Thursday, September 26, 2019

we have news

1. Writing about US politics now feels like writing about UK politics over the past months. Before you can finish writing anything down, the situation entirely changes. I can note the widespread impression that impeachment will only hurt the Democrats. Newt Gingrich thinks so, because that's what happened to him when he tried it. But how much will they, and the country, be hurt if they don't? The situation is entirely different from the last case. Clinton's personal sleaze was reprehensible but not impeachable, and neither was his technical crime, the perjury. I saw an article at the time: several DAs said they would never attempt to prosecute for perjury a business executive who'd done what Clinton did: it was too petty and insignificant. Whereas what we're seeing now: wow. Undoubtably this is how DT has conducted his business for forty years, so no wonder he doesn't see anything wrong with it. Clearly he has no idea how to be President. Remember how he was going to "pivot" and become "presidential" once he secured the nomination? He never did, nor has he since.

1a. Good article on the political situation, as it is now.

2. I started to watch Ken Burns' Country Music documentary, and gave up before the end of the first 2-hour segment, covering up to 1933, from the sheer slog of it. Although I recognized several of the talking heads who gave commentary, the only historical performers described in the narration I'd ever heard of were the Carter Family, of whom all I could have told you was that they existed. The material on the historical origins of the music has no heft, while the accounts of the featured performers drown in mind-numbing levels of unnecessary detail. How many times do we have to be told that some guy I'd never heard of had tuberculosis?

2a. And now I'm really confused about the distinction between country music and American folk music. The stuff described here seems like folk to me, but Burns never calls it that. To me, "country" is a commercial genre of pop music. Or is that wrong? Other sources don't help. Wikipedia says the Carter Family were a folk music group, and then that they were country music stars. I recognized one of their songs, "Worried Man Blues," because it was later covered by the Kingston Trio. But nobody ever called the Kingston Trio a country music group, surely?

3. Article on the 50th anniversary of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I really enjoyed that movie at the time, though it has its longeurs today (the suck fairy has made some inroads, but not entirely taken it over). People forget that, though he had equal billing with Paul Newman, Robert Redford wasn't a star when this movie came out. This is the one that made him a star. I followed his work avidly for a while after that. I got to see The Candidate and The Hot Rock because of that, and the latter led me to Donald Westlake's novel and thence to all Westlake's other work. I also followed William Goldman (who also did the screenplay for The Hot Rock), and that might be why I read The Princess Bride. Productive courses.

4. Looks like an insightful review of David Cameron's memoir. He doesn't get how badly he broke the system, does he? Saving this up for when the book hits the library, as I did for the one by Tony Blair, another guy who doesn't get what harm he did.

5. Christopher Rouse died. A famous composer, to be sure. I once reviewed one of his quartets. "Rouse wishes to pack an orchestra’s worth of potential dissonance into his chamber music. ... The repeated falling passages resemble that now-antiquated sound, an amplified phonograph needle scraping across the grooves of an LP, or sometimes, when they squawk to an awkward stop, a dentist’s drill. For all its noise, this work is not nonsensical. Rouse has something substantive to say in this idiom, and he says it all in about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, the piece lasts for 20 minutes."

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