Wendy’s Word

Not your mama’s blog….

Cassettes That I Must Replace September 13, 2009

Filed under: Music — wendy @ 10:32 pm

Wendy’s Word has a new car, and it does not have a cassette player.  Which just goes to show you how long it’s been since I’ve bought a new car!  While I love being able to listen to CDs and my ipod in the car (it is the 21st century after all), there are certain tapes that were mainstays that I must replace asap.  Some of my favorites were:

Satch Plays Fats. Yes, it’s Louis Armstrong playing and singing Fats Waller songs.  Incredible combination!  Armstrong’s voice and trumpet playing combined with Waller’s classic songs is not to be missed.  Familiar songs like Ain’t Misbehaving are included, and the album is generally upbeat.  But the album also includes the song Blue Turning Grey Over You, which is beautiful and sad, being about racial prejudice.   Despite the melancholy of that song, this album always cheers me.

Del Este de Los Angeles (Just Another Band From East LA). I believe this is Los Lobos’ first album, and it’s all fantastic Mexican songs.  There are a variety of styles, including ballads, jarocho, and ranchero.  There is a great version of Guantanamera, and the last two songs on the album are so upbeat that I am practically dancing in my car when I hear them.  I love the tempo and all the traditional string instruments.  I have the compilation Just Another Band From East LA (different album from the one I’m talking about here), which is a greatest hits-type album, on CD and it has a few of the songs on my beloved cassette, but not enough.  Another album that never fails to cheer me.

Perpetual Motion. Classical banjo.  Need I say more? This is a classical album from Bela Fleck, the amazingly talented banjo player.  (is banjoist a word?)  He has recorded bluegrass and other genres,  and he is no less skilled at playing classical music.  This album has tracks by Bach, Scarlatti, Debussy, Beethoven, and others, and includes a long instrumental version of God Save the Queen, on which he’s joined by guitarist John Williams.  He’s joined by violinist Joshua Bell on another track.  The sheer speed of Fleck’s playing amazes me.

Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration. This concert was recorded in 1992, and I happily watched it on PBS back then.  The album includes incredible artists singing Bob Dylan songs, naturally.  Some of my favorites (although it’s hard to pick just a few) include John Mellencamp doing Leopard-Skin-Pill-Box Hat, Willie Nelson singing What Was It You Wanted (very dark), Johnny Winter singing Highway 61 Revisited, Neil Young singing Tom Thumb Blues, Chrissy Hynde, the Clancy Brothers,  The Band, George Harrison, and more.  One of my favorite tracks goes against type, with the O’Jays singing Emotionally Yours.   And yes, the Traveling Wilburys do a few numbers.  My least favorites are the songs Dylan does himself, at the end of the concert.  They seem deliberately bad to me.  I recommend watching the full concert if you can.  It’s long, but there are cuts that are not on the album, including a dreadful version of I Want You and Sinead O’Connor throwing a temper tantrum.  I guess there’s a reason they’re not on the album.

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Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About, by Mil Millington September 6, 2009

Filed under: Books — wendy @ 10:35 pm

Oh, so my husband and I are not the only ones who argue!  Actually, this book was enjoyable while I read it, but it’s hard to describe why.  I laughed aloud many times, but the main character and his girlfriend have such an over-the-top argumentative relationship that it begs the question of why they’re together.  Yes, normal couples argue, but that much?  The main story is about a crazy building project at the main character’s job, which he suddenly has to oversee.  However, the main story is just pretext for writing about the arguments between the main character and his girlfriend.  The building project story is  kind of silly, but it’s really beside the point.

I would think the story (which, after all, is fiction) is hyperbole, but the author has a blog filled with real arguments with his girlfriend which are scarily like the book.  I got bored partway through and never finished.  There’s only so much tension I can handle, and with a husband and teen-age children, I have my share!

 

Deaf Sentence, by David Lodge

Filed under: Books — wendy @ 10:11 pm

I’ve always thought David Lodge is a funny writer, so I picked up Deaf Sentence from the library.  I enjoyed Therapy and Nice Work, two of his prior novels.  The main character of Deaf Sentence is a retired linguistics professor who is distressed at his increasing deafness and is generally bored with his retirement life.  A young linguistics student who seeks his help shakes up his life a little, as does having to deal with his failing 90 year old father.  The book is funny and poignant, and never becomes melodramatic.

 

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, by Gertrude Stein

Filed under: Books — wendy @ 10:03 pm

Since I recently read The Book of Salt, about a chef working for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, I decided to go back to the source, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.  As most of you probably know, it’s not actually an autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, since it was written by Gertrude Stein.  It’s Gertrude Stein writing in Alice B. Toklas’ voice, her “autobiography” which incidentally spends alot more time on Stein’s life than on Toklas’.

This book was great reading.  We get the lowdown on the artists with whom Stein and Toklas hung out, who happened to be Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, and many other greats.  Rather than reading a historian’s rendition, we’re getting stories first hand.  For example, I’ve heard stories about the first and second performances of Stravinsky’s The Rites of Spring, but Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas were actually there and gave their version of events (in a word, pandemonium).

The conceit of Stein writing Alice B. Toklas’ autobiography for her was funny, especially since “Toklas” describes Stein as a genius, and spends much more time writing about Gertrude Stein than than she does on her own life.  The book describes how Gertrude Stein and her brother came to be major art collectors.  The book also describes life in Europe during World War I.

For anyone that romanticizes expatriate life in Paris and is interested in modern art, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas is worth a read.