Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Solemn Mass in Brooklyn

I was recently a server for a Solemn Mass in Brooklyn. I'm the server on the right. There are more pictures on the blog Traditional Catholicism.

Stan Rogers

I've recently discovered the music of Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers (1949-1983). This is one of his most famous songs, with an intro describing how he came to write it. I'm particularly pleased by how much fun the folks singing in this video seem to be having.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Best Amazon Review Ever?

Joseph Davis of Calgary, Alberta has written what may be the greatest Amazon.com review ever, responding to the jazz album Vaghissimo Ritratto by Gianluigi Trovesi, Fulvio Marras, Umberto Petrin:
I'm very disappointed with this CD. I kept getting up while it was playing to go over to the stereo cabinet to check the CD case to make sure that it really was an ECM CD. It's so treacly, fluffy, silly. Yuck! I kept thinking there must be some mistake. After all, this thing was produced by Manfred Eicher himself. I worship at the alter of Manfred Eicher. I kept waiting for the music to get better. It didn't. How is it possible to take the sublime music of Desprez, Palestrina, Di Lasso and Monteverdi and turn it into something so aggravating? Finally I had to restrain myself from going down into the cellar to get an axe, which I was going to cleave my CD player with. I know, wouldn't it have been simpler and less expensive to just remove the CD and smash it instead? But that's the thing about music, its joy and its mystery. It is not rational. It is un-rational. It taps into and stimulates non-logical circuits in the brain. This CD tapped into violent and destructive ones for me. Fortunately they were all directed towards the CD itself. I love ECM and ECM New Series CDs. I can honestly say that this is the first one I have reacted violently to. Perhaps you would react differently to it. My suggestion, though, is that you listen to this CD, or at least portions of it, before you purchase it. I have given it a two star rating, instead of a one star rating, out of loyalty to the ECM label, and because of the beautiful cover art. Maybe I should get really drunk and try listening to this CD again? Or maybe I should take it to a book club? You know, the kind where attractive women lounge around drinking lattes and seriously discussing books with titles like 'Snow Falling On White Oleanders' or 'The Time Traveler Who Divorced His Wife and Married the Memory Keeper's Daughter'. Or maybe I'll just smash it with my axe.
I'm hoping to get a hold of the album. The review's writing reminds me of Mark Helprin's Memoir From Antproof Case.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When Chuck Met Nora

Congrats to Seraphic and Benedict Ambrose.

But, I'm not certain When Harry Met Sally is the best model for romance. I don't agree with all of it, but Chuck Klosterman's take is good:
When Harry Met Sally hit theaters in 1989. I didn't see it until 1997, but it turns out I could have skipped it entirely. The movie itself isn't bad (which is pretty amazing, since it stars Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal), and there are funny parts and sweet parts and smart dialogue, and--all things considered--it's a well-executed example of a certian kind of entertainment. Yet watching this film in 1997 was like watching the 1978 one-game playoff between the Yankees and the Red Sox on ESPN Classic: Though I've never sat through the pitch sequence that leads to Bucky Dent's three-run homer, I know exactly what happened. I feel like I remember it, even though I don't. And--more important--I Know what it all means. Knowing about sports means knowing that Bucky Dent is the living, breathing, metaphorical incarnation of the Bo Sox's undying futility; I didn't have to see that game to understand the fabric of its existence. I didn't need to see When Harry Met Sally, either. Within three years of its initial release, classifying any intense friendship as "totally a Harry-Met-Sally situation" had a recognizable meaning to everyone, regardless of whether or not they'd actually seen the movie. And that meaning remains clear and remarkably consistent: It implies that two platonic acquaintances are refusing to admit that they're deeply in love with each other. When Harry Met Sally cemented the plausibility of that notion, and it gave a lot of desperate people hope. It made it realistic to suspect your best friend may be your soul mate, and it made wanting such a scenario comfortably conventional. The problem is that the Harry-Met-Sally situation is almost always tragically unbalanced. Most of the time, the two involved parties are not really "best friends." Inevitably, one of the people has been in love with the other from the first day they met, while the other person is either (a) wracked with guilt and pressure, or (b) completely oblivious to the espoused attraction. Every relationship is fundamentally a power struggle, and the individual in power is whoever likes the other person less. But When Harry Met Sally gives the powerless, unrequited lover a reason to live. When this person gets drunk and tells his friends that he's in love with a woman who only sees him as a buddy, they will say, "You're wrong. You're perfect for each other. This is just like When Harry Met Sally! I'm sure she loves you--she just doesn't realize it yet." Nora Ephron accidentally ruined a lot of lives.--Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto

Thursday, November 06, 2008

From the Village Voice

Peter Lushing writes in:
The only function of the New York City Council is to convince people that the New York State Legislature is not the worst law-making body in the country.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Know Your Subject

A letter from Ted Rall in today's New York Times Book Review criticizes the editors for assigning a review of cartoonist's Jules Feiffer's complete Village Voice strips to David Kamp "a contributing editor for Vanity Fair" and "the author of 'The United States of Arugula'".

Rall criticizes Kamp for not knowing much about cartooning, but he doesn't home in on what I thought was the biggest gaffe in the piece. Right on the front page of the Book Review we read:
So the new anthology "Explainers," which gathers all of Feiffer's Village Voice strips from 1956 to 1966, is a welcome reintroduction—or introduction for the unititiated—to a great cartoonist who boldly bent his medium to adult purposes long before it was commonplace to do so.
But cartooning didn't start out as a medium for children, unless you think kids in the 1840's were the intended audience for the drawings published in the satirical Punch, from which we get the term "cartoon".