Sunday, May 12, 2024

Sunday evening miscellany

1. Here's a photo of me in my dorm room at Penn State University in October 1992 — 31½ years ago (yikes). I'm not sure of the reason for that expression on my face. Turtlenecks and sweaters were part of my wardrobe for a long, long time, but they are obviously a thing of the past now that I live in the Arizona desert. That's a MicroFridge behind me. According to a September 1990 article in The Daily Collegian (the student newspaper I worked at for four years), the MicroFridges were first offered that year to seniors and graduate students for $32 per semester. They were subsequently offered to underclassmen. The units weighed 87 pounds and saved power by turning the refrigerator off when the microwave is in use. In the background is my very messy desk, with my USFL Philadelphia Stars cap hanging from the lamp.

2. The Guardian last week had an article about all the interesting things Jonny Greenwood is involved with, including the score for the new Paul Thomas Anderson film that will come out on IMAX in the summer of 2025. Greenwood's love of music and instruments is contagious. At one point he had an opportunity to examine some of the oldest church organs in Europe, and his passion for the topic just pours through in this quote:
“I was able to actually play some of these amazing medieval instruments. The internal parts — what they call the ‘brain’ — are these incredibly complex pieces of technology. These huge machines, created centuries ago, were tackling the same challenges of synthesis and sampling and sound reproduction that we struggle with today. ... I love the idea that these ancient churches have centuries of sounds that have almost soaked into the walls and the organ pipes. Just looking around those Italian churches, you saw organs that summon up remarkable histories. Some of them have double sets of black keys, so the F sharp and the G flat keys are slightly different — as it would be in natural temperament. Some have keys which play percussion. One church in Comunanza, near the Sibillini mountains, has an organ with a little water tank that enables the organist to make this burbling noise that imitates birdsong. There was another church where Mozart is supposed to have visited and played the organ, so we were all rubbing the keys excitedly! Every church organ on Earth will have years of history embedded in it.”

3. I recently stumbled upon the existence of this nine-book 1970s Dracula series by Robert Lory. (And he published all nine books within three years!) Mostly, I think everything about the covers is amazing. Has anyone read these? How are they? A 2022 post on the website Fonts in Use by Florian Hardwig shows the covers in all their glory and indicates that the titles are done in Quaint Roman, a font that dates to 1890. 

There are plenty of (spoiler-filled) reviews out there on Amazon, Goodreads, Reddit and various blogs, if you want to know more about the series, which sounds like it's a lot of fun if you don't take it too seriously.

I like the 2011 post on the My Monster Memories blog, which may be in danger of becoming a Lost Corner of the Internet. Frederick writes: 

"My grandma's house was a few miles from a small bookstore called Bill's on Ingleside Ave in Macon, GA. As a young teen, when visiting her house on the weekend, I would sometimes walk the distance to look for the latest issue of The Monster Times or other cool magazines. After all, they had a better selection than the closer-to-home drugstore where I usually went. One summer, in 1973, I came upon the first in the Dracula Horror Series titled 'Dracula Returns,' and had read it nearly halfway through on the walk back to her house. It's a wonder I made it without getting run over, but I was pretty good at walking and reading. I still recall exactly where I was in the book at particular points as I walked home, passing under the oaks draped with spanish moss, blowing in the faint breeze."

These books are precisely the kind of treasures I go looking for when I have the opportunity to spend an afternoon in a used book store.

4. Finally, enjoy this photo of four cats tucked into a cat bed (from top: Spice, Autumn, Nebula and Bounds, aka Osmond Portifoy) ... 

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