TCWC Concert and the Fight Against the Season

On Saturday, I sang 2 concerts with the TCWC; it was our usual “Illuminations” concert we do in lieu of a more traditional holiday concert. The music this time was STUNNING.

We opened with different settings of the words attributed to Chief Seattle (though not really said by him; thanks Snopes!):

This we know.
The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth.
This we know.
All things are connected like the blood that unites one family.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.
This we know.
We did not weave the web of life.
We are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
This we know.

We sang songs about the earth, about stars, about the moon, and about the rise of the sun. The words from one of them, “Cycle Four,” made me cry EVERY DAMN TIME I sang them:

The earth itself is a spaceship; the crew rides on the outside in everlasting orbit around the sun.
Seen from the moon, it is so tiny and fragile.
I wish leaders from every nation could see the world from here.
Those precious borders are invisible.
The brilliant globe is surrounded by blackness and turns serenely in the sunlight.
Viewing our planet from the moon, I cry.
The pristine blue and whiteness I see is an illusion.
Hiding beneath it I know there is an ever more senseless ugliness.

And we did the Randall Thompson version of “Choose Something Like A Star” whose words by Robert Frost are, I think, truly inspirational:

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud;
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says “I burn.”
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

I’m not going to link to this song, but I’m sure you can go find a version of it on YouTube if you wish, and I highly recommend it; it’s truly beautiful.

(Also, it goes HIGH. I mean, I’m a high first soprano and it can be exhausting after a while. This whole concert was that way, though. My poor vocal cords were DONE on Saturday night. Anyway.)

The thing about music at this time of year is that, while I am tired tired TIRED of Christmas carols, pretty much all of them, I love the music that fits the season without being about it. I love the music about the darkness that gives way to light, about people making their everyday lives about joy, about hope and rebirth and kindness and generosity.

The winter tests people when it comes; the cold and dark and early sunset push against the shadows in our minds. I am typing this now at 4:01pm Central Time, and already the sun is gone from the sky. Night will fall in a matter of minutes. It was dark when I left the house for work and it will be dark before I get home. The shortest day of the year up here in the north is truly short.

Sometimes I think we fill it up with a false cheerfulness from the holidays, the blaring bouncy songs on the radio and in stores, the aggressively green and red decorations, the screaming lights. Sometimes I think this whole Christmastime bustle is one big fight against the darkness that closes in on all sides and heralds the cold and ice and snow to come.

And you know what?

While I am SO TIRED of the overplayed music, and I roll my eyes at the commercialization, and I get irritated by the false cheer and kindness that melts away on December 26th when it should be a way of living year-round — in spite of all of that, I find it deeply appealing to live in an entire culture basically telling the dark and cold and gloom and despair to go choke on a Christmas tree.

“Yeah, yeah, dark and cold and blah. I’ll show you! I’m going to put up the most OBNOXIOUS lights I can, deck my house and my store and everything with as much gold and red and green and silver as I can lay hands on! You think the wind and snow will keep me quiet? How loudly do you want to hear my music? You think you can make me stay home and sulk? IT IS SHOPPING TIME.”

I don’t really think it’s intentional, but I do think that’s what happens. I think the year closing to the winter solstice is one big drain, and the way we fight it is with light and laughter and parties and singing and flowers and bows and good food and sappy movies. I think it’s an entire people using the same tricks I use against depression to hold back the season.

And it does work.

Even if I’m rolling my eyes while it goes.

But then, I usually appreciate a good show of defiance. As soon as you tell me that I need to bow down and let shadows fall, I usually start thinking about ways to light a candle. As soon as you tell me that being cold is an inevitability, I promise you I have figured out how to keep warm.

The thing we need to work on overall, as a society, is to quit thinking that giving and cheer and kindness and smiling at strangers is only really a ‘thing’ in December. Charities need money and supplies every day of the year. People need music and lights and that uplifting display all the time. Smiling at people on the street or in the store should be the default, not the exception.

Kindness and generosity should be everyday miracles, not Christmas miracles.

I actually get weird looks sometimes when I do that sort of thing. I got glared at in the grocery store last week because I was making eye-contact and smiling at people, or gave a sincere, pause-rather-than-rushing-off-with-my-stuff thank you to the person at the register. More than one person gave me a look that should have been withering. Should have made me back off letting my own light shine.

But. Um.

That’s not…really how I roll.

Uh, at all.


If I have light, when I have light, I share it. That’s what I do. That’s what I’m FOR.

And you know what? For every variation on a glare, I got a smile in response. Tired smiles, surprised smiles, grateful smiles. I don’t expect any cashier to remember me, but I do see them breathe a little easier when I greet them cheerfully rather than with a dour or gruff look.

But maybe that’s the advantage, if there is such a thing, to living in a world of competing opposites. Of living day to day not knowing when the happiness and light are going to bleed from my soul and the cruelty inside my own head will start whispering again. When the energy I have to offer is poisoned and stripped until it is me who is needy with nothing left to give.

When you know the meaning of permanent, waiting-to-strike sorrow, maybe you know how precious it is to share joy when you have it.

When the mob in my head is swayed, I choose the star of kindness and defiance to set MY mind on, and I am staid.

For all the ugliness in the world, there is beauty, too. We have to look for it sometimes; we have to seek it out and draw it forth and wave it like a sword in the face of the advancing armies of darkness — but it is there.

And this is something I know.

Whatever we do to the web of life, we do to ourselves. Whatever I can put into the world will happen to others, those around me and those I’ve never so much as seen. When I vibrate the strands that connect us with a smile, with light, with laughter, I have to trust that my offering is reaching others. And know that theirs will come back to me.

We are all connected shouting against the winter dark in anticipation of the light. We are all one voice singing, sometimes aggravatingly, about joy and cheer. And we can’t stop the dark from falling, any more than we can — or should — stop the world from spinning.

But we can stop it from falling on each other and let it stay up in the sky where it belongs.

And that is a real miracle.


That’s Just Winter!

I actually wrote this a day early because I knew I’d spend today frantically running reports at work and then attending CVG-related meetings in the evening.  On the plus side, Friday gave me the perfect topic for the post, because Friday was COLD.

You know it’s going to be a long-ass winter when you hit record lows for 15 straight days at the end of the fall, and Nov 10th dawns at a whopping 12 degrees F.

Now, note that I write this knowing perfectly well that I’m going to look back at this in February and go “HA!” because 12 degrees in November will feel positively BALMY in February when hitting 0 is an improvement.  But that inexorable inching towards single digits is just an indicator of things to come for Minnesota.

That’s why I wrote “That’s Just Winter” a few years ago.  Because even being born and bred in the northern climes didn’t prepare me for the full-on horror that is a Minnesotan winter, not even counting when the polar vortex decides to vacation in the State of Hockey.  Winter is supposed to be cold and snow and ice — not, “Oh just cut it off, who needs a nose when it freezes solid in 3 seconds and, besides, then I could get the scarf up a little higher and less of my face would turn blue?”

Whenever we perform “That’s Just Winter” live, we get SUCH a laugh up here in Minnesota.  Because they all know it’s TRUE.

The holidays are coming, the Christmas specials and decorations are for sale (UGH.  Spare me.  It is not yet even THANKSGIVING.  Christmas is not allowed until nightfall on Turkey Day.  SERIOUSLY), and we’ve already had snow when it was sunny and ice when it wasn’t and stupid cold for no good reason.

And that’s truly just how winter works up here.

Funny note — Friday was close to single digits, but Saturday was in the 40s and today is even a bit warmer.  Because it can’t be consistent, either.  That would be cheating.

Funny note, the second — recording this particular video was NO fun at all.  Sarah was fine overall, though she got warm by the 2nd or 3rd take in her Candles Enough sweatshirt.  I, on the other hand, was ROASTING; I was beet-red by the last take, which we couldn’t use because I looked like I’d painted my face with actual red paint.  That hat works in -30 degree winds.  I know, I’ve needed it.  It is FAR less pleasant in a heated house.  Ultimately we picked the best recording we had at the time not because it was perfect, but because I was going to have heatstroke if we didn’t stop!

It’s almost…


Writing and Soundtracks

(I know it’s the day before Halloween, so you’d think I’d be writing something vaguely seasonal, but I’m not, mainly because I don’t have a picture to show you!  Maybe next week.)

Music breathes in just about everything I do, not unlike how writing and characters and plots dance in my head no matter what else I’m thinking about.  So, for obvious reasons, these things tend to help one another, particularly when I’m having trouble.

I don’t always write listening to music, particularly when I’m so hyper-focused (or trying to get a ton done really quickly) that I fail to notice that I’m not listening to anything.  But if I’m even an ounce less intensely banging out words, I notice the quiet in my head and I try to fill it up.

How I fill the silence, though, depends on the project.

I have a playlist of 4 songs which I will put on continuous, permanent repeat at times, especially when I don’t have any particular themesongs in mind for whatever I’m writing.  If I don’t mind words and lyrics in my music, and I don’t have specific songs I am using to drive myself or the narrative or the atmosphere along, I go for my set of four:
Desert Rose by Sting
Sound of Silence by Disturbed
A Song of Storm and Fire from the anime Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle by Yuki Kajiura
Yoake Umarekuru Shoujo from the anime Shakugan no Shana by Yoko Takahashi

When I don’t want sung lyrics in English but I don’t mind words in general, I often pull up the Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle soundtrack, or, if I’m in a really bright mood, the music from the anime Macross Frontier by Yoko Kanno.  The advantage of both is that I know all the songs really well and I know all the lyrics, even in Japanese, and I can generally listen to them without being distracted.  The disadvantage is that, if I’m even slightly likely to get caught up and NOT focus without singing along in my head, they can bring me to a complete and total halt in a matter of minutes.

(Especially when Seikan Hikou or Northern Cross come on, because then I not only want to be singing along, but I want to be practicing the dance, and that is even less helpful for writing.)

Lately, if I’ve wanted music with no lyrics (in English or otherwise), I’ve been drawing on the instrumental soundtracks by Ramin Djawadi, with particular emphasis on Iron Man and Pacific Rim.  Game of Thrones works, too, but I don’t love it nearly as well.

And then there are stories and series which have their own specific soundtracks.

For example, my Tears of Revelry series from 2013-2014 was written with a very particular list of songs associated with it:
Seven Devils by Florence + the Machine
Remember the Name by Fort Minor
We Are One by 12 Stones
Lexington by Alpha Rev

I did the same with Bonds of Honor later that year, too:
What I’ve Done by Linkin Park
Animal I Have Become by Three Days Grace
Some Nights by fun.
Phoenix Burn by Alpha Rev

The Temple Steps Alight the following year had a soundtrack I actually described in detail in my massive “here’s what all went on in my head while writing this behemoth” story:
Through Glass by Stone Sour
I Will Not Bow by Breaking Benjamin
Bright Lights and Cityscapes by Sara Bareillis
Aquarius by Digital Daggers

Nexus Rising had one, too, borrowing from those above but adding some new ones of its own:
Wrong Side of Heaven by Five Finger Death Punch
Born to Rise by Redlight King

The entirety of my Fate Is A Gift series has been given a single anthem, which I really only identified around the time I was writing #14 in the series: All These Things That I’ve Done.

The series that’s been going up all year, The Death-Knell of Silence, has a soundtrack of one song per book/act in the story, but I’m going to refrain from putting them up here because the last one hasn’t gone live yet!  Similarly, the stories I’ve written this year that will go live next year have soundtracks of their own, with a whole bunch of new music I’ve recently discovered (with a lot of help from Sarah and her various radio stations).

If you ever hear an AWESOME song that you think to yourself, “Hey, that would make a good theme for a story,” send it my way!  This past year, I’ve added more music than usual to the ranks of the songs I use for soundtracks and inspiration and chapter titles, and even themes.  A few of the songs Sarah found for me actually induced me to write something new.

So if you have something, let me know!  Who only knows what it will inspire me to write next time?

Of all the songs I’ve ever associated with writing, though, there’s one which always, always works for me.  One song which, no matter how distractible I am, no matter how hard it is for me to get my words moving, will center me and reignite the part of my brain that can think and create and write.  One song in which I lose myself, and always find myself.

And, no, I have no idea WHY it’s this one.  But I’m going to trust in it to carry me today and tomorrow for the end of my writing year 2017!


Film and Dance

So, I’ve been watching this on YouTube about every other day since it crossed Sarah’s FaceBook feed, and every time I am still in awe.

I think, sometimes, we get caught up in the grand spectacles of special effects, CGI, and blockbuster budgets.  But sometimes a simple, beautiful, skillful dance can leave all of that stuff in the dust.



Gregorian and The Last Unicorn

So, this week I discovered a new band.  It seems to happen to me that I only come upon things after their heyday has ended.  I do this with music, with books, with TV series — give it 2-3 years minimum after a thing was big, and that’s when I stumble across it.

Which, on the one hand, robs me of the chance to share it when it is new and exciting with like-minded people, but, on the other, gives me the opportunity to get to enjoy it all at once when it is finished, or go in knowing it never will be.  For TV series, in particular, this has served me well in protecting me from killer season-ending cliff-hangers.

This time, the discovery is of the band Gregorian.

Basically, take one part stellar choral singers, one part German rock, and one part Gregorian style 7-tone musical scales, and mix with pop songs.  I stumbled onto them through their versions of “The Sound of Silence” and “Hallelujah” and promptly needed to buy all their music, which I’ve pretty much listened to unceasingly since then.

And if they hadn’t won me over by being amazing at what they were already doing, they acquired my loyalty forever by producing this:

The song “The Last Unicorn” comes from the movie of the same name based on the book by Peter S. Beagle and that book, and movie, are one of the cornerstones of my entire life.  It’s one of the secretly greatest fantasy novels of all time, funny and moving and surprising and irreverent and shockingly real all at once.  The movie was a staple of my childhood into my adulthood; it followed me to college and into my first apartment and everywhere else since.  The music had a permanent place in my stereo for a couple of years (when stereos were still a thing).

I met Peter S. Beagle once while he was on tour and came through Minnesota.  (There’s a lot to the story of Mr. Beagle that I’m not going to go into right now — but it’s worth some research on your part if you’re concerned.  You should be.)  He signed my book, and I also bought a poster rendition of The Last Unicorn which he signed for me, too.  But when I was standing there, I just had to tell him.

In many ways, I was a last unicorn myself.  And the story of Mr. Beagle’s unicorn gave me the courage to go on my own journey and find my own people.

(Mr. Beagle told me that a young woman had said the same thing to him once, a woman adopted into a family of a different ethnic background than her own.  That “you can find your people if you are brave,” and that sometimes the people who belong to us, and to whom we belong, are different than the ones we expect or even know to go searching to find.  He also told me he stole that line from a poem he read in his youth and couldn’t remember where he got it from now, but he was glad it had helped me.)

Sometimes I am Molly Grue, fierce and fearless and honest and brash and true, and only the last unicorn in the world would ever come to me when I am this.  Sometimes I am Schmendrick, adrift and trapped in the lostness inside my own skin and foolish and wise at the same time and clever and desperate, and I did not know that I was so empty to be so full.  Sometimes I am Lir, noble and brave and driven by a heart I can scarcely recognize and generous and sorrowful and alone, and bound on all sides by the knowledge that things must happen when it is time for them to happen.

But sometimes I am the unicorn.

When the first breath of winter through the flowers is icing
And you look to the north and a pale moon is rising
And it seems like all is dying and would leave the world to mourn
In the distance hear the laughter of the last unicorn


CONvergence 2016: Here’s to Us

Halestorm is an AMAZING band and I have all the envious feelings about Lzzy Hale’s voice.  Seriously.  She is a powerhouse of awesome and talent.

Especially the more Sarah and I have gotten into our volunteering with Operations at CONvergence, though, this song has a lot more meaning for us.  Because when it comes to amount of work people put in to make CVG go, the time and effort and stress being shared by a hundred leaders and a thousand volunteers — it is EPIC.  But it isn’t just the volunteers or leaders.  It’s all the geeks and nerds and dorks gathered together, having survived another year in a world of muggles where we are the outsiders and the outcasts and the strange ones.  It’s all of us who get to celebrate our oddities together at CONvergence and, for one weekend, get to be ourselves in a world where that isn’t always easy.  All of us deserve to be toasted, deserve to sing out together about all the mistakes and bad times and good times and awesome moments of triumph and just enjoy having gotten this far together.

Here’s to us, CONvergence.

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!


CONvergence 2016: CONvergence Races

Every year, CONvergence has a theme which gets worked into the art and panel discussions and such, and for 2016 it was “And how do we get there?”  So I decided to do an appropriate song.  Connie and Mark 2 are some of the mascots of CONvergence, and I thought as space-age robots themselves, they might enjoy a little competition amongst the best in the universe.  The poster Sarah and I created to advertise our show had a bunch of space-faring vessels racing, mostly because I wrote this song.

Here’s the poster:

Funny story about the poster — the person who helped me with it placed the ships randomly.  But she’d never seen Babylon 5, and didn’t know what the Minbari war cruiser was, nor how it worked (it’s the one in the bottom right of the image).  So, originally, she put it on there backwards, turned the other way.  This made me laugh SO HARD because it looked like the Minbari had taken one glance at this ridiculous space race and did the Minbari equivalent of “On second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.” and left.

Funny story about the song — yes, we reference the end of the movie Serenity.  SPOILER ALERT: WASH DIES.  It’s been 15 years, folks.  But we still got somebody in the back yelling “Too soon!” at that verse.  Oh well.  We also got some serious groaning for our crack at The Doctor’s nose.

I ALMOST put a joke on the end that the prize was “an extra hour in the ball pit.”  Points if you know the reference!

(But you’re here, reading my blog, so you probably do.  Or you’re a bot.  But not as cool as Connie or Mark 2.)

(All hail!)

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!


CONvergence 2016: Yoru no Uta

This is a song I stole from an anime I absolutely adore and I don’t give even one shit, let alone two, that it’s for little girls under the age of 12.  Nope.  Don’t care.  Just like I don’t care that I love ninja turtles or anything else.  Cardcaptor Sakura has a lot to offer in it, even to a grown up woman.  The characters are outstanding, the character development is superb and subtle and utterly charming, and the life lessons help when sometimes you need to be reminded that you can handle what life throws at you.

I sing a lot of Japanese songs from anime, actually.  Basically any anime that gives me music I like, I’ll eventually learn to sing in full.  And if there’s a dance involved, I learn that, too — notably, I’ve mastered the dance to “Seikan Hikou” from Macross Frontier.  Which I have NOT recorded, thank you very much, but I can dance it!

Part of the reason we programmed this song was that I wanted something gentle to follow “Jagged,” something soothing but that would also give people the chance to think and feel before I asked them to really listen again.  Singing in a foreign language is good for that sort of thing.  Sarah wasn’t overwhelmingly happy that I programmed it because the guitar part didn’t exist anywhere in any form she could use, so she had to make it up off the audio track directly.  But I love what she did with it.  I only wish it weren’t quite so weirdly complicated and she could sing the harmony with me!

This is the basic translation to the Japanese verses:

In the night sky, they twinkle
The far stars of gold
The same color as the small bird
That looked up in my dream last night

In the sleepless night,
I sing this song alone
Together with the blowing wind,
I fly riding on my thoughts

In the night sky, it sparkles
The distant moon of silver
The same color as the wild rose
That was blooming in my dream last night

In the gentle night,
I sing this song alone
Let me sing with you tomorrow
Riding the wings of our dreams

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!


CONvergence 2016: Jagged

Truthfully, I’m not sure I can talk about this song.  There’s too much in it.  Too much of me and my hurts and Sarah and hers.  Sarah wrote it for me in June 2002, and no matter what, it will always hold truth for both of us.  And I think it is possibly the finest thing she has ever written.  The lyrics still bite down into me and surprise me and I’ve been singing this song for 15 years.

This song is one we dedicate to friends and strangers, depending on the day.  Today, I’m dedicating it to you, if you need it.  I don’t know who you are or what you’re going through or how life has treated you.  I don’t know if these words are imprinted on your soul the way they were or are on mine.

And I’m not trying to be pithy and I’m not trying to be insincere.

But, honestly — if you need it, if you need someone who’s been there…

I give you my love
And hope that it will be enough.

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!


CONvergence 2016: Binary/Shenandoah

I don’t think I can overstate how meaningful this song is to Sarah and I.  Originally we wrote it for our wedding and just called it “Binary.”  Later, when we were gigging with Beth Kinderman, we wanted to do a cover of Shenandoah and realized they were in the same key and sort of slotted them together.  And that only gave the song more meaning.

There’s a lot in here that just IS my relationship with Sarah.  “The inevitable draw of gravity’s pull” sums things up fairly well.  We met one day and were friends soon after and became thereby inextricably bound.  Sarah is essential to me, to my life, and the pull that is between us is far stronger than any gravity you could name.  And I think we knew, even then at the start, that there was an inevitability to us, that whatever path we took in life or whatever happened, we were going to be there beside each other.

We really are a binary system, in orbit around one another, and the only end for us was to become one stable unit.  You can’t measure me without her, or her without me.  We can’t BE without the other.  And, in the end, if and when we go down, we’ll go down together.  Because I became who I am with her, and she became herself with me.  The me that exists now only exists because of her.

Also, yay for a song where I got to talk about quantum particles!

The line “It is said that we’re all a soul split in two and fallen from space” actually comes from an oversimplification of a story from Plato about the first humans.  The myth was that the first humans were created by splitting a prior being with a whole bunch of extra limbs and bits in half, and that those halves would search for each other in order to find true peace.  And there is something, well, not literal, but something to the idea that I, at least, spent all of my life before Sarah looking for Sarah.  Looking exactly for her, in every way.  She’s exactly 5 weeks and 12 hours older than me, and we joke that because I’m younger I was clearly born into the world already waiting for her to find me.

But it wasn’t always easy.  There were lots of things that made life difficult.  When not at college, we were physically divided by distance.  Either way, we were navigating being with a person of the same gender in a society that was not always friendly (and sometimes was downright hostile), and that was very painful for us.  And we both sometimes suffer with depression or anxiety, in different ways, and that made it feel like we were together, but separated by a great chasm or a pane of glass that kept us from being able to reach one another.

“Shenandoah” started as our song about being parted by the river, about not being together in the same state during school vacations.  But it became about all the things in the world that threatened what we had found.  It was about being pulled apart by forces not under our control, either internal or external.  About inevitably knowing that we would be separated again, that days would come when we couldn’t find one another through the haze of our brains being unkind.  That we would spend our lives sometimes right next to one another, and yet very alone.

But in the end, neither of us is going anywhere.  In the end, “I’ll take my love across your rolling waters.”  In the end, we’ll carry each other through those tough times.  In the end, whatever the future brings, we’ll walk into it together, side by side.

Wherever Sarah is for the rest of her days, I will be standing there.

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!