Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Great Men of Music - Franz Joseph Haydn

Title  :  Great Men of Music - Franz Joseph Haydn
Artists  :  Various.  (it's the composer that counts)
Description  :  4-LP Box Set
Year Released  :  1976 (and a revised version in 1978)

    Okay, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky are in a class by themselves when it comes to Classical Music.  But composers like Franz Joseph Haydn and Antonio Vivaldi aren't far behind.  So it was a treat to convert this Time-Life boxed-set to MP3 files.

- Tracks - (favorites in pink)
Side 01
    Symphony No. 60 in C Major ("Il Distratto")
Side 02
    Piano Sonata No. 33 in C Minor
    Trumpet Concerto in E Flat Minor
Side 03
    String Quartet No. 34 in D Major; Opus 20, No. 4
Side 04
    Symphony No. 88 in G Major
Side 05
    Piano Sonata No. 50 in D Major
Side 06
    String Quartet No. 76 in D Minor; Opus 76, No. 2
Side 07
    "The Creation"
    Mass No. 12 in B Flat Major ("Harmoniemesse")
Side 08
    (The rest of) Mass No. 12 in B Flat Major

    I picked this up for $3-$5 at Half-Price Books a while back.  Someone had unloaded a whole bunch from this series there, and I scarfed up 5 of the boxed-sets.  I converted the Vivaldi edition last year; it is shown here.  Bartok, Strauss, and Dvorak still await digitalizing.

    Once again, the LP's themselves were in very good shape.  There were some scratches, but few enough to where I opted to remove (most of) them manually.  There were no skips.

    The format was the same as was used in the Vivaldi set:  three of the LP's were instrumental; the fourth was vocal/opera.  Also included was an excellent booklet about Haydn's life.  The copyright therein cited 1976, but with a proviso that an amended edition was issued in 1978.  I presume they discovered that they had some biographical facts incorrect.

    I'm a huge fan of Haydn's symphonies, so Side 01 and 04 were a real treat.  But all of the first 6 sides are good.  I really don't care for opera, so didn't enjoy the final LP as much.  But if you're going to mix in vocals with my classical music, this is probably as good as it gets.

    ISTR there were about 18-19 sets issued in this Time-Life series.  It was somewhat picked-over by the time I came upon them at Half-Price books, and I didn't buy the remainder all at once.  But I'll be keeping my eyes open for any of these sets that might find their way back to the bookstore.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Belle and Sebastian

    Belle and Sebastian is an absolutely fine Indie Pop group, whose music I've come to appreciate.  Yet when I hear their name, this is what I inevitably think of :

   I think this means I'm older than dirt.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Back To Work

    After two weeks of vacation, it is time to go back to work tomorrow.  But it's only for one day. and then I'm off until Friday.

    I am soooooooo not looking forward to the advent of 5-day workweeks starting the following Monday.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

On hiatus

    We are on hiatus until Sunday, 28 December, at which time we will return to our usual rambling, aimless, and unfocused postings.  In the meantime, why not enjoy some of the historical blather we've posted?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “I’m coming with you.”  Father Mateo stepped from the shadows at the edge of the road.

    “What are you doing here?” Hiro asked.

    “I know a thing or two about mending dams,” the Jesuit said.  “I followed you – by a different route – in case my help was required.”

    Kazu looked at Hiro.  “What is he talking about?”

    “He doesn’t trust me to apologize properly,” Hiro said.

    Kazu gave the priest an appraising glance.  “He knows you well.”

    (from Blade Of The Samurai by Susan Spann)

    8*/10.  The complete review is here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Obsolete Alphabet

    I don't mean to quibble, but "S" is not an obsolete item.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “Ah, I see!” Horhotep said, walking up behind them.  “Ten men are posted here at all times, not out of necessity but so you’ll always be entertained.”

    The sergeant, his face flushed with fury, balled his hands into fists.  With a mighty effort, he restrained himself.

    Sennefer leaned close to Bak and murmured, “If Horhotep survives this journey, the gods have blundered exceedingly.”

    “I’d be pleased to serve as the instrument of their wrath.”

    (from A Curse of Silence,  by Lauren Haney)
    9*/10.  The full review is here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Punnery

    Well, this seems timely, for several reasons.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Aretha Franklin - Sweet Passion

Artist  :  Aretha Franklin
Album Title  :  Sweet Passion  (1977)
Genre  :  Soul

- TRACKS -  (favorites in pink)
01. Break It To Me Gently
02. When I Think About You
03. What I Did For Love
04. No One Could Ever Love You More
05. A Tender Touch
06. Touch Me Up
07. Sunshine Will Never Be The Same
08. Meadows Of Springtime
09. Mumbles
10. Sweet Passion

    I'm not much of a Soul Music fan. but thanks to my wife and son, I am slowly developing a taste for it.  Which is easy to do when the singer has the pipes like Aretha does.

    I found this LP in the clearance bin at my local Half Price Books store, for the modest price of $1.  The album has no major scratches, but lots of small ones.  And no skips.  Conversion was easy, but I tried to take the scratches out manually, and it is iffy whether I caught enough of the minor scratches to justify skipping the De-Popper Software Program.  I'm beta-listening to it as I write this; so far only two tracks need significant cleansing.

    For some reason, Sweet Passion has never been released in the US on CD.  To boot, neither Amazon nor iTunes offers it in digital form.

    Aretha's voice is impeccable here, and the backing musicians are up to the task of complementing her singing.  Other than the "I got the music in me" intro to Track 9, none of the songs are familiar to me, but that's probably a function of my not listening much to Soul.

   For the life of me, I cannot fathom why this hasn't been released as a CD yet.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “Studley, as we have told you about ten times already, your chickens have eaten patented seeds.  Since you have not paid the patent license fee to Gonsanto, the company that owns the patents, you are in violation of the law.  We don’t care if the seeds blew in from the neighbouring farm.  You should have taken more precautions, like locking your chickens in an airproof chamber.”

    “But sirs, they would die without air, wouldn’t they?”

    “Excuses, Studley, excuses.”

    (from Who Framed Santa Claus?, by Shantnu Tiwari)

     7½*/10.  The full review is here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Shopping

    Okay.  Time to get serious about Christmas shopping.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Swingle Singers - Anyone for Mozart?

Artist  :  The Swingle Singers
Title  :  Anyone for Mozart?  (1965)
Genre  :  Classical, a cappella

  - Tracks  (favorites in pink) -
01. Sonata No. 15
02. Ah! vous Dirais Je Maman
03. Allegro from Sonata No. 14
04. Fugue 
05. Eine Kleine Nacht Music

    The Swingle Singers had a brief heyday way back in the late 1960's.  They were (and still are, for that matter) a mostly a cappella group, with only a modicum of bass fiddle and drum accompaniment.  ISTR their most popular album featured Bach tunes.

    I found  Anyone For Mozart?, the stereo version no less, at the local Goodwill store, and snagged it for $0.99.  Released in 1965, this means this is a 49-year-old LP, so it had a fair amount of scratches, but no skips.  The scratch-removal program had its normal efficiency, removing about 95% of the scratches, without noticeably compromising the highs and lows of the music.

    The main problem with this LP is its brevity, even by 1965 standards.  Each side was only about 12-13 minutes in length, which is unforgivable, given the copious amount of Mozart music available.  Was this a "rush to release" issue, or did the record company just decide the public would buy it without checking out the times on the back of the album?

   That being said, I like the album.  I doubt it will ever be released as a CD, although I wouldn't be surprised to see it packaged with several other Swingle Singers albums.  There are a couple YouTube videos featuring the group singing some of these Mozart offerings, although ISTR they were all "live" concert videos.

    If you like classical music, especially lively take-offs of it (see : Apollo 100), then you should enjoy this LP.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Demon Toilet Paper Holder

    What to get for the Goth who has everything.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Where's your hairpiece?

    It took me an embarrassingly long time to 'get' this joke.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    Life is a kaleidoscope of pains and pleasures, despairs and hopes, family and friends, careers and games, loves and luck, learning and failures, and health and illnesses; not mere itches and scratches.  But do not all these things come down to itching and scratching?  Are not itching and scratching representative of what goes on in life?  All the things mentioned in our list are, ultimately, matters involving some discontent (itches) to overcome and (if we are lucky?) the overcoming (scratching) which provides relief.  What is the value in that?

    (from Can A Robot Be Human?, by Peter Cave)

  7½*/10.  The complete review is here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Darth the Halls

    Liz has already decorated our two Christmas trees this year.  But I'm thinking that the motif in 2015 should be...

Monday, December 08, 2014

Slaughterhouse 5

    I can call it Slaughterhouse 5 because, well, there are five carcasses hanging there.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “That fabric must be something she loomed herself, in between peanut-butter sandwiches.  It would have been smarter without the metallic threads.”

    “What would an architect call that color?” he asked.

    “I’d call it a yellow-pink of low saturation and medium brilliance.”

    “A decorator would call it Cream of Carrot<” he said, “or Sweet Potato SoufflĂ©.”

    (from The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, by Lilian Jackson Braun)

     6½*/10.  The full review is here.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Roman Numerals

    Sometimes, the Roman numeral system works better than ours.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Thursday, December 04, 2014

RIP Huxley

    RIP, Huxley.  You weren't the smartest dog ever, and maybe not even the prettiest.  But you were the bestest dog we ever had, and you're going to leave a hole in my heart for a long, long time.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    That probably sounds strange to you, if you have thought of all the duties a King has – weighty matters such as putting taxes on some things or ending them on others, whether or not to declare war, whether to pardon or condemn.  What, you might say, was a decision over whether or not to allow a little boy to play with a dollhouse next to those other things?

    Maybe nothing, maybe much.  I will let you make up your mind on that.  I will tell you the Roland was not the smartest King who had ever ruled in Delain.

    (from The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King)

     8*/10.  The complete review is here.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


    Really, St. Louis Police Department?!?!  You're offended that some of the St. Louis Rams players  showed their solidarity with the Ferguson black community by giving the "Hands Up! Don't Shoot!" gesture??

    Well, I'm offended that you think shooting an unarmed black teenager for walking down the middle of a street is okay.  F*cking racist cops.

Monday, December 01, 2014

E-Card Monday

    This is to celebrate one of our dogs, Bella, getting to come home tonight after 2½ days at the Emergency Animal Clinic.  She cheated Death for the third time in her brief lifetime.

    We got to learn all sorts of new words and acronyms during this ordeal.  Such as HGE : Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis and Pancreatitis.  But all that matters is that Bella's home!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Run Away!

    It always pays to have a detailed and well-thought-out Emergency Plan.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “We’re actually going to collect someone from a space station inhabited by pacifists.”
    “Fierce warrior pacifists?”
    “Edible pacifists?”
    “I would advise against it.”
    “Will we then deliver this coward into the sun?”
    “Is anything good going to happen on this holiday?”
    (from Space Captain Smith, by Toby Frost)

     8½*/10.  The full review is here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Eve

    They may be overdoing it with all the "Pumpkin Spice" variations this year.  But I don't mind.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Siberian Huskies

    A long time ago, I used to dog-sit two Siberian huskies.  I can say from experience that the above image is accurate.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    Casper looked at the toys and immediately saw the possibilities.  Any show could have a midget.  Casper’s Cavalcade of Living Curiosities was going to have a genuine fairy.

    This was show business.  Nobody came to see the sad or the ordinary.  They came to witness the stupendous, the fantastic, that which is beyond belief.

    (from The Midget’s House, by Anita Bartholomew)

     7½*/10.  The full review is here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

    I'm not keen on things like the recent Ice Bucket Challenge craze.  But if God takes part in it, I guess it's okay.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


    I don't want to brag, but I've attained Nerdvana.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Night Mantra

    Actually, it should read "there's no drink like RED wine."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Deus Ex Machina

    In case you ever wondered about what the phrase "deus ex machina" means.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    Instead of drawing closer, Tilla sat up and started chattering about next door’s cockerel.  “He has stopped crowing at night now: Did you notice?”

    He agreed without thinking, and reached for her.  “I’m well rested.  Come here.”

    She dodged his hand and stood up, still looking more cheerful than anyone who had been awake half the night had any right to be.  Only slowly did it dawn on him that there might be a link between the silence of the cockerel, Tilla’s smile, and the rather stringy meat in last night’s stew.

    He was not going to ask.

    (from Caveat Emptor by Ruth Downie)

    8½*/10.  The complete review is here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Freudian Sips

    Oh my.  This is going on my Christmas list for Santa.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Preacher Selfie

    Ah, Preacher.  You're looking young here.  We'll use this one if we ever need to find you.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “Did she have a sofa, your aunt?”
    “No, just an armchair and a pair of pouffes.”
    “Ample seating.  Did she live on her own?”
    “She does now, the pouffes moved out.  They’ve opened a candle shop in Kemptown.”
    “The air’s very bracing in Kemptown.  Someone told me that it was good for rheumatism.  So I went there and caught it.”
    “You can’t catch rheumatism, can you?”
    “It all depends who’s throwing it,” I said.  “Boys will be boys.”

    (from Waiting For Godalming by Robert Rankin)

    9*/10.  The complete review is here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Let the festivities begin

    It's true.  I saw it on the Internet, so it has to be true.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “What’s that?”
    “A dog,” Vin said.
    “Ah, blunt as ever, I see,” Breeze said.  “And, why is it that you now have a dog?”
    “I gave it to her,” Elend said.  “She wanted one, so I bought it for her.”
    “And you chose a wolfhound?” Ham asked, amused.
    “You’ve fought with her before, Ham,” Elend said, laughing.  “What would you have given her?  A poodle?”

    (from The Well Of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson)

  9*/10.  The complete review is here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Xmas T-Shirt

    Dear Santa.  You're awesome.  Please bring me this.
    Your Friend,

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dancing With The Stars

    Sadly, I fear that tonight it will be Tommy Chong's time to go home.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Book Excerpt for the Day

    The first one hadn’t actually run, he’d walked.  The patrolman on the switchboard it was, and he said, “Sir, the phone’s gone dead.”

    “Oh?  We’d better call the phone company to fix it pronto,” the lieutenant said.  He liked the word “pronto,” it made him feel like Sean Connery.  He reached for the phone to call the phone company, but when he held it to his ear there wasn’t any sound.

    He became aware of the patrolman looking at him.  “Oh,” he said.  “Oh, yes.”  He put the phone back on its hook.

    (from The Hot Rock, by Donald E. Westlake)

     8*/10.  The full review is here.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Music Friday

        For instance, Mike Oldfield's "Five Miles Out".

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Escher Thursday

   And now we know what the "M" in "MC Escher" stands for.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Tuesday, November 04, 2014