Happier than a dog with three balls

Hello, dears. Just popping my head up above the water to say hello and bring you a quick dump and run of delights.

First, I’m popping out the oldies with Lenny Bernstein’s slick version of Exultate Jubilate. The recording is very Lenny – a big church filled bombastically to the formerets with an orchestra consisting of every single fucking person in Bavaria who can play an instrument (cute violinist alert at 5.04) and a deathly silent audience, stunned into submission by the music and the stark staring terror that they might cough and Lenny would gut them with his baton. However, Arleen Auger’s voice is lovely, and this recording is the one I hear in my head if I happen to think of Lenny. It was playing one night at one of his parties, and he was serving drinks and bopping around like he usually did when he got to hear his own performances, like a drunk bullfrog that has been connected to the mains, and at the height of one particularly spastic conniption he managed to tip an entire jug of margaritas over Nancy Reagan, so it always makes me laugh. The recording of the Great Mass in C minor that goes with this on CD is a cracker, by the way.

Next, following on from Cole’s mustard abduction, a charming little story by Theodore Sturgeon called “Yesterday Was Monday” which was pointed out by KBS, and which explains everything.

Random food blogness: Fat Yu, who apparently IS FAT YU! (and also a tiny little bit racist on the Japanese), but who writes otherwise entertainingly of his eating exploits around Shanghai.

If you like a bit of tentacle in your tale and can “Ïa! ïa! Shub niggurath!” with the best of them, you might enjoy Innsmouth Mazazine. I have been working my way through them very happily, even if they do give me odd dreams.

Last, and then I am off to bed in my upside-down down-under bed, I suggest you go and see the website of sculptor Thomas Doyle to see the coolest things ever.

Goodnight my dears. Sleep well and dream of Ted Cruz slowly slipping down a slavering and drool-bespattered maw. Ïa! ïa! Cthulhu fhtagn!


Late night music


I shall endeavour to propitiate you with gifts

Well kiddies, it has been a while. I plead temporary insanity – of our country, not of me.

Endless bleating that Hagel is the suxxors because he hates all Jews everywhere, or because he did and said some stupid shit in the 90s (I remember the 90s, and we all did and said and wore some pretty stupid shit in the 90s) or because he doesn’t have a big D bedazzled onto his vagina.

Endless threads derailed by people who think that the suicide of a gifted yet misguided young man is their opportunity to call him names and gloat hell-fire-and-damnation style about how he deserved to be punished, rather than an opportunity to ask whether punishment should be the sole purpose of our criminal legal system.

We (the blog and the country) seem descended upon by an army of gun nuts and open carry weirdos, wingnuts and no-nuts and just plain-ol’ nuts, godbotherers, trolls, self-appointed rape inspectors, racists and ranters and self-talkers, all bereft of empathy, compassion or good sense. Dickheads everywhere, and the screeching! Jesus.

Never mind. Presents!

First, to get you in the mood, some music:

Next, Wodehouse, always such balm to the soul. I’m linking to a story called Ruth In Exile – a lovely little snip of a thing which will more than repay fifteen minutes of your time. If you have never read beyond Jeeves, then there is a world of joy awaiting you in Wodehouse’s short stories. If you have never read Jeeves? Well, get the fuck away from me until you have. Weirdo.

Then, my obsession for the last weekend – last year’s competition papers from the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad. I do admit that lingusitics puzzles might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but they kept me thinking, or at least cheating and pretending I knew the answer all along, for a good number of hours.

Food – I am going to point you to this caraway seed cake recipe from Hugh Fffernly Whiffingstable in the Guardian. It’s ludicrously easy to make. I tend to leave out the mace, substitute candied peach or apricot for the candied orange peel, and then ice the whole thing with an icing made by stirring together 2 cups of icing sugar, some grated orange rind and a big spoonful of sour cream. It’s a lovely cake – soft but with some weight, a crunchy top and that glorious anise and citrus tang of the caraway.

Finally, if you haven’t read it already, the Kitten Setting in which Mr Scalzi tells us of his inspired manner of dealing with trolls. One can dream.

ETA: Bonus!


Because this never gets old…

I do not know what the Democratic Party spent, in toto, on the 2004 election, but what they seem to have gotten for it is Barack Obama. Let us savor.

– Peggy Noonan, “So Much to Savor”, Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2004

And now we dance…

H/t to Mike


Music

I’m trying to write something coherent about guns, and a nice shiny new book thread for you, but I’m finding it quite hard.

I keep thinking of those poor people in that cinema, and the terror of their last moments, and the sheer fucking stupidity of it all, none of which is conducive to much besides going back to bed with the dog and a quart of gin. In lieu of those posts for now, then, I offer you some music.

First, the Doves with There Goes the Fear. A few years ago, a young friend of mine died of ovarian cancer. It was horribly quick, and it wasn’t very pleasant for all concerned.

Kathleen was a bright burning spark of a woman, yet she was possessed always of a serenity, a calm inner spirit that soothed anyone who came into contact with her. She had an odd, gentle beauty coupled together with … how shall I put it? … a ribald huskiness and a brazen-cool-50s-brunette languor. She drives me even now to hyperbole.

She loved to dance – usually in dark rooms with bright lights – and it was a moment of joy to catch her eye across a crowded dancefloor as she danced with entirely unconscious grace. At 10am on the morning after the night before, when spirits were starting to flag and someone was on the phone trying to rustle up more drugs, Kath would emerge from the kitchen bearing a tray of breakfast cocktails that would put everyone on their arse smiling like an idiot until the coke turned up.

After her chemotherapy had robbed her of her hair, she strode around the office like Ripley in pursuit of a particularly bothersome facehugger. She fought her cancer every day and cracked jokes all the while. She had many days and moments of pure happiness in that last year, not least at her wedding – a bittersweet day if ever there were one.

And yet she died, as so many do, and I still miss her every day.

This song was played at her funeral, one last smiling “fuck you” to the pain and the terror. It makes me feel a little better on days like this.

Second, The Aikiu with Pieces of Gold. Possibly NSFW for graphically implied sexual content, but it would have made Kath laugh like a drain, and the song is very pretty.

Finally, because Kath would be angry if I didn’t pop this one on on a Friday night, The Return with New Day.


Music

I’m onto my third gimlet, and I’m wingnutted out, so I bring you this – a wonderfully disconcerting little film by Charles De Meyer called Esther’s, which I was introduced to on Boing Boing and which has a very fine dubstep soundtrack by Amon Tobin.

and this – a lovely remix of Florence and the Machine’s Spectrum by Calvin Harris


Hot Swedish Girls…

— Part of a continuing series. Now with added cute boys. —

I have no idea where I am. This happens quite frequently and, I suppose, is to be expected after about 80 years or so of intemperate dedication to the pharmacopoeial pleasures. However, there is loud music and I have a 40 dollar cocktail in one hand and Brad Pitt in the other, so wherever I am it’s fancy.

Brad keeps bitching because Angelina got turned away by the bouncer for wearing open toed shoes, although I suspect it had more to do with the fact she smells like a civet on heat when you get up close. Brad, frankly, looks like shit. Nineteen kids and a girlfriend with both daddy and brother issues will do that to you. However, I’ve given the poor thing a pill, so he should perk up soon.

Gloria and Anderson are off trying to find coke, if they can stop arguing for five minutes about which of them is taking home the twin Albanian sailors who Gloria picked up earlier at Katie Couric’s party. Leitenant Prek and Leitenant Preng (for those are their names – what can you expect from a place that had a king called Zog?) are on shore leave for a few weeks and on the make in New York, and Katie hired them to serve as shirtless waiters because (apparently) “it’s my party, and I want it to be special”.

Prek and Preng were the highlight of the party, as half naked, bemuscled men bearing cheesy lobster tarts so often are. Otherwise it was just the usual for one of Katie’s parties – non-vintage champagne, too many bankers and media types with powdered noses, Katie complaining all the time because there’s not enough coke at her own damn party, and Dan Rather passed out in his own sick in the bathtub. People tend not to admit they have coke in Katie’s presence because she gets quite grabby if she thinks the lines aren’t being dispensed fast enough. Every time she heads in the general direction of the bathroom, there’s a brief stampede as everyone tries to hide in the kitchen.

Anyway, we escaped from Katie’s apartment by tossing a baggie into the spare room and leaving while she was still tangled up in the duvet, grabbing the lieutenants on our way, and then ended up here, whatever it’s called. I gave up remembering the names of nightclubs years ago. My drink is good. Brad’s pill is so good that he’s started eyeing up Prek’s tattoos, while Prek and Preng are currently gazing into each other’s eyes in a manner which would, if weren’t a filthy old thing, be quite shocking.

Oh, I forgot. At Katie’s party we ran into Gore Vidal who, I’ll be frank, I had thought was dead. At our age it’s often easier to assume.

He looked very well, and we spent a most enjoyable half hour chatting about whether Santorum would be more entertaining to watch under the influence of mushrooms or ketamine, and a great new technique that Gore developed for hiding laxatives in battenberg cake. Hint – it’s in the jam. Just before he left with one of the other waiters, Gore told me a positively eye watering anecdote about Onassis and Jackie and a cucumber that I dare not repeat. Such an old charmer.

Well dears, there’s still no sign of Gloria or Anderson, so I’m going to take these three boys back to the safety of my suite at the Plaza before they make a scene on the carpet. I hope you have a lovely weekend too.

Music in this post, as often, with thanks to the invaluable Alfitude.