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Our Last 50 Referrers

« "Hopeless Pictures" | Main | More on Digital Cinema »

November 03, 2005


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Gary Giddins wants us to appreciate the swing jazz era. Happy music and good social times -- what's wrong with that combo?

* Alan Little -- a scholar as well as a student of yoga -- recommends a few books about India.

* Rachel Howard found the Montreal-based dance outfit Compagnie Marie Chouinard chic and provocative. The Wife and I caught them in New York a few years back and couldn't agree more.

* Rick Darby tells us why he thinks one of Diana Krall's DVDs is so good. Since I adore the kind of sultry-sophisticated, concert-cocktail jazz that Krall does, I've ordered my copy already.

* J.G. Ballard thinks "A History of Violence" is one of David Cronenberg's best.

* Fred Himebaugh thinks that Longfellow deserves a second look.

* Stefan Beck wants to get more people reading Theodore Dalrymple. Here's a good q&a with the amazing Dalrymple.



posted by Michael at November 3, 2005


How funny! I just bought and started reading Giddins' famous Visions of Jazz book (collection of biographical/musical essay on the jazz greats).

A great idiosyncratic collection, although he focuses only on the well-regarded.

Posted by: Robert Nagle on November 3, 2005 6:32 PM

Great line from John Derbyshire's piece on Longfellow, which I found via Fred Himebaugh's posting:

In art and literature, new things must be tried, old habits challenged, eggs broken in the hope of making omelettes. It is just our bad luck that none of the things tried in the twentieth century worked very well, that the omelettes were all inedible.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on November 4, 2005 12:25 AM

I'm continually blown away by almost eveything Dalrymple writes. The Parisian riots of the past few days were no surprise to those of us who read this.

Posted by: jimbo on November 4, 2005 11:42 AM

Did you follow the link to what Himebaugh calls "the opposition research" -- somebody's negative, pro-Modernist response to Derbyshire's piece? Reading it made me think of that photo on the "Extreme Pumpkins" website showing a carved jack-o-lantern vomiting a spew of pumpkin innards and seeds...

I had my own brief encounter with Longfellow the other month. I got an assignment to translate an Italian parody of Dante's Inferno, and I took a look at some English translations of the real Inferno to familiarize myself with things. I don't think most even tried to duplicate Dante's insane "terza rima" rhyme scheme; even Longfellow's 19th Century version was a loose, non-rhyming poetic prose sort of thing.

But what got me about Longfellow's rendition was the very last line, which roughly translates as "and then we emerged to see the stars again." Italian expresses the concept of seeing something again more compactly with the verb "rivedere." But what boggled me was that Longfellow translated the line as "Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars."

Is "rebehold" even a word?! It's trying to translate "rivedere" a little too exactly even if he had to invent an English word to do it, methinks.

Posted by: Dwight Decker on November 4, 2005 6:00 PM

The tone of that "oposition research" piece is astonishingly snobbish, but he makes an interesting point, namely that we don't need popular poets because that role is occupied these days by pop music and movies.

Yes, people (okay, let's be honest -- it's mostly men) do remember movie lines and quote them. But to what extent is it true that "pop musicians (in particular, rap artists--whose lyrics are memorized as lovingly as any prior poets' texts) outdo it in providing the simple fun of doggerel, sentimentality and plain stupidity"? (See what I said about snobbery?)

How many people really quote music lyrics at any length -- as opposed to a line or two that has stuck in the mind accidently? And rap music? Not my crowd, nor even their kids.

Hey, I know this crowd believes in the value of low entertainment. Still, to analogize pop music and movies as the new Longfellow seems very imperfect. And really, how can anyone compare this to Excelsior? (Warning -- that link is radioactive.)

Maybe Longfellow is not edgy enough for undergraduates. (I later admitted to my ambivalence regarding Longfellow.) But why not grade schoolers? Even by my time, we memorized almost no poems in school. Why not bring Longfellow back for the ten-year-olds?

Mr. Opposition Research is clearly convinced of the superiority of today's high-brow. He also seems to despair that it will ever be anything but a minority taste -- a very small minority. Does he care? Would he approve of any program to change this situation? It doesn't look like it (in the small sample we have before us). Why not? The whole thing bugs me.

Oh, and once again, thank you, Michael, for your generous linking. You da mensch!

Posted by: Fredösphere on November 5, 2005 6:21 PM

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