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Hillbillymfa is moving!

After several months using WordPress, I’ve decided to defect to Blogger.  I’m in the process of fixing up the new blog over there — and I will post a new URL as soon as the new one is complete. Unfortunately, for the moment, I will have to archive past posts here.  When i figure out a way to shift archives over to Blogger, I’ll let you know.


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Movie Review: “Young@Heart,” Documentary

Stephen Walker’s look at seven weeks in the lives of the Young@Heart Chorus is truly delightful and sad all in one awe-inspiring packing. I hate to use so many cliches in one sentence about a film, but I can’t really do better than to repeat all the typical movie muck and say, “No, really, I mean it.

This group of 70-90 somethings in Northampton,Massachusetts has been signing together under the direction of Bob Cilman for 25 years. What makes them unique, of course, is that they tend to sing songs that are completely unexpected from their particular age group.

They sing punk, classic rock, and contemporary rock all carefully chosen by Cilman to create some truly new interpretations. “I feel Good” or “Stayin’ Alive” or even the Ramone’s “I wanta be Sedated” become completely different songs under this chorus. When a 92 year old woman or a 80-something man who must wear an oxygen machine sing The Ramone’s lament about emotional pain it takes on a layer that I’m pretty sure the Ramone’s never considered. The song suddenly turns into a lament about the pain and indignities of old age. When the same man sings the first verse of “Stayin’ Alive” and claims “I’m a ladies man,” it takes again another level of humor and personal tenacity. It’s wonderful.

Walker follows the chorus as they prepare for a new set of songs and a new European tour. He focuses on several specific members of the chorus, two of which die before the end of the film. While I realize that’s a bit of a spoiler, I don’t think the knowledge will ruin the film for the average viewer. There is so much joy and so much sadness in a single Young@heart moment in this film, that I think the deaths will jerk tears out of anyone even if a person knew they were coming.

This chorus gets everyone excited, from the view of the audiences in the film. The first concert we see is at the local Northampton jail, just an hour after they’ve heard one of the chorus members has died.  During the concert, the prisoners are so moved by the chorus’s performance that they burst into tears during a song the group sings in tribute to their lost friend. When the concert is over, these rather rough looking dudes break huge grins and genuine gushing enthusiasm. One tattooed young man hugs a gray-headed chorus member and declares, “This is the best performance I’ve seen in my entire life.”

During the last concert in the film, there are ten-year old boys in the front row seriously getting down to just about every song. They look like normal ten-year-olds at a WWF match, all aglow in the coolness that is wafting down from the stage.

I spent the vast majority of the film laughing at the pure honesty of the filmmaker and the chorus’s ability not to take themselves too seriously. One example of this rests in the small “music videos” that break up the general narrative. These brief videos are extremely joyful and you can just see the “giggling” behind the eyes of the chorus. This results in a truly fantastic portrait of life and music that is completely original, just like its subject.

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Racists comments

Just got done swimming through a bunch of comments on my “On Hope” post that obviously come from some kind of racist white-pride organization.  I suppose I should be proud that what I had to say riled them so much they felt it necessary to send so many comments my way.  I thought about allowing the posts through in the spirit of free speech and all of that, but I then I realized that to do so would just be legitimizing the ridiculousness. Not to mention the inability to spell :).  My blog, my little dictatorship, in other words. Besides, it is the end of the semester and my ulcers are already acting up.   I don’t need to make them worse.

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Overheard . . .

On CMT’s “20 Greatest Redneck Moments”:

“Rednecks may seem simple in mind, but we are so fast with what’s simple. I know, it seems like Nietzsche dudn’t it?”  — Trish Suhr, the “Yard Sale Diva” on Clean House.  

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Heritage comes full circle

A few weeks ago I posted about my MtDNA and it’s connections to the Saami people of Northern Norway.  Although this connection is exceedingly ancient, it’s interesting that I probaby share some DNA similarities to my new in-laws. The wedding was wonderful and I’m officially a Stormoe. 

Stormoe is one of those names that was sort of “made up” by immigrants or immigration officials. In this case, the name was picked by the immigrant: Christ Stormoe, who was originally a Johanssen.  According to cenus records he immigrated to the U.S. in 1914 when he was roughly 20 years old. He came as contracted labor to a family in North Dakota, which had been a state since 1889, only  fives years more than Christ had been alive. 

Christ came to the U.S. after his family suffered an economic blow. They were fishermen in Meloy, Norway and also ran a “mail boat.”  Their boat was destroyed and three brothers were shipwrecked, only to be picked up several days later by another mail boat.  Christ came to the U.S. the same year.  I think from the research I’ve done so far that Christ probably lived on an island off the coast of Meloy. This is firmly in the arctic circle.

 “Stormoe” means two different things, depending on how you look at it.  “Stor” means “large” in Norweigian. “Mo” means “large plant.”  However, we think this name came from the combo of “Stor” and “øe” which means “island.” 

It is interesting how these things come around.  I’ve been separated from my Nordic roots for many thousands of years, but now I am reunited with them, so to speak, through my husband’s family.  

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Six founding mothers for Native Americans

Check this discovery story for the info:

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