...TO MAKE MUCH OF
B A R R Y L A N D .

 

 

things i did in 99.
a moustache-twisting journal of the few things in my life worth mentioning

12  |  11  |  10  |  09  |  08  |  07  |  06  |  05  |  04  |  03  |  02  |  01  |  2000  |  99  |  98  |  97

 

 

 

 

 

yeah

 

hedonist's paradise.
a flattering newspaper review of my music

the woods, the beach, the court, the fire.
powerful words from a modern master of the sunday sermon

sex and suits.
anne hollander talks about why the man's suit has lasted 200 years

emails from GOD.
some correctives to righteous fwds

postmodernism.
you've heard it talked about, but what is it, and what do we do with it?

anna k.
a few luminous passages that show you why it's a certified Great Book

the sceptered isle.
diaries from my adventure in sunny england

 

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got pleurisy

What a cruel disease! You can't breathe in or out very deeply at all, which leads to yawning, which leads to pain so great that at times your body doesn't allow it. I had to sneeze a few times, and the uptake was so bad that my body actually shut down the sneezing process. When I found out I had it, I was surprised — it's an old-fashioned-sounding affliction, and in olden days it killed. Several composers died of it: it's a poor man's disease, brought on by cold and exposure to the elements. I got it by pushing myself far too hard right when I had a respiratory infection. Not wise. And now, I'm forever more susceptible to it.

 

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broke up with misti

and broke up my heart. In March, after over two years, it came down to whether we were going to get married or not, and I just didn't have that little thing in there that everyone says you should have, that says "yes." So, it was the most painful kind of breakup: not precipitated by a fight or any unpleasantness at all. It's still painful nearly a year later, and nearly a year later still doesn't feel entirely right. If you've ever wished God spoke to you from a burning bush, then you know how I feel.

 

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prommed in london

The BBC Proms truly is the world's greatest music festival, and I was there. Not for all 80-odd concerts, but for a few, right toward the end. Some stellar performances, in an unforgettable atmosphere. Sir Henry Wood's idea, that the common folk would flock to hear the greatest classical musicians in the world if only it was cheap enough, turned out to be not only true but beautiful. Bravo! I'm going back.

 

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raved in london

right near where it all started. It was interesting to compare this one with the rave scene in Texas: more theatrical, more Cirque de Soleil-ish, just as grooving, and the music is quite similar. Interesting — electronic music is by all responsible accounts the most popular music in the world, though it still has an underworld frisson. And it rivals only classical music in its adherents' tendency to think globally while acting locally.

 

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moved out

and became the first person in my family ever to set up housekeeping alone. An experience not as odd as I'd expected. I think that I was already used to it since, for years, I had basically a large place to myself in the family home, and rarely saw my parents anyway. Still, it's neat to have a kitchen and living room of one's own, organized and decorated according to one's own philosophy.

 

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learned html

During a two-week illness (99 was by far the sickest year of my life!) I sat down and started messing around, and by the time I was through I'd learned it well enough to put together a website. Which reminds me:

 

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got a website

Yep, it's been only a year or so since the advent of barryland. I get strange mails from all over, from long lost friends who've magically happened on the site, and from random folks all over who respond to the odd collection of articles and ideas. One guy told me that he'd been searching for a very specific thing, and my site came up first! Ahh, the wonders of the web. At last, the phrase "Hello, World!" is actually meaningful.

 

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put out CDs

I'd done plenty of projects for other people, but this last year I did two of my own: a solo CD and a Christmas album with our jazz group, the Protagonists. What fun, to finally get one's name on the cover. They're selling decently, too, thus making more recordings possible.

 

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watched my grandmother die

She'd been declining for about a year, and then in July she finally let go. A remarkable woman. Her last couple of weeks alive she was mentally in a fog, but came out a few times, to surprising lucidity: when my parents read the 23rd Psalm to her, she quoted it verbatim along with them; and a few moments before she died, she journeyed back from the depths to say to my dad, "I love you." A fitting last effort for a woman dedicated to quality of life, in everything from the way she decorated to the way she mentored poor kids into her late 80s.

 

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built a music shelf

I outgrew my old one, which I'd also designed. So I did some measuring, and bought some boards and lights, and created something I've never seen before: a stand that explores an unexplored aspect of CD design, the way the cases capture light. I'm delighted over and over with my gleaming jewels of music. Like it?

 

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got a cd burner

as well as a relatively new computer — and actually paid for them, thus violating a major personal rule of mine. Ah, but one gives in to technology. It is nice to have these conveniences, though I can no longer say that I write symphonies and create websites on a computer whose market value is $10.

 

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buzzed my hair off

Yep. One fine day I told my barber to cut it short. When I got home I looked in the mirror and said, "That's not short enough." So I took out the buzzer and buzzed it all. Didn't look bad, but I probably won't do it again.

 

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did an urban/r&b album

for a talented singer and songwriter. It was a great project from beginning to end, because at every step she stubbornly held out for quality. At one point, during the final mix, we even had to get out the microphones and set everything up just so she could re-record one note. When she started acting apologetic about that, I just told her how glad I was that she felt the way I did about music — when I think of how many musicians (even, and especially, Christian artists, God forgive us) I've had to beg and plead with in order to get them to simply do their best, I'm thankful for her. Finally, proof that sincerity is not the foe of art! The project is really something I can be proud of.

 

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arranged my roughly 50th Sing act

I do this every year: arrange and direct music for Baylor's All-University Sing, in which nearly 20 fraternities and sororities each put on a short revue, with their own costumes, sets, choreography, and a dizzying array of music: in one show we'll go from Ave Maria to Mariah Carey to the Blues Brothers to Johnny Cash to Gregorian Chant to Cole Porter to Rossini, with virtually everything in between. It's a fun way to keep in touch with my alma mater while doing the thing I love: putting together music that makes people smile, cry, think, laugh with astonishment, and sing along.

 

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observed my dad's retirement

After years of lawyering, my dad stopped. He's now in the grandfather business, and says he can't figure out how he'd ever had time to go to work. The going away party was amazing, with testimonials from co-workers about how inspiring he was, and what a singular man of integrity. Even his sparring partners in the US Marshall's office showed up and gave a nice tribute — a first. The whole thing is a message to all who will hear: your life is tiled with everyday rhythms and interactions, and when every tile is clean and beautiful, you've got yourself a good picture.

 

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commissioned a work of art

in conjunction with my dad's retirement. We three brothers and families wanted to do something special for him, and settled on an original artwork by Brother Cletus, a hip monk in San Antonio who's something of a local arts hero, and quite a craftsman in many fields. We gave him a passage from the Psalms that perfectly described Dad's career, and a few months later I got a call from Cletus, and went down to behold a thing of beauty. Dad liked it, too. Take a look.

 

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ate java chip ice cream

I suppose I have a strangely monogamous attitude toward ice cream. Previously I'd always preferred the crispness and tang of sherbet, but a couple of years ago briefly veered into cookies and cream; last year I almost exclusively ate java chip, which is coffeeish and highly creamy. Odd. But recently I've been craving sherbet again. Why do tastes go through these stages?

 

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saw laurie anderson's Stories & Songs from Moby-Dick.

What exactly do you call this work? Opera? Performance art? Actually, the best term may be "Gesamtkunstwerk," Wagner's term for the artwork that contains all arts — dance, music, poetry, singing, costuming, painting, drama, and more. Anderson's project turned out to be as multi as the work it honored, and very much in its spirit. Decades into her career, she's still the trenchcoat-clad sprite with messed-up hair, playing her souped-up violin and spouting ironic wisdom in a way that understates and overstates at the same time. And the production itself was a flawless display of the earliest and latest technologies, perfectly blended. A treat.

 

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embarked on my tenth year of teaching sunday school

when I got out of college, Dixie Kingston — the 50-year-old female version of me in many ways — invited me to teach in her high school department, and I've been there ever since, with usually 10th- or 11th-graders. That's such a great age, when you re-emerge into the world of ideas, and I'm glad I've been there for them. When I was that age, there really wasn't a young adult who was smart and skeptical and liberal and conservative in all the right places, and so I've tried to be that for these people. From this vantage point I remember painfully well how little respect teenagers get, and I find that they're mostly grateful for my respect and interest. And I'm always grateful as well when someone, years later, recalls something I did or said, and tells me it worked.

 

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spent some time away from the Ring

As you may know, Wagner's Ring Cycle is never far from my mind. It's pretty much the pinnacle of Western civilization, and it's one of those works that's pleasantly overwhelming: I love knowing that there's no way to ever get all there is to get out of it. For some reason, though, I didn't do much thinking about it or listening to it this last year. So, during the final week of 1999, I was ready to experience it again, and, with a few friends, watched the Bayreuth video version on a 10 foot screen with a huge sound system. Satisfying.

 

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made some dance music

Got together with Leslie Siegel, an old friend from elementary school days (and a brilliant dancer), and did some work, in the zone where work and play are one and the same. She's simply a delight, very intelligent and multi-talented, and multi-interested. Her house was a riot of paintings, unfinished sculptures, Pilates equipment, books, and unclassifiable projects. And her mind was the same way. We performed together at San Antonio's Jump-Start Theater, where we simply improvised like jazz musicians, except it was legit modern dance. It was fun for me to improvise modern classical music again like I did endlessly in college, and she and I bounced off each other's ideas, commuting them from dance to music to dance to music, and art was the result. It never failed to please the audiences, who were thrilled to find out we were just going off the cuff with a minimum of structure. The experience expanded my artistic vocabulary, and reminded me how exhilarating the act of creation is. Thanks, Leslie.

 

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did a lot of duo gigs

some with the guitarist Mike Brannon, and some with the bassist Greg Norris. The jazz duo setting is more different from a trio than you might expect: even though the missing element (drums) isn't a harmonic or melodic one, it leaves a huge gap that has to be filled in. So it's more work, but it also brings freedom to move. Listening to only one other person, and responding to him, and being responded to, is a really intimate thing, and over a long time you really get to know a person's style and can dance with the ease of an old couple. The audience senses it, and responds better, too. The great thing about being a musician is that the stuff that makes you happy is also the stuff that forges you into a better artist.

 

 

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what a year. dedicated to the glory of God.

==============

so, what did you do?

 

 

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