SOUNDTRACK: THE CHIEFTAINS-The Long Black Veil
Like the Dubliners, The Chieftains are a bunch of old men who play traditional Irish music. Unlike the Dubliners, they have gained a fan base beyond the trad scene. This album in particular features a great deal of crossover material.
Guest singers include: Sting (singing in Irish!), The Rolling Stones, Sinéad O’ Connor, Marianne Faithfull,Van Morrison and Tom Jones (!)
The Sinéad tracks are really great, as she uses her voice wonderfully on the spare musical tracks. “The Foggy Dew” is particularly powerful, and “He Moved Through the Fair” isn’t too shabby either).
Sting’s track is very Sting (with trad accompaniment); Mick Jagger sings the title track, but it doesn’t do a lot for me. Van Morrison is Van Morrison, regardless of who he’s playing with. And Tom Jones is so over the top on “Tennessee Waltz” that it’s hard not to laugh with him.
The song with no guests, “Changing Your Demeanor” is a cute Oirishy song with deedly-ee-ayes.
It’s the final song, “The Rocky Road to Dublin” (which I’ve already said is a favorite by other artists) that fares the worst here. About midway through the song, The Stones seem to burst in (think Run DMC & Aerosmith but a lot older) and play a really sloppy version of “Satisfaction” while The Chieftains are playing their trad song. Nobody fares well in this version and it’s a shame to have included it on an otherwise good disc.
This is not really a good place to hear the Chieftains as a trad outfit. It’s certainly more of a showcase album. But it might work as a crossover introduction to some of these songs. And yes, the album is very adult contemporary…there’s not a lot of rocking going on here.
[READ: Week of August 16, 2010] Ulysses: Episode 15 [Circe]
This is the Episode I remember most from my previous reads. I didn’t remember the details, mind you, just the absolute insanity of it. This is also the place where you can look if you’ve ever wondered why this book was brought up on obscenity charges. Those first few chapters, with the outhouse and the impure thoughts are mild; even Bloom’s masturbation, while controversial doesn’t hold a candle to all of the insanity that is contained within this Episode.
It was also the only week where we read just one Episode. And that’s because it is loooooong. True, it is written in play form (ie, lots of white space), but it is still about 4 times longer than any other Episode. And man is it a doozy.
I’ve already read that Daryl was just going to write WTF about this Episode. Of course, that’s sort of what I felt about the previous one, so I guess it’s no surprise that I did enjoy the nonsense of this one. I’ve always had a great appreciation for the absurd, so this is right up my alley. This is not in any way to suggest that I understood it, even a little. But there were parts that I laughed at and parts that I smiled at and parts that I practically blushed at. Good fun!
Of course, the big question in this chapter is (aside from what the hell is going on and why is it so long) what’s real and what’s Bloom’s fever dream. This is preceded by the big question of why Bloom is having these fever dreams (or whatever they are). I’ve been under the impression that he is drunk (but my tenuous following of the previous chapter makes me a little unsure just how drunk he was or if he drank at all.)
In a nutshell what happens is that Stephen (and Lynch) go to the red light district. Bloom follows behind. Bloom had a massive memory flashback/acid trip/freak out, and then he “rescues” Stephen (and his money) from the brothel. He can’t save Stephen from getting punched in the face by a soldier, but he is able to keep him from getting arrested (with Corny Kelleher’s invaluable help). Bloom, despite his inaction, then offers to take Stephen home. As the scene opens, we see Private Carr and Private Compton (who we’ll see again later) as well as Cissy Caffrey & Edy Boardman (who appear to be prostitutes). Stephen and Lynch walk down the street continuing their pontificating which leads Lynch to comment:
Pornosophical philotheology. Metaphysics in Mecklenburgh Street (353).
Bloom follows along, catching his breath. He buys some more meat and almost gets hit by a trolley. And then he gets caught in a whirlwind of chaos.
First he sees his (deceased) father and mother who bemoan his life.
Then Molly chimes in with oft repeated words: Nebrakada! Feminimnium (359).
And then a parade of women (none of whom are really) there berate him as well: Gerty MacDowall first, followed by Mrs Breen (whom Bloom had a fling with) who goes off on a randy tangent. They reminisce on their affair (which may be true…it seems that Bloom is answering truthfully to all of the nonsense around him).
Things start getting raunchier once the whores chimes in:
Are you going far, queer fellow?
How’s your middle leg?
Got a match on you?
Eh, come here till I stiffen it for you (368).
And then around line 670, Bloom is put on trial. The trial is completely phantasmagorical, and includes bits like: “Order in the court! The accused will now make a bogus statement” (376).
The Watch antagonizes him, Mary Driscoll accused him of making “certain suggestion(s) but I thought more of myself as poor as I am” and “he surprised me in the rere of the premises…. He held me and I was discolored in four places as a result. And he interfered twice with my clothing” (376).
Mrs Yelverton Barry accuses him of writing an anonymous letter signed “James Lovebirch” in which he claims that she deeply inflamed him. Then Mrs Bellingham claims “he urged me (stating that he felt it his mission in his life to urge me) to defile the marriage bed, to commit adultery at the earliest possible opportunity” (380). The Honourable Mrs Mervyn Talboys chimes in too:
This plebeian Don Juan observed me from behind a hackney car and sent me in double envelopes an obscene photograph, such as are sold after dark on Paris boulevards, insulting to any lady. I have it still. It represents a partially nude senorita, frail and lovely (his wife as he solemnly assured me, taken by him from nature), practising illicit intercourse with a muscular torero, evidently a blackguard. He urged me to do likewise, to misbehave, to sin with officers of the garrison. He implored me to soil his letter in an unspeakable manner, to chastise him as he richly deserves, to bestride and ride him, to give him a most vicious horsewhipping. (381)
“Me too,” say the other accusers.
Bloom replies that he only wanted spanking, nothing more.
The Jury is comprised of pretty much every male we have met so far (as well as “the featureless face of a Nameless One” (383).
Bloom argues his innocence by saying that he was at a funeral today. Paddy Dignam appears and says that it is true, it was his funeral.
Then Zoe Higgins, a young whore approaches and says if he’s looking for someone, he’s inside with his friend. [I assume this is real, as Zoe crops up a lot and is never surreal]. She feels up Bloom but is only feeling up his lucky potato. But before it goes further, she tells Bloom to give his stump speech. Which he does.
Bloom recites his speech to wild applause. His motions are carried (Boulevard Bloom is named) he is called the world’s greatest reformer. Bloom promises a “golden city which is to be, the new Bloomusalem in the Nova Hibernia of the future” (395).
And yet soon, Alexander J Dowie makes a speech violently anti-Bloom. But Bloom enlists many doctors to get him freed. “Dr. Malachi Mulligan, sex specialist, gives medialy testimony of Bloom’s behalf” (402).
Dr Bloom is bisexually abnormal. He has recently escaped from Dr Eustace’s private asylum for demented gentlemen. Born out of bedlock hereditary epilepsy is present, the consequence of unbridled lust. Traces of elephantiasis have been discovered among his ascendants. There are marked symptoms of chronic exhibitionism. Ambidexterity is also latent. He is prematurely bald from selfabuse, perversely idealistic in consequence, a reformed rake, and has metal teeth. In consequence of a family complex he has temporarily lost his memory and I believe him to be more sinned against than sinning. I have made a pervaginal examination and, after application of the acid test to 5427 anal, axillary, pectoral and pubic hairs, I declare him to be virgo intacta.
(Bloom holds his high grade hat over his genital organs.) (402).
Dr Dixon claims “Professor Bloom is a finished example of the new womanly man” (403). Bloom replies, “O, I so want to be a mother” (403).
After much more nonsense, Zoe and Stephen return, and Lynch is part of the fun too. But then Bloom’s grandfather Virag Lipoti of Szombathely shows up and lowers the level of discourse:
Promiscuous nakedness is much in evidence hereabouts, eh? Inadvertently her backview revealed the fact that she is not wearing those rather intimate garments of which you are a particular devotee. (417).
Virag talks a lot more about sex and then things seem to settle down (Bloom, Lynch, Stephen and Zoe are together) but then the whoremistres Bella Cohen enters and things go arse over head crazy.
Bella is soon listed as Bello who yells at Bloom: “Hound of dishonour…adorer of the adulterous rump…dungdevourerer” (433). And now Bella is officially a man. And she and Bloom argue until Bello bellows, “Hold him down, girls, till I squat on him”… and Bello: “squats with a grunt on Bloom’s upturned face, puffing cigarsmoke, nursing a fat leg” (435). And after a few other bizarro moments, Bello claims:
“What you longed for has come to pass. Henceforth you are unmanned and mine in earnest, a thing under the yoke. Now for your punishment frock. You will shed your male garments, you understand, Ruby Cohen? (436).
And they dress down and dress up Bloom as a a woman. He admits “I tried her things on only twice” (437). This insanity reaches its climax with this fascinating bit:
([Bello] bares his arm and plunges it elbowdeep in Bloom’s vulva.) There’s fine depth for you! What, boys? That give you a hardon? (He shoves his arm in a bidder’s face.) Here, wet the deck and wipe it round! (440).
There’s some more craziness with nymphs and immortals until Bella returns as a woman and things seems to settle down. Bloom asks for his potato back from Zoe. And Bella gets down to business, demanding money for time spent.
Bloom asks Stephen for his cash (after he pays Bella), and begins watching him paternally: “Don’t smoke. You ought to eat” (457).
After some time, Boylan comes by and offers the scent of his fingers as proof of his success that evening (with Molly). And he starts treating Bloom like a porter, ultimately concluding with: “You can apply your eye to the keyhole and play with yourself while I just go through her a few times” (462).
The Episode then focuses on Stephen for a bit. We learn that his mother died of cancer (and that he’s the oldest child, which was already pretty obvious). He gets into something of a rage and smashes a chandelier as he flees the building. Bella tries to get money off of Bloom, for Stephen’s damages. Bloom pays some and then flees after Stephen.
When Bloom catches up, we see that Stephen is in a shouting match with Private Carr. At first it’s over Cissy Caffrey, but it eventually becomes political when Stephen says “But in here it is I must kill the priest and the king” which calls up Edward the Seventh (who says some rather silly things, some of which is repetition of things that Buck Mulligan said in the first Episode).
Bloom tries to diffuse the escalating tensions (Compton is egging Carr on). Then comes The Voice of All the Damned: “Htengier Tnetopinmo Dog Drol eht rot, Aiulella!” and The Voice of All the Blessed: “Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!” (489). A nice touch I thought.
Until finally Carr can’t hold back and punches Stephen in the face. He falls, out cold. Bloom collects his hat. Then the cops arrive. The soldiers flee. They cops are about to take Stephen away when Corny Kelleher shows up on the scene and diffuses the situation, “We were often as bad ourselves, ay or worse. What? Eh, what?” (493).
Bloom tries to get Kelleher to give Stephen a ride home, but Corny pretty much just laughs it off. And then Bloom winds up taking Stephen with him.
As the scene closes Bloom sees the visage of his dead son, Rudy.
So yeah, this Episode is crazy. And I think it is too long by a bit. But I think that mostly because there’s a lot of political stuff that i didn’t get. And also, why was Joyce getting so crazy with the cross dressing and sexual deviancy. It’s really quite shocking (even in 2010).
I think this Episode would be fun to watch unedited in a move.
For ease of searching, I include: Sinead O’Connor