Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This Surreal World

Have you noticed that the world is become increasingly more surreal? That conversational exchanges that used to be non sequiturs no longer are? For example:

"Can you tell me the time?"
"No, I don't have a phone on me."


"I need to open this bottle of beer."
"Here. Have a sheet of paper."

Didn't know that one? It's true. The good folks at CHOW have a video showing how you can open a bottle of beer with a sheet of paper. I tried it yesterday on a bottle of soda and it works! I felt ready for a bit part in Read Or Die.

You'll want to practice this one ahead of time, so you astonish your friends at your Hans Arp themed barbecue this summer.

And as long as we're discussing Sunday's performance of Brahms' Ein deutches Requiem . . .

Tom Purdom, who is not only a science fiction writer but a music critic as well, has posted his review of Sunday's concert at Broad Street Review. As expected, it's intelligent and appreciative. His fellow critic, Dan Corey, had a similar though more technical take on it. Critical of the theater's accoustics. Thought the Choral Arts Society was "a jewel of a group."

And Peter Dobrin, the Philadelphia Inquirer's critic? Didn't think much of the performance.

Obviously, I don't have the musical expertise to determine who's right. The audience loved it, if that matters. But I can't help thinking of how, years ago, I asked Tom why all his reviews of classical music were positive. "There are so many finely-trained classical musicians today," he said, "and so few opportunities for them to perform that only the very best get to play. So it would be surprising if a performance was anything less than excellent."

But then why, I asked, are so many of the mainstream press reviews so negative? "The competition for a reviewer position in a major newspaper is even worse than for a performer. So to keep their jobs, the reviewers have to display a highly-trained sensibility and an extraordinary set of standards. I, however, have the luxury of simply enjoying the music and then jotting down my thoughts about what made it pleasurable."

Oh, I said.


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