Thursday, August 31, 2006

Josquin Coloring Contest Results!

And we have a winner! The lucky boy is none other than a Mr. Chaz Kangas of Columbia Heights, Minnesota. Chaz is a immensely talented MC and currently is studying at NYU and rapping for Quizno vegetarian subs. You can buy his fabulous new album Lapland by messaging him on his Myspace.
Here's Chaz's winning entry!:

I can assure you the contest was won fair and square, and with the help of many impartial judges. Sure, Chaz also happens to be my best friend, and also was the only one who took the contest seriously and entered, but either way his beautiful rainbow lines intertwining perfectly compliment Josquin's status as master of symbolic and sensuous interweaving contrapuntal lines of delicately studied beauty. I'm not sure what the maître DesPrez would have thought of the Black Power hat, but what the hell!

May you enjoy your well-earned Lolly, my friend.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Not even Saint Augustine's most ecstatic heavenglimpsing passages in his De Civitate Dei can compete with the sublimity of watching an exploitive fraud exposed. Hark here and watch Sylvia Browne, the 70-something chain-smoking 'psychic' who makes millions off of somewhat foolish marks, all hoping to seek her wisdom on the guardian angels, the soul, the nature of heaven, etc. In fact, one of her books I've flipped through at the library is about just that: what heaven is like. I'm not talking about speculative metaphysical meditations. The book has maps, lists of places in heaven and their history, and though I didn't see it, I'd imaginie directions to the nearest Applebee's. The book contains artist renderings of a peculiarly Gotham City-esque Heaven, with a 'Hall of Justice' and 'Hall of Records' complete with robed Heaven-employed spirits apparently guiding blissful patrons to the necessary W-4 forms to be filled out.
All of this is rightfully funny and looked down upon by most thinking people amusingly kooky, but 'mediums' and 'psychics' such as Browne and John Edwards do all this fluff one worse when they exploit most tragically those who want some word of their lost loved ones for massive profit.
It's really a philosophical question whether a silly lie is worth being told to calm an aching grief, but when one begins to lie to your face whilst arrogantly claiming to have celestial knowledge of the mysteries of the Universe, the charlatan deserves carefully aimed Eggs Benedict en route to their own makeup caked faces.
Of course it's good fun to watch the Magic die on television for all to see, but also watch the poor young widow's disappointment, anger and indeed embarrassment at so painfully failing in a well-meant attempt for comfort when Browne has the carpet pulled out from under her.
It can now be made a dictum that for one seeking answers to the most primeval questions mankind has, the Montel Williams show will provide no solace, emotionally or intellectually.

-Please do not be frightened at the first couple seconds of this video clip. That is only the aforementioned Sylvia Browne, not a random blonde old lady dressed as the humpbacked Lawrence Olivier in his Richard III.
-Also, Ms. Browne's strange and unsettling facial contortions should be viewed with due sympathy, as the spirits of the Eternal Feminine and all sorts of Vortex Crystal/Feng Shui paroxysms are competing within her head to divine their otherwordly secrets to the woman, so that she may pass them on to middle-aged suburban mothers who've paid for tickets to Montel and the Learning Annex.
Get This Ya Macacas

The DVD comes out in a month and can be ordered here. I have seen it, and can testify that it is mostly great.

By the way, despite what Amazon says I believe the film is longer than 90 minutes. It seemed to be quite closer to an ambitious two hours.

Friday, August 25, 2006


One realizes that there should really be more instruments. I don't mean with the categories we have , but new ones. I often hear sounds that can scarcely be realized with existing means.

-Franz Schreker (letter to Paul Bekker, 8/22/1918).

People not acquainted with this composer (I became a convert after looking through Alban Berg's hilariously complicated vocal score for Die Ferne Klang; the skeptical should see Alex Ross's important piece on the composer here.) are sorely missing out some of the most hyper-chimerical*tm, complex and rich music written in the 20th century. His operas, ballets and Chamber Symphony, with their miraculously orchestrated scores should not be studied or enjoyed while operating heavy machinery.
Schreker's art is surprisingly hard to analyze. The operas, in all of their druggy, tinsel-strewn fairyland meshwork of sound, combine with a talent for absolutely batshit insane librettos of Freudian degradation and absurdity, almost always work to create a disturbing asymmetry that probably have made many wonder if there has been some horrible opera company mix-up with librettos and the wrong words have been set to the wrong music. Ross points this dialectic out in his article.
The humble moron you read presently maintains the view however that the evolving masses of often euphoric and exotically gorgeous sound and unrelenting (and breathtaking) musical virtuosity of Schreker's technique is used not to soften the blow of his immoral hunchback underground cave orgies, impenetrable late-Romantic symbolism and psycho-analytical caricatures, or celebrate them in any way. Schreker's stable personality and high intelligence supports the view that his "unimaginable" and wonderful sounds often serve to subvert, criticize and annihilate them. Perhaps this is overrating Schreker's talent or misreading him as some sort of political and moralistic ironist, but I don't care and feel like going with it.
Schreker himself was no decadent misanthrope, and in pictures and letters is a highly rational, business-like, figure. Of course the Nazis banned his works not only because of his Jewishness, but his love of setting any "sexual aberration to music" (as a propaganda poster denouncing Schreker claimed). Those delightful Nazis were of course never ones for subtlety, and even the many intelligent critics from Schreker's day (including the always delightful Theodor Adorno) till our own seem not to grasp the great depth and ambiguity of his work.

Schreker may not be one of the greatest composers of the century, but he is still a highly original and brilliant one. His renewed popularity in recent years should not be due to his novelty, nor for some ironic love of perpetually fin de sicle kitsch, but for his genius for sound and in some ways frightfully contemporary criticism of a culture and post-modern intellectual climate that has, like Schreker's characters, embraced selfishness, immediate gratification along with a cynical and playful nilhilism.

The real tragedy of the story besides Schreker's death as so abominably neglected and marginalized an artist, is that our intellectual deaths at the hands of the cultural relavatists and post-deconstructionists have had none of Schreker's beautiful and humane music to accompany them.

*I have trademarked this brilliant compounded adjective and will sue anyone who uses it from here on.

Friday, August 18, 2006

You Care What I'm Reading, Watching and Listening To (III)

(Hell yes.)

ou know, I'm tired of being tarred. I've been voting for Democrats for president or for socialists, when I could find them, for--let's see, I started when I was 18. I mean, here, I've been voting for 52 years, and I've never voted for a Republican for dogcatcher, and I wouldn't start now. I forgive all the Republicans out there, or let them forgive me.

I'm not a conservative. I'm anything but a conservative.
I think that the United States has been almost destroyed by Ronald Reagan and his legacy. He came into office that charming, smiling fellow, and he assured us we could all emancipate our selfishness, and that is what we have proceeded to do on a national level. And I think we have done terrible things to the poorer people in this country. And Mr. Clinton, whom I voted for twice, nevertheless, signed the welfare bill and put five million more children under the poverty line. Let it be said in his defense that I gather he has done everything he could to partly make up for this, you know, as best he could. But, still, I am not happy with him.

No, I don't think this is a political difference. I don't
even think this is a cultural difference because I don't think there can be cultural differences in that sense. It's an intellectual difference and an aesthetic difference, and though I hate to use the term because it can so easily be misconstrued in a religion-mad country like the United States, it ultimately has to be a spiritual difference. Either you believe that reading and teaching and thinking about the best that has been thought and written and said matters and does everyone a great deal of good, or you do not. And most of these people now in the university, and certainly these people in the media and The New York Times don't believe that at all. Either you believe that--you know, what has it got to do with politics?

Leon Trotsky, who was a great, though murderous, human
being, but a remarkable writer. And in his own way, a remarkable literary critic. He wrote quite a book called "Literature and Revolution," which I frequently cite against the politically correct and the school of resentment because in it, he--he addresses himself to the revolutionary or Marxist writer and he says, `Take Dante for your textbook.' And he is quite right. Indeed, whatever your politics are, whatever your aspirations are, take Dante for you textbook, take Shakespeare for your textbook, take Cervantes or Chaucer or Homer or, indeed, the Bible, not as fundamentalists read it, but as we ought to read it.

Take, indeed,
the best that has been written for your textbook, and educate yourself from it. I begin this book by saying, `Information is readily available to us. Where shall wisdom be found?' And the answer, `It is to be found where it was always to be found, in--in the greatest minds and the greatest writers. And they are usually the same--the same.' You know, it is to be found in Shakespeare and Milton. It is to be found in William Blake. It is to be found in Dante. It is to be found in Cervantes. I wouldn't mind so-called multiculturalism at all, if, say, for Hispanic purposes, they were to replace Shakespeare even by Cervantes. I would say, `Fine. I have no quarrel with this. Cervantes is an almost equal eminence. "La Quijote" and the other writings of Cervantes also touch the limits of human art and of human thought. If you wish Hispanic multiculturalism, let them read Cervantes. But let them not read mediocrity. Let them not read bad writing. Let them not read ill-thought matters, simply because they are written by contemporary members of a particular, as we call it, ethnic group.

To balkanize the study of literature, indeed the study of all the
arts, as we have now done in the universities and the colleges, is fatal. It will not make us a better country; it will make us a worse country. It will finally balkanize us as a nation, and we have enough troubles without that.

Harold Bloom (Interview on C-Span's "Booknotes"6/28/00)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Furtwängler Conducting Meistersingers Prelude

Indeed, there are a couple things about this that make one uneasy. Furtwängler conducts this amazingly of course, Wagner's towering masterpieces being one of his bags. However, the swastikas, the Aryan audience in thrall of the Germanic majesty of Wagner's über-dense opera prelude, and not least of all Furtwängler himself, who looks like one of the zombies in Michael Jackson's Thriller video and conducts with the body language of a marionette with acute vertigo, etc.; All of this reminds one of how dangerous art is when it's in the wrong hands.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I Have the Flu

It's 85 degrees and I'm freezing and sweating, I have a headache, my body aches all over, I am weak and feeble, perpetually tired and dizzy.

But how are you?!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday Fun (4 Kidz)

Color in Josquin Desprez contest. Color in the Renaissance master of polyphony and then be sure to send your entries here. Winner gets a lolly.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Krauthammer Goes Meshugeh!

There are many frightening neo-conservatives, but few as daemonic as Washington Post columnist and Fox-News commentator Charles Krauthammer. Although I only pick on people in wheelchairs when it's totally neccessary (or when it's fun) to do so, Krauthammer more than deserves it for what he and his ilk have done to the world through their influence in Think Tanks, administrational policies and the Media. Anyone who enjoys a good dose of Brit Hume's roundtable show on Fox will know Krauthammer well. He's the peevish Bond villian sans cat sitting in his chair, an ireful look on his make-up caked face, often interupting his arrogant and evil nonsense with wrenches for breath like a grounded carp fighting for it's life. He, along with the distressingly cheery and goofy looking Bill Kristol (the one who wasn't in Curly's Gold), are the embodiment of the silly/disturbing ying-yang of Neo-Conservatism, pure and simple.

It is then no surprise when I read this reminiscence from M.J. Rosenberg in the Washington Monthly (via Crooks and Liars):

About three years ago, I saw Krauthammer flip out in synagogue on Yom Kippur. The rabbi had offered some timid endorsement of peace — peace essentially on Israel's terms — but peace anyway. Krauthammer went nuts. He actually started bellowing at the rabbi, from his wheel chair in the aisle. People tried to "shush" him. It was, after all, the holiest day of the year. But Krauthammer kept howling until the rabbi apologized. The man is as arrogant as he is thuggish. Who screams at the rabbi at services? For advocating peace?

The image of a crippled intellectual screaming at a Rabbi for seemingly innocous and well-meant calls for peace during Yom Kippur is hilarious, delightfully absurd, and most of all, quite telling. I'm sure I will have dreams with this memorable scene, Krauthammer's body and words distorted into frightening ways, set in a Chagall-painted synagogue with Fiveish Finkle on clarinet and Pamela from Atlas Shrugged as the cantor.

Wish me luck!
A Round of Applause for Piotr and His Ball-Breaking Apparatus

No composer gets more of an unfair shake than Tchaikosky, and I being one of those lovers of unfairly maligned composers, have always greatly admired the man and his music. Whatever it's faults, they have been exaggerrated by a musical elite sick of sugar plum fairies, swans, and Van Cliburn pounded B-flat minor arpeggios that for many people encapsulate their miseducated idea of "classical" music.
The truth is the man was a superb orchestrator, a melodist unpar with much of Schubert and Mozart, a creator of powerful operas, fine symphonies and embarrassingly pretty ballets.

'Embarrassing' is a word I use with fondness, as Tchaikosky is really horribly pretty to a degree that simply is unacceptable for many of even the most intelligent listeners.
This morning I decided to listen to the complete Nutcracker, once and for all proving that the beast does not only attack in winter, and is quite effective on a sunny, 80 degree Minneapolis summer day.
All I will say is by god Tchaikovsky is good at what he does. He orchestrates impressively no matter what you think the kitsch level of the material, his sense of time and argumentative flow is surprisingly good for a nearly 2 hour children's ballet. There are lots of great pages of music here besides the famous suite: the strikingly modal and quiet jaunt for the "Arrival of Drosselmayer" in the less famous first act is paricularly memorable.

I like Tchaikovsky. He's a great composer. Not one of my favorites by a long shot, but still. Put down your lame aesthetic guns to shoot your fish in a barrel sentimentality and Romanticism and lay off the poor guy. He already killed himself once for you!

Dear Petey: you will always have a place here at Clownsilly manor (Come for the laughs, stay for the pie *tm).

Monday, August 07, 2006

Straight With Chaser

I am currently watching the wonderous first episode of the new season of VH1's "Flavor of Love". As if to offset my guilt at wasting my youth like every other young person whilst spending an hour of my life watching a emormous clock wearing 47 year old former drug addict buffoon make out with nubile semi-retarded attention seeking whores, I am also listening to Rostapovich and Peter Serkin play Brahms' sophic Cello Sonatas and reading some Goethe. The belief in my own failure as a bright, young inspiring intellectual (as opposed to the pompous and destructively skeptical/self-deprecating young dilettante who acts smart you see before you) is particularly in manifest tonight, as my joy in Brahms' and Goethe's genius is sorely outmatched by watching the Public Enemy hypeman react to one of the contestants defecating on the floor of the show's garrish mansion setting.
I'm Not Gay...

...but one must admit the young Franz Schubert (above) was quite handsome.

Admit it! It doesn't make you any less of a man!