Thoughts on reaching my thousandth post

For that’s what this post is — I didn’t realize I was approaching that until I finished up my posts earlier today and discovered that the next one would be number 1000.

That said, this won’t be a retrospection on my various blog posts until now or the like, not even much of a retrospection at all. Still, the day and the time demands something, and after feeling very much out of it all this week due to the lingering illness that seems to finally be ebbing away, at least in fits and starts.

As any regular or demi-regular readers of mine have likely noticed, and as I’ve mentioned from time to time, my earlier days of extensive reflections have gone a bit by the boards in recent months. In large part this has been due to a combination of work necessity — I’ve been a lot busier at my day job — and an increased focus on my professional writing. Further, the extensive political commentary I somehow became a bit known for last year is not something I’m interested in pursuing full time — not for lack of interest, but because the dice were rolled, and now we watch and wait as the consequences of those decisions play out further.

There is however something to be said for the simple joy of typing out one’s thoughts as one chooses in the knowledge that you can stand or fall by them without fear of greater repercussions. The same cannot be said for many people in this world. Without, hopefully, sounding too unconsciously enthralled to what one writer has rightly called ‘the western gaze’ as applied in this historical moment, the tragic idiocies on display in Iran today serve as a cruel reminder of this.

I have mentioned before that at times of self-pity I remind myself that perspective is needed, that in comparison to many others I have never truly had it bad. So too here. It robs one of language because it makes one realize how inadequate it is to capture those senses of angry frustration, those senses of scathing contempt for those who cloak their sadism under the guise of official maintenance of law and order, those senses of black comedy when one looks at an organization such as the Iranian power structure and realizes that they are even more stupider and cruel than one already suspected.

It robs the language of sentiment as well, to try and say something about hope. And yet, the timing perhaps suggests a proxy for me — the new VNV Nation album, loaded with anthemic sentiments, concludes with a song rapidly becoming one of my favorites, “Where There Is Light.” The song of course was not written for today’s events or the past week’s, but it should not surprise that I should hear it and other songs on the new album so strongly through the lens of its temporal context, this mid-June 2009.

Therefore I shall simply quote its lyrics, and leave you consider their applicability to those who hopefully will all reach their thousandth posts themselves, and go further beyond them:

The carousel begins to slow
I take my chances
So far removed I failed to see
The recklessness that’s shown
In all my words and deeds
The good in other souls
I never failed to see

Can you see the light?
As far as the eyes can see
From this point above the world
Where mortals dare their destiny

As it radiates
May I witness open eyes
Let me remain
Where there is light

In want of courage
It is as a shield for me
In want of hope
It reassures and carries me

As it radiates
May I witness open eyes
Let me remain
Where there is light

Letting go was never easy
Risking all for what I wanted, never needed
Deliberated whether I should serve the cause
Of greater things
As we moved worlds apart

Can you see the light?
As far as the eyes can see
From this point above the world
Where mortals dare their destiny

As it radiates
May I witness open eyes
Let me remain
Where there is light

The greatest words would still fail me now
These emotions I cannot describe
I want to be where I don’t need to hide myself
And remain here til the end of time

The gods play games with mortal hearts
As the carousel goes round
As I looked on I saw the crowds
Who’d gathered walk away

Can you see the light?
As far as the eyes can see
From this point above the world
Where mortals dare their destiny

As it radiates
May I witness open eyes
Let me remain
Where there is light

In want of courage
It is as a shield for me
In want of hope
It reassures and carries me

As it radiates
May I witness open eyes
Let me remain
Where there is light

Meantime, I’m joining the video world a bit…

…kinda:

Just a little something shot from my balcony on this gray June afternoon. There might be more. My extremely minimal YouTube channel is here.

More garden photos are up on Flickr

This was from this past Sunday, the day before I started feeling woozy. Lovely day and it was great to see everything flowering and/or growing happily. As always the full set can be found here.

Zucchini rice

Found myself at a loose end last night and wondered if there was such a thing as a zucchini rice recipe. The answer is yes and very tasty it is! My variation on it was due to not having cumin seeds, just cumin powder, as well as yellow rather than black mustard seeds — otherwise went ahead and cooked it up, v. delicious. Thanks to Manjula’s Kitchen for putting up the recipe!

Another week of delays…

…occasioned by everything from the end of the school year — always hectic, this time no exception — and, over the last couple of days, a really lovely fever/cold/earache/whatever combination that left me a wreck at a couple of points. Pretty much all down to the earache now and I’ll be seeing my doctor about that but my inclination to do little but zone has proven the right one. So hopefully more later in the week, when I’m a little more active once again! (Did go out to the garden on Sunday, though, and it looked lovely.)

A first reaction to the new VNV Nation album ‘Of Faith, Power and Glory’

Of Faith, Power and Glory

I hope to have a formal review in the near future through one of my usual outlets. For now, then, simply some brief personal reflections:

As I’ve talked about on here more than once, VNV Nation has assumed particular importance for me in recent years — their song “The Farthest Star” in particular had a resonance for me at a time when I felt frustrated and burnt out on a number of fronts, and any number of songs from the Judgement album hold near equal power as well. The slew of live shows I’ve seen since have reconfirmed that, and the brief conversations I’ve been lucky to have with VNV mainman Ronan Harris have always left me thinking he’s quite a generous and friendly fellow. Meanwhile, I’ve also seen the personal impact his work has had on some friends I’ve introduced the band’s work to — it’s been refreshingly uncynical, for lack of a better term.

Of Faith, Power and Glory — which I’m well into my second listen here tonight, and I’m probably about to play it to death in the run-up to the LA show that kicks off the tour — feels like the logical progression in the run of albums starting with Futureperfect, as VNV have refined and focused their sound, at once of a larger piece and yet able to hit the individual mark nearly every single time. It’s a rare act that can constantly use familiar elements and never seem boring or repetitious about it — we all have our individual examples in other genres, I’m sure, but VNV is my current lodestone there.

As I said, more formal thoughts to be saved for a review first. Suffice to say I spent a good chunk of this evening dancing to this whole thing like a fiend, phrases are already leaping out at me from the lyrics as perfectly capturing states of mind I know or remember well, and I simply can’t wait for the show now.

Peter Murphy off in the distance…

…or so it might seem thanks to the way that I took the photo. I was actually a lot closer to the stage than that, it’s partially the iPhone camera’s way of taking things, but I was also up in the balcony, sneaking a shot over a couple of people in front of me — and the resultant effect was actually quite striking, the isolated performers under the lights, seemingly playing to nobody.

Had various things to say about the show via Twitter and Facebook but this summary later provides a sample of my thoughts:

The show was tonight and I was quite impressed….what was especially cool was how he lived up fully to what he told me was going to be a focus on obscurer or new songs — I only immediately recognized about four solo songs (and he did NOT play “Cuts You Up,” though he did do two other songs from Deep), plus a Bauhaus-themed first encore that actually started with “A Strange Kind of Love” from Deep but that turned into a self mashup with that song’s music and “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”‘s lyrics — and it worked! The covers were well-chosen — Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” made me happy as hell, completely knocked it out of the park with a vocal/electric guitar arrangement of NIN’s “Hurt” and a concluding take on “Space Oddity” arranged to sound like something from Dust combined with a Space Age/shapeship rhythm track.

But all the new songs were quite enjoyable and a few were REALLY strong, and it was telling how well he carried the crowd with the strength of his performances and his band’s with all this new material. It was a very in-the-moment show, very ‘this is where I’m at.’ Not the easiest of things to do but he succeeded.

Also got to meet him briefly. Friendly, witty guy!

And he was, indeed. Thanks again to friend H. for being so kind. I’ll hope to finally have the full interview I did to run later this week on here.

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