Thanksgiving Weekend — Thoughts

Okay, it’s high time I posted here. What is a blog without any new posts, right? Though I must say, I deeply appreciate everyone sticking around during the quiet stretches, keeping the blog alive in the comments section. I’m reminded again and again of how it is our blog.

More about World Fantasy is still coming. But for this entry, I feel like simply talking — no unifying theme (unless one emerges) — just a stream of the state of things for me as we move into the Thanksgiving weekend.

I could have called this post “In the Smoke,” because I’m in that exciting place right now with revisions of The Star Shard. I’m doing some intense rewriting of the climactic scene. Up till this point, I’ve kept a clear tally of how far I’ve been getting through the manuscript, following my editor’s extremely helpful notes, adding in some new ideas of my own. But at the climax of a book, all cold calculation dissolves, and you just ride the avalanche on your surfboard. [How’s THAT for an analogy?] There’s no seeing or hearing anything but the dust and the roar until all the inevitabilities settle into place. So, for about the next three days, that’s where I am. It’s one of the most exhilarating times for a writer. It’s a good place to be on Thanksgiving weekend!

And just before the deadline, too. I’ve been working steadily toward my deadline of December 1st, when I have to turn the book back in to my editor. The timing should work out just right, Lord willing. But this close to the deadline, it’s suspenseful, isn’t it? It’s like the scene in Apollo 13 when the capsule with the exhausted, harried astronauts has re-entered the atmosphere, and no one knows whether they’ll make a safe splash-down or whether they’ll be incinerated in the atmosphere. There’s the expected zone in which all radio contact is lost. Silence, silence, the cameras scanning the skies . . . silence, silence, the attempts to hail them met only with silence. Gary Sinise standing there in Mission Control, a frown on his brow as he strains to hear a reply through his headset. Silence, silence . . . and then a burst of static, the voice of a living astronaut, and the glorious, blessed opening of a parachute.

Um, that will be me at the end of this month. Lord willing! 🙂 “Houston, we have a book! We have a book!”

Orion is dazzlingly clear tonight (as is the moon, a little past full), and I saw the bright cloud of the Pleiades. A friend back home who keeps me informed of what the Farmers’ Almanac says tells me that this was the Full Beaver Moon we just witnessed.
My writing class went really well today! [I warned you this would be rather stream-of-consciousness!] For the second time (at least the second time; maybe it’s happened more often) this semester, we had perfect attendance, which is really hard to do with a class of 31 upper-classmen. 31 university students is hard enough, but during a cold season (flu & colds going around), with all the job interviews and school visits and practice teaching and special seminars that seniors go to, it’s amazing that everyone can be there. And God helped! I prayed right before class that I would be able to teach clearly, and I think it was a very clear lesson. The topic today was essay structure, particularly the thesis statement and the body of the essay. After passing back homework papers and doing the Quote for the Week, I gave a brief lecture on essay structure using a big diagram on the board and a sample essay handed out to the students, in which we identified the various parts. Then, for the main part of the class, students used the information they collected last week from interviewing a partner. I gave them a worksheet I’d made: one side of a piece of typing paper with a blank line for a title and then five big rectangles representing the introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. There were more blank lines in the appropriate places for the thesis statement and the topic sentences of the paragraphs. Our focus today was organization, so the students didn’t have to be so concerned with grammar and spelling. I instructed them to look at the information in their notes about their partner and try to sort it into material for three separate paragraphs. They filled in the worksheet accordingly, writing notes inside the rectangles to show what content they would put into each paragraph. And they had to write a thesis statement for the whole essay as well as topic sentences for the body paragraphs. (We didn’t officially do anything yet with the intro and the conclusion–I haven’t taught those yet–but some students tried it anyway, which was fine.) As they worked, I walked around to help them individually. I could really see the light going on for some of them as they got the idea that the three body paragraphs develop different aspects of the thesis. Days like this are fun!
Of course, I had a lot of papers to check through tonight, since I collected those at the end of class! 
So, I suspect a lot of us saw the latest Harry film this past weekend. (Don’t worry — absolutely no spoilers here. And don’t anyone dare spoil anything for me! I don’t yet know how this story is going to end.) I went to the delightful after-midnight showing at my local theater, which is the way I experienced many showings of The Lord of the Rings. [Twice, if I remember correctly, I’ve had to explain to patrolling policemen that I’m walking home from the movie theater at 3:00 a.m. — really! Police officers here don’t have a whole lot to do . . .]

Every single time I experience more of Harry Potter, either reading one of the books or seeing one of the movies, it messes me up emotionally. I don’t think I will ever fully get over my envy and the anxiety it sets off in me as a writer. I really, really want to write something that good, that big, that deep, that complex, that moving . . . I want to write a story that will far outlive me, that zillions of people around the world will embrace and enjoy–to create (sub-create, Tolkien would rightly say) a world that readers will want to live in. No other books/movies set me off in the same way. It’s partly the widespread success of the books, completely unprecedented in the history of the world; and it’s partly that J.K. Rowling is so close to my own age, and our careers were pretty much parallel until her books started taking off the way they did. (She even taught English as a Second Language overseas. Dragonfly and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came out at about the same time.) It’s partly that I also write YA fantasy using magical creatures, dark mysteries, etc. Even a lot of our naming sense is very similar. It’s hard for me to deal with the fact that she really got it all together. The lightning bolt of inspiration struck her, and she pulled together just the right combination of ideas, storytelling, timing, etc., to produce a series of books for the ages. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do as a writer than to make something like that! If it were totally beyond my ability, it wouldn’t bother me. (It doesn’t bother me, for example, that a friend of mine is a fantastic violinist. I can appreciate classical music as a fan, pure and simple. It’s not something I have any talent for, so I can just listen and enjoy it.) But creating a wonderful series of fantasy books seems so close, so much within the realm of possibility . . . but it’s finding that right, perfect combination. Or perhaps, that right combination finding us. I think it was more a case of Harry finding J.K. Rowling than the other way around. I believe she’s even said that, as have many other famous writers about their famous works.
One thing I’ve been thinking about is trying a more disciplined approach to plotting. J.K.R. said in an interview that she spent an entire year plotting the whole series before she ever started writing the first book. And that’s how she achieved that marvelous unity and coherence, that seamless quality — that steady improvement of the books. Instead of “trying to top” her previous books, she was steadily building one story toward its climax.
I have always taken the other approach, the one used by Stephen King of discovering the story as I go along. I know that can work very well — obviously! Stephen King knows what he’s doing. But I think plot — and especially plot as determined by character — is a weak area of mine, and I need to consciously spend more time on it. Focusing on people . . . on putting them into situations that threaten and test them to the max . . . on being true to their emotions, their reactions, their interactions. For me, I think the “cool settings” and place descriptions will always come naturally — but a book needs to be a lot more than that to resonate with readers. It HAS to be all about the characters. I really want to try something with many layers, with story threads in the past and the present. To do that, I think a writer has to be very conscious of the structure — that is, s/he has to plan it out — it’s much harder for a multi-layered story to happen “accidentally.” I think I’ve been leaving too much to chance.
If an artist is truly a genius, I think the “chance” approach is more likely to work. Such a genius can just “start writing,” and an awesome book will emerge — but what’s really happening is that the writer’s subconscious and instincts are doing all the work that us lesser intellects need to do more consciously.

Anyway, Thanksgiving is here! I always enjoy it in Japan. No one else is celebrating it. There are no turkeys, no feasts, no gorging on far too much food; so it’s much easier to focus on the essence of the holiday: giving thanks for the amazing blessings we have. (And yes, I usually find a way to work some sort of Thanksgiving-reminiscent food into my diet, whether it’s lunch from Kentucky Fried Chicken [a similar bird], or a turkey breast sandwich from Subway, or some cheese [a rare commodity here].)
When I was a kid, I associated Thanksgiving with reading for some reason. I have powerful memories of being curled up with a book while the aromas of Mom’s cooking wafted through the house. I think that’s a picture of Heaven — to be completely at peace and free, with no responsibilities; but to be in the midst of loved ones; to have the unending feast of the Lamb all laid out before us; to be full of excitement and creativity and Story . . . “And we’ll all go together, / Where the wild mountain thyme / Grows amang the bloomin’ heather . . .” (That’s from the traditional song “Wild Mountain Thyme,” as performed by The Tannahill Weavers on their album Dancing Feet — perhaps my favorite song of all time . . . perhaps . . .)

“Okay,” as we used to say during D&D sessions, “that’s about a turn!” That’s about a blog post, I reckon. Talk to you again soon!

Happy Thanksgiving!


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79 Responses to “Thanksgiving Weekend — Thoughts”

  1. fsdthreshold Says:

    By the way, remember that JAWS quiz from the comments section of the last post? Thanks to Mr. Brown Snowflake for trying it! Since no one else seems likely to ring in at this point, here are the answers:

    #8 and #14 are from the movie JAWS 2. All the others are from The Greatest Film.

  2. I am gluttony personified Says:

    AHA! I KNEW #14 was right, but I blew it by guessing 3 and 4. Once I looked back it was, like, DUH! #8!

    Here is wishing all the visitors to this blog have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and that those traveling may do so safely.

    And, to tie in with Chris’ final comment on the prior post: God Bless our troops in South Korea, who have kept the peace for 58 years.

  3. Nick Ozment Says:

    So excited to hear how close STAR SHARD is to its final stages! And I can’t wait for you to get that in the bag so you can return your attention to this other intriguing work in progress about the house of the worm… And then, maybe, a DRAGONFLY sequel? O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

    My plotting approach has always been more akin to yours and King’s (Tolkien’s too, to some extent, although it must be said that he had so much back-story worked out that it amounts to a great deal of planning of a different kind). However, in my case–as you well know–I start many a story rolling only to leave it unfinished. More than half a dozen good starts–some of them published as short stories–that wound up getting out ahead of me and I just didn’t keep up. I got distracted by something else along the way, and when I looked back the story had disappeared over some far hill. Well, I’m hoping I can see this latest project through to the end!

    Finally, and sorry to say this, but if someone’s going to say it, it has to be me: Full Beaver Moon sounds kinda dirty.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Thanks, Nick! Oh, there’s no shortage of projects to work on! All of what you said, plus revisiting The Fires of the Deep, plus the book initially known as The Out-Venturing of Corin Booknose . . .

      I appreciate hearing about your approach to plotting! Good point about Tolkien: he thought and wrote about his cosmology and myth cycles and histories and languages and poetry all his life, and then standing atop that mountain, he crafted LOTR.

      Here’s wishing you well with the current novel!

      As for Full Beaver Moon sounding dirty — well, you know those “Old Farmers” who write their “Almanac.” In the tradition of Da Vinci and Shakespeare, they weave their dirty jokes subtly into their works of art.

      • Chris Says:

        Jeezly Fred, here you came so close to talking about CORN. But no, you veered away at the last second.

        Look, I can’t help you develop a “bizarre author quirk” unless you help a little too!

        Remember: CORN.

        COrn corn corn.

        The rest writes itself.

  4. Daylily Says:

    Fred, thanks for the window into your classroom! I enjoyed the virtual visit. And thanks for your thoughts regarding the success of JKR. I experience similar angst when it comes to the work of certain other composers. Julia Cameron says in The Artist’s Way that envy is a signpost pointing you to what you need to do. It looks as if you’ve found what you need to do, i.e., “a more disciplined approach to plotting.”

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Thanks, Daylily! That is the way: to use envy as a signpost toward positive, constructive action.

      • Chris Says:

        Yes, any one of the seven deadly sins is a great place to start on a positive constructive path. 🙂

        Personally I have been working through gluttony this past month. I’m now on my second trip to Europe in as many months which means CHOCOLATE-TIME!

        So I go buy as many chocolate bars as I can find and consume them as quickly as possible.

        I’m not exactly sure what virtue this will lead me to but I’m certainly starting off at the gluttony signpost!

        I’m in Yorkshire in the UK now enjoying some snow and doing a little work when the roads open enough to let my samples into the facility.

        Snow is so nice to see once in a while. However, ask my opinion of it after I’m stuck trying to get a flight out of Leeds Bradford Airport later this weekend.

        As long as I stock up on chocolate bars I think I’ll be able to survive at least one day at the airport.

  5. Tim in Germany Says:

    Great post Fred! I’d like to join Nick in saying “Full Beaver Moon” sounds dirty, and I like it! Sadly, it’s probably just a reference to the end of trapping season. That’s hardly dirty at all 😦

    I also wanted to say something about Rowling’s series of books for the ages. As a seventh grade teacher, I have the privilege of watching a little slice of your target market … er … umm … pupate, shall we say?

    Based on recent conversations with students in the thrall of Percy Jackson and Darren Shan books (sigh), I’d say it’s not yet clear that Harry will achieve timeless status. They complain about the length, the silliness of bad guys who should have been menacing (ever noticed that Voldemort holds his wand like your fairy god mother?), and the boarding school setting.

    Compared to even three years ago, attitudes about these books have changed. Back then, students would tease a kid who hadn’t read them, but we’re quickly sliding toward teasing the ones who have. My guess is that they will retain a small but fanatical readership, but It seems entirely possible they will, like our erstwhile hero TC, ultimately lack The Power That Preserves.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Tim, though I’ll incur the wrath of Marquee Movies, your message gives me hope and makes me feel very good in that it puts things into perspective. Now, not only because Marquee is listening, but for everyone’s sake, I want to be clear: I think the Harry Potter books are marvelous. They’re a towering achievement–obviously. They wouldn’t affect me like they do if they were simply competent.

      There are these lines from the musical Evita: “Don’t cry for me, Argentina, / For I am ordinary, unimportant, / And undeserving of all this honor / Unless we all are; / I think we all are.”

      I wish I had some examples to cite, but I don’t. But I distinctly remember reading of several instances in which literary figures we read and remember today were completely and terribly overshadowed by other writers in their own eras. But with the passage of time, those top-selling, society-stirring, mania-receiving authors have vanished into obscurity, and the underrated eccentrics of the period have now risen to timeless status.

      For the record, I will say that I personally predict Harry Potter will be timeless. The books are so well written, so entertaining and carefully constructed and so full of good ideas and layers of complexity, that I think they will endure the test of time. I don’t think they’re a flash in the pan. It’s good, solid, entertaining storytelling.

      BUT they’re not the only thing out there, as the last 10 years would have us believe. There are good books equally worthy of worldwide mania, which because of whatever vicissitudes of timing and marketing did NOT become household words. Your message gives hope for the others. Good storytellers need not be eclipsed or live in the shadows. There is room for us all, and may we all find our places.

      • Nick Ozment Says:

        I can provide one example, Fred: Herman Melville. _Moby Dick_ actually went out of print for several years before influential modernist critics “rediscovered” it in the 1920s. He really was pulled from the dustbin of history, dusted off, and declared one of the great American writers. There are many other examples, which I cannot think of right now either, of writers who were among the bestselling and most popular of previous eras whose names few of us remember, while people who labored in relative obscurity during their lifetimes have since been lionized. (Lovecraft is another good example.) Melville, by the way, was largely rediscoverd by British critics. Poe’s legacy, for that matter, was assured not by his fellow Americans but by the French.

        My own experience as a college instructor mirrors Tim’s. As recently as two years ago, I could ask my students how many had read the Harry Potter books and a majority of hands would go up. Now it’s perhaps 1 in 10. Far more conspicuous now are the Twilight novels, though I’m sure those books will wane as well. Eight years ago I could count on several students having read Stephen King; now virtually none of them have.

        I suppose each generation has its books, but I tend to agree that Harry Potter will persist with a following for the long run along with the Oz books, the Narnia Chronicles, etc.

        I also like your final observation. “There is room for us all, and may we all find our places.” The way I encouraged myself many years ago, by way of an analogy, was to ask if a flower, if it knew it was but one of thousands that would bloom in a field, would still bother. It would. It might be the one flower plucked by an appreciative traveler to liven a mantle or a centerpiece. Or an artist like Van Gogh might happen by and immortalize it. But even if not, it still makes its own little contribution to beauty. (And it’s a flower–it cannot help itself, any more than those of us who really have writing in our blood can help but put pen to paper, whether few or many ever read and appreciate it.) Tolkien used a tree analogy, with each new story another leaf on the great Tree of Story. I will keep adding leaves to that foliage!

      • Daylily Says:

        On the wall of my study: “Do not be afraid to use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang best.”

  6. I am gluttony personified Says:

    To the Potterheads out there: Do you rave?

    It is precisely because so many millions are taken by the series that I have not once even made physical contact with one of the H.P. series tomes, nor have I seen more than 10 minutes of any of the movies, and that was on cable and by happenstance. (However, now that Emma Watson is all grown up, maybe future … nudge-nudge-wink-wink)

    Now, maybe I am missing something awesome, but in my narrow-minded close-window shutters-drawn conservative world I tend NOT to enjoy what the masses prefer. I remember being dismayed that more than 500 people had read LOTR — it meant the treasure had to be shared with others.

    Same with music. My classmates will tell you I was MISTER U2 in high school; I was there from the beginning, in 1980, with the ‘Boy’ album, when noone else cared. Ditto REM. Within the next 3-4 albums, both became widely famous and both went to hell.

    Guess I am just a real jerk of an ogre after all.

    • Chris Says:

      Sort of agree on U2 and REM. Early REM is brilliant. I actually did love “Losing my religion” when it came out but that was when they really hit it big and after that I kind of lost interest. Early U2 is still better, except for the Zooropa album which finally broke the mold for a while by sounding distinctly non-U2ian.

      If you are interested in a great documentary check out “It Might Get Loud”. It’s a doc in which they get The Edge, Jack White of the White Stripes and Jimmy Page all together and get them to talk about their careers and their approaches to the art of the guitar.

      The Edge has a great section where he explains his love of effects pedals and delays. He plays a pattern from a U2 song without any effects or delays. Simple plain vanilla. Hit few buttons on the delay and effects rack and suddenly it’s like 15 guitars playing some sort of interesting rhythm.

      Although for me the best part was a line by Jack White. He prefers to play old plastic or crappy guitars. He says the goal is to “pick a fight with the guitar” and make it make music.

      If you like the Edge, Jimmy Page or Jack White or just interesting guitar gods, this is the documentary for you.

  7. Marquee Movies Says:

    Ah, now this IS a fascinating question – what WILL stand the test of time? Is there every any way to truly know the answer to that question? We make guesses – we say, That’ll never last, or, People will be saying that name for generations. The Wizard of Oz and It’s A Wonderful Life are considered all-time classics – and they were pretty well-received when first shown in theatres. Not blockbusters, but did OK business. It wasn’t until television came along, and started showing the films every year that they became dyed-in-the-fabric-of-our-childhood family classics. Repetition – in addition to being magnificent stories and brilliantly told – made these films into ones that will last forever. Now, would this have happened anyway without the annual boost from television? We’ll never know, will we? The Wizard of Oz is truly that rarest of miracles, a movie where virtually every single one of the thousands upon thousands of elements that go into making a movie worked superbly well, and it holds a special place in my heart (as well as in the hearts of millions, which I guess means Mr. Snowflake hasn’t seen it.) Can we imagine a universe where that movie isn’t seen as a much-hailed masterpiece? Hard to say. I sometimes see movies, lesser-known films, that simply amaze me that more people don’t love it – and I think, if only…..
    What are the many factors that determine whether or not something lasts? (Ironically, one famous sequence cut from The Wizard of Oz is a jitterbug sequence – had that stayed in the film, it would have tied that scene to a certain time period – the decision to cut that scene is one of the many, many decisions that worked JUST RIGHT. Had it stayed, however, would this film be as celebrated as it is? Again, we’ll never know…..)
    Another question – how long does one have to wait before deciding, Yep, it now belongs to the ages. I am very concerned that the Marx Brothers will fade out. The Godfather was (rightly) seen as an immediate masterpiece, but Duck Soup took years before mass audiences hailed it as the work of comic geniuses.

    • Chris Says:

      Of course the movie “Blacksheep” (and I DON’T mean the Chris Farley movie but rather the awesome New Zealand horror film about were-sheep run amok will soon be heralded as the Citizen Kane of Kiwi Horror!

      Highlight scene: a were-sheep is attacking someone and he is burned when someone throws mint sauce on it.

      Oh what a great, great film.

      “Thankskilling” may also rank up there in the future, but I am not so sure. I mean when you mix ancient indian curses on PIlgrim towns in what appears to be the Ohio country side with foul-mouthed turkey puppets living in tents on the edge of town near the random radioactive waste trashbin, you really CANNOT go too far wrong.

  8. Marquee Movies Says:

    Now, to address the Harry Potter question directly. I have no idea if Harry Potter will still be popular 100 years from now. No one does – however, this series of books have several elements going for it that very few stories have ever had going for it.
    But first, to address the issues brought up regarding the seventh graders. The lengths of the books haven’t been a problem for most readers so far, so I doubt that current complaint represents a nail in the HP coffin. However, we are coming upon a new generation of children who weren’t old enough to witness the frenzy of the book releases – much of which may have spurred readers on when, without the excitement, they may have given up. I don’t really think this represents a large group – millions LOVE these characters, and want to spend as much time with them as possible.
    As for menacing characters who aren’t that menacing – the complaint cited is a reference to the films, not the books – and my personal theory as to why Voldemort holds his wand rather like it’s a cigarette, instead of pointing it the way we would think, is he wants to contribute to the notion that it is HE who is doing all the magic, HE is the one with the skills, the power, and he barely needs this silly little stick in his hand. Anyway – my theory – but it will be interesting to see how and if the films and books continue to feed audiences and readers into each other. (And to say that his character comes across as silly in either book or film strikes me as something a 7th grader who isn’t thinking about what the character is doing would say.) In fact, I have the same response to the complaints about the boarding school setting – that they have a problem with THAT aspect again, strikes me as a bit unimaginative. (They don’t go to boarding school, so why should they read about anyone else who does. Chris Columbus, who directed the first two HP films, wrote a wonderful movie called Young Sherlock Holmes, which takes place at a British boarding school. That’s what some schools in England are like.)
    By the way, Tim, I hope you don’t think I’m angrily responding to your post. I absolutely believe that the Harry Potter universe is being derided by certain groups, and the reasons you list sound very much like what I hear from some students in that age group about certain films and/or stories.
    But as to my belief that they will last – and I do think they will – in addition to the films, which I’ve mentioned, helping to feed people back to the books and vice versa, and in addition to a theme park, which millions have already visited, and helps to cement these stories into the rest-of-our-lives psyche of many children, there’s something more permanent than the movies or any theme park. These moving, powerful, funny, and heartbreaking stories, told so well, have GROWN UP ALONG WITH MILLIONS OF CHILDREN. I have heard and read countless stories of people who are now adults who say they started reading the HP stories as children. The seven books age right along with Harry and his friends, and the children and family members reading age right along with them – and each book gets a little darker, a little more aware of the beauty and horror of the outside world. The storytelling itself grows up right along with the reader. It’s a unique phenomenon, and outside of that fascinating documentary series, 7Up (which has interviewed a group of children every seven years since the age of seven – the most recent being 42Up, I think – and it is riveting to see how much of the adult is easily seen in the children they once were – people actually do change very, very little.) I don’t think there’s many other instances of such a phenomenon in culture. How thrilling to love what so many others love! It is also my firm belief that our fearless leader, Mr. Durbin, will be beloved by similar millions – he’s that gifted. I’m so sorry, Mr. Snowflake, with your belief that growth in popularity equals a diminishment in quality, that you’ll have to stop reading Fred’s books someday.

  9. I am gluttony personified Says:

    No, no, Marquee, not a diminshment in quality as much as a diminishment to “being in on the secret” so to speak. And I love The Wizard of Oz, though not at the religious state you do 🙂

    I DO believe U2 and R.E.M. changed as bands (they will say their ‘sound matured’) and I still love both, but it is their old albums I listen to, even as I go right out and buy each new one (silly me).

    One of the things that most drew me to such love of Tolkien (and, if you may recall, I love The Silmarillion most) is because of the back story. I am a history nut, and there was a history already there! Wow! LOTR was soaking wet with thi s huge pre-existing history. The references to things aged and nearly forgotten, to realms decaying from former glory, of kingdoms built and lost … I just could not get enough. And, unlike lesser works, you felt this history was somehow real, that the author already had it all figured out and wasn’t just tossing something in for the sake of making it seem ancient (a la Terry Brooks or Stephen Donaldson, both of whom wrote fine books, fine stories, but with weak histories).

    Tim and Scott and Michael if you are there: Don’t you remember back in the glorious Flail days how much we wished our master storyteller would some day put it all down? How much we wished someone would just hurry up and film the damn movie? That is an example of something I would not mind seeing exposed to the masses ha ha! But who would we get to play the characters? And, crucially, who would voice Ralsoth?

    • Tim in Germany Says:

      Who would voice Ralsoth? Now that’s the kind of question that made the Pun Fund so lucrative. It’s one of those irresistible opportunities to stoke Finarfin’s haughty indignity to a white hot plasma.

      I think Ralsoth’s voice should be someone intelligently bland, like David Straithairn.

      Or maybe we need that special mix of conspiracy theory and psychotherapy a la Donald Sutherland.

      But wait, couldn’t Ralsoth have a woman’s voice? I nominate Cate Blanchett.

      You may now reheat turkey leftovers by holding your plate near the computer.

    • Chris Says:

      One more note on U2 and REM. I find that as an artist “matures” their music gets more technically proficient but less interesting. I love old Todd Rundgren and can listen to him almost non-stop. But after about 1991 I just lost the thread. He still maintains an experimental style that pushes the boundaries but I fear an older person who has been doing this fame thing for so many decades loses that something raw and special about the art.

      When a young band starts out they are often singing about their own real pain as they try to understand the world or their own wonder as they explore the world. After about age 40 they are ina bubble that doesn’t relate to regular life anymore.

      ROck is a young person’s game I think. As a listener I almost always prefer an artists early or early-mid work to their later stuff.

      I mean why would I go out and buy the new Devo album? WHY? Why would they even make it?

  10. fsdthreshold Says:

    Boy, this is one of the best discussions we’ve had in awhile! It has several interesting threads going. With all the great and much-appreciated things being said, I’m going to fix onto two rather silly little points:

    1. You know, Tim, David Straithairn is actually not a bad idea at all to be the voice of Ralsoth. I always imagined Ralsoth’s voice to be bland, unassuming, possibly soothing. Almost (but not quite) the voice of Winnie-the-Pooh.

    But what about Leonard Nimoy? Can’t you imagine his voice as Ralsoth’s? If I were the director right now, and I had to make a decision today, and could have an actor of any time period, Mr. Nimoy would be my choice.

    2. Now, the issue of the villains in Harry Potter and how they hold their wands . . .

    Personally, I LOVE the visual depiction of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and I think that combination of hairlessness and (EEEEP!) noselessness is delightfully creepy.

    This is not any kind of spoiler, so I’ll describe this scene from the latest film. You know when the villains are all gathered around that long table, and they’re discussing their plans to do away with Harry? Well, Bellatrix LeStrange eagerly volunteers to do it, because she simply loves killing. The Dark Lord says something to the effect of, “While I appreciate your blood lust, Bellatrix, I must be the one to kill Harry Potter.” He says it very mildly, like he says almost everything. Her reaction is absolutely perfect, whether it’s the director’s idea, Ms. Bonham-Carter’s, or some combination thereof–Bellatrix is like the scariest woman alive, right? She’s absolutely psycho and homicidal. But in that moment, hearing You-Know-Who’s answer, she backs down, all jittery-eyed and fidgety, but totally subdued, because SHE’S SCARED TO DEATH of him. Her master has spoken, and that’s that.

    No, this is not a wimpy villain. Neither of them is.

    And the way he holds his wand — a wand isn’t a cudgel. MY theory is that a wand is a highly-responsive, delicate instrument used to channel the magical power flowing from within a sorcerer to act on the environment. You don’t see a concert violinist gripping the bow in a fist. It seems to me that masters of magic would hold their wands much like orchestra conductors hold their batons.

    And Nick, I loved that flower analogy! Thanks to everyone so far!

    • Chris Says:

      Did you REALLY just say:

      “2. Now, the issue of the villains in Harry Potter and how they hold their wands . . .”

      First Full Beaver Moon now THIS? I’m afraid Fred, you have failed and your blog has become a haven of debauchery and filth!

      Of all the people….

  11. I am gluttony personified Says:

    Tim: “haughty indignity?” LMAO! As for ‘white hot plasma’ only Terindar the Circus Magician could raise Finarfin to that level. 😉

    Who in the hell is David Straithairn?

    Winnie-the-pooh. Please tell me this is some kind of sick joke…when I read it I felt an old feeling not experienced since Verralton’s second level, when Acererak turned out to be…

    I know you have a Spock fascination, my dear Fred, but Nimoy? Really?

    I am sure it will sound silly to the other Flails, but I always imagined listening to one of the voices of narration — say, Sir Richard Attenborough or the late great Richard Kiley. David McCullough (Ken Burns’ ‘The Civil War’ narrator) would be a good choice were he living, but my lead choice if I had to pick today would be Avery Brooks.

    And, as Serun should agree, wands and staves are not necessary. Period.

  12. jhagman Says:

    Some writers that were popular in their day and are forgotten are: Thorne Smith, Robert W. Chambers, and of course James Branch Cabell. I have never been able to get into the Rowling HP books- I find her prose style uninspiring and forgive me, boring: kind of like her characters. Her work is also highly derivative. Lots of books are highly derivative and highly popular: they just don’t seem to last for one hundred years. HP books give people great joy,, but I am with A.S. Byatt, she feels they lack substance. Orion is an interesting constellation Fred, if you use a small pair of binoculars to observe Orion’s sword below his belt (the three stars) you’ll see the amazing “Great Orion Nebula”, it is quite beautiful- kind of like “Dragonfly” which is perfect book of its kind!

  13. fsdthreshold Says:

    Well, I deeply appreciate your kind words about Dragonfly! That’s fascinating about the Great Orion Nebula — I’m going to have to remember to look for that the next time I have access to binoculars! (I’m pretty sure I kept my dad’s binoculars — they’re a nice pair.)

    Whenever talk of constellations comes up, I can’t help remembering how Tara, the character in the wonderful Buffy the Vampire Slayer, had her own names for the constellations, and one of them was “Little Pile o’ Crackers.”

    I still say there are four constellations: Orion, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, and “W,” and the rest are wishful thinking! 🙂 That simplifies astronomy, doesn’t it?

    About J.K. Rowling — what are you saying her work is derivative of? I am curious to hear what you’ll say . . . and could it not be said that Dragonfly is “derivative” of Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, among other things?

  14. jhagman Says:

    Point taken Fred! Everything is derivative of everything else. However, in Rowling have we not seen alot of this before? Enchanted candies (Dahl), schools of wizardry (Leguin), a harp playing a large three headed dog asleep (Orpheus)- and my friends (who read much more than me) say they have seen that famous train before in another children’s book. Amusingly wicked relatives (Dahl, Dickens), but all handled with (in my very humble, average college student opinion) with a very average pen. Now about “Something Wicked This Way Comes”,, both Your book and Bradbury’s take place in Illinois, in a small town, and have a child(ren) as main characters, but I think you handle evil in a much more deft way than Bradbury- he has his Witch and Cooger, but you have Mr. Snicker. I find that Bradbury maybe borrowed something from Charles Finney, and later maybe Blaylock borrowed from both Finney and Bradbury for his delightful “Land Of Dreams”. But those three books run together, fairs come to Town. In “Dragonfly”, the “Fair” was never there- just a very strange town underground; “Harvest Moon”, and there it stays.

  15. I am gluttony personified Says:

    Speaking of constellations … I recall some years ago watching a very informative one-hour special (on Discovery, I think) on the origins/history, et al of the ‘major’ constellations.

    My opinion now is the same as then — there must have been some really great after-dinner ‘relaxing agents’ in use back in the day …

  16. Marquee Movies Says:

    Nick, I love your flower analogy as well! I am also moved by Tolkien’s description of a Tree of Stories, and each must add a leaf (“Each must play a part.”) Fred, your description of Voldemort’s wand use is much, much better than mine, and I really enjoyed your description of how frightening he is BECAUSE he often remains so calm. (It’s the evil version of, If you have to go around telling people you’re cool, you’re NOT cool. Likewise, if you have to go around telling people you’re evil, etc. Voldemort does not have to do that!)
    The accusations of stories being derivative of other stories makes me smile – of course they are. In fact, I make a pretty good living pointing this out in (for instance) my Hidden Star Wars film presentation, where I point out connections to The Searchers, The Wizard of Oz, Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, Ben-Hur, Flash Gordon, Metropolis, and Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon, just to name a few. These connections are meant as high praise, that Lucas blended these and so many, many other elements into his own story.
    I like thinking of one of the gifts that Milo is given in The Phantom Tollbooth – a bag containing the letters of the alphabet. He is told that every great book ever written is in that bag – he just needs to arrange the letters, and there they are. Every author uses those same letters (I’m obviously simplifying a bit). The difference is – do people want to read what you wrote? People LOVE to trash Stephen King, but people LOVE reading his work. To claim there are elements in Harry Potter that are in others – of course there are. Rowling loves it when people make the connection between a rock group in her world and the witches in Macbeth. (Both called The Weird Sisters.)
    Anyway – I look forward to any and all stories that our fearless leader writes, and can’t wait till he’s discovered by the world at large!

  17. I am gluttony personified Says:

    In the meantime, I am still waiting for someone — anyone — to tell me who the hell David Straithairn is.

  18. I am gluttony personified Says:

    While I await a reply, allow me to repsond to Daylily’s comment posted far above on this post.

    Daylily: Love the quote on your study wall! True, dat. On my desk is one of my favorite’s from Winston Churchill (who, in an editorial in Dec. 99 I chose for third place on my Man of the Century list).

    Sir Winston: “First give me a man of character.”

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      I also really appreciate that quote, Daylily! It’s also very fortunately true that, with art (including writing) as with anything else, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Physically, almost anyone can be beautiful to someone and/or at certain times. I believe it’s the same with books and stories. There’s an element, not measurable or quantifiable, which guarantees that a certain story, to all appearances not distinguishable from the rest, will BLOW AWAY a certain person at a certain time of life.

      Anyway, David Straithairn: I am so not the most qualified person to answer this (you could just Google him, you know! 🙂 ), but I enjoyed him in Eight Men Out, The River Wild, and probably a whole bunch of other films I’m forgetting. He pops up all the time as a supporting actor. He excels at playing the “ordinary guy” — someone basically well-meaning and virtuous, but challenged by human weakness and limitations. His voice usually sounds a little nervous, which come to think of it is NOT a Ralsoth attribute.

      I still think Nimoy would be a great choice for Ralsoth — that papery, eerie, yet strangely warm and comforting quality. When Leonard Nimoy is talking, everything sounds paranormal; but yet at the same time, it’s impossible to worry or doubt.

      My point is that we wouldn’t want an “orator” for Ralsoth — definitely not James Earl Jones, etc. Yes, Richard Kiley might work out!

  19. I am gluttony personified Says:

    Would Johnny Depp be a good Brinn Tenser, or would he ‘steal’ the show? Brinn needs to be dark, slight and with that ‘cat-ate-the-canary’ grin …

    Personally, I have always thought Griseld would be the hardest person to cast, because we would all want it to be a perfect fit, which is nearly impossible. (yes, Viggo was a great Aragorn, but the writers so altered the character that he is not the same as in the book).

    And, as for voices, I always pictured the big, basso voice to belong to Tumground and/or Ekkadhadim (sp).

    Well, I see the water has gone down, so I will await the DM’s replay (you could always email me to save the other post-ees from being bored)

    • Scott Says:

      Although Depp would be cool, I think Colin Farrell would be a better choice for Brinn Tenser. He has that dark, sneaky, come-out-of-the-shadows-and-stick-a-knife-in-the-back character down pat.

      As for Griseld, there is only one actor that comes to mind. Lee Ermey is that grizzled military kick-your-***-and-take-names actor.

      Ralsoth has to convey both sides of the character. If I remember correctly, he was a shadow seen out of the corner of your eye or he was a pillar of fire. I always pictured the shadow’s voice as a quiet, but authoritative, whisper in the ear, while the pillar of fire is a loud commanding voice. We need someone that can convey both parts equally well. My vote is for Morgan Freeman. Or if we must go with the British narrative voice, Patrick Stewart would be good. Nimoy…NO!

      Finarfin of course will have to be CGI. We all know that no human could ever hope to catch any of the ultimate elven perfection that we all came to know. Although, if a human has to play the part, my vote is for Fabio. He has the hair.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        First, apologies to people who don’t know these Verralton characters! Please bear with us — you’re not forgotten, and I’m sure the others join me in hoping you’re able to enjoy the debate without knowing the characters we’re talking about.

        I would much prefer Johnny Depp over Colin Farrell as Brinn Tenser. Depp has the proper “child in an adult’s body” quality. I can’t think of anything I’ve ever seen Mr. Farrell do that would make me want to cast him as Tenser.

        That’s an excellent point about Ralsoth — he DOES appear at times as a pillar of fire (I’d actually forgotten that!). I like the Patrick Stewart idea. I love Morgan Freeman as an actor, but he does not sound like Ralsoth.

        Now, this is interesting how the creation has life of its own quite apart from the creator! Ralsoth is my character and I always acted him when we played, and you guys are telling me no way can I have Leonard Nimoy do the part! 🙂 That’s actually pretty cool!

        I don’t know that actor you mentioned for Griseld, but I’ll look him up on-line.

      • Daylily Says:

        Ralsoth? Flail? Verralton? Perhaps someone would like to give the rest of us a little synopsis of the story? Or at least a better idea of what these three names represent? Was this a D&D scenario?

  20. jhagman Says:

    People do love to read Stephen King, that is the latest Stephen King, but few seem to read backwards, how many do you think read his older books like “The Dead Zone” or even “Carrie” ? Every year they seem to get more dated. A colleague of mine- (I am a bookseller) pointed out that readers have not shown much interest this past year in Dan Brown books, after the movies Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” seems “solved”. Comparing George Lucas to J.K. Rowling made me smile, but their artistic mediums are very different, and require different attention spans. “People like,,,” I think unless these writers keep producing, or are continually optioned for movies, they’ll fall by the wayside, Rowling becoming tomorrow’s Andrew Lang, or Sidney Sheldon if you will- meanwhile the e-reader paradigm shift is happening, changing completely how people will browse for books, a narrow digital universe!

  21. I am gluttony personified Says:

    Uhh, Patrick Stewart for Ralsoth?? NOT WHILE I AM ALIVE! Patrick Stewart is the most over-acting, over-blown, overly-dramatic…well, I better stop there, as I am pretty sure I just heard Marquee and a few others of you all scream in rage (but I bet Chris agress with me).

    Hell yes Finarfin will have to be CG. Some of PJ’s elves looked OK in LOTR, and I would not mind Martin Csorkas (sp) who played Celeborn in the role, but come, on — we are talking about what the other Flails always thought of as THE ego.

    I love Lee Ermey, but certainly not as Griseld. Ermey is too much a firebrand, and Griseld was reserved in his passions, like the Eastwood man-with-no-name.

    I really liked Sean Bean’s Boromir and Karl Urban’s Eomer, but to use either of them in a movie of a similar genre would not, I think, be very wise.

    However, if there is one character I think Flail and Fred would all agree MUST be a CG it is our hero, Mark, because the ASPCA would not ever let us do the things our beloved beast of burden got away with. ha ha

    • Scott Says:

      The ASPCA would probably object to the way we treat the CG!

      We will never agree on Ralsoth because there is no mental picture to be had. He is only a shadow or pillar of fire. The only voice image that we have to go on is our inner voice or Fred’s voice. Maybe we should have Fred voice him? Either that or get some no-name actor to do it.

      If not Ermey, who?

      I don’t think that Depp is quite right for Brinn’s part. As BS said, he most certainly will steal the show.

      OK. Who for Terindar? I have my thoughts, but I will save my choice for last. Not to mention, we have left out Sunder, Chiquita, and Linolas!

  22. Scott Says:

    By the way Fred, I have forgotten to comment on your post.

    I loved to read your day in the classroom and I was most interested in the fact that the Colonel has invaded Japan. I just wondered, is the menu the same as in the US? And if not, where does it differ? We assume that McDonalds’s is in foreign countries, but we forget about our other franchise restaurants. Please don’t tell me that the only exposure to Mexican cuisine that the Japanese have is Taco Bell. That isn’t even TexMex that we have in the US. That’s what my wife and I call Fakesican!

    Thank you for the post. Hope to see more soon.

  23. I am gluttony personified Says:

    I spoke with Mr. Tenser himself for about a half hour Thurs Dec 1 and he agreed with Johnny Depp in his role — provided a no-namer of worthy manner could not be found. And I can certainly live with “Ralsoth voiced by Frederic S. Durbin.”

    We all have certain mental images of our own characters and the others. Fred and I have agreed on a Hildebrandt paiting for Finarfin’s look. I believe the painting is “At the Grey Havens.”

    I have tossed Terindar, Balthaff, Sunder, the ranger and the governor around for some time and keep coming up with “no” or “too Hollywood-ish” or “doesn’t feel right.” I believe this is why they have casting directors, eh, MM?

    As I said before, my top concern would be Ralsoth and, of course, my favorite — Serun.

  24. Chris Says:

    DAN SIMIMONS. God help me but lately I’ve been doing a lot of travelling and I like a book that sort of pulls me in. I have been reading Dan Simmons lately. Most of his books ultimately leave me cold owing to lame endings or some such, but his prose style is so &^%%in’ smooth it’s like drinking warm water. It just slides into my brain and I keep reading and reading and reading.

    I don’t know what it is about his style. I don’t think I much like his work but his style is so compelling to read that I just keep buying more of his books.

    I initially was drawn to “The Terror” because I’m absolutely obsessed with the Franklin Expedition and anything arctic, but the ending was such a lame-out that I wanted to beat myself for having expended so much time reading it. But it was well written! Then I read “A Summer of Night” which was a well written suck-fest recycling Stephen King but actually helped make the follow-up book “A WInter’s Haunting” actually quite good! Ironically enough.

    I haven’t read any of his sci fi though I did pick up Hyperion for this most recent trip. I’m still working through a cool history of Cape Anne by another author so I may not get around to it on this trip.

    Someone help me please…I think I’ve fallen for an author I don’t think I really like but he’s hooked me with some sort of magical spell or prose style I can’t put my finger on!

  25. I am gluttony personified Says:

    Well, world-travel demi-god Chris, you are on your own regarding your fascination with an author I have never heard of.

    I want to go back to U2 and REM. I play the heck out of R.E.M.’s “And I Feel Fine: The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-87.” They lost me after “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” and although I have never agreed with Stipe’s pinko-liberal politics or some of his more politically charged lyrics, I love the early music. And I urge all of you: go to, hit “Nightswimming” and watch Mike Mills on piano and Stipe on Jools Holland. It will bring a tear to your eye even if you despise R.E.M.

    Women wreck bands. No matter what they say, Yoko killed The Beatles. And, in one of enduring mysteries of Western Civilization, Mark David Chapman fires five of six shots into John Lennon and leaves one round in the revolver. Yoko Ono is five feet away, and Champman caps Lennon!

    The stunningly all-time-babe gorgeousness of Valarie Bertinelli helped destory Van Halen, Christie Brinkley ruined Billy Joel … the list goes on and on. As soon as pain and desire leave, the music suffers …

    Chris: I will search for that documentary with The Edge, Jack White and Jimmy Page. Too bad guitar god Iommi — C sharp/G natrual interval, via a weird G sharp (wow!) lord of the flattened fifth — was not involved.

    • Daylily Says:

      Hmm. Regarding women and bands, would someone please tell me what century this is? Sometimes it’s hard to know.

    • Scott Says:

      “Women wreck bands.”

      Funny coming from the man who turned me on to Heart.

    • Chris Says:

      Women did not wreck bands. Not only are there great female artists out there (some of whom have the kind of raw energy that Heart had…at least on Dreamboat Annie, but also some really cool out-there stuff. The hyperlitrary Kate Bush comes to mind. I’ve been listening to “Hounds of Love” a lot lately. A classic. A great documentary on that one as well.)

      As for women’s effect on male artists, well I’m sure that is just what it is. I never understood the John-Yoko thing because I never understood Yoko. But apparently she meant a lot to Lennon. Christie Brinkley? Well, I think Billie Joel had lost his edge by the early 80’s anyway. His 70’s stuff is still his best.

      As for some cool edgy female artists: Kim Deal formerly of the Pixies then The Breeders had some harder stuff. Liz Phair is one oof those conundra. Her mid-later career stuff is much more polished but no less “adult” in content and very, very swaggery. Aimee Mann’s stuff can go from really rock to very aethereal. (Poor Michael Penn, he’s basically Mr. Aimee Mann despite being an artist of some merit on his own).

      I could go on, but it might be going too far off Brownsnowflake’s actual point which I think was more a commentary on the effect of a given artists’ mate on their art.

      I suspect that could happen to any artist on either side. Find something like happiness with someone and suddenly your art is no longer predicated on suffering.

      Or if you’re like me, and you once drew the DEFINITIVE cartoon of Lincoln having relations with a cocker spaniel AND YOUR WIFE THROWS IT AWAY, well that is case where my art became my suffering at the hands of my joy.

  26. Marquee Movies Says:

    Mr. Snowflake, many pinko-liberals would agree that it is really offensive, and not funny in the least, to joke about wishing the death (or injury) of a woman just because you don’t like her. Also, most pinko-liberals recognize that many bands contain or are made up of women, so the statement “Women wreck bands,” with the implication that “bands” automatically imply an all-male ensemble is sexist. (By the way, I would strongly recommend doing some research (rather than resort to a tired and mean-spirited jab at the love of John Lennon’s life) and get your hands on the September 2009 issue of Rolling Stone magazine with the great article, “Why The Beatles Broke Up.” It makes for riveting and sad reading – it was money, business, money, power-plays, and money that broke up the Beatles. It’s a fascinating read.)
    Incidentally, the name of the documentary you speak of is “It Might Get Loud,” by Davis Guggenheim, the same filmmaker who did “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Waiting for Superman.”

    • Chris Says:

      Marquee I think I heard the NPR interview with the author of that piece in RS. It sounds like he got really good access to John Lennon.

      Yoko, her weirdness aside, any band has internal divisions.

      One thing from the NPR interview I heard a few weeks back was the commentary from John that pointed out people made such a big thing about him being influenced by all his time with Yoko, but of course the same could have been said about him and Paul! But for some reason Yoko was having a bad influence.

      Now granted when I hear “Plastic Ono Band” album, it is quite apparent that Yoko’s “art” is not my cup o’ tea, and the only music worth anyting on the album is John’s stuff where Yoko isn’t busy wailing in the backgroudn (or foreground).

      But again, the artist is a person and “the heart wants what it wants”. My mom had a great phrase that I like to use in my relationship: “There’s no pot too bend a lid cannot be found to fit it”.

      One more Beatles thingie: Look at Linda McCartney. Paul drug her out on the road with Wings and turned her into a keyboard player or part of the band and still made great music (despite the classic old joke: “What do you call…” oh forget it. It was obviously a case where Paul brought her into his creative process with no ill effects. In fact it seems that if John had lived he would have had a loooong happy marriage as Paul and Linda appeared to have.

  27. I am gluttony personified Says:

    OK everybody just little the hell up a little bit. (Always the pinko-left you are so ‘offended’ or so ‘put upon’ the Left loves to be the aggrieved party).

    I meant women break up bands in a tongue-in-cheek way. You cannot tell me — a diehard fan of Van Halen — that the music did not lose its edge, its energy after Val arrives. Just listen to Women and Children First and Fair Warning and then put on 1984.

    Joel went total sugar pop after he found happiness.

    Great for all involved, bad for the music. That is my opinion and you are NOT intitled to it.

    I would say drugs, dope and egos had much to do with The Beatles breakup. I will trust your report as I refuse to read the magazine in question.

    And I do not give a damn who you are: If you think the murder of John Lennon robbed the world of less beauty than if his spouse had been killed in his place you can kiss it. I don’t wish Yoko Ono ill, I am just saying look at it from the angle I just took…

    • Daylily Says:

      It’s an interesting hypothesis, that happiness in love drains off emotional and creative energy which would have gone into the artist’s work. Certainly this is not true in all cases. Johann Sebastian Bach married twice (his first wife died) and had twenty children, at least three of whom became well-regarded musicians. And Bach had an enormous output of high quality music which endures to this day. His family life does not seem to have impaired his creativity! Brahms, on the other hand, chose his work over a wife and children; he seemed to believe that he could not do both justice. He, too, produced a huge number of enduring works.

    • Chris Says:

      I never assumed Valerie Bertinelli had anything to do with Van Halen’s losing the thread. I just assumed that Dave’s ego grew too big, the success and whatever other temptations come along with all that, and besides there’s only so much one can do with a limited “depth” to the art.

      Don’t get me wrong, there’s some Van Halen (even Van Hagar) that I really like because it’s just plain “fun” rock. Hard and loud when needed, and Eddie can play like nobody’s business. BUt generally I never assumed they had that much “intellecutal stuff” behind them to even provide more than a few good albums worth of music anyway.

      DayLilly, I do sort of believe (certainly for the rock musicians I like) that after a while they find some happiness, success, no longer “hungry” and kind of lose the impetus that made the music stronger. Certainly an “original voice” can be more compelling than one you’ve grown used to and who is now living a different life than what originally was their source of inspiration.

      Let’s do a bit of a thought experiment: We have an artist here, Fred. He is a generally happy guy but looking for Ms. Right. When he finds her will his art change? Maybe not considering he is generally a happy, positive guy. Even if he writes dark stories. I think he does a good job of keeping those parts of his life compartmentalized.

      NOW, of course, as we discussed earlier, Fred needs an artistic “hook”, a weirdness or some severe failing of personality in order to catapult him into the stratosphere of artists. I suggested he start obsessing on “corn” in his writing and rare public appearances, but it could just as easily be taking up some self-destructive habit.

      Maybe Fred needs to find Ms. WRONG in order to completely change his work into something unrelentingly dark and pain-filled as he works through his personal demons while being pestered by an artless harridan.

      I think maybe we can all work together to get him hooked up with THE WORST WIFE IMAGINABLE just as a test of how relationships can alter an artsists work.

      I mean, I’m a scientist, and I like to run experiments! And who better to run one on than Fred!

  28. I am gluttony personified Says:

    Scott: I turned you on to Heart? What a great thing I did! For the record, I love women, adore women, burn with insatiable lust for some women and find nothing wrong with women in music. Come to think of it, the only women I do not care for are militant butch dikes. Are we all clear on that?

    My long-held opinion is that black women have the greatest of all voices. Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Eartha Kitt, Natalie Cole, Diana Ross and on and on …

    I love many current and former bands fronted, or comprised by, women: Heart, Lone Justice, Pat Benatar, Veruca Salt, Blondie (Parallel Lines is one of my all time fave LPs), Garbage, Fleetwood Mac. And that is to say nothing of my special regard, in so many ways, for Sara Evans.

  29. Marquee Movies Says:

    Mr. Snowflake – I am sorry that my response irritated you. I would respectfully suggest (once again) that there are millions of sites where name-calling and (for instance) joking about one person being murdered instead of another is welcome fodder – I’d like to think this isn’t one of them. I used the “pinko-liberal” label only because you introduced it. I don’t wish to develop an “Us vs. Them” mentality, like the Jets and the Sharks. (After all, look what happened at the end of “West Side Story.”) I’d like to think that most people, deep down, would never consider the taking of a human life to be a joking matter. I’d like to think you didn’t really mean what you said. You stated a different question related to John Lennon’s death in your latest posting – my response is this: I wish to God neither had been killed. No, I don’t enjoy being the aggrieved party – I try to enjoy the many blessings of life, but I acknowledge that with those blessings comes a responsibility to stand up when I feel those blessings are being disrespected.
    Another example of this: I see on Facebook from time to time this repugnant posting: “Dear God – please give us back (Name of dead musician); if you do, we will give you Justin Bieber.” I respectfully tell the FB friends who post this that this “joke” is nothing of the kind, and is in poor taste. Joking about the death of anyone (an artist, for example) just because you don’t like them is a popular activity in America. I just don’t think it belongs here, and when I see it, I feel it is my responsibility to say so.
    I believe you that you love women (while wishing you hadn’t resorted to identifying the category of women you don’t like in such strong language) – my point is that we can love them more by choosing our words more carefully when making a blanket statement.
    It’s a shame you won’t read that article about The Beatles – it is extraordinarily detailed about those final months. Yes, drugs and egos played a role, as you say, but there was much more flying about that killed one of the greatest bands in history.
    Here in Chicago, it snowed several inches. The wife and I saw children sledding while we were driving in the car, and I got so excited watching them as we waited for the light to turn green. We even saw that one family had brought a dog with them, and it was up on the top of the hill with them. But whether or not they got the dog onto their sled we never found out, as we had to keep going. Life is fleeting – love what you can, who you can, while you can!

  30. I am gluttony personified Says:

    We are blessed we had The Beatles together for as long as we did. Same with the Beach Boys (I have always thought the genius of Brian Wilson was underappreciated). Ditto Led Zep.

    Now, of course, I do not really wish someone dead, nor more than I wish for American Idol and anyone who has ever watched more than 5 minutes of it to all fall into the Abyss.

    As for my identifying the kind of women I do not care for, would who rather I have said: passionately anti-male, child-hating anti-social lesbians who dress in men’s clothing, talk like men and try to look like men all while hating the very existence of the male sex? Or would you have preferred Wellesley grad?

    I bet the article in Rolling Stones was fantastic, but I long ago swore off that publication for political reasons, so it will just have to be something I missed. I’ll stick with my Anthology DVDs.

    Never forget: And in the end/the love you take/is equal to/the love you make

  31. Marquee Movies Says:

    Mr. S., I like how you said that we were blessed to even have The Beatles at all – that is SO the attitude I try to take! I absolutely agree with you also that The Beach Boys are also among our greatest treasures, and that Brian Wilson truly is a genius. In fact, I have been noticing more and more in the past ten years how a Beach Boys song is used near the end of a film or TV show episode. This use of the Beach Boys is not just for the sake of nostalgia, which is kind of easy, but for a sense of beauty, even of purity (for example, the end of “Boogie Nights,” and “Love, Actually.” There’s more, but those are two examples that spring to mind).
    And Daylily, as for when bands or artists lose their way – you’re right, it’s hard to pin any one reason down. I think it’s safe to say that it’s incredibly challenging to rise to the top of whatever field one wishes to excel in, and even harder to stay there. People talk about the “Oscar” curse, which says that once people win an Oscar, they retreat into obscurity – when in fact, very, very few people can ever stay on top, and the number of great and popular roles in the movies is quite rare, considering how many actors there are in Hollywood.
    And Mr. S. – while I am puzzled over the anger you express in your “anti-” and “hating” and “anti-” and “hating” description of certain women, and would again respectfully suggest that there’s not nearly as many people worth hating as your comment would suggest, I do love how you closed your post – remember when Chris Farley asked Paul McCartney if those great words were in fact true? A fabulous moment – and some of the greatest lyrics ever written.

    • Daylily Says:

      Ralsoth and the Flails–weren’t they a rock band? But no women in the group, right? 🙂

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Actually, we did briefly have two women in the group . . . and they did not break us up (or stifle our genius, heh, heh).

        I haven’t forgotten your question about these characters — have been meaning to explain, but need a few minutes to sit down and do it!

        Thanks to everyone for such heartfelt comments.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Oh! I meant to say (regarding girls who play D&D) that I talked with a lady at World Fantasy last year who said, I kid you not, that she played D&D when she was single because she wanted to find the kind of guy who would play D&D. Doesn’t that make your jaw hit the floor? (This was an attractive, intelligent woman!) That’s so refreshing and hope-inspiring! There are women like that in the world — women who think a guy that plays D&D is likely to be a good catch! Or, at least there was one such woman. It worked out for her — she found her husband that way!
        Needless to say, there weren’t any such girls in our hometown . . .

      • I am gluttony personified Says:

        Yep. We only had the cash to press one EP, 1985’s “d20+10” but one of the six tunes, “Hand Signals in the Dark” is still a cult classic in Central Illinois! ha ha. The follow-up project, “The Big R” never (sadly) got off the ground.

  32. jhagman Says:

    I think we assign the word “genius” way to easily on this blog! The Beatles, Led Zep, John Lennon “GENIUS” Wow!!? I think their work was entertaining and sometimes beautiful, but as I get older I feel alot of it was not as important as it seemed at the time. You can bury yourself only under so much vinyl before you have to come up to breathe. I don’t think our civilization has had a quiet breath in about 80YRS. I see these aging hipsters talking about their last “Grateful Dead” show, and I have to laugh because I am one of them. Chris, for me the book about the Arctic (or the Antarctic if you will) is Cherry Apsley Girard’s “Worst Journey In The World”, a powerful, sad, beautiful book. Andrea Barrett wrote a fine novel called “The Voyage of the Narwhal” and of course anything written by the anthropologist Richard K Nelson is fun to read. Notice I did not call any of them a genius?

    • Chris Says:

      Will definitely have to check out the Worst Journey in the World! Thanks!

      As for overuse of “genius”, I kind of agree (although not with respect to the Beatles…honestly those guys were collectively genius, no doubt). But we tend to inflate the value of words excessively. Right now “heroes” is big in the U.S. Everyone is a hero.

      There are honestly some great rock artists who qualify as genius in their ability to craft and play music that can be appreciated on many levels. Will it last forever? I dunno, but does a genius’ work have to last forever?

      Personally in my life I’ve been far more touched and influenced by the music of “my personal choices” of genius (Beatles, Rundgren, Matthew Sweet, Pink Floyd) than any Shastakovich or Rachmanninoff.

      I am the same way about literature. I almost viscerally dislike stuff that is thrown at me as “classic” literature (Jane Austen, I’m lookin’ directly at YOU) if it doesn’t in any way speak to me.

      Genius is probably like art: in the eye of the beholder. I find little classical music I like (oh sure, I love a lot of Bach, but I’m not sure if its just the precision or the rapid-fire highly technically advanced aspect, and I like a few other odd classical pieces.

      But the people that I am told were “geniuses” often don’t provide me with something I can “feel” in their art. That isnt’ their fault. It’s mine. I like the art I like and don’t like the art I don’t like.

      So if I want to call Unknown Hinson a “genius” I will. Knowing that almost no one in 20 or 30 years will remember his performances or his music.

  33. I am gluttony personified Says:

    Daylily — The Flail of Ralsoth featured two trombonists (one now a member of intenationally acclaimed Pink Martini, who have sold over 8 million albums worldwide and one our host), a saxophonist, two french horn players and two musical mutes (Scott and I). The older french horn/bass/pianist/perfect pitch master now teaches at the University of Illinois. He is the older brother of the Pink Martini trombonist, a former McDonald’s All-American first chair choice who is also lead trombone for the Oregon Symphony Orchestra.

    The two early-group females were (help Fred!) a sax player and a clarinetist (Help Fred).

    Scott would rather have managed the band and made piles of money. I was (and am) a frustrated would-be heavy metal drummer.

    As for women and the Flail: we repelled them, I think. ha ha ha! I love the vignette in an episode of The Family Guy where an Islamic terrorist enters the golden gates looking for his 72 virgins. He finds a room full of glasses-wearing, overweight, pimply-faced teens, one of whom turns to him and says “We are just getting to play ‘Magic: The Gathering!’ Want to join us?” whereupon our hell-bound bomber yells “Osama!” perfect!

    Fred could prob best fill you in on the who/what of the Flail if you really wanted more info, but I fear all this FofR talk is boring the pants off everyone else…

    • Chris Says:

      Here’s a poorly formed hypothesis based on wholly anecdotal data:

      Seemed to me back in band that women tended to flock to the woodwinds or some trumpet/coronet. Whereas tombone was usually male dominated. I knew one female sousaphone player. So we in the Trombone section offered to make her an honorary “male”. (She had the patience of Job I think).

      In the Trombone section my friend Bill and I used to use our slides to manipulate the cases of Kris (a female) saxaphonist in the row in front of us. We ceaselessly tormented her. But I’m not sure it was so much a guy-girl thing as it was the fact that most trombonists are really just in need of stronger discipline than most people and tend to “act out” more often. The slide helps. Being able to empty the spit valve so far out from your shoes made you a danger if you were annoyed at someone and the ability….nay…the NECESSITY to slide that thing way out in front of you made you danger pretty much all the time.

  34. Chris Says:

    UNRELATED NEWS FLASH: Recently while in England I actually had “spotted dick”. It wasn’t half bad! The hardest part was ordering it off the menu with a straight face. No joke: it came with an unending “custard jug” filled with a slightly offwhite creamy custard you poured over the spotted dick.

    Later that night while “skyping” my wife (saves on the phone bill) I was having an immensely fun time recounting my adventure (she knows I’m NOT an adventure eater), and she said I was being too “Beavis-and Butthead-ish” about having the spotted dick.

    See? Women sometimes just can’t enjoy a simple junior high joke for 30 minutes straight. What is wrong with them? Maybe they should have more spotted dick.

    (I was in Yorkshire but there was NO WAY I was gonna have any Yorkshire Pudding as I think that might be some meat abomination and I just won’t go there. PUdding, no matter how hilarious the name, or how the British seem to use it more loosely than Americans, should always be a dessert dish. I think that’s in the Bible somewhere. Probably Leviticus or something.

    But I actually can now recommend having spotted dick whenever you have the chance. In fact I will go so far as to suggest you all ask the waiter in your favorite restaurant next time out “Pardon me, sir/ma’am, do you have a spotted dick? I am in the mood for one right now to round out my meal!”

    Oh yeah, and one other thing about folks in Yorkshire: about 85% of the women end all sentences with “love”. “Can I get you a reciept for that, love?” “Would you like directions to the garage, love?”

    This was only my second time to this part of England but it is pretty cool. I highly recommend York.

    Oh yeah, did I say “spotted dick” enough in that post? I’m a bit punchy. I’m now on hour 18 of my 3-legged flight from Leeds–>Amsterdam–>Atlanta–>San Diego. Almost as bad as the kind of flights Fred must take when he comes to the states.

  35. I am gluttony personified Says:

    My brother spent 3 years enduring Almaty (Kazakstan)—Frankfort—Chicago flights, which, on his watch, lasted from 21-23 hours, but which, thanks to our little blue dot not bothering to stop spinning, resutled in only a few hours differnence (plus or minus a day — Kazakstan in directly opposite CST).

    I suppose spotted dick is like most English foods — it either has no taste or tastes so badly you throw it up before it goes down. Any people who devote so much time to goose and lamb are clearly messed up.

    Fred must love teaching English when it comes to how people actually speak it. In UK they may ask “What is this thing called, love?” while in USA they say “What is this thing called love?” and they mean two entirely different things. Two countries, two different languages.

    Silly languages have no such confusion. I happen to know that when you ask “Where is the railway station?” in Russian it bears no resemblence whatsover to “I enjoy viewing your walk” in French, or that “I will have your hazelnuts in vice, my friend” in German (Tim can testify to this) can in no way be confused with “Why thank you, I would indeed enjoy another beer” in Hawaiian.

  36. I am gluttony personified Says:

    In the front foyer of my workplace hang several front pages from dates of historical significance.

    Pacific fleet, air forces in Hawaii attacked!

    (Several photos show the destruction, including one picture that incorrectly identifies the battleship USS West Virginia as the USS Arizona, not that it probably mattered to our sleepy little town that terrible day)

    So screams the headline from Monday, Dec. 8. I am curious but I bet I know the answer: there is probably never a mention of this date in Japanese newspapers or news reports every Dec. 7. Or am I wrong?

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      I did indeed note that it was Pearl Harbor Day. And no, it’s not something that’s printed on calendars or much talked about over here. Incidentally, Pearl Harbor Day in Japan is December 8th — that’s the historic date Japanese remember, since the 7th in the States is the 8th in Japan. (So it’s true that Japanese do remember the date, and what happened then.)
      I remember the somewhat awkward experience of looking through a VFW calendar with members of Shirone Lutheran Church. One of them asked me, “What’s this ‘V-J Day’?”

  37. I am gluttony personified Says:

    thread dying…time for new post from host…NUDGE

  38. Marquee Movies Says:

    Before Fred does post something new, I just wanted to make a quick comment – jhagman, I do agree that the word “genius” is overused, but more so in the general population, and not so much here. Do you really question the use of the term in connection to The Beatles? Really? Most songwriters would kill to have written one song that speaks to the current generation. A few dare to dream of writing a song that lasts and lasts, that continues to transcend generations. Collectively, this group did BOTH – and not justwith one song – but dozens. I would easily and freely put all my money on (and here the comments thread comes full circle!) The Beatles standing the test of time, of lasting for hundreds and hundreds of years. Really.
    And Chris, I agree too that the word “hero” is overused. My favorite joke of that is from The Simpsons, when Bart tricked the town into thinking a boy named Timmy had fallen down a well. Homer calls Timmy a hero for having fallen down that well – his attempt to justify this label to Lisa sounds like what most people would struggle to say if asked to explain their use of the term.
    I hope everyone is having a happy December! It’s a bummer to lose Ron Santo (great Cubs broadcaster who raised millions for children’s diabetes research) and Elizabeth Edwards (who worked to improve health issues for women) – but it makes me try to be even more grateful for this gift of life, and appreciate those still in my life.

  39. jhagman Says:

    Marquee, what part of what song do you find genius with The Beatles?Maybe “number9,,number9” or maybe “I’d like to live under the sea with an octopus,,,,” or maybe “I’m the Walrus”??? Or “Hey Jude” Hmmm, I am probably wrong and I have purchased more than one Beatles album, but in hundreds of years I think “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” will sound something like “Camptown Ladies Sing That Song Do-Dah” to a future modern ear.

  40. Nick Oz Says:

    Jhagman–c’mon, you’ve got to admit you’ve set up something of a straw man there. When we talk about musical genius, we’re not just talking about lyrics, and anyway you chose some of their silliest. They have the greatest and most extensive catalog of any pop/rock band ever; they’re the most influential pop band of all time. No, they’re not Dylan*, by any stretch of the imagination, but we’re not talking about them being geniuses as lyricists.
    *And yes, incidentally, Dylan is a genius.

  41. Marquee Movies Says:

    Hmm…well, you seem to think it’s simply a matter of breaking it down to one set of words that determine whether or not the songs represent “genius.” While I would say that that oversimplifies their work (The Beatles created extraordinarily catchy and/moving melodies, explored new ground in what could go into and onto their songs, played around with formats like no band (or few bands) had ever done before), I do think that the lyrics of such songs as “Let It Be,” “A Day In The Life,” “Yesterday,” “Something,” and yes, “Hey Jude” are excellent examples of lyricism. (Frank Sinatra was not a fan of this young, long-haired group from England, but even he admitted, upon hearing George Harrison’s “Something,” that it was one of the most beautiful love songs ever written.) I remember seeing “Eleanor Rigby” in poetry anthologies – it’s powerful and simple. In fact, Fred, I remember dear old Dr. Lettermann discussing the beauty of those very lines with the class. I asked him if he had ever heard the actual Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby,” and was surprised when he said “No.” I explained to him and the class that the song (which is a powerful story of great loneliness) actually evokes the sense of loneliness on the chorus – when Paul sings, “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?”, they isolated his voice so it sounded a bit like he was in an echo chamber – just a bit – so that he sounded genuinely alone, and not part of the rest of the song. As I teach my students about film, It’s not just the story – it’s HOW do they tell it. As with The Beatles, it’s not just the song – it’s how do they perform it. I remember making a mental note that I should bring a tape player down to Dr. Lettermann’s office someday just so he could hear the actual song – but I never did. He’s gone now, of course.
    But the music is also part of their work – and what music! Isn’t it something that the same people who did “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” also did “In My Life” and also “With A Little Help From My Friends”?
    Also, The Beatles will forever be inextricably linked to the 1960’s – a decade that will live in infamy, to steal a phrase. They were a product of and a reflection of their time – you cannot discuss American culture of the 1960’s without bringing up The Beatles. (Are they the only band worth discussing? No, of course not – but no serious person can dismiss their work and influence.)
    And I don’t know enough about music to explain why (for instance) Brian Wilson is a musical genius, but I have read and listened to enough people who DO know about music to know that he was doing things that no human ear had ever heard before – do the classic Beach Boys songs have very powerful and intricate lyrics? Not in the typical sense, no – but those songs don’t sound like anything that was around before those boys began working together. The creation of a new sound, the blending of sounds in some new way is so hard to achieve – and to do so in such a way that it makes people want to hear it over and over and over again? In such a way that it immediately evokes feelings and memories of days long past? Yes, I consider that genius.
    I really, really try not to overuse that term – but you know what? I’d rather overuse it just a little rather than deny people who have made millions of people happy and influenced countless artists in their wake a little extra credit. Remember, all you need is love!

  42. jhagman Says:

    So I was in our breakroom at my bookstore, when my boss (an East-LA latina) said she had seen the movie “Pink Floyd’s The Wall” and how it seemed like a bunch of pretentious sh_t. I tried to explain to her how the main character felt alienated. She said she wished could have lived half as well as that kid, and with real dangerous challenges in her life, she could not relate to that character. Now take my boss, and multiply her by billions, and maybe you can understand my argument. To alot of us Eleanor Rigby’s lonliness seems foolish, and “all you need is love” seems like a Denis De Rougemont nightmare. Now take my Straw Man- multiply it by billions of Chinese, Hindus etc and see if “a Day In The Life” makes any kind of profound sense, “The Answer is blowing in the Wind”.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      This is a discussion in which both “sides” are making good sense. I can appreciate what both camps are saying. It does seem to me, though, that “loneliness” is an archetypal human emotion, and regardless of whether one’s life is a nightmare, a dream, or something in between, we all experience it. (In “Eleanor Rigby,” it’s not just Eleanor who is lonely. The priest, too, is “darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there.” The song makes the point that a great many people are lonely — or even everyone, at one time or another.)

      I can’t speak for the “billions of Chinese, Hindus, etc.,” but I will say this: here in Japan, the Beatles are still hugely popular. Their music can be heard everywhere. Even some of my university students today, in 2010, listen to them. People who don’t even speak English know and respond to the melodies.

      Finally, a little-known and amusing Fred fact: in my late twenties, I discovered the Beatles through karaoke. I never really knew anything about them when I was a kid, although I do remember the terrible day when John was shot, and how America responded with shock, horror, and grief. When I was little, I thought “John Lennon” and “Lenin” were the same person — seriously. Just as I thought Mr. Spock and Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, were the same person — when he wears a swimsuit, he’s Prince Namor — same pointed ears. But anyway, I got so much into singing Beatles songs at karaoke that one of my fellow teachers took to calling me “the Fifth Beatle.” I bet you didn’t know that.

  43. I am gluttony personified Says:

    The choice here is simple: I either write 2,000 words blasting jhagman and that overblown, unworthy slob from Hibbing (whose only decent work, “positively 4th street” is millions of miles from an average Beatles tune) or just leave it at this snide comment. Decision made.

    However, I feel I am duty bound to provided the greatest lyric of all time, courtesy Bob Seger: “Wish I didn’t know now / what I didn’t know then”

    oh, and one more: “Faeries wear boots and you gotta believe me” (Thanks Ozzy!)

  44. jhagman Says:

    Gluttony, I would take your blast and laugh! I own alot of Beatles, and no Dylan. I am glad I know now what I didn’t know then, but Ozzie is always right.

  45. Marquee Movies Says:

    Just got back into town – Fred, I appreciate your ecumenical stance (“The Beatles were geniuses, and I can also see how they weren’t!”), but I think your example of how their music still thrives 40 years later in a non-English speaking country leans towards my point that those four lads accomplished musical heights that hardly any other human being ever has or ever will. Jhagman, I confess I don’t understand at all the example you gave – that every person in the world isn’t a huge fan isn’t an argument. Vincent van Gogh was a genius when it was just him alone with all his paintings. (And also, the pulling out of individual lines to scoff at their seeming inanity is also an unfair argument – reductio ad absurdum.)
    I do like what Fred had to say about loneliness, and how different songs and stories speak to that universal sadness in their own way. To me, that’s what’s so exciting about songs, books, and movies to me – a chance to feel what others are feeling. Your boss, jhagman, seems to go in with the notion, This story should adjust to me! I’ve found it’s so much more exciting to adjust to the story – walk around in the story’s shoes, to paraphrase Atticus. Michael Caine once said that the difference between a movie star and an actor is this: A movie star reads a script and says, How can I adjust this script to fit me? An actor reads a script, and says, How can I adjust me to fit this script? It’s all in how you go in – if you go in looking for ways to identify, the chances you’ll fall into the story and be moved by it increase significantly. When Scorsese’s film “The Aviator” came out, some people made the criticism that “Oh, big deal, he has to wash his hands a lot – I wish I had his problems!” This silly comment speaks much more of the speaker than the film – no one sensible should wish for the mental destabilization that Howard Hughes endured. But anyway –
    On The Beatles – we’ll just have to agree to disagree – this rather strikes me as one of those “Is it or isn’t it art” arguments – to those who say, “It’s not art,” I like to respond, “It is art – it’s just not your kind of art.” I’m glad you own lots of Beatles records – I hope their music continues to make you happy for as long as you live!

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Oh, make no mistake! I come down squarely on the side of “John Lennon was a genius.” If I sounded more ecumenical than that, I was just being polite.

  46. jhagman Says:

    Marquee, you are confusing extrapolation for reductio ad absurdam- and you are also confusing marketing for artistic longevity. My education is in History, so a 40 YR sample (to me) is hardly proof. I’ve worked on cow ranches in SoDak, horse ranches in Calif, and my Mother is not from the U.S. So my sample (if you will) is very international, and my work experience; very agrarian . Fred, might some of the Beatles music you have heard in Japan been from commercials? After the war Douglas MacArthur had a gigantic influence on Japanese culture- and not always for the best. The music that my French and South American cousins listen to is Jazz- not Pop. I like the Beatles (and John Lennon) but I also like McDonalds, but you won’t hear me calling Ray Kroc a genious, and I doubt people will be eating Big Macs 100 years in the future. However, with McCulture everywhere, I might be wrong, but being from peasant stock, my artistic sensibilities have never come from the Western Intelligentsia. I never said this before because I was being polite!

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