Recovered

Oncidium Tsiku Marguerite

Oncidium Tsiku Marguerite arrived back in May in spike. June came, it got hot, and the plant went into shock. It just sat there, the spikes not developing, until October, when the weather finally cooled a little. This week it finally bloomed. The flowers are not quite an inch long, and have a light sweetish fragrance. They’re a a bit pinker than I expected, but I’m not complaining. There are a few more pictures here.

Modular chicken

I was curious to see what you would get if you took an old fiddle tune and gave it the Terry Riley treatment. Here’s “Cluck Old Hen,” chopped into little phrases, the pieces treated like the elements of Riley’s “In C.”1 All the sounds are the AAS Chromaphone.

And it’s okay, I guess. “Cluck” is not a complex tune (though a good fiddler will add some piquant slides and double-stops), mostly four-square rhythmically and only slightly odd melodically. The result of the manipulations is pleasant-sounding but not really interesting in itself, like wind chimes.2 It might be useful as background music, but it’s unlikely to hold the attention of an active listener for long. Riley’s piece sustains interest as well as it does in part because the 53 phrases it’s made of vary widely in length and rhythm, producing complex patterns when combined.

One minor point: This was the product of an evening’s work from beginning to end. In contrast, writing music the usual way, note by note, measure by measure, takes much longer. Sometimes a mere eight measures is a very good evening’s work.

For a very different version of “Cluck Old Hen,” see The Waybacks.

Miscellaneous artsy-type stuff

Many years ago, Daniel Pinkwater and Tony Auth colloborated on a newspaper cartoon, Norb. It did not catch on and disappeared almost without a trace. I recently stumbled over a collection of its Sunday strips, which you can view here (start with page one). It’s an absurd serial, somewhere between Terry and the Pirates and Firesign Theatre, but sillier.

Gahan Wilson, whose macabre cartoons were the best feature of many editions of National Lampoon, passed away last month. There’s a memorial here with a selection of his work. You can find much more online.

Robert Samuels’ analysis of a still life including a chessboard, carnations and a lute leads him to observe that

… both fields [chess and music] have become so professionalised that their function as social activities is easily lost or forgotten. In an age when my performance of a Bach Prelude and Fugue can be immediately compared by anyone with a mobile phone to that of András Schiff, and when my playing of a complex chess endgame can be immediately shown to be full of errors by chess software on that same mobile phone, we need (or at least I need) reminders that music and chess alike are ways of interacting with other people. They are, properly, the pursuits of friends. Our play is part of our human flourishing.

I came across a tribute to dancer Herman Cornejo, who amazed me as Puck in The Dream, Frederick Ashton’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This particular video is useful in that it slows the action down to show the viewer exactly what impossible things Cornejo is doing. It demonstrates that a good dancer is among the very best athletes of any kind.

(It also demonstrates how bizarre ballet can be. Many years ago my aunt was mortified at a performance of Le Spectre de la Rose when her then-boyfriend bellowed with laughter at the appearance of the “Rose.” I can’t say that I blame him.)

Continue reading “Miscellaneous artsy-type stuff”

Odder ends

Beware: the Social Justice Kittens have returned.

Perhaps you might prefer bears.

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I have a nice not-so-little steak thawing in the refrigerator at the moment. I don’t think I’ll mind missing the traditional turkey dinner tomorrow. Meanwhile, a certain Roman Catholic boy for art is celebrating the holiday in his own way.

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Miyazaki does Chesterton

Is Miyazaki’s vision fundamentally conservative? Perhaps.

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Being a major 20th-century American poet was a hazardous job — in one anthology on my shelves, of the forty poets included, three (Berryman, Plath, Sexton) and possibly a fourth (Jarrell) were suicides, for 10% fatality rate. Apparently, being a K-pop star is also a dangerous occupation.

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Addendum: Don’t read this out loud. (It is a good alternative to lorem ipsum, though.)

Cue the dancing chibis

I wrote this seven years ago:

Joshiraku — Nobody is ever likely to license this. Five girls, practitioners of a peculiar form of Japanese comedy, sitting in a dressing room talking about random things is unlikely to strike most Americans as comedy gold, but Joshiraku was probably the funniest show of the year. Much of Koji Kumeta’s wit will fly over the head of English speakers who don’t have a detailed knowledge of Japanese culture, but enough does survive translation to make Joshiraku worth watching. It helps that the girls all have well-defined, idiosyncratic personalities. Download an episode to see if it appeals to you, and also to see the opening and ending. Both are engagingly lively, and the latter is one of the best of the year. It features dancing chibis.

Let’s start by ripping the fourth wall to shreds.

To my astonishment, I discovered Joshiraku was recently licensed. It apparently hasn’t sold very well, for it’s now on sale for a very good price at the other anime dealer. It’s not for everyone, but if you have a slightly cockeyed sense of humor and an interest in Japanese culture, it might be worth checking out. While it’s much milder than the other Koji Kumeta anime, it’s still not for children.

Update: The Joshiraku discs arrived, and if the first episode is indicative, this may be another case where the fansub is preferable to the legitimate version. Whichever version you watch, you will probably find the fansub’s translator’s notes useful.

Also on sale is the complete edition of Dennou Coil, which is #3 on my list of the best anime series, as well as a couple of Mamoru Hosoda’s movies, The Girl Who Leapt through Time and The Boy and the Beast, and Kenji Nakamura’s exploration of economics.

Continue reading “Cue the dancing chibis”

Mysteries of the internet

While checking to see where my visitors come from, I discovered that some arrived here 18,207 days ago, almost fifty years in the past. This is curious, since I have been online for maybe twenty-five years and launched my first website a bit more than twenty years ago. I’m too lazy to do the arithmetic, but I have a hunch these early visits occurred on January 1, 1970.

Pretty ones, weird ones

Epicattleya Veitchii

The first batch of pictures from the orchid show are up. Although I spotted two Dracula plants, neither was in bloom. However, there was a Habenaria medusa in flower, which will probably be in the next batch. You can see the pictures here.

Bulbophyllum Walnut Valley Jersey
Cymbidium Vanessa Amorosi

Continue reading “Pretty ones, weird ones”

Looking for Dracula?

You might be able to find a Dracula orchid plant for sale at the Kansas Orchid Society’s annual show and sale, held this weekend at Botanica here in Wichita.

Maxthompsonara Bryon Rinke

You might also see Maxthompsonara Bryon Rinke, a multi-generic Zygopetalinae hybrid bred at Sunset Valley Orchids, first flowered by Bryon Rinke of the KOS and named for Max Thompson at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. You might even see Max and Bryon.

There definitely will be several tables full of blooming orchids, plus plants for sale. I’ll be there taking too many pictures, as usual.

Halloween playlist

Planning a Halloween party for the weekend, or want something to listen to while distributing candy to the little extortionists next week? Here are some tunes for you.

Laika and the Cosmonauts, “Psyko

Fredösphere, “Abraham Lincoln Was an Invader from Space

Yuki Kajiura, “Sis Puella Magica

The Pretty Things, “Baron Saturday

Hedningarna, “Räven (Fox Woman)

Gjallarhorn, “Hjaðningaríma

Raymond Scott, “New Year’s Eve in a Haunted House

Oingo Boingo, “Pictures of You

Don Ross, “Dracula and Friends, Part One

The Klezmatics, “Beggar’s Dance

Brave Combo, “People Are Strange

Procol Harum, “Juicy John Pink

Split Lip Rayfield, “The High Price of Necromancy

Tonio K, “How Come I Can’t See You in My Mirror?

Van Der Graaf Generator, “Killer

Steeleye Span, “Elf Call

Haystacks Balboa, “The Children of Heaven

Denki Groove, “Mononoke Dance” (The full-length version is here, but I think it’s better shortened unless you’re dancing.)

Oingo Boingo, “Little Guns

Onmyouza, “Onikosae no Uta

Procol Harum “The Devil Came from Kansas

William Bolcom, “Poltergeist Rag

Mayumi Kojima, “Poltergeist

Tom Smith, “I Had a Shuggoth

Don Ross, “Robot Monster

Hedningarna, “Tina Vieri

For more suggestions, see Eve Tushnet, here and here.

Postcards from Boomer Flats

John C. Wright recently quoted R.A. Lafferty. Coincidentally, I spent part of the day moving all my Gene Wolfe and Lafferty books to their own bookcase. Over the years I’ve accumulated a bunch, most of them acquired on my regular visits to second-hand book stores.1 Around the turn of the century, Lafferty’s books disappeared even from used sources. I found a volume or two and some pamphlets from mail-order sources2, but pickings were slim.

Fortunately, now, about 30 years too late, there finally is a good introduction to the most original writer of the 20th century. The Best of R.A. Lafferty is available in the U.S. The table of contents is here; the book includes most of the essential stories.3. If you’ve ever been curious about this teller of tales unlike other tales, this is a good place to start.

Three of Lafferty’s early novels have also recently been reissued in a single volume. It’s been a long time since I read Past Master or Fourth Mansions, so I can’t say much except that I didn’t like them as much as the better short stories. They’re due for a re-reading; I might find more in them now. However, Space Chantey, Lafferty’s retelling of The Odyssey, is one of Lafferty’s funniest books and an old favorite.

“All right, girl,” Roadstrum said when they were alone. “I have a few questions. They will be to the point, and I want answers.”
I doubt that you could understand the answers,” Aeaea warned. “I see now that you are a common simpleminded man, and we maintain a very high intellectual average here. It will be difficult to communicate.”
“Who is the ‘we’ that maintains so high an average, girl?”
“Only myself now. My father has been dead these last several centuries.”
“It should be easy to maintain a high average with only one entity.”
“It is. I am mistress of all the sciences. I go so far beyond all else that my work is called magic. I manipulate noumena, regarding monads as points of entry tangential to hylomorphism. As to the paradox of Primary Essence being contained in Quiddity, the larger in the small, I have my own solution. The difficulty is always in not confusing Contingency with Accidence. Do you understand me?”
“Sure. You’re a witch.”
“Exactly, but I frown on the name. Very unscientific.”

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I have several duplicate Lafferties on my shelves that need homes. If you are interested, send me an email. Please include “Lafferty” in the header so I don’t delete it with the blackmail spam and other digital trash.

A consequence of liturgical reform

Amy Welborn, in a discussion of David Lodge’s novels:

My mother stopped going to Mass in the early 1970’s, just about the time that Souls and Bodies ends. It is not that she lost her faith. It is, as she probably would have said, that her faith lost her. She just could not stand it anymore. It broke her heart to go to Mass, to be forced to hold hands and listen to banalities and hear the blustery aging cantor belt out Kris Kristofferson’s “Lord, Help Me Jesus,” she who was raised by an aunt and uncle, skilled amateur musicians who played classical sacred music on organ and violin in their small French-Canadian parish in Maine. She stopped going, she would have told you, because there was no use in confessing that she had missed Mass, since she had no firm purpose of amendment. She had no intention of going back. And she never really did, until she died in 2001, her Requiem Mass in the funeral home chapel, led by some splinter SSPX fellow from somewhere in East Tennessee, not mentioned in the obituary since they were convinced the diocese would shut it down if they heard.

Fifty years ago today

The golden age of progressive rock began on this day in 1969 with the release of two classic albums, Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats and King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King.1

Also released on that day was the Kinks’ Arthur. It doesn’t quite qualify as “prog rock,” though it was a “concept album.”

I suppose I ought to comment about the historical significance of these works, with analysis of the musical techniques employed and explication of lyrics2, plus some personal notes…. Nah. The music speaks for itself.

Sudden, violent comedy

Wonderduck points out that we’ve had Monty Python for fifty years now. I discovered them late. Their show didn’t arrive in Kansas until years after I quit watching teevee. It wasn’t until a friend handed me the scripts for the shows that I found that they were pretty good. Reading the scripts alone doesn’t give you a complete idea of what they were — “Ministry of Silly Walks” seems like a dumb little skit on paper, but John Cleese perambulating transforms it. However, the words to “The Spanish Inquisition,” “The Cheese Shop” and a good proportion of the other skits are funny on the page as well as in performance, and that is still largely how I know them.

Enjoy the Pythons now, because in the very near future the punchline to all jokes, not just “how many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?” will be “That’s not funny.”

(The title is from here.)

Miscellany

Chainmail Bikini is back online.

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Art or garbage? It’s hard to tell sometimes.

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Derek Lowe recently added nitro groups to his “Things I won’t work with” category. You don’t need to be a chemist to enjoy his Lowe’s appreciations of azides, FOOF and other exceeding noisy or smelly substances.

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William Briggs:

“Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.” This is, as everybody knows, Conquest’s Second Law. It is a true law, as all modern experience shows. But it says nothing about the pace or rate of the flight from Reality and Tradition.

A rock thrown upwards at the top of its flight is stationary. For a moment it neither goes up nor down. Then, a fraction of a second later, it begins it descent, but slowly, slowly. The speeds picks up, the rocks plummets faster and faster. It eventually crashes to the ground.

That’s the progress of rocks, a good but imperfect metaphor for the “progress” of human institutions. The imperfection comes in recalling a law Conquest didn’t mention: motus in fine velocior. Things accelerate toward the end. A falling rock has constant acceleration. Human failure is a force that feeds on itself.

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100 things Mark Evanier learned about the comics industry….

93. If your character wears a cape, it should be more or less the same length in every panel and it should not get shredded more than twice a year.

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Dr. Boli has completed his serial, Devil King Kun. From the 20th installment:

“Actually,” said Weyland, “good people generally don’t try to conquer the world. It’s not done, you know.”

“But if you don’t conquer the world, then won’t the evil people take over every time?”

“We generally prefer to let people choose their own government, and trust them to make the right choice.”

“Well,” said Miss Kun, “I’m willing to be good, but I’m not willing to be an idiot….”

The story begins here.

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Saw Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion a couple of years ago and when a bloke in the audience shouted out for ‘Toad’ Baker asked if he’d ever had a drumstick shoved up his nostril.

The lovable Ginger Baker has been hospitalized, critically ill. Here’s an 1970 interview with the easy-going drummer, and a more recent look at the gentle soul.

Update: Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80.

Professor Mondo, a drummer himself, on Baker in 1990:

The other thing that struck me was that Ginger looked like a mad wizard from a fantasy novel, impossibly aged, but terrifyingly powerful. He was three years younger than I am now. I think both his mistakes as a human being and his phenomenal talent aged him in dog years.

See also Shabby Road for an overview of Baker’s life.

Have a Spoonful of Cream.