How is it that I never heard of Petr Wagner, the Czech viol player in this video? This is the best concert I’ve seen online in a very long time.
Gottfried Finger (c1660-1730) was a Moravian composer and viol player from Olomouc, in the present-day Czech Republic. He secured a gig in the court of James II of England, where his first name became “Godfrey.” Around the time that James was overthrown in the Revolution of 1688, Mr. Finger set out on his own as a composer of operas. He died in Mannheim, Germany.
We’re going to see a local production of Romeo and Juliet, staged in the fabricating shed at Sloss Furnaces. The former iron mill, active from 1882 to 1971, has become a Birmingham arts venue.
Elizabeth Hunter’s Shakespearean company, Muse of Fire, has been staging annual Shakespeare plays that draw on the city’s dancers, musicians, comedians, and other artists to swell the scene. The results can be quirky — the witches in Macbeth summoned belly-dancing familiars, for instance — but to me it’s part of the American tradition of appropriating and naturalizing Shakespeare as one of us. And I guess the belly dancers are an extension of the dancing and singing that Elizabethan performers did between the acts of a play, more to keep the audience friendly than to advance the plot. Continue reading →
I’m very pleased with the Snow Leopard release of Mac OS X. I bought it at the beginning of the month, but put off installing it until I had reached a milestone with my dissertation. Continue reading →
This is a music video for a song from the first, self-titled album by Vieux Farka Touré. He’s the acclaimed musician son of the great Ali Farka Touré. Both hail from the town of Niakunké, Mali, west Africa. (Not far from Timbuktu, actually.)
The video seems to have been shot in Niafunké, and maybe in the capital, Bamako. To me, much of it has a home-movie feel. Enjoy the music.
Gambling proprietors in Alabama have been trying to pass off their slot machines (prohibited under state law) as a form of bingo (legal in some counties). Gov. Bob Riley is trying to stop them with a special task force and mostly successful lawsuits. Warnings of impending raids have recently forced the shutdown of several giant bingo farms that siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars a year from customers.
The gambling industry is fighting back with a barrage of TV ads lampooning the governor and calling for a statewide referendum to legalize gambling. Naturally, this would be done on terms favorable to the big establishments, protecting them from competition.
One of the industry’s favorite tactics is to portray Riley as a pawn of the Mississippi Choctaws, whose casinos lure customers from Alabama. The ads imply, without actually saying so, that Riley is trying to kill off Alabama bingo farms because they would compete with established Choctaw casinos. The inference is that Riley must have taken bribes from the Indians. Continue reading →
I was recently directed to yet another complaint about the decline of literacy, the corrosive intellect-leaching power of digital technology, and our collective guilt for letting Western civilization subside into a mire of tweets, blogs, and gaming.
iPhones Have Consequences, by Sally Thomas, is a witty, engaging essay on the subject, supported by memorable anecdotes. I believe it delves deeper into the question than most such efforts, and it’s well worth reading.
I feel I must address her argument that the present college generation is dumber than we forty-somethings, seeing as I’ve argued exactly the opposite. It’s my view that the forty-somethings are the dumbest generation currently on offer, and the so-called “twixters” or “tweens” are more curious than we, and have read more and thought about more than we had at their age. Continue reading →