No Heat!

It’s 10 degrees (-1 real feel) and there’s no heat or hot water in my apartment. Terrific. That said, being parked in front of a space heater is actually quite pleasant and cosy. I just can’t move a body part outside the tiny zone of warmth.

This is Grace Church during the snow storm. It doesn’t look quite real, does it?


Heading Out to Choir Rehearsal

It came as no surprise that rehearsal was not cancelled due to the snow. It’s amazing how, depending on what camera setting I used, sometimes you’d see the snow falling and sometimes you wouldn’t. For instance, here is me walking out the door looking west.


And now I’m looking east.


This is a picture of the cemetery I posted about last week.


Looking into the same cemetery from above.


And now I’ve arrived at Grace Church. Sigh. I am so lucky to be a member of the Choral Society of Grace Church.


I Think I Might be as Strong as a Superhero

I just wrapped up our old web server and lugged it on foot I don’t know how many blocks, in a snowstorm, and up five flights. I was so sure the thing weighed as much as I do, but apparently it weighs 47 pounds according to my scale. My scale could be messing with me.

I’m going to have some hot chocolate now.


If Harry Connick, Jr Can’t Save American Idol …

No one can. He’s the perfect judge.

He tells the truth without the meanness, unlike Simon, and without apology, unlike Jennifer Lopez. I love that he tried to explain to Jennifer what a pentatonic scale is. Next time let him finish. He should give more quick lessons like that. It may sound boring at first—a pentatonic scale??—but if things like this are explained in a non-tedious manner, and I can’t imagine Harry Connick, Jr ever being tedious, music theory and music history can help you become a better singer.

Once, when we were working on Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, John Maclay (our director) told us how just before Haydn got to work on this particular piece his benefactor fired the entire wind section of the orchestra. “Now what,” Haydn must have thought. So, in certain sections he substituted our voices for those missing instruments. “You’re there doing what a clarinet or oboe would have been doing,” John explained. It was not only a fun fact to know, it helps you sing. If the audience knew this too, like us they’d enjoy the music even more. Knowledge takes music up to 11.

Honestly, I’m pretty blown away at how much I like Harry Connick, Jr. Last week they had a quick shot of him playing with Jennifer’s Lopez’s children and he was so amazing with them I thought, “Oh for the love of God, he’s probably a great dad, too. On top of everything else.”

I started talking about him on Echo and a friend wrote about how she used to see him in the 1980’s at the Knickerbocker in the Village, right before he became famous. Here is part of her wonderfully evocative description.

“He ritualistically set up a tiny cassette player before he started, to record what he did each time … Sweet, serious, played for at least an hour even though there might be ten people there, full volume, full intensity, he’d sing, then pack up his little recorder and go home.

“It was an interesting lesson in taking one’s endeavors seriously regardless of the context, lack of immediate adulation, etc. A committed musican doing his gig every week and trying to keep getting better.”

Then she pointed out this post that was written by someone who was a waitress there at the time. It explains my reaction to him (I also want to know more about the singer Bibi Farber, who wrote it). Now I feel free-er to gush about him, it’s not just me. It also made me appreciate even more the reaction he had to the kid on American Idol who said he was going to do a jazzier version of a Michael Jackson song and then proceded to sing a version that had nothing jazzy about it whatsoever. Those kids trying out for American Idol should pay very, very close attention and follow Harry Connick, Jr’s example of how to work hard and grow as an artist.

I’d given up on American Idol, and I was only watching out of sheer inertia, maybe hope. But Harry Connick, Jr is making it good again.

These are choral singers at a rehearsal at Carnegie Hall, being conducted by composer Eric Whitacre. Whitacre has their complete and undivided attention.


Thou Shalt Not Kill

I watched The Daily Show’s interview with documentary filmmaker Roger Ross Williams last night. They talked about his recent film, God Loves Uganda, which is about American evangelicals and their influence and support of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a bill that included killing gay people.

Once again I thought of the classic piece from the Onion which came out right after 9/11: God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule. From the piece:

Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.

“Look, I don’t know, maybe I haven’t made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again,” said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers. “Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don’t. And to be honest, I’m really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand.”

It’s a brilliant piece, worth reading in its entirety. I will never ever understand how Christians could possibly support a Bill that includes killing people. Although that part of the Bill has now been scaled back to life imprisonment, it called for the death penalty when it was being actively pushed by fundamentalist Christians from American. Even life imprisonment though, and all the rest of it. Do these Christians forget that American was founded and built by people who came here to escape religious persecution?

We had a water main break in the Village yesterday. I took these shots walking home last night. My camera seems to be getting better at night shots. Yes, I realize the answer is I must be getting a little better at taking night shots.


I’m kicking myself for not walking around and taking pictures from the other side of 5th, so I could get shots of this worker’s face. This picture would have been so much better.