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The gate is wide open, the madmen escape.

José Saramago


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Monday, December 31st, 2007

Continuity

Hm, a couple of things seem not quite right with continuity in Blindness. Like for instance, my tracking of the time the inmates have been quarantined suggests it's been not so long, maybe a week at most, at the point the old man with the eye patch joins them. But the events he narrates from the outside world sound like they take place over a month or more. (More specifically, he is talking about many quarantine centers already being full of blind people; but before the arrival of the group he was in, this center was not full, and it was the very first one to be opened.) Also the wife of the first blind man says she went blind at home, weeping into a handkerchief; but she was already in the quarantine when she went blind, and this is not something I would expect her to lie about. Not a huge thing though. The narration is growing perceptibly more reserved since those remarks about formal language -- like the narrator is using formal language and technical detail to distance himself from the events he's describing.

I want to find out who is the owner of the "unfamiliar voice" being referenced in the scene where they all describe what was the last thing they saw before going blind. (And come to think of it, why is the opthalmologist's wife not reacting and identifying the newcomer?)

posted afternoon of December 31st, 2007: 3 responses
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Happy New Year

Thanks for reading, everybody! See you next year. (Expect the recent accelerated rate of posting to slow back a bit, there will be stuff to do at work.) Here ya go:

posted afternoon of December 31st, 2007: 2 responses
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Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Narration

From this point onward, apart from a few inevitable comments, the story of the old man with the black eyepatch will no longer be followed to the letter, being replaced by a reorganised version of his discourse, re-evaluated in the light of a correct and more appropriate vocabulary. The reason for this previously unforeseen change is the rather formal controlled language, used by the narrator, which almost disqualifies him as a complementary reporter, however important he may be, because without him we would have no way of knowing what happened in the outside world, as a complementary reporter, as we were saying, of these extraordinary events, when as we know the description of any facts can only gain with the rigour and suitability of the terms used.

--José Saramago, Blindness

I'm struggling with this passage a little. It seems to me like it must be pretty important to the story, coming as it does near the center of the book and immediately after the scene in which the old man with the eyepatch, "the one person who was missing here", joins the inmates of the opthalmologist's ward. Some significant shift in the narration is occurring here -- this is the first time the narrator has referred to himself and to the job he is doing in this way. But it seems very strange for him to say "from this point onward", when throughout the story so far all dialog has been paraphrased to the point of dismissal -- nothing has been "followed to the letter".

posted evening of December 30th, 2007: Respond
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Time Signatures and other numerology

Wow, look! This is my nine-hundred and ninety-ninth post to this blog. The counter's about to roll over. Fun! Just in time for the new year.

So I came up with a little air for viola; I am inaugurating my new policy of giving my songs titles, by calling this one "Sally's Sleeping"; as Mr. Fritz observed in comments a few days ago, fiddlers name their tunes "after any damn thing". This is my first song (a) in 12/8 meter and (b) for which I was able to correctly work out notating the rhythm without help from ABCEdit's playback feature.

I found a streaming music player which is not dependent on Windows MediaPlayer, so I am going to try using it. Please let me know if either you were not able to play my music files before, and now you are, or you were able to play them before and now you are not. Thanks!

Here is the music for it, ABC format and PDF. Note that I didn't play exactly the same fourth bar that is written down; the whole point is to play a different variation every time.

posted morning of December 30th, 2007: Respond
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Friday, December 28th, 2007

Soundtrack

So I'm watching Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and thinking "Hm, all this shooting sure is getting confusing" and wander off. I bet there's a soundtrack record, now that'd be something to listen to.

Worked out one of the songs (possibly the theme?) on fiddle, it sounds pretty good as a short melody and some nice variations as well.

posted evening of December 28th, 2007: Respond
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Friday Random 10

  1. "Oceanside", Robyn Hitchcock, Live at the Cambridge Folk Festival. Not produced as well as the version on Perspex Island and I think they are playing at a faster tempo.
  2. "Keep on the Sunny Side", Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Will the Circle be Unbroken. Can't say much about this. It is totally unironic and is Maybelle Carter's signature piece; I love it but it brings back unpleasant childhood sing-along memories.
  3. "Penny Lane", Robyn Hitchcock. Lousy. I ought to take this concert off my iPod, there is no reason to keep it. The banter following the song -- "One of the things that really distinguished the '60s from the present was that they didn't have these things that say 'if you like that, try this!'" -- struck me as kind of humorous but not really up to RH banter standards.
  4. "Rukus Juice Blues", Big Bill Broonzy. Awesome. Broonzy says "rookus", not "ruckus"; at first I thought he was talking about "ruby juice".
  5. "Birds in Perspex", Robyn Hitchcock LCFF. Maybe my favorite RH song ever. But again, not up to the level of the album version -- this record could probably come off the iPod as well. It is impossible not to sing along with "come alive" even though I'm in public, sitting on a bench on the street.
  6. "Pretty Little Dog", Critton Hollow String Band. Instrumental. Just right after #5. (from the "String Theory" compilation)
  7. "This is the Last Time I'll Say Goodbye", The Sirens -- from the Apostropher's Don't Bogart That Groove compilation. I hadn't noticed before what a remarkable song this instrumental piece is. The music has a really structural feeling to it like it's building a walled passageway that you travel through -- the notes are textural elements in the structure. This has to maybe have something to do with percussion -- I've gotten the same feeling from some tracks on Perspex Island that have really strong drums.
  8. "Johnny B. Goode", The Dead 2/27/77 -- this random set is trending toward songs that are totally characteristic of their performers.
  9. "Mambo Dominica", David Murray Latin Big Band, from Don't Bogart That Groove. "Cute but corny" is my initial reaction. As I listen to it for a while (it is a very long song), I start to hear the horns more individually, less as part of a mass of sound, which is pleasant. This would be good music for walking.
  10. "Each of her Silver Wands", Robyn Hitchcock 3/14/97 Knitting Factory. I don't know this song. It sounds like it could be pretty good but like he hasn't really written it yet at this performance. Very short.

The combination of numbers 1, 5, and 7 inspired me to listen to Perspex Island, which I had not in a while. It sure gets to me -- this is my favorite record of the year. When "Birds in Perspex" came on I had to run outside to avoid embarrassing myself by singing "come alive" in the Avery Fischer Hall lobby.

...Can I analyse the structure of "Birds in Perspex"? That is sort of what I wanted to do during my Song by Song project but I don't think it really came across. Every line of that song just really touches my heart -- the lyrics to be sure and the way they fall across the canvas of music. When Andy Metcalfe came in at the end singing "birds in perspex, come alive" it actually startled me that the person singing on the recording was not myself.

posted evening of December 28th, 2007: Respond
➳ More posts about random tunes

Platform issue: MediaPlayer on Mac

So it seems like people using Macintosh computers will not be able to play the streaming audio in my Songs posts, but will instead get a "This playlist format is not recognized" error. I'm trying to figure out why; in the meantime I will put links to download the mp3 files next to the streaming objects.

Update: If you can't play the songs embedded in my site, could you try the two players I posted here and let me know if either of them works for you? Thanks.

posted morning of December 28th, 2007: 5 responses
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Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Two sets

Our set tonight was pretty excellent all things (such as that we had only played together on three occasions prior to the performance, with actual serious practicing going on on only one of those occasions) considered. The weakest of the three songs was "Hard Times", principally because (a) I don't know the part well enough and (b) I can't play vibrato, which was pretty strongly called for. The fast songs were great, both of us were really tuned in to each other and to the songs.

Later we played two songs I did not know, "Cocaine Habit" (vaguely anti-drug song from the '30s) and "Bed on Your Floor" (similar in theme to "Palette on Your Floor" but totally different music). The set was extremely rough but fun -- I thought "Bed on Your Floor" has real possibilities if we practice it a bit.

"Vinny Video" was filming the evening's performances and promised to send me a DVD. Who knows, maybe we will put it on YouTube!

posted evening of December 27th, 2007: Respond

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Set

Rehearsal tonight with Jerry went really well -- we played three songs and a meandering improvisation and we're going to do the three songs at the open mic tomorrow:

  • "Weary Day", with Jerry singing -- this is going to be awesome.
  • "Hard Times Come Again No More", with Jerry singing -- potentially great, if I can get the viola part straight. I think it will work.
  • "Louisville Burglar", with me singing -- this song works much better if I'm not trying to play during the vocal. Really fun to jam with Jerry on solos.

So friends and neighbors: here's your chance to hear us at our first appearance, before we get famous. It'll be at (the not long for this world) Here's to the Arts, 97 Baker St. in Maplewood; we'll probably play around 9:30.

Turns out "(not long for this world)" is not quite accurate. Art had been having some trouble negotiating a new lease and it looked like he might be evicted; but he has secured a month-to-month lease, so he's still there at least for the time being.

posted evening of December 26th, 2007: Respond

Can you hear the music?

I'm hearing reports from a couple of people that when they click "Play" on the little MediaPlayer objects I am using for streaming my songs, they don't get any sound. If that is true for you, could you make a note of it here, along with what browser and operating system you are using? Here is a MediaPlayer for you to test with:

Here is another one to try:

OK, and one more:

posted evening of December 26th, 2007: 2 responses
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