Saturday, February 24, 2007

In which the Meridian hears his bucket scraping the cold dry bottom of the Well of Inspiration

This is a sad thing: 3 days before the 3rd anniversary of this blog and, like the kids say these days, I got nuthin'.

Stuff has happened, to be sure. Why, just yesterday, Mrs. Meridian and I had a wonderful breakfast at Milton's in Lawrence (here is a review) with Joel (he of Cup o' Joel fame) and his wife Jocelyn. Mrs. M. discovered that she and Joel attended the same elementary school in Augusta (the town, about 20 miles east of Wichita, where the Mrs. had spent her formative years), though not at the same time. Joel is as warm and articulate in person as he is in his blogospheric incarnation, which didn't surprise me to learn but which pleased me nonetheless.

The river ice is gone. So is the cold, for now. And so are the crows, too. For now.

Back on Thursday I heard someone in an interview on NPR say "There comes a person in every moment's life . . . " and just sort of stopped listening to the interview as I pondered the metaphysics of that marvelous misstatement. As Mrs. M. said, that would make a great opening line for a story.

The words are other people's, and accidents at that.

Scrape.



Scrape.

Of course, the folks I read on a regular basis are writing quite deliberately, and quite well besides. Below the fold are some especially noteworthy things you might enjoy.


Over at Heaven Tree, Gawain has posted an extraordinary series of entries on Chinese paintings and ceramics that he's seen during an extended visit to the National Palace Museum in Taipei. He writes out of a boundless knowledge of these works and an even more-boundless love for them. These are long, closely-written posts, just so you know. 1, 2, 3, 4 (not specifically about the show, but it's something of an outgrowth of his visit to the show), and 5.

Andrew Simone of Those Things Thought makes an eloquent (to my ear) argument for the primacy of theology over philosophy.

Conrad Roth of Varieties of Unreligious Experience turns his insomnia into a meditation on the ebb and flow of texts in our culture's collective memory.

Randall Sherman has a short but thoughtful piece on the meaning of Lent over at Musings from the Hinterland.

And finally, just a general word of praise for Last.fm. This is a service that keeps track of the music you listen to while on your computer via iTunes and internet sources, points you in the direction of others who have similar listening tastes--some of whom have formed discussion forums you can join, has an extensive member-maintained wiki on artists and bands, and even has some free mp3 downloads--some by people you've heard of. It also lets the more narcissistic among you (see: Meridian, Blog) post charts of music you've recently listened to on your blog. And those are just the free services. I've found Last.fm an excellent way to learn about new music (though, because its content reflects the tastes of its users, it's heavily tilted in the direction of whatever "alternative" means these days, electronica, dance, and the like. But, as I say, those of us with other or more diverse musical tastes can shape that content via just listening to music online and contributing to the wiki. These things serve to make Last.fm feel like a community. Check it out.

Scrape.

Yeah--that's it for now, it appears. I hope to have something more substantive up in a day or two.

3 comments:

Joel said...

John: Also my great pleasure to meet you and yours.

I pretty quickly grew bored of Last.fm, just like I get tired easily of Pandora. In the former case, the music is giving me more music like what other people like me like. In the latter, it gives you more music like what you already like. In either case, the element of surprise -- the pleasure of discovering something unexpected -- is greatly reduced.

Those problems are even worse in over-the-air radio, of course, and satellite radio allows you to fine-tune your tastes so narrowly that surprise is near impossible. Tuning into a good free-form station, via the Internet, seems the only good remaining option.

Sine.Qua.Non said...

John, pretty good scrapper!

Guys, try Musicovery. And, when you use these services, listen to some music on the edges of what you like rather than dead center or the norm. This way, the world opens up musically to more extremes in that realm.

John B. said...

Thanks to both of you for commenting.

Joel, I get what you're saying, and I don't merely want to hear music that, though different, serves as a further confirmation of what I already like. I don't know how far back Sine's memories of Austin go, but I came into musical consciousness in the '70s via listening to KLBJ, which used to be a free-form station. To hear jazz and folk and early punk and and shorter Philip Glass pieces and traditional country and prog rock and everything else butting up against each other in the same sets really got the old synapses firing. Anyway, so far Last.fm has led me to music that's truly new to me, though as Joel notes even at that the element of surprise is somewhat reduced since it's still the listener who is making the selections. Incidentally, those interested can look at a couple of earlier posts of mine. The notion of culture as not merely reducible to its products as also being about the experiencing of those products in a shared physical space is, I'm reminded again, a recurring theme of this little old blog. Technology makes the sharing easier than it's ever been; but it makes our physical isolation from each other easier as well: we're less likely to hear something cool while we're physically together, unplugged from the digital grid.

Having said all that, thanks, N., for the link to Musicovery. It reminds me of what Pandora does, but I like the spatial-relation element to it; I've already had fun playing around with it this morning--I've heard some good jazz that I'd like to hear more of.