A solid day of wrestling with bureaucracies--I'm reminded of that lovely game Bureaucracy that Douglas Adams co-designed, back in the Infocom days, where each step you attempt to take depends for its success on a previous step there's no way you could've known about. To cheer myself up, I played a piece I hadn't previously heard from Scharpling and Wurster's Chain Fights, Beer Busts and Service with a Grin, involving a guy who's basically the worst music snob on the entire planet It cut... a little close, I fear. But very very very funny anyway.

Glenn McDonald has a typically great essay over at The War Against Silence this week, about what's wrong with the new Bob Mould album, and I have to say I think he's right about musical instruments that let you take shortcuts--as much fun as they are to take (I've taken more than a few myself), having some kind of understanding of how musical theory actually works is what really lets you do worthwhile things, whether or not you display that understanding overtly. (Which is part of why I was so unhappy with the fourth and final guitar class I took at the New School: we were finally getting into the heavy theory-and-praxis side of things, and my teacher simply wasn't good at communicating it.) It's also why I wish I'd actually taken the time to learn some UNIX (not that I haven't had a UNIX tutorial on my panix account since, er, 1993 or so, but...); if nothing else, it'd allow me to install some mail filters, which I'm starting to desperately need.

The importance of knowing the theory, actually, is an idea that I think my parents tried to instill in me, with limited success (my dad used to tutor me in math; I'd want to know how to solve a problem, and he'd try to teach me how to figure out what would work to solve it--I resisted a lot of the time, I fear). But I've gradually warmed to it. I suspect my cooking mania of the last few years is a way of trying to understand food theory, and I'm still mostly taking shortcuts, as in "what was that next step again? what do I add first, the mustard seeds or the crumbled-up peppers?" What I eventually want to get out of it, though, is the ability to know what to do when I open my fridge door and see some lacinta kale, without having to look under K in a dozen books.