Face Melting Bagpipes

I took my family to Celtic Thanksgiving IV on Saturday. Among other great acts was bagpiping stud Stuart Liddell (pronounced like the children’s book mouse), and this guy was AWESOME. I’ve never seen such blistering shredding! He has a bunch of videos on YouTube; here’s a good one:

Remembering The Huntridge

We took the kids to the Nevada State Museum this summer, and one area was dedicated to remembering the Huntridge theater. It really had a fascinating history. I saw plenty of concerts there in the 90’s, including Nine Inch Nails just as The Downward Spiral came out. I had to take some pictures of these displays, as they brought back some great memories. Strange that I never think of this stuff–I work only a block from there and drive by it all the time.

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Look at all these forgotten 90’s bands! Hemlock, Dinosaur Jr., Suicidal Tendencies, The Ataris, Dance Hall Crashers, KMFDM, Save Ferris, Voodoo Glow Skulls! I used to save these little fliers and put them on the wall of my bedroom. I wish I still had them–there were dozens just plastering the whole thing.

 

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I used to have that exact KUNV shirt in high school! I just checked eBay, and nothing, sadly. The “Rock Avenue” slogan on the right refers to the legendary overnight show that radio station used to play–the DJs there knew everything and played the most amazing range of stuff.

A Song and Three Videos

I heard this contemporary cover of “Nearer My God To Thee” on Mormon Channel radio last week and loved it.

Also, I found these three videos to be very helpful in picturing the detailed directions for making the tabernacle, priestly clothing, etc. in Exodus 25-30. The narration isn’t from the King James Version, but it’s easy to tell what’s what. In fact, the updated terminology also helps clarify the KJV text.

The first video covers Exodus 25 (0:00-5:27), Exodus 26:15-30 (5:27-7:07), and Exodus 27:1-8 (7:07-8:09)

The second video covers Exodus 27:9-21 (0:00-2:30), and Exodus 28:1-43 (2:30-9:08)

The third video covers Exodus 30:1-10 (0:00-1:56), and 30:17-33 (1:57-4:30)

“Lascia ch’io pianga”

Soft, sweet, simple, sad. I first heard this aria on the radio a dozen years ago and have loved it ever since. I like seeing music performed, and this video is a classy tribute to the piece. Also, the singer’s voice is perfect for it; this isn’t one to belt out. Here are the words in English:

Let me weep
over my cruel fate,
and sigh for freedom.
Let my sorrow break the chains
of my suffering, out of pity.

Isn’t that perfect?

Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro

Courtesy of a DVD from the library, I watched a whole production of this opera for the first time last week. I was blown away by everything about this work: the music, acting, singing, comedy, lighting…just a stellar ensemble all around.

Some of the kids watched much of it with me–another testament to its power!

Also, here’s a reminder of how powerful a complete work can be compared to snippets and summaries: three hours long, but well worth it. I’ll remember this far better than any exposure I’ve had to it before.

Turns out the whole thing is on YouTube:

 

 

My favorite piece is still this one, featured in The Shawshank Redemption:

Reviewed: Desire–A Tribute to U2

I saw this great tribute band play for $10 at the Cannery in North Las Vegas on Friday night. Their set was a decently wide range from the U2 catalog–ranging from two tracks off the 1980 debut Boy album through 2004’s “Vertigo.” Most tracks came from The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. Basically, it was a roll of greatest hits, well chosen with the longtime fans in mind.

The lead singer does a pretty decent Bono impression–not as obnoxious as Ben Stiller‘s by a long shot, but still in that vein. His performance was faithful and loving, but avoided any arrogance that impersonating Bono might invite.

Still, his friendly, casual approach to the role led him to do some good stuff (like adding bits of classic rock lyrics to the end of songs, Bono-style), and some questionable stuff (like warbling improvised lyrics several times, off time to the point where it clearly confused the rest of the band–tighten this up in rehearsal, guys).

The rest of the band was strong, too. Some tracks had some weak spots–as good as the guitar was, on a song like “In God’s Country,” the searing, soaring sonic harmony of Edge’s work must be impossible to duplicate–but overall the sound was solid, and on some songs, even stellar. Their cover of “Running to Stand Still” was positively inspired–a heart-wrenching elegy worthy of the original.

The tough job this tribute band has is their own fault–they’ve chosen to imitate one of the best groups in history!  :)  As talented as they obviously are, much of their playing only served to illustrate just how amazing the men in U2 are. With that in mind, they were very entertaining. Somewhere out there is a Nickelback tribute band with the easiest job in the world.

The appearance of the guys in Desire was even impressive. Though their bassist doesn’t look anything like Adam, the other guys have enough similarity to pass on stage. (Then again, most any guy with a square jaw can get an earring and a crew cut and look like Larry.)

If you have any interest in U2 and you ever get a chance to see these guys live, I highly recommend it. Ten bucks well spent; I’ll gladly go see them again.

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“Bad”

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“All I Want Is You”

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“With Or Without You”

Allman Brothers Band Drum Solos

As I was driving around one recent evening, I was listening to local station KUNV 91.5, which typically plays jazz, but offers a variety of random stuff on the weekends. In this case, they were playing an old concert from the Allman Brothers Band. I instantly loved the great long drum solo in it, which the DJ commented on after the set.

Later, I looked on YouTube and found a number of drum solos from this band, all skull-rattling and excellent. Enjoy!

 

 

 

4 Bits of Recent Media

Recent for me, at least. Here are some things I’ve seen lately that have stuck with me:

 

 

I came across this film while researching a unit on international media for a class. It’s short, simple, and says something true about humanity, with a bit of a twist at the end.

 

 

I heard this one while listening to the wonderful Thitsleradio.com. Again, short and beautiful, but I love the harmonizing and the folksly chant of it.

 

 

I’ve watched a few short films like this lately, and this one really impressed me: not at all historically accurate, but believable enough for a fantasy, and seriously well made.

 

 

Great old blues song I heard as a kid, and it just popped back into my head. Man, this is catchy.

 

More of Mill on Living Well

From chapter 5 of the autobiography…

On happiness through ignoring yourself:

The enjoyments of life (such was now my theory) are sufficient to make it a pleasant thing, when they are taken en passant, without being made a principal object. Once make them so, and they are immediately felt to be insufficient. They will not bear a scrutinizing examination. Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat, not happiness, but some end external to it, as the purpose of life. Let your self-consciousness, your scrutiny, your self-interrogation, exhaust themselves on that; and if otherwise fortunately circumstanced you will inhale happiness with the air you breathe, without dwelling on it or thinking about it, without either forestalling it in imagination, or putting it to flight by fatal questioning. This theory now became the basis of my philosophy of life. And I still hold to it as the best theory for all those who have but a moderate degree of sensibility and of capacity for enjoyment, that is, for the great majority of mankind.

 

On music:

The only one of the imaginative arts in which I had from childhood taken great pleasure, was music; the best effect of which (and in this it surpasses perhaps every other art) consists in exciting enthusiasm; in winding up to a high pitch those feelings of an elevated kind which are already in the character, but to which this excitement gives a glow and a fervour, which, though transitory at its utmost height, is precious for sustaining them at other times. This effect of music I had often experienced; but like all my pleasurable susceptibilities it was suspended during the gloomy period. I had sought relief again and again from this quarter, but found none. After the tide had turned, and I was in process of recovery, I had been helped forward by music, but in a much less elevated manner. I at this time first became acquainted with Weber’s Oberon, and the extreme pleasure which I drew from its delicious melodies did me good, by showing me a source of pleasure to which I was as susceptible as ever.

 

On finding enjoyment in simple things:

Relieved from my ever present sense of irremediable wretchedness, I gradually found that the ordinary incidents of life could again give me some pleasure; that I could again find enjoyment, not intense, but sufficient for cheerfulness, in sunshine and sky, in books, in conversation, in public affairs; and that there was, once more, excitement, though of a moderate kind, in exerting myself for my opinions, and for the public good.

 

On poetry (and mountains):

This state of my thoughts and feelings made the fact of my reading Wordsworth for the first time (in the autumn of 1828), an important event in my life….   
  In the first place, these poems addressed themselves powerfully to one of the strongest of my pleasurable susceptibilities, the love of rural objects and natural scenery; to which I had been indebted not only for much of the pleasure of my life, but quite recently for relief from one of my longest relapses into depression. In this power of rural beauty over me, there was a foundation laid for taking pleasure in Wordsworth’s, poetry. the more so, as his scenery lies mostly among mountains, which, owing to my early Pyrenean excursion, were my ideal of natural beauty. But Wordsworth would never have had any great effect on me, if he had merely placed before me beautiful pictures of natural scenery. Scott does this still better than Wordsworth, and a very second-rate landscape does it more effectually than any poet. What made Wordsworth’s poems a medicine for my state of mind, was that they expressed, not mere outward beauty, but states of feeling, and of thought coloured by feeling, under the excitement of beauty. They seemed to be the very culture of the feelings, which I was in quest of. In them I seemed to draw from a Source of inward joy, of sympathetic and imaginative pleasure, which could be shared in by all human beings; which had no connexion with struggle of imperfection, but would be made richer by every improvement in the physical or social condition of mankind. From them I seemed to learn what would be the perennial sources of happiness, when all the greater evils of life shall have been removed. And I felt myself at once better and happier as I came under their influence. There have certainly been, even in our own age, greater poets than Wordsworth; but poetry of deeper and loftier feeling could not have done for me at that time what his did. I needed to be made to feel that there was real, permanent happiness in tranquil contemplation. Wordsworth taught me this, not only without turning away from, but with a greatly increased interest in the common feelings and common destiny of human beings. And the delight which these poems gave me, proved that with culture of this sort, there was nothing to dread from the most confirmed habit of analysis.

Notes and Quotes, June 2014

Education

  • List of technology-enhanced activities for secondary English classes.
  • Examples of worthwhile technology-enhanced lesson plans.
  • Quick thoughts from the Hardings, homeschooling parents of ten who have sent seven kids to college by age 12.
  • Recently found this silly video I made for a class I was taking two years ago.  Amusing.
  • Instapundit nails it: the humanities lost relevance when they decided to preach that nothing has intrinsic value.  It’s been my experience that students (yes, even at-risk, underprivileged minorities!) appreciate the classics.  Everybody likes the egalitarian ideal of participation in the uniting, universal canon, rather than manufactured niche curricula that only panders to trends.

 

Language & Literature

  • Great WSJ essay on one of my favorite books, A Confederacy of Dunces.
  • Cute chart collects insults from famous authors who hated each other’s work.
  • Fascinating memoir of writing the script for Star Trek: Insurrection. Included here because it shares so much about that specific writing craft.  Also, Insurrection is often over-maligned—it is not great, but not nearly as bad as many say.  This long essay shows how it could have been great.
  • Long lost introduction by Anthony Burgess to Dubliners.

 

 

Living Well

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“Beware of the Blob!”

Saw the old, original version of The Blob this weekend.  Three notes:

1. It’s surprisingly mediocre–not bad, but not great.

2. There’s a Criterion Collection edition.

3. The best part is the opening theme song, a catchy ditty by young Burt Bacharach.  It’s a perfect late 50’s tune.  Seriously, try getting this thing out of your head for the rest of the day!