Running errands to Target yesterday, I heard a little Christmas music. I heard a lot of Christmas music, actually. For some reason, this time it took me back, to eighth-grade choir practice. Our teacher was demanding and a little crazy, as the best choir teachers frequently are. We were having our first run-through of “The Holly and the Ivy,” one of my favorite old English carols, not as well known then as it is today, and the lyrics even less so. Many of us were reading them for the first time:
The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown
The rising of the sun
and the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir
We got to the last line, and it became evident many of my classmates had never seen the word “choir” on the page. About 80 percent of the chorus sang kwire, but the rest sang choyre. I thought Mr. Yenser was going to go insane, but that would come later, on “O, Holy Night,” when we were lectured over and over on the correct pronunciation of divine. Short i, people, short i! Di-vine, not dee-vine. He was also painstaking in his conducting, insisting we not start belting too early. It’s a long song that requires a slow build, and if we dared to bring it before “fall on your knees,” there was hell to pay. Even then, we had to keep it dialed down a notch, so as to really cut loose on the last three lines:
Oh hoooooly night
Oh night DI-vine….
I tell you, Mariah Carey could learn a thing or three from him. I was strictly another face in the crowd in choir, no solos for me, although I would have my chance to disappoint him face-to-face later that season. He had an idea that would call for someone who lived close to school to carry out; would I be interested? I was only half a block away, so I said sure, and this was the idea: To welcome students to school with the sounds of Christmas music playing from speakers on the third floor. I’d have to arrive about 30 minutes early, and I’d be given access to a closed room at the top of the building, where I’d set up the record player, open the window, put the speaker on the ledge and let loose with some “Sleigh Ride” and other Christmas classics until the first bell. He had a few records to choose from, but left the mix up to me, and as I considered myself a natural DJ at the time, I was flattered. I even brought some of my parents’ albums from home and added some oddities — the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Mahalia Jackson, a little Gregorian chant.
The gig was for two weeks, and by the second week, I was pretty sick of “Jingle Bells,” so I threw in “Sunshine of Your Love” as my final cut, when everyone was rushing to get through the doors and my audience was biggest. This got me some awrights from my classmates in homeroom, and that was all the encouragement I needed. The next day’s set consisted of Led Zeppelin, some early Stones and Jefferson Airplane. And this was before it was trendy for rock ‘n’ rollers to put out Christmas records. It was just “Born to be Wild” and “Somebody to Love” and to hell with Christmas. This is the devil’s music.
It might have gone on all week, until another teacher asked Mr. Yenser, who traveled between schools and arrived later in the day, why the Vanilla Fudge was being played from the third floor before school. And I’d stupidly left a few LPs in the room, so as not to have to haul them back and forth. The jig was up, and he expressed his profound, deep disappointment while I clutched “Disraeli Gears” to my chest and looked at the floor.
“But why this music? This?” he pleaded. I spluttered, and tried to explain that I just wanted to hear some cool tunes right before school, but this was clearly a violation of our agreement. I didn’t tell him people had liked it a lot better than “Joy to the World.” He couldn’t hear that at all; it was clear he was not one of those adults who secretly appreciated the Beatles. It was all noise and long hair to him. “I think you’re not right for this job,” he said, and I agreed. The last two days before vacation I slunk to school with everyone else, under the closed, silent window, covered in shame.
It’s funny — I think of Mr. Yenser whenever I hear Johnny Mathis sing oh night DEEvine, but I hadn’t even thought of this darkly comic chapter until today.
When I Google his name, I see he had many students who remember him fondly. I also see he was quite the square — taking his best students to a Fred Waring concert? Even in the early ’60s, that was pretty lame. I also see others disappointed him, too.
As culture-war skirmishes go, this one hardly counts. But I carry a wound, obviously.
And I’m sorry, Mr. Yenser, but the world will remember Eric Clapton a lot longer than they will Fred Waring. If you couldn’t see it then, I hope you saw it eventually.
So, a wee bit of bloggage?
I know we have many Civil War fans here, so for you — a period map of the slave-holding states, showing the concentrations of slave ownership by county, based on the 1860 census. I love maps, and I love this one. So did A. Lincoln.
“I loves me some me” — now pay Mr. Owens to say that.
Finally, a sad story from the WashPost — told mainly in Facebook status updates.
Where did this week go? I hope the ending is something to look forward to. Have a good one, all.
Mark P. said on December 10, 2010 at 8:41 am
The slave holder map is interesting. Note that region of low slavery that runs right up the Appalachians. Not much agriculture in those parts. My current county is in that region, but my mother’s home area is in near-coastal Georgia, a high slave density area. There is a swath of dark in Georgia and Alabama at the fall line, which is the furthest upstream point at which river navigation was practical. Again, note the density along the Mississippi. You got to have those riverboats to transport that cotton.
Of course in part the map just reflects population density in general.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 10, 2010 at 8:49 am
I believe it was Lewis Lapham in Harper’s who found a near flawless correlation between county by county incidence of pig sticking as a form of hunting practiced there, and voting for Bush.
Kim said on December 10, 2010 at 9:14 am
OK, so back to junior high (what we called it back in the day) sensibilities: Maybe it was sitting between two guys named “Dicke” and “Ball” that should have been the funniest thing for the former student who suffered one instance of “The Burn.”
And to get back on my high horse for a moment, that “Road Not Taken” poem by Robert Frost is the most misinterpreted poem EVER. It’s four stanzas – the middle two describe how the two paths are identical. The last describes how the indecisive walker basically says, “what the hell, I’ll take this one” and then, in a crafty aside to the reader, says, “But you know, when people ask me how I chose this path I am going to say I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.”
In other words, he wings it but promises to lie in the future to make his indecision decisive and wise.
Class dismissed. But when you hear this at a commencement, I command you to stand and call bullshit. Or at least, if decorum prevents, acknowledge the irony.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 10, 2010 at 10:06 am
Dunno ’bout that. He minimizes the difference, but he does say “Because it was grassy and wanted wear” about the path he took. It wasn’t about how trackless and challenging the trail was, it was the basis he chose for making an otherwise insignificant decision that the author/narrator claims “has made all the difference.” It’s a life choice/world view thing, not a pioneering exhortation.
Y’all can decide for yourselves: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15717
Mark P. said on December 10, 2010 at 10:15 am
I have to admit that when I read the poem in high school, or whenever, I did not see the ambiguity in the poem, and my teacher did not mention it, either. But on rereading, it seems clear that it’s not the simple exhortation to and celebration of individuality that it might seem at first reading. The speaker does say that ” … the passing there Had worn them really about the same …”, so the road taken was not really the one less traveled. And, remember, in the last stanza, the speaker is talking about things that have not happened; how could he know that his choice will make “all the difference”? I think you have to read that as an acknowledgement by the speaker that in the future, when he tells this story, he will rationalize his decision as the best one.
Kim said on December 10, 2010 at 10:35 am
Rock on, you smarty pants patrons of NN.C!
By the way, I loved the stealth rock and roll morning vitamin for your peers, Nancy. Reminds me of the Christmas list I had during those years that had “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” on it. Makes me laugh every time I remember it!
John said on December 10, 2010 at 10:40 am
Vernon County, Missouri at 1.4% bore the brunt of a John Brown murderous raid.
Biting ass cold here this morning. But, I love me some NN.com Holiday Cheer.
Sue said on December 10, 2010 at 11:02 am
I planted several holly plants a few years back so I can always make a holly-and-ivy arrangement every Christmas Eve. This year I’ll make it and take it to my sister-in-law Holly, who’s hosting this year.
And “The Story of Holly and Ivy” is one of my favorite Christmas books.
I remember being gently corrected in a high school English class when I didn’t know that ‘stoic’ is two syllables, and amusingly corrected in a history class when I mispronounced plebian. Both good teachers, so I wasn’t traumatized.
And in German class I was brought up short when I had to read a passage out loud that included the word ‘hell’ (bright). Seemed naughty to me, but then it took me until my early 40’s before I said the F word for the first time.
And speaking of pretty Christmas songs, here’s one from my long-ago German class days; I always thought both words and music were exceptionally pretty. Anyone recognize it?:
Leise rieselt der Schnee,
Still und starr ruht der See,
Weihnachtlich glänzet der Wald
Freue dich, Christkind kommt bald!
alex said on December 10, 2010 at 11:11 am
One of my best friends is a choral director and has a master’s in both vocal performance and choral direction. I didn’t fully appreciate his unique gifts until one day in Chicago when we were walking down a noisy street full of traffic. I let loose with an SBD, or at least I thought it was S. He called me out on it immediately.
“How could you have possibly heard that?” I asked.
“I make my living tracing sour notes to their source,” he said.
Deborah said on December 10, 2010 at 11:12 am
See this is why I keep coming back to nn.c. What a great post. I love the way you tell a story, Nancy.
LAMary said on December 10, 2010 at 11:20 am
Is it Silent Night, Sue?
alex said on December 10, 2010 at 11:29 am
Re: the map, it doesn’t include Illinois, where slavery may not have been legal but was nonetheless practiced, according to this very interesting read. I was also quite surprised to learn in this book that many contemporary Illinois politicians are descended from political dynasties of the mid-nineteenth century.
ROgirl said on December 10, 2010 at 11:30 am
There’s a hilarious take on “The Road Not Taken” in the book “Skippy Dies,” in which adolescent Irish boys discuss its meaning as being about anal sex.
Dave said on December 10, 2010 at 11:33 am
Nancy, you’ve reminded me of our choir director in junior high (who also doubled as English teacher, it was tiny (then) Pickerington), who ripped into The Beatles on the morning after their first appearance on Ed Sullivan. I believe she called it, “three note noise”.
She also hated paperback books with a passion, regardless of the title, equated them with trash, and would take them from you if she caught you reading one in study hall, even. Ah, the things teachers would never get away with today.
Scout said on December 10, 2010 at 11:34 am
Attended the annual holiday choral offering at my grandkidlet’s school last evening and came away with the realization that musical selection is key. 90% of the performance featured music that forced these poor children to sing several octaves higher than their abilities, making the effort sound more like distressed cats caterwauling in heat than Christmas music. But of course I told Grammy’s treasures that they sounded like angels.
Connie said on December 10, 2010 at 11:35 am
OK Sue, snow, the quiet lake, Christmas glimmers, be happy the Christ child comes.
My Christmas songs in German are, the familiar, Oh Tannenbaum, Oh Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter, Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,etc.
Und this one: Oh Ihr Kinderlein, kommet, o kommet doch all, zum Bethlehem komm zu den manger and the stall. Whoops ran out of German.
Sue said on December 10, 2010 at 11:41 am
Oh, sorry, I wasn’t asking for a translation, I was wondering if anyone recognized it as an actual song. It wasn’t a test, folks, sorry.
Softly falls the snow
quiet and ??? sleeps the lake
the forest glistens, Christmas-like
rejoice, the Christ-child comes soon.
Here’s a youtube, complete with Thomas Kinkaid-style graphics, to give you a feel for the melody. Like I said, words and music are quite lovely.
Peter said on December 10, 2010 at 11:46 am
Sue, I remember that song, and I think, oddly enough, it’s named Leise rieselt der Schnee, Snow Quietly Falling (Quietly trickles the snow). That was a staple of our German language advent shows.
My favorite German Christmas song is Weihnachtsgelaute, which starts “Susser die glokken nie klingen, als zu der Weihnachtszeit” (Bells do not sound as sweet as they did on that Christmas Night…”)
4dbirds said on December 10, 2010 at 11:48 am
My parent’s county (Chariton) in North Central Missouri was bloody during the Civil War. Confederate Militias comprised of original settlers, slave owners or sympathizers from Virginia and Kentucky (my father’s family) waged violence against abolishionist settlers (my mother’s family.) The Union Army would then settle the score against confederate leaning families.
del said on December 10, 2010 at 12:03 pm
Dave, do you think your teacher liked “Paperback Writer?”
Julie Robinson said on December 10, 2010 at 12:06 pm
Scout, I’ve directed a children’s choir so I can tell you that most music written for children makes the erroneous assumption that they have very high ranges. Choir directors need to communicate that back to the music publishers, but in the meantime they either have to transpose to a lower key or write their own arrangements. Both are pretty time consuming.
LAMary said on December 10, 2010 at 12:06 pm
I swear the words still und starr are in some other Christmas song I learned phonetically.
Anyway, someone needs to take those chimes away from Nana Mouskouri. I need to look at this video as a palate cleanser after watching those images they show with that song:
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 10, 2010 at 12:09 pm
Softly Falls the Snow
Softly Falls the Snow
silent and motionless lies the lake
Christmas glitters of the forest:
Rejoice, Christ is coming tonight!
In the heart of it is warm,
still silent sorrow and grief,
Concern of life fades:
Rejoice, Christ is coming tonight!
Soon, holy night,
Choir of angels awake,
Listen how lovely it sounds:
Rejoice, Christ is coming tonight!
(I grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana — sehr Deutsch.)
Julie Robinson said on December 10, 2010 at 12:15 pm
Jeff did you ever worship at the Valpo chapel? We have fond memories of the services we went to while our daughter was in college there. Every aspect of the service was carefully planned around the church season and the Bible lessons for the day, and the music was always heavenly. I miss it, and we couldn’t talk our son into going there.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 10, 2010 at 12:34 pm
Heaven indeed. And roughly built, in 1959 style, along the lines of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Which never made much sense until I went there, and went down into the grotto, which echoed the steps and path beneath the high altar into the Corpus Christi chapel below — and I was transported from Palestine back to Indiana.
There’s a good church organ PhD program there, so the odds of having someone practicing on the 101 rank mega-instrument in there is good on almost any day. For those who’ve not been there:
Among other services, our high school (public) baccalaureates were always there the day before commencement.
crinoidgirl said on December 10, 2010 at 12:46 pm
It’s the dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand…
Marc G said on December 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm
My memories of Herb Yenser came spilling out when I read today’s post, I had almost forgotten. I must have been in the same class, I remember him going on for the entire period about ‘O Holy Night’, getting red in the face and brushing his hair off to the side so often I thought he would swipe his face right offa his hed, if he did it one more time. And your story of playing the music reminded me of the time that, as the lunchtime DJ playing music to the auditorium, Greg Andrews sashayed up to the microphone and said “My name is Greg Andrews and I’m gonna kick your ass!”. Needless to say, compromise negotiations with Mr. Shelby, our principal, soon followed.
Rana said on December 10, 2010 at 1:00 pm
alex, that’s splendid. Who’d have thought that there was a way to bridge so neatly from yesterday’s topics to today’s?
moe99 said on December 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm
I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the proprietress and everyone here. It is always a day brightener to visit.
nancy said on December 10, 2010 at 1:26 pm
Since my ol’ pal Marc has shown up in comments, one more Herb Yenser story:
Mr. Yenser was also my introduction to Up With People. One of his former students was a member, and came to town for about two weeks. This was reason enough for us to learn their theme song, which we performed at our spring concert, with him — the former student/member — grooving at the front of the stage with one of those crazy guitar things all the young folks were wiggin’ over.
(This was 1970, I hasten to add.)
The song had hand gestures, which I unfortunately can’t reproduce here, but I still remember all the lyrics. A look at their website provides some fascinating details:
Started in 1965 during a turbulent period in the United States, Up with People was founded by J. Blanton Belk as a positive voice for young people. Its historic path officially began in 1968 when it was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) as an international, educational non-profit entity.
Over the years, Up with People has become known as a tremendous force in international relations, education, and entertainment. The organization’s worldwide influence is far-reaching:
1965 – Sing Out’s Up with People was the first event at Jordan HS in Watts after the LA race riots
1966 – Reader’s Digest founder Dewitt Wallace underwrites first nationwide tour
1967 – The cast of Sing Out performs at the World Expo in Montreal
1968 – Up with People is incorporated as a non-profit organization, through the encouragement of President Dwight Eisenhower and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer
1969 – Up with People is received by Pope Paul VI
1971 – Cast performs with Bob Hope for President Nixon at the White House
1972 – Cast performs at the Munich Olympics after the tragic massacre of Israeli athletes
Reader’s Digest? Bob Hope? Richard Nixon? The WATTS FREAKIN’ RIOTS? This was definitely the ’60s group your parents wish you had joined.
alex said on December 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm
Up, up with people…
They came to my elementary school in the early ’70s.
ROgirl said on December 10, 2010 at 1:40 pm
Now that’s a group you want to hear after Palestinians killed Israeli Olympic athletes.
Julie Robinson said on December 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm
In a strange way, I guess they were the precursor to today’s show choirs. IIRC, this was the first verse: “Up, up with people! You meet them wherever you go. Up, up with people! The nicest kind of people we know!” Such meaningful lyrics.
nancy said on December 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm
OK, if you insist:
It happened just this morning,
I was walkin’ down the street
A milkman and a postman and a policeman I did meet
There at every window
And at every single door
Why, I recognized people I’d never noticed before
Up, up with people
You meet ’em wherever you go
Up, up with people
They’re the best kind of folks we know
If more people were for people,
all people everywhere
There’d be a lot less people to worry about
and a lot more people who’d care
LAMary said on December 10, 2010 at 2:13 pm
I will forever associate U w/P with Nixon.
JayZ(the original) said on December 10, 2010 at 2:18 pm
I attended a Christmas chorale concert Sunday, and the final song was Stille Nacht. The narrator announced that after the choir finished singing all three verses, the director would turn around and face the audience and we were all invited to join in and sing it in English. I happened to sit in front of the only person who believed the rules don’t apply to her, and because she knew the lyrics in German it was all right to sing along with the choir. In keeping with the holiday spirit, I refrained from turning around to glare at her.
Christy S. said on December 10, 2010 at 2:18 pm
I can’t believe no one has commented yet on that WP link. As compelling as the story is (and it is, which is why I yet again posted a NN-found link on my FB — Nancy, you are turning into my personal clip service), the reporter’s use of social media to tell the story was creative and meaningful without feeling contrived. Gives me hope that social media and journalism might actually be able to live happily ever after.
Dexter said on December 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm
“…I slunk to school with everyone else, under the closed, silent window, covered in shame.”
I didn’t have to think long at all to remember the days I had to slink to school in shame, scorned…and scared to death.
I had ratted out a group of older kids for not letting me play basketball in the school’s low-ceiling dusty basement. My teacher told their teacher; they were all prohibited from using the “gym” floor for two weeks, while we in the lower grades played at will.
I didn’t get beaten, but I was promised quite a few beatings, keeping me on edge and ruining my victory.
This was a great lesson for me. I never, ever, rat people out, and when I get ratted out, I plan revenge, which I never carry out, and I write people off my list…I remove rats from my life. I hate them .
And best of all, the mystery of Disraeli Gears is settled. After all, I am close to being close to Clapton; my daughter’s friend is a nurse from Columbus who attended to the birth of Clapton’s kid right there in Dublin , Ohio, where Clapton lives half the year. (he has at least three other homes…London, Antigua, and LA if I remember correctly.) And that is the biggest stretch you’ll read today.
nancy said on December 10, 2010 at 2:48 pm
Although I’ve known that for a while, that is still so weird to think about, Dexter — Clapton living in my hometown. I mean, of all places.
And Herb Yenser is no longer alive to see it.
Dexter said on December 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm
From what I have read, Clapton loves the Hocking Hills area (“reminds me of England”) and is a good friendly neighbor, waving at locals from his sports car, dashing into convenience stores and the like on occasion—but he avoids crowded venues like Columbus Crew (ML Soccer) contests because the one he did attend caused a stir and he had to leave right away through a secret passageway or something like that. When he was at that Dublin hospital with his wife, he also entered and exited secretly with lots of security.
This is a very nice Christmas tale involving Mr. Herb Yenser.
I remember more than most about schooldaze, but I have no idea who the choir teacher was who eval’d me with visible disdain during our one-on-one sessions with him as he tried to find a soloist or whatever choir teachers do.
Nobody got kicked out of choir like they did get cut from sports squads. I like music, but choir?
I barely recall anything about it; I have no idea what songs we sung for our Christmas Show , while I remember sports with great clarity, in color.
Well, maybe Mr. Herb Yenser’s spirit can tune into this tonight:
BalletMet presents The Nutcracker
Friday, Dec 10 7:30p
Ohio Theatre, Columbus
Featuring sumptuous sets and costumes, an endearing story, Tchaikovsky’s beloved score and Gerard Charles’ exciting choreography performed by a talented cast of more than 100 dancers, The Nutcracker
Dexter said on December 10, 2010 at 3:25 pm
jcburns said on December 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm
Eric Clapton has a home in Dublin? Can’t visualize that. It’s almost as preposterous as Elton John having multiple homes in Atlanta. Oh, wait.
Sue said on December 10, 2010 at 3:40 pm
Neil Gaiman moved to Wisconsin for the inspiration. I wouldn’t think a writer like him would find WI inspiring, but apparently he is inspired by things like contests to see which car falls through a thawing lake surface last. Must be a WESTERN Wisconsin thing, humph.
LAMary said on December 10, 2010 at 3:53 pm
We were looking at the Clapton website the other day to see the tour schedule and noticed the availabiity of T-shirts for dogs which say “Clapton is God.” I’m thinking I might break my rule against dog clothing for one of those.
Bob (not Greene) said on December 10, 2010 at 3:57 pm
Hey, guys, not to threadjack, but there’s an honest-to-goodness filibuster going on in the Senate right now
Sue said on December 10, 2010 at 4:23 pm
BnG: apparently Bernie, along with his backup singers Landrieu and Brown, is letting everyone and everything have it with both barrels.
Jolene said on December 10, 2010 at 4:52 pm
It’s not a real filibuster, though, as he is simply holding forth–not holding up legislation. But his passion is impressive. He’s been making speeches about rising income inequality for quite a while now, and, of course, he is right.
Jolene said on December 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm
WaPo readers reacted strongly to the Facebook-based story re the young mother who died were interesting. Some readers were taken not only by the emotional impact of the story, but also by the unusual form. Others said, “This is not journalism,” referring to the story as simply a cut-and-paste job. I had some reservations about the choices. In particular, it seemed odd that there were no “What is going on?” questions, but I imagine most people simply didn’t have in their heads that a healthy young woman could die in such circumstances. Even the friend who was a doctor didn’t seem to become alarmed until a few days before she died, despite multiple hospitalizations. Any reactions to the form from you journos?
ROgirl said on December 10, 2010 at 5:04 pm
I missed out on how Eric Clapton ended up living in Ohio. Is it the wife’s bailiwick?
Jolene said on December 10, 2010 at 5:09 pm
And, speaking of vocal music, has anyone been watching “Sing-Off” on NBC? Hank had the usual brilliant review a few days ago, without which I likely wouldn’t have noticed it. (Friending him on FB is a good way to find out about what’s on the tube that you might otherwise have missed because he always posts his reviews.)
It is, as the title makes clear, a singing contest. The entrants are all a capella groups. These groups are a little overly choreographed for my taste, but the singing is great. Also, the format is great, as it runs for only five episodes–three of which remain to be shown. Much better than weeks and weeks of dancing by people who, for the most part, never really were stars.
Sue said on December 10, 2010 at 5:23 pm
I am going to hell for laughing at this.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 10, 2010 at 5:31 pm
Yep. Melia McEnery’s hometown (Columbus, that is).
Joe Kobiela said on December 10, 2010 at 5:33 pm
Daughter #2 lives in Sunapee N.H. She lives around the corner from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.
Jolene said on December 10, 2010 at 5:37 pm
Back to the slavery map or, more generally, to the topic of slavery, there was a very funny piece making fun of the events “honoring” the birth of the Confederacy now taking place in the South on the Daily Show last night. Check it out.
By the way, The Big Dog, i.e., Bill Clinton is holding forth at the WH right now. Live on MSNBC. He was invited, of course, to support the Obama tax compromise. They both spoke and then Obama left, saying that he was keeping the First Lady waiting. Will be interesting to see how long the ever talkative ex-prez goes on.
coozledad said on December 10, 2010 at 5:54 pm
My high school choir teacher had been homecoming queen at the school she attended, and was still a handsome woman despite a long battle with alcohol abuse. I remember bringing “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” LP to school to see if she could show me a better way to play “The Carpet Crawlers” on piano than the stupid triads I was using. She said “That’s a very pretty piece, but the singer’s no Mario Lanza.”
Rana said on December 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm
Jolene, we have been enjoying Sing Off here. I can’t say I was sorry to see the Whiffenpoofs go.
Have you seen Ben Folds’ blog posts on the show? http://www.nbc.com/sing-off/on-key-with-ben-folds/
Deborah said on December 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm
I’m just back from my annual routine mammogram and every time I go now I’m reminded of Moe’s hilarious comment a couple of years ago about how it’s like squeezing your boob in the refrigerator door etc. I chuckle through the whole thing now, even though it’s painful. Thanks for that Moe.
And speaking of medical related things, my boot is finally off for good. It turns out the foot pain was from excess calcification that had accumulated when the fracture healed. Because it’s in a spot where a bunch of bones and joints in the foot come together it’s causing pain. But it’s much, much better. I have to wear a lace up brace for awhile which is ugly but hopefully short lived.
Aren’t you glad I shared all that? Now back to the regularly scheduled program.
brian stouder said on December 10, 2010 at 6:21 pm
That slavery map was indeed very cool; quite the bon bon. And indeed, one should definitely heed the proprietress, when she said “I love maps, and I love this one. So did A. Lincoln.” That the president loved that map shines a light on one of his key attributes, I think; his willingness to sieze upon useful information and/or ideas(whatever the mode)
Occasionally, this or that person will say that a person like A. Lincoln could never be elected nowadays; and of course, the person who says that could not possibly be MORE completely WRONG if they tried!! (in my opinion)
Leaving aside the guy’s towering intelligence, he was always avid to take advantage of whatever technology might offer. If he was in his mid 40’s right now, he’d be entirely up to speed with all our modern widgets and gadgets and tweets; and he’d have Obama’s campaign machinery (at least); and he’d never be out of the loop with regard to the latest polling data.
Lincoln’s memory does indeed “belong to the ages”, but I have no doubt that his quintessentially (indeed, ideally) American approach to politics and governing would be at home in any age; maybe even especially our own current one.
I will say that I winced a little bit when the proprietress alluded to “Civil War fans” hereabouts, but it is at least preferable to the detestable “buff” label!!
I think it is not too much to say that I’m a Lincoln fan; the spectacularly catastrophic war drew me, but the more one reads about that war, the more all the roads ultimately point toward Lincoln – who is the indispensible American. (some of our contemporary dissatisfied fellow citizens want to skip the 19th century and harken back to “the Founders”, in search of their ideal America. I think they’re almost willfully trying to erase that the nation we live in today was truly founded in the latter part of the 19th century, by that generation’s political leaders and [very brave] social activists and journalists…but we digress!)
edit: Deborah, I am glad you shared that! It is very good news to hear that you have resolution on that nettlesome foot issue.
edit 2: Speaking of American politics, I read that Sarah Palin is going on a mission trip to Haiti. This gave me pause, as I cannot imagine that she’d see any point at all in such an excursion (afterall, she can’t possibly sell many books there), unless indeed she really is going to run for the presidency of the United States. This actually surprised me a bit, but there it is. I think she’s really going to do it. Hang on, everybody.
paddyo' said on December 10, 2010 at 8:02 pm
Sue @ 51: Save a place in Hades for me. I laughed, too . . . overchoreographed religious pageants (“Wouldn’t it be COOL if we had REAL camel?” . . . “Hey,my dad knows an exotic animal rancher who’s got a camel! . . .” etc.) give me the creeps anyway.
The WaPo Facebook piece was quite moving, and for those who say it wasn’t journalism, note that the reporter went off to interview a number of those who had commented at various points along the way. Not exactly a cut-and-paste job . . . Sure, it’s as straight-line linear as, well, Facebook, but it was well-done, and tear-jerking without mawkish descriptions and melodramatic writing because, well, it was what those commenters felt as it went along.
Anyone else offended as HELL that She-Who is off to Haiti tomorrow? What, another Alaska-style safari? Is she packing the deer/caribou/moose/reindeer rifle?
Pathetic. If she’s looking to be taken seriously . . . oh, never mind.
Honestly . . .
(steam venting out both ears)
Julie Robinson said on December 10, 2010 at 8:05 pm
We’ve been loving The Sing-Off because the musicians are real, not lip-syncers who have had their “music” manufactured in a studio. And in fact, our son formed an A cappella group at college based on the IU group Straight No Chaser, so we’re thrilled it’s on. Ben Folds is an astute judge, the other two not so much. His blog is a great find–thanks Rana.
Jolene said on December 10, 2010 at 8:13 pm
Yes, Sarah Palin is going to Haiti with Franklin Graham, the Islamophobic son of Billy. They will, I heard, observe the work that his relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse is doing. Hard to imagine what she will have to say about the circumstances there. Certainly she has nothing more to contribute than any other American w/ a large bank account.
She’s also reported to be considering trips to the UK to meet Margaret Thatcher and/or Israel. I think she’d do better to choose Israel, as Mrs. Thatcher has had Alzheimer’s a long time. Visiting her may be an act of kindness, a quality I don’t associate w/ Palin, but it’s not likely to enhance her geopolitical wisdom or provide much of a photo op.
Jolene said on December 10, 2010 at 10:01 pm
Ta-Nehisi Coates writes today about a new PBS documentary on Robert E. Lee. Part of the American Experience series, it’ll be broadcast on January 3rd.
brian stouder said on December 10, 2010 at 10:46 pm
Thanks for the heads-up, Jolene; I’ll keep an eye out for that one.
I think General Grant had it about right. If the United States had actually tried Lee for treason (and then hung him, presumeably) when the war ended (and especially in the wake of President Lincoln’s assassination) no purpose would have been served, other than hardening feelings, and possibly inspiring a protracted insurgency, instead of the tamping down process of returning to peacetime thinking and political reconstruction, that Lee’s example augmented.
Grant threatened to resign from the army and publicly break with the Johnson administration, if President Johnson proceeded with putting Lee on trial, as the new president wanted to do.
But here in 2010, that guy deserves a cold mainstream reassessment (even if the new PBS show won’t exactly do that).
The man was schooled at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and swore allegiance to the United States Army; and as the secession crisis loomed, and the General in Chief of the US Army came to him and offered him supreme command of the United States Army, he not only turned it down and resigned his commission, but he went and took up arms against the United States instead! The son of a bitch is our own homegrown Ayman al Zawahiri!!
If that guy wasn’t the worst flat-out traitor in our history, than the term “traitor” has no meaning, at all.
It’s probably worthwhile to remind our current-day cracker friends of that fact.
edit: I loved the choir story; and especially the special music from the upstairs window part. The memory of that must be similar to a recalled dream, I bet.
The sentence I really liked was – “I spluttered, and tried to explain that I just wanted to hear some cool tunes right before school”. There’s just something marvelous about the word “splutter”; it is evocative. I bet when thinking back on that series of events, all the things you might have said or done to continue the “agreed upon process” with some smaller amount of the Good Stuff mixed in with the Hafta Stuff haunt you a little. Ain’t life always that way?
coozledad said on December 11, 2010 at 8:24 am
Grant pardoned Lee because he was a West Pointer. And their primary loyalty is to other members of that club. It almost doesn’t matter tier of the class you shook out in, what treason you were party to, or how many brown young’uns you put to the torch at the Washita. When they bury your ass you’ll get a little gold star and a taxpayer funded hagiography.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 11, 2010 at 9:42 am
Lee’s letter of resignation said, significantly, that he could not betray his country — by which he meant Virginia. The hinge that Lee couldn’t swing around, but Grant did, was that there had been a very general view of one’s country as your state, and to some degree your “section” or region (generally the North or South and the Northwest). The federal government was a more abstract entity.
Among many other things, first and foremost ending slavery, what the Civil War accomplished was cementing a certain idea of a national identity, and that “these United States” were, in fact, a country and a homeland in their own right. Before 1860, that was a very rare way for even Congressional leaders to put things.
Benjamin Franklin may have “created” the name “Americans,” but it took another century for us to figure out what that meant. Lee’s tragic flaw was that he couldn’t quite see it, not beyond the looming figure of Virginia. He could see the end of slavery, but he couldn’t see clearly being an American — which is why he is and justly will continue to be more of a significant sectional figure than a national one, traitorous or not.
FWIW, my regular Saturday “Faith Works” column takes a different spin today. Hope it might be of general interest.
coozledad said on December 11, 2010 at 10:09 am
I keep wondering why Lee’s “Whither Virginia I will goest withal quotha” bullshit didn’t keep him from ordering Bonsai charges against entrenched positions at Malvern Hill and the center at Gettysburg with a fuck of a lot of, well, VIRGINIANS. Or hanging them when they needed to go home and try and scrape together something to eat for their families, or hanging them when they refused to let their boys go die, or hanging the boys when they refused to be herded into the death trains for the battlefields of Northern VA. Or squandering them in more suicide attacks around St. Petersburg to buy time for Jeff Davis and his cabinet to make off to the southern hemisphere.
EDIT:or is it Banzai?
It was all about the family property and class for old Bobby, and it’s to Grant’s eternal shame the fucker didn’t swing.
If his life served no other purpose, however, it was to demonstrate the “states’ rights” argument the right pulls out to wipe its ass on every five years or so is just a smokescreen for treasonous feudalist twatbaggery (see Bush v. Gore).
brian stouder said on December 11, 2010 at 11:48 am
Great article, Jeff; thanks for the link.
Regarding Lee, what makes him detestable (in my opinion) is graphically implied in that map that Nancy linked to.
Virginia was pretty divided on the slavery thing, and on the secession thing. The state was late to the secession process, and not convinced that it was a great idea; only going into the abyss in the wake of Sumter (wherein, by the way, the almighty “State’s Rights” mob actually opened fire on a United States military installation. That’s quite an expansive “Right” that those states claimed, eh?), four months after South Carolina opened the ball (in the wake of the “black Republican” Lincoln’s election).
One could say the secession question was “black and white” in South Carolina, but much grayer (so to speak) in Virginia. (and remember, this was before West Virgina was snapped off of Virginia, and made into a [Union] state). The damned “planter class” (including folks like Lee and his well-bred wife) had one isse they cared about, and it wasn’t some abstraction like “state’s rights”.
One of the Union’s greatest generals, George Thomas (aka the “Rock of Chickamauga”) was also a Virginian, and he lived up to his commitments to the United States, and the United States army – despite that his family thereafter dis-owned him (I recall reading that his sisters wouldn’t even come to his funeral, many years after the war)
I think the macro issue of where one was born is valid, and as Jeff implies, it still was not an automatic thing. In Lee’s “well-bred” case, the economic/social class thing seems to be the decisive factor (makes me wonder whether the part of their oath of allegiance about “mental reservations” was an antebellum thing, or whether it was added after the war), and it was probably harder for a “top of the heap” guy like Lee than for a “lesser” Virginian Like George Thomas.
Nathan Bedford Forrest is another interesting son of a bitch. Unlike Lee, he was born into the rock-ass bottom of society, and grew up with violence as a key part of social relations. And then, very “free market”/Supply Side-like, he made a fortune buying and selling human beings into slavery. When the war came, there was only one side for him – and he joined in with great gusto.
I almost think that I could at least acknowledge the intellectual honesty of a tea-party cracker who openly idolized and praised a blood-spattered bastard like NB Forrest, rather than the faux-heroic marble-man Lee (whose image somehow isn’t spattered with blood, but instead sails atop oceans of it)
coozledad said on December 11, 2010 at 12:11 pm
moe99 said on December 11, 2010 at 2:22 pm
There’s a reason Bea Arthur denied being in the Marines. I’m sorry she felt she had to do it, because it would not have mattered to me. But this was a while ago.
coozledad said on December 11, 2010 at 2:49 pm
Sheesh. You’d have to be a saint to avoid getting the clap at Lejeune.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 11, 2010 at 2:52 pm
Go Navy, beat Army — and Semper Fi, Bea! Just got back from a wreath-laying ceremony at our county’s main veterans’ cemetery, led by the Civil Air Patrol (I was just the invocator/benedictor). Great group of kids, and they did a good job on a grey, mucky day. More Marines than anything else in the crowd, though; Jarheads are just a little more intense about this stuff, as with many things.
Holly said on December 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm
The only thing I don’t like about Christmas is having to listen to everyone tease me about my name. If they would only understand that they are not the first to call me Jolly Holly. By the end of the season all I want to do is hit someone really hard.
nancy said on December 11, 2010 at 3:50 pm
For whoever asked earlier: $P’s trip to Haiti is obviously designed to impart seriousness to her public image. She’s done the TV show, nailed down the cash-flow situation. Now she’s talking to non-Fox “journalists,” i.e. Barbara Walters, and doing a little tour of a few unglamorous places to show she’s capable of looking at poverty and displaying a scowl. Instant gravitas!
Dave said on December 11, 2010 at 3:50 pm
I also find it strange that Peter Frampton lives in Indian Hill, well off suburb of Cincinnati. He, too, got there via his wife. Then, as discussed once before, there’s Jorma Kaukonen living down in southeast Ohio up the road from Pomeroy.
Dexter said on December 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm
stay in control…no good! Army Destroyer= the QB (worst passing game in the nation) SELF DESTRUCT!
JmmO @ 71 : Ah nuts! Navy always beats up the poor caisson rollers. And again today.
prospero said on December 12, 2010 at 1:24 am
And Cam Newton didn’ t know anything his dad was doing. Yeah. Right. And those folks that wrote that Wapo editorial feel like like Democrats bailed on DADT.? That wasn’t Republicans? These assholes just come back forevever, How in the world do they try this shit? These guys don’t believe this shit. How does anybody believe this shit? This is pure shit. Try to put this beyond total crap? Are you all joking? Really, kiss my ass.
Jolene said on December 12, 2010 at 1:37 am
Just read the WaPo article on Richard Holbrooke’s hospitalization. Mind-boggling fact: He was in surgery for 21 hours. The only kind of surgery I’ve ever heard of lasting that long involved separating conjoined twins or surgeries involving multiple organ transplants.
He is famous for having a giant ego, but, whatever his faults, he has been a giant of American foreign policy. I was really touched by the way he spoke about the losses and suffering of the Pakistani people on Rachel Maddow this year.
Several years back, Robert Kaiser, a WaPo editor, wrote an excellent feature story about his aortic dissection, which is what I think Holbrooke has. Doesn’t sound like much fun. Hope Holbrooke recovers.
prospero said on December 12, 2010 at 1:41 am
Cam Newton know anything about his dad and the cash, and if you believe that, you are a stupid, And you believe Reggie Bush didn’t know dick. How did Reggie Bush not, Reggie Bush didn;t cheat but Cam Newton didn’t,. These assholes somebody not cheat? They cheat, come on try it. They cheat. Just try it you fucking moron,
prospero said on December 12, 2010 at 1:56 am
Cam is ridiculous. There is no way he isn’t a shit He’s a scumbag. . He is not Sidney Crosbey, Nobody is, he is ridiculously perfect, What in the world? YOU Are morons. Way morons, Are you this fucking stupid?
prospero said on December 12, 2010 at 2:19 am
I weyew fujwCam is ridiculous. There is no way he isn’t a shit He’s a scumbag. . He is not Sidney Crosbey, Nobody is, he is ridiculously perfect, What in the world? YOU Are morons. Way morons, Are you this fucking stupid?
Sue said on December 12, 2010 at 8:31 am
Well, I’m not leaving the house anytime soon. Foot of snow, winds blowing sideways, at least it’s Sunday. Coming your way I think, Nancy, if it’s not there already.
alex said on December 12, 2010 at 10:08 am
I just read yesterday that She Who is indeed granting lamestream media interviews—via e-mail (presumably written by Rebecca Mansour) to Time for a cover story. Dumb as she may be, I doubt she thinks she has any chance of becoming president, but I’ll bet she knows she can play power broker and threaten the eventual Republican nominee that she can make all the crackers stay home on election day unless he licks her bunghole.
Deborah said on December 12, 2010 at 10:17 am
Mix of rain and snow in Chicago. Not a lot of accumulation yet. Very, very windy. Which means the wind chill will be brutal.
coozledad said on December 12, 2010 at 10:19 am
Alex: He’d better hope she hasn’t been eating the chili dogs at the Sheetz.
basset said on December 12, 2010 at 11:09 am
A little blowing snow, not enough to stick, and mid-twenties in Nashville. We may get an inch or two tonight, which is usually enough to make the whole city run to the store for milk and bread whether they need it or not.
Would be perfect deer-hunting weather but rifle season’s on a break right now, resumes Saturday. One hunter can, by the way, legally take 120 deer in a season here, although I’ve never heard of that or even half of that happening; the limit’s three bucks for the whole season and three does per day every day, season’s 39 days long so if you’re that good or that lucky you can feed the whole neighborhood.
Dexter said on December 12, 2010 at 1:44 pm
Picture postcard, Currier and Ives out my window, and we would be very happy if this was the tail end of a clipper or just a nice winter day, but this ain’t no harbinger, this is a delusion, a set-up—we are going to get smashed in the face by Old Man Winter all this week. Plane tickets to Warm Land cancelled…zero numbers on my Powerball ticket. Here we go.
MichaelG said on December 12, 2010 at 5:31 pm
Dark, gloomy and mid fifties here in Sactown. Much rain forcast for later this week.
I’m not planning any travel for the balance of the year if I can avoid it. Airports are no fun this time of the year.
alex said on December 12, 2010 at 6:03 pm
Blizzardy here, so we decided to fix the X-mas lights on the booshes that went out a week ago.
I asked what the problem was. Hubby says “Extension cord. Female end don’t take cock no more.”
Deborah said on December 12, 2010 at 7:12 pm
All day the lake was rocking and rolling. I think it was this bad one other time in the 7 years we’ve lived here. The waves were crashing onto Lake Shore Drive and the spray went up half way to the top of the light poles. Overcast and grey on top of it made it seem like a dramatic movie we were watching. Glad to be inside all day except for the short walk down the block for coffee this morning. Tomorrow’s high is supposed to be 11 degrees with 30 mph winds. Can you imagine?
brian stouder said on December 12, 2010 at 7:32 pm
Sue – just in case you didn’t see it, Nancy answered you back, near the end of the last thread.
As Alex said, today in NE Indiana it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas; the girls and I saddled up and went to Science Central today, on the theory that it was better to get out and do something, than to sit around (and besides, they have an enthralling travelling exhibit on the human body, and I’m always up for human body exhibits!)
We’ve been there enough times over the years that we’ve heard all their demonstrations (such as on weather, or electricity, or the human body[!])…but today they had a new one, on solids, liquids, and gas.
And – honest to goodness – the attractive woman who conducted the demonstration on matter looked a great deal (a very great deal) like Sarah Palin! The resemblence was striking enough that I was busy wondering whether she purposely accentuated it; I began to note that her manner of speaking was sort of Palin-esque, except that she demonstrated knowledge about what she was talking about, and gave informative answers to questions.
And, as I was sitting there pondering all of that, she asked ME (a hapless member of the assembled moms and dads) a direct question, about what state a solid would pass into if heated. My first thought was “uh oh”, and then I wondered if I had been gawking at her too much, and then I equivocated and blurted an answer like “It depends on the solid!” (I was thinking of dry ice, which I think goes from solid to gas)…..but we digress.
I think the real Ms Palin is going for the brass ring; Haiti makes no sense for the half-term governor otherwise, if you ask me. (my mother in-law and sister in-law, etc, travelled to Haiti several times to do misison work, pre-quake, and it was very far from a bed of roses THEN, let alone now)
Oh, and the kicker? The demonstration on solids, liquids, and gasses ended with a balloon filled with hydrogen and a lit match! They had a volunteer little girl hold the string, as the hydrogen-filled baloon floated 5 or 6 feet above her head. The ersatz Sarah Palin has a lit candle on the end of a long stick, which she held up there against the base of the balloon. The small hydrogen explosion that resulted produced an eye-catching fireball, and a BANG that reverberated off of steel beams and brick walls of the old City Light power plant!!
It was very cool, but the spectacle of the Sarah Palin look-alike igniting a show-stopping hydrogen bomb was nonetheless disconcerting. (it’s burned into my brain, anyway!)
Deborah said on December 12, 2010 at 7:45 pm
I just watched a very moving video of Kate Edwards saying good-bye to her mother at the funeral. Wow, what an amazing thing to see. How she could remain as composed as she was is beyond me. It just goes to show how well she was raised to be able to face that moment with the grace that she demonstrated. Super impressive. That young woman has a lot ahead of her. I wish her well. And I especially hope her younger siblings have the same grace and hope to carry on with their lives without their mom.
nancy said on December 12, 2010 at 8:05 pm
$P is taking an entourage, of course.
coozledad said on December 12, 2010 at 8:29 pm
“Franklin Graham told reporters the compound was under security lockdown after some fairly complex interrogatives were spotted, causing Palin’s facial muscles to twitch uncontrollably. She was interrupted while in the act of rubbing a child’s head for luck and rushed to the baptismal/hand cleaner font immediately.
“It wasn’t just reporters”, Palin spokesperson Greta Van Susteren said. “There were people, probably local people, judging from their, um, dialect, asking “Who is that woman?” And Sarah’s old campaign sense kicked in and she gathered up some of the luggage she got at Nordstrom’s and said “We always have to be ready for questions that uncomfortable situations and things.To know where to do. Things.”
basset said on December 12, 2010 at 9:38 pm
>>she asked ME (a hapless member of the assembled moms and dads) a direct question, about what state a solid would pass into if heated. My first thought was “uh oh”
Would have been mine, too. What is it?
brian stouder said on December 12, 2010 at 10:27 pm
I dunno! I figured it was a trick question, and went for the dry ice solid-to-foggy gas answer, which she didn’t correct me on; so either I guessed correctly, or else she was being merciful to ol’ dad!
Dexter said on December 13, 2010 at 12:48 am
Just imagine sitting in a full stadium, such as , oh, say , the Hubert Horatio Humphrey Metrodome…and this occurring:
MichaelG said on December 13, 2010 at 1:15 am
Directly from a solid to a gas. That’s called sublimation, right?
I saw that Metrodome video earlier and then again on Sunday Night Football. It’s gonna be a while before they get that fixed.
Cowpersons lost. Heh, heh.
moe99 said on December 13, 2010 at 1:42 am
well my basement flooded today. First time for me and I’m still up trenching and drying.
LAMary said on December 13, 2010 at 11:57 am
Didn’t we address the solid to gas issue in the discussion about dog farts and kibble?
brian stouder said on December 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm
And, in the 11th inning, Mary wins the thread!!