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from Friday, November23rd of the year2007.

Did everybody see this article about Pope Benedict trying to make the Vatican choir sing more gregorian chant? I’m sort of with him; the older stuff, as far as Papist Choral Music goes, is much better. Also, the Vatican Choir(s), at least the time I’ve heard them, are pretty grim. That space is so acoustically unforgiving that you end up with a lot of shouting and a lot of intonation issues. I would love it if the Vatican were the place where you could go to hear amazing Gregorian chant; I’ve always thought that the plainchant tradition was underrepresented in the (few) Catholic services I’ve attended. I like the idea of the older, more orthodox forms of Christianity retaining as much of their 400-500-600-700 year-old traditions as possible; there is plenty of room for that to happily coëxist with the more neon, hand-clapping and liturgical dancing forms of worship.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving! We managed to rustle up a fresh turkey breast (cooked on the grill), and then the following improvised treats:

img_0388.JPG– Potatoes and carrots puréed with their skins on (shh) with skyr, butter, garlic, and cream

– Carrots with ginger syrup and maple syrup from my parents’ neighbors in Vermont

img_0387.JPG– Brussels Sprouts (which I cooked with a sauce made out of melted Funyuns (“steiktur laukur”), which are sort of a national treat here, and are to be found atop most hot dogs) with hot pepper, butter, and steiktur laukur garnish. My mother, reached by phone when faced with the Sad Sprout Bag, recommended slicing them up to keep them from being too ugly, but then I had this unfulfillable fantasy of doing it that way with some sort of bacon product, which was nowhere to be found, so I stuck to the original Funyun plan.

– A serious red-wine and Funyun reduction for the turkey, thrice strained and blended

– Cranberry Sauce! They totally had one (1) bag of Ocean Sprayâ„¢ cranberries up in the Hagkaup in Kópavogur. I boiled it down with orange zest and put some secret ginger slices up in.

– I somehow also contrived to candy some ginger and orange peel in the hopes that people would eat it which, thank god they did.

img_0395.JPGAll-in-all, a very successful meal. I was sad that my scheme for foal-and-whale stuffing didn’t come to fruition but that’s probably for the best.

img_0375.JPGThe mix is proceeding nicely. I am in the mental-process right now of trying to decide the order of the tracks as well as the subdivision thereof (there are 3 songs each longer than 15 minutes; there is discussion of splitting them up on the album which would require that each section have, at the very least, a title). A lot of late night notes have been taken (click to enlarge the evidence). I always wonder about the importance of sequencing an album; I know that if I buy something, I will listen to it in its intended sequence maybe one or two times and that’s it (unless, obviously, it’s a classical pieces with movements, but even then, sometimes you only want the third movement of Sibelius 5, you know?). That said, I know that most people who still do CD’s (like my parents’ generation, and older) will appreciate a well-sequenced album and not just some alphabetized list sent over iChat.

It’s always fun to be in a place that isn’t observing a United States-only holiday. As I predicted, I have been extra productive because there isn’t the constant feeling that New York is moving quickly while I’m sitting in a hot tub. The internet is shut down in New York; Gawker isn’t updating itself, the Times is slowly chugging along, nobody is on instant messenger all day. It’s a great, relaxed feeling.

444237082_24e288ccef.jpgI’m about to go to the pool and sit for a bit. I am trying to devise ways to keep my hands out of water to keep them from turning into prunes.


  • Nico, let your travels take you to Solesmes. You will hear the most sublime Gregorian chant singing from the French Benedictines.

  • Indeed, they are quite unique. Perhaps this new Vatican scheme has something to do with the fact that Dom Saulnier is now in Rome?

  • Arni, that is very interesting. The course I took in chant at Solesmes in 1999 was through Robert Fowells at Cal. State, LA, who had forged a friendship with Dom Saulnier. The man is a tireless advocate for the beauty and primacy of chant.

  • I know, he´s amazing. Funny, I was also there in 1999, not for the course but doing some research in the Solesmes library and hanging out with Saulnier. He´s at the Pontifical Institute now, and I hear he´s doing fantastic things.

  • nico, this is so random i realize, but whosoever wrote the notes on the album sequencing has the most outrageously delicious penmanship. this is all