Tony Vivaldi - Winter Baroque

   

 1/15

Click here to play music. Click here for score. Click here for slideshow synopsis.

Cinema

Analog Art, Music & Song

Weather Report

2002 Strange Interlude - Spring Baroque

12-14 February 2010 - Auberge du Mas de la Bar(o)que

The ski resort at the Mas (silent -s in the Occitan word for "farmhouse" or "homestead") de la Barque is located near lake Villefort on the eastern flank of Mount Lozère in the Cévennes national parc twenty-five miles across the border of Ardony. The lack of downhill skiing lends a happy, carefree atmosphere to the place, far from the stuffy rules of sport. The terrace of the inn opens onto the sledding slope, a tree-ringed, football-field-sized hillside pasture. On Sunday morning, smoking a cigarette in the snow before dawn, I heard the huskies howl like the wolves they once were. Most of them had blue eyes, but one of them, perhaps Yukon, had one brown eye, one blue. We admired them from a safe distance.

Literature & Theater

Earlier than the Italian, Dutch & Flemish painters branched out from timeless, conventional portraits and biblical & classical settings to localized, contemporary snapshots of landscapes & cityscapes (where we can imagine the people speaking in the vernacular instead of Latin, although Avercamp signed his work graffiti-style in the latter language) in which they take great interest in, and give much care to depicting, both the natural world & the everyday pursuits of commoners. While elements of this are found in humanist authors such as Boccaccio, Chaucer, Rabelais & Cervantes, a novel that feels like one of these rocambolesque social panoramas won't come along until Defoe's Moll Flanders (1722), Fielding's Tom Jones (1749) or Stern's Tristram Shandy (1759-67) at least in the English language, and the fallen abbot Prévost's Manon Lescaut (1731), Diderot's Jacques le Fataliste (1778-80) or Beaumarchais' trilogy (The Marriage of Figaro [1775], The Barber of Seville [1784], The Guilty Mother [1792]) in French, or da Ponte & Mozart's Nozze di Figaro (1786) in Italian. All of these works caused scandal (and political grief to their authors) at the time of their publication. In the seventeenth century (roughly the neo-classical period) the digital arts (poetry & music) fell behind the analog (or visual) in their willingness to deal with certain profane subject matter. Even the scatological scenes in the Canterbury Tales, Gargantua & Don Quixote seem almost absurdly abstract, like Candide & the Marquis de Sade.

Marc
                Chagall - David & Bathsheba (1956)

The story of King David (1 Samuel 16:1 to 1 Kings 2:11) is as unblinking a sexual & political tragedy as anyone could wish for, telling (such as no other text in Classical or Near-Eastern antiquity) the youth, rise (from shepherd & lyrist to marauding Oriental warlord to polygamous, skirt-chasing King of Israel), reign, fall (to the betrayals & abominations of his misbegotten brood) & death of a man, interweaving countless episodes in the lives of dozens of characters from all walks of life (from Abishag to Zadok), and the epic tale of a whole nation.

In 2 Samuel 13:8, as Prince Amnon ogles (in his sight) his half-sister Tamar, the reader is bid to look over the rapist's shoulder as he follows every gyration of her body. In his hubris the supine stalker, who cares nothing about the presence of witnesses (v9), toys with his prey, drawing out the awful suspense. In v10 the would-be lover desires sitophilia (eat of thine hand) as foreplay. On the brink of catastrophe both siblings slyly acknowledge their understanding of the dilemma by appealing to the bonds of kinship (a topic that thus far only the narrator [traditionally either of the prophets Gad or Nathan] has broached). He says: "You are my sister, so I may not marry you," (v11). She says: "You are my brother, so you may not violate me," (v12). Tamar plays her last card in v13 and proposes to her half-brother a kind of shotgun wedding before the fact, backed up by a recklessly empty threat (thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel). Amnon will in fact be dead at the hands of her brother Absalom, another prodigal son of David. Her strategy is quite shrewd, if ultimately unsuccessful, as the heir to the throne has already implied that such a union would not be legal. She will hopelessly beg him again (v16) post coitum triste, but still to no avail. In the pitiless world of King David & his Machiavellian offspring, strength of force trumps hearkening unto voices (v14 & v16).

Behold the subtlety of the character analysis in v15, and the precise verbal representation of psychological phenomena by means of a two-pronged polyptoton (hate... hatred... love... loved). First defiled, then despised, which Seneca the Younger phrased: "quos laeserunt et oderunt" (whom they hurt & scorn [De Ira, II.33]), what Freud recognized in Totem & Taboo as guilt-driven ambivalence. In v17 Amnon refuses his ravished, and ravishing (v1), half-sister the courtesy of even a common noun, not: "that woman, Miss Lewinsky," but simply a reiterated pronoun. (The translators switched fonts to offset words they intentionally interpolated.) The chronicler does not begrudge himself a cruel pun: the word translated as bolt (v17) & bolted (v18) is translated as inclosed & shut up in Song of Songs 4:12, a verse in which love (and not hatred) is consummated. That that love is celebrated in erotic imagery and sublimated as a fraternal bond deepens this darkest of verbal (or comic) ironies.* The English of this passage is more than twice as verbose as the tight-lipped Hebrew (333 words to only 149), although the latter language is somewhat more agglutinating of grammatical morphemes. An unvocalized character count, however, shows an only slightly smaller disparity (1,353 characters to only 684), but many vowels are not written in Semitic languages. On the other hand a syllable count shows that both texts represent almost exactly four hundred syllables. The English feels longer because the words are shorter by more than half (1.2 to 2.7 syllables per word.) A full-length feature film could be shot based on these 150 Hebrew words without the interpolation of dialogue or extrapolation of context from the historical saga in which this perfect tableau of violent incest occurs.

In such a brutally spare text, why does the author specify (v18) that the victim (sadly no longer a virgin) wears a paradoxical garment of divers colours? What a colorful & heartbreaking effet de réel, blackened by the ashes (v19) Tamar smears in her hair as she rips her dress in shame (v13) and sorrow (desolate, v20). The vestal vestment recalls the coat of [many] colours belonging to another innocent target of bloodthirsty male-elder-sibling rivalry & abuse. (Consistency would require that divers also appear in brackets.) The Hebrew phrase for Joseph's gift from his father Jacob is the same. (The word translated as colours [Strong's number 6446] is a little obscure, occurring fewer than a dozen times, of uncertain meaning, and qualifying no other textiles in the Bible.) Let there be no mistake, the man that wrote this text, and the poets that translated it, were self-aware artists of consummate skill, despite the latter's denial of the androgynous, if not homoerotic, imagery of the robe.* The former does not spare us the dramatic (or tragic) irony that King David himself, a ruthless politician of unparalleled cunning & skill, in blindly falling for the see-through ploy (v3) of his clever (very subtil) nephew Jonadab (v7), inadvertently sends his beloved daughter to her doom. In tragedy the law of unintended consequences operates with goodness & mercy for no one.

We meet David as a young boy, redheaded & beardless; we take leave of him on his deathbed, hair & beard gone white with woe (very wroth, v21), as he dictates to his bastard heir Solomon a last will & testament of unforgiving homicidal rage against the few of his enemies that he balefully leaves behind, foes & yet another rebel prince Adonijah whom Solomon's henchmen will swiftly murder as the transfer of power is consolidated with the connivance of the heartless, widowed Queen Mother Bathsheba.

* Since the date & authorship of biblical texts pose such unfathomable problems, it is hard to know who quotes whom.
Marc Chagall - Levi (1962)

How much do we learn of the Limousin scholar or Sancho Panza's breeches, except that they were beshitted? We know that Sade's Juliette is blond while Justine is brunette (which is analogous to the casting of Henry Fonda as the villain and Charles Bronson as the harmonica-playing hero in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West), but what color are their eyes? What is the hair & eye color of Romeo's Juliet? The bawdy in Shakespeare (not exclusively limited to low-born characters) never feels dirty, not even the crudest interludes. The Porter in Macbeth frightens us as much as he makes us laugh; the lewd bilingual puns in the light-hearted banter of Princess Catherine and her attendant Alice in Henry V charm more than they jar; the "small beer" of Prince Hal moves us to melancholy. Auerbach's Mimesis is wrong. Falstaff & Shylock are tragic figures. Coleridge claimed the three best plots in literature were Oedipus Rex, Ben Jonson's Alchemist & Tom Jones. All three turn on absurd coincidence. Tragedy occurs when fate plays an elaborate joke on the hero, and puts his end at the antipode of his goal, usually resulting in death & dishonor, but inspiring catharsis by means of pity & horror in Aristotle's Poetics. Oedipus stops at Eleusina to watch the mysteries, then turns his swollen feet south ten miles, and he becomes a poet & philosopher king in Athens, instead of taking a hundred-mile detour north by way of Delphi & Mount Parnassus to become an incestuous parricide in Thebes. Shakespeare was incapable of vulgarity (except maybe this unbearable scene from Titus Andronicus). The natural world, and all of its inhabitants, are sublime because they exist; they live in the bard's eye. Like Michelangelo, Rembrandt & Bach, Shakespeare transforms the world into a thing of beauty, a work of art. On this idealized isle of Caliban no one urinates or fornicates in public, but even if they do, they do so gracefully. Caliban himself is not bereft of dignity.

Cinema

Building upon the pentangular classification of Hegel's Esthetics, the cinema is often said to be the seventh art (after architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry & dance). Nonlinear multimedia hypertext may prove to be the eighth. Modern art may be vulgar. Dickens reveled in squalor. Micawber & Fagin also fall to tragic depths, as Roman Polanski (2005) shows, although his film (right) oddly bereaves the miser & thief of his archetypal Judaism. David Lean (1948) apparently had no such scruples (nor about portraying what appears [center at 2:00] to be white male slavery, which might be a little more squalid than what the Victorian author could handle, depending on point of view): "The film was banned in Israel for anti-semitism and in Egypt for portraying Fagin too sympathetically." If true (Wikipedia prudently requests a citation.), that would seem to be ample proof of evenhandedness. George Cukor (1935) shamelessly disemboweled Dickens' scathing indictment of capitalism in David Copperfield, but we can imagine it by reading the text below while listening to W.C. Fields (left, in what is not even the best scene of a transcendent interpretation [including a verse of Auld Lang Syne], among several stunning performances in this film), who apparently would not be bothered, despite a British father & specific contractual obligations, to put on a British accent.




I have now concluded. It merely remains for me to substantiate these accusations; and then, with my ill-starred family, to disappear from the landscape on which we appear to be an encumbrance. That is soon done. It may be reasonably inferred that our baby will first expire of inanition, as being the frailest member of our circle; and that our twins will follow next in order. So be it! For myself, my Canterbury Pilgrimage has done much; imprisonment on civil process, and want, will soon do more. I trust that the labour and hazard of an investigationof which the smallest results have been slowly pieced together, in the pressure of arduous avocations, under grinding penurious apprehensions, at rise of morn, at dewy eve, in the shadows of night, under the watchful eye of one whom it were superfluous to call Demon—combined with the struggle of parental Poverty to turn it, when completed, to the right account, may be as the sprinkling of a few drops of sweet water on my funeral pyre. I ask no more.

Analog Art, Music & Song

Pieter Bruegel, Winter Landscape with Skaters & Birdtrap (1565)
Pieter Bruegel, Winter
                  Landscape with Skaters & Birdtrap (1565)
Hendrick Avercamp, Winter Landscape with Iceskaters (c. 1608)
Hendrick Avercamp, Winter Landscape with
                  Iceskaters (c. 1608)

L’Inverno




Winter

I. Allegro non molto in Fa minore

Agghiacciato tremar tra nevi algenti
Al severo spirar d’orrido Vento,
Correr battendo i piedi ogni momento;
E pel soverchio gel batter i denti;

II. Largo in Mib maggiore

Passar’ al foco dì quieti e contenti
Mentre la pioggia fuor bagna ben cento.

III. Allegro in Fa minore

Camminar sopra ‘l ghiaccio, e a passo lento
Per timor di cader girsene intenti;
Gir forte, sdruccievole, cader a terra
Di nuovo ir sopra ‘l ghiaccio e correr forte
Sin che ‘l ghiaccio si rompe, e si disserra;
Sentir uscir dalle ferrate porte
Scirocco, Borea e tutti i Venti in guerra.
Quest’è ‘l Verno, ma tal che gioja apporte.

Antonio Vivaldi (1723)
Bruegel - Birdtrap Avercamp - Birdtrap Avercamp - Urinator
I. Allegro non molto in F minor

Chilled, we shiver in icy snow,
Through stiff gusts of rough wind.
We run, stomp our feet as we go,
Freezing. Cold teeth chatter.

II. Largo in E-flat major

Fireside days of cheerful bliss,
While rain pours down outside.

III. Allegro in F minor

Brave the chill with slow steps,
Lest you glide, slip and slide,
Falling down to the ground.
Brave the chill we do, fast we run,
Until the ice breaks in the chill.
Whistling behind the iron door,
Sirocco, Boreas, winds roar.
Winter brings us many a thrill.

Click here to play III. Allegro. Click here for score.
Avercamp -
                Fornicator Avercamp - Exhibitionist Avercamp -
                Signature

From: Murder

Date: 8 March 2010

Subject: Re: The Clouds Cry

I agree the slideshow warrants a longer view-per-slide. Based on my calculations, if you set it at 4400 milliseconds per slide, it should give you what you want. Because the piece is constructed on four-bar phrases, this setting may be a more accurate representation of what you're hearing.

Bars 1-4 -- 4400 milliseconds
5-8 -- 4400 milliseconds
9-12 -- 4200 milliseconds
13-16 -- 4200 milliseconds
17-20 -- 4400 milliseconds

Bar 21 (ensemble entrance) and on: average rate -- 4400 milliseconds

John

From: SAGReiss

Date: 3 March 2010

Subject: The Clouds Cry

Fuck, I hate making mistakes, but I'm so damned good at it. It's obviously the first FOUR measures that clock in at about five thousand milliseconds. Can we get a more accurate reading? It's not just my misguided interpretation of baroque music. It's also the nature (and not merely the quantity) of the pics. The quality is different from that of the other slideshows too. These were taken outside, in that beautiful winter light. The focus is inexplicably good. There are all those trees to linger upon. We need more than a second or two per pic. I dreamt of classical rhythms, fast fugues & the Blue Danube in 2001 as the stars waltz. Rose said that when it rains the clouds are crying.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 2 March 2010

Subject: Re: Vivaldi

I see the problem. No, there is no way to adjust in midstream, but that doesn't really matter. Even if I take the slowest rhythm (50), split it assuming you may have been counting quarter tones instead of half tones, I still only obtain an interval of 2.4 seconds, which is way too fast. Classical music just feels slower. We cannot apply the rules of pop to baroque. I've been experimenting on my own, using online stopwatches and my own unworthy wits, and have found that the rhythm of the first nine MEASURES works out to about five seconds each. That would be slow enough to accommodate both the small number of pics and my understanding of the song. That's why in desperation I set it to 5000 milliseconds last night, while you were still celebrating Molly's birthday, which I can understand. Is there any way for you to time the first nine measures, and come up with an average seconds per measure? That should be about right, even when the song slows down in the middle, and when it speeds up at the end, as Jack thrills Jill at the bottom of the hill.

From: Murder

Date: 2 March 2010

Subject: Vivaldi

The recording of the Vivaldi is proving problematic. In the opening measures, the violin solo averages out to between 54-56 (I would call it 54) bpm. But when the ensemble enters, the tempo is more like 48-50 (I would call it 50). Are you able to adjust the tempo within the slideshow, or is that not an option?

From: SAGReiss

Date: 28 February 2010

Subject: The Rhythm

My Scottish friend, whom I've heard speaking Italian with a Sicilian who lives in town, was kind enough to look at Vivaldi's poem, and confirmed that it is in fact "banal", and that the English I've written is something of an improvement, aside from the last verse, which he cruelly ridiculed with the rhyme of "Jack & Jill climbed up the hill." He also claims I am wrong about the conceit because of some weird phonetic data (gh- vs gi) that he's basing on an unauthoritive version in unreformed spelling. He's full of shit. Tony made the keyword the headstone of the poem. He iterates it four times. He breaks up the stanza structure to show it to us in v7. I will brook no contradiction on this important matter. [So what if gh- & gi- only alliterate for the eye in modern or even baroque Italian? Eye rhymes don't count?] Murder, I know that you have been very busy with your trip, the winter Olympic curling, Molly's birthday (and happy birthday to you too, Nichelle, although I know you are thinking of other things), thinking about Matilda, and maybe a little work for pay, but we still need to figure out how to set the dogsled slideshow to Vivaldi's Winter III allegro. I am happily working on other projects that do not require your immediate assistance, such as the local Judeo-Arabic musician for whom I'd like to write English lyrics, if he could ever give me a recording in some known support medium. You think this is easy? I listened to Mack the Knife more than a hundred times in a row in order to make that translation. The rhythm must be exactly right.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 24 February 2010

Subject: The Merriless Widow

While we're waiting for Murder, let's consider a few remarks on the program notes & the merriless widow. John rightly asks the question, to whom are the notes written? Where they are written (buried in the score) would seem to indicate that Tony was writing for the musicians, and so play your viola like a dog is more or less equivalent to play loud & staccato. On the other hand, if he had wanted to write to the audience, where else could he have done so? He had no CD jacket to decorate. I haven't made a comprehensive study, but the rhythm does seem fairly consistent with an interpretation of the program notes. For example, the running in both I.22 & III.51 is done to sixteenth notes. The winds in I.12, I.33 & III.120 are all carried by thirty-second notes, while the Sirocco is borne by eighth notes. Look, this is fucking ridiculous. I'm reading Wikipedia weather pages about Bora chiara & Bora scura. I know nothing of the wind, and I work in a factory where we build light aircraft. The wind has a lot to do with flight. It has nothing to do with playing the violin [unless you're a fiddler on the roof]. Let's end all discussion of the fucking stupid program notes. Tony was probably just playing some kind of baroque joke on future musicologists: "Let's watch these assholes fall over themselves trying to explain my cryptic remarks." Maybe they were just in fact variants of the verses of the poems (as they often appear to be [e.g. I.22-3, in which it looks like he's working on the meter]) that were left in the score by mistake. [next]

From: SAGReiss

Date: 22 February 2010

Subject: Speed Thrills

Yesterday, while listening to the Allegro to hear what problems might be foreseen, until Murder can answer us, I noticed something, but it didn't quite materialize in my brain until I was driving back from Marseille this morning. At 2:36 in Isaac's interpretation, after a slow passage, Tony could & very obviously did give us our musical Joy, represented by a sudden note that launches a furious quickening of the rhythm for the last fifty seconds of the piece. I'll now try to find out what that note is, and how the rhythm speeds up in the score. Well, I can't find the note that kicks it off, but an orgy of thirty-second notes breaks out in measure 120 (accompanying the words: "Scirocco, Borea e tutti i Venti in guerra," and accompanied by the words: "Il Vento Borea e tutti li Venti," since I've finally found the program notes (see below) and the notation: "Solo" for the concertmaster) that roars unabated until the end, measure 152.

Orrido Vento (I.12 concertmaster)
Correre, e Batter li Piedi per il freddo (I.22 violins)
Batter dè piedi per il freddo (I.23 organ & cello [Joy])
Venti (I.33 organ & cello [Joy], although everyone except the concertmaster seems to be playing the same thing)
Batter li denti (I.47 first violin, although the second violin seems to be playing the same thing)
La Pioggia (II.1 first & second violins)
Caminar piano, e con timore (III.25 concertmaster, although the first violin seems to be playing the same thing)
Cader à terra (III.48 violins)
Correr forte (III.51 concertmaster)
Giaccio (III.51 second violin, although the first violin seems to be playing the same thing)
Il Vento Sirocco (III.101 violins)
Il Vento Borea e tutti li Venti (III.120 concertmaster)

I've probably made some mistakes, and I'm sceptical that any of this means much, but our German friend is not only an idiotfuck, but he apparently wasn't even listening to the music he described. What I meant by "patrons at the bar" by the way, since I know you're all wondering, is that you can walk into any pub in Germany, hum a tune, and the scruffiest drunk in the place will immediately sing & carefully dissect any piece of classical music, from Gregorian chant to Luciano Berio, as our friend Peter has put it. I don't know if it's their education or just inbreeding, but those boys know & love music.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 21 February 2010

Subject: Son of a Dog in Winter

Oops, um that would be the Winter allegro (III) in F minor, of course.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 21 February 2010

Subject: Dogs in Winter

Well, John, since we don't share the prejudices of German violists, perhaps we can hear our dogs in winter. Is there any way to synchronize the dogsled slideshow to the Allegro non molto? I understand that (Peter's beloved Bolero aside. By the way, exactly how many of Bach's fugues are set to Bo Derek's having monkeysex?) classical music doesn't generally maintain the hypnotic drone of a beat, as in the rhythm of popular songs, but whatever you think is best. If there's more than one choice, please let me know, as I'll probably choose either the rhythm of the first measures, which have born the brunt of our comments, or else the slowest measures, as I selected only fifteen of ninety pictures, a pleasing ratio of exactly one to six since, as you know, I have always preferred fractions (which are more accurate in common expression & which I learned one year earlier in school) to percentages.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 2 February 2010

Subject: Pierre Erotique

La viole d'amour, quel mot qui fait rever & cauchemarder. Sorry, I got started in French because I was remembering Peter's words, which I won't bother to listen to again until I need his help. He's as deep in the baroque as we, and today he got all hot & bothered. This phrase of course brings to mind both love & (in French) the masculine homonym viol, which was the disputed word in C the G's trumped-up rape charges against her brother. Pierre's voice fairly lilts as he breaks off a litany of salacious puns that would have made John Donne blush (comparing the empathetic vibrations of the two sets of strings to the bodies of two lovers) and almost causing me to get into a car accident this morning at the roundabout of Joyeuse. Let's check the text. I'll try to translate his French humor into equally bawdy English. [Erudite reference to the "legendary" treatise on the violin by Leo Mozart]: "Le tremblement, la vibration d'une corde met en effet en vibration une autre corde qui reagit donc et qui elle, a son tour, influera sur le son de la corde frottée par l'archet, le son final étant le produit d'une interaction entre ces cordes, de la relation qu'elles entretiennent l'une pour l'autre." There are seven strings (feminine in French) in each group, so this is a mighty lesbian orgy he's describing, but let me translate: "The trembling, the vibration of one string sends into vibration another string that reacts and which will, in turn, influence the sound of the string rubbed by the bow, the final sound being the product of an interaction between the strings, of the relations they keep up one for the other." I guess the bow is the phallic element.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 28 January 2010

Subject: Remission of Duty

Our friend Peter is beginning to scare me. Today Stravinski, tomorrow Polanski. I was already a little shaken when (for once not late, even though this morning I proceeded on a major re-orgasmization of the page, deleting the correspondence with my brother-in-law [which seemed to serve no purpose and didn't fit in anywhere spatially] and taking out all of the jokes & remarks of a personal nature in the literature section, which I aired out into four paragraphs of no more than 350 words, lightened up with illustrations, and also separated from cinema) it was announced that tonight (28 January) begins the (Sacre du) Printemps du Baroque at the Louvre, ending on 1 March, some twenty days before the coming of spring, according to my calendar. Are these French people provoking my ire? Do they not understand what that means: "I will bury all of you, motherfuckers, under an avalanche of e-mail!" So whom does Pierre invite? The sound engineer from Roman (which is the alternate masculine name I chose for Rose before she was conceived) Polanski's next film (quoting Wikipedia): Hmm, "in the middle of winter" a (ghost)writer under siege by three branches of the (French) government seeks "clues" hidden in a mysterious "manuscript" for a project that is "doomed from the start"? That sounds like Cantillizer to me. I got pissed off yesterday and wrote a scathing diatribe to the Mayor of Les Vans (CC to Damien). If he were going to help me, he would have done so already, before the complaint had been dismissed. And I did hint to the gendarme that his time & work were being wasted by lazy anonymous bureaucrats in the capital of Ardony, and promise to wake him up again at eight o'clock on a Saturday morning in the near future with another charge of kidnapping, which is almost inevitable now that C the G will think herself immune. Bof, I've just checked my message. It's rude, but not completely out of line. The title is: "Remission of Duty" because I couldn't figure out how to say that in French.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 27 January 2010

Subject: Amnon & Tamar

I guess they specialize in shotgun wedding rings.

On 27 January 2010, Moshe Reiss wrote:

This Saturday is the New Year of Fruit Trees and my Mother's yarzeit - Tu Bi'Shvat

Isaac and I will go to her grave on Sunday

There is actually a Jewelry franchise in Israel named Tamar and Amnon. That is really hard to believe

Dad

On 27 January 2010, SAGReiss wrote:

I'm not through yet with Amnon & Tamar. I can't believe anyone names their kids that.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 27 January 2010

Subject: Bedlehem

Mother,

I'm sorry I haven't answered your questions. A weather forecast isn't available until ten days beforehand, and a reliable weather forecast (the prevision trihoraire) isn't available until forty-eight hours beforehand. It will be cold. It will probably snow: "Rough winds do shake the darling buds of Fat Tuesday." Please bring tights (to wear under pants), hooded sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves or mittens (Rose's are purple and Madame Slicha sewed them together on a black thread.), boots, & warm thoughts of an orange grove in Japho. I wake every morning between four & five, write until it's time to go to work (late) or if not until I slouch off our black swivel chair to Bedlehem. I write in my mind while driving to & from work (such as yesterday's message entitled A Grammatical Exception). I write in the shower (such as this as yet untitled message [I add the subject last.] and the new word [s/harsh/rough] of our poem). You wonder how I do this. It's because I have disciplined my mind, and I write with urgent necessity, so that even if I forget a word, the other words will tell me which of their fellows I've omitted. The only reason I leave home is to see Papi when I run out of cigarettes or bread (another rhyme with Bethlehem, so that's our title right there). We've received the new camera, but I haven't had time to open the box yet. I barely take time to piss. My criminal complaint against C the G was dismissed ("classée sans suite") on the grounds of "infraction insuffisamment caractérisée", which I think means that C the G regretfully hasn't fired shots at me from the window yet, but which at least means that an offence was in fact committed, which is better than nothing. I'll talk to the boys at work & then the gendarme Damien before I decide if I wish to pursue it. Two proceedings (civil & criminal, with many weird subclauses & lots of talk of courts, lawyers & marshals, all of whom like to get paid) are suggested in the signed document I received from an anonymous procurer. I don't think it's worth it. What this remission of duty on the part of justice perversely does (as the lack of action on the part of the Doctors' Order did) is to encourage C the G to recidivate, which she might do as early as this week-end (if she is aware of the decision) or next (both ours because of a happy happenstance of the calendar, the fifth week-end). In that case I'll just reiterate my complaint, until they do something about it, or something else happens, or I petition the judge. We shouldn't have a problem on Fat Tuesday, as we'll pick up Rose at school (if she's not mysteriously absent, & I will call to find out beforehand). Trying to kidnap our daughter in front of all of the children, parents, & teachers is something even C the G durst not do. I'm still trying to work out piano lessons but extra-curricular activities in France are very scholastic, which is convenient because it means the professors still get paid during school holidays & their frequent sick leaves, when no classes are given. I was right about Pierre's vengeful Pierre Boulez wrath by the way, as he kindly confirmed in Monday morning's radio broadcast (which is how I determine how late I am, by carefully comparing the starting time [8h50] of the ten-minute show to the geographical distance I am from work) on none other than Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in some new movie, admitting that his invited guest was only the second one ever on the Mot du Jour, the first being none other than Pete Boulez. Peter was defending his friend. I am seeing & hearing odd convergences everywhere, as I have just checked, and the film is called Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky based on a novel with eighty-eight chapters, but Rose's piano has only sixty-one.

does rose need cloths? YES, FOR SPRING & SUMMER: "Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May."

Bread pan is good. WOULD YOU TAKE COATED ONES? ok.

Single quilt cover PROBLEM WHAT ABOUT ANOTHER SINGLE QUILT MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE THEN COVER ok.

did you take the money for the caar? YES, 250euros LAST WEDNESDAY.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 26 January 2010

Subject: A Grammatical Exception

In the message entitled "Order Imposed", which I find otherwise fairly felicitous, I notice a consistent awkwardness in my use of the indefinite pronouns & corresponding adjectives. I can't even say yet what those forms are, or should be, since the (American) English language is itself so confused on this topic. I think my even deeper confusion reflects two cultural disjuncts. On the one hand, I can't stand to be told what to write by stern moralists of the PC variety. No one in France would ever put up with some asshole professor telling him to write Beijing instead of Pékin, which you can check by simply clicking on the Français link in that Wikipedia page. It should also be noted that no one in England has ever objected to the French spelling of London, which is Londres. No one in China gives a fuck either. They know how to spell & pronounce the name of their capital in their language. Only American professors care about this, despite the fact that American spelling & pronunciation of that foreign city's name is in absolutely no way moved closer to the Chinese language by this foolish, but universally respected (except by me), reform. It is a political, not a linguistic, question. Transliteration in general is not a linguistic question, unless you are talking about the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) whose acceptance is similar to that of most standards: everyone loves standards, which is why everyone makes his (or their) own. On the other hand, my English (& Rose's) is heavily influenced by French. I am so used to the French indefinite pronouns & adjectives (on, se/soi, son/sa/ses, sien[s]/sienne[s]), which are so beautifully concise & easy to use, that I get confused in English, where everyone else is already confused, going back & forth between third person singular (one, one, and the awful one's [or his], one's [or his]), second person (you, you, your, yours), first person plural (we, us, our, ours), and the often disagreeing third person plural (they, them, their, theirs, which no one can ever spell right anyway). I'm not even sure my paradigms are standard English, and according to whose standard? No one ever asks questions like this in French, where everything has the somewhat pedestrian merit of being clear. While "you" is by far the most idiomatic (& elegant) indefinite pronoun in the English language (which I clearly should have used in my exposition of Rose & my rules of checkers), I do not like its implication of the reader in third-person thoughts (which, let's admit, are usually those of the author him/herself), nor the implication of both the reader & the author in the case of the first person plural, which also works pretty well. I hate the disagreement between third person singular and plural. (Everyone must fasten their seat belt[s].) I don't know if this is a big problem for any of you, but then none of you is/are teaching English to his/her/your/their daughter.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 26 January 2010

Subject: Gesamtkunstwerk

First let me say that I have no fight to pick with Dick Wagner. I haven't even checked his Wikipedia page. Yes, he may have been caught up in the nationalism of his times, but so was Bob Burns. So are we, each to a greater or lesser degree, caught up in the internationalism of ours. He may have been racist, although I have no special reason to think so, but so is everyone else, as our friend Cor(r)in(n)e has so rightly observed. I did not, however, share his soaring ambition in this case, at least not at first: "combining music, literature, and inceste into a perverse and glorious Gesamtkunstwerk". At first I just wanted to post pics of Rose. At some point I noticed that the pics were on occasion esthetically pleasing. And I am blest to have a seemingly photogenic daughter. Then I got lucky on 28 April 2009. I had no idea there was anything special about the pics, nor even that refracted light could be photographed, until I saw the results onscreen. I had begun doing slideshows at work, so I just used what knowledge & software I had learned there, and brought it home. Then music crept in. Then one day I had that idea about timing the slideshows. Little by little, as we were talking about this, as the letters on Ecclesiastes coalesced into something of an epistolary short story, text invaded the images. I did not fully realize what we could do until towards the end of Bauzon Cross & Rose Dance. I began Winter Baroque with soaring ambitions. What was not luck, however, is that we have fifteen years of e-mail to draw on, texts, words, & shared memories to reference, make puns on, quote, misquote, contradict. When someone says: High E, e. e. Cum wings, Mimosa's sore tooth, note frum murtilda, @go Utopia, M. Velly, laurent's bullet wound, negatron's grandfather, they refer to our shared past, and we all know what is invoked. On 22 February 1996 I had soaring ambitions, if that's what you call the will to write a polyglot epistolary novel using my life as the source material in co-authorship with whoever happened to come along online. But I had had that ambition since I discovered e-mail two years earlier. I had the ambition of writing a polyglot epistolary novel using my life as the source material in co-authorship with whoever happened to come along since I was eighteen years old. It just took me a few years, the invention of the internet, & a lot of luck, to realize that goal.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 25 January 2010

Subject: The Lying Seamstress

Heh, heh. I think it was "Terrible" Tom Eliot, but that kind of quotation fairly begs to get around. Another good candidate would be Picasso, who was also rather adept at stealing money, women, fame, and words. I don't know about: "co-ordination between man and time". Time & distance are categories that man has invented, as he invented music & mathematics. I think Peter's theory regarding note>pitch>frequency>time is far more promising, if he would ever wake up and explain to us if this doesn't support my subsequent deduction that pitch IS rhythm (or at least a form of rhythm at very high speeds), since both are measured by events/units of time, whether that's sound waves per second or beats per measure or per minute. In my dreams the reply to Murder's message was entitled "The Lying Seamstress", but I can't really remember why. Our seamstress (Madame Slicha, after the name of her dog, and last week-end Rose recognized her gray rather nondescript car because of the shop logo, an ABC with some kind of icon I don't even remember) doesn't seem to be implied. The Lying Seamstress makes me think of The Thieving Magpie. I'm still alternating between bed & the swivel chair in the predawn hours, but it occurs to me that a steamy pic of C the G's feet illustrating the poem is right in keeping with our theme of hot/moneyshot & the orange grove in Japho. Finally up at six, let's return to Murder's idea of order. My ad on Meetic is: "L"art & la science ne sont que la tentative faite par l'homme d'imposer de l'ordre là où il semble regner le chaos." Non, I don't get a lot of mail on that site, nor (to the best of my knowledge) do men ever get unsolicited mail from white women. Why do you think they've got ladies' nights at bars? The building block of order (and of disorder [similarly to symmetry vs asymetry], which is not chaos) is repetition. I have already said that there's no such thing as a random number (to which my Ukrainian friend, who is a mathematician, replied: "Rubbish," because he is polite), since the fact that you have recognized something as a number tells me so much about both the nature & structure of the object and you (your knowledge of the rules of mathematics, for example) that nothing about this relationship can be considered random. On the contrary it is extremely organized & meaningful. If you think the difference between numbers & letters, for example, is self-evident, as our anonymous German friend might say, you do not have a three-year-old daughter. To make a really random number, you would have to include Hebrew numbers & letters (which share the same form), Roman letters, punctuation marks & Chinese characters. Then you might be able to obtain meaningless, random, uninterpretable chaos in text. Anyway a sequence is not yet order, contrary to what I said yesterday. In order for a sequence to become order, it needs repetition, recognizable patterns, which is why we perform distributional analysis in Cantillizer, in order to find the internal order.

From: Murder

Date: 24 January 2010

Subject: Igor

A quick Google search for "music is powerless to express anything" yields the following website:

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Igor_Stravinsky

Also interesting is the following quote, which I must have (mis)remembered at the beginning of my letter:

"The phenomenon of music is given to us with the sole purpose of establishing an order in things, including, and particularly, the co-ordination between man [sic] and time."

--Quoted in DeLone et. al. (Eds.) (1975). Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0130493465, Ch. 3. from Igor Stravinsky' Autobiography (1962). New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., p. 54.

Oh, well. I don't think Igor would mind. After all, according to him, "good composers don't borrow; they steal."

From: SAGReiss

Date: 24 January 2010

Subject: Order Imposed

I cannot stop laughing. Murder's answer is so funny, so brilliant, well, I can't really say since I don't understand a word of it, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt, which he has largely earned. Rose is interested in chess too, since her mother has a beautiful wooden board. I haven't been able to find one yet, so we play checkers on the isle of Caliban. I'm not such a stickler for the rules as Marie's father, so our rules basically state that one can place the checkers wherever he wants, and each unrestricted move results in the imprisonment of an opposing player's piece, and you say: "He's my prisoner," when removing the guilty party from the board. Each player may declare victory at whatever point in the game, for example if it suddenly becomes snack-, poo-, or nap-time. This makes things simpler & more meaningful for us. I'm not exactly sure how they work this out in tournaments played for money, but then I don't really know the rules of either chess or checkers. I never had the time to learn to play games. Nothing could make me happier than this sentence: "Chess, like music, has no purpose other than to impose order." One cannot express himself much more clearly than that. I'm not sure Joy would agree, and I'd be glad to hear her arguments... in fact no, I will anticipate her arguments and allow that there may be another way to think about this, but John & I think exactly the same way. There may be something else in music ("noises,/Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not" as Caliban quoth), but it might be secondary. "Gesamtkunstwerk"? Did you actually listen to Peter's program in order to hear his C(l)ous(t)eau-esque accent, or is that fairly silly word just something everyone feels obliged to say when talking about Dick Wagner? I'm glad you've mentioned "program music" (what an awful term), since everyone else insists that the Four Seasons are exactly that, which I guess they aren't, if in fact it exists. Next I get a little lost in your letter, but I think you're picking up on the fact that the feet are perhaps not the most prominent feature in the pic I posted this evening. (No winds, snow, rain, nor visits from the police for the moment.) On the other hand, I really like this phrase: "written-out ornamentation in the form of a turn," but of course I don't understand it. laurent said something about a "passing note" (and a "blue note") in his comments about "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", but I didn't understand it then either. No matter, someone else will. I still can't figure out the difference between a measure, a line, & a bar. One of them spans the width of the page, non? Wait a minute, I based my whole theory on the note C (the dominant), and now you're telling me it's just a passing note, some kind of cheap whore? OK, you're right. Let's not fight about the details. What indeed can we say about sequence (which is just another word for order), motive (which is just another word for something I don't understand), & tonality (which I guess has something to do with music)? As I've already been accused of incestuous child-molestation by my wife, I wasn't going to bring up the bit about orphaned teenage girls, but since that appears to be a subject of such interest to you...

From: Murder

Date: 24 January 2010

Subject: Son of The Guilty Mother

Australian Open tennis, the Wijk an Zee chess tournament, and a trip to Gr(e)y's Papaya have delayed my weigh-in on Vivaldi. Chess, like music, has no purpose other than to impose order, which is probably why it has played a crucial role in my life for as long as music has. As an average American child ignorant of geography and foreign-language pronunciation (my own guilty mother, June Cleaver, was too busy taking care of her six felines to bother with languages), reading about The Ring and Wagner's Mecca, I was confused and saddened every time news programs aired footage of war-torn Beirut. Still, the politics of Bayreuth in recent years have become nearly as contentious as anything seen in the Lebanese capital, as Richard's grandspawn fight for control of the world's snobbiest opera festival. What has this to do with Tony Vivaldi, who was not combining music, literature, and inceste into a perverse and glorious Gesamtkunstwerk, and for whom program-music (on which every undergraduate scum is forced to write a thesis) was not even a distant dream? If, as Stravinsky stated, music is powerless to express anything at all, then of course any attempt to extract "meaning" out of a poem's marriage to music is pointless. I confess I would never hear barking dogs (not C the G's feet, but "expressed", if I recall correctly, as some kind of rhythmic staccato figure in the violas) in the slow movement of Spring if he hadn't written it in the score. To whom was he speaking, the performers or the audience? Why did he need to give us this information? There are entire movements in Le quattro stagioni that don't contain such markings. Gabe's charts are not wrong. What you are describing is a written-out ornamentation in the form of a turn. The sustained F in the bass is the tonic note. The C and Ab in the solo part fill out the F-minor triad (the home key, in this case). The G (a passing tone) and the E-natural (lower neighbor to the F) embellish the notes of the F-minor triad. Bar 5 is a transition measure to bar 6, where the main notes are F, Bb, and Db, a first-inversion subdominant chord (with the C as a passing tone). The subdominant is merely the fourth tone of a diatonic scale, for those of you in the television audience. We could go through this piece bar by bar, analyzing (some would call it "bean counting") in this way, as I have done far too often for Professor Van Illabottom. But it might benefit all of us to take a larger view of the work, examining Tony's use of sequence, motive, and tonality. It might benefit the Venetian too, who wrote from his shorts, as any of us would if we were writing for an orphanage of teenage girls.

Murder

From: SAGReiss

Date: 24 January 2010

Subject: C the G's Feet

Well, I found a way to fill up that irksome horizontal space (NSFW).

From: SAGReiss

Date: 24 January 2010

Subject: Standards & Measures

Usually, my friends, I never touch an e-mail after it's been sent. I might correct it by sending a "Son of" version, and even then, as I did with laurent's portrait on the World, I bracket the changes. (This could be confusing, since I often use "Son of" or "Return of Son of" for new messages, where only the title is borrowed. Yesterday I did something else, slightly improving the title of a sent message, and greatly improving the message, of which only the quoted text remained the same. I could have subbed "Oktoberfesters" for "patrons at the bar", but I'm not sure that would have been better. I brood about these things, as you can see.) There is a reason for this. I feel that if I have sent a message to the most insightful readers (and writers) on Earth, then I must have deemed it worthy, so why would I change it for some undergraduate scum who might happen upon our humble website? But I've made another exception to that rule today, as I really hate vertical (as opposed to horizontal [in chunky paragraphs]) writing, particularly in hypertext (which has a very horizontal format, especially on laptops) & chat, but I have given up chat until I can chat with Rose, si Dieu & C the G le veulent. Anyway, after embellishing our Literature, Theater & Cinema paragraph, which is fast becoming the piece de resistance of the new page, that is until Murder writes of the music, and my mother & I can take pics & vids of Rose with the new audio-visual camera at the Mas de la Barque & on Fat Tuesday, I hazarded to plot the meter of my poem "Winter", and the results were not at all what I had thought, and said. There are currently (since I make slight modifications from time to time) 26 trochaic feet & only 24 iambic by my reckoning. I had guessed (since I foolishly didn't bother to count, which is always a mistake) that the meter was primarily iambic, as English verse should usually be. I was wrong, but I've simply subbed the new count for the old one in the letter entitled "Unbaroque Beer" (which reminds me of Nichelle's letter entitled "Czechoslovakian Beer") which counted only feet (not weighted syllables), and thus is now redundant.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 24 January 2010

Subject: Son of Ski, Sex & Sun

I finally got the bright idea of checking the German & Italian Wikipediae for dogs, drunks & other signs of life. The Italians didn't mention the program notes, but sent me to a site that has a somewhat more authoritive-looking text (different from theirs), so I'm subbing that. The Germans blindly copied the same two examples from the English, adding nothing of their own except these two interesting paragraphs (I'll translate as I go):

Das Sonett schließt: „So ist der Winter. Aber was bringt er für Freude!“ ­ Vivaldi sah offensichtlich keinen Weg oder keinen Bedarf, uns auch diese angedeuteten Freuden musikalisch näherzubringen. Dies könnte ein Indiz dafür sein, dass das Gedicht erst nach der Komposition entstand.

Now this is someone, of course, whom the word Freude reminds of a hundred screaming drunks (chorists, football fans, patrons at the bar) belting out: "Freude, schoener Goetterfunken/Tochter aus Elysium..." so this is how he interprets Tony's somewhat more restrained gioja: "It is self-evident that Vivaldi saw no way or felt no need to bring us near to the joy he hints at." The anonymous author suggests this as evidence that the poem may have been written after the music. Any attempt to connect music to meaning will inevitably result in this kind of mind-boggling gibberish, since there simply is no such connection, so each interpreter will just have to make one up based on his own personal prejudices, in this case for head-banging Freude over graceful gioja.

Es wird manchmal bezweifelt, dass es im Italien des 18. Jahrhunderts so kalt war, dass Vivaldi Schnee gekannt haben könnte. Tatsächlich war dies der Fall ­ in Mitteleuropa war es damals deutlich kälter als heute; dieses Phänomen ist unter dem Namen Kleine Eiszeit bekannt.

Our scholar goes on to give us of a weather report for Venice in the late seventeenth century, since of course Vivaldi could never have written such icy cold music in the sunshine, helpfully linking to the Little Ice Age page. Maybe Tony saw no way or felt no need to play in the fucking snow, so he wrote the poems & music while on holiday at an Orange grove in Japho. What a bunch of rot. No wonder he writes anonymously.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 23 January 2010

Subject: Of Dogs & Drunks

I'm getting sick of this shit. I choose a piece of music out of thin air (because of the title "Winter") only to find out there is indeed a poem strapped to it (of which of it's impossible to obtain an authoritative edition, either in pre- or post-spelling-reform Italian, which I can't read anyway (nor music by the way) but I can tell from the fluctuations of the spelling, punctuation, capitalization & diacritical marks in the different posted versions that no one seems to give a fuck what Vivaldi (or the anonymous author) actually wrote. I translate it anyway into something I think is beautiful English, and then I learn this:

In addition to these sonnets, Vivaldi provided instructions such as "The barking dog" (in the second movement of "Spring"), "Languor caused by the heat" (in the first movement of "Summer"), and "the drunkards have fallen asleep" (in the second movement of "Autumn").

But where are the program notes for the third movement of Winter? And you wonder why drunken dogs who cannot sleep bark? I think I'll blame Pierre for all of this, since he is almost certainly not reading, & doesn't know what keelhauling is anyway. He could have put the Four Seasons in his book, instead of Rameau. Talk about a fucking homer. I'm so sick of the French. Fortunately at work no one cares about our respective racial hatreds. They scream at me: "You fucking Americans make us shit with your God damned e-mail." When our site was hacked by Islamists propagating anti-Semitism, I said: "No problem. I'll take care of it. My wife sends me pics like this."

Catherine Uccellatore & Rose Reiss by
                  SAGReiss

From: laurent

Date: 21 January 2010

Subject: Re: Oh Yes I Did

thanks for warning us about these..those pictures looked great on my 30'' monitor at work!

L

From: SAGReiss

Date: 21 January 2010

Subject: Oh Yes I Did

Finally negatron can get his vicarious rocks off thinking about a woman with child, if Miss Limeblossom refuses to cooperate. Yes, I've posted the naked pic. I have nothing more to lose. Let's let the judges & lawyers figure out what is & isn't legal in BC. The date is somewhat arbitrary. I have no idea when that pic was taken, but 16 July is C the G's birthday. It was July or August. And I can confirm, John, that pregnant sex is good. We made love like beasts on Saturday 25 August, and Rose was born, as you know, on Monday morning the 27th. I think the conception was a little earlier, however. Let's see what weighs more in the scales of French justice, antisemitism or pornography, medical malpractice or erudition, paper law or a paperless tiger. I've got nothing better to do in the meantime, while waiting for Murder to weigh in on Vivaldi's Winter. I imagine great things, perhaps his memory of playing flute transpositions, perhaps detailed diagrams or scores, perhaps learned commentary, perhaps savage criticism of my own ignorant drawings, perhaps nothing I can understand. Whatever Murder says, I agree with, because we're friends, and he's a bad man. I wish Joy or Nichelle would add some words of wisdom, but the sybils only speak when they wish. I think I may have made the opposite mistake of Chouraqui. I may have translated an ugly poem into a beautiful one. The problem is that I still have no token Italian to tell me why some dumbass critic called the poem "clumsy". If you find the concetto: giaccio/gioia vulgar, then please don't read John (another one) Donne. He didn't find anything too vulgar to his taste in the most abstruse puns & conceits, and he wrote some erotic verse too. It's baroque, bro, but you can call it "metaphysical" if that makes you feel any better. While I wait for Murder, I'll brood on music & song, listening to Vivaldi, EdelRose, Here Comes the Sun, & La Vie en Rose.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 21 January 2010

Subject: Bayreuth/Beruit

Pierre's show was beautiful this morning, a little frivolous, but not without its moments of gravitas. It has also taught me that Peter is Sephardi (thus Ladino- or Arabic-speaking by rights). No Ashkenaz pronounces German with such an outrageous C(l)ous(t)eau-esque accent. He has also humored me with a terrible pun, since I guess he's guessed that I love horrible puns, e.g. Bayreuth/Beruit, which I have often thought of before. He also gives a joke of Woody Allen's that he prefers not to listen to too much Wagner, lest he suddenly feel an overwhelming urge to invade Poland. You can tell that me & Peter will get along famously, if by some accident we ever meet. He's probably safe, though. I can't think of anything that would lead me into the temptation of going to Paris. I guess if Rose wants to see EuroDisney. I think he's concentrating on Pete Boulez' interpretation of Percifal, but I can't really remember (OK, I'm lying. I've got the file on pause in splitscreen.), the first few notes of the song this morning put a tune in my head, completely unrelated so far as I know, which you all know, but somehow I can't place it, dun dun DUM, dun dun DUM, (then faster) dun dun DUM, dun dun DUM, dun dun DUM, (then slowly) dun dun DUM, with lyrics including the words: "all is..." What is that fucking song, Taps or something? Yes, that's fucking it. The lyric ain't bad, by the way (except for the verse: "Thanks & praise", which is overburdened in phonemes). I also like the use of ellipses in this version to suggest the wide open spaces in a meter of three-trochaic-syllable verses. Anyway, where was I? Yes, Peter broaches, very gingerly, the conviction of nearly all Jews that Wagner was some kind of monster (They don't play this shit in Israel, although they might very well do so in Beruit.), and I know that his show is about music (not politics), but music is just as political as all art or life. Antisemitism is so much more virulent in Europe than in America. And it is perfectly overt. No one here thinks it might be rude to say something like: "You are Jewish? Your father must be very rich." C the G's racism is inbred. She comes from fucking Belgium, and Heart of Darkness (not that she's read it) has told us all we need to know of their crimes in Africa, yet she still upholds the theory that blacks can't swim because their bones are too fucking dense. Where was I? Yes, we're going to hear Peter say something like he is not a melomaniac, if I understood rightly this morning, yes, he's just repeated it. What the fuck can he mean by that? The French word, by the way, which sounds like a disease, simply means a music lover. OK, we get it, Pete. The acoustics are good, but where are the rooms where the artists can go for a quick fuck during the intermezzo? 1h36 for Act I. I think Pierre is looking for revenge here against some friend or enemy who hates Boulez.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 20 January 2010

Subject: The Guilty Mother

Since I'm always asking for everyone else's help, Murder, if you ever happen to wish to write an opera called The Guilty Mother, I volunteer for the job of writing the libretto, which might end up being bilingual, but we all seem to be following Nichelle's lead & going poly. I've got a lot of hard-earned experience writing about guilty motherhood. In fact, I'm not sure I even need to read Beaumarchais' play in order to translate it. I'm still awaiting fallout from Monday's absolutely vicious answer to C the G's hand-written proposal for (a social worker's) mediation. Her message is so odd that I think I'll share it (and my remarks) with the World (I'll add accents & correct my spelling for the benefit of BabelFishermen. OK, I'll BabelFish it for you at the end, then I'll unaccent & uncorrect the French.):

Here is the full text of your note (but without the accents), as best as I can decipher it, for I am not in the habit of reading manuscripts, nor your handwriting, as we've always communicated in writing by e-mail, except when you decide to cut off communication by blocking my accounts:

"Your bellicose behavior is not benefiting Rose.

"I do not love you and I will never love you, but I'm ready to live [follow?] mediation for the well-being of Rose. Mrs. Françoise Guigon could help us."

1. As for the mode of transmission, I find it abhorrent that you asked Rose to give me the note while I was standing right in front of you and you could perfectly well have given it to me yourself. You deliberately seek to involve our daughter in our conflicts. I carefully avoid imposing this misfortune upon her.

2. I don't know what "bellicose" behavior you mean. Last Friday I asked you for the medical record and Rose's drug prescription. You refused. I didn't even insist.

3. You are in no position to declare unanimously what is "benefiting" to our daughter, given the conduct described above [a summary of recent medical misdeeds that I'll spare you], which seems to me already on the brink of child abuse.

4. Like you, I studied letters, so I recognize the rhetorical figure of nominalization that you affection. You put in the subject of the proposition a very dubious principle (the alleged bellicose behavior) in order to predicate upon it an even more dubious conclusion. It's a style well-suited to advertising, politicians and other manipulators of opinion. That way, if I negate the sentence, it turns itself against me: "But yes, my bellicose behavior IS benefiting Rose." The negation falls on the verb, not the subject. How clever.

5. I have no idea why you speak to me of love. This off-topic seems a bit odd to me.

6. As to your proposal of mediation, I am ready to accept under the following conditions:

6a. That we first await the outcome of the criminal complaint for non-representation of children that I had to file against you on 5 December, after which I reserve the right to petition the family court judge, rather than addressing myself to a social worker.

6b. That the mediator not be selected by you, or known to either of us, nor to Dr. Telseau, with whom I have already had a regrettable conflict.

6c. That the mediator agree first to define the conditions & scope of the mediation (and answer any questions I might have) by e-mail. All of the elements that I might submit to him were sent by e-mail, such as the hypertext links to anti-Semitic images & texts that you sent to me in three messages dated 28 September, and that of 30 September, where you called me "Gabi Ashkenazi". It was perhaps a term of endearment? It seems to me that the racial hatred you cultivate is not benefiting Rose.

6d. That, before any mediation, you start by respecting the decision already in effect for a period of time sufficient to show your good faith, i.e. no more non-representations and the systematic transfer of the health record (& prescriptions in case of Rose's illness).

I will not print this message at my workplace (I have no printer at home.) and you send it by snail mail, as I often have to do. If you're still blocking my accounts (which I cannot check), Dr. Telseau will surely forward it, as he seems to be in the habit of doing (see the same message of 30 September).

That last paragraph puts our friend Telseau in a bit of a bind. If he doesn't forward the message, then C the G can't answer, but if C the G does answer, it will prove that he does indeed write e-mail to some preferred patients, who may or may not put out for the cause, contrary to what he told the Doctors' Order. I sent a copy to our friend Damien, the Order of Doctors both of Ardony & France, and the Ministress of Health. If C the G asks me for an answer, I'll just tell her that I've already sent it. If she says she's blocked my accounts, I'll just say: "Too bad."

From: SAGReiss

Date: 19 January 2010

Subject: Savants Calculs

Heh, heh. On the way to work late, while listening to Peter pontificate on the passacaglia (a three-day extravaganza, featuring once again, of course, John Bach), the grim thought suddenly occurred to me that I might have spent three hours diagramming musical patterns in order to discover the identity of the dominant. It was a slow day at work, although I did solve one thorny problem, how to link to a specific text in a document without the benefit of a named anchor (by using a PDF file as the target & then linking to the integrated search engine, I think the syntax being #search"text" [#search="text"]), so I checked, and sure enough the dominant in F major [Oops! minor, editors.] is indeed C, which you all already knew. It might have been slightly more efficient, and less time-consuming, if I had just counted up to five.John has promised to enlighten us, however, as all I seem to be able to do is darken the skies, and fill up France's inboxes with invective. I think I'll post those crazy drawings as a witness to my own futility and that of my "savants calculs".

From: SAGReiss

Date: 19 January 2010

Subject: RGB & C

Attached: melody.jpg, melody_diff.jpg

Melody

While I understand that all of this might be mindless gibberish, I'll give it a whirl. I decided to follow Collinot's advice, and plot the three tunes we've got at the beginning of the third movement of Winter (see melody.jpg, measures 1-4 in red, measure 5 in green, measures 6-8 in blue). I couldn't figure out how to do it in Sexcel, so I built it by hand in a possibly unlicensed copy of M$Visio, then saved it as an image. My initial feeling was that C had to be the keynote, since I couldn't hear it in measure 5, carried over from measures 1-4. On the one hand a subliminal note has to have some meaning, and on the other hand Tony didn't borrow it from the first version of the theme for nothing. I then superimposed the three lines (see melody_diff.jpg), and turned Collinot's formula on its head. I disregarded notes 2-4, which are the same in all three from the point of view of the intervals. So in this case, what is NOT repeated? The last note in each string is a +1 halfstep (from E to F or from C to Dflat). What is different is again the penultimate note C in GB (a +2 interval where Red goes down one before stepping back up to the tonic, I think. To recapitulate, the C in Red incurs the biggest gap (an interval of +8). The initial C returns briefly in Green, which is only played once. However, GB return to C (climbing up two halfsteps) in note 5, where Red steps briefly down one. I have to go to work now. Does any of this make any fucking sense?

Melody Diff

From: SAGReiss

Date: 18 January 2010

Subject: Unbaroque Beer

Rose has neither bronchitis nor asthma, any more than I do. The antibiotics serve only to soothe C the G's psychosis. I don't know if I can get the forces of violence to stop this dangerous madness. I'm unlikely to have much luck with the Order of Doctors & Ministry of Health. As usual I'm firing scattershot at everyone in the French government whose e-mail address I can find. Never know where the shit might stick to the wall. I've found the intro to our song in the first line (bar?) on page 18 of the score I've posted. (I found it during Rose's afternoon nap on Saturday [which cost us a trip to the circus with her new friend Archie from Twickenham & Banne, whom we met at Don Camillo's pizza parlor {Actually his name is Pierre, like our friend Peter.} & who speaks beautiful, triphthonged English, far lovelier than his parents', & whose aged Irish father works for uk.ibm.com, so over lunch I asked him to build Cantillizer for us] but the French internet infrastructure is so weak that a week of freezing temperatures knocks everyone offline for days.) Under the words: "Caminar Sopra'l giaccio,/Violino Principale", repeat four times 16th notes: C - Aflat - G - F - Enatural - F, then 16th notes: C - Dflat - C - Bflat - C - Dflat, then I get a little lost in the score, but it looks (although it doesn't sound to me) like starting in measure six, repeat three times 16th notes: F - Dflat - C - Bflat - C - Dflat. I guess I'm just not hearing that initial C instead of F in measure 5, which seems to be carried over from the first four measures. Apparently then the real melody begins, but I really can't even try to understand that. All I can say is that measures 9 through 19 look to me like variations of this introductory theme. I'm just looking at the pattern of notes going up & down. It takes me too long to count: "Every Good Boy Deserves a Fuck," and I make a lot of mistakes. You are welcome to help. Thanks. I've translated the poem, even though no one would give me a reformed-spelling version. I don't really care about the source text anyway. I don't translate faithfully. (I'm faithful only in love. I have still never cheated on C the G.) I try to write good English. The rhyme is haphazard (snow/go, door/roar, chill/thrill [the only necessary homophony]), as is the meter (more or less alternating tetrameters & trimeters with neither spare nor syncopated slack), but mostly iambic with a few assorted trochees. Italian is of course trochaic by nature, and thus well-suited to settings of classical music, while iambic English suits syncopated rhythms. The Italian is hexameter, but English speaks more concisely:


Foot Count

Syllable Count *

Catherine Uccellatore A: tetrameter
A: - u / - u / u - / u - Syllable Structure
B: trimeter
B: u - / - u / - u
A: tetrameter
A: u - / - u / - u / u -
C: trimeter
C: - u / - u / - u
D: tetrameter
D: - u / - u / u - / u -
E: trimeter
E: u - / u - / u -
F: trimeter
F: - u / - u / - u
G: trimeter
G: - u / - u / u -
H: trimeter
H: - u / - u / u -
I: tetrameter
I: - u / - u / - u / u -
J: tetrameter
J: u - / u - / - u / u -
K: tetrameter
K: - u / u - / u - / u -
K: tetrameter
K: u - / u - / u - / u -
J: tetrameter
J: - u / - u / - u / u -
Catherine Uccellatore
Feet in the Heat *
where u is a slack syllable, - is a stressed syllable, & / is a foot break.
* Inserted subsequently (see above).
σ = syllable, O = onset, R = rhyme, N = nucleus, C = coda,
C = consonant (ch- / thr-), V = vowel (-i-), C = consonant (-ll) *

My poem is about as unbaroque as Marie's beer.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 16 January 2010

Subject: You pain in the ass we deeply

Due to underwhelming enthusiasm on your part, I'll begin. Remember what Monsieur Collinot said: "What interests us is what is repeated." We get lucky here, since our song seems to begin with an uncanny series of repetitions. I have no idea what they mean, but I can see them & hear them, four times four B-flat eighth notes (I think that's right.) then four times four A-flat eighth notes, then... no, I can't figure out these fucking scores. I can't tell the instruments apart. I'm not even sure which movement I'm in. [Obviously I got lost in the score and am describing, not Winter III Allegro, but I Allegro non molto.] Anyway, on the recording the intro is very repetitious. It sounds to me like something happens six times four, then a slight variation of that same thing happens six times four again, then six times two, six times two again, and then the real melody takes over. I'm not sure why any of this would be so, if indeed it is, but I'm sure you will help me find out. Pierre has unhappily (or even perversely) forgotten to include this movement (or any movement of the Four Seasons) in his book. C the G gave me the antibiotic & cough medicine, but refused to give me the prescription or the health book with a sick smile on her face. I wrote a mad-crazy letter to many representatives of three branches of the French government complaining bitterly that I can hardly give care to my daughter, if I don't know the dosages & schedule. I believe that no one gives a fuck. The doctor I saw in Les Vans (who has always been very nice to Rose & me) said: "Vous nous emmerdez profondement," but he said it with a charming smile on his face.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 14 January 2010

Subject: Motivating the Signifier

Once again, my friends, we can take this a step further, as we have already done before. Not only does the music have nothing to do with ice & cold, but even the words, written in a system of symbolic (digital) representation that in contrast to music DOES have a referent out there somewhere, the poem has precious little to do with the weather too. I could just as easily translate ghiaccio/gioia (chill/thrill) as hot/moneyshot, and I'd still have the same poem, even though the "meaning" would change. The meaning don't fucking matter because this is poetry. What that asshole who called it "clumsy" didn't fucking understand is that Vivaldi (or whoever it was) wasn't writing a treatise on meteorology. He was writing a fucking poem based on the homonymy [Oops! homophony, editors.] of two words, ghiaccio & gioia. That those two words happen to have a meaning of some kind is basically irrelevant.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 14 January 2010

Subject: The Snows of Yesterday

Our poem can be adequately translated into French by means of geler or givre/joie for ghiaccio/gioia, frieren/Freude in German, and chill/thrill in English with a little Emily Dickinson allusion. No word from Herzog/Uncle Vania yet. Listening to Isaac Perlman play our song, I affirm with no fear of contradiction that all of the overstuffed music critics & professors are wrong because I say so. There is nothing, NOTHING, in this music that in the slightest reflects the poem (verses 7-14) nor ice, cold, wind, or Frosty the fucking Snowman. (So is a largo in E-flat major supposed to be fiery, quiet & content, rainy by contrast?) You will make my argument for me. Any one of you would probably enjoy, indeed take perverse pleasure in, proving me wrong on this count. So, by process of elimination, if none of your insightful musical minds can find the missing link, it's because it ain't there. There isn't one to find. Ike makes my second argument for me, so this will be an easy morning before I drive to work in a trashed, black replacement vehicle and stuff the last of fifteen hundred envelopes with our ugly company calendar, not the Year of the Rose. He was born in Tel Aviv, next to the orange groves of biblical Japho (which Wikipedia also spells Jaffa & Joppa, and as my uncle Isaac likes to point out can also be spelled Jafa, Iafa & Iaffa, all at a cost of three Hebrew letters, plus two unwritten vowels). In Israel as a whole the temperature fluctuates annually between twenty & fifty degrees Celsius, unless you happen to be climbing Mount fucking Carmel (which Wikipedia helpfully informs me means "God's vinyard" in biblical Hebrew) in winter. Now Perlman caught polio when he was four years old, walked with crutches, & played the violin sitting down. How the fuck was he supposed to climb Mount Carmel & why? Yet I don't recall anyone ever telling him: "You can't play this tune, bro. Your interpretation isn't icy & cold enough, since you sadly lack childhood memories of a white Klezmer Christmas." No one said this of course because Isaac would have cracked him across the forehead with a crutch or very expensive violin, whatever he happened to have at hand. You see, one doesn't grow up crippled & stateless in an impoverished, war-torn land to win awards on the most competitive instrument in the orchestra (sorry, Murder) without breaking a few skulls. I don't think he takes a lot of shit.

Rose Reiss & Leah by SAGReiss

From: SAGReiss

Date: 13 January 2010

Subject: Gathering Storm

I'm gathering up material while I break down the poem, which is slow going since I can't read a word of Italian, nor even find a completely modernized spelling version to BabelFish: "Bro, why would you modernize the spelling by half?" It's standard ABBA ABBA CDC DCD trochaic hexameter, but Tony breaks the second stanza in half for the third movement, which was my first big clue, hinted at in the first word of the incipit. There must have been something in that second B verse that he needed, and that was all I needed to resolve the conceit of the poem: giaccio... giaccio... giaccio... gioia. Joy. I note in passing the very rich (even for Italian, in which all rhymes are feminine) AB assonance (-ent-) and the final rhyme of "porte" & "apporte", which is our cadence & tonic right there. One wag has called the sonnets "clumsy", which rains a little on our parade, but isn't that word just a synonym of "baroque"? It's hard for me to know exactly what he's referring to in the style, since I can neither pronounce nor understand the poem, and translations vary enormously, although I've found a decent one in prose that makes some attempt to follow the phrasing order of the source. I guess he means shit like: "Scirocco, Borea e tutti i Venti in guerra." I see the problem, but Sir Frank Drake wrote: "Scorning tempestuous Borea's stormy dare," in his own fucking epitaph. It's, um, baroque, dude. I was going to illustrate with Pete Bruegel's Winterscape, until I found an even better one by Henry Avercamp. The Dutch museum helpfully points out that the latter includes a mirror image of the bird trap in the former, and also shows a detail that it claims (somewhat dubiously, but I'll take their word for it) is a naked bum mooning us from a hole in a wall, but they give no indication where the men pissing are to be found, nor the couple fucking in the haystack: "Bro, can you just say like top left or bottom center? Could you post a fucking bitmap and give me the coordinates? You've got a computer, asshole, give me some useful information." Anyway, good luck finding the needler in the haystack.

Weather Report

4 January 2010

Nichelle: Off to work in the event-less (but 65 degree) downtown. Last night when I did that I met an interesting Irish man touring the southwest in an RV with his kids, and a family on their way to see, as the little girl told me, "The Pwincess and the Fwog." also: "I don't have my dwess wight now, but I'm still a pwincess. My bwother is a fwog."

SAGReiss: I understand the bits about the princess & the frog (even the Irish accents), but is 65 degrees Fahrenheit supposed to be hot (sensual) or cold (erotic)?

Nichelle: Actually the Irish family from Australia (I'd have loved to stow away on their RV- they've been more places this week than I have in four years) and the Pwincess' family were two different groups. Is sensual vs erotic some sort of French temperature measure I'm unaware of? It would be in keeping with their reputation...

5 January 2010

SAGReiss: Yes, sensual is sweaty monkeysex. Erotic is shivery monkeysex, on the Kelvin scale.

Nichelle: Good God, man. How do the French ever get anything done?

SAGReiss: Actually the French favor remorseless logic over ruthless efficiency. They might join the twenty-first century some day, but until then the school system is preparing Rose for a future in the twentieth century.

negatron: Good for the French. The 21st century has been pretty much shite so far.

6 January 2010

SAGReiss: John, it can't be all bad. There must be like some heavy metal madness or something, non? And RedTube. You can't tell me that RedTube is shite.

2002 Strange Interlude - Spring Baroque

From: SAGReiss

Date: 6 May 2002

Subject: Black Blanc Beur

Marseille, merdre. I've been waiting to say something like that since Apocalypse Now. Marie met me at the airport. It's good. There is sex in 2002. It's bizarre to be back in France. People speak French here. And they are civilized. This is not Israel. No one honks his horn. People say bonjour, s'il vous plait, and merci, bonne journee. I haven't met any skins yet, but I was interviewed on local television. Marie immediately turned her back when she saw the camera, husband oblige, so I laughed and answered the journalist's questions on the night the thief pummelled the fascist. We had stepped out to see the demonstration in the old port, a few hundred Trotskyist Arabs. This is another world, a world I can only now remember. We drink all the time. Ricard and sex, wine and sex, whisky and sex. It took me two days to get a decent erection. I was almost mad with pent-up lust and emotion. Marie hasn't much experience, but she makes up for it in enthusiasm. Her vagina clenches noticeably, even visibly, when she comes. Anyway she was sucking me off for the third time in twelve hours and my whole body began to convulse. A week of no masturbation and two days of tantric love withered away and I shot what must have been a huge load in her mouth. One thing Jean-Marie is right about. No one in France has any idea what the fuck he is doing with Euros. The waiters, the market vendors, everyone is confused. Everyone carries a calculator. No one knows how much anything costs. It is indeed an occupation currency. Marseille is a beautiful town. I had a bad image of the place. This is what Tel Aviv might be like if there were no Israelis. I don't think I can live in the great North anymore. I think I will live here with Marie, once she gets rid of her low-rent bf. For a while I can stay in her office, which is a converted residential flat. It would be easy for me to find work here.

From: Laurent

Date: 6 May 2002

Subject: Re: Black Blanc Beur

I was in NYC while you were in Marseille, catching up a nick cave show at the beacon theatre and getting a fix of big city and steak tartare. I wonder how restaurant people convince the FDA they can serve steak tartare in NYC, when they frown at you if you ask for your burger rare in GA. I guess e.choli-phobia is a regional thing, either that or they trust that if you ordered raw meat you won't sue them because it made you sick. But anyway, while you were trying to get it up on la canebiere i was strolling in the streets of the lower east side wondering where i could catch a radio or a TV that would have th eresults of the french elections. i ended up in a bakery in little italy and as i hoped some french yuppies showed up after 5 minutes, and they reassured me.

Now for the Philip K Dick part of my life. I went to NYC to see nick cave. I fly back home on sunday night, and on monday morning, as i watch the squirrels in my front yard, trying to convince myself i do not hate going to work, i see a dandy strolling on my sidewalk, and smiling at the windchime some retarded hippies left in my oak. he really looked like nick cave and i decided i needed more coffee before taking the bus, because seeing nick cave everywhere is not a good sign.

on the way back from the coffee shop, as i walk by ken's bookstore, he is there, looking in the window, waiting for the store to open. nick cave. and now i am really awake. i knock on the door to get ken to open his store. nick cave gets in. i ask ken if he has any philip k dick i have not read yet. i will have to give him a call to see if i dreamt of seeing nick cave or if he was really there. and what book did he buy?

L

From: Joy

Date: 7 May 2002

Subject: Re: Re: Black Blanc Beur

Well, Nick Cave was in town for a show, I do know that. I went to it last night. As far as meeting people, apparently someone gave him a free ride from wherever he was to his hotel. He promised to put them on the guest list. He forgot their name, so instead dedicated a song to them.

He was drunk at the show.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 8 May 2002

Subject: Pique-Nique Clandestin

"You fell asleep?" "Just a little nap." Cocktails had begun at eleven, alternating beer and Ricard all day long. By six we were ready to cook. At least this is what Etiennette Witz, the psychotic pension owner, thinks. She has been harassing us because we have eaten snacks in the room, bread, olives, almonds and such. This was the menu of our first actual forbidden fruit:

Tapenade aux anchois
Radis au beurre
Sardines a l'huile d'olive vierge extra
Saucisse sec
Parmesan
Cerises
Served with a Cotes du Rhone red and the most rustic loaf of bread in Marseille.

Between the radishes and sardines we stopped to make love. I think it was then that I asked Marie to marry me. I had to ask several times before she realized I was serious: "Mademoiselle Olero...", "Maitre Olero..." We made love again between the sausage and the cheese. We ate the cherries after midnight. I observed that this was one of the longest meals since the Last Supper. Marie began to blow me after dessert. It was then that I nodded off, victim of too much wine and love.

Marie - 2
                April 2004

From: SAGReiss

Date: 13 May 2002

Subject: Le Mariage Baroque

"Vous voulez rire. Allez faire de la monnaie, s'il vous plait." The words escaped without much thought as I returned from the toilettes to find the garcon setting on the table a saucer overburdened with five Euros in small change. As I spoke I picked up the offending saucer and set it down gently on his cocktail tray. His eyes darkened with rage, as it was clear that he was guilty and that I was in no mood to be fucked with. He was lost. The three African brothers at the next table cheered silently as Marie tried to hide her laughter. Perhaps it was the daily stress of being persecuted by Mademoiselle Philipines, the room attendant who orders us to leave the room when she feels like cleaning, and punishes us with sadistic reorganizations and lack of towels. Saturday was the soiree baroque at the eglise Saint Giniez, featuring Fred "The Dread" Haendel's Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, a beautiful piece of music accompanying some of the worst poetry ever written, and a midnight meal of foie gras and asparagus, duck and morilles, rognons de veau, red wine from Buzet-sur-Baise, and pistachio pie a la mode. This morning Marie, returning home after five days with me, discovered that the father of her children had uninstalled MSN Messenger. He is not quick on the draw. We opened a marriage dossier at the Mayor's office. It's a two- or three-week process including ruthless efficiency and a small penalty to reorganize my flight itinerary. I left Murder's tux in Tel Aviv, so I'll have to buy a new one. I ordered the King Solomon stone engagement ring to be delivered from Eilat.

Marie - 2
                April 2004

From: SAGReiss

Date: 14 May 2002

Subject: Es Christiano?

"Why do you want to change your departure date?" I thought about being rude, but it had already taken me half an hour to find the fucking El Al counter: "Your presence here is discrete." "That's what we're looking for." "June twenty-first is the fete de la musique, so I've made a rendez-vous to sing the Tikva in the Canebiere." He told me my ticket is fucked anyway, so it's just as well. We can improvise better without a deadline of any kind. Marie's mother, Sarah, speaks Spanish with her, as she is from Turkey and grew up speaking Ladino. Yesterday Marie told her she is getting married: "Es Christiano?" No, she said, he's an American Ashkenazi Jew from Poland living in Israel. I think it went over pretty well. Meanwhile the Christiano, the father of Marie's children, is beginning to make trouble. I think there's going to be a fight. We were so busy yesterday that we forgot to make love. And today we didn't have time. She has a rendez-vous with the Christiano at nineteen minutes past five to discuss the inconvenience of his continued presence in her home. I miss her. I love her. Tonight I'll have to go to a restaurant alone to eat the most nicoise salade in Marseille.

Marie - 2
                April 2004

From: SAGReiss

Date: 16 May 2002

Subject: The Sheets

Afterwards I told Marie that in similar circumstances she could tell me to shut up. When I saw stains on the sheets in the new room they had given us, I simply lost my mind. As she watched bewitched, amused, horrified and in love, I tore the sheets from the bed, and started for the door. We had taken a room in a new hotel to be rid of Miss Philipines and her torments. At first all went well. We made love as the Moroccans in the plaza banged their drums slowly in a frenzy of Bolerian stick music. We hadn't paid too much attention when we entered the room to find someone's sandles on the window sill. There was dried menstrual blood on the sheets. I would later offer to take a blood test to determine the source of the blood. (In fact we were both wearing bandages from the prenuptial blood tests.) There was some kind of nasty ooze on the carpet and on the bathroom floor. Our clothes and baggage were soiled. When we came the music stopped. We went downstairs to complain, and heard the first of many lame excuses. Apparently they had given us someone else's room. I didn't go completely mad, just told them that I had no intension of moving my stuff, and that they would have to do so while we went to the Australian pub in the plaza. I recognized the waiter, and immediately asked for a baroque Ricard. He remembered me and asked Marie if she wanted her Desperado also baroque. She said an unbaroque Desperado would be fine. I didn't argue too much with the help when we went to our new room, but the dirty sheets just drove me crazy. I gently set the sheets down on the counter and politely waited my turn. They were in no mood to negotiate with me. I had to resort to extreme measures, throwing the sheets on the floor to demonstrate their manifest inadequacy. I put my index finger through a hole and rhetorically asked: "C'est moi qui ai fait ca?" The lady, Madame Martin as I would later learn, ran around the counter to confront the offending sheets. She grabbed them at the same time as I, and we had a little tug-of-war. I decided it would be prudent to let her win this silly game. Then she denied that the original room had had shit on the carpet, so I tore off my jacket and offered to show her the stains on my shirt. Marie swept up my jacket which I had abandoned on the floor. Madame Martin refunded me the price of the room and suggested another hotel. When we did find a slightly more expensive room in a hotel with a better sense of humor, I said to Marie: "C'est pas cher finalement. On tire un coup a la Bolero marocaine, on fait le theatre du boulevard, et la punition n'est que de quinze Euros."

Marie - 2
                April 2004

From: SAGReiss

Date: 19 May 2002

Subject: Dehors

"Ma mere l'a mis dehors." I was standing in the hotel lobby and I can't understand the telephone anyway, so Marie had to repeat herself: "My mother threw him out." In an earlier conversation she had told me that her son has chicken pox. Shit happens. I spent the afternoon in one of the wildest bars I've ever been in. We sang, we drank to her health in abstentia, we spoke of love in French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Provencal. In the morning I had been to the synagogue to listen to the singing in Hebrew. I cannot possibly retell this day, or at least not now, not as tired as I am from thirty-six hours of non-stop drink and folly. Marie picked me up at the bar. He face was a little bruised, but nothing dangerous. Potiron had hit her enough to scare her, and to piss off her aunt, who wanted to call the police. The next morning he said to her mother: "Your [votre] daughter is a slut." Sarah showed him the door, and invited him to take it immediately. The aunt, who lives upstairs, had invited us to a cocktail party she was having that night. I served the drinks and hors-d'oeuvres. The guests were almost all flaming queens. The atmosphere was warm, and very sexual. I learned that "chupacabra", the nickname of the "comecabra", actually means goat-sucker, and not the goat-killer as I had thought. Marie's aunt just said afterwards that she didn't know the most outrageous of the queens. I slept in Marie's bed. We made love all night. Jonathan, her elder son, joined us in the morning. Things are very confused and confusing.

Marie - 2
                April 2004

From: Joy

Date: 20 May 2002

Subject: Re: Dehors

You had a threesome with a mother and son? Or am I just tired and projecting my taboo breaking curiousities?

I'm so tired I can no longer tell if I'm coherent.

Joyplantthing

From: SAGReiss

Date: 28 May 2002

Subject: Lord of the Ring, Part II

Motek

"Nanat." I was wandering around downtown Tel Aviv looking for a cybercafe to tide me over until my phone line is reconnected. I stopped in front of the bar in Allenby Street that was bombed a couple of months ago to admire the courage and determination with which they had rebuilt and reopened with ruthless efficiency. Nanat looked beautiful. We hugged. I invited her into the cafe. She said: "I would never enter here except with you." "Lightening never strikes twice, or hardly ever." She has been through a hard time, an abortion and still no job. Since I had bizarrely been paid 13,638 virgins by I know not whom, I offered to help, but she refused. I will ask again. I asked about Motek and told her about Minette, and that I had become engaged, I think: "She didn't return the ring, so I guess we're getting married. I hope so. I love her." The trip home was a nightmare. As I finally walked off the plane, a little drunk and totally exhausted, I saw the fire marshall. He said something to his daughter, so I told her: "Don't listen to him." "Je ne suis pas ton copain." "I am teaching her passive resistance." He was not amused, but then neither was I. When they had finally finished with me in Marseille, strip searched and forbidden to kiss Marie-Helene goodbye, they escorted me to a table where I could collect my things. I collapsed on the table. It had begun innocently enough: "I came to visit my fiancee." [...] "I made love." [...] "I ate and drank." The look on his face told me that I was in deep shit. He was in no mood for irony. They even interrogated Marie-Helene. I kept up a steady banter of jokes and insults to try to preserve my humanity, and possibly help them recover theirs. At one point I noticed among the mountain of my personal belongings the Chupacabra lollipop that Marie-Helene had offered me. I asked if I could eat it. The fire marshal examined it with the radar detector. Then he gave it to me. I wandered outside to where I could see Marie-Helene, and gently fellated my lollipop. She laughed at my silly antics. There wasn't much else we could do. The concierge charged me 100 virgins to use her phone. Moshe greeted me with manifest pleasure. I spend a lot of money in his shop: "Any trouble in Tikva?" "No belagan. Belagan yesterday in Petach Tikva," as if this were five thousand instead of five miles away. I'm glad to be home.

SAGReiss