small girl peering through the window at her with her schoolmates. The girl is, of course, curious about this oddly-masculine woman with the deep voice, and a "let's explain trans life" dialogue (monologue, mostly) ensues. What was nice about this vignette was that it was a mixture of funny one-liners, dry humour, and tragic loneliness (for both characters).

Then, there was the clichéd junkie-begs-grandparents-for-money scene, with the young man (dressed in full racaille uniform) pounding on the door and being all "out of control!" while the grandparents weep and look pitiful. It reminded me a lot of the criticisms Dancer in the Dark got for crass manipulation of audience sentiment. Either way, the play left me lukewarm at best, occasionally nauseous with schmaltz and saccharine. As we left, certain people in the UofC group were practically spitting venom about the play (apparently because Mnouchkine is normally known for socialist critique sorts of plays), while others had more tepid readings. But nobody seemed particularly thrilled. On the upside, it was mostly in a very colloquial and banal French, which made it easier for the French students to understand.

The play ran 3+ hours long, so by the time I got home, all I could do was frantically cook up some pasta and then head for bed. Whew!

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