Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Theft and retrieval

January 14, 2018

A posting about my life, though there will be incidental music (Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations) and a linguistics book (Julie Tetel Andresen & Phillip M. Carter, Languages in the World, 2016).

The story starts with the music, piped during the night from my laptop computer (a MacBook Pro 15.4 from 2010) in the front of the house to my bedroom in the back. Around 2 a.m. yesterday, I came partially to consciousness, feeling the beginning of an old man’s need to take a middle-of-the-night leak but enjoying the Gould Goldberg in a semi-conscious state — when the music cut out. This sometimes just happens, for reasons I can’t discern, so wasn’t alarmed but dozed for a while, then did the bathroom thing and stumbled into the front of the house to check out the computer’s settings.

And discovered that the laptop was gone. Vanished, which would explain why the music had died. Everything unplugged, the scraps of notes on top of the laptop put aside on a chair, but nothing else disturbed in any way. Creepy.

This is Act 1, The Theft Discovered.

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Amazing Grace of the Rising Sun

December 23, 2017

On this blog on 11/17/15, “The House of the Writhing Pun”, I wrote about “The House of the Rising Sun”, with Wikipedia notes on the folk song and a link to The Animals’ 1964 recordng of it; and added this note about the meter of the text:

Common meter: four lines of iambs, alternating tetrameter and trimeter: 8.6.8.6. With the 2nd and 4th lines rhyming, An enormous number of texts — “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Amazing Grace”, for example — can be sung to this tune.

I hadn’t realized that one of these possibilities had been realized by serious musicians until this morning, when during hours of Christmas and Jesus music, public radio station KRCB in Santa Rosa CA broadcast a Blind Boys of Alabama recording of “Amazing Grace” (the text) sung to the tune of “The House of the Rising Sun”. Really quite moving. You can watch a live performance of it here.

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Is that all there is? Just platypi and clichés?

December 19, 2017

Today’s Zippy has our Pinhead hero trading diner thoughts with a Pinhead named Nesbitt:

For two panels, Zippy spouts the idea that nothing represents, or stands for, something else; things are what they are, and that’s all there is. Meanwhile, Nesbitt runs through two idioms that he thinks of as clichés (rock s.o.’s world, takeaway), and the pair ping-pong plural platypi.

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Xmas follies 2017: the music

December 15, 2017

It’s Ridiculistmas Season again. This year’s offerings include music, food, decorations, clothing, and seasonal shirtlessness. Chapter 1, a regional musical treat (from Mill Valley, in Marin County) for the season, “Santa Lost a Ho”:

The album cover

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Revisiting 17: Bills Ballhaus in Bilbao

December 13, 2017

The title of my 12/11 posting “Er ist der Schönste in Berlin” (‘He is the most beautiful (man) in Berlin’)  is an echo of the line “Es war das Schönste auf der Welt” (‘It was the most beautiful (place) in the world’) in the “Bilbao-Song”, about Bills Ballhaus in Bilbao (‘Bill’s dance hall / beer hall in Bilbao’), from the 1929 Berlin musical comedy Happy End by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.

  (#1) You can listen to a Lotte Lenya performance of the song here

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Revisiting 15: Salome, Conrad, and more Zs

December 9, 2017

(For the purposes of this posting, the letter Z standing on its own is an abbreviation for the surname Zwicky.)

More family bulletins from Switzerland, starting with the musicians Salome Z, Conrad Z, Peter Z, Stefan Z, and Benjamin Z, from my 11/27 posting “The two Salome Zwickys of Zürich”. These will take us to Spain and, incidentally, to linguistics. With, of course, the obligatory trip to Mollis, in canton Glarus.

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A dark week in early December

December 4, 2017

A week of death, punishment, and destruction. This week: deaths on M W F, punishment on Tu, destruction on Th.


(#1) John Cleese as the host on Monty Python’s “It’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart” show

Hello again, and welcome to the show. Tonight we continue to look at some famous deaths. Tonight we start with the wonderful death of Genghis Khan, conqueror of India.

Well, acually, today, the 4th, is Frank Zappa (1993). Friday, the 8th, is John Lennon (1980). And Wednesday, the 6th, is Wolfie M. himself (1791). Tomorrow, the 5th, is Krampusnacht, when the Christmas demon Krampus punishes naughty children (the night before St. Nicholas rewards the good ones, on his feast day). And Thursday, the 7th, is Pearl Harbor Day, the anniversary of the Japanese bombing of the naval base in Honolulu, which brough the United States into World War II.

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Maple Donuts, coffee shops, and unapologetic identities

December 1, 2017

It starts with a Zippy strip from July 1st, featuring the Maple Donuts shop on Historic Lincoln Highway in York PA (and, incredibly, it will end with singings of the Negro National Anthem; in between, there will be firearms):


(#1) Maple Donuts, featured a number of times in Zippy strips

It might not be an accident that the strip appeared a few days before America’s great patriotic holiday, Independence Day / the Fourth of July. To see why, we need to look at the actual Maple Donuts store.

That will take us, on the one hand, to the adjoining coffee shop; and, on the other hand, to proud, unapologetic assertions of identities.

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Revisiting: Good Night, Salome

November 28, 2017

Yesterday, the posting “The two Salome Zwickys of Zürich”, about the musical and medical careers of Salome Zwicky. I didn’t touch on the complex resonances associated with the name Salome there — so now some onomastic (and musical) musings.

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The post-Thanksgiving news from 52 years ago

November 27, 2017

News you can sing!

Passed on by Virginia Transue, this story from the Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield MA:

52 years ago (Nov. 29, 1965) the Berkshire Eagle printed a little article about two young men being fined 25 bucks for dumping trash. Little did we know at the time that the incident, which ran on page 25, would become the basis for Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. Here’s our original story from 1965:

(#1) The genesis of “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”

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