Archive for October 31, 2010

Posey Poke

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

I take time off from watching the fourth game of the World Series to write about Buster Posey’s peg to second base to throw out Josh Hamilton, then head back to watch more, only to see him head into the dugout after hitting a home run over Hamilton’s head. He’s something.

Categories: Baseball

Simon on Sondheim

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Even if you’re not a fan of Stephen Sondheim (and I know some aren’t, but I don’t understand how that’s possible), you may enjoy today’s NYT review of his new book Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes. It’s the Sunday featured review, for which the editors called on Paul Simon. I read it, and write this, as I listen to the cast album from the Broadway revue Sondheim on Sondheim.

I just love the photo above of Sondheim at the piano in the mid-1930s, drawn from the book and reprinted in the NYT review. Speaking of which, here’s a review excerpt:

“Company,” one of my favorite Sondheim musicals, is often cited as another example of his cerebral, cold writing. The plot is a bitter examination of the “joy” of marriage and the existential loneliness of its unmarried protagonist, Bobby. Some have speculated that Bobby is an auto biographical stand-in for Sondheim, although he dismisses this as the trap of attributing the character of the art to the character of the artist. It’s harder to read autobiography into the words of a composer who writes for theater than it is for a pop music counterpart. A song from “the heart” of a character has to be truthful, but if it isn’t, it’s not the author’s lie — it’s the character’s. But if a pop singer or songwriter writes a love song, a song of regret or even a bit of inscrutable doggerel like “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” it’s autobiography. The lyricist in a musical is writing the art of the character. Both are pathways to a truth, but there is a profound difference in process.

To be fair to Sondheim’s critics, the heart/mind dilemma is a constant for many songwriters, myself included. If a writer composes a lyric with a complex thought or vivid image and fails to say it well, then the lines seem pretentious. If the songwriter goes for the heart and misses, then it’s sentimental. Sondheim is the farthest thing from a sentimental songwriter that I know, but his songs of the heart are shaded with rueful sorrow (“Send In the Clowns”) and translucent compassion.

Categories: Books, Music, Theater

Posey Peg

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

I should be watching the fourth World Series game rather than writing about it, but I just have to say — did you see that throw Buster Posey made to throw out Josh Hamilton attempting to steal second and end the 4th inning? It was perfect. Stunning.

Posey’s only 23, and he looks even younger. He’s had a sensational rookie year. I look forward to watching him for many years to come.

Categories: Baseball

Halloween Miscalculation

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

We seem to be a popular house on Halloween. Gail buys full-sized candy bars to hand out, and judging by the response of the trick-or-treaters, this makes us special. We were handing out a hundred or more a few years ago. But more recently, two and three years ago, we began to have leftovers.* So this year Gail bought less. We had about 70 available. Two little girls came around 5:40, then no one for a while, and then between 6:00 and 6:40 the candy mostly disappeared.

I took a moment at that point to count what was left — 13 bars. The doorbell rang again, I opened it, two swarms appeared in quick succession, and the 13 were gone.

We’ll buy more next year.

*Last year, we were away. Halloween is the day that we left Grenoble first thing in the morning, took three trains, and arrived in Venice around 7:30 at night. It was fun to take the vaporetto from Ferrovia (the train station) to our hotel, watching Halloween celebrants get on and off at each stop.

Categories: Holidays