SOUNDTRACK: THE TRAGICALLY HIP-Live from the Vault-Volume 4 (2009).
Faithful reader will recall that this disc got trapped in my car’s CD changer. When I had it the player replaced, they sent the old one back to mysterious Toyota offices far away. And, about a month or so after sending it out, I received a package from Toyota with my three lost discs (this one, a Black Sabbath disc and, a promo disc I took from the library to try and wedge into the player to get it to eject the other discs (that doesn’t work, by the way) which was, embarrassingly, Ozzy & Kelly Osbourne doing a duet of something or other).
Thank you random Toyota person for keeping this disc, which is not easily replaced, in good condition.
So this concert is from 1994 and was recorded in Brussels on the Day for Night Tour. I think many fans feel that this is a high point in The Hip’s recording career, and this concert attests to it. The band sounds fantastic, energetic and really tight. And the music from this era is just great: dynamic and dramatic.
This disc also adds to speculation that lead singer Gord Downie is a weird guy. His between song banter is quite peculiar, to say the least (apropos of nothing: “Do you think of your pet as a pet or a member of the family?”). Which also leads me to wonder if fans in non-English speaking countries (and yes, I know that many people in Brussels do speak English) think or care or even mind when lead singers babble in English to them. Just curious.
I don’t have any other Vault discs from The Hip, but this one is certainly great.
[READ: During an ∞ of minutes during December 2009 & January 2010] Everything and More
As part of my pledge to read all of DFW’s works, I skipped the fiction and moved straight to this. I hadn’t heard all that much about this book, except that it was pretty dense. And, yup it is.
I’m going to give a comparison for any other DFW fans who are thinking about reading this. If you have read Infinite Jest (and if you’re interested in DFW you should certainly read that before this book), and if you recall Endnote 123: Pemulis’ high tech math formula for calculating Mean Value w/r/t Eschaton, then you will have a fair idea of what you’re in for with Everything and More. So, if your eyes glazed when you started to read that endnote, you’ll likely want to skip this book altogether. However, if you plugged through with that endnote and you didn’t care that you didn’t get it, but you kind of enjoyed it because despite the math, it is very funny, well, then you might enjoy this book too.
If you’re a hard core math dude and you understand what things like: ∃ and ∈ and ∉ and ∏ and ℜ and even ∀ then you’ll have no problem with this book.
But math aside, there’s a lot of funny things in this book. And DFW is in full conversational tone, with several places where he says things like “not sure if this has been mentioned in the book yet” implying that he never proofread the thing, which we know he did. There’s even a funny observation as to the placement of a picture (“it’s not entirely clear to me why they put [this pencil sketch] here”). There’s also tons of footnotes. And most of them are labeled IYI (meaning If You’re Interested), and he totally lets you off the hook if you don’t feel compelled to read these. Although as with most things DFW does, the footnotes are always tons of fun.
He also shows his great undying affection for his math professor, Dr. Goris (Dr. G). He quotes liberally from Dr G’s classes, citing examples, funny quotes and the amusing joke that Irrational Numbers are called ‘surds. There’s also great joke about schnitt (which I’ll explain later). It even opens with a hilarious (or maybe not) section about the inability to get out of bed in the morning when you think about infinity.
As in for example in the early morning, especially if you wake up slightly before your alarm goes off, when it can suddenly and for no reason occur to you that you’ve been getting out of bed every morning without the slightest doubt that the floor would support you. Lying there now considering the matter, it appears at least theoretically possible that some flaw in the floor’s construction or its molecular integrity could make it buckle, or that even some aberrant bit of quantum flux or something could cause you to melt right through. Meaning it doesn’t seem logically impossible or anything. It’s not like you’re actually scared that the floor might give way in a moment when you really do get out of bed. It’s just that certain moods and lines of thinking are more abstract, not just focused on whatever needs or obligations you’re going to get out of bed to attend to.
And but so, what is this thing about?
Okay, so it’s about ∞ and the history of ∞. It begins with a great section about the ancient Greeks (Zeno’s Paradox and all that) and slowly moves up through to Aristotle. I myself have always been a Platonist (yes, in fact, I have made that distinction in my life, which may say more about me than many people know), and have always been kind of anti-Aristotle. And, for the purposes of this book, that’s a great position to take. Aristotle turns out to be like the arch-nemesis of ∞. (more…)