2005-02-01

Update

I've just packed away the 1973 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the set I grew up with, which I inherited from my parents and which had been sitting on the shelves in my living room. I loved having it around, but it really needed to go ... to make room for the brand new 2004 edition of EB that I treated myself to for my birthday. The new encyclopedia is now in the living room, shelved above my Oxford English Dictionary, and the old one will be kept for ready reference in my study. Did I mention I'm a big fan of print media? Well, it's true. I grew up around books, and as wonderful as the internet is, I don't think it will ever take the place of books - or even print periodicals. Which is why I think the MSM's wilful obtuseness about blogging is so sad. The print media should adapt to the new realities created by the free flow of information on the internet - and that means chiefly adopting a higher standard of honesty, knowing that their words can and will be instantaneously vetted by thousands of readers. If the print media become obsolete, it will not be because they have to be obsolete, but because they choose to.

Real life continues apace. I'm pretty sure I got at least one problem wrong on last week's physics exam - thinking back, I realized I'd confused electric field with electric potential - but otherwise I think I did OK. I'll know for sure by this Thursday.

Where would we be without music and the arts? I managed to catch one of my favorite hard-rock bands, The Psychedelic Furs, in Portland a couple of weeks ago. They were phenomenal as always! Singer Richard Butler (no relation to the arms inspector or to the white supremacist) has this amazing, gravelly voice that will make you either swoon or run screaming from the room. The Furs appeared with the bands Pharrah Phosphate and The Shore, both of whom were very, very good.

One band I never got to see was a favorite of mine growing up, the progressive-rock group Starcastle. The sextet, based in the Champaign-Urbana area, produced two unforgettable albums in the late 1970's, "Starcastle" (with the epic single "Lady of the Lake") and "Fountains of Light". The group suffered from the endless comparisons to Yes (another great band, but a very different sound). Starcastle's music featured choral singing and multiple harmonies, as well as innovative bass lines and creative combinations of electronic and acoustic sounds. They went on to record "Citadel", which was very good but not quite on the level of their first two, and "Real to Reel", the album Starcastle fans don't like to talk about. After a long hiatus, the band began re-forming a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, bassist Gary Strater was diagnosed with cancer in October of 2003; the band continued to work together on a new album, but Gary Strater died of cancer in September 2004.

But there's still lots of great music in the world. A couple of weeks ago I caught this marvelous singer named Juliet Wyers. She's from here in Portland, and she's just incredible. Mystical, romantic acoustic music that might remind you of Kirtana but also sometimes evokes Joni Mitchell. Go check out her site ... and get her CD, it's awesome.

Well, I've got to get caught up on some housecleaning and homework. Will post again before too long.