All posts by paulnabhan

MPA is a Mixtape: B-Side

The best B-side to an album ever is the B-side to Abbey Road. Period.

However, I feel that I just gave away my age by admitting that I remember when an album was organized in two halves…and I guess by also admitting that I still buy albums instead of songs. Regardless, it should be pretty apparent that I did not actually construct an actual mixtape of songs because, well, tracks 16-21 comprise about half an hour’s worth of music while the duration of all the songs combined is about an hour and forty-two minutes.

Interestingly enough, the remaining songs have two artists which I doubled–something I did not intend to do, but had to do anyway. The extent of musical complexity that Bach explores is unparalleled. It is amazing how casual a piece of music can sound when listening passively, but when listening intently, it is mentally exhausting! Being a fan of Bach since I was a kid though, it is not a surprise that two of his pieces ended up on this list. Thus, included in this last stretch are two Bach pieces that just plain connected with me during the past five years. They are both part of larger works, and I completely recommend listening to the entire pieces if you find the time.

Set your speed to 45, ’cause this side is shorter:

Continue reading MPA is a Mixtape: B-Side

MPA is a Mixtape (cont.)

One of my favorite places in Austin is in the Long Center. You can usually get in as a student, and you can usually get pretty decent seats. Doesn’t matter though–go all the way to the top balcony. On that top foyer, you can look out into the night sky. Usually the several minutes that anticipate Peter Bay’s initial downbeat display a night sky that looks like shades of blue are creeping over the buildings, dark enough to ensure tranquility for a night’s rest but light enough that the pink, blushing clouds still bump and compete for their place in the sky.

All of the buildings in the skyline are appealing; but from this angle you realize just why the Frost Tower is so iconic. It is from this angle, several stories above the green lawns of Auditorium Shores, that this building stands out in such a way that the same clouds which competed with the night sky steer clear. The lights beam just enough into the sky, but its majestic presence is made known in the reflection in the water below.

Suddenly, the lights are not from the sky above, but from the water so nearby. The reflections sing out back to the beholder. A smorgasbord of colors begin to satiate the eyes. Without doubt, it is the perfect aperitif to prepare one’s self for the next manipulation of the senses: the ears and the symphony itself.

And without undue superfluity, my mixtape plays on:

No. 8: 
“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”—Willie Nelson

I didn’t grow up with country music, so Willie Nelson was pretty new to me my freshman year. Willie’s huge here in Austin, and if you’ve ever listened to his album Red Headed Stranger, you can truly appreciate his minimalist style of play. His simple guitar picking is like listening to a sun rise above the horizon and all the nature waking up with it; then he’ll completely turn it around with a crazy, swinging, riled-up honkey tonk song. “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” is not the quintessential Willie Nelson song, but it is what a Hudspeth County judge allegedly asked him to play to escape possession charges about a year ago.

No. 9: “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys”—Waylon Jennings

You can’t have Willie without Waylon, and it’s not uncommon for these two to sing this song together. I think this song screams to the genre of “outlaw.” Also, although I’m neither a doctor or lawyer, I’m sure that accountant falls under “such.” Continue reading MPA is a Mixtape (cont.)

MPA is a Mixtape

It’s finally the time of year when you leave your apartment around eight in the evening or so and can still see a few shades of orange and red peeping from behind the tower and surrounding foliage. Clouds of purple come down to bid farewell to the sun for the day’s work and the dark, blue night creeps behind you.

I always try to look at Austin as if I’m looking at it for the first time all over again. I remember driving up Mopac with my family for the first time and noting how great the rolling hills looked. And yet, it barely sank in today while at work that I really am leaving. As much as I planned for it and knew it was going to happen, the finality of it never really occurred to me.

Sometimes, it is hard to put  into words everything one feels (no matter what the articles my psychology friends send me say). Fortunately, while the English language fails me, I still have music that is able to convey how I feel when words cannot. So, Austin, Texas MPA, here we go: Continue reading MPA is a Mixtape

The Fisher Case

With midterms swamping me, I just now had the opportunity to read the case that flooded people’s Facebook feeds everywhere. It is an interesting case, to say the least. However, the implications are quite ambiguous, and the outcome will more than likely depend on the temperament of the Supreme Court when they review it.

Anyway, here’s the way I see this case:

What didn’t happen

With all due respect toward Ms. Fisher, let me be very clear that the University of Texas did not, in any way, shape, or form, discriminate against you. Texas is one of the original eight “Public Ivy League Schools,” and if you were not able to gain admittance to Texas by being in the top ten percent of your high school class, then you certainly would not have gained admittance to the actual Ivy League schools to which we compare ourselves. (That is, I’m not sure Harvard accepts many people who graduate outside the top ten percent of their class either.) Furthermore, if you had put in a comparable good faith effort into trying to get into the top ten percent of your high school class, then I am sure your Personal Achievement Index, which is very clearly outlined in the case, would have reflected that. Therefore, as hurtful as it may sound, you were not accepted into the University of Texas because you did not meet the admission standards, not because you were discriminated against in any way.

What may happen

What may happen is very tricky because most of the laws that we are dealing with were intended to be temporary. In Grutter, the case that Fisher’s case relies very heavily upon, Sandra Day O’Connor writes that she hopes many of the affirmative action-type laws will be temporary and unnecessary a generation from now. The idea is that the discriminatory way of thinking would disappear by then. That being said, the Top Ten Percent Rule will go away at some point in the future. The question is when and whether we expected this day to come so soon. Continue reading The Fisher Case

While you were Meme-ing…

…I was studying with Becker. It seems that the relaxed semester is impossible under my terms and lifestyle. Nevertheless, it is what it is, and explains my hiatus from the blogging world for the past two weeks.

There is no shortage of stories though. Here is some recent Conversationalia from the past couple of weeks:


Texas to Host 2014 Menuhin Competition

The University of Texas will host the 2014 Menuhin Competition for violinists. It will be the first time the competition will be held in the North American continent. Read more about this in the Daily Texan’s article.

Yehudi Menuhin was born in America, but he spent most of his professional music career in the United Kingdom. He was a popular violinist during the 20th century, during which time recordings were available. My mom used to play a CD of Menuhin playing the Mozart violin concertos in the car. When you’re nine years’ old, you don’t particularly listen that closely. However, there was something about the last movement of Mozart’s fifth violin concerto that I just loved. I’m not sure if it was the sweet innocent opening theme or the somewhat raucous “Turkish” section in the middle, but this piece was my motivation for continuing to study the instrument throughout elementary school and high school, since it was only five Suzuki books away. (Otherwise, I’m not sure how much longer I would have lasted at the time…) Anyways, here’s Menuhin’s performance of that piece:


What I love about Austin is its entrepreneurial spirit. It’s awesome, and one of the great ways it’s exemplified is through the Trailer model. Here you save on fixed costs and experiment with your product in a small food trailer instead of a brick-and-mortar restaurant. One of my new favorites is PitaLicious on South Congress.

Why do I love it so much? Two reasons: the first is that the owner is Lebanese (where my great-grandparents emigrated from, thus earning extra points in my book) and serves kafta (which is a dish my siti loves to prepare for my brother and me when I visit El Paso). Second, and more substantially, is that the owner and his girlfriend have full-time jobs. (He’s an engineer, and she’s a nurse.)That’s right—they operate this food stand for fun. When talking to him, he told me that this was one of his passions and always wanted to do it. And that is what I love about Austin—the culture of doing things because you want to and taking some chances with life! PitaLicious is open on Thursday and Friday nights as well as the weekends. Follow your dreams.

Final Thoughts

Speaking of music, the University Orchestra—of which I have been a member of for my entire five years at Texas—is performing Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, “Pastorale,” on Tuesday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. The piece is awesome, invoking a lot of imagery of nature and minimalism. This is, to me, one of the best pieces ever written—a true work of art—and a great piece to listen to even if you are not a hardcore classical music person. This is simply a must-hear.