Friday, September 15, 2017

Harry Dean Stanton, 1926 - 2017

Probably the only time I've ever thought "Dude, NO, do NOT rescue the cat!"

Otherwise, HDS's presence in a movie was like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval if the seal was an anarchy A.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

warming the tubes

It's that time of year again when opera nerds of North America scrape the oxidation off the contacts, burn the dust off the vacuum tubes, and clear their social calendars of, uh, social things. The Met opens with Norma on Monday, September 25. You'll find it live-streamed on the Met website here, where you'll also find the calendar for everything else they're streaming for free on the website this season.

Those of you with SiriusXM access can find the full calendar of live webcasts here, thus enabling you to plan your social event cancellations months in advance, rather than in the ad hoc weekly fashion of seasons past. Note SiriusXM has moved the channel from 74 to 75, so if you turn on the radio and a guy is telling you he woke up this morning with the blues all around his bed, let him tell you all about it for a few minutes and then skip to the next channel.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Happy Labor Day weekend, Americanistanians! Read all about it on your own, because they don't teach these things in school.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

18 Brumaire Posting from the Ministry of Noise

Things being what they are this week, I had this song by Brian McNeill on the brain. Twenty and change years old and about another place, but no less relevant for that, I think. And it points in the direction we need to go, should the dust ever settle enough for us to see our way.

 There's no gods, and there's precious few heroes, 
 but there's plenty on the dole in the Land o' the Leal, 
 and it's time now to sweep the future clear 
 of the lies of a past that we know was never real...



Today the Alien Hairpiece was demanding to know where it would end, which icon of American history would be next. But of course the answer is all of them. We're way overdue for a reevaluation of our political mythologies as a whole, from the beginning, wherever that might be, and to whatever end. And, it should be needless to say, South and North.

Last week at the Borg Cube, Mouthy Liberal Supervisor and Kneejerk Conservative Minion were discussing whether or not the arrival of European colonists was really that bad for Native Americans. [Spoiler: Yes, yes it was.] The discussion was punctuated with a lot of questions ending in "I don't know". But they never got to the real question: Why don't we know? And we're seeing the results of not knowing, the results of a void in historical literacy that somehow binge-watching shows on the History Channel doesn't address.

It was true at one time that Ken Burns' multi-part documentary The Civil War was by far the highest-rated show in PBS history. It's probably still true. It's probably also responsible for what 99% of the non-history nerd American populace knows about the American Civil War (plus bulking out Jay Ungar's bank account, we hope). As much as it may have helped rehab the documentary genre, the down side was perhaps it lent a little too much of a white schoolboy Civil War buff's romanticism to the proceedings. Which is where the above song comes in, and the line about "sweeping the future clear". What we need to ask ourselves out of all this is how these narratives make or break us... or perhaps how they do the one while seeming to do the other.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Schiller Time

The Special Envoy asked this week about the difference between work time and what she termed "Schiller time" -- by which she means the difference between wage slavery and the stuff one is really supposed to be doing. The stuff, that is, with meaning.

But since the internet loves brevity and youtube videos may stand in for discourse these days, I suppose the response is a bit this



Before the experts weigh in, yes, this is not a particularly canon (in the nerdy superhero flick sense of that term) bit of the opera. Schiller's Elisabeth de Valois has been dropped at the Spanish court alone, an isolated person in a play of isolated people, so she doesn't have the luxury of bidding farewell to a homie, only to one of the people she refers to in weaker moments as her jailers. All the more impressive, in a way, that the prisoner stands up for the prison guard, the servant of an authoritarian narrative whom Authority has just ruthlessly decontextualized. If the libretto of the opera loses a bit in the change, Verdi makes up for it in that final chorus. It's the punctuation of Elisabetta's vocal line and its final three note descent that turns them from onlookers to witnesses. Say what you will about the man as a composer, when it came to adapting canon works for the opera stage, his musical shorthand was second to none.

Meantime, after a lengthy hiatus, here's your Random Don Carlos Trailer of the Week, courtesy of Salzburger Landestheater, wherein the salient metaphor appears to be ice cubes.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday Posting from the Ministry of Noise

These are days that might bring out the cranky New Englander in anybody, so have some cranky Early American Folk-Punk Hymnody, and take a shot of strong water every time the phrase "shining city on a hill" spews from a Mouth of Sauron.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

virtual turntable

It's clear that there was more vintage BritFRock in Colin Meloy's early record collection than in those of most kids from Helena, Montana. (Anyone still wondering where the Decemberists' neo-broadside thing sprang from should find themselves a copy of the Nic Jones album From the Devil to a Stranger as fast as humanly possible.) Here they are teaming up with Olivia Chaney to revisit some ballad trad territory previously traversed by Steeleye Span et al. We are for it.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ordnance n' Alcohol 2017

Usually on this day I post Charles Ives's own recording of his song They Are There!, because we were usually bombing brown people abroad and it's a loopy enough performance that you can hear in it both snark and some acknowledgement of what arguably mythical American Values (TM) are supposed to be. (Of course that's only my interpretation but you can judge for yourself.)

Needless to say, things are a bit different this year. So, while we're still bombing brown people abroad, I've opted this year for the second part of Three Places in New England, "Putnam's Camp, Redding, Connecticut". Its clash of tunes from the Big Book of New England Small Town Band Music seems apt these days. Also the middle part where the kid wanders into the woods to escape the crazy.



Putnam Park has a statue by Anna Hyatt Huntington of Israel Putnam escaping the British at Greenwich. The context has changed, but the gesture still holds.

photo, from wiki, by Roy Klotz, MD

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Greifenklau vs Management

Anne Feeney's Irish punk version, in honor of having to go to the union to keep Greifenklau from being railroaded out of a job while he's going through chemo.