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music behind the cut )

Today's a sad anniversary for me. While things get less intense every year, this day always strikes me hard and I need a little help remembering it's only a small and passing thing, with a light and beauty beyond its reach (if I'm allowed to borrow a phrase from the idiom that's gotten me through things like these). Over the last several years, listening to John Boutte's song has been part of how I try to do that; it's almost an act of faith hearing these words, to hope that things will get better again. In particular:

When the levees have overflowed
And the street car has seen its day,
When all is gone, the plantations,
The Treme and the Vieux Carre,
I'll be swinging to that music
Way up on higher ground
Where Pops is blowing "Walk On"
With Gabriel making sacred sounds

With all the stuff going on in my corner of the interwebz, I thought this song was worth sharing. I don't know if it will resonate with other folks like it does with me, but even if it doesn't, it's still a nice jazzy, optimistic song - you could do worse than giving it a listen, I think. *g*
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Good music makes me happy. Good music that I have a fannish connection to, but that is also fresh and new somehow makes me especially happy. This is no exception.

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This is "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," an Eagles song made famous as the theme for the best five-book trilogy ever written - or Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, for all you non-froods out there. :-) Only this is a version played on the mountain dulcimer, with all the changes in style you'd expect there. Nice.

(Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.)
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I had every intention of blogging about deep thoughts this morning before heading over to campus. A conversation with Dan Fincke over at FB has me thinking about how some atheists characterize religion, plus some reviews of Sam Harris's Free Will have me thinking about the purpose of incarceration - is it to punish or rehabilitate or protect the rest of us, and does that goal make sense in light of the latest neuroscience, etc. Deep thoughts all around; I do want to write about them in more depth.

But I'm feeling thoroughly curmudgeonly this morning. Mostly it's medical (a yeast infection means I feel too sore to move) but also the heat and weird sleep schedule - all of which means I'm in no frame of mind to deal with difficult, complicated topics with grace. :-S

I can, however, post some videos. I'm sorry to report that Doc Watson at eighty-nine has sailed west. Even at that age, it seems too soon; his music was a staple of my childhood. And following my tradition, whenever a musician dies, it's time for some music in memoriam:

First, Doc Watson by himself playing Gershwin's "Summertime":

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And also a truly first-class jam session with Doc Watson, Ricky Scaggs, and Earl Scruggs:

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Apropos to this morning's post, here are some songs poking fun at racism. Offered up in the hopes that laughing at something makes it that much easier to deal with.

First, "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" from Avenue Q, suggested by [profile] aliana1.

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Which brings me to my first "100 things" quote.

Gary: Now there was a fine upstanding black man!
Princeton: Who?
Gary: Jesus Christ.
Kate: But, Gary, Jesus was white.
Gary: No, Jesus was black.
Kate: No, Jesus was white.
Gary: No I'm pretty sure that Jesus was black --
Princeton: Guys, guys... Jesus was Jewish!

As if that solves the question! (Remember the airlift of Jewish Ethiopians back in the '80s?) It's kind of like trying to sort out whether the pharaohs were white or black because they were Egyptian: it just bumps the issue to a different question. The fact that anyone would think that cleared up the issue totally cracked me up...

Also, what post on tongue-in-cheek racial humor would be complete without Randy Newman?

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(Originally posted to LJ; please comment there.)
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A little music for Holy Saturday. Willie Nelson singing the old Gospel song "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" Very nicely done, and a nice relaxing listen on a Saturday.

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(Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.)
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Somehow I missed this. Bluegrass great Earl Scruggs passed away over the weekend. A truly talented man who revolutionized the genre. In the fine tradition oof completely forgetting about music I love until just after the artist dies, enjoy his classic "Foggy Mountain Breakdown."

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(Posted at LJ; please comment there.)
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Is this really such a surprise?

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Also, this may explain while I'll be staying home in November, and why I find international politics more interesting than domestic ones.

My politics can be a bit complicated sometimes. On social justice/economics issues I tend to be liberal and value social justice over private charity. That means I have my doubts about the free market's ability to solve things, and given a choice between private charities and mandatory govt. spending that's actually efficiently done I'll choose the latter. That's because I believe very firmly that we only have those rights we have the ability to exercise, and capitalism as it's practiced today means that the wealthy - often not because they're better people, but because they're lucky - have more of the good things of life than the rest of us.

But I also recognize that governments often aren't all that efficient, that they tend to impose a one-size-fits-all approach, and that it's good for people to actually help each other voluntarily. Meaning that while in general I recognize a strong state that can redistribute the wealth as necessary (only when the market doesn't do a good enough job at that to meet peoples' basic needs), I also don't think it's the cause for every social ill.

On moral issues I recently described myself as a traditionalist, and that's true. With some important quantifications, of course; I think homophobia, racism, and misogyny is deeply immoral and I know people a few centuries ago weren't that enlightened. But I think that various traditions (religious or otherwise) are significant and inform our values in important ways - as it should be, IMO. That makes for some rather odd results like my disapproving more of casual sex than gay sex full stop. In any event, whatever I think about sexuality, family values, drug + alcohol, and the like, I tend to think government should be as neutral on those things as possible. It's the government's job to make sure that I (and each of us) can live according to our values as much as possible. People as individuals should then work out what those values are, individually and socially but not through fear of govt. compulsion. So my "culture wars" issues really don't affect my politics all that much...

The truly interesting thing is that I often took the questions differently than I think it was meant. For example, one question stated: It's a sad reflection on our society that something as basic as drinking water is now a bottled, branded consumer product. I disagreed with that, not because I think that would be sad if it was what was happening but I don't. Wherever bottled water is available there's almost always decent tap water as well, virtually for free, so people who buy bottled water are buying something other than water. (Status? Convenience?) It's not the commodification of basic resources so much as the commodification of status symbols, which isn't any great surprise. But I'm sure selecting that gave the computer quite the wrong impression. Sometimes I think about these things too much, honestly.

just for fun - Lehrer's  )

H/t Dan Fincke. (He has a really interesting discussions of various limits on the quiz going on in the comment section.) You can take the quiz here.
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Okay, I'm behind on blogging, and BMEM fic writing, and pretty much everything that doesn't involve Anselm these days (reading list exam is approaching quickly) + Augustine (because I've grown increasingly obsessed with his approach to love lately). On the plus side I am understanding the former and the latter is proving to be truly rejuvenating - personally, I mean. But it's leaving precious little time for anything else.

I did want to share some music, though. This is from the Christian rock group Caedmon's Call, who I haven't listened to in ages but it turned up on the music playlist I wake up to. It's got a really up-beat sound that I hope gets everyone's Friday started off on the right track.

The Ballad of San Francisco )
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Some good music for my good friends, or even if we're neither.

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fidesquaerens: (music)
Here's a song for all you love-birds, and all of us singletons who just want to think about the warm fuzzy feelings of love. Old Blue Eyes singing "More."

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(Posted at LJ; please comment there.)
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Blues great Etta James died of leukemia today. Her strength and passion always shone clearly through her songs, and I often found myself thinking she could sing the walls off a barn if she set her mind to it. She's an amazingly talented musician, to be sure, but it was the strength I could hear in her songs that got me through so many hard years. Sing on.

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Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.
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... and to all a good night (and a good day until then).

Here's wishing a Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it, in whatever way you do. For me, it's midnight mass and watching the Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol, both of which have been accomplished.

In honor of the day, here's a very tongue in cheek Tom Lehrer song:

A Christmas Carol: YouTube /// MP3


Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.
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One of my new favorite songs.

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Originally posted at LJ; please comment there.


Nov. 30th, 2011 03:11 pm
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Because I didn't do this last week:

  1. I have no cavities.
  2. I have a passing GPA.
  3. "Theology and Falsification" by Anthony Flew. I'm putting my syllabus together and skimmed it to see if it would be worth including. I had forgotten how much I love working through why I disagree with this essay.
  4. This piano player:

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    Leon Russell (I assume?), where have you been all my life? Talk about ear candy...

  5. The store clerk at the local bodega asked if I was from the U.K. Made me feel all classy.
  6. I have a mild sprain in my big toe. That isn't good news, but the doc's orders to wear trainers even while teaching is.
  7. Falafel. Somehow it never gets old.
  8. As [personal profile] jay_of_lasgalen helpfully pointed out: Swordspoint now has an audiobook! Just the anticipation is something to be thankful for.
  9. Meta-humor (and the Muppets, of course):

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  10. The Muppets movie. Without it I never would have explored the old show clips on YouTube. They are hilarious, and I am truly sorry I lived my first twenty-nine years without them!
  11. Breaking Dawn, which has me thinking deep thinky thoughts about my beliefs re: abortion rights and feminism more generally.
  12. the starry sky above and the moral law within
  13. progress on my reading list (more than a theoretical possibility, for once!
  14. YOU!
fidesquaerens: (narnia)
(ETA: Eep! I hit "submit" too soon, before I had typed in the best bits. *blushes*)

A few days ago our [personal profile] just_ann_now celebrated her birthday. I had drafted her a Theodred-centric story but that particular muse has deserted me of late. Which is a real shame as she is the one who made me fall in love with the Rohirrim, and I would like to bring a smile to her face. Hopefully the intention will get a twitchy grin at the least.

Thinking about Rohan means thinking about wintry weathers, with him and Boromir (or perhaps Besorg?) squirrelled away in the keep because the wind is too bitter to go outside that day. Not that I can seriously imagine the two of them that far west in winter, in my serious 'verse. But I like the mental image, and hope Ann will, too. Winter in New York demands cool jazz, so here is a piece that has my bootie-clad toes tapping. I heard it through the Philosophy Smoker. There's something about vibraphone that somehow makes the late fall/early winter weather seem pristine and almost romantic. *happy sighs*

(This is "Django" by Modern Jazz Quartet, btw.)

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In the mood for something longer? Try "My Favorite Things" by John Coltrane. 13:45, but worth every second - I always play this during my afternoon tea breaks on snowdays. It's a nice little ritual I have. :-)

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But birthdays require more than just ear-candy. They require actual candy, or in this case cake.

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This is Boromir's "special" cake that Mag always made on his birthday, which I always imagine at around this time of year. The cake is spice, seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg and apple cider, and inside there's a filling of baked apples, and brown sugar. The frosting is again apple cider-seasoned, and of course cream-cheese - the kind of cake whose scent wafts down the hall and screams "eat me" to anyone in the wing.

Boromir would of course sneak in for an early bite. And Mag would of course whack him across the back of the hand with her rolling-pin. (Wee!Borya or the full-grown warrior, I honestly don't think it will matter.)

I hope you enjoyed your day, Ann, and this little fanciful tour of how "our" boys might have marked the time of year.

~ M.
fidesquaerens: (music)
I put in my order the other day to have an Arthur C. Clarke short story put on eReserve for my class. This has me happy beyond all explaining. Not quite sure why, but I'm enjoying the smiles. For the interested, we're reading "The Star," which is available online here.

Also: I can has headphones. Navy blue + silver Skull Candy lowriders - good midrange models that handle bass a lot better than I was expecting, and with a kind of cushion on the top so my hair doesn't get all tangled, and a cord just the right link. Not professional-grade, but much more comfortable and better sound quality than my usual earbuds. I've been killing time and listening to music. And it's not after Thanksgiving yet, so I'm allowed to treat myself.

So this is just to say: Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, Fatboy Slim, Benny Goodman, The Doors, Joe Crocker, and most especially Jimi Hendrix - those cats could play!
fidesquaerens: (winter)
Here in NYC we survived our first snowstorm of the season. My phone still needs a SIM card so I can't offer you photos I took, but here's one the NY Times took of Riverside Park:

That's in my borough, though it's a substantial bus ride away. Here we got a little less snow but not by much. Still, it was more or less gone within a night. I did need boots to get through the sludge, but the metal stairway down to trash-bins wasn't icy or anything, and the roads were pretty clear once you got past the snowbanks around the curb.

It did put me in the mood for winter so I made a grocery run. Mix for snickerdoodles (+ brownies, but that's for the OWS guys) as well as my Abuelita hot chocolate mix. Ever since I did study abroad waaaay back in 2003, I have been in the habit of actually taking a tea break around 4 PM, but when it's snowy I sub my Tetley's for Mexican-style cocoa instead. Also picked up popcorn kernels to go with the new popper I just bought (b/c my store raised the price on the microwave popcorn again). I had been thinking about it for a long time because it's healthier and cheaper in the long-run but needed the kick to motivate myself. Hot cocoa and popcorn is great winter snack

The snow also reminded me I need to go clothes-shopping. My winter teaching "uniform" is slacks, boots, and a short-sleeve button-down blouse under a cableknit sweater. I only wear them in winter because I can get away without ironing them this way. ;-) But last year's set have seen better days so now I need to find a place that sells short-sleeve blouses - in November. (Anyone know some online shop with a good return policy?) Oh, and boots, because last year's are almost worn through. But that I think I can find in actual stores.

ETA: Winter always makes me think of the boys' choir "Libera." So here they are singing "Lux Aeterna":

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For those stuck in the snow and hail and rain, I wanted to share a song for a lazy day:

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The Spanish lyrics:

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And here is my best attempt at a translation. I'm going off of Spanish I haven't used regularly in about a decade, so anyone else, feel free to correct me.

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Not perfect let alone eloquent, but perhaps it gets the point across? A beautiful song of longing, I think.
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Last week I had a hard drive die on me. There were two "luckilies" that made this situation much better than it could have been. First, the warranty was still working and my company (HP) actually provided decent service. They made it easy for me to ship the machine in and got it back to me in just under a week. I am looking to buy a desktop in the next year or two, and this experience has made it pretty likely I'll stick with their company.

The other luckily: All of my important files - including all of my writings and a draft of my conference paper - were backed up on DropBox, a cloud file-storage system. I did lose all of my videos and about half my music, but that's replaceable. (Speaking of replacing, I'd like music recommendations. More on that in a minute.)

The repaired machine arrived safely today. I have reinstalled by Nintendo game emulator, Office, and Chrome. Office was the worst; turned out I had a key but no disk so I had to download it, and Microsoft makes it practically impossible to find the link for anything other than the current version of the software. Plus they wanted money to even talk to them; finally got through by using the sales chat online agent. I even got all of my email accounts and RSS feeds added back to Windows Mail. So far it seems to work okay.

This last week I have felt very disorganized online. I've had a lot going on (start of the semester, conference and all) but also was stuck on a five-year-old laptop, using web interface. I know I didn't reply to a lot of blog comments and probably won't get caught up. I'll try to do better in the future, though. I also cut back on my blog feeds, since I found I was reading too much related to politics and religious news, which (contrary to what I post about) isn't what I most like thinking about. What goes in your mind tends to come out of it as well, I guess.

I also wanted to ask for music recommendations. As I said, I lost a good bit of my music library. Plus I've got a long airplane flight next week and would love to fill up my MP3 player. The songs I did have saved are below the cut. Any recommendations?

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