Monday, October 02, 2023

RLBQ — Paris

More NRBQ inspired music from the Late Rich Lewis and his band:

Music and Memories://
Missed That Train:
The Man I Used to Be:
Midnight Mover:
Can I Change My Mind:
Ridin' in My Car:
The Music Goes ‘Round and ‘Round:

By Professor Batty

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Friday, September 29, 2023

Visual Overload

Midway, Minnesota State Fair, 2023

By Professor Batty

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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

I Am Curious (Yellow)

Dairy Building, Minnesota State Fair, 2023

By Professor Batty

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Monday, September 25, 2023


Minnesota State Fair, 2023

By Professor Batty

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Friday, September 22, 2023


A Novel

By Jhumpa Lahiri
Written in Italian, translated by the author
Alfred A. Knopf, 2021

Its been quite a while since I’ve “visited” with Jhumpa. Since then a lot has happened in our parallel literary pursuits: this is her her third novel (in English) while I have written four. To be fair: in that time she has written numerous short stories as well as essays, non-fiction and poetry, most of which in Italian, her language of choice since moving there in 2009. It is also fair to say that her multiple awards and short-lists elevate her output to a different echelon than Professor Batty’s worldwide readership of 12.

Whereabouts is billed as a novel and, while there is a vague story arc, it is really more a collection of short 250 to 600 word first-person impressions of a person’s experience of the world around them (that sounds like the a description of this blog!) These tales are bittersweet and sometimes melancholy but never sentimental. Lahiri’s writing is elegant and unfussy. A perfect book for a lazy afternoon.


Photograph by Venturelli

By Professor Batty

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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The Verities

The Passenger
A novel by Cormac McCarthy

Stella Maris
A novel by Cormac McCarthy

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2022

The late Cormac McCarthy was acknowledged by critics and fellow writers as a master of English prose. Critic Harold Bloom called Blood Meridian (1985) "… the greatest single book since Faulkner's As I Lay Dying." The Coen brothers’ adaptation of No Country For Old Men (2005) won four Academy Awards.

The Passenger and Stella Maris share characters: Alicia and Bobby Western, siblings whose parents were involved in The Manhattan Project during and after World War II. Bobby, the older brother who was a physics major before dropping out of college, is a salvage diver who becomes involved with a mysterious government agency after discovering that a sunken plane is missing its flight recorder, and one of its passengers. Alicia is a math genius who also leaves college and ends up in an institution, haunted by phantasms and consumed by love for her brother. The deeds of their deceased father, who was a confidant of Oppenhiemer and was implemental in creation of nuclear weapons, shadows both of them.

The Passenger’s plot shifts between Bobby’s misadventures and Stella’s hallucinations. The linear narrative is secondary to discussions about the great truths of life and death, with occasional moments of hilarity. The book peters out and at the end nothing is resolved as   Bobby ponders the verities of life and death in a run-down café in rural Mexico.

Stella Maris, on the other hand, is a series of dialogs between Alicia and her psychiatrist, conversations concerning math and physics, the unconscious and the ‘Archatron’. This is heady stuff but made palatable by McCarthy’s straightforward prose.

Reader beware: McCarthy eschews ordinary punctuation, including quotation marks. I had to pay extra attention, sometimes re-reading sections to figure who was speaking. Apostrophes are also often ignored, the contraction for ‘can not’ becomes ‘cant’, not to be confused with ‘cant’  (hypocritical and sanctimonious talk) a word which he also uses! You might want to read these with a cup of coffee, rather than a glass of wine. These novels aren’t as violent as some of his others, but they remain disturbing.

Qualified recommendation.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, September 18, 2023


An Album by JFDR

At the age of 29, Jófríður Ákadóttir is a seasoned veteran of the icelandic musical scene. With 11 full-length albums and scores of collaborations (as well as scores for films and TV) her output has always been  introspective and this, her latest release, does nothing to change that. The songs are tinged with melancholy, perhaps just a reflection of current musical trends. My knowledge of contemporary music isn’t deep enough to make an informed opinion about her originality.

The songs were mostly completed during the Covid lockdown when she was confined to Austrailia, about as far from Iceland as you can get. That she was able to be productive during those trying days, far from home, is a testament to her strong work ethic. Whether she is, in reality, as sad as the songs seem to suggest isn’t true: when I saw her perform twice at last year’s Airwaves music festival she was in high spirits. All my idle speculation aside, her lyrics remain definitely on the ‘downer’ side of the emotional spectrum. An example:
Air Unfolding

I don’t know what to do
Unspoken fears beholding
Lying in bed with you
Feeling the air unfolding
Are you afraid of us?
Are you afraid I’m not thinking?
Are you afraid I’m strong?
Are you afraid I’m not loving?

Tied all my strings to you
Lovingly was my gesture
Still I am next to you
Embroidered in every texture
Tell me it’s true
Why can’t you believe the best in me, honey?
Tell me you do see me as the one you truly choose
You do

It’s your reason
It’s that feeling too
That you’ve got nothing to lose
That’s my heartache
That’s my love for you
I’ve got something to prove
The music supporting JFDR’s lyrics is uniformly excellent, her compositions are more sophisticated now and the arrangements of these ‘art songs’ are beautifully executed by a variety of musicians. It will be interesting to see where her head is at when I see her again in November. If we’re lucky she may even be gracing the National Theatre’s big stage!

Here’s a clip of JFDR performing one of her songs from Museum at last year’s Airwaves where she was a headliner at Gamla Bíó:

Photo: Art Bicnick, Reykjavik Grapevine

By Professor Batty

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