A Lot on My Mind
My latest obsessions, in no particular order:
I cannot get enough Bach lately: Johann Sebastian, Carl Philipp Emanuael, Johann Christian--even the only modestly talented Wilhelm Friedemann. I'm really going for baroque. My absolute favorite thing that I've been listening to constantly for the past couple of weeks are J.S. Bach's Toccatas and Fugues for organ. They are so BIG and HUGE and GIGANTIC, although they need to be heard in a cathedral, if at all possible, for maximum effect. I am working on figuring out how I can do that, given that I live in Portland, Oregon. We don't have any real cathedrals in Portland, but I've gone so far as to put the newsletter for the First Presbyterian Church (the closest thing we've got to a cathedral in Portland; they seem to have the most impressive organ in town) on my Google Reader, so the moment they post any news of a concert featuring the king of instruments, I can pounce on tickets. Until then I have a 16-CD boxed set of Bach's complete organ (German: orgel) works from the library I can listen to nonstop. I am, in fact, listening to one of them right now (Toccata and Fugue in F major, if you must know). Organist: E. Power Biggs. How can you play any instrument other than organ if your name is E. Power Biggs? I ask you.
The U.S. Presidency
Now that we are finally going to have a decent human being as president, I've been wondering: Is George W. Bush really the worst president ever, as so many people are always saying? I think it may be safe to say he's the worst (depending on how you define "worst") in my lifetime, but I've been reading a bunch of books on the presidents, notably Hail to the Chiefs: Presidential Mischief, Morals, and Malarkey from George W. to George W. and Failures of the Presidents: from the Whiskey Rebellion and War of 1812 to the Bay of Pigs and War in Iraq, just so I feel like I can make an informed judgment about just how bad Bush is. I mean, I know almost nothing about Millard Fillmore or Chester A. Arthur or Rutherford B. Hayes. Who does?
Let me tell you, there have some real duds in charge of the United States and at least one "amiable dunce."* It's a wonder this country ever became a world power, given the quality of its early leadership. I'm not very far along (only up to Franklin Pierce, "the hero of many a well-fought bottle"), but I think the worst one I've encountered so far is, not surprisingly, Andrew "Trail of Tears" Jackson. I've always wondered why the heck that guy is on money.
This obsession was foisted upon me by the fact that almost every day for the past week, I've encountered a disembodied head like this, this, or this while walking around Portland minding my own business. I wasn't even looking for them; I just happened to encounter them. There are more disembodied heads in Portland than one might think, especially in the Cully Neighborhood. No idea why.
Also, there are way more disembodied heads than disembodied hands. I've only seen one of these.