At Home He's a Tourist

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

Thursday, February 05, 2004


We have three of the author's previous books, each of which have received 3-6 circulations, pretty good for academic titles. This fact, combined with the positive reviews below, makes this look like a desirable acquisition.

Solomon, Maynard. Late Beethoven: music, thought, imagination. California, 2003. 327p indexes afp ISBN 0-520-23746-3, $29.95 .

Choice: "profound and wide-ranging...provides many intellectual, cultural, and musical insights...Minor quibbles: at times the author's tone loses objectivity and becomes worshipful...The author also neglects to say that Beethoven was not well educated; thus, the reader might incorrectly assume Beethoven was a true intellectual. Solomon's prose is challenging, but as the book progresses, his language eases into fluency. Summing Up: Essential. All collections; all levels, lower-division undergraduate and above." Library Journal: “brilliant…We have come to expect well-researched, insightful, and thought-provoking studies from Solomon; this book does not disappoint. Highly recommended.” Nation: “For sheer interpretive genius and an uncommon gift for rendering in prose the complex, humanly compelling subtleties of Beethoven’s music and life, few approach Maynard Solomon…The range of material in this book is striking indeed. Solomon moves gracefully between literature, philosophy, literary theory, social history, musical analysis and informed intellectual speculation. What is so impressive about the writing is the extraordinary tact and precision of Solomon's prose…every chapter in Solomon's book is full of subtle, deeply satisfying accounts of what actually went into Beethoven's late-style works…What distinguishes so much of Solomon's work is his fearless way of connecting human concerns of the utmost importance with the exigencies of music…My one nagging reservation about what Solomon does so well as an inventive critic and generously sympathetic cultural interpreter is that it isn't clear how his findings might be related to actual performances of Beethoven's music today.” Musical Times: “horizon expanding, informative, over-written yet often beautiful, controversial in its wealth of speculative interpretations and implications of referential meanings…Solomon’s erudition and breadth of reference are exhilarating…The prologue does not give enough weight to the separation from society his deafness created…music examples in the book are underused…no major genuinely late work is considered in any detail…” New York Times Book Review: “immense erudition…The matter is complex, and almost inevitably Mr. Solomon’s lucid prose can grow dense in such specialized and nuanced discussions. In addition the copious music examples may challenge nonmusicians.”

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


LOC adds 25 entries to the National Film Register.

Mel Gibson caves in. Too bad.


Luhr, James, ed. Earth. DK Publishing/Smithsonian Institution Press, 2003. 520p index afp ISBN 0-7894-9643-7, $50.00.

Choice: "This awe-inspiring, encyclopedic, stunning visual guide showcases in unparalleled quality some of the most unusual, important, and fascinating environments on Earth...Breathtaking photographs and photo-realistic digital artwork supported by expertly researched text and first-rate maps and sections take the reader on a journey to some of the most beautiful and dramatic places on our planet...A most beautiful, authoritative, and compelling reference to our changing Earth--a book for literally everyone. Summing Up: Essential. All levels." Geographical: “full of amazing photos and well-written, jargon-free explanations of all things physically geographical…lots of book for your money…some of the photos are rather small. However, overall, this book would be a welcome addition to school libraries and a fine volume to have on your shelf.” Science News: “a dynamic and visually stimulating look at Earth from the inside out…massive.” Publishers Weekly: “Visually spectacular…stunning photos…Pretty enough to serve as a coffee table book, this volume also contains a tremendous amoung of absorbing information.” Booklist: “The writing is clear, animated, and engrossing. The page layouts are works of graphic art….This superb and stunning volume should be kept handy along with atlases and dictionaries.”


Only 15% of recent French films made a profit.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


The axe has been getting rusty of late, so I decided a transcription project would help me get back into the swing of things. I like this Sundays tune, whose delicacy is kept from being overly precious by a slightly irregular rhythm, the occasional spike of dissonance (e.g. the G7#5), and the cryptic but cynical-sounding lyrics (interpretation anyone?). The chords haven't been posted on the Internet as far as I can tell.

Chords to Sundays, "Skin & Bones," from Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic (1990).

Intro: F Fsus2 F G7#5

Stanza 1:
F Fsus2
you know, and I've been wondering
F G7#5
you know, all the way home
Bmaj7 C/F
whether the world will see
B F F9
I'm a better man than others by far

Stanza 2:
F Fsus2
you know, I've had it so good
F G7#5
how loathsome, and not quite my style
Bmaj7 C/F B F F9
work and vanity wasted my time inside
F Fmaj7/sus2
oh, you see me in a cardigan
F G7#5
and a dress, dress, dress that I've been sick on
Bmaj7 C/F
oh how are you
B F F7
can't say I really care at the end of it all

actually, oh, well there's something I've found
it's that we're just flesh and blood
and well, now, just one thing I've found
it's that we're just flesh and blood

Stanza 3: per stanza 2

and you know, and I've been wondering
you know, all the way home
whether the world will see
I'm a better man than others by far

ooh how are you
I shan't say I really care at the end of it all

actually oh, there is something I've found
it's that we're just flesh and blood
well, now, there's one thing I've found
it's that we're just skin and bones
actually oh, there's something I've found
it's that we're just flesh and blood
and you're nothing much more
there's something, just something I've found
it's that we're just flesh and blood
and we're nothing much more
oh no, what did I do wrong
individual doubts
just one thing I've found
we're just flesh and blood
nothing much more
something, just something I've found
that we're skin and bones



Hard alcohol may raise risk of colon cancer, but wine seems to reduce it.


University of California Press has published a history of Ant Farm, the artists' collective responsible for Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo.


Bobby Knight is losing his cool again.

Monday, February 02, 2004


E-paper to hit the market this year. The last two paragraphs of the article are particularly relevant to librarianship. I didn't think e-books would catch on in a big way because of the discomfort of sitting in front of a glowing monitor for hours at a stretch, but e-paper solves that problem. I picture college students lounging on the quad on a sunny afternoon, studying books they downloaded from the library onto their e-paper readers. [Link courtesy of]

Church shopping

Still hunting for a good church, I attended services yesterday at a local sectarian Presbyterian congregation. They're a mission parish with a handful of families meeting in a shabby little church owned by the Seventh-Day Adventists. Since I disagree with most of the distinctive features of Reformed piety and doctrine--its iconoclasm, its anti-sacramentalism, its rationalism--I wasn't expecting much, and indeed, although I enjoyed the lavish attention that most visitors to struggling parishes receive, the service left me cold. A few hymns, some long extemporaneous prayers, a very very long sermon, and a communion service prefaced with the dismal assurance that the elements remain "just ordinary bread and wine." Yuck. Still, at coffee hour I enjoyed talking to a lawyer who, like myself, is a recent immigrant from the Midwest and who, again like myself, finds Plainview to be extraordinarily dull and ugly. He asked for my email and said he would get in touch. Of course I've been in Texas long enough to treat these vague promises of hospitality rather skeptically, but since he's not native perhaps the offer is sincere.


New York Times 1,000 best movies ever made. I've only seen 231 of them. Any such list is going to have debatable entries, but c'mon, Moonraker???

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Conservatism and Librarianship

Open Stacks has been alerting us to the appearance of many new library blogs. Two with which I have an ideological affinity are:

SHUSH - for the conservative librarian
The In Season Christian Librarian

And let me express my gratitude to the Texas Library Association for including a token conservative among the roster of otherwise predictably leftist guest speakers. Actually I don't know anything about Tony Brown, but it is pleasantly surprising to see a library association open up the podium to "an active advocate of market solutions to social problems." I wonder if race has anything to do with it.