Previous month:
May 2020

June 2020

Chrissie Hynde Sings Dylan

My friend Stu pointed out a series of videos in which Chrissie Hynde and James Walbourne cover Dylan songs. This is "Standing In the Doorway," from Time Out of Mind. (You're really getting old when you think of an album that came out over twenty years ago as "recent.")

I never really listened very much to The Pretenders, the group in which Chrissie Hynde became famous. Moreover, it was only a few years ago that I learned that "Brass In Pocket," their first (and most successful?) hit single, was by them. When it was on the radio, back in 1979 or '80, I thought it was Blondie.  I don't know that their music would appeal to me all that much now, whatever its merits, as it seems very...youth-oriented, by and for the young. In my experience, if you don't hear that kind of music when you're actually young, it doesn't have the same appeal and effect. 

But Chrissie Hynde (who will turn 70 next year) had and still has a great voice. I'm looking forward to hearing the others in this series. 


The Vast of Night

This is a fairly low-budget sci-fi movie which as far as I know is available only on Amazon. Set in the late '50s in a small town in New Mexico, it's presented as an episode of a television show modeled on The Twilight Zone, complete with an introduction in Rod Serling's voice and prose style. I found it enchanting, so much so that I watched it a second time. It's basically a straightforward UFO story, in many ways typical: it could be an episode of The X-Files without Mulder and Scully, but it's done with such skill and atmosphere that it gives new life to what have become the conventions of UFO mythology.

Hidden in plain sight in the title and in a few sentences spoken by one character is a twist on the nature of the visitors which distinguishes it from other specimens of the genre. I did not recognize the title, but its oddness--one would expect "vastness," not "vast"--caused me to search it out. Because searching for the phrase alone only returned references to the movies, I needed something else. Figuring it was a quotation, I added "Shakespeare," and there it was. (I was going to try Milton next if that didn't work.) It's from The Tempest. Prospero is cursing Caliban with troubled sleep:

                                                                   ...urchins
Shall, for that vast of night that they may work,
All exercise on thee...

According to the notes in my Riverside Shakespeare, "urchins" are goblins in the shape of hedgehogs, and "vast" is to be understood as a noun meaning "void" or "waste." I'll leave further explanation of the twist for you to discover if you take my recommendation; if you don't, you won't care.

The main characters are two high-school students, one trying hard to be a fast-talking '50s-hip disc jockey, the other a studious girl who subscribes to Popular Science or something of its sort. And they're charming. If the trailer appeals to you, you'll probably like it, too.

I have to say that I was a little disappointed in the ending. But if you are going to end such a story, there are really only a few ways in which you can do it, and the journey to it is so rewarding that I can't complain very loudly.  


Saint-Saëns: Septet Op. 65 for an Odd Combination of Instruments

Specifically: string quartet, piano, double bass, and...trumpet?

Some months ago I came into possession of a great many (hundreds) of old LPs, almost all classical. An elderly priest who had spent many years as an English professor had died, leaving behind an awful lot of books and records, and the archdiocese was going to give them all to Goodwill. I was given the chance to snag some of them before they were dumped. Most of the books were already gone, but I  brought home several hundred classical LPs which I certainly did not need and don't have room to store. This was the scene when I first brought them home (I may have posted this before, I can't remember):

Continue reading "Saint-Saëns: Septet Op. 65 for an Odd Combination of Instruments" »


A Bit More On Impermissible Ideas

This piece by Stanley Kurtz at National Review is a commentary on the very rapid growth of the belief, and subsequent practice, of left-wing journalists that views which they despise should not be heard. It's worth reading in its entirety, but here's how Kurtz ends it:

Classical liberalism arose to prevent murderous civil strife between those who could not agree on ultimate things—and who questioned each other’s good faith as a consequence. Throw aside the marketplace of ideas, throw aside even the aspiration to neutral reporting, and throw aside, on this account, the basic rights of those with whom we disagree, and we are back in the soup, back to the wars, back to the days before liberty and civil peace, the crowning achievements of our history, the history we’ve stopped celebrating—or even remembering. Is that what we want? Because that is where we are headed.

Continue reading "A Bit More On Impermissible Ideas" »


Impermissible Ideas

As it always had the potential to do, the philosophical and religious neutrality which is the ostensible framework of the American system is collapsing. See this post by Rod Dreher, one of many in which he describes the movement in big-time journalism to full-on advocacy for various left-wing causes. Here's an anecdote:

All this put me in mind of a conversation I had maybe 15 years ago, when I was a columnist and editorial writer at The Dallas Morning News, with a Millennial writer there. He knew that I was a conservative, and I knew that he wasn’t, but none of that mattered. I mentioned to him one day that I thought the paper’s coverage of the gay marriage issue was one-sided, and had become a matter of pro-LGBT advocacy journalism. He agreed that it was one-sided, but told me that he didn’t think there was a legitimate other side. I pointed out that we lived in a rather conservative part of the country, and that most of our readers took the opposite position on gay marriage (this was around 2005, I think). Were they all bigots who didn’t deserve to be consulted in our reporting? Yes, he said. If the paper was reporting on the Civil Rights movement, he said, would we feel morally and professionally obligated to seek the views of local KKK leaders?

Continue reading "Impermissible Ideas" »


Breathless: Chasing Promises

(It may seem odd, frivolous, or foolish to be writing about an old pop album while the nation is coming apart mentally and perhaps in the not-too-distant future physically. But nothing I write will change that.)

I can't remember for sure, but I think "Moment to Moment" from this album may have been an eMusic freebie several years ago, before eMusic withered to its present condition. What I do know for sure is that I had it in a playlist of eMusic stuff that I hadn't really listened to, and which I played more or less in the background while working (on software stuff, not writing). 

Continue reading "Breathless: Chasing Promises" »