Sunny afternoons and crisp snowy evenings

I belatedly noticed that Christmas day is drawing near, meaning that it’s time to stop forming grandiose plans for Christmas gifts I’ll make for family and friends, and start getting to work. My mother will hopefully receive a scarf (cue Hawksley Workman’s “Learn how to knit” here) and I intend to make a copy of a simple board game for a cousin. (Perhaps I’ll post a photo here after the 25th in case it inspires any of you reading this.) I have a large, close-knit family but my father’s and mother’s extended kin both use elaborate gift exchange schemes (with names drawn by some perl scripts I wrote) so there really aren’t many gifts I feel obligated to give. Shannon and I would like to find time to prepare a large batch of chocolates and greeting cards to give other friends, but it remains to be seen how much we’ll be able to do in the few weeks that remain.

Last night we went to hear the Orpheus Singers, a local a capella chamber choir a friend sings in, perform a series of Renaissance works including the Monteverdi mass In Illo Tempore. God, that’s difficult music. I’ve never heard such dense polyphony live before. I actually auditioned for this group, but having heard them perform I’m a tad relieved that I didn’t get in – I’m just not at that level (yet). I’ve never been a member of a choir which rehearsed without a piano, for example. Oh, well. I’ve a ticket for a performance of Händel’s Messiah for next Thursday, which a friend of a friend is performing in, and if that choir’s any good I might try out for them.

In other news, anyone whose confidence that good can triumph over evil has been faltering lately needs to read this. (Thanks to Daniel for passing this on.)

PS: This Nancarrow guy is amazing. He produced some of the earliest ‘computer’ music by hand-punched player piano rolls in the 40’s, writing things which no human could play (unless your arpeggios can reach 175 notes a second). Once again, binary newsgroups rock my life, as do PAR2 files.