Monday, January 30, 2012

Fun with Flags

Hello, my name is Bryan Pinkall.  Welcome to the One Hundred Fifty-Second episode of Bryan Pinkall's World of Opera.  Weekly, I have inundated the internet with many of my more abstruse passions.

This week, I will dissertate a topic that captured my liking at an early age - FLAGS.



I originally didn't watch the Big Bang Theory because I thought it was too corny.  I believe after only one episode, it was clearly apparent that what my wife was laughing at, wasn't necessarily the corny jokes about the Higgs Boson, but at Sheldon Cooper - who makes jokes about the Higgs Boson.  Why? Well, my poor wife has to deal with his social unawareness, his stubborn arrogance, his unrelenting certitude, and most annoyingly his ability to speak without end on the world's least interesting subject in real life.  Unfortunately for her sake, I am her Sheldon Cooper.

And, as fate would have it, I have had all of the national flags of the world memorized since I was 7.  Why? Well, I had a primitive CD that played the national anthems of each country while a little picture of the flag was raised.  Since then, and as with much of what I do, I became obsessed.   And with that knowledge, I cannot help but critique this hilarious yet somewhat misinformed portion of The Big Bang Theory.  Even while it was airing live, I talked ceaselessly through it to my wife who was laughing hysterically at me on the couch.  She was laughing because I was correcting all of the "truthiness":

1) Even though Oregon is the only state flag that has two different sides, there are many other flags that have different obverse sides.  Obviously all flags have two sides, but I'm assuming that's not what they were arguing.  Paraguay has two different seals on the front and back of their flag.  Most notably, the Soviet Union had nothing on the back side of their flag - the hammer and sickle only appeared on one side. Obviously there are flags that must reverse the picture so words would read correctly, like Saudi Arabia


2.)  There are many non-rectangular flags - most notably, the state of Ohio and Nepal.

3.) The Hoist is most accurately described as the entire half of the flag that is closest to the flag pole

4.) Just a little tidbit - Germans call "Bavaria" Bayern - but, to correct their flag choice, they are showing you a flag that has the correct field (background) with the Bavarian Coast of Arms.  However, this is not the official flag of Bavaria.  Bavaria has two official flags seen below.

All of this has reminded me that I need to get "on the ball" with my whistling.  So, hopefully by next week, I will have a new whistling video that I will submit to the world whistling championships!

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This past week was quite busy and interesting.  I auditioned for Union Avenue Opera from St. Louis on Tuesday.  It really didn't go that well in all honesty.  My voice sounded tired, perhaps because I have been practicing too much recently, but it was a struggle to get through both Lenski's Aria and Dalla sua pace.  It also wasn't the smartest that I have ever sang either.  Unfortunately, when one thing goes wrong, it is easy to start a chain of wrong events.  Nevertheless, that is just part of being a singer.

I was also invited to sing at Kansas State University for their Vocal Arts Day.  I was very honored to be invited and I had a great time with my friends.  I sang Verborgenheit by Wolf and Torna a Surriento.  It was quite interesting mainly because my voice had some pretty thick low resonance - thanks to the mold fairy.  Unfortunately, it was one of those times that I would have been much more assured if the situation was a little different, but like my audition on Tuesday, it's all in the past now and there's nothing that can be done to change it.  So, I am forced to be content!

This week, I will be singing with the Kansas City Symphony in Mahler's Resurrection Symphony.  It is one of my favorite pieces, and since I'm a singer I rarely have a chance to connect with these large orchestral pieces. The first movement is a violent funeral march based on the Dies Irae chant, the second movement remembers the happier times of the deceased person's life, the third movement has the famous "death cry", the fourth movement includes a mezzo soloist who longs to be in heaven, and the fifth movement is the famous resurrection - "with wings I have won for myself, I shall soar upwards".  The coolest part, besides the end is when the chorus comes in for the first time, they sing pianissississimo, almost at a whisper, "auferstehen" - which calls the soul to rise...it is so freaky and cool.  Here is Bernstein conducting the finale, unfortunately it is after the auferstehen part, however in this clip, Mahler wrote for the chorus to sing "with maximum force"!!



Also, I will be a soloist for a Bach cantata on friday.  Here is the most famous portion of it (beginning at 3:57)



Finally, I will be competing in the Kansas City NATS competition on Super Bowl Sunday - by the way, I have the Patriots winning...not that I care too much, since the Browns came up just short of glory once again.

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