off balance but functioning


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When I told my boss yesterday in our weekly meeting that I felt I was not functioning well, she insisted that the opposite was true, that I was functioning extremely well through a challenging time at work. I could see that this was true. Things have been going very well. Like most church basements, ours is not designed for good acoustics. In fact, it can be very hostile to musical sounds of congregations singing, choirs and instruments.

So my usual good sounding choir had to work hard to make a blended beautiful sound under these circumstances. And in my opinion, they have been succeeding extremely well at this.


And I think they also take pride in being a good little choir. I can see them trying to follow my suggestions to improve our performances. Their presence and that of the string players has been invaluable in continuing a high level of musical quality in the basement.

Yesterday was a long difficult day of preparation and an intense rehearsal in the evening. By the time rehearsal was over, it was clear to me that it was also a turning point in the quality of the choral sound of this little group. We had clearly kicked it up a notch by taking our honed sound into a better acoustic. I was exhausted and frazzled by that time.

In the morning, Eileen and I went to look at the church to see what kind of shape it was in. There were people cleaning in the church. The carpet had been returned to its place. This was critical to creating more of the kind of acoustic we will experience Sunday. However, the room was still in disarray. The piano was in the basement. The choir chairs were stacked in the front of the room.

I relaxed a bit when I learned the cleaning was due to be done by 2 PM. That would leave me time to prepare the choir area after meeting with Rev Jen. Eileen and I went home. After lunch I walked over (exercise) to church a bit early. I ran into the janitor. As we talked we discovered that he had been misinformed that the piano needed to be back up into the church by Thursday. I told him I would need it that evening and we immediately went and put it in its new home: the cut out slot of retractable steps in the center of the platform in the back of the church where the organ and choir will be.

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We began moving chairs to the area. I noticed it was time for my meeting with Jen so I left him to it. Later, I carefully planned the evening rehearsal and dragged down two tripod thingies, one with a wipe board and one with a large pad of paper on it. On the white board I had put the order for Sunday’s service. On the large pad I outlined a carefully determined order for rehearsal that evening. Then I sat down and played through my two Philip Glass etudes I will be using Sunday for the Prelude and Postlude.

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I sacrificed a bit of my usual resting time prior to rehearsal yesterday. I did an hour of score preparation. This means I played through and studied several of the anthems for the evening rehearsal.  I compared editions of “Exultate Justi” by Viadana. I had chosen an edition for us that was in a good key and had a reduced score for the piano underneath. But it wasn’t the best edition. When i compared to the best edition I discovered some note discrepancies and omission of text in two critical measures.

Like a madman I sat down to my music notation software and made correction measures.



I copied the two measures over several times with some measures in between so I could print up multiple copies for the choir with my little printer at home.

By the time rehearsal rolled around I was more stressed than usual. I had to work at being calm and helpful. The rehearsal went very well. I think most if not all choristers enjoyed singing in a better acoustic. We talked about it a lot as we worked. And they sounded very good.

By the way, when Jen told me i was functionally well,  I replied that I was off balance and felt like I didn’t have much perspective in my work. She said it didn’t show. But we both know it’s true.

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Today I will attempt to get some of my balance and perspective back or at least rest up a bit.

Chasing Windmills — Positively Liberal

This is a rah rah Holland Michigan article. It’s kind of cool. But what is really cool is that the blogger, Nathan Bocks,  is a local liberal blogger. If you’re local it’s definitely worth checking out.  He has already accepted my friend request on FacelessBooger.

The Harry Potter theme, but it’s an incredible fugue – Classic FM

I don’t know the movie music very well, but I think this is fun.

tuesday report for those interested


Tonight, I’m hoping to do choir rehearsal in the church. On Sunday, the concrete at the back of the church, in front of the choir area was still exposed. The plan is to return carpet to this area. I would love it if it was ready by today, but I will have to deal with whatever stage they are in.

I’m also thinking it might be wise to not have the choir process until the new organ is up and working. I will be leading the singing in the room from the piano. Believe it or not there was a bit of delay between the front and back of the room before enhancing the acoustics. I’m expecting the entire aural environment to be different and require adaptation. Doing this with an upright piano from the back of the room (shoved into a little handy niche to make more room in the aisle which will probably deaden the sound) might be challenging, so why do it, if I don’t have to? Rev Jen and I will discuss this today.

I’m also expecting to have to move all my own furniture back in place. this mostly means putting the chairs in the choir area and then linking them up with the stupid connectors that I haven’t used in a while. The connector would provide a little pocket to either side of the seat as well as make a row of chairs effectively a pew.

All I really want to do is make music.

I didn’t get to the organ yesterday. Eileen got up late and delayed her breakfast till after 10:30. I like to breakfast with her, so I waited. But we wanted to get over to Mom’s to see how the new chair the rest home had provided was working out. We waited until after lunch was served there. In the meantime, I worked on submitting music for the bulletin for this Sunday. Then put Mom’s current selection of read books into the google doc I keep for that purpose. We went to the library and returned the old Mom books, got new Mom books, and stopped by her room.

She needed something to put her feet up on. I had anticipated this might be the case, but wanted to consult with her before problem solving. Her old chair was still in the room. We stopped by the front desk at the nursing home and requested its removal. It was gone by the time we got back.

We scoured a used furniture store and “Bibles for Mexico” for an ottoman. No luck. Eileeen then said we could loan Mom the foot stool she was using. So we stopped by the house and grabbed it. Mom seemed pleased with that.

We then drove the Olds to the car place, left it for them to fix, and walked home.

A lot of the day was gone by then. The car place called mid afternoon and said the trunk on the Olds was fixed. They agreed to look at my dying Subaru and either pronounce it dead or safe for in town driving.

I did manage to get time on guitar and piano yesterday, but there weren’t enough hours to add organ before martini time.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

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I am almost done reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty. This is a romp of a book. I have found it an antidote to both Trump stuff and the religiosity that permeates my little town. Last night I read this paragraph to Eileen. I was surprised when she didn’t get the Betty Boop stuff. Maybe you won’t either but I think the whole paragraph is genius.

The setup is that the main characters in the book are attending the L.A. Festival of Forbidden Cinema and Unabashedly Racist Animation.

I like Betty Boop. She has a nice body, is free-spirited, loves jazz, and apparently opium, too, because in a hallucinogenic short titled “Ups and Downs,” the moon is auctioning off a Depression-era Earth to the other planets. Saturn, an old, bespectacled Jewish orb complete with bad teeth and a heavy Yiddish accent, wins and rubs his hands greedily. “I gottum. I gottum da whole vorld. Mein Gott,” he gloats, before removing gravity from the Earth’s core. It’s 1932 and Max Fleischer’s metaphorical Jew is making an already chaotic global situation even worse. Not that Betty cares, because in a world where cats and cows fly, and the rain falls up, priority number one is to keep your skirt line from ascending to the heavens and exposing your form-fitting panties. And who’s to say that Ms. Boop isn’t a member of the tribe? For the next sixty minutes a few drunken, droopy-feathered Native Americans fail to catch the Warner Bros. rabbit, much less assimilate. A Mexican mouse tries to outwit the gringo pussycat, so he can sneak across the border and steal the queso. A seemingly endless lineup of African-American cats, crows, bullfrogs, maids, crap shooters, cotton pickers, and cannibals act a gravelly-voiced Looney Tunes fool to the strains of “Swanee River” and Duke Ellington’s “Jungle Nights in Harlem.” Sometimes a shotgun blast or dynamite explosion turns a nominally white character like Porky Pig into a gunpowder-colored minstrel. Bestowing on him honorary-nigger status, which allows him to sing merry melodies like “Camptown Races” over the closing credits with impunity. The program ends with Popeye and Bugs Bunny taking turns single-handedly winning World War II by flummoxing bucktoothed, four eyed, gibberish-speaking Japanese soldiers with giant mallets and geisha subterfuge. Finally, after Superman, supported by gongs and a cheering audience, pulverizes the Imperial Navy into complete submission, the lights come back on. After two hours of sitting in the dark laughing at unmitigated racism, in the brightness the guilt sets in. Everyone can see your face, and you feel like your mother caught you masturbating.”

A little something for everyone in that paragraph, eh? I can see why Sarah Silverman blurbs on the back: “The Sellout is brilliant. Amazing. Like demented angels wrote it.”

I think I owe you, dear reader, a poem after that. This is one of two that hit me this morning.

Even the Awful by Stephen Dunn

Ecstasy like awe hardly ever occurred,
though when it did it provided
its own definition. Still, I would prefer
an occasional bout of joy,
which I could recover from in a day
or so, and maybe even speak about,

whereas ecstasy (that one time)
made me silent, and awe was something
like Lazarus rising from the dead
and the populace uttering the equivalent
of “Holy shit,” then falling
to their knees in bewilderment.

A nice day was nice, too,
as was a beautiful disappointment—
like fog obscuring a sunrise
I’d set my alarm to see.
I’d even settle for an evening
of small talk and inappropriate snorts

and guffaws with friends I was sure
were otherwise capable
of high-mindedness and hilarity.
Even an awful day now and then
servesto warn us what’s out there, which doesn’t
help, because here it comes anyway.