Thursday, January 31st, 2008
Haven't downloaded any Robyn concerts for a while now; but two new tapes became available today. One is of his gig the day before yesterday at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London; as soon as I read about it this morning I started fervently wishing for a tape of the show. And whaddaya know, half an hour later or so I get e-mail informing me of its availability. Quick on the heels of that message came another one, about a show from April '96 in Bilbao. Looking forward to listening to both.
Another opportunity for listening to Hitchcock: He'll be on Jools Holland's BBC show tomorrow night. Apparently I will be able to watch it on Fuse, though I'm not completely sure how that works yet.
Wednesday, January 30th, 2008
I'm finding this article about the new Glendale stadium (where they're going to play the Super-bowl) pretty amusing, not sure exactly why. For instance:
Adjacent to that is Westgate City Center, an outdoor pedestrian mall with billboards meant to invoke Times Square, a water fountain modeled after the Bellagio in Las Vegas and 500,000 square feet of what will eventually be 6.5 million square feet of retail and residential space.
seems to me like a hilarious juxtaposition.
Relatedly, I am going to be very disappointed if the half-time band does not play a marching-band arrangement of "Somebody Robbed the Glendale Train". Wait, what's that? You say they don't have a marching band at half-time any longer?...
Monday, January 28th, 2008
I am trying to get a program written and working by Friday and it's an open question whether I will be able to do that and sleep.
Saturday, January 26th, 2008
Awesome! Steve Lahrhoff is playing tonight at Here's to the Arts. My fave local guitarist.
Speaking of guitar music: Ed Russell is playing a jazz brunch tomorrow at Cocina, 217 W. 85th. Be the first time I've seen him in a couple of years.
...And it occurs to me, apropos the previous post, that what makes The White Castle and The New Life less engaging than Pamuk's later novels, is precisely their aphoristic quality -- the characters seem very abstract, so that even though they have many specific, individuating attributes, I don't get a sense of them as personalities. One of the things I really loved in Snow and My Name is Red, was that all of the deep thinking was very firmly rooted in the concrete individuals telling and acting out the story.
I'm reading The White Castle as a parable about loneliness. The narrator's and Hoja's striving after personal union reminds me of the presocratic philosopher* who postulated that every man's soul is half of a primordial unity, forever seeking its opposite. Their relationship is sadistic and masochistic and I am anxious to find out what will come of its "fulfillment" -- i.e. the eventual transference of identity which the narrator is hinting at -- from the narrator's tone I cannot believe it is going to bring him happiness.
The writing exercises that Hoja insists on starting in Chapter 5 remind me in a funny way of blogging and of online relationships generally. The two are seeking to approach each other through a textual exchange; each has his own agenda. (Hoja is clearly the motive force, but this gives the narrator freedom to play his own games without worrying about the end point of the interaction.) I identify very strongly with both characters in this passage (and can't help thinking of the table they are sitting at as the Internet):
...just as a person could view his external self in a mirror, he should be able to observe the interior of his mind in his thoughts. He said I knew how to do this but was withholding the secret from him. While Hoja sat across from me, waiting for me to write down this secret, I filled the sheets in front of me with stories exaggerating my own faults: I wrote with delight about the petty thefts of my childhood, the jealous lies, the way I schemed in order to make myself more loved than my brothers and sisters, the sexual indiscretions of my youth, stretching the truth more and more as I went along. The greedy curiosity with which Hoja read these tales, and the queer pleasure he derived from them, shocked me; afterwards he would become even more angry...
*Heraclitus maybe? Empedocles? help me out here -- I may also just be totally confused and there is not a presocratic philosopher answering to this description.
Update: Aha! John knows what I was thinking of -- this is not presocratic, but rather from Aristophanes' speech in the Symposium. Transcript here.
After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one, they began to die from hunger and self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart; and when one of the halves died and the other survived, the survivor sought another mate, man or woman as we call them,--being the sections of entire men or women,--and clung to that.
See also, Hedwig and the Angry Inch's adaptation of Aristophanes' speech.
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008
Here is how to play the key of E on the lower strings of a viola or, mutatis mutandis, the key of B on the lower strings of a violin:
Notice no open strings, which oh well.* The first and second fingers are only a half step apart and the first finger is only a half step above the open string, meaning your second finger lands where your first usually does.
Other keys this works for: B or F♯ on the upper strings of a viola, F♯ or C♯ on the upper strings of a violin. Ooh! and I just figured out you can start the scale on the fourth finger held in this position (i.e. where the high 3 would usually fall) and that opens up a bunch more keys.
*(Actually the open G string is the minor third, and open D is the minor 7th, so there is some room for using both of them -- last night we were playing "Cocaine Habit", which is in B, and I was getting a lot of use out of slurring D-D♯.)
Here are three very fine songs which employ the weeping willow tree as a central metaphor: "Bury me under the weeping willow", "After Midnight", "Big River". There must be many more. I have been listening to all three recently and I wonder what it is about "weeping willow" that makes it so easy to use -- obviously the "weeping", and also I just think it rolls off the tongue very smoothly. Possibly related, "So lonesome I could cry" starts out with a reference to a whippoorwill, and today when I sat down to make a list of "weeping willow" songs, "So lonesome I could cry" was at the top of the list until I backtracked and checked the lyric.
The White Castle is, like The New Life, not seeming a page-turner to me in the way that Snow and My Name is Red both did. As I read it I am encountering some very interesting bits -- like this evening I was feeling some kinship with Hoja over the question of how narrating one's experiences can communicate one's inner self -- but I do not feel invested in the characters in a way that would make me need to know what is going to happen next.
Cool! I found and fixed a bug today using gdb's watchpoint feature, which I have never tried before. (Not cool: the bug was a careless typo that I should never have introduced.)
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