Split Pediment

The musings of a Brighton-based architecture dweeb and town planner in training.

Tag: Chabon


I make no apologies for once again speaking of Mr Michael Chabon and quoting him at length. It turns out that I hadn’t actually read everything he’s written and published (although I believe I soon will have. Get me) and, whilst moseying about in The Strand bookstore I found a paperback copy of some collected essays of his. The first essay, “Trickster in a Suit of Lights”, begins as follows:

Entertainment has a bad name. Serious people learn to mistrust and even to revile it. The word wears spandex, pasties, a leisure suit studded with blinking lights. It gives off a whiff of Coppertone and dripping Creamsickle, the fake-butter miasma of a movie-house lobby, of karaoke and Jägermeister, Jerry Bruckheimer movies, a Street Fighter machine grunting solipsistically in a corner of an ice-rink arcade. Entertainment trades in cliché and product placement. It engages regions of the brain far from the centers of discernment, critical thinking, ontological speculation.

Naturally MC goes on to debunk this and argues for a restoration of entertainment – specifically in the form of the short story – to what he sees as its hallowed place.

This morning I read an interesting piece in the Graun, following the Royal Ballet‘s tour of Cuba (Carlos Acosta‘s fine presence in said company playing no doubt some part in said arrangement). You should read it too, if you have an interest in ballet or Cuba (“Aw, shucks. Tap and Bolivia – that’s all I care about. What a gosh darned shame”). These sorts of pieces, I find, tend to end with some concluding thought – like Jerry Springer – and usually it’s some platitude masquerading as profundity. Not this time:

Sitting above Havana, gazing over a city slowly being rebuilt, [Edward] Watson [one of the RB’s principle dancers] suggests that back in Britain the link between dance and reality has become tragically worn, that in our wealth we’ve lost the understanding of what a tour like this should mean. “Here, people come to be entertained,” he tells me. “In London, too many come to criticise, to form their opinions, but here they just come for a good time.”

To form their opinions… There’s a phrase. The challenge, then: to allow oneself to be entertained, to revel in and celebrate art; to admit and incorporate one’s ignorance; to shrink from the quick opinion; to forgo the easy lament of one’s own inadequacies and to cheer the fine, hard work of the creator and the performer and the stagehand.

Saw these guys yesterday doing this. They were brilliant.


I know, I know…

I’m a dreadful blogger. I blog and then FOR AGES I don’t blog. And it’s not because I don’t love both my readers, rather that my camera has lost all enamour with my company and decided to stop taking decent photos of anything at all. The fact that I’ve left it silently encased in the dark depths of some courier-type bag for a week I think may have had something to do with its miserablist attitude.

So – sod the camera. Who needs the grumpy bastard when armed with the full force of the English language? Dante never used a camera. Nor Voltaire. Or Confucius for that matter. And just look what they accomplished with this marvellous bastard-hybrid of a lexicon. Oh, hang on a mo. I think I may have made a mistake there….

[Never mind, McNicol! Plough on! This is no time to de doubting yourself in front of your brave and elegant readers!]

….I mean, yes. So. Words are nice. And utilising said power, I shall write one of those “Huh, well, like, this is what I’m doing today” sort of posts.

Read the rest of this entry »

As washouts go

it was a fairly minor one. I mean, I wasn’t expecting Botticelli and Sartre to start squabbling over the caviar or anything. But even so, my evening has been one of those minor disappointments of half a dozen hours that seem to always happen on a Tuesday. Firstly I managed to not write a single line of song lyric to my latest minor opus (for which the music is, in my humble, etc., rather fine) after an hour and a half of trying which bled into the evening in the form of the tiniest disjunct (A bottle on its side! A crumpled shirt! A half-eaten marmite sandwich!) taking on hefty and potentially song-completing significance.

I then blogged on something that I’d spotted days ago, didn’t think worthy at the time but, given the lack of recent bloggage, decided to resuscitate like a zombiedog with no flesh on its hind legs. I half-listened to Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and couldn’t really click in (is it difficult? Rubbish? Complicated? In German… ah. well. yes. Probably should have concentrated then). I tried to purchase some clothing items in an online fashion fashion but fell at the final hurdle when they asked for the postcode for delivery which I don’t know, it being my work one that I can never remember. I watched Simon Reeve’s Tropic of Capricorn which I’d recorded from a while back and realised half-way through that I’d already seen. And I watched Newsnight, in which Paxo decided to lecture me personally on not throwing away my sprouting blue potatoes or something.

So really what I have achieved tonight has been these four astonishingly minor things: purchasing fish and chips from Bankers (who – you will be pleased to learn – are back on form with a nice crispy batter); drinking most of a bottle of been-open-four-days Malborough Sauvignon; writing this missive; and finally, but easily best of all, starting a new (to me) Michael Chabon (“Summerland”) in which the following appears early on:

It was agreed by nearly everyone who watched him take the field that Ethan Feld was the least gifted ball player that Clam Island had ever seen. It was hard to decide, really, why this should be so. Ethan was a boy of average height, a little stocky, you might have said, but healthy and alert. He was not a terrible klutz, and could run pretty well, if something worth running from, such as a bee, was after him.

I’m eight pages in and Ethan Feld is my hero. Here’s to Wednesdays.

Chabon strikes again

My most very favourite makes-me-gooey author writes lyrical about lycra.

And a thank-you to Marissabidilla for the unwitting signpost. She likes Sondheim but don’t let that put you off.