Saturday, November 02, 2002
Thursday, October 31, 2002
Homer: In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women...
I collect music (I used to say I collect records or CD's but to some people that implies a specific passion where you go to used record shops and hunt down that pristine 1964 copy of the soundtrack to Casino Royale. I don't do that, I just buy lots of CD's, previously LP's to hear the music on them). I have been doing so since I was about 10 and have a collection of over 15000 LP's & CD's of which half is classical, one quarter jazz and the rest a mixture of rock, ethnic, electronic, blues, R&B, pop, avant garde etc. I am unfortunately and to my great dismay not a very competent musician although I have for the last two years been trying my best to become a moderate pianist after two interrupted attempts in my past (once when I was 6 and my teacher got married and moved away and I never got a replacement and again in college where I would play in the practice rooms at NYU). My wife is a better musician, she sings (or has sung) with several semi-pro choruses and has a glorious voice and we both are trying are best to give our girls a deep appreciation for music of all kinds.
The Lileks piece reminded me of thoughts I've had in the last few weeks about classic songs. It seems to me that there aren't nearly as many as there used to be, although part of that is the difficulty of recognizing them until a fair amount of time has passed. One of the signs of a classic, though, is a song which gets performed by many diverse musicians with diverse styles. Given that criteria I think the first 'classic' song from the eighties may be Cyndi Lauper's hit 'Time After Time'. You can find very lovely covers on recent albums by Cassandra Wilson, Willie Nelson, Eva Cassidy, Tuck & Patti. Listening to them gives you an appreciation of the different dimensions the song has on top of it's simple beauty (another sign of a classic). The covers are all quite good and I would recommend them all wholeheartedly, although if I had to pick I would probably choose the Eva Cassidy as favorite.
For something completely different, another exceptional, recently heard CD is the collection of choral music by the American composer Morten Lauridsen. Pick a quiet night with a glass of fine cognac in hand and let the exquisite sound wash over you. It literally sends chills up your spine and makes your brain tingle.
To its committed members (the Democratic Party) was still the party of heart, humanity, and justice, but to those removed a few paces it looked like Captain Hook's crew -- ambulance-chasing lawyers, rapacious public policy grants persons, civil rights gamesmen, ditzy-brained movie stars, fat-assed civil servant desk squatters, recovering alcoholics, recovering wife-beaters, recovering child-buggers, and so forth and so on, a grotesque line-up of ill-mannered, self-pitying, caterwauling freeloaders banging their tin cups on the pavement demanding handouts
-Columnist Nicholas Von Hoffman,
The Washington Post (11/12-94)
(courtesy of a Lucianne poster)
According to the Moskovski Komsomol newspaper, Russian security forces have decided to bury the terrorists from last's week's hostage siege wrapped in pig's skin. The aim is to deter potential Islamic terrorists from future attacks.
Shahidi (Jihad martyrs) believe by their nefarious acts that they ascend immediately to heaven. Using their beliefs against them, wrapping their corpses in 'unclean' pigskin prevents them from entering heaven for eternity.
I'm sure some people are offended by this but hey, that is what they get for attacking innocents in Moscow.
Meryl Yourish's site makes brief reference to this book today. I'm not a fan of the horror-suspense genre, a hangover from my childhood when I feared that Dracula lurked in the closet and witches hid in my corner cabinet, so I had not heard of the book. But the title brought back what my daughter, then four, said about the Twin Towers disaster. Though John and I never discussed it with her, a week or so after 9/11 she blurted out portentously, "There was a terrible accident. A fire in the castle." And it was real, she told us, not a made-up story. A fire in the castle. A terrible accident. The end of a fairytale that was supposed to be happy ever after. I cried of course. Here is the Amazon listing for the book, which sounds quite interesting.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Lisa: What do you say to a boy to let him know you're not interested?
Marge: Well, honey, when I...
Homer: Let me handle this, Marge, I've heard 'em all. "I like you as a friend." "I think we should see other people." "I don't speak English." "I'm married to the sea." "I don't wanna kill you, but I will." ... Six simple words: I'm not gay, but I'll learn.
Finland refuses to sell to Israel what are considered to be the best gas-detection kits in the world, despite widespread evaluations that Iraq may attack Israel with poison chemical weapons. The computerized kits accurately identify chemical warfare materials, but Finland claims that the European Union forbids the export of dual-use equipment to countries in conflict.
I hope Russia invades them again. Using gas. Muahahahahaha.
Scientists are creating a supermap of large DNA blocks, up to 100,000 units in length, that pass down unchanged through generations of humans. They hope that singling out these repeat units will simplify the process of comparing control groups to populations that suffer from certain genetic diseases, thus streamlining the process of linking disease to its genetic origin.
While attempting to keep our kids from attracting the attention of the entire restaurant at John's birthday dinner last night, I got an unusual request from our oldest daughter: "Draw Bart Simpson". I got the pointy hair correct, but the drawing looked nothing like Bart. Then I handed the pad and pen to John, who got the pointy hair and the eyes, but still failed to generate a convincing Bart. It turns out we are in good company in our artistic failure...even the VOICE of Bart can't draw him. But there is hope for us yet...
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Homer: When it comes to compliments, women are ravenous blood-sucking monsters always want'n more... more... MORE! And if you give it to them, you'll get plenty back in return.
Bart: Like what?
Homer: I'll tell you when you're older. [
I was a hardcore Democrat at the time, and I remember watching the speech and thinking: we are going to lose. We are going to lose 51 states. Puerto Rico will demand statehood just for the chance not to vote for this guy.
Light blogging by our principles forces me to take strong action. I'm alerting everyone that John of this blog was born on October 29, 1958. A quick look at the "This Day in History" sites reminds me that this is also the anniversary of Black Tuesday, 1929. Here are some other things that happenned in history on October 29. I also found out that I missed the mark on the perfect birthday gift. Silly me: I sent flowers.
Monday, October 28, 2002
"PA sentences human rights worker to death"
Those peace loving Palestinians are at it again. I wonder when the U.S. college students will start protesting this one. Oh, don't worry. I'm not holding my breath.
Some choice examples:
Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay - and claims a halo for his dishonesty.
There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.
Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.
Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do.
No intelligent man has any respect for an unjust law.
I do know that the slickest way to lie is to tell the right amount of truth - then to shut up.
I'll give you an exact definition. When the happiness of another person becomes as essential to yourself as your own, then the state of love exists.
Morality is your agreement with yourself to abide by your own rules.
A desire not to butt into other people's business is at least eighty percent of all human wisdom . . . and the other twenty percent isn't very important.
Does history record any case in which the majority was right?
Secrecy is the beginning of tyranny.
The greatest productive force is human selfishness.
Never appeal to a man's 'better nature.' He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage.
One man's theology is another man's belly laugh.
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.
"One of the requirements of a healthy party is that it renews itself. You can't keep running Walter Mondale for everything." - Walter Mondale, 1989
Robert McGivern and his team of neuroscientists at San Diego State University, US, found that as children enter puberty, their ability to quickly recognise other people's emotions plummets. What is more, this ability does not return to normal until they are around 18 years old.
McGivern reckons this goes some way towards explaining why teenagers tend to find life so unfair, because they cannot read social situations as efficiently as others.
I guess the brains of leftists never get back to normal.
In another study, Ybarra analyzed the connection between social engagement and cognitive function, including everyday decision-making as well as memory and cognition, in nearly 2,000 older residents of four Middle Eastern countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia. Again, he controlled for a wide range of factors that could account for any correlation and found that the more participants reported being socially engaged, the less cognitive impairment they suffered and the more they participated in everyday decision-making.
While Ybarra emphasizes that his analysis shows correlations between mental function and social engagement and does not establish causation in either direction, he believes that the link between the two cuts across cultures and is perhaps fundamental to what it means to be human.
Of course, the subject matter demands gravity, but Nelson's brutally unsentimental approach - and the unremitting stream of dead bodies being routinely dumped into trucks and shoveled into crematoriums - sucks the humanity from the film, leaving behind an horrific but weirdly unemotional spectacle.
I find two things wrong with this criticism. First, there was humanity in the film. Sure it wasn't the beat-you-over-the-head humanity of a Spielberg film but it was there in limited quantities, we are talking about Aushwitz after all. Some of the prisoners risked their meager lives for one girl that they found alive in the showers and you can see that they feel that she represents their chance for redemption. Sounds pretty human to me.
Second, I think the critic expected another touchy feely film about the holocaust. When I say touchy feely, I mean that they wanted one of those endings where a bunch of people survive and live wonderful glorious lives in the US or Israel. Well, guess what, for 6 million Jews, there was no such happy ending. So to be realistic you really do have to tell a story from their angle.
And then there is the New York Times review:
These images are so strong that they defeat the film's moral complexity. The more realistic "The Grey Zone" pretends to be, the more its unrealistic elements stand out. For one thing, the prisoners are far from emaciated. And although there is talk about the differences between Hungarian and Polish Jews, all the characters except one speak in a stagy variation of Quentin Tarantinoesque argot. The exception is Muhsfeldt, a Nazi officer played by Harvey Keitel with a caricatured German accent. David Arquette and Steve Buscemi give gripping performances as rebellious prisoners, but their characters remain frustratingly sketchy.
Oh, gee, I'm sorry, the accents weren't correct and the actors didn't decide to look like Somalis. What an awful Holocaust film if they can't get those right. And these are really the only criticisms the reviewer has. Sometimes I feel like if critics are disturbed by a movie they simply don't give it a good rating for that reason.
Sunday, October 27, 2002
I feel better now.