Sunday, October 26, 2008

Soggy Sunday, nearly Samhain

Well, Samhain's next Friday; but the powers-that-be have determined today is the day that Summer time ends and we have to manipulate all the clocks. As Malcolm's dear, dead, old Dad half-yearly recited, "Spring forward; Fall back."

Now, it's winter all the way to next April.

That means tomorrow will feel the gloomiest evening of the year: dark coming home from work. Dank and gloomy. And today, in London, it is steel-grey skies and a wet, wet morning.

This was the day the greatest Englishman, King Aelfred, died, back in 899. It is a national holiday in Austria, marking the end of the post-WW2 occupation. It is the day that Christmas puddings are made at Redfellow Hovel; so Malcolm deems it a good day to be doing mundane tasks, well away from the kitchen-cum-battlezone.

The new Big Bugger

One easy task is setting up his new terabyte hard-drive. That's a no-brainer, thanks to the seamless workings of MacOs and LaCie. Plug in; power-up; click: that's it. Now he sits back and meditates while the iTunes library migrates and Time Machine does its business.

He notes that he spent less on this new appliance than he did to upgrade his first computer, a BBC Micro, to a cracking 32Mb of RAM. That prompts thoughts of how this reflects Gordon Moore's Law. When Malcolm's sturdy 68030 IIVX began to creak under the strain, he dibbed it a SCSI hard-drive: all of 2 gigabytes. That drive lived on through the iterations of LCs that followed. It fell foul of the end of SCSI and the arrival of Macs.

So the next external hard disk had to be a Firewire 160 Gb: that's still going, touch wood. It was superseded by a 320 for all those ever-expanding iTunes and iPhoto libraries. Then came the 500: surely, surely, that could fulfil all requirements? Yes, but a Brooklyn Brewery fuelled lunchtime, coinciding with a stroll through the Fifth Avenue Apple Store added a portable Verbatim 320Gb -- just in case, one appreciates. And now a new departure: this one must be the tops ... and yet ... there's this Drobo storage robot which looks promising.

And so to iPoddery

Time for an autumn playlist: just the notion to keep Malcolm busy and out of culinary harm's way.

Where to start?

A prelude with Harry Connick Jr's piano instrumental of Autumn in New York. A nice piano roll to set the mood, best known from When Harry Met Sally. Our Malc reckons on this rather than a vocal version. Were he pushed for a voice, he'd probably be putting the versions by Billie Holiday, Jo Stafford, Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald in something like that order:

Ever since he had his first, though second-generation, 20 Gb iPod (again, still cranking along and designated "Old Faithful") it has been Malcolm's custom to upload the Complete Atomic Basie album. That gives him three superb and favourite tracks (though the other baker's dozen are not far behind): The Kid from Red Bank and Whirly Bird:

That will keep anyone awake as the autumnal dark sets in, plus Li'l Darlin'. Malcolm expects anyone used to the Neal Hefti recording (and Hefti, if anyone, should be the arbiter) will strain at the restrained Basie tempo: this is the ultimate "sweet" jazz tune, but Malcolm is happy to go with the flow.

More big band stuff

Well, to keep the balance, there needs to some Ellington. It's tempting, since we are dealing with the 32Gb of a iPod Touch here, to drop in all 24 CDs of the Centennial Edition of the Complete RCA Victor recordings. That would be cheating. So let's settle for some "Best of ...". That has to be Sophisticated Lady, Mood Indigo, Black-and-Tan Fantasy, Rockin' in Rhythm, Perdido, Take the A-Train ... Where does one stop? Ah, but versions of all of those are on the sampler for the Centennial Edition. Not necessarily Malcolm's favourite versions, but quick and simple to upload.

Hell's teeth! We're still missing:

More! More!

Well, Malcolm insists on Charlie Barnett's Skyliner and Cherokee. There's nothing here from two of Malcolm's other standy-bys: Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman. That's easily, if minimally redressed . For the former, swiftly uploads Frenesi, Begin the Beguine, Dancing in the Dark and Nightmare (that last being perfect for Oíche Shamhna/Hallowe'en, when Malcolm will be driving back to London from Yorkshire). For Benny, he picks his way through the classic 1938 Carnegie Hall concert. That gives him One O'Clock Jump (which could have come equally from the Basie band), Avalon, Honeysuckle Rose, Stompin' at the Savoy and Sing, Sing, Sing. And, of course, Don't Be That Way:

We want some lyrics!

Yeah, that does overload the instrumentals a bit. For balance, Malcolm drags in:
  • A Foggy Day (Jo Stafford wins out over Lady Day, simply because of the atmospherics, while the Julie London version overdoes the sound effects: pity, that);
  • a quick nip round the Piccadilly corner for those Angels dining at the Ritz (let's have the Manhattan Transfer for Nightingale).
As that was playing, shuffle mode threw in, uninvited, Willie Nelson doing Stardust. Malcolm happily lets it stay, along with Georgia on My Mind (though that squeezes out Ray Charles, who'll have to be represented by You Are My Sunshine or ...). Hey, there's enough Nelson, some eight gigs already, in there already: enough to circumnavigate!

Sticking to the ladies, here's
  • Dakota Staton and I Can't Get Started. That was going to be Sarah Vaughan (a better version, except for the celeste or vibraphone accompaniment),
  • so to keep the divine Sarah represented, It's De-Loverly (she does the complex lyrics magnificently);
  • further bumping up the Cole Porter quota (and adding a missing ingredient) Anything Goes from Ella Fitzgerald; and
  • the ultimate autumnal song, Peggy Lee's The Folks Who Live on the Hill. Not a dry seat in the house.
Time to stir the pudding!

The call to duty. So, for the moment, a quick finish. That's got to be:
  • Les Feuilles Mortes, with Charles Trenet (that and La Mer are already in another play-list). Very different to what Johnny Mercer did to it. He somehow left out those romantic dead leaves collected on the shovel, which sound so much better in French:
Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle,
Les souvenirs et les regrets aussi
Mais mon amour silencieux et fidèle
Sourit toujours et remercie la vie.
Je t'aimais tant, tu étais si jolie.
Comment veux-tu que je t'oublie ?
En ce temps-là, la vie était plus belle
Et le soleil plus brûlant qu'aujourd'hui.
Tu étais ma plus douce amie
Mais je n'ai que faire des regrets
Et la chanson que tu chantais,
Toujours, toujours je l'entendrai !

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