[Harry] started coming to the Rays’ regularly. He brought Julia flowers and candy. He brought her the score of The Red Mill, and he and Julia sang a duet from it:
“Not that you are fair, dear
Not that you are true…”
He lifted his eyebrows and puffed out his chest. He quite eclipsed poor Hugh.
—from Betsy in Spite of Herself
by Maud Hart Lovelace
The Red Mill, an operetta by Victor Herbert and Henry Blossom, opened on Broadway in 1906. Among Herbert’s other works are Babes in Toyland (1903) and Naughty Marietta (1910).
Here’s the score of The Red Mill, including “Because You’re You,” the song Julia sang with the chest-puffing Harry.
Love is a queer little elfin sprite,
Blest with the deadliest aim!
Shooting his arrows to left and right,
Bagging the rarest game,
Filling our hearts with a glad surprise,
Almost too good to be true!
And still can you tell me why do you love me?
Only because you are you, dear!
Not that you are fair, dear,
Not that I am true,
Not my golden hair, dear,
Not my eyes of blue,
When we ask the reason,
Words are all too few!
So I know I love you, dear,
Because you’re you!
In 1906, producer Charles Dillingham made theatrical history by placing in front of the Knickerbocker Theater a revolving red windmill powered and lit by electricity. This was Broadway’s first moving illuminated sign.
“I’ve a new waltz I want Mamma to hear. She talks so often of the great Strauss. Here is a piece as good as any of his and it is also by a Viennese.”
He began to play.
The opening phrases were short and artless. They sounded like a rocking horse. But the swing began to grow longer, the rhythm stronger. The waltz began to ask questions, wistful, poignant. It took on a dreamier sweep.
Then a gayer theme sent Uncle Rudy’s fingers rippling over the keys. The melody wove in and out. It circled, swayed, as though it were music and dancer in on. It was irresistible.
—from Betsy in Spite of Herself
by Maud Hart Lovelace
It just freaked me out a little to realize that the Happy Birthday song on Tom Chapin’s Moonboat CD—Wonderboy’s favorite CD, hands down—is set to the tune of the Merry Widow waltz.
Celebrating its 400th anniversary this year. New to me this morning.
“It’s just one of the great pieces because it represents the epitome of the best of Renaissance music and the most incredible part of all the great changes that came in with Baroque music, all in one package.”
—Gwendolyn Toth, founder and artistic director of ARTEK early music ensemble in NYC
“From 1600 to 1760, the vogue was Baroque
and the folks who composed were Monteverdi,
Lully, Schütz, and Purcell,
Scarlatti and Handel and Bach.”
Another week full of drafts and snippets, words squeezing into the teasing interstices of busy days. Most of what I jotted down had to do with the subjects that got their hooks into us: a chronicle of paths wandered, links explored.
During our Balboa Park day last week, Jane strolled through the Timken Museum of Art. One piece she found particularly compelling was Benjamin West’s Fidelia and Speranza, painted in 1771. West was a friend of Benjamin Franklin (his portrait of Franklin’s famous moment with the key and the kite is a hoot). Jane was struck by the image of the girl (Fidelia) holding a chalice with a serpent looking out from it. A little digging informed us that the sisters are figures from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene: Faith and Hope, who reside in the House of Holiness to which Una (Truth) guides the Red Cross Knight.
Thus as they gan of sundry things devise,
Loe two most goodly virgins came in place,
Ylinked arme in arme in lovely wise,
With countenance demure, and modest grace,
They numbred even steps and equall pace:
Of which the eldest, that Fidelia hight,
Like sunny beames threw from her christall face,
That could have dazd the rash beholders sight,
And round about her head did shine like heavens light.
She was araied all in lilly white,
And in her right hand bore a cup of gold,
With wine and water fild up to the hight,
In which a Serpent did himselfe enfold,
That horrour made to all that did behold;
But she no whit did chaunge her constant mood:
And in her other hand she fast did hold
A booke, that was both signd and seald with blood:
Wherin darke things were writ, hard to be understood.
Her younger sister, that Speranza hight,
Was clad in blew, that her beseemed well;
Not all so chearefull seemed she of sight,
As was her sister; whether dread did dwell,
Or anguish in her hart, is hard to tell:
Upon her arme a silver anchor lay,
Whereon she leaned ever, as befell:
And ever up to heaven, as she did pray,
Her stedfast eyes were bent, ne swarved other way.
Well, that led to a lot of Spenser-related digging. We can’t undertake to read much of Faerie Queene right now; we dove into The Odyssey this month and I think one epic poem at a time is enough!
The week’s other big research project (for various children) had to do with Tamagotchis—the craze has resurfaced here, after a year of dead batteries. Growth charts, game strategies, daily logs: it’s like living in a research lab. One of the sites that turned up on our search was this critical analysis of Tamagotchi use, which I found quite interesting, especially this bit:
I was reminded of Professor Ken Goldberg’s Tele-garden, a web-based project where users can plant and water seeds in a small garden through the use of a remote robotic system. In a presentation on the project, Professor Goldberg mentioned a shift from the Paleolithic Hunter/Gatherer state of the World Wide Web (brief forays into the world of technology for the purpose of apprehending some piece of information) and the Neolithic Husbandry model supported by the project (where users must devote sustained interest and effort to foster growth).
The Tamagotchi is indicative of a similar shift in video game modeling. The majority of video games (especially popular video games) hinge on a model of conquest and succession – temporally limited tasks with set goals attainable through skill and reflexes. Key examples range from Pac Man and Galaxians to Super Mario Brothers and Mortal Kombat. Player/users identify with the “main character” of a simple narrative – “destroy or be destroyed”. Having completed a set amount of destruction, the player/user rests for a moment before taking on a progressively difficult level.
Notable exceptions exist. The most popular of these is the Maxis line of Sim- products, including SimCity, SimCity 2000, SimEarth, SimAnt, and others. Here we see the stirrings of the “Neolithic shift”. The user is responsible for the growth and maintenance of a town (or world, or ant colony, or whatever) and the ultimate goal is to simply “flourish”.
What do you think? Do you prefer Hunter/Gatherer internet experiences, or Neolithic Husbandry?
Speaking of hunting, I fell into a research project of my own last night, as you know if you’re my friend on Facebook or Twitter (which seems to be a synthesis of the hunter/gatherer and husbandry models, if you ask me). For fifteen years I have wondered which version of the Te Deum was the one referred to by Sheldon Vanauken in A Severe Mercy. Vanauken writes:
St. Ebbe’s sang the Te Deum to a setting that made a triumphant proclamation of the line: “Thou art the King of Glory, O-O-O-O-O Christ!”—the O’s ascending to the mighty ‘Christ!’
St. Ebbe’s is the Anglican church in Oxford the Vanaukens attended around 1950. Between YouTube and ChoralWiki, I have investigated, well, scores of scores (ba dum bum), looking for that particular setting of the Te Deum. A commenter at the MusicaSacra forum suggested it might be Benjamin Britten’s Festival Te Deum: that’s the only score I’ve found that has ascending O-O-Os, so perhaps he is right.
But most lovely and stirring of all is this piece a Twitter responder reminded me of: not the Te Deum, but rather the Non Nobis. I remember how I was moved to tears by this music (and this scene) when I saw Branagh’s Henry V several years back. I meant to buy the soundtrack (score by Patrick Doyle) but forgot all about it. How is that possible? This—this is unforgettable.
We’re in the mood for a bit o’ Bach. Taking a nod from Ambleside, we listened to his Magnificat in D this morning—to the first movement, that is. Somewhere around the second aria, Rilla decided her mission in life was to plant both feet flat on Beanie’s face. For some reason, Beanie found it difficult to listen to music that way. Rookie.
Anyway, I’m rounding up my links for easy access during, let’s say, Rilla’s naptime. If you’ve got any great Bach links, books, CDs, etc, you’d like to share, please fire away. 🙂
Have any of you read this book: Sebastian Bach, the Boy from Thuringia? Do we desperately need to read it? Because I’m trying this crazy, crazy thing where I (gulp) don’t buy any more books for a while. ::::shudder:::: Sorry, I felt faint for a minute there. Good thing I’m sitting down, anchored by a great big lump of snoozing baby.
(Deep breath) Okay then. Moving on. Beanie has just begun reading Genevieve Foster’s George Washington’s World, and in a nice bit of dovetailing, we learned that George was born in 1732 and Bach wrote his Magnificat in 1730.
Here, for good measure, is the Douay-Rheims translation of the Magnificat, Mary’s great outpouring of joy from the Gospel of Luke:
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.
He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy:
As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
I have over 200 incomplete posts in my drafts folder. Yikes. And that’s just here, at the WordPress site, where I’ve been for less than a year. Lord knows how many drafts are sitting over at Typepad. I dare not look.
In an effort to clear this cache out a bit, here’s a look at some things I was going to write about but didn’t get around to finishing.
Swell Stocking-Stuffer for Your Music-Loving Hubby
Or for any lover of contemporary music, really. Doesn’t have to be your husband. Your sister, your teenager. It’s just that Scott’s the music buff in my life, so I relate all things musical to him.
And also, these are his books I’m recommending. Not his as in he wrote them. His as in he keeps leaving them all over the house. Some are from the library and some he picked up with the one measly Amazon gift certificate I shared with him after spending all the rest on crafty books for my own self. Um, I mean on inspiring and creatively enriching resources for my darling children. Yeah, that’s the ticket (she says, hastily shoving her hot-off-the-presses copy of Stitched in Time behind her back).
Anyway, these music books. They’re a series of little bitty paperback books called 33 1/3. As in: thirty-three and a third. Like, you know, those round black things they used to scratch music out of back in olden times. Each volume is a kind of extended essay on a single record album. I think. I mean, it’s not like I’ve actually read any of them. But I listened ever so intently when Scott raved about the awesomeness of the concept. One book: one album: one deep exploration of musical themes and lyrical themes and the life-affirming statements of painful, screeching guitar solos and all that stuff people like Scott think about when they do this thing that is so unfathomable to me where they just sit and listen to music. I don’t do that. Music is for singing, or for cleaning to, or for entertaining children in the car, or for getting teary-eyed over when it’s your daughter practicing on the piano she got from the Make-a-Wish Foundation
Obviously, I wandered from the point. The point was: Scott loves this series of books and I thought someone on your Christmas list might, too.
The next draft was begun in mid-November. I’m not sure why I didn’t post it, or what else I might have been going to say.
What We’re Up To These Days
Let’s see. You already know we’re reading zillions of picture books for the Cybils. I think I’m up to 76 books read so far, with another five in my TBR pile and several more waiting for me at the library. Saturday is Scott’s library-run day (honestly, I don’t even try any more, not with the action-packed Wonderboy/Rilla combo), so I’ll most likely curl up for another reading marathon tomorrow afternoon.
I tried to cut back on out-of-the-house activities this fall, but bit by bit the schedule filled up again. We’ve got a pretty good rhythm going, though. Jane is taking ballet, Jane and Beanie are in a children’s choir that practices once a week, and Jane, Beanie, and Rose are all in a very nice little drawing class they begged and begged to squeeze in, and I’m glad I succumbed to their cajoling. Our sewing/laundry room walls are filling up with some truly gorgeous art in chalk pastels. I hope I’ll be up to maintaining the art class dropoff/pickup schedule after the baby comes in January, but it does leave me with an awkwardly sized window of time to fill with my little ones. Sometimes I do a grocery run during the window, but if I don’t get the coveted fire-truck cart that seats two children, I’m sunk. This week I took a less productive but infinitely more pleasant approach and simply buckled them into the Awesome! New! Double! Stroller!! (thank you, Mr. Wonderful, you know who you are) and went for a, you guessed it, stroll. Did a little window shopping on a quiet street full of craft stores and antique shops. Bought each of us a teeny tiny bag of teeny tiny sandwich cookies. It was lovely. And when I picked up the girls they were full of chatter and excitement because two of them are about to graduate from chalks to watercolors, and one of them (Beanie, let’s brag on the seven-year-old) had just completed a picture which was chosen to go in the ‘gallery,’ aka the studio window that fronts a busy street. Miss Bean was positively glowing. When her grandparents come for a visit next week, they will have to drive by and admire the display.
Wonderboy has speech therapy twice a week and PT twice a month. PT is a bit of a hike (up a busy highway to the Children’s Hospital) but it coincides with choir, and the other moms have been wonderful about keeping an eye on the girls for me (mainly Rilla) while the boy and I slip out for his session. This was supposed to be a three-month burst of PT to help him past a growth spurt (bone grows faster than muscle, so whenever he hits a spurt, his already short and tight muscles get even shorter and tighter), but the therapist would like to extend it for a while. She’s doing some pretty intensive deep-tissue massage and stretching with him. We’re giving it another few weeks before we make the call.
So all of that, plus my OB appts (which, gulp, just hit the every-two-weeks mark this week, which means we are really very close to the end of this pregnancy, which is sort of mindboggling because it feels like it’s only been a few months so far), makes for a pretty busy schedule. Much busier than in our mellower Virginia days. But then, my girls are getting big. Their interests are tumbling out of our home, which is right and proper.
Oh, look, the next draft isn’t really a draft—it’s just an unpublished baby ticker. I think I’ve stuck it at the bottom of a few other posts.
Wow, I REALLY need to find that box of baby clothes I know I saved when we moved from Virginia.
One of the drafts is called “Peace Comes Dropping Slow.” That’s all there is, just the title. I vaguely remember meaning to describe some particularly chaotic and noisy scene that had just taken place, making a mockery of the Yeats quote at the top of this blog. Of course, every single day provides, oh, dozens of such moments. “Peace” as applied to this house refers more to a state of mind than any kind of sensory description, you understand.
Whoops, the 7:00 bird just cooed. The “big noisy peace” (as Sandra Dodd calls it) will commence any minute now. Actually I can’t believe it hasn’t begun already—kids are sleeping late this morning. But I should go. I didn’t make it very far through the big pile o’ drafts, did I?
Yesterday my kids pulled out a CD we used to listen to all the time: the soundtrack to Snoopy: The Musical. This was a play I loved as a teenager, when it was performed by some friends at a different high school. I had a crackly tape recording of a dress rehearsal which my sisters and I listened to ad nauseum. We had, after all, outgrown the soundtrack to Annie by then, and I had yet to discover the melodramatic satisfaction that is Les Miz.
So when Jane was five or six and I, for no particular reason, found myself humming one of the dear old Snoopy songs, I hunted around online and found a recording. Ah, the bliss of Google! My tiny girls loved the album, as I knew they would. A singing dog! A boy named Linus! A squeaky-voiced Sally belting out tongue-twisters!
Later, as the girls grew, they connected to Snoopy on different terms. One of our favorite songs on the album, “Clouds,” is like a theme song for homeschoolers. Charlie Brown and the gang are lying around looking at the sky, and someone asks Charlie Brown what he sees in the clouds.
“I see a—” he begins, but Sally cuts him off to sing that she sees: “A mermaid riding on a unicorn.” Peppermint Patty sees “an angel blowing on a big long horn.” Linus, ever my favorite, is a visionary. “I see Goliath, half a mile tall, waving at me….what do you see?”
Poor Charlie Brown. How can he get an answer in edgewise? Lucy sees a team of fifty milk-white horses; Patty sees a dinosaur; Linus sees Prometheus, waving; Snoopy, grandiose as always, sees the Civil War. The entire Civil War.
You could spend a year rabbit-trailing your way through this song. The Peanuts kids know their history, I’ll give ’em that. (Although they seem to hit a bit of a roadblock when it comes to a certain American poet/storyteller, as evinced by their poor classroom performance in the hilarous song “Edgar Allen Poe,” elsewhere on the album.) When these kids gaze at the clouds, they see Caesar crossing the Rubicon, the Fall of Rome, and even all twelve apostles, waving at Linus.
Linus: “The Pyramid of Khufu!”
Sally: “You too?”
All but Charlie Brown: “Seven Wonders of the World…”
For our family, this is a song of reciprocal delights. Some of these cloud-tableaux are historical events the girls already knew about, and the idea of Snoopy beholding an entire war sculpted in cumulus is irresistibly funny. Some events are things my kids first encountered in the song. When, years later, we read about the Rubicon in A Child’s History of the World, there were gasps of delighted recognition from everyone including the then-two-year-old. Click, another connection is made.
So I was happy to hear the Peanuts gang belting away once more yesterday afternoon. It has been a couple of years since last they regaled us with their splendid visions. The girls have encountered more of the world, more of the past, and so they have more to connect with in the lyrics of Charlie Brown’s imaginative friends.
As for Charles, alas. The gang, having at long last exhausted the gamut of grand happenings to see in the heavens, demand of Charlie, “Well, what do you see?”
Says Charlie, glumly (and you probably remember the punchline from the Sunday funnies when you were a kid): “I was going to say a horsie and a ducky, but I changed my mind.”
(Cue hysterical laughter from little girls. Every. Single. Time.)