semperfiona: (maple)
First actual Charis (St Louis Women's Chorus) rehearsal was Tuesday. I made Rosa come with me, and she has agreed to come back for at least the two more open rehearsals before deciding whether she wants to stick it out for the whole season. I hope she does, but it's up to her. There is another geeky sixteen-year-old newbie, so that may influence her to stay.

I am going to need a LOT of practice. It's been a very long time since I've attempted to sing in any circumstance other than 'in the car, with the radio/mp3 player'. Rosa can carry a tune much better than I can, but she can neither read music nor follow parts (she kept wanting to follow the melody or sing along with whoever was singing at the time). I told her we can help each other, since I can do both those things.

***

Yesterday Tammie called me around five. "Cait's inviting one of us to a musical at the Fox. You should go." "Well, I have a massage scheduled..." "You can postpone that." "Good point. And this is supposed to be my year of saying yes to things. I'll do it." Show at 7:30, pick Cait up at 6:45...I had just enough time to cancel my massage, take a shower, stuff my face with Arbys, and watch one episode of Yowamushi Pedal with Rose before I had to jump in the car and zoom away.

Cait's tickets ended up being for the Fox Club. Fancy box seats with waiter service throughout the show! The musical was Newsies, a critically-acclaimed show about the 1899 New York Newsboys Strike. Now you know more about it than I did until I got there and had time to Wikipedia the plot synopsis before the show started. More, because I've given you the links. ;-)

We had a great time, and have resolved to hang out together more often. I regret to say that it's probably been more than a year since I've spent any one-on-one time with Cait. We see each other at most of the polymunches, but that isn't the same.

***

And lastly...I've been filling my head with "Hamilton" lately, after seeing a dozen blog posts and other chatter about it (starting at Making Light, here, where you can find lots of other links to start with). The cast album is free for streaming on Amazon Prime Music which, conveniently, we have. I believe the whole musical is also available on YouTube although I haven't looked.

I've listened to the cast album three times now and am quite thoroughly earwormed. If you have managed to miss hearing about this, it's a historical musical about (two-hundred-year-old spoiler alert) yes, the dude whose face is on the ten-dollar bill and who got himself shot in a duel with Aaron Burr. It's rap and hip-hop and totally virtuosic and almost entirely race-bent, so comments very eloquently on race relations in the US both now and two-hundred-odd years ago, as well as featuring several named female characters who talk to one another about things which include politics--so yay, Bechdel-passing--and its various themes and plots are summed up rather well in the title of the last song: "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?"

It's absolutely fantastic, I recommend it highly... and fair warning: the second act will leave you reeling and devastated, so I recommend a private place for your first listen. Unless you enjoy sitting at your desk at work sobbing. To each their own after all.

So after last night's show, when I stopped at the grocery store for a couple of things requested by the folks at home, I spotted evidence of Time Magazine's finger on the pulse of the (my) zeitgeist: a special edition magazine entitled "Alexander Hamilton: A Founding Father's Visionary Genius--and His Tragic Fate". It had to come home with me.

***

Yowamushi Pedal: an anime series that Rosa has recommended to me. We've been watching it together. It's about high school bicycle racers, and I'm actually really enjoying it. I absolutely hate Midousuji and think he's really a demon not a person, but all the other characters have at least some redeeming qualities, even if they are sometimes irritating (like most humans, after all). The protagonist is a very ingenue-riffic wide-eyed first-year named Onoda Sakamichi whose earnestness and innocent enthusiasm are over the top, down the next hill and back up again, but he's also so ridiculously engaging and sweet. His given name means Hill Road, and he specializes as a climber in the team road races (Some of the names are rather in your face if you understand any Japanese at all. There are probably even more in-jokes in the names that I don't get, but there's another climber named Manami Sangaku--Manami Mountain Range.)
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (music)
Sitting in the living room while Tammie is choosing music. She has been playing blues and bluegrass, some local talent, some well known. Just now it's been selections from "O Brother Where Art Thou?" All three of us are singing along.

When "I'll Go Down to the River"came up, I was reminded that for several months when she was about six, Rosa had been obsessed with that song. We had to keep the CD in the car's player, and I can still tell you that it was track eleven. I had to play it rather a lot.
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (music)
Friday afternoon on Facebook, Chris heard about a Sunday night concert by One More Round, a Johnny Cash tribute band. Despite the short notice and the fact that it came on top of both Conflation and Tammie's Grove weekend, he got us tickets and we all went, tired and sleep-deprived as we were.

Consider me blown away. The headliner's voice was spot-on, and he was obviously having a delightful time. He did a highlights tour of Cash's whole career, from "Cry Cry Cry" to "Hurt" and "Personal Jesus", with lots of our favorites as well as a few that were less familiar. The morbid and creepifying factor was high, with many songs about being hanged or shooting someone.

As an encore, after two pure gospel songs[1], we got a rousing rendition of "Ring of Fire". Rivendell Family sang at the tops of our voices. :-)

[1] one of these songs was "Do Lord". It's a song I remember learning as a kid, unrelated to anything Cash, but the words were slightly different. They sang "Do Lord oh do Lord, oh do come for me, way beyond the blue" but I learned it "...do remember me..."
semperfiona: (hogswatch)
Saturday morning I was at the dentist for the semi-annual cleaning (and I have two cavities that I have to go back today and have filled *sigh*). It's December; they had the All Christmas Music All The Time station on.

So the hygienist has her sharp pointy things in my mouth, and Little Drummer Boy comes on. Whenever I've heard this song before, I imagined a drummer boy like this: Little Drummer Boy album cover )

And who could possibly sleep to *that*?

But this time, I remembered the drum that Tammie got this fall, which looks like this: Frame drum )

And one night, I actually *did* fall asleep to her playing it. Drumming for trance and meditation, not for organizing an army. For extra credit, I also came to the realization that the cymbals played by women dancing in the bible were more likely zills than Zildjians.

Images that stick in the imagination from childhood take some effort to eradicate.

***

The version of "Winter Wonderland" I heard that morning also surprised me. It had a verse I'd never heard before about "we'll pretend that he's a circus clown" and other games with the snowman. That totally undermined the song for me.
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (piano hearts)
Friday night, the three of us plus Lenora went to see [livejournal.com profile] s00j and Heather Dale (with Betsy Tinney and Ben Deschamps) doing a show together. We've been Sooj fans for a long time, and after Strowlerfest became big fans of Heather Dale as well, so the chance to see both of them was eagerly anticipated.

Even before the show started, I had run into two people I've known for years and years but not seen or talked to in quite a long time, and it was kind of fun to be The One That Knows People for once. Darla I used to work with back in 1996-7 at the St Louis Police Department, and haven't seen since about 2005 or so. Robin I met later, but was in the same circle, and have seen but not talked to at a few recent local concerts (Sharon Knight, Ginger Doss, Bekah Kelso).

We had a fabulous time, and the show was awesome; great music, a really good feeling of community and building energy. We got a few more Heather Dale CDs to add to our collection, and she signed one of them for us. Since we already owned all of Sooj's CDs, we bought her book, and she signed it for Rosa. The book's illustrator was in attendance, so she signed it too, and we bought her coloring book "Lesser Known Goddesses".

After the show, we went to the City Diner for dinner, where I was fascinated by a diner at another table. He was wearing a gray suit, skinny black tie, and white shirt; he had slicked back short hair, and he wore black plastic glasses with a straight-across top and round lenses. I kept thinking he looked like a refugee from the 50's. Then he and his companions left, and I glanced over to the other side of the room, where a collage of vintage album covers hang on the wall.

He looked exactly like the Buddy Holly album cover hanging there. Which I have just spent twenty minutes trying to locate on Google Image Search, to no avail. I found lots of Buddy Holly album covers but none that exactly match. I even found a picture of the album cover collage, but its resolution is too low to pull out the cover in question.
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (piano hearts)
Went to the symphony last night with [livejournal.com profile] ohari, [livejournal.com profile] reannon and her spawn. Chris has a subscription to Groupon, a daily coupon offer, and the offer a week ago was for tickets to this weekend’s symphony performance. After determining that [livejournal.com profile] lavendargrrl and Rosie didn’t really want to go we got the last four Groupon tickets for Friday night.

The program as promoted was Holst’s “The Planets”, a longtime favorite. I never bothered to find out what the other piece(s) would be until we got to Powell Hall last night.

The first piece turned out to be a (or perhaps the--the program implies, but does not say, that it was his only one) Gyorgy Ligeti violin concerto, with soloist Renaud Capucon. Composed between 1989 and 1993, the piece is very strange to my ears used to traditional tonal classics. As a point of interest, there is some Ligeti music used in the movie 2001, and the piece we heard did give a strong feeling of alienness.

David Robertson the conductor gave a short introduction. He had a bassist demonstrate something called “ghost tones”, and mentioned that some of them sound bluesy. While listening to the orchestra, then, I was noting similarities to some electric guitar solos at times. At some points the eerie music sounded very much like playing water glasses or a theremin--neither of which were present.

But despite my attempts to find something to hold onto in the piece, I was happiest with the second movement when an actual tonal melody showed up and stuck around a while.

Then after intermission, it was on to the main event. Of the seven sections in The Planets, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune are the most notable and memorable. I recognize the music of Mars and Jupiter immediately even when I just hear a snatch of music from a radio somewhere. The others, for whatever reason, while they are moving and interesting in context do not grab me the same way.

I hadn’t known before that Holst was writing during the first World War, but armed with that knowledge the Mars movement became even more powerful. Marching feet on the basses. Drum cadences. Tank battles. Desolate no man’s lands. Explosions. Chris remarked after the movement, “Now I’m ready to kill things.” “Music to blow shit up by,” I responded.

The audience applauded long after this movement.

Venus made me think first of the sappy scene in Star Wars episode II (of the movies that do not exist) where Anakin and Padme are running in a field. I pushed that image away and then thought of dolphins dancing in the sea. There was an abashed silence from the audience for having clapped in the middle of the piece the first time, until Robertson turned around and remarked, “We love applause,” to a ripple of laughter and some applause. They then got applause after every movement until Saturn, Uranus and Neptune were played without any breaks between.

Mercury was fairies flitting from flower to flower, some larger birds and maybe an eagle. Jupiter made us smile and dance in our seats. I didn’t get any particular images, just a good feeling and dancey mood.

Throughout the piece, I kept wondering where the chorus was. They weren’t onstage at the beginning, so I thought they’d come out between the last two movements and stand at the back. When Neptune began and still no chorus was in evidence, I was very puzzled. Until the singing began, and it was surrounding us. They were never visible, and many audience members turned their heads from side to side trying to find the source of the sound. I know they weren’t to our right, since there is an outside wall there. Could’ve been in the corridor to the left of the hall, could’ve been backstage and amplified.
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (music)
...One grey night it happened Jackie Paper came no more
and Puff that Mighty Dragon, he ceased his fearless roar...
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (piano hearts)
Rosa and I were playing the piano together this morning. She asked if I have this song. I do not; I'd never even heard it before.

If you dance then you must have
Boots of shining leather
Money in your pocketbook
In your cap a feather

But if you will come with me
You don't need a cent you see
Come and sing together
Come and sing together
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (piano hearts)
For finishing out her school year with a solid month of good behavior, we rewarded Rosa with an Ipod. I received a new 8gb Nano as a service award from $COMPANY, and my old 2gb Nano went to her. She has enjoyed the heck out of it.

This morning she left for a few days in Kansas City with Grandma, so yesterday I loaded up some new music for her and charged it up. She took it upstairs with her to listen while collecting her bits-n-bobs for the trip while I putzed around the internet.

Suddenly, a distressed child appeared. "I dropped my ipod down the bed!"

Befuddled mama is befuddled. Child explains that she had set it on one of the bedposts while doing whatever she was doing, and next thing she knew it had fallen into the hollow bedpost. (One should explain. She has a set of metal-framed bunkbeds which have for the last while been standing side by side instead of stacked. One of the post-connectors failed to come out right, so the post cover couldn't be placed on it. It's an open-mouthed metal tube.)

Mommy to the rescue. I went upstairs with the thought that I'd just lift the bed up and take the bottom cover off the bedpost and get the ipod out that way. Unfortunately, that end turned out to be sealed. New plan: turn the bed upside down and dump it out.

It was a good plan. We moved the mattress off, moved a half-dozen pillows and stuffies out of the way, moved the Barbie Dream House across the room, and levered the frame upside down. Noises of small object sliding down metal tube ensued.

But the ipod did not come out. Puzzlement. Climb down on the floor under the half-supported upside-down bed frame. Discover that looking up a sealed black metal tube for anything, even a white ipod, is futile. Send the child for a flashlight.

Aha! The way the bed is constructed, the large tube that forms the post has holes in it, through which pass the headboard tubes, and they cross nearly all the way to the other side. The ipod has got itself wedged between the end of a headboard tube and the side of the post tube.

Rosa offered me a twistie-tie that happened to be lying around. Not nearly long enough. I pondered for a moment and requested a wire hanger. Bend, twist, poke poke, success! Little girl can go off on the train to her own choice of music.

What Grandma will think of Voltaire remains to be seen.
semperfiona: (candles)
Thank you all for the lovely birthday greetings today!

It's been a fabulous day. My family took me to dinner at Brazie's, one of my favorite restaurants of EVER, but where we hadn't been for years.




Wow. I've just lost my whole train of thought. Chris is playing that link that's been going around: Susan Boyle singing on the British talent show...My eyes are streaming.




Okay, recovering from the staggering beauty of that performance.

Dinner was lovely. Tammie and I had almost settled on a dish to share, and then the waiter told us the specials. He said Our Word: scallops. And they were luscious: cooked just to doneness and not a second longer.

I got some fancy new toys for my camera: a new telephoto lens and a set of UV and polarizing filters (one to fit each of the lenses we have). And a cute dress for Rosa, along with some silly fun toys, and a matching denim jacket.

Some fun cards
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (music)
The concert was fabulous, let me say that right off.

Tammie and I were on the phone just before Christmas, trying desperately to come up with a gift idea for Chris. I started surfing around looking for concerts of his favorite musicians, and decided on a whim to try Flogging Molly. Whaddya know, they were coming to St. Louis Feb. 25, and whaddya know even more, tickets were available! So I immediately acquired some, and we've been looking forward to the event ever since.Read more... )
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (piano hearts)
So I've been trying to revive my Japanese, albeit in a somewhat lackadaisical manner. However, one of the things I have done relatively consistently is listen to more Japanese pop music. I have several cassette tapes that I made while in Japan. Recently I've managed to rip a couple of them into iTunes, though I haven't finished. Also Work!Chris gave me a CD of some stuff he had, and Knitting!Jenn gave me a CD of NEWS. Mine and Chris's are pre-1990.

I still haven't found the one cassette I reallyreally wanted to find, but among the other ones I have found some of the music I most wanted.

Turns out Rosa really likes J-pop, so when we're in the car together she'll find it on my ipod and start it up.

Of the things I've (re)found so far, I very much like the group Kaguyahime. The songs are bittersweet little vignettes of life. And they're very easy to understand, with clear enunciation and vocals that are not covered up by loud music. However, I've only got four of their songs, so today I went looking for more. First I tried iTunes, but it does not seem to be possible to buy Japanese music in American iTunes. So then I thought of Youtube, and found some things. Unfortunately I haven't figured out how to get them out of Youtube and into my ipod, but at least I can stash the links here for later.

かぐや姫メドレー This is a good introduction to Kaguyahime's songs, and has lyrics (in Japanese) across the bottom. Practice reading!

More music from Kaguyahime

And a couple of other things I could remember the titles of, but don't have in iTunes currently.

時代 I used to sing this song at karaoke bars in Japan. (Gaijin singing in Japanese: always a good way to impress the sararimen.) Matter of fact, despite having lost most of my spontaneous Japanese ability, I can still sing most of it from memory.

乾杯 Another favorite; I believe we sang it during the graduation ceremony at the end of my year at Nanzan.
semperfiona: (tigger)
What a difference a job makes! I came back to work yesterday after our holiday trip, and more than one person commented on the bounce in my voice. "You sound like you're about to sing me a song!"




I imported the music [livejournal.com profile] eternaleponine sent, and I'm currently listening to it...It's very cool, hon, thank you!!! I like being exposed to new things, but haven't had the money to spend on whole albums of things I didn't know anything about. When I have listened to it a couple more times I'll be able to pick out the songs I like best and I might have to get a few more songs by those artists.




Last Saturday, as Chris and Tammie were packing the car for our trip, the new neighbors across the street called out, "Didn't we see you at the Jonathan Coulton concert? Weren't you wearing a Santa hat?"

200 people at the concert, and three of them are the new neighbors! There hasn't been time to properly get acquainted yet, but it's promising...




As for 2007...I haven't done a year in review post and probably won't, but it was a pretty sucky year all round and I'm glad to see the back of it.
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (piano hearts)
The girls will play Josh Groban.
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (piano hearts)
Jonathan Coulton in St Louis! (Bottom of the page)
semperfiona: (balloons)
  • Listening to the Brian Setzer Orchestra. It is utterly impossible to listen to their music and be in a bad mood. They have the happiest, bounciest song of ever about someone who's dying: This Old House. No, really, it's wonderful.
  • Finger-graffiti on a truck this morning: "867-5309 ♥Jenny". I tried to take a picture. No, I did take a picture. But it didn't come out: couldn't see the graffito.
  • Splippy soup!(There's no tea in split pea soup, after all.) Made it last night, had some for lunch today. Nummy!

Billy Joel

Apr. 27th, 2007 04:28 pm
semperfiona: Conversation hearts on the keys of a piano (piano hearts)
Last fall, I started seeing them around town. Posters advertising a Billy Joel appearance in St. Louis. I was desolate, because I didn't think we had the money to buy tickets. You don't want to know what they cost. *cough* $85 each *cough*. But my loves came through. We got tickets as an anniversary present.

Ever since, I've been anticipating the concert. And paranoid that we'd forget about it until we'd missed the date. (We're not so much for the scheduling, to say the least.) Or that we'd lose the tickets. ([livejournal.com profile] ohari anticipated that possible problem and bought electronic ones. Print 'em whenever you want.)

It was Wednesday night. We did not miss it. (Buttercup does not get eaten by the eels at this time.)

Our seats were about halfway up the first level, and a couple sections back from the stage. When we arrived, about an hour early, and settled into our seats with our snackage and T-shirts, the stage was utterly devoid of any piano. We spent some time trying to figure out where the Piano Man was hiding his instrument, and how it would be brought out. Eventual consensus was that it must be under the stage.

And so it was. Only a few minutes late (does any concert ever start on time), a large square opened in the surface of the stage and a piano was elevated out--facing the other direction--and Billy Joel's flying fingers started into the intro of "Angry Young Man".

Many of the songs in the early part of the show were almost as old as I am. "This is on my album Cold Spring Harbor that came out in 1971. I played it when I opened for Harry Chapin at the Kiel Opera House." Everybody Loves You Now. The Entertainer.

Between songs, he chatted to the audience, commenting to the various sections on the relative shittiness of their seats. But as it turned out, the piano was on a turntable, and everyone got to see his face for at least a few songs.

Only song I didn't recognize: "Zanzibar".
Most audience participation: "Piano Man" (natch), on the last encore
Played by audience acclamation: "Captain Jack" (from a choice of "Summer, Highland Falls", "Vienna", and "Captain Jack")
Silliest moment: "We have our very own American Idol moment for you. He's been on my road crew for 25 years, and now he's going to sing for you. If he sucks, just boo him off the stage. He'll be doing a religious song, a sacred song...Give a hand for CHAINSAW!"...who proceeded to sing "Highway to Hell" with lead guitar by Billy Joel
Most virtuoso moment: "In honor of another St. Louis native, Scott Joplin, I'd like to play the little-known "Root Beer Rag"
Number of St. Louis Cardinal hats thrown on stage by the audience, worn for a song by Billy Joel, and tossed back to the audience: 2


Discography )

Really big fan. Yes. *nodnod*

Hanky-Panky

Apr. 2nd, 2007 05:40 pm
semperfiona: (demon baby)
I know a silly song/rhyme/chant that I've taught to Rosa (indirectly, via having taught it first to Ray who taught it to her). But I've always felt there must be more to it. It sounds like the chorus of a longer song: it's not even a complete sentence!

Down by the banks of the Hanky-Panky
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky
With an eep erp oop op
And a hey-diddle-diddle and a kerplop!

I've been meaning to find the rest of the song for ages, and I finally did a google search. It looks as though there really isn't any more, although my recollection has lost the handclap game that seems to have gone with it (if I ever knew there was one), and the words differ a LOT in the latter half of the rhyme. In fact no two pages seem to agree on them. Google results )

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