Thursday, November 25, 2004

fun fact for today

Many grad students become excellent cooks.

It's true. Cooking is a pretty easy procrastination technique to rationalize--"well, I have to eat anyway, so I might as well make something good." Before you know it, you're throwing dinner parties for your twenty closest friends.

Or so I've heard. I wouldn't know anything about procrastination myself.

It's funny, though. Some procrastinators go so far as to start blogs and record CDs in their effort to avoid their stated goals. Could you imagine?

Now, should I put chocolate chips in this banana bread, or would that be overkill since it's already got walnuts and coconut?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Finished the cover art for The CD today. Mateusz is such an artist. Everything took a ridiculously long time, but the results make me squeal with glee. (Neill Cumpston would probably put my feelings into slightly different words.) All I can say is, if you're lucky enough to get one of these things, your head will explode.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


Doing a bit of the B- mass tomorrow (the benedictus) with my friend Kendra the kick-ass violinist. We're taking it at what seems to me to be a perilously slow tempo--but I think it's going to be tear- rather than yawn-inducing...or at least I hope so. Going back to that piece made me want to listen to the whole mass again--something I haven't done in ages. I'd try to say something about the music, but the only thing that comes to mind just now is, "Yep, that Bach guy did write some pretty nifty tunes."

and now, a moment of silence

As of ( now, one of the three men I've ever met and considered to be husband material, and the only one who was single when I met him, is married.

He is quite possibly the perfect man--except for the fact that he never seemed to notice my attempts to flirt with him.

Naturally, I wish him all possible happiness...and his wife a particularly nasty case of shingles.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

song texts

These are the songs from my recording session, described here. Some of the songs are here.

Looys Zuvart

Alleluia. Looys zuvart sourp parats anmahi,
Hor yergnavori, Hisous Krisdos.

Alleluia. O joyous light of the holy immortal glory of the heavenly Father,
the holy giver of life, Jesus Christ.

text:1st century Greek hymn
music: 5th century Armenian

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy pow'rful hand.
Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside.
Death of death, and hell's destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan's side,
Songs of praises I will ever give to thee.

text: William Williams; translation from the Welsh by Peter Williams
music: Appalachian hymn tune

Mary had a baby

Mary had a baby—Sweet Lamb

Where did she lay him?—manger

What did she call him?—Jesus; everlasting Counsellor; mighty Prince of Peace.

traditional African-American spiritual

I wonder as I wander

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus our Saviour did come for to die
For poor orn’ry creatures like you and like I
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus ‘twas in a cow’s stall
With farmers and shepherds and wise men and all
And far in the heavens a star’s light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing
A star from the sky or a bird on the wing
Or all of the angels in heaven to sing
He surely could have it for he was the King.

J. J. Niles, based on a traditional melody

Deeramayren hanteb vortvouyn ee khacheen, gayr derdmakeen,
Yev leselov uzdzaraveen, harachmamp layr tsavakeen.
Ee poosh besagen teedelov, voghp, godz, vay dayr your antsin:
“Atchatses louys, vortyag eem heesoos, voh yes unt kes meraneem.”

Facing her Son on the cross, the Mother of the Lord stood sadly,
and hearing Him cry out from thirst, she lamented in suffering.
Looking at the crown of thorns, she mourned and wailed:
“Woe is me! O Jesus, my child, the light of my eye, if only I could die for you!”

anonymous Armenian, late middle ages.


Every time I think about Jesus
Surely he died on Calvary.

Can’t you hear those hammers ringing?
Surely he died on Calvary.

Can’t you hear him calling his father?
Surely he died on Calvary.

traditional African-American spiritual

Patz mez, Der
Uztoren voghormootyan
Vor voghpalov gartamk ar kez.

Open for us, Lord,
The gate of your mercy
We beseech you imploringly.

anonymous Armenian, late middle ages.

I love the name

There is a name I love to hear
It soothes my doubts and it calms my fears
As I journey too and fro
I’ll take the name wherever I go
I love the name Jesus,
Every day the same, Jesus.
O how sweet is the precious name, Jesus.

When I have spoken my last word
And when my voice shall not be heard
Yes, death’s pains I’ll gladly bear
For I can read his name up there.

traditional African-American spiritual

I believe I'll go back home

I believe I'll go back home
And acknowledge there that I done wrong.

When I was in my Father’s house
I was well supplied.
I made a mistake in doing well,
Now I’m dissatisfied.

When I was in my Father’s house
I had bread enough to spare,
But now I sick and I hungry too
And ashamed to go back there.

traditional African-American spiritual

Confitebor Tibi

O Lord, I will praise Thee, though Thou wast angry with me,
Thine anger is turned away:
and Thou comfortedst me.

Behold, God is my salvation:
I will trust, and not be afraid.

For the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song:
He is also become my salvation.

Therefore with joy shall ye draw water:
out of the wells of salvation.

And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon His Name:
Declare his doings among the people, make mention that His Name is exalted.

Sing unto the Lord, for He hath done excellent things:
this is known in all the earth.

Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion:
for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

text: Isaiah 12
music: Ned Rorem: from Canticles

Over my head

Over my head I hear music in the air
There must be a God somewhere.

traditional African-American spiritual

My lord, what a morning

My lord, what a morning
When the stars begin to fall.

You’ll hear the trumpet sound
To wake the nations underground.
Looking to my God’s right hand,
When the stars begin to fall.

You’ll hear the sinners mourn
To wake the nations underground.
Looking to my God’s right hand,
When the stars begin to fall.

You’ll hear the Christians shout
To wake the nations underground.
Looking to my God’s right hand,
When the stars begin to fall.

traditional African-American spiritual

Monday, November 15, 2004

Does this look familiar, Dad? Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 13, 2004


My day so far:
  • midnight: go to bed
  • 1:30 get up; pace; go back to bed
  • 3 get up; pace; go back to bed
  • 4 get up for real
  • 4:30 bike to the church (N.B. It was snowing. There was an inch or so on the ground, and more was falling. It wasn't enough to make conditions really dangerous, or to pose any major inconvenience; but it was enough to make me feel like a complete badass for biking through it)
  • 4:45 warm up in choir room
  • 5 venture into the nave, overcoming my irrational fear of going in there alone in the dead of night when it's pitch dark by reassuring myself that Matteusz would be there with some kind of light.
  • 5:01 realize that M was in fact not there
  • 5:02 debate going back to the choir room where I know for sure there are no monsters; instead go up to the balcony to get a music stand. It may be dark up there too, and there may be a pigeon skeleton on one of the window ledges in the staircase, but at least I know where the light switch is up there.
  • 5:03 M arrives, having been waiting for me outside (doh!); help him with last bits of setup; do soundcheck
  • 5:15 take off sneakers so they don't squeak when I shift my weight
  • 5:16 realize that this means I'm going to be standing in my socks on a frigid marble floor for three hours
  • 5:17 try to stand on the cuffs of my overlong jeans
  • 5:18 give up and comfort myself with thoughts of what a badass I am
  • 5:30 start doing real takes
  • 5:45 realize that the frequency of the sound the cars make driving past on the slushy streets overlaps with my sound in such a way as to make it impossible to edit out
  • 6 start first take of heartrending Armenian piece (Stabat Mater equivalent)
  • 6:02 bus pulls up at stoplight outside church, during poignant silence between phrases
  • 6:03 light changes, bus leaves
  • 6:04 begin second take
  • 6:05 garbage truck arrives at restaurant across street, in middle of thrillingly modal run
  • 6:07 garbage truck leaves
  • 6:08 begin third take
  • 6:09 first emergency vehicle of the day goes by; consider editing piece so that Mary, instead of saying "Oh Jesus, my son, the light of my eyes, would God I could die for thee," says "Hurry up and die already!"
  • 7 the bells chime the hour; while we're waiting for them to hush up, M asks if I need a break, and offers to bring me something hot to drink from the restaurant across the street. I decline, feeling like more of a baadass than ever
  • 7:30 M asks if I'm sure I don't want some coffee; I decline again
  • 8 finish, at the same time as my voice quits, give or take a song
  • 8:10 help M load his gear into his car
  • 8:15 take M out for coffee
  • 9 go back to bed, still gloating about being a badass

Friday, November 12, 2004

Various things about singing

I'm getting up in the middle of the night tonight to do my recording session before the traffic around the church gets too noisy. I'm having trouble concentrating on work this afternoon.


A friend asked me the other day if I'd sing at his wedding. I was thrilled. I asked when the wedding was going to be. He said it'd probably be sometime after he proposes next summer.

Well, you can't say he doesn't think ahead.


I've been working on coloratura a lot recently--pieces by Handel, Bach, and Mozart. It's funny how pieces that use pretty much the same technical vocabulary can still have such different characters. Handel is so much fun to sing, because he was clearly writing for people who love the sound of their own voice. His melodies lend themselves well to ornamentation. (It's possible that I tend to get carried away with this: Rob-the-organist teases me about putting enthusiasm before taste. ... well, guilty as charged, I guess.) Mozart, on the other hand, tends to write such luscious phrases that even I can't justify disfiguring them by adding anything to them. (In the piece I did last Sunday, I compensate for that restraint by adding a truly shockingly tasteless cadenza: runs up to a high C, then a two-octave descending scale and an octave-and-a-half leap up to the final trill....what can I say. It feels good.) And then again Bach never really seems to be writing for the voice at all. It's as if he always hears his tunes played on a violin; that, at any rate, would explain some of the patterns he expects his singers to handle.


The hardest part about singing is what happens in the silences.

In the spaces between the notes, the voices start: "Well that wasn't very good, was it? You call that an even tone? Who do you think you are, anyway, standing up here on your hind legs and expecting people to sit still and listen to you? Don't make me laugh. You should just sit down and be quiet and stop embarrassing yourself."

In that sense it’s pretty much like any other endeavour.
I1 try2 to be3 good4.


1: or at least one of me

2: sometimes I try harder than other times

3: I'm not sure what I think about the idea of being anything at all, actually. Do we have a nature separate from our actions? I'm not convinced. And yet I do think of "being" good in those ontological terms.

4: "good" varies wildly from moment to moment.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Wow. Boom. Just like that, I've descended into PMS-land. It's awfully inconvenient to start crying every fifteen minutes. Makes it hard to get any work done.

On the one hand, it's vexing to be clinically insane three days out of every month (only three? maybe I'm giving myself too much credit here), but on the other hand I'm grateful that it makes it impossible to have the illusion of objectivity. I don't know how guys keep it real, without this periodic (heh) reality (surreality?) check. Every time I'm tempted to start listening to what my brain tells me, this phase of the moon rolls around again, and what my brain starts telling me becomes so patently absurd that it's just impossible to take it seriously.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


I realized why I've been so placid about the election results: I'm in denial. It can't have happened, therefore it didn't happen.

Pro-life people can't have voted for someone who supports the death penalty (or, as some of my orkut buddies have taken to calling it, "post-natal abortion". Reframing at its finest. If you oppose late-term abortion, how could you possibly suppport post-term abortion?).
People who support the troops can't have voted for someone who needlessly puts them in harm's way and then denies them disability benefits.
People whose priority is "moral values" can't have voted for a liar and a murderer.
Fiscal conservatives can't have voted for someone who's running up the deficit.
Christians can't have voted for someone who wants to deny equal rights to gays, thereby ignoring the spirit of what St. Paul said: "In Christ there is neither male nor female, neither Greek nor Jew, neither slave nor free."
People who take pride in the Constitution can't have voted for someone who wants to rewrite it to undermine equality.
Privacy advocates can't have voted for someone who's pushing the PATRIOTic snooping act.

Well. I'm glad we've got that cleared up.

Oh, and on another topic, if you're getting depressed looking at those huge swaths of red territory on election-results maps, take a gander here. These maps are by population, not surface area. Trippy!


So this past weekend was T-regina's wedding. It was a lovely event. Everyone said it was the nicest wedding they'd been to. Some of the sentimental ones added "--except for my own."

The whole thing was held at a hotel, a v. nice hotel out in the scenic hilly area outside of Hartford. The pictures were done before the wedding, when none of the mothers had ruined their makeup yet by crying, and when nobody was having to fend off gangs of wellwishers with a Tazer. The wedding itself was approximately ten minutes long--actually too short for anyone to even get started crying; even me. (I'm so sentimental. I always cry at weddings. Just the idea that there are people who can promise eternal love and fidelity, even if I don't trust myself to ever make those promises, is enough to set me off--love exists! waah!--and when the couple being married are my best friends...well, I fully expected to be a mess. And unfortunately my bridesmaid's dress didn't have anywhere to stash a large handkerchief.)

After the ceremony was over, we all had cocktails while the chairs in the hall were being rearranged for dinner. And after dinner (and actually before and during dinner--the DJ was most enthusiastic) there was dancing at the end of the hall. It was very handy having everything in the same couple of rooms; not to mention the fact that everyone could wander upstairs and pass out when they'd had too much to drink, instead of having to worry about cabs and ruining their hairdos by going outside.

And thinking of hairdos...T & her mom & I all went that morning to get our hair done. I'd never actually had that done before. It was an hour and a half well spent. And the hairdresser made sure to use an extra gallon of hairspray to make sure the curls would stay put. The result was that, since I was too lazy to take out the hairpins before I went to bed that night, the hairdo was still intact the next morning. Almost frightening, really.

The event started off with the rehearsal dinner. It was at an Indian restaurant where T&M are on intimate terms with all the employees, having gone there at least once a week for the past four years. At the end of the meal I took the opportunity to make the speech that T had forbidden me to make at the wedding reception. ... I am going to quote myself here, because I just love listening to myself talk.

T first met M at a party at my place. She came up to me and said, "Who on earth is that cute guy who came in with Will???"

I thought for a minute: cute guy, cute guy...uh.....

"And," she continued, "he has a british accent!"

I knew then that it was fate.

I didn't get to talk to M at all that night--T monopolized him entirely--but the next day I got to hear all about him. Specifically, I got to hear about their plans to go out that night, and to reassure T that just because she had had to initiate the good night kiss didn't necessarily mean that he wasn't into her: he just might be the kind of boy who doesn't kiss until the first date. I also got to help her decide what kind of underwear to wear to their date [self-conscious giggles from both T&M here].

I added something about "may everyone who finds a relationship as right as this one, have it recognized and supported by their friends and family," which was part of my pro-gay-marriage brainwashing campaign, and which seemed to go over the heads of the people who might have benefitted from it. Oh well. (I was considering taking it up a level by responding to one of the "And when are you going to get married?" comments with "Whenever I meet the right girl," but I really didn't want to know how some of the folks there would react to a statement like that. T's family are from Texas and Kansas, and I spent the whole weekend avoiding conversations about politics and religion; I didn't also want to have to avoid conversations about human rights.)

The other thing that happened was that I skipped the dance, in order to avoid an awkward social situation. I was disappointed to not get to boogie with T & her friends, but figured it was tidier this way. And anyway, the weekend was more about mudita than about personal enjoyment. That's what a bridesmaid's there for.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


After the wedding I was on a photographic roll. I took my camera up East Rock to give it some fresh air, and to see how the autumn leaves looked from up there--glorious, as it turns out. I took a bunch of pictures, and they're pretty enough, but they don't communicate the experience of being there. Even if I were to post the pix with pretentious allusive captions like

Danae Posted by Hello

you still wouldn't get the effect. Maybe if I were a better photographer I would be able to capture the way the leaves seemed to be lit from within rather than from above. But as it is, even telling you directly what the experience was like for me--how the crinkled-tinfoil river and the spicy smell of fallen leaves and the lift and rush of the wind made my heart into a bird that was beating its wings against the cage of my chest--won't make you feel what I felt.

I've been thinking a lot recently about how to use words to communicate experience. It's possible that I'd be farther ahead just now if I were to think about using words to write my gosh-darn dissertation.

Monday, November 08, 2004


So I finally went to the International Students' Office to see what their phone messages meant. Turns out I'm a criminal! Yep, my visa expired back in August, so ever since then I've been working illegally. I'm supposed to go to Canada soon to get new forms. I'm wondering whether I can convince them that Christmas is soon--because, man, do I love the feeling of being on the wrong side of the law.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

All Souls' Day

For none of us has life in himself,
and none becomes his own master when he dies.
For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord,
and if we die, we die in the Lord.
So, then, whether we live or die,
we are the Lord's possession.

Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O LORD;
Lord, hear my voice.

God is our hope and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved,

and though the hills be carried into the midst of the sea.

Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit?
or whither shall I go then from thy presence?
If I climb up into heaven, thou art there;

if I go down to hell, thou art there also.
If I take the wings of the morning,

and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there also shall thy hand lead me,

and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Peradventure the darkness shall cover me,

then shall my night be turned to day.
Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night is as clear as day;

the darkness and light to thee are both alike.

Sitting here obsessively checking election preliminary results. Feeling slightly ill at the thought of so many people voting for Bush even after the past four years.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Today is another one of those days where I walk around with my camera in my bag all day and don't take a single picture. There's no point. There's no way I could capture in pixels the experience of the sunshine today. The wind and the sun and the clouds and the leaves make me start singing The trumpet shall sound: there's the same swirling ominous radiance.