Friday, May 25, 2012

Predictions and Random Thoughts


1) The Spurs over the Heat, in six games, in the NBA finals.

2) Bringing Tebow to the Jets was a bad idea.  Massive problems will result.  The Jets will finish 8-8.  Rex Ryan's job will be in jeopardy. (Not all due to Tebow, of course.  But he's going to exacerbate an already-bad situation).

3) Even though they're down against the Devils, I like the Rangers to win not only this series, but to beat the Kings in the Stanley Cup.  Even though I'm rooting for the Kings.  The only LA team worth rooting for.

Random Thoughts

Veep on HBO is exactly what I feared it would be.  Cynicism masquerading as wit.  Worse, cynicism masquerading as wisdom.  No surprise, I guess given that two of the main producers are the ever-bilious and horrible Frank Rich, and the guy behind In The Loop.  It's the same problem I have, in some ways, with Mad Men.  Making every character on a show base and selfish is just as shallow and unconvincing as making every character a noble, selfless would-be saint (see The West Wing).  Humans aren't always, only motivated by fear, careerism, and selfishness.  It's irksome.  

Also irksome, though for many different reason, in the much-ballyhooed Girls, also on HBO.  I don't yet know what I think of this show.  It goes from impressing to bothering the living hell out of me every time I watch it.  One of its core problems, I think, is that the suffering of its main character, Hannah, rarely transcends her own place and time.  We sometimes feel for her, but we rarely feel _with_ her.  At least, I rarely do.  And, I don't get why every single sex scene in the entire show has to strive to attain the maximum level of cringe-inducing awkwardness.  Jury's still out, I guess.  My favorite moment in it so far has been the scene between Hannah and her now-gay ex-boyfriend.  THAT was funny-and also, somewhat moving.  Wish the show had more of that.

Van The Man

Despite the sneering disdain of my New York Intellectual friend ASWOBA, Astral Weeks remains one of my most beloved rock (rock-jazz?) albums.  On that subject, I highly recommend this excellent appreciation of Morrison's work.  It contains, among other things, a fascinating list of Morrison clips avialable on YouTube (which I am off to check out).  A sample: 

I recently edited a book titled The Neuroscience of Preference. Unsurprisingly, this got me reflecting on my own preferences. It was hard to avoid the conclusion that few have endured the ebb and flow of time. In fact I often experience what I suspect is a common phenomenon: private embarrassment at these temporal disjunctions in taste. A recent example was seeing a model of car that I owned in the late 1970s. At the time it seemed desirable and the essence of modernity. What presented itself to my eyes all these years later was nothing short of a hideous box awkwardly balanced on four wheels. When it comes to preferences, an awful lot of them are evanescent, a fact that is perennially exploited by the fashion industry.
At the same time, I have to acknowledge that there are some constants. For me, one of these is an enduring passion for the music of Van Morrison. No other human voice has such power to arrest my attention and compel me to listen. This is a preference that has endured for more than 40 years.


JMW said...

Your hockey prediction is by the boards, but I hope you're right about the NBA. Any of the teams except Miami would be fine with me.

I liked In the Loop. (Haven't seen more than 10 minutes of Veep.) I agree with you that painting people as too uniformly one way is usually bad, but I considered In the Loop a farce, in which case I don't mind the two-dimensionality, and I appreciated it just as a romp.

I love Van Morrison deeply. It is you who had the sneering disdain, sir -- for anyone who didn't think Astral Weeks was his one crowning achievement. I love Astral Weeks, too, but I love a lot of what he's done. You're the intellectual, sir, who cherry picks Astral Weeks to rave about but doesn't love the rest of Van the Man!! Am I wrong??

I only saw the first episode of Girls and was bored more than anything else, but do want to see more. I've heard it gets better.

JMW said...

I forgot my other comment for this post: I think you're right that the Tebow move is a bad one. That said, I think the Jets could easily be set up for 8-8 or worse and big troubles even before they made that move.

ANCIANT said...

It was a romp. That's true. I guess the darkness of its romping got to me, some. Veep is very similar in tone and attitude.

I don't recall saying anything untoward about non-Astral Weeks Van Morrison. I don't know his other albums well enough to do so--I'm only just now starting to listen to the rest of his oeuvre. So, no. I dismiss that. Also, my memories are of myself as polite, reasonable, and conciliatory, and of you as rebarbative and vituperative. As per your wont. I keep watching it, but I don't really want to. That about sums it up. I have very mixed feelings about it, but at least it's not like all the other stuff on TV. It's very very uneven, but the highs generally make the insufferable twenty-something navelgazing aspect of it bearable.

Dezmond said...

I see that I will have to be the voice of reason on Van Morrison and also clear up some fuzzy memories.

'Astral Weeks' is a masterwork. But it is so unique, both in rock generally and even in Van's discography, that it almost stands outside it all.

JMW, you indeed knocked 'Astral Weeks' a bit, declaring that he had "many" records that were superior. That is patently ridiculous. Although not as ridiculous as Johannes, who found it "boring."

ANCIANT, in response, to make your point of the greatness of 'Astral Weeks,' dismissed the rest of his work. You also argued that the entire works of The Bangles represented the pinnacle of Western music and that Gary Glitter's second and third albums were ripe for reassessment, as they were unappreciated works of true genius. I seem to remember all of this being said.

If you are really are exploring more Van, you should really give his live 'It's Too Late To Stop Now' another listen. 'Moondance,' while Van at his most commercial, is also so great. You may appreciate 'Veedon Fleece,' a kind of forgotten gem at the tail-end of his classic period, it is strange, pastoral and the most like 'Astral Weeks' without trying to be. JMW is a big fan of 'Into the Music,' about half of it is brilliant. I am a huge fan of 'St. Dominic's Preview' as well.

ANCIANT said...

Yes, Veedon Fleece is the only other album of his I own. Bought it years ago when someone told me it was someone like Astral Weeks. I don't yet know it well, but I hope to listen to more in the next few days.

JMW said...

I await your Jack White review.