The Indian comic publisher Amar Chitra Katha's version of the Ramayana is available online here. I lived in India for a year when I was 10, and read their comic book versions of Indian mythology and history obsessively during that time. I can't really imagine reading the whole thing online, but...some people are crazy. Check it out.
But maybe everything is fair game for color-coding these days.
Regardless, this one really surprised me.
Last week In the Salon column I featured Nick Drake's "Northern Sky", which had mysteriously been made available for free download. One of the sentences from the blurb I wrote was this: 'Unfortunately, like all of Drake's work except for the songs on the flawless "Pink Moon," it was marred by producer Joe Boyd's insipid and utterly tasteless light-rock production.'
This is the response that sentence got on the parasol blog:
'Unfortunately, that statement is a load of crap! The production on "River Man" is not insipid and utterly tasteless. The production on "Cello Song" is not insipid and utterly tasteless. The production on "Way To Blue" is not insipid and utterly tasteless. Yeah, Pink Moon is the album that all of the Northeast liberal Blue State elites like. For those of you, like me, surrounded by the real people in the Red States, I recommend Drake's first album, "Five Leaves Left."'
I certainly went a little over the top with my original statement, and I agree that, except for the blechy out-of-tune cello on "Cello Song" (or, as I prefer to call it, "Out-of-tune Cello Song"), the production on the three songs he cites is just fine. But my oh my, a real holy grail of music for me would be mixes of "Five Leaves Left" and "Bryter Layter" with just Drake's voice and guitar. And I had no idea that that preference was a sign of Blue state elitism...or that "real people in the Red States" were fans of tasteless light-rock production.
On the tummy beat:
A few days ago I made a pumpkin pie (the instant kind--frozen crust, pumpkin from a can), and while I was making it was inspired to add a stealth ingredient: balsamic vinegar. Which was delicious, and may be added to every pumpkin pie I make from here on out...Although it might be even better to just have a balsamic reduction as a sauce. Yum.
Just now, Sam was making himself some pasta with olive oil and garlic, and lamenting the fact that there was no cheese to make it tasty. So I put a chipotle pepper into the oil and garlic to simmer. This made it yummy. It was certainly not a stealth ingredient, though...I had forgotten the extent to which capsicum spiciness infuses into oil.
On the way back from VT, I got two new liquors. Caol Ila 18 Years (I already had the 12 Year), expanding my collection of Islay Malts (the yummiest liquids on earth). And Black Maple Hill 11 Year Bourbon. Yum Yum Yum.
And just now I made myself some chai (using the excellent chai mix from Adivasi in Brattleboro, the best pre-mixed I've had because they know that ginger and pepper are the crucial things, not cinnamon and other Christmas spices a la Celestial Seasonings silliness) with bourbon in it (I didn't waste the Black Maple Hill on that...used Knob Creek instead). I'm pleased to report that bourbon chai is a smashing success.
A few days ago an (unsolicited) application arrived for me from the World Piano Competition, which I competed in four (or even five?!) years ago.
Wouldn't it be funny, I said to Sam, if, as a former contestant, I was automatically accepted to the competition, and, not having studied seriously for nearly four years now, I went ahead and competed again? Sam agreed that that would be funny.
I've just noticed the enclosed letter...which tells me that "as a recent winner in an International Piano Competition" (umm...if you say so) "I extend to you an invitation to participate in the 2005 World Piano Competition." So, there you go.
And it would be genuinely tempting to me to go (however absurd that would be) if it weren't that, in order to compete, you need to have two 30 minute programs, one 50 minute program, and a final concerto all prepared. Ha.
This morning I bought the U2 record. Now I'm reviewing it...need to turn it in by the end of the day.
I've just finished Dylan's marvelous "Chronicles."
My favorite part:
"The night we recorded it, there was a lightning storm outside—leaves slapping on the banana trees. Something was guiding the song. It was like Joan of Arc was out there. (Or Joan Armatrading.) Whoever it was, somebody was out there working like hell."
Since quite a few people seem to be coming to this blog as a result of the Nick Cave article, I thought I'd include a few tid-bits from the interview that didn't make it into the article. Stuff that's probably not of much interest to most people, but might be enjoyable for serious fans.
I asked him why Blixa had left:
"I don’t know, actually. I got an email from him saying I’ve decided to leave the band, which was something of a shock. He put it down to things that are too boring to even go into around the management of the group, such as it was. People, peripheral people, that he could no longer tolerate certain things about. I suspect that it had something to do with it becoming less and less of a band thing, more of a nick Cave thing. And I think he just felt that his time had come. And if you look at the guitar playing on the last few records, it was just becoming less and less."
And had he spoken to him since then?:
"I haven’t really spoken to him since then. That’s just because the Bad Seeds are a working unit. We are men who go to work together. It’s a very male thing, the bad seeds. It’s a male thing about getting down and doing your work. And in many ways, we don’t’ have a personal life together. Which is something I really value about the Bad Seeds, that we really communicate through our work. So there’s not really any reason for me to ring him. Hanging out with Blixa."
I asked him about the line at the end of "As I Sat Sadly By Her Side," where he says "I could not wipe the smile from my face." He seemed almost embarrassed by it:
"I'm good at that one-liner, the knee-jerk one liner. (Then very thoughtfully) It seems uneccessary, doesn't it? Taking some delight in someone else's sorrows. I don't know, it's too long ago."
On WH Auden:
"His poetry’s really about decency. I guess what drew me to him is this shift that he went through when he turned to religion and his poetry turned more classical in style, and with that there was a line of thinking that really interested me where he was writing about long term relationships, spousal love, the community, civic duty. And there was something that was very practical. Matter of fact. There was a common sense in his poetry. Which I found really interesting."
What's he listening to right now?:
"T. Rex, and the Modern Lovers."
Anything more recent?
"Oh god no!...Actually, there are some things that are of interest, but I don't really feel like talking about it"
I would just add that he was really wonderful to talk to. Interviewing people, particularly people whose work I love so immensely, makes me incredibly nervous...but he was so kind, and so throughtful, that I very soon wasn't nervous. What was most surprising was near the beginning of the interview, when I told him that I really liked the new records, and he seemed not only pleased, but actually genuinely interested in what I thought about them, what I liked about them, and asked me some questions about it. The 40 minutes I had to speak to him were not nearly enough--both because there's so much I'd like to ask him about, and because he speaks very slowly and carefully. So we didn't really cover much ground, and I'm not sure how many interesting quotes I got out of him for the purpose of the article. But just as a personal experience, speaking to him was a wonderful experience.