luscious_purple: Snagged on LJ (great news)
Soooo much stuff going on here...

The Known World Dance and Music Symposium (KWDMS) was a SMASHING success!!!!!!! Patches did a fantastic job of organizing the event!!! We had 245 people there; it was the biggest attendance ever in the KWDMS series (and this was the 12th such symposium). My class on Lithuanian polyphonic music went OK, I guess, and I received a couple of compliments afterward. I certainly didn't feel as prepared as I should have, but if the customer is satisfied....

Last night I went with Patches and "weatherman2111" (as he used to be known on LJ) and a couple of other folks to the U2 concert at FedEx Field. I believe this is my fifth U2 concert ever -- 1997, 2005, 2009, and one other time at the Baltimore Ravens' arena. Will write more about it later....
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
First off, a Happy Belated Birthday to Maugorn and Forestcats/Bridget.

This week was quite the reminder of our universal mortality. Not only did we pass the 19th anniversary of my mother's death and funeral (the 9th and the 13th, respectively), but also David Bowie and Alan Rickman. I wasn't as big a fan of David Bowie as I have been of several other artists, but still, his music was part of the soundtrack of my life, going back all the way to the time I first heard "Fame" on WRKO-AM Top 40 radio when I was in high school. As for Alan Rickman ... oh, I was just one of many, many women who swooned over him. Especially that voice. The perfect pairing of fine wine and chocolate. He also seemed like one of the few celebrities with whom I would actually like to have a meaningful conversation. Now I shall never get the chance. :-(

As far as other stuff goes ... The first half of the week, I felt pretty darn productive, but I've stumbled badly the second half of the week. Blame it on Alan Rickman, I guess. I've definitely set myself up for an intense three-day work weekend. Well, work plus a New England Patriots playoff game, Maugie's birthday party, and Lithuanian folk dance practice up in Baltimore. Oh, and a Finance Committee meeting on Sunday morning, bright and early before the church service. *sigh*
luscious_purple: "avoid heralds" (avoid heralds)
So many things going around in my head, I hardly know where to begin. I guess I'll just do some free-association.

Got through my second Sunday of Lithuanian dance rehearsal -- had a blast; people there are friendly. Monday the 5th we (the Three Left Feet dance group at Storvik practice) had six dancers, so we were able to dance actually, not like Monday the 28th when we had only two dancers show up. (Most SCA-type dances require at least four participants.)

Funny thing ... on Monday the 5th, after dance practice, I came home and started poking around on Facebook, trying to figure out whether one of the guys I was talking to on Sunday night is married or divorced, and Tall Dancer phoned me to talk. That was ... interesting. We chatted about our respective dance practices and about how he bought a new refrigerator this past weekend, plus his proposal (in Meridies) that local groups consider reimbursing folks who travel from out of town to teach classes.

In other musical news ... the good music news is that I really enjoyed Wolgemut's performance at the New Deal Cafe. Sonya and Maugorn weren't able to attend -- last year, the situation was reversed; they were there and I was in Ohio. Still, I saw Kender, whom I hadn't seen in person in a while, so we had a nice visit together. The bad music news is that, while I was enthusiastically clapping away, my camera had a close encounter with the concrete floor, and now the lens doesn't retract all the way. :-( I should really take a couple of photos in daylight to test the focus.

(If anybody wants to know what Wolgemut is all about, type that word into YouTube. Be prepared for a great blast of sound.)

Yesterday afternoon the boy toy and I went out to run a couple of early-afternoon errands, came home with a couple of bags of groceries, and found ... no electricity in my condo. As it turned out, Pepco had to work on some sort of junction box (or whatever you call it) and needed to turn off the power to two of the buildings in the complex. So I brought my laptop to the New Deal Cafe and had coffee there, and I spotted Jane, the younger sister of my friend Devora, who moved to Iowa City after her husband, Pedro, died. (Pedro and Devora are SCA names, for those of you new to this journal.) So Jane and I had a great conversation. (Why, yes, the New Deal *is* like this town's public "living room.")

So now I have a ton of things to do before leaving for War of the Wings in a week. And I just got a lead on another freelance project -- a referral from my usual editor. SCORE!!
luscious_purple: Snagged on LJ (great news)
Happy Birthday to my friend Leslie!!

I must note that she shares a birthday with Pete Townshend, who turns 70 today. My mind boggles at this, at least until I remember that Roger Daltrey is already 71.

I first heard the Who in, of all places, junior high school music class. The teacher, a rather young woman (as I recall), realized that she wasn't getting through to kids by lecturing them on the types of classical music and the chord patterns of the blues. So, one afternoon, she surprised us by putting the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album on the turntable and asking us whether we thought that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was really about LSD. After debating that, we listened to a bunch of rock operas: Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Tommy. The last really grabbed my imagination.

(And, yes, this *was* a public school, but the teacher wanted us to understand that music could be used to tell a story. She was pretty subversive -- the junior high school chorus performed at least one Tom Lehrer song!)

Sadly, I didn't get to see them in person until 1982, when Keith Moon was already gone. My other Who concerts were in 1989, 1997, and 2012. I don't know if I will get to see them again. But they -- driven by Townshend's composition -- are and will always be very much a part of the soundtrack of my life.
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
At some of our Monday night dance-with-live-music practices, I've borrowed Maugorn's triangle to generate some slightly more delicate percussion than the usual tambourine and drum. But sometimes I've also said, "Gee, I wonder what a larger triangle would sound like."

Last night, the dance director, Fred, showed up with a BIG triangle. That sucker was HUGE. He spent multiple hours over the weekend hammering it out from a used truck spring. It weighs nine pounds and is wider than I am (and I'm fat).

And when you hit it with the striker (made from the remainder of the truck spring), it makes a CLLLAAAANNNGGG!! sound. I was told that this sound is quite reminiscent of two motor vehicles colliding. Still, I played it in a few tunes (being careful to strike gently!) to please Fred. He plans to experiment further by adding duct tape to the striker.

I'm not sure if [personal profile] silmaril's photo came out, as it was taken at dusk on a cloudy evening and she wasn't using flash. Gary, the other guitarist, took a picture with his smartphone and put it on Google+, but I will have to ask for permission to swipe it.

In the meantime, be careful what you wish for....
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
With Darkover looming on the horizon, it's time to admit something I've been trying to deny to myself for years.

Hi, my name is Patty and I'm an alto.

I sorted myself into the soprano column back in seventh grade when I joined the junior high school chorus. Likewise, when I was in high school I sat with the sopranos, but when the sopranos split up into high and low, I would choose "soprano 2" because I couldn't hit the highest notes.

I guess my reasoning was that if my speaking voice is high and squeaky, I must be a soprano. Right?

Well, over the years, I have done less singing, save for congregational hymns and campfire songs that really don't challenge anybody's vocal range. So my ability to hit the high notes of the soprano parts has diminished. After all, one's vocal cords are muscles, and if you don't exercise your muscles, they become flabby.

For the last couple of Darkovers, I've been mouthing quite a bit of the soprano part of the Hallelujah Chorus. I always sang the soprano line in high school, except for the one high A. And, granted, Handel used the human voice as if it were a mechanical instrument (to paraphrase something the high school music teacher once said). But it seems silly to mouth more and more of the high notes as the years go by.

So I have printed out the score and am going to practice it with my keyboard. Maybe I'll make an MP3 recording of the alto line on my keyboard and play it back to myself while I'm driving to and from the con. Maybe by Saturday night I'll have started to learn the alto part. It will be hard to keep from switching to soprano, of course, since I have the soprano part stored in long-term memory. But my vocal cords will thank me for attempting to be the alto that I really am.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
(I know, I know ... you're all thinking this is the event that never ends, right? Well, it WAS over a long holiday weekend....)

After dinner some musicians brought their instruments under the populace pavilion and started playing dance music. I didn't feel like walking back to my tent and getting my instruments, since I wasn't sure how long the impromptu dancing was going to happen -- it was supposed to be a general dessert party. So I just drummed my hands on the table, and I also actually got up and participated in some dances, which I don't get to do very often because I'm usually one of those hard-working musicians. :-) One of the musicians was a male violinist whom I'd never seen before, though he certainly knew the dance tunes already. Turns out that he used to play with Three Left Feet maybe a decade ago, then went out to Michigan for professional reasons, and is now back in Bright Hills. He goes by the name Peter in the SCA and is a good friend of [personal profile] silmaril, and he said that as soon as he is done with his board certification exams in early October, he would like to check out the local SCA dance practices. (I guess most people want their pediatric oncologists to be board-certified these days. *smile* He seems really smart and I'm quite sure he will pass just fine.)

Unfortunately, Peter was not able to stay too late, because he had to do a 24-hour hospital shift starting early the next morning (yep, that's what young doctors have to go through). After he left, I wandered back to my encampment to spend some time with my campmates, since, after all, I didn't get to see them much at Pennsic.

By Sunday morning I was feeling really sticky and gross, so I walked down to the communal shower tent, powered by a propane hot-water tank. Woo-hoo, so nice! Thus cleaned and dressed in fresh clothing, I came across Maugorn and Patches, who had just arrived for their day-trip visit and were looking for the merchant area and the A&S activities, so I pointed them in the right direction.

I had expected Royal Curia to be in the mid-afternoon, but the Royals moved it up to lunchtime (as it turned out, I think they wanted to hit the road early). So I sat in and listened to the proceedings while eating lunch. This wasn't the pointy-hats business, which is already Done with a capital D; this is another set of changes to Kingdom law. Eventually I got tired of it and went off to take pictures of the horses at the equestrian activities and to check out the Atlantian history tents.

Maug had a set in the Performing Arts Tent beginning at 2:30, but sadly I had already signed up to cry field announcements at 3 p.m. Fortunately, there wasn't a whole lot of information to cry out, so I was able to get the announcements done and head back to the pavilion to catch the rest of his performance. Funny thing: I was planning to request "Heather on the Moor," but he went and played it before I could request it!

After his set, which was the last one in the Performing Arts Tent -- some guys arrived to take it down -- Maug followed me back to my encampment, where he fixed the broken string on my psaltery. Then we walked up the hill a bit to a wooden fence, which turned out to surround a bucolic pasture with horses running free, and it all looked golden in the warm late afternoon sunlight.

After dinner I raced back to my tent to change from my bog dress to a light blue dress that I once bought for $2 at a Holiday Faire, but that I had never worn to an event before. Then the Grand Ball began. It was supposed to start with Their Majesties, Their Highnesses and Their Excellencies all parading in to "Belle Qui," but most of those folks had already left the site due to rumors of impending storms. So we had a small professional with the Baron and Baroness of Stierbach, but it wasn't as "grand" as planned. Still, I had fun playing with Maug, Baron Watkyn and the other musicians.

The ball was also ended (at least I was told) early because storms were rolling in. So I bade good night to my musician friends and went back to my encampment, where another bardic circle was in full swing. And guess what: It didn't rain. The skies stayed clear and folks were passing around the strong liquid refreshments and the merrymaking continued till after I went to bed.

Finally ... not too much to say about Monday morning except that I got packed up and rolling off site around 11:30. I used the GPS to get back to I-95 and find a Waffle House, because I was craving a nice omelet with hash browns. Amazingly, I reached home without hitting any end-of-holiday-weekend traffic jams.
luscious_purple: "avoid heralds" (avoid heralds)
Every year the Barony of Bhakail in the East Kingdom holds a heraldry-and-music event called Noisemakers. Last night I did it all by myself!

I have been planning for a while to make myself (as the baronial herald) more available to the Storvik populace. Thus, I announced on the listserve that I would be bringing my books and such to the third Monday night fighter practice of the month. So that people could figure out more easily what I was doing with my table, chair and book crate, I wore the plain (non-baronial) heraldic tabard and did an "oyez, oyez" vocal advertisement before the sword-thwacking really got going. :-)

And I actually did something. Our baronial chronicler was reminded that the device that Master Herveus conflict-checked for her about a year ago was never submitted, so I said I'd take another look at it and see if it is still free of conflicts after another year of heraldic submissions. Then a new fighter named John asked me about SCA names and devices, so I told him about the basic rules. He is thinking about a Serbian name ... yeah, this is going to be interesting, as there are so few resources available on SCA heraldry websites. I jotted down the URLs of the Academy of St. Gabriel and Slavic Interest Group websites on a slip of paper and gave them to him for further consideration. A third person asked me some questions, too, so she may come back in future weeks.

Then I got word that Maugorn was too exhausted from his hard work on the MD Faerie Festival to drop by practice, and none of the other musicians showed up. So I was, for the second time in three days, the entire band. I played as many non-bransle songs as I could muster, and then once the birthday cheesecake for Jen came out, the gathering turned to conversation with no more dancing.

Now, of course, I have bransle and English country dance tunes running nonstop through my brain. Once tomorrow's short-freelance-deadline article is over with, I should blast these earworms out of my head with "Quadrophenia" or Midnight Oil or something.
luscious_purple: Paint Branch UU Chalice (Paint Branch Chalice)
Last night I had to go to an extra meeting of the church board of trustees. It's the budget season in our congregation, because our fiscal year starts on July 1. Our financial pledges for the next fiscal year don't quite match our "austere" budget, never mind our "basic" budget. So we had to mull over some ideas for wringing some more money out of the congregation. Of course, since I'm one of those people who had to cut their pledge by some huge percentage, I feel guilty about the whole thing. All the other trustees say I shouldn't feel that way, but hey, I grew up Catholic, so guilt is just something that happens.

Maugie was not thrilled that I missed the majority of last night's dance/music practice, which is the last one before our upcoming weekend performances at the Maryland Faerie Festival. So I said I'd go to tonight's monthly dance practice up in Lochmere. The practice happens in Columbia, which has to be the creepiest town in the state, not just because it has weird neighborhood names (King's Contrivance???) and hippy-dippy street names (Forty Winks Way???) but also because everything looks so freaking perfect and businesses must have tiny little signs and be hidden by clumps of trees. Anyhow, I managed to find the practice location and the dancers. Mistress Jeanmaire was there with a couple of wooden recorders, so we actually made a little band together! We managed to play enough tunes to keep the dancers busy, although she was sight-reading many of them, so my job was to keep her on tempo. The dancers were extremely appreciative. So it was a good evening.
luscious_purple: "avoid heralds" (avoid heralds)
This was the weekend of Marching Through Time (MTT), a two-day gathering of all kinds of military reenactors, from Romans to the Marines in Vietnam. It's at a county-owned site a few miles from my residence, and Three Left Feet participates every year.

Thing was, yesterday's weather sucked rotten eggs. Chill, rain, wind. We didn't have the tornadoes of North Carolina and southern Virginia, thank goodness, but there was dampness and mud everywhere. Some of the reenactment groups bailed, and hardly any "members of the public" or "civilians" or whatever you want to call them showed up. We played two sets, but ended the second one early when it became obvious that no one was paying attention to the dancing.

That was just as well, because I had to drive up to Owings Mills, northwest of Baltimore, for a Southwind Camp party. These are the people with whom I camp at Pennsic. Our friend Cameron had come from Oregon for a long-weekend visit around here, especially so that we could meet her new significant other, a guy named Steve. Deirdre and Llewellyn, our hostess and host, managed to grill the burgers and hot dogs outside, but the rain and wind picked up, so it wasn't much fun to sit outside. But it *was* a lot of fun to see everyone again. I left around 10 p.m. and reached home an hour later.

I repeated the Three Left Feet experience today under sunnier skies. This time we played three sets, although the final one of the day was pretty low-energy, at least in terms of us musicians, who sat on the damp ground. In between sets I walked around and took pictures of some of the encampments. Every year I admire the detail that some of the non-SCA groups put into their clothing and kits. It makes me feel so inauthentic. Anyhow, I was on my feet for a good part of the day, then came home and had a snack before going to barony meeting, where I had to take the minutes and thus pay attention to every detail.

Now I'm wiped out, and I don't feel like working on my taxes. Maybe I should just go to bed and finish them tomorrow, or file for an extension or something. Le sigh.
luscious_purple: Julia, the Maine Coon Cat (Julia)
Go to http://biancavirina.tumblr.com/post/2665295375/click-the-squares-the-whole-world-needs-to and click on the squares. Seriously. Especially if you like music. :-)

If Tumblr is this cool, maybe I ought to join.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
Maugie's annual St. Pat's Day "early show" at Madam's Organ is not near a Metro station, so I had to walk from Columbia Heights to get there. It was a gorgeous day and still sunny out. And when I left after dark, I walked with the birthday girl [livejournal.com profile] fizzygeek and [personal profile] bodger to the Woodley Park station. Felt good to get some minor exercise for a change; maybe now I'll actually go to bed earlier than I've been doing lately (yeah, I've been slipping in that department lately).

Maugie performed excellently as always; the front windows were open behind him, so I hope that the neighborhood got to hear his fab guitar work. This was the first time I've heard him play "One," too (bad pun there, I know).
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
My apologies for not feeling much like posting here. I wrote another short article for my ex-employer, did some laundry, and wrote up the outline for the class that I'm teaching on Saturday at the University of Atlantia. (Now I just have to boil it all down into a two-page handout.) I also did a catch-up post on http://ladypatriciaoftrakai.blogspot.com.

Last Saturday I had a fine time performing in a paid gig -- Maugorn wrote about it here. I *had* been planning to wear my navy blue Italian Renn dress with the white tie-on sleeves that I bought at Holiday Faire last November, but in the days before the event I was persuaded to wear my pink silk Cavalier outfit because of its higher "bling" value. I think it's a good thing that I heeded that, because the venue was a really nice "old money" hotel and the attendees were dressed to the nines (whether they were wearing "Venetian masquerade" costumes or evening wear).

Speaking of money, I can't believe how gasoline prices have rocketed up in the last week or two. The nearest gas station to my house is now up to $3.459 for regular. It seem as if it was $2.999 not that long ago. I hate to think what the prices may be like by the time Memorial Day rolls around.
luscious_purple: Julia, the Maine Coon Cat (Julia)
To honor what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday, I am posting links to a wonderful set of photos of the Beatles' February 1964 visit to Washington, D.C., immediately after their famous appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

http://1stusvisit.absoluteelsewhere.net/WashingtonDC/washington_dc.html

(This is part of a much larger site about John Lennon.)

Since it was snowing, the Beatle entourage took the train from NYC to Union Station. This had the added advantage of putting them only a few blocks from the arena where they were going to give their concert, instead of on the opposite side of the Potomac River. (Remember, these guys attracted huge flocks of screaming girls wherever they went, so it was kinda hard for them to move around.)

I'd never seen any of these photos before I stumbled across them last night, so I was captivated by them. On the train ride, the Fab Four were obviously hamming it up for the photographers, yet they also seemed to be having casual fun. After all, at that time, they weren't much older than frat boys! (And, hey, train travel has certainly changed over the years, hasn't it? They don't make trains like that anymore, at least on our side of the pond!)

The sightseeing photos are cool because you can see the Beatles in front of federal buildings that still exist today -- and the District government wasn't any better at cleaning the streets in 1964 than it is today!

Finally, it's fascinating to see the Fab Four take the stage with their primitive equipment. If anybody's curious about the building where they were playing, the Washington Coliseum (formerly Uline Arena) ... it still stands but is used as a warehouse/garage and is pretty rundown-looking. You can see it from Metro's Red Line. It's a pity it hasn't been refurbished. It might be too small for modern rock concerts, but it would be a great space for some sort of arts center.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
... when the latest Supreme Court nominee is younger than you are (by 7 months).

(Now that I've finally gotten used to the idea that the POTUS is younger still....)

Also: Happy 50th Birthday, Bono!

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