Archive for the 'Music' Category


Thursday, May 10th, 2007

I've been a fan of Enigma, especially the songs "Mea Culpa" and "Sadeness (part II)", for over a year. Today, I found out that "Sadeness" is part of a three-part movement (along with a song called "Find Love") and listened to the other parts for the first time.

Wow. I didn't know it was possible for music to be pornographic.

Dear Avalon

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

When I hear the chorus of Undeniably You (Jeff Savage Mix), I cannot help but notice that you keep using that word:

It's unbelievable all the things that You do
It's unexplainable how Your love pulls me through
And I can't question the one thing I've found to be true
It's undeniably You

I do not think "unbelievable" means what you think it means.


An atheist fan

Musical baton

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

This meme escaped from LiveJournal into the standards-based web design world. Sander passed it to me and Tristor also tried to pass it to me. Sander's post got me hooked on "Tower" by Vienna Teng, which I had somehow missed last time I visited her site, so I feel obligated to spread the meme. Also, the voices in my head said that if I didn't pass it on, I would be ridiculed by LiveJournal users and would not find any good music for a whole month.

Total volume of music files on my computer

11.5 GB in 2567 MP3s, 67 OGGs, and 24 WMAs.

Last CD I bought

To Touch The Stars. This CD contains Garry Novikoff's "Dog on the Moon", which was good enough to get me onto Garry's mailing list.

Playing right now

Enya - "The Celts". My Audioscrobbler profile lists the songs I've been listening to the most.

Five songs that mean a lot to me

"Threes" by Mercedes Lackey, Julia Ecklar (women's version), and Bob Kanefsky (men's version). Helen knew the song from reading the Mercedes Lackey story from which it came, and I knew the song from listening to filk music. The song came up in a conversation in Emily's room, either by me mentioning filk or Helen mentioning Lackey. I invited Helen to my room to hear it and other filk songs. We hooked up several weeks later and stayed together for over a year. "Threes" are also my favorite varying-chorus songs, closely followed by "Ballad of the Shape of Things" and "Seven Drunken Nights in Space".

"Terra's Theme" from Final Fantasy 6. Several days into FF6, I heard this theme after coming out of a cave, and felt like I had known it for my entire life. Yes, I know that's something an RPG character would say. Maybe I had heard someone play a self-arranged piano version of the song (Ezekiel Chang from Ross?).

Vertical Horizon - "Everything You Want". I first heard it on the radio when I was in a car with Sara Saperstein. She had heard the song before and mentioned that she liked it a lot. Ever since then, I have associated this song with her.

Kathy Mar - "The Word of God". A beautiful attempt to reconcile Christianity with science.

Joan Baez - "Through Your Hands".

Five songs that can make me cry

This was one of the easier questions. It's hard to pick my favorite songs, because there are many songs I like, but there are only a dozen songs that have ever made me cry.

Julia Ecklar - "The Phoenix".

Julia Ecklar / Jordin Kare - "Pushing the Speed of Light". You have to know some physics to understand this song.

Alanis Morissette - "Your House". My favorite example of irony in an Alanis song.

Evanescence - "Bring Me to Life". Amy Lee's voice (at the beginning) makes me cry, not the lyrics. I learned about this song be attending a cappella concerts -- I heard three good a cappella versions of the song before I heard Evanescence's version.

Tish Hinojosa - "Donde Voy" is the only non-English song that makes me cry. I found this song soon after listening to the treasure map CD Voce, which contains Tish Hinojosa's "Las Golondrinas".

Five favorite that I've known for over a month

Blackmore's Night - "Beyond the Sunset"

Blackmore's Night - "Cartouche"

Claremont Shades - "Techno Fusion"

Inoj - "Time after Time"

The Corrs - "Breathless"

How I discover good music

  • Friends with similar tastes in music, including Jeri, Ishani, James, and Michelle.
  • My parents.
  • Treasure map CDs with songs by many artists, such as Voce and the Magnatune rock compilation.
  • Parodists such as Weird Al, The Capitol Steps, and Bob Kanefsky.
  • A cappella concerts and CDs. I have Helen to thank for introducing me to a cappella music, which is great both itself and as a way to learn about a wide variety of music.
  • Amazon recommendations. Audioscrobbler has the potential to unseat Amazon for this position in my life.
  • Radio.

Five people to whom I'm passing the baton

  • Matthew Thomas.
  • Grey Hodge, who jumped up and down in #bs begging me to pass the baton to him. Tristor already got him.
  • Adam Sacarny, the only person in my blogroll who has written much about music.
  • Michelle, who knows about a world of Christian music that I'm missing out on for the silly reason that I'm an atheist. She introduced me to Jack Johnson and was indirectly responsible for introducing me to both Jennifer Knapp (through Holly) and Avalon (by bringing me to a Christian concert).
  • Jeri, who has introduced me to many good artists. She does not have a blog and hereby must start one.
  • Ishani, who introduced me to Bryan Adams, Hoobastank, and Josh Groban. She does not have a blog and hereby must start one.

Tom O’Malley-Finkel-Harris-Smith

Tuesday, January 25th, 2005

Ever wonder what will happen when all the people with hyphenated last names start having grandchildren? Alaskan musician Lou Nathanson has an answer on his CD, Genetically Enhanced.

Updates on my life

Monday, January 17th, 2005

Graduate school

I'm the TA for a discrete mathematics class. My responsibilities include running a Monday discussion, holding an office hour, and grading tests. I've led one discussion so far, and it wasn't as hard as I expected. One student even commented that I seemed to be prepared (hah!). In addition to TAing, I'm taking an undergrad class in cryptography and a graduate class in computability and complexity.

Overall, I'm not enjoying graduate school. I don't have many friends here, classes aren't particularly interesting, and I don't know what I'm going to research. I enjoy thinking about the computational complexity of puzzles and games, but that doesn't mean computational complexity research is for me. I'm interested in what it takes to write secure software and design secure user interfaces, but I don't know if those are real research areas.


I'm no longer listening to Claremont Shades, USC Sirens, Blackmore's Night, Sting, Sixpence, Alanis, No Doubt, Vienna Teng, or Máire Brennan continuously. Instead, I'm listening to Evanescence - Fallen (mostly Bring me to Life, Whisper, and Imaginary), Joan Baez - Play Me Backwards (especially Stones in the Road and Through Your Hands), Strunz and Farah - Americas, and James Taylor - Greatest Hits continuously. I discovered Evanescence after hearing three college a cappella groups perform versions of Bring me to Life at two concerts in one weekend.

I found out that the song from Final Fantasy 6 that I feel like I've known forever is called "Terra's theme" or "Tina's theme".


I'm addicted to a puzzle game by Pāvils Jurjāns called Net. I discovered it by reading Selene's game notes, which mostly covers RPGs. I think it is NP-complete, but I haven't thought about it carefully. I haven't played much Minesweeper (NP-complete) or Marble (I don't even know if it's decidable) lately.

I've also been playing RPGs. I played Wild Arms (ok) and Chrono Cross (good) over Christmas break. I tried Vagrant Story but didn't like it. Now I'm playing Xenogears. I like it so far, but it's very easy to get lost in 3D areas such as cities and forests. I will probably play Final Fantasy 9 next.

All of the RPGs are for the Playstation, so I've been them using an emulator called epsxe along with Pete Bernert's graphics plugins, some of which are open source. Playing games using an emulator has several advantages over using a console system: I can change the game's speed on the fly, save or load at any time, and play at the same time as my brother. It also has several disadvantages: I have to tweak the emulator settings for each game to keep it from freezing, and I have to choose between pirating the games and Playstation BIOS (illegal) or buying a Playstation and the games and then downloading them anyway (ridiculous).


Cal Animage Beta has been showing one episode a week of Midori no Hibi, Bleach, Samurai Champloo, Kyou Kara Maou, Phantom Memory Kurau, and Tactics. Midori no Hibi is my favorite of these series.


I loved Kinsey. My favorite scene was the one with the lesbian woman (not a sex scene). The religious right's response to the movie made it even better (more Kinsey-related links). I liked The Incredibles and Garden State. I didn't like Team America, and I found Mean Creek confusing.

Keepers of Lists

I contributed high-scoring items to Signs You Are Not Drunk Enough, Reasons To Move To Canada, and Signs You Should Stop Writing Items For Keepers. I contributed more items to Signs You May Be A Terrorist than the person who started the list. Over half of my items have been getting getting positive scores recently, which is a welcome change. I submitted five new lists, which will be accepted or rejected for publication over the next few months.

Existing personal projects

Pornzilla and Thumbs have been getting a lot of hits, even though I have not put much effort into them lately. The top five search phrases that bring people to are "porn" (150/day), "pornzilla", "thumbs", "best porn", and "free porn". (The next two are not porn-related: "bookmarklets" (25/day) and "burning edge".) I've only been updating The Burning Edge once a week, in part because the Firefox trunk isn't very exciting right now.

I'm way behind with incorporating feedback and submissions for bookmarklets and Thumbs.


Saturday, February 21st, 2004

My favorite a cappella group, The Claremont Shades, released Phonogenic today. Track list with MP3 samples of 4 songs:

  1. Beautiful Day (u2 / bono)
  2. Sexual Healing (marvin gaye / brown)
  3. Walking on Broken Glass (annie lennox)
  4. Push It (garbage)
  5. The Way It Is (bruce hornsby)
  6. Techno Fusion (paul oakenfold, alice deejay, sonique)
  7. When There's Nothing (jake oken-berg (shades member))
  8. The Boy Is Mine (monica / brandy)
  9. What's Love Get to Do With It (tina turner / britten / lyle)
  10. Time After Time (cyndi lauper)
  11. Freedom 90 (george michael)

Pomona College Magazine gives the history of my favorite track, Techno Fusion:

"We're taking three different techno songs and basically doing what a DJ would do at a club, which is take them and mix them all together." [Jake Oken-Berg]

"Techno Fusion" was arranged by the Shades' newest member, Pomona College freshman Rob Breahrs. The piece makes liberal use of vocal percussion and combines Paul Oakenfold's "Ascension," Alice Deejay's "Better Off Alone" and Sonique's "It feels so good."

"I realized there are a lot of parts in the background we could write, and a lot of things going on in the middle parts that make it more interesting," Breahrs said. "Then, I also realized that one song would be too boring: techno's kind of repetitive, so I decided to take three different songs that most people know and then put them all in the same key and then kind of go back and forth between them during a medley."

I am disappointed that Phonogenic doesn't include the great versions of Harder to Breathe (Maroon 5) and Don't Speak (No Doubt) that I've heard at recent Shades concerts. I wonder if those songs will be on the next Shades CD.

Full MP3s of songs from old Claremont Shades CDs:

Photos from the CD release party/concert: friends who were there, the Shades singing.

Dog on the Moon MP3

Wednesday, January 14th, 2004

Garry Novikoff's amazing "Dog on the Moon" is available for free as an MP3 until the end of Wednesday:

"Dog on the Moon" is from the CD To Touch the Stars: A Musical Celebration of Space Exploration, produced by Kristoph Klover and Eli Goldberg. You can download 6 more MP3s from the CD from that site.

Blackmore’s Night

Saturday, December 27th, 2003

I found Blackmore's Night by searching a P2P network for Greensleeves in order to practice recognizing minor-third intervals for my Fundamentals of Music class. I liked Blackmore's Night's version of Greensleeves enough to look for more of their music a few months later. Now they're my favorite band.

I bought their two newest (studio) CDs for my parents for Hanukkah/Christmas. My mom loves them. (I won't pretend that buying CDs as presents is a long-term excuse for downloading large amounts of music without paying for it.)