Thursday, May 24, 2007

In a mariachi mood: Music and some merry mental meanderings for the Meridian's minions

Vicente Fernández, on the cover of his album, El ídolo de México. This is what he sounds like, too.

For sheer popularity and crossover and cross-generational appeal, the United States todayhas no comparable singer to the man you see pictured here. Perhaps Sinatra in the heyday of his career (the '40s through the '60s) would be comparable. Perhaps my friend René in Mexico City will be kind enough to supplement my anecdotal perspective, but during my two years in Mexico I literally never met anyone who didn't like Fernández, who didn't own at least one album by him. That alone makes him fascinating. What makes him worth a little of your time, even if this style of music isn't your cup of tea, is his extraordinary voice. These songs, "Si acaso vuelves" ("In Case You Return") and "El rey" ("The King"), both on this album, should suffice to determine whether you want to hear more or, alternately, whether this confirms certain past suspicions you may have had of me.

"Minions" is an exaggeration, I admit, but it is nevertheless true that, beginning about a month ago, visits to this blog jumped substantially. Before, a "busy" day here would be about 30 unique visitors; now, an "average day" is around 70. Not DailyKos or Instapundit territory by any means, but it's both pleasing and a bit mystifying--aside from switching over to Beta at about that same time, nothing has changed here. ::shrug:: It's at moments like this when I think back on Winston's advice regarding my Toyota and I think, Hmm: that sounds like pretty good advice for blogs, too.

Add to the recent sustained uptick in visitors here the facts that a) many of the people I read regularly have been writing really, really well of late and b) in recent days I've run across new places you might find of interest, and it strikes me that a round-up post might be of benefit to all sorts of folks.

Lots of links below the fold, some of them leading to pieces that are quite long. Just so you know.


Over at 327 Market, Camille has been making, sending and receiving postcards. Here they are. They are beautiful, sometimes humorous . . . always engaging in ways that few postcards are.

Bruce of It seems to me . . . has a thoughtful (really!) discussion of the rather Biblically-dubious claims of Rapturists.

R. Sherman of Musings from the Hinterland has a second installment in his nascent You Be the Jury series. The especially-diligent among you will find a poem I wrote inspired by the case (of course, I recognize that knowing that in advance may make some of you decide to be less diligent than you might otherwise be).

Jim of The New York Minute gets into the commencement-address spirit, sort of.

The above-mentioned Winston of Nobody Asked . . . has embarked on answering questions asked of him by another blogger in the Interview Meme that some of you may remember seeing here. Winston seems intent on creating especially magisterial responses to the questions he's received; so far, they've been great fun to read. Here is Part 2, and here is Part 3.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I am a most appreciative reader of Today at the Mission because of its clear-eyed, rubber-hits-the-road praxis of the Gospel: an exhilarating blend of Christian realism--which is to say, honest explorations of doubt and faith, of failures and successes. In this post, a friend of the writer visits the mission for the first time and reports on what he sees. Not as simple as it sounds.

Elizabeth of Woolgathering is an artist and illustrator in Pittsburgh. Right now, the focus of her blog is on making and displaying a painting a day in a journal, usually in watercolors, though not always. Visiting there each morning has become a real treat for me. It might for you, too.

Finally, Amy of Atlantic Avenue issues a blogospheric cri de coeur that, I suspect, few of us will be able to resist.

Here follow some links to (very) long posts:

Gawain of Heaven Tree is the art-blog world's International Man of Mystery: English, based in Thailand but apparently able to travel anywhere on a whim (especially if beautiful art is at the end of the journey); and, as with his current visit to Italy, able to linger . . . and linger . . . and linger (he's been there since mid-April). I try not to dwell on this man's circumstances--envy, I recall, is a sin--and instead focus on his posts. They likewise linger; the things he writes about deserve that attention. I never fail to learn something from him; I'd think that'd be true of anyone who is passionate about art. Anyway, in this post Gawain draws a distinction between "art history" and what he would prefer to see, a "history of art"--that is, the solving of certain technical problems; here, he reports that he's found a book on Tiepolo that does just what he calls for in the earlier post.

If you are not by now a regular visitor to Hank's blog, A Lake County Point of View, I have to ask what your problem is. Not in an insulting way, but out of true concern for you. Pablo Neruda once said of Julio Cortázar,

Anyone who does not read Cortazar is doomed. Not to read him is a serious invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who has never tasted peaches. He would quietly become sadder . . . and, probably, little by little, he would lose his hair.

Just about every time I read Hank's longer posts, I feel exactly that same way about people not reading him. It is rare to read someone anywhere who takes such obvious delight in learning for its own sake and in sharing that learning. But enough of that. If after reading this you don't add his blog to your your rolls, I have no idea what will persuade you . . . and of course, the next time he posts something like this, I'll try again. I don't know what else to do. Horse, meet water.

Ann Althouse is an extraordinarily prolific conservative law-professor blogger at the University of Wisconsin. She has an enormous readership. She also has the blogosphere's equivalent of a phenomenon of physics named for her: the Althouse Vortex, which consists of an Althouse post, the commentary on how wrong/self-absorbed/narrow she is, and the commentary on that commentary (much of that supplied by Althouse herself as she keeps track of and responds to her attackers). A couple of days ago, Belle Lettre of Law & Letters performed an enormous service to those of us wanting to live vortex-free lives by sampling a bit of the Vortex in a generous enough quantity that you can see in miniature how the Vortex works and walk away afterward, as a result of the smack-down in the comments in the final post (and you'll know when you get there), able to say, "Been there, done that" without fearing that you're missing a thing from that time on.

In "Paleological Grammar," Conrad Roth of Varieties of Unreligious Experience goes on at considerable length about a book that, he says, none of us have ever heard of but which pokes considerable fun at the very learnedness that it could not have been produced without. Conrad provides numerous scans of illustrations from its pages. Meanwhile, here he supplies us with a little law of conversation that will strike most every smarter person as a valuable law to exercise from here on. Be sure to have a look at the comments for some other suggestions on how to handle this conversational dilemma.

Recent additions to the blogrolls:

Most of these bloggers have been kind enough to link back to me as well.

Acephalous. Oh, to have been this smart--and this funny--when I was in grad school.

Either/Or. From somewhere in the South, Mary writes from the nexus of Christianity, the intellectual life, and teaching the value of the latter to skeptical and suspicious members of the former.

Here in Katie's Head. A Wichita blogger with a bit of an edge to her writing as she explores the familiar bloggy themes of single-20-ish-woman-ness and work.

Tales from the Microbial Laboratory. Pam's blog's masthead says it all: "Gardening. Science. Poetry. Life." She's in Charleston, South Carolina. Not a photoblog, but her posts are often accompanied by wonderful pictures.

In medias res. Another Wichita blogger, Russell Arben Fox teaches political theory but is best known for "Harry Potter Predictions," an amazing combination of intertextual reading, extrapolation, and good old fashioned speculation. What matters to me is less whether he'll be proven right or wrong than its well-written obsessiveness. Doesn't post often, but worth the occasional check back.

Sensibilities. From the Philippines, Maryanne urges us to "take time." She is a writer who writes about writing and reading and does so elegantly.

"Stray" stuff:

Art lovers will enjoy the Rijks-widget, a desktop widget courtesy of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. Each day the widget produces a different image from the museum's collection (it is best known for its Dutch Baroque collection), along with lengthy commentary about the painting and artist. As best I can determine, this is the only widget of its kind.

In the course of poking about the Internets for this post, I ran across some interesting places. First and foremost was Shopping Carts in Ravines a Toronto blog. Blogger Chris Ortiz was kind enough to drop by and provide this eloquent description of his blog's concerns:
I think that discarded shopping carts littering natural and urban environments are symbolic of the most unpleasant things about consumer culture... hence how they can draw together the different things I blog about. I also think that it's something that almost everyone in North America can relate to, from those in inner-city ghettos to those in suburban sprawlhomes. Rural, maybesorta, but I'm not sure that's really my target audience in most cases.

Obviously, these are not Canadian concerns only.

Finally, via Clusterflock come two niche-blogs (I don't know what else to call them). First up is Passive-aggressive notes from roommates, neighbors, coworkers and strangers. With a name like that, you have to ask what you'll find there? Some of the notes strike me as tending a wee bit toward the aggressive side of the continuum, but they're fun to read anyway. The keeper of that blog, by the way, also hosts there are lots of k.millers in the world. i get their gmail, a "virtual lost-and-found" for . . . isn't it wonderful when people title their blogs so that you know just what you'll find there? Unlike a place like Blog Meridian, of course.

I also want to remind the Kansas-oriented among you that I'll be hosting this Monday's Carnival of the Kansas Guild of Bloggers. Be sure to submit something.

I'll be away from here for a few days. Have a safe and relaxing holiday.


The Aunt said...

I trust you on music. You have led me to Sigur Ros.

I suspect this gentleman is rather different.

John B. said...

Um, rather, yes.

René López Villamar said...

John, not everyone here loves Vicente Fernández, but you're quite right about saying that everyone owns at least one of his albums. My grandmother loves him, and listens to him every morning for an hour.

The words to "El Rey" are better known that the national anthem.

Vicente Fernandez Tickets said...

Vicente Fernandez is totally awesome.Well,my grandmother as one of his fan shares story for his concert shows.And now,it will be an honor to watch him live this coming October 8 at Florida.Hope to see you all there.