The first one I discovered on Radio Swiss Classical (which if you haven’t discovered yet, you should check out. There’s also Radio Swiss Jazz. Both have no commercials and just play music.)
Not all classical music contains moments of sublimity, but when they do, there is something that aligns perfectly with something in the soul, a suspension, a discord, that resolves in a divine perfection.
Tchaikovsky’s Sacred Choral Music is that way for me. I didn’t even know he wrote sacred music. Most people love the Nutcracker Suite, Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet, and his 1st Piano Concierto. But these 9 Sacred Choral pieces are magical. I became addicted and couldn’t stop listening to them over and over.
The second recommendation is Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem in D Minor. Unlike the previous, these are set to music. Fauré was an organist so it figures prominently. I love especially the final movement, In Paradisium, which you may recognize.
This one also contains those resolutions that the aesthetic sense finds so satisfying.
Enjoy, and leave me a comment if you find them lovely, or if you want to recommend something to me.
If you are not a writer trying to publish a book, it may not occur to you.
The first thing a publisher wants to know is, What is your platform? In other words, how many followers do you have on your blog or social media.
For those of you who do not know, I have recently finished a writing degree and am transitioning into a writing career, and I need to get my name out there.
So if you wouldn’t mind, I am asking you friends to 1) follow my blog by subscribing using the Subscribe menu 2) follow me on Twitter @JeffreyAMays 3) jeffreyallenmays on IG and 4) repost and retweet things of mine—when you feel you can; I’m not asking anyone to get creepy.
Yes, this is a completely self-serving request. “Wouldn’t we all like to be reposted and retweeted,” you may be thinking. “What makes you so special?”
If you do not want to, of course you do not have to. But I’m just asking my friends who are willing to help me get my name out there in this way.
I am on a low-carb diet trying to knock off 10 lbs. This used to mean no beer, but I remembered Michelob Ultra and I would sadly drink it when with friends, wishing I could enjoy the full flavor of regular craft beers.
Well I’ve just discovered that many other brewers have developed low-carb beers!
Meet “Slightly Mighty” by the Dogfish Head Brewing Company! Only 3.5 carbs, 95 calories, and 4% ABV.
While not as totally satisfying as 90-minute IPA or one of their other brews, this on is still far better than Mick Ultra.
using utensils to eat real food. Or using tools of any sort
handwriting and arithmetic, and using them to write a letter to your
mother or a friend, or calculate the perimeter of your backyard
locomotion by any organic medium
making music with hands, feet or breath, music that does not involve programming
reading words on a page
getting a hair cut
looking at a piece of good art, waiting there patiently until you
begin to get it, having the lights come on, noticing things you didn’t
see at first, feeling thanks in your bosom toward the artist, coming
away with something new in your mind about human existence.
throwing a ball with a dog in an open field, even if the dog doesn’t bring the ball back, or throwing a shoe at a cat
drinking water. Or other real drinks like beer.
burning a candle, or burning anything for that matter
crying, trembling, hiding, greeting strangers on the sidewalk, wishing there was someone around,
becoming familiar with the stars and trying to get your mind around
them in a kind of embrace but ultimately finding you are unable to do
so, yet feeling their greatness and your earth-boundedness
finding the harmony in your head to a note played by strange tone
you hear somewhere but cant tell where its coming from; humming the note
out loud, like the two-notes in a train whistle
drying off with a nice towel after a shower and shaving with some
kind, any kind, of razor, it doesn’t matter what kind, and combing your
hair into a nice part and facing others having tended your own garden,
not just wandering into public like an animal
I’m sure there are others. Why not leave a ‘comment’ with your own additions?
Late at night I’m minding my own business, doing my own thing, and then Youtube says, “Hey, you watched Rosanna last night.”
I’m thinking, “Bloody algorithm. Leave me alone.”
It wont leave me alone.
“You wanna watchit again??”
It’s the “40 Years around the Sun” tour version. Brilliant and totally epic. Delicious no matter who you are. It’s video cocaine. And when Steve Lukather goes into his guitar solo toward the end it’s like we were submerged under water. A fish tank of Time and Space descend and it’s an expanding globe of wowism and holy-what is this! You are lost in sound and sight and nostalgia, because, well, it’s a great song from the 80’s.
And I’m thinking “Yezh I do, but no, because it’s too soon. I just watched it last night.”
And Youtube wins. SO I watch it again.
Then Youtube says, “You like Rosanna. You wanna listen to Hold The Line?”
And I’m thinkin’, I gotta move on. There’s a whole world of content out there. But OK, YES.
So I watch “Hold The Line”.
And then Youtube says, “You wanna watch “The rains down in Africa?” and I think, like a prison victim, like a crack addict, “OK. Yeah, I’ll watch Africa.”
And when I cannot take anymore, Youtube says, “You wanna watch Georgie Porgie“?
Today marks the first day of my new career as a writer, that is, not as a hobby or something to piddle around with on evenings and weekends. Today, liberated from a traditional American employment model, I now set out to discover what it means to be a professional writer.
It also means the resurrection of this blog and likely other blogs to come. So I restart this blog with a poem by Langston Hughes that someone shared with me some weeks ago. It is a fitting vessel to describe my new endeavor.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Does it fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
(This post was written long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, probably in 2016 but not published until 2018)
Aside from the title, which was way more auspicious than the film delivered, I was sad for Oscar Isaac, an actor that I like, that he was cast in such a one-dimensional role. He has great talent as an actor, and none of it showed in this film. But Star Wars films have never been known as breeding grounds for future Marlon Brandos.
I have seen Oscar Isaac in at least three other movies:
Inside Llewyn Davis
A Most Violent Year
Ex Machina [2018 edit: His subsequent role as Apocalypse in the Avengers series maybe wasn’t a dramatic role, but he was still great, even though I’m lukewarm toward Avenger’s movies. And…well, if you’re an actor, you want to work, so you take the roles you can get.]
and I think I can say that, as an actor, he HAD to leap at the chance to be in at least one Star Wars episode. I mean, he is young enough that he grew up with Star Wars lore as part of his youth.
But I think he was conflicted. After working with the Coen Brothers (!) on Inside Lewyn Davis, and staring in the very innovative Ex Machina, he has to be thinking, as he walked on to the Disney set, “am I sure this is going to further my establishment as an actor?”
Was it a step up, or a step down for him? This has to tell you something about the film. It’s STAR WARS. And Oscar Isaac is questioning whether it will help his career.
Because if you saw his part, you noticed that he played a one-dimensional, totally transparent, flim-flam, comic book, did-this-in eighth-grade-drama-class, character.
"Yes. I played in the highest grossing film in the history of all film worldwide. No, it did not advance my acting career."
Because whoever wrote the script was laboring under the heavy iron grasp of Disney film, the nail-toothed, black-souled, iron-hearted, family-friendly, positive-messaged, giggly, feel-good-of-the-century, because-it-draws-the-masses-with-the-allure-of-traditional-values paradigm.
after a long, desperate, nauseated, hairless battle with terminal cancer
by withdrawal of sustenance after being kept alive artificially
by some silly accident when I am so old and senile I can’t take care of myself, like falling and hitting my head against a porcelain toilet bowl
by a degenerative neurological disease (or rather, after the horror of perhaps years with such a disease, and then to succumb to some infection.)
after doctors have made herculean efforts to keep me alive so I can be miserable for another year, and then die
because of the failure of some pharmaceutical to do its job
liver failure due to being prescribed so many pharmaceuticals in an attempt to keep me alive
car accident (conversely, being kept alive by an airbag is an unacceptable way of avoiding death because of the essential absurdity of the entire situation. [Credit to Radiohead’s song Airbag for bringing this to my attention: “…an airbag saved my life”.] Are you kidding? Do you also like to go to inflatable bouncy houses? I’m a grown man here. I’ll drive slower, thank you, or just go ahead and die if I have to drive so stinking fast, rather than suffer the indignity of bouncing off of a balloon in the car. Just ride a bike or a horse like a man.)
drowning or falling from a high place, because both are too terrifying and give you no time to prepare yourself
most of the ways people die today
Acceptable ways of dying:
by a gunshot wound during an armed uprising against a corrupt government, like the Parisian anti-royalist students in Les Misérables
(written 6/2017) There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have seen enough pornography that they can watch Closer without getting squeamish, and those who have not and cannot. I am not joking. There are seriously, literally these two categories. Those from the second category would see Closer as if they were bombarded by porn and they could not appreciate the film as an article of contemporary film art because they are blinded and offended by the language initially, but later by the blunt frank nudity, pole dancing, stripping, and raging sexual encounters (mercifully off-screen but described vividly).
This is a common quandary I find myself in: unable to recommend a movie to friends because I know that they are not hardened, soul-sickened, destroyed in their sensitivities as I am and therefore if I were to set a certain film before them, they would only undergo the destruction of the virtue of their innocence. They would not be able to view the film in any other mode. Their response would be grief, shock, offense. These responses I guess I went through at some point long ago. They are so far behind me that I am able to watch films like Closer somewhat bored with the sexuality and appreciate the drama and poignancy of the story.
By the way, it is Clossser? or Clozer? Close as in ‘near’ or close as in ‘closing up shop’? Perhaps the ambiguity of the title is part of the point.
Anyway, it was a sternum-blow of a movie, adapted from a stage play, and it explored a 4-way love quadrangle riddled with wild attraction, betrayal, cowardice, and guilty brutal abandonment of objects of a once-passionate love affair/marriage. How can a heart be so cold, we ask ourselves? Who could so brazenly, so guiltily, turn against a lover who was so committed, so dependent on them? Are we just plumbing the depths here? Seeing how heartless people can be? Are we portraying extremes of love and betrayal? Is this some Greek tragedy? Are we supposed to respond with pity and fear, like Oedipus or Antigone? Are the gods also gasping in horror?
Another point. I think the story is severely colored by the fact that the four main players are four of the most beautiful people in the world. Now, how does this change the equation? As a viewer, my heartstrings are pulled even harder than usual. For the love of all constancy, Natalie Portman is stupefyingly beautiful, as is and has been for 20 years, Julia Roberts. And Jude Law? Clive Owen? These are two fine, beautiful men beyond all reason. And these four are first loving one, then another? What is an average-looking, middle class, fly-over guy to think?
So this film, while it purports to show us the destructive power of betrayed love, actually shows us nothing that we can personally deal with, can relate to, because we are constantly distracted and dazzled (at least, I am) by the uncommonly beautiful, angelic faces acting out the drama before us. These people are not like us, we say. They don’t look like me, their capacity for destruction of their beloved is foreign to me, their overweening animal appetites are not like mine, their heartlessness, their sympathies, their incredulity is totally Hollywood and unlike any normal person’s experience. And the trajectory of the plot does not leave us with any hope.
This is one of those artistic endeavors that, however artful, has nothing for us to take home. It is in the category of art for art’s sake, which I more and more have come to reject as a premise for art. Portrayal of extremes for the sake of an extreme experience. For a thrill. Not to show us something real, not to exhort viewers to anything like fidelity, sympathy, self-restraint, or dignity. Not even to say something altogether true about human brokenness.
“One last BANG for old time’s sake,” the character says. Seriously? Yup, and only then will he sign the divorce papers. Who does that? Revenge sex. Combative, strip club banter. Let me pour you a drink honey, before I reveal that I had sex with your rival 30 minutes before you walked in the door. What do we do with this?
Nothing. I’m not particularly incisive about these things, but I’ve seen the film two times now, and I do not see anything to take away except the emotionally brutal extremes of four stunningly beautiful people falling in love and then having affairs that destroy the beautiful relationship they had, AND the person they appeared to have found that special thing with.
And like the animal that I frequently am, and endeavor to rise above someday, I enjoyed the film for its tantalizing parts, and for the actors whom I have developed that theater-seat sense of connection to. But in my mind, not my heart, the knowledge is there that this story is void of virtue, is a mere relic of 2004 that will be forgotten by time. Because there was nothing enduring, no heroism, no lasting, faithful love outside the context of betrayal, no self-denial, nothing eternal.