Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Excellent Christmas moment: Mom refers to the date balls as "Schweddy Balls."

Need a reminder?



(also at nbc.com>)

Unrelated: some changes to comments, based on recent bonkers spam.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Caroling.



I would like to try this sometime.

Surely I'm not the first to point this out, but:

What is up with this facebook ad?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Morningstar Farms tomato basil veggie burgers smell just like party pizza rolls from the 80s, and I mean that in the best possible way. It makes me feel like I'm 10 years old, having a sleepover, and about to watch Friday Night Videos. Instead of 35 years old, wrassling invoices, and maybe taking a break to look at youtube.



Oh man, now I totally want to see this episode.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Nerding it up.

I have a rehearsal tonight on some music I haven't looked at/don't have the scores for yet, so I was noodling around on the interwebs yesterday for previews of what I have to sing so that I know what to expect. One thing is a solo/piano version of this:


(English people say Bethleeeehem, isn't that cute?)

Anyway, the internet noodling then reminded me of this not unrelated thing, not that I've ever forgotten it. I don't know what's up with the vid, but youtube! such a convenient way to put music on your blog:



Jeff Buckley nerds will already know the song as the Corpus Christi Carol, and classical vocal music nerds will know that it's a setting by Benjamin Britten, the greatest English composer of the 20th century, from a longer choral work called A Boy Was Born. (Peter Warlock, who composed the above "Bethlehem Down," also did a Corpus Christi Carol setting. That's what I meant when I said "not unrelated.")

Then medieval literature nerds will know that the text is a medieval carol that looks like this:

(This is the burden--like a refrain, sung first and traditionally repeating after each verse, though Britten in his infinite wisdom eliminates some repeats in his setting.)

Lully, lulley, lully, lulley,
The fawcon hath born my mak away.


(Note for history nerds: the falcon was Anne Boleyn's heraldic emblem. Anne was Protestant and more or less drove Catholic Catherine of Aragon away. One scholar's theory is that the carol allowed people to mourn the damage to Catholicism caused by Henry's VIII's marriage to Anne. Cool, right? It's probably not true because of some timing problems, though I suppose the poem could've taken on that meaning after it was already written--but it's a nice idea either way.)

He bare hym up, he bare him down,
He bare hym into an orchard brown.

In that orchard ther was an hall,
That was hangid with purpill and pall.

And in that hall ther was a bed:
Hit was hangid with gold so rede.

And in that bed ther lythe a knyght,
His wowndes bledying day and nyght.

By that bedes side ther kneleth a may,
And she wepeth both nyght and day.

And by that beddes side ther stondeth a ston,
'Corpus Christi' wretyn thereon.


Religion nerds will know that the feast of Corpus Christi happens in late spring/early summer, and will have gleaned that this song isn't really a Christmas carol as we understand them now. But medieval music nerds will know that carols were both a dance form and a sort of social phenomenon not adequately described by the form, and that they didn't have anything to do with celebrating Christmas, though they often dealt with the Virgin Mary and Christmas saints. Middle English and literary nerds will already have followed the imagery of the poem through to its conclusion and equated the bleeding knight with the wounded Jesus/Communion and the weeping maid with Mary at the foot of the Cross, and you can make a further nerdly extrapolation that in theological terms, the celebration of Jesus's birth contains the foreknowledge of his sacrifice and death, in which case we can argue that the carol is totally appropriate for Christmas even though it doesn't seem that way, like, at all.

English choir nerds will know Ralph Vaughan Williams's arrangement of "Down in Yon Forest," the popular Derbyshire version of the carol. It's got a different tune than Britten's version. American folk music nerdy-nerds will know that a corrupted version of the Derbyshire carol was brought over here and recorded in North Carolina in the 30s as "Down in Yon Forest," though that song has yet another tune and different lyrics.

Here's a live folky rendition of the Derbyshire version (recording levels are high, so turn down your volume first. Also, she could've chilled on that drone, maybe cut 10 seconds off.):



Whatever, I just want to sing it. Like this version. (Turn volume back up.)

(for listening purposes only; will go away after 14 days; buy here.)

This has been a peek at various reasons why, when I sit down at the internet to do something specific, I often end up doing something else altogether.

Also, my rehearsal was canceled.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Dishing it out, maybe can't take it.

Did anyone hear this episode of The Story, in which a couple discusses their experience with near-foreclosure and their life completely changing? (I've been working on painting the basement ceiling, you see, which is a horrifyingly slow job, and nothing passes the time and keeps my interest like a good podcast.) Anyway, I was with these folks right up until the time they mentioned that the lost job that triggered the downward financial spiral had been providing a 5 figure monthly income.

It's possible that I'm just all wrong about the demographics of my readership, but let's let that sink in for a bit.

I try to make it a habit not to get judge-y about this kind of thing because I do believe that almost none of us receive good financial education and on top of that, there are lots of companies that make it very easy for all of us to believe that we are entitled to certain things and that we can and should spend money on stuff that is a little out of our reach financially. And of course, everyone makes mistakes, yadda yadda yadda. And and and FRANKLY, when I do the math, for this modern expensive world with all of the things that we are meant to believe we need, $120K min per year is not all that much money. I can't believe I'm actually saying that and ten years ago I lived on like 12% of that amount--but depending on where you live in the U.S., it's true.

My basic problem here, however, is that I can't relate, like, at all. Again, maybe I'm misjudging my readership, but gentle bitches, imagine for a moment that you have an income of at the very least $10K per month and you still have student loans and credit card debt and you owe back taxes (though maybe the taxes came later in the story, after the house). Would you go house-hunting and if so, would you fricking do it in L.A. in 2006 and if so, would you buy a house with a mortgage payment that is worrisome to you from the get-go, knowing also that you will need to put a bunch of money into the house? Whatever other craptastical situations I might get myself into in life, I am positive that that particular situation will never be one of them.

I've actually been sitting on this post for a few days because I realized that what I was writing was pretty much just uselessly judgmental and doesn't come to any conclusions. Certainly, there are hundreds of other eps of The Story that I don't specifically relate to and I manage to be interested in and moved by them (remember that mantra about replacing judgment with curiosity)? And regarding one's income and the bills one pays with that income, it's probably true that most people are like koi, expanding to fit their environments instead of keeping things small and manageable--i.e., if you have a big income you're going to let your expenses increase because you can afford it.

So what's my problem? Is it the blue collar roots of my peoples showing? My inherited and cultivated frugality creating a kind of disdain for privileged people who let their finances run away from them? I guess that's probably part of it. Bless these nearly-foreclosed folks for finding their way out of it and figuring out what's really important along the way (hint: it's not material possessions!), but for me, they're not sympathetic characters. They were in a position to know better.

I was actually going to connect all of this to screed on why I can't really read fashion bloggers (except Tavi), but since that is likely to be directionless and judgmental too, I'm going to shut it down and go paint the basement some more.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Cat bloggin.

Here is the famous Ace, taking up space on my desk.



Here he is again in part II, talking about it and then giving you the side-eye for a big finish.



This cat entertains the hell out of me every day.