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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Name that Music

Jazz has the best, coolest titles.

Like Miles Davis' So What, Thelonius Monk's Straight, No Chaser. Compare these with the titles of classical works --- piano trio No. 100, cello concerto No. 5, symphony No. 8. Hehe, this is not a knock on classical music as music, but a knock on their BORING TITLES!

I've been listening to drummer Matt Wilson's album "An Attitude For Gratitude" and am about to buy it. Look at the pieces on the album --- You Bet, Bubbles, Stolen Time, and, my favorite, There's No You.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fog and Crimes



在我看过的几部意大利电视剧里 Fog and Crimes 算是制作不错的了,大部分戏是同步录音而不是后期配音,场景大多是外景,情节虽然不如英国和北欧的侦探剧那么靠谱,比别的意大利戏(除了 Montalbano 和 La Piovra)像样些。意大利的侦探剧颇差劲,只比中国的侦探剧好一点大概。

外景全部在北部的 Ferrara 拍摄,查了一下地图, Ferrara 位于威尼斯和 Bologna 中间,不临海,冬天还下雪,看上去又湿又冷。

男主角 Luca Barbareschi 颇有魅力,外表有一点瓦兰德的中年颓丧和刻意装饰的冷淡,实际是无法掩盖、意大利式、温情到牙酸的 sentimentality。很喜欢他念台词的口吻,温柔的,淡淡的,仿佛有三四股彼此矛盾的感情同时在薄薄一层克制之下暗流汹涌。

意大利剧的特色是大家经常在吃饭,而且菜很好,跑龙套的餐馆老板必不可少地细细介绍今日特色菜。今晚一集里就有两场餐馆戏,什么 white truffle salad 啦,tuna carpacio 啦,口水 ... 瑞典挪威电视剧里就从来没见过瓦兰德,Martin Beck,或 Varg Veum 在餐馆里正襟危坐,镜头贪婪地盯着盘子里的好菜。唯一的例外是女侦探系列 Irene Huss,作者非常范特西地给女主角配置了一个 tall, dark, handsome 的厨师丈夫。

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dark Horse



读摩登侦探小说的享受之一是作者们对特定时间地点的描写,Ystad 或西西里或者纽约唐人街。Craig Johnson 的 Walt Longmire 系列读起来跟上火星差不多,搞得我都想去看看怀俄明了。

周末本打算慢慢地享受,一不小心干掉一半;昨晚失眠,呼啦啦连蹦带跳地把结尾给翻完了。叹气,真好看,老头警长很有魅力哦。

故事的结构有点故弄玄虚,两条时间线并行。如果不是并行,谜底大概会一早掉出来。

Shaggy Dog

Randomly I stumbled upon the term "Shaggy dog story." Apparently it is a kind of "extremely long-winded tale featuring extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents, usually resulting in a pointless or absurd punchline. These stories are a special case of yarns, coming from the long tradition of campfire yarns." For example ---

A boy owned a dog that was uncommonly shaggy. Many people remarked upon its considerable shagginess. When the boy learned that there are contests for shaggy dogs, he entered his dog. The dog won first prize for shagginess in both the local and the regional competitions. The boy entered the dog in ever-larger contests, until finally he entered it in the world championship for shaggy dogs. When the judges had inspected all of the competing dogs, they remarked about the boy's dog: "He's not so shaggy.

It so happens that I have been re-reading "A Game of Thrones" lately, in which the youngest Stark kid, the little wild man Rickon, named his direwolf "Shaggydog." Now I have a weird suspicion that the A Song of Ice and Fire series is one big Shaggy Dog story.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Conversation (1974)



Oh my god the most heart-pounding, mind-blowing thriller I have seen in years. Just unbelieeeeeevable.

What the hell happened to Coppola? He was so fantastic. And then nothing. He kept flapping his arms and nothing came out. Yet once upon a time he was the master.

What the hell happened to American cinema?

I'm speechless. I'm damned speechless. How could anyone still have the nerves to make any movie about wiretapping after The Conversation?

And the music! It creeps me out! Amazing! It is not only David Shire's spine-chilling OST but also the Jazz pieces he littered throughout the movie. At one point I was, like, I know that one. Am I hallucinating? I know that one. In the end credits it came up --- Sophisticated Lady by Duke Ellington. Indeed, I did know that one.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What Next?



I've been listening, very slowly, two interviews of Philip Glass by Ira Glass. There is a lot of very poignant ideas that seem to transcend music. I am ignorant enough of music and the language composers use, but what he said makes sense for making up and telling stories as well.

In both interviews, he mentioned that a composer's work is fundamentally to resolve a problem, or "What next?" And the propensity each (good) composer resolves problems defines his style. Bach, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, and Philip Glass each has his own way of coming up with the answer to the question of "What next?"

When I heard this I had to chuckle. A few weeks ago I was sitting in a doctor's office with the classical music station in the background. At some point I thought, "That sounds very Rachmaninoff!" It was a piece I was sure I had never heard of, but it just reminded me of all the other Rach pieces I had heard. And at the end the radio host said, "That was Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 4." I pumped a fist in the air.

Needless to say, the question for every storyteller (or perhaps even for every nonfiction writer) is also "What next?" How do you get from point A to point B? That is the question.

Friday, March 16, 2012

随便发发牢骚



终于明白了为什么 Jonathan Cassar 的脸让我觉得似曾相识,每次在现场看见都魂不守舍地盯着看个没完没了 ...

古希腊出土文物有木有?!



遗憾地说每次都是只顾着看了又看,总是忘记多拍两张照片。我真是太傻冒了。

The closest thing in the world to perfection.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Catherine Russell

Another awesome song from Russell's new album: I'm in the Mood for Love. Sweet but not bland, pretty with an edge. The guitar is especially irresistible.

Compare with Sarah Vaughn's version.

男单10

总算凑齐了十个 (2003-2012)。

1. The Mission (Matt Savoie/Tom Dickson)
2. Naqoyqatsi (Jeff Buttle/David Wilson)
3. Schindler's List (Jonathan Cassar/David Wilson)
4. Eight Seasons (Jeremy Abbott/Tom Dickson)
5. Chocolat (Stephane Lambiel/Salome Brunner)
6. Pirates of the Caribbean (Braden Overett/Braden Overett)
7. Jazz Medley (Yannick Ponsero/Laurie May)
8. Harlem Nocturne (Derrick Delmore/Jill Shipstad?)
9. Insane in the Brain (Adrian Schultheiss/Galina Lutkova)
10. Swan Lake (Daisuke Takahashi/Nikolai Morozov)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

提神醒脑

古典音乐电台里经常播放巴罗克音乐,我经过一番努力终于放弃,八字不合,听不进去。太和谐了,圆圆的弦乐的质地,没有棱角。听了一会儿必然走神,拉都拉不回来。

相比之下,我喜欢 dissonant (dis)harmony 与 angular melodies 与 syncopated rhythms,不太和谐的调调,对比强烈的音质(例如钢琴与提琴,bass 与管乐),something with sharp edges and rough surfaces and odd twists, an ambiguity like a man who is simultaneously seducing and rejecting you, something that keeps me on my toes。

不是说巴罗克音乐不好,Jazz 或现代音乐也不是都好,都能让人听得下去。只不过,说不出什么原因,目前我对提神醒脑的音乐感觉比较亲近。

Friday, March 9, 2012

House of Silk

I am very impressed by the description of the London streets, the foggy night, the dock and pub, etc. Horowitz certainly has a way with scenery. And the pacing is excellent. A bit slow in the first half (as it should). A mini-climax occurred almost exactly at the half-way point, and at the two-third point the pace picked up considerably.

But the book could have used a better editor. I have already caught a few minor typos and mistakes so far. The biggest error is perhaps in Chapter 9 when Holmes is described as lighting a cigarette. Sorry, but he only smokes the pipe.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

剧名

昨晚播出1790年最后一集。探长和局长太太终于在最后一刻搞上了。有观众写信去SVT问会不会拍第二季,被一口回绝说“不拍”。大家都很失望。然后我突然明白了,这剧的创作者根本从一开头就没打算写第二季!否则,第二季就得改名为1791年,第三季就得改名为1792年,如此等等。

Game of Thrones 有类似的问题。小说作者给全套小说起名 A Song of Ice and Fire,第一本取名为 A Game of Thrones。电视剧编剧大概一开头野心很小,只打算拍一季,所以就用了 Game of Thrones 的名字。结果 HBO 砸钱拍第二季,如果跟着小说第二本 A Clash of Kings 的名字,怕不看书的观众糊涂了,只好接着用 Game of Thrones 的名字。然后就把小说读者给搅糊涂了一大片。不过还好,小说读者大部分想想也就明白了,而只看电视不看书的观众永远也搞不明白 ...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Oh shit. Yet Another Book to Read




Believing is Seeing by Errol Morris.

I really want to read this book after happening upon a feature on Morris in the Smithsonian Magazine. He seems funny.

"I'm amazed," Morris said when we spoke recently, "that you still see this nonsense all over the place, that truth is relative, that truth is subjective. People still cling to it." He calls these ideas "repulsive, repugnant. And what's the other word? False."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

要不要读这本书呢?



按照作者的说法,训练自己改变一个积习或者建立一个新习惯一点也不复杂,只要建立三个步骤: 开头的 cue,中间的 routine,结尾的 reward。但是发现一个旧习惯的 cue & reward 和找到一个新习惯的 cue & reward 不是件容易的事情。

为什么犹豫呢?我想起关于 Milton Erickson 的那本书里提到 Erickson 意识到很多病人有看起来对自己不利的习惯和 obsession,实际上自有它的作用,例如不肯出门结交陌生人的恐惧,间接起到吸引家人的关注的作用;过度暴食肥胖,可以帮人避免谈恋爱被拒绝的危险。一个看起来 self-destructive 的习惯,未必全无作用,所以改掉这个习惯未必是当事人的愿望。

如果我想改变习惯,第一是想减少上网浪费时间,但是从何下手呢?更重要的是,Duhigg 写,必须用新的 cue & reward 替代旧的 cue & reward。好像很难找到替代上网浪费时间的 cue & reward 呢。

他说的改变环境促使改变习惯倒让我有一手经验。出门旅行的时候,我就很少上网浪费时间,甚至有空闲时间也不太会,而是回到家后,重新被环境 cues 环绕,就回到平时的上网浪费时间的习惯。

Sunday, March 4, 2012

正在读: House of Silk

美妙的时机。DC Noir 快读完的时候图书馆来通知,排了两个多月的队被我排到了。

刚刚翻开就噗一声笑出来。Watson回忆说刚从阿富汗回来的时候长安居不易,差点搬到英国南方去,都挑好了 Hastings。Anthony Horowitz 自己写的 Foyle's War 就设在 Hastings,这是典型的 self-reference。

Horowitz 的口吻比 Doyle 的原著多一分感伤和温情,但是我喜欢。

默片

在纽约客上看见一篇 David Denby 写的文章,缅怀默片时代的表演风格。我对默片没什么研究,所以对他的观点也没有什么观点。不过,他的文章让我忽然意识到一件其实很明显但从来没想过的事:默片里的表演是不自然的。怎么说呢?历史以来有情节讲故事的表演都是有声音的,无论是围坐在篝火前讲故事还是搭了舞台演戏或唱戏,基本上都要借助声音和语言的部分,而极少(不是没有)默片式的依赖肢体和表情 --- 虽然也有对话(字幕)但是程度极其有限。难怪默片中的表演跟“正常”状态下的表演差别很大,倒是有声片出现之后,电影回归了“自然”的状态,跟舞台表演一脉相承。

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Google 新政策

今天一早就赫然看见亚马逊的电邮,推荐某个曲子,正是上星期我在 YouTube 上找过听过的,跟亚马逊半毛钱关系也没有。讨厌,我不喜欢 hard sell 的手法,逆反心理一上来更加不买了。

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Short

As someone who rarely reads short stories (except Maugham and, of course, Doyle), I just realized how damned hart it is to do short and do it well, reading 2 anthologies back to back. Some of the stories in A Case of Sherlock and D.C. Noir are OK. A few are excellent. But at least half are structurally awkward and narratively imbalanced.

Nearing the end of D.C. Noir last night, though, a story by James Grady, "The Bottom Line," just blew my mind! I have never seen anything like it! Amazing! Gosh, I've got to look him up.

It is a massive tangle of threads wound tightly into a small and perfect ball. The writing is the leanest I have ever seen (and I've seen some), reminding me a bit of James Elroy, but without the frenzy. He must be a darling with editors, for there is not one word to be cut. The coolness of his voice is in sharp contrast with the massive amount of information imparted and implied, and the neck-breaking pace of plot twists.

To unwind this knot was so dizzying that it was only this morning that I realized the story is pure noir. Pure to the trandition of James Cain, set on the Hill. The Capitol Hill.

Petyr Baelish of Sichuan: Echoes of the 3 Kingdoms

Sometimes my mind makes unexpected associations. A few days ago I was talking to a couple of friends, who are of Sichuan (or Szechuan) ances...

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