Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The first chord of the longest organ song ever was struck on February 5, 2003, the next change of tone is scheduled for July 2008, the final in 2639

This morning I was blessed with the amazing opportunity to hear a professional organ performer do what he loves for a great audience, and that’s putting it in the tiniest, neatest little box I could probably manage, unless, of course, one forced me to sum it up in one word, which would have to be me hopping up and down making one of those high-pitched, excited squeeling noises often stereotypically associated with youthful teen females when they find that their boy-band heart throb is playing a concert near them, to which they have the best tickets in the house, backstage VIP pass included. If I have not already made it clear in my possibly vague allusions in early entries, I am quite fond of the organ, and getting to hear OWU’s little beauty put through her paces was wonderful. Hearing her during German, as she admittedly ruins my attention span, is great, but that’s usually just a few bars drifting in, and never for very long. Huw Lewis, whose organ playing skills and merits did a tidy job of covering half of the back of the modest program when put into a shorthanded biography, gave a magnificent one hour treat to the American Guild of Organists and the handful of ‘townies’ and other outsiders such as myself and my Grandmother. Ou s’en vont, ces gais bergers by Claude Balbadtre started us off, and though I have absolutely no idea what that line of French says, and I’m rather sure I could find out with a minute of Googling, it was absolutely lovely. But, to be honest, things only got better. Mozart’s Fantasia in F minor and major followed by Bach’s Sonata no. 6 in G major? Brilliant. I seriously thought that there was no conceivable way that Lewis could outdo this, but then, of course, he did the ever so kind thing of taking that thought and easily brushing it aside just after pausing to adjust the pistons in the organ; Sonata on the Ninety-Fourth Psalm by Julius Reubke was moving beyond words. The floor literally shook with the power of the music, but even as the organ belted out these amazing notes, one had to recall the sweet, soft, bird-like whistling it had done not too long before. Such a magnificent instrument! Lewis received a well deserved and exuberant standing ovation at the end of it all, and from the satisfied twinkle in his eye, one could tell that he’d also had a marvelous time despite the sweltering heat. (The main disadvantage of the otherwise fabulous University Hall is its total lack of air conditioning, which, when the temperatures are soaring in the nineties, can be quite brutal. It does have a heating system, though, which makes interesting thumping noises that more than one professor has jokingly labeled as the ghosts of problem students, but more on OWU ghosts another day!)
The concert ended at ten, leaving my grandmother and me with plenty of time to wander into the downtown area on Sandusky Street. We walked along, relishing in the liveliness of the city, stopping in a few shops along the way, and simply enjoying ourselves. Super finds of the day include nice yet inexpensive butterfly pins, and oak leaf hair thinggummer from the Global Village store, and two antique teacups and saucers, neither of which match, but who really wants a fully matching set anyway? Once I finally arrived back home I made myself some (read: quite a bit of) tea and somehow managed to take pleasure in sipping it outside in the ninety-two degree heat while perusing the latest issue of the Newsweek magazine. (I admit to becoming addicted to Newsweek during my high school days with an enthusiastic and extremely eccentric economics, history, and social studies teacher who always had the latest issue about to use during any and all of his classes.)

German Word: As far as I’m concerned, the organ is the Koenig (ker-nig) and Koenigin of all instruments, meaning that I think it the King and Queen thereof. I have heard the term Kaiser falsely translated more than once as being ‘king,’ but I feel the term is more precisely ‘emperor,’ particularly since it is derived from our dear olde emperor Julius Caesar’s name.

Pictures! A few of the organ concert, namely of Huw Lewis, the nice fellow that turned his pages for him, and the lovely Ohio Wesleyan University organ in Grey Chapel. Sandusky street was lined with four tour buses of Organ and music enthusiasts on the ‘tour’ of Columbus organs with the AGO, so do enjoy my quick snapshot of those not long before they pulled away for their next destination of the day. Also note my teacup purchased during my day in Delaware, filled at that time with some of my blue spring oolong tea, which is quite excellent, no matter the season.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hugh Grant Lovingly Refers to Himself as a ‘Laughtart’

If there’s one thing that college students love, it’s films. One of my personal favourites has to be Love Actually, which features a myriad of big-name actors and actresses in an extremely amusing film all about love. I’m not usually a fan of the romance genre, but this is one romantic comedy that I enjoy quite thoroughly. Hugh Grant takes on yet another role as a fellow of no little awkwardness caught up in romantic tangly-ness, and he’s the prime minister this time around, no less! Bill Nighy does an amazing job as a burnt-out rocker trying to sell his cover of a famous song, but, as one can see from his opening scene, it’s a bit of a long shot. (He can hardly remember to substitute ‘Christmas’ for ‘love’ in the song during his recording session.) Allan Rickman also has his time in the light as a boss getting himself in a nasty bit of scandal… Kiera Knightly, Liam Nielson, Colin Firth, and many another big-name star gets twisted into the plots as well, since the film uniquely cuts down numerous stories of love that are all deeply intertwined to make one tale definitely worth more than one viewing. If one can procure the DVD for a long enough amount of time, be sure to watch the commentary and prepare to be highly amused as the cast and director let you in on all sorts of hilarity, including that the two Barbie dolls that Rickman’s wife in the film holds up are actually two Ken dolls that the crew modified to look the parts of ‘transvestite’ and ‘dominatrix’ for their few seconds of cinematic fame.
Today would be a great day for watching a film here in central Ohio, too, since a delightful rain is basting the countryside in its nurturing goodness even as I sit here with my tea and type this. It likes to rain here often enough, which is fine by me since I simply love a good rain, but I’ve heard more than a few grumbles whilst skipping across campus during a nice downpour. The sea of goulashes and umbrellas a rainy day creates is surprisingly artistic, but one must stay aware so as to not lose an eye in such chaos.
Also, a short special announcement for any Ohioans, organ enthusiasts, or folks interested in Ohio Wesleyan: as part of the American Guild of Organists’ pipe-organ promoting tour in the Columbus area, an organ concert is being held in Ohio Wesleyan’s very own Grey Chapel! It’s going to be at 9 A.M. on Tuesday, June 26th, and I highly recommend attending, if only to see OWU’s lovely organ in its glory. I’ll be there and shall report on it afterwards, and hopefully I can grabble a few nice pics of campus during these relatively vacant summer days.

German Word: Liebe means ‘love.’ Lieben is the verb ‘to love.’ So, to tell someone that you fancy him or her, simply sidle on over and mutter Ich liebe dich as you see fit.

Pictures: And to sum up my usually insanity, here are some pictures from Love Actually. The First is actually Hugh Grant stopping off for some tea and biscuits with myself and a friend, but we don’t brag about that much.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The First Father’s Day in America was Held in 1908 in West Virginia and was Inspired by a Mine Explosion

Happy father’s day to all! Today I spent time with my own father at a car show, and even though his ’69 Chevelle SS 396 won no trophy we still had a nice time. Over two hundred cars showed up, ranging from the oldest of models to a Batmobile! Other than the sweltering heat and lack of natural shade where we were things went well; we saw many a nice car and the normal car show sort of activities (talking, sitting about looking at cars, watching people drool dangerously close to said cars, and munching on a variety of the normal picnic food stuffs.) My favourite car shows still have to be the Dream Cruise in Michigan and the one held annually in Delaware, though, since one is allowed to actually circle about the area in one’s ride. Sandusky Street covered in classic car goodness is rather awesome, so I’ll be sure to give that proper ‘journalistic’ attention.
Anyway, going back to some of the courses that I’ve selected for my third Ohio Wesleyan semester, I’m finally hopping into one of the many physical education classes offered. OWU has everything from ballroom dancing to yoga, and about fifty other things in between, but I opted for tai chi. I’m hoping to improve my horrible balance(although falling so often has turned me into somewhat of a pro at it; I don’t know how many people can fall down stairs gracefully, but I believe that I’ve done it more than a few times.) I also know a few people that have taken tai chi here, and they seem to have loved it, so I certainly can’t miss out on that.

German Word: Auto and Wagon (simply pronounced ‘auto’ and ‘vagon’) are both ways of saying car or automobile. Straigt-forward, no? The only part one has to watch out for is the gender assigned to these nouns, since Auto is neutral (das) and Wagon is masculine (der). My personal favourite way of referring to a car, particularly an older model, I picked up during my one-month stay in Germany a few years ago; the father of the family I was staying with excitedly pointed out a classic car and declared ‘Oldie!!’ with one of the most amazing accents ever.

Pictures: Just some automobile goodness.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

In the 1700s Healthy Teeth from Fallen Soldiers were Stolen and Used to Make ‘Waterloo Dentures’

Greetings all! Once again I shall speak of my upcoming classes, in part to tell of a few of the many great and exciting classes offered here at OWU, and in part to remind myself what I have to look forward to this fall. I’m taking an English course entitled ‘the English Rennaissance,’ which I recall sounding very exciting at the time I signed up for it. It’s another 300 level course, and will be my fourth such course counting the German that I’m taking, so I’m chipping steadily away at the 15 or so that I need to graduate! Huzzah! Science wise I had hoped to get into geology and botany, but the geology I wanted had filled, thusly leaving me with only botany. Alas! But I despair not, for botany is a love of mine, as is obvious from the ridiculous amount of time that I spend weeding and tending my two gardens.
Two of my absolute favourite plants to tend for are my dear gingko trees, who have grown from the wee seeds I saved from the hundreds dropped by one of the campus ginkgo trees. (So, in a way, I have a piece of campus with me always in these two darling trees.) The eldest tree I have dubbed Toivo, which is Finnish for ‘hope.’ He’s a few inches tall and has a puff of leaves at his very top and a crook in his trunk that he refuses to let anyone straighten, but I think it looks good on him and gives him that fashionable tree look so desired this summer season. Enfys(meaning ‘rainbow,’ a name I let a friend bestow upon her), the younger tree, has no two leaves of the same size, shape or location, and she lets them go for an all-natural look that keeps her chic. They’re currently sporting matching generic green planting pots and are enjoying their summer abroad.

German Word: Blatt can mean either worksheet or leaf, so when singing O, Tannenbaum, be sure to praise the tree’s leaves/needles and not its lovely green worksheets. (O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum, wie gruen sind deine Blaetter could technically be translated as either ‘how green are your leaves’ or ‘how green are your worksheets,’ which I fondly recall as a variation whilst caroling with my high school German club.)

Pictures: I went on a trip to the Hocking Hills area of southern Ohio today and took many a photo! Behold the splendor of Ohio’s south! Also featured is a pic of my grandparent’s cabin in Chestnut Grove. They currently run a cabin business there, where one may rent a wee cabin for a stay amongst the trees and nature and such, but enough of my blatant advertising for now.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

In 1241 Mongols Collected Nine Sacks of Ears as Trophies

Since it’s summer and most everyone is off and away from OWU, it’s a mite difficult to talk about what I’ve been up to there of late, so instead I’ll start talking of the classes I’ll be taking this fall semester, and I’ll even try to shed some light on the moderately confusing requirements for OWU students class wise. OWU is a liberal arts college, so basic class requirements fan out over all studies. One has to take a certain number of courses in the sciences and humanities, as well as a few other things, such as the newly introduced ‘Q’ course requirement for all classes after the class of 2010 (which is the group of freshmen from last year, just in case one did not know, or my wording made it unclear or confusing!) A ‘Q’ requirement, by the way, is just a trendy way of saying that one needs at least one course that is quantitative in nature, meaning math. Diversity and writing credits must also be met, as well as a certain number of courses in the 300 level. Don’t worry if this seems complicated or confusing, though; it’s fairly clear once one has seen it a couple of times, and one’s academic advisor has a handy sheet with all of this on there that can be filled out to see where one is precisely. Oh, and by the way, unlike a lot of universities, Ohio Wesleyan uses ‘units’ instead of credit hours. Most courses are worth one credit, but lab courses are 1.25, and physical education and other courses as well are worth .5 or .25! In order to graduate one needs a certain number of units total, which is why it’s recommended to take about 4.25 units of credit each semester.
As for classes that I’m to take next semester, the first I selected was my German course, since I am a German major and all. The next German available for me is another from the ‘advanced’ group of German courses; it’s entirely about Goethe and is with Herr Wolber. Goethe is the Shakespeare of German literature, so it should be a good time. I am wondering what work of Goethe we’ll be working with, but I’ll just have to wait for the specifics. (I’m holding out for The Sorrows of Young Werther, which was so hugely popular that it actually influenced the very fashion of the 1700s when it was released!)

German Word: The original German title of The Sorrows of Young Werther is Die Leiden des jungen Werther (dee lie-den des youngin’ ver-ter)

Pictures: Since this entry is rather random, so shall the pictures be! I have a blurry shot of a caterpillar who is currently living in my parsley, but I like him since I’m rather sure he’s going to be a monarch. (Always good to be on good terms with royalty, eh? Haha, I’m horrible about cracking not-at-all funny puns.) Moving along, I’ve also included a hummingbird I’ve lovingly dubbed ‘Fatty’ due to his adorable pudgy-ness for a hummingbird, and some more sky/cloud pictures since the pictures I attempted to take of my insane cat Ganon turned out rubbish. (Can you spot the snail-shaped cloud? And do be kind and ignore the telephone lines in the last one; it’s hard enough lining up a nice shot when someone is going 55-60 on a highway, but then someone thought electric wires would be a good call, so do forgive me.)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

When you walk, it is bad to be fast or to be slow.

Another week of summer is gone, and the excitement has either begun without my notice or is still stuck in traffic. At least I can now wave to it if I see it on the road, for I finally went through the process of getting my driver’s license! I’ve put it off for years, and it hasn’t been a huge deal, but I finally went ahead and got it, blurry picture and all. It might be nice to have it around campus once classes start up again, but Delaware, despite its modest size city wise, still offered plenty for me to see on foot alone. This, of course, is coming from someone used to living ten minutes from the closest place that people can recall having ‘driven through’ at some point, and whose backyard is almost literally a cornfield, so anywhere with sidewalks and a handful of shops is a big step up in size, but I’m fully aware that a lot of people are coming from the total opposite experience; I have great friends from both Indianapolis and New York, for example. It is, however, easy enough to either drive or commandeer someone with a car to drive one off to Polaris, where shopping and things to do abound, so it is not as if there is absolutely nothing around, and that’s ignoring all of Delaware’s lovely little areas. (I highly suggest a good wander about Sandusky Street if time allows nowhere else to at least get a fast feel for some of Delaware’s shops. The antique shops are nice, the Global Village store is a must-stop, and a store called ‘Mantras’ [I think] carries the most amazing green tea with pineapple in it, but skip all of this and go straight to the Mean Bean if time is really tight. The Bean is a regular stop for almost every OWU student and is thankfully included in our off-campus ‘points’ for card use.)
With no sword club to attend every week, I’ve been left to my own devices in the study of the blade. Thusly I pulled out one of the books I have on swords and sword fighting, The Sword & the Mind, which is a translation of ‘the classical Japanese treatise on swordmanship and tactics,’ as the cover puts it. Although it only has a small section on actual sword moves, it’s a great read, and it’s interesting to see the similarities between this eastern school and the western techniques that MARRCA studies. The tradition of Zen thought being central in samurai sword technique also makes it fascinating as well, and the metaphors and similies the original author used to explain and express these thoughts are beautiful.

German Word: Bohne (bo-nuh). A Bohne is a bean, and when a German student heads for the Mean Bean, it’s the Boese Bohne, a.k.a. Professor Kremling’s second office. Again, I highly recommend a stop in, and if you happen to see Herr Kremling there, do give him a Guten Tag for me.

And now for our regular picture break! I have a few here that show just how ‘country’ the area I live in is. They specifically feature the cornfield in my backyard, a lovely sunset, the vegetable garden that has consumed my time, as well as the large oak tree that dominates our front yard, whose name is Daniello. He’s simply lovely.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Dashi is a Soup Base Made from Bonito Flakes, Kombu, and Water

Last Thursday was my grandmother’s birthday, so a special happy birthday again to her here as I mention my gift for her: fresh, home-made sushi and miso soup! Granted, none of the sushi I made was raw, but it was still quite good. Here I must however pause to clarify: I am in no twist or vehement turn of the imagination culinary beyond my basic abilities of tea, sushi, variations on boiled water, and now the miso soup (which is basically just timing one’s tossing of things into boiled water, but it overcooks easily, so it gets an honourable mention out there on its own.) Despite my lack of kitchen know-how, I still can roll a decent piece of sushi, and my Oma loves it, thus her main gift from me this year was tasty in nature. Below I have included a few pictures of my sushi fun, which actually ensued on the evening before her birthday rather than the day of, but it stretched it out, and she enjoyed it nonetheless.
On Thursday itself I was put in charge of watching a five year old friend of the family that is, through all technicalities, my god sister. Allow me to pause once again and frantically explain that I am in no way, shape, or form adept at the care of wee ones, but this one is well behaved and thinks me the bee’s knees for some odd reason, so I became her personal sidekick for a few hours. We wandered about, played about the swing, painted, coloured, played soccer where the rules changed every two seconds, and even had time to build a fort that my cat easily destroyed when he pounced on it in search of a treat. Good times overall, and at the end of the day she was still alive and well enough to get excited about the toy in her Happy Meal when her mum arrived, so I consider it a mission accomplished.
I recently received a rather interesting challenge from a good friend of mine: to fill her voicemail box. In true knightly style I accepted and immediately began to fill it with tidbits of insanity. Now, these messages are no petite communications by any means; the average is probably around ten minutes in length, depending on when the machine cuts me off, but I did manage a twenty-five minute rant fest, but my coup de grace just may have been my fifty-nine minute, thirty second masterpiece that would make the best filibustering senators nod with approval while wiping away tears of pride. I’ve also done my share of filibustering in earnest, reading from the dictionary and The Song of Roland, but I did spice things up with a short little ‘noir’ piece where I played the part of the PI giving the standard in-head monologue as the next case walked in my door.

German Word: A Baum is a tree, and the OWU campus is covered in a variety of gorgeous trees, including the endangered ginko.

Pictures! And to finish things off, I offer a handful of pictures, most of which feature my sushi and the making thereof, but the last is Riley enjoying the fort we threw together.