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About ejp626

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    Dr. Funkenstein

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  1. Now reading...

    I'm about halfway through Alif the Unseen. I have mixed feelings about it. I was expecting/hoping it would be along the lines of Effinger's When Gravity Fails and the rest in that series. (Really great books, which I ought to reread.) And it sort of starts off that way, but the descriptions of coding are pretty laughable and it departs fairly quickly from the cyberpunk vein. Pretty soon we are interacting with actual djinns (not just deluded humans who think they are djinns or people with djinn avatars in a virtual world). So it really is much more a fantasy book with some cyberpunk elements. It's quite readable, for all that. Back to traditional lit. after this, Porter's Ship of Fools and McCarthy's Birds of America.
  2. I've got a fair number of Szell recordings. While I enjoy them, this box set is too much. I'm likely to get the Leonard Rose Concertos and Sonatas set, however. I don't have too much overlap with these recordings, aside from the Dvorak Cello concerto and the Bach sonatas with Glenn Gould.
  3. Now reading...

    It was kind of an odd departure, as Apple was always known as a humorist.
  4. Now reading...

    I was making my way through Max Apple's The Propheteers when I discovered that the first chapter is his short story "The Oranging of America" with only the most minor changes. I realized I had never read the entire collection, though I'm pretty sure I read the title story a long, long time ago. For good measure, I picked up his recent short story collection The Jew of Home Depot. What surprised me a bit is the sameness of so many of the stories in Oranging. Well over half involve some kind of naive struggle against American capitalism, followed by the protagonist running off with some cute chick. "The Oranging of America" does break this pattern and is definitely the better for it. I wouldn't say I disliked the collection, but it definitely felt padded, and I don't think it will stand the test of time. I'm not as far along with The Jew of Home Depot, but the running theme seems to be the struggle of the various protagonists to maintain their Jewishness in the face of the acid bath of American culture and American-style capitalism more broadly, which as Marx says will wash away religion and even family ties. So now I've gotten through The Jew of Home Depot. In addition to the Jewish theme, approximately 1/3 of the stories involve the protagonist needing to deal with a family member's medical needs, typically dementia or Alzheimer's. Quite possibly this is something that Apple was going through himself and was doing some "processing" in the stories. Anyway, it definitely lead to quite a few melancholy stories.
  5. Saw Organissimo play once in Chicago, so that was Jim, Joe and Randy at that time. Larry Kart was at the concert, and we chatted a bit. I used to see a fair number of jazz concerts at the Jazz Showcase or Chicago Jazz Fest with sheldonm and sal. And jazzkrow once or twice. Met John Litweiler once in Chicago to buy one of his books (and I think I traded him the Ayler Holy Ghost box, since his had been lost in a flood or fire). It wasn't a one-for-one trade... Met Van Basten II in Montreal and sold him a jazz or classical set, but I can't recall which one. Met a board member in Vancouver to sell some CDs. I think that's it, but I may be missing one or two more chance encounters. I did see David Weiss and the Cookers play a set in Vancouver, but I think we only PM'ed after the show and didn't meet in person. I may of course be totally mis-remembering this.
  6. Tomasz Stanko R.I.P.

    RIP -- I saw him live one time when he was in Chicago.
  7. Now reading...

    Only just started this, but am enjoying it so far. Another interesting book involving a prophecy (and how it impacted the lives of those who heard it) is The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. After I wrap this up and return to the library, it will be Mann's Felix Krull. Or rather Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man: The Early Years. (I had meant to pair this with Melville's The Confidence-Man, but the plans went a bit awry...)
  8. Do they only take one from the readers? Or the top 5? It seems ludicrous that Grant Green isn't in there already...
  9. Paul Simon

    Still kicking myself for not seeing him at the Vic in Chicago 5 or 6 or so years ago (the show was literally down the street from my place). I really can't remember now why I didn't go.
  10. Paul Simon

    I generally agreed with the folks who claimed that this was colonization/appropriation when I was younger, but I like to think my appreciation for nuance has increased with age (and I try to be less judgemental about such projects now). More than anything else, this notion that Simon exploited these musicians and stole from their culture doesn't give any weight to the idea that culture, particularly music, is all about hybridization. Also, it is incredibly patronizing to the musicians, assuming that they had no agency -- and couldn't make up their own minds whether to collaborate with the musician from the West. The sad thing is we seem to be entering a new cycle where only one or two bloggers can incite a sh*tstorm and claim that some project is stealing from their culture - and then shut it down. While it probably wasn't the wisest idea in the first place, there was a show shut down by the Montreal Jazz Festival because white singers were singing songs drawn from the experience of Black slavery. https://globalnews.ca/news/4316470/robert-lepage-says-decision-to-cancel-slav-show-a-blow-to-artistic-freedom/
  11. Vinyl/download-only releases

    I agree with Daniel. I've been at several gigs where the artist might have some CD-Rs, but mostly are carrying around a big stack of download codes stuck to index cards that they usually sell for about $10... I've bought a few. Yep, we don't have any optical drives at all on any of the work computers. Frankly not too happy about that, but it did push me to digitize pretty much all of my CD collection.
  12. Now reading...

    I think Hofmann makes a number of inexcusable editorial decisions. One character's name keeps jumping back and forth from Mack to Mak, and there is a point where Karl is told to head "east" to San Francisco, while he is in New York. I just don't see the point of this, as it is super distracting and doesn't add anything to the enjoyment/understanding of the novel. (Hofman's attempts to justify his choices just don't make any sense to me.) I'll get through this but then donate my copy elsewhere and keep the Muir translation.
  13. Now reading...

    Kafka's Amerika (the newish translation). Benjamin's The Immortalists has just turned up at the library, so that will be next.
  14. Elvis Costello battles cancer

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery going his way.
  15. Now reading...

    Midway through Banville's Ancient Light. I didn't realize until too late that it is the third book of a trilogy, though they are fairly loosely linked and I don't feel I missed too much by skipping the others. It reminds me in just a few ways of Robertson Davies's Deptford Trilogy, though I liked that considerably more. I don't think it is terribly likely I will read the other two.