The gym has these amazing machines I love using, called “The Wave” (not to be confused with the Patti Smith album or the Canadian pop duo, neither of which I use) that give your booty just the most tremendous forward/lateral workout. I’d like to write that if I keep givin’er on them, my booty will be as huge and firm as the Wave Rock of Australia, but the Wave Rock is totally the wrong shape for booty. The Wave Rock is close to the Hippo’s Yawn; I believe neither of those is close to Ayers Rock, The Three Sisters, or the Olgas. Australia surely has a lot of rocks. Anyways, hopefully it will make my booty look like Ayers Rock. Except not red.
I also love the disc Opera Proibita, featuring Cecilia Bartoli. I do love her voice; I’d snuggle up with it by the fireplace, if I had a fireplace. The disc features 15 arias by Alessandro Scarlatti, Handel, and Antonio Caldara that were probably written in the opera-banning Rome of Clement XI (whence a series of jubilees, wars and earthquakes gave him an excuse to crack down on public sensuality in the first years of the 18th century). The reaction of composers and patrons (who were often rich church officials, because, you know, that’s us Catholics for you – while Tammy Faye weeps and wrings her hands, we turn hypocrisy into a fucking spectator sport) was to explore the oratorio for performance in private theatres.
Shocking sensuality burst through unplotted abstractions featuring characters like “Beauty”, “Pleasure” and “Pride” – at least, it sounds shockingly sensuous when Cecilia Bartoli sings it, and probably sounded shockingly sensuous at the time, as her parts would have been sung by castrati (thanks to another papal ban on women performing – God, those popes all needed a serious spanking), whose delivery systems must have been fucking incredible – a woman’s range with a man’s upper body – wow. Aside from how zany its history is and how beautiful Cecilia Bartoli’s voice always is, the music on the disc is lovely to hear – makes one think a little of Vivaldi, that same Baroque quality of seeming to instantly echo itself and the melody building out from the echoes, which intense coloratura vocal acrobatics make the voice do too. This shit is out of this world.
Finally, I love the Singing Neanderthals. In the body of the book, sometimes the text was a hard slog to read and it seemed like the author – indeed, the whole field of pre-historic anthropology – was pulling silly, subjective ideas out of someone’s ass, like the Sexy Hand Axe hypothesis. Sometimes what he wrote was super interesting in terms of the evolutionary history of music, like a physical, chemical description of how hominids with a sense of self and other (like us) use dancing and harmonizing to trust each other. And sometimes it was just plain super interesting, like a concise explanation of the necessity of emotion as a guide to action that must come before rationality - my analyst had been trying to convince me of that for months and it only sank in after I read it in SN last Tuesday. I’m dim. But then in the final chapters Mithen draws all the strings together and you understand Neanderthals in a whole new loving way. And you’re left with a burning regret that you’re never going to hear them sing. Delicious!