Thursday, November 22, 2007

the evening redness in the west

I have been re-reading Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, probably because there's all this buzz over No Country for Old Men (of which I am not a big fan). I decided to give Meridian another whirl because I realized I had not bothered with this book since throwing my copy out an open window at Sellards Scholarship Hall in 1987. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps I had misjudged. So, I'm an open-minded person. I'm willing to admit when I've made a mistake.

Okay, I made a mistake. This is a great book. It's not for everyone, and it's obviously not for those it's for at every time in their life. Get off my back, syntax police. Other critics will tell you more, in a more compelling way, than I'm going for here.

Here's my complaint. I got a copy of the Modern Library printing of the book, which has an oddly fetching photo of McCarthy on the front, and an essay by Harold Bloom at the beginning. About which: um, seriously, this should maybe go at the end. Unless the assumption is that the only people reading this edition of this book are people who have already read this book. This essay is odd. It sort of irritated me, which is strange because in many ways I tend to agree with Harold Bloom (i.e., that the point of reading is aesthetic enjoyment, not making some kind of political statement). In many other ways, I do not (i.e., that the best DeLillo book is Underworld; that Bud Powell's "Un Poco Loco" is some kind of watershed moment for music). But in the main, I don't mind him so much. But this essay struck me as unnecessarily condescending, and frankly overwritten.

At any rate. There's an awful lot going on in this book. Under no circumstances would I recommend it to my mother, whom I know quite well. Nor would I recommend it to someone, conversely, whom I do not know well. The violence may be allegorical, but I suspect not. Maybe there's something to the idea that violence is what we bring to the table, and it's the suppression of violence that is the only thing that makes civilization. Living beyond the pale may mean embracing the violence. Shades of Conrad, shades of Melville. This is a fine book, a frightening book, a book that causes me concern. This is why I love to read.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

ascension day

Well, I've been having a thing lately that I don't really want to get into, but suffice it to say: yes, I know I have not been posting with any kind of regularity. Management regrets the inconvenience.

Okay, so, just so this isn't the complete waste of space that it could be, I will mention here that I am in a recording studio at this moment, listening to various pieces of music that I may or may not mix onto a Veterans Day piece I've committed to for Friday. (And yes, I know that Veterans Day is Sunday. This needs to air before Veterans Day.) I keep lots of pieces of music in a file here just in case the perfect thing comes up. Fair use covers a lot of this, and our BMI/ASCAP contract covers the rest. I assure you that I purchased all of this. Anyway, if I hear a thing that I like a little bit of, I save it here and then can come back to it if I need it. This makes the craziest list -- sort of an iPod playlist gone all wrong. I just finished listening to a passacaglia that I like and the Brahms Clarinet Concerto. I have decided against both. I am noticing that virtually all of the music I have in here is kind of...well, either ethereal or sad, depending on how you want to look at it. (With the exception of a White Stripes piece I used for a commentator's thoughts on music and his father.) Anyway, it's good to go back through all this stuff occasionally and see what can be deleted. I have a disproportionate amount of Radiohead up here, apparently. That's another strange story, because I was determined that I did not like Radiohead, based entirely on my experience of their first record. I had a friend who adored this tape and played it endlessly and I didn't like it one bit. So, in short, I gave up entirely on Radiohead before they started making music that was right up my alley. I heard some of their other songs purely by accident and couldn't believe I had written this band off. Okay, lesson learned. So now there is a lot of Radiohead on file in studio E. I was kind of delighted to see just now that I have The Hollies' "The Air That I Breathe" in this file. I just love that weird whiny guitar opening with all the wocka-wocka processing on it.

At any rate, the thing I have up here that I want to use but cannot even think about is the Talk Talk song "Ascension Day" from their record Laughing Stock. I am just crazy about that record and have been for years. There's not a lot of instances in which I can use it, but sometimes I just come in and listen to it and it (exceedingly oddly) makes me feel better.

So. Go get yourself a copy of Laughing Stock and don't listen to the recordstore guy who will invariably tell you that this is not what you really want (unless you go to the record store in Lawrence and your counterguy is Kelly, who will cheerfully agree that this is an excellent choice, and that his wife listens to it all the time). Unless this guy is one of those crazy audiophile types, in which case he will probably go completely wiggo over you. But in that case, you should ignore his exhortations for you to buy it on the gold disc or the remastered pressing or get the original Verve release rather than the Polydor...all that stuff is just nuts.
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A Microscopic Cog in a Catastrophic Plan by Laura Lorson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at