April 05, 2005

My Interview

When I saw that Random Pensees was promulgating an interview meme, I knew I had to volunteer (even though he had already received the requisite five volunteers). Random is one of the more erudite and interesting bloggers I read. You should read him daily, as I do.

So, to see his questions for me and my answers, look in the Extended Entry. And since this is something of a meme, please leave me a comment saying "interview me." The first five of you requesting that will be my next interviewees. I will then ask you five questions. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. (Write your own questions or borrow some.) And they'll ask five friends, and so on, and so on...

I know I only needed to answer five, but I liked all six questions.

1. You are on the desert island. What three books would you have to have and what would you want to be able to drink while reading them?

Let's agree that my native intelligence, common sense, and camping experience will obviate the need for any sort of Survival/How To books. Let's also stipulate that said character traits will ensure a steady supply of fresh water.

I would want books that are not only entertaining, but remain engaging after multiple readings. These are the top three on my personal list that meet those criteria:

As to my drink of choice? Probably Guinness Stout or Shiner Bock beer. Guinness tastes better than Shiner at warmer temps, so I would probably go with that.

2. What's your opinion on the designated hitter? Ruined baseball or extended the careers of some great players?

You know, I wish I had an opinion on this. I've never really been much of a baseball fan. I grew up in Dallas in the 1970s and 80s, so the Cowboys were it. The local "major league" baseball team, the Rangers, is a glorified minor-league team that can't play well enough to justify the $200 million stadium extorted out of the local taxpayers. It's more than an hour drive through excruciating traffic to get to their ballpark, and after spending $20 to get a crappy hot dog, watery beer, and stale peanuts, I'm usually too aggravated to worry about such esoteric questions as the DH rule. I do have a lot more fun closer to home watching the local minor league team play at a much more modest (but IMHO, nicer) ballpark, where tickets and concessions are both much more affordable.

I guess anything that can make baseball more exciting is good in my book, and the DH rule seems to do that. So I'll say I'm in favor of it.

3. What is the most iconic song to come out of the 1980's?

For me? It was, without a doubt, Tom Sawyer by Rush. In fact, the entire album Moving Pictures was my personal soundtrack for the 80s. The synthesizers, lush production, and tight arrangements all signaled the end of the 70s and represented the best of the 80s sound. I am biased toward that rock group, though, as any regular reader of my blog would quickly ascertain, so here are some (more typically 80s-sounding) worthy runners-up:

4. What did you want to be when you were growing up? Did you become it? Are you ok with not becoming it? If you did become it, has it been all you hoped?

I wanted to be a military pilot with the hope of becoming an astronaut. I obviously did not become one, as a result of lousy genes (nearsightedness from both parents) and strong dissuasion from a military career by my parents. I still wish sometimes that I had pursued a career in the military. With my record and grades in high school, I would have been a shoe-in for appointment to a military academy, and could probably have found a fulfilling career - pilot or not - in the Navy or Air Force (the two services I was interested in).

I don't regret the path I ended up taking, though I had trouble seeing a path along the way. "Lawyer" was not something I ever dreamed or aspired to be. But I am now in a dream of a legal job, with varied and interesting work and potential for advancement. Though it pays quite a bit less than a law firm job, it pays well and I have more time to be with my family, as it is only 10 minutes from my home. Texas is still a very affordable place to live, so I make a comfortable living, my wife doesn't have to work, and I have time for other interests and pursuits. That makes me quite rich, by most measures.

5. Describe the best performance you've ever given and tell me why it was the best. Was it the crowd? The technical aspects? What made it great?

The best performance I have ever given was of the Chorale movement of Louis Vierne's Second Organ Symphony during an organ lesson at UT. The "crowd" consisted of my professor and me. It was technically near-perfect, but something else happened that is very hard to describe, though I'll try. But first, an aside for context.

Organ is a physically demanding instrument to master. I was taught using a French technique which begins in a very mechanistic, non-musical way. You essentially have to "program" your body to perform the many amazing motions it takes to play a piece properly. You begin with a very slow tempo, as slow as it takes to play all voices (hands and feet) in time without having to stress out about what the next notes are. Unlike piano, where pianists usually practice each hand separately and then together, I rarely practiced hands and feet separately. Instead, I would go weeks at tediously slow paces and gradually speed up. For the first time in my life, I really learned what patience meant, as it would take months just to learn notes and motions; musicality and emotion were secondary concerns.

Back to the story, having spent months getting the Vierne up to speed, I performed it in a way that still brings chills to me today. I was so well prepared and so "open" to the music, that I sat back in a detached, almost Zen-like, state and watched my body perform the motions without effort. I was on a smaller practice instrument in the lesson studio (not a concert hall), so the sound was very intimate and immediate. Though I was detached, I still was able to respond and direct my body. It was the synthesis of being both observer and participant in the perfect performance that sticks with me. Not to sound mystical, but I have only felt the direct touch of something Divine a very few times in my life -- and that brief period of musical communion with something very, very powerful counts as one of them. During the next two years pursuing a performance degree, I never topped that one performance, though I came close to it a couple times with some other pieces.

6. Describe your perfect, self-indulgent, guilty escape from work/family day. Even if it is just a fantasy.

Heh. In a few years, I would want to take a ride into space with Branson's Virgin Galactic space liner. Failing that, if I could get time alone with my wife in the Rocky Mountains for a few days to hike, bike, eat, and spend some quality time together, I would consider myself well-indulged.

Posted by JohnL at April 5, 2005 12:33 PM

These were really great and thoughtful answers, John! Thanks for playing!

Posted by: RP at April 5, 2005 01:42 PM

Ran into this meme a while back on the Digital Warfighter, but it's been almost a week since he posted questions for the first guy, so what the heck. Interview me.

Still feels like playing Truth or Dare.

Posted by: owlish at April 5, 2005 03:54 PM

Interesting answers! I liked the description of playing the organ... I never knew it was that much work.

Posted by: Hannah at April 6, 2005 06:51 AM

Interview me. Grok this. However you want to phrase it, I'll step up to the plate if it ain't too late.

Posted by: Gunner at April 20, 2005 12:11 AM

Interview me baby!

Posted by: Eric at April 22, 2005 01:56 PM
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