the long weekend

Charles Stross’s The Fuller Memorandum came my way a little before the official release date.

It’s good, as are all the Laundry books, but has too much back story for my taste. Some points just left me confused.

It really helps to have read some of the earlier Laundry books, so my advice is as follows – fans of Stross or the series should read this now, more or less; everyone else start with The Jennifer Morgue or The Atrocity Archives.

(The Laundry series is about a super secret British agency that treats magic as pure mathematics in order to protect mankind from extra-dimensional horrors. At its best, the series is simultaneously funny and terrifying – think James Bond with spells and Alan Turing references. Oh, and Stross can write, unlike many authors in the magic/extra dimensional horror/Alan Turing genre.)

***

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip is, through the first six episodes, as good as everyone said it was back in 2006.

Usually when I watch tv or read a novel or look at something involving words I’m admiring or critical but I feel the work is within reach, unlike – say – a piece of music or a painting. Not this: as in The West Wing Sorkin dazzles with his pacing.

I have a sneaking suspicion the words are maybe not as brilliant as they appear to be, the illusion of brilliance being caused by everything always being in motion. Regardless, it’s a neat trick, one I would have no idea how to pull off.

(Studio 60 was the behind the scenes story of a thinly disguised Saturday Night Live. Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford play a writer/producer team brought back to save the show.)

***

The Stone Roses. Since I was absent from rock and pop music after the early 80s, I missed this album.

It’s described variously as post punk/psychedelic/rave and I suppose it is, but what it reminds me of most is folk rock from about 1965 or ’66, though denser. In a better universe, this band’s “Waterfall” and REM’s “Fall On Me” are duking it out on the a.m. radio in 1966, while the bands play a double bill on the Sunset Strip.

***

Catch A Fire, Bob Marley & The Wailers, the deluxe edition. My music of choice while sitting the desk (running the tv newsroom’s assignment desk while my assignment editor took vacation) this past week; I usually can’t write to music, but I can to reggae, and I think it’s nothing more than the default ‘gently upbeat’ quality the music has.

(Serious reggae folks: I know that last line contains a multitude of distortions, dissembling and outright wrongs about the music, including the implicit equating of Bob Marley with all of reggae. Sorry. I’m using shorthand here.)

Anyway, the deluxe version includes the ‘original’ version of the album, which I prefer, and in particular the soulful “High Tide or Low Tide,” a favorite.

I started listening to Marley in high school, about the time Natty Dread was released, but the music did not move me until the last few years. As with so many other things in life, when it comes to reggae, I’m a slow learner.

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