Holiday Blues QUESTION

I still remember Christmas Eve in 1990. I was at a choir party when we heard that our tenor section leader, Sandy Cohen, had had a heart attack.

There seems to be this myth – and most every thinking person knows it is – that the holidays are wonderful, joy-filled days for nearly everyone. Au contraire: they can be quite tough for some people. As put it, “It’s okay, however, to admit that [family] get-togethers aren’t always a fancy-free walk down Candy Cane Lane.” Even those who generally love the season can feel worn down by too much shopping/cooking/traveling to do.

A few years ago, my church had a service about a week before Christmas for those struggling with the holidays. It wasn’t greatly attended; a LOT of that was the weather. But I also wonder if one did want to self-identify as one of THOSE people who find the time frame to be a bit of a drag.

I still remember Christmas Eve in 1990. I was at a choir party when we heard that our tenor section leader, Sandy Cohen, had had a heart attack. Soon thereafter, we got word that he had died. And THEN we had to go sing at the 10:30 p.m. service; talk about tough.

So does Advent/Christmas bring you down a little, and if so, how do you combat it? For me, it’s eggnog and amaretto.
To Xmas and beyond

What Christmas Means to Me – Stevie Wonder, possibly my favorite pop song Christmas tune.

Roger Answers Your Questions, Demeur, Anthony, Gordon, Scott, ChrisJ, and Dorothy

What would I teach? The problem is that I know a little about a lot of things, but I’m too ADHD to do anything at the level of depth that I would require of myself.

I’ve managed to confound ChrisJ of Flamblogger, one of those ABC Wednesday bloggers:
My question to you is actually highly personal to me. Where did the name “The Lydster” come from for your blog? Also, is it the name of your blog? I’m confused. My maiden name was Lidster, highly unusual for over here, though as I understand it, there are plenty of Lidsters in Northumberland. But we know next to nothing about that side of the family.
Just wondering.

The Lydster is what I call my daughter Lydia in this blog, just as my family used to call my eldest niece Becky the Beckster.
No, the name of my blog, for good or ill, is Ramblin’ with Roger.
Near-twin Gordon from Blog This, Pal! wants to know:
Since I know you’re a big Rod Serling fan (like I am), wanted to ask you this question:
Are you a fan of NIGHT GALLERY? If so, is there a particular script of Serling’s from that show that you enjoy?
(Knowing what I know about NG – that Serling had no creative control – I thought his scripts were OK, but nothing to write home about. Except maybe THEY’RE TEARING DOWN TIM RILEY’S BAR)

Gordon, I may not have watched most of the episodes of Night Gallery, except perhaps the earliest ones. The second season was my freshman year in college and I didn’t have a TV. By the time I DID look in on it, in that third season, I found it wildly uneven. Moreover, I knew that Serling wasn’t happy with it, so, almost in solidarity with him, I just quit watching it altogether. In any case, I haven’t seen any shows since, and unlike episodes of the Twilight Zone that I saw but once yet still remember, no specific episode ever imprinted on me. I mean, I look at the synopses and say, “Oh, yeah, right.” But not like I would with other shows of that era.
Scott of the Scooter Chronicles, who has more in common with me than he possibly knows, inquires:
Since you mentioned the choir, and I haven’t seen you mention it, what part do you normally sing?

I normally sing baritone. This is to say that if there is a divided bass part, I sing the upper part. Occasionally, when there is a divided tenor part, and I sing the lower bits.

I am reminded of this tenor section leader we had at my old church. His name was Sandy Cohen, and he was a great guy. But he wasn’t a particularly healthy guy. He had a heart attack during service once, and he refused to leave until the service was over, because he had to “finish the gig”, his words. Well, on December 24, 1990, we were at a choir gathering prior to the midnight service, and we got a call that Sandy had had a fatal heart attack. Talk about awful. For a few months after that, I sang tenor until we got another tenor section leader.

What was the most enjoyable song you have sung with the choir?
My goodness, that would be really difficult to narrow down. That said, I’m a sucker for a good Requiem – I’ve sung Mozart, Rutter, Faure, parts of the Brahms, I’m sure there are others.

What was the toughest song you ever sung with the choir?
This is invariably true that difficult stuff I tend to block out of my mind. Not saying there hasn’t been tough stuff, but I tend to just enjoy the end product. I guess it’s sort of what women sometimes say about childbirth.

Is there a song that you are tired of singing?
Not really. But I REALLY hate singing in unison. I find it boring. I tend to hear harmony in almost everything.

Is there a song that you wished any choir you were a part of would sing that haven’t?
There’s this song I did in high school called The Creation that I’d actually love to do.
One of my colleagues once suggested that we do “Til I Die”, the Beach Boys song from the Surf’s Up album. A lovely song, but of dubious theology.
Dorothy Turk, a displaced librarian, asks:
Have you watched the musical Scrooge w/Albert Finney or A Tuna Christmas?
And are you a Capricorn?

I probably saw the Finney Scrooge the very year it came out, c. 1970, but not since. I saw A Tuna Christmas at Capital Rep in late 1995, almost certainly with my girlfriend at the time, Carol, who I’m now married to.

I’m reminded that Kris Kristofferson had an album called Jesus was a Capricorn, even though he probably wasn’t. And neither am I; I’m a Pisces.
Demeur, “The remover of nasty things. I deal with stuff you wouldn’t consider touching,” wants to know:
Why is it that most if not all librarians require a master’s degree?
My mom was a librarian and she only had a high school eduction, but then again that was back when high school requirements were closer to what’s taught in college.

Here’s an answer to that question that I found:
“Actually, there is a wide range of library jobs, some of which don’t require a degree and are done by paraprofessionals. But the title of librarian is usually reserved for someone who has a master’s degree in library and information science from an American Library Association (ALA) accredited institution. Many academic librarians have two master’s degrees, one in LIS and another in their speciality discipline.”
In other words, the ALA set the bar for professionalism and the states followed. I’m sure it’s true in your line of work that the associations or guilds have set standards for the profession, and the states, yielding to the greater expertise, have followed.
Librarians can have a wide range of undergraduate degrees. The graduate school provides a background in a wide range of skills, from reference and cataloging to the business of doing more with less. And in some venues, such as colleges, the librarian is equivalent to a teacher or professor, for which we require advanced degrees.

And speaking of libraries, and teaching:
Anthony of The Dark Glass asks:
When did you know you wanted to be a librarian, and what particularly interests you about this field. Is there anything you don’t like about being a librarian or the field of library science in general? And, has any other vocation ever crossed your mind? For whatever reason, I imagine you would be a good teacher. Has that ever crossed your mind, and if so, what would be your field?

It’s not that I ever wanted to be a librarian; it’s that it has always called me. From being a page at Binghamton Public Library; to organizing the tracks of my compilation albums by artists on 3 by 5 cards; to working at FantaCo and going to the library, only a block away, to track down publisher information in Books in Print, my mind always went that way. It is, I suspect, like you and theology; you didn’t choose it; it chose you.

BTW, there WAS a recent ad to be a librarian at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; if they move it from Cleveland to Albany, I’m applying. And the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown I’d definitely work at.

What I like about being a librarian: I learn new things almost every day. What I don’t like: when I am doing some rote thing one more time – not a restaurant startup AGAIN. My basic problem in life is the fear of boredom. Part of the salvation in this job, besides the varied questions, is the changing technology, from 4 or 7 of us using one CD-ROM drive to having it on a LAN to the Internet, from printing pounds of paper to doing PDFs. Oh, one other downside: we LOVE to be able to answer the question, but when we’re given incoherent or totally unanswerable questions, it gets mighty frustrating; it’s against our nature to say no.

If I weren’t a librarian, I would have to be someone training others to do customer service. I have mentioned this before, but I requested and received, a phone at my desk in my office so I can answer the main phones when the office manager is away. It’s not my job, but a regularly unanswered phone in the middle of the day is NOT good customer service.

I’d hate being a teacher, which is what my wife does, BTW. I’d hate the anxiety over prep. I’d hate the “performance” of the classroom. I’ve done occasional workshops, but those are one-off things. I LIKE one-off things. They’ve been about government and other resources for small businesses, primarily.

What would I teach? The problem is that I know a little about a lot of things, but I’m too ADHD to do anything at the level of depth that I would require of myself. What do I know that lots of others don’t know better? The history of FantaCo? The recording history of the Beatles? Well maybe, but there’s not a lot of call for that.

This is why I blog, BTW. I write about myself, and even I’m surprised by what I find. And I am singularly unable to focus this blog on one or two areas. It’s all over the place because I’M all over the place.

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