Reason for the Season

It’s around this time of year, mid December, that I get all atwitter about the reason for the season: the winter solstice (what, you thought it was Christmas?). Being at a higher latitude, it’s not hard to understand why people have celebrated the winter solstice for millenia and in so many cultures have attached mystical significance to this date. It’s the turning of a corner, the lengthening of days, the renewed hope for natural vitamin D.

So here’s hoping that the next 7 days, literally the darkest week of the year, will fly by and this time next week we’ll raise our glass — like millions of people before us — to the coming and passing of the winter solstice.

ASL at the Seattle Men’s Chorus Christmas show

Last night Chris and I attended Cool Yule, the Seattle Men’s Chorus Christmas production. Before the show started Chris and I were talking about our favorite and least favorite Christmas songs. Turns out his least-favorite Christmas song is Silent Night. I don’t have any particular dislike of the song, but from an ASL perspective it’s pretty darn boring.

All shows are ASL interpreted and what I think is a first, the interpreter even gets billing and a blurb in the program (which actually is a bit unfortunate as he may be a great interpreter, but a terrible writer). Overall I was really impressed with the interpreting, expressive and fun to watch. As always, I would have done a few things differently but that’s pretty much par for the course with any interpreter watching another.

During the second half of Cool Yule, the Chorus performed Silent Night with an oboe. Beautiful but slow. Moreover slow, repetitive songs are really quite boring in ASL and this one is no different. Even worse, the interpreter had really simplified a lot of the signs making it even more boring to watch. And then it all became clear. For after the oboe accompaniment, the Chorus stopped singing and started signing with the interpreter! It was probably the most beautiful rendition with the only sounds in the entire auditorium was the quiet whisper of coat sleeves rubbing together as the Chorus signed. The interpretation wasn’t simplified by lack of imagination, but rather by necessity: the need to teach all the Chorus members the signs and that mass interpreting looks better with simpler signs.

The show was great, at times a smidge too campy for my tastes, but overall very fun.

Update: My good friend had asked why hearing-impaired people would go to a concert beyond supporting a friend or loved one. That’s a good question. IMHO, there are a couple of good reasons: 1) hard-of-hearing people may still have limited hearing and be able to make out the music, but not the words, and hence would be watching an interpreter 2) even completely deaf people enjoy the visual production and can feel the music in the lower range.

Casey’s 2011 Mix CD

Every year my friend Sean has a CD exchange party. Attendees create a custom CD of music, makes a few copies, and exchanges it with others. This year I wanted to participate, albeit remotely since the gang is in Denver.

2011 was a tumultuous year for me and I couldn’t have gotten through it without friends and music — although too often the two come together. Many of the songs map to people who’ve helped me make it through the year (mostly) sane. Other songs highlight some of the times I went through. Still others are simply fun. If you see a song here and think of me, then there’s a really good chance I added it because I thought of you.

  1. Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
  2. Big Booty – Willie Nelson
  3. Raise Your Glass – Pink
  4. History Repeating – Propellerheads & Shirley Bassey
  5. Dog Days Are Over – Florence and the Machine
  6. The Beautiful People – Christina Aguilera (from Burlesque)
  7. It Happens – Sugarland
  8. Misery – Maroon 5
  9. Suddenly I See – KT Tunstall
  10. Chasing Pirates – Norah Jones
  11. Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
  12. No Such Thing – John Mayer
  13. Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Michael Buble
  14. Glitter in the Air – Pink
  15. I’m Movin’ On – Rascal Flatts
  16. For Good – Wicked (original cast recording)
  17. Bari Improv – Kaki King (from August Rush)