11 September 2007

I must say, this blog has gone downhill, eh? Once a haven of firebrand rhetoric and visceral diatribes of ideological evaluation and debate where the greatest minds of an entire generation congregated to collectively solve the world's ills, now a pallid and limp exposition of whatever shallow observations and opinions I find fit to trot out before the masses, typically entertainment reviews (revues?) spiced with the occasional priceless pearl of wisdom from the grab-bag of Neufish Insight. Rather like Thom Jefferson, fresh from writing some really cracking stuff about courses of human events and such in the Declaration of Independence, starting a column in the Philadelphia Gazette where he talks about the unparalleled excellence of his supper the previous night, how much he loves to read the works of Danielle Steel, and his personal picks for the finalists of Commonwealth Idol. But as President Jefferson would be likely to say if such a downfall was pointed out to him, yah boo, sucks to you!

There's something very comforting in P.G. Wodehouse's writing. I was sitting outside last night while some beef ribs cooked over smoking embers of mesquite and apple wood, and to pass the time I picked out "Life with Jeeves" and started reading a chapter at random. While the plots are well devised, the real appeal of these books is in the style and language. Perhaps it was the respite of cool (almost cold) weather, but sitting outside (in the occasional spot of drizzling rain) reading that book was surprisingly relaxing and palliative after a day of mass hysteria at work.

I've been bitten by the 10mm bug. There are a number of loads that exceed 700, even 750 foot pounds in muzzle energy. Compared to, say, a .380ACP, which will be closer to 200 ft/lbs. .40S&W and .45ACP are more around the 400 range. The 10mm even beats out the .357 Magnum in most loads in muzzle energy. Somewhat dwarfs my previous favourite "performance caliber" .357SIG, which attempted to duplicate the muzzle energy of a .357 Mag but always fell a little short. The Tanfoglio Witness line of pistols, developed from the classic CZ-75, includes a stunning little compact steel 10mm, that has my name on it. It will no doubt be recoil-icious...750 ft/lbs one way is going to equal a decent amount of force in the opposite direction (into my hand). Still, I'm young, and you can always buy 10mm loaded to lighter pressures, similar to the .40S&W, derisively known as the .40 Short and Weak. As a little background info to those of you that are not gun geeks, the .40 Smith and Wesson is basically a shortened 10mm cartridge that was designed as a compromise because 10mm Auto was considered too powerful in recoil for FBI agents to handle...probably making allowances for smaller framed and female agents. Thus .40S&W took off (and is now one of the world's major handgun calibers) and 10mm Auto is a historical cartridge that is rare but retains a small but rabidly loyal enthusiast fanbase.


あじ said...

Well, I for one continue to read your blog, even if you do post links to inane writings of people who are neither musicians nor poets... but I remain immersed in pointless but beautifully logical musings of the material universe (why is the present world so full of fourth-rate philosophers? does no one teach logic these days?) so I lack the time to write intelligible comments related to that which I complain of. Forgive me... Fear not: one day your blog will shine again, like fire on a polished steel blade.

These "captcha" things are rather annoying, but I must be thankful I am not blind and therefore unable to leave comments at all.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Hehe, Horse Mackerel, I find myself wondering which writer of inanity that is neither a poet nor a musician you are referring to, the hymn-obsessed guy who wrote the Pulpit article (pauses to look up name...John MacArthur) or the guy who wrote the spasmodically awful lyrics about heartbeats, the use of tears to marinate beef hearts and other organ meats, and time machines that have not been invented. In any case, don't worry...just breathe it in, breathe it out, and listen to your heartbeat.

Parallel theory...perhaps Steve Chapman is getting into hallucinogenic drugs? The song makes much more sense when you consider it coming from a guy tripping heavier than a blind five-legged Hindu deity in a field of rakes complaining of a sense of dizziness. I mean, like, dude...time machines...experiencing the here and now...feeling the awe of this very second, man...way cool. It's like, dude, if we could build a time machine, would we actually want to use it? ....whoah.

How is it that I can't stop picking on this poor sap and his song. I'll let it go.


あじ said...

Hey, I'm not about to defend Mr. Chapman or his music, or any of the other eardrum-violating fluff that passes for music these days! Nevertheless, there is good music to be found that does not remind me of stuffy 18th-century Britons and (gasp) doesn't fit into iambic pentameter. I honestly do wonder how sad music must have been before the invention of the organ - the joy that must have filled God's heart that glorious day!

A great many songs I've been hearing recently are re-inventions of the Psalms. The typical complaint about them? They're repetitive. Ah well, you can't please everybody. I'm just pleased to find space for music: most hymns feel like they're trying to cram words into every possible spare beat; melodic liturgy, essentially.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

I can dig it. As someone who frequently pores through hymnals hunting for oldies-but-goodies to rearrange, I can attest that there are a lot of ripe old stinkers.

Re the Psalms, Sam mentioned the same criticisms of Psalm based music, which honestly I've never encountered (said criticisms). I've not run across anyone that has at least admitted to finding the Psalms repetitive...anyway, the following was my response:

I'd say that it isn't necessarily repetition that is the problem. As you say, the psalms are full of repetition, but the two big examples I know of (Psalm 118 and 136) are chock to the brim full of material other than just the repeated line. Repetition becomes more a problem when there is nothing more in the song than just emotion and the classic "Jesus is my boyfriend" theme borrowed from countless soft pop anthologies of the 70s and 80s. Repetition itself isn't insipid...but the repetition OF the insipid is where it starts to raise proverbial eyebrows.

And I agree about some hymns that are overstuffed (or is it o'erstuffed?) with text. What can I say, in centuries past Britain was much keener on language, as can be observed in the fact that Shakespeare was often catering to the lower classes in his plays (which nowadays are often seen as impossibly wordy). But then again, as a musician I've always thought that music could be worshipful without lyrics, just as many symphonies have been written in vain effort to describe the greatness and majesty of God through sound. That applies to all art, not just music.

I suppose that may be close to my main beef. Popular Christian music has largely abandoned both doctrine/truth and any sense of art. Not all, but great swathes of "Christian artists" are not actually engaged in art but mimickry and and the cheap manufacture of imitation goods catering to the Christian culture.

Again, we're back to a classic Neufish theme, that of the relative lameness of the majority of modern Christian music to its secular counterpart. Centuries ago we led the pack, now in the post-Beatles era we've accepted a great lot of stupifyingly awful music packed to the backteeth with cliches, both lyrical and musical.

(From the peanut gallery: Let's see you do any better, you sodding prat!)

OK, good point.

あじ said...

I hate this constant scrolling to read/reply. Who came up with this interface? As a side note, is there a way to subscribe to a comment feed here? Maybe Wordpress has spoiled me...

Anyway, I'm short on time, but I think you made a lot of excellent points. Mimicry and imitation are excellent descriptions of so much of what goes on in "Christian culture." Every last marketing slogan, design, fad, whatever, is exploited (whether for money or lack of creativity). It's rather gross, actually. The ultimate call to repentance and self-sacrifice reduced to a cheap marketing campaign. We expect to be taken seriously?

You've certainly opened up a can of worms there, dear Eustace. But I must retire for the evening.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

I agree the commenting feature could use some improvement, but I'm a loyalist and tend to stick with services with which I've thrown in my hat. Case in point, I've had a Hotmail account for over a decade, and I even pay for it on an annual basis because I hated the ads.

Regarding my critical comments directed at artless Christian music and culture, I don't want to give the impression I'm reserving it solely for the mainstream "Brickworld" Anglo-Christendom that has 2.5 kids and lives in the outer 'burbs. No, the pendulum swings just as hard the other way, where pockets of the disgruntled gather temporarily around the latest transient new $19.95 hardcover that excoriates the above church culture. I've listened to or played a modest quantity of music from the hippie revolution sect of Christianity and while music appreciation is entirely subjective, half the time that sort of music seems more concerned with having a facade of artiness (and thus the respect of being called "artistic") than actually providing quality stuff, real art. I guess in some senses I like art to not be self-conscious. Even in my own writing of music, I hate it if I do something that may sound artistic/off-the-wall/unique, but I do so intentionally for that very purpose, not for simply creating beautiful music.

It's like the difference between Rush and Yes to me. Now, before I anger any readers that dig the Rush, I do too, and this is a totally subjective opinion. To me Rush is a mainstream rock band with a mainstream rock heart, and they have technical proficiency and they incorporate a lot of unique and progressive "musical weirdness" into their songs, because they can. It makes the songs better, but at heart, they are usually relatively straight-forward, in musical and lyrical content.

Yes on the other hand...well, let's just say I think there were herbal reasons for this, but they are generally out there, space aliens, wacko-but-genuinely-not-faking-wacko. Jon Anderson's lyrics and their musical writing was all but insane, and probably had chemical underpinnings. Now in the past couple decades he writes music that lost the insanity and mystery of earlier Yes, and he comes across as a New Age elf-munchkin. Van Gogh was brilliant in his artistic wildness because he really was a touch crazy.

Where was I?

Oh, right. Art and music. I guess I just wished Christianity wasn't so bleeding outclassed nowadays. They have Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe; we have Crowder repeating "revolutionary love". They have latin jazz, we have an endless sea of strumming acoustic guitars. Fine instruments of course, but its like an old person buying a Ferrari to drive at 20mph on a weekly trip to the grocery store. It is capable of so much more than what it is used for.

A lot of the old songs just offered more in the way of melodic and harmonic complexity. Ever hear the Navy or Marine choirs sing "Eternal Father, Strong to Save"? It's a very beautiful and rich song. I've got a version by a university marching band and choir that is quite nice.

Rambling to cease now.

Matt said...

Now, understand, they're putting in a new window in an office near mine, and the air is heavy with the fumes of glue. My thoughts are unintelligable, I will not claim work I did on 9/13/07 as my own, and my comment will make little to no sense.

That being said, the multi-lower-extremity-appendaged Hindu god comment made me laugh aloud. Which must mean it's pretty danged funny, because I always try to suppress laughter at work. Cube walls hide a temporal lack of the nose-to-the-grindstone mentality, but laughter lets everyone know that I've temporarily told my write up to piss off.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Funny, because "multi-lower-extremity-appendaged" is probably how the Germans would translate "5-legged"...you know how they've got a thing for compound words. I believe the word is "mehrfachniedrigerextremitätanhang."

あじ said...

I think it interesting that so much music I listen to is heavily U2-influenced, both "secular" and "christian". So, we have U2 (in a way), The Fray (young and untested), Sufjan Stevens. On the other side there's Marty Sampson, Jonathan Helser, Crowder. Not that I really know a lot of names: I'm sure I left a bunch out. But yeah, I don't see us in the realm of avante-garde anytime soon.

I wonder, is it proper to split music between outside the church and inside? If the audience can't sing along, should it not be played in a church service? Why do we categorize things so much? Anyway, it's late and I'm rambling again. My apologies: my thoughts are so much more beautiful than my writings.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

De gustibus non est disputandum, roughly translated to "ain't no accountin' for taste". A fact of which I often need to remind myself. What may be mindless crap may be deep to someone else, and the key point is, the opposite is true. It isn't that my favoured sorts of music are by nature superior...there are plenty of people firmly of the mind that the styles of music I like are festering heaps of auditory excrement. And that's OK. Non est disputandum and all that fun stuff.

As for categorizations and such, I don't know. Ultimately when things get that far over my head, I take a line from Tennyson and think mine not to make reply, mine not to reason why, mine but to do and die.

And from my perspective it is early and I am rambling again, so no worries. I'd better stop here before I start making sense by random chance.