Friday, December 26, 2008

Hallelujah,Not Really

Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah has been stuck in my head for a week or so now. I first ran into it early this month while exploring Il Divo videos. At that time I tried to find out more about the song and the lyrics but my Google-fu was weak. As I recall I did not know who had written it at the time.

A week or so ago a video of Leonard Cohen himself singing it showed up on a blog I read. The staging and presentation is funky to say the least, Hollywood Squares is so 70's, but this time I was able to find out much more, including a wide variety of cover versions of the song.

First is the scene from "Shrek" by which most people have likely heard it. Rufus Wainwright does a good job on the song.

I've found 2 versions online of Leonard Cohen singing his own song. The second version uses different verses from the first. I find both of them too dark and monotonic for my taste.

Many people seem to like this Jeff Buckley version. Personally I find it too minimalist. This song is about powerful emotions and Jeff's version is IMNSHO just too thin.

Speaking of thin, or should I say flat, Bon Jovi's rendition is just that, painfully so. Want more pain? Check out Sheryl Crow's version. Sadly Bob Dylan's cover is equally painful. He should be able to do this song well, but doesn't. And then there is John Cale; my ears, please, get a voice before singing. I could not make it all the way through any one of these.

Moving up the ladder we have Allison Crowe's version. Well done with a good voice and decent piano work, but still a bit bland. Damien Rice does a decent job of it too.

I have no clue who these guys are, but their almost a-cappella version in the round works: Even "froggy's" verse. The androgynous K.D. Lang begins to do this song justice, I just wish he/she would sing it as either a guy or a gal.

One of the better renditions is this one by Alexandra Burke from the 2008 X-Factor. Some people apparently consider it overdone, but the power of the song actually works with a larger arrangement and performance. And speaking of power and performance we get all the way back to Il Divo's version; still the best I think even if I cannot understand the words.

So why this song? The music is simple and evocative. The lyrics, with 2 or 3 quirks, are well crafted and fit the music well; they actually sound like they mean something. In today's music world that stands out.

What it is not is religious or praise to God. Even though it uses Biblical imagery and is based on a word that means "praise God" it is not about God. If you actually ready the lyrics you will find the song has little to do with God. In reality the words are very cryptic and don't seem to mean much at all as a whole. Leonard Cohen himself is reported to have said that the song is about "All hallelujahs have meaning": What the heck does that really mean?

I've come to the conclusion that Hallelujah is really a mood piece attempting to convey or invoke powerful emotion. In some ways it is the pop music equivalent to classical Impressionist music. One could ask "Which emotion?" As I see it that is really up to the performer. The lyrics don't consistently point to one. The use of "hallelujah" and Biblical imagery in the early verses could point to praise or worship, but the rest of the verses do not support this. Most singers use love or lust, but even there the words are quite ambiguous. In the end this song is a celebration of powerful emotion, regardless the emotion. Intellectually that's not very satisfying, but it does make for a powerful song.

p.s. I'm still looking for further adaptations of this song. I'm curious how it would sound as punk, metal, or hard rock. Please tell if you've come across such renditions.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Northern News

We don't do Christmas, but this one is funny:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Is That All???

Here reportedly is the full text of the Blagojevich Report to the President Elect. Go ahead and read it, it won't take you long. It contains no bombshells, no startling revelations, no smoking guns, no real contradictions with most of what has been said before. Many are saying that it shows no wrong-doing on the part of Obama or his staff; case closed.

Not so fast.

What struck me is what this report does not contain. If one of my people brought me such a document my response would be "Nice summary. Where's the rest? Where is the analysis of what evidence that might exist? Where is the listing of materials requested, from whom, when and when they were received, or not? Where is the accounting of the evidence that was actually reviewed? Where is the analysis of the consistency of that evidence? Where are the transcripts of the emails and phone calls examined, the transcripts of the interviews conducted?" I would expect that an actual report on this incident should be dozens of pages long, with appendices of supporting material. This does not cut it.

Thus this report actually proves nothing. It asserts that no wrong-doing took place, but presents no actual evidence presented to support its assertions. It's a great press release. A report? Not even close. FAIL! Try again!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thanks Gov. P.

Took the morning off to get my license renewed. Silly me. Due to the expected 7-12 inches of snow this afternoon and the resulting end-of-the world-as-we-know-it our lovely governor gave everyone the whole day off, hence the RMV is closed. Snow is not supposed to start until after noon. What's the problem with working a half day? It's what I would have done had I known that Cadillac Patrick was going to be so "generous". Arrgghhhhh

Thursday, December 18, 2008

U.S. House of Lords

Is what our Senate seems to be becoming with the expected appointment of dilettante Caroline Kennedy to replace carpetbagger Hillary Clinton as NY senator. Here's a telling quote from this NY Times article:
Her uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, is struggling with terminal brain cancer, and his illness has forced members of his extended family to contemplate the possibility that the Senate could be left without a Kennedy for the first time in a half century.
Horror upon horrors, no member of the Kennedy family in the Senator. So what!! No family is in any way entitled to any seat in any part of our government. To imply such is completely antithetical to the fundamental principles this country was founded upon over 200 years ago.

Sad to say this is not the only harbinger of the political stratification of this country. One only needs to look at the hysterical antics of Pelosi and her minions in the House and the near-regal treatment of the current president-elect through and after the election to see some parallels to the British House of Commons and Monarchy. I do hope we don't end up with our own King George the III.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Ice Man Cometh

We survived the Great Ice Storm of 08. We lost power at 1:07am Friday morning; it returned at 3:15pm Sunday (62 hours). The phone was up the whole time. Cable/internet was down until sometime today (Monday).

Heating was a combination of wood-fired cook-stove and a generator. It got cool (57-59) overnight Friday and Saturday but we got it back up to mid 60's by mid-afternoon.

I got the generator running Friday afternoon, but it was not running smoothly until Saturday due to fuel contamination issues. First item on prep list for next time is to have more gas on hand. Second item on prep list is to finish installation of transfer switch so freezers, a fridge, and some lights can be easily run on the generator.

Not having the generator up and running well until Saturday put us behind in keeping the 3 freezers and 2 refrigerators cold enough. In the end we gave up on the fridges and put the cool items outside. We also gave up on 2 of 3 freezers and moved much of the frozen food outside too. Sunday morning we got the second freezer online. Contents of the third freezer was split between the 2 operating freezers, outside and a friend who got power back on Saturday. In the end we did not lose any food. Next time we need to stay ahead of this. Once a freezer starts warming up getting it back down to temp on a generator is tough. Need to consider replacing upright freezer with chest freezer; more space and better cold retention.

Most meals were cooked on the cook-stove although the menu was limited; I don't think we'll be seeing turkey soup for a while. Third item on prep list is to finish propane-fired grill for added cooking options.

We lost many large tree limbs and some trees. Much clean-up to do in coming weeks. Need to get gas-powered chain saw; the current electric one only goes so far.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sorry Virginia, There is no god (at least in partisan politics)

The Di-hypocrites have "fixed" it for Hillary:
Congress late Wednesday lowered the salary for the nation's top diplomat to keep Clinton's nomination from running afoul of the Constitution.
Worth noting is the record of the bill:
Title: A joint resolution ensuring that the compensation and other emoluments ...
12/10/2008 Passed/agreed to in Senate: Introduced in the Senate, read twice, considered, read the third time, and passed without amendment by Unanimous Consent.
12/10/2008 Passed/agreed to in House: On passage Passed without objection.
Paging Senator Byrd. Has anyone seen Senator Byrd?
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), the only one of them who remains in the Senate, said at the time that the Constitution was explicit and "we should not delude the American people into thinking a way can be found around the constitutional obstacle."

Monday, December 08, 2008

Color Me Aporetic

Obama: Don't stock up on guns
As gun sales shoot up around the country, President-elect Barack Obama said Sunday that gun-owning Americans do not need to rush out and stock up before he is sworn in next month.

Why not? We are helping to stimulate the economy. Is that not what you want, or is buying guns and ammo somehow contrary to your agenda?

"I believe in more common-sense gun safety laws,

And you've never seen a gun control law that you didn't like and support

and I believe in the second amendment,"

Which amendment is that? The one that allows for hunting and sporting rifles and shotguns? The one that allows for home defense? Or the one that allows for all lawful purposes?

Obama said at a news conference. "Lawful gun owners have nothing to fear. I said that throughout the campaign. I haven't indicated anything different during the transition. I think people can take me at my word."
Color me aporetic. Plainly state that you will not sign any additional gun-related laws unless they reduce the burden on lawful gun owners and maybe we'll consider what you say. Flat out promise to never reinstate an assault weapons ban or restrict private gun sales and we might even believe you. Then explain why you have changed your mind from your past actions and statements and we might even support you. Until then expect further economic stimulation and quit your whining about it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Year Later

I still miss my mother who passed away a year ago today. The good-bye process was a lengthy one as she had been in failing health for several years prior to her passing. Still, the grieving process takes time, and I will always miss her even though I know she is in a better place.

I came across 2 videos a week or so ago that moved me and I'd like to put them out as a tribute to my mother. I've already shared them with my brother, so I apologize bro' if this makes you cry at work (again), but I think others might find them touching too:

Thank you Mama:

Amazing Grace was one of her favorite hymns and I think she would have loved this rendition:

p.s. It's good my brother that I have a private cubicle from which I write this.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Why Women Hate To Ride With Men

Found via Two-Four from the Daily Telegraph:

Read the commentary with the Daily Telegraph article. It explains much.