Guest Post: The Last Of The (Four-Wheeled) VTEC Interceptors

I didn’t know it was going to be the last ride of my ill-advised, midlife return to motocross, but that’s the thing about last rides – they don’t care about your plans. I had a long second over the finish line jump to ponder the fact that no part of my body was connected to my KTM, and that my children are likely to still need me around for a while longer. Why the hell am I doing this? My body survived the landing, but my hobby did not. I’d been riding beyond my diminishing abilities, and the risk was no longer acceptable.

The bike was gone after a quick wash and Craigslist ad, but the void that only speed and competition could fill remained. I’d been wanting to try autocross and track driving, but my Ford Flex wasn’t welcome at either. My girlfriend graciously offered to drive my dad-mobile so I could get a suitable sports car; it should come as no surprise she is now my wife. But I needed more than a track car, this was going to be my daily driver and kid hauler. I needed something that could do it all, and for about $20,000 used.

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Guest Post: Dr. Peterson’s Disciples

You can tell just how dangerous our gatekeeping media mandarins think Dr. Jordan Peterson is by the number of hit pieces in establishment media organs on the man and his new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. NBC called him part of the “alt-right” even though he explicitly denounces identitarian politics and has counseled young men away from that particular abyss. “The Stupid Person’s Smart Person”, he’s been called, taking a swipe at both Peterson and the people he disclaims are his “fans”.

To be honest, students or maybe even disciples would be more accurate, as Peterson’s message is fundamentally a moral one, telling people that they’re best off being as honest and responsible as possible.

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Cats, Cradles, Sopranos, And Boomer-Era Narcissism

If you’re a professional storyteller, as I am, you have to stand in awe of Harry Chapin. He raised the song-as-story to high art — or perhaps he returned it to high art, since the medieval bard would often sing the story he was telling. Any Chapin song is a study in compressed and refined emotion. I’m most partial to “Taxi”, but most younger listeners know Chapin, if they know him at all, from “Cat’s In The Cradle”.

My father traveled for much of my childhood and my mother would often make a sarcastic reference to the song while he was away. In retrospect, however, his traveling was the only thing that preserved their marriage. Once he bought into a Columbus-area business and stayed home, they divorced almost immediately. I didn’t think much about “Cat’s In The Cradle” until my own son was born and I found myself away from him more often than I was home with him. That situation did not persist and nowadays I think John sees about as much of his father as he can stand. Maybe more than he can stand, judging by how he complained when I beat his ass at “RBI Baseball” this weekend.

I heard “Cradle” on Sirius Channel 7 during my morning commute today. The song hasn’t changed, and I haven’t changed, but something started nagging at me while I listened. It wasn’t until I was settled in at my desk that I realized what that little something was.

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Weekly Roundup: She Can Leave, But It’s Going To Cost You Edition

One of the commenters here clued me in to the fact that Russell Crowe is having a post-divorce auction. His wife, shown here in post-Wall-impact status at her current age of forty-eight, decided she needed to dump ol’ Maximus. In consideration for being the highly-compensated wife of a dude that about half of the female world would have blown in a studio bathroom for free, Ms. Spencer received an $11 million home and $20 million in cash. Talk about the art of the deal.

Meanwhile, Russell says “Once I commit to something, I stick with it, so you never know… I’ve loved Danielle Spencer since 1989; that’s never going to change,” he said. Oof. Dude, get a hold of yourself.

The auction is already over — Australia is thirteen hours ahead of the East Coast — but click the jump anyway to see some of my favorite items and also, incidentally, what I wrote last week. Oh yeah… the title is, of course, a reference to Anna Gaye’s caustic statement regarding her own divorce and the musical response given by her husband.

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Weekly Roundup: I Believe The Children Who Are Forced To March With Obscene Signs Made By Their Narcissist And Borderline Mothers… Are Our Future Edition

“If mass school shootings were the only form of gun violence in the United States, the case for treating the regulation of firearms as a pressing policy issue would actually be fairly weak.” That’s the brain trust at New York magazine explaining to us why we need more gun control even though violence in schools has “collapsed” over the past decade. The article also parrots a talking point that is getting a lot of traction lately: we shouldn’t have cops in schools, because cops in schools tend to arrest children for crimes and those children are overwhelmingly nonwhite. Naturally, this current iteration of The Narrative conveniently ignores the fact that nonwhite children are also disproportionately victimized by criminals in their schools — so when you take cops out of those schools, you are encouraging the child predators who make life miserable and even dangerous for the kids in the school who want to learn.

The New York piece makes the unpleasant but accurate point that school shootings, tragic as they are, do not rise to the level of statistical significance in a country with 325 million residents. Still, as Rahm Emanuel once said, you should never let a serious crisis go to waste. That’s why the “March For Our Lives” had no trouble obtaining eight figures’ worth of funding, including two million bucks from the Clooneys, Spielberg, and Jeffrey Epstein. It’s also why only about ten percent of the people marching were actually kids; the rest of the marchers were simply the usual progressive slacktivists who turn out for everything from gay marriage to Trump protests. Since this march was supposed to be about the kids, however, some children were compelled to attend. Which is where I start to have a genuine issue with this manufactured event and the people behind it.

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Guest Post: Music For Holy Week

Stile Antico:
Tomás Luis de Victoria, Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Week
CD Harmonia Mundi HMM 902272
Downloads (24-bit/88kHz AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, and WAV stereo) available from HDTracks.
Streaming available from Tidal and Apple Music.

Recorded at All Hallows’ Church, Gospel Oak (North London) England, February 13-17, 2017. Robina G. Young, producer; Brad Michel, engineer.

The British early-music group that calls itself “Stile Antico” once again proves that they are, without doubt, one of the most impressive vocal ensembles before the public today. I Imagine that their group name just might be a bit of an insider’s joke—stile antico is a musical term used (from the early 1600s on) to characterize the continued creation of new but historically-conscious “old style” music.

The composers of stile antico music declined to embrace the emerging Baroque stylistic trends of increasingly elaborate ornamentation and more complex (and freer) counterpoint. Stile antico composers regarded the works of older composers (especially Palestrina) as ideals that could not be surpassed—a position that was still being put forward (believe it or not) even as late as the 1870s (at least in the realm of sacred music)… .

The group Stile Antico’s “Unique Selling Proposition” is that they work without a conductor or music director, in this regard being more like a chamber-music instrumental ensemble than an orchestra. While this might seem a very daunting prospect, I think that with so much of the repertory being four-part scores (two high voices and two low voices), hashing things out should be no more difficult than, say, when a string quartet’s members decide among themselves how a movement (such as the slow movement of Beethoven’s op. 127) should be played. (Irony alert.)

I was rather agog at Stile Antico’s 2006 début SACD Music for Compline when I wrote about it for Stereophile magazine, and they have continued at that high level for more than 10 years. Their articulation, phrasing, and ensemble work are among the best; but what really sets them apart is the lush richness of their vocal sound. Arkivmusic.com has Stile Antico’s Music for Compline on offer at $9.99, which I gather is a 10th-anniversary non-SACD CD reissue. That one’s a no-brainer. Just buy it. The o.o.p. SACD version is available from third-party sellers on Amazon, at prices ranging from market-correct to delusional. (But I did tell Stereophile‘s readers to just buy that, more than 10 years ago.)

After the jump: a making-of video of Stile Antico’s Tenebrae Responsories, some background and commentary, and a few sound bytes. Continue Reading →

Weekend Race Starts, Part One

Just putting this out there for everyone’s amusement… This is me starting the Saturday race and making up three positions in the first lap and a half. This camera mount was a bit ad-hoc, but it accurately conveys the low visibility I had during the race. In fact, it got much worse than that later on.

Guest Post: Overcoming Our Animal Nature

“Everyone,” as Mike Tyson famously said, “has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” It’s a good quote, but I think it vastly overestimates the majority of the human race. In my experience, most people don’t have a plan. In fact, punch in the mouth or not, most of us don’t even have a consistent direction. No, I’m afraid, the truth is that most of us are winging it all the time.

Planning is a uniquely human skill set and the ability reliably do so was so important to our ancestors that they devoted an immense amount of labor constructing sites like Stonehenge in order to predict the best days for planting or harvesting crops. Their efforts helped humanity to achieve dominance over nature and while it can be argued that animals like wolves can cooperate to spring cunning traps, that certain birds and chimpanzees can make and use primitive tools, and that beavers can work to shape the natural environment, no other animal can plan for the future with the thoroughness of mankind. Why then, do so few of us do it? Continue Reading →

Ronald Jenkees, Geek Passing, A Certain Automotive YouTuber, And The Authenticity Issue

According to YouTube, approximately 300 hours’ worth of footage is uploaded to their site every minute. Assuming a three-shift day much like what we had at the Marysville Assembly Plant, but not accounting for breaks of any sort, it would take a workforce of 74,000 people just to stay current with what’s being uploaded to YouTube.

That’s my excuse for why I had not heard of Ronald Jenkees until recently. Mr. Jenkees, who has been on YouTube since 2006 or thereabouts, can boast of close to one hundred million views for his self-produced electronic music videos. Since appearing “out of nowhere” on the site, he has self-released five albums and has worked with a number of music industry heavy hitters behind the scenes. He is that rarest of creatures: a man who earns his living through music despite having no label or brand affiliation.

Jenkees appears in his videos as a cheerful fellow with tremendous keyboard chops, a taste for “uncool” outfits, and perhaps a bit of the autism spectrum in his features and demeanor. It’s impossible not to like the man; even the traditionally caustic YouTube commenters are generally kind to him. Yet for the past nine years there’s been a swelling undercurrent of resentment regarding Jenkees and his YouTube performances. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the man has enemies — and his enemies say that he is “passing”.

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