Seeking Song and Story

Once upon a time, I read this guest post by Briana of Pages Unbound.  I put in my two cents about sidekick protagonists, carried on with my reading, and proceeded not to think about it further for four months.  But that post has been bouncing about my mind of late, for a couple of reasons.

The first is that Briana sought something that might not have existed.  She wasn’t looking for help remembering that one book she read in seventh grade that focused on the sidekick for a change and also it involved the Brooklyn skyline somehow. Had none of us readers had any volume to suggest, we might have taken it as a request to create such a narrative for her.

The second reason I’ve been thinking about it is that this post highlights the benefit of human eyes and human minds when one is on the hunt.  Google and other search engines do their very best to help one find a particular item or passage, and there have often been times when I could use such tools to find a song, a movie, a book of which I only recalled the haziest details.  But if you don’t come up with the right search terms, or if your query gets too lengthy, it can impede rather than assist your progress.

Therefore, dear readers, I bring my concerns to you, and hope that you can help with one or the other of these things I seek.

I’m looking for…

…a piece of music. 

I sang it in June 2001, at the Illinois Summer Youth Music choir camp.  It is called “Canticle,” and I sang it as part of an all-girl ensemble led by some Canadian lady whose name eludes me.  Tragically, I supposed that remembering all the words and most all of the notes would help me to find it again.  I was mistaken.  The text is Psalm 89:1 (or Psalm 88:2 for the Douay-Rheims folk) in Latin: Misericordias Domini in æternum cantabo; in generationem et generationem annuntiabo veritatem tuam in ore meo.  No idea who composed it.  No idea if it’s a setting of some earlier composer’s work or chant.  Someone, for the love of my sanity, tell me this rings a bell for you.

UPDATE: I ask, and Jenna delivers!!  Michael Levi’s Canticle!  MY HEART IS FULL OF SONG.

…an explanation for why “capital” should be different from “capitol.” 

Evidently I completely forgot this distinction in the years since my elementary spelling classes, but “capital” refers to the city or town which serves as the seat of government, while “capitol” refers to the building in which the legislature gathers.  Typically heterographs don’t bother me, but I just. don’t. understand.  Someone call the Inky Fool.

UPDATE: I have been informed that the legislative building was named, per Jefferson, for the Roman temple of Jupiter on Capitoline Hill.  Thus far I am satisfied that the difference stems from an existing difference between the words in Rome, but there has been no further illumination of the difference between Latin suffixes or whatnot.  Do feel free to ring up Inky anyway and see what capital he can make of it.

…a less-typical narrative. 

This one’s a bit tricky to explain.  Earlier today, I read this post (which, briefly, is the story of Susan Isaacs looking for love online, getting rejected from eHarmony because she didn’t fit into their algorithm, and eventually finding The Man on Christian Cafe).  I’m not 41, and my fortnight on OkCupid is nothing compared to Susan’s litany of dating site attempts.  When I reached the end, I was glad for her: she seems to have found what she was looking for, and it rounded out the story quite neatly.  But it also rang a bit hollow because it rounded out the story so neatly.

    "The artistic flaw is inaccuracy, specifically a violation of the canons of reality. Things don’t happen that neatly. It’s an upward slope, finally plateauing into a straight line. Which…when that happens on your heart monitor, it’s a bad thing." Oh, Dr. Whalen. How illuminating you are.

“The artistic flaw is inaccuracy, specifically a violation of the canons of reality. Things don’t happen that neatly. It’s an upward slope, finally plateauing into a straight line. Which…when that happens on your heart monitor, it’s a bad thing.” Oh, Dr. Whalen. How illuminating you are.

This isn’t normally a criticism I raise, because I appreciate both romance and happy, tidy endings.  I don’t recall ever complaining about the Prince marrying The Girl in any given fairy tale, or how relationships (and events more generally) shake out in Austen, Harry Potter, Stardust, or the Lord Peter stories.  I don’t whinge about Dune ending with “History will call us wives,” or the end of That Hideous Strength.  I don’t consider myself a feminist, and have never evaluated books on the basis of whether or not they pass the Bechdel Test.

But Susan’s story (and Hannah Coulter, and The Princess Bride, and any given article on Boundless) suggests that there is no other narrative, that no lady can ever be happy without The One, that the only ending possible is marriage.  This ground has been trod by a lot of women in tiresome family-vs-career arguments, but the fact remains that I want a story: a different story than my usual fare, something involving a woman who is content with a different sort of happy ending.  I’m looking for a female character who is content to live her life on her own, if only to show me that it is possible.

Surely one must exist; for all I know, there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of such stories that I’ve completely missed.  And if not, my dears, please help me write one.

The Splinter

I’ve had a case of writer’s block since Christmas. Between that, the natural down of January, and the juggle-ation of work, students and gigs, I have left the upkeep of my beloved blog to my sweet Terpsichore. Alas. However, the poor girl has been musing alone long enough, and she has requested a specific kind of work. That always helps; an assignment. So my writing prompt for the near future is this.

Oh, Thalia, do please tell me some funny stories from your gigs!

I have plenty of funny stories. Terpsichore is right, they should be written down.

You have the title of this saga above. Refer to it if you get confused.

Era uma vez, our muse, Thalia, agreed to play a show at a local high school. They paid, and none of the nights conflicted with anything, so it seemed like a good idea. Thoroughly Modern Millie is an adorable show, after all. With lively, jazzy, simple music, and a cast of talented young singers, what could go wrong? After all, they’d been working on things since the summer time, and the sitzprobe went so swimmingly (albeit in two installments) that we got out early. That NEVER happens… clearly the augurs missed something, for the prognostication of a peaceful production petered out.
Ask me again.
What can go wrong, Thalia?
In February? Let’s start with the weather. It started snowing on Wednesday of tech week and it just didn’t stop for two weeks. Every night was a treacherous voyage of valour. With a British ‘u’. If it had snowed only, that might have been better too, but there was enough freezing rain to freeze my marrow. I’m chicken as a winter driver. Ask anyone about the time…. but that is a tale for another day.
Now ask me again.
What can go wrong, Thalia, my Thalia?
It’s a high school. Don’t forget that. The show must go on, but where the show goes on… has not been renovated in many many years. Oh, they have the project in hand. But remember, this is a plan, and one with no current semblance to fruition. The stage is creaky and the curtains are stained. The seats are considerably, and possibly even measurably more discomfortable than narrow, ancient pews. After all, pews are flat. These make a pretense at being…butt-shaped. I’m not sure whose bottom is like that…but the seats have pretensions.
Oh, and there is no pit. So the orchestra fans out in a long line on the floor in front of the audience. So great for acoustics… (ohhh…sarcasm!).
To prevent the whole world from seeing our feet, the high school powers that be put up a hip-high divider. We sat on one side, and the audience sat on the other. At least there was a visible barrier, I guess.
These dividers are plywood.
On Friday at intermission, I touched one. Never do that. Don’t touch things that shouldn’t exist. I touched it, and I walked forward, and my hand surrounded and engulfed the most gigantic splinter in the universe. Straight into my left palm, buried deep.
Backstage, a ‘helpful’ trumpet player offered me the use of a dull, unsterilized hack saw. Well, it was a massive leatherman knife. But I declined politely to dig, one handed at my palm in the middle of a show. So I played the second half, and Saturday’s show with a plank in my hand.
Millie closed, and I bade a painful, festering adieu to the show. It was fun, and I would do it again, except the log in my palm. But I didn’t know how I was going to get the thing out. I am not good at blood.
Sunday evening, I had another gig. This time, with a community orchestra hilariously by the acronym WACO. I’ve known the conductor and some of the orchestra members since I was 13 years old. They said “gas money” and I said “sure!” So we showed up, violin, bow, splinter and I.
I was staring at my hand, deep in ponderation when an old friend leaned over and yelled “That’s gotta come out! My sister is a nurse!”
And I thought… Why couldn’t you use her name? I’ve had you two confused for over a decade. Why couldn’t you have used her name, and solved the problem once and for all.
I said “Your sister is a nurse? Well, where is your sister!” because I didn’t know which sister I was talking to.
Sister Nurse amputated, and the removal required
1) scissorettes from a tiny swiss army knife courtesy of back row 1st violin
2) tweezers from a bassonist. heaven knows why
3) hand sanitzer from the first sister’s purse
4) 10 minutes of rehearsal time while the conductor watched the proceedings from the podium and gave wholly unheeded directions. as per usual.

That vindictive splinter gave me splinters as it came forth. I thanked both sisters, by both names, dividing my loving smile equally but vaguely between them.

And I survive to gig another day.