The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch: Week 4

Posted in The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch on September 26th, 2016 by bill

Up next, it’s God Bless You Mr. Rosewater.

Let’s meet up Monday October 3 at the end of Chapter 6, where “Frustration made Norman Mushari sneeze.”

The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch: Week 3

Posted in The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch on September 19th, 2016 by bill

Fallingwater, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

This week is a sprint to the end of Cat’s Cradle, in which I’m sure that everyone will live happily ever after.

What’s Blowing My Mind, 2016 Edition (Part 6)

Posted in Dancing about architecture on September 14th, 2016 by bill

Stranger to Stranger

I suspect that I’ve pretty consistently underrated Paul Simon for the last 40 years or so. Probably because that whole Simon and Garfunkel–type style — extreme softness and prettiness — was never really my gig. I recognize the beauty of it, especially now that I’m no longer a testosterone-addled young man, but it’s not generally what I choose to listen to. And some of Paul’s early solo work has that same feel, though there are other songs I quite enjoy — something like “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” is pretty hard to dislike.

So when his profile began to fade a bit, I wasn’t super-motivated to keep abreast of what he was doing. Occasionally, though, I’d hear something of his that made me prick up my ears — a few years back he did an album with Brian Eno, which was a surprise. (In fact, it was called Surprise.)

This year, with it being easier than ever to check out music online, I decided to give Paul’s new album a good listen. And lo and behold, it is wonderful. Stranger to Stranger exceeded my expectations by several orders of magnitude.
Read more »

The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch: Week 2

Posted in The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch on September 11th, 2016 by bill

Today is 9/11. Tomorrow is 9/12. By 9/19, I hope to be at the end of Chapter 88 of Cat’s Cradle, which comes on page 131 of the American Library edition. I hope to see you there, where “…he was no good at facing the public, and neither am I.”

The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch: Week 1

Posted in The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch on September 4th, 2016 by bill

And we’re off.

Let’s meet up next Monday at the end of Chapter 43 of Cat’s Cradle, where we’ll learn that “he hadn’t murdered his son after all.”

Here’s some music to march by:

X-Post: The “Fab Four” Were Titaniced and Replaced with Despicable Spies

Posted in Something about the Beatles on September 1st, 2016 by bill

This post also appears on my other blog, The Beatles Plus 50.

Now it can be told. According to a website I just found,

On August 31, 1966, the “Fab Four” were titaniced and replaced with despicable spies who were thoroughly familiar with the SOE Training Manual, first issued in December 1941, at the British run “school for killers” called Camp X in Canada!!

Aside from “car accidents,” the favorite way for the British Empire to get rid of their enemies . . . or people who have outlived their usefulness . . . is by burial at sea. Burial at sea leaves no physical evidence that the person ever existed. The mighty Russian Orthodox Romanov dynasty ended in a watery grave . . . and Lord Kitchener’s military career ended in a watery grave in 1915.

Likewise, the Beatles’ “musical” careers were cut short when they were buried at sea. The bodies of the “Fab Four” were dumped into San Francisco Bay, and their places were taken by 4 doubles or doppelgängers!!

And they couldn’t say it on the Internet if if wasn’t true, right?

In all honesty you have to check out this site to see what is either one of the most baroque, wackadoo conspiracy theories I’ve ever seen or a magnificently detailed and deadpan hoax perpetrated by someone with way too much time on their hands. Among the things you’ll learn:
Read more »

How a Deathmarch Works

Posted in The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch on August 31st, 2016 by bill

A few people have asked for clarification about how a Deathmarch works. So here’s the deal:

Every Monday I will post a new entry here giving the target for that week. Usually in the past we have done about 50 pgs/week, but given the relative simplicity of Vonnegutian prose, we’ll probably up that a bit this time. For instance, I think we’ll try to knock off Cat’s Cradle — 188 pages in the Library of America edition — in three weeks.

Throughout the week people will discuss that week’s reading in the Comments thread. No spoilers, please, assuming spoilage is even possible here.

If at the end of the March you have commented every week, there is some sort of prize. Sometimes it is just the knowledge of a job well done, and sometimes it is some piece of swag like a mug or magnet. This time, we’ll see how it goes.

Any other questions?

Announcing: The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch

Posted in The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch on August 29th, 2016 by bill

11 years ago (!), my sibling Cecil Vortex introduced the concept of the “Deathmarch,” in which a group of brave souls work together to tackle some formidable piece of literature. In this way we conquered tomes including Gravity’s Rainbow, The Brothers Karamazov, Don Quixote, and many (OK, several) more.

The Deathmarch has been dormant since the 2011 battle of Infinite Jest, which resulted in quite a few casualties. But I talked to Cecil yesterday and we decided it’s time.

In part this is inspired by my recent Kurt Vonnegut kick (see four posts ago), and by the fact that two…or was it three?…Christmases ago I received a lovely edition of all Vonnegut 1963-73, which has been moldering in a cabinet as I make my way through the endless Pile of the Unread.

The edition of which I speak looks like this:

And here’s an Amazon link.

You are not necessarily required to own this edition to participate. The novels covered will be:

Cat’s Cradle
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Slaughterhouse Five
Breakfast of Champions

But there are also some stories and essays at the end of the big book. I think we’ll decide whether to include these in the March when the time comes.

Of course, reading the work of Kurt Vonnegut scarcely deserves the name “Deathmarch”; his stuff goes down like popcorn compared to the weighty prose of a Pynchon or Wallace. But, you know, branding.

I’m thinking we’ll start next Monday, September 5. Who’s in?

X-Post: The Beatles’ Last Show (August 29, 1966)

Posted in Something about the Beatles on August 29th, 2016 by bill

This post also appears today on my other blog, The Beatles Plus 50.

Mark Twain once famously said that “The coldest winter I every spent was a summer in San Francisco.” The good people of San Francisco apparently took this as a challenge. Unsatisfied with the opportunities for frostbite offered by, say, the perpetually fogbound Inner Sunset, in 1958 they decided to build a stadium on an exposed, windswept point south of the city.

This was Candlestick Park, where the Giants and the 49ers played for many years, and where the final show of The Beatles’ 1966 U.S. tour took place. I went to Candlestick several times, and I can tell you from experience that even on a good day you had to bundle up to avoid freezing. And August 29, by all accounts, was not a good day. Says Bob Spitz:

Gusts whipped through the stands with almost biblical vengeance. Banners strung around the stadium flapped ferociously against the squall and drafts picked up great clouds of dust and blew them volcanically across the infield.

That may why Candlestick was only about half full. If you ever choose to time-travel to San Francisco on 8.29.66, you’ll be able to walk right up to the box office and buy a ticket. Be sure to take a parka.
Read more »

What’s Blowing My Mind, 2016 Edition (Part 5)

Posted in Dancing about architecture on August 24th, 2016 by bill

Journey of the Sorcerer

So it’s come to this — here I am posting a video of an Eagles song. Sorry, Dude.

Amazingly, I did not learn until this week that what I thought of as the theme song from the original radio series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — one of my favorite things in the history of recorded sound — was actually “Journey of the Sorcerer,” a track from the Eagles’ 1975 album “One of These Nights.” It was written by Bernie Leadon, who quit the band soon after the album was released and was replaced by Joe Walsh.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the Eagles, to say the least. I have a soft spot for “Hotel California,” and really enjoy it if I hear it about once a year. There was a period there when I was seemingly hearing it every day, and got sick of it unto death. But that was a long time ago.

As for “Journey of the Sorceror,” I dig it. Apparently I’ve been digging it for almost 40 years without my knowledge. Live and learn, live and learn.