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I bought a tree

After working out, I remembered we still needed a Christmas tree and stopped by a village on the way home where two farmers had competing Christmas tree businesses. I stopped at the first one, where we had bought trees previous years and looked around.
The farmer asked me what I needed. Regular room height, I said, about 2.30 meters. Any particular tree? he asked me. I said they all looked good to me, but no matter which one I picked, someone at home was likely to find something wrong with it.
I have a nice tree over here, he said, and took me around the corner, past the sold trees, where he had stashed a nice one. There was a tag on it reading, “Onkel Franz”. My uncle never showed up to get it today, so you can have it, he said. I had picked it out for him. He can pick out another one whenever he shows up.
It was like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Christmas trees.
I paid. The farmer offered me a cup of punch, which had gone lukewarm as it was late evening and he was ready to close shop. He asked me where I was from and what had brought me to Austria. Work?
I thought about it and said, my love of Austria, actually. He seemed to like that. I unpacked my habitual conversational nugget about how my wife and I had debated where to move to from our last place in Japan, she for the United States and me for Austria. It’s an easily told anecdote, much-practiced. It makes me sound adventurous, maybe, but I wonder if maybe my wife was just more ready to face her past than I was.
He told me about a trip he had taken through the US ten years ago. Then I guess he had enough. Enough of this, he said. If we keep talking, I’ll get in the mood to travel again and you’ll get homesick. He said he’d deliver the tree sometime after the 20th of December and asked if I had any kids. I said I did, and he said he’d be careful that no one saw him bring the tree, which the Christkind officially brings on the 24th, blazing with candles. He remembered where our house was, he said he liked our fence.

When wenches were wenchy

Eh, Corvus Corax. The Ren Faire crowd was there, and the roleplay crowd was there (and I don’t mean I am your teacher and you are my student and you have been very very naughty now get out of that uniform and come her for a spanking) and everyone had a little chin beard, including the chicks. Lots of wench types around, quite a bit of the period costume, especially at first. Local period band opened the show, personally I wasn’t enthralled by them, I had liked them better the first time I saw them a few years ago, when they had seemed rhythmically tighter.
ON THE OTHER HAND the first time they didn’t have dancers. The dancers were alright. In fact, I was quite impressed by the slender, pale, dark-haired one with the back-sized tattoo on her back who breathed fire. Quite impressed.
I’m looking into firebreathing classes for Gamma now but I think you have to be at least nine for those.
Corvus Corax, OTOH, had no dancers. But they didn’t need any. Those boys can put on a show. My ears are still ringing. The crowd seemed to normalize a bit when they came onstage – they have a broader appeal, I think. Not just the knaves and wenches, you know. They have their musicianship down, they have a great stage show, lots of energy, lots of personality. They wear boots the toes of which turn up and come to a point, they wear these long leather loincloth things, and that’s about it. They worked very hard and gave us our money’s worth. We left satisfied after two encores or so, satisfied and deaf. And I want new drums, and bagpipes! Or at least a chanter. And a belly dancer.

Father-daughter bonding

I try to expose my kids to as much culture as possible. Tomorrow I shall accompany my eldest daughter Beta to an evening of medieval music performed by the popular German ensemble Corvus Corax (shown above). We have been listening to their CDs on our commutes lately, and are both looking forward to a highbrow evening of authentic performances of carefully and academically researched pre-renaissance songs on historically accurate instruments.
Including an anvil, various bagpipes, horns and drums, and an IKEA clothes rack played with a screwdriver.

Contribution to the Pakistani Educational Curriculum

Just read this. It’s a nice poem, but if they are really set on not using it, they could always replace it with this:

    Another two years of his beady chimp eyes
    Because of the chumps who swallowed his lies
    Jets dropping napalm on innocent folk
    Enemies everywhere as the country goes broke
    CIA prisons in secret locations
    Torture undergoing a massive inflation
    Filling the pockets of corporate cronies
    Another vacation out riding his ponies

    Impeachment’s too good for this ventriloquist dummy
    Lipsynching lines fed him by Cheney and Rummy
    Undermining our rights and sowing hate
    Relying on fear to govern the state
    Enough of this intellectual flyweight

Just an idea. Your suggestions in the comments please.

As it was, there were deer

It had been foggy at night and below freezing so the forest I drive through was missing only Tilda Swinton in a furry outfit and a big lion to totally resemble the magical sort of landscape Hollywood productions of children’s stories aim at this morning. And if it had been in black and white, with a young prince on horseback and a slender nymph laughing theatrically, insanely, off-camera, because the prince is looking for an enchanted golden paper-clip and she has the motherfucker and he’ll never find it, and a bunch of cheap extras wandering about, it could have been a Communist-era Czech fairy tale movie.

As it was, there were deer. Very dark against the snow and fragile ice-crystal-encrusted foliage as they grazed. Luckily I was alone in the car. Had my daughter been with me, I could not have said anything, because she recently criticized my conversation-making on our commutes as amounting to me saying, “Look, deer,” and her going, “Where?” and being frustrated that she cannot see them. So that didn’t happen this morning, because she slept in and caught a later train.

On the other hand, they really stood out, so maybe she would’ve seen them today.

On the other hand, being alone in the car, it would have been weird to say something. I could have called someone on my cell phone, which is working fine. In fact, I should have called my daughter and said, “I see deer.”