Sunday, September 29, 2013

Kasparov at Polgar Festival in Budapest

Blogger did something that messed up the header I liked, and I didn't have the patience to work on getting this one right. It's so severe looking now. Perhaps when I am good and sick of it I'll have the patience to work on it again.

Today was the Polgar Chess Festival in Budapest at the Palace of Arts. I took my youngest son Alex. All three of the famous Polgar sisters were there, including Judit who is the highest rated woman ever in chess and the only one to enter the top ten in the world.
We saw Sofia Polgar play a simul exhibition against thirty players.
Kasparov with Judit Polgar
Later there was a press conference with the three Polgars and former world champion Garry Kasparov. It was too crowded to get any good photos, unfortunately.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Double Standard

I started reading another Cormac McCarthy novel today. I've read a couple of his and I find them okay, though I don't love him the way so many apparently do. I think what bothers me about his work is what I perceive as a double standard. Here is an example from the very first page of this novel called The Crossing:

"He pulled his breeches off the footboard of the bed and got his shirt and his blanketlined duckingcoat and got his boots from under the bed and went out to the kitchen and dressed in the dark by the faint warmth of the stove and held the boots to the windowlight to pair them left and right and pulled them on and rose and went to the kitchen door and stepped out and closed the door behind him."

You see, he gets to be called brilliant by writing such run-on sentences with 12 'and's in them, which he does all the time, but if any of us dared to do such a thing, any agent or editor would reject us outright and consider us complete amateurs. It just pisses me off a tad that the very same set of eyes that would read that sentence coming from me and hit the Delete key will foam at the mouth with ecstasy because it is written by a famous author.

Sorry, just had to do a mini-rant about that before I go on reading.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lost Music

Since work has been crazy busy the past couple of months, I've had very little quality personal time. What time I have had I've mostly been just reading and listening to music. Very often I get into the mood for specific favorite bands and listen to their stuff over and over again until I tire of it and move on to a different favorite. A couple weeks ago something reminded me of one of the oddest but brilliant flashes of music from the late eighties--Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
For me this band came out of nowhere. The music of the 80's has grown on me over time, but while living through them I felt it was mostly mediocre, especially compared to the brilliance of the late 60's and early 70's (Zeppelin, Floyd, Beatles, The Who, Stones, Cream, Hendrix, etc.). I spent several years of the 80's listening to almost nothing but U2, and I considered them to be by far the greatest band of that time (still do).
But Frankie Goes to Hollywood crashed onto the music scene like nothing I had ever seen before. They were brazenly, openly gay (at least the two frontmen) yet produced in-your-face galloping pop-rock tunes like Two Tribes and Welcome to the Pleasuredome, not to mention their rather blatantly sexual hit Relax. Their singer had a sneer of a voice that worked great even when producing rehashes of tunes like Springsteen's Born to Run (nothing can touch the original, yet there is an addictive quality to FGTH's version). And even their unknown songs were often quite good--Black Night, White Light has an awesome bass line and backing vocal. They do a creditable take of the old hit War as well. And Krisco Kisses...well, it's a bit too over-the-top for  my taste, but it certainly deserves a few listens!

I find it very sad to listen to the friends of my sons and learn that many young people these days have no appreciation or knowledge whatsoever of older music, even though that music is generally far superior to anything on the charts these days. (We still have fabulous modern bands, like Tool, A Perfect Circle, Soundgarden, White Stripes, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, etc., but they are rarely anywhere near the charts).

FGTH's music turned off a lot of people who were uncomfortable with their brazenness, but they deserve a second chance, especially their terrific first album.