If this burst of organizing energy continues - and it will, as long as I have several big projects I should be doing but am avoiding - then I will end up with my ties winnowed and my computer MISC folders empty and the office closet completely reorganized. The energy may come from carb reduction. I haven’t sworn off them; the last time I did that people thought I was in the process of evaporating. But I stopped eating cereal in the morning. I love Raisin Bran, and that was my staple. Two scoops in every box! Plump, juicy raisins! Part of this nutritious breakfast, which theoretically could include a few screws or a piece of cardboard. It’s part of it, too! Now I have a cup of Green Yogurt (80 cal) with a bit of granola sprinkled in, and the OS, or Obligatory Sausage with Sriracha sauce as a kicker. Of course I’m famished by 11:30, but I eat something scant, fortify myself mid-afternoon with peanuts, stomp down the growls at 6 PM with a cup of coffee, and then dinner is lean meats and salads.
If it sounds miserable, it’s not, and rest assured I intend to stick to the Rewards of Friday: the pizza and the dish of ice cream. Chocolate. With peanut butter ribbons. And chocolate chunks. It’s the only chocolate I eat. It’s wonderful.
I used to eat a different variety but Daughter gave me grief in the grocery store: again? Same thing? Look beyond your horizons, Father! (She calls me Father when she goes into literary-speak, and starts talking in high-flown cliches.) So one trip I said “okay” and put another one in the cart.
We made dinner together tonight, using the big meal kit from HelloFresh.com. Actual cooking was involved, because you get raw vegetables in their primal form, and they must be sundered. There are things to cook and set aside, couscous to fluff, mint to mince, and so on. I must have spent five minutes picking the leafs off the thyme, thinking "this is work and it's annoying! Ergo it's real cooking." These are supposed to be instructional events so she can learn the basics of cooking, but there was something else to enjoy as well: We went back and forth asking Alexa to call up various playlists, because that’s modern life now. You ask the servant who lives in the black cylinder on the counter to play something, and she obliges. Beethoven, then some string group she likes - they play pop tunes from all eras, and I had to laugh when they started earnestly sawing away at “Copacabana.” Who did shoot who? I can't remember.
The mint-and-masala kofta sizzling in the pan, the smell of all the spices, the music, the teamwork - a simple little thing and it made me happier than anything in weeks.
I hope she remembers it.
It's Friday tabs! Formerly Thursday tabs. Here's what I had open in my browser this afternoon.
What’s offensive about cargo shorts, he says, is that it’s the kind of thing you wear if you want to be comfortable and truly do not care what people think of how you look — which itself is a kind of privilege.
The word has been redefined to mean absolutely nothing, except A) you should berate the person who has it, and B) apologize if you are accused of having it. Cargo shorts = privilege because you want to be comfortable, and you CAN be comfortable. Only a select few can attain this state, and since they’re men, boo!
“Women hate it when their husbands or boyfriends wear cargo shorts, because it’s a garment that that says, ‘I no longer care what you think of me, I’m comfortable where I am, I’m not trying to change,’ which is not an exciting proposition,” he says. “It does not signal striving. Maybe this is why people wear it on weekends or days off; it’s not associated with work, even though it’s supposedly utilitarian.”
Men hate it when their wives or girlfriends wear sweatpants, which are not an exciting proposition. She’s not striving enough for me. Float that one off the dock and see if it draws any torpedoes.
Related: a charming commercial.
Who wants to be that woman? Who wants to be that man? Who feels anything but pity and contempt?
Wildly popular a century ago as an icon of Finnish nationalism in a late-Romantic vein, Jean Sibelius was largely dismissed by music aficionados after World War II as something of a conservative lightweight. So why is the Bard Music Festival this month featuring his work in a series of concerts titled "Sibelius and His World"?
I love that: the modernists disapproved of him, so why on earth are we playing his music? I don’t know, because it’s spectacular? Because music aficionados of the post-war era were besotted by ugliness?
Moreover, in retrospect, Sibelius's popularity became associated with the politics of some of his fascist patrons and admirers, even as the modernists, like Arnold Schoenberg, became associated with political resistance, universalism, cosmopolitanism. In the Finnish Civil War, Sibelius, who was consistently uncomfortable with democracy and populism, and rather more at home in aristocratic circles, sided with the Whites against the Reds.
Which is the proper thing to do, the Reds being the vanguard of totalitarianism.
In the 1930s and early 1940s, he accepted with ease the praise and lucrative attention given him by the Nazis. He was the Reich's most often performed non-German living composer.
Anyway, to my surprise, this rather pedestrian article on Sibelius’ reappraisal got the Anthony Burgess prize. (It has a correction that indicates it made two mistakes about Shakespeare, which would have set Burgess scowling.) I was unaware there was such a prize, and it jolted me: I had dreamed about Burgess the previous night. He had introduced Ronald Reagan at a banquet, said nothing about Reagan at all but muttered on in his fast, authoritative-yet-somehow-apologetic style, then come to the room at the back, where I was involved somehow in the event. I asked him if he wanted some wine, and he said God Yes of Course, and I tried to find a proper glass. I could not, and was flustered; I apologized, noting that the wine probably wasn’t good enough for a good glass, and he gestured that it would do, just hand it over.
I tried to think of something clever and collegial to say, but the alarm went off.
A story about a galaxy made up of dark matter led to a Wikipedia entry on the Observable Universe. It is big. Consider galactic superstructures, which are incomprehensible things. When you see those comparisons of our own star with the largest ones (video, yes, but interesting), you feel a queasy sense of unease, right? Then you attempt to imagine our own galaxy, which is possible because you can imagine the spiral shape. Then you think of local groups of galaxies, which is big, but still within your ability to consider. But then clusters. Superclusters. Walls. The scale of it all is just frightening, and it’s all so implacable and indifferent.
But glorious, in the end. Just magnificent.
Yes, it's a project. I wondered if they were just cleaning the site for repaving, but they're digging down. It's the residential tower on the Ritz black along Nicollet.
The concrete wall in the foreground must be a remainder of the old hotel - it's featureless, but it's still like seeing a Roman foundation. Except that it's less than 50 years old.
Two blocks remade in three years - this will be fun to watch.
Well, says me, anyway.
Back to music cues for "The Little Things in Life," Peg Lynch's last continuously running sitcom. The cues run from substandard 60s cues to cringingly 70s, and I'm surprised at how few there were. I think I'm already repeating what I previously played. In fact I know I'm already repeating the fact that I think I'm repeating myself, but on we go: this is the sound of narrative radio in its strange last gasp.
Oh yes, it's the 70s.
Practically lazy porn music.
The wife-waking-the-husband-because-she-heard-something was a Peg staple. The whole ep has peculiar music:
Love to know how this was titled on the disc.
I'm curious how they thought all these different styles would work from day to day. They don't give the show a consistent feel; they make it seem hodge-podge. I'm not sure they cared.
Old grizzled prospectors, your natural choice for audiophile advice
Back to the down-cellar lab of Mr. Science.
EVERY SONG IS BLUE
The liner notes say he devotes "an entire collection to contrasting shade sof blue - that favorite hue of all songwriters." When "Blue Velvet" was a bit hit, they renamed the album. I've chosen the mysterious "Blue on Blue," a Burt Bacharach / Hal David number - and it was the success of this single, recorded before the album was conceived, that led to the all-blue album. Which yielded "Blue Velvet."
Why do I think it's spooky?
I love that band.
That'll do; that was a lot. It's always a lot, isn't it?