Pop of Colour

Lately I started noticing a disturbing trend. I am living in a monochromatic world. It started with my own wardrobe, which is almost solidly black, grey, navy, and burgundy.

Then I was really struck when I started looking around at my fellow Minnesotans while running errands and I saw the same damn monochromatic trend!

Our weather has been drab for over a month. Almost no sun. And this drabness has infiltrated almost every aspect of daily life. People walk around in nothing but black and grey — especially their outerwear. Sometimes navy blue or brown is spotted, but it’s rare. And it’s everywhere!

Guys at the gym. People in the skyway. People in the malls. People at work.

Example: today at Leeann Chin everyone in line was in black, down to a person! It was like a catering line at a funeral.

“Enough is enough,” I thought. So I decided to resist.

Lately I’ve been bored with my outerwear, and I found myself in the market for a new, lightweight down coat. While I love Patagonia (patagucci), it is omnipresent up here. So I wanted to explore something new.

I still wanted good warmth and high quality, but I wanted a different brand. A more off the beaten path brand, but one that still has a certain cachet.

So I got a Helly Hansen.

The color is sweet lime. It is definitely not drab and my visibility just increased 3000%. And I live the graphite grey accents! (Plus it matches my Pistil wool cap.

So far I like it. It fits more snugly than my Patagonia (especially in the arms), for a slimmer silhouette. And the tail dips lower for more lower back protection when bending and snapping.

The best part is that it is not a brand that one sees here often, so that’s cool. People gonna be like “HH? Who dat?”

The one odd thing? The zipper is “backwards”. Being a euro brand, the zipper is on the left rather than the right which makes for some fumbling.

Other than that, so far so good. I’ll let you know how warm it is when our temps plummet into the single digits.

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Gay Chorus Stuff

This past weekend were My chorus concerts, and by and large things went really well! I’m decently pleased with the outcome.

My voice held for all three shows (i had been fighting a cold/congestion for weeks) and I think I personally sang pretty decently.

I am part of our chamber ensemble (seen above). We actually opened the show singing Of the Father’s Love Begotten. It’s an acapella chant piece that we sang in an antiphonal setup in opposing balconies.

Talk about difficult!

Long, sustained straight tone singing, from opposite sides of the theater (so there is sound delay) with the conductor on stage. It was semi-nerve wracking!

After that we did this wickedly hard full chorus “Gloria In Excelsis” where the composer never wrote the same melodic pattern twice. While also varying rhythm.

It personally took me a solid month of rehearsing the piece on my own to memorize it. (We sing all music from memory). And I fucking crushed it!

The show was not all serious music. There was also some light-hearted, fun stuff. We had a “drunk Becky soprano” singing a queen of the night spoof:

We did a Edge of Glory/Gloria In Excelsis mashup, and then the show-stopper:

A retelling of Jesus’s story, as narrated by Cher. With dancing manger animals, a black Jesus, the golden girls and more!

Our skit was a little “controversial”. We used pop songs (like God sing that he wish that he had “Joseph’s girl”, and Mary singing “im not that innocent”) to embellish the narrative.

And we had a border patrol agent try to separate “Hay-Soos” from his parents. But since Mary and Joseph pointed out that they’re obviously white, everything was deemed ok.

The skit caused a couple older patrons to walk out in disgust. Oopsie.

Overall, it was a good first concert from our new director, Gerald Gurss:

This is Gerald.

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Concert Week has begun

It’s that time of year– time for the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus concert series. Aka “crazy week”.

It started yesterday with a chamber performance at a church in the morning, then a full chorus concert on Sunday night (at a Catholic Church no less). And this was just the warm up.

Tuesday is tech rehearsal. Thursday is dress rehearsal. Then Friday – Sunday are the concerts.

Then I’m done. At least until January.

The concerts should be good. Lots of different fare for people to enjoy. Some traditional liturgical stuff. Some more irreverent. Some sad and moving pieces. A piece to commemorate world AIDS day. And a drag queen retelling of the birth of Jesus.

It’s also our new director’s first concert with us, so I’m anxious to see how the audience enjoys the program, etc.

My favorite song on the concert is called Even When He Is Silent. It’s a gorgeous, acapella setting of text reportedly found on a wall in a concentration camp. The text:

I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining

I believe in love, even when I feel it not

I believe in God, even when he is silent

A link to St Olaf singing it can be found here https://youtu.be/hYwYMngq4II

I think we’re actually one of the first choruses to perform the TTBB version, so that’s cool.

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Woofy Wednesday

Because I need this. And so do you.

Normally I don’t go in for face tattoos– but for him I’d make an exception.

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Clocks.

My father has this old, mantle clock. It’s been in my family for a long time– perhaps all its life. Dad says it’s 150 years old.

I remember it in pieces when I was younger, then it was refinished and reassembled some time when I was around 12. From that time foreword, it was the main clock in our living room. I got very familiar with its half-hour and hourly chimes– and it’s slightly eccentric tick-TOCK.

Well, earlier this year, the main spring finally broke. Dad took it to get fixed, but the new spring wasn’t quite right and the clock ran fast. And the spring affected the mechanism so that the pendulum couldn’t be lowered enough to slow it down.

So it needed to have the mechanism physically moved upwards in the housing. Which sort of worked for a time– until it didn’t. Now the clock won’t run.

Dad would still love for the clock to work, but he’s given up on it.

Ironically the clock is a perfect metaphor for my dad and his cancer treatments.

His chemo has stopped working and the cancer is spreading. This was the last of the chemo options for him– so now he’s done. No more chemo.

The estimates are for 4-6 months at this point.

We knew this day was coming, and in some ways it’s a miracle the one chemo worked as long as it did. It just doesn’t make the situation any easier.

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Business.

Actually more Busy-ness than anything else.

It’s the holidays. And end of year. And I’m swamped.

Chorus concerts are looming. I have a band concert (out of town) this weekend. Volleyball tournament was yesterday. 4 hour chorus rehearsal was Saturday.

And it continues like this until the second week of December.

In the midst of this, I am taking a week off (thanksgiving week) to go down and help my mom. She’s home and out of assisted care, which is good. But she still can’t put any weight in her ankle.

Which is bad.

Thank goodness my cousin Jill has available time, so she’s helping my mom out until I get there. What a godsend!

When I’m down there, I’ll be exploring options to get her a walk in shower. She just can’t effectively get over the tub edge. And at some point I need to hire those “we get rid of it for you” people where you point at crap and they take it away.

I’ll also be cooking thanksgiving dinner. I’m actually looking forward to that part– it’ll be nice to cook for her.

Anyway, I’ll be looking forward to a break once all my extracurriculars wind down.

Just in time for audits in the new year. Whee.

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Post Election Relief

Think of this as a gay sorbet– something to cleanse your….

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Concert Selfie

This past weekend we had a band concert. This was my first concert playing Euphonium (baritone, or mini tuba).

I love playing euph!

I’ve played trombone all my life; it’s definitely my primary instrument. But in drum and bugle corps I played Baritone, as trombones were not yet allowed. (Marching baritone looks like a really beefy trumpet.)

This year, our concert band had no euphonium players (both kids who played last year graduated) and we had 9! trombones. So I leaped at the chance to switch over.

I always appreciated the sound of a baritone (it’s rounder and fuller than trombone) and I liked the facility of valves compared to the slide.

But the best is playing concert euphonium. It plays so damn easy when compared to trombone. The air just falls through the horn and you barely have to work to get this big rich sound. It’s awesome.

Added bonus: euphoniums get way better parts. Actual melody!! Solos! And fast run passages.

Now, I could have played a bit better in the concert– I had a couple more flubs than I like to have. But part of that I chalk up to not having the facility on valves quite yet. Sometimes my fingers don’t want to behave, and I still sometimes have to translate the notes on the page from trombone slide position to euph valve combination.

But overall it’s offering me a new challenge and making for a fun band experience.

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Gabriel Kahane, I am shook

So, I just discovered the music of Gabriel Kahane and I am obsessed.

Gabriel was a guest on Live From Here (the new prairie home companion show with Chris Thiele) which I caught while driving to Iowa this past week. He performed the song “Baltimore” and I was in tears.

Literally.

The song is kind of a downer. It’s about going home for a funeral of a best friend. And when he gets to the part about getting the call but being surrounded by his fellow workers so he didn’t cry… and then the piano plays these delicate, gut wrenching chords like something from Chopin or Erik Satie…

Well, I tear up. Every time.

The song just feels so honest and real. And sad. And full of angst and unanswered questions.

It’s achingly beautiful.

And The piano accompaniment is so unexpected, so… not typical. It’s got a minimalist vibe like Glass or Adams or Cage. But it’s harmonically complex even in its spareness. And the way the vocals are layered with it gives a feel of intimacy. Or something.

I can’t adequately define it other than to say I was haunted immediately.

I downloaded the song as soon as Chris Thiele told me who was playing. Then I had to listen to the song like 7 more times in a row.

And then I downloaded the rest of the album.

And I’ve just been listening and listening.

The poetry of it all.

If you haven’t heard of him, I highly recommend checking him out. Here’s a YouTube clip of “Baltimore”:

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Saturday Sploosh

I do have a type….

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