Tuesday


22
Nov 22

Claude Monet at the LUME

This is Camille Pissarro’s “The Boulevard Montmartre on a Winter Morning.” Or part of that 1897 work, anyway. Circumstances, and shooting from the hip, and just trying to get the part I wanted. And the point is to say, guess what we saw today?

That’s the clue, and so was the headline, I guess. But the answer is, the impressionists!

Here’s part of Monet’s “Water Lily Pond.”

But the museum trip wasn’t about paintings directly, but rather a digital introduction and interpretation. Art in the 21st century, remixing the old masters. (More on that tomorrow.) And getting photobombed in the transitional elements of the show.

There’s a part where you can take your picture on an iPad, and select a filter — a big hit pre-Instagram, I’m sure — and then have it displayed on the art wall. Here we are.

This is a small work of Paul Cezanne, “Landscape at Auvers.”

Cézanne was an innovator and influenced countless modern artists as he sought to both reflect nature and show his own response to it, whatever that meant at the time. His mentor was Pissarro, but he would eventually move away from the impressionist movement.

Edgar Degas is also an impressionist, but he also worked in sculptures, and this one is on display at the LUME. The one on the right, I mean.

This is “Dancer Moving Forward, Arms Raised” which was found in Degas’ studio and cast in bronze in 1920, a few years after his death.

Here’s another painting of Camille Pissarro’s. This is an oil on canvas, circa 1865. Pissarro is sort of the elder statesman of the impressionists, and the neo-impressionist movement. Oh, and also post-impressionism. Talent, longevity and a willingness to grow allowed him to cover a lot of 19th century bases. Now, if you aren’t particularly an art connoisseur, you might not be familiar with Pissarro, so let’s just say this. Over the course of four-plus decades, all of the artists of the era — Cézanne, Gauguin, Renoir, Seurat, van Gogh — were all influenced by the man.

Pissarro was a contemporary of Armand Guillaumin, and this is one of his works, the 1877 “Quai d’Austerlitz.” It shows the left bank of the Seine River in Paris where Guillaumin worked nights for the Bridges and Roads Department. Later he won the lottery, and decided to spend his time on landscape paintings. Excellent choice, moving on to things you love.

And this is Pierre-August Renoir’s “Bouquet in a Vase.” Big broad, rapid strokes. I wonder how long this sort of canvas took to complete in the hands of a master.

And since Claude Monet is the name on the event, here’s a Monet. This is “Charing Cross Bridge, London” a turn-of-the-century oil on canvas. You can tell without even reading the placard that this is Monet’s London.

He spent the Franco-Prussian War there, and he painted almost 100 paintings of the Thames during his time in smoggy London Town. Monet spent a lot of time playing with the light and the smoke and fog that gave the Big Smoke its reputation.

Group picture time! (This is just before the gift shop. Every thing in its place.)

I’ll have more from this fun Newfields exhibit tomorrow.

After dinner we went back to Newfields for Winterlights, and a quick walk through of the famous Lilly House. I was surprised to see this part of the house. They lifted this idea directly from my Pinterest page.

Here are some of the Winterlights. The big blue tunnel near the grand finale.

The weather was perfect. Everyone at Newfields was having a great time and full of the initial holiday cheer of the season. There will be a video or two from the lights show tomorrow, too. But it’s late, and, for now, I want to leave you with one final impression.


8
Nov 22

We voted hard

We voted this morning. Took a quick trip to the local middle school where all of the sign holders were sunny and pleasant and one of the men running for local office was out greeting people at the 50-foot line. By the time we got our ballots I’d forgotten about them entirely. After walking 50 feet and then waiting 30 seconds to get my ballot, I’d forgotten all about those people.

The ballot here was front and back. One school funding referendum, one Senate and one House seat. There were a lot of local seats for council this, commission that. The jobs you seldom see campaigned for, because the campaign budget isn’t there, but the people in them impact the day-to-day business of this in a direct way.

We also had the opportunity to vote on whether two judges should be retained. It’s a system this state has used for a half century.

Once appointed, a judge must stand for retention at the first statewide general election after the judge has served for two full years. If retained, the judge is on the retention ballot every 10 years. The retention system is designed to allow appellate judges to decide cases fairly and impartially, free from campaign finance considerations, and without influence by partisan politics.

Everything is a tryout, I guess.

Tonight, the student-journalists are trying a new thing. The students from the television station presented a long collaboration with the newspaper students and the campus radio station. They covered the location elections from multiple locations, aired a special on the FM station and streamed live results and news on the web.

This is a big collaboration for them. It happened organically and, I think, that’s the best way. I’m very excited for what they’ve undertaken here, how it has played out and, mostly, for how I’ll get to brag on them after the fact.

Someone gets to be the cheerleader, and that person is me.

More on all of this tomorrow, though.

If you don’t want still more election stuff … here’s some more cycling stuff.

Yesterday we were talking about Major Taylor, the turn-of-the-century world champion. Early in his career he took part in a six-day race. I found this little package from ESPN which talked about what, for many, was a career-defining event.

The six day races are primarily European these days, and soon after Taylor’s, they were reimagined as team events. (If you ever see mention of a Madison, that’s what they’re talking about.) These days, they aren’t even racing 24 hours a day. But way back when, they were a solitary, continual, brutal war of attrition. In the U.S. the six-day races took place in Atlantic City, which saw two, in 1909 and 1932. In Boston, 13 such races took place between 1901 and 1933. Buffalo had 16 races starting in 1910, wrapping up in 1948. There were four in Newark in the early 19-teens. Chicago hosted 50 six-day races between 1915 and 1957, but Six Days of New York was, by far, the most popular American version. There were 70 installments, starting in 1899 and wrapping up in 1961. Taylor’s participation was in a predecessor to even that one.

Two guys — the Italian Olympic champion Franco_Giorgetti and the Australian world record holder Alf Goullet — won eight of those each, in The Big Apple. Both of those were of the relay variety, but still. One of the records Goullet set was at New York, in his 1914 victory,still stands. He and his teammate, Alfred Grenda, covered 2,759.2 miles.

If you rode a bicycle from Madison Square Garden to Las Vegas, Nevada, Google Maps tells me you’d do almost that exact same distance, except these masochists were doing that on a track, where the scenery seldom changes — but the hallucinations might!

The following photos are from last night. Don’t run, we are your friends.

Except we did run. The Yankee had her second post-op checkup and her surgeon gave her the green light to run, a little bit, when she felt like it. She felt like it, so we ran a little bit. Just a mile or so, being conscious of the jarring and vibration that comes with running.

I think, more than the run, she simply liked being able to do one more thing that was normal. It’s a big step, followed by another one at a brisk clip.

There’s a 10K to do next month. Plenty of time to ease into that, and then back into off-season base miles. One more thing that’s normal.


1
Nov 22

Happy November to you

Did you enjoy Catober? It is one of my favorite times of the year. Phoebe and Poe are good sports the whole month as I try to put one camera or another in their face. And they cooperated right until this weekend, when I was trying to get a traditional bonus photo. If you missed a day, you can click that link, above, and see them all in reverse chronological order.

It was cold, you see, and we’d just made breakfast on Sunday morning. Put the stove cover back on, which I built to keep cats off the stove. So they sit on the cover, or near it, to enjoy the radiant heat from the slowly cooling stove and oven. This is the routine. Part of it, anyway.

Good thing I made that cover, I guess.

I saw this scene as I was parking this morning. This is the parking deck a block from our building, adjacent to where the old hotel/dorm/office building was. In fact, this is that removal project. You can’t really see much of this from my office anymore, but the heavy machinery work continues, and a dad thought enoufh of it to bring his kid. And they had a time.

They’re busting up cement with the big machines. Big repetitive sounds. The kid is bouncing in dad’s arms in time. It’s the cutest thing.

This is quite the treat for both of them, I’m sure.

We ran across this in Indianapolis on Saturday, and it didn’t really fit in yesterday’s sparse entry, so I’m putting it here.

“We thought. You. Was A. Toad!”

The soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” in a future installment of the Re-Listening Project. Speaking of which …

There’s not much new you can say about 1977’s “Bat Out of Hell.” The Meat Loaf, Jim Steinman debut is one of the best selling records in the history of everywhere. Meat Loaf became an actor and enjoyed a well-deserved musical renaissance in the 1990s, but “Bat Out of Hell is the mark. It is certified 14-times platinum in the U.S. and spent 522 weeks on the charts in the UK. It’s also 26-times platinum in Australia and two times diamond in Canada. It topped the Australian, Dutch, and New Zealand charts in it’s day. A quarter century later it found its way atop the Australian, Irish andAmerican album charts again in 2022, and landed in the top 10 in four other countries. It was as, they say, a minor success. I think they issued it to people in the suburbs for a time.

There was a time when someone bought this record, invited their friends over, and put this needle on the vinyl for the first time. Imagine, or remember, hearing the first 100 seconds of this rock opera for the first time.

That’s one of those first-time experience I’d like to have once more. Wikipedia:

Steinman insisted that the song should contain the sound of a motorcycle, and complained to producer Todd Rundgren at the final overdub session about its absence. Rather than use a recording of a real motorcycle, Rundgren himself played the section on guitar, leading straight into the solo without a break. In his autobiography, Meat Loaf relates how everyone in the studio was impressed with his improvisation. Meat Loaf commends Rundgren’s overall performance on the track:

In fifteen minutes he played the lead solo and then played the harmony guitars at the beginning. I guarantee the whole thing didn’t take him more than forty-five minutes, and the song itself is ten minutes long. The most astounding thing I have ever seen in my life.

Next up, a bit of Van Hagar. I bought my first Van Halen record, “OU812,” as a cassette in 1988 or so, when it came out. The first Van Halen CD to appear in the collection is a bit later in their catalog. It, like so much of the Sammy Hagar holds up.

I should have played this filler-track for Halloween.

If you’re looking for classic Van Halen riffs and percussion …

This iteration of the band was doomed to fail just after the supporting tour. In retrospect, I think you can hear it in Alex Van Halen’s drum solo. There’s just something grievous and entropic happening in here.

Now, “Baluchitherium” didn’t make it onto the vinyl format because of time constraints, but it’s full of that classic sound. And, score one for a more modern format.

Real Van Halen fans thought this riff sounded familiar. They were correct.

The record was three-times certified as platinum in the U.S. and Canada, but it was the last of Hagar. The band got tense on the road, because this is the Van Halen story. Three years later there was the one record with Gary Cherone, and then the last studio album, the still-tumultuous David Lee Roth version of the group.

Altogether, Van Halen had 12 studio albums — all but one of those landed in the top 10, and four of them, including “Balance” went to number one. (Balance was the last to hit the top of the charts.) From all of that, and two live albums and two more compilation albums, they released 56 singles. Thirteen of those sat atop the charts in the United States, and another 10 landed in the Top 10. But every time Van Halen comes to mind, for some reason, I think “What if?”

I’m sure that’s just my timing, talking.

Speaking of timing … just you wait until you hear the underwhelming anecdote I have for the next item on the Re-Listening Project.

I shouldn’t say it is very underwhelming … that might set the bar too high. But the story will not impress you at all.


25
Oct 22

Come on and dance

It’s a cold and rainy and busy day, signifying … something. So instead of the usual filler, or four grim paragraphs about all of the leaves that have quite quit today, let’s just get back to the Re-Listening Project.

I’ve started working my way through all of my old CDs, but in chronological order of purchase. It’s a good way to pad the blog, which is what we’re shamelessly doing today. (But with some delightful music.) These aren’t reviews, there’s nothing new to say about today’s discs anyway, but they are fun, particularly if you like what is, today, classic rock.

This isn’t my genre, but the genre reaper comes for all of us, eventually. In fact, I’ve probably always thought of this first band as classic rock. They were on the AC stations of my youth, which meant the music of the adults in my world, which meant, and means, classic rock. Listening to it today, in a bit more isolation and years removed from hearing it on regular airplay, I am appreciating what I’m hearing.

Which is to say this is the Steve Miller Greatest Hits compilation. Given the above, this is surely this was a bulk purchase I made in my early days of CD collecting. Given the rest of the above, I’m glad for it today.

“Greatest Hits 1974-1978” made it to #18 on the Billboard chart, and #11 on the Top Rock Albums chart. Not bad for a record of contemporary hits that was released in 1978, essentially immediately as these songs fell out of heavy rotation. All but one song came from their previous two albums — it was a different time, musically speaking — and I’ll bet you can guess which one was the outlier there. Anyway, let’s listen in …

The first four tracks work about as well as you would expect for three top 20s and a number single. But the fifth track grabs your attention. “True Fine Love” manages to be a rock ‘n’ roll history lesson in just two minutes and 40 seconds.

I believe that if you just pulled out the guitar track here you could identify this as a Steve Miller song.

This sounds like a cover, but Steve Miller wrote this, with a Joseph and Brenda Cooper. They seemed to have just the one song. And if you’re wondering if I won’t spend a lot of time trying to find their collective story … well, then … you must be new here.

As an aside … there are a few interesting covers of “Dance, Dance, Dance.”

A capella intro!

There’s a lullaby version … which opens up a whole new world of options, really.

Is there a video of some dudes singing this in the bed of a pickup?

You really are new here.

(Those guys are from New Jersey.)

Play this song and see how many snippets and bits of other songs it reminds you of. That happens a lot to me in Steve Miller Band songs, for some reason.

My favorite song, this time through, was “Wild Mountain Honey.” I listened to it a few times. It was worth it. It’s trippy, which meets the mode of the moment, but it has some heart.

As I have said, probably over and over, in this section of the Re-Listening Project, I think we’re in a batch of CDs I bought all at once. It makes sense, given my tastes at the time, and the records in question. I don’t have a lot of memories or stories affiliated with this Steve Miller compilation. The problem might be my listening habits. Maybe bulk purchases become a sort of obligation. “OK, here it is. I have played it. Now I must listen to these other four.” It becomes, perhaps, more mechanical and obligatory, and there aren’t dozens or hundreds of plays like the regular CD purchased in isolation. So there aren’t strong anecdotes or even flashes of stretches of road, that come to mind as I re-listen to this CD, but I can say this, unequivocally: I bought this for one song.

Yeah.

I have, from time to time, thought of changing my name to Maurice, just so I could tell people “It means ‘Gangster of Love.'”

Now, I don’t have this record, but there’s a general consensus that the made up words of epismetology and pompatus can be traced back to “The Letter.”

My collection really needs some doo wop filled with nonce words.

That’s almost 750 words, and 11 videos, of filler masquerading as content. Let’s wrap this up. The next CD in the list is another greatest hits. Which one? Good question. I can hardly tell myself. It’s a version of The Police’s greatest hits. I say “a version” because they, and their label A&M, only released SEVEN versions of this thing over 23 years. That earned 23 platinum certifications in five countries and 10 golds in seven more, so clearly it worked. But, if Steve Miller is before me The Police are beyond me.

So, here, have “King of Pain.”

Try not to think about how much that reminds you of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”

Maybe “Wrapped Around Your Finger” is a better way to close this out.

Seven greatest hits compilations. They released five albums before they broke up.

Know what was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

This drum machine:

Take us home, Wikipedia:

Because drummer Stewart Copeland had broken his collarbone and was unable to drum, he opted to use his Fairlight CMI to program the drum track for the single, while singer/bassist Sting pushed to use the drums on his Synclavier instead. The group’s engineer found the Synclavier’s programming interface difficult; it ended up taking him two days to complete the task. Copeland ultimately finished the drum programming and claimed that the Fairlight’s then-legendary “Page R” (the device’s sequencing page) saved his life and put him on the map as a composer. In a Qantas inflight radio program named “Reeling in the Years”, Copeland was quoted as saying that the argument over Synclavier versus Fairlight drums was “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” and that this led to the group’s unravelling.[citation needed]

No, Wikipedia. No citation is needed. That would require a deep dive and, ultimately, another greatest hits release. (Here’s a less colorful version of the story from Andy Summers, if you must.) I’m fine with something between hyperbole and ambiguity. It’s The Police, after all.


18
Oct 22

A sostenuto over tea kettle

The interesting thing about siloed and stratified workplaces is that, sometimes, people get out over their skies and, because you know their background you know they are well out over their skis. We all get there eventually. Racing along until you’re flailing along. The next part is about how graceful you can be when the physics are no longer your friend.

This is why I don’t talk a lot about market equities or PEST analyses. My hips and shoulders would be out of alignment pretty quickly. And if those were the sorts of things in your vocabulary, you’d know how much flailing about I was doing.

Another interesting thing about working in a place like this is that I today had occasion to say this sentence.

“… and the point behind that is based on research developed in this very building … ”

Because that, friends, sounds cool.

This is also an area where I can talk about something I’m trained in, to someone who is not, and delivery as much clarity as necessary, operationalizing things like the Limited Capacity Model of Motivated Mediated Message Processing and cognitive processing in video messages or, more broadly, concentrated messaging or holistic strategies.

Looks like it is time to catch up once again with the Re-Listening Project. I’m filling valuable blog space and valueless time in the car by working my way through all of my old CDs in chronological order. None of these are reviews, but sometimes there’s something fun. And, today, there’s a lot of good music. So fall back to the mid 1990s with me, won’t you.

I’ve probably listened to this as much as anything I own. If there’s something I’ve played more, I’d like to know what it is. I bought this double live album as a cassette. How much did I listen to this? I learned how long you had to rewind each song to get back to the front again. I listened to it a lot. When I picked it up again as a CD, I had a copy for the car and a copy for the house.

As I listened to this last week I found myself reciting all the spoken parts, and playing the bass lines on the steering wheel. The only problem with listening to this in the car is that it is always tempting to just keep driving.

Some times, when Amy Ray is singing, it is really quite tempting. Anyway, 28 great tracks make up just under two-and-a-half magical musical hours, and they’ll all play in that one fabulous box above. There’s one song I skip, but this time I listened all the way through.

Speaking of bass lines, the next record is from Martin Page. “In the House of Stone and Light” had a top 10 hit and a top 20 followup in 1994. I bought this later than that because it just seemed like the choice at the time. I don’t play it a lot, but it never disappoints. The guy has had a star-studded career, working with Kim Carnes, Earth, Wind & Fire and Barbra Streisand. The keyboards you love on the Ghostbusters theme? That’s him. He’s also worked with the great Bernie Taupin, Starship and Heart. He composed for Neil Diamond, worked with Chaka Khan and produced Tom Jones, among others. And then he did that mid-90s AC and VH-1 staple.

Rather than play the two radio hits from this record, though …

This one was released as a single, but it didn’t get the same traction. Somehow I imagine it was huge in retail shopping settings, though. Play this, you can just feel that weird sensation of extra hangers grabbing hold of one another, or that new shoe smell from the back right corner of the store.

Someone took the ballad and made it a Pride & Prejudice track. It … works?

Those are from his debut album. This summer he released his 10th record. So I have some work to do, hips and shoulders. Hips and shoulders.