Monthly Archives: June 2010

Sleepin’ in the Airport

I love flying on a stormy day! Love it!

Basically, I ended up waiting seven hours to get a flight out of Pittsburgh, and then had to sleep in the airport like a lot of others waiting for connections. So yeah, I have an extra day of vacation from work, whether I like it or not.

(Yeah, it’s not smart to reveal on the Internet that one is away; but pretty much all my valuable possessions are with me. Heh.)

The terminal had noises of frightened birds running all day and night, ostensibly to scare away the airport’s “bird population”. And sure enough, this morning I saw a little sparrow hopping around the gate, running under the furniture and looking for food. I guess this explains why I saw a sunflower seed shell in a corner….


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Argh, So Tired

The musical boot camp aspect of this colloquium is currently triumphing over the spiritual retreat and pilgrimage portion. 🙂

So please do not take any postings from this week too seriously if they have become incoherent. I took a small nap last evening and slept for four hours, missing dinner but not even hungry. Very rarely does my body decide it doesn’t need to eat, so I must be pretty tired.

Don’t worry. The spiritual aspect does resurface on a regular basis. Just not at this moment….

In other news, apparently Anthrocon is going on somewhere around here. Usually, this sort of news would inspire me to at least a certain interest. This morning, I don’t really care. Too tired.

However, I do note an unusually stupid news article which notes the existence of Anthrocon and runs a picture of costumed fen looking like mascots, quotes a furry fan, but refuses to fully define what the heck they’re talking about, referring you instead to the convention website. (Which does their non-Internet readers a ton of good. And who else is subscribing in numbers to a newspaper, but older people who aren’t on the Internet?) The result is that they make the costumed folks look like the whole story.

I realize that the reporter hath no dog in this sort of fannish definition fight, but criminently, what a journalistic failure.

I think the shower is about to become free, so I’d better go.


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Not Really Irrelevant Fashion Report

Nowadays, with interest in early music and chant so high, the CMAA Colloquium is full of new faces, including a lot of young faces from high school and college. There’s always been a few non-practicing Catholics, non-Catholics and non-Christians who attended simply for insight into the music, also. This intersection of young newbies and non-Mass attendee newbies has meant seeing a lot of interesting fashion choices, especially since the weather is hot. 🙂 (No, nothing scandalous. Just different.)

There were some really nice outfits among the women attending, I must say. In my commitment to understanding an art not natural to me (and in the interests of not looking like I dress myself in the dark, even though sometimes I do), I have of course been trying to get ideas from them. 🙂 There didn’t seem to be much in the way of dumpy dresses, this year, which was good. I mean, why go to the trouble of wearing skirts and formal clothes if they’re not going to look at least minimally good?

Despite seeing some nice women’s hats on the way here, and seeing a good number of men who brought their summer hats along, I haven’t seen any women but myself wearing hats to Mass. I’m not sure whether to be unhappy about this, or revel in my more-trad-than-thou-ness.* 🙂 There were a good number of ladies wearing headwear lace of some shape or another, but with all the new people, the percentage was down from what it’s been in the past. (I don’t think that’s bad or good; it’s just the way it is.)

What was encouraging was that there was no clear hegemony of a single headcovering style. Rather, it was clear that ladies now have both a wide selection of styles, and the acumen to choose a style flattering to their individual faces and hairstyles. This is good, because it shows self-respect and prudence, and keeps EF traditionalism from looking like a cult. (Catholics just aren’t a uniform bunch, even when it comes to school uniforms, so it really does look more normal.)

The point of all this is that, since we’re going to Mass every day, and since every day we’re going to a lot of trouble to do elaborate music to help Mass in both Latin Rite forms be celebrated with all the trimmings, it would be silly not to dress up. So it does require some thought, to figure out how to dress for the weather in a church with no AC, and to do it seven days in a row. 🙂 So it’s good to see it done successfully, and it’s interesting to study what the CMAA women consider to be best practices in this area. 🙂 If assisting in beautiful devout liturgy is what this conference is about, then Massgoer fashion really is part of it.

* For those who don’t follow this blog, I really am not fashion-minded by nature, but I try to take an interest because it’s part of society. (If nothing else, I can console myself that it’s a form of semiotics.) I don’t feel any pull to cover my head for religious reasons, as Catholic women used to do before Vatican II. But I’m amenable to following the older tradition when I feel like it, or when I’m in a more traditionalist-filled setting (as at CMAA). I feel no interest in lace on me head, because Irish- and German-American Catholics didn’t really do that before the beehive hairdo. (Scarves and hats were the thing, for hundreds of years.) I bear an instinctive distrust of such edgy, innovative clothing as lace veils – especially since they do nothing for me, unless I were to get a beehive perm. Thus, my charming black straw “packable hat” really is more trad (as well as looking extremely cute and fashion-forward).


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What I Did on My Summer Vacation, 2010

Here I am at Duquesne University at the 20th CMAA Sacred Music Colloquium, posting at six in the morning because the rest of the day is rather full. (Chant choir in the morning; polyphony choir in the afternoon; talks in the morning, afternoon, and evening; Lauds/Morning Prayer at 7; Compline/Night Prayer at 9:30; Mass at 3; and other stuff depending on the day….) But they’re feeding us well, Pittsburgh is lovely, the company is good if mostly very different from me in interests, and climbing hill after hill doesn’t bother me too much. (Duquesne has obviously worked hard to be handicapped accessible, but you must choose your routes carefully. There are many routes through campus which, by geographic necessity, are only accessible on foot or in a very agile vehicle.)

I have learned a few important things already which will help me. I picked the Beginning Chant schola again this year, because I still can’t sightread chant notation well enough for Intermediate. (Well, let’s face it; I can’t really sightread modern notation, either. I know what the notes mean, and I can make a fair whack at applying them, but that’s called illiteracy if you’re talking about reading words.) There were a lot of distressed and confused music students this year, so much talk about music theory ensued. This actually helped, as it led to much discussion of how you don’t actually have to learn individual notes on a staff (as they often make them do in music school), but rather, the relationship between the notes that make up the scale. This seems much more doable, and makes sense of the idea of representing the scale with your body that’s used in the Ward Method.

The other interesting point brought up was a medieval definition of beauty: “splendor formae”. (Sp?) Apparently there are all sorts of implications that the beauty of something good is a visual representation of the inner goodness and importance of it. If beauty’s not there, that goodness is veiled somewhat, which isn’t evil but does give up a lot in persuasive power (and sometimes, in fittingness). If beauty is there, goodness is more fully revealed and has more persuasiveness. But at Mass and other liturgies, it becomes more a case of pointing out what’s really there because it is there and that’s just the way it is, than of trying to do something truly worthy of God (which you could never fully do) or of trying to please our parentally easy-to-please God (which you can pretty easily do, but which as a goal might stick you with singing Barney songs in church).

My secondary goal is almost done, but I need a few more pieces of usable change. Yesterday I took some time for copying off Clandillon and Hanagan’s 1927 Irish song/tune collection Londubh an Chairn. It’s a very good collection, and I’m sorry I’ve never seen it reprinted, at least in the US and in my limited experience. It explains a lot of what circulates in Celtic music circles, actually; it must have been very popular with the parents of the Clancy/Makem generation. It’s also interesting because, like Joyce from the previous century, Clandillon and Hanagan came from inside the Irish musical tradition and weren’t outsider song collectors. “This was a song of my father’s” (meaning one he sung) is repeated again and again.

The interesting bit for me was that they had their tunes for the various folk hymns they knew (mostly by good old Tomas Gaedhealach O Suilleabhain), and documented from how far back they knew them, or their family knew them. They were documented as being much, much older than any possible copyright date (1856, for one of them). So no worries there.

I poked around a bit and found some other interesting stuff that was even older and some good reprints. Not a huge collection, but not pigs’ feet, either. Lots of world music info, for sure.

I noticed something I’d never noticed or forgotten about Peter Kennedy’s big folksong collection from the British Isles. He had a big BBC radio show called As I Roved Out, which recorded folksingers in their homes back in the 1950’s. So in his book, he references BBC recording numbers, even though they weren’t accessible to the general public. Huh.

Time to go start another day. See you later!

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I-75 Jesus Statue Struck by Lightning, Burns to Ground

It was horrible kitsch as a work of sacred art, but it also was a real landmark. Not any more. Last night, it burned down.

The Solid Rock Church’s famous statue was officially called “The King of Kings” but known to many (after the Notre Dame University picture) as “Touchdown Jesus”. It was also the subject of a comedy song that got national play on Bob and Tom, and which called it “Big Butter Jesus”. It was a six-story high bust of Jesus with upstretched arms directly behind a recumbent cross and the church’s retaining pool (which led me at first to think it was supposed to be a picture of a sinner being saved or baptized, but I guess it was really the Ascension or the Second Coming). The statue was taller than the church, but it was made of foam, sprayed over an armature of fiberglass and wood, with a steel armature for the upraised arms. It was built in 2004.

Last night we had tons of storms, and apparently the statue sustained a direct lightning strike. (And really, it was in a great position to attract lightning.) The plastic foam skin burned really well. All that was left was the steel armature. The fire also burned some of the church’s big concert amphitheater behind the statue, destroying some sound equipment in its attic. The church itself was okay.

(I’m sad for them, but I’m glad nothing worse happened and that nobody was hurt.)

Impressive pictures of the statue burning, over at WHIO, but sent in by Tiffani West-May, one of the viewer photographers.

Of course, some of the “baby Christians” at the church are taking this as a bad sign. This seems premature. I don’t know what that megachurch’s doctrines are, and I have no reason to be fond of the place; but I can assure them that church belltowers, church steeples, and other tall church things do get struck by lightning fairly often. That’s why we have such things as lightning rods. But lightning is pretty powerful, and sometimes a lightning rod isn’t enough to conduct all that electricity to the ground.

Bad stuff happens. It happened to Jesus, even, which is kinda part of the point of being Christian.

I’m happy to say that the poor shaken kid on the news, who had actually seen the lightning strike, did move along by the end of the interview to saying that he (along with other church members who were beginning to gather) meant to use this incident to deepen his faith and mature as a Christian. That’s the right attitude.

Actually, if it hadn’t been for the lightning strike being seen by a good number of folks passing the Trader’s World/Monroe area, police would probably have found the fire suspicious. Nobody made much fuss before the statue was built, that I can remember, but my mom tells me that there’s been a lot of stories lately about people protesting the statue after it became nationally famous. (Apparently some bunch of humorless atheist non-libertarians who don’t believe in private property, and some bunch of people from the mosque down in Cincinnati along I-75.) So you can expect some kind of attempt at a zoning fight when and if the church rebuilds.

(Monroe doesn’t restrict signage along I-75, though. I mean, look at the giant stallion rampant sign for Trader’s World! And why would they? It’s their bread and butter and taxbase, having all those Trader’s World type businesses getting people to exit the highway.)


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Ilya Muromyets: The Tie-In Video Game

Apparently, some kind of Ilya Muromyets vs. Solovey the Bandit cartoon came out in Russia back in 2007. (Not the first animated version of the story, either. Apparently there was a 1978 Soviet one, which seems to be on YouTube in its entirety. Without subs.) The trailer’s pretty long, but apparently that’s just the beginning of the story. Here’s another trailer with more. None of this stuff has subs, but I think you’ll get the idea.

And apparently, there was a tie-in videogame.

Ilya Muromyets (Ilya of Murom) was of course one of the great knightly heroes of Kyiv (ie, Ukrainian), who was adopted by Russians for their own* and given a Russian origin. In real life, he was a guy named Ilya Pechersky who retired from the warrior game, became a monk, and was buried at Kiev’s Pechersky monastery. Much like St. William of Gellone, who became famous in the Matter of France (as the knight William of Orange), his pre-monk career became the stuff of legend.

As in, “born a cripple but healed by two mysterious pilgrims, he was given supernatural strength by the dying knight Svyatogor (but not a Green Lantern ring), and immediately hurried to serve Prince Vladimir the Beautiful Sun down in Kyiv, encountering many adventures before he came at last to Camelot… er, Kyiv.”

Now… as all of you who play “casual games” know, you often get some pretty freaky videogames from other countries. (You can tell because the translations for hidden object names can be somewhat ‘unique’.) Russian- and Slavic-origin videogames in this arena get translated fairly frequently, as with the Natalie Brooks series.

So… sure enough… the Ilya Muromyets video game is here, translated as Elias the Mighty. (Ilya does equal Elias or Elijah, depending on who you ask.) It’s a pretty good matching gallery/shape recognition game, and you can try it for thirty minutes for free.

I do notice that Solovey (his name means “Nightingale”, and indeed, he had Deadly Sonic Powers!) is depicted in clothes that might make you think he was a Tatar or a Cossack or something of that nature. That wasn’t how I read the story… he was never an outlander in anything I ever read. He and his men were gen-u-ine nativeborn bandits, yeehaw! But the 1978 Soviet one makes the guy look like some kind of evil Arab genie, so possibly I’ve been missing some kind of cultural stereotyping of him.

Here’s a trailer for a previous animated movie (2006) about the Kyiv bogatyri and Prince Vladimir, also from Melnitsa Animation Studio. This one was about Dobrynya Nikit’ich and Zmei the Dragon. Dobrynya’s the skinny peasant guy.

(And apparently whatever bizarre Polovtsi stereotype they were working with Solovey, the way they draw actual Tartar characters is Even More So. Sheesssssh. But Kyiv’s awfully purty, and nobody does Freaky Dragon Voices like Russian people. And there’s a musical number.)

Here’s yet another trailer for a movie from Melnitsa Animation (2004), all about Alyosha Popovich and Tugarin Zmei, another byliny story about the Kyiv knights. Alyosha’s the beefy blond guy. He’s a (married Orthodox) priest’s kid, so like all Preacher’s Kids he’s got issues. One of the clips posted on YouTube shows his baptism, which is a hoot.

They’ve got a trailer for yet another movie that is coming soon: The Three Bogatyrs and the Shamanic Tsaritsa. Oooooh, that does look like a scary magical queen… a scary Arabic queen and not a scary shamanic queen… um. (Yeah, kind of a theme here. But then, Moscow’s gotten bombed a lot more often than New York, so I guess I can understand that. And Evil Tartars are part of the whole Russian byliny thing, just as much as Evil Saracens are in Arthur and Charlemagne. Although you do get good Saracens in both, though usually ones in the process of converting.)

These all seem to be pretty much comedies, but they’re just so darned pretty. I wish we could get some Arthurian flicks of at least this quality, though without Evil Saxon Stereotyping, of course. 🙂


* Of course, the Norman English and the French and the Germans and half of Europe all made that Welsh dude Arthur a culture hero of their own, and the English pretty much appropriated him despite being descended from his Saxon enemies.

So there you go. Everybody belongs to everybody. Just don’t try to get imperialist over your neighbor with it.


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Too Many Ads!

When you get to the point that the collective length of your bumper ads and promos is longer than your actual content in your podcast, perhaps you should reconsider your podcast’s structure.

Oh, and I really don’t appreciate people who make their podcast files read-only in some weird way, apparently just so I have to go through an incredible amount of rigmarole to delete them from my machine. I know Windows is a cruel mistress, but geez, people! I’ve got enough headaches without you turning my own computer against me!

(Yes, I’ve stepped away from the dazed life of too much serotonin in my system and back into the crazed librarian ferret life of too much dopamine. I have no time to space out until my vacation comes. I embrace my nitpickiness. I eat my spinach.)

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