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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The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Eight

Last week, I started a story on a stolen van turned into a homeless shelter by discussing brother Bark and his time as a touring musician. The very first response suggested that I was being a bit “greasy” for even discussing the fact that Bark met a lot of young women on the road. This is the mindset of THE_CURRENT_YEAR in a nutshell, isn’t it? If I announced tomorrow that I was gay you’d all be basically forced to congratulate me on it in about the same fashion as if I announced that I had a season-long ride in Lamborghini Super Trofeo. If I decided tomorrow that I identified as a woman, albeit a six-foot-two, 240-pound woman with dark circles under her eyes and a hairy ass, it would be mandatory for my friends and co-workers to praise my “bravery” and “courage” in doing so. Hell, if I explained to the TTAC staff that I was now a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin they would have to take that absolutely seriously or face an extremely expensive lawsuit from me for denying my completely normal dragonkin sexuality.

If, on the other hand, I write something about the idea that I might be interested in a 19-year-old woman… HOLD THE PRESSES, YOU FUCKIN’ PERVERT! THAT’S NOT NORMAL! Fifty-year-old men are supposed to be interested in fifty-year-old women! It’s disgusting that they aren’t! Oh well. You have to live in reality, which tells us that older men like younger women and sometimes — shudder — they return the favor. I dated a 19-year-old for a bit right before meeting Danger Girl, who is not 19 but is also not close to my age. I dated more than one 25-year-old when I was in my early forties. The world did not end for anyone involved.

In fact, throughout human history it’s been common for successful, powerful, or persuasive men to throw away their wives in favor of younger women. It was Judeo-Christianity that brought a halt to this unsavory practice along with many others: Rejoice in the wife of your youth, says the Proverb. That was a new idea, this concept that you wouldn’t just roll your woman out with the garbage once she hit thirty or so. Oops. It’s no surprise that the collapse of public Christianity has freed-up men to once again pursue, and catch, young women. Fifty years ago, if you dumped your old-ass wife and got some young hottie people at your church would turn away from you like you didn’t exist. It would hurt your social life. It would hurt your employment or your business prospects. Men were expected to stand by their wives to the bitter end. Oh well. We had to tear down that old morality so we could all be free to pursue sexual pleasure as the sole overarching principle of our lives. Any collateral damage from that is just a too-bad-so-sad, isn’t it?

Anyway, commenter gtem is a little bit concerned about the idea that I won’t respect him just because he is parroting the modern Dove Real Beauty theology-in-a-box, so he takes a moment to assure me that he is not a “nu-male”. What’s that, you ask? You’re gonna be sorry you did.

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Guest Post: Consumerism Gone Cold

This Christmas, my sister sent my kids $25 Amazon gift cards.  Given the absolute bounty my children received, I promptly set these cards aside and, I am ashamed to admit, forgot about them until late last week when I finally thought to mention them.  The results were entirely predictable.  My son, who has a surprising amount of money in his piggy bank, calculated the amount as a part of his overall tally and, after considering his options, decided that the satisfaction of having so much cash outweighed the pleasure of anything that he might actually purchase.  My middle child, meanwhile, demanded that I immediately log into Amazon so that she could spend every last cent as quickly as possible while my youngest, still unclear on the concept of money, was just happy to sit beside her sister and examine the various toys that popped up.  In the end, however, no money was spent as I decided to use the opportunity for what I like to call, “a teachable moment.”

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Guest Post: Chamber Choir of Europe, Nicol Matt: Lauridsen “Sure On This Shining Night” Making-Of

(This guest post by John Marks originally appeared on his music-related site, The Tannhauser Gate — JB)

James Agee (1909-1955) had a difficult and comparatively brief life. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, his life was upended at age six when his father was killed in an automobile accident. Thereafter, Agee and his younger sister Emma were sent off to various boarding schools. Agee was a member of the class of 1932 at Harvard. Upon graduation, he went to work for Time, Inc.’s magazine Fortune. In 1934, he published his only volume of poetry, Permit Me Voyage.

In 1938 Agee wrote a brief prose piece, “Knoxville, Summer of 1915” that Samuel Barber later (1948) set for soprano and orchestra. In 1938, Barber had set another Agee text, “Sure On This Shining Night,” a brief untitled poetic fragment from Permit Me Voyage. Barber’s “Shining Night” setting is solidly in the core or standard repertory, both in its solo-voice and choral versions. More recently (2005), composer Morten Lauridsen’s choral setting of “Sure On This Shining Night” has earned worldwide currency for its soulful treatment of Agee’s enigmatic, pensive, yet I think ultimately hopeful lines.

Agee later participated in the writing of two of the most famous films of the era, The African Queen and Night of the Hunter. He was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1958 for his autobiographical novel A Death In the Family. Agee’s reputation as a writer is usually thought to rest upon A Death In the Family and his Depression-era journal Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. But it cannot be doubted that Agee was one of the most important English-language art-music lyricists of the 20th century. That is, as long as one judges by quality, and not merely quantity.

Text, commentary, and a news flash, all after the jump. Continue Reading →