Monday, November 17, 2003
Pleasant surprises
Or, A nice quiet evening with some willowy British models

I'm finishing listening to the Medieval Baebes' latest, Mistletoe & Wine, which is surprisingly good. Once you stop expecting any type of authenticity from them, the Baebes sound so much better. There are a few newly reworked/wholly new tracks (including an adorable version of "L'amour de moi"), but most are taken from others of their recordings. The producers do some pretty amazing work just in laying down the tracks--the instruments are gorgeously recorded.

"Blow Northern Wind" disappointed me because I was hoping for something that would top John Fleagle's on World's Bliss. It didn't; it's repetitive and New-Age-sounding. Oh well. Even that track has its good points if I don't listen to the words. Overall there are some great sounds on this CD.

Tonight: enjoying sitting on my butt. I had the world's most perfectly-formed artichoke for dinner (will it surprise anyone to know it came from the new Wal-Mart south of where I live, and cost $1 less than the going rate around here for artichokes?), then updated the Northshield Choir webpage with MIDIs for the Yule Concert, then wrote some e-mail while listening to new CDs.

Next is Horizons, a Musical Journey, which I realize has about as generic a title as has ever been seen on a CD, but, well, it wasn't my decision, I just bought the thing--and for a darned good price, might I add. It's one of those classical compilation CDs that recording labels put out in order to showcase the "best" track from each of a whole pile of their other CDs. What I like about these is the sheer variety. Durufle to Hohvaness to Warlock to Dvorak to Tchaikovsky to Palestrina (in that order), and nice mix between orchestral, instrumental (guitar thus far) and choral pieces. All short enough that if you get bored by one piece, it's over and on to something else quickly.

Plus it's got the two best movements from Dvorak's Stabat Mater, which I sang in the UW Choral Union under Beverly Taylor during her first semester there, after I'd graduated from grad school. AND Bruckner's Os Justi. I'm liking this CD.

May I also say that I am really enjoying Philly Swirls, which I also bought at the Wal-Mart (man, they are going to hook me, I'm going to have to keep going back there just for the artichokes and the Philly Swirls!). They have popsicle-format products too, but I've been eating the sorbet cups and I like the variety/quality of flavors. These are not for purists (definitely artificial flavors, and copious artificial coloring), but have a wonderful consistency and a perfect size for snacks. The fat-free, dairy-free, cholesterol-free designation is not really what attracts me, but I suppose others might be interested. Basically they're sugar water, but ahh, what sugar water they are.

Thursday, November 13, 2003
Eat your words, or perhaps someone else's savior
Or, How to prove to yourself you have some bit of talent

When I wrote last night, I forgot to link to my newest scroll blank, which is a French bar-and-ivy thingy that turned out remarkably well, if I do say so myself. Probably the best I've done since scroll 5. I'm pleased.

In other news, I bought some Nibble Notes as tokens for participating in the bardic challenge that I'm sponsoring at Buffalo Snit. They are entirely in keeping with the comedic spirit of the event, yet somehow also bardic. And yes, I have previously tried them, and they're pretty good. Not something I would sit and eat at the movies (hard to enjoy them in the dark), and vaguely like communion wafers (or what I imagine communion wafers to be). But pretty good.

Did I ever mention that I once took communion? Yes, it's true. My parents went out of town when I was 8 or 9 and engaged as a babysitter a woman who had been my dad's secretary before getting married and switching jobs, not too long before. I believe Carly was her name. She was very nice, but she did have one thing to clear with my parents before they left: she was committed to playing guitar at her church that Sunday. Did my folks mind if she brought us along? We could sit with her husband and mom and dad and siblings while she performed as part of the service.

My parents have always been of the opinion that it can never hurt for us to get acquainted with other religions. Keeping kids sequestered serves no purpose except narrowing their minds. So, they said it was no problem.

Well, there came a point in the service when I looked up front and, lo and behold, they were serving exactly what we used to eat at our Temple Beth El Sunday School for snack: bread and grape juice. I poked my sister and pointed. She was hungry too. When Carly's family went up to stand in line for snack, we went too. Only thing we couldn't figure out: why did we get such a tiny piece of bread, and such an itty-bitty cup of grape juice?

It wasn't until a few years later that I realized I'd taken communion. At that age I doubt I had even heard of such a thing. Eating the body and blood of Christ? The very idea would have grossed me out. And I would have known it wasn't the sort of thing Jewish girls were supposed to be doing. That is, if someone had informed me that that was what we were doing. For heaven's sake (literally), it looked just like snack to me!

Two entries in a row, woo. Imagine.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Publication name dropping
Or, Did I ever tell you about the time I wrote for the Onion?

I did write for them, but I'll get to that.

Even Blogger is linking to it, but I have to do the same: Mom finds out about blog is currently a feature story at The Onion. Huh. Seems to me no one ever really has an accurate grasp on a) why they're writing a blog, or b) who is actually reading it. I know I don't. For some people, that can cause problems; someone to whom you had no serious intention of revealing certain things about yourself, ends up reading your blog and learning them along with whatever paltry readership your webpage happens to have. Inevitably, though you'd like to think you have thousands of adoring, fascinated fans hanging on your every byte, who you've got is four or five friends, a few strangers who did Google searches on words you happen to have mentioned recently in your blog, and whatever people you really, really don't want to read what you just wrote. It's Murphy's Law. Murphy's Blog Law.

I really did write for the Onion. Phrasing it that way makes it seem like I was some kind of regular news correspondent, or maybe a nut who wouldn't stop writing letters to the editor (regular readers of the Onion know they have never printed a real letter to the editor in all their years of publication, but never mind). I wasn't anything like that. Basically I wrote a monthly column for my high school's alternative newspaper, WestWord. Or I tried to. I joined the paper's staff and sat through meetings wondering why I had to listen to all this when all I wanted was to have my column in the paper. I didn't quite get the concept of being on a newspaper staff, you see.

Sometimes they used my column, sometimes they didn't. In a 9-month school year, with a monthly paper, that doesn't make for many publication opportunities, and each time they decided not to put my column in a given issue, I was really hurt. When they did put it in, I sat down and compared the original with what was published, and grumbled over every change they made. (What can I say, I also didn't get the concept of professionalism.) So in the spring, after two months in a row when they didn't put it in, I had the bright idea of sending that month's column to the Onion. And so I did.

They called me a few days later and said they were putting it in. They didn't say anything else that I recall, just to look for it. (This was 1989 and the total distribution of the Onion was in the 5 to 700's, mostly along State St. in Madison. I'm sure they weren't yet to the point where they could think too hard about contracts and copyright and such things. They certainly never offered to pay me.)

The following Monday night I was on campus for Choral Union (my first semester in it--we did the Missa Solemnis, still one of my most amazing choral experiences) and I gathered a copy of the Onion as I walked into the lobby of the Communications building, then waited until the break to read it. I just remember beaming. Total vindication: the stinkin' alternative high school paper wouldn't publish "A Day in the Life"? Fine. The up-and-coming satirical newsweekly down on campus would be happy to take it.

"A Day in the Life" was named after the Beatles song of the same name, which I adored at the time, and the column was written in the voice of a fictional high schooler named Carolee who, basically, was me. Or me as I would have liked to have been. She despised a teenybopper named Tiffeny, she had a boyfriend who cultivated mold, and she would hang out down on campus with her boyfriend's graduated Science Club friends, encountering weird people in the dorm elevator. She said what she thought, and what she thought was that people were interesting, unless they were popular, and then they were boring.

And that was pretty much that. I wrote a couple of columns after the one that was published in the Onion, typed them up with the special gothic-font typewriter ball at Kinko's, and sent them in, but I never heard anything and they were never published. A promising (huh) career as a sit-com columnist, nipped in the bud.

But I still have the memory, and somewhere, I have the original paper copy of the Onion with my column in it. I wish I could link to the story, but this was pre-Web. I don't mean just before the Onion was on the Web, but before there WAS a Web. Even Gopher was just a twinkle in some computer nerd's eye. The Onion's online archive only goes back to 1995, dammit. So all you have is my word on the matter.

In recent news, the trip to Madison was good--I looked cute as the White Rabbit at Iohanna/Eithni/Grisha/Callixte's Halloween party, even though people kept asking where my pocket watch was. (I haven't read the book since I was in library school, folks. I forgot he carried a pocket watch. I kept smiling brightly and saying, "My watch is on my wrist, where I always wear it!" Duh, duh, duh.) They had amazing food--apple butter tarts, hand-molded chocolate roses and rose petals, a big mushroom-shaped cake and mini-cakelets with hand-piped frosting in psychedelic colors (some coffee-flavored and some lemon poppyseed, as the "uppers" and the "downers", of course). They let me stay over and made me feel totally at home. Then I got to try Tutto Pasta on State St. for lunch with Iohanna and Eithni. Mmmm, good Italian is worth its weight in gold.

This past weekend I went to the Twin Cities for the Northshield Choir rehearsal/recording day. It went well and I think we got some rather nice recordings down. We also had burgers and fries and malts at a restaurant in Dinkytown (we were going to eat at the Loring Pasta Bar, but it turned out they had a wedding that night).

Then we went to the Guthrie Theater for the Globe Theatre's period-practices production of Twelfth Night. I hate to admit it, but although it was a very good production, with terrific period music on authentic instruments, as well as some fabulous acting moments, I was so sleepy after the long singing day and the heavy dinner that I slept through part of each act. I don't have a ton of energy these days.

The best part about the weekend was the bardic circles Friday and Saturday nights. Colin and Charissa's house has been dubbed "Bardic Barracks West" for its hospitality as a bardic venue. There were new folks both nights and I had a good time making sure they had lyrics for stuff.

This week: preparing for Buffalo Snit. I don't have a big job: I'm Royalty Liaison, which means I help make sure the Prince and Princess are happy, fed, have a comfy space to retreat to, and someone to guard the comfy space at all times. I don't have to do this alone--They have a Chamberlain for the day. But I do need to prepare goodies and drinks, and schedule room guards (or stand guard all day by myself, which I'd really prefer not to do). Plus I have to make herb butter and cinnamon butter for the all-day meal. Now: off to sleep so I can spend tomorrow evening doing these things.

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