Month: August 2009

Book report: The Witching Hour

Book report: The Witching Hour

Books
Having only read one other Anne Rice novel (you guessed it, Interview With the Vampire), I learned some interesting things about her from reading her beefy 1990 tome, The Witching Hour.  I learned that she can make a book interesting even if there are actually no vampires in it.  I learned that New Orleans, in addition to being a magical place indeed, has some really beautiful flowers.  And I learned that Anne Rice sure knows a lot of different ways to describe human genitalia. So yes, the book is interesting and even engrossing in parts and starts off with real promise. In the bar of a New York hotel a doctor remembers a most disturbing assignment - administering tranquilizing drugs to a young, catatonic woman named Deirdre.  But rather than living as a patient in a mental hospital, De
I come not to bury jazz, but to praise it

I come not to bury jazz, but to praise it

Music, Rants
I might as well offer my two cents on Terry Teachout's recent editorial for the Wall Street Journal, "Can Jazz Be Saved?", since so many others already have.  In it, Teachout beats the same funeral drum that countless other jazz pundits have for decades - namely that the already small audience for jazz is shrinking alarmingly fast.  He even offers as evidence some results from a recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts. The survey results Teachout extracts present a gloomy picture for jazz lovers indeed- not only is attendance down, but the median age for jazz fans is fast approaching AARP territory (from 29 in 1982 to 46 in 2008).  He makes the case that jazz, in terms of its audience, is becoming the next version of classical music. This reminds me of the old joke about
Listening Booth – Randy Newman, “Marie”

Listening Booth – Randy Newman, “Marie”

Listening Booth, Music
That's right, Randy Newman.  The guy from that Family Guy episode singing about apples.  Trust me on this one people - put that out of your mind for a few minutes, and forget about how weird Newman looks when he sings.  Just clear your head and enjoy one of the most beautiful ballads ever written -- "Marie".  This is a live performance from 1979, although the song first appeared on Newman's classic 1974 album, Good Old Boys.
Listening Booth – XTC, “Making Plans for Nigel”

Listening Booth – XTC, “Making Plans for Nigel”

Listening Booth, Music
If any song is the epitome of New Wave it's XTC's brilliant "Making Plans for Nigel", from 1979's Drums and Wires.  Bassist Colin Moulding delivers this piece of musical bliss, rather than driving force Andy Partridge (seen with the striped guitar).  It should be pretty obvious that this is not a "live" performance, but that was standard for ToTP.  It's better than a still image. Here's XTC on the legendary musical showcase Top of the Pops, miming "Making Plans for Nigel":
8 things I miss in sports

8 things I miss in sports

Sports
CNNSI ran an interesting piece this week called "25 Things We Miss in Football", and while it hit on a few things I would definitely have in my own list (Al Davis as a genius, well-dressed coaches, and the Orange Bowl played in the Orange Bowl) there are naturally some missing items.  So to rectify that I'm going to list the things I miss not just in football, but in sports in general.  Let's take a look! 1. Helmet/Bullpen Carts:  I miss helmet and bullpen carts for a few reasons.  One is the pure fun and novelty of the concept.  I mean, the notion that a professional athlete needs motorized assistance to travel a few hundred feet is laughable on its face.  Still, despite all the cynicism of our modern age I have to think there's room in peoples' hearts for sweet rides like this or this