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Tunesday: The Mockers: Republican Girl

For anyone who ever suppressed an agonizing, embarrassing, disturbing little crush on Ann Coulter….

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National Poetry Month: T.S. Eliot

Awfully close to dropping the ball just short of the goal line…I’m several poems behind, but you’ll get ’em all today.

01d607eebc06a53263dc57b7414cd1dcThe Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
By T. S. Eliot

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma percioche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
               So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
               And how should I presume?
And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
               And should I then presume?
               And how should I begin?
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head
               Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
               That is not it, at all.”
And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
               “That is not it at all,
               That is not what I meant, at all.”
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
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S.o.S.

l love your sinuous
soloman-song geology,
your verdant plains,
your lack of erosion.

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My Favorite Christmas Recordings #2 The Carpenters: Christmas Collection

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.

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So, this isn’t a perfect album–it’s a wildly self-indulgent attempt by Richard Carpenter to create a sort of Christmas Magnum Opus, a collection of songs that range from orchestral to pop.  Much of it is brilliant, a bit of it isn’t–but all of it features the incredible, heart-breaking voice of Karen Carpenter.  And let’s be a little honest here.  I grew up on new wave and punk rock, but I am utterly and unapologetically in love with the tragic Karen Carpenter.  I’m two steps removed from fantasies of traveling back in time to try and save her from herself–two small steps.

The centerpiece of this record is “Merry Christmas Darling,” and that’s sort of like saying the centerpiece of the solar system is the sun.  It matters.  A lot.  In my mind, it’s the perfect Christmas song–romantic, sentimental, nostalgic, and a little sad.  Combined with Karen’s honeyed voice, it’s a mind blowing creation.  Pop music perfection.

Carpenter 2 Carpenter 3

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My Favorite Christmas Recordings #9 Christmas With The Rat Pack

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.

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Pushing into the top ten, these records could be stacked in just about any order and I’d be happy.  It’s that close.

“Frank Sinatra. Dean Martin. Sammy Davis Jr.” Really, what else do I need to say?  As genres go, my favorite Christmas tunes lean towards cocktail-ready, hipster-jazz/swing, and these songs are classic.  Most notable is Dean Martin’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” that suddenly controversial chestnut that’s drawn the ire of a few cranky feminists (trying to raise, happy, healthy, empowered daughters–rather than sullen and paranoid defeatists, we’re partial to confident, bright-eyed, and joyful feminists around here) and some sallow young men who would curry their favor: the argument is that it is a song about date rape, that the woman wants to leave but the man won’t let her, and that the line “say, what’s in this drink?” very clearly demonstrates that the man has drugged her cocktail.

http://www.salon.com/2012/12/10/is_baby_its_cold_outside_a_date_rape_anthem/

http://www.salon.com/2013/12/19/the_6_creepiest_baby_its_cold_outside_covers/

If you’ve never savored the joys of something largely because other people think it’s naughty, then this is your chance.  Turn up the stereo, pour a glass of eggnog, and bask in the smooth Dean-o delivery while reflecting on the simpering paranoia of the articles cited above.

The entire album is wonderful–these guys recorded a lot of holiday music over the years, and the folks assembling the collection clearly chose the crispest versions of the most classic of the lot.  Most of the tunes you’re looking for are here–and there’s nothing to make you want to scoot forward a few tracks to that song you’ve been waiting to hear.

1. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm – Dean Martin
2. Mistletoe And Holly – Frank Sinatra
3. Christmas Time All Over the World – Sammy Davis, Jr.
4. The First Noel – Frank Sinatra
5. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin
6. I Believe – Frank Sinatra
7. Silver Bells – Dean Martin
8. The Christmas Song – Sammy Davis, Jr.
9. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Frank Sinatra
10. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Dean Martin
11. The Christmas Waltz – Frank Sinatra
12. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Dean Martin
13. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Frank Sinatra
14. Medley: Peace On Earth/Silent Night – Dean Martin
15. Jingle Bells – Sammy Davis, Jr.
16. White Christmas – Dean Martin
17. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Frank Sinatra
18. Winter Wonderland – Dean Martin
19. I’ll Be Home For Christmas (If Only In My Dreams) – Frank Sinatra
20. A Marshmallow World – Frank Sinatra
21. Auld Lang Syne – Frank Sinatra
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My Favorite Christmas Recordings #10 Ultra-Lounge Christmas Cocktails Part One & Part Two

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.

51FnMsu4M8L 51tz5amwdSLWriting this, I’m not sure that I shouldn’t just chuck the list, put these as the the top two, and end this now.  As it stands, these would almost certainly be my “desert island” choices if I could pick just two albums that would have to do it for me for the rest of my days.  All kinds of good stuff is here, jazz and swing, from Dean Martin to Jackie Gleason.  That’s right: Jackie Gleason.  I bought this on a whim, not knowing a lot of the stuff that was on here, and I’m glad that I did–it turns out that there are a lot of songs out there I wanted, but didn’t know that I wanted.  I could write a tremendously long list of all the high points, but the “just the facts, ma’am” on this one is that there are over 40 cuts from big time artists, many of which you’ll never, ever hear on the radio, which makes them worthwhile in and of themselves.

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My Favorite Christmas Recordings #12 Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.

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The review on Amazon.com says the same thing I was going to say: The Christmas song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire….) is one of the truly great Christmas songs of all time, rivaled by giant hits like White Christmas, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, and There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays.  As I mentioned before, this recording–on vinyl–was an element of the foundation of my Christmas music collection and it a must own.  No debate.  Likewise, his cover of Oh Holy Night is so perfect, so reverent, it gives this avowed atheist shivers, if not spiritual ambitions.

The title song is magnificent, capturing the very essence of the season, and Cole’s version is the quintessential recording of it.  The only downside is, on newer versions, the inclusion of the deceased  singer’s ghoulish, computer-generated “duet” with young daughter Natalie.  Yech.

I still like this recording in vinyl–I’ve got the newest version, but it sounds like they’ve been monkeying around with it too much.  The tones are a little cold, and the song order is different–which is jarring but not ultimately damning.  Still, I’d recommend an earlier mix if you can find one, even (especially?) if it means missing the few “extras” added with the record company re-mastered the album

1. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) [1961 Version]
2. Deck the Hall
3. O Come All Ye Faithful
4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
5. O Tannenbaum
6. O Little Town of Bethlehem
7. I Saw Three Ships
8. O Holy Night
9. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
10. A Cradle in Bethlehem
11. Away in a Manger
12. Joy to the World
13. The First Noel
14. Caroling, Caroling
15. Silent Night
16. Buon Natale (Means Merry Christmas to You) [*]
17. All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) [*]
18. The Happiest Christmas Tree [*]
19. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) [*]
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My Favorite Christmas Recordings # 20 Joan Osbourne : Christmas Means Love

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.

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A lot of folks don’t know Joan Osbourne–she flirted with mainstream success a couple of decades ago with a couple of pretty great singles, Spider Web and One of Us from a really great album “Relish”…you might remember the latter: what is god was one of us/just a slob like one of us/just a stranger on the bus….

She didn’t disappear after that, but kept making a series of remarkable blues-soul-rock-whatever albums, touring, and making fans happy wherever she landed.  Because she’s not well known, this record is a bit of hidden Christmas treasure–a nice mix of traditionals, interesting covers, and even a few originals.  The attraction here is Osbourne’s voice–smoother than smooth, smokier than smokey, sexier than sexy.  A great recording for staying inside on a cold winter night.

1. Christmas Means Love
2. Santa Claus Baby
3. Away In a Manger
4. Christmas Must Be Tonight
5. Cherry Tree Carol
6. Christmas In New Orleans
7. Children Go Where I Send Thee
8. Angels We Have Heard On High
9. What Do Bad Girls Get?
10. Great Day In December
11. Silent Night