Will.Whim

A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Monthly Archives: November 2005

Live fast, die young …

Sacred Harp at the Sacred Music Festival

Kalamazoo hosts a biennial Festival of Sacred Music, which is taking place this weekend. Martha Beverley and Sam Sommers lead a Sacred Harp workshop this morning; I love listening to Sam describe how to remember the shapes: ‘FA points fa-r fa-r away; LA is square like the Law (and starts with L, which is square); SO is round like the Sol, the sun; and MI is a diamond–diamonds are relatively rare, as are MIs, so diamonds are for me.’ It looks like we may have picked up a couple of new singers today (though time will tell).

One new singer we have is Mary Powers, who is the coolest Drain Commissioner (well, ex-Drain Commissioner) you’ll ever meet. (Hey, Lemondor, I bet you never get to chill with drain commissioners!)

Singing today allowed us to score free tickets to hear Chicago Syntagma Musicum presenting “A Spanish Medieval Pilgrimage.”

Woohoo! Kalamazoo Public Schools to offer free college tuition

Kalamazoo offers free tuition:

ALAMAZOO, Mich., Nov. 11 (UPI) — Kalamazoo, Mich., has announced plans to pay tuition for any city public school graduate who attends a Michigan college.

The deal begins with the class of 2006, the Kalamazoo Gazette said. The Kalamazoo Promise announced Thursday by Superintendent Janice Brown would pay 100 percent of tuition for students who have been in the Kalamazoo schools since first grade with pro-rated amounts for all students who enter by the 10th grade.

Officials expect the tuition offer to reverse a slide in public school enrollment and to encourage families with school-age children to move to Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo Public Schools: The Kalamazoo Promise.

file under 'mildly amusing'

Mildly amusing reviews of the $33k Gulbransen (Beer) Bottle Organ on Amazon.com. (Note: I was not looking for beer bottle organs when I came across this…)

O Savior, where art thou?

Our little country church–where we can sing I’ll fly away without irony–is putting on a nativity play, “O Savior, where art thou?,” which is based on O Brother, where art thou?, which is based on The Odyssey . I get to sing I am a man of constant sorrow as Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. I think I’m supposed to sing it as a parody of The Soggy Bottom Boys, who are a ficticious old-time band that (in the movie) record a surprise hit and that (in what is sometimes called ‘real’ life) record a surprise hit, winning both a CMA award and a Grammy. Their “I am a man of constant sorrow” is a clever parody of a Stanley Brothers hit. Ralph Stanley sings none of the four versions on the soundtrack, although he does sing O Death, which is about the hauntinest song imaginable. Bob Dylan did Sorrow. So did Skeewiff. I’m not sure what Jeremiah would think.

But, you know, why should the devil get all the good mash-ups?

Bill Labov is the Talk of the Town

New Yorker Talk of the Town piece of a linguistics hero of mine: William Labov (via kottke).

US as empire

Mostly to bookmark these quotes by Cosma Shalizi:

[O]ne should very much like to know how it has come to pass that many of those who feel qualified to judge intellectual eminence take it as a revelation that the United State of America is an imperial power which has committed, supported and denied atrocities all over the world, or that centralizing the news media in the hands of large, advertising-supported corporations, owned in whole or in part by other huge companies, leads to bias. These are important facts, of course, and they are news to many people. (From On Chomsky: “Study in Total Depravity”).

Empires commit horrible acts, and the US was and is an empire; but average reader of the New York Times, much less the St. Louis Post-Dispatch or watcher of the nightly news, would know very little of this. (From Noam Chomsky).

Hyde Park Anniversary singing; All saints

I was able to pull off attending the Hyde Park Anniversary Sacred Harp singing in Chicago on Saturday. It was great fun. A group of Moody students attended. This was (I think) their first time at a singing, except for one guy who has been apparently practicing at home. I asked the students if they wanted to join me in the square, and he asked to help lead I would see Jesus. I’d never led it, but decided to try. I didn’t make too much of a hash of it, but if I had to do it over, I’d lead verses two and three, instead of one and two.

We sang around a dozen songs from the new edition of Missouri Harmony tunebook. We sang enough songs that I decided I should probably purchase a copy. It clearly has some delightful tunes in it, although I’m disappointed by the musical typography, which uses a very basic font for ‘open’ (i.e, half and whole note) fa, la and mi. This makes seeing the notes a lot harder. I’ve noticed the same problem with the ‘Aiken’ shapes of LilyPond. Someday I’d like to get to creating these…

The fun surprise for me was that Mark Miller, who regularly sings at the Berkeley weekly singings, came in half way through. Mark is part of the Chicago Sacred Harp diaspora, but I only know him from Berkeley (where I often sing when I travel for work to California), so it was great fun to see him in the midwest. Unfortunately, I had to tip out just at the end to make it to an appointment.

I led the singing at our church’s worship service today, leading all of the eight verses of For all the saints found in the ‘old’ Mennonite Hymnbook. It was apparent that the song was new to our congregation, so I was glad that Bess sang out strongly. I decided it was the only hymn I know that is improved by an organ accompaniment, not only because of the initial note of each verse (typically a nice strong chord on the organ, with a rest by the singers), but because it covers up any mistakes in the difficult mapping between music and scansion.

The long tail of suicide choice points

The San Francisco Chronicle has published an interesting graphic showing the number of suicides per location at the Golden Gate Bridge (each location is linked to a light pole, of which there are 128). My morbid curiosity asked whether this would show a long tail-like distribution, given the “many choices, many choosers” nature this. Well, here it is; you decide:

Windows (not so) Live!

Windows Live in Safari

Windows Live screen shot (in Safari).