April 25th, 2006



Well, I made it to the end.

The last of the discs I inherited from my dad is in the player. I have listened to nothing else since I returned with them from Massachusetts back in January. Each disc was played once during the workday, one after the other, whenever I was not on the phone (not something I do all that often) or in a meeting (a couple hours a week on average.) All single discs then went into the car (or a pile to get into the car) and were cycled through there - still have about ten or so to go on that account, but that's less of a milestone, as all the 2-4 disc operas and box sets of symphonies and DG Trio sets of quintets and Phillips 2CD sets are too awkward and dangerous to open and access in the car.

This disc - specifically Deutsche Grammophon 435 074-2 GGA2 "Antonin Dvorak: Ouverturen - Symphonische Dichtungen - Symponsche Variationen" performed by the Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks conducted by Rafael Kubelik - was one I had searched long and hard for. I finally managed to get it at a now-out-of-business classical disc shop in Wayland, MA, despite the fact that it had gone out of print. I'm a fan of symphonic poems, and, as some of you may have guessed, of fantasy and myth and so forth. Perusing a copy of Opus, many moons ago, how could I not be attracted to a recording that has a series of symphonic poems with evocative titles such as Der Wassermann, op.107; Die Mittagshexe, op.108; Das goldene Spinnrad, op.109; or Die Waldtaube, op.110? (That would be, respectively, The Water Goblin, The Noonday Witch, The Golden Spinning Wheel, and The Wood Dove. Among the overtures in the collection is Othello op.93 - and, in addition to symphonic poems, I tend to collect anything I can find influenced by good ol' Billy Boy - and In der Natur, op.91 (which doesn't really need translating...)

As I've mentioned here before, my dad also happened to really like symphonic poems, Dvorak, and, even more particularly, the kind of music on this disc. A gem, he described this recording as. He listened to it whenever he could - during our visits we often found time to listen to new stuff without interruption as the wimminfolk went out for one reason or another. He would request this disc almost every time, until I finally gave it to him for a birthday present. From his reaction, I'm pretty sure he felt it was the best gift I had ever given him.

I missed the disc for the 5 years or so since I gave it to him, but now I have it back, and I miss having my dad around to listen to it with me.
  • Current Music
    Dvorak - Overtures and Symphonic Poems
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The Deception

The Deception
By Everett A Warren

An excerpt

Haelmsvjir Kavoratsson watched the proceedings dourly, as was to be expected for one of his people's nature. He scratched his lengthy beard as his mind wandered in far thought, anything to escape the monotony of the event.

"...So, forthwith on the fifth day of the planting season, we will hold the palace ball, instead of on the eighth day of the harvesting season..."

Haelmsvjir attempted to stifle a yawn, failing to stop his gap-toothed mouth from opening, succeeding only in silencing the noise somewhat. His eyes darted to the Lord-Mayor, and inwardly he gave thanks to hoary Matud that the breech of court etiquette went apparently unnoticed and that the Lord of Sleep did not fully claim him at this awkward time.

This court business bored him, but as an advisor, albeit an unofficial one, to the Lord-Mayor, it was his self-imposed duty to appear at such functions. Vaeortek Snjevkonnic, his people's official ambassador, was too much taken with political intrigue and machinations, having little touch with the reality of the Dwarven people's needs. The warrior grunted in disgust when he saw Snjevkonnic's eyes light up at the mention of the ball. The fop was not even worth his beard.

The undwarvish Dwarven emissary had been selected for several reasons. Amongst his circle of admirers – and, shamefully, there was a number of them – he bragged that he considered that the choice was due his diplomatic skill, though most others outside his circle recognised that this "skill" was only his desire to mix with the court aristocracy and play the little social games he termed diplomacy. More or less, the Dwarven community put him in the position simply to remove him from their presence. Many tried and true clan warriors, whose beards were delayed by some strange twist of nature, despised Snjevkonnic's early and thick growth of whiskers that belied all they supposedly stood for.

Haelmsvjir himself, although his badge of honour had been slightly prodigious, considered Vaeortek to be too much of a dandy to be a true dwarf. In the warrior's opinion, the man was not deserving of such a fine beard, and secretly suspected that some human, or even – when he was quite irritated with the young emissary – weak elven blood ran below the politico's skin. He held, as well, the knowledge that the young ambassador had made acquaintances with several alchemists during his twentieth winter, and regularly visited their shops, always leaving with purchases.

To even suggest that the ambitious dwarf used artificial means to spur the growth of his facial hair was treasonous, but careful research on Haelmsvjir's part revealed this to be near fact. The warrior despised court intrigue, but as Vaeortek revelled in the lies and machinations of governments, Haelmsvjir knew his best defense against the inevitable backstabbing and blackmail was a substantial amount of blackmail on his own part. Forty years of mass warfare and sole combat had taught him well, and his dwarvish outlook on life left no room for mistakes that would expose him to such an enemy.

His thoughts on the matters were interrupted by a breathless and dirty workman who burst into the clean atmosphere of the court. The man was shaking, and it was obvious by his behaviour that, beneath the coating of grime, his skin had taken on the deathly pale hue of one who had gazed upon something that was best to remain unseen.

The watch burst in behind him; apparently, the workman had avoided their efforts to stop just such an unannounced arrival before the Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor stood, and with a single wave of his arm stopped the watch from apprehending the man. On the far side of the room, Vaeortek turned his nose upward, an orientation well known to him, and one currently in use by the most of the courtiers, noblemen, servants and others present in the room, the exceptions being the members of the watch, the rapidly deteriorating workman, dour Haelmsvjir, and the Lord Mayor himself.

"Beware, milord, in the sewers..." his warning rasped through his dry throat, followed instantly by a scream of the most hideous variety that left the ladies of the court in complete disarray, and the gentlemen not much less so. He spasmed, blood showing at his lips, and then he collapsed. Not a one observing the proceedings needed a healer to determine that man was irrevocably beyond the stages where a powerful holy word would raise him again to life.

Indeed, it appeared doubtful that even intervention by the gods themselves could change the horrible fate of the man, providing the gods would be so interested in reviving the peasant. Whatever had stricken the man had been terrible, without a doubt, and possibly beyond previous comparison. Regardless, anything that could leave even a single man in such a sorry state bode no good for the free city.

It was soon determined that the man worked for the city, his job to clear the city's labyrinthine sewers of blockages. Such men were numerous in the sprawling metropolis, and always worked in teams of ten, to handle possible animals and things that were known to prowl in dark places beneath the more wholesome foundations of the city. As such, much deliberation was made as to the whereabouts of his co-workers, and the location of the horror that was thought to exist, although the man never had a chance to utter a word on what form, exactly, the great evil was manifest.

Copyright (c) 1990 Everett Ambrose Warren

You can read the complete story in my collection, Cautionary Fables: Warts & All, available on Amazon.com or by order from your local bookseller.