Monday, February 27, 2006

I feel for you, O My People!

The only way to explain the spike in hits for this humble blog today is....


So happy Paczki Day to you and yours. Those of you living in Michigan are having a happier Paczki Day than those of us in upstate South Carolina, where there is narry a paczek to be found.

Can't you just hear the tears and lamentations, beating of breasts and tearing of hair?

Looking through my site meter today it is one after the other: "fat+tuesday+paczkis" and from the non-Poles "fat+tuesday+donuts" or "Polish+filled+donut."

Then, of course, the sad, sad, saddest of them all: "paczki+calories." And I feel for you, O Lovers of the Great Jelly-filled Delight! According to buzz-killa Dr. Peter McCullough, M.D., Medical Director of the Beaumont Weight Control Center, "A typical five ounce paczki contains about 420 calories, 25 or more grams of fat, and is loaded with refined carbohydrates which are directly converted into fat." radiospike has more depressing data, but a brighter spirit (and a very tempting photo!):
The more modern idea is to see if you can physically digest 620 calories in less than two minutes. Hamtramck's famous bakeries supply Paczki in the thousands that day to Detroiters of all nationalities. Take them to work! Take them home! Take them to Texas!

But you know, ultimately it is not the calorie-counters I feel most sorry for. No, no. It is the people who type into google or yahoo "colorado+paczki" and "paczki+greenville" and "order+north+dakota+paczki." These are the poor displaced souls, desperately searching the internet for what most eludes them. I feel for you, O My People.

And if anyone knows a source for mail-order paczki and can get me the info before next February, I'd be so very grateful.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

O, to be in Morningside Heights!

More than 15 years ago, I found myself obsessed with the vast array of "L'homme armé" masses from the Renaissance.

I tried collecting them on CD, but this was early enough in the days of CD that lots of early music had not come out that way yet. I managed to find Dufay (Hilliard Ensemble, EMI) and De La Rue (Ensemble Clément Janequin, harmonia mundi) and Josquin Desprez's "super voces musicales" (Pro Cantione Antiqua, Archiv), but I had to resort to a cassette from a music teacher for his "sexti toni". Erato put out a L'Homme Armé disc (featuring the Boston Camerata, the Boston Shawm and Sacbut Ensemble, and the Harvard Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, conducted by Joël Cohen), but although it featured the original anonymous tune on which the masses were based, and one fifteenth-century setting by Robert Morton, the rest of the music was more general early "music of war and peace" of the album's subtitle.

Now I read that Cut Circle from Boston "performed a chimerical Mass--a sort of 'Armed Man' mixtape--composed of movements by Dufay, Busnois, Ockeghem, Regis and Josquin." AND that "This Sunday at Corpus Christi Church in Morningside Heights, the superb chorus Pomerium will perform Ockeghem's Mass in full."

If you have always wondered why this little tune about fearing the armed man and arming your own bad self made its way into so masses (50+ and counting), or what the song was about in the first place, read the article. Meanwhile, if you're anywhere near the Corpus Christi Church, go hear this concert and tell me afterwards how it was.

p.s. If you don't know what all the fuss is about, check out the audio clips.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Speaking of productivity...

... my new mix is up at Art of the Mix. Some folks might recognize some lifted tunes. The usual offer of copies pertains.

Not Getting Things Done.

Jarrett is trying to be more productive. I am trying to be satisfied with less. It is no news to anyone that I have been sick, because I have been broadcasting that news far and wide (but trying to keep the little phlegmlets to myself). A colleague of mine expressed sympathy yesterday, saying, "Yeah, it's hard when you suddenly don't have the energy--especially when you are so used to getting things done by force of will."

Bingo. A bonus 25 points for her.

So here I am on a Friday. Oddly, it's a lot like last Friday, where I am tallying my week's achievements: I taught 2 classes (had to cancel 2), managed to shower on most days, graded a batch of papers, evaluated an essay for a journal, had two good workouts, and emptied the dishwasher at least once. Oh yeah, and I reorganized my TODO stack. David Allen says that sometimes you need to just download all those free-floating gotta-do's clogging your brain into a sophisticated framework of files and action lists. The editorial review for his book says that his system
starts with the exhortation to take every unaccounted-for scrap of paper in your workstation that you can't junk, The next step is to write down every unaccounted-for gotta-do cramming your head onto its own scrap of paper. Finally, throw the whole stew into a giant "in-basket."

I'm with you so far, David. But some days you need to dump that whole "in-basket" into the circular file. I'm thinking of those items that have been sitting in my private in-basket for over a year now--and wondering, will I ever do these things?

No. Trash them. Kill all the brutes.

Then start over.

Today I am turning over a new leaf, and it is called "How Not To Measure My Success Based On Productivity Alone."

My seminarian friend says this is a first step toward enjoying the moment, getting a grip on life. Do I need to tell you how many times she has been right?

So part of today's plan is letting this afternoon be a rest time (oh yeah, and a trip to the doctor), a recognition that pushing is not making me well. Or happy. Or thinner.

And it all starts with the Friday Random 10, which once again goes up to 11:
1. "Floret silva," from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, perfomed by The Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.
2. Mr. Vegas, "Pull Up" (a cappella), Misch Masch (whoo! That was an abrupt transition!)
3. Les Negresses Vertes, "Orane," Mlah
4. Mambo All-Stars, "Tea for Two," the soundtrack to The Mambo Kings
5. Pink Floyd, "Time," Dark Side of the Moon
6. Sting, "Children's Crusade," The Dream of the Blue Turtles
7. Stereolab, "Cosmic Country Noir," Margerine Eclipse
8. Wilco, "I'm a Wheel," A Ghost Is Born
9. "Kyrie," from Arvo Pärt's Missa Syllabica, from Beatus, performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, conducted Tönu Kaljuste
10. "Largo" from Vivaldi's Concerto for Flute in G minor, "La Notte" (RV 439), performed by the English Consort, conducted by Trevor Pinnock (album: Eight Concerti)
11 (because the transition was too fine). k.d. lang and the Reclines, "Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray," Angel with a Lariat

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Oh poor me.

OK, it has officially been more than four weeks that I have been sick, off and on, thinking I am not, but then (I learn after a busy day or a hard workout) not. This week it is more on, but then not so on that you don't wonder if you're being a big wussy for taking a break.

Do I even need to tell you that this is wearing on me? Or how poorly I am adapting to this idea that if I push myself it will only make me sick again? Or what I would give you if you would make my throat not sore? And did you know that the only thing worse than being sick is having to grade when you're sick? Why is it that so many of my bad-luck incidents get combined with grading?

All right: that is the end of my self-pity diatribe. You may return to your regularly scheduled lives.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Get plenty of deferments / Learn to shoot a gun.

Treat yourself to this. At least now we know where the undisclosed location is.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday Random 10: "Got To Let It Show" Edition.

Came to a breaking point in the work (That's right, folks, I'm actually writing again!) and I don't feel like playing Text Twist today, and that in itself is amazing. Besides, the cat is lying on the far side of the monitor, instead of between me and the keyboard, or on top of the numeric keypad, or between the keyboard and monitor. And there has not been enough time since the lunch I just ate that I can yet risk the core exercises I need to do (because the lunch is better in the stomach than out). And the laundry is happily spinning in its machine--no folding to do yet. And we all know that it is too early in the weekend to start the pile of grading and too early in the day to crack a beer.

So given that it's Friday, you know what all that means: the time has come for me to break out of my shell.

1. Diana Ross, "I'm Coming Out"
2. Giorgio Gaber, "Destra - Sinistra"
3. Diana Krall, "The Look of Love"
4. Breakestra, "Cramp Your Style"
5. Clifton Chenier (the king of the bayou), "Pepper in My Shoe"
6. Rickie Lee Jones, "Running From Mercy"
7. Nanci Griffith, "It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go"
8. Al Green, "Let's Stay Together"
9. Propellerheads, "You Want It Back"
10. Faye Wang, [one of those songs I don't know the title of]

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Thank you for your immediate attention.


Is it so fucking much to ask that you could find a way to seal your yogurts so that when a person opens them they do not get yogurt blowback all over their nice work clothes?


Ooh-la-la la la-la-la-la-la.

Your V-Day gift from me is up at The Art of the Mix. Sorry it wasn't available in time for last-minute frantic gift purchases, but maybe that's all for the best. All the same, if you want one, lemme know.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


It's that time of year again, when the PP and I decide which sports we would do if we lived where there was snow and if we had a shot at going to the Winter Olympics. We're both thinking that the US Virgin Islands might be our greatest hope for that second item, but we still have the snow problem.

Admittedly, the Winter Olympics come at a perfect time of year. We are both completely wiped out, and ready to pass some time on our asses--so let's watch skiing! We even watched the Opening Ceremonies--or most of it. The PP was afraid of the fiery skaters, since he figured they had to be wearing backpacks full of acetylene, and that seems plain dangerous--even for Italians. And if you have pin-striped hair, as Jim Lampley does, then you should not wear a pin-striped suit.

It has been fun to see shots of the parts of the city that I found closed when I was there back in July. I missed the Gates of Hell, apparently.

Four years ago we determined that I should be a speed skater, since I already have the enormous legs. We tried a little roller blading, which is a lot of fun if you don't run into hills. Well, maybe those of you with downhill skiing experience would not be so daunted by the hills. Plus I totally freaked myself out during a weaving skating experience at a local conference center with good paths when I realized as I was flying along that I was about to encounter some little steps I had forgotten about. I jumped down them, and all was well, and all manner of things was well, but it spooked me.

This time, I'm going for the Nordic Biathlon: I figure cross-country skiing could use those big quads, too, and even though the sport is huge in Europe, it's not so big here, so I wouldn't have to worry about the Michelle Kwans of the world petitioning at the last minute to take my spot on the team. The PP has decided on skeleton, because he can't abide the skating costumes, and if you're going to haul ass down an ice track, why not do it face first?

It's Day 3, and we are both already sick of the media coverage that is all about whether someone who thought she was going to get the gold is disappointed because she blew it on one of her ski runs. Disappointed? It's the Olympics, for fuck's sake. And the front page of the NYT and the local paper both feature time-lapse photos of the great Kwan dive in yesterday's practice. What no one has mentioned is that it's the marketing team at Dos Equis who really blew a shot at gold this year.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Queuing all tracks ... please wait.

Don't be fooled: you think you are over your cold because you can manage to be out of bed for more than 20 minutes at a time. You go about your day--try to do your job, even get back into the pool. Then nearly 2 weeks later you still feel like ass. Take it from me: there is not much you can except to embrace the post-nasal drip.

Well, that, and list your Friday Random 10:

1. Jethro Tull, "Aqualung" (Aqualung) (Is it some kind of song that the first track to pop up contains one of pop music's few references to nasal congestion?)
2. Led Zeppelin, "No Quarter" (Houses of the Holy)
3. The Beatles, "Honey Pie" (The Beatles)
4. The Village People, "Go West" (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert)
5. Celeste Mendoa y los Papines, "Papá Ogún" (Cuba Classics 2)
6. Tony Bennett & Ray Charles, "Evenin'" (Playing with My Friends)
7. Lyle Lovett, "You Were Always There" (My Baby Don't Tolerate)
8. k. d. lang, "One Day I Will Walk" (Hymns of the 49th Parallel)
9. Artur Pizarro (piano) Rodrigo: "Estampas (4) andaluzas, for piano: Barquitos de Cádiz (Rodrigo: Piano Music, Naxos)
10. Mississippi John Hurt, "Blue Harvest Blues" (Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings)

I bet your random mix could not be as mainstream as mine!

Monday, February 06, 2006

You don't really care for music, do you?

New mix up at Art of the Mix. You can see it was partly inspired by last Friday's Random 11, and a few other randomizing sessions, where I heard some conversations among tracks I would not have thought of.

If you look at all those names and diacriticals and don't recognize them, then do some exploring at North Side: tracks 2, 9, 12, and 19 all come from their recordings. Hedningarna is a Swedish group, and this song comes from Karelia Visa, an album (recorded with two Finnish musicians) chronicling a "visit" to Karelia, a disputed region between Finland and Russia. Väsen is also Swedish, and Troka is Finnish. Tapani Varis plays the Jew's harp: it still surprises me how comfortably that instrument speaks to the didgeridoo. Back in the mid-90s I couldn't make a mix without some of these folks or their ilk.

Tracks 13 and 14 are both from Tzadik albums. I've written about the Charmings before.

As for the Argentines, see my tribute. (Track 6 is from the album of Piazzolla remixes.)

And thanks to freeman for introducing me to Les Claypool.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday Random 11: I wouldn't live there if you paid me to.

I was going to go to the gym today, but fuck it: I am still not feeling completely well from last weekend's phlegmatic deluge. Instead I'll give a little work-out to my Zen Touch, and jump on the Friday Random 10 bandwagon.

But mine goes up to 11!

1. Talking Heads, "The Big Country" (More Songs About Buildings and Food)
2. King's Consort, Vivaldi: Concerto in F major, RV 97, 2. Largo (Concerti con molti istromenti)
3. Matthew Herbert, "Fiction" (Goodbye Swingtime)
4. Daniel Barenboim, Beethoven: Piano Sonata, No. 17 in D minor, Op. No. 2 "The Tempest," 2. Adagio (Piano Sonatas 14, 26, 17)
5. Taraf de Hardouks, "Green Leaf, Clover Leaf" (Band of Gypsies)
6. Philip Pickett & the New London Consort, "Alte clamat Epicurus (CB 211)" (Carmina Burana, Vol. 1) NOTE: do not confuse this recording from the original manuscripts with the Carl Orff piece.
7. Glenn Gould, Variation 17 (Goldberg Variations, 1955)
8. Django Reinhardt, "Minor Swing" (The Best of Django Reinhardt)
9. Talking Heads, "City of Dreams" (Sand in the Vaseline, disc 2)
10. k. d. lang, "Tears Don't Care Who Cries Them" (Shadowland)
11. Dogs Die in Hot Cars, "Godhopping" (Please Describe Yourself)

Given that my player presently holds 9,926 tracks, I would not have bet on 2 Talking Heads tracks coming up this quickly. But given how good the Carmina Burana and Matthew Herbert and Django Reinhardt and Taraf de Hardouks all sounded together, I'm already beginning a new mix.

Have a fine weekend, your own selves.

Which is worse?

Perhaps you can help me and the PP resolve a dispute, which raged last night while we were drinking wine at a local establishment and waiting for our food to come.

This place has had its share of auditory identity crises: its soundtrack began as cool jazz, and not smooth jazz mind you, but some good stuff. Then the owner decided he wanted the place to be more relaxed, not competing with the more upscale places in town, so he casualified the menu, and switched to CDs of The Eagles. One time lately they were playing Talking Heads. But last night it was some kind of probably satellite Lite Rock.

The PP challenged my characterization of it as Lite Rock, but that is not what was really at issue over dinner.

What was at issue was who was lamer, Hall & Oates or Phil Collins. Please note as you deliberate that we are not talking about Phil Collins of Genesis, but Phil Collins solo. And I was not really thinking about Phil Collins of the song about his drowned friend and the person who did not help. I was thinking of "One More Night" and "Sussudio" and "I Wish It Would Rain Down" or whatever that song is called and "A Groovy Kind of Love."

A what kind of love?

"But did you ever own a Hall & Oates album?" the PP asked, as if this would intimidate me into admitting he was right. I said I did, he said he did too, and then said "See??" which I did not. He later added that they were just "smarmy."

But Phil Collins was so cliche, I said.

The PP gave me this look.

So, Dear Readers, what do you think?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's so hard to choose.

I came across this, reposted on Ian Williams' blog. Heh. So of course I had to check it out. Worth it. Then the big question is, which one do I steal and post on my blog? This one or this one, for a little self-deprecating irony? Or this one, in recognition of the act itself? This one, because it may be true?

No way. It has to be this one: