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Friday, November 30th, 2007

Aguirre, the Wrath of God

This is a fantastic movie that anyone whose æsthetic tastes are similar to mine should hurry down to the video shop and take a look at it. This movie is exquisitely good like an elegant meal. I'll try to write more about it later when I've had a little more time to reflect upon it.

posted evening of November 30th, 2007: Respond
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Composition

I was happy tonight to write an actual piece of music down -- like I am getting notation enough that I can write in it as well as read. Mom helped me out with understanding the rhythm. I will post a picture of it once I learn how to get notation in my computer. (I may even post a sound file of it if I can figure out how to get sound into my computer.) Sort of a happy syncopated fiddle tune -- I wrote about 4 measures but they are basis for this improvising tune that one can play for a long time without tiring of it.

posted evening of November 30th, 2007: Respond
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Dingbats

Hmm, Sharpie marker isn't giving exactly the effect I was thinking about. It's a step in the right direction though. Also need to learn how to edit GIFs so they are properly transparent.

posted evening of November 30th, 2007: 2 responses
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Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Harriet and Janie are both rich

After I was finished reading to Sylvia the other night, I put down Harriet the Spy thinking, the class differences stuff that seemed so important early in the book has kind of faded. But I don't think it has for Sylvia as she is listening to the story, as witness tonight when Harriet went over to Janie's house and was let in by the maid, Sylvia asks, "So... Harriet and Janie are both rich, right?" And she was very interested in the subsequent scene, where Sport's father is excited about having sold his book.

posted evening of November 28th, 2007: Respond
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Gold, Silver, Lead

I can't get past thinking, every time I read about the contest which Portia's deceased father has designed to screen her suitors, that it is a lame contest. (Leaving aside the misogyny of it -- it should go without saying that the father dictating, from beyond the grave yet, who should marry his daughter is an atrocious idea.) 30% of petitioners for the fair Portia's hand will marry her without even a thought in their head -- and given that the contest seems designed to weed out the greedy and insufficiently thoughtful, that seems like a major bug. There seem to have been a goodly number of suitors around prior to the beginning of the play, so Shakespeare wants us to believe that everyone chose Gold or Silver, like Morocco and Aragon, and that only a "wise man" (if I'm understanding correctly that wisdom is the criterion) can possibly choose Lead. I'm not quite buying that.

Also -- I want to hear some reverse psychology from the guys as they make their deliberations. "Hm, in very sooth I bet her dad/ Would think that only dumbasses would choose/ The lead -- but hark! The silver's rilly cool/ I wonder what his thinking was in that/..." or something.

posted evening of November 28th, 2007: Respond
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Monday, November 26th, 2007

Random thoughts about The Merchant of Venice

  • Jeez, that Portia sure is a piece of work huh. What does Bassanio see in her? (Duh, obviously that she is pretty and wealthy...) I don't have too good of a picture of Bassanio yet.
  • Jessica and Lorenzo, I like them. I get the sense that that is how the author wants me to react, but ok. He is writing well then, to get me to have the reaction he's looking for. (Shades of Roger and Jessica.)
  • Lots of bigotry, right? I always hear about this being the Anti-semitic Shakespeare play but there's plenty of Anti-african sentiment too ("racism" seems like the wrong word somehow?) and of course misogyny.
  • I like the poetry. Something appealing in the movement back and forth between metered dialogue and prose dialogue.

posted evening of November 26th, 2007: Respond
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Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Shakespeare

I was watching (the fantastically good) Bad Education the other night and saw a preview for the 2004 movie of The Merchant of Venice, and it looked pretty good. So I have added it to my Netflix queue, and today I bought the book to keep me company in the meantime, and this brought to mind my post a few days ago about embarrassment -- because Shakespeare is always a source of worry for me, that I will be found out as insufficiently literate, because I have not read or seen enough of his plays, or do not recognize quotations from them quickly enough. Silly (it goes without saying) but there it is.

Reading the play this afternoon, and getting into the rhythm of the meter more than I can remember having done in the past -- my memory is that when I was reading Shakespeare in high school and college, I was always trying to figure out what the meter should sound like, without much luck.

posted evening of November 25th, 2007: Respond
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Music I can identify with

We saw I'm Not There this afternoon. My reaction to it was similar in a funny way to my reaction to The Nutcracker (though in the final analysis I way prefer this movie to that ballet) -- it was a beautiful series of music videos, each of them a valid work of art in its own right; but the combination left me a little cold.

I want to see Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid now, which the Richard Gere portion of this movie is billed as an homage to. The scene of the group on the bandstand playing "Goin' to Acapulco" may have been the most beautiful imagery in the whole film -- although the sequence of Cate Blanchett's character singing "Ballad of a Thin Man" was well worth while as well.

One thing that really struck me was "Alice Fabian" (I guess a stand-in for Joan Baez?) saying of "Jack Rollins", (approximately) "It seemed as if he was singing what I meant to say but could not figure out how to express" -- this struck me as very similar to my own reaction to some of my very favorite stuff, e.g. Orhan Pamuk's writing or Dylan's music.

posted evening of November 25th, 2007: Respond
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Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Music I can't identify with

We went to see The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center today, meeting up with our friends from south Jersey who made the trip up, whom we met on our China trip. Most everything about the performance was fun -- being in the lovely New York State Theater, the festive mood, the walk up to the theater featuring really beautiful weather, watching Sylvia and Kimberlee be entranced by the show; but I sort of shook myself midway through the second act and asked, why is this not making any impression on me? Because it was not -- the only thing I could really connect with about the whole show, was watching the girls watch it. I could listen to the instruments and think they sounded very sweet and clear, and watch the dancers and be impressed by their athletic ability; but I got no emotional reaction to it.

Does the music have any emotional depth to it? I do not consider myself a good judge of classical music -- but this seemed like fluff to me. Much of it is melodies that I recognize -- from Fantasia, from Muzak, from Sylvia, who is learning "The Nutcracker March" for her orchestra; indeed probably from having seen the whole ballet at some point in the past. Any one of them is pretty on its own. But the melodies just seem like they're strung together without any connecting tissue -- I'm not sure that is my problem with the ballet as a whole but it is one thing that occurred to me while I was watching.

I wondered why I wasn't digging the dancing more -- specifically it occurred to me that I had felt really involved in what I was watching, when we went to an acrobatic performance last month, and that the ballet was a similar kind of experience. I guess probably the difference was distance -- the acrobatic troupe was performing in a very small theater, so they were close enough I could really see their faces, whereas the ballerinas just looked like little dolls or something.

Update: Some useful information from Ellen, about different versions of the Nutcracker story.

posted evening of November 24th, 2007: 6 responses
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Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Wow, my guitar still works!

After we watched The Red Balloon today, we all went over to Hannah's apartment for us to get acquainted and try playing a few songs together. It went really well, I must say -- I was a little surprised to find out she wanted me to play guitar rather than violin (or "as well as" violin, but primarily guitar), but when I picked up her guitar it felt very comfortable and famliar. The songs she was thinking about playing sound pretty easy to get hold of; we played The Cowboy Junkies' "Misguided Angel" and then I played fiddle along with a recording of her own song "Smile to Pretend" (I might be misremembering the title -- a lovely song it was.) Very satisfying -- when I got home I took out my guitar for what must be the first time in a year or so and though it needs new strings, I was getting some pretty decent sound out of it.

posted evening of November 23rd, 2007: Respond
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