Hilltop Diary, January 10, 2020

The weather report said we got eight inches of snow a few days ago, a very rare thing in Nashville. I hope you stayed safe and enjoyed it, if you got some too. We had plenty of food and firewood and working utilities, so we cozied in with our books and some work and enjoyed the beauty of it, and of the deer on the back lawn nosing through the snow to find a blade of grass.

9130fVfqGrL._AC_UY218_As for our books, I’m now reading the fourth one in the James Herriot All Creatures series, about his life as an English veterinarian. If you love animals, you’ll love these books, laugh, and shed a few tears. There is a new PBS TV version that is beautifully filmed, but I remain partial to the older BBC series. Crystal had just bought a 1,000-plus-page volume whose title I cannot pronounce, written in 1920-22 by Nobel-Prize-winning Swedish author Sigrid Undset and has dug into that, cat on lap. I’m impressed.

Speaking of books, I have been chronicling here my four (so far) rejections from publishers of my new fantasy-fiction novel. Since I last wrote, the editor for an article I wrote for an upcoming issue of Plough Quarterly  took an interest in my novel and kindly recommended it to her friends who run a lovely book publishing company (so this will be the fifth publisher to consider it). I am deeply grateful to her, because it feels rather impossible to get a literary agent. All one can hope for, after all, is for the right people to see your work. Then it will either sell itself or it won’t, of course. So, once again, we shall see.

It’s the same way with the saga of my musical theater efforts. A thousand thanks to all who voted for the show in the Broadway World contest. We still await the results, but it looked like the show was in 2nd place (one percentage point behind the leader) when voting closed, but the votes now have to be audited and certified. I confess that it’s not bragging rights I’m after – all glory goes to God, anyway. Rather, you do what you can with this kind of PR to get theater directors just to look at the video. Soberly speaking, in my life, fewer than one out of ten promotional things I’ve tried have actually worked, maybe one in twenty! That’s fine; I am content as the tortoise rather than the hare.  UPDATE (Jan. 12), Congratulations to my dear Crystal for snagging the win, no. 1 Best Performer in a Musical! Her second win in that contest (the first was for her Maria in West Side Story a few years ago). Dear Miss Barrett did not overcome its one point deficit in the voting certification, but I cannot complain about a no. 2 showing and am so thankful to all those who took the trouble to vote for the show and for Crystal!

My newest article for The Epoch Times was fun to write: It’s a profile of Thurl Ravenscroft – what a name –  the iconic voice of Tony the Tiger (“They’re Grrrreat!”) for over fifty years. But he was mainly a singer, who sang “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch!” and voiced over a ton of Disney animated characters, too. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE. Here is a short video of him (at the end) singing down to a low G below the bass staff – incredible! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSR-kgLM2KQ&t=4s

Something of a New Year’s resolution has been to finally start recording my long-overdue video lectures for a new course called “Basic Music Theory” for Homeschool Connections. They already offer two other recorded courses of mine, which high-school students take online. Three lecture videos are done so far, nine more to go! I’m creating detailed power point files and recording a voice-over narration of them, then exporting each lecture as an mp4 video. Between composing, I’ve also been teaching some one-hour composition lessons online, using Zoom, to a few very advanced adult students and really enjoying working with them.

31JV2JEflfL._AC_As dieting slowly progresses, I finally bit the bullet and bought a real “Detecto” doctor’s scale. Maybe, like me, you are tired of stepping several times in a row onto a digital scale on the floor and getting a different readout every time, depending on which way you are leaning, or where your feet are positioned! This one is ruthlessly, mercilessly accurate and consistent, which I suppose is why doctors use them. No longer can you write down the lowest reading you got, since you only get the same one every time.

At the end of all these ramblings, I do wish you a happy and prosperous 2022! Stop on by in another two weeks.


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