The much-coveted turly Book/CD/DVD/website/thingy of the Month ("turlymate") - 2000 and earlier Some of these links may take you to amazon.com.
Hey, it keeps the repo man from my door.
December 2000/January 2001: Yes folks, it's a double bill this month. And yes, it's out of
sheer laziness and a highly developed sense of procrastination. Not to mention three whole
weeks back home in Cork, at the end of which my liver was in tip-top condition, well able to handle
anything I threw at it.
No new music this month. Well, I bought quite a bit of it, but nothing really stood out...
The literary side, on the other hand, was much more entertaining. I read
The Seville Communion by Arturo Perez Reverte on the plane on the way back home, and enjoyed it
enough to seek out and get some of his other works while there. I've just finished
The Club Dumas and it was
even better (with a weakish ending, but there ya go.) I've gotten Perez-Reverte's other books and
will be curling up on the sofa for the weekend (instead of fixing FinderPop bugs,
but there ya go...)
Speaking of sofas, also recommended this month is
The Curious Sofa
- a pornographic work, by Ogdred Weary (the late lamented Edward Gorey). An outstanding exposition
of the power of suggestion. I'm still smiling as I recall some of Gorey's text and illustrations.
(This is something you can read in less than five minutes, but you'll end up showing it to all
November 2000: Ah yes, the long dark November of the soul. I have been working
like a dog this month, to the extent of cancelling my trip to Washington D.C. for Thanksgiving.
Ah well. All I can say is, Roll On Christmas!
This month's music is Arvo Pärt's I am the True Vine.
I've been a fan of Pärt's since accidentally coming across his music a few years ago; this CD
is almost a Best Of... "Holy minimalism" is how I've heard his music described; the pieces here
are "plainchant for the 21st century." I'm particularly taken by
Ode IX, from Kanon pokajanen. NB: No, you don't need to be religiously inclined to
appreciate this. One look at me should be enough to disabuse you of that particular notion!
His other recent re-release,
Alina is far more minimalist, more subdued piano music but still unmistakably Pärt.
On a lighter vein, I heard Stereophile
magazine's November Disc of the Month: (former Greyboy Allstars') Robert Walter's 20th
Congress' Money Shot.
Funky stuff! Not bad at all! I was impressed enough to go out and get some of the Greyboy
Allstars' other stuff, best of which was their live album
The books I read this month were ex-Python Eric Idle's "postmodern comedy"
The Road to Mars
(don't bother, this sci-fi novel about a pair of comedians and their android on the space-age
vaudeville circuit will be appearing in your local bookstore's discount bin real soon now),
and James P. Blaylock's
The Last Coin, which should already be in there, if there's any justice.
And to think they cut down innocent trees for the likes of these!
It was with a heavy heart that I picked up Ludwig Bemmelmans' out-of-print How To Travel
Incognito (1950). As it turns out, this bunch of tales about the author and his buddy,
the down-on-his-luck-but-never-at-a-loss Comte de Cucugnan, was whimsical and amusing in an
innocent 1940's way -- I enjoyed it.
But my enjoyment may have been coloured by the fact that the above two books I'd read
really entered into the spirit of Thanksgiving by being complete turkeys.
As I don't have a TV and rarely go to the flicks (I did go to see Unbreakable, however,
-- save your eight and a quarter by going for a brisk walk for two hours, you'll feel much better),
I watch DVDs on my iMac from time to time. This month, I got John Ford's classic 1956 Western
with John "That'll be the day" Wayne. Very enjoyable,
the scenery alone -- Monument Valley -- is worth the price of admission. I also got Carol
Reed's The Third Man,
which is excellent. The zither music will
have your nerves jangling. Welles almost steals the show, despite making his first
appearance three-quarters of the way through. The Ferris wheel scene and the sewer
scene are classics. See it, jimmy!
Between times, I'm listening to Seamus Heaney read his recent translation of
Beowulf on audiocassette.
Very very good, flows extremely smoothly, like a Beamish, in fact :-).
Beowulf at last becomes a pleasurable experience -- funny how you really appreciate
certain things more when you don't have to take an exam on them :-) Now if only I could
overcome my antipathy to Jane Austen...
October 2000: October-coloured weather...better late than never, I suppose
Here's a few more entertaining links:
Cliff Yablonski Hates You
Hilarious! The art of the insult is alive and well and living in South Appleton.
Thanks to Akira for this one!
What do you want to know today?
is a compendium of search sites for things related to classical arts and sciences. It contains
dictionaries, thesaurii, area searches of just about any area you care to mention.
Bibamus, moriendum est!
is a highly entertaining set of pages. A well-chosen Latin phrase is worth
two in the bush.
August 2000: August's turlymate thingy is the outstanding Yosemite National Park.
Breathtaking stuff -- at the risk of perpetuating a cliche, you really do have to see it to appreciate it.
One of my colleagues and I recently spent a week backpacking in Yosemite: you can see
terribly low-resolution scans of some of the photos
An interesting facet was going for days without seeing another soul; the zoo
that was Yosemite Village on Saturday more than made up for that, however.
July 2000: Ahead of the game for once, July's turlymate is the music of probably the greatest English
composer (the claims of Elgar notwithstanding), Ralph ("Rafe")Vaughan Williams, in particular
his Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis, which has stuck with me since I first heard it over twenty years ago -- I find myself
humming it -- or trying to remember it -- at the oddest times: recently finding the
psalter on which RVW's work was based brought it all back.
Note to Mac users who download the TALLIS.MP3 file: SoundJam MP
will hang trying to play this file: if you have QT 4.0 or better, use QuickTime Player instead.
Unforgettable Classics - Vaughan Williams is an excellent collection of RVW's music.
The Tallis Fantasia for me represents a quintessentially English
approach to classical music: Gentle. Swaying. Melodic. (I would be cruel if I
added the rider "completely unlike their approach to football", so I won't :-),
Hey, I may not know much about music, but I know what I like!
June 2000: This month's turlymate is
The Seduction of Claude Debussy
from former new-wave hipsters Art Of Noise.
Trevor Horn (!) got most of the gang back together last year to produce this album, an almost-impressionist fusion
of Debussy's music with the world of "electronica" (dread word!)
Easily the best album I've heard this month. Dunno how I managed to miss it last year. Must get out more.
May 2000: May's turlymate is
Le Ton Beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language by the much esteemed (well, by me, anyway) Douglas Hofstadter.
Actually I read this when it first came out a couple of years ago, and have just
recently persuaded one or two other people to read it as I enjoyed it so much. It's more accessible than
-- but just as worthy as -- his earlier meisterwerk,
Gödel, Escher, Bach,
and the later Metamagical Themas.
Some have decried this Marot book as lightweight; to them I raise a
metaphorical two fingers as having missed the book's point :)
Minor quarrels aside, if you love language and poetry, or have ever been tormented by translation, then this is
a book for you.
April 2000: Continuing in the tradition of having every second month's turlymate be something
other than a book, April's turlymate is the DVD of the best submarine warfare
flick ever made, Das Boot.
U-571 pales by comparison. Claustrophobic? No? You will be.
March 2000: The March turlymate is Flann O'Brien's
The Third Policeman.
Excellent. Superb. De Selby's footnotes alone are worth it. And I'm not riding my bike any more,
either, having caught myself trying to lean against a wall with one leg raised.
February 2000: Actually, this month's book of the month isn't a book at all. It's the March
issue of The Atlantic Monthly, which has to be the most entertaining and interesting issue of
a magazine I've read in a long time, with nearly every article scoring on turly's
patented 'Hey Wow, I'm Still Awake' scale. They put the previous month's issue on the web
here, so you might have to wait until mid-March
before you get to read the articles.
January 2000: The amazing
The Endurance : Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition. This is a visually stunning hardback:
Endurance photographer Frank Hurley's black and white prints are superb. Caroline Alexander's
text details the incredible tale of survival. Five men sailing 800 miles in a rowboat in an attempt
to rescue the other 20-odd men left behind on Elephant Island? Hmmm. Amazing that anyone at all survived,
even more amazing that they all did!
This was another of those "Dammit, I'm not getting out of bed until I finish this" books.
December 1999: the late great Jim Thompson's excellent
-- twisted as hell and rib-ticklingly funny. I was chuckling away insanely for the last 50 pages.
(Hint: the Card catalog description of the book on the above amazon.com link is woefully wrong :-)