Archive for the ‘Infinity’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PEARL JAM-“History Never Repeats” (1995).

On December 2, Pearl Jam announced that their fan club holiday singles will be released to streaming services.  Their first holiday single was released back in 1991.  It was “Let Me Sleep (Christmas Time).” They are rolling out the songs one at a time under the banner 12 Days of Pearl Jam.

These releases are coming out as a daily surprise.

I was not aware of this recording at all.  It is, indeed, the Split Enz song.  It was recording during a Pearl Jam show on March 24, 1995 in Auckland, New Zealand.   It must be during a quiet middle section, because it’s just Eddie with Neil Finn & Tim Finn live at the Mount Smart Stadium.

It is a bare-bones version with just voices and one electric guitar.  Neil Finn plays guitar and sings the first verse.  Eddie takes the second verse.  Tim Finn sings the third verse.  All three share  backing vocals and the chorus.

It’s a rare treat to hear an old recording like this, especially one of a song they’ve not played since.

[READ: December 13, 2019] “The Infinite”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

I really like César Aira’s stories.  He’s a fascinating guy and insanely prolific.

He has written nearly a hundred books.  Most of his novels are quite short, so I’ve never really thought of him as writing actual short stories.  This one comes from his collection The Musical Brain: And Other Stories which was translated by Chris Andrews.

The unnamed narrator says that as a kid he played some extremely strange games.  I love this line, “They sound made up when I explain them, and I did, in fact, make them up myself.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ERASE ERRATA-“Tax Dollars” (2006).

I admit to looking up a song by this band specifically for this post.  I’ve known of them for a long time, but never really heard them.  So I tracked down this song/video.  I have no idea if it represents the band or not.

This is an angular punk song that starts out with lots of sharp chords but is quickly taken over by a funky bass line and all kinds of percussion.  The bridge is a single guitar section (quite catchy) played over and over.  The fourth section (!) of the song is a kind of sinister spy movie soundtrack sounding riff with all kinds of horns (just how many people are in this band?)

The song is about: murder, slaughter, funded by my tax dollar. It’s sung/shouted by a woman who comes from the Poly Styrene camp of singers, and it’s all quite good.  Initially impression was of a song full of  chaos, but after repeated listens, there’s some really interesting interplay of sounds here.

I’ll have to investigate them more.  Check out the video here.

[READ: March 23, 2011] Mathematical Errata

I had toyed with the idea of making all four posts this week be DFW-related.  Then I realized that I didn’t really have anything else to write about (since I’d been doing about one a week for several weeks now).  So, I found this little, tiny, barely much of anything piece online at the howling fantods and figured I’d mention it as well.

This three page PDF is, as the heading suggests, all of the mathematical errata for the hardcover edition of Everything and More: A Compact History of . Now, I read the paperback edition, so technically I didn’t need this errata.  Of course, I read it almost a year ago and I can’t say that I retained an awful lot of it when I did read it.  So, really these errata aren’t terribly useful to me.  They probably aren’t very useful to anyone unless you are really intense about math.


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[LISTENED TO: Week of October 10, 2010] David Foster Wallace interviews

There will soon be a group read of Consider David Foster Wallace, a book of essays about, yes, David Foster Wallace.  In a sort of preparation for the group read, I decided to immerse myself in the available audio files online.

The David Foster Wallace Audio Project hosts quite a vast collection of audio files, including interviews, readings and eulogies.  Even the Howling Fantods points to it.

I started with the interviews.  They cover the period from Infinite Jest to Consider the Lobster.  For the most part, the interviews took place on various NPR stations.  There are not a lot of details given about the items on the site (which is the only flaw that I can see with the site), but you can more or less tell from the titles given what book is the cause for the interview.

I know that DFW was not a fan of interviews, yet I can’t help but be surprised at how few interviews actually seem to be extant (or at least preserved online).  You can see a list of all of the interviews on the site.  I’m listing and giving very brief notations for some of the longer interviews, but I just don’t have the time/inclination to go into great detail. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THERAPY?-High Anxiety (2003).

I hadn’t listened to this disc in a long  time, and I was delighted by how much I remembered (and liked) it.  This was the last Therapy? album that received a release in the U.S.  And it is a solid collection of heavy alternative metal with some seriously catchy bits thrown in for good measure.

“If It Kills Me” could have been a huge hit with a killer chorus and amazing hooks.  As could “My Voodoo Doll” (an outrageously poppy song).  Even the penultimate song “Last Blast” starts out with a low rumbling bassline, but when the chorus comes in it’s warm and catchy (even if again it’s lyrically not warm).

But what’s amazing is how good the whole disc is.  Their previous disc was something of a muddle of styles and textures.  It was an interesting but not entirely successful experiment.  But High Anxiety returns to what Therapy? does best: raw, and noisy alt-metal with really catchy melodies.  Most of the time I don’t even care what Andy Cairns is singing about (it’s usually pretty dark) because regardless, it’s sure fun to sing along.

The final track is a 9 minute crazy mess.  It opens with Cairn’s Tom Waits-ian vocals and a pounding guitar line.  It stops after a few minutes and then picks up again with that pounding guitar line (repeating a little much, honestly, but it is a cool riff).  Then after 7 minutes there’s a new bonus track which is practically like Green Day, it’s so poppy.

This is definitely one of their best discs.

[READ: April 25, 2010] “The TV”

This (very) short story begins with a wonderful concept: a man wakes up one day and calls in sick from work.  He turns on the TV and sees himself, his actual self, finishing his actual job.

The man is transfixed, obviously.  I mean who wouldn’t be?  He tunes in the next day and watches himself drive to work, sit down and begin doing his job–more efficiently than he himself had been doing it!  The credits even indicate that yes, the man is the man.  Amazing. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE TRAGICALLY HIP-Live from the Vault-Volume 4 (2009).

Faithful reader will recall that this disc got trapped in my car’s CD changer.  When I had it the player replaced, they sent the old one back to mysterious Toyota offices far away.  And, about a month or so after sending it out, I received a package from Toyota with my three lost discs (this one, a Black Sabbath disc and, a promo disc I took from the library to try and wedge into the player to get it to eject the other discs (that doesn’t work, by the way) which was, embarrassingly, Ozzy & Kelly Osbourne doing a duet of something or other).

Thank you random Toyota person for keeping this disc, which is not easily replaced, in good condition.

So this concert is from 1994 and was recorded in Brussels on the Day for Night Tour.  I think many fans feel that this is a high point in The Hip’s recording career, and this concert attests to it.  The band sounds fantastic, energetic and really tight.  And the music from this era is just great: dynamic and dramatic.

This disc also adds to speculation that lead singer Gord Downie is a weird guy.  His between song banter is quite peculiar, to say the least (apropos of nothing: “Do you think of your pet as a pet or a member of the family?”).  Which also leads me to wonder if fans in non-English speaking countries (and yes, I know that many people in Brussels do speak English) think or care or even mind when lead singers babble in English to them.  Just curious.

I don’t have any other Vault discs from The Hip, but this one is certainly great.

[READ: During an ∞ of minutes during December 2009 & January 2010] Everything and More

As part of my pledge to read all of DFW’s works, I skipped the fiction and moved straight to this.  I hadn’t heard all that much about this book, except that it was pretty dense.  And, yup it is.

I’m going to give a comparison for any other DFW fans who are thinking about reading this.  If you have read Infinite Jest (and if you’re interested in DFW you should certainly read that before this book), and if you recall Endnote 123: Pemulis’ high tech math formula for calculating Mean Value w/r/t Eschaton, then you will have a fair idea of what you’re in for with Everything and More.  So, if your eyes glazed when you started to read that endnote, you’ll likely want to skip this book altogether.  However, if you plugged through with that endnote and you didn’t care that you didn’t get it, but you kind of enjoyed it because despite the math, it is very funny, well, then you might enjoy this book too.

If you’re a hard core math dude and you understand what things like: ∃ and ∈ and ∉ and ∏ and ℜ and even ∀ then you’ll have no problem with this book.

But math aside, there’s a lot of funny things in this book.  And DFW is in full conversational tone, with several places where he says things like “not sure if this has been mentioned in the book yet” implying that he never proofread the thing, which we know he did.  There’s even a funny observation as to the placement of a picture (“it’s not entirely clear to me why they put [this pencil sketch] here”).  There’s also tons of footnotes.  And most of them are labeled IYI (meaning If You’re Interested), and he totally lets you off the hook if you don’t feel compelled to read these.  Although as with most things DFW does, the footnotes are always tons of fun.

He also shows his great undying affection for his math professor, Dr. Goris (Dr. G).  He quotes liberally from Dr G’s classes, citing examples, funny quotes and the amusing joke that Irrational Numbers are called ‘surds.  There’s also great joke about schnitt (which I’ll explain later).  It even opens with a hilarious (or maybe not) section about the inability to get out of bed in the morning when you think about infinity.

As in for example in the early morning, especially if you wake up slightly before your alarm goes off, when it can suddenly and for no reason occur to you that you’ve been getting out of bed every morning without the slightest doubt that the floor would support you. Lying there now considering the matter, it appears at least theoretically possible that some flaw in the floor’s construction or its molecular integrity could make it buckle, or that even some aberrant bit of quantum flux or something could cause you to melt right through. Meaning it doesn’t seem logically impossible or anything. It’s not like you’re actually scared that the floor might give way in a moment when you really do get out of bed. It’s just that certain moods and lines of thinking are more abstract, not just focused on whatever needs or obligations you’re going to get out of bed to attend to.

And but so, what is this thing about?

Okay, so it’s about ∞ and the history of ∞.  It begins with a great section about the ancient Greeks (Zeno’s Paradox and all that) and slowly moves up through to Aristotle.  I myself have always been a Platonist (yes, in fact, I have made that distinction in my life, which may say more about me than many people know), and have always been kind of anti-Aristotle.  And, for the purposes of this book, that’s a great position to take.  Aristotle turns out to be like the arch-nemesis of ∞. (more…)

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