Thursday, January 2, 2014

What I’m reading #108

Some people have too much time on their hands: here is a sonnet whose every line is an anagram of the title of the famous painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware”. An amazing feat. Pointless, but then so is golf. The poet was David Shulman, who died last week and seems to have been a bit, well, odd.  

Good news in the Washington Post about proper bookshops. They’re back! At least in Frederick, Maryland. Quote unquote:
The American Booksellers Association, which represents independent bookstores, says its membership — it hit a low of 1,600 in 2008 — has grown 6.4 percent in 2013, to 2,022. Sales were up 8 percent in 2012, and those gains have held this year. […] E-books, however, have not come to overwhelm bookselling as many experts predicted five years ago. Statistics from earlier this year showed that e-book sales were up 5 percent in the first quarter, compared with 28 percent in 2012 and 159 percent in 2011.
Whatever we think of James Blunt’s music, he’s very funny on Twitter. Can’t quote: far too rude.

The New Yorker’s Alex Ross in 1995 on New Zealand indie music. Quote unquote:
The major rock bands of New Zealand show few traces of classic punk, and with good reason; the urban spite of the Sex Pistols or the Ramones must have seemed a little overwrought against landscapes dotted by sheep. 
Distance looks our way and, er. . . Still, his description of the Chills’ “seductively morose disposition” is spot-on.

Over at Standpoint, Lionel Shriver gets on her bike. Quote unquote:
Oh, no doubt my half-baked Hindu happiness won't last. Still, whatever our mode of transport, we could all stand to dial back emotions in traffic that increase risk-taking, aggression and abuse of others’ rights of way.
Well, yes.

Bookwise I’m reading – or will read over the next couple of days – John Eliot Gardiner on Bach, Edward Behr on food, Judy Golding on her father William, and Middlemarch (too shaming that I have not already). My wife is reading The Luminaries. She reports, “It’s really good!” Who knew? Honestly, nobody tells us anything.

No blogging for a bit because I’m off to Tutukaka. Yes, Tutukaka. Also Ngunguru and possibly Matapouri.  

So here is Frank Zappa – subtitled in Italian, because he was Sicilian – with “Let Me Take You to the Beach” from his 1978 album Studio Tan, with Max Bennett on bass (he played with Peggy Lee) and Paul Humphrey on drums (he played with Wes Montgomery and Charles Mingus), Eddie Jobson (who replaced Eno in Roxy Music) on keyboards  and Don Brewer – surely you remember Grand Funk Railroad – on bongos. Listen carefully:


Denis said...

Golf is not pointless. Golf is very close to being the closest metaphor for modern life. The closest is, of course, football - being soccer, not that other game with rucks, and scrums, and McCaws and all. A detailed explanation of this might, or might not, be available at some point in the future.

Stephen Stratford said...

As Pauline Hanson would say, "Please explain."

Denis said...

Ah yes, the golf- as- metaphor issue. Start with the assumption golf is a skill not a sport. This is because sports have two people (tennis and boxing as examples) going straight at each other. Or, it is two teams (football and basketball for instance).
Golfers are on their own. Professionals and the rich have caddies to help and advise them. No one else does. This gives the rich a significant advantage.
The reward is small, a cup in the green, and distant, often frighteningly so. Lots of Par Five golf holes can run to a half-kilometer and sometimes longer.
Obstacles and hazards are everywhere – slopes/hills/trees/bunkers/creeks/mud and anything else nature or a fiend of a greenkeeper can produce. There are detailed and complicated rules. The penalties are strict
The golfer has relatively primitive tools to get them to the prize.
It is all about determination, skill and concentration, not to mention needing to be aware of others, who might appear sociable but are capable of having their own agenda, leaving them tempted to hinder or destroy our person’s hopes and dreams.
Oh, and once our golfer gets through all this, to enjoy the moment of triumph, what happens? He or she has to do it all seventeen more times. That triumph might be deep but it is short lived. The slog to repeat it is long and difficult.
If this is not a metaphor for life in this or any other century find me a better one.

Stephen Stratford said...

Thank you - I have a glimmering of understanding now of what baffled me when I had a go. You should be a writer or something. But I still think the 19th hole was the best.