Cultural overload redux

Every so often a lot of different things are happening at once and the impulse to discuss them in total detail makes for an unattractive prospect, just because to talk about it all would result in about, I don’t know, ten different posts in extreme detail? I suspect what readers I have here would tire of that slightly. So instead, some summaries:

    • Scandal in the Colonies by Kirsten McKenzie turned out to be a bit too dry even for me (and I don’t mind academic monographs at all — consider where I work at!). Some of the details were interesting (if by default because of their salacious nature) but the larger critique of how early nineteenth century conceptions of identity, nation and propriety worked in the British Empire in South Africa and Australia was simultaneously interesting and unsurprising. At a certain point the strength and (I strongly feel) necessity of these analyses gets weighed down by the sheer numbness caused by reading another portrayal of racial, sexual and societal biases at work. It’s very important not to be numb about them at all, of course, but I can’t say I learned much new on an overarching front from the book.
      Brooks’ Red Tape album was a favorite of mine when I first stumbled across it by accident back in 2004; having picked up an actual copy of it for a buck at Amoeba last month — the cover art’s quite beautiful, worth the purchase for that reason alone! — and relistened this morning, I remembered again just why it was so wonderful. Folks like Drew Daniel and Andy Kellman have sung his praises on ILM and elsewhere, while this interview I found four years back is one of the better ones I’ve read from any musician, much less from a very young man. Seek out the album as you can; I’ll have more thoughts in an upcoming AMG review, having realized that there wasn’t one already.
      The more I hear about There Will Be Blood, the more I want to see it. I already had a strong interest in it, helped initially with the mention of Jonny Greenwood’s soundtrack sometime back — though I do think he’s a fine actor, I’m actually not an active Daniel Day Lewis fan at all (honestly I don’t think I’m a fan of any actors per se, I don’t follow anyone from project to project with devotion), Upton Sinclair was a bit of a goof, while Paul Thomas Anderson made a hell of an impact with me when Boogie Nights came out and has successfully annoyed and/or irritated me since then. But yesterday friend Remy added to all the praise I’d already heard by noting that he too loved Boogie Nights and nothing else from Anderson since, but that There Will Be Blood knocked him for six, as they say. A good sign; I’ll probably catch it next weekend at some point.
      Finally, I was honestly surprised to realize in reading S. T. Joshi’s 1990 monograph The Weird Tale that he wasn’t a fan of M. R. James, or rather ranked him the least among the six authors he discusses (first and foremost unsurprisingly being H. P. Lovecraft; Joshi’s thorough, extensive editing and annotating of Lovecraft’s fiction in the eighties and nineties, as well as his work with a variety of other writings, easily was the most important work done for that author since the original founding of Arkham House). Then again I come from the position of being an unashamed James freak, finding him more to my taste than, say, Arthur Machen, who gets a more extensive nod in the book. In that light it was instructive to read some negative criticism or at least highly conditional approval from Joshi, since it’s often good to get that different perspective even if it’s not always agreed with (and there were a couple of points hard to argue away!).
  • Anyway, time for lunch.

    A pasta dish it took six months to make


    To explain — the sauce was one of the many tomato sauces I made from the garden tomatoes from summer, stored up frozen in my freezer just for an evening like this the other night. Add in good Parmesan, some lightly sauteed tofu Italian sausage and a fair enough red wine…all great.

    It’s incredibly satisfying to do something like this, it has to be said, knowing that things are just there waiting to be used — there was always the occasional temptation to break out the sauces earlier but I wanted to wait for evenings like that where all I wanted to do — and all I had to do — was basic pasta prep. The rest was easy, and the taste was just marvelous. Here’s to working my way through the rest over the next few months.