Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Containing Zanesville, Prague, goths, hicks, calibre and maybe some other stuff

It's been an interesting weekend. When I went home on Friday evening I had absolutely no idea what, if anything, I was going to do — being that I am currently actively not going (assuming that one can actively not do something) to my regular haunt. In the end I had a weekend filled with drinking, culture (I know it's surprising), hicks (both with and without capital letters), some more drinking and even some dead fish.

Saturday night typifies the kind of weekend I had. There I was at six thirty in the evening, lying in bed, watching television, I can't even remember what it was I was watching, when the phone rings, "Do you want to go to Zanesville, which we don't know where it is, to watch the Prague Symphony Orchestra, play something or other — we don't know how much it will cost and we're leaving in twenty minutes?". "Sure, sounds like fun", was my response (this may well be a severe paraphrasing of the actual phone conversation). Thirty minutes later and I'm sitting in the back of my friends' car, wearing jeans and a t-shirt while they're dressed up nice, heading towards Zanesville, which was 50 miles away and the concert was due to start in 50 minutes. Remarkably, we got to Zanesville, found the Seacrest Auditorium, just barely had enough cash on us to buy three tickets (they didn't take cards), and managed to take our seats right before the orchestra came out.

The Seacrest Auditorium is probably not the best designed auditorium for a symphony orchestra (too many curtains and not enough gradient) . We were sat about 15 rows from the front, and from there about fifty percent of the orchestra were entirely obscured by the giant grand piano in the middle of the stage. The concert started with some Bedrich Smetana and an enthusiastic crowd applauding between each movement. After the Smetana came Dvorak's piano concerto in g minor, which was really rather good, I thought. I quite liked the way the piano kept on flirting with some of the wind instruments, but I am easily amused. A short intermission, during which the piano was wheeled away, later and they played out with some more Dvorak, slavonic dances I believe. All in all it was bloody impressive. Although possibly the music was not quite as impressive as stepping outside the auditorium into Zanesville's industrial wasteland after the performance. Some contrast.

After the cultural sophistication of the orchestra, we tried to find somewhere to eat in Zanesville, which is much harder than it might sound. We did find three rather large and impressive looking churches, two of which were next to each other (why do they do that?) and the third was a giant Russian Orthodox church. We also found a hick bar. As we approached the bar, three people exited the establishment engaged in a 'heated discussion'. I was quite impressed that the woman, at least I think it was a woman, managed to spout a good dozen swear words in the space of about ten words (and that takes some effort). We decided not to try and eat there. (For what it's worth, we ended up eating in a shitty Southwestern place by the name of Tumbleweed, I wouldn't recommend it.)

As if the contrasts between Zanesville's industrial wastescape (it's Ryan's new made-up word, although Google tells me 147 people beat me to it), the Prague Symphony Orchestra and the hick bar weren't enough for one evening, when we got back to Columbus we went to goth night at the High Five. I suppose it's inevitable when you hang out with Germans that sooner or later you're going to end up at the goth bar. Definitely an interesting night.

In a completely unrelated note I discovered, via Lisa Snellings-Clark (via that nice Mr Gaiman), the Bill Hicks Foundation for Wildlife. As instructed I did indeed donate at least a dollar, in fact I'm going to get t-shirt in exchange for my donation. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside, although that could just be indigestion or the after effects of last nights drinking.

Yesterday I discovered the definition of the word calibrate, although discovered seems to be rather a grand term when all I did was look it up in the OED. Being as my PhD thesis was entitled Calibration of the MINOS Detectors, one might think that I should already know what the word calibration meant, and you'd be sort of correct. It's obvious really but I never realised that to calibrate is to determine the calibre of something. (I'd always thought in terms of setting the scale, etc.)

Oh, and in the evening yesterday I got to listen to some more live music, courtesy of Myke Rock's MultiFestival series. It was, as ever, really quite good.


Anonymous said...

Applauding between movements? These uncultured Americans! What will the world come to next?

Anonymous said...

I’ve been to Prague many times and I never get sick of it. This last time that I was there I saw live all the Slavia matches with Liberec, it’s a pity I wasn’t in Prague anymore when they won the last game and were champions. Anyway the environment in the stadium is amazing nothing like brutal hooligans from football. I found the city very safe, as you can check in this link form the government. I never had a problem for being out until late and alone or ever saw any incident.
What I also enjoy in this city is the night life, the Prague music clubs are all so cozy and have such a nice environment and decoration and make you want to stay long. If you or any of your friends want to go there again I leave you here a nice site with good clubs to go.