Sunday, December 8, 2019

reading and eating

Our Mythopoeic group had its annual yule-festive reading and eating meeting yesterday. It was kind of small. Our one new member didn't come, because when the hostess gave us an unusual date for the meeting I passed it along to him; this turned out to have been a mistake, but when I gave him the correction he neglected to put it on his calendar, so he didn't come.

For a food contribution, I made the same fresh green-bean-and-mushroom cream casserole that I'd made for Thanksgiving. It has mushrooms, right? We're supposed to be Tolkien fans, right? Hobbits love mushrooms, therefore we're also supposed to love mushrooms, so it's appropriate.

I don't actually see how that follows, since hobbits also love to smoke, but I don't see many Tolkien fans doing that. Furthermore, I don't love mushrooms. I can tolerate fresh ones, though, which unlike canned mushrooms haven't achieved a degree of sliminess that only Gollum could love, so I can eat these. B. is more stringent, and picks them out. Anyway, most of it got eaten and complimented, but there was enough for leftovers.

My readings this year were inspired by earlier ones. Last year, A.S. read a passage from Good Omens that declared a rule that any cassette tape left in your car turns into The Best of Queen. That reminded me of something, and I succeeded in digging it out because I'd once copied it for an apazine. It was a column from the heyday of the San Francisco Chronicle's great columnists. It was by Steve Rubinstein, not the better-remembered Jon Carroll, as Steve Rubinstein was more likely to write about music. (He once did a column, which I also kept, about going to the symphony, in which he called out a piece by Elliott Carter as the unintelligible and unappealing glop that it is, and didn't that generate furious letters from the modernist hegemony.)

This one dated from 1987, and dealt with that new technology, the compact disc. It tells of a friend who bought a James Brown CD but found when playing it that, contrary to the label and everything else, it was Beethoven's Emperor Concerto. ("This must be a new arrangement of 'Prisoner of Love,'" said Dan. He wasn't kidding.) And of how hard it is to convince anyone, from his friend to the clerk back at the record store, that the label is wrong.

We often get old classics at the meeting. This year, A.W. pleasurably reminded us of the opening of The Hobbit. One earlier year, she read Eliot's "Macavity," and I was interested in how different her style and emphasis were from the way I'd do it. So this year I did it, with appropriate dramatics. Comment afterwards was on how much my reading differed from the musical setting. Yes, well, I had Old Possum's Book half-memorized long before Cats ever came out, and while I like the musical, I'm not enamored of it enough to internalize the songs, so to me they're still poems, not song lyrics.

Had to leave fairly promptly, by which time the drizzling rain had erupted into a torrent, drop B. off at home and then head down to San Jose for a concert to review. More on that when it's published.

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