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December 11, 2023

Olivia Rodrigo: Tiny Desk Concert

YouTube description:

The last time Olivia Rodrigo performed a Tiny Desk concert, it was two years ago, in a deserted DMV office, back when pandemic precautions meant artists sadly couldn't play the real Desk.

This year the singer-songwriter returned, bringing a handful of songs from her wildly fun sophomore album to the NPR Music office.

"It's much cooler to be here," Rodrigo says. "I was saying earlier, I've never been starstruck by a room before."

Many of the songs on GUTS, which earned a special recommendation on NPR Music's Best Albums of 2023 list, blow out Rodrigo's sound into colorful, grungy pop-rock fit for a stadium, like "love is embarrassing," performed here with Rodrigo on jangly acoustic guitar.

But the artist builds her set out with GUTS cuts that fit the intimate setup, like the searing "vampire," her backup vocalists cooing eerily around each of her lines, or the potent ode to female jealousy, "lacy," which Rodrigo explains started out as a poetry exercise in a college class.

By the end of her set, she's completely alone at the piano for the sobering "making the bed," and it's not difficult to see why she's one of pop's most promising rising performers.

December 11, 2023 at 04:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

When Dickens met Dostoyevsky

From Michiko Kakutani's review of two new Dickens biographies in the October 25, 2011 New York Times:

In a remarkable account of a meeting he had with Charles Dickens in 1862, Dostoyevsky recalled that the British novelist told him: "All the good simple people in his novels, Little Nell, even the holy simpletons like Barnaby Rudge, are what he wanted to have been, and his villains were what he was (or rather, what he found in himself), his cruelty, his attacks of causeless enmity toward those who were helpless and looked to him for comfort, his shrinking from those whom he ought to love, being used up in what he wrote. There were two people in him, he told me: one who feels as he ought to feel and one who feels the opposite. From the one who feels the opposite I make my evil characters, from the one who feels as a man ought to feel I try to live my life. 'Only two people?' I asked."

Dickens's fiction is filled with doubles and alternative outcomes: "Great Expectations" has two endings, one happy, one sad, while Scrooge is both given a glimpse of his lonely, miserable future and a chance to avoid this destiny by changing his miserly ways.

A clerk named Nemo in "Bleak House"... lives in a room "nearly black with soot, and grease, and dirt," eking out a meager existence copying legal documents — perhaps as Dickens would have done had he stayed in the legal profession he worked in as a teenager. David Copperfield, of course, is an alter ego — his initials are even those of the author's in reverse; and Dickens originally planned... to call the physical doubles in "A Tale of Two Cities" Charles Darney and Dick Carton.

So often, in Dickens novels, a simple twist of fate, a single impulsive choice can change the entire direction of the narrative... "Pause you," Pip says in "Great Expectations," "and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day."

December 11, 2023 at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Old ways are the best ways

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Wonderful Bodum double-wall glass mugs (above) are beautiful and functional BUT when they hit a tile floor they shatter into a zillion sharp-edged pieces which scatter over a very large area.

Drop yesterday was strike 2: next one ends their use here, with reversion to Snow Peak double-wall titanium mugs (below)

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which function just as well to keep coffee hot but also are indestructible.

December 11, 2023 at 08:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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