Happy Thanksgiving, you calendar-minded people
And BE SURE to keep scrolling down to read Black Bear’s PEGASUS AND CAKE updates, and especially to applaud the Urbana, Illinois PRC’s poster.
I’ve been, as Niall likes to say (but he has better teeth than I do), dented. Two hours in the tortu—I mean the dentist’s chair this afternoon. I’m thinking, hey, McKinley, it’s only two hours—the day has twenty four of ’em. Yes, but not all hours are created equal. Hours spent in the dentist’s chair count for quadrillion.* I’m now officially shattered till 2251.** Then I had to, ahem, hurtle home and pelt out with hellhounds again*** because Thursday is handbell evening. Gaaaaaaah. A sane woman would CANCEL for pity’s sake† . . . but I left sanity behind long ago. ††
It was not one of our more glorious evenings. When it was just Colin, Niall and I, Niall was thirty three percent of us, bob minor on six bells is some really impressive algorithm easier than bob major on eight, and I’m actually not too bad at bob minor myself.††† Bob major . . . Niall is only twenty-five percent of us, Colin and Fernanda are still thinking like tower ringers‡ . . . and I can’t ring the damn thing to save my life.‡‡ The only thing that is saving us, to the extent that we are being saved, and we’re talking a broken spar in a gale halfway between South Africa and Tasmania and I’m sure there are sharks in the vicinity, is my peculiar small gift for ringing the lines of the method as I’m reading them off a piece of paper. If I were a magician, while everybody else was saving the world and creating Taj Mahals and Hanging Gardens of Babylon with a wand-wave and a few muttered words, I’d be cleaning shoes. Well, sometimes you really need clean shoes.‡‡‡ Sigh. But I think I may be reading the lines off a piece of paper for the rest of my semi-saved life. I’m not sure Niall was best advised to say brightly at the end of the evening, as we were all preparing to crawl away and drown our sorrows in our respective liquids of choice,§ John Paternoster told me that it took them a year to get bob major right! The Paternosters are handbell royalty. There are about eight of them—some brothers, some cousins, and at least one dad§§—I’ve even rung with John. Think Gary Cooper in HIGH NOON. I didn’t like ringing with John: he makes me feel like one of the townsfolk hiding behind a door and listening for the noon train. And it took them a year to get bob major right? Whimper.§§§
Meanwhile, for the majority of Days in the Life’s readers, it’s Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you’re having a better time than I am. The anaesthetic has worn off. It’s time to apply chocolate. . . .
* * *
* Which, assuming a conventional professional hourly rate, would explain the cost. AAAAAIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE. You’re all planning on buying multiple copies of PEGASUS for Christmas presents, right? I really need the money. And I have to go back to R’lyeh in three weeks and do it all again. Including the writing-the-cheque-afterward part.
My dentist looked a little tired himself. The flush of chartreuse across his sharp cheekbones was muted, the slender writhing coils of his hair were looser than usual, even his long yellow talons seemed blunted. But his eyes still glittered when he started the drill, and the front eighty-four of his teeth that you can see when he smiles^ gleam in their own horripilant light.
**Hey! Maybe I’ll meet Mr Spock!
*** I’ve realised that I love sports afternoons at the local comprehensive [school]. This means that there are kids everywhere on the big open grounds and morons walking their aggressive, mannerless dogs keep them on lead.
† Or possibly Shub-Niggurath’s.
†† Occasionally I send it a postcard.
††† At least some of the time, and particularly on the trebles.
‡ What is this second frelling clinky thing in my other hand. Make it go away.
‡‡ At least the other three of them have rung it in the tower (she says sullenly). I have not. I think I’ve fudged a plain course or two on the treble. I wouldn’t have a clue about inside.
‡‡‡ I’d be extremely glad for a wand-wave and a charm that would clean my All Stars without recourse to such low and inefficient options as laundry soap and washing machines.
§ No, actually. Cider—British brewed cider. I don’t drink champagne every night.^ And good cider is lovely.
^ See: writing cheques to dentists from R’lyeh. Even most of our champagne nights aren’t champagne, they’re just fizzy. Fortunately cheap fizz has got a lot better lately.
§§ Yep. All blokes. I’m not going there.
§§§ And speaking of whimper . . . have I told you that Beltower arrived? The ringing ap that Tilda recommended, because it has little cartoon people ringing the bells on your screen so in theory it looks more like the real situation in the tower, when you’re looking around at big real people ringing the bells? I loaded it yesterday. AAAAAAAAAAUGH.^ All right, maybe I’ll get accustomed to it. Maybe I’ll learn to use it and it will teach me Cambridge minor and Grandsire triples and Spliced Doolally Surprise Maximus. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and PEG II will be finished, and I can read the ending and find out what happens.
^ There sure is a lot of screaming tonight. Okay, I have no reason to give you this link except that it was in today’s GUARDIAN and I like Stephen Sondheim. The article is excerpted from his FINISHING THE HAT which regular blog readers will remember Peter gave me for my birthday last week. Sondheim does not suffer from any nonsense about Pollyanna or not speaking ill of the dead, which is only what you’d expect from the man responsible for SWEENEY TODD. It’s a thought-provoking article for anyone at least remotely interested in classic music theatre: which would include me.
But this is the bit I want to draw your attention to, even if you’re not interested in music theatre, classic, Sondheim, or otherwise:
The pencils I write with are Blackwings, a brand formerly made by Eberhard Faber but alas no longer. Their motto, printed proudly on the shaft, is “Half the pressure, twice the speed” and they live up to that promise. They utilise very soft lead, which makes them not only easy to write with (although extremely smudgy) but also encourages the user to waste time repeatedly sharpening them, since they wear out in minutes. They also have removable erasers which, when they have dried out, can be reversed to resume their softness.
I write on a yellow legal pad with 32 lines, allowing alternate words to be written above one another without either crowding or wasting the space. These pads are hard to find, as most come with fewer or more lined spaces. Having been warned that stationery supplies are frequently discontinued, I had the good sense to stock up on them, as well as the Blackwings, before they disappeared, and now have a life-time supply.
Emphasis mine. I love this. I am so there. You find a system that you like and you want to keep it, and progress and innovation be damned. The problem is that you couldn’t do it with typewriter ribbons, because eventually they dry out, and then the moving parts of your typewriter wear out and suddenly you find yourself with a computer. Screaming. . . . I wonder if Sondheim had to put in a weight-bearing attic floor anywhere—?
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