Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
He was a lover of God and he was really and truly a lover of men; possibly a much rarer mystical vocation. A lover of men is very nearly the opposite of a philanthropist; indeed the pedantry of the Greek word carries something like a satire on itself. A philanthropist may be said to love anthropoids. But as Saint Francis did not love humanity but men, so he did not love Christianity but Christ. Say, if you think so, that he was a lunatic loving an imaginary person; but an imaginary person, not an imaginary idea. And for the modern reader the clue to the asceticism and all the rest can be found in the stories of lovers when they seemed to be rather like lunatics. Tell it as the tale of one of the Troubadours, and the wild things he would do for his lady, and the whole of the modern puzzle disappears. In such a romance there would be no contradiction between the poet gathering flowers in the sun and enduring a freezing vigil in the snow, between his praising all earthly and bodily beauty and then refusing to eat, and between his glorifying gold and purple and perversely going in rags, between his showing pathetically a hunger for a happy life and a thirst for a heroic death. All these riddles would be easily be resolved in the simplicity of any noble love; only this was so noble a love that nine out of ten men have hardly even heard of it.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Several members of the group I wrote about yesterday, as you might have discovered, have their own solo pages too, so here they are:
- Norrie MacIver--He has some songs up in English as well as in Gaelic.
- Griogair Lawrie--If I read aright, he is a piper with Na Seòid, but here he sings.
- Mary Ann Kennedy--It is pretty hard to beat "Sios Dhan an Abhainn" for gorgeous simplicity, but this page also has a little video of some puirt-à-beul, with James Graham singing along. For those who are interested, the gentleman on the smallpipes in the background is Allan MacDonald.
- Calum Alex Macmillan--Although most of these people play regularly with other bands, for today I was trying to keep the focus on the group I started by talking about. Still, I can't help but mention Calum Alex's band, Daimh; it is very hard to ignore, even momentarily, an ensemble that bills themselves: "Over 36 feet tall and weighing 1/2 a ton." Anyway, the pipe and fiddle combinations are sweet!
- Gillebride MacMillan--Mighty easy on the ears. "Ùrnaigh Naomh Francis" is "St. Francis' Prayer".
Monday, February 23, 2009
MySpace is a neat idea, but I'll come right out and say it makes me kind of nervous what with all the inexcuseable junk that gets written on people's walls for all the world to see. . .With that caveat, here is a MySpace page I can't get enough of. It belongs to the group Mary Ann Kennedy and Na Seòid. This is just some good, basic Gaelic music. I don't know where in the world anybody got the ambitious idea of putting five singers in one band, but that is what the "Seòid" contingent is; five Gaelic singers--all men (actually, there are seven; two specialize in the instrumental side of things). Mary Ann Kennedy's lovely voice alone would be enough to recommend the album, as you might gather from the first song, but for me the real draw is such a grouping of male vocalists, fairly rare in Gaelic singing (at least that I have been able to find this side of the Pond) these days. Not many frills--indeed, two of the four pieces on the page are a capella; I guess you might call it meat-and-potatoes music; solid, appealing and satisfying.
- Alison Krauss fans might recognize the first song: "Sios Dhan an Abhainn". . .that is indeed the American gospel tune, "Down to the River."
- The second song "Na Seòid" has a surprise--a single line in English that will sound familiar if you've ever seen "Master and Commander". I have no idea what most of the Gaelic is saying, except that I think "Na Seòid" means "the heroes". I don't know who the lead singer is here, but I would not object to hearing him sing some more.
- The third song, or rather, set, "Bodach Innse Cro," is puirt-à-beul or "mouth music," verses of nonsense words that facilitate the singing of a tune, usually a dance-style piece. Sometimes the snap of the words are very evocative of piping embellishments.
- The fourth song: again, I am not the one to ask if you want to know what it is about, but I do know that it's James Graham singing lead. 'Nuff said.
If you like what you hear, you can get a pretty generous sampling of the whole CD at CD Baby. Indeed, you can buy the CD there while you're at it. Another source, for the CD is Footstompin' Records in Scotland; although they're overseas, they ship impossibly quickly, their prices are fairly competitive, and, of course, there are a few other similar CD's to choose from, just in case you want to give into the temptation of making a shipment from Scotland "worth it." F'r instance, you can get James Graham's solo CD's there. . .
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Note: You can probably guess it, but this isn't my video. It belongs to a person on YouTube with the name "smartotrams"
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
"I speak bird," he took an honest pride in his accomplishment. The honesty, however, held a little more weight than the pride: "But I don't know what they're saying."
Sunday, February 15, 2009
That one may be pretty well unbeatable, but this evening my friend Chey introduced me to a new one that gives it a pretty good run for its money. I don't remember the whole thing word for word, but you get enough to chew on with the last phrase: "Which witch watched which Irish wrist watch?" The first few words aren't bad (though the "which witch" combination might have thrown in a snag for a couple of my favorite professors who were both from Saskatchewan and who were admirably precise in their pronunciation of the "wh" in "which"). . .but "Irish wrist watch"? Tell me there's a chance!
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I used real wheat, left over from the bouquets at my sister's wedding, and painted it with gold acrylic ink to make the prints. As you can see, the effect was rather abstract. If the butterflies look even more abstract, as if, perhaps, they were originally put in to cover mistakes. . .they were. It was fun trying out designs on a vertical envelope, and I think I'd like to do it again, but come to find out, the postage costs are almost double if you address them vertically!