The Conan of the Future

This afternoon devoured Riad Sattouf’s The Arab of the Future 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985-1987. May have more to say but I must get in that Riad and his buddies obsession with the 1982 Conan the Barbarian movie was an utter surprise hoot (Sattouf does a marvelous job of capturing the kids’ imitation of the Schwarzenegger scowl).

The Edgar Rice Burroughs reissued paperbacks had been thrilling me since Junior High School and the same Frazetta cover art drew me to Robert E. Howard’s Conan books when they first appeared. And it was a serious graduation — Howard was more modern, more violent, more weird, more fevered than ERB.

I outgrew Howard and his hero (who I started calling “Onan the Barbarian”) before the reissue series finished up. I needed fiction characters with interiors. I knew little about Howard’s life except that he was from Texas and most of his Conan material had appeared in the sacred Weird Tales. Everything came flooding back when I saw the captivating and wonderfully realized 1996 film The Whole Wide World (Vincent D’Onofrio performance of a lifetime). I immediately tracked down the Novalyne Price book One Who Walked Alone (more apt title, but I see why they didn’t use it). Both the film and the memoir are hugely recommended for their presentation of the value fantasy had for certain isolated souls trapped in the vast Western horizons. The Price book makes a more explicit case for Howard’s fatal fixation on his mother.

Flashback #1: 2007 Mixdiscs

Usually in the slow days of summer, I get the urge to re-listen to the older homemade CDs I have moldering in the basement. The rock item is a bit ruder and rowdier sequence than I might make now, but I will stick up for all the tracks listed here. (As always, does include some beloved tracks I simply discovered that year.)

ROCK ‘N’ WHATEVER 2007 — PART TWO

  1. Tracy Thorn, “Get Around to It”
  2. The Scoff, “Nasty”
  3. Budos Band, “Deep in the Sand”
  4. Les Savy Fav, “Pots & Pans”
  5. Against Me!, “White People for Peace”
  6. Brakes, “Porcupine or Pineapple”
  7. Rudder, “Squarefoot”
  8. Rilo Kiley, “Breakin’ Up”
  9. Fu Manchu, “Shake It Loose”
  10. Queens of the Stone Age, “Sick, Sick, Sick”
  11. Modest Mouse, “Dashboard”
  12. Gore Gore Girls, “Where Evil Grows”
  13. Cafe Tacuba, “Agua”
  14. Loudon Wainwright III, “Grey in L.A.”

 

JAZZ DIARY 2007 — Vol. Two

  1. Nino Josele, “Turn Out the Stars”
  2. Bobby Hutcherson, “The Omen”
  3. Alan Pasqua, “The Anti-Social Club”
  4. Philly Joe Jones/Elvin Jones, “Le Roi”
  5. Benny Carter, “Frenesi”
  6. The Nils Cline Singers, “Caved-In Heart Blues”
  7. Max Roach Quintet, “Ezz-Thetic”
  8. Christian Scott, “Katrina’s Eyes”
  9. Mark Murphy, “Angel Eyes”
  10. Billy Bang Quintet, “Nothing But Love”
  11. Massacre, “Return”

 

Mervyn Peake — A Major Lapse By Me

Captivated by Lord of the Rings in junior high, I discovered the Ghormenghast Trilogy early in high school and spent a good deal of my sophomore year reading Titus Groan. Some of my (ahem) less intellectually-evolved classmates thought it was weird that I read thick paperbacks alla time and would ask “You still readin’ Tight Groin?” (hyuck hyuck hyuck). Perhaps because of all the shit I got, I never did finish the three books, but went crazy about the illustrations, which I thought were a superb example of a writer who was also an illustrator being the ideal person to do the visuals.

Then I screwed up and forgot about Peake for decades until after his passing I learned he was primarily an artist. Then I continued to screw up and only got a version of Alice in Wonderland that he illustrated (since he seemed like an unquestionable descendant of John Tenniel).

Just a while ago I stopped screwing up and got a copy of Mervyn Peake: The Man and His Art compiled by Sebastian Peake and Alison Eldred, Edited by G. Peter Winnington (Peter Owen, 2006). I am beyond enchanted. Among dozens and dozens of prized new pictures, I think I now have the definitive rendition of Algernon Blackwood’s Wendigo.

Need To Cheer Up, So, Good News on Weight

One of the ways I lost more than 40 pounds over the last few years is sticking to a pretty regulated eating schedule: breakfast (sometime around 8 AM), lunch (sometime around Noon), afternoon snack (sometime around 4PM) and dinner (sometime around 7-9PM). And that’s IT! No other munching or snacking or eating unconsciously.

I know from experience that even two weeks of travel does not disrupt the works. But this summer has been different. For going on six weeks we’ve been hitting the roads and skies and rails with a trip to New York City, a trip to Montana and a trip to Montreal. There is no freaking way to keep a meal schedule tight when you have to attend timed exhibitions, weddings and parties, and a batch of music concerts.

So, I was worried when I stepped on the scale this morning.

I had gained only one pound.

Even better news is that I am having no trouble falling back into my routine with the clock. Doesn’t feel like a struggle or unsatisfactory. But I’m not going to make one of my old mistakes and decide I can throw things on autopilot. Must. Consciously. Stick. With. The. Plan.

The Air Is Still and the Light Is Cool #25

[Just a reminder, this is the general title for posts where I want to do a quick plug of an oldie (or several) that’s too little-known, according to me.]

Bela Bartok, The 6 String Quartets (Lindsay String Quartet) (ASV, 1981)

This requires a shout-out to my long-gone half sister, Betty Jane, who, when she heard I was becoming captivated by music, said something like: “Pay attention to Bartok — my favorite — he’s not like anybody else.” And that his intelligence radiated from everything he wrote.

I’m not music-tech illiterate, but as close as I can be to get by (stopped taking lessons in grade school when an ignoramus told me I couldn’t play if I couldn’t read scores) so all I can say is that every moment of these three discs runs a marvelous abstract movie in my mind that’s different each time through. (Yeah, it’s not in chronological order and I wouldn’t have any other sequence than this one.) I had not played it for a long, long time because (I was reminded a couple months ago) this weird glitch had developed about two minutes into the Second Movement of Quartet No. 1, one of my most beloved passages in the whole thing. I cleaned the disc but it still wouldn’t play right. I understood I better hurry up and replace the OOP set if I didn’t want to shell out a fortune. So I did and every morning this week has featured supernatural sunshine as a result.

Necessary To Remember

I cannot believe that exactly 11 months to the day after this post we will be attending another memorial.

But I certainly believe age brings wisdom, however sad. Something my Dad said to me when I was, like, 15, was that one of the more difficult parts of getting old (he was 77) was how more and more often you had to attend memorials. And that it was even more disturbing when the number of them began to drop off.

I had no emotional understanding of that back then. But now I am glad he said it to me.