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Wine, Satan, & Song November 3, 2007

Posted by Jim Berkin in Books, Music.
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It’s funny how things run in thematic cycles. Last week’s round of yard sales saw a plethora of DVDs at nearly every sale I went to. This week, I saw next to NO DVDs at all, and instead went from sale to sale seeing books and CDs. So, those are the categories for this week’s discoveries.

In the book department: despite finding nothing at a sale overloaded with pre-publication reader-review copies of assorted high-end fiction due out for the 2007-08 season (this was an unpleasant surprise), I managed to find a copy of A Perfect Glass Of Wine by Brian St. Pierre, a rather basic but beautifully illustrated and well organized guide to all the major varieties of grape and the wines thereof. I like the way he keeps coming back to food pairings whenever he goes into a particular type of wine, since that’s pretty much the way I’ve always drunk the stuff. To me, it’s a part of the meal, with the meal being the compilation of recipes featuring compimentary ingredients and flavors. This looks like a wonderful book to lend out to people who are new to wine drinking, or aren’t familiar with the differences in varieties or food pairings. Too bad I hate lending books out. Come to think of it, I usually hate people too. This might be a problem in sharing this book with others. I’ll have to work on that. Or perhaps instead I’ll read from the other book of the day, The Devil: A Visual Guide To The Demonic, Evil, Scurrilous and Bad, taking copious notes to guide my future behavior. But wait! This book may as well be about me, although I was never so lavishly depicted in Medieval and Renaissance art as the actual Satan (and the abundantly wonderful illustrations of those depictions litter this book, making it the deal-maker as I browsed through its enjoyable and interesting collection of all-things-Satan trivia. I mean, we’re talking two dollars here, I need to think about such things carefully.)

In the CD department, two classical samplings that turned out rather well. First up was a recording of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony with Bernard Haitink and the Concertbegouw Orchestra (the single CD I have seems to be out of print, but you can get the same recording along with the Bruckner Sixth here, and the first Amazon review listed is from a guy I remember from college who ate ketchup out of a bowl with his fingers, but he writes a lot of pretty decent Amazon reviews, I must admit. I just hope he cleans his keyboard.) Bruckner wrote big burly man-sized symphonies, picking up from Brahms and leading up to Mahler. I like most of them, though I’ve been particular about which recordings and versions. This one is very good indeed. The 7th has some melodies in its “funeral” Adagio that remind me of similar passages in Tchaikovsky’s 6th, only Bruckner’s aren’t as emotionally pleading & yearning, which basically sums up the difference between Germans and Russians. The other CD was an all-digital authentic instrument recording of Haydn’s final 3 string quartets, which I can only describe as “exquisite.” The quality of sound from those period instruments is truly wonderful, and Haydn’s inventive and lively melodies are always good stuff.

Plenty of wonderful finds to be thankful for, as well as my thanks for the spiffy NEW battery in the Wagstaffmobile which kept my car a’startin’ after yesterday’s adventure in turn-key-nothing-happening-at-all. You’d think my car would have needed Viagra in its engine oil from the way it was behaving yesterday afternoon, but thankfully it only turned out to be the five year old battery dying of old age and having the good grace NOT to take the alternator with it to that big anode in the sky. I was even able to drive to the grocery store today to restock some pantry items and walked by a woman who smelled like the inside of a cedar closet.

My adventures never end, to be sure.

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