Being a string player, I was always partial to Bach's violin and cello music, though his works for voice may be his greatest.
Consider the Allemande from the first cello suite, here played by the extraordinary Mstislav Rostropovich near the end of his life-long career. A rigorous, thorough composition full of intricate arpeggios that nonetheless sounds improvisational throughout, as if the cellist were making it up as he went along. Rostropovich does a special turn on some very restrained and delicate bits of rubato at just the right moments:
Friday, February 27, 2009
Being a string player, I was always partial to Bach's violin and cello music, though his works for voice may be his greatest.
Bishop Richard Williamson
The Society of St. Pius X
Re: Killed, the Number of You (cf. Hitler, by)
To Whom It May Concern:
It has been brought to my attention that offence has been taken by you (d/b/a You People; d/b/a Your Race) regarding certain comments that I may have made regarding the means and total number of you "solved" by Adolph Hitler and the then-legitimate government of greater Germany.
Let me here state unequivocally that I did not in any way seek to cause offence, discomfort, bad feelings, or anger when stating there were no gas chambers, crematoria, mass graves, mass executions, etc. While historians may quibble about the specifics of these instances, I am not an historian. Therefore, I deny categorically that any statements I made regarding the veracity of your claims of genocide were made with the intention of harming your feelings, the feelings of your genetic peers, or others within the general matrilineal descent of Abraham.
Your Brother in Christ,
Okay you dirty vegetarians, how about some ratatouille? I don't use bell peppers, which are common to recipes, because I find the sweetness distracting from the savory and piquant flavors of the dish. I do add a bit of heat with a few diced chili peppers, and I spike it with a bit of red wine vinegar because bright, acidic flavors stimulate the palate and appetite.
1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4" chunks
2 medium zucchini, cut into 3/4" chunks
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2-3 shallots, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, grated
6-8 medium garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife
2 cayenne chilis, chopped
4 cups crushed tomatoes
bouquet garni consisting of celery leaf, thyme, marjoram, and flat-leaf parsley
1 whole clove
2 bay leaves
several allspice berries, ground
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
diced anchovies (optional)
Preheat the oven to 300.
On the stovetop, heat a generous several tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy dutch oven. Add the onions, shallots, and garlic, along with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-high heat until soft and translucent. Add the grated carrots, cooking until the oil begins to darken and turns slightly orange. Add the chilis and cook for another minute or so. Add the eggplant and zucchini, stirring occasionally, until they just begin to soften. Add the tomatoes, bouquet garni, spices bay leaves, more salt, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and the anchovies if you choose to use them. Stir together. Cover and reduce heat. Allow to sweat out and for the liquid to begin to boil. Transfer immediately into the pre-heated oven. Cook for 1 hour covered, then 20 minutes uncovered. Remove. Let stand at room temperature for 6 hours, or refrigerate until the following day. Return to the stovetop one hour before serving and slowly reheat over low flame.
I typically serve this dish over a plain, nutty white rice, such as Basmati.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
So. In America, guns are legal but drugs are not, and this leads to an amusingly ironic situation in which everyone in Mexico will soon be kidnapped, tortured, and killed by cartels armed with guns from America as the Mexican and American governments ceaselessly pursue a futile and failed policy of prohibition and interdiction.
Oberstgruppenführer Janet Napolitano deems it a threat to the purity and essence of the homeland, and although I generally consider myself well beyond the naïve idea that states or their agents can be understood as moral actors, I find myself nonetheless struck by the unspeakable moral callousness of this position, that the murder of thousands of Mexican citizens as the direct result of American policies is refracted back to us as a threat to the United States of America. Our prohibitory regime and its coconspirators in the Mexican federal government (cf. "sweeping crackdown") catalyze this horrific, bloody carnage just across the border, which becomes a "national security threat," which justifies more paramilitary police crackdowns, which incites more violence, and so on, snake endlessly consuming its tail, world without end.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Someone needs to remind Professor Sartwell that America invented the automobile. Also we are "the greatest force for progress in human history." The typical amateur psychoanalysis concludes that such relentless self-aggrandizement masks an underlying core of deep inadequacy. That partly explains our national mania. Partly.
On the other hand it may be that we simply lack any capacity to judge qualitatively. Our trumpeted measures for civilizational success are starkly reminiscent of our prevalent business models. Oh so big and oh so strong, nevermind that the books are cooked and the headquarters thrice mortgaged. Last night the new President promised to unleash the power of lending and credit. Another loan to keep us in diamonds and furs. I'm with the professor: we have no destiny. Maybe we get to keep on keeping on, maybe we collapse. It is what it is. Comme çi comme ça. Fuck it. Hallelujah.
David Brooks like totally like hates Bobby Jindal. Meanwhile Barack Obama remains Superjesus Black Reagan. He's got good delivery. Let's not say otherwise.
The . . . what would the Teevee call it? . . . optics were embarrassing. Congress? Men fit to be slaves, as Tiberius would've had it. All that leaping up to applaud. Watching adults seek to ingratiate themselves in so obsequious a manner makes me a bit queasy. What must this Roman spectacle look like to the rest of the world? The Elder Gods of the Senate may just have better quads than me, and I make yoga every goddamn day, what with all that rising and reposing. Lord above, it reminded me of High Holy Day services in my youth, except that we stood to acknowledge God and His Torah. Purim, appropriately, is right around the corner.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Glenn Beck's original shtick was fairly ordinary for the talk-radio/cable-news formats: a regular-guy everyman, Joe Six-Pack, if you will, thoroughly unendowed with rhetorical gifts, genially befuddled by the actions of The Government. Gee whiz things just weren't the way they usedta be, etc. But somewhere along the way, the fillings in his molars began picking up transmissions from Betelgeuse, and now he spends most of his time explaining how the Messcans are attempting to immanentize the Eschaton and that the Baby Jesus inscribed the Constitution on seven tablets of gold and buried them on Mt. Vernon where Joseph Smith discovered them in the year 1492.
Playing a developmentally disabled Howard Beale, oddly enough, has not improved Beck's ratings, but it has attracted some amusing hold-out, hold-on fans, like Professor of Victory Studies, Donald Douglas, who prophesies:
I mentioned what I saw as frightening left-wing craziness and moral breakdown across the land, and I said off-hand that we needed to dig in our heels and fight the Obama hordes who are nationalizing everything. I suggested that we could have Democrats in power for two terms or more, and the total breakdown of society wasn't that far-fetched. Oh sure, we'd still have constitutional democracy, but America would be different.Different meaning abortions and gays, needless to say. There is, however, a charming, Weekly-World-News quality of the Apocalypse receding endlessly at fixed distance from the observer. TOTAL COLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATION! But "still a constitutional democracy," of course. Perhaps "partial breakdown of circumscribed portions of society" might be more appropriate, even if it does lack that certain Revelatory je ne sais quoi.
It occurs to me that the survivalist fantasias of today's lazy suburban conservatives are the contemporary counterpart to Leary's old adage: turn on, tune in, drop out--far more so than any attribute of the hipster assumed-inheritors of the counterculture. A few really will arm up and make for the deep woods to await to coming anarchy. The rest, the equivalent of concert-and-weekend acid dosers, will buy a handgun and put a couple hundred bucks worth of canned goods in the basement beside the Nordic Track.
Monday, February 23, 2009
You've got to admire Barack Obama's ambition, like how he aspires to be Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon all at the same time.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Via Roy Edroso, I've been catching up on the hugely entertaining hunt for the worst movie of all time. The rules make it fun: gotta have some stars; gotta be in wide release; etc. Neglected so far: The Chronicles of Riddick, the absolutely loony sequel to the modest and not-too-terrible Pitch Black of several years prior. In Pitch Black monsters jumped out and went boo! and you jumped in your seat and Vin Diesel launched a thousand dead-pans. The CoR, on the other hand, is positively grandiose in its incoherence. It's gloriously overstuffed.
Too often, movie trailers function as a Greatest Hits for the whole film, and this is especially true for action/adventure and SF flicks--you go to the movie and you realize that all the good stuff was in the trailer and the rest just blows, is nothing but those endless Jerry Bruckheimer sequences where we are introduced to members of the team (Black Dude, good with explosives; Brainy Guy, Steve Buscemi, Space Madness; White Action Star, grizzled team leader, daughter loves him, whatevs). The CoR hasn't got this problem. It's like watching a 130 minute trailer. You wonder if the editor passed out for holding his breath. You know how trailers cut scenes and dialogue out of sequence to subtly misdirect and so as not to give away the plot? The CoR does it too. Over 2 hours, and it didn't give away the plot. There are undead soldiers, and sword-and-sandal-type derring-do, and Mortal Kombat-style soul snatchers, and Judi Dench as some sort of diaphanous soothsaystress and planets that turn into fire and Thandi Newton's lips and endless mentions of something called the Underverse which is like the afterlife except . . . not. Not?
The ending clearly anticipates The Chronicles of Riddick II Colon Subtitle, and that's the most hilarious part of all. The studio could break the first one into its constituent parts and make twelve more movies without building a single new set.
It's Like the Time Bette Davis Did Something that Was Like Something Else that's Totally Happening Now
As the country takes a bullet train to bankruptcy, the last Democratic president urged the current one to “embody” that old American spunk. That spirit of — as they sing in “Oklahoma” — “We know we belong to the land and the land we belong to is grand! A-YIP-I-O-EE-AY!”Maureen Dowd is old. Her frame of cultural reference consists of songbook standards, MGM musicals. She does not know what an aperçu is. She is pissed that Eric Holder called her a racist because she is so like totally not a racist. She voted for the negro! Who, by the way, ought to lie a little more frequently.
I am not, as a general rule, the sort who runs about with his hands in the air lamenting some imaginary decline in the quality of The Media, but I do occasionally wonder how this woman, who should be the most popular book club hostess in Topeka, managed to scam herself an op-ed gig at America's most venerable press institution. Then I consider that they also employ Thomas Friedman. Then I am reminded that these whack jobs are pretty damn popular among our national gang of mal-pensants.
That is why the CNBC reporter Rick Santelli struck a populist nerve with his screed about the unfairness of responsible homeowners picking up the tab for irresponsible homeowners — following the unfairness of taxpayers who are losing jobs, homes and savings propping up the exact same bankers and carmakers whose greed and myopia caused the economy to crash.You know, no he didn't. America's "populist nerve" doesn't watch CNBC. I mean, no one watches CNBC. Meanwhile what, pray tell, is an irresponsible homeowner. Yo, Bill Clinton, the "man from hope," and his homeboy Alan Greenspan spent almost a decade telling America that they must buy a house or else they were communiss. It's the American Dream, or some such. It has been the avowed policy of the United States since the Second World War to massacre any vestige of a rentier economy and massively transfer the population into mortgaged indentured servitude. Go into debt, it's your patriotic duty, bitches.
I'll give Obama this sliver of credit: he does seem to understand that a viral video is not a statistically valid sample. Hell, I'll give him another: he seems to recognize that no one in the world who isn't Maureen Dowd or a Republican congresscreature craving cable face time gives a shit about Marc Rich. Barry O. may be the smooth-talking architect of our doom, but at least he's not a moron.