Thursday, December 31, 2015

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot...

Hello, Mein Followers!

I hope you all had a beautimous and frabjous Christmas. Ours was sublime. Did you know that there was a full moon on Christmas?

 I made a wish, of course. You wanna know what I wished?

Oh, come on, you know I'm not telling. That's how wishes DON'T come true!

But we had a gorgeous Christmas. I was actually feeling *good* on Christmas, which was a big thing for me. I've been sick for something like two months now. I was sick when I went to Carmel early in November, with a horrid chest cold that kept me up at night coughing. That switched to a horrid head cold early in December, wherein my ears were SO FULL they were so sensitive, and my voice had no depth. (That, by the way, is when we recorded that 25-minute Christmas music video posted earlier on my blog - hence the reason for the slightly whispery/reedy quality to our voices.) So Christmas, I actually felt GOOD. I could SING, which I could not do for Midnight Mass. (My voice kept cracking then. Imagine how cute our Christmas carols sounded.) And Christmas morning, we had our beautiful sausages on sweet rolls with orange juice for the littlies and mimosa for the not-so-littlies, opened our stockings and what-all, sang JOY TO THE WORLD after mein papa lit the Christ Candle, and then opened pressies! There were a bunch of us - fourteen opening presents in the morning, and then a total of nineteen at the table for our gnocchi dinner. We watched Rise Of The Guardians after dinner and had dessert, and I wished on the full moon.

Anyway, what are your plans for the New Year? Me, I'm going to spend it in. I may have a shot of honey whiskey, shared with my besties, Stoick, Chrysophylax Dives, and Amalthea. We are pretty tight, the four of us. I will prolly watch Person Of Interest, so I can be sure to stay awake until midnight. I don't usually have too much trouble doing that. I'm a night owl anyway.

Left to right: Chrysofylax Dives (green), Stoick (red) Amalthea (unicorn)

And that was our Christmas, and I just wanted to wish you all a holy, happy, blessed New Year. I hope you enjoy this little song. I have a sister who knows Eleven is MY Doctor, and will send me all kinds of things Eleven related. I happened to love this song in the Christmas special, and this priest actually has a wicked good voice. I hope you enjoy it!

Le Cat

Thursday, December 24, 2015

No One Will Be Sleeping On The Night Of Christmas Eve...

Merry Christmas, Followers of Mein!

Christmas Eve, for me, is my most favourite day in the world. Everything feels very magical, like anything can happen. When it snows on Christmas Eve, I get so excited.

I have two mindsets on snow.
Before and during Christmas: "Christmas snow is magic, as everybody knows! You'll never see a frowning face on Christmas when it snows!"

After Christmas: "And there's one more thing that I have discovered, And I would now like you to know, The reason for Christmas I now realize is an excuse to tolerate snow! Snow. I don't even like the SOUND of it!"

But anyway, today it is snowing and I'm so happy. 
Merry Christmas!

There is one funny thing I want to tell you. Every year in Tahoe, our fire station decorates a fire truck and it goes around the town, different areas each night, blasting Christmas music and shining with lights and visiting the neighbourhoods, and then the people driving the truck hand out candy canes to the townsfolk. Well, this year, they were apparently not coming to our neighbourhood. Sadness! My whole family looks forward to it every year. It somehow doesn't *quite* feel like Christmas without the fire truck.

Yesterday, I had a couple sisters over for dinner - there was me (Kat), Amanda, Teresa and Maria - and we were going to eat chicken enchiladas and watch Disney's Christmas Carol, followed by Mickey's Christmas Carol. So, we had finished our enchiladas, and were about at Marley's Ghost in the movie, and we paused it to put down coffee, when my sister Amanda suddenly opened the door and stuck her head outside.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I thought I heard the fire truck," she said. Remember, it blares Christmas music loud. Real loud. Just as she said that, she pointed and said, "There it is! I see it!" It was heading up Ski Run Boulevard toward Heavenly, the mountain where the skiers go. "Do you want to chase it?"

So we all flung on coats and shoes and ran outside, but it had vanished. We ran past a couple streets, but we couldn't even hear the music anymore. "That's sad," Amanda said.

"Do you want to get in the car and see if we can find it?" Teresa asked.

So we ran back to the house, piled into Amanda and Teresa's Landy, and drove up Ski Run, following the fire truck. We craned our necks down each street we passed, trying to catch a glimpse of the lights. We came to the intersection of Ski Run where it connects to Pioneer Trail, and decided to turn right. So we come up to the light, and there is a fire station at this intersection, also to the right. Lo and Behold! There was the Christmas Fire Truck! We screamed so loud, we couldn't decide if we should pull into the station and jump out to holler Merry Christmas, or if we should pull to the side or the road and do the same. As we turned right onto Pioneer, trying to make up our minds, the fire truck started moving, like it was going to leave again. (Perhaps it was refueling its stock of candy canes?) Anyway, so we drove past, hollering like maniacs, and looking behind us to see if it was going to turn right as well and come along behind us, or if it was going to turn left and go back down Ski Run Boulevard.

It turned left.

So we made a frantic U-turn and came roaring up behind it, and idled at the red light. Then, unbelievably, THE FIRE TRUCK RAN THE RED LIGHT, MAKING A LEFT HAND TURN ON A RED LIGHT AND TURNING BACK ONTO SKI RUN BOULEVARD, GOING DOWN TOWARD LAKE TAHOE BOULEVARD!!!

We screamed. "COOOOOOME BAAAACK! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" It was torture, watching it creep down Ski Run and unable to follow.

That was the longest red light ever, you guys. But our light finally went green and we zoomed through and got back behind the fire truck. By this time, we were all starting to feel a bit stalkery and giggling at how weird we were. But you don't understand, this is the Christmas Fire Truck. We look forward to it EVERY YEAR!!!

So we followed the truck, even when it turned right onto Lake Tahoe Boulevard. However, it did make another right turn into a small shopping mall that has a Red Hut, a ski rental place, a salon, et cetera. We prudently let it turn, and passed by and turned right down a different driveway, and then made a few right hand turns until we could get into the shopping mall via a different entrance. And the fire truck had stopped, and was idling in the parking lot and giving out candy canes!

So, we parked and piled out and waved and shouted Merry Christmas, and got our own candy canes.

Then Teresa asked them if they'd go up to Spruce Avenue, because our family would love to see them, and they said YES!

So we piled back into the car, and the fire truck exited the parking lot, but since there are two Spruces in Tahoe and very near to each other, we followed the truck in a roundabout way to make sure it was going to the right Spruce.

Which it did.

Teresa called the family, making sure they knew the truck was coming and to line up outside and wait for it. And they did. And we took a bunch of pictures and so many people came out to greet it and get candy canes. And we all felt like good spirits of Christmas, bringing the fire truck to our neighbourhood! :-)

And that's my funny story of how we didn't expect the Christmas truck, and then we found it and stalked it, and made it come to our house anyway.

Oh, and here's a little Christmas music from our family to you. Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Feast of St. Nicholas

Today is the feast of St. Nicholas!

The tradition of leaving one's shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill on December 6th stems from a tale about a poor man who had three daughters. Since this man could not afford dowries for his daughters, they would have had to be sold into slavery. But during the night, St. Nicholas paid the house a secret visit, and the man woke to find coins in his shoes. This happened three times, providing the man with the needed dowry for his daughters, and they were spared from slavery. (Read more about St. Nicholas here and here.)

In my family, we celebrate St. Nicholas Day by leaving shoes out the night before, and waking to see what presents St. Nicholas has left in our shoes. It is a nice, anticipatory feast during Advent, and we look forward to it every year.

Now, since I'm a little under the weather with a head cold and I can't think of words to write an actual blog post, I'm going to post a Christmas story instead, one I wrote awhile back and never subbed because, honestly, it's not really publishable. Here you go!


She tasted Christmas, in the sweetness of a sugar cookie. She sneaked icing, dough, and chocolate and let it all mix on her tongue. She decided, Christmas is hot cocoa and whipped cream stirred with a peppermint stick. Christmas is the taste of cold snow on her lips.

She smelled Christmas, the butter, sugar, and flour mixed in a bowl, cookies baking in the oven, and the clear, sharp smell of snow. She said, “Christmas is the smell of the pine tree in the corner, the aroma of lighted Advent candles, and the clean snowy breeze coming through that opened window.”

She felt Christmas, the cookie dough under her fingernails. She poked her palms on prickling pine needles, and fingered the rough, glitter-crusted lining on an ornament. Christmas, she thought, is the touch of snowflakes on my face, paint on my fingers as I help paint this nativity scene on the frozen windowpane. Christmas is the warmth of fire thawing my numb fingers, the touch of the chiseled, porcelain statues of St. Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the sheep, and donkey, in my hands.

She heard Christmas, the crackle of wrapping paper as someone wrapped a present, followed by the snick of tape cut off a spool. She heard the clink of cookie cutters clattering on the counter. Christmas is "Silent Night” playing on the radio, a timer going off on the stove, a spoon racketing off the ceramic side of a mixing bowl. Christmas is the sound of wind blowing past the window and rattling the sills, of flames crackling on the hearth. Christmas is the sound of a teakettle whistling on the stove, ready to prepare a pot of hot chocolate. Christmas is the silence in the evening when the world goes still.

She saw Christmas. There was the decorated tree standing in the corner, lights blinking on and off on pine boughs and gleaming off the silver, blue, and red ornaments. She saw the Nativity scene painted on the windows, the Advent wreath wrapped in green ivy and red beads on the table. She decided  Christmas is red and green garland strung in the entryway between the kitchen and living room, Christmas cards displayed on the decorated tree, snow piling in mounds in the yard, and snowflakes filling the sky with a kaleidoscope of diamond glints. Christmas was the snowmen standing in every yard, white lights illuminating houses on the block, Santa Claus’s ringing bells at every store.

She lived Christmas. Christmas is the glory of Midnight Mass, the candles and bells rejoicing Christ’s birth. Christmas is a drive home through a silent night, a stop at a gas station for coffee and a chocolate bar. Christmas is a couple hours’ sleep, an early morning vigil, huddled in blankets on the couch, excited gazes fixed upon a mound of presents beneath pine boughs.

Christmas is the lighted white Christ Candle, “Adeste Fidelis” sung around the Advent wreath, the Christ Child laid in His manger. Christmas is sausage and buns, orange juice, and chocolate. Christmas is a noise and fury, and joy. Christmas is digging through Christmas stockings, the excitement of opening the first present.

Christmas is the Babe in the manger.

Christmas is Christ’s birth.

God bless!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November 11, 2015

Here's to the Heroes, those few who dare,

Heading for GLORY, living a prayer.

Here's to the HEROES who change our lives.

Thanks to the Heroes, Freedom survives.

Here's to the HEROES who never rest.

They are the CHOSEN, we are the BLESSED.

Here's to the HEROES who aim so high.

Here's to the HEROES
Who DO or DIE.

A grateful thanks to our veterans who fought and died to protect us.

God bless!

The Cat~

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Secret Garden - The Original Broadway Musical

My sister, Bella, has (or had?) this blog party thingy going on over at her blog. I'm not going to do the whole thing - I'm lazy that way. But I am going to do a blog post from #9 on her list:

My favourite book-to-musical adaption.

I'll be honest, guys. Phantom is my favourite. I basically grew up with that. It was the first musical I ever listened to. However, I feel like I harp on that all the time, so I'm NOT going to do The Phantom of the Opera. I'm going to do my second favourite.

The Secret Garden.

Actually, the way I came to this musical is kinda funny. I've always loved the Phantom. Always, always, always. Sarah Brightman, Michael Crawford, and Steve Barton are IT! (Sorry, I go for passionate musicality over straight-out pitchy passion - Sierra, Ramin, I like you, but c'mon, you're professionals. Can't you sing the notes on key?) However, my best friend in the whole wide world is a fan of Les Mis, and we share music back and forth. I had her listen to the Original Cast Recording of Phantom, and she let me listen to the Complete Symphonic Recording of Les Mis, with Gary Morris as Veljean, Philip Quast as Javert, Michael Ball as Marius, and the one and only Anthony Warlow as Enjolras. (You notice I only mention the male singers. That's because Les Mis, like all the rest of the musicals out there, tend to go in for busty-voiced singers, or high-pitched vibratos, and I hate it.) I liked Les Mis, though the lack of musicality always annoyed me. However, I was quite wildly fond of Anthony Warlow's fabulous interpretation of Enjolras, and I WAITED for those moments when his voice would swoop in and save the day (and the musical).
 I do not know why they stuck that
ugly brown wig on his head, though.

I started digging, to see what other songs he sang, and discovered he was the lead singer of Jekyll and Hyde on the Concept Album (which, by the way, is the ONLY version to listen to. David Hasselhoff is a huge and crying letdown over Anthony Warlow's incredible delivery as Jekyll). Then, I realized Anthony Warlow had CDs!! Surprise, surprise, right? I got his Best of Act One CD, and on that CD was a song called "Lily's Eyes" that he sang with Philip Quast.
This is probably my favourite version of this song, even though
the Original Cast is my overall favourite. Anthony Warlow and
Philip Quast as Archibald and Neville Craven are amazing. 

I researched to see which musical this came from, and found THE SECRET GARDEN.

I am fond of the book. I never much cared for the pantheistic element to the story, where the garden becomes this sort of godlike entity and is responsible for all the good that happens to the characters. But I have always liked to read the story, so I can forgive a lot.

In the musical, I feel a lot of that mysticism is muted. Instead, the garden seems more like a refuge, a place that Mary makes her own, and it's her love of the garden that lends it that sense of magic. Also, Daisy Eagan as Mary is gold. And also, Rebecca Luker. 'Nough said 'bout that.

What I love about the musical version of the Secret Garden is that fabulous blend of music and dialogue that The Phantom of the Opera captures so well, and which (IMHO) many musicals lack. For instance, in Phantom, when characters read the notes received from the Phantom, the way the music is written is basically how one would inflect their voice while reading aloud.

In Les Mis, it's like this clunky crash of chords that I just don't get.

Secret Garden emulates Phantom in the sense that it IS very musical, every bit of it, dialogue and chorus and all. There is not a bit that sounds dissonant or ill-fitted.

The best version is the Original Broadway Cast Recording, starring Mandy Patinkin as Archibald Craven, Rebecca Luker as Lily, Daisy Eagan as Mary, and James Cameron Mitchell as Dickon. (I have a fondness for the Australian version that I don't own, because Anthony Warlow is Archibald Craven and Philip Quast plays his brother Neville, and they have FABULOUS voices, but the rest of the cast is lacking. Seriously lacking. Trust us, precioussss.)

The Secret Garden is the story about Mary Lennox, a little girl born in India and raised more by servants and housemaids than by her parents. She is sent to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, in his house in York, after an outbreak of cholera kills her parents and pretty much the entire household, leaving her the sole survivor.

At the beginning of the story, Mary really is an unpleasant child, sickly and foul tempered. Her mood is not helped by Uncle Archie, a brooding, "miserable hunchback" who wanders through the house, still grief-struck over the death of his wife, Lily, who died about 10 years ago.

The house is also haunted by far-off cries, which Mary is forbidden to seek out. Instead, when her maidservant, Martha, tells her about a secret garden, Mary decides to find it.
 Her hunt for the garden sends her roaming the moors outside the manor. The exercise and fresh air invigorates her. She becomes friends with an old gardener, Ben Weatherstaff, and Martha's brother, Dickon, as well as a robin redbreast that lives in the secret garden.

With the robin's help, Mary finds the entrance to the garden, and she and Dickon begin to secretly tend the neglected flowers. But not even the garden can help her ignore the distant, mysterious cries. Flagrantly disregarding orders, Mary hunts out the source of the cries and discovers Colin, Uncle Archie's invalid son who everyone in the household believes will die an early death. Since Archie cannot bear to look at his son, being reminded too acutely of Lily, Colin has been hidden away, his every whim granted by the servants that wait on him. Fantastically spoiled, Colin meets his match in Mary, who refuses to put up with his tantrums.

Believing Colin's sickness to be more in his mind, Mary thinks that the surest cure for Colin is for him to spend time in the secret garden. The good air works the same rejuvenating magic it did on Mary, and Colin begins to improve. Eventually they are discovered, but Archie is so grateful to what Mary has done for Colin that he finally accepts her and loves her as his own, and Mary finds the home she never had with her own parents.

Take a listen to this version of I HEARD SOMEONE CRYING (The voice at the very beginning doing the vocalise is Rebecca Luker. Come on. You can't beat THAT voice.)

I love the absolute crystalline quality Rebecca brings to Lily's voice. It is so soaring, clear and gorgeous, and what I desperately look for in most musicals these days. I can't stand the belting Broadway sound (Idina Menzel, for example. It's not pretty. I'm sorry. Not a fan.)
Me when listening to Idina's voice...

I also love Mary's voice. She sounds like a little girl. She doesn't sound trained. I can't stand it when little girls have these ridiculous vibratos and don't sound like little girls. I like that Mary has a natural sound to her voice. It's another one of those things I desperately look for in musicals, and never find. (Darn it, Cosette, you're like... six! Can't you sound like it?!)

This quartet is really, really good. I love when musicals have these songs where each singer has a different line to sing, and then everyone sings together, and it's just like... *shiver*. (Skip about 20 seconds into this one. This QUARTET is fabulous and the blend of voices is perfect.)

I love how, in this song, Lily doesn't sound angry. I've heard so many versions where the female singers are like, "No, me!" and they just over-sing the men, and it, again, drives me crazy. Here, Lily just sort of soars over them by virtue of being soprano, and she sounds more like a loving Lily, not a confrontational Lily. She sounds like she truly loved Archie, not like she married him to spite her sister, Rose, which is how a lot of Lilys sound. (Why are singers so angry in their performances? Can't we have gentle solos? When did passion in music become rage?)
One really cool thing the writers did with this musical, is they took a lot of the 
people who died - Lily, Mary's parents - and made them ghosts, and these "ghosts"
came to life in picture frames. Which is why Lily is sitting in this picture frame here.

And also, in my opinion, this is the best Dickon ever. Just, don't even try. This WINTER'S ON THE WING is the bestest version ever. James Cameron Mitchell NAILS Dickon.

My first introduction to Mandy Patinkin was as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bridge. Finding out he could sing was like discovering Michael Crawford (whom I had only known from the corny, crazy 1981 movie CONDORMAN) was the Phantom. It blew my mind.

Mandy Patinkin is STELLAR as Archibald Craven. He plays it so well, as the melancholy man who is suffering from the crushing loss of losing the love of his life, and having a sickly young son whom he believes is going to die as well. This song, RACE YOU TO THE TOP OF THE MORNING, is just so sweet. This is one of the best versions ever (Anthony Warlow sings it too, you see, so I have the hardest time choosing which version is better).

I love the way he sings it, and depending on my mood, it makes me cry. He delivers it so well!

So, the Original Broadway Cast Album of The Secret Garden is probably my most favourite book-to-musical adaption I've heard (other than Phantom). I hope you give it a listen, and let me know what you think. :-)

Kay, that's all that's on my ninja mind for now. TTFN! (Let's see how many people know what THAT stands for. Mwahahaha).

God bless!

Le Cat

Thursday, October 22, 2015

TA DA! Sparkles!


Notice anything different? 

Huh? Huh? Huh?

If you didn't, you might consider getting glasses.

Yep, I changed my blog. I'm still trying to decide how I like the colours. I was getting over the dark green, so I decided pale green. Yeah, pale green was good. Then I thought, grey. Or maybe pale blue. So I'm not totally sure what colour I've ended up with here, but it's definitely not what I had before.

I like my new header. Sparklies!

Okay, so what's been going on with you for the past... 53 days? (*Stage whisper* - Has it been 53 days? *Not so stage whisper* - YEP! *Stage whisper* - I iz ASHAMED! I 'pologize. Oh well.)

I haven't done much. Writing, reading, writing, reading, writing, reading. Rinse, repeat.

I do confess to a sudden huge adoration to James Blunt. Most of his songs speak to my soul. I don't recommend watching his music videos - they can be a little we'rd - but my goodness, his songs are GOOD! Here, see for yourself.

You should also listen to "Carry You Home" and "She Will Always Hate Me." Oh, and "Bonfire Heart." And "Postcards." And, "No Tears." Okay, I won't post anymore. I like him. :-)

Also, I have a sister who does videos. She's rather good, you know. I requested a music video to Eleven, since his catchphrase is "Geronimo" and this song is called "Geronimo." QED, this is Eleven's song. I quite loved it. But then again, Eleven (and the Ponds) are my favorite:

Oh, and I did go to this thing called WordWave. I heard tell about it by Bona Fide Books (our independent small press in Tahoe, which is cool) and it was quite a lovely event. It was three days - Friday and Sunday were both more of "events" that you had to pay for, but Saturday was a free day, so my mother, three sisters, a friend and I went on Saturday. There were some workshopping conferences (more conference than workshop, unfortunately) and booths where you could make your own simple journals, a printing press, a booksale, and agents.

Yep, agents.

Not in the booths, of course. Just, there. Offering 10-minute pitch sessions. So I did what any self-respecting writer with two books written would do. I signed up for a 10-minute session, a one-on-one pitch, if you will, with an agent from Fuse Literary (formerly Foreword Literary). It ended up being more than 10 minutes - the agents were really chill on time, which was cool - so I had more like 20-30 minutes where I pitched my story to Laurie McLean and got awesome feedback on a query and synopsis. I tell you, I haven't felt this good about a query and a synopsis since... like, ever.

So now I've changed my blog. Because, it was time to change my blog. FACELIFT, PEOPLE!!! I'm also trying to figure out what I want to do with this blog. Like, it's sort of drifting in La-la land, poor thing. It's just sitting here patiently, going, "Oh, don't mind me. I will come when you caaaaaaalll!!" Sort of like a chorus line from Les Miserables. So I guess 2016 resolutions would be:

1.)  Submit to more magazines.
2.)  Blog more.

A hesitant extra would be: 3.)  Get the keyboard in working shape and start playing music again.

'Cause I miss that.

And draw. That would be #4.

That's starting to feel like a lot of resolutions, and it's not even 2016 yet.

That's all for now, peeps. Until then, ciao!

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs." - Stephen King

God bless! ~The Cat
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...