liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Let's get the political complaining off the top of my journal, and talk about One of your favourite classical songs.

Because I always end up picking Fauré's Requiem every time I answer a meme about music, I'll stick to a strict definition of 'song' and go with Les roses d'Ispahan instead:

video (singing over animation of the score) )

The story behind this is that I fell in love with Fauré when I heard the school choir singing the Requiem when I was 12, and the singing teacher saw me falling in love and decided to try to teach me to sing, even though I notoriously couldn't hold a tune. And we talked a lot about singing Christian sacred music, but she also pointed out that Fauré wrote plenty of secular stuff, so I could learn that. Alongside lots of simpler things more appropriate for a beginning singer. And I loved all the repertoire I learned, but Les roses d'Ispahan best. Spending absolutely months trying to learn songs that were too hard for me gave me an appreciation that just listening to them never would.

Or, if I'm going with a strict definition of Classical, to get even further away from always going on about Fauré... most of the music I like is either Baroque or Romantic really, but I'm not against the entire Classical period. So let's go with Schubert, whom I always reliably like. I'm choosing the song Heidenröslein for the tune, even though I'm not wholly enamoured of the lyrics. I mean, it's Goethe, but it's also about the poet destroying his lover to punish her for rejecting him. Also because I discovered recently that there's a Rammstein song alluding to it, so I'm using the meme as an excuse to tell you about that.

video embed, containing religious violence )
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
I feel completely out of step with most of my friends politically. UK politics, very gloomy )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
A song that is a cover by another artist. I think this has to be Tori Amos' cover of I don't like Mondays, originally by the Boomtown Rats.

Tori Amos was I think the first musician I really got intensely into, beyond just enjoying the sound of somebody's music. The single Cornflake girl was on the radio a lot in the mid 90s, and I quite liked it but didn't have any context. Then I met MK when we were both up for Oxford interview, and became instant friends. He put a lot of effort into supporting me through a somewhat bumpy transition from sheltered child to independent person, including dealing with a bereavement that hit me really hard when I was 19. He's also responsible for introducing me to digital socializing (email, instant messenger, Usenet to an extent, and the wonderful world of peer-to-peer file sharing). And he played lots of Tori songs for me when I was sitting in the dark crying about letting go of childhood naive optimism. I bought Little earthquakes on CD, and had access to a lot of Tori's oeuvre for all of the 90s via not entirely licit digital copies. Not only Tori Amos, there was a lot of alt stuff especially goth that I picked up from [personal profile] doseybat, but Tori Amos was pretty much the soundtrack of inventing myself as an adult.

I don't like Mondays was almost a novelty thing in a way, recorded with a bunch of much less successful covers, of things like Smells like teen spirit which really doesn't work for Amos' musical style, most of which were never commercially released. This one did make it to Strange little girls, the concept album of gender-bent cover songs, which I was never fully convinced by. I haven't been strongly into Tori Amos' music since 2000, not that I think it's bad but it isn't part of my psyche in the way that the 90s material is. But anyway, it's a remix of a song written in response to a school shooting in the late 70s. The original is meant to be ironic, but it comes across as so inappropriately jolly that it often gets played on the radio as a joke song, here's one to cheer you up from your Monday commuting blues... Tori Amos' cover is a total reworking, without any irony at all, just sadness about a teenaged girl turning a gun on her schoolmates.

So it kind of epitomizes why Tori Amos meant a lot to me at that time in my life; she wrote and performed beautiful songs (she's a classically trained musician) about serious subjects which she took seriously. But that seriousness isn't about glorying in the violence and ugliness, it's about challenging it. video embed, audio only )

As a bonus, have kd lang's cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. It's a song that gets covered way too often, nearly always as a kind of soppy lovesong that really fails to do justice to the extremely powerful original. So basically I hate Hallelujah covers, except this one. Again, it's very different from Cohen's original, but it's an emotionally serious interpretation in its own right which doesn't cheapen its source material.
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
Here we go, the middle of the list hits A song that you would love played at your wedding.

As you probably know, I'm already married, and I had my wedding five years ago. wedding reminiscences plus video )

I have no intention of having any more weddings to choose music for. I'm already married, as are all my partners. And maybe poly people aren't supposed to say this, but I really think I've found my people and hope not to end or change my current relationships. Friends who have looked into these things in more detail think it's not actually illegal to have weddings, in the sense of ceremonies indicating lifelong romantic commitment, to more than one partner, as long as you don't try to register the relationship as a marriage for legal purposes. But I am not really sure of the details and anyway at the moment we don't have any desire to be married to more people than our existing spouses, even if it is (or became) legally ok.

It is fair to say that I never intended to get married the first time either, so maybe I'm wrong. I suppose we've vaguely talked about the possibility that those of us who are EU citizens may need to marry those who are not for immigration reasons and safety, but I really really really hope it doesn't come to that and if we were in that situation there wouldn't be any singing and dancing, just whatever paperwork we needed for survival. And hypothetically my current relationships might come to an end and then I might find a new person who really wanted to get married to me. But then the song I would choose would depend so much on the person and the circumstances that I can't really speculate what it would be, and I don't really want to because it involves imagining the ends of relationships I really want to keep.

I'm not in general a fan of the wedding tradition of the First Dance to a romantic song. Partly because I'm not much of a dancer, and partly because I think there are better ways to do symbolic consummation. And then finding a song which is lyrically appropriate is surprisingly hard; a lot of songs in the style that's appropriate to slow-dance to are really breakup songs, or at best they're hugely monogamy-assuming and heteronormative. As [personal profile] elf pointed out in this meme, a lot of poly-friendly songs are about casual hey we're just doing this as long as we both like it relationships, which is kind of wrong for a wedding.

I think it was [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait who pointed out that the most inappropriate possible song for a wedding is She moves through the fair, since it mentions our wedding day but primarily as a euphemism for death. I am very fond of it, mind you. And I have attended a wedding where the big romantic moment Song was Hey, that's no way to say goodbye by Leonard Cohen, which is a gorgeous song but way depressing if you go past the opening lines:
I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
Yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
In city and in forest they smiled like me and you


I never daydreamed about my ideal wedding when I was single, so I never had a concept in my mind of what song I would love played. If I happened to be in a relationship where we had a song that was meaningful to us as a couple, then perhaps I'd choose that, but I can't help myself thinking about the detailed interpretation of the words. So, just out of interest, do any of you know any songs which are good for weddings, talking about serious relationships but not about possessiveness? Or songs that are good for non-religious communal singing?
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
I'm getting really behind the wave on this, aren't I? Still, there's more than one person still working through the list! Today is One of your favourite 70's songs. I'm not very good at knowing which songs come from which decade, and most of the music on my computer has really inaccurate metadata. But one song which I know is from the 70s, and which is definitely one of my favourites, is Go to Hell by Alice Cooper. I'm not sure if it's actually my favourite 70s song, but I really ought to have something by Alice Cooper in the meme.

I'm really very fond of Alice Cooper goes to Hell; it was my first encounter with the idea of a concept album. I especially love this opening track because it's a bit of (darkly) humorous intro, with the bathos of ridiculously specific examples of depravity:
You'd gift-wrap a leper and mail him to your aunt Jane
You'd even force feed a diabetic a candy cane


I often tell the story of how when I went to university I gained a certain amount of respect among the alternative crowd by explaining that Alice Cooper was in fact a ouijia board chosen stage name for a definitely male singer. Despite not looking like the sort of person who would know rock music trivia. But I love Alice Cooper for being so gloriously terrible, and occasionally coming out with works of sheer genius like Poison (not from the 70s) in among all the McGonagall stuff.

video embed (borderline NSFW) )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
I didn't get very far through Hugo reading. I read all the short stories, and the three novels which were stand-alone or first in a series, skipping the ones that are sequels. I managed two of the six novellas, but didn't feel able to vote when I hadn't looked at the others. And I spent the last day before the voting deadline reading through the novelettes in order to be able to rank them. Plus, I happened to have seen enough of the films I felt I could reasonably vote on that category.

my opinions )

That's brief notes on my voting choices (well, I'm not great at brief)! I'm more than happy to discuss in more detail if anyone's interested, I just wanted to get this posted rather than being intimidated by it.
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
So I went away for a few days, and also did lots and lots of reading, and now I'm blocked on posting to DW until I've caught up with talking about both those things. That's not sensible, so I'll try for a small postcard-type entry.

Most importantly, congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] illusive_shelle and her newly-minted husband! The wedding which formed the excuse for a small summer holiday for me and [personal profile] jack was absolutely perfect and amazing.

mostly diary )

I have lots of reading I want to talk about, partly because I've been trying to get through at least some of the Hugo material, and partly because of going on a short vacation, and partly because I had a horrendous 11 hour train journey at the start of not quite having time to post. I'll talk more about that hopefully soon, and go back to the music meme and so on. I am reading, as usual, just a bit behind with posting.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
A song from your pre-teen years is a challenge for me, because I almost didn't listen to recorded music at all before I was in secondary school, and the only singing I did was in school or synagogue.

I'm probably not going to find online versions of the Jewish music I grew up with because the anglo-Reform tradition is very little recorded anywhere. I think this אין כאלהינו at least shares some musical ancestry with the one I used to get my Dad to sing to me when I was really tiny, because I liked the repetitive structure of the hymn, There is none like our God, there is none like our Lord, there is none like our king, there is none like our saviour. I think this memory is from when we still lived in my first house ie when I was under five, and being an unmusical child from an unmusical family, I didn't have a clear idea that songs were supposed to be tuneful, I thought of them as like poems but with even more obvious rhythm.

And I'm certainly not going to find a recording of the children's musical my music teacher wrote based on our learning to read system. I remember being terribly impressed that the song about the 'round' letter Oscar Orange was in the musical form of a 'round'. So there must have been a smattering of nursery rhymes, I think we had one tape at least, plus the stuff you learn as part of early school acculturation. And the obvious children's hyms from a bit older.

When we visited my cousins in Australia when I was 7 or 8, we listened to songs from the children's TV show Feathers, fur or fins. I was fond of Please don't call me a koala bear because it's about taxonomical pedantry.

So I think the choice for this item in the meme is going to have to be I should be so lucky by Kylie Minogue. I reckon I was listening to this when I was 10 or 11, so just about pre-teen. A few years later some of my classmates put on a play with a character who was really obviously a parody of me and was so uncool she listened to Kylie and even... Mozart, and I remember being offended not that my classmates thought I was uncool – that was obvious – but that one of the greats of the European classical tradition was somehow being associated with some pop singer so ephemeral that it was a social faux pas to admit to still liking her three years I'd tried to listen to her stuff in an attempt to fit in.

Honestly my immediate pre-teen years in the late 80s were a pretty terrible time for easily accessible music, as they were for fashion, (wow, look at Kylie's hair and clothes in that video!) Well, for white music at least, I was peripherally aware of Michael Jackson's Bad which is just magisterial, but it was well outside my musical context. And the alt scene, especially rock, had plenty of good stuff going on, but that's only with hindsight, as a child at the time I was almost entirely unaware of rock music, and it was still considered somewhat taboo, not respectable.

the most 80s possible video embed )

Scarcity

Jul. 3rd, 2017 08:07 pm
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
This is mainly because I want to draw a connection between two posts on related subjects, but you also get opinions because I can't resist.

[tumblr.com profile] withasmoothroundstone posted Scarcity is not an excuse for ableism. And [personal profile] siderea posted something really brilliant about The Unjust Consequences of Scarcity.

opinions on controversial topics including lethal ableism )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
A song that you never get tired of. I am kind of over-thinking this one, because there are a few songs I have definitely liked for 20 years or so. Once I've been listening to a song for ages, rather than getting tired of it, I'm more likely to feel warm towards it because it's so much part of my life. At the same time, there are a few songs I've got into more recently, which I expect to always love, but I can't be sure that I won't ever get tired of them.

So I think the best candidates are:
  • Teardrop by Massive Attack
  • Nothing else matters by Metallica
  • Concrete by Thea Gilmore
Of those, the Metallica is probably the most musically interesting, so I'm going to go for that as the one I'm most likely never to get tired of. Also Concrete doesn't appear to be on YouTube, so I've linked to the Last.fm page which may or may not let you listen to the track via Spotify.

video embed )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I borrowed [personal profile] jack's copy to read this for the Hugos. It's thinky and original, but also rather unpleasant.

detailed review )

Currently reading: All the birds in the sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Partly because it's Hugo nominated and partly cos several of my friends were enthusiastic about it. I'm a bit more than halfway through and finding it very readable and enjoyable. Patricia and Laurence are really well drawn as outcast characters and their interaction is great. It feels very Zeitgeisty, very carefully calculated to appeal to the current generation of geeks. The style is sort of magic realist, in that a bunch of completely weird fantasy-ish things happen and nobody much remarks on them. I find that sort of approach to magic a bit difficult to get on with, because it appears completely arbitrary what is possible and what isn't, so the plot seems a bit shapeless.

Up next: I'm a bit minded to pick up Dzur by Steven Brust, because I was enjoying the series but very slowly, and it's been really quite a few years since I made progress with it.
liv: bacterial conjugation (attached)
A song that makes you sad. It's hard to find anything sadder than one of my friends who posted a video of a scratch orchestra playing the European anthem Ode to Joy the day after the UK voted to leave the EU. But the song most likely to make me cry, personally, is the aria Voi che sapete from Mozart's The marriage of Figaro.

break-up sadness, plus video )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Day 9 of the (in my case very slow-running) music meme asks for a song that makes you happy. And I have quite a lot of those, making me happy is a big reason I have a music collection at all. I think I'm going to go for Complex person by The Pretenders. The lyrics are not all that cheerful in some ways, but I love the bouncy tune and I always hear this as a song about determination and not letting things get you down.

video embed, actually audio only )

Also I've had a good week for playing games: mostly list with short comments )
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
Recently two special interest groups I'm second degree connected to have been involved in scandals around religious attitudes to homosexuality.

The leader of a tiny UK political party, the Liberal Democrats, resigned because
To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.
And a tiny UK Jewish denomination, Orthodox-aligned Sephardim, are up in arms because R' Joseph Dweck taught something about homosexuality in Rabbinic sources and commented
I genuinely believe that the entire revolution of…homosexuality…I don’t think it is stable and well…but I think the revolution is a fantastic development for humanity.


This stuff is minor on the scale of things, but the media love the narrative of gay rights versus religious traditionalism. Anyway lots of my friends are religious Jews or Christians who are also gay or supportive of gay people and other gender and sexual minorities. So lots of my circle are exercised about one or both of the incidents.

opinions )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Not reading much or posting much at the moment because [personal profile] cjwatson is visiting and I'm mainly paying attention to him. I'll update here later in the week, probably.

Currently reading: Nearly finished: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I'm really enjoying the resolution of the political intrigue plot, but I'm a bit annoyed by the sophomoric speculation on the philosophical implications of sadism.

Up next: All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders.


Music meme day 8 of 30

A song about drugs or alcohol

Two from opposite ends of the spectrum: my ex-gf used to sing me this ridiculously soppy song, Kisses sweeter than wine by Jimmie Rogers. Which is really only tangentially about alcohol but it's connected to happy memories for me. And I couldn't leave out the most explicitly druggy song in my collection, Heroin, she said by WOLFSHEIM.

two videos )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
A song to drive to. I don't drive, and most of the drivers I'm frequently a passenger with don't listen to music while they're driving, or just listen to the radio rather than deliberately chosen stuff. What I most associate with driving is that when we were children we used to go on long drives to go on holiday, usually to Wales, sometimes to the north of France by ferry, and that was the only time we were allowed music in the car. We only had a few tapes, so what I most associate with driving is several Flanders and Swann albums. Probably my favourite is Misalliance: video embed, actually audio only )
Particularly because it manages to find some really brilliant rhymes for honeysuckle: We'd better start saving - many a mickle mak's a muckle / and run away for a honeymoon, and hope that our luck'll / take a turn for the better, said the bindweed to the honeysuckle.

Also because it works as a straight love story about anthromorphized plants, and also as a joke about political polarization which feels surprisingly current for a song written in the 1950s: Deprived of that freedom for which we must fight / to veer to the left or to veer to the right. A lot of F&S stuff has been thoroughly suck-fairied, because a key part of their humour is about men hilariously tricking women into surprise!sex, but I always liked the stuff that was dated because it referred to celebrities from well before I was born, because my Dad would carefully explain the obscure references to us.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Some interesting bits and bobs about gender and sexuality:
  • Me and my penis by Laura Dodsworth and Simon Hattenstone. It's mostly an interview and excerpts from a book where Dodsworth photographed 100 men. In each photo, you see penis and testicles, belly, hands and thighs [...] then [I] spent 30 to 60 minutes interviewing them. The article is illustrated with photos from the book so it's not very SFW. Honestly the penis thing is a bit of a gimmick, I'm mostly interested in people talking about some everyday aspect of their lives, and of course the Guardian article has picked some of the most dramatic subjects, an elderly man, a disabled man, a trans man etc.

  • [community profile] queerparenting linked me to Inside the struggle queer, Indigenous couples must overcome to start a family by Steph Wechsler. It's specifically about First Nations Canadians and the issues they face accessing assisted fertility services, and includes the quote Fertility is where eggs and sperm come together, and it’s embedded with heterosexist and heterocentric assumptions. Which reminded me of something a new colleague pointed out regarding teaching medical students about human reproduction (for various reasons I ended up in charge of that bit of the course):

  • The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles, by Emily Martin. This is apparently a classic of medical anthropology, and it's really old but a lot of what it says is still true, even in our cutting edge modern course which tries pretty hard to be non-sexist. Basically Martin points out how supposedly scientific discussion of the biology of reproduction is absolutely chock full of sexist assumptions, which apply even to gametes, let alone the humans who make the gametes and gestate the babies. Also really charmingly written and much more accessible than I'd expect from academic anthropology papers.

    The link I've given is a PDF hosted at Stanford, which I'm not entirely sure is compliant with how JSTOR wish their material to be used; if you are picky about things like that, you can read the article via JSTOR's online only system if you register with them.


Currently reading: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. About halfway through, still enjoying it in many ways. It's definitely original and thought-provoking, but also continues to be somewhat annoying with the narrator rabbiting on about his opinions about gender and race, most of which are pretty uncool. I think it would be possible to have a main character with regressive views without constantly shoving his opinions in the reader's face. The other thing I'm struggling with a bit is that it's clearly a far-future book, with lots of tech that doesn't have any real science explanation, but there are also some elements of the book which are considered to be "magical" from the characters' point of view, and the distinction between two categories of impossible stuff seems arbitrary.

In spite of those quibbles I'm quite caught up in the plot and also really interested in the cultural world-building and generally enjoying the novel. Presently I rate it below Ninefox gambit but that is far from calling it bad.

Up next: Still thinking of All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders, if nothing else jumps out and grabs me before I get to the end of TLTL.
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
A song that makes you want to dance. I'm not much of a dancer, really. What gets me on the dancefloor is old skool goth stuff that I'm nostalgic about, stuff that's mostly beat rather than rhythm that makes me feel not self conscious if I just jump about and headbang in a not really coordinated way. Or I'll sometimes do folk dancing; most of the Scottish dance music I know is tunes rather than songs, though I have been known to dance Israeli folk stuff that more commonly has songs to go with it, eg Od lo ahavti dai ['I haven't loved enough yet'].

So I've picked a song that is quite bouncy and has lyrics which are about wanting to dance: Because it's not love (but it's still a feeling) by The Pipettes. I think it's [personal profile] blue_mai who got me into this band.

video embed )

I had a weekend full of extrovert delights, a day with [personal profile] jack and an evening with [personal profile] doseybat and [personal profile] pplfichi and an extra bonus [personal profile] ewt, when we talked and talked and were surprised to find it was after midnight. And had a long phonecall with my mother who's more of a morning person than most of my friends, and then [personal profile] cjwatson joined us for dim sum at my perennial favourite Joy King Lau, and lots lots lots more talking until it was time to go back to Keele.
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
A song that needs to be played LOUD I considered being incredibly obvious and picking We will rock you by Queen, since that is one of my favourite LOUD songs, but let's go for something that's a bit more personal to me: Head like a hole by Nine Inch Nails.

I was listening to this really a lot when I was a student. At the time I wouldn't have said it was my favourite song, but it's really stuck with me through the decades in a way that lots of songs from a similar era haven't.

video embed )

Also, I voted. I didn't have any good options and I'm not sure I even had any non-terrible options, so I voted for a party that several people I love believe in. I feel that, in however much time I have left before the powers that be decide I have too many foreign friends, too many foreign ancestors, to be tolerated, I might as well use my vote to try to make at least some people happy.

UK politics )

Anyway, much love to all my friends who have been politically active, whether that's traditional boots on the ground campaigning or posting thoughtful analysis on social media, all the way up to actually standing for office in a few cases. And sorrowful solidarity to my friends who are already regarded as foreign in our "Hostile Environment". I wish I could have voted for a party that would actually support you rather than attacking you.

I don't suppose there's much point doing GOTV type postings here. I'm sure all my friends who are eligible to vote know as well as I do how the process works, and have either already voted or made a clear plan to do so, or perhaps made an in principle decision against voting.

In case it helps, here's details of why the Lib Dems probably won't form another Tory coalition, and here's my brother [twitter.com profile] angrysampoet's arguments why Corbyn probably won't just sit around being shitty and ineffectual this time. He was planning a series of essays and only completed the first three before election day, but anyway, he's putting a case for Corbyn that gives me a glimmer of hope that maybe voting isn't totally pointless.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: Oh my gosh, it's covered in Rule 30s by Stephen Wolfram. A rather sweet as well as informative blog post about the architecture of my new local station (still excited about having a local train station!) and how it's inspired by cellular automata.

Currently reading: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I'm liking it so far; I think I largely disagree with the people who find it too slow and infodumpy, I'm really enjoying the worldbuilding as well as caring about the plot. And I'm really liking the juxtaposition of a miracle-working child with global politics and an intriguing heist arc.

But I agree with the people who have complained that it misses the mark with what it's doing with gender. In the manner of those dystopia parodies: in the future, gender is outlawed and the government controls religion! The idea is that the narrator, from a post-gender future society, whimsically decides to impose what he thinks of as eighteenth century gender roles on all the people he meets. I'm pretty sure the idea is that he's supposed to be unreliable, but in practice too much of the book so far consists of random solliloquies about how people who use their sexuality to manipulate others must definitely be female.

Up next: I'm only a little way through TLTL. And I'm still in Hugo reading mode so possibly All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders; the rest of the novels shortlist is all second books in well-lauded series so I'm less inclined to vote for them.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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