Thursday, 18 August 2011

An Ordinary Life

Five years ago today, I began this blog.

It was a humble beginning. Yet another ordinary blog among the bazillions already out there, if this blog has achieved anything it has outlasted much of the herd. Indeed, for the first 4 years I managed a blog post almost every single day.

But, the blogosphere is a vast, vast universe and An Ordinary Life, while it may have lived up to it's name has not become extra-ordinary by any stretch of the imagination. A scattered handful of comments emerged (thank you, you know who you are) from a tiny crowd of anonymous readers (I know where you are, but I don't know who you are), but for the most part An Ordinary Life has the loyal following it's very ordinary contents deserves.

And you know what, anonymous reader? I've loved writing it. I still love writing it, and I'm going to carry on doing so whether you care to comment or not!

In fact, I'm going to relaunch An Ordinary Life 2.0.

Listening to: 'Sea Change' - Beck

Saturday, 13 August 2011

About A Boy

Do not hit your mother in the face with a claw hammer.

Never a lender, nor a borrower be.

Everything in moderation, but nothing to excess.

Listening to:
'Easy Tiger' - Ryan Adams

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91)
Not enough has yet been written about Mr. Mozart, and so I must add my own thoughts to the existing literature.

Papa Haydn said, "As an honest man, I tell you that [Mozart] is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name... posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years."

What is there to say?

Everyone knows that Mozart was a child prodigy. He was the Michael Jackson of his day; pushed into fame, alongside his sister, by his father at the age of 4.

Mozart was a geeky-looking little dweeb who (as Haydn did) married his true love's little sister after his true love dumped him. He was a man who liked to tell poop jokes, who became so utterly successful that his name has literally become synonymous with genius.

And yet, he was mistreated by his employers and barely ever paid, and he in turn mistreated his debtors and they, in turn, were never paid. Mozart was so poor that when he died his body was 'lost' after burial, simply because the family couldn't afford his funeral costs. To this day, no-one knows where he is buried.

Mozart, it is argued, is the greatest musician who has ever lived. A reading of NPR's Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection by Ted Libbey; or The Great Composers by Jeremy Nicholaus demonstrates the highest of pedestals Mozart is placed on. I suppose it is no surprise, if any composer should be worshiped as a avatar of the God of Music, it's going to be Mozart.

Far be it from me to argue otherwise. I will never say that Wolfgang is as overrated as Gone With The Wind. But I will say that when I was composing my greatest hits list for Vivaldi and for Haydn, I had a very difficult time trimming the list down to just 13 entries. I have over 15 hours of Mozart's music and after listening to my whole collection a couple of times recently I have had to work hard to bring Mozart's Greatest Hits up to 13 entries.

Those 13 pieces, though, are quite brilliant:

  1. 'III. Turkish Rondo' - Violin Concerto No. 5
  2. 'Overture' - The Abduction From The Seraglio
  3. 'Ronda Alla Turca' - Piano Sonato No. 11
  4. 'Adagio, Allegro' - String Quartet No. 19 (Haydn)
  5. 'II. Romance' - Piano Concerto No. 20
  6. 'III. Rondo' - Horn Concerto No. 4
  7. 'Overture' - The Marriage of Figaro
  8. 'I. Allegro' - A Little Night Music
  9. 'II. Andante Con Moto' - Symphony No. 39
  10. 'I. Allegro Molto' - Symphony No. 40
  11. 'II. Kyrie' - Requiem
  12. 'Aria of the Queen Of Night' - The Magic Flute
  13. Papageno! Papageno!' - The Magic Flute

And I shall end, with these words from the man himself. It amuses me, that this man who created the most beautiful music the world has ever known (see above), would have been the biggest Kevin Smith or Southpark fan, had he been alive today.

Some 39 letters still exist, that Mozart wrote, by his hand, to his friends and family that contain some of his less well-known poetry. It is so at odds, with his epic legacy that people deny it and ignore it.

Written to his cousin, in 1777, the whole letter uses word play (John Lennon used a similar nonsense word play in In His Own Write):

Deares cozz buzz!
I have received reprieved your highly esteemed writing biting, and I have noted doted thy my uncle garfuncle, my aunt slant, and you too, are all well mell. We, too thank god, are in good fettle kettle ...

You write further, indeed you let it all out, you expose yourself, you let yourself be heard, you give me notice, you declare yourself, you indicate to me, you bring me the news, you announce unto me, you state in broad daylight, you demand, you desire, you wish, you want, you like, you command that I, too, should could send you my Portrait.

Eh bien, I shall mail fail it for sure. Oui, by the love of my skin, I shit on your nose, so it runs down your chin...

- The beautiful words of composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Listening to: 'Symphony No. 40' - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Friday, 24 June 2011

She said she said... CXXXI

I know now what I can offer you that no-one else can, complete and utter dependence... Marge, I need you more than anyone else on this entire planet could possibly ever need you. I need you to take care of me, to put up with me. But most of all I need you to love me, because I love you.

-Homer Simpson, Secrets of a Successful Marriage, The Simpsons (Season Five)

Listening to: 'Flesh & Blood' - Poison

Friday, 17 June 2011

She Said She Said... CXXX

To me, all religions are equally nonsensical and the idea that Christians, with their particular invisible friends, virgin births, immaculate conceptions and bread turning into flesh, could have the cheek to mock people like [witches] for being 'superstitious' is appalling humbug.

-Stephen Fry, In America

Listening to: 'Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man' - Various Artists

Friday, 10 June 2011

She Said She Said... CXXIX

What is it with Americans and cinnamon? The smell is everywhere; they flavour chewing gum with it, they ruin wine and coffee with it, they slather it over chicken and fish... it is all most peculiar.

-Stephen Fry, In America

Listening to: 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad' - Bernard Herrmann

Friday, 3 June 2011

She Said She Said... CXXVIII

Like many American institutions [the primaries] makes sense, is very democratic, transparent and open but comes down, fundamentally, to race, religion, media and - most of all - money.

-Stephen Fry, In America

Listening to: 'Rocket Man: Number Ones' - Elton John