Sunday, March 1, 2009

A bit on John Cheever and The Swimmer

Received The Stories of John Cheever last week in the mail and getting through the good ones first.

Wiki: His main themes include the duality of human nature: sometimes dramatized as the disparity between a character's decorous social persona and inner corruption, and sometimes as a conflict between two characters (often brothers) who embody the salient aspects of both--light and dark, flesh and spirit. Many of his works also express a nostalgia for a vanishing way of life (as evoked by the mythical St. Botolphs in the Wapshot novels), characterized by abiding cultural traditions and a profound sense of community, as opposed to the alienating nomadism of modern suburbia.

Malcolm Jones: Sometimes he convinces us that the world is what he says it is, but just as often, he sounds like an author with an ax to grind, who begrudges his characters happiness out of stinginess or envy and who drags them through the mud because mud is all he knows.

Seinfeld reference:

The Swimmer is a great example of his writing; unsympathetic protagonist, human nature, duality, struggle, ultimately a broken home and mental illness. One can really see the same themes in Mad men. Anyway, a lot of people go through life like that, it seems. Just talking about myself a bit here, it's good to identify and know so early on, at least for me, that this is a very dangerous, hurtful to yourself and others, untrue way to live. I really do try to treat others like I'd like to be treated, but obviously it's tough... The ego gets in the way of the id, others treat you unfairly and an alienating cycle can develop, etc... It's tough, but it's important to keep you, your loved ones, and the outside world/commitments in order.

I watched the movie (IMDB and torrent), and the it was really well shot. Haunting. Each pool gets harder and harder to swim for the dual man. Worth the watch.

UPDATE: Hey, New Yorker has a bio on John Cheever this week!

Researchers Say Fish Fossils Reveal the Earliest Known Erection

”These fish have an extra large bone that attaches to the pelvic bone,” [Long] said.

Kurt Cobain's rider? 'only Kraft macaroni and cheese'

His gut problems were exacerbated by his tour diet which, as stipulated in his band Nirvana's rider, consisted of 'only Kraft macaroni and cheese'. He refused outright to 'eat anything green' and, before he turned to heroin, used painkillers washed down with something called Strawberry Quik to ease the pain. The stomach pains persisted, becoming more debilitating as his fame grew. 'They're good for my anger,' he once quipped, though it seems more likely that, like his bilious songs, they were simply another symptom of that same anger.

The two promised Andrew Bird interviews...

And this is gonna be the last of Bird for a bit, I promise!

,.... AND BELOW, that Dutch TV interview! (btw, tried to upload it on youtube, but copyrights kicked it off... who knew! Viddler apparently has no qualms about it. 14 min., btw. Also, as another aside, I once knew someone who thought that whistling, or la-lal-la's and the like in songs were just filler where the artist cheats, or cheapens out. Needless to say this person is out of my life!.. hahaha.. )

Original here: (far right link - Bird interview is about 18 min in.)

with a final little bonus...

Andrew Bird with Yo Yo Ma... with both whistling!

From the original (wiki link): Dona Nobis Pacem

ps. The Bird Dutch TV interview was ripped with this and trimmed with this.

Song of the Day: Andrew Bird - Natural Disaster

First song of the day off Andrew Bird's new album.

Download here.

Youtube live:


Comment from

ok-- I can't help it.. I have more...

OR... "Anthurium Lacrimae decays" could be beauty-inducing tears in witnessing the strange but wonderous parasitic nature of Anthurium ( or Orchid ) species of flowers that wrap themselves up and thrive in Trees.

Either way it describes so amazingly the theme of the ongoing cycles of decaying and parasitic phonomena in nature that is constantly spinning and evolving into new beautiful things and isn't that the true essence of everything. ( lol- I swear I am neither stoned nor drunk.)

And I thought I over-analyzed songs...

It's a good song, could have more of a hook. I like the Niagara reference, and I like that it shares a name and theme with a Joel Plaskett song. That's about it; enjoy!