Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Unaccompanied

October 13, 2019

This touching Sara Lautman pun cartoon from the 10/14 New Yorker:


(#1) “You know, sooner or later we’re going to have to let her go out unaccompanied.”

It all depends on what you mean by unaccompanied.

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Not demented yet!

September 19, 2019

Facebook exchange on the 13th with John Singler about my most recent wave of physical afflictions, with John providing sympathetic commentary. Part of my response:

… yes, I’m a giant compendium of alarming conditions and ailments. … Meanwhile, having tended someone through dementia into death makes me constantly fearful that I am myself slipping away without realizing it.

For some time now, my slogan for my physical travails has come from Monty Python’s Mary, Queen of Scots: NOT DEAD YET! Now thinking of adding NOT DEMENTED YET! — while I search constantly for evidences that I’m still well plugged in (just very, um, odd).

I am abnormally good at counting backward from 100 by 7s, having been through this diagnostic item with Jacques, and some other patients, many times. So that’s of no use.

But on the 14th, Stephanie Smith gave me a chance to show off my chops, with this appeal:

Saturday night at the office because these files won’t resolve themselves and I have anxious comrades to check in with before I take a week off. Send revolutionary vibes.

I got five revolutionary vibes for her, right off the bat, without having to do a search, and immedately posted four of them (discarding “You say you want a revolution / Well, you know / We all want to change the world” [Beatles, White Album, “Revolution”] because it was too unsubtle, actually used the word revolution crucially). Felt clever and thoroughy undementic, or at least not yet dementic.

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Sousa thump

September 19, 2019

The springboard is a Facebook exchange between Doug Ball and me back on August 11th — in the midst of which I erupted parenthetically and largely irrelevantly in recollections of Reading PA (an area I left in 1961):

Doug: I wonder which Sousa march was stuck in my head as I walked this evening. On second thought, I don’t want to know…

Arnold: In my experience, you really don’t. I once tried to identify a Sousa march by speed-listening through a collection of them, and it just clogged my mind up with all these very similar compositions and then I could no longer sing the melody line of the one I was after and had all of them jangling in my head for days. Perhaps you are made of sterner stuff.

(Reading PA, where I am sort of from, is prime marching band territory, with the Ringgold Band dating back to the 1850s (yes, 8), a local band composer, Althouse, of some note, and lots of bandshell concerts. Sousa conducted the last band performance of his life in Reading in 1932 — retired for the night to the Abraham Lincoln Hotel and died there. My dad remembered the occasion; he was 18 then.)

Doug: I’m suspicious that it was a blend of several marches, including The US Air Force song, which is not by Sousa. [AZ: melody line and original first verse — “Off we go into the wild blue yonder” — by Robert McArthur Crawford in May 1939, the winner of a competition]

Arnold: If so, you’re probably not going to extricate yourself from it. Flee!

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Segregation in the soapy comics

September 15, 2019

Today’s Zippy takes us into the world of soap-opera comics, specifically those by Nick Dallis (with various collaborators):


(#1) Realistic cartoon characters from three Dallis strips: Rex Morgan, M.D.; Judge Parker; and Apartment 3-G (among other well-known soap opera strips: Mary Worth, Brenda Starr)

The characters in realistic cartoons are stylized sketches from life, while those in cartoony worlds are grossly exaggerated, some not even humanoid in form. Zippy himself is human (a Pinhead rather than a Roundhead) but cartoony — though as other Zippy strips have demonstrated, he can be made even more so (cartooniness is a recurrent theme in Bill Griffith’s world).

Then there’s the segregation theme, with realistic cartoon characters mostly taking the position that realistics and cartoonies shouldn’t mix in any way: stick / keep to your own kind! (Note the meta move of having cartoon characters espouse beliefs and attitudes about cartoon characters.) With the predictable tragedy of prejudice against mixed couples, joined by bonds of affection, sexual relationship, or matrimony.

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Revisiting 34: sing out, Arnold!

September 9, 2019

From my comment on yesterday’s posting “Greetings”, about well-wishings for my 79th birthday:

[At yesterday’s Palo Alto shapenote singing] I did indeed lead both 79 and 272 [in the 1991 Denson revision of the Sacred Harp], and others chose suitably gloomy songs in my honor. Plus 285t Arnold, which begins “Come, let us join our friends above / That have obtained the prize; / And on the eagle wings of love / To joy celestial rise.” I somehow hadn’t noticed the “eagle wings” — potentially relevant because Arnold is etymologically ‘eagle-strong’ (English erne ‘sea-eagle’). Maybe just a fortunate accident, maybe on purpose; I’ll need to look at some sources.

I’ve now looked at sources, and, as I suspected, just a fortunate accident.

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Greetings

September 8, 2019

The avalanche of birthday greetings has, I think, pretty much come to an end. Well over a hundred well-wishings, mostly on Facebook (in several different locations), some in e-mail, and a few by phone — but, this year, for the first time ever in my adult life, not even one in mail, physical rather than electronic mail. Times change.

Greetings from people from all times of my life, from childhood on, and from all parts of my life. In many keys: charming, whimsical, artful, playful-sexy, thoughtful, and moving.

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More dream linguistics

September 2, 2019

Every so often I have a spectacularly vivid dream in which the solution to some linguistic puzzle that’s been deviling me explodes in my mind. All I have to do is save it, in my mental cloud storage, until I can enter it into my computer. The idea is not only good and true, it is also very beautiful. Unfortunately, when I shake myself fully awake, I see that it is in fact crackpot crap.

So it was yesteday morning, after a sleep primed by a moving performance of Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times, Come Around No More” on my iTunes. The conviction that yes, that was it, that song was the answer to everything, persisted through three hazy toilet breaks, until I actually woke up and faced the hard truth that I didn’t even know what the question was. But, having had Anonymous 4 and Bruce Molsky take me to 1865 and into the world of the song, I was deeply sorrowful: hard times would surely come around again, and my linguistics was helpless against that bleak future.

I ended up spending the morning with Foster’s “Hard Times”, specifically mourning the tragedy of American chattel slavery, disasters of the 1850s, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and the poverty of Appalachia and the Ozarks, but then dissolving into free-floating anxiety over everything from the Babylonian captivity to the madness of our king (and there’s an awful lot to weep over in between).

All this driven by the music.

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Annals of error: water canons

September 1, 2019

In recent tweets from Hong Kong about protests and the governments attempts to put them down, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof repeatedly writes water canon instead of water cannon (both with /kǽnǝn/) — not an uncommon sort of spelling error, but somewhat surprising from an experienced journalist, and one that introduces an unintended misinterpretation, since it happens that CANON is the spelling of an English word (a number of different English words, in fact) distinct from CANNON. And that opens things up for little jokes about what a water canon might be. On Facebook I was responsible for one such joke, a bit of musical foolishness:

The reference is of course to the round “By the Waters of Babylon”. Though I doubt it’s effective against throngs of protesters.

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Come lay your carnal weapons by

August 31, 2019

… an arresting line from the Sacred Harp (1991 Denson revision), #404, Youth Will Soon Be Gone, suggesting perhaps:

OUR CARNAL WEAPONS

 

(#1)

adj. carnal: relating to physical, especially sexual, needs and activities: carnal desire. (NOAD)

But in SH404 it comes from St. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (KJV):

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh … For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal

And it all depends on what the compilers of the King James Version meant by carnal, which is evidently not what comes first to modern minds.

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79

August 29, 2019

As we slide into a US holiday weekend — leading to Labor Day, the first Monday in September, this year on the 2nd — my birthday (on the 6th) looms as well. Coming up is a prime-th birthday, the 79th, an auspicious number to my mind, just one short of the 80th, which many view (like the similarly vigesimal 20th, 40th, and 60th) as a landmark birthday, in this case the gateway into old age. But for the moment I’m prime, baby.

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