Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Night Bach & (alcohol free) beer blogging

I was just given the Well-Tempered Clavier, book I, so was able to remove it from the list. Will be curious if I enjoy it more than the Goldberg Variations, which frankly start to annoy me after 15-20 minutes.

It's funny that Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms used to be called "The 3 B's" - why not Bruch or Bruckner? Now that I've purchased the art of the fugue & Musical Offering, and appreciated their majesty, I don't understand how Brahms could have ever been grouped with Bach & Beethoven - far far superior musical composers, arguably geniuses. Brahms completely lacks their depth of vision and should be considered a second tier composer - no higher.

Time to experience alcohol free Coors & Glenn Gould to see if they complement each other.

p.s. recommend Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould quite highly

UPDATE: Now that i've listened to most of the first CD (out of 4) my opinion remains the same. For solo piano work give me Chopin & then Beethoven. Bach's chamber music is sublime, but there's something too limiting or limited with Bach's piano works.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Today's comic books - superior to what i grew up with

still very impressed at the breadth of knowledge of myths in today's comics. In this month's Lucifer, a comic relief character goes to a spin-off of hell & finds a raiju & Ama-No-Hashidate & Chalmecacivati & Al-Sirat (says it was used in Dune, but sure don't remember it) & shikome & Phlegethon & Mount Meru & valhalla ("probably full of macho shit-heads") & remiel (the bad guy every time he shows up in Lucifer) woven into a pretty entertaining story line.

Just read that Lucifer ends in two issues. Truly sad that both Books of Magic has ended recently & Lucifer will end & Strangers in Paradise only has another 14 months to run. In another year, I'll only be left with Fables & the highly irregular Stray Bullets. Damn this sucks - Vertigo really needs to come up with some fresh titles!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What it means to be human

Xenogenesis is an unsettling work even though it's concern is the same as Kindred - what makes us human. In Kindred, the milieu was the adjustment a modern black woman would have being returned to slave time; in Xenogenesis, the setting is a post-apocalyptic planet repopulated by aliens who genetically modify humans and cross-breed them. As in Kindred, the protagonist had to adapt to her lose of freedom, but her the loss is even more invasive - she's genetically modified, and in the creepiest scenes of the first book, she has virtual group sex with another human and an alien. The bonding is so intense that even when the humans revolt, they will not attack the alien they have mated with, but only another alien. Additionally, the humans are somehow modified so that their touch to each other is repulsive after their virtual group sex.

The first book ends with most of the re-trained humans sent back to earth, while our auto-biographical Judas Goat character has to remain on the ship to train other awoken humans.

Truly an unsettling work - in the complementary sense of the word.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What to buy with future gift cards

Decided to start creating my list of what i'll purchase next holiday season. Suggestions welcome.

The first artist is unfamiliar to me, but caught the LA Philharmonic's performance on the radio a few weeks back & thoroughly enjoyed it.

Update (should be plenty of these):

Saturday Night Seitan Roast Blogging

Seitan Roast & Mashed Potatoes & green peas with mint jelly - normally reserved for holiday meals, but hey what's the point of a pregnancy if you can't enjoy comfort food!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday Night Barber Blogging

Very somber - not quite appropriate Friday dinner accompaniment, but worthy music none the less.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

15 down - 33 to go

Recently the illustrated daily scribble ended its run because "Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are telling the same lies and making the same excuses over and over, and that's creatively limiting to satire. " I can understand the feeling. Bush isn't doing anything especially bad now, but he's not doing much right either, so the continuing feeling of wanting to hit the fast forward button will be with me (& many others) for the rest of Bush's term.


Trade - Portman has moved on and Schwab lacks his clout. Given how the Doha round has never really gathered momentum, and how strong protectionist urges are these days, I can't see Doha ever living up to its hopes of removing farm subsidies in the 1st world. For effort, I'll give Bush a "C" overall.

Deficit - Given that recent budget negotiations broke down, I have few doubts that our annual deficit will be back in the high $300B/annum soon with the Medicare drug give away starting to kick in. Did stumble across an amusing (!) academic paper in which the authours "examine if sustainability of the US fiscal deficit holds by means of studying the univariate properties of the difference between public revenues and expenditures. However, instead of using classical approaches based on I(1) or I(0) integration techniques, we use a methodology based on fractional processes. The results show that the public deficit in the US is an I(d) process with d slightly smaller than 1, implying that fiscal deficit is mean reverting, and thus, sustainable, though the adjustment process towards equilibrium will take a very long time." Quite a mouthful.

Iraq - The US death toll is back up again this month, which once again shows why you should use some smoothing technique to look at trends, and not get too excited because 1 month has the lowest death toll of the past year. Some right wing bloggers had pointed out that the previous 5 months had been a downward trend - trend over. Iraq seems to manage to avoid a full scale civil war, but never gain any real stability.

Wager status hasn't changed. Troop levels are still high, OBL is still missing, and Hillary has a huge war chest if she decides to run in '08.

Only hot item since last month are the drum beats concerning Iran. Best article concerning Iran's "oh he so crazy leader is from Creative Loafing "Saddam is on trial, and Osama is enjoying the fifth year of his involuntary south Asian spelunking holiday. So it was only a matter of time before a new boogeyman emerged, a boogeyman whose apocalyptic speechifying and filthy mustache would fill the spider hole in our hearts, minds and cable TV schedules the way Saddam and Osama used to." Expect to hear more saber rattling concerning Iran, but Bush lacks the political capital & credibility to ask Congress for another declaration of military support, so don't see another war in our Bush future, though of course much nail biting.

The elections are less than 7 months away, but we seem to be moving towards them in slow motion. Personal predictions are that the Dems will pick up 4 Senate seats (Santorum, Jeffords, Chaffee, and 1 other) while narrowly holding on to Maryland. In the House, they'll pick up 6-7 seats which will not put them in the majority, but give them some added clout in Congress.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Night Jigsaw Puzzle & Monk blogging

Finished the puzzle last night - surprisingly easy despite its 2,000 piece size.

Monk - enjoyable, but familiar

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Afternoon Jigsaw Puzzle Blogging

Puzzle has proved to be easier than 2,000 pieces imply - having different borders for the Mardi Gras posters makes sorting far far easier than Luigi's night sky over the Brooklyn Bridge puzzle

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday Night Pelligrino & Bruch blogging

Licking my chops now - tofu with honey-ginger sauce along with asparagus with sesame sauce & citrus cake with poppyseeds spinkled on top tonight!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

First photo

Helaina Olivia-Rose or Franklin Theodore (negative 7 months)

Finished Kindred

I've read other good slave novels, such as Beloved, but Kindred does a better job conveying the moral abomination, the moral travesty of slavery. The conceit of a free black woman forced into slavery for months, being willing to grovel herself into the role of house nigger to avoid being whipped out in the fields drives home the horror better than any film or history book I've ever read.

It is still incredible that America allowed slavery so long into its existence, allowed segregation for a century afterwards, allowed lynching & cross burnings, and denied such basic human rights to other human beings for millenia. Amazing that intelligent people could rationalize the enslavement of another human being, and that it took a war to finally settle the issue, and another 100 years for the reconstruction amendments to be obeyed.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Kindred & jigsaw puzzles

Since it's a Mardi Gras puzzle they go together well - recommend a combination of the 2 hobbies to all bloggers out there.

Review of ½ of Kindred

Dana gets flogged to the future & yanked back when her great....grandfather tries raping her great....grandmother. The flogging is useful to drive home what a moral travesty slavery was. Just impossible to imagine any American being flogged today, but flogging was common for slaves (& military men) to impose discipline at one point in our history. In contrast to a slave, who has brine tossed on his back right after his whipping, Dana takes aspirin and soaks in a warm tub to help remove her shredded clothing; such pampering would never have possible for any punished slave.

Despite her showing her white ancestor that blacks can be intelligent and well educated and kind, Rufus does not appear to be on his path of becoming an abolitionist - instead he's a bit of a drunkard and an attempted rapist and still whiny. So much for influencing history in a positive direction.

Like many novels & movies, the book starts with the end of the book so we know that both Dana & her husband survived - in a somewhat damaged fashion - so obviously Dana reunites with him after leaving him stranded in an ante bellum border state for years (nice unexpected plot twist there which adds an added element of suspense).

Well the book has drawn me in enough, that I'm going to find out if B.O.T. and jigsaw puzzle building mesh - hopefully will complete the novel by the end of the work week (1 day early).

Monday, April 03, 2006

3/8ths review of Kindred

In this tape, Octavia actually does what I suggested. Our heroine teaches her ancestor to read & befriend her. She also starts teaching one of the house slaves to read. What a dull tape. Quite surprised that this section has gone on for as long as it has with no time travel, no near death experiences for Rufus, and no rape attempts. Oh there was one flogging, but not told in such excruciating detail as the first flogging Dana witnesses.

Historical debate: In Safire's Freedom Breckinridge & A.S. Johnson were arguing whether slavery necessitated the civil war. The argument by Breckinridge being that slavery had been kicked downstream by the founders, by the Missouri Compromise, and by the Compromise of 1850, so if the generation in power in 1860 had just managed to kick the issue of slavery downstream one more time, war would have been averted, and slavery would have ended peacefully. Johnson argued that slavery, while being pushed downstream, had never fully disappeared from our national discourse; the compromised had only delayed the issue - war was inevitable. Johnson loses the debate & is miffed at himself since he knows his argument is valid, but he has simply been out argued by a more seasoned debater.

In the voluminous notes, Safire states that he agrees that the Civil War could have been averted and was the fault of Jeff Davis and others of his ilk - 1 more compromise would have been enough.

Personally I believe that Civil War was inevitable. Few nations go through their history without one, and in the mid-1800's you had a rural, agricultural, South vs. an urban, industrial, Protestant North. Our Civil War was the growing pains of a new nation, which largely solved the Federal vs. State issue. Slavery was clearly the spark that set it off, but as writers of the time noted, the south was looking for an excuse to secede even without slavery.

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