Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Archive for December, 2008

Age and Taste

Posted by Gerald on December 22, 2008

For a long time I was a major REM fan, and I guess I still am.  If you found me listening to music at any point during the last twenty five years (am I really this old?) odds were you would find me listening to either something by REM or something by Steeleye Span.  I still listen to both although, as I wrote some months back, I’m in a real obsessive Decemberists phase and have been for over a year now.

The thing is, I really can’t seem to get into anything the band has done since New Adventures in Hi-Fi.  I’ve tried but I just can’t.

I’m no where near as analytical about music as I am about TV, movies, or books.  With all of those I have a good vocabulary for explaining why I like what I like and why I admire what I admire.  I don’t have that kind of understanding when it comes to music.  I do not know enough about what I am hearing to understand how it is put together the way I understand how books are written or visual productions are created.  The only exception is in lyrics – I know good use of language and can appreciate it.  I know this is part of what drew me to all three of the bands I’ve mentioned here.  With Steeleye Span (and what I’m about to say would fit bands like Fairport Convention and other British folk rocks groups as well) I like the traditional lyrics that show me the inside of these people I’ve studied so much.  With both REM and The Decemberists I love the poetry and the word play of the lyrics in their songs.  Still, I also love the music.  I cannot analyze why it moves me, but it does.  I enjoy it and have to stop at that level.  I know what I like – but I’m not sure why.

I just don’t like any of the songs I’ve heard from REM  in recent albums the way I liked what I heard before.  The language is still there, but it doesn’t have the music that moves me anymore.  I don’t know if this has anything to do with the change in the band’s make-up.  I can’t put my finger on what it is that I don’t like, and that is the point.  Still, I don’t.  As I’m writing this, iTunes has just offered up “Disturbance at the Heron House” – a fine example of the music and lyrics I loved and still love.  Maybe this is a case of a band developing as I remain static.  I don’t know.  Maybe it is all a matter of age and taste.


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Valerie Plame

Posted by Gerald on December 21, 2008

The break is finally here.

It is finally sunny today and I feel like I can just stop and breathe for the first time in weeks.  After two weeks of almost non-stop computer work, today I’m planning on reading, listening to music, and drinking coffee.  I’ve got two biographies I’m planning on reading during the break – Adrian Goldworthy’s “Caesar” and David McColloughs “John Adams.”  I’ve been intending to read both for quite awhile and I’m determined to at least get them started over the break.  I read non-fiction pretty slowly compared to some, so I may not finish them before the semester starts, but I’m hoping to.  I’m also listening to the recent EPs from The Decemberists (I downloaded them this week), which include a love song to Valerie Plame.  I love it already.

Live note – I’m just hearing the song “I’m Sticking With You” that was featured in “Juno”.  I had no idea that was The Decemberists.  The portions played in the movie don’t feature the usual lead singer, Colin Melloy, so it didn’t sound like most of their other songs.  Huh.

Cool thing I learned this week – In the 1880s a small group of Hawaiians who had converted to Mormonism settled in a small town in Utah carrying their language and many of their traditions with them.  Due to the usual American factors of greed and racism, along with the internal politics of the LDS, the community died out within about thirty years.  Most of the people seem to have gone back to Hawaii, but some remained in Utah.  One man evidently stayed alone in the town until his death in the 1960s.  There is an article about this in Archaeology

Another live note – another song from “Juno” called “Sunshine” is also a Decemberist song.  Shows what I get for not sticking around to read the credits.

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“Fire bad. Tree Pretty.”

Posted by Gerald on December 19, 2008

Semester done.

I’m sitting in my office waiting for my friend Steve to get out of a meeting so we can go send off the past semester with some, possibly many, beers.  Down the hall one of our instrructors who has just retired after 28 years here is finishing packing up her office.  Except for our admin support person – the lowest paid person on the hall and the person who is here more than any of us faculty types – we are all that is left.

I feel drained, but good.  My holiday plans include dinner on Christmas Day with friends and a New Year’s Day movie party.  Continuing the movie theme I am also joining my friends Steve and Dana for a day long movie marathon sometime between Christmas and New Year’s – in theaters, not a dvd one.  We plan to see an early show of something, eat lunch, see two more movies, and then go to dinner.  I haven’t done anything like this since college and it sounds like fun.

I’m too wiped to write anything else now.

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