An occasional blog about populist politics and popular music, not necessarily at the same time.
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Monday, September 24, 2018
Music: current count 30365  rated (+37), 273  unrated (-4).
Seemed likely to me that the rated count would fall this week, but I kept plugging at it, mostly picking records from Napster's Featured list, and they added up, even offering a couple surprises. Actually, early on I wrapped up the last of the Nate Chinen picks I could find, winding up with only 5 (of 129) records unrated (Ben Allison, Tim Berne, Wynton Marsalis, Hedvig Mollestad, Mike Moreno). I also checked out one of the late Big Jay McNeely's compilations -- picked the one with dates in the title, although I checked them against his singles discography to be sure. Don't recall why I didn't go further, but it wasn't easy figuring out when various things were recorded.
The Featured list did get me to new vault tapes from Stella Chiweshe, Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerard, and Prince -- none extraordinary. I also noticed a Bikini Kill album -- one that I had already heard, but I took another look for two that I had missed that Christgau had A-listed, and found them (after having missed them previously). I actually wound up liking their early demo tape (Revolution Girl Style Now) even more. Also new on Napster is Posi-Tone, a mainstream jazz label run by Marc Free. I got their records for a while, but largely stopped paying them any heed when service went to download-only. Streaming is enough easier to get me interested again, and the Art Hirahara album is a big step forward -- I would say a big surprise, but I never doubted Donny McCaslin could play this well. (I've just never heard it on any of his own records.)
Best of the B+(***) records is probably Dafnis Prieto's album. I'm feeling a little guilty about not giving it another spin, but just not that up for Latin big band. (Could say the same thing for Eddie Palmieri's Full Circle, which could be one of his best.) Didn't pay much attention to the new jazz queue this past week -- partly due to a clutter/misfiling lapse, and partly because I've been playing Ben Webster's Soulville nearly every morning. Guess it's time to nudge that grade up to A+.
Rough week for me, both physically and mentally. Had to work on the old car to get it to start, and decided I also needed to wash it. Also wound up washing the not-quite-so-old car -- jobs that were easy a decade ago but grueling these days. Another task I finally tackled last week was installing new insulation on the coolant pipes on a mini-split air conditioner. Back in July when the main AC went out, we noticed that the insulation on the mini had worn out and split, causing it to ice up and reducing its effectiveness. Back then a friend helped me tear out the old and install new, but I couldn't find the right size material, and made a mess out of it, with the oversized material not fitting into the raceway.
I had to go shopping for new insulation tubes and possibly a new raceway. I eventually found some 3/8-inch split tubes with tape closure, so bought them. I tore the old mess out, installed the new insulation, and eventually was able to tuck it all inside the old raceway (with a few extra cuts). Took 4-5 hours, plus another trip to the hardware store, but finally got it done. Another day I was worn out at the end of. Also doesn't totally fix the cooling problem, but does make it a bit better. By the time I got it done, the heat spell had broken, so I may be able to put off getting it serviced until next year.
Mental stress is harder to explain. Did a couple of things on the server, but still way short of the necessary tasks. Did a minor update, including a new XgauSez, on the Robert Christgau website, but still haven't straightened out the links and filled in the missing stubs for Carola Dibbell. One of the XgauSez questions was about jazz albums of the 1950s/1960s, and Christgau referred to my website for suggestions. Best link I could offer him was this one, but it really doesn't answer the question. So after fretting several days, I started working on a better answer page, but that's turned out to be a lot more work than I've been able to do. I did a preliminary sort for the 1950s and 1960s, but only based on the one database file linked above. Took a lot of time to get next to nothing.
Also spent some time collecting music notes and non-jazz album reviews from the Notebook. Picked up about a year over the course of a week, bringing me up to February 2013. Close to 1000 pages in each volume (actually, 1015 + 1308). At least those projects are straightforward, things I can keep plodding at, and in fairly short order get done.
What bothers me more are the things I can't get started. I still have people I want to call about my sister's death back in March, and others I called them but haven't since. I've been hoping to visit family in Oklahoma and Arkansas since, well, it's been more than two years since I've gotten out of town. I've been meaning to reorganize my cookbooks, and clean out and update my spice racks -- bought new bottles for that more than a year ago. I'm bothered that I haven't even looked at the stack of library books I have due Wednesday (including Chris Hedges' America: The Farewell Tour and David Cay Johnston's It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America; probably nothing in those I don't already know, but I'm certainly could learn something from Ajax Hacks: Tips & Tools for Creating Responsive Web Sites -- well, pub date was 2006, so may be kind of obsolete.) Probably going to wind up sending them all back, only one (mostly) read.
Nor do I anticipate this week becoming suddenly productive. Actually, just the opposite. A Russian friend wanted me to help do some down-home cooking, so I'll be whipping up an assortment of zakuski, side dishes, and a dessert for Friday night dinner. Will probably do something horrible to my back, but otherwise should be fun . . . at last.
New records rated this week:
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
Old music rated this week:
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: