What's more important to me is whether my kids will entertain themselves long enough for me to finish this post. I can hear them growling upstairs. "Growling" is not metaphorical in this case. They are actually growling. I can't tell if they're pretending to be babies, or some other kind of animal. Now, they are asking me if they can turn on the TV. Now they are asking me if they can have a popsicle. I said yes. Now they are digging in the freezer. Now their footsteps go pound, pound, pound, across the floor and into the living room.
Here is Roger Miller being great beside Andy Williams!
Lyrics to the song "Reincarnation"
If I was a bird
If I was a bird
and you were a fish
What would we do
I’d guess we’d wish for
Wouldn’t it be a sensation
To come back to
Like in reincarnation
If I was a tree
And you were a flower
What would we do
But wish for the power of
Wouldn’t it be a sensation
To come back to
Like in reincarnation
I love you
And don’t you know I always will
You’re a girl
I’m a boy
But suppose you were a rose
And I was a whipper will.
We will be attending the Motocross today at 4:00. We will not attend the Hog Wrestling on Monday, we have attended hog wrestling before and it's not particularly impressive. They are claiming it is "New & Improved," but I don't buy it. We will not attend the Truck and Tractor Pull. Hell Yeah we will attend the Demolition Derby and Truck Derby! Hell Yeah we will be attending the Stock Car Oval and Figure 8 Racing! We will not attend the High School Marching Band Contest. You would think that'd be good, but it's overcrowded with parents and the bands can't really do their routines because they only have a narrow space to work in (the rest of the area being car/motorcycle track). We will definitely go down the big slide and we will certainly check out some of the 4-H animals. We may ride some rides. We may buy a Sprite, but we will not buy the food, mostly.
And there's this:Roger Miller singing about the county fair and then joking and playing with Johnny Cash. They seem stoned and it's beautiful. I can cry when I watch him sing the county fair song. Especially how he sits on the fence and how he briefly loses his voice in the last line.
This week we welcome Peter Davis as our guest blogger. Davis' books of poems are Hitler's Mustache (Barnwood Press, 2006) and Poetry! Poetry! Poetry! (Bloof Books, 2010). He edited Poet's Bookshelf: Contemporary Poets on Books that Shaped Their Art (Barnwood Press). He lives in Muncie, Indiana and teaches at Ball State University.
Dear Seizure of Church Bells, there were eleven hours left till the end of Memorialist Day. I was kneeling again, ambushed by my own ardor. I was asking this She to be my garden of grief. And She said, Guess! Guess! Oh God, Guess!But the Marginalia was already drawing near, their pre-colonial boots shining funeral-black in the May-ish sun. We hurried down presidential streets, past soothsayers and witnesses, to the courthouse steps. We donned our simple smiles even as the echo of boots erupted around us. Only the crossing guard could stop them now, her one palm held high. As quick-quick as he could, the priest-like astronomer knocked on the door of his heaven. And with time for only one question, one answer, one rapture, we surrendered our Yes.
* * *
Fritz Ward's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Arts and Commentary, Agni Online, Swink, Salt Hill, Blackbird, Diagram, Small Spiral Notebook, and The Journal. No Tell Motel first published this poem in January 2009. Fritz wrote, "[this poem] was a result of reading too much science fiction and fantasy this summer while contemplating how to propose to the woman I loved—but I'm not quite willing to completely undress for you just yet. What fun is a one-sided seduction? Besides, I'm more interested in hearing your reactionary musings than listening to myself talk."
From the great TV genius, Ernie Kovacs. People are hot or cold about him: either you find this hysterical or you don't. It makes me ROFLMAO, as the kids say in cyber.
Trivia: Kovacs is the one getting beaned. Edie Adams, Ernie's wife, is playing the piano. Who is the one with the mallets? No fair looking it up.
One day during my short stint at Juilliard, the composer Milton Babbitt came to guest lecture one of my composition classes.
Mr. Babbitt gave us all a nice lecture on 20th century music and how serial music (12-tone) was here to stay and it shouldn't be "our" problem if people don't enjoy it or "understand" how to react to it...
I recall that my friends and I were horrified at such elitism. Although I had learned a great deal of serial technique my senior year in high school at IAA, my own personal inclination led me to reason that music should always sound interesting and should completely engage an audience. Certainly, we all toyed around with trying to write "interesting" 12-tone music.
And then one day ...
So here's a short video that takes you behind the scenes of the new Food Network program 24 Hour Restaurant Battle. My friend and Time Out New York food pages editor Gabriella Gershenson appears as a judge. I can't wait to watch! The first episode airs this Sunday night at 10:00 p.m.; subsequent episodes air on Wednesday nights, also at 10:00. You can read more about it here.
Occasionally, the story behind the composition of a masterpiece is so entwined with the notes themselves, that it must be heard alongside the music.
In February of 1935, the American violinist Louis Krasner (who taught the teacher that both of my musician daughters studied with!!!) commissioned Berg to write him a violin concerto. Berg was busy composing his opera, Lulu, but was so broke he felt he could not refuse.
On April 22nd, Manon Gropius -- the 18-year-old daughter of Alma Mahler (who had left her husband, Gustav) and Walter Gropius -- died of poliomyelitis. Berg dedicated the concerto to her -- dem Andenken eines Engels ("In Memory of an Angel").
Berg finished the concerto as a piano score in July and was then stung by an insect at the base of his spine which gradually developed into an abscess. He died of septicaemia on December 23rd.
The piano reduction most likely indicated Berg's intentions vis-a-vis orchestration, but ultimately, the piece had to be carefully reconstructed by Krasner and his associates.
How’s it rolling? We just got back from Las Vegas where we went to The Amaz!ng Meeting 8. It was amazing. I met a lot of great people, for instance the music man behind the TV show "Penn & Teller's Bullsh*t," Gary Stockdale, and had lots of interesting conversations. The comedian Paul Provenza was there too, fun chatting with him over lunch about his new book. I was invited by D. J. Grothe who hosts the wonderful podcast For Good Reason. Here's the link there, to an episode Provenza was on. Here's an episode with me.
Heard great music at TAM! Got completely delighted by the mindreading act of Michael Weber. There was lots of good magic. Skeptics love magic and vice versa. The poet is magical in her skepticism and verses vices.
Also played some slots and some roulette and enjoyed everything but the insane ambient smoke in all the lobbies, especially on weekend nights. I am a woman who enjoys a cocktail and in that sense too enjoyed Vegas -- it is a delightfully drinkin’ town. John played some blackjack too. Fun.
It was terrific to get to know more about James Randi's work too. Fights the good fight. Check out Randi's website to see more.
Now I’m off to do a Center For Inquiry fundraiser in DC, going with the whole family. Will see some old friends too. Looking forward to it all very much. If you show up, come say hi.
I’m in the mood to give you a poem so here’s a little something from my first book of poems. It is a reminder that the path to new knowledge is fraught with uncomfortable uncertainty and must be accepted as a most disturbing adventure, sometimes grotesque, sometimes thrilling.
Jennifer Michael Hecht The Next Ancient World
Posted by Jennifer Michael Hecht on July 15, 2010 at 01:40 AM in Jennifer Michael Hecht, The Lion and the Honeycomb | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
The class was probably named something like "Contemporary Music Analysis." The teacher was Homer Keller, a composer and fantastic communicator.
I was in love with a girl who played oboe and composed. I tried so hard to concentrate and pay attention -- but I'm quite sure I missed a lot of good stuff while I was thinking about this beautiful girl and about something that would magically happen four years later -- but that's another story!!
Shortly after man first set foot on the moon, I took a giant step of my own.
As we settled into our chairs, Keller passed out copies of this quartet. The only Bartok I knew was the Concerto for Orchestra, which I had been in love with for years -- but for some reason, I had never heard any of the six string quartets.
Keller dropped the needle on the record. After the first few bars, my future "girlfriend" had a look on her face which I am quite sure was identical to my own. We were suddenly in another universe. Neither of us had ever heard music this powerful, scored for four instruments. After 22 minutes or so, we all sat, completely stunned by what we had just heard.
We spent the next few classes carefully analyzing the piece. Without getting too technical, I can tell you this:
The form of this masterpiece was something unfamiliar to us -- what Keller told us was called "Arch Form."
In other words, the relationship between movements is based upon themes (although it is probably better to use the term "motif" or even "cell") which Bartok sort of "mirrors" in movements 1 and 5; and 2 and 4.
A couple of years ago I invented a form without being quite aware of it. I wrote a poem consisting mostly of lines lifted from other sources with exactly one letter changed in each lifted line.
The poem began, "A thong of beauty is a joy forever." Other lines included "'Dope' is the thing with feathers" and "'Deaf' was all he answered." (Thank you, Keats, Dickinson, and Frost.)
You get the idea.
Some might think this a sophomoric parlor game, and maybe it is, but you can say that of a lot of parlor games and of, too, a lot of embryonic forms and literary sub-genres, and this may be another case of the undervalued asset, limericks and puns being two others. Anyway I invented it.
I would love it if readers proposed examples.
My line of the day is from Auden.
"We must love one another or diet." -- DL
And that is exactly the kind of subjective question which sits before us today, begging for some type of an answer:
Yes, Bernstein '58 is fantastic -- I own it, along with 20+ other recordings of this masterpiece -- often referred to as the greatest composition of the 20th century (I won't argue too strenuously otherwise)...
His description of the Bernstein recording:
MAHLER, Gustav: Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (1888-1894)
During my senior year of high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy, I had the rare privilege of playing Fourth Trombone in the "A" orchestra (which normally only used three), which was preparing this piece under our Musical Director, Nicholas Harsanyi (who went to school with Bartok and jammed with Einstein [see article]). His wife, Janice, would sing the solo soprano part.
It was an exciting time. The rehearsals were difficult, sometimes grueling -- but everyone was so dedicated, and many months later, we pulled off a pretty good performance or two.
See how Mahler extended the traditional orchestra:
Four Flutes (all doubling piccolo)
Four Oboes (3rd and 4th doubling English Horns)
Three Clarinets in B-Flat, A and C (3rd doubling Bass Clarinet)
Two E-Flat Clarinets (2nd doubling 4th Clarinet)
Four Bassoons (3rd and 4th doubling Contrabassoon)
Ten French Horns in F (7-10 used offstage)
Eight to Ten Trumpets in F and C (4-6 used offstage)
Timpani (2 players, 8 timpani, with a third player in the last movement using two of the second timpanist's drums)
Several snare drums
Three deep, untuned steel rods or bells
Rute, or "switch," to be played on the shell of the bass drum
Two tam-tams (high and low)
Offstage Percussion in Movement 5: (Bass drum with cymbals attached (played by the same percussionist); Triangle, Timpani
Organ (Fifth Movement only)
Soprano Solo (Fifth Movement only)
Alto (or Mezzo-Soprano) Solo (Fourth and Fifth Movements only)
Mixed Chorus (Fifth Movement only)
Harps I, II (several to each part in the last movement and possibly at one point in the Scherzo)
"The largest possible contingent of strings"
First and Second Violins
Double Basses (some with low C extension)
Besides Vertigo, James Stewart (whom Roger Gilbert thinks is the greatest male Hollywood actor of the pre-Brando period) and underrated screen goddess Kim Novak, god bless her, made another movie. Name it. I will provide a pictorial hint, courtesy of Amy Gerstler. Notice the man's eyes. He looks like he's still in San Francisco chasing Madeleine Elster's shadow.
Points will be given for a literal translation of the German title.
Someday I will write notes regarding translation of movie titles into foreign tongues. Not to mention the whole fruitful subject of sub-titles, sous-titres. Through sous-titres I figured out the correct spelling of a word I'd only hear poronl8unced, chouette, which means something like "far out, man." French subtitles add a nice element to Woodstock.
In France the American actor Fess Parker, of Davy Crockett fame, had to be called Frederic Parker simply because fesse in French is slang for butt cheek.
No, that can't be right -- it just sounded nice! But it was like 39 or so -- and it was Paris -- a Montparnasse cafe in fact and it was raining lightly (probably) and I knew a poet (definitely) who expressed his unreserved enthusiasm for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Op. 125 -- particularly the final movement, the "Ode To Joy," where Beethoven unleashes all the forces at his disposal, including vocal soloists and chorus.
I tried to explain to this poet how Beethoven -- using only the simplest and most basic harmonic structure (think two-chord rock 'n roll) -- spins the earth around with powerful orchestration and unbelievablly brilliant variation in color and temperment ...
... but the best part was that this particular poet taught me the meaning of the German words which I had never really taken the trouble to learn.
Muß ein lieber vater wohnen means a lot more to me now thanks to this wonderful poet friend who turned me on to James Joyce, playfully informed me that Joan Miró was not a woman -- and had the good sense to bring Frank Zappa along as the soundtrack to our local hysteria ...
Much like his musical output as a whole, Beethoven’s 17 string quartets can be divided into three convenient periods: Early, Middle and Late.
Early: Opus 18, Nos. 1-6, all written between 1798-1800;
Middle: Opus 59, Nos. 1-3 (1805/6); Op. 74, the “Harp” (1809), and Op. 95 (1810);
Late: Op. 127, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135 (1823-26)
I cannot recall when I first heard a Late Beethoven quartet. It must have been my senior year of high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy, where my composition teacher had pointed me towards the microfiche machine and a few spools of microfilm which contained the Complete Works of Beethoven! How I used to pour over those beautiful scores, surfing the microfilm the way we do the net today -- carefully studying these (mostly) unfamiliar scores.
The Associated Press article on Dick Allen ("Connecticut's state poet laureate") follows. You'll find a Dick Allen poem in Amy Gerstler's forthcoming selection for the 2010 edition of The Best American Poetry.
Readers, please feel free to comment enthusiastically on the choice of Gerstler (left) as guest editor of BAP 2010, on Dick Allen's appointment as Connecticut's poet laureate, on BAP stalwart W. S. Merwin (below right) , who was recently named U. S. Poet Laureate, or on a subject seemingly far removed from these concerns: the greatness of Bernard Herrmann's music in Vertigo, Marnie, and Psycho. Jack Sullivan's book Hitchcock's Music is outstanding. I've long meant to plug it and I'm finally seizing the chance to do so today. I'm sure that somebody out there is clever enough to discern the logical connection linking these disparate phenomena. -- DL
Dick Allen of Trumbull was picked from 12 nominees considered by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, which recently announced his appointment.
Connecticut's poet laureate is paid $1,000 annually over a five-year term. The legislature created the post in 1985 to promote the appreciation of poetry and literary arts.
The poet laureate presents at least one annual public event and often writes original pieces for gubernatorial inaugurations and other major events.
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This week we welcome Lewis Saul as our guest blogger. Lewis is a composer who lives in Tucson, AZ. He studied composition at Juilliard and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. You can read his brilliant posts about the films of Kurosawa here.
In other news . . .
New Poem by David Lehman up over at Todd Swift's Eyewear. Thanks, Todd!
Publication! Celebrity! Film contract! Immortality! Maggy announces its first poetry contest, with winning poems selected by the amazing Dara Wier. Winning poems will be published in Maggy, issue 2, due out in fall 2010, and will be announced by September 1st. Judging will be blind. Deadline, July 31. Details here.
when time lavas the lungs
and you’ve begun to tack yourself
like a hollywood voodoo doll
to your own promises
remember that you are an archer
you know how to get a wish
where it’s going by aiming above
the gravity of a situation
let your arrow follow the path
of the panicked cat’s back
when classmates or colleagues gobble at you
in iron and mistletoe
until the red light between your brain
and your eyes begins to blink
remember that you are a centaur
you’ll never fit in with the bipeds
except those who’ve read their history
flaunt your naked torso pat
your own rump
and if you hear hissing hoof it
* * *Evie Shockley is the author of a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006), the new black (Wesleyan UP, forthcoming 2011), and two chapbooks. No Tell Motel first published this poem in October 2007. Evie wrote, "I have been in a life-long love affair – not deep, but meaningful – with astrology; my birthday is November 28th."
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.