Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This post bounces around so much I can't even think of a simple title for it.

I've been listening to Katie Melua a lot on my computer speakers lately. I had never heard of her until a couple of weeks ago, but now I can't stop listening to tracks of her songs, especially from her 'Piece by Piece' album. She is no Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, or Christina Aguilera. Thank goodness! This gal sings with a beautiful, crisp voice. There is not even a touch of any nasal quality to her voice and there is rarely an extraneous trill or other vocal affectation when she sings. Less is more. Hallelujah.

Maybe there is hope yet for our human race. We humans have a tendency to add unnecessary layers and complications to things. Music all sounding the same? Add more instruments, more voices, more noise, more notes per bar. Legislation developed over decades to solve a particular problem not working? Add a few hundred more pages of regulations.

Wouldn't it make sense to write better songs and have people with real talent sing them? And wouldn't it make sense to throw out useless legislation or to simplify things so that we could at least have a fighting chance at compliance.

The fact is that we all have a tendency to tamper and meddle with things and then call the end product 'enhanced' or 'improved.' That's why we elect politicians and hire or appoint bureaucrats. They are self-anointed improvers. They want to 'serve' or to 'give back' We believe them and trust them. Then what happens? They improve very efficiently. They are so good at their jobs that it takes armies of lawyers and accountants to help us make sense of all the laws and regulations they create. Then it takes armies of collectors and enforcers to make sure we pay our dues through taxation.

Sometimes it is all just a bit too much.

That is the state of affairs in Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Bellezza and a few other bloggers are reading the book. From comments some others are making on her posts, I gather not everyone is going to read (or even start) the book. Bellezza herself is a trooper and she is heading for the finish line. She will be finished reading the book by the weekend. I'm looking forward to her impressions.

I have to admit that when I first purchased the book in 1972 or 1973, I made a couple of false starts until I could really get 'into' the book. It was so different from anything I had read to that point that I found it somewhat intimidating. Heinlein challenged his readers. His characters were strong, iconoclastic, opinionated and not always consistent. They were human. What most of his chief characters had in common was that they didn't suffer fools gladly and they loved to be free. Once I got about a third of the way into the book, I couldn't put it down. After that, I bought every book of Heinlein's that I could find and have reread some of them several times.

I think I had better brush up on the book myself. I had thought that my several copies (just in case someone wanted to borrow one) were still packed away after our recent move, but I noticed a copy on a bookshelf in my office. I'm taking it home tonight. I have a lot of reading to do to catch up with Bellezza.

Heinlein's heroes dealt with the meddlers and improvers in their world in a way I hope we won't have to. Sorry, I can't tell you more than that. Read the book!


  1. It made me smile when you said, "Bellezza herself is a trooper and she is heading for the finish line." Once I start something, I don't give up. Persistance is my middle name. So, my friend, even if it's you and I standing there alone on Saturday, we'll have a good conversation between the two of us.

    I need to look in to the singer Katie M. you spoke of at the top of your post. She sounds quite wonderful, the way you describe her. Do you like Norah Jones at all?

    I'm off to read Heinlein. It appears that once again, I gave all my paperwork a ride to and from school...

  2. I like Norah Jones' relaxed sort of blues/folk style. She is a pleasure to listen to. Katie Melua has a quite different style, sort of like a cross between Eva Cassidy and Kate Bush. Ever heard of them? LIke Kate Bush, Katie Melus writes much of her own stuff. Whimsical, intelligent lyrics -- how novel is that?

    Kate Bush' rendition of her song "Heathcliff" sends shivers up and down my spine:

    "Out on the wiley, windy moors
    We'd roll and fall in green.
    You had a temper like my jealousy:
    Too hot, too greedy.
    How could you leave me,
    When I needed to possess you?
    I hated you. I loved you, too.

    Bad dreams in the night.
    They told me I was going to lose the fight,
    Leave behind my wuthering, wuthering
    Wuthering Heights.

    Eva Cassidy's rendition of Autumn Leaves is one of the best ever recorded, IMHO.

  3. My knowledge of musicians is quite deplorable. I don't know of those you speak, but the lyrics which you wrote down are quite compelling...they fit the novel wonderfully. I'll have to look up these artists.

  4. Listen to a snippet of Katie Melua here: http://web25.s4.typo3server.com/fileadmin/Files/Excerp_bicycles.MP3

    Listen to Kate Bush here: http://www.mp3.com/albums/2493/summary.html

    Listen to Eva Cassidy here: http://www.mp3.com/eva-cassidy/artists/142566/songs.html

  5. I wasn't familiar with Kathy M, but I put her name into Pandora and listened to a selection of hers and now have a new station on Pandora. Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. atavist, thanks for taking time to post some links for me. I'll be sure to listen over the weekend.

  7. Bellezza; You're welcome! Don Ray in the comment below yours mentions Pandora.com, it's really cool. Type in the name of a favourite artist or song and it will play it for you and build a 'radio station' around that style. Thanks, Don!

    Also, Don, I stopped in at your blog at http://chiriquichatter.net/blog/ and will add it to my blogroll. I love to read about what is going on in Panama. Thanks for dropping in. And... I'm glad you like Katie Melua too.

  8. Glad you liked Pandora. After you have a few stations activate the Quick Mix and it will randomize your music. It is the only way I can get good music here in Panama, providing my Internet provider is giving satisfactory performance.

    Thanks for stopping in.

  9. Love that Katie Melua's website. Cool intro. Pretty, too. And, nice tunes.


    Thanks for the introduction.