Monday, March 26, 2007

The Highlights and Other Psychological Horrors

Today hasn't start too well - thanks to an accidental viewing of the synchronised swimming on Saturday night I woke up with an attack of the highlights. Bloody Russians!

OK, so it's partly my fault - I didn't have to stick around and actually watch the Russian team swancing - or is it dwimming - around to the strains of Rimsky-Korsakov's Psychosis Scheherezade - I could have moved to another room and found something else to do. And at least the musical interludes in my head weren't accompanied by visions of legs scissoring above the blue surface of a swimming pool, or a team of eight swimmers making a star figure with their bums up at the center and their splayed legs forming the outline. Well, not until I started writing, anyway.

Right now, all the orchestral bombast of that over-orchestrated little air with variations is blasting out of the stereo speakers - it's into the second part, where you get all those totally unnecessary grace notes from the harp at the beginning. All I have to do is get through the next twenty minutes without thinking too much about Tchaikovsky's Cappriccio Italien, or worse yet, the 1812 overture. They're both on the CD with the Rimsky-Korsakov - as filler essentially. Bloody Deutsche Grammophon!

Postscript: now that I've listened to the whole cloying piece I have to admit that, like Ketelbey and the Mighty Wurlitzer, Rimsky-Korsakov and synchronised swimming were made for each other.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lit-Crit Gems

(All from the latest Saturday Age)

... the book doesn't only chart the emergence of a department, but of a discipline. Clark, Blainey, Serle & Co didn't just teach Australian history - in many respects they invented it.

Her novel is exceptionally readable, stylish and well-paced. It's not without its moments of wry humour and the plot unravels with rare confidence.

Ramsey and Lawrence do not prove sexually fungible (interchageable). Shriver has perhaps stacked the odds here by making the snooker player an intense and experimental lover, and giving him love scenes that will make the book clubs swoon. They may even develop an interest in snooker, although a glance at the real-life characters on the circuit should douse those dreams.

There has been the usual hype about Davis being a writer we should all be watching. But I'm afraid that deep down her work is shallow.

Suffice it to say that [this book] rekindled the fires that burned all those years ago when a just-pubescent youngster discovered that not only was cricket the greatest game of all, it was - in the right hands - written about in a way far superior to any other sport.

Leftist Subversive Mah-Jongg Circle

In all that book-sorting I've been doing over the past week or two, one very valuable little volume finally turned up - the little plain English "how to play Mah-Jongg" book.

So, given a week or so to get the house cleaned up and the dining room table cleared, it should be possible - at last - to get a social game or two happening here. It's a fairly convenient cover for our real agenda of plotting the overthrow of bourgeois democracy. Expressions of interest are cordially invited.

And if it happens to turn out from time to time that we have a few players over the four, there's a Boules set sitting around - weather permitting, surplus players can put in an end or two of Crazy Boules. That's the Aussie suburban version, where there's a bloody big clothes hoist between scratch and the jack.