ellenkushner: (Default)
When a knight won his spurs, in the stories of old,
He was gentle and brave, he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand,
For [love] and for valour he rode through the land.

No charger have I, and no sword by my side,
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride,
Though back into storyland giants have fled,
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead.

Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
'Gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed;
And let me set free with the sword of my youth,
From the castle of darkness, the power of the truth.

When a Knight Won His Spurs is a children's hymn written by Jan Struther and set to a folk melody (Stowey) and harmonised by Ralph Vaughan Williams.The hymn first appeared in Songs of Praise in 1931.

Hear it beautifully done by my new favorite British folk duo, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker.

ellenkushner: (Witches of LUBLIN)
Another in my series of picks from my perusal of the Sunday New York Times Paid Death Notices.

These are written by family and friends of the deceased, and each one tells a great, true  story.

GOLDFARB--AronHolocaust Survivor and Founder of the G-III Apparel Group, beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather passed away after a long illness on October 8, 2012, at the age of 88. Born February 10, 1924, in Bialobrzegi, Poland, Aron was a Holocaust survivor who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds and founded a successful apparel business known as the G-III Apparel Group. The son of Moshe and Sarah Goldfarb, he was one of seven children and one of three to survive the Holocaust. When the Germans took Aron from his father, the last words his father said to him were "go, my son...maybe you will survive". Those words would stay with him for the rest of his life and eventually would become the title of a book he wrote about his struggle. Aron's family was sent to the Treblinka concentration camp in 1941, while Aron and his older brothers Itzhak and Abraham were sent to the Pionki labor camp. Another brother, Jacob, would survive the war by escaping to Russia. In 1944, Aron with his brothers and a friend Zisman Birman escaped from the camp and fought for survival in the forests of Poland. His brother Itzhak and Zisman Birman were caught while in hiding and executed. Aron and Abraham would survive the war by living in a bunker they built not far from a German gunnery position near their hometown. Armed with only their familiarity with the landscape and their courage they would break into the German outpost not far from their hiding spot and steal food and supplies through the winter of 1944. In 1978, the brothers returned to Poland to retrieve the remains of Itzhak and Zisman and brought them to be buried in Israel. While in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany following the end of the war, Aron saw Esther Disman and immediately asked her to a movie. They were soon married and moved to Israel where Aron was a farmer while serving in the Israeli Army. Their son Morris was born in Israel and the family came to the United States in 1956 where Aron, Abraham and Jacob were reunited. Aron and Esther's second son Ira was born soon after. Aron used his skills learned in Poland as an apprentice to a shoe maker to start in 1956 what is today known as the G-III Apparel Group. What started out as a small leather company is still thriving. Aron is survived by his wife Esther; his son Morris and daughter-in-law Arlene and son Ira; his grandchildren Laura, Jeffrey, Scott, Samantha and Brett; great-grandchildren Joshua, Matthew, Amanda, Ryan, Sabrina and Tristan. Aron will be missed but his memory, lessons and legacy will be carried on by all those who loved him and all the lives he touched.

Other obits of Jewish businessmen of the same age this week are so much gentler-- WW2 vets who were remembered as "acccomplished pianist" or "for passionate love of fishing . . . special sense of humor . . . love of reading. . . ."  

Makes me think, again, of one of my favorite pieces by Steve Reich, Different Trains.  You can hear the first movement here, performed by Quatuor Diotima, and the second here, by Smith Quartet. The recording I know & love is the original, by Kronos Quartet -- Oh! Here it is, with some fantastic period video....  But all, I think, use the same recorded voices of people who were there, from African-American train conductors to child Holocaust survivors.  

* * * 

Thanks for all your sensitive and insightful replies to my last post. I just got this good update from his partner:  
". . . if the radiation therapy works, things will be looking far better than what we were thinking would be happening a week ago. As [his] letter stated, we've been going at this for a year, and we're always surprised at how something at first dire, becomes something manageable. So we continue to shine, pray, stay healthy and positive."

Words to live by.

ellenkushner: (Madame J. (closeup))
Dar Williams' "You're Aging Well" - it's never done this to me before!

Maybe it's because Delia's away, and I've been revisiting aspects of my past self.

Maybe it's because I am definitely ageing - and when I hear someone young singing: 

I don't like the signs that the signmakers made . . .
So I'm going to steal out with my paints and my brushes
I'll change the directions, I'll hit every street....

it just makes me want to fall down on my knees (in the kitchen, where I'm chopping zucchini) and weep in gratitude for everything in my life that came together to allow me to do just that - good friends, good family, good luck, bad manners, good love - and be happy now, and sort of on good days unafraid.

It's a song many of us knew about 10 years ago when it came out - but if you somehow missed it, or you need to hear it again (and who of us doesn't need that encouragement?), here it is.

And if you're 15 yourself now, and feel like "the road to enchantment is not mine to take.... And all I could eat was the poisonous apple, and that's not a tale I was meant to survive..."  well, listen again.  We're all here for you, waiting.  I finally made it here - and you could, too.

ellenkushner: (Audiobook Swordspoint)
Nathanael Tronerud, who composed all the theme music to the Swordspoint audiobook, just sent me this link to a LIVE PERFORMANCE of one of the themes he wrote for the audiobook.  (For the audiobook, most of the music was electronically produced.)

This is the Lord Michael Godwin Theme, performed live by invitation at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSU, Long Beach, on March 7, 2012.

ETA:  Nate's Program Notes:  "As the theme of a principal character (from the audiobook adaptation of Ellen Kushner's novel, Swordspoint) the music here attempts to capture the clockwork gears of Lord Michael's calculating mind. Though perpetually plotting, he is always a step (or sometimes several steps) behind his elder political rivals on The Hill, in particular the Duchess Tremontaine (who, as we all know, does not get involved with politics). The piece also moves us through the different points of Michael's story within the larger framework of the book, highlighting both his aspirations and his shortcomings."

I am utterly ravished to announce that we have just signed Nate up to write new music for the Privilege of the Sword audiobook, currently in production and scheduled for June 2012.  We will, of course, incorporate some of the Swordspoint music (for continuity, and because it's so good) . . . but I've been promised some new themes, for things like "Marcus & Katherine, the Young Detectives" . . . and, of course, Artemisia Fitz-Levi gets her own motif!  Can't wait.
ellenkushner: (Thomas the Rhymer)
If you missed the Spinning Rune song (or really meant to go back and watch the video I posted last week....) - In answer to a question of mine,  Drew Miller (of the great - dare I say seminal? - Celtic Punk Rock'n'Roots band Boiled in Lead, etc.) posted a wealth of info in the Comments here.  I re-post here his bit on the history of NorthSide, the company that opened the top of my head to the rich, gorgeous Nordic/Scandinavian folk-rock scene of the 90s - for more details, links, and even a complete NSD catalogue list, head over to the Comments-- and feel free to continue the conversation!  And enjoy the music.

Over to Drew:

Now about NorthSide and Nordic music:

It started with the band Garmarna and their album "Vittrad." Heard it, the top of my head was ripped off, and Omnium licensed their first two records for the US (1994-1996).

Beginning in 1997, I had the best job in the world: working at a record company releasing amazing music (including my own).

Part of my job was doing "graphic remixes" -- taking the original European release and giving it a consistent graphic identity for NSD, and adding English translations. We also produced a 10-year run of the Nordic Roots Festival in Minneapolis and helped a lot of the bands to tour in the US.

That business model is now extinct. Around 2002, Rob Simonds (now directing http://thecedar.org) and I developed a "remote control record company" -- the office in downtown Minneapolis closed and I started working as an independent consultant.

Today, you can still purchase anything from our current catalog at http://hearful.com - most CDs are $12 with shipping $2

A couple of years ago, ESD and NorthSide decided to close out all their licensed titles, and the rights have reverted to the artists. You can still find the music on iTunes, via the original European CD releases, and direct with the artists. Unlike the 20th Century when "out of print" was literally a death sentence, all the music that we released is still available to purchase (or steal / "audition") in one form or another.

(Shout-out to Cliff Furnald at http://cdroots.com who continues to bring a dizzying array of Nordic CDs to the US.)

Rune video

Feb. 4th, 2012 10:56 am
ellenkushner: (Thomas the Rhymer)
Working with Drew Miller (of Omnium Records and Boiled in Lead!) on some cool stuff for the Welcome to Bordertown audiobook (coming in APRIL 2012) I can't tell you about yet . . . . BUT he sent me a link to this Norwegian Spinning/Rune Song, Drømte, he recorded with Kari Tauring in Minneapolis, and I thought you might like it:

He recorded the whole concert and released the album here:  Kari Tauring & Huldre: Live at the Capri - " a Scandinavian journey, beginning in the Bronze Age (circa 1300 BCE)...then to the Viking Era (circa 750 ACE) with rune galdor (sung spells using the rune alphabet) and Old Norse lyrics...."



Jan. 29th, 2012 12:43 pm
ellenkushner: (Bessie McNicol)
Yeah, it's coming . . . and with it, the dread V-Day.  For all your heartbreak needs, I recommend Dar Williams' "February." 

Here's a nice homemade video that uses the original track from her album Mortal City. YouTube also has many live performance versions.

This song drops me every time (as in: have to go find Delia & weep copiously into her shirt...). I put it into my Sound & Spirit show on Breakups (which was originally written - for February 2000 broadcast - by none other than Justine Larbalestier!) - you can listen to that whole program here.*

I just heard it on my favorite old Boston station, WUMB - which I can now hear on my internet radio, yay! - followed by another favorite, that is not about breakups at all:
from Maggie & Suzzy Roche's great, great album ZERO CHURCH (which I also used trax from in Sound & Spirit, but, um, I forget which show). Here's more on the album & this song in particular. My link is to a YouTube video which "illustrates" the lyrics with very concrete images that to me limit your interpretation . . .  so maybe just listen the first time without watching.  Look out the window, or something, and see what the song can mean to you.

So what's your favorite breakup song?

*This is the program in which I told the - TRUE - story:

When I was young and foolish, a friend of mine dumped her boyfriend.  The next day, she looked awful: "I lay on the sofa and cried for hours last night."  Dumb me, I said, "Well, but...can I ask you something?  If you didn't want him anymore, then why did you cry?"

Kindly, she answered:  "I was crying because I had to say goodbye to the hopes I had . . . ."

And that's when you need a really good Breakup song to let the tears flow, for the release, the sympathy, even the sense that you're not the only one who's ever felt this pain . . . Though the same show contains this (also True):

A guy I once knew said:  "Why is it whenever something awful happens to women, you always go talk-talk-talking about it?  Why can't you be like a man--and just go off somewhere and quietly throw up?!"

ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
Well, for one thing, I'm much too flighty.  Yes, there have been times in my life when I've cared deeply enough about some potent symbol or aesthetic to want it permanently.  But  when I think of what I might have been stuck with if I'd been permitted to choose a china pattern at age 25 (that would have been pricey/fancy enough to have to keep always) - let alone a skin design . . . I blanch.  Go back a little farther, and yes, there would be unicorns (medieval, yes, but still).  Look, I do not like to wear even the same earrings often; the idea of having a permanent skin decoration just does not compute. 

And besides, I remember being told that traditional Judaism prohibits tattooing, because in ancient times it was the involuntary mark of slaves.  (I put that into a conversation the highly-tattooed Theron Campion has with his half-sister Jessica in Delia's & my book, The Fall of the Kings - of course, the Campions are not Jewish.....are they?).  It turns out this is not quite right - the campus Hillel.com site explains it better. 

What I do have is a set of 3 plain silver rings with words stamped on them, which I can take on and off.

I put them on for the High Holidays:  for the 10 days of turning and returning that is the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The words come from a song* with music by Philip Glass and lyrics by Laurie Anderson (whose album, Strange Angels,* is, to me, a perfect expression of the spirit of the High Holidays - was she even joking, in "The Ouija Board,"  [from her album The Ugly one with the Jewels] when she said that in past lives she was "...Hundreds and hundreds of rabbis" ?)  The song, from Glass's remarkable album Songs from Liquid Days,  is called "Forgetting":

A man wakes up to the sound of rain 
From a dream about his lovers 
Who pass through his room. [....]

The man is awake now 
He can't get to sleep again. 
So he repeats these words 
Over and over again: 
Bravery. Kindness. Clarity. 
Honesty. Compassion. Generosity. 
Bravery. Honesty. Dignity. 
Clarity. Kindness. Compassion.

I couldn't fit all the words on the 3 silver rings I ordered - but the ones I have serve to remind me of the verses.  They are things I think I need all the year 'round.  If they were on my skin, I might stop seeing them.

*Both  the songs "Forgetting" and "Strange Angels" are important parts of my "Door is Opened" special.

    ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
    Wishing all you wonderful and generous people a very sweet and healthy and happy new year.  May you turn, turn, and return to the spirit that is best in you.  May your good impulses outnumber your bad ones, your good deeds outweigh your foolish ones . . . and may you be written in the Book of Life for health and happiness, safety and love.

    Here is a High Holiday radio special I wrote some years back, which was rebroadcast as part of my PRI/WGBH series Sound & Spirit.  It's a personal meditation (with music by Richard Thompson, Laurie Anderson, and others - here's the playlist) on the themes of friendship, family and forgiveness, as I feel they relate to Jewish observance of the Days of Awe, the days between the beginning of the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and the Fast of Yom Kippur, a solemn time to take stock of one's life, and make good on everything from debts to emotional injury.  To me, this time is a privilege, even a pleasure.  If I have said or done anything to offend you in the past year, I hope that you will forgive me for it.  That's the beginning.

    I call my show The Door is Opened

    The hour of radio also features the voices and wisdom of Rabbi Harold Kushner (no relation - though he looks *just like* my dad!), Joel Rosenberg (Boston poet & translator of the Reconstructionist siddur) and Rabbi Barbara Penzner.
    ellenkushner: (WelcBORDERTOWN)
    So much going on I can't even keep up with it!  Fortunately, there's the new Bordertown Blog, where Terri & I are doing our best to post every review, interview, memoir, pensée & article as fast as they go up - so just head over here and start scrolling.....

    Tomorrow, in NYC, is as close as we're coming to a Launch Party: it's at Books of Wonder at 6:00 pm, and will feature 4 authors, both co-editors ([livejournal.com profile] blackholly  & me), Guest Musician Joe Kessler (formerly of Boiled in Lead, and also my man on all those Thomas the Rhymer performances and my Esther: the Feast of Masks show - I love you, Joe!), the Bordertown mockumentary Video (along with some of the NYC high school kids who were in it!) . . . and lots and lots of ice & cold drinks, because it's going to be 95 fking degrees here!

    If you can't come to NYC - or it's just too darned hot - you can pre-order signed books from Books of Wonder.

    I did think you'd want to know that I did a lengthy podcast interview on The Geeks's Guide to the Galaxy, covering "the origins of Bordertown, poetry and music, fan participation, collaboration, writing LGBT characters, changes in the fantasy field, audio projects, funding public radio, and The Interstitial Arts Foundation...." (told you it was lengthy) - great fun chatting with hosts John Joseph Adams & David Barr Kirtley!*

    And Alaya Dawn Johnson's gorgeous Welcome to Bordertown story, "A Prince of Thirteen Days," is now up for all to read on Fantasy Magazine.

    And Holly & Terri's Introductions to the anthology are posted on Suvudu.com, with an introduction by me to their introductions ('cause that's how we do it around here!  Not to be confused with my Missing Introduction, which was on Scalzi's "Big Idea").

    And if you could drop by the blog and throw in an actual Comment or two?  Because Terri, [livejournal.com profile] innaj  (who ran the amazing fantastic Sweepstakes!) & I are getting kind of demoralized doing nothing but marking Spam on everything that's come in this week....

    *I haven't listened yet.  I don't dare.  You listen, and tell me they edited out all the stupid bits...!
    ellenkushner: (Bordertown)
     a busker with annoying patter started singing Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry. And I got all choked up, thinking of Bordertown.  I mean:

    I remember when we used to sit
    In the government yard in Trenchtown...
    Good friends we have had, oh good friends we've lost along the way
    In this bright future you can't forget your past
    So dry your tears I say...

    Said, said, said I remember when we used to sit
    In the government yard in Trenchtown
    And then Georgie would make the fire light....
    Then we would cook corn meal porridge
    Of which I'll share with you
    My feet is my only carriage
    So I've got to push on through...

    How can I not?  But then, nearly everything makes me think of Bordertown these days. 

    I'm overdue on several written interview questions (have I mentioned how very much I hate written interviews?) from lovely journalists/bloggers about what it feels like to be returning to Bordertown with the new anthology.  Maybe I could just send them the song?

    Friday glee

    Mar. 4th, 2011 11:10 am
    ellenkushner: (TEA)
     Joel Mabus' new rendition of "Swing that Thing" - great clip here, and it doesn't even get to the bit where Mozart tells Bach to "drop that horn" - and then JM swings some Bach on his guitar (along with a few other musical quotes - hee hee!) . . . I was listening to Boston's WUMB on the kitchen Logitech radio ("I'm in love with the modern world!"), and started laughing so hard Delia came in to see what I'd eaten....

    And it was immediately followed by Nancy Griffith's rendition of Richard & Linda Thompson's "Let me Ride on the Wall of Death" - Alec's favorite song!  I'll never forget the first time I heard Richard live - a sunny afternoon at Newport - and a half-naked teenage boy standing in the front row on the grass shouting, "DO THE ONES ABOUT DEAAAAATH!"
    ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
    Long silence this week due to wonderful visit from Boston dear friends Mike & Deb - Mike was the PD at WGBH when I applied for a job there; he hired me and promptly left the station, but we became good friends, and he and Deb were a very important part of my life in Boston - in fact, he held one pole of the chuppa at our Legal Wedding in 2004 - and that's Deb's sleeve you see in the background of the photo posted in Kelly Cogswell's terrific article on Delia & me in this week's Gay City News (thanks to Sarah Smith for the photo - and to Jim Freund for editing it & posting it on Picasa along with the other ones from the NYRSF reading last week!  Kelly C. was at the reading, and I was also delighted to see she got such nice quotes from some of the other folks in attendance).

    With Mike & Deb we went up to the celebrated Arthur Avenue old Italian district in the Bronx, and brought home just about everything we couldn't eat on the spot.  Deb & Delia prepared bronzino with fennel & fresh linguine (which Mike must've stood online for for over an hour!) w/fresh mozarella & zucchini.  We were nearly too full for the ricotta pie.  Nearly.

    On Thursday, Delia & I did our now-annual trip to St Bart's to pay our respects to her parents in the crypt - miraculously, the organist began practicing for the Christmas service as we walked in the doors, so we got a great big glorious blast of that as lagniappe.  Then we wandered up Fifth Ave. looking for the perfect place for tea, but the St Regis was fully booked - we couldn't even snag a seat in the King Cole Bar, so we fell back on the little basement cafe at Bergdorf Goodman, which while short on decor has amazingly good food & nice staff.  Convenient, too, for looking at the store's holiday windows, which are, as usual, spectacular this year.  I tweeted a bunch of the Fifth Ave. windows - you can see links to all of them here, I think (also the pony-riding goats at the Big Apple Circus, which is where we went yesterday!).  And, oh, yeah, then we went to Tiffany's for a wedding gift for D's cousin - you wouldn't believe the price of silver, now!  Delia wanted to send some as it's what her mother would have done (groom's mother recently told very funny story about mailman in small town Louisiana actually trembling as he delivered her high school graduation box from Tiffany's [a small pin]) - so we settled on a very pretty little crystal vase instead.  And then, whaddayaknow - Tiffany's was giving out hot chocolate & candy & cookies to all! It was very impressive.  I had a reindeer, and then a bird in blue icing, which you can see in this photo I took of the entire impressive setup.

    Lessee, what else?  Daniel Rabuzzi sent me a link to Annie Lennox's new video God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (which title it took me years to realize is not "God rest you, merry gentleman" but "God rest you merry, gentlemen!"), saying:  Brings to mind Thomas the Rhymer, and Greer [Gilman]'s work. - oh, yes!  And if you youngsters don't already know Eurythmics/Annie Lennox's Here Comes the Rain Again and Walking on Broken Glass videos (yes, that is Hugh Laurie as her dorkish 18c beau), consider them my gift to you this year.  (And sorry about the commercials - YouTube wtf is up with that??!)

    Finally:  This piece by Susan Dominus in the NYTimes on today's wedding anniversary of four longtime friends just made me grin (and read every other line to Delia at the breakfast table!).  It also contains some remarkable truths & insights about my parents' generation.  Read it and be glad they were and are with us all.
    ellenkushner: (Spanish Swordspoint)
    I've been filked!

    Many and great are the delights of Finncon -- at least, when you're GoH. As we've been burning the midnight sun here in Jyvaskyla, and have a train to Tampere to catch in the morning, I will not enumerate them for you here . . .  ([livejournal.com profile] deliasherman  's been doing her best, but seems to have fallen behind; she is, however, writing in her journal even as I type).  I've done a bit of tweeting (@ellenkushner), but that's about it.

    I couldn't wait, though, to post the lyrics to the very clever song they wrote and sang for me last night.  You can't possibly enjoy it as much as I did - I howled - but try to do your best.

    (tune: She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain when she comes)
    (lyrics: Marianna Leikomaa)

    Now we want to sing a song of Riverside,
    it has many places for a man to hide.
    There are prostitutes and murders,
    scary place where your blood curdles
    but we always want some more of Riverside.

    If you like your life stay clear from Riverside,
    if you look too posh just kiss your ass goodbye.
    All you rich and noble scholars,
    better keep track of your dollars,
    even if you don’t care much of your own pride.

    Crazy people seem to drift to Riverside,
    it’s a place where inhibitions all subside.
    You may cause a lot of loathing,
    dress your niece up in your clothing,
    and in general be a bit on loopy side.

    Fantasy of manners, that is Riverside,
    politics and duels, often someone dies.
    It is all so very clever,
    and we don’t think that we’ll ever
    get enough stories which tell of Riverside.

    While Thomas the Rhymer's the only book of mine to be translated into Finnish, an astonishing number of Swordspoint fans have been coming out of the woodwork.  In their honor, today, I read "The Man with the Knives" at my reading (having done a gigantic performance of Thomas, with music, for my GoH "speech" the day before).  

    I made boys cry.

    ellenkushner: (Bessie McNicol)
    Ha!  Found the source of the French song I was desperately trying to remember so I could dig it out to play on Hour of the Wolf this morning at 5:00 am (as mentioned in previous post).  I knew it was Renaissance-ish, but could hear it in my head sung by a Brit folk group. ??  God bless YouTube, and those who sail on her:  I went in looking for "Le Mois de Mai" and somehow found my way to it:  Janequin's "Ce Mois de Mai" done by the wonderful Pyewackett on The Man in the Moon Drinks Claret.  I thought I owned the album, but it must have belonged to WGBH.  So I've just downloaded it from iTunes (thanks to the lovely gift certificate from S-- B--!).

    I've pulled a nice stack from my giant CD drawers of all kinds of cool stuff to play that ties into our declared topics one way or another:  Greek laments for Sofia (in the story) by Sophia Bilides and Finnish runesongs from Varttina, ditto . . . The Renbourne Group doing a terrific "Reynardine" (animal shapeshifter) . . . May Day/Morris from The Watersons & John Kirkpatrick . . . . 

    Dammit, I used to do this full-time.  And, yeah, I guess I do kinda miss it.
    ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
    WGBH (89.7 fm Boston & wgbh.org) is re-running the New Year's radio show I made:

    Sound & Spirit for the week of Jan. 3, 2010: Cycles

    As the calendar turns, many of us pause to reflect on the patterns that shape our year and our lives. Ellen Kushner examines the various passages in human life that mark significant changes, and how they are observed and celebrated in poetry, legend and music.

    Listen to the program</strong>

    (You can also hear it on demand any time by clicking through the alphabetical list of shows at the top of the page.)
    ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
    This morning's haze of slightly carboned toast & melty cheese (well you can't get the cheese properly brown without risking the edges of the bread) enlivened by Delia's dramatic reading of A.O.Scott's NYTimes review of the new Holmes movie. Honest - I thought she was improvising when she said: "It seems that an evil aristocrat, executed for a series of murders, returns from the dead to mobilize an ancient secret society that he may have time-traveled into a Dan Brown novel to learn about. Doesn’t that sound fascinating? I thought not."

    You have to admit it sounds like her.

    And now, on to music:

    [livejournal.com profile] sdn's FaceBook query a few weeks back re. people's most loathed Xmas song has had me brooding ever since. I realized I don't so much hate any particular song as hate certain musical styles. --OK, there are certain lyrics I really loathe - but you can also ruin a song I love by giving it an arrangement to match those other lyrics. I mean, I'd say something blanketty like: "I hate all Xmas songs written after 1895" - but in fact, there are a couple Victorian ones I could do without, and anything by Irving Berlin is fine by me - as long as it isn't sung by Frank Sinatra. I'm the wrong generation to enjoy Frank Sinatra. (And Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself: As I say, It's Complicated - and would require a lengthier and more thoughtful explication - with charts & texts & Be Specific, Give Examples - than I have time or inclination for here. And I like "The Little Drummer Boy." It's trad-friendly.) Anyhow, Arrangements: I was delighted to learn, this morning, that the right musical arrangement can redeem even the most abysmal song. This morning's edition of The Takeaway featured an interview with Twisted Sister members Dee Snider & Jay Jay French about their new album, Twisted Christmas.

    When they played the opening of the original of "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." I wanted to curl up and die - but when it kicked into Twisted Sister's version, I knew that was the way it was meant to sound! A delightful tune, really. You just have to put some heart & guts into the roasting bit.

    So you see, children, there is nothing that cannot be redeemed by art. (They also pointed out that the opening bars of "We're not Gonna Take It" are in fact "Adeste Fideles" - as poor Snider [or was it French?] kept pointing out: "Well, I am a classically trained counter-tenor with 19 years in church choir!" Bless his heart.)

    Orpheus X

    Dec. 10th, 2009 11:15 pm
    ellenkushner: (Latvian THOMAS)
    I am a huge Rinde Eckert fan - to me, his work practically defines "interstitial," and his performance is always electrifying. We went tonight w/Chiara to see his "Orpheus X" at TFNA, where it's playing through Dec. 20th. I don't think Chiara moved a muscle for the entire 90 minutes. The moment Rinde appeared, opened his mouth & let out that voice (and that passion), I practically started crying from pure joy. [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman will probably write it all up with all her erudite observations from the subway trip home.

    All I can say for now is that he & director Woodruff rang some terrific changes on the story: He's a popstar (in a near-future world meltdown), locked in his apartment; She's a small-press poet who died in his arms when his taxi hit her in the rain. She goes into the Underworld desperate to write ("When you're dead, they take away your pens and pencils") and is given chalk by the Queen of the Dead (played by a man who doubles as Orpheus' manager on earth - they also have an adorable [to a relative degree - the whole show is pretty intense!] duet about what it's like to sit at your desk & write.... "And then it's done?" the Queen says, and Euridice gently corrects her: "And then it's begun."). Too tired to say more now, but I wanted to let you know that, at least. There's a good interview with Rinde while he was developing the show for ART here; I just wish TFANA would put online his program notes for the current version, which are excellent.

    Now I'm listening to the entire Monteverdi Orfeo on YouTube - just so I can find the heartrendingly glorious [well, damn! I've played the whole thing, and he never sang The Song! And there's no way even on Google to look up "the tune that goes daaaa-dum, da daaaa dum....."!]
    ellenkushner: (IAF)
    As you may know, I'm a co-founder, currently serving as President, of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the support, and promotion of interstitial art: literature, music, visual and performance art found in between categories and genres – art that crosses borders.

    We have just published our second anthology of original writing, Interfictions 2, edited by Delia Sherman ([livejournal.com profile] deliasherman) & Christopher Barzak, and we're celebrating with a multi-city chain of readings, signings, and musical collaborations.

    TOMORROW (Friday) night we kick off the East Coast jam! I hope you can join me there: NEW YORK CITY )

    This is Brian's baby: He enthralled KGB audience a few months back with a a words/music mix, and I can't wait to see what he does with the potent combo of all those Interfictions writers + his band. Here's a sample of some of Brian & band's past improv readings.

    It really is art without borders.

    Not in NYC? No fretting: Brian & a bunch of writers & musician pals are doing another show in Boston next Friday, Nov. 13th at Lily Pad in Cambridge!
    ellenkushner: (Bordertown)
    Do you know what it is to truly love a video? ca. 1984?

    Do you?

    If you don't know the original of this, you probably won't laugh til your stomach hurts and tears pour down your face and your wife comes to the other end of the apt to find out if she's now married to a hyena.

    If you do . . . enjoy:

    October 2014

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