The Christmas pageant in Kindersley Saskatchewan when I was 14 is historically the first recorded occurrence in the Canadian prairies of the karaoke. There was a paucity of singers in our class to match the celebration of the visitors to the Holy Family by the all and sundry but carols of the angels , shepherds and kings were part of the pageant and we practiced our parts. I was designated as the king who brought myrrh to the Holy child and I accompanied my gift with a gloomy rendition of the bitter perfume. A few days before the performance a strange thing happened to me and I emitted croaking sounds rather than the bitter but sweet sounds that I had hitherto produced. My voice had decided to change! It was unclear if this was temporary or not so we continued to wing it as my costume was good and my action was suitably gloom-ridden. The day of the pageant the teacher made a decision. Lorraine Collins, an angel, would position behind me and sing but I would make all the mouth movements to the audience of my myrrh verse and the joint verses as well. Lorraine had a high piping voice, joyous and angelic, but un-boy-like and certainly not anticipating sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, as I mouthed dying with my gloomy demeanor and her joyous rendition. I gave up karaoke after that.
What if everybody in the world, at the same day, at the same minute, opened their window, looked at the sky, took a big breath end yelled out their lungs saying, " Thank you very much, thank you a lot." The view would probably change, suffused suddenly with light and color, and clarity. On the other hand what if everybody in the world, at the same day, at the same minute, opened their window, looked at the sky, took a big breath and yelled out their lungs saying, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more." The view would darken and sounds of sorrow, tears and grief would arise. My new book "Listen to your Garden" , as I now know, is a love story. Its genre is thank you very much, thank you a lot. What if, is only wistful thinking! It may be that we often took everything for granted, or else some things for granted. In a distant time and a distant place we were given a grant that allowed us to live in a place of light and color and clarity. We may have spoiled it by forgetting to say thank you very much, thank you a lot for the grant we were given, and fell into saying something like I was mad as hell and I am not taking it any more. The movie "Network" ,describes television as "Indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the rubble of banality." The task of mankind is to recover the grant, or at least whatever is left for the wistful among us. Not just, as it were, taking the grant for granted.
In our little townhouse group we have a countertenor who has a wonderful voice. It is nearing Christmas and we are to have a carol party on tap to which the pianist and I are going and looking forward to and the hostess has invited the townhouse gang. The carol of good King Wenceslas invariably over the years always brings tears to my eyes as the snow, deep and crisp and even is hard for the young page to tread so he steps in the old king's footsteps as they go the distance to help yonder poor peasant collecting crude sticks in the freezing cold for his meagre winter fuel. They will bring him back for " flesh and wine" on the night of the Feast of Stephen since the night was cruel. The carol is sung in three parts, the KIng and page's dialogue and the narrative. I am sure our countertenor and the townhouse gang could do a bang-up job of the carol, the act of the old Saint to his page and peasant. I can't tell you why it always evokes tears but it is true that as one becomes older, simple acts of kindness frequently trigger the right brain into self expression. The hostess, the pianist and the countertenor may say to me that I should mind my own business but on the other hand, "nothing ventured, nothing gained."
For Jim's past posts, check out his old blog here: