Saturday, June 28, 2008

For all of you out there who, like me, can spend hours with a hymnbook (or any songbook, really), here's:

The Cyber Hymnal

You know all those old hymns you've heard just the first line of and can't remember any more, and that one line gets in your head and drives you crazy since you CAN'T FIND THE REST OF THE SONG???? You can probably find it here. They have hundreds, if not thousand of hymns here, lyrics, scores and accompaniment. Mostly Protenstant-ish hymns, but also quite few I reognize from the newer Catholic Hymnals (I'll let you decide if that's a good thing. . .).

But why are many of these traditional hymns so freakin' hard to sing? I was looking at old songs I hadn't sung in years and not only are they written for high sopranos, but they often have huge, awkward jumps, then they throw in all sorts of random chromaticism, just for the fun of it. Did they want the congregations to sound bad, or were people just better singers back then?

Oh yes, and they have translations of certain hymns into very unexpected languages indeed!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Things I Like About Biking Around Town:

1. Getting exercise without going to the gym.
2. I can eat more chocolate & cheese (see #1).
3. Playing Go To The Head of The Stop Sign Line (that one's really fun downtown!)
4. Being outside.
5. Save a little money. (And I do mean a little here. Since I live so close to everything I go to on a regular basis, I'm only saving about $20/month, even with $4/gallon gas! Not exactly an incentive.)
6. Sticking it to the Man!!!! (well, kinda. . . a bit. . . maybe)

Things I Don't Like About Biking Around Town:
1. Everyone looks at you.
2. There is a set, inverse ratio between the length of my skirt and the strength of the wind.
3. I look like a dork, I'm sure of it, especially with the helmet. Yes, yes, I wear one, don't worry.
4. You arrive at work (or church or wherever) hot and sweaty.
5. You have to think out things (errands, appointments, shopping trips, etc.) a bit further in advance. You don't have quite as much spontaneity. But that's probably a good thing, I suppose.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

They grow up
so fast. . .

They're starting to look like chickens, don't you think?

It was only after spending time with chickens that I saw the connection between birds and dinosaurs. . . I'm really glad they don't get much bigger than they do!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Mexico is Odd

I know it's a shock to everyone, but New Mexico is a strange place in more ways than one. But here are the things that make me make that statement today.

State Seal:

Okay, I know most normal people don't pay much attention to state seals. And I don't blame them. But working in the legal profession I deal with various state agencies often, and from time to time I find myself studying the seal (or other such things) on the walls of various state buildings while I'm waiting for someone to do something. But this Seal must be the most (well, one of the most) amusingly politically incorrect official symbols out there. Look at it. It's got the Mexican Eagle with a snake, perched on a cactus, as in the Mexican flag. But then there's this large, American Bald Eagle perched benevolently over the Mexican Eagle, protecting it with its strong, encompassing wings. Don't worry, cute little Mexican Eagle, we'll protect you.

Then there's the State Motto, which is on the Seal, but you can't really see it. It's Crescit Eundo, which officially translates as, "It grows as it goes."

Stop sniggering. It's the Official Motto.

No, that's not funny, not funny at all. You should be ashamed of yourself.

There was some talk a few years ago about changing the motto, with its more-than-slightly-ambiguous implications, but nothing ever came of it. According to the omniscient Wikipedia it's a quote from Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, of all things, describing a thunderbolt. It was thought that the quote would suggest "dynamic growth."

Stop it.

But both of these things really are good symbols of New Mexico: odd, quirky, kind of clueless in an amusing sort of way, with not-so-subtle sordid undertones.

In another odd New Mexican story, I just saw that the mayor of Santa Fe has invited the King of Spain to come out for a visit. Spain still has a King, who knew? Anyway, that would be amusing. I wonder if all the scary Spaniards of Northern New Mexico would turn out en masse to sing the Spanish equivalent of God Save the King. I'll keep you posted.

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Monday, June 16, 2008


Well, as promised, here are some pictures of the newest addition to the family.

Here they all are, pecking and peeping away:

We got six: two Araucanas, two Buff Orptingtons and two Rhode Island Whites. My favorites by far are the Araucanas:

They are fairly mellow-tempered, for chickens, and seem to be the most intelligent and curious of the lot. I think they were the first to have an inkling of a reality outside their box. I'm told they're closer to wild chickens than most breeds, which might have something to to with it. Plus, they lay greenish-blue eggs, (really!) which is certainly a plus!

Here are the Buffs. They'll be a really pretty golden color, and seem fairly easy-going too. I took them all outside for the first time the other day and the Buffs were the first (and quite enthusiastic) to take to the concept to eating bugs, and anything else that moved. Good for them!

And here's the Rhode Island White (below). As of now, this is my least favorite of the breeds. They're quite skittish and are prone to start peeping hysterically if separated from their companions for any amount of time. Apparently it's a rare breed that was developed in the 1800's and has been brought back due to the increased interest in heirloom/heritage flora and fauna. They're supposed to be good layers like the better-known Rhode Island Reds.

I know most of these aren't very good pictures, but I wanted to get these up to at least give you all something to look at. They've grown alot just since I've taken these pictures. Their wings are pretty well feathered out and they're starting to get real feathers on their tails and shoulders. Towards the end of the week they started to notice that they had wings. One would stretch her wings out and flap them, much to the disquietude of all her sisters: "What are you doing?!?!? What's going on?!?!?!? AAAAHHHHH!!! Hey, look, newspaper. I think I'll peck it. . . "
The neighbors have "custody" of them this week, which is just as well since I'll be out of town the latter part of the week.
Pretty cute, huh?

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Stuff People Like

Just in case you were wondering:

Stuff White People Like Limited in its scope to yuppies, but then, I suppose most yuppies are white, so, okay, whatever. But keep in mind the Stuff White People in the Midwest Like would be completely different. It would include Jello, Collections, Lawns, Family Reunions, Lakes, Family Reunions at Lakes and Target, among other things.

Stuff Black People Love This is a really funny site. Examples of stuff black people love: Multisyllabic names that end with a vowel and Seeing White People with shorts on when its cold outside (it's like Groundhog Day!).

Stuff Catholics Like Oh so true, so true!! Examples: Retreats, Babies (duh!), Knees, Relics, Miracles, okay but Clapping in Church? I lost you on that one. I was Catholic for 18 years or so and I never clapped in church, unless the occasion warranted it. So it's become a Catholic Thing to clap after the service is over. Really? Funny post though.

I couldn't find Stuff Orthodox People Like but it really writes itself, doesn't it. It's too easy. Standing, beards, icons, incense, monks, calendars, anything Russian or Greek, arguing about esoteric things that no one really understands but that doesn't stop us, etc., etc., etc. Suggestions?

But then I found that, as is the case with most things you start looking into on the internet, this is only the tip of the iceberg. So if you're interested in, say Stuff Iranians Like (it's really, really not anything you might be thinking), it's out there!!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Unlikely Operas Part II

This seems to be turning into a theme. Here's something else I have never thought of as an opera, but, hey, why not? I mean, if you've already got gay cowboys, doesn't an opera logically follow? I haven't read the story yet, or seen the movie, so maybe it's not as odd as it seems at first. What do you think? You can hear some of the composer's music here. It's not my favorite style on first listen, but I only listened to a few pieces out of many.

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Monday, June 02, 2008


What's just about the last thing you think about when you think opera? What is so far removed from opera that it's inconceivable to think about them in the same sentence? Umm. . . crazy communist dictators? No, they already did that one. Ummm. . . the Royal Navy? No, got tickets to that one already. How 'bout. . .Al Gore? No, it has nothing to do with 2000 or Florida, which would be perhaps vaguely entertaining. Just imagine the possibilities. A plaintive aria and chorus of retired Manhattannites who have just discovered they have tragically voted for Pat Buchannan. A stirring end-of-act chorus of protesters, vote-counters, commentators, with Bush and Gore soaring over it all (I suppose Bush would have to be the tenor). The Supreme Court could have a complex, dramatic nontet (maybe a ballet thrown in?) with two opposing themes that somehow fit discordantly together. Definitely potential. Anyone interested?

But no. It's ummm. . . . global warming? Yeah. Italian composer Giorgio Battistelli has been working on an opera based on. . . um. . . An Inconvenient Truth. . . yeah. . . for La Scala in 2011. I tried to find some information on this guy, but it's pretty thin. I've found adjectives like "post-modern", and "experimental", and the opera in question will be done in a "multi-media" format. None of which inspires confidence. His choice of subjects is quite interesting though. His works include an opera about a drunk who's in charge of maintaining Lennin's preserved body, Richard III (in English with a Flemish opera company) and something about Hector and Achilles, although I haven't been able to find much about that at all.

The only way in which I see this working is probably not the way he's going to do it, given the experimental, atonal, multi-media thing. It could maybe be neat if they went totally Pagan, with a rockin' contralto Gaia singing like Fricka. . . maybe. But somehow I don't think that's the tack there're going to take.

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