March 31, 2008

Continuing your musical education

Today's excursion starts with Dave Apollon (1897-1972), arguably one of the most adventurous mandolinists of the 20th century and an inspiration to this day. Here he is with with Victor Borge, playing a Chestnut (Hora Staccato, written by Grigoras Dinicu in 1906):

(might be worthwhile to watch Jascha Heifetz playing it too).

Dave Apollon mostly made his living playing vaudeville in the 1920s, and then as a night club performer. One of his signature pieces was Russian Rag, George Cobb's 1918 take on Rachmaninoff's C# minor Prelude. Alas, there's no YouTube of Dave Apollon playing it, but these three versions are in the same spirit, and each has its own charm:

Russian Rag by Velvet Sun (Japanese ensembles are often enlightening, and sometimes have great hats):

Modern Mandolin Quartet:

The Old 78s:

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links for 2008-03-31

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March 30, 2008

Sunday cabaret

It's too much to hope that YouTube would have footage of Elsa Lanchester (1902-1986) singing any of her Songs for a Shuttered Parlour or Songs for a Smoke-Filled Room (both longtime favorites of mine in vinyl), but this one is aaaaalmost as good, since it has Elsa's voice, lipsunked by Princess PoodlePoo (who may, for all I know, already be a Household Word...):

...and that put me in mind of another favorite of mine, Agnes Bernelle (1923-1999), whose Father's Lying Dead on the Ironing Board is staple fare out our way (some lyrics transcribed here, and a CD version seems to be available via Amazon). Here's a tribute, with a not-untypical song:

If that appeals, this may also:

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links for 2008-03-30

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March 28, 2008

All Reet

Upstaging Cab Calloway... be sure to be watching at 4:00:

and mashedup ("cut cropped & crafted")

and from Hellzapoppin' (1941):

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Just 'cause I can

Here's an item, via Dreamtime, that I recollect from 50 years ago, but haven't heard since. The YouTube interface is semisuperfluous (since it's the audio that conveys the ummmm message):

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March 27, 2008

Some Hurdy Gurdy links

I thought I knew a fair bit about the further fringes of hurdygurdydom, but this Field Guide from WFMU's Beware of the Blog is... well... try a few yourself

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Bireli Lagrene and Sylvain Luc and...

...and Stochelo Rosenberg (et al.):

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Hydrocoptic marsel vanes

Two versions, via McGee's Musings: N.B. we're dealing with "prefamulated amulite... hydrocoptic marsel vanes are properly fitted to the ambifacient lunar wane shaft... successfully used for operating nofer trunnions... whenever a barescent skor motion is required, it may be employed in conjunction with a drawn reciprocating dingle arm to reduce sinusoidal depleneration..."

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March 24, 2008

Inimitable Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Backwards and in high heels:

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links for 2008-03-24

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March 21, 2008

links for 2008-03-21

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March 20, 2008

Jill Bolte Taylor

This has been making the rounds for a few days, but I hadn't watched it myself until just now. It'll take 18 minutes of your attention to watch this, but DO IT. Just DO IT. I think I can guarantee that you'll emerge another person...

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Vlatko and Miroslav

I've been following the duo Vlatko Stefanovski and Miroslav Tadic for a few years, ever since encountering their Krushevo on the M.A. label (very high-end audio, unreservedly recommended). Daniel sent me a link to this:

...and I'll just bet that this one will raise a few hairs on the back of collective necks, and occasion some twitching of fingers:

and how about this?

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links for 2008-03-20

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March 19, 2008

Shorpy again

A detail from May 25, 1925. "Winners and judges, Paramount Motion Picture School."... one hopes she (!?) is a judge, I guess:

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There just has to be another way

Painful watching, but perhaps essential (and via Juan Cole's Informed Comment ...this is Part 2):

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Boop forever

The real action starts (with Cab Calloway's St. James Infirmary) at about 4:00, but all 7 minutes are pretty surreal:

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links for 2008-03-19

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March 18, 2008

The Trump of Doom

Strange are the fragments of mental flotsam and jetsam. This morning the word 'trump' surfaced (pretty much unbidden), and I dimly remembered a poem that ended "...Those boy-scouts practising again!", but I couldn't remember where I'd read it, or who was the author... so of course Google came to the rescue. The bit I specifically recalled (so Google tells me) was quoted in the lead-in to a story about Joe McCarthy (and legislative pusillanimity) in Time, 15 February 1954. The whole poem is Edith Sitwell's Solo for Ear-Trumpet, reproduced here (from's Miscellany of Poetry) because it deserves to be better known, and might be meditated upon in these parlous times:


The carriage brushes through the bright
Leaves (violent jets from life to light);
Strong polished speed is plunging, heaves
Between the showers of bright hot leaves
The window-glasses glaze our faces
And jar them to the very basis--
But they could never put a polish
Upon my manners or abolish
My most distinct disinclination
For calling on a rich relation!
In her house--(bulwark built between
The life man lives and visions seen)--
The sunlight hiccups white as chalk,
Grown drunk with emptiness of talk,
And silence hisses like a snake--
Invertebrate and rattling ache....
Then suddenly Eternity
Drowns all the houses like a sea
And down the street the Trump of Doom
Blares madly--shakes the drawing-room
Where raw-edged shadows sting forlorn
As dank dark nettles. Down the horn
Of her ear-trumpet I convey
The news that "It is Judgment Day!"
"Speak louder: I don't catch, my dear."
I roared: "_It is the Trump we hear!_"
"The _What?_" "_THE TRUMP!_" "I shall complain!
.... those boy-scouts practising again."

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links for 2008-03-18

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March 17, 2008

MOST excellent. Here's one from her Maritimes series, and every atom is TRUE:

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March 16, 2008

I can has Ceiling Cat

Ceiling Cat installed and functioning

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Bach for a Sunday morning

The breadth and depth of musical resources on YouTube continues to amaze and instruct. I can remember when, in my ignorance, I disapproved of Glenn Gould's playing of Bach. Tsk tsk. Well, progress is made...

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links for 2008-03-16

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March 15, 2008

If wishes were horses

Dear Makeshift read my blog and made me my Very Own Ceiling Cat!
ceiling cat

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links for 2008-03-15

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March 14, 2008

links for 2008-03-14

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March 13, 2008


Daniel keeps feeding me remarkable YouTube pointers. Today's is at the very core of American music:

...and while we're at it, Tommy Emmanuel's take is also instructive:

...and another version from Tommy, in Australia:

...and one more, this one in Norway. How much torture can a guitar endure on the road?

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March 12, 2008

links for 2008-03-12

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March 11, 2008

Michel Camilo et al.

I'm not very piano-aware, but this one is a whole education. VERY tight group, via Daniel:

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links for 2008-03-11

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March 09, 2008

Sylvie Guillem

what can one possibly say?

oh hell, this too:

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March 08, 2008

Genetics of the hefted eyebrow

HAB eyebrow John's eyebrow

Finally getting around to posting this pair. No reason to think that John (on the right) had ever seen the caricature of me (on the left) from my high school yearbook. Just goes to show, dunnit?

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links for 2008-03-08

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March 06, 2008

links for 2008-03-06

  • "...with more and more microformats, I bet this funtion will definitely improve the way we organize information..."
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March 05, 2008

Supercharged dangdut

Thought you knew about Indonesia, didja Bunky? Try THIS:

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March 04, 2008

Rushdie turns a phrase or two

Last week's New Yorker had a Salman Rushdie story with numerous succulent bits. The bit that especially caught my eye:

Bhakti Ram Jain proudly held the rank of Imperial Flatterer First Class, and was a master of the ornate, old-school style known as cumulative fawning. Only a man with an excellent memory for the baroque formulations of excessive encomiums could fawn cumulatively, on account of the repetitions required and the necessary precision of the sequencing. Bhakti Ram Jain’s memory was unerring. He could fawn for hours.
The phrase "excessive encomiums" has a stylistic sonority (some might find it objectionably orotund), and I got to wondering about its other contexts. A Google search turns up eight instances besides Rushdie's use, and Yahoo finds a couple of others (one in a rock music review, the other in a letter of Benjamin Franklin, Dec 21 1789...)

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March 03, 2008

Haiku for the day

Florida guest
spring snowstorm
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links for 2008-03-03

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March 01, 2008

Fidimplicitary: A Word for These Times

One of my weekly pleasures is Michael Quinion's World Wide Words Newsletter, available for (free) subscription via, but footnoted with this chastening injunction:

This formatted version of the newsletter is intended for the private use of subscribers. Please do not reproduce it in this format in whole or part on any Web site or post a link to this page without the prior permission of the author.
OK, fair enough, that's how MQ wants it, and I encourage you to subscribe, for sure. Each week brings several gems of Wordstuff, just the thing for those of us who fancy a bit of orotundity now and again. This week's toothsome Weird Word is Fidimplicitary, which Quinion glosses as "Putting one's faith in someone else's views", a phenomenon not unknown in campaign season... He goes on to trace the word to a coinage of Sir Thomas Urquhart (1652), reprinted (thanks to Google Print) in The Works of Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, Knight ("92 copies printed, some on large paper", this one from Oxford's library), in a section headlined as "Logopandecteision" (page image). Here's some of the text, with especially juicy bits bolded:
60. If any officious critick will run to the omnipotency of God for framing more worlds, according to the common saying, Nothing is impossible to God, that implies not a contradiction, so must he have recourse to the same omnipotent power for furnishing of man with other speech-tools then his tongue, throat, roof of the mouth, lips, and teeth, before the contexture of another universal language can be warped.

61. That I should hit upon the invention of that, for the furtherance of philosophy, and other disciplines and arts, which never hitherto hath been so much as thought upon by any, and that in a matter of so great extent, as the expressing of all the things in the world, both in themselves, actions, ways of doing, situation, pendicles, relations, connexions, pathetick interpositions, and all other appurtenances to a perfect elocution, without being beholding to any language in the world ; insomuch as one word will hardly be believed by our fidimplicitary gown-men, who, satisfied with their predecessors' contrivances, and taking all things litterally, without examination, blaterate, to the nauseating even of vulgar ears, those exotick proverbs, There is no new thing under the sun, Nihil dictum quod non dictum prius, and, Beware of philosophers; authorizating this on Paul, the first on Solomon, and the other on Terence.

62. But, poor souls, they understand not that in the passage of Solomon is meant, that there is no innovation in the essence of natural things ; all transmutations on the same matter, being into forms, which, as they differ from some, so have an essential uniformity with others pre-existent in the same kind.

63. And when it was said by Paul, Beware of philosophers, he meant such sophisters as themselves, who, under the vizzard of I know not what, corrupt the channels of the truth, and pervert all philosophy and learning.

64. As for the sayings of Terence, whether Scipio couched them or himself, they ought to be inferred rather as testimonies of neat Latine, then for asserting of infallible verities.

65. If there hath been no new thing under the sun, according to the adulterate sense of those pristinary lobcocks, how comes the invention of syllogisms to be attributed to Aristotle, that of the sphere to Archimedes, and logarithms to Napier? It was not Swart, then, and Gertudenburg, that found out gunpowder and the art of printing, for these two men lived after the decease of Solomon.

Quinion points to an article entitled "Fragment of a Literary Romance", in an issue of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine from 1817, for another instance of fidimplicitary, this time modifying coxcombs, they "who fill our too credulous ears with their quisquiliary deblaterations”, and Google Print comes through again with the relevant passage:

([says the author] I have attempted here an imitation of the extraordinary style of Sir Thomas Urquhart, a man of genius, as none who have perused his inimitable translation of part of Rabelais will be disposed to deny, or his extraordinary account of the murder of the admirable Crichton, in his tracts (under the one named the Jewel), but in other respects of the most ridiculous pretensions, and these conveyed in the most quaint and unintelligible phraseology, as every one who has turned over his Introduction to a Universal Language will most readily allow. Most of the singular words in this speech of Sir Thomas are either sanctioned by his own authority, or coined according to those rules he seems to have adopted. both orderly digested and aptly conceived.)
"Truly, sieur," replied Sir Thomas, "your observations on those antiquated times, as they are now called by those shallow and fidimplicitary coxcombs, who fill our too credulous ears with their quisquiliary deblaterations, appear to me both orderly digested and aptly conceived. We have lived, sir, in those great eras, those commendable measurements of the regent of this diurnal microcosme, those exalted periodi, by which the sagacity of the sapient philosophunculi of this rotundal habitation, hath measured the unceasing rotations of the caelicolary spheroids, in those times, seignior, when the old were respected, arid in all estimation —the young sweet and judicious —the married women decorous rather than decorated, grave as well as gravidae —the virgins pure and pitiful —the youth becomingly silent, and more given to listen to the legislative or literatorie discussions of their elders, than to any cunning tricks or vulpicularic conundrums, to the jeers, gibes, mopes, quips, jests, or jerks of their simiatick companions. Gallantry, sir, (said he, turning to me) or the exalted science of demulceating the amiable reservedness, and overcoming the attractive pudicity, of the gentler sex, by the display of rare and excellent endowments [sic!], was a discipline worthy of the accomplished chevaliers of these most memorable eras."

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links for 2008-03-01

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