At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Robert Christgau Word of the Day

su·i ge·ne·ris adj. Being the only example of its kind; unique.

pro·te·an adj. 1. Readily taking on varied shapes, forms, or meanings. 2. Exhibiting considerable variety or diversity. (

Half Japanese Music to Strip By [50 Skadillion Watts, 1987]

What was still authentic cacophony last time has evolved inexorably into avant-gardism, its jazz/r&b elements articulated by ever classier sidemen. All 22 cuts are entertaining at least, and the musicianship adds listenability, which has its uses even with a singer who models himself on a wise-ass nine-year-old--"Silver and Katherine" is almost "beautiful." But the crude, breakneck, sui generis primitivism has slipped away somehow, and for all his protean whatsis (he's definitely a maturing nine-year-old, a contradiction I come to praise not to bury), Jad Fair is less himself without it. As of now, anyway. B+ (

Biblioblog is #1!...

...on the list of results on an obscure Swedish search engine for the search "smiths last night chord".

Where's Felix? I think his lease was to have expired yesterday.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Robert Christgau Word of the Day

in·gé·nue also in·ge·nue n. 1. A naive, innocent girl or young woman. 2. a. The role of an ingénue in a dramatic production. b. An actress playing such a role. (

Patricia Rushen Straight from the Heart [Elektra, 1982]

Hard to believe this nouveau ingenue was once a full-time jazz pianist--forgetting "Forget Me Nots," the whole first side could be one dancy vamp, and since in pop you're supposed to write the tunes beforehand you have to wonder how she fared when she had to make them up on the spot. Did a lot of vamping, I suspect. Granted, there's real songcraft on side two, if nouveau ingenues are your idea of real. I prefer side one. C+ (

Someone came across the site looking for "delhi palace amarillo." I noticed when I was in Amarillo on the 4th that a new Indian restaurant was opening up. This coincides, unfortunately, with the closing of the Latin American place I mentioned many months ago. I can't say I'm optimistic that Delhi Palace Amarillo will survive, given that Delhi Palace Lubbock is barely hanging on despite being in a university town.

I stumbled across this free, peer-reviewed, online journal which combines my two main interests.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The administration approved a new semester-long orientation course for incoming freshmen, called "Foundations of University Life." Topics include study skills, time management, handling stress...and library use. So we librarians will have to go in to all the sections of this course and serve up some hot, fresh B.I. to information-starved students. I'm searching the web for tips. "'Remember the Gin and Tonic': Using Alcohol to Teach Boolean Searching" would, given my partiality to that particular drink, be an exciting gimmick, but not kosher at a Baptist institution. "Using Tattooing to Teach Boolean Searching" would be more effective if I were a "modified librarian" myself.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Robert Christgau Word of the Day

ul·u·late intr.v. ul·u·lat·ed, ul·u·lat·ing, ul·u·lates To howl, wail, or lament loudly. (

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Intoxicated Spirit [Shanachie, 1996]

Look, it's simple. Do you want Michael Brook strumming and arranging and practicing right reason, or do you want the most awesome singer in the known universe manifesting his proximity to the divine for your voyeuristic delectation? Whatever rules apply to anyone else--Brook has done handsomely by Cheb Khaled, and most virtuosos should damn well hone their inspirations in the studio before bestowing them on the marketplace--don't apply to Nusrat. This album grabbed me not just because it's uncut--four unfaded tracks lasting 23, 24, 12, and 14 minutes--but because its Sufi ecstasy runs so close to the surface, far wilder than on RealWorld's equally uncut The Last Prophet. Students of song form may want to try Devotional and Love Songs, its harmonium and percussion augmented by a mandolinist-guitarist less distracting than Michael Brook. Me, I'll stick with Nusrat and his boys galloping off into the stratosphere--his wails, his flights, his tongue twisters, his ululations, his naming party for God. A- (

Lit crit of Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Robert Christgau Word of the Day

fugue n. 1. Music. An imitative polyphonic composition in which a theme or themes are stated successively in all of the voices of the contrapuntal structure. 2. Psychiatry. A pathological amnesiac condition during which one is apparently conscious of one's actions but has no recollection of them after returning to a normal state. This condition, usually resulting from severe mental stress, may persist for as long as several months. (

Kajagoogoo White Feathers [EMI America, 1983]

Anglophile album buyers are nothing if not fickle, and this well-named bit of fluff is just forgettable enough to get caught in the backlash. No, it's not entirely fair--the single's cute, as are the little fuguey bits. Boo hoo. C+ (

Summertime Blues

Things are slow here at the "learning resources center." Very few patrons asking reference questions. I haven't received any reviewing assignments or any issues from LJ or Choice in a while, so I can't while away the hours by either reading or writing reviews. I finished going through the reference collection looking for weedable titles, and sent my recommendations to the appropriate faculty. Most of them rubber-stamped the list. Some of the items made me nostalgic for my 1970s childhood; e.g. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About CB Radio and The Solar Energy Source Book.

I staved off boredom this Saturday by spending money, first here in town (where I picked up Led Zeppelin II for a buck and this book of photography for $2 at garage sales), then in Lubbock, where I bought holy cards at Brother John's Catholic Goods; incense at The Odyssey, a New Age boutique near Tech; wine, port, and vermouth at the Strip; and croissants, muffins, and coffee at the Market Street bakery. I went tent shopping at a couple of sporting goods shops, thinking a cheap escape from the ugly tedium of west Texas would be to go camping in the Sangre de Christo mountains of northern New Mexico. After some unsuccessful browsing at the used bookstores on 34th Street and a matinée showing of Whale Rider, I had a falafel sandwich at Lite Bite Mediterranean Restaurant and drove home. Sunday I spent in sloth.

Whale Rider is the first foreign/indie film to come into Lubbock since A Mighty Wind a month or two ago, so I was careful to arrange my consumerism around the screening times. The movie reminded me of Smoke Signals, which I saw years ago in South Bend. Both portray young aboriginals negotiating a compromise between tribal customs and modern values. Whale Rider has less humor but more emotional pull. The young lead actress, Keisha Castle-Hughes, is almost as photogenic as Natalie Portman, and in traditional Maori headdress and face paint is indeed a little reminiscent of Queen Amidala. I could lodge my usual complaint that the film's theme is stacked in favor of liberalism (e.g. the religious, patriarchal, traditionalist character is highly unsympathetic, and the denouement vindicates feminism), but why bother? One of the perquisites of winning the culture wars is that you get to impose your own laws of aethetics.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Robert Christgau Word of the Day

par·lay tr.v. par·layed, par·lay·ing, par·lays 1. To bet (an original wager and its winnings) on a subsequent event. 2. To maneuver (an asset) to great advantage: parlayed some small investments into a large fortune. n. A bet comprising the sum of a prior wager plus its winnings or a series of bets made in such a manner. (

Nico The End [Island, 1974]

I don't know vy she's moaning about unved virgins and vether to betray her hate, and I don't vant to know. The Manzanera-Eno-Cale settings, which I believe is what one calls this sort of elevated sound effect, are suitably morbid and exotic. But funereal irony aside, her parlay of the Doors' "The End" and the Fuehrer's "Das Lied Der Deutschens" contextualizes both tunes more pejoratively than is intended. Nico is what happens when the bloodless wager their minds on the wisdom of the blood and the suicidal make something of their lives. If this be romanticism, give me Matthew Arnold--and gimme shelter. C (


To be honest, I didn't enjoy transcribing Caves of Altamira. Even though its chord chart isn't one of Steely Dan's most complex, it still took me a long time to figure out--to the extent that I did, since I'm sure there are some chords I didn't identify correctly. However, after hacking through the dense harmonic undergrowth of Danland, charting other musical territory feels like a stroll in the park. So here are some E-Z guitar chords for Van Morrison songs.

  • By His Grace--[intro] D [verse] G A (x3) Fm7 Em G D (x2)
  • All Saints' Day--[verse] G Em7 Am7 D7 [bridge] C7 G C7 D7 [end on Gmaj7]
  • Hymns to the Silence--[verse] G6 Cmaj7 [chorus] Cmaj7 D G6
  • Carrying a Torch--[verse] C Em7/B Am7 Fmaj7 C Em7/B Fmaj7 C Em7/B Am7 Fmaj7 C G C [bridge] G Fmaj7 C G Fmaj7 G
  • Before the World Was Made--[intro] Dmaj9 Gmaj7 (x3) Dmaj9 Asus4 [verse] Dmaj7 Em7 F#m7 Gmaj7 Dmaj7 Em7 A Em7 A [chorus] per intro
  • Too Long in Exile--[verse] D A E B A E [bridge] B A E