36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 079: John joins the Vienna Boys' Choir; Grammar Girl questions


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 79 — John joins the Vienna Boys' Choir; Grammar Girl questions
20-October-1971 (Wed.)

John joins the Vienna Boys Choir


2 things I forgot to mention yesterday. (1) Alan [Civil] has a gigantic trunk for his [horn] case—wild! (2) While we were talking, he took a swig from a bottle of rum. I guess after all of that playing he could have used it.

Had first “Mathematical and Physical Acoustics” course—with my knowledge of German it’s going to be rough. But, anyway, so far there are only 3 people in the class. Great. I wish I knew the language better. The other 2 are 2 unbelievably [well-] built girls. Perhaps they’ll help me.

It’s getting rough to find practice rooms.

Mailed a Christmas card to M.S.C. [Montclair State College]. A picture of [the] Vienna “Choir Boys”—and one of them was me (my face). Really funny. I enjoyed doing it.


John joins the Vienna Boys' Choir. The opening photo is a Christmas postcard that I sent both to my family and my friends at Montclair State College. Yes, I joined the Vienna Boys' Choir. If you don’t recognize me, I’m in the first row, last boy, far right. I fit in perfectly and I really know my solfege syllables. If you want to see the letter text, I’ll post it on the Pictures/Photos page. I apparently also sent an audio tape. I'll try to hunt for it.

I will generally place most of my original 1971 photos on this Photos page in chronological order. Scroll to the end (today) to see this postcard and writing.

Alan Civil. (From yesterday.) Yes, he just didn’t have a French horn case, it was a gigantic trunk. I love it. The best part is that he took a swig of rum (or whatever) from a whiskey thingy in the trunk. I love it, again. After playing such a wonderful concert, God Bless Him, he deserved it. Professional performers, as you may know, are under immense pressure in these world-class ensembles—they must play perfectly. All the time.

Mathematical and Physical Acoustics class. I’m already in the electronic music program. I do have a great interest in contemporary music and am very happy to be in this class. I like science and acoustics as well. There are only three of us in the class, and two of us are well-built girls. Err, uhm. Remember, I’m young, I’m male. I got de hormones. It’s just natural. I apologize now for not being politically correct and sensitive in 1971. In the class itself, all of us become great classmates and friends. No, I didn’t forget Anjali, I still miss her.

I wish I had more German under my belt. What do I expect? I only took a one-month course.

Journal writing style—Time to call Grammar Girl. As the journal progresses, I think I’m becoming sloppier in my journal writing. Remember, I am not writing the journal for posterity, only to myself. Never did I think any idiot (me, of course) would publish this 36 years later.

In the journal transcription today, I’m into numbers (2, 3). It’s more proper to write numbers out. I’m also dyslexic when it comes to the Vienna Boys' Choir—I’m always calling them the Vienna “Choir Boys,” as if they are mafioso, and I also went back and added the possessive apostrophe to Boys' when referring to them. I say “and one of them was me” instead of “and one of them was I.” I consistently write in fragments. I don’t use sentences. I way overuse the em dash “—“ as an indicator of hesitations or new thoughts. My comment as to "well-built girls" 36 years ago may have been caused by youthful hormones, but today, the comment is not politically correct, nor would I say that about anyone. I have matured. Winking

I have mentioned a few of these writing issues in the past.

Early on, I only corrected a few minor spelling errors and sometimes added punctuation to the transcription of the journal. I wanted to keep it “pure.” Now, I am adding editor comments in brackets [like this] for clarity. When overdone, the paragraphs get choppy.

I am not rewriting. I think that is important to the purpose of this journal. So the spirit of the journal, the words, and the style in which I wrote in 1971, is still here.

In the Reflections section, I am writing in what I call “informal conversational style.” I just made that up. Actually, it's the way I talk. Short, incomplete phrases (like this). I inject a lot of the sentences with interruptions in parentheses (see?), as a type of secondary remark. I do break many of the “proper” rules of writing—partly because some of these are bad habits. I overuse small conversational, comma-based phrases.
So, what do you think? Just yesterday in Episode 80, Grammar Girl acknowledged that the use of “so” is so frowned upon. I so overuse all of these unnecessary “introducers” or whatever they’re called. So, see, thus, well, regardless, and remember. And I also overuse em dashes, parentheses, and editor brackets. I actually like speaking and writing this way. What to do? What to do?

I need help. I need Grammar Girl.

In my defense, I write these blog posts
very fast, most often late at night, and without much proofing. I like the spontaneity.

Is my writing part of the “charm” of the blog? Or is it just plain “frowned-upon” writing?

Grammar Girl. A little background first. I love the Grammar Girl podcasts, Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Her style and presentation are wonderful, giving us great examples and enjoyable historical tidbits. I never remember the “grammar rules” but it’s nice to know that at least she understands them. I’ve just ordered her audio book. All in all, a great podcast and book. Check out her website, if you can. You can listen to her podcast through her website or subscribe through the iTunes Store as well.

Here are my questions to Grammar Girl. Here goes. (See, everything I do in this blog is in this stream-of-consciousness, fragmented style.)

Journal writing

Should I be “true” to the 1971 journal? This is the big question. Should I leave in the mistakes and all? Or is it ok to correct minor spellings and punctuations? I would find them annoying after a while. Is the Anne Frank Diary true to the original diary or slightly edited? Anne was certainly a better writer than I.

Should I continue to add editor remarks in the transcription? Or cut back on these? Sometimes these are grammatical, adding missing articles; or they correct something [Vienna Choir Boys to Vienna Boys Choir]; or clarify [M.S.C. = Montclair State College]. I don’t want to necessarily always correct things in the Reflections, either. Or just let these go and leave it as “understood” that there will be mistakes?

Is my informal, conversational style ok? Ok for a blog? Not ok for a book? In reading back posts, I can certainly see where I can rewrite sentences, however, I do not go back and rewrite very often. Is spontaneity bad?

To your listeners. If you visit 36yearsago.com, I would love to hear your comments. If you want to write and don’t have a publishing outlet, I would recommend blogging as one of the best ways to start writing and gain experience. While paper publishers may not publish web blogs, you will be writing, and that is what is good. For most of my life, I thought that I couldn’t write at all. Don’t think that. You can write.

The benefits.
You are writing. You are your own author, editor, designer, and publisher. Look how much money you are paying yourself! Four salaries. You can’t beat that. 36yearsago is my first blog.

Thanks Grammar Girl. You’re doing a great job. It would be nice to have your readers visit this blog. I will leave it up to you whether you can mention it. It may be against your publishing policy. Take care.


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