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Friday, December 25, A.D. 2020
Walking in the Air

Merry Christmas to the faithful who celebrate the nativity of our Lord on the Gregorian calendar. I recently discovered that Brits customarily watch a cartoon each year at Christmastime called The Snowman. I had never seen it before this week, but I certainly recognized the central song, “Walking in the Air” (composed by Howard Blake and sung by a choirboy at St. Paul’s, Peter Auty, who has grown up to be an operatic tenor). I don’t know how I knew it, but I’ve heard it before and find it perfect for the film. Below, you can watch the short piece and/or simply listen to its beautifully haunting song.

Happy Christmas!

Posted by Joseph on Friday, December 25, Anno Domini 2020
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Friday, October 4, A.D. 2019
Moreno’s Quizás, Quizás, Quizás

A few months ago, I watched Peter Chang’s Cuba at Union Terminal’s IMAX theater for the first time and became enchanted by its opening music—a lovely, sultry Afro-Caribbean ballad. I tried to identify it afterwards with no success. I watched the film a second time and paid attention to the credits, but they did not list the film’s songs. I couldn’t find anything about it online. Well, this week, I saw Cuba again and memorized some phrases. Lo and behold, the song is “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás,” written by Cuban Osvaldo Farrés but sung in the film’s version by Guatemalan Gaby Moreno. She is flamante.

Here is a live version by Miss Moreno at the Warner Theater in D.C. (which I fondly remember as the place where I would attend The Nutcracker each year at Christmastime).

Music for the living! By the way, I recommend Chang’s IMAX movies. I’ve seen Jerusalem at least a half dozen times and his National Parks Adventure thrice. Along with Cuba, they’re gorgeous. He captures land- and city-scapes magnificently, but his films allow humanity to shine, as well. Chang obviously loves the human face. I heartily recommend his work.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, October 4, Anno Domini 2019
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Monday, January 15, A.D. 2018
Dolores O’Riordan: Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis

Greetings and Merry Christmas to my fellow Orthodox readers (if any remain for this rather defunct page)!

I sadly acknowledge today’s death announcement of Cranberries lead Dolores O’Riordan. I was a fan. Six years ago, I ran a Cranberries week of posts to celebrate my attending their concert at the 9:30 Club. She was so young—such a pity. I somewhat expect the deaths of boomer celebrities, especially given their lifestyle choices over the decades, but O’Riordan’s untimely passing is a most unpleasant surprise.

Here is the Cranberries’ “When You’re Gone”:

Pray for her soul.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, January 15, Anno Domini 2018
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Friday, June 24, A.D. 2016
Rule, Britannia!

Please forgive me for my blog absenteeism, but I have been quite pressed for time (and far too sleepless) for the last month. However, I had to post today . . .

Albion, how I love you!

When Britain first, at Heaven’s command
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:

“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never will be slaves.”

The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.

“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never will be slaves.”

Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful, from each foreign stroke;
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.

“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never will be slaves.”

Thee haughty tyrants ne’er shall tame:
All their attempts to bend thee down,
Will but arouse thy generous flame;
But work their woe, and thy renown.

“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never will be slaves.”

To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine:
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.

“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never will be slaves.”

The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair;
Blest Isle! With matchless beauty crown’d,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.

“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never will be slaves.”

A day that I did not expect has dawned. May it lead inexorably to the destruction of our perverse new world disorder (it can happen), and may the Lord richly bless the peoples of Great Britain and Ireland! One day soon, perhaps even the micks will return to their senses and faith—and reject the godless, soulless bureaucrats who have eagerly helped to transform their beautiful island into a degenerate consumerist wasteland of the spirit.

To show that my support of healthy patriotism and my hatred of the E.U. are not based on any antipathy toward Europe as such—or even toward the Germans—I present a Kraut’s homage to the British—Beethoven’s Wellingtons Sieg oder die Schlacht bei Vittoria:

And, of course, one must showcase “Rule, Britannia,” here cheerily (if cheekily) performed on the last day of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall by Sarah Patricia Connolly and the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra:

Glad all over!

Posted by Joseph on Friday, June 24, Anno Domini 2016
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Monday, April 11, A.D. 2016

Thomas Bertonneau has shared a thoroughly charming item on the Orthosphere in “Western Culture I.” It is a music video of a Japanese group named Goose House doing a cover of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Enjoy:

I thus commented on Bertonneau’s post:

I love it. (Cultural appropriation sirens go off) Seriously, how did the “multicultural” Left transform into the enforcers of xenophobia? Human culture = cultural appropriation . . . that’s a good thing, overall.

Also, I have a theory about “imperial peoples” and “tribal peoples.” The imperial folks are into cultural appropriation — they’re interested in the rest of the world and have a strong cosmopolitan aspect in their national character. This need not conflict with a healthy nationalism and sense of identity. Indeed, the latter allows for the former to be useful and strengthening (broadening those horizons). Tribal people, by contrast, are ethno-narcissists — they have little interest in anything that doesn’t prominently concern themselves. As charming as tribals can be, I confess to finding the imperials far more fascinating and worthy of breath. Yet, liberalism is far more dangerous to imperials; without a privileging of one’s own, liberal imperial societies are wont to produce strays who go native — leading Arabs into battle, wearing dashikis on campus, joining ISIS, etc.

Lastly, the Japanese appear to be a well constituted imperial people par excellence. And John Denver is super. And that is a great song. Hurray for this post!

I have loved this song since childhood—it’s the perfect American song. First, it stirs feelings of home in the soul and works well as popular poetry with the simple but impressing images that it evokes (“Dark and dusty, painted on the sky . . .”). It is also quite easy to remember and sing, which makes it a good democratic song for group participation and ongoing cultural use—and appropriation! Furthermore, it is about Appalachia, perhaps the most “Old American” part of the country, as hill people tend to keep memories longer than most folks. The song itself celebrates this grateful returning to the old. Critics call such nostalgia-kitsch. I call it human.

As Dr. Bertonneau notes in his response to my comment, the Japanese young’uns’ performance is superb. I watched the video multiple times, and the grin on my face and the warmth in my heart grew with each viewing. They harmonize well, and they certainly are enjoying themselves. That is what music, youth, and fellowship should entail—joy (not always, of course, but regularly). Joy unmitigated by self-conscious pride or fear! I imagine that such is a foretaste of paradise—of real freedom subjectively experienced. Children facilely enter into such a state naively, but then most people lose that ability as they age. The wonder in their eyes dims. Their sense of self overshadows their self. They become too comfortable in the world, which paradoxically renders them less comfortable in their skin. Sadly, children are beasts, bereft of reason and good judgment, often slaves to their passing fancies. How unfortunate it is that the experiences that form human beings and allow them to tune their moral instruments almost invariably dull the glorious qualities of their state of innocence. After the fashion of wise men and poets, we might say that the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve slowly forget Eden the longer that they stay in the world. Fools and saints may remember the voice of their shepherd, but the herd in general comes to hear only the sounds of coins jingling, sycophantic flattery, and carefully memorized insults and slander.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, April 11, Anno Domini 2016
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Monday, March 7, A.D. 2016
Reynolds’ Little Boxes

Enjoy a folksy oldy from A.D. 1962, Malvina Reynolds’ “Little Boxes.” I could not find a recording of a live performance; the song alone will have to do.

My father believes that this song is my anthem. Were I choosing an anthem for myself, I’d probably pick Smetana’s Má Vlast, but I can see Dad’s point. How odd it is that an old Red yenta-turned-Unitarian represents a throne and altar meets blood and soil traditionalist like myself. Well, we despise many of the same cancers in our body politic.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, March 7, Anno Domini 2016
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Tuesday, May 6, A.D. 2014

Χριστός Ανέστη!

And to those who follow the old calendar, may you have a blessed feast of Saint George!

To celebrate, I would like to showcase a gorgeous piece by Scott Joplin: “Bethana.”

According to Wikipedia, “Bethena” was ignored until the Joplin revival forty years ago. How unfortunate. A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country—and the same seems to hold true for artists. Consider the initial reception of Swan Lake. People often behave as swine.

You may know of my fondness for Joplin from “Instant Maple Love,” “Saint Louis,” and “History in Saint Louis.”

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, May 6, Anno Domini 2014
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Monday, July 15, A.D. 2013
The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner

I survived my Friday return from the Belle & Sebastian concert. I took the 915 commuter bus from the American Indian Museum to Columbia Mall next to the Merriweather Post Pavilion. It only cost $4.25, and a kind lady gave me the quarter when I asked if she could make change while we waited for the bus. I arrived at the gate around 6:15 PM, thinking that the opening act by Yo La Tengo would start at 6:30 PM. Unfortunately, the doors opened at 6:30 PM, and I had ninety minutes to tour the grounds. I had never before been to the Merriweather Post Pavilion, and I found it very agreeable. The place is huge with many subclimates in the various niches of the campus. For the venue, there is a wide lawn, then a large covered arena with stadium seating, and finally the floor or “pit,” which is where I was headed, having purchased my ticket within four minutes of the concert’s pre-sale opening in February. I was fortunate that my browser crashed because I originally was assigned a seat for “best seat available.” When I tried a few minutes later, the seat offered was farther from the stage, and I cursed the fates in a manner quite unworthy of Homer. Then, however, I discovered the floor option by luck or divine guidance, and I was thrilled . . . and somewhat awed that I had narrowly avoided missing out on such a wonderful opportunity. Small blessings like that seem to happen all the time. Anyway, it was a tumultuous four minutes back in the winter.

I waited in the rear section of the floor for the show to start so that I could lean against the wall above which the seats began. When Yo La Tengo commenced, the crowd was immediately into it. It was a very different environment from the Belle & Sebastian concert three years ago at Constitution Hall. Maybe the increased energy level was due to the facts that M.P.P. was an outdoor venue, that it was Friday, and that it was summer. Regardless, this crowd was ready to dance, sing, and make merry. I liked the change. Though the opening act had a large and appreciative fan base in the audience, I felt ambivalent. Georgia Hubley had a lovely, soulful voice, and some of the numbers were quite complementary to a Belle & Sebastian setting, but Ira Kaplan’s possessed antics made me uneasy. I know that musicians tap into a Dionysian flow, but it is rather revolting to witness when you do not fall under the same spell—it has an effect similar to the smell of eggs or fish for someone who is not eating them. I did find the lead’s assortment of guitars fascinating, and then I read later that I am not alone. I spent Kaplan’s orgiastic moments figuring out the pattern for the light show and people watching, and I was happy for the intermission to arrive.

When I returned to the floor for our beloved Scots to start, I placed myself close to the stage—very close. I could have been in the center had I stationed myself there at 6:30 PM, but I knew that I would not have been able to hold my ground alone given nature’s occasional requirements for me to leave the venue. Still, I was quite happy with my space—close enough to touch the side stage but away from the center so that I did not feel like I was blocking anyone’s view. Here is a snapshot by my pitiable phone camera:

The show was excellent! Bands have good days and bad days with performances, and this was a very good day for Belle & Sebastian. They charged onto the stage and started out with the energetic yet ornerily titled instrumental “Judy Is a Dick Slap.” Murdoch, Jackson, and Martin all sang better than they did three years ago, with studio recording quality at times. In a moment of doubt during “Another Sunny Day,” I even wondered if they somehow were using pre-recordings, but they were clearly live. It was fantastic. And the members seemed happy, too. Their vacation from band life over the last few years while Murdoch had been busy with God Help the Girl has been good for them. They were enjoying being there and being together. As I mentioned, the crowd’s vibe was enthusiastic and participatory, and the crew obviously felt comfortable being so welcomed and celebrated by the audience. Indeed, it is striking to notice how the youth from Glasgow have matured into a confidant live act. See, for instance, the following rendition of “The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner” in what appears to be their first televised gig. I love the song, but Murdoch and Campbell come across a bit unnerved.

They are long past that. Murdoch and company now know that they are adored by their audience, and they show love in return, much to the perturbation of the security detail. It has become customary for Belle & Sebastian to invite people to dance on the stage, and such happened tonight. I resisted the urge, though I could have done so given my location. Once the stage was rather full (and I was worrying about all those wires and the potential for accidents), more folks from the floor tried to get onto the stage. Those poor bouncers, trying to maintain order and everyone’s well aligned vertebrae, while Scotland’s finest indulge in heedless pop star generosity and partyishness. After “The Boy with the Arab Strap” and “Legal Man,” the dancers shook the hands and patted the backs of the band, and even the serious Bobby Kildea was smiling brightly. It was a good time, though far too short. Two hours with B&S is just an appetizer. It makes me want to become a short term roadie just to be able to travel with them across the country.

After the show, reality reasserted itself, and I had to find a way back to D.C. I was able to share an overpriced taxi with others to the Silver Spring metro. The red line was closed between Silver Spring and New York Avenue (er, hm, “NoMa-Gallaudet”), and they were running free shuttles to New York Avenue. Once I got to “NoMa,” I just decided to walk home, wishing to save a couple bucks after shelling out my ticket’s worth in cab fare. I do not regret it, though. I listened to my Belle & Sebastian album collection for the rest of the weekend.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, July 15, Anno Domini 2013
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Friday, July 12, A.D. 2013
Come on Sister

This evening, I am journeying way out to the Merriweather Post Pavilion in bufu Maryland to see Belle & Sebastian again in concert. I have no idea how I shall return to civilization (defined quite liberally, of course), but maybe I can hitchhike back to the District with some other towner tramps. Why would they build a venue so inaccessible and then offer no transit options that run late enough to take after an evening concert? Howard County, what are you thinking?

Anyway, here is one of B&S’s proudly amateurish videos for “Come on Sister” from Write about Love:

Career fantasies—and Stevie is a butcher?!?!? What a crowd!

Posted by Joseph on Friday, July 12, Anno Domini 2013
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Tuesday, February 19, A.D. 2013
Tone-deaf Test

Have you ever wondered if you were tone-deaf? Jake Mandell has created an online test that you may take: Tone-deaf Test. The test consists in playing sets of two short pieces of music, and you must choose whether the pairs are the same or different. My test resulted in a “very good performance,” though I suspect that I marked some that were the same as different because something seemed different but I was not sure how.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, February 19, Anno Domini 2013
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