It’s been way too long since I trolled the Web for cool stuff, so here goes:
• The inimitable Mr. Think Denk nails House in one:
I propose that House is really “about” irony and sarcasm; it asks the question…what is the acceptable level of emotion in the modern world?
• Eddie Muller, author of a smart and funny book about film noir, offers a list of “25 noir films that will stand the test of time.” Go here to read it. I agree, mostly.
• I’d been wondering what became of Miranda July, the writer-director-star of Me and You and Everyone We Know, one of my favorite indie movies of the past few years. Well, here’s the answer–and it’s got me very excited.
• Something I wrote not long ago inspired this lovely reflection on the nature of music:
This is one of the bittersweet things about our art: a beautiful moment is gone as soon as it appears, living only in our memory of it, no matter how heated that memory is. This creates a special kind of conflict in the directionally-oriented structures of Western music. The music tells us we’re going forward towards something, but our minds may get stuck in particular moments that have already passed….
Read the whole thing, please, and after you do, consider this fugitive observation by Samuel Langford, the greatest music critic you’ve (probably) never heard of:
Everything passing is but a symbol, says the wise Goethe, and music, in one sense the most swiftly passing and intangible of all mortal things, is in another the essence of the imperishable.
I feel like I “put up” with music when I eat out, although I’m surprisingly capable of tuning it out when I dine solo. But dining not-solo is another matter. Maybe the best soundtrack to a superlative dining experience is nothing more than conversation–and I’m not fussy about the topic; it could be a brilliant counterpoint about the food and wine, your laundry, and that sensational young pianist who just performed with the symphony. But music? It distracts…from the food and wine (if that’s what I want to pay attention to) and from the conversation (if that’s what I want to pay attention to) and makes me wonder: does this dining experience merit the challenge of this aural distraction?…
Yes, yes, a gazillion times yes.
• Here are two inimitable voices from the past: Kurt Weill singing excerpts from two of his songs…
• …and Vladimir Nabokov reading an excerpt from Lolita. (Scroll down for the link.)
• On a lighter but no less serious note, here’s the only surviving film of Clifford Brown in performance. It’s from a kinescope of a 1956 TV show hosted by–believe it or not–Soupy Sales.
• Speaking of jazz, a blogger-author recently posted the complete text of one of Donald Barthelme’s wittiest and most knowing short stories, King of Jazz. It’s brief and brilliant, and I commend it to your attention.
• This video has been bouncing around cyberspace in recent days. It’s John Cage’s 1960 appearance on I’ve Got a Secret, one of the most popular prime-time TV game shows of my childhood, and nothing I could possibly say about it comes anywhere near the experience of viewing it. Please do so at once…
• …and after you’re through, spend a couple of minutes looking at this excerpt from a 1964 TV broadcast of Septet, one of the very few Merce Cunningham dances accompanied not by the avant-garde soundscapes of Cage or David Tudor but by a bonafide piece of honest-to-God music, Erik Satie’s Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear.
As I wrote in an essay on Cunningham reprinted in A Terry Teachout Reader:
To see it is to see the Merce that might have been–a conventional Cunningham. Though the body language of Septet is as idiosyncratic as anything the Cunningham company dances today, the tone of the dance is startlingly “normal.” It isn’t just that Septet derives its structure (and counts) from a piece of music…It’s the style, the cheery atmosphere of accessibility, that startles.
Ponder at will.
• Here’s the best Wikipedia entry I’ve read so far this year…
• …and here’s the most poignant news story I’ve read in I don’t know how long.
• Finally, here’s a great game for the literary-minded. I got a passing score–barely.