Search This Blog

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Vessel of Wrath

It is quite possibly my favorite story by Maugham, despite or because of how baffling and undefinable it is.

I re-read it today and still find it bafflingly delightful and full of life's little mysteries.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Polonaise

柴可夫斯基有一点 “通俗” 的名声,我觉得多半是因为有些主要作品演奏得太多了,听得大家耳朵生老茧,但是另一方面来说,popular 也不能怪他嘛。

最近在广播里几次听到歌剧奥涅金中的波兰舞曲,演奏到主旋律的时候,让人坐着都忍不住要蹦蹦跳跳起来。这个悲伤圆舞曲也很好听。

不过确实是比较甜,没有 Prokofiev 来得有精神。

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Binge

今晚什么事儿也没干,光坐在电脑前面翻各种音乐来听,听了三个多钟头。把Catherine Russell,Thelonious Monk,Matt Wilson 等等听了一圈。然后听了几段瓦格纳。其实瓦格纳的音乐还挺好听的 ---- 虽然不是让我倾倒的类型,就是YouTube视频下面的那些留言看了让人心烦。

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dreamsongs

It doesn't happen every day, but every so often, perhaps once a year, you run into (sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally) someone who seems like an open book to you. You know their thoughts and feelings like you know your own, you know the meaning of a chuckle, a wink, a line in the e-mail or a story he wrote.

Well, by a story he wrote, I mean GRRM. Big old uncle GRRM has gotten very good at hiding his feelings when he started writing his A Song of Ice and Fire series, but his short stories expose him like Roose Bolton flays an enemy.

I'm reading Dreamsongs, a comprehensive, 2-volume collection of his short stories, including a lot of early ones. His science fiction stories are actually somewhat anti-science, oddly enough, and are more about channeling his romantic disappointments and mythical meditations.

It is damned eerie for me to realize that, although I cannot judge the artistic merits of these stories, I know EXACTLY what he is trying to say in these stories. He is not as precocious a writer as Ray Bradbury, who can make me sob hysterically in a few strokes. With GRRM, however, I feel like I am in his head and heart and I can follow the traces of his thoughts like my own. That is scary! (in a good way.)


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Round Midnight



One of the more accessible songs by Thelonious Monk is 'Round Midnight.

Monk's own version

Oscar Peter's version (more of a classical pianist's approach)

Miles Davis' version (with Coltrane)

For some reason I cannot articulate, the Davis version is more accessible than piano --- I don't mean "accessible" in a bad way, of course. I just prefer piano's sound is all.

Finally, a vocal version I also quite like ---
by Amy Winehouse

Friday, June 15, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed

Apparently the ad in the movie was a real incident --- real as in a real joke. The ad sought a partner in time travel, in which there may be danger involved. "Bring you own weapons. Safety not guaranteed."

By the end of it I realized that there really is danger involved in the adventures of the characters: Not from time travel, however, but from romantic relationships, from love. Love carries the inherent danger of a broken heart.

The movie reminds me of Cold Weather. Both are genre movies adapted to the mumblecore style and set in the low-key beauty of Pacific Northwest. I don't recognize the faces of the main actors, who all talk in a very West Coast flat mumble. Both are a bit nerdy and totally cute.  And funny and adorable.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

(Supposedly) Real Mob Story 1

There is a big mainline road that takes cars straight out of Chicago into ... the countryside. JT's grandfather owned a farm by the side of this road outside of the city limits. One day the old man was visited by a well dressed meaty guy.

"Me and my buddies want to rent your barn to park our cars occasionally," he said. "You'll get 10 bucks a month for your troubles." There was no other strings attached. Just parking a few cars in the barn.

Ten bucks a month was a lot of money in the 1930s. The old farmer accepted. For the next decade, his barn was frequented by many cars in Al Capone's fleet to avoid police surveillance.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Choreography -- Use of Space

今天在看 So You Think You Can Dance 第九季时忽然开窍了,对花样滑冰规则中关于 choreography 中的一条 "use of personal and public space" 有了感性认识。有些舞蹈者技巧和乐感都不错,但是跳来跳去局限于舞台的一角,或者只利用一半舞台空间,或者留在中心很少向两边动。当然,也不能机械地左一下右一下,或者漫无目的地满世界游荡而没有中轴。空间的利用还真挺讲究的,追求的是看似信手拈来但却自然平衡的美感。

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

鼠卫



刚买了第一本 Mouse Guard,正在看。虽然我平时基本完全不看画书,但是这一本自从在T同学的博上一见就喜欢了。果然没让我失望。可爱的老鼠形象和充满 action 的姿态和打斗混在一起形成奇异的效果。

Little Monster

I am sitting in the waiting room at the allergist. Opposite me sit a young couple and an older woman, obviously a family. In front of them is a baby stroller with its back facing me. The stroller shook violently with squeals coming out. A little hand, no tentacle, suddenly stuck out. "Hi! Hi!" The kid said to no one in particular.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Prometheus

I'm not even going to dignify a photo of this movie. What a load of crap. If one wants to steal and plagiarize 2001, try to plagiarize! Don't dumb it down to a fraction (less than 1/100) of the intelligence of 2001. This is proof positive that Americans in 2012 is much, much stupider than Americans in 1968. In turn it is proof positive that the American science education has seriously fucked up for the past 45 years and is sliding farther downhill as we speak.

Do these people even know what the fuck DNA is? It is a bad sign that the screenwriters were too lazy to even look up or make up a name for the star system of the spaceship's destination. (Yeah, yeah, I know the moon has a code. What of it?)

Perhaps the most hilarious part of the movie is how plastic and ridiculous the "gods" look. And they look stupid. Even the Nazi biologists knew that they needed a biological weapon that would target the brown people but spare themselves. Pu-leeez. No surprise then that the aliens are all Nazi-white. Hell, my ancestors had nothing to do with those white-ass aliens. Thanks but no thanks. The Nazi association hit me again looking at the (bottle-)blond David Fassbender and Charlize Theron walk around the movie with their icy faces for most of the movie. American movies and television have increasingly become progressively white-flooded in the past 20 years that I've been watching them. I wonder when I'll finally reach the puking point. Getting close though.

As we walked out of the theater I complained about how incredible --- incredibly stupid, that is --- the movie is. Sam said with his usual deadpan, "We don't go see this kind of movie for scientific validity. It's all about the slithering tentacles."

"And slime," I added.

"Yes, it's all about the tentacles and slime." He said. "But there is nothing scary about tentacles. We can eat them."

"Yes, like squid." I said.

That's all what it's good for, stir-fry tentacles.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Man Who Folded Himself

by David Gerrold,写于1971年,最近新出的再版。这是一本关于时间旅行的小说。我觉得关于时间旅行的设定和理论已经被写尽了,没新东西可以挖掘了。这篇小说中采用的理论化解时间旅行 paradox 跟 2009 年 Charles Stross 的中篇《羊皮纸书》 (Palimpsest) 里的设定差不多,简单地说就是历史是可以重写的,不会崩掉。后半部分的发展看得出是受到海因兰的经典短篇《你们这些僵尸》的影响。

看到一半的时候猜到了作者是弯的。看到75%的时候几乎可以肯定作者是弯的。最后作者在重版的后序中承认了自己是弯的。小说风格颇煽情且内向,我觉得写得不错。现在我不太喜欢那种工程型的科幻小说,人物情节感情什么的都是摆设,终极目的是为了解释和具体化某个深奥的理论(不是数学就是物理),或者为了描述怪物与外星人的战争场面。我喜欢感情上比较亲切富于人性的故事。

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Coppelia by Bolshoi


Bolshoi 几乎每年都要来肯尼迪中心遛一圈,演出一星期。今年带来的戏是 Coppelia,上星期五跑去看了一场。这剧感觉很女性,男主只有一段很短的独舞,另外有两段 Pas de deux 就完了,而女演员除了主角有好几场独舞之外还有好几场女群舞,第三幕(最后一幕)里还有三四个女配角(可能不该叫“女配角”)轮番上来独舞。不仅女角色的舞蹈数量占绝对优势,而且故事情节也是女性角色聪明强悍,一路掌握主动;笨头笨脑的男主角被教训了一通之后乖乖回头认错 ...

第一次现场看芭蕾舞,无从比较技术的高低,就不乱说了。总之感觉没有电影(不管是记录片还是文艺片)里那么让人眼珠弹落的高技术。但是!拍电影可以一个镜头拍几十遍挑个最好看的剪进去,而且不需要前后一气呵成,一个跳跃也可以卯足了劲跳,跳完歇半天。现场表演可是一整晚从头跳到尾,一星期 ... 好吧,倒不需要一星期天天演,基本上三个主舞者轮流上。

回家把节目单翻了翻,发现男主似乎很年轻,2007年才从舞蹈学校毕业,而女主至少三十多岁了,1996年就毕业进入 Bolshoi!

某同学也是第一次现场看芭蕾舞,不仅没打瞌睡而且看得津津有味。音乐好听,舞蹈这么 physical ,美女们这么漂亮,布景服装又极其华丽,眼睛大吃糖果还来不及。 跟美国的寒酸的芭蕾舞团相比(从The Company里看来的印象),Bolshoi 在服装布景上好奢侈,而且人超多,动不动就二十来号人呼啦啦一起上来跳群舞,乌泱乌泱的,Opera House 的舞台都显得小了。

我一直没搞清芭蕾舞中到底是怎么用脚尖站起来的,放狗一搜才知道 en pointe 真的是完全而彻底地站在脚趾尖上!额,好变态。但是还有那么多女孩子和女青年前赴后继地忍痛站在脚尖上,用脚尖走路 ...


十月份圣彼得堡的Mariinsky芭蕾舞团会来表演 Prokofiev 的灰姑娘现代版,打算去看一下。主要是非常喜欢这个音乐,好复杂的玩意儿。



在苏联的政权下仍然出现了 Prokofiev,哈恰图良这样现代风格的作曲家,很厉害呀。

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ragtime


最早接触到 Ragtime 音乐是在电视上看见一个节目介绍百老汇音乐剧 "Ragtime",至少有十年了,具体是哪一年已经不记得。这个音乐剧根据 E.L. Doctorow 的同名小说 (1975年)改编,叙述二十世纪初期,即 Ragtime 类音乐正当红的时代,社会上层的白人,东欧移民,和社会下层的黑人音乐家三组人物的故事。男主角由男中音 Brian Stokes Mitchell 担任,节目中虽然只有剧中片段,都给我留下很深的印象。尤其是主题曲 Ragtime,不知为什么,听过很少几次,它的旋律就留在我的脑子里长久不去。不过呢,主题曲虽然是 Ragtime 类音乐,剧中大部分曲子仍然是音乐剧歌曲,并不是 Ragtime 风格。

后来好几年没什么动静,直到两年半三年之前,我偶然地发现本地NPR电台WAMU每周六晚上播出的老派(1920-1940年代)爵士乐节目 Hot Jazz Saturday Night ,迅速地迷恋上了传统爵士乐。然后又过了一段,差不多两年前,在这个节目上听到了年轻钢琴家 Bryan Wright 录制的 Bix Beiderbecke 作曲的印象派钢琴组曲,极其惊艳,就去找来 Wright 刚刚出版的 CD "Breakin' Notes",这时才彻底地爱上了 Ragtime 音乐。

Ragtime 或许不能算是 Scott Joplin 发明的,但毫无争议是被他作的一系列经典钢琴曲推上主流音乐舞台的。

Scott Joplin


也说不清为什么这么喜欢 Ragtime ,一方面我本来就喜欢钢琴的音质,而且 Ragtime 节奏非常有固定特点,好像一直可以弹下去弹下去弹下去永远没有结束,但保留了即兴演奏的空间。大部分的 Ragtime 曲子听上去很欢快,exuberant,可以舞之蹈之,同时又含有淡淡的忧伤 (melancholy)。Ragtime 的这些自相矛盾的特质把我迷得颠三倒四不能自已。其实 Ragtime 属于非常过气的音乐,跟传统爵士乐一样从红遍四海变成非常小众的音乐类型,现在只有很少的铁杆音乐家和音乐迷在演奏和听。这让我觉得自己仿佛是个恐龙,仿佛生错了时代。

贴两段很喜欢的曲子:

Bryan Wright & Martin Spitznagel 两人合奏的经典名著 Maple Leaf Rag。两人交接的时候特别有趣可爱。

现代 Ragtime 作曲家 David Thomas Roberts 演奏的 Gladiolus Rag,跟一般的 Ragtime 欢快的演奏风格不同,速度较慢而温柔,于是 melancholy 十分明显。

今天在友人收集的花样滑冰节目中看到 Matt Savoie 的2004年自由滑节目 Ragtime Medley。这个节目我过去没见过,一看之下联想起 Ragtime 的各种美好。故记之。

****

加一句奇异的巧合。

在 YouTube 上翻 Ragtime 视频时发现原来有个叫 World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest 的东西,一群 Ragtime 爱好者混在一起弹奏极老的古董钢琴,还比赛。惊奇地发现这玩意儿每年在 Peoria, Illinois,这地方我虽然没去过,却早已听说过,原来是 Matt Savoie 的家乡!

Timon of Athens

During the intermission of Timon of Athens at Folger, I eavesdropped on a discussion among the 3 persons (who looked like a mother with t...

Popular Posts