Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stories from the workplace. . .

As most of you know I work for a church - a Catholic church - as a director of worship (music and liturgy). Unfortunately my pastor as a rather republican-minded Catholic. Here's what happened this morning.

Me: I’m sick of hearing republican candidates fighting about who is more conservative. This clearly shows there’s something wrong with the party as a whole.

Father: Democrats do the same thing. Did you know that Hillary wants to kill buckets and buckets of babies for they’re born. Abortion. Abortion. Life. Life. Life. Bla bla bla.

Me: You know, Republicans aren’t doing anything about abortion either. I really like what Joan Chittester says about being pro-life, and not just pro-birth. What about healthcare?

Father: GW has done more than any other president to give handouts to faith based organizations.

Me: Yeah, but what about health care? What about taking care of poor women and raising their children out of poverty?

Father: I don’t want universal health coverage. I know someone in Canada who died because he couldn’t get an essential surgery in time. Once you’re over 65 they forget about you.

Me: (Father is 70+) What do we want to with people over 65 anyway? They’re no good to the economy.

Anger, laughing, attempt to steal my funeral stipend off the counter. We are interrupted by an old lady. I walk away.

When I return to the office, I see that the apple I had placed in my mailbox for lunch had been cut in half, with a note.

Father: “Thank you! Democrats share so well.”

I run to his office and say,

Me: No, you don’t get it. The rich (you) are supposed to support the poor (me)! Not the other way around.

I think he won.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

R. Vaughan Williams and George Herbert "twist a song": EASTER

As a way to prepare for my recital (March 1st, 8PM Humphrey Auditorium), I'm going to be reflecting on some of the music I am singing. If you're planning on attending, it might be helpful to expose yourself to the music in advance!


RISE heart ; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise :
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long :
Or since all music is but three parts vied,
And multiplied ;
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

I first sang “Easter” in May of 2006 for my senior recital at Catholic University. In this setting, by R. Vaughan Williams, we are confronted by dueling artists. Who wins the prize? 17th Century Welsch poet and Anglican priest, George Herbert (left) and Early 20th Century composer and “cheerful agnostic,” Williams (right) both exemplify their highest skills here. Herbert doesn’t need any help, but still, the composer morphs the poetry into a magnificent song of praise and thanksgiving.

I think the repeated motif accompanying “Rise Heart” portrays a sort of pure joy – the joy you feel in your chest, literally rising within. You don’t need to be a Christian to experience that sort of joy. Birth- Marriage - Love. The men and women singing identical thirds provides a sort of open exuberance that is communicated throughout the piece chorally. (n.b. I’ll be performing this piece without the choir using a special solo score published with the music.)

You don’t need be an expert of 17th century English to be moved by the words.

That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.

So our hearts of stone were shattered, and made gold by the rising of Christ. The poetry gets a little more gruesome:

His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

The flesh of Christ (sinews are strings made out of muscle or tendon) serve as an example for us – how we use our bodies to praise God.

And then Herbert and Williams end with a largamente statement, encouraging unity in heart, mind, and action. We are imperfect people, but we are always hoping to be made perfect.

O let thy blessed spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet heart.

Williams ends the piece with a short orchestral statement that slowly diminishes into the air. It chromatically climbs from key to key and quietly rests on the macrokey, Eb.

The piece comes from a set of five Mystical Songs. All the texts are by Herbert. If you have access to NAXOS through CSBSJU or another school library, take a listen. I think you’ll be moved. Also, I’ll be doing Antiphon from the same set. This is simply an outburst of joy. What more can I say?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Republican Map of the World

I got this from a friend. Isn't it perfect?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just another brilliant post. . .

I wouldn't have ever dreamed that this semester would be so busy! I'm preparing for my recital, learning french, and doing a lot more work at church. I'm also managing to get to the Y 5-7 days a week, and I'm spending a lot more time there (Running, Lifting, Swimming, and of course, the Sauna!). It seems that I might be the sort of person that is just busy by nature. . . there's not much I can do.

I went into the cities on Friday to see my first live NPR show. . . Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. I imagine the NPR readers out there might want to correct me. . . the show is actually syndicated not by NPR, but rather by American Public Media, the same organization that brings you Krista Tippet and Lynne Rosetto Kapser, not to mention all of my local radio stations (no really, I have various MPR stations programmed into almost all of my radio presets on my car radio).

Anyway, the show was really great. I really love the comedy, I'm not into country/bluegrass music quite so much, but the music was good too. Garrison was wonderful in all his froglike radiance. They had cabaret singer Nellie McKay on the show. She's quite amusing, to say the least. Her song that seems to get a lot of play on NPR is "Mother of Pearl," "Feminists don't have a sense of humor." You can hear that melody at the beginning of Terry Gross' interview with her.

Not much else to say today. . . Maybe I'll get the energy to post more often.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The pictures. . .

So I've failed to post a few pictures of my apartment. I had to clean it up for dinner yesterday, and here are the results.

Well first, here's a picture of Eli and our dear friend G. They're obviously concerned about all of the preparationgs for the big soiree. . .

One more of elias. . .
My living room. . . I had the brilliant idea to make my friends paint for me at the party. . . That wasn't the best party idea ever, but whatever. . .

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

I'm mesmerized

No really, I've watched this video over and over - yes we can - it's like a song - it's somewhere in between JFK and MLK.

Friday, January 11, 2008

So close. . . so very close. . .

Now that I've spent a goodly amount of money on dental work, blood work, and the likes, it's starting to look like this might actually happen! Africa here I come. . . Now I just patiently wait for the invitation. . .

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I'm so vain, I probably think this post is about me.

I really don't consider myself vain. But sometimes, I catch myself doing silly things - like using the camera to do timed pictures of myself.

I do say, I am terrible unphotogenic when it comes to posing for pictures. the best pictures of me always tend to be action - doing something, laughing, with friends. But still, I must trod on! Various profiling websites - facebook, myspace, my blog! - they all need do need my face on them. Anyway, the one above wouldh ave turned out, had the camera not been focusing on the Christmas tree, and the blinds been closed. This is my living room by the way. I set up my Christmas tree, and it's up for the whole month of January.

Lets be honest. Christmas sucked! It was all down hill after Christmas eve. The deer, the moving, the accident, the dog barking too much in the new place, and memorizing french for my Grad Recital (March 1st 8pm humphrey auditorium don't forget).

Elias is getting used to not having Daddy II around, but I think he misses the extra attention. The landlord is being really good about the barking problems. He even takes him out for me when I'm gone for a few hours, but I decided today, to solve the problem by getting a barking collar. You thought that taping cardboard to his head was cruel. . . How about a gentle spray bark collar! This from the same people - the ones who claim to be humain - that make the gentle leader. The gnetle spray bark collar shoots citronella gas in the dogs face when a little mic sense that he's barking. Dog's don't like the smell and shut up. I'm not sure I believe that. I think they're just really distracted by the mechanical noise produced by the little box under the kneck. Anyway, $85 later, problem solved.
Cruel, Cruel Daddy I
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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bad, bad dog!

My Uncle Greg made mention once of taping a book on his dogs head so she wouldn't keep destroying books. I figured I would try the method with cardboard.
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I really enjoyed this video of Obama Smearing. They're getting really desperate!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Just another Iowan making history.

Well, it's been an interesting Christmas for me. After beautiful Liturgies at my church, I took off for Iowa. On the way I hit a deer. . . Actually, 2 miles from home, I hit a deer.  My family was very high strung, and there was a lot of stress. I drove home for the big move.  The move went fine, I drove Jason to Minneapolis to drop him off for good, and I got hit. My car is totaled now. Rock on.  (At least I'm not at fault!)
So, I drove to Iowa in my free rental car yesterday so I could caucus today. I decided to caucus for Obama. This was a hard decision for me. As you might recall, I started with Richardson. He said some things I didn't like in the HRC/LOGO debate. I moved on to Hillary. I really like Hillary. I think she would be an amazing president, and for whatever baggage she carries, to have a woman president would be amazing for America. 

Then I started thinking more about Barack. And then I saw this speech: 
--  --

I was really awed by it - by his passion - "That's why I'm running Iowa." I compared issues, and, although I'm not particularly pleased with any of the "health care plans," Obama's seemed to be the closest thing to socialized healthcare. 

So I drove all the way down to Iowa and voted for him. I have a feeling this is the beginning of something really great for our country! I hope he keeps the momentum. . .