Intermission Entry 19, November 5th, 2011, 12:36am (GMT +0)
Tonight's headliner, a singer, asked us to run an extra chart at the end of rehearsal for her. It was brand-new, apparently, and she wanted to make sure that it would work. We read it – it was nothing spectacular, but perfectly functional. Afterward she turned to the band.
“How was it?”
Her face fell. “I don't want it to just be a shrug. I wanted you to love it! What's wrong with it?”
We struggled for a minute to explain before giving up. There wasn't anything wrong with the chart, there just wasn't anything right with it either. It functioned, but wasn't exciting. It was a frustrating discussion for us and for her.
Later, at dinner, the musicians talked it over. How can we explain to someone what the problem is in a situation like that? We're hired guns, really – they don't pay us to have opinions on the quality of the music. We still have those opinions, of course, but we're going to make it sound as good as we can. Part of the problem, we decided, was that she was asking the problem at all. It doesn't matter what we think of the arrangement; what matters is if she thought it was good or not. The fact that she was relying on our opinion instead of our own is a problem.
If you can't tell by these back to back music updates, it has been a boring few days on the ship. I got a nice little video on my phone of waves cresting at eye level from the back deck on deck 3, but that's about it. Gran Canaria tomorrow, so I should have something more interesting to write about.
From the notebook, October 14th, 2011, Vienna
Today is my birthday!
It doesn't feel like my birthday. Alex and I were talking about this over dinner. Usually we use birthdays to mark dividing points between phases of our lives. When they happen in the middle of things they feel out of place. Alex turned 21 on a travel day, hitchhiking out of Istanbul. I feel like I turned 23 the day I signed off the ship.
Alex lives in the Turkish quarter of Vienna. Here you are as likely to Turkish or Russian spoken on the street as you are German. I took a walk this morning to find an internet cafe . . . lots of kebob stands, clothing stores, “interactive gaming” (gambling), and phone centers to call home.
For lunch we went to a Turkish cafe just off of the open air market that stretches away from the tram line. It is a noisy little place – two rooms of plastic yellow furniture filled with heavy Russian men and a television up in the corner playing angsty Turkish pop music videos. We were brought tea (chay) in small glass vases, set on small white ceramic dishes with blue patterns set in them. Two lumps of sugar are recommended, and it came with a small spoon to stir them in.
I ordered something. The thing to get is börek, a type of dough mixed with meat or vegetables that is absolutely delicious. The pastry flakes off in delicate layers while the meat inside is mixed with all sorts of herbs and spices. I could have eaten them all day.
We went to the counter to pay. Alex told them what we had, in Turkish, and the man thought for a minute before saying, “nine euro.” Incredibly cheap. It helps that Alex knows the owners and speaks Turkish, but still – if this is typical, the Turkish people are extremely generous.
Afterward we wandered into a nearby church. It was a dark brick building, but white plaster on the inside. Very quiet, very beautiful. Contrast this with the dark, ornate gothic interior of the cathedral downtown. There was a lone candle burning on the altar in the silence . . . it was powerful.
The weather in Vienna is bright and brisk. The sky is wide and blue, but while the sun is warm it is quite chilly in the wind. I've gone from summer to late fall in two weeks. If Munich gets snow I'll cover winter, too.
Vienna is filled with odd museums. Some of my favorites:
Museum of Crime
Museum of Contraception and Abortion