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January 7, 2013

"La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura" — Miranda Cuckson on violin (Christopher Burns on computer)


Excerpts from Zachary Woolfe's story in today's New York Times follow.

The violinist Miranda Cuckson's outstanding recording of "La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura," by the Italian avant-gardist Luigi Nono, was scheduled for release in the fall. But Hurricane Sandy had other ideas.

One of the final products of Nono's ceaselessly experimental career, "La Lontananza" veers from ethereal near-silence to jagged eruptions. It puts Ms. Cuckson in a series of anxious, eerie confrontations with previously taped material that is manipulated by the composer Christopher Burns, who responds to the violinist in real time by highlighting certain tracks and suppressing others.

The tapes feature snippets of improvisation by the violinist Gidon Kremer, who gave the work’s premiere in 1988, and a range of noises from the recording studio, including murmurs of conversation and a haunting burst of laughter.

Adding another level of complexity, Nono intended the violinist, who seems to represent a wandering figure in the abstract drama of the piece, to travel to different locations around the performance space for each of the six sections. Mr. Burns produced the album with the composer and sound designer Richard Warp, and using five-channel surround-sound technology they were able to create, for the first time, a recorded analogue of this spatial element. (The two-disc release features one version in surround sound and one in normal stereo.)

The production is remarkable in another important respect. Nono's indications of dynamics — the loudness and softness of the music — are extreme; his score calls for levels of quiet as intense as "ppppppppp," nine degrees of softness. On recordings, dynamics often disappoint. A degree of compression is part of the process, bringing loud and soft closer together and creating a generally blander experience.

But as an audience member remarked on Friday, the dynamics on the powerful, strikingly raw new recording may be even more vivid than their live counterparts. Ms. Cuckson and Mr. Burns performed two sections of the work live, then listened along with the audience to two other sections from the recording, and both felt differently essential.

The live performance [top] benefited from Ms. Cuckson's vulnerable yet vibrant physical presence, including some faint, melancholy vocalizations as she played, a part of Nono's score apparently overlooked or ignored by previous interpreters. When the album played, the colors were even brighter: crackling and hyper-real. You have to hope that Ms. Cuckson and Mr. Burns will continue to perform "La Lontananza," but in the meantime their thoughtful, thrilling recording does the work full justice.

Buy the CDs directly from Miranda Cuckson here (how cool is that?).


You can purchase downloads here.

January 7, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joeeze/Blast From the Past — Episode 3: Long Reach Lotion Applicator


First featured here March 11, 2005 (above) — nearly 8 years ago! — this item clearly remains essential for happiness: witness the fact that it's stayed among my top 5 most viewed pages of all time (below)

Screen Shot 2013-01-07 at 10.35.23 AM

since it first appeared back when you were in kindergarten.

You're STILL in kindergarten?

You aren't alone.

But I digress.

I reprised the device on March 5, 2011 (below).


The great thing about this puppy is that when it first appeared on the scene, all bleeding-edge and shiny and new, it cost $9.99 — but now it's dropped to a very affordable $3.99.

Why, at that price, you could buy one for yourself and one for someone you know wishes they could rub lotion on their own back but gave up trying decades ago.

How great is that?



January 7, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

"How To Dial a Rotary Telephone"

[via Paul Ford's ftrain.com]

January 7, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Reminder Rings


Forget the knotted string on your finger or wristbands.

Screen Shot 2013-01-06 at 3.38.06 PM

Take it to the next level.


Because you can.

Stretchable silicon.

Set includes:






Set: $19 CAD (Jewelry — Page 3).

January 7, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Superman comes to life in 1945 — seven years after he was invented by Joe Shuster


Long story short from Dave Itzkoff's January 2 New York Times article: "Years before Superman could be easily spotted in the sky among the birds and planes — or in motion pictures, or on billboards or lunchboxes or the many other pop-cultural artifacts he now occupies — his co-creator Joe Shuster met him in person on the street."

"In 1945, some seven years after he had been regularly illustrating Superman adventures written by his partner, Jerry Siegel, Shuster encountered a young man who looked exactly like the Superman character as he imagined him. He asked the man, named Stanley Weiss, if he could draw him, resulting in some sketches [top] that have gone largely unseen for nearly 70 years, as well as some insights into the origins of this long-lived American champion."

January 7, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack



I were a woman I'd wear this necklace every single day of my life.

But I'm not so I'm reduced to featuring it every couple years.


Because I can.

From the website:


A guaranteed conversation starter — or stopper.

Tell the world if you're open to talk.

If your mood changes, just flip the sign over — it says "Sorry — We're Closed".

Enamel-filled stainless steel.


$59 CAD (Jewelry — Page 3).

January 7, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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