Monday, August 22, 2005


I have renewed my love for these things three:

The Band:

Their first two albums are the greatest albums ever. Period biznatch.

Beastie Boys:

The post "License to Ill" albums are nearly all flawless.

and of course...

Norah Jones

Not for her music. She's very talented and her music isn't that bad at all...But, my God, look at her.

I think Ms. Jones has NEW STALKER! YAY!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I don't care what anybody says...

...I like Camille Saint-Saens.

Friday, August 19, 2005

New Song

I have a new song as Kid Icarus (

The title is "September 11th, 2001".

I'm hoping for at least ten death threats.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Adam Carolla

Dear Adam Carolla,
I hate you. I hate your new show on Comedy Central. I hate your face. I hate your style of humor. I hate how you never try to rise above dull Frat-boyisms. I hate your horse face.
And your teeth. I hate how you interrupt all your guests on your show to spout some sort of really obvious sexually deprecating one-liner in your annoyingly nasal voice.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Für Freddie the Cat (not pictured but sorta looks like that)

If i
Your paws
and i
the number
by Pi

i'm sure
the sum
would be
some sacred
Egyptian number.

But a game
of twos
and threes
couldn't interest You
in the least
You aren't
You just

A couple
of questions
for You
while You
lick Your

the sand
Your paws
Saharan sand

And when
You purr
how have
you managed
to confound
Bruce Fogle?

do You
in front
the door
You know
can open
with Your

Thursday, August 11, 2005

August 11th 2005 AD

The rain that hits the back of the air conditioner hanging out the window
The one who keeps calling
The basketball Wilt Chamberlin scored one hundred points with
The hidden icicles on the roof of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
The smile of one who has just killed a Lynx Spider
The clock in Rabbi Schmuley Boteach's bedroom
The planets no one knows about yet
The thin layered green carpeting in Room 507 at the Holiday Inn in East Baltimore
The air molecules of Muhammed Atta's last breath
The final moan before midnight in a Nigerian Brothel
The bass amp that goes out during Kansas' performance of "Fight Fire With Fire" at a concert at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota

The pen I used to write my biography of Beethoven for a 6th grade English class
The man who is walking by Chairman Mao's grave right now
The piece of peach caught in a farmer's beard
The waste basket in Cher's bathroom
The oldest salmon swimming in Siberia's Anadyr River

You laugh and roll your eyes
And yet, all of these things are you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


There is nothing more profound than the relationship between
a man
his puppet:

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I Have Been Away

For the two people who read this (myself and also myself when I mistakenly click the link to this in my favorites when I really wanted to go to I have been gone.
Most of my creative energy has been worn out from some serious musical artificing as my alter-ego, Kid Icarus.
I've set up a Myspace for it. Check it out and enjoy my dazzling art!:

Tonight I turned on the television and the first thing I saw was some reality show where a woman was solemnly reading a letter to her family. I immediately hear this:
"...And in my heart of hearts I truly believe that Tim should get a new motorcycle. I've enclosed eleven thousand dollars towards that."
(Cut to shot of Tim, a bulky African-American in his late thirties smiling).
I love television man. I tell ya.

By the way, that picture is one of Matthew Brady's famous photos of Abraham Lincoln, taken soon after General Robert E. Lee and Theseus had driven him and his troops out of Olympia.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Thoughts on Berg, Stravinsky, Mystery: Surgeon Metaphors Abound (Because Music is Inexplicable)

I love the muddiness in Roussel's orchestration for his first symphony (i'm listening to it right now). I also enjoy it in Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra; you literally hear "new" things each time. Each time a new piece of the puzzle making the picture more complete but more confusing. It never ends. This is what I find in my favorite works. Art that makes you confused and tricked into entering again and again.
On the other hand, a composer like Stravinsky in his "neo-classic" phase, and even in the late serial works like Abraham and Issac and Threni, writes music with a surgeon's eye for incision. Each line there because of neccesity, because of concern for the whole. Stravinsky used to talk about "finding the right note" and in some wonderful pictures by Arnold Newman taken while composing his final masterpiece, the Requiem Canticles, show him painfully pondering over a couple notes on a miniscule scrap of paper. After finding the right combination and rhythm, he glues his little bit of sinew and vein into the body of his score. Surgeon. Get it? Body words? Okay. Yeah I know-I'm a great writer.
The effect of this careful consideration of each phrase, rhythm and motive, when expressed in Stravinsky's musical language, is one of complete clarity and purity. Every line is heard, every rhythm exacting a punch. Even when he goes apeshit crazy with polyphonic anarchy, most notably in his Variations (in memoriam Aldous Huxley), everything comes through, when conducted well of course. Stravinsky, Ravel: both Swiss watchmakers in their own ways. Also, two hot, hot asses.

At the other end of the surgical spectrum, there is Berg's Three Pieces, Altenberg Lieder, or even "Chamber Concerto", where there are moments where the polyphony is so bonkers, that the confused listener actually begins to think he is a bumblebee. These moments of organized chaos are so interesting to me, because what is happening is so elegant and ingenious; a complete orgy of logic and expression.
The complex and dissonant climaxes where dozens of independent voices interact are not simply Berg trying make a chaotic racket. He was too much of a supreme artist to even begin to flirt with what was to become a post-modern trick. Berg was a tortured soul who both had an urge to be the biggest heart-on-sleeve expressionist, and another desire to be the most obsessive artificer this side of Dedaelus.
Berg is an incredibly frightening figure for me. He intimidates me more than Stravinsky, or even Mozart, two artists who are admitably his betters. I have a poster of Schoenberg's portrait of him on my wall, and it really bothers me:

He looks so bored, apathetic and sad. He was a wonderfully friendly and kind man by all accounts, but shy and reserved. But underneath his dreamy exterior lurked a brain and heart combination the most powerful duo since John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Even in writing in an atonal, largely dissonant style, he is able to express the most profound depths of emotion with a poet's eye for subtelty. Even a cold-hearted bastard like myself, who routinely steals from the elderly and spits on children, is moved when in Wozzeck, the tortured, impoverished and mentally unstable soldier visits the mother of his little boy to give them the little money he earned. This powerful scene, which could have lead to the most pathetically maudlin and sentimental music imaginable, packs its punch in its simplicity, a revelation after a sea of complexity and what many would call 'ugliness'. Wozzeck sing-speaks "Here's the little bit money I could earn for you. From the captain, and the doctor" over strings playing a sweetly quiet C-major chord, clear as day. After the madness and evil of the preceeding drama, and it's "mad and evil" 'atonal' music, Berg expresses the compassion and love among his poor people (and FOR poor people), of the simple/"common" man, in the most perfect way-the simplest, most common chord of all, C major.
He signed a couple autographs by quoting this profound bar.

There is a reason Berg is always more expressive, and more "moving" to listeners than his comrades Schoenberg and Webern: His music is more meaningful and more expressive.
Webern had no need to write music that could "communicate" a feeling to an audience. Berg did, and succeeded.

It is not Berg's "emotionialism", or "romanticism" or "expressionism" that is most interesting. (though it may be the most famous reason he's a popular atonalist). The thing that is most incredible about Berg, is his intellectual craftsmanship.
To return to the surgeon metaphors (AWESOME!), If one was to rank Webern, Stravinsky and Ravel as surgical craftsman and artisans next to Berg, it might appear that Berg is below the rest in terms of rigour and eye for detail, because his music is just so damn expressive and emotional. (I hate words and using them more than once. But mostly I hate words).
If one looks closer, one sees that it is the exact opposite. While Berg works on a huge living breathing patient with a complicated series of organs and tissues intertwining and depending on each other to work, the rest play with a battered version of the board game "Operation".

Alban Berg's obsession for detail and interconnectedness (word? I don't care. Words are gay.) is frightening. Again-it's why he intimidates me. It's actually more than an obsession. Let's use the example of my obsession with this one girl named Hannah that was in one of my classes. My obsession only reached the level of "looking her up on the internet", and staring at her during classes. Still, she was on my mind a lot, and definetly to an extreme points during the boring day.
If Berg's musical eye for detail, form, unity, thematic variation and structure was my obsession for Hannah, it would be of the psychopathic stalker type. I would have to break into her dorm room during the afternoon, steal her underwear, study the samples of her DNA, create a large plastic model of her double helixes and make love to them nightly while in a tree across the street with one eye in a telescope staring at her every move.

Here's an example of this frightening amount of thought put into every bar.
In Berg's opera Lulu there is a short little scene near the beginning where a painter chases the beautiful Lulu around trying to get her to kiss or make love to him. Now for a normal musical dramatist, the goal would be to express the playfulness, eroticism and predatory sexuality in this scene. Berg never simply chooses to write background music that highlights the drama. For example, if a character says he is sad, Berg doesn't simply make some sad melody or music. There is a level of distancing from his characters, because in Lulu his characters are shady, immoral, lying, rich, drug and sex-addicted, self-obsessed, women-hating bastards. He shows compassion for them by giving them beautiful music at times, but the music always manages to be slightly removed from the characters, as if you can never quite believe what they are saying. A profound observer of his characters and the meaning of the drama, Berg also makes sure the structure of his music mirrors the deep structure and meaning of the play. Thus the whole opera is a sort of mirror or palindrome, which mirrors Lulu's rise and fall.

So Berg has this scene where a painter begins chasing his subject around the studio. The music comes off as very playful, light and airy, but with just the right amount of irony and tension to get you involved (at least partially-again, these people are assholes) in what is happening on stage. So Berg is successfully "expressing" what is going on stage by writing good "sexual chase music" (which is hard to do).
However, a lot is going on under the music that amateur listeners, and even scholars without a score will not hear or understand. Lulu is written using the "12-tone method" laid out by his teacher and mentor, composer Arnold Schoenberg. Read the linked article if you are interested (you are not.). I'll just say it's a very strict and formal way of composing where you create an order of the 12 notes of the scale and use only that order for a whole piece-melody, harmony is all determined by that order. The goal of this music is to provide discipline and great unity in music that is atonal, and not in any major or minor key.
Most 12-tone music, despite being some of the most well-ordered and unified and thought-out music possible, sounds to most people, like complete shit. It's usually ugly, disjointed, and even "random sounding". This is quite ironic as the music is the most un-random music imaginable. But many hear Webern or Schoenberg and describe hearing "random notes played randomly, like a baby hitting keys on a piano".
This is a very huge topic and very controversial in music and very hard to understand, but I bring it up to point to the STRICTNESS of Berg's music. He is by choice, limiting himself by using a system (albeit quite freely at times) to create unity, form, structure and even "meaning", and inspire his creativity. Berg's 12-tone music is remarkably free and beautiful sounding, as he often rigs his 12-tone rows to produce tonal, or 'Normal' sounding melodic intervals, melodies, and harmonies.
Lulu uses a lot of 12-tone rows for its material, and sometimes combines them to produce new ones. Many of the characters have their own rows.

So back to the scene.
Berg's two characters in this scene, the Painter and Lulu both have their own 12-tone rows, or sets (or ordering of the 12 notes). The 12-tone order can be used regularly, backwards, or mirrored (turned upside down-notes that went up two steps now go down). So for the scene between them, he uses their rows and combines them. A normal listener has no idea this is going on despite possibly hearing that characters and situations seem to have certain melodies and harmonies associated with them.
So not only has Berg generated all his material from a very strict and many would say, COLD, LIFELESS system (How can one express emotions when doing all this mathematic controlling of the music you ask!), he uses this COLD, LIFELESS system to try to EXPRESS HOT-BLOODED EMOTION AND PASSION! WHAAAAAAAAAAA?
Somehow, the man manages to unite two polar opposites.

But there is millions of more things going on in this scene. I'll name the most obvious one. The Painter doesn't manage to catch up to Lulu till the end of the scene. The kicker: he whole chase, he SINGS IN CANON WITH HER!. A canon, if you don't know (and you actually have touched a woman), is when a melody starts, and then later before the melody is finished, another instrument or voice takes up the melody from the beginning. The most famous simple canon is "Row Row Row Your Boat". But in Lulu, Lulu beings the melody, and The Painter, who can't catch up with her, starts the melody too but always two bars behind his prey. It is only at the end, when he catches her and things slow down, that the two unify and he finally catches up to her.
That's just the beginning. There are things we will never find in there that he put there.

An artist like Alban Berg does what many people believe is only capable with "God": he manages to create Infinity. Am I blowin' ya mind??????????????

Every single note, quarter rest and harmony you hear in Berg, and mostly his Lulu, is there for infinite reasons. The perfections and imperfections of unity, the mystery, the open-endedness (Word?? I don't give a fuck. Go fuck yourself asshole.) is only rivaled in modern art by James Joyce's Finnegans Wake.
The fact that either of them finished a damn thing is amazing to me.

I hate both of them.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I'm Scared

At my job I frequently pass by this CD in the library's bins and it always manages to depress and scare me a little. It's-if you cannot see (hahaha! uR BlIND n gAy)-a compact disc recording titled "Martha Stewart Living: Spooky Scary Sounds (for Halloween)."

I enjoy that it tells you that the "spooky scary sounds" are intended for Halloween. It is a useful reminder in case you had planned to put this on the loudspeakers at your baby's baptism.

We will for the time being ignore the absurdity of Martha Stewart Living releasing an album of scary sounds to play for all your October 31st festivities. The funny thing is that I've seen people check this out-IN SUMMER!

It is also absurd that anyone would buy a 10 dollar CD of Goulish "oooooooohs", doors creaking and muffled screaming just because it has Martha Stewart on it, decked in black and red-eyed (because it's scary or because she had a Corneal Ulcer? We may never know...) . You can go to Paper Warehouse and get a tape for 50 cents that has the same shit.

There had to be something more than just a name brand on it that made it such a hit. To see just how great this disc is, I decided to look at some reviews of the disc on If you want yet another reason to blow your brains out, l6 pathetic souls took time to sit down and review the damn thing.
Here's a glowing review of the disc:

"3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Five out of Five Stars
good all-around CD for Halloween, April 1, 2003
Reviewer: A music fan

What I like about this CD is that the sounds are spooky, not scary. I have a young child with young friends and this is great for parties because it's very Halloween-ish without being frightening. I also play it out the window while the trick-or-treaters come and we hear a lot of the kids saying, "Cool!" when they hear it. It's spooky and yet doesn't freak anybody out.

Was this review helpful to you?"
Okay "music fan", well it sounds like a ringing endorsement...but WAIT!. What's this? looks like "Into 'voidness'" strongly disagrees with you! Let's hear what he or she has to say about this!:
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
One star out of Five stars
Texas reviewer's two stars was too kind., October 27, 2003
Reviewer: Into "voidness" (everywhereandnowhere) - See all my reviews

I am not a fan of "ice queen" Martha Stewart, but my wife likes her, and since Martha does have a knack for creating seasonal "atmosphere" I thought this might be fun. Shame on Rhino for releasing swill like this, and on Stewart for allowing her name to be put on this. "Movie quality recording" indeed! Yes, the sound quality is fine, but that's not the real issue here.

First of all, this is the most boring, i.e. non-scary, Halloween album I've ever heard. Secondly--and most "fatally"--not only is this repetitous, as the Texas reviewer pointed out; but it's actually nothing more than a four-minute recording "looped," i.e. repeated, ten times! Even the most unattentive listener should be able to pick up on this by no later than the third repetition. But even if they released the four-minute recording as a cheap CD single, and instructed you to just put your CD player on "repeat," it would still be a rip off that cannot be redeemed by Martha's caramel apple recipe included in the CD booklet. This is a small, but glaring, example of American commercialism at its "finest." This CD should be included as evidence at Martha's insider trading trial as a small-but-glaring example of the dishonest, money-grubbing, side of her.

Was this review helpful to you? "

While "a music fan" found the album"halloween-ish" (always a ringing endorsement of anything at anytime), "Into 'voidness'" found the album a perfect example of "American commericialism". First of all-I think we can admit that if "Into 'voidness'" isn't Arundhati Roy, he or she is probably being a little too severe. Even the caramel apple recipe included inside didn't redeem it for him. Perhaps a little too tangy.

A funny side note-I actually saw this CD at Cheapo's once while I was there with a friend and he looked at it and said "Martha Stewart's Scary Sounds? What the fuck is this?" and I wittily replied "I think it's just her yelling at her kids for 55 minutes."
Get it? She's sorta famous for being a bitch. Yeah, I gotta admit, I'm a funny guy sometimes.

Monday, August 01, 2005

An Underrated Master: Albert Roussel (1869-1937)

Just obtained a compact disc recording of Albert Roussel's symphonies. This guy is amazing. A strange mix of Debussyan impressionism, oriental exoticism, Ravelian craftsmanship, and Stravinsky's primitive rhythmic energy. Beautiful, beautiful, intelligent music. I haven't had a chance to listen to it all but I plan to find everything I can by this bastard. Also I plan to raid the University of Minnesota Music Library for his scores this week and study them like crziazy.

Also been reading Umberto Eco's "Baudolino". Hope to finish that soon. Much to do that doesn't involve moving or work.

Last night I wrote a LONG and rambling post that started about Roussel but then moved on to discuss "muddy" orchestration and Stravinskian polyphony compared with Bergian polyphony. Than it turned into me giggling like a school girl about Alban Berg like he's the captain of the football team. And one who drugs me at a party to take advantage of me with his buddies.

I was extremely tired and confused while writing it and by golly it shows. I just read it this morning and it appears like the rantings of a wannabe musicologist with severe ADD, who in between sentences is continually distracted by a butterfly and squirrel he sees outside his window. Maybe I'll cut some of it and use it later because it had some good things.

Listening to Roussel's Symphony No. 1, Op. 7 ("Le poeme de la foret"-"The poem of the forest"). If this music was a painting it would be this: