Measured Extravagance

2001-04-04 - 11:16 p.m.

When I was at the University of Chicago, there was a course nicknamed "Calc for Gods": rumor insisted that its content was so theoretical that the class members held parties whenever they encountered a whole number.

Now, Calc for Gods was light-years beyond my ken - I knew I was out of my depth when I opened the placement test booklet and realized that the first item wasn't a word problem, it was an essay question. All the same, I'll venture that I can at least imagine a fraction of the Olympians' relief upon encountering a friendly whole number after fathoms and leagues of unknowns and unprovens and irrationals.

I hadn't planned to cook much of a dinner tonight, but by the time 5:30 rolled around, the urge to prepare something real had me something fierce. So I stopped by the grocery for chicken wings and string beans, and then came home and mixed together a barbeque sauce for the meat, and poured cornbread batter into the muffin pan, and drizzled butter, black pepper and red wine vinegar over the beans.

I listened to the Car Talk guys being interviewed on "Fresh Air" as I cooked and cleaned. The radio played Mozart's Symphony #41 (Dresden State Orchestra) as we ate. Later, it played part of Tallis' "If Ye Love Me" as filler (!) in between a programmed piece and the news, so I put on the Kings' Singers rendition of the same piece to hear it as a whole.

Then I tried tackling the jazz arrangement of "Go Down, Moses" that's scheduled for this Sunday. It was somewhat deflating having to struggle with a simple little four-note series - b-flat, c natural, b-flat, a natural - which I couldn't seem to be able to sing sans piano without going flat. Actually, at the beginning of the session, I couldn't even sing it with the piano without missing the second b-flat, so I'll call it progress, even though I was calling it (and myself) ruder names during the whole-step wrangling.

I finished the session by playing through May Nothing Evil Cross This Door, which was both easy and lovely and thus made feel better.

* * *

In the in-box yesterday morning:

Q: Why are Unitarians so bad at singing hymns?
A: Because they are always reading ahead to see if they agree with the words.

* * *

"'s like being a swan - you know, smooth on top but you're pedalling like f... under the water."

    - John Mark Ainsley, on singing tenor roles in Mozart

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