It’s the Holidays Out There

I just went out briefly for supplies, otherwise I’ve been staying in, puttering, with the Hallmark Channel on in the background. My neighborhood is pretty quiet. I didn’t walk down Bleecker, which might have some shoppers. I was on Hudson Street, where Christmas tree stands are going up …

… one of the restaurants set up this very appealing table. Except, I think the idea is to sit outside with your cider, all bundled up and cosy. Nice in theory, but I don’t know how that that would work out in practice. Damnit. I should have gotten a cider to go. Because now I am craving hot apple cider. And cider donuts. Yeah … cancel the cider, bring on the donuts.

Best Lamp/Lantern for Storm Reading

When Hurricane Sandy hit I quickly learned that reading by candlelight is impossible, and annoying by flashlight. So I ordered the Coleman 3AA High-Tech LED Mini Lantern because someone on Echo wisely advised getting a lantern that took AA batteries rather than D batteries, which are harder to find in an emergency. Unfortunately, when it arrived and I tried it out it just didn’t feel bright enough. Also, it said the 3 AA batteries it takes will last six hours, which isn’t very much.

So I returned it and ordered the Rayovac Sportsman LED Lantern. It takes D batteries, but it also says it will last 40 to 90 hours depending on the setting and it’s 240 lumens at the highest setting vs 85 lumens for the other one at it’s highest setting.

This one is definitely much brighter than the other lamp, and much better for overall room lighting and also for reading, so I’m keeping it. That said, the light is harsh, and you have to position it just right to hit the pages of your book. Maybe the headlamp suggestion a friend gave me is the best.

Another reason for battery operated lighting: Bleeck jumped up to check out the candle and singed his whiskers. This is not the best shot, but if you look, the whiskers over his right eye are shortened. Since this picture was taken they’ve fallen out. They will grow back, right??

Great Eric Whitacre Tweet

“I believe now more than ever that singing is a universal, built-in mechanism designed to cultivate empathy and compassion.” -Eric Whitacre, November 20th tweet. I believe that too, Eric Whitacre. My first thought when I saw that was, “Damnit. Why didn’t I say that first?? Now Eric Whitacre is going to get all the credit. Damnit. Damnit. Damnit.”

This is Bleeck’s ‘should I bite you now or continue to rest in this window’ look.

Composer Nico Muhly Visits the Choral Society of Grace Church

I was telling people last night that he was 25, but he’s really 31. (Where did I get the idea that he was 25??) His first full-scale opera, Two Boys, which premiered in London in this spring, will be performed at the Metropolitan Opera next year. I can’t imagine having that kind of success so young. First, I can’t imagine writing an opera. Writing music is a mystery to me. I’ve tried it and honestly, I couldn’t summon anything, I have no clue where music comes from. Words, they’re in me. Original music, not a single freaking note. (Thank you very much, Universe.) Then, I can’t really imagine sitting in one of the front rows, or offstage, to see something that was inside me emerge in such splendid display in that venue? Yeah, I’d explode.

We’re doing a piece called Senex Puerum Portabat, and I’m singing what’s called the drone part. It’s surprisingly difficult and I’m not sure why, because on paper it looks like the least challenging part. But I can see why he’s a star. The piece is so completely original, although he talks about his influences here, and yes, we all have them, but if you focus on that, how can you listen, read, taste, look at anything? I hear and feel a new musical mind, and if I was going to get distracted at all it would have been by that, because this piece is really really smart. But I don’t.

There’s one part where we sing at whatever tempo/rhythm we like, as long as it’s different from the people around us.  It should sound like a mess, but it does this pulsating, expanding and contracting … thing.  It’s like a singing choir traveling through a bunch of different universes, and the sound warps and changes depending on the physics of the universe they are in at the time. It’s an incredible result for such a simple thing.  But why he does this is even better.  He wants us to represent a crowd of different ages, sizes, genders, backgrounds, all proclaiming Gloria in excelsis Deo (Glory to God in the highest) each in our own unique way. Pretty cool, huh? So even though there’s obviously a constantly thinking mind in the piece, (to have even conceived to try such a thing) in the moment it effectively moves from spookiness, mystery, tenderness, love, to exaltation.

Here are a couple of pictures of Nico Muhly with our choir director John Maclay.

Nico Muhly and John Maclay

Nico Muhly and John Maclay

Your Favorite Christmas Music

I’ve started listening to my Christmas playlist, and I see that I really need to add to it. I’ve been listening to the same 70 songs for years now. Please tell me your favorite Christmas pieces, popular, classical, I love all genres (okay, there’s a lot of jazz that doesn’t speak to me, what can I say). I need new music!

This is a picture of the editorial team of Interactions, the ITP newspaper started by Eric Kibble, who, sadly, has since passed away. (ITP=Interactive Telecommunications Program, a grad school program at NYU.) I think it’s from 1987 or 1988. I feel terrible that I can’t name everyone in this picture although I recognize them all. Therefore I’m not naming anyone so the people I can’t name don’t get mad at me.

I’m easy to spot. The one with the bangs in the back. Why wasn’t I smiling?? Extreme Stacy Close-Up below.

Depending on the year, I’m 30 or 31 in this picture, and one or two years away from starting Echo, the business that changed my life and also led to my writing career, something I’ve wanted since I was 9 years old.

I didn’t have a clue then. I’d only gotten out of rehab one or two years before (the year I started grad school) and while my first year was rough—the process of getting back to life and learning how to think again wasn’t easy—by this time I was starting to feel hopeful and happy again. I had no idea how great things would get then, I was just so relieved to not be destroying my life on a daily basis anymore.

Instead I was learning about nested loops, how to animate, writing, meeting all these amazing people. Life was good again. Thank you NYU, Red Burns, and all my fellow students. (And rest in peace Eric Kibble. You were taken so unfairly soon.)