Saturday, August 18, 2007

Much Better!

Turns out the "Add Image" window was opening behind the open FireFox window rather than just popping right out in front. Better than nothing!

Here's two of me and housemate QueenE from the day we were both nerds, accidentally.



Evildoers! Beware our vigilance!



Casual!

Compact Discs

This [click on the post title for the link] can't really be called an article; it's more of a stream of thematically linked factoids about one of the late 20th century's perfect objects: the CD. My Dad got the family's first CD player when I was in first grade ('86, I think--I seem to remember it was in the Spring) and I'll never forget climbing up the back porch steps with Simon and Garfunkel's The Boxer blasting through the very walls of our house--it was right at the chorus, "Lie la lie [BOOOOM!] Lie la lie lie lie la lie; lie la lie [BOOOOOM!]" etc. I read later that they used a ridiculous huge drum that had been installed in the bottom of an elevator shaft in an office building in New York City for that [BOOOOM!]. I hope they recorded on a weekend.

By the time I was in high school Dad's CD collection was the thing of legend. My jazz-loving friends would come over and marvel at it--easy to do, as it covered an entire wall of the living room and was sending out feelers and tendrils for more annex-able space. It was also, if I may say, really really good stuff. You could pick any jewel box off those shelves and at the very worst it would be interesting.

Just yesterday at Half-Price Books in downtown Berkeley I found two CDs I remembered from Dad's collection: For the Beauty of Wynonna by Daniel Lanois (you may think you've never heard of him, but if you've listened to any popular music produced in the last 20 years you've heard his work) and Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings by John Prine (and if you've never heard of John Prine you've got yourself a mission then, haven't you--start with his Greatest Hits album; his song about the political climate as of two or three years ago, "Some Humans Ain't Human," is also particularly fine).

I'm sad to see CDs going the way of cassettes and LPs, although the continued presence of vinyl fetishists gives me hope that the those shiny little discs aren't headed for the same lonely fate as the 8-Track. But I must admit, I have felt the pull of this century's current fetish object (a thing so perfect that the book about it is titled The Perfct Thing)--so compact! So powerful! So convenient! And I would love to be able to download lectures, sermons, podcasts, etc. BUT! The Andy and Sarah family budget is one thing, the restrictions (Grrr...DRM!) on what you can and can't play are another, and the fact that an iPod file is only about 10% of the same song on a CD is a third. Plus, it's one more thing, or more specifically, one more place to shove other things. I can easily see my iPod filling up with music and podcasts and such that I download intending to listen to later and then never get around to--just another location for compulsions and intentions to orbit around.

Hmmm...Blogger's still not letting me post pictures--looks like the "Add Image" button has gotten swapped with the "Save Now" button. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Huh?

So now I can't post photos? Man, Blogger, you are losing Brownie Points left and right this evening. >:(

Evening Post

Fuck. The first half of this post just got bloggered. I can't reconstruct it tonight, or ever probably, but just to provide a little continuity with the surviving portion, I wrote about the death of my favorite PSR professor, Doug Adams, and how taking his class Modern Art and Religion in America changed my life. I will write more about him tomorrow, since I can't do him justice tonight.

.......

Doug died in late July, and less than a week after his death I got an email from Gergo, the German Dept. PhD student (and friend of our friend Sabrina's!) who had taken over our Hungarian classes after Professor Mihalik was diagnosed with lung cancer. He said that no-one had expected it to happen, and so soon, but Agnes had died at about 6 that morning, July 31. Agnes was in her 40's, and while Doug's death was expected to a degree, or at least led up to, her death was a total surprise to me. She told us about her diagnosis in class just four months before her death, and I couldn't believe that she ...was dead, and so quickly.

Agnes was a wonderful teacher, and more than that a wonderful presence. She projected an intense warmth and vibrancy, and it was wonderful to hear her talk about her favorite Hungarian bands and TV Shows, and American romantic movies (she loved Titanic). I regret what a shitty Hungarian student I was, and especially the times that I blew off class. In particular, once Sarah and I decided we weren't going to spend a semester in Transylvania I lost a great deal of my sense of urgency to learn Hungarian, and that affected my involvement in the class. I wish I had done better, and stuck with it, impossible damn language that it is. I feel that, instead, I was a disappointment to someone I liked a great deal, and in the process cheated myself out of getting to know her better. What can you do, though, besides drink and listen to Stan Getz albums?

So that's one of the big themes from my summer. The other is travel, and maybe I'll have the energy to write about that tomorrow. I think I'm about done for the evening, though. I'll try to chase this admittedly morbid post with some pretty pictures from the last few months.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Brief Addendum...

While I was pretty harsh on Clapton in my previous post, I feel compelled to note that, in my opinion, Duane Allman's soaring slide guitar solo in the second half of the song is one of the most transcendent moments in ...I was going to say popular music, but I think I can lump unpopular music in with that, and declare it one of my favorite musical moments, ever.



Here's a photo titled "Wacka Wacka Wacka. Your guess is as good as mine.

Consistency Will Be Our Watchword.

In a conversation last weekend (with Frunchy? Damn it all, I can't remember! Sorry if I've misattributed this...) my conversation partner remarked that the hallmark of a good blog is consistency, that one should be able to check it daily and have something new to read. Otherwise there's just no incentive. So forthwith, I resolve to post at least daily. There's always something worth thinking and writing about, even if briefly.

So here's a (very) brief bio of Charles Finney, Oberlin Patriarch. I always get a tickle out of the great changes undergone in Christian Evangelism in the last 150 years. And the swap of the core values of the political parties.

Next, here's an excerpt from Pattie Boyd's autobiography, from the Daily Mail. In Britain. Pattie Boyd, if her name doesn't ring a bell, is the ex-wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton. Truly, a modern-day Alma Mahler-Gropius-Werfel (I knew of some of the others, but had no idea that she and Kokoschka were lovers! Just goes to show...). At any rate, she was married to George, but then Eric took a fancy to her, and as a document of his woo, wrote for her Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, which he released as Derek and the Dominos. One of the great albums of all time? Yeah, I guess. Once I got over Clapton Unplugged (in eighth grade), that was kind of it for me and Clapton. Great skill and profeciency? Sure, but where's the substance? He's like a giant billboard for himself, plastered all along the highway of 20th century pop music history, and when you finally get there, just like Wall Drug, there's nothing but tchotchkes and geegaws. You're lucky if you find a cute pencil-cozy.

Anyways, whatever I might think about Clapton musically, it's pretty clear that he was a total shit as a husband and a friend. Harrison was his mate, his homeboy, his main man, and Clapton goes and writes "one of the best albums in rock history" in order to shag Harrion's wife. Not trying to say that she was a prize to be won, or any sexist tripe--It takes two to lie, as Homer says, one to lie and one to listen. I just think it's pretty shitty all the way around. And, after reading what Pattie Boyd has to say about her marriage, it seems like George Harrison came off better than anyone else in the whole messy triangle.



I found this photo on the hard-drive of our old computer. I know nothing about it, except that I titled it "A World Of Pain, Donny". Your guess is as good as mine!