The Sultan of Schmaltz, and the essence of jazz

Pat Metheny on the Emperor of Elevator Music. (Via the professor.)


Probably apocryphal, but worth reading anyway: Yogi Berra explains jazz.

Interviewer: “What do expect is in store for the future of jazz guitar?”
Yogi: “I’m thinkin’ there’ll be a group of guys who’ve never met talkin’ about it all the time..”
Interviewer: Can you explain jazz?
Yogi: I can’t, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, it’s right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it’s wrong.
Interviewer: I don’t understand.
Yogi: Anyone who understands jazz knows that you can’t understand it. It’s too complicated. That’s what’s so simple about it.
Interviewer: Do you understand it?
Yogi: No. That’s why I can explain it. If I understood it, I wouldn’t know anything about it.
Interviewer: Are there any great jazz players alive today?
Yogi: No. All the great jazz players alive today are dead. Except for the ones that are still alive. But so many of them are dead, that the ones that are still alive are dying to be like the ones that are dead. Some would kill for it.
Interviewer: What is syncopation?
Yogi: That’s when the note that you should hear now happens either before or after you hear it. In jazz, you don’t hear notes when they happen because that would be some other type of music. Other types of music can be jazz, but only if they’re the same as something different from those other kinds.
Interviewer: Now I really don’t understand.
Yogi: I haven’t taught you enough for you to not understand jazz that well.


What does “top” mean, as in NPR’s “Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books“? It clearly doesn’t mean “best.” The only Philip K. Dick title on the list is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, a book much inferior to The Man in the High Castle, Martian Timeslip, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch ((Can you devise a more portentious title?)) or even Ubik. Gene Wolfe, the best science fiction and fantasy writer currently active and perhaps the best writer of any kind alive, period, barely makes the list at #87. Ray Bradbury makes the list four times; he’s good, but he’s not that good. Ditto Neil Gaiman and Neal Stephenson. Isaac Asimov is in it three times, which is three times too many. Missing entirely: R.A. Lafferty, Joanna Russ, Thomas Disch, Italo Calvino, Cordwainer Smith, Lord Dunsany, Henry Kuttner (and C.L. Moore), Poul Anderson, Stanislaw Lem, Jorge Luis Borges, Tim Powers, John Bellairs, Algis Budrys and many more I’ll think of later.

The wrong place

Yu Muroga was a Japanese delivery man. He was doing his round when the earthquake occurred on March 11th 2011. Like most people in the area, he did not feel under the threat of the tsunami as he was driving far from the coast. That’s why he kept on driving and doing his job.
The HD video camera on his dashboard did not only film the tremors but also the moments after the earthquake when several drivers were trapped by the tsunami waters.
The video camera was recently found by the police next to the passenger’s body.

Click on the quote above to see the video.

(Via a comment at Eruptions.)

A post including the word “paradox” and a mention of G.K. Chesterton, but not in the same paragraph

Very miscellaneous links and curiosities.

Quote of the week:

Lutherans are not Baptists. Catholics are not evangelicals. Methodists are not Presbyterians. Presbyterians are not Anglicans. No one is an Episcopalian.

From the same authority, an appreciation of Joseph Levitch.

Paging AC/DC.

A paradox of quantum etymology.

Expected real-life Batman generation rate.

The inverse law of sanity.

Schopenhauer in the key of E minor: Heavy metal keeps us sane. (Yeah, right. Oh, and G.K. Chesterton was a proto-metalhead.)

Tasted like chicken.

Is the heat wearing you out? There’s plenty of snow at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Minimalist Marvel posters.

When it comes to Wonder Woman redesigns, skirts beat pants. Colleen Doran did some “high fantasy” concept drawings of WW, which you can see here, here and here.

Want your very own action figure, just like Danny Choo?

Who needs real musicians anymore? Who needs real singers? All you need are a computer, some good instrument sample sets and a troupe of Vocaloids. Here’s a lively twelve-minute musical vaguely based on Lewis Carroll. (I note with annoyance that the Cheshire Nekomimi doesn’t have a grin.)

Some of the above via The Rat, Jonathan Tappan, Project Rooftop and Vocaloidism.

Prelude to a sleepless night

I’d like to meet the man who invented the subwoofer. I don’t want to shake his hand; I want to slug him in the solar plexus. It is hard to think of any other innovation that has done as much to make life in the 21st century needlessly unpleasant. I feel lousy tonight, and I’d like to go to bed early. However, the inhabitants of my neighborhood believe that it is their inalienable right to party all night long on weekends, and that includes playing bad music loudly. I cannot not listen to music, no matter how stupid, and low bass notes can penetrate ten feet of concrete. Sometimes the neighbors will turn the garbage down or off if I ask them, but I have to get out bed and dress first, and when I get back home, it can be an hour before I’m drowsy enough to think about sleep again.

I’ve observed many times that the worse the music, the more loudly it is played. My hypothesis is that the chief pleasure in playing rap, techno ((“Disco for robots”)) and the like lies not in what minimal musical virtues the recordings might have — you’d have to be pretty damned stupid to find such drivel intellectually or aesthetically interesting — but in tormenting those who cannot escape the exaggerated, mindless beat.

… testing

If I have the feeds set up right, this post should appear — eventually — at Facebook but not at Anime Nano.

The amount of trash Askimet is catching indicates that bookmarks and links to my old sites are indeed sending visitors and spambots here. You should not need to update your links. However, you probably do need to change the RSS feed if you use one. You now have a choice of feeds, available at the bottom of the sidebar at right. “All Topics” includes everything I post; “Anime” covers posts on animation and Japan; “Not anime” encompasses everything except posts on Japanese animation; and, “Photo gallery” gathers posts featuring pictures I’ve taken.

Black and white

While setting up my new photo gallery, I came across old jpegs of pictures I took back toward the end of the film and darkroom era. Here’s a sampling. All of these I shot, developed and printed myself.

One of the first pictures I took when I began photographing dance, and still one of my favorites. The lady in the air is Melonie Buchanan, one of the best dancers ever to study at Friends University in Wichita. The image was taken with a 4×5 Crown Graphic camera. The negative made excellent 16×20 enlargements, one of which was on display for many years at Lawrence Photo in Wichita.

Continue reading “Black and white”