Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"The Office" (workstation series) 103 (writing to deadlines edition)

Placeholder right now: working against a deadline for a piece of contract writing ("Rock" sections of a new music appreciation textbook). Working on Fiddlin' John Carson's 1923 version of "Old Dan Tucker," a song claimed by Dan Emmett around 1843 but which probably comes out of the Ohio River wharf-rats and keelboatmen culture; it's that kind of bragging Mike Fink-esque tall-tale braggadocio. Struck, once again, how upon close examination (iTunes on "Repeat One" setting), a piece of "simple" folk music is anything but simple, or random, or crude. This thing, a snapshot into the pre-recording-era musical mind of a man who learned from Civil War fiddlers but lived past World War II, is absolute genius. Not to mention played live, on fiddle and voice, in one take.

Short pop-culture hit: happened to catch a little snippet of Four Weddings and a Funeral while making dinner last night, a film I no longer like because it represents the archetypes of the collection of verbal and gestural tics for which Hugh Grant is too often hired. But, it does have a fantastic cast of Brit supporting players, including the great Simon Callow, and John Hannah's eulogy which, quoting Auden, is one of the great movie monologues ever.

And any character who, in a film, would choose Andie McDowell over Kristin Scott Thomas, must be blind, deaf, and dumb (both ways).

View is from my preferred seat in a coffee shop a block-and-a-half from where I live (the only walking neighborhood, 8/100 at walkscore, in my town). They're independent, roast their own coffee, have free wireless. Writing at home puts me too close to the TV, the fridge, and the garden. Natalie Goldberg, Zen author, in her Writing Down the Bones writing manual, talks about coffeeshops or other public places as good for concentration, likening the "upper mind" to a child who wants attention/distraction, which when supplied by a public place, calms down and lets the deeper mind get the writing done.

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