Lindsay Harris-Friel

I write plays and audio drama, make puppets, clean up messes, take in strays, eat and drink and curse too much, and laugh too loudly. jarnsaxarising.com.

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Today I'm editing a review of a microphone made specifically for podcasters. My supervisor wrote the article. The mic is called the Podcaster, and it's made by Rode. He opened the article with, "At our office, we have more Rodes than the Roman Empire." 

In the summary paragraph, I added, "It's a colossus among the podcasting-tool hegemony." 

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Last night I had the pleasure of seeing the lovely and talented Jenn Rice Abrevaya, starring (IMO) in Mamma Mia! Jenn, of course, was brilliant, and despite my cynicism about jukebox musicals, I was emotionally recharged by the show. All it needed was More Jenn. 

I’d expected that MM would continue the traditions of Scandinavian theatre by refuting the themes of Ibsen, that life is a depressing mystery. It seemed clear that MM would posit the mysterious feminine not only in the sun, so distant and rare in Ibsen’s work, but also firmly entrenched in the prison of patriarchal sanction, yet without the pistols or an orphanage to burn down, via the machinery of Swedish disco music. I was wrong and right at the same time. 

Sophie, the alleged protagonist of MM, desires to become the doll of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. She seeks approval from a father before giving her virginity to a Wall Street wunderkind. In short, she is willfully the golden fatted calf bought and sold. Her mother, Donna (perhaps a Madonna?) is the 1970s sexual-revolution feminist and Circe, trapped on a Greek island, spinning magical experiences for her guests. Like Hedda Gabler, she claims not to need a man for success, but she wants one (as Hedda desired Eilert), for joy, and one for financial stability (as Hedda needed Jørgen). Sophie challenges her mother, saying that she wants to start her life “right,” with a “white wedding” and knowing who is the man responsible for her.  

The book writer for Mamma Mia!, playwright Catherine Johnson, eventually came to her fucking senses at some point while trying to shoehorn in the ABBA hit, “Knowing Me, Knowing You.” At this point, Sophie’s groom and one of the candidates for Daddy tell her that marriage isn’t everything. Though Mom has been saying this all along, because the men in her life finally say it, Sophie listens, and starts thinking about marriage seriously. Much like how Nora and Hedda are forced to behave by Krogstad and Judge Brack respectively, Sophie and Donna continue towards the wedding. Finally, Sophie drops her desire to marry and to find out who her father is, just as Donna chooses to marry and accept financial support from her former lovers. 

Donna chooses the path of patriarchy, from which Ibsen warned early feminists away. Sophie and her young buck shoulder backpacks to travel the world, engaging in the poetic mystery that Eilert and Oswald embraced, leading to their deaths. 

Ibsen was one of the first dramatists to perfect the art of realism in theatre. His descendant in Scandinavian Drama would do well to reject it, choosing Neo-Absurdism, rather than send women a message of kowtowing to the patriarchy via glitter and sequins. Donna preserves her tavern, and gets someone to fix the roof, though Nora abandons her house. The conflict between Ibsen’s feminism and producer Judy Craymer’s post-feminism was best illustrated by this production’s version of “The Winner Takes It All.” Actress (can’t remember) belted this torch song with power, dignity and skill that could blow the roof off of the venue. However, the microphone system strapped to her face gave her voice an electromagnetic hum, barely discernible, yet devastatingly annoying to human ears. The power of women still burns in Scandinavian theatre; sadly, Western audiences must put a ring on it and tame it, in order to sanctify it. 

IN ALL SERIOUSNESS, the singing and dancing were great, performances were solid, the script made me have to think, “If I roll my eyes any harder, I’m going to get a headache.” Obviously, the answer is that I have to write a musical for Jenn to star in. 

In other news:

If I pet Mo Magee as much as she wants, her fur gets so slicked down that she looks like Bastet. 

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the script is absolutely horrible. it's basically, "what 3 lines can we cram in between these 2 songs to make it feel like they go together?" i'm so glad you sat through that to experience the good stuff, it was great to have you there!
Jenn A 4/9
Like I said, all Ms. Jenn needs is a venue. I scheme scripts for you when I need to feel happy.
I'd back that show!
Now I have to figure out how to make a 50-minute Fringe show out of Mamma Mia and this post, without being legally actionable by the creators of Mamma Mia.
 

Greensleeves again, this time with more confidence.

 I tried to make a video of me playing Romance from A Little Night Music, but between the tripod not cooperating and me not being really ready with that piece yet, all I made was myself angry. 

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Sounds pretty good to me! At a bare minimum, it's 1. forward progress and 2. infinitely better than I could do!
 

I’ll be honest. The practicing for 30 minutes a day or 3.5 hours per week thing is not 100% accurate. We were out of town for a bit. Since “30 minutes a day or 3.5 hrs/week” and “16 units of information” does not equal predictable results, I’m finding it harder to explain what the results are. It feels like problem solved or puzzle cracking, but it barely feels like music. 

Anyway, here’s Wonderwall. Plenty of mistakes. You can also hear Sassy playing in the background. 

A result I can guarantee with 100% accuracy is that no matter how well you can play a piece, as soon as the camera is on, you will make mistakes. 

The good news is that I can now move on to learning about sharps & flats, which means the work will sound less boring. Yay for leveling up! 

EDITED TO ADD: this is the next piece I have to work on, which I believe is standard issue for every high school marching band in America. 

All I can think of is the episode of Strangers With Candy when Gerri is in the school jazz band, as a scat singer. 

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/c1ljug/strangers-with-candy-trash-talk

EDITED TO ADD AGAIN: I got Half Time Band and Greensleeves in a pen. Not captured, but in a pen. I think another day of muscle memory practice will do it. 

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You're amazing.
Were your ears burning? I keep thinking of you while I practice Greensleeves.
"Hen- Ry- did not write this so-o-ong, he just liked to take cred-it... Hen-Ry was an old horn do-o-og..."
(googles "rhyming dictionary")
(search search search)
"and he bought this to get Annie bed-ed."

You probably know the history of Greensleeves better than I do..
Naah, I just know it's not "What Child Is This?"

Also, I keep trying to listen to Jarnsaxa Season 2 and the sound effects + the Nazis in the first episode actually make me anxious. So ... um, good job for affecting the audience? I have wanted to tell you that for a while.
Oh, thank you! I'll tell Vince. He had a really hard time with that airplane, and complained about it mightily.

Wikipedia says that Greensleeves is too young to be a Tudor era song.
To be honest: we all had a hard time with it. I was in the room for rehearsal, and there was a lot of very uncomfortable giggling. Just a lot of tension in general.
BTW: if that one makes you anxious, skip it and go on to the rest. The only thing you need to know is that the knife is a Chekov’s gun and metal holds memories.
163 days! Wow! You're amazing.
Frederick, you're a poet.
Isn’t that a lovely book?
 

I practiced for an hour & seven minutes today, according to my stopwatch. 

Worked on G pentascales and stuff that seemed boring and pedantic, then moved over to this innocent-seeming li’l ditty. 

After about 40 minutes or so or practicing, my left hand can do the left hand part perfectly, my right hand can do the right hand part perfectly, but as soon as I start the metronome and try to sync up the bass clef and the treble clef, a giant concrete wall forms between all the right-hand-left-hand stuff in my brain, and I’m sitting there paralyzed, holding down two notes, while the metronome goes tick... tick... tick...

It’s not fear. It’s just like my brain can’t do it. It’s pat your head & rub your tummy stuff.  I managed to pound my way through it, and measures 3-4 and 7-8 are passable, but 1-2 and 5-6 have given me a headache and a hand ache. I even went back and did the G pentascale exercises to try and make it easier. 

At 67 minutes, I made a mistake that sounded familiar, and started picking it out, or something similar. 

After this, it’s Turkey In The Straw, a theme by Mozart in G major (your guess is as good as mine), and then...SHARPS & FLATS! Finally I can get some variety in here. 

I just realized that as of today, this has been a five month experiment. 

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I can play that! I started reading the music in your post and realized, hey...I know that! I love that one! I've had it memorized for so long that I oddly didn't recognize at first what that was.

I have a piano in my kitchen (it was my mom's childhood piano, then my brother and I grew up playing it, and now I have it) and that's one of my warm-up tunes or just something when I don't know what else to do. (I'm not saying I'm GOOD at any of it, either)

I know we don't know each other but I believe that you *will* get your hands to coordinate. It will happen. I remember the exact moment it happened for me very clearly (a different tune, a Mozart something or other), though it was a million years ago, when I was a kid. I remember the day when HOLY COW MY LEFT HAND IS DOING SOMETHING *AND* MY RIGHT HAND IS DOING SOMETHING, DIFFERENT THINGS, AT THE SAME TIME OMG. Something will just click and it'll happen.

Or, it won't. :-) But I think it will.
Rachael 2/1edited
I concur. It takes time to rewire the brain, but it does eventually happen.
Oh, the rewiring! How good it feels to work around or through those barriers!
It does feel good. It makes all the work worth it.
Thank you. This is the kind of encouragement I needed.

This whole learning to play piano thing isn’t “I want to be David Bowie” or even “I want people to think I’m a great musician.” It’s about effort over time, having an activity that isn’t about words, and having something where I can surprise myself. I love solving the puzzle. As frustrating as it is, I love being at the midpoint with a piece of music where I have it kind of figured out, but not really, and I can find a way to solve it.

Plus, I love the concept of people making their own fun, playing music is a huge part of that, and I want in on that. Even if it’s just pounding out a sloppy arrangement of Bad Romance or King Of The Road, I want to be able to do that.

I just realized that it’s important to me to be able to play LGBT music. Huh. Okay.
You're welcome.

And I totally understand. I'm doing the same thing right now, with Irish flute. Well. Trying. Trying to learn the flute just so I can figure it out and have fun playing music, especially with other people. I've also been re-teaching myself piano over the past few years.
You’re so lucky to have that family piano.

My great grandmother’s piano was dismantled and given to an artist this past summer. It made me sad, but it made me buy a keyboard and a lesson book.
I do feel very lucky to have the piano. It's not a fancy one--a Betsy Ross spinet--but it's got lots of meaning and memory. My grandmother paid for that thing little by little till it was all paid off, so her daughter could have a piano.

I have pictures somewhere of myself as a toddler, standing up on tiptoe to reach the keys. And of myself at probably 8, sitting at the piano looking very, like...befuddled or something. Like I was all "duhWhA?" trying to figure out the piece of music in front of me.

I'm sorry about your great-grandmother's piano.
 

Evil eye bead and hamsa. 

I found this on the sidewalk while walking back from the post office today. Either the universe sent me a protection amulet, a warning, or someone’s earring broke in the traditional Festivus airing of grievances on the corner this past Sunday night. I left it outside on the flagstone to see if someone needed it more than I do. If it’s still there tomorrow, I’ll keep it with the seashells. 

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12/27 '18 3 Comments
So? Was it still there? It's such a lovely little doodad.
Funny you should ask. I forgot to look for it. When I came home tonight, it was still there. It's in my pocket now.
Awesome!!
 

The kitties were nestled, all snug in their beds, while the humans read books and scratched their furry heads. 

I hope your day was peaceful and bright. 

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12/25 '18 2 Comments
I love that book.
I am loving it, but not unconditionally. An aspect of the book that I truly do love is there huge wide margins where I can write notes.
which reminds me, I have books to return to you.
 

EDITED TO ADD: FTS. I’m opening the wine. I didn’t hit the button on the timer hard enough, the outside of the gingerbread was burnt, the inside of the gingerbread was cooked properly but tasted like Allspice Barf. If I can’t pay attention well enough to follow a recipe and properly use a kitchen timer, then it’s time to stop working and decide that this is it. 

—————

I made two batches of gingerbread (which I have not made since I was so little that I needed to stand on my grandmother’s step stool to reach the mixer). 
Batch #1 is intended to make shaped or cut cookies (persons of gingerbread origin). 
Batch #2 is intended to be bars, baked in a baking dish. 

Batch # 1 called for 3.5 cups of flour. The dough was extremely thick, almost like bread dough. It’s chilling in the fridge. 
Batch # 2 called for 1.75 cups of flour. It also called for 1/2 cup of boiling water. Prior to adding the water, it had a cookie dough or cake dough like consistency. After adding the water, it became more like a soup. 

The bag of flour was a 32 ounce bag. This tells me that once I added the 3.5 cups of flour in Batch # 1, there should have been only 4 ounces of flour left in the bag.  However, there was an entire 8 ounces left over after adding all ingredients for both recipes. 

Yet I remember adding at least .75 cups of flour to Batch #2, because I remember looking at the 3/4 marker on the side of the cup. It is possible that I forgot to fill the measuring cup twice instead of once.  

I added a tiny bit more flour to Batch # 2, and it’s baking in the oven now. 

Here’s what I don’t understand:
-Did I screw up one recipe, or both? 
-Is there some magical property to King Arthur All Purpose Unbleached flour that causes a 32 ounce bag to yield 5 and a half cups (44 ounces)? 
-Is this a Hannukah miracle? 
-should I have added the cup of flour to Batch # 2? 
-What is gingerbread dough really supposed to look like before baking? Should there be a big difference between the baking sheet vs. baking pan varieties? 
-should I get a camera installed in my kitchen if I’m going to continue baking? 
-why do the holidays have to be a nonstop parade of dishwashing? 
-what time is wine o’clock?


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12/22 '18 10 Comments
In my limited experience gingerbread dough is a freaking impossible nightmare regardless. Both times I’ve tried, different recipes, I’ve wound up with an almost-impossible-to-work lump that was nonetheless sticky enough to be problematic, even when I put all my weight onto the flour-dusted trilobite mold.
Paul Lord 12/22 '18
This is really interesting, because I’m using 2 different recipes and they’re vastly different. One called for many different spices, vanilla, and chilling the dough overnight. The other called for a 1/2 cup of boiling water as a final step, apparently to keep the molasses from being too stiff. I didn’t find the reason in the printed recipe, I learned it by calling a neighbor to ask if the batter was supposed to look like soup.
I don’t mind complex recipes, if they explain the reasons behind the chemistry in the recipe.

I’ll let you know how the stiffer batch of dough works out. I suspect it may be similar to what you described.

Thank you for making me feel like less of an idiot.
I want to try again, because TRILOBITE MOLDS. But I'm wary. I will also keep you posted.
Paul Lord 12/22 '18
I vote for trilobite molds. Pics or I don’t believe it.
Pics to follow when we return home. Just landed in NJ for the week.
Paul Lord 12/23 '18
Ooh! Where in NJ?
Clifton!
Paul Lord 12/24 '18
Wheee! I went to school in Montclair and my grandparents lived in Bloomfield. Woooot!
Paul Lord 12/29 '18edited
As promised, glazed gingerbread trilobites, from a couple years ago.
Paul Lord 12/29 '18
 

I’m cutting down on my screen time, but this is a worthwhile exception. 

John Leguizamo is insane and hilarious, the show is rooted in heartfelt familial relationships, and includes a viable bibliography and a lot of dancing. 100% worth your time. It’s not just about history, it’s more about integrity. 

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11/19 '18 3 Comments
we watched that the other day! It was awesome.
Rabbit 11/20 '18
Yaaas. I also watched it the other day. Second the recommendation. So worth it!
Ursula Sadiq 11/20 '18
I didn’t like how he made Montezuma gay, but I can see that somebody wanted him to do his drag character. So I’ll forgive it.