Thursday, November 3, 2016

November Already?

The trees, this year, are giving a decent color show. Nothing like New England, but it’s as close as we can get. It’s also getting cold, but it’s a nice, sharp, sunny cold, just like a New York autumn.

That means it must be November, and I haven’t done a post since August.

I have an excuse, though: I’ve been busy.

Christmas is coming and, as usual, we are doing a homemade, history-related project for the G-boys as a gift. Last year it was the Battle of Hastings, and involved 20-foot “Tapestries” along with handmade shields and wooden swords. This year it’s Shakespeare, with the central offering being a hand-bound book supposedly written by the boys in alternating chapters. To make the task less onerous, the scripting of the book is to be done totally by computer, using handwriting fonts and other clever formatting tricks.

And as usual, I managed to procrastinate until the very last minute. Also typical, is the “scope creep” the project has undergone. In addition to writing a 30k word novella—in which the boys travel back to 1588 to meet, among others, William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth, listen to the famous “I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman” speech at Tilbury and, of course, save the kingdom—we decided to include individualized Tudor Handbooks, which will be hand-bound and hand-written, with a pen and ink. These new manuscripts ended up being 16 typed pages long. Each. I’m currently writing out page 4.

This Year's Project
Of course, all these handmade books will have leather covers, which need to be decorated. So I bought some leather working tools so I can put designs on them, once I learn how to use them.

And remember, these are for young boys—the oldest is just 6. Hopefully, they’ll have fun playing with the quill pens.

So, yeah, I’m busy writing and editing and stitching and watching YouTube videos about how to make marks in leather.

And I joined a choir.

That’s not as out in left field as it seems. I’ve always liked to sing, and believe it or not, people used to pay me to sing. In my twenties and early thirties, I was a pub singer and I made a decent amount of money—more than I did at writing—so you might say I am a better singer than a writer.

But that was long ago. I no longer have the equipment, or the repertoire, or the stamina to be a pub singer, so when I recently became tired of playing to an audience of zero, I decided to become a busker. You know, one of those guys who stands on the corner singing along to a guitar. It’s a time-honored tradition over here, and on any given day, if it’s nice enough, there is usually at least one busker in the town centre.

My reasoning was, since I lived in the town centre, all I had to do was grab my guitar and go downstairs. It seemed perfect. So I got my Busker’s License (yes, there is such a thing) and practiced up.
Yup. All legal and everything.
Fortunately for the people of Horsham, before I felt ready to inflict myself upon them, I saw a flyer saying a new choir was starting up, so I joined that instead.

Turns out, choral singing is a bit different from pub singing. While pub singing can be described as a bit laissez fair, in choir, they have these things called “notes.” Apparently, they represent the correct tone you are supposed to sing. Not only that, you have to sing the tone at the same time as everyone else, and for the same length of time. Who knew?
All those black marks, they mean something. Who knew?
Accordingly, I now spend a portion of my time trying to make sense of these little black marks and squiggles and tenor clefts and measures and an assortment of other odd lines. But it’s a challenge, and good fun, and I am glad I joined. And, the people of Horsham don’t know what a close shave they had.

Then I joined a second Choir. I joined the second one because practice was in the evening, instead of in the morning, like Choir #1. And, because it is in the evening, my wife joined as well. This surprised us both, as she is one of these people who believes she cannot sing. Anyone can sing, and she proved it.

We both enjoy the new choir, and it’s great having a shared experience. We are now becoming choir geeks, which means we can boor the pants off anyone unfortunate enough to ask us what we’ve been up to lately.

The result of all this is, with Christmas fast approaching, I am practicing for two choral concerts, writing, editing, binding, stamping and carving, leaving little time for blog updates.

So, in case I don’t get back here before 2017, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.