Sunday, December 31, 2023

My year of 73 concerts

My year of 73 concerts began on 10 January with Adele Sauros (with drummer Jorge Rossy) and ended on 10 December with the Neues Orchester Basel playing Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. I saw Rossy five times, but the two players I saw most were trombonist Lukas Wyss and guitarist Fabio Gouvêa at seven times each – in part because the band I saw most often was the Sarah Chaksad Large Ensemble when they played four nights at the Bird's Eye in July. The best show for dancing was Tinariwen in June; the best show of all was the Bill Frisell Trio with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston in Strasbourg in November. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 31 December 2023)

Saturday, December 30, 2023

A break from daily prose turns into a break for Christmas and a break for covid

As I stumbled toward the end of the Fall Semester, I stopped writing my daily 111-word texts. I kept putting off starting again: first, until after my last classes; then, until after Christmas Day; and then, until after the covid outbreak in the family gathering at my father-in-law's house ended.  With eight people packed into the house, we knew when my son came down with covid that many of us would catch it. Despite my covid and flu shots at the beginning of December, I tested positive myself two days ago, as did my ninety-three-year-old father-in-law, who'd also recently had a covid booster. Luckily, our cases have been mild so far. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 30 December 2023) 

Saturday, December 16, 2023

The “goney” or albatross in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” (1851)

When Ishmael in Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" (1851) sees a “a regal, feathery thing of unspotted whiteness” on the deck of a ship sailing near Antarctica, he is stunned by this "prodigy of plumage" and has to ask a sailor what the bird is called: a "goney". Later, he finds out that is another name for the albatross, and even later, he reads what he calls "Coleridge's wild Rhyme": Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798). For him, as perhaps for Melville himself on his own maritime voyages, the experience of the living bird both predates and anticipates the experience of the literary bird in Coleridge's narrative poem. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 16 December 2023) 

Friday, December 15, 2023

The horse race in Ursula K. LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" (1973)

In Ursula K. LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" (1973), the city of Omelas's Festival of Summer includes a horse race: "[...] boys and girls, naked in the bright air, with mud-stained feet and ankles and long, lithe arms, exercised their restive horses before the race. The horses wore no gear at all but a halter without bit." For LeGuin, such young, naked riders using little gear may have been an image of freedom. But according to my horseback-riding daughters (and my horseback-riding students), the limited gear could only be the result of extensive training for both horses and riders – and riding while naked would also be extremely uncomfortable. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 15 December 2023)

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Hermanos Gutiérrez: Gorgeous instrumental electric-guitar duos

Steve Johnson, a fellow Deadhead on Mastodon, posted a link today to the NPR Tiny Desk Concert by Hermanos Gutiérrez from 31 January 2023. I was immediately entranced by the intertwining guitars of the two brothers, Estevan and Alejandro Gutiérrez. When I went to check out their albums, I ended buying all five of them from Bandcamp, and then I discovered that they have an Ecuadorian mother and a Swiss father, and that they are based in Zurich (so we share a country). Their instrumental electric-guitar music has echoes of many of my favorites – from Neil Young and Ry Cooder to Bill Frisell and Marc Ribot, and even Tinariwen and Tamikrest. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 14 December 2023)



Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Running into a friend at Times Square subway station in December 1984: Andre Braugher (1962-2023)

In December 1984, on my way to see pianist Kenny Barron at the Sweet Basil jazz club in Manhattan, I was briefly confused about where to go in Times Square subway station. When I made a sharp left, I almost ran into someone, who then seemed to follow me while muttering as if angry. Turning to apologize, I instead called the name of a Stanford friend: "Dre!" We took the same train, so we chatted until I got off to go to the club. He had not been muttering with anger but practicing lines for a course at Juilliard. That was the last time I saw the wonderful Andre Braugher (1962-2023). (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 13 December 2023)

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The Pequot nation, the source of the name of Captain Ahab’s ship in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” (1851)

In Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" (1851), Ishmael explains the name of Captain Ahab's ship: “Pequod, you will no doubt remember, was the name of a celebrated tribe of Massachusetts Indians, now extinct as the ancient Medes.” The Pequot War fought from 1636-1638 between the Pequot nation and several of the New England colonies did lead to the dispersal of the Pequot, but two branches of the nation still today. But Ishmael, like the local, nineteenth-century New England historians studied by Jean M. O'Brien in "Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England", declares the Pequots extinct even as he refers to them as a well-known, celebrated memory. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 12 December 2023)

Monday, December 11, 2023

A trace in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” (1851) of the desire to extend enslavement in the mid-19th-century United States

In Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" (1851), while explaining how Nantucket whalers control two-thirds of the globe, Ishmael touches on the contemporary desires for expansion in the United States: “Let America add Mexico to Texas, and pile Cuba upon Canada [...].” In the antebellum South, many enslavers, such as Senator Albert Gallatin Brown of Mississippi in 1850, hoped to extend enslavement beyond Texas to the Caribbean and Central American countries: "I want Cuba, and I know that sooner or later we must have it. ... I want Tamaulipas, Potosi, and one or two other Mexican States; and I want them all for the same reason–for the planting and spreading of slavery." (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 11 December 2023)

Note: The Brown quotation is from James M. McPherson, "The Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era", Oxford UP 1988, 106.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

My seventy-third concert this year, and my first Beethoven symphony ever

For my seventy-third concert this year, I finally went to hear some classical music this afternoon. It was also the first time I ever heard a Beethoven symphony played live: the Seventh, performed at the Stadtcasino Basel by the Neues Orchester Basel, with Christian Knüsel conducting. It's a work I apparently know better than I thought, as I was humming along to its melodies all the way through. There was also Beethoven's Violin Concerto with Chouchane Siranossian, in which I especially liked the interplay between the violin and the tympani, played by Yuriko Hänni. Apparently, Siranossian liked Hänni's playing, too: she gave her the flowers she was given after the performance. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 10 December 2023)

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Finishing “Moby Dick” on my fourth try

In English class in ninth or tenth grade, we read an abridged version of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" (1851). Three times over the decades since then, I tried to read the whole book, but each time I didn't get very far before I stalled. Once, I even decided to stop (rather than just stumbling to a halt) because it seemed like it would be a book best read in a seminar with other people to discuss it. After I finished my reading of all of Charles Dickens's novels in August, I took up "Moby Dick" again, and on Thursday, I actually finished it, about 45 years after I read that abridgement. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 9 December 2023)

Friday, December 08, 2023

Durham Cathedral and English and Syrian music in Ken Loach’s “The Old Oak” (2023)

In Ken Loach's "The Old Oak" (2023), Syrian refugee Yara (Ebla Mari) goes to Durham with pubkeeper TJ Ballantyne (Dave Turner) to pick up donations for the community kitchen at TJ's pub  in their village. There, she goes into Durham Cathedral to hear the choir practicing their centuries-old music in the almost one-thousand-year-old cathedral, which moves her to reflect on the destruction of similar buildings in the ongoing civil war in Syria. Later, at that community kitchen, a man plays Syrian music on the oud during a slide show of photographs of the villagers taken by Yara. That music, too, is centuries-old, yet made new again every time it is performed. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 8 December 2023)

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Donald Trump has only recently been frequently called a “fascist"

On the Daily Show on Tuesday, guest host Charlamagne tha God claimed that "Democrats have been crying 'fascist' for soooo loooong." He mentioned criticism of Republican Presidential candidates going back to George W. Bush in 2000. But while Democrats painted Republicans as dangerous from Bush to John McCain (2008) to Mitt Romney (2012), I don't recall any use of that "F" word among Democrats, pundits, and commentators back then. I don't have the resources to confirm this, but I'm pretty sure that even the late-night comedians didn't say that before this year. I was really struck, at least, when Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers recently began calling Donald Trump a fascist. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 7 December 2023)

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

The Trump succession that was on a T-shirt during Donald Trump’s presidency

Even during Donald Trump's presidency in the United States from 2017-2021, his supporters were already in favor of a Trump dictatorship. I remember seeing a T-shirt someone wore at one of his rallies that was quite explicit: "Donald Trump, 2016-2024; Donald Trump, Jr., 2024-2032; Eric Trump, 2032-2040; Ivanka Trump, 2040-2048; Barron Trump, 2048-2056." (Tiffany was left out of the succession.) That timeline may have been expressed in keeping with the United States constitution's limits on presidents to two four-year terms (and it may have been inaccurate in its emphasis on election years), but it expressed – and expresses – the MAGA wish for unchallenged power to be given to Trump and his family. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 6 December 2023)

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Jim Gordon, the drummer on Tom Waits’s “The Heart of Saturday Night” (1974)

"New Coat of Paint", which opens Tom Waits's "The Heart of Saturday Night" (1974), begins with a brilliant lick by drummer Jim Gordon and settles into a lovely shuffle. Gordon (1945-2023) played on many brilliant recordings in the 1960s and 1970s and even got a co-writing credit for the piano coda to Eric Clapton's "Layla" in 1970. Years ago, I learned he was serving a life sentence for murder, but when I recently found out he played drums on "New Coat of Paint", I looked further and also learned that he suffered from undiagnosed schizophrenia when he murdered his mother in 1983, and that he died in prison this past March. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 5 December 2023)

Monday, December 04, 2023

“To take the world back into caves”: A metaphor from a fossil-fuel executive and from Old Man Warner in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery"

Sultan Al Jaber, the President of the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, challenged former Irish President Mary Robinson on 21 November to describe “a phase-out of fossil fuel that will allow for sustainable socioeconomic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves.” Old Man Warner, "the oldest man in town" in Shirley Jackson's short-story "The Lottery" (1948), responds similarly to talk "of giving up the lottery": "Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves [...]." Warner wants to maintain the murderous tradition of the story's deadly lottery; Al Jaber wants to maintain the murderous use of fossil fuels. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 4 December 2023)


Sunday, December 03, 2023

The New York Times publishes a list of ten white men “behind the modern artificial intelligence movement"

When I saw a link to J. Edward Moreno's "The Who’s Who Behind the Modern Artificial Intelligence Movement" on the New York Times Mastodon feed, I saw the picture of Elon Musk that promoted the article and wondered if the article would only refer to men. But I also hoped Moreno and his editors would have made sure to avoid such bias. But of course the "who's who" list includes ten men, all white (or at least, from their pictures, able to pass as white), from Altman to Zuckerberg. There's no mention of women doing important critical work on AI, such as Emily M. Bender, or non-white researchers like Timnit Gebru. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 3 December 2023)


Saturday, December 02, 2023

A coalition to defeat Donald Trump: From Ocasio-Cortez to Cheney

In an interview published yesterday by the Swiss online news outlet Republik, Daniel Ziblatt, Professor of the Science of Government at Harvard University, argues that, to defeat Donald Trump in the 2024 United States presidential election, a broad coalition is necessary: from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Democratic Congresswoman from New York) on the left to Liz Cheney (former Republican Congresswoman from Wyoming) on the right. Coalitions are necessary to govern the United States, with its system that has come to be based on two main parties that bring many types of people together, and only such an inclusive coalition can be sure to defeat the minority MAGA coalition that has formed around Trump. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 2 December 2023)

Friday, December 01, 2023

“Space” from The Grateful Dead, the Bill Frisell Trio, and Sparks and Tides with Andreas and Matthias Tschopp

I loved the ten minutes or so of "Space" at concerts by The Grateful Dead, when guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir (and sometimes bassist Phil Lesh and keyboardist Brent Mydland) played free-improvised feedback and textures. It's great to hear other performers arrive at a similar "space" in their concerts, as in some of the passages guitarist Bill Frisell played in Strasbourg last month with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Roylston. Tonight at the Bird's Eye in Basel, brothers Andreas Tschopp on trombone and Matthias Tschopp on baritone saxophone, playing with their band Sparks and Tides, twice took their horns and their electronic devices into "space" for long, beautiful passages. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 1 December 2023)

Thursday, November 30, 2023

How to write a headline about the death of Henry Kissinger (1923-2023)

"Sometimes controversial" (BBC) "Former US Secretary of State" (NBC News) Henry Kissinger (1923-2023) may indeed have been "America's most famous diplomat" (Politico) and a "Nobel winner" (Reuters), he can be said to have "shaped Cold War history" (New York Times) and "helped forge US Policy" (Wall Street Journal), and he may even have been "a dominating and polarizing force" (CNN) who "shaped world affairs under two presidents" (Washington Post). But those news organizations are being mealy-mouthed. This is a headline that puts his major achievement front and center: "Henry Kissinger, War Criminal Beloved by America’s Ruling Class, Finally Dies" (Rolling Stone). Or this: "Henry Kissinger, America’s Most Notorious War Criminal" (HuffPost). (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 30 November 2023)

Note: Credit to this post for collecting the phrases used in headlines:

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Delving into Tom Waits again

For the last couple of days, I've been delving into my Tom Waits collection (which is complete). I began with "Franks Wild Years", the first Waits album I bought, and also the one I saw the tour for in San Francisco on 5 November 1987 (with Marc Ribot, Ralph Carney, Greg Cohen, and Michael Blair – my first Ribot concert). Now I'm listening in alphabetical order – "Alice", "Bad as Me", and "The Black Rider", and now "Blood Money". The arrangements are like nothing else, the ballads are as good as any ballads in the world, and the voice is inimitable – or at least when I try to imitate it, my throat hurts. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 29 November 2023) 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The poor journalism of recent newspaper attacks on the University of Basel

Today, after Rico Bandle's Basler Zeitung article Sunday about the supposed "Ideologisierung" at the University of Basel, Naomi Reichlin published another article critical of the University in the BZ. Neither journalist did any in-depth research on the issue. Bandle referred to a course on border policy in Switzerland from Spring Semester 2021 but did not interview the lecturer who taught the course. Reichlin, a member of the FDP Switzerland, made broad generalizations about how the University's scholars are supposedly unwilling to challenge their own ideology, but since she did not interview anyone from the University who might have disagreed with her, she ended up not challenging her own "liberal" ideology either. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 28 November 2023)

Monday, November 27, 2023

Borders between countries as instruments of discrimination

In an article in the Sonntagszeitung this weekend criticizing the University of Basel's Urban Studies program for its supposed "Ideologisierung", Rico Bandle discussed the "problem" that an instructor teaching a course on "Die Schweizer Grenzregime" also works with sans-papiers immigrants: "Überwachte Grenzen, so der Grundtenor, seien ein Unterdrückungsinstrument der rassistischen westlichen Staaten, inklusive der Schweiz." The reported speech implies that Bandle disagrees and perhaps even finds the idea patently absurd from his own ideological perspective. But the borders between countries, no matter how guarded they are, are tools of discrimination between insiders and outsiders, and that discrimination is often based on race and racial profiling, especially in "Western countries", including Switzerland. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 27 November 2023)


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years” as recollection, not staggering

While I was grading essays this afternoon, shuffle sent me to a Steely Dan collection, "Show Biz Kids", and I started singing happily along with "Do It Again" and "Dirty Work", the first two songs. Then came "Reelin' in the Years", with its fantastic guitar playing, and while I sang along with its chorus, I realized I have always misunderstood "reeling" here: "Are you reelin' in the years, / stowin' away the time, / are you gatherin' up the tears, / have you had any of mine?" It's not "reeling" as in "staggering", as I long thought, but "reeling in" with a figurative fishing pole. This chorus is about re-collecting recollections. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 26 November 2023)

Saturday, November 25, 2023

The “first people” in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” (1948)

In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" (1948), the box for the lottery is not the original: "There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here." The villagers see their settler ancestors as "the first people", but the Hutchinsons and Warners, the Delacroixs and the Martins, the Dunbars and the Zaninis, were not the landscape's original occupants. The actual "first people" were displaced and erased by the settlers and their descendants' stories, and the lottery's violence continues their violence against the land's indigenous people. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 25 November 2023) 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Lionel Loueke and his seven-string electric guitar at the Bird’s Eye in Basel

Lionel Loueke plays a seven-string electric guitar whose extra string is a low B below the low E on a standard guitar. This opens up his playing for funky bass lines over which he riffs on chords or plays melodies. At his solo concert at the Bird's Eye in Basel tonight, he used a pedal board to create live loops to play along to with long, winding lines of high notes. But he actually didn't use the loops that often; he could keep up driving rhythms without them, while playing and singing fragmentary bursts of melody and alternating between Herbie Hancock compositions (from his solo album "HH") and his own tunes. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 24 November 2023)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

A series of Basel concerts with musicians from Senegal, Cameroon, Mali, and Benin

Last weekend, I heard Mory Samb from Senegal play ngoni at the Bird's Eye in Basel. On Tuesday, I heard Étienne Mbappé from Cameroon play bass there with Thomas Dobler on vibes and Nicolas Viccaro on drums. Last night at the Kaserne in Basel, I saw the Malian husband-and-wife duo of Bassekou Kouyate on ngoni and Amy Sacko on vocals. Samb's ngoni looked like a kora with a large, gourd-shaped resonator, while Kouyate said that his much smaller ngoni is an ancestor of the banjo. Tomorrow and Saturday, I'll continue listening to musicians from West Africa: guitarist Lionel Loueke from Benin will be playing two solo concerts at the Bird's Eye. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 23 November 2023) 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The politics of needs and the politics of stories in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” (1948)

In Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" (1948), the old black box the villagers draw lots from is a problem for Mr. Summers, who runs the yearly lottery: "Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box." Mr. Summers identifies a problem and proposes a way to solve it. This politics of needs is about rights and justice. But for the villagers, the old box cannot be replaced because it is an essential metonymy of the coherent story they tell themselves about themselves. This politics of stories is about origins and authenticity. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 22 November 2023)

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Seeing Marc Rothenmund’s “Wochenendrebellen” (2023) in a cinema full of children

In Marc Rothenmund's "Wochenendrebellen" (2023), Jason (Cecilio Andresen), a ten-year-old autistic boy, is asked by classmates what his favorite football team is, but he doesn't have one. He then gets his father Mirco (Florian David Fitz) to agree that they will go to all 56 German professional football stadiums (from all three Bundesligen) to determine his favorite. I saw the movie at the Kult Kino Camera in Basel on Sunday afternoon, and the cinema was full of children around ten years old. I wondered if this moving and powerful film that includes quite intense scenes of Jason being unable to cope with his surroundings is what they and their parents expected.  (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 21 November 2023)

Monday, November 20, 2023

Dancing alone to Mory Samb and Djam Rek at the Bird’s Eye in Basel, 17-18 November 2023

On Friday and Saturday, 17 and 18 November, I went to the Bird's Eye in Basel to hear Senegalese ngoni player Mory Samb and his band Djam Rek (with two horns, bass, drums, percussion, keyboards, and a singer). The first night, I sat in my chair during the first set and wondered how anyone could listen to this music and not dance, but for the second set, I found a spot to dance that didn't block anyone's view. Still, nobody else danced, and when I spent the whole second night dancing, nobody else danced either. I could see so many people moving in their chairs, but they left me dancing alone. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 20 November 2023) 

Sunday, November 19, 2023

A baby sucks on the collar of his tie-dye jacket

When my son Miles was a baby, I made him a some tie-dye baby clothes. One of them was a jacket with a collar he would get into his mouth. Much to our surprise and concern, the dye stained his mouth. We'd never seen anything like that with our home-made tie-dyes before, so we contacted the dye company, Jacquard Products in California, and asked them if we should be worried. They said it was no problem, their Procion MX dyes are non-toxic (and, I would add, very long-lasting). They added that they'd never heard of this problem before, but maybe nobody had ever tie-dyed baby clothes that the baby sucked before! (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 19 November 2023)

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Vanessa Droz’s “Octubre”, T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”, and the joy of reading a great poem for the first time

In our seminar on "La Poesía de Puerto Rico" today, we discussed a poem by Vanessa Droz, "Octubre", which quotes T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land": "Una vez recordaste: 'April is the cruelest month.' / Y era octubre." We'd asked the students to read "The Waste Land" as well, and one student told us not only that she had read it for the first time yesterday, but also that it had blown her away. I often tell students who admit they haven't read some classic text that they "have something to look forward to"; today, I enjoyed the student's smile when she talked about reading Eliot's poem for the first time. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 16 November 2023)

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The postponement of the Israeli men’s national football teams matches from October

After Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October 2023, two matches the Israeli men's national football team were scheduled to play the following week in the qualification for the 2024 men's European championship (against Switzerland and Kosovo) were postponed until November. Usually, national teams play two matches during a break for their competitions, but now Israel is playing four between Sunday, 12 November, and Tuesday, 21 November. The second one was tonight against Switzerland, who have to play three matches in seven days due to the postponement. Although Switzerland controlled the match, they weren't able to score a second goal, and Israel managed a draw with a goal in the 88th minute. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 15 November 2023)

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler, vermin & Ungeziefer, and Franz Kafka & Gregor Samsa

When Donald Trump referred to "Communists" and others as "vermin", journalists and historians pointed out that the term was used by Adolf Hitler to refer to the Jews of Germany. The German term Hitler used was "Ungeziefer", which is also what Gregor Samsa turns into at the beginning of Franz Kafka's "Die Verwandlung". All three of Kafka's sisters died in the Holocaust: Elli and Valli in Chelmno in 1942, and Ottla in Auschwitz in 1943. The problem for Trump supporters who cheer his call to "root out" the "vermin" is that, in an authoritarian society, anyone can wake up one morning to find themselves, like Gregor Samsa, transformed into an "Ungeziefer". (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 14 November 2023)

Monday, November 13, 2023

Andreas Schärer, Kalle Kalima, and Tim Lefebvre in Strasbourg and Bern

At the two concerts by the trio of vocalist Andreas Schärer, guitarist Kalle Kalima, and bassist Tim Lefebvre that I attended in Strasbourg and Bern on Saturday and Sunday, the trio played material from their recent album "Evolution" (ACT Music). But the Saturday show was part of a double bill at the Jazzdor Festival in Strasbourg, so they had to keep track of time, with Kalima even pulling out his phone several times to see how much time they had left. As a result, the songs were brisk and tight. In Bern, they were the only band on the bill, and the songs were looser and more extended as a result. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 13 November 2023)

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan, and Rudy Royston at the Jazzdor Festival in Strasbourg, 10 November 2023

The trio of guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Rudy Royston performed at Cité de la Musique et de la Danse in Strasbourg as part of the Jazzdor Festival last night. While they did play a series of specific tunes, they never stopped between tunes during their seventy-five-minute set. Again and again, Frisell would wrap up tunes with a coda built around loops, and the coda would turn into a segue. I think the tunes were (almost?) all Frisell's own compositions: I could name "Lonesome", "Strange Meeting", and the encore, "Poem for Eva", a simple and beautiful melody Frisell first recorded for his 1999 album "Good Dog, Happy Man". (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 11 November 2023)

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Bill Frisell and “What the World Needs Now Is Love”

A highlight of guitarist Bill Frisell's duo concert on 23 April 2023 with bassist Thomas Morgan at the Stadtcasino in Basel was Burt Bacharach and Hal David's 1965 song "What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love". The song appears on "Valentine", Frisell's 2020 album with Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston. That trio is performing tomorrow at Cité de la Musique et de la Danse in Strasbourg as part of the Jazzdor Festival. Knowing Frisell's performances, I don't expect them to play any of the tunes from "Valentine", but if they do, I hope to hear Frisell's "Keep Your Eyes Open", which was originally released on his "Nashville" in 1997. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 9 November 2023) 

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Reading Denise Levertov for three-and-a-half years

On 25 May 2020, I posted a quote from Denise Levertov's poem "Listening to Distant Guns", the first of the "early and uncollected poems" in "The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov": "That low pulsation in the east is war." As I'd previously done with Paul Celan and John Ashbery, I've since quoted one Levertov poem a day. and today I posted this from the last poem in her posthumous collection "This Great Unknowing": "When I opened the door / I found the vine leaves / speaking among themselves in abundant / whispers." It's been a joy to follow Levertov's attention to the world's "abundant whispers", whether natural, social, religious, or political. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 8 November 2023)

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

“Leave my children alone”: Trump, his children, and New York vs. Trump

When Donald Trump, Jr. (b. 1977), Ivanka Trump (b. 1981), and Eric Trump (b. January 1984) were called to testify in the New York v. Trump, the ongoing civil fraud trial in New York, former United States President Donald Trump complained online about Judge Arthur Engoron: "Leave my children alone, Engoron". As his sons and daughter, they are his children, of course, but they are also adults aged between 39 and 45. Even lawyer Alina Habba (b. March 1984) has played that card: "And now these children are being brought in, away from their families [...]." But laughably, Habba herself is two months younger than the youngest of those children, Eric. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 7 November 2023)

Note: I got the quotes from around six minutes into this Seth Meyers clip.

Monday, November 06, 2023

The private stories and language that could not be copied by deep-fake audio

The other day on the Late Show, Stephen Colbert talked about deep-fake audio that could be used for scams. While he was saying he wouldn't be fooled by such audio, his phone rang, and it was President Joe Biden, trying to scam him, but Stephen thought it was really him. – It made me wonder how I could tell if my family members on the phone were real or deep-audio fakes. For each of them, there are stories, as well as words and phrases, that are part of our private world together. This evening, my daughter Sara had a fun conversation about various private things we could use to identify each other. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 6 November 2023)

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Where were your great-grandparents born?

Recently, I saw a Mastodon post asking people about their ancestors: "Where were your great-grandparents from?" My first thought was Holland, Michigan, and Illinois, but then I thought I should take the question to mean something more specific: Where were they born? I checked with my mother, my sisters, my brother, and my cousin, and we ended up not being sure about whether my paternal great-grandparents who lived in Illinois were actually born there. But my mother's mother's mother was born in Dinxperlo, Holland (her parents migrated to Ohio while she was still a child). And the rest of her great-grandparents were indeed born in Michigan. Where were your great-grandparents born? (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 5 November 2023)

Saturday, November 04, 2023

Avoiding Jim Jordan and the Supreme Court to read about Simonides

Reading the latest issue of "The New Yorker", I turned the page to an article about United States Republican Congressman from Ohio Jim Jordan. Not wanting to read that, I picked up the 5 October issue of "The New York Review of Books" to an article about the conservative United States Supreme Court. Not wanting to read that, I turned the page and smiled to see A. E. Stallings's review of David Sider's "Simonides: Epigrams and Elegies". But then I read about Simonides on Danaë and infant Perseus at sea: "There are still women and babies fleeing war who try to cross the Aegean in boats little better than wooden coffins." (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 4 November 2023)

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

“As an attorney who is also a Christian”: Jenna Ellis’s statement on entering her guilty plea in the Georgia election case

At the hearing where she entered her guilty plea in the Fulton County, Georgia, election subversion case, Jenna Ellis appealed to her religion: “As an attorney who is also a Christian, I take my responsibilities as a lawyer very seriously and I endeavor to be a person of sound moral and ethical character in all of my dealings.” As an atheist, I find such a statement both infuriating and telling: it implies that religion is necessary for good moral behavior (which it is not) and that, along with others who think like her, Ellis would behave immorally and unethically if she didn't have her religion to keep such behavior in check. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 25 October 2023)

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

On not finishing Denise Levertov’s “Collected Poems” on her 100th birthday today

As Tom Deveson reminded me this morning, it's my teacher Denise Levertov's 100th birthday (24 October 1923-20 December 1997). I've been reading one poem of hers almost every day since 25 May 2020, and posting a quotation from each poem after I read it. I've missed a few days here and there, and I've taken breaks because of vacations, but if I had missed fourteen fewer days, I would have had the nice coincidence of reading the last poem in her "Collected Poems" today. It's not something I wish I had planned; it would only have been "insignificant but touching", in W. G. Sebald's phrase, if it had happened by chance. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 24 October 2023)

Monday, October 23, 2023

A Basel German Rhyming Dictionary in a bookstore window

This morning, I walked past a bookstore with a Basel German rhyming dictionary in the window. For this text, I looked for an estimate of how many people speak the language, but I couldn't find one, so I'll just say that for Basel-Stadt, the number must be less than 200,000. It's somewhat surprising that a publisher would put out a rhyming dictionary for such a small population. Yet the percentage of people writing rhymes in Basel is relatively high: participants in Fasnacht, Basel's carnival, write many verses every year, both long rhyming poems handed out during the day at the parades and short rhymed verses sung as "Schnitzelbangg" in the evenings. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 23 October 2023)

Sunday, October 22, 2023

From abstractions and gerund phrases to images and conjugated verbs in my poetry and songwriting course

As the students otherwise write flat poems full of abstractions, my main focus in my poetry and songwriting course is always on poems grounded in images. But even when the students begin to write better poems with images that express rather than name abstractions, they often share another weakness: they write in fragments based on gerund phrases rather than in complete sentences with main clauses with conjugated verbs. It's not hard to turn the gerunds in those phrases into conjugated verbs with clear subjects, and when they do, their poems get even better. Once they've established a foundation of images and main clauses, they can then reach for abstractions and fragments. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 22 October 2023)

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Compositions by Geri Allen and Wayne Shorter at a concert by William Evans, Roberto Koch, and Jorge Rossy

I continue to appreciate the choices of repertoire I've been hearing at jazz concerts recently. This evening at the Bird's Eye in Basel, two pieces played by Williams Evans (piano), Roberto Koch (bass), and Jorge Rossy (drums) especially stood out for me: "Soul Beir" by pianist Geri Allen (1957-2017), from her 1998 album "The Gathering" (which Evans introduced as by his "homegirl", as they both grew up in Detroit, where I was born), and "Rio", by saxophonist Wayne Shorter (1933-2023), which was originally recorded for a 1967 Lee Morgan session only released in 1978. It was moving to hear compositions by two great musicians who died in the last few years. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 21 October 2023)

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Wolfgang Muthspiel, Scott Colley, and Brian Blade at Atlantis in Basel

At last night's concert at Atlantis in Basel, guitarist and bandleader Wolfgang Muthspiel joked that the title track of his new album with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade, "Dance of the Elders", may have been based on seeing elderly folk dancers. But during their tour, he had realized that it could refer to him and his fellow musicians. When Muthspiel put aside his classical guitar and stood up to play electric, he swayed back and forth to the grooves. Colley danced with his bass, especially during his solos. Sitting behind his drums, Blade danced with his sticks, brushes, mallets, and hands, smiling and often laughing with his bandmates' ideas. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 19 October 2023)

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Listening to Carly Bley last weekend and learning today that she died yesterday (1936-2023)

On Saturday, I shuffled my music collection to look for suggestions to listen to, and I chose the 2013 album "Trios" (ECM) by composer-pianist Carla Bley (1936-2023) with saxophonist Andy Sheppard and bassist Steve Swallow (her partner for 30+ years). While listening to the album's gorgeous chamber jazz that night and the next morning, I discovered that Bley was 87 years old. I knew she had been ill for several years, so when my phone notified me just now about a post on Substack called "Carla Bley", I knew she must be gone. While I listened to the album on Sunday, though, she was still with us, and her music remains. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 18 October 2023)

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Unexpected covers of Joni Mitchell songs

When I saw mandolinist Chris Thile and pianist Brad Mehldau in Zurich on 17 November 2017, I hadn't yet heard their 2017 album "Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau". So when they started playing the introduction to a song I was sure I knew, I was thrilled when Thile sang Joni Mitchell's "Marcie" from her 1968 album "Songs to a Seagull". Recently, in anticipation of guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel's concert in Basel tomorrow, I listened to his new album "Dance of the Elders" with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade without checking the track list. And once again I was thrilled by a Joni Mitchell tune — "Amelia" from her 1976 album "Hejira". (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 17 October 2023)

Monday, October 16, 2023

On grading in trains in France in the late 1990s

When Andrea lived in France from 1996 to 2000, I frequently took the train back and forth from Basel to Bordeaux (where she was for one year) and Poitiers (where she was for three years). I planned to use the train time for grading whenever the Basel semester was going on, and sometimes I could get a lot of work done on the long trips. But very often, it turned out, people would ask me what I was doing and then start a conversation with me. If I wanted to be left alone, it was better to just read, since nobody wonders what you're doing if you're staring at a book. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 16 October 2023)

Sunday, October 15, 2023

On a quotation attributed to Hannah Arendt

In the last week, I keep seeing a quotation attributed to Hannah Arendt (1906-1975): "The death of human empathy is one of the earliest and most telling signs of a culture about to fall into barbarism." While it does sound a bit like Arendt's voice, I have not been able to find a single quotation that says where she said it. As I've noted before about other popular quotations, its spread on the internet makes it nearly impossible to figure out what text it's from or even whether Arendt said it all. And without a reference to its source, it's just a statement that is validated by Arendt's name and reputation. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 15 October 2023) 

Saturday, October 14, 2023

On the moment when children stop being interested in picture books

Jeremy Noel-Tod wrote yesterday on his blog "Some Flowers Soon" about putting away the picture books now that his children have outgrown them. I how noticed the same moment around 2013 when my youngest, Sara, was seven. While this moment led Jeremy to reflect on the magic of rhyme, it made me think about collecting: for example, I realized that I would soon no longer have a complete collection of books by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. The last one we bought was "Superworm" from 2012. (Looking Donaldson up on Wikipedia to see how many of their books we now don’t have – nine! — I discovered that her maiden name was Shields!) (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 14 October 2023)

Friday, October 13, 2023

An intense, emotional, angry “pile”, “ziploc”, or “hammer” in a poem by Terrance Hayes

This morning in class, we discussed the effect of the repetition of the opening words in the first three sentences of one of Terrance Hayes's "American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin": "Who cannot distinguish a blackbird from a raven / [...]. Who cannot distinguish an entrance / From a gate.  Who cannot distinguish swagger from snake." The students mentioned its intensity and its emotionality, as well as how it characterizes the speaker as someone who is angry. Asked to name this effect, three of the students suggested "a pile", "a ziploc" (in a very personal association), or "a hammer". Only then did we discuss the rhetorical figure's name, "anaphora". (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 13 October 2023)

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Two car-chase movies I remember from long ago: “Gone in 60 Seconds” (1974) and “Duel” (1971)

I saw a list of 1970s car-chase movies and immediately thought of the original version of "Gone in 60 Seconds" (1974, directed by H. B. Halicki), which I must have seen on television late some summer night in the 1970s. All I remember is the car chase was endless, and the beat-up stolen car ultimately gets exchanged for a spotless version of the same model at a car wash. But the list also included the much-better 1971 television movie "Duel", which was Steven Spielberg's directorial debut. I don't remember when I saw it, but I often think of it and shiver when I'm passing semi-trucks on highways or, especially, country roads. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 12 October 2023)

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Perspectives on the musicians at the Haz’art Trio concert at the Bird’s Eye in Basel last night

I sat to the side of the stage at the Bird's Eye in Basel for the Haz'art Trio with Fadhel Boubaker on oud, Jonathan Sell on bass, and Dominik Fürstberger on drums. As I could only see Boubaker's back and the side of his oud, I couldn't get a close look at how the oud is played. But I had a lovely view over Boubaker's head of Sell's head, his left hand, and the top of his bass, and when he leaned his head back, the stage lights shone on the strings as if there were little drops of shining water on them, which would disappear when he leaned forward again. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 11 October 2023)

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The two Anouar Brahem concerts I have been to (both with Dave Holland)

While both the John McLaughlin concerts I've been to (in 1983 and 2023) left me mostly unmoved, I've been to two concerts by oud player Anouar Brahem with completely different outcomes. The first, at the Volkshaus in Basel in about 2001, was a spectacular concert with saxophonist John Surman and bassist Dave Holland. But when I saw Brahem in 2018 at the Musical Theater in Basel with the very promising lineup of Holland, pianist Django Bates, and drummer Jack DeJohnette, my son Miles and I had seats in the back, and the music seemed flat (partly because we thought it wasn't loud enough), while our friends sitting up front were captivated. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 10 October 2023)

Monday, October 09, 2023

I go to many concerts, so perhaps it’s no surprise that sometimes I’m disappointed

The three people with me at guitarist John McLaughlin's concert on Friday at the Volkshaus in Basel liked it, the band got standing ovations, and my friend Stefan Strittmatter wrote a positive review in the Basellandschaftliche Zeitung. But while I enjoyed pianist Jany McPherson and was impressed by the skills of McLaughlin, bassist Étienne Mbappé, drummer Ranjit Barot, and keyboardist-drummer Gary Husband, the music still left me cold. Since I don't like"there's no arguing about taste", I spent the weekend pondering this, but could only conclude that I've been spoiled this year: I've been to 56 concerts since January, and all but a few have satisfied my quest for musical transformation. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 9 October 2023)

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Well-chosen repertoire by the Pierre de Bethmann Trio and the Jacob Manz & Johanna Summer duo at recent concerts in Basel

At last night's concert at the Bird's Eye in Basel by pianist Pierre de Bethmann's trio with guitarist Nelson Veras and bassist Sylvain Romano, I was pleased to hear rarely played compositions by pianists John Taylor (1942-2015) and Andrew Hill (1931-2007) along with some more well-known repertoire. The group's choices of composers reminded me of a duo concert at the Tinguely Museum in Basel last month by two young German musicians, alto saxophonist Jacob Manz and pianist Johanna Summer, who mixed compositions by guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Esbjörn Svensson (1964-2007) in with their originals and actual standards, such as Frank Churchill and Larry Morey's "Someday My Prince Will Come". (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 8 October 2023)

Saturday, October 07, 2023

On realizing I’ve long been wrong about what my first jazz concert was

I've always said my first jazz concert was guitarists Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco in January 1984 (with my second being Towner's band Oregon at the same venue two months later). But I did see guitarists Paco de Lucia, Al Di Meola, and John McLaughlin in San Francisco in October 1983. And before that I'd seen the guitar-vocal duo Tuck & Patti several times at the New Varsity in Palo Alto. Perhaps I should say instead that the Towner and Abercrombie concert first taught me to listen to the interactivity of live jazz and made me fall in love with the genre. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 7 October 2023) 

Friday, October 06, 2023

Seeing John McLaughlin in 1983 and, forty years later, in 2023

The website has helped me fill in dates for many concerts I went to over the decadesm, but it doesn't have a date for the concert I saw in San Francisco in the early 1980s: the guitar trio of Paco de Lucia, Al Di Meola, and John McLaughlin, with guitarist Steve Morse opening with a solo set on 12-string guitar. Somewhere, though, I was able to narrow it down to October 1983 at the Masonic Auditorium. I'd like to think that trio concert was on 6 October, because then this evening's concert by McLaughlin at the Volkshaus in Basel would be on the 40th anniversary of my previous McLaughlin concert. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 6 October 2023)


Thursday, October 05, 2023

My take on Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” from the year of its release (2014)

            Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel begins with a frame story as elaborate as the movie's sets. In the present, a young woman walks through a graveyard to the gravestone of a famous writer. After adding a key to the many hotel keys already hanging on the gravestone, she begins to read a book called The Grand Budapest Hotel. The scene cuts to 1985 with the author of the book reading it to the camera. The story he tells goes back to 1968, when he visited the Grand Budapest Hotel and heard Zero Moustafa tell the story of how he came to be the hotel's owner. That story, which takes place in 1932, focuses on the hotel's concierge, M. Gustave.

            At the end of the film, Zero sums up M. Gustave's life: "To be frank, I think his world had vanished long before he ever entered it—but, I will say: he certainly sustained the illusion with a marvelous grace!" M. Gustave's world is that of the luxury hotel; as the hotel's concierge, his job is to create an illusion of ease for his wealthy patrons. As he tells the new page boy (Zero himself), the staff must be both invisible and omnipresent: the patrons must never see the staff unless they want to see the staff, but the staff must always be ready to serve when the patrons want them. The illusion is "sustained" by the staff's performance, and the hotel itself serves as a "frame". Inside it, the "marvelous grace" of that performance; outside it, the world that can be forgotten while one is at the hotel.

            But the forgotten outside world can always intrude on that illusion. The wealth of the patrons comes from that outside world, as does the wealth of the hotel's initially unknown owner, who is later to be revealed to be one of those patrons, the ancient Madame Desgoffe and Taxis (nicknamed "Madame D" by M. Gustave). As is revealed when her will is read, her money comes from industry—and especially from the manufacture of armaments. The money that keeps the aesthetic illusion going, then, is based on the very violence that the hotel excludes from its frame.

            When M. Gustave and Zero are on their way to Madame D.'s funeral, a war has just started, and their train is stopped in the middle of a snow-covered barley field. The soldiers who board the train do not accept Zero's papers, for he is a stateless person. Their attempt to take him away leads to an uproar with M. Gustave; the noise brings the soldiers' commanding officer to find out what's going on. And here, the illusion is able to overcome the violence that it otherwise keeps at a distance, for this officer, Inspector Henckels, visited the Grand Budapest as a child, and he remembers M. Gustave fondly from his time there. In this train car, then, the aesthetic world of luxury is able to maintain its distance from the violence that makes it possible.

            M. Gustave gives a little speech that comments on the scene: "You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant... oh, fuck it." Thus, he both asserts and dismisses ("fuck it") the idea that the illusion of "civilization" can resist the "slaughterhouse" of human violence. The crude language even figures how the "barbaric" overwhelms the "civilized" despite the momentary "glimmer" offered by the reprieve made possible for M. Gustave and Zero by Henckels and his memories of the "graceful illusion" of the hotel. Indeed, when the scene is later doubled in another trade ride interrupted by soldiers, the paper Henckels gave Zero to allow him to be free to travel is torn to pieces by the soldiers, and M. Gustave is taken off. The storytelling Zero of 1968 only tells his interlocutor what happened when asked, blithely mentioning that M. Gustave was subsequently executed.

            If this second train scene represents the failure of the illusion of civilization to offset violence and barbarism, Zero nevertheless reasserts the power of that illusion by repeating M. Gustave's earlier speech—but this time without dismissing it: "There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity... He was one of them. What more is there to say?" Well, Zero, perhaps this: the aesthetic is itself often a matter of luxury. But unlike the luxury hotel, which must "frame" and ignore the violence that makes it possible, the aesthetic can and must take up its relationship to violence—not to neutralize that violence or even conquer it, but simply to be honest about it. And The Grand Budapest Hotel, itself an example of such "an illusion sustained with a marvelous grace", is entirely honest about the role of violence in the production and maintenance of such illusions.

July 2014

with thanks to Todd Swift for asking me to write this essay and for posting it on his blog back then

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

On lists of writers who did not win the Nobel Prize – and the case of Franz Kafka

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2023 will be announced tomorrow, and commentators will again write lists of all the great writers who never won the prize. While many of those writers, such as Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) and Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) lived long lives and were famous before their deaths made them ineligible for the prize, and others, such as Marcel Proust (1871-1922) and James Joyce (1882-1941), died before the Swedish Academy got to them, one name should never appear on such lists: Franz Kafka (1883-1924). When Kafka died, his novels were unfinished, his published writings came to about 350 pages, and his work was known only to German-speaking insiders. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 4 October 2023) 

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden do “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and I think about the history of the song

When I listened to "Last Dance" the other day, one of Keith Jarrett's duo albums with Charlie Haden, I was captivated not only by "It Might As Well Be Spring", but also by Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye." The song was premiered in 1944 in a musical revue called "Seven Lively Arts" and was first a hit for Benny Goodman in 1945, with Peggy Mann on vocals. I probably first heard it on John Coltrane's 1961 album "My Favorite Things", right after the title cut, with Coltrane on soprano on both tunes. But I also love Annie Lennox's version on the 1990 Cole Porter compilation "Red Hot + Blue". (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 3 October 2023)

Monday, October 02, 2023

On being an immigrant to Germany and Switzerland

Unlike many immigrants to Germany and Switzerland since the 1990s, my skin has meant that I can pass as a local as I walk down the street. And in Germany, especially after I'd lived there for a year or two, I could often pass even when I spoke to people; after all, even before I moved to Berlin I was a fluent reader of the language, despite my relative lack of experience speaking. When I moved to Basel, then, I did not speak Basel German, so even brief conversations could out me as an outsider. But as a white speaker of English who also speaks German, I've rarely felt discriminated against. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 2 October 2023)

Sunday, October 01, 2023

On migrating from the United States to Germany to Switzerland

When I went to Berlin for a year in 1991, I did not think of it as migrating, because I did not plan to stay in Germany. After twenty months there, I moved to Saarbrücken, Germany, where I taught English at the Universiety for two-and-a-half years while finishing my dissertation. I still did not think of myself as a migrant, because I still did not plan to stay in Germany. On 1 October 1995, I moved to Basel, Switzerland, to teach English at the University for two years. Perhaps I could have begun to think of myself as a migrant by 1997, when my contract was extended for three more years. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 1 October 2023)

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Two duo versions of “It Might As Well Be Spring” by Bill Frisell & Fred Hersch and by Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden

The song "It Might As Well Be Spring" was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for Walter Lang's 1945 movie musical "State Fair". Guitarist Bill Frisell and pianist Fred Hersch opened their 1998 album "Songs We Know" with an exquisite if relatively brief version (3:10) I've listened to many times since. Today, I put on pianist Keith Jarrett and bassist Charlie Haden's album "Last Dance" (released in 2014, recorded in 2007) without looking at the song list, and when the melody of "It Might As Well Be Spring" began, I stopped whatever I was doing and got lost in Jarrett and Haden's much longer reading of the tune (11:55). (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 30 September 2023) 

Friday, September 29, 2023

Some things I learned today about Dianne Feinstein (1933-2023)

As the President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, to which she was first elected in 1969, Dianne Feinstein (1933-2023) became Mayor of San Francisco on 27 November 1978 when Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were murdered by former Supervisor Dan White. In all the time that she served as Mayor and later as a Senator from California (until her death yesterday), I had forgotten (or perhaps I had never known) that she had replaced Moscone after his assassination. Nor had I known that on the Board, she had often sided with White against Moscone, and that later, she vetoed domestic partner legislation in San Francisco in 1982. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 29 September 2023)

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Remembering Michael Gambon (1940-2023) in “Emma” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox"

At the end of Jim O'Hanlon and Sandy Welch's four-part BBC series of Jane Austen's "Emma" (2009), Emma Woodhouse (Romola Garai) and Mr. Knightley (Jonny Lee Miller) leave her family's Hartfield estate to honeymoon at the seaside. A shot out the back of their carriage shows Emma's "valetudinarian" father Mr. Woodhouse (Michael Gambon, 1940-2023) looking down from an upstairs room as the newlyweds depart. His forlorn face came to mind today when I heard the news of Gambon's death, along with his superb reading of the role of Bean in Wes Anderson's stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl's "Fantastic Mr. Fox" (2009): "That's just weak songwriting. You wrote a bad song, Petey!" (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 28 September 2023)

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Anna Rosenwasser at the Literaturhaus Basel

This evening, Swiss journalist and activist Anna Rosenwasser presented her new book "Rosa Buch" (Rotpunkt Verlag) at the Literaturhaus Basel, with Sascha Rijkeboer moderating the lively and relaxed discussion. At one point, Rosenwasser recalled how the increasingly conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung once commissioned her to write about gender-sensitive language. Given that context, she tried to write a diplomatic presentation of the issue. When the NZZ told her the text had generated numerous comments and asked if she could respond to a few of them, she said that she thought to herself that it was not worth her time to read the comments for the low fee that they had paid her. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 27 September 2023) 

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Laying out prose on the blackboard as a poem

In discussing a passage from N. K. Jemisin's story "L'Alchimista" in class this week, I have been writing it down on the blackboard not as prose but with the layout of a free-verse poem, so as to highlight the pattern of the words: "He looked up at her. The hat still shadowed his eyes, but – she blinked, frowned, peered closer. Then took a step back." In particular, I wanted the sequence of verbs "blinked, frowned, peered [...] took" to be in a column. This made it easier to keep track of both the individual verbs and the overall effect of the sequence. It also raised the issue of form in prose. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 26 September 2023)

Monday, September 25, 2023

On hearing The Grateful Dead on Saturday Night Live in 1979, in what must have been a rerun

From seventh to tenth grade (1976-1979), I was on the Ottawa Hills High School cross-country team. Every fall, we ran a 24-hour relay around the school on a Saturday and Sunday. In October 1979, we watched Saturday Night Live, and somebody commented on the band: "They fired their backup singer and the pianist and replaced them with a pianist with a falsetto." — That was The Grateful Dead; the firing occurred in February 1979. — But the Dead only played SNL in October 1978 and April 1980. So in 1979, we probably saw a rerun of the 1978 episode, with the Dead playing "Casey Jones". That was the first time I noticed them. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 25 September 2023) 

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Buying three used albums in Spring 1982 at Chimera Books and Records in Palo Alto

One afternoon in Spring 1982, I went to Palo Alto's Chimera Books and Records (where I could buy used albums and return them if I didn't like them), and I took three albums home: a Steppenwolf greatest hits, Black Sabbath's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", and The Grateful Dead's "Workingman's Dead". I remember clearly how I first thought Black Sabbath sounded really cool. But when Ozzy Osbourne started to sing, I took the album off and planned to return it to Chimera. And then I put on "Workingman's Dead", and "Uncle John's Band" entranced me right away. I kept the Steppenwolf, too, but didn't listen to it nearly as often as "Workingman's Dead". (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 24 September 2023)

Saturday, September 23, 2023

A syntactical ambiguity in a statement about the state of the United States House of Representatives

In her "Letter from an American" of 21 September 2023, Heather Cox Richardson quotes Ron Filipkowski on the interaction between former President Donald Trump and far-right Republicans in the United States House of Representatives: “House Republicans refuse to fund the government to protect Donald Trump.” The final phrase, "to protect Donald Trump", is syntactically ambiguous here. I first spontaneously read it to mean that funding the government would itself "protect Donald Trump", a claim which contradicts what's happening. After all, it is the refusal to fund the government that is intended — by Trump himself and the likes of Florida Representative Matt Gaetz — to protect the former President from federal legal investigations. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 23 September 2023)



Friday, September 22, 2023

Kadri Voorand and Mihkel Mälgan at the Tinguely Museum in Basel

Kadri Voorand accompanies her singing with furious piano and begins to loop her voice into caverns of singing, humming, whistling, breathing, and even panting. On the upright bass, Mihkel Mälgan moves from tabla-style finger drumming on the body and under the neck of the instrument to pulsing pizzicato lines and long drones with the bow. The two musicians reach moments of such dizzying layers of sounds that I stop trying to sort out what comes from where. — And that was only the first song of their set this evening at the Tinguely Museum in Basel, which even later included a loose, rousing version of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 22 September 2023)

Thursday, September 21, 2023

“A Julia de Burgos”, by Julia de Burgos, and its echo of Friedriech Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud

In her poem "A Julia de Burgos" (which she apparently wrote in 1943), Julia de Burgos (1914-1953) contrasts the "tú" she addresses as "Julia de Burgos" with the "yo" that speaks the poem, with "yo no" running through the stanzas as a mesodiplosis linking the contrasting points: "Tú eres como tu mundo, egoísta; yo no; / que todo me lo juego a ser lo que soy yo." The second of these lines recalls both the subtitle of "Ecce Homo: Wie man wird, was man ist" (1888, published in 1908) and the end of Sigmund Freud's "Neue Folge der Vorlesungen zur Einführung in die Psychoanalyse" (1933): "Wo es war, soll ich werden." (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 21 September 2023)

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Ted Gioia remembers Jim Croce on the 50th anniversary of his death, and I remember beloved artists I lost when I was young

Today, Ted Gioia wrote a tribute to singer-songwriter Jim Croce (11943-1973) on the fiftieth anniversary of his death, noting that "Croce’s death was perhaps my first experience with the senseless death of a young artist I’d actually seen in concert." This made me think of my first experiences of losing beloved artists when I was relatively young: the murder of John Lennon (1940-1980) on 8 December 1980; the death of Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) on 14 June 1986; and the apparent suicide of Primo Levi (1919-1987) on 11 April 1987, whose work I had discovered a year or two before that with "The Periodic Table" (1975, translated into English in 1984). (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 20 September 2023)


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

An evening walk in Kannenfeld Park in Basel, with no witches

To get a few more steps in before the day ended, I took an evening stroll around nearby Kannenfeld Park in Basel and listened to the latest episode of Peter Adamson's "History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps" podcast, which is on Shakespeare, "Macbeth", and Witchcraft in the Shakespearean era. I'd like to report that I glimpsed witches between the darkening trees, but the few other people in the park were on the paths with me, and the only hint I got of anything weird was a blinding light that, after a moment, I determined was a headlight from a car that happened to be pointing right at me for a moment. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 19 September 2023)

Monday, September 18, 2023

From “Your Mother Should Know” to Brad Mehldau and finally David Bowie

Some turn of phrase or an echo of melody led me to hum Paul McCartney's "Your Mother Should Know", from the 1967 Beatles album "Magical Mystery Tour." That led me to listen once more to Brad Mehldau's 2023 release "Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays The Beatles", a live recording of a 2020 concert in Paris. On the album, the penultimate tune, McCartney's "Golden Slumbers" from "Abbey Road" (1969), made me turn it up on this rainy morning to listen more closely to Mehldau's beautiful and meandering eight minutes of melody. And that primed me for the equally beautiful final tune, David Bowie's "Life on Mars?", from 1971's "Hunky Dory". (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 18 September 2023)

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

A text-message exchange about how to address my teenage daughter in text messages

My daughter Sara emailed me a file she wanted printed out, so I saved it, printed it for her, and sent her a WhatsApp message: "Your printout is on your desk." She wrote back, "Thanks, Dad", with three heart emojis. So I wrote, "You've welcome, Sara", with three heart emojis. She quickly responded, "Ewww, don't call me that." When I wrote back, "Don't call you Sara???", she clarified that I never call her "Sara" when texting with her. I explained that I'd thought about writing, "You're welcome, daughter", but I decided to say "Sara" because I thought she would find "daughter" annoying! Her last message in this exchange was simple: "True." (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 13 September 2023)

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Deciding not to play: Eva Klesse at her quartet’s concert in Basel this evening

Sometimes, a jazz musician decides not to play. When pianist Philip Frischkorn began an unaccompanied coda at the end of his composition "Die Dämmerung" at this evening's concert by drummer Eva Klesse's quartet at the Tinguely Museum in Basel (with Evgeny Ring on alto saxophone and Marc Muellbauer on bass), Klesse put down her drumsticks, prepared her brushes, held them up to play her cymbals, and lowered them. As Frischkorn let a concluding chord ring, her brushes hovered over the cymbals again, but again she didn't not play. — Or perhaps she was playing a series of rests of varying lengths, each adapted to the nuances of the diminuendo of Frischkorn’s coda. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 12 September 2023)

Monday, September 11, 2023

11 September 1683 in Vienna, 1924 and 1973 in Chile, and 2001 in the United States

Shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the United States on 11 September 2001, I learned that the Battle of Vienna, when the Ottoman Empire was defeated by a combined Habsurg and Polish-Lithuanian army, had begun on 11 September 1683. That marked the end of the Ottomans' westward expansion. I also learned that the 1973  coup d'état in Chile that the government of President Salvador Allende and established the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet had taken place on 11 September. Today, I read that the Chilean date was chosen in memory of a previous coup that overthrew a progressive Chilean government on 11 September 1924. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 11 September 2023)

Amateur Radio, Poetry, Hardcore

[Originally published March 2011. Edited to remove an image that is no longer available, 11 September 2023]

Dominic Rivron wrote a post recently about his love of amateur radio, with some details about what amateur-radio enthusiasts do and how the whole thing works. It reminded of something I have been thinking about for several years now—a passage from "Poetry and the Problem of Taste," an essay by Brian Phillips that appeared in Poetry in September 2007. Here, Phillips is discussing a "line of thinking" exemplified, for him, by Dana Gioia's essay "Can Poetry Matter?", which leads him to the comparison that has stuck with me:

Starved of a general readership, poets are writing only for other poets, like shortwave radio hobbyists who build elaborate machines on which they can only reach each other.

I've been pondering various ways of thinking about this comparison, but only Dominic's post made me wonder what the passage might sound like to "shortwave radio hobbyists," who are surely being disparaged here (not by Phillips, of course, at least not directly) as providing nothing of value to the larger culture.

One of the lines of thinking I have been following is to wonder whether it might not be better for poets to embrace their similarity to "hobbyists" of various kinds—embrace, that is, the idea that we are only talking to each other and not to the rest of the world. In the light of Robert Archambeau's recent discussion of Tennyson, Yeats, and Eliot, which I commented on in my last post, such a self-isolation (whatever its merits in terms of reduced anxiety for poets might be) would reduce the poetry that we produce (by eliminating the productive tension between hermetic aestheticism and various forms of desire to have an influence on the world).

But last night I went to a hardcore concert. I do not usually listen to hardcore, though I enjoy hearing it live once in a while, and I wanted to go to this particular concert because my friend Andreas's band Flimmer was playing, and I have been wanting to see him play for years. And one thing about hardcore is that it is a world unto itself: anyone who plays hardcore does not do so because of any ambition to be a success with it in the larger world. The only reason to play hardcore is that you love it.

Similarly, the only reason to do amateur radio is that you love it. And what if poets stopped worrying about the age when Tennyson sold zillions of poems that clarified and confirmed the world to his readers, and instead focused our attention on the joys of talking to each other? Writing "inspired notes," as Tranströmer said.

There's more to say about the comparison between poetry and radio (and poetry and hardcore), but I'll save it for another day.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Remembering trombonist Curtis Fowlkes (1950-2023) playing with Bill Frisell and with the Jazz Passengers

Jazz trombonist Curtis Fowlkes (1950-2023), who died on 1 September, played on guitarist Bill Frisell's 1996 album "Quartet", which also featured trumpeter Ron Miles (1963-2022) and Evyind King on viola. I saw that band play a show of what I called there "psychedelic dixieland" in 1997 at the Atlantis in Basel. I also saw Fowlkes with the Jazz Passengers there a year later; singer Debbie Harry of Blondie was touring with them; the set featured memorable arrangements of Blondie's "Tbe Tide Is High" and (if I remember correctly) "Heart of Glass", as well as the standard "If I Were a Bell", which Frank Loesser wrote for "Guys and Dolls" in 1950. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 10 September 2023)

Saturday, September 09, 2023

An unusual gray shape while birdwatching along the Birs river

While birdwatching along the Birs river this morning with a group led by my friend Dave Garbutt, I walked ahead of the group with the Birs on my left and saw a pond through the trees to my right. At one end of the pond, I could see a concrete landing above the water, and on the landing was an unusual gray shape. I first thought it was a sculpture; then I thought it was a round basin with a bird sitting in it. When I found it through my binoculars, though, I discovered it was a gray heron drying its wings in the sun – the basin-like shape was its wings. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 9 September 2023)

Friday, September 08, 2023

Richard Davis (1930-2023) with John Carter and Van Morrison

I saw jazz bassist Richard Davis (1930-2023) with the John Carter Quartet (Carter on clarinet, Bobby Bradford on cornet, and Andrew Cyrille on drums) at the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay, California, in February 1987 (according to the date of a photo I found of Cyrille at that gig). By then, I had been listening to jazz steadily for four years, and I knew many records with Davis's superb bass playing. But Davis also played acoustic bass on an album I'd known before I began listening to jazz: Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks", where Davis's melodic bass lines both drive the rhythms and sing along with the songs. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 8 September 2023) 

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Dr.O.G.E at the Bird’s Eye in Basel, 6 September 2023

The trio at the Bird's Eye in Basel last night played psychedelic jazz-prog-rock based on melodies from children's songs. In their often very loud walls of sounds from DRums, Hammond Organ, and Guitar (hence the band's name – Dr.O.G.E, with the E for Ensemble and "Droge" the German word for "drug"), Dave Gisler on electric guitar would pull out one of those simple tunes — "Frère Jacques" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" were two I recognized — and play it beautifully with a powerful sustained tone. The dynamic Dominik Blum ranged from dissonant textures to aggressive grooves on Hammond organ, with powerhouse drummer Valeria Zangger responding with total attention to her bandmates' rhythmic variations. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 7 September 2023)

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

The “Flunky Beadle” in James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake"

In James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" (1939), Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker writes a list "of all abusive names he was called" (FW 71.5-6). The page-long includes this insult that you can sing if you like: "Flunkey Beadle Vamps the Tune Letting on He's Loney" (FW 71.32-33). Like a soldier aspiring to fashionable, "Yankee Doodle" here becomes a lonely improviser and pretender who is doubly subordinate to those he serves, both as a flunky and as a beadle (a minor parish official, such as Mr. Bumble in Charles Dickens's "Oliver Twist", 1838). In our reading group, we wondered if "Loney" was an echo of a particular aristocratic name for the beadle to pretend to. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 6 September 2023) 

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Toiling to jot down words without a particular sign

Lipograms pick a sign to omit and talk about things without words that contain that sign. This can fill paragraphs with unusual combinations of words, but many normal constructions will also still show up anyway. I'm happy to jot down so many words that follow this constraint, which brings about astonishing thoughts that I did not know I could count on occurring. On occasion I ask my pupils to try to find lipograms for short constructions in this idiom that I got to talk from birth on. Many pupils who do not talk this idiom that way pupils find it funny but may toil to coin lipograms in such an idiom. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 5 September 2023)

Monday, September 04, 2023

Another job advertisement appealing to people bored with their jobs

On Saturday, I discussed Basel police department's advertisement for new police recruits, the gist of which was that you could leave your boring job for an exciting one. I'd driven past the advertisement often, but only on Saturday did I walk past it so that I could take a picture of it. On Sunday morning, at the Migros supermarket at the main Basel train station, I saw a similar advertisement, but this time without the excitement of the threat of violence behind the police ad: "Zufrieden mit deinem Job? Wir bieten Alternativen für [...]" ("Satisfied with your job? We offer alternatives for [...]). This was followed a list of supermarket positions. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 4 September 2023)


Sunday, September 03, 2023

Day Trippers

We walked downstairs and caught a tram, walked across a street to another tram, walked through a station to a train, walked through another station to another train, walked around and found a bus, walked across a street and caught a cable car up a mountainside, walked around the side of the mountain for an hour or two, took the cable car back down, walked to a swimming pool (and noticed we'd forgotten our swimsuits), walked to a boat landing, took the boat across the lake, got off the boat and went to the train station, caught another train, walked to catch a bus, changed to a tram, and walked upstairs. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 3 September 2023)

Saturday, September 02, 2023

The irony of a recruiting advertisement for the Basel police department

The police department of the canton of Basel-Stadt has advertised for new recruits with a numerical slogan: "Vergiss Deinen 08/15 Job und starte eine 117er Karriere" ("Forget your 08/15 Job and start a 117 career"). While "08/15" can be translated as "run-of-the-mill", "117" is the emergency phone number to call the police in Switzerland. In other words, leave the dull routine of your current job for the excitement and variety of being a police officer. The irony is that the expression "08/15" comes from a standard machine gun used by the German Army during World War One. I wonder if the creators of the advertisting campaign intended that irony or not. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 2 September 2023)

Friday, September 01, 2023

On being diagnosed with rosacea

The tip of my nose was sore and slightly swollen for a few months, and then one morning two weeks ago it had a scab on it. I couldn't get an appointment with the dermatologist until this past Tuesday, but I got some advice and some lotion from a pharmacist, and it looked a lot better by the time the doctor saw it. But she could still diagnose rosacea, and she prescribed a lotion to put it nightly until the condition clears up. I got the lotion from the pharmacy, but only when I got home did I notice on the box, to my amusement, that Soolandra's active ingredient is Ivermectin. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 1 September 2023)

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Kafka writing “in einem Zug”: not “on a train” but “at a stretch” or “in one go"

On 23 September 1912, Franz Kafka wrote in his diary about writing "Das Urteil" the night before "in einem Zug". In Ross Benjamin's new English translation of Hans-Gerd Koch's 1990 edition of Kafka's diaries, the passage reads (as quoted by Frances Wilson in "The New York Review of Books"): "This story 'The Judgment' I wrote at one stretch [in einem zug—literally: 'on one train'] on the night of the 22 to 23 from 10 o’clock in the evening until 6 o’clock in the morning." But that's no train: doing something "in einem Zug" is like swallowing a drink in one go – just as Kafka wrote the story "at one stretch." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 31 August 2023) 

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Subscribing to Offbeat Jazz in Basel for the first time this millennium

On 27 April 1995, the day of my job interview in Basel, I saw a poster for the Jazz Festival happening at the time, so I ended up at a John Scofield concert that night at Atlantis (which I didn't yet know was a legendary club). After attending many concerts put on by Offbeat Jazz in the following years, I had a subscription for their events in 1997-1998 and 1998-1999. But with Andrea pregnant in summer 1999, I didn't renew my subscription. But today, after I noticed that it would cost less than all the concerts I want to attend in the coming year, I bought an Offbeat subscription for 2023-2024. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 30 August 2023)

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Martín Espada’s poem "Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100” and Juan Antonio Corretjer’s poem and Roy Brown’s song “Oubao Moin"

Martín Espada's 9/11 poem "Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100" was the title poem of his 2003 "New and Selected Poems", a collection I first read in 2004. Over the years, I've used "Alabanza" in many courses. In preparing my forthcoming course on "La Poesía de Puerto Rico", I read poems by Juan Antonio Corretjer and discovered Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Roy Brown's songs based on Corretjer's poems, including "Oubao Moin", whose coda repeats "alabanza" with a joyous melody. I wondered if Espada was thinking of Corretjer's poem and/or Brown's song when he wrote "Alabanza", and today, in Espada's book, I saw that his epigraph is from the end of Corretjer's poem. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 29 August 2023)

Monday, August 28, 2023

On Charles Dickens as “sentimental, theatrical, moralistic, and controlling” (Zadie Smith) — and the end of “Our Mutual Friend"

In "Killing Dickens", in "The New Yorker", Zadie Smith writes that, after a childhood reading "far too much" Dickens, she developed "the usual doubts and caveats about him—too sentimental, too theatrical, too moralistic, too controlling." In my three years of reading Dickens, I saw the sentimentality of the early novels disappear, enjoyed the theatricality, and ignored moralizing. But I found the ending of the otherwise wonderful "Our Mutual Friend" (1865) "controlling": when Bella Wilfer's story ends with her discovery that John Rokesmith/Harmon's courtship of her was staged by him and her benefactors the Boffins, I wondered why she didn't become paranoid but instead appreciated how her friends had manipulated her. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 28 August 2023)


Sunday, August 27, 2023

Bassist Romy Brauteseth with two bands at the Bird’s Eye in Basel

At the two concerts I saw by bassist Romy Brauteseth at the Bird's Eye in Basel on Thursday and Friday, she presented two projects (in her debuts as a bandleader): a quintet with Marcus Wyatt (trumpet), Lukas Wyss (trombone), Ewout Pierreux (piano), and Siphiwe Shiburi (drums), and a two-bass quaret with Wyatt, Shiburi, and bassist Raffaele Bossard. The music for the quintet peaked in several codas with polyphony from Wyatt, Wyss, and Pierreux over the driving rhythms of Brauteseth and Shiburi; the music for the quartet was "spacy" (as Brauteseth once put it) and full of textures, with one highlight being Shiburi adding the wall behind him to a drum solo. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 27 August 2023)

Friday, August 25, 2023

Three years of reading Charles Dickens’s novels in chronological order

Yesterday, I finished reading all of Charles Dickens's completed novels in chronological order (I started about September 2020): "The Pickwick Papers" (1837); "Oliver Twist" (1838); "Nicholas Nickleby" (1839); "The Old Curiosity Shop" (1841); "Barnaby Rudge" (1841); "Martin Chuzzlewit" (1844); "Dombey and Son" (1848); "David Copperfield" (1850); "Bleak House" (1853); "Hard Times" (1854); "Little Dorrit" (1857); "A Tale of Two Cities" (1859); "Great Expectations" (1861); and "Our Mutual Friend" (1865). (I also read the five Christmas novellas.) If pressed to recommend a starter, I'd still fall back on my favorite from before I started this reading project: "A Tale of Two Cities", with "Hard Times" and "Little Dorrit" tied for second place. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 25 August 2023)

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Suddenly nervous when the time comes to deliver the message

When he was on his way down to carry the message to her, he felt confident that he could deliver it without any difficulty, but after he knocked and heard her saying that he could come in, the soft tone of her voice made him hesitant, and when he saw her as he stepped in, her beautiful face framed by her hair pulled back tight behind her ears left him speechless. As she welcomed him, he did not know what to do with his hands and stepped back and forth from one foot to the other. Only when his wings stopped fluttering could he deliver his annunciation to the young woman. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 24 August 2023)


Jost Haller, Annunciation, ca. 1450/1460, Kunstmuseum Basel