Musings @musicandmeaning.com

Tell me, how do I feel? Tell me now, how do I feel?
"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Archive for the 'Books, literature' category


Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Answer July

In honor of the season, here’s a poem by Emily Dickinson:

The poem is still under copyright (it was written circa 1862 but not published until 1935), so the above is an embedded page from the book The Poems of Emily Dickinson from Hayes Barton Press (direct link to page in case you can’t see it).

I certainly didn’t plan to take a sabbatical year from writing here, but I guess it just turned out that way. Hope you’re well. I promise that it won’t be another year before my next post. :)

Posted at 12:38 am | Filed under Books, literature | 2 replies »

Saturday, 31 March 2007

DP, LV and CC*

It’s hard to believe April is almost here. It’s been a busy three months. Aside from spending most of my time on the usual websites+work formula, I’ve been volunteering at Distributed Proofreaders. DP corrects errors and typesets and formats texts for the free electronic library Project Gutenberg.

DP was on my To Do list since the holidays; I signed up and, just as I figured, I really enjoy helping out there. It’s a great project for people with compulsive copyediting habits, and some of the works (I can’t say all) are quite interesting and worthwhile (or at least amusing) to read and an honor to proof. I’ve had a chance to read some poetry, some W. Somerset Maugham and some of the Aeneid, among many other examples.

Although OCR seems to have come a long way since I first used OmniPage ten years ago, it still has the usual trouble distinguishing 1 from l (that’s the number one and the lowercase letter L) and 0 and O (zero and uppercase letter O). I wish I’d had DP’s custom font back then — it’s very useful in deciphering similar characters. I also learned a fantastic term for a bad OCR result: it’s called a “scanno.” It sounds so much more fun than “typo.”

The DP website is very comprehensive and it takes a little bit of time to become familiar with the navigation, but after a few days it’s not that bad. The community is extremely active and from the looks of it, very friendly and forgiving towards DP newbies. I haven’t had to ask any questions in the forums, though, because the online help resources have answered them all. It is quite refreshing to see such excellent documentation (a very good sign) on a project website, let alone a volunteer-driven project website. I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this, but DP’s proofing summary sheet [PDF] is truly a work of art and utility that covers most major DP issues, and should be a model for style references.

Since I’m still pretty much a newbie, I’m currently restricted to the first proofing stage, which has a pretty fast workflow (at least, the English books do — I don’t monitor the books in other languages). On average I can work on a few pages (usually fewer than 10) of a particular book before it moves on to the next proofing stage. If it’s a particularly difficult book (e.g. it has a lot of scannos, uses older dialect or requires special instructions to be carried out), then it takes a little longer to move on and I’ll get to work on it more. DP is pretty good about publicizing its goals for the day/month and seems to exceed every single goal — or so I’ve noticed since I started paying attention to such things. The stats aren’t surprising; DP has been around for five years and just celebrated completing its 10,000th unique title, which gives an idea of the hefty volunteer power behind the site.

Another interesting volunteer-powered literary site, LibriVox, is relatively young at 1+ years old, but it seems to be doing pretty well. The folks at LibriVox read and record public domain books to digital audio and provide the audiobooks/individual chapters or poems for free download. They encourage anyone to read, but also are in need of volunteers to help with other aspects of the project. At some point, I hope to join the effort. I’ve enjoyed a bunch of the audio selections so far; you can subscribe to the podcast to stay updated on new releases. They’re also available at Internet Archive.

One of the other items on my To Do list was to play more chess. I like chess — I learned the basic rules during my elementary school days, but didn’t play much over the years. I only play recreationally (translation: I have no idea what I’m doing). I’ve won vs. chess computers on their “beginner/intermediate” (a.k.a. “just beat me now”) modes a few times, but I have yet to beat a computer at a moderate level.

At the beginning of the year, I started playing correspondence chess. For the most part, it works well because I only have to move once every three to seven days, so it doesn’t take up nearly as much time as a typical over-the-board game would (in one sitting). On the other hand, I’ve discovered that the longer I’m away from a game, the harder it is to remember all of the possible moves/counter-moves I’d considered. Even with the aid of a notebook, there does seem to be a certain “chess momentum” that’s easy to interrupt. In any case, the point is to have fun, but I’m planning to look through game openings and work on improving my middlegame.

While researching correspondence chess sites, I found Wulegbr’s reviews and comparison chart helpful in narrowing them down. There’s also a review page for live, OTB-style chess sites.

*In this case, CC stands for correspondence chess, not Carcassonne, of which I am also a fan.


Saturday, 30 April 2005

Summer surprised us

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is already the 1st of May. April is like sweeps month when you’re on the semester system. A few updates:

I haven’t forgotten about the posts I’ve mentioned writing, re: WordPress, and even that episode from Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! from a few weeks ago. They’re in the queue.

Went to the L.A. Times Festival of Books on Sunday (the site’s already advertising for next year); made it to four panels. I’ll try and write more about that soon.

I haven’t watched any television programs in a while…same goes for movies. I did switch the set on for a Dodgers game last month. That’s another thing that happened since I last wrote: baseball season is here. And the Dodgers run out ahead, 12-2 — their best start since 1955 — but in the next seven games, they’re 1-6. Welcome to the Show.

I’m listening to Anne Litt and Weekend Becomes Eclectic as I write this. I haven’t been able to properly tune in to the show for a number of weeks now, for one reason or another. I’ve had to miss it or listen to a small portion for a while now — I did get to catch some of the repeat broadcasts, which air from 7 to 10 a.m. on KCRWmusic.com, KCRW’s all-music MP3 streaming music station. Last Saturday, I finally got to hear most of the show live and felt at home right away: there was no lack of the magical WBE quality (that keeps causing me to marvel over the selection of songs). Among the playlist then: Chet Baker, Keren Ann, Mogwai, Laura Cantrell (the first time I’ve heard her on the show), new material from Aimee Mann, Willie Nelson, and the Jayhawks (first time I’ve heard them on the show, I think). Last last weekend, I was able to listen for a bit, and heard Richard Buckner’s "A Chance Counsel" during the set!

The last set that Litt just played (today): Spoon, Bob Marley, Keren Ann, Patti Smith, Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Sinatra, and Anne McCue. Excellent.


Monday, 24 January 2005

The TV season of Forster

It must be the television season of E. M. Forster. In September, I wrote about Forster being immortalized in the pop culture that is prime-time television (specifically, Joan of Arcadia and Gilmore Girls), and apparently it’s not over: last week’s new episode of ER was titled "Only Connect" and opened with Abby (Maura Tierney) waking up in the morning; then her eyes drift to a nearby book titled Howards End! (In case you’re new to this blog, this site, and/or me, Howards End (written by Forster) is my favorite novel. It’s also one of my favorite films, but that’s a different topic.)

Admittedly, I haven’t been watching ER regularly in a while, but of all the characters to be reading Forster, it’s my favorite character from the current cast. Abby just got even cooler by a gazillion points. (And to top it off, her clock radio alarm was set to NPR’s Morning Edition! If she ever starts listening to Richard Buckner, I may go into shock.)

Mucho thanks to madbard for taking the time to relay the happy news to me. :-) I missed the show on Thursday, but I’ll try to keep an eye out and catch the repeat.

I’m still waiting for the first TV show to mention E. M. Forster’s name (positively would be good).

Posted at 11:39 pm | Filed under Books, literature, Television |  

Wednesday, 5 January 2005

Happy birthday, Morgan

Happy new year! And a belated birthday wish to my literary hero E. M. Forster, who was born on the 1st January 1879. I hope he won’t mind me calling him Morgan. In any case, I was looking through the stats for musicandmeaning.com (this will become evident in a forthcoming entry), and I found out that The Writer’s Almanac (public radio’s daily humanities blurb hosted by Garrison Keillor), mentioned Forster’s birthday and linked to my Forster site on its Web and e-mail editions for December 27, 2004 to January 2, 2005 (scroll down to January 1, or search in-browser for "Forster"). Very cool. In terms of the Almanac‘s blurb about Forster, I’m not sure where the quote comes from — it would have been nice to see a source. I’ll try looking it up, or maybe I could e-mail and ask the Almanac writers. I also noticed that Howards End is spelled with the dreaded apostrophe… <grin>

I haven’t heard The Writer’s Almanac on the radio in a while — I can’t remember when the last time was. I heard it regularly about ten years ago, when I was in high school. In the evenings I’d work on an article for the high school newspaper; I’d have my portable radio tuned to a public station (I’m guessing it must have been KUSC — I don’t remember KCRW or KPCC airing Writer’s Almanac on weekday evenings).


Wednesday, 11 August 2004

Virginia Woolf’s homage to London

Today, the Guardian published a once-lost essay by Virginia Woolf. I just finished reading it for the first time; the experience was like visiting an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while. The voice is unmistakably hers: full of purpose and nuance; strong yet subtle. This particular piece reminded me a bit of E. M. Forster’s style, and very much of Woolf’s earlier short stories.

The newfound essay is called "Portrait of a Londoner" and is one of the six essays of a new edition of The London Scene, to be published in September (presently available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk, but not Amazon.com — the current/earlier editions of The London Scene do not include "Portrait of a Londoner"). As someone who hasn’t read any of the other five essays, I’m now definitely interested in checking out the rest.

Posted at 2:59 am | Filed under Books, literature |  

Thursday, 22 January 2004

Various tidbits

Just a number of random and not-so-random thoughts.

Over the holidays, I missed a bunch of Charlie Rose shows that I wanted to watch. So far, I’ve listened to the 8 Kbps Real(bad)Audio streams of his interviews with Cate Blanchett (30 Dec. 2003) and Naomi Watts (19 Nov. 2003) in the show audio archives. If you’re a Blanchett fan, I highly recommend catching this latest interview with her. Not that I’ve seen/heard many, but it’s by far the best Cate Blanchett interview I’ve heard, including the one on Fresh Air. And of the ones I’ve witnessed, I think it’s one of the best interviews that Rose has conducted, with an actor or not. I hope it airs on television again soon. The one with Watts isn’t bad, but I don’t know if I’d listen to it again at 8 kbps… Another decent Rose interview is of Nicole Kidman on 27 Dec. 2002 (also in the audio archives), when she was doing press for The Hours. Hmm. I just noticed that I’ve mentioned only Australian actresses in this paragraph…

I can’t believe we’re already in an election year. The presidential candidates seem to be cancelling each other out. Who’s it going to be? It’s still early to tell, despite what polls say. Please, please, vote this year. If you think your vote doesn’t make a difference, let me say two words: Florida, 2000.

Music still helps keep me sane. I think taping Anne Litt‘s show is one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. These days she’s pretty good about playing Alison Krauss (and she played the Sting song from Cold Mountain…and I still think that "The Scarlet Tide" is a better song), and Norah Jones‘ new song "Sunrise" as well as Clem Snide.

A few weeks ago, I watched Howards End for the first time in at least four years, and was amazed by how much it still moves me, and how beautiful and lonely and powerful it is. It must have been my ninth or tenth time watching the movie, but I still noticed new things. They really don’t make movies like it anymore, and it was made in 1991. I picked up E. M. Forster‘s novel and read bits and pieces. I have a terrible memory when it comes to books, ironically, and so even if I’ve read and studied a book intensely, a year or two later I will have forgotten much of it. So I will re-read, and I will remember some things, but I will rediscover, as "new" many more things. Howards End is an excellent book, and still my favorite. It’s interesting that something I loved as a teenager, I still love so strongly — I guess some things don’t change.