It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas: Vivaldi’s Gloria

Every year at about this time I get the urge to to listen to Vivaldi’s Gloria again. Every year it gives me nightmares. Twenty years ago, as a 15 year old high schooler I was in my local Youth Orchestra, and we played Vivaldi’s Gloria at our Christmas concert. I played the trumpet. I lacked range, and struggled to not make the faster bits sound like a duck with diarrhea. I lost track of what movement we were in. I missed the biggest trumpet moment in the Cum Sancto Spiritu, and for a long time I hated this work.

Twenty years later, I think…it wasn’t so bad. The bad part about this is that it was 20 years ago. That is absolutely nuts. I have a grown up job and a family now. I shouldn’t have carried so much stress about it. I should have enjoyed it more. I took music too seriously. Way too seriously. Maybe that’s why it lost the joy factor for me for such a long time.

At any rate, Vivaldi’s Gloria ranks at the top of my Christmas choral music favorites now, after a recovery period of only two decades. At any rate, enjoy this baroque masterpiece as done by The English Concert. Looks like they use period instruments. Great setting for this kind of thing, too.

Masterpieces of Light and Space: Sultan Ahmet “Blue” Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, TurkeyComposing basically half of Istanbul’s distinctive skyline (exaggeration) the Blue Mosque is Iconic

Given the current political climate, I thought I would depart from my normal writing about Christian places of worship and instead write about one of the most beautiful houses of worship used by our Abrahamic brothers and sisters who practice Islam. The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is (aside from the Hagia Sophia, which I feel doesn’t “count” as a Mosque or a Church, really…more as a museum now) the only mosque that I’ve ever entered.

Istanbul, TurkeyMosques share many features I appreciate about churches. You know, archways, stained glass, tile work

One of the cool things about the Blue Mosque is that it gets so many visitors of all faiths. So many that you’ve got to stand in line to get in, and the line basically moves through the cloisters around the worship space. Seeing the inside and outside of such a beautiful building close-up is always a treat.

Istanbul, TurkeyLooking up at the imposing “clamshells” that give the mosque its distinctive shape

The mosque appears to be a series of perfect domes and half domes, and frankly, it’s an architectural style for which I have no frame of reference. I grew up with steeples and stuff, so this building style along with the calls to prayer made me feel very far from home. Interestingly, though, I think just about anyone would feel welcome in the space.

Istanbul, TurkeyThe Blue Mosque’s iconic dome

Inside the mosque I was somewhat surprised by how not blue it was. Of course there is plenty of blue, the place is literally covered with blue tiles. It’s just not overwhelmingly blue. I was not prepared for the detail of all of the Arabic script and the detail on every little tile. In an art history class, I learned that Islamic art centered largely around repetitive patterns perfectly executed. Walking into this space I thought “oh, yeah, I get it now.”

Istanbul, TurkeyThe stained glass reminded me of so many churches I’ve visited

The stained glass in the mosque was surprisingly similar to stained glass you would find in a church, except without the figures of the humans in the stories of course (my understanding is that Islam does not like graven images of holy figures, but my understanding of Islam is even lesser than my understanding of Christianity).

Istanbul, TurkeyThe symmetry! The symmetry!

Mostly, I found the differences between Mosque and Church to be relatively minor. One stark difference was the lack of pews. While liturgical churches tend to follow the format of “stand, kneel, sit, stand, kneel, sit, stand, kneel sit – great workout everyone, let’s have a snack” Islamic worship seems to involve quite a bit more time on the knees. I found it interesting that you could see the very neat rows where people have been lining up for hundreds of years and kneeling worn into the rug. Also, the carpets in the Blue Mosque are the ORIGINAL carpets from when it was completed in 1616. I’ve certainly never walked across a carpet that old. They’re still beautiful, by the way.

Istanbul, TurkeyYou could just get lost in those arches, right?

So I don’t know, I really think that we’re all more similar than we would like to recognize, sometimes.

Istanbul, TurkeyNot sure what the deal with the lighting systems in this mosque and the Hagia Sophia is, but I like it!

I find it interesting that so many elements between the houses of worship are similar between these two religions. Maybe inspiration just all comes from the same place.

Istanbul, Turkey

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Cinnamon Rolls (explicit language)


The U.S. presidential election has left me bitter and my language this post will be spicier than normal. Who knew that half of the country was so hateful, or at least so indifferent to hate? We need sweetness right now. Sweetness and kindness. The kind of basic sexual healing that can only come from a fucking warm ass pan of cinnamon rolls.

I had never made cinnamon rolls before. They always seemed way too motherfucking labor intensive. When I started baking about a year ago, I never really considered them. They’re not my favorite thing. There’s really nothing glamorous about a cinnamon roll. They’re the pumpkin spice latte of pastry, in the sense that they smell nice and I want them about once a year, but when I get them I realize it’s too sweet and I never really liked it in the first place.


So, daddyPrimate, what the fuck is with the post about cinnamon rolls if you don’t even like them. What the hell kind of moron are you? Cinnamon rolls aren’t about the taste, or the smell, though both of those are nice. Cinnamon rolls are something you bake for someone else. You bake them for someone else because they’re fucking labor intensive, a total pain in the ass, and going to that much trouble says “I really love your ass.”


It happened to be mommyPrimate’s birthday a week ago. You know, before the election instilled the bitterness of a thousand grapefruits in me. I wanted to say “Hey babe, for breakfast I made you a big plate of I LOVE YOU” and I knew damn well that meant cinnamon rolls. I distinctly remember one birthday where I woke up and mommyPrimate was making cinnamon rolls and I was like “THAT IS LOVE.” So I found a recipe, and got to work at 11pm. We get up earlier now, so I started earlier.


Making the dough was easy. It rose well. It rolled out just fine. The filling was super simple. Cutting it and putting it in the pan was a little messy but whatevs. I was afraid it would overprove as it rose overnight, or that it wouldn’t prove because it was going to sit in the fridge. When I woke up in the morning though, it had filled the casserole dish with delish looking, perfectly plump cinnamon rolls. I let them sit on the counter for a bit as I made coffee, and popped them in the oven.


When they came out they were beautiful. I iced them with a quick homemade cream cheese icing and we nommed right into that shit. Easy. Peasy. If a bit tedious. I’d say this world could use a little more love right now, so maybe you should get up off your equally bitter ass, get your mixer ready, find an easy recipe for cinnamon rolls online, and make them for your S.O. for breakie tomorrow. Let’s sweeten this world up together.



Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Kugelhopf

One of the  most alluring concepts for me in baking is old recipes. When the Great British Bake-Off series that aired in the U.S. in 2015 explored yeast-raised continental cakes, there was one that caught my eye…the Kugelhopf. Finally presented with an opportunity that was appropriate to make this old Austrian recipe, I had a look at the ingredients, decided I had everything, and got to work.

So, Kugelhopf is a recipe from the Habsburg Dynasty in Austria that apparently got its name from the shape of the pan resembling the disembodied head of a Turk. The cake was originally baked to celebrate the Habsburg victory over the Turks at the Battle of Vienna in 1485. That makes this a 15th century recipe.


So basically, you melt butter in milk and dissolve sugar in it, form a “volcano” of flour and yeast in your mixer, and pour the liquid into the dry as it mixes. When it comes together you add orange zest and raisins, let it beat until the gluten forms nicely, and plop it into your kugelhopf mould. Of course, I don’t have a kugelhopf mould (yet…Christmas is coming), so I just used a bundt pan.

It bakes for 15 minutes, gets covered with foil so the bottom doesn’t develop too much of a tan, and then continues to bake another 25 minutes or so. I “topped” mine with apricots, but they burnt to  a crisp so I pulled them out and pretended that the inlaid pattern of light and dark was done on purpose. Pro-tip: people will believe anything you tell them about baking because they don’t do it themselves.


So it turned out pretty well. It’s not a cake, per se, because it’s not very sweet and has a much more bread-like texture. I think next time I may double the orange zest, and use cranberries instead of raisins. You know, for Christmas.

At any rate, kugelhopfs are good, and I recommend them to anyone who has to take something to work for a potluck.

The end.