The one hundred and thirty-eighth classical recording: #794 Richard Strauss - Daphne
Daphne feels different from the operas we've listened to before. Aside from being shorter - a nice boon for a busy workday - Strauss's music feels different. While still going big t times, a lot more of it feels smaller and lighter, with a more ethereal bent than the darker tones that tend to dominate other operas. It might not be too obvious - a lot of it still feels classic, with the lyrics again making the difference - but there's something in it that sounds different enough to lend a smaller feel to the opera.
The three hundred and eighty-fourth album: #384 David Bowie - Heroes
Without trying to diminish the rest of the album, the title track of Heroes is its most powerful song. There's something inspiring about the lyrics, a reference to the possibilities that you can have for a moment, but also addressing those moments where the impact can be exaggerated - the readings work and it doesn't diminish those strengths.
The rest of the songs feel more experimental and less poppy. It means that those songs - especially the instrumentals that dominate one side - feel more of a study with some classical elements in it. It's a mix that works well, but you have to be ready for the change of setting.
The three hundred and eighty-third album: #383 Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Rumours is a very accessible album in the best way. Tracks like Dreams and Don't Stop are famous classics that are easy to listen to and enjoyable, providing a poppy, upbeat track that sits well next to the folksier outings of other tracks, and it feels like you are able to sing along to so many of them. It makes for an incredibly strong album that is on the list for a very good reason.
The one hundred seventy-seventh TV show: #916 Veep
It's been a couple of years since we started watching Veep - for various reasons, we took a break a few years in, but we've now made our way through the first five seasons which should give us something to go on. The show comes form the same base of The Thick of It, but with its focus shifted to US politics the tone changes in different ways. Focusing on the weirdly empty role of vice president and the succession battles it inspires in later seasons, the series is weirdly cutthroat. If anything, it feels even more aggressively bleak as rarely, people seem to get anything done, and it's all even more about wheeling and dealing than trying to a good job running the country.
With that, it's excellently acted, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus switching effortlessly between the (fake) caring and underlying anger, making the exaggerated moments work. That's not to say that the rest of the cast doesn't work - there are so many highlights in there - but she really holds it up in her own way. It's a masterpiece and although I have a bit more to go, it's been excellent so far.
The one hundred seventy-eighth TV show: #924 Girls
Did I not discuss this yet? Both awkward and funny, there's something about Girls that looking back on it taps into a collective experience of my generation - vapid, yes, but also stuck in a world not giving much to us, there are moments that really work, while Lena Dunham clearly plays an at times unlikeable character discovering herself in a way that feels real, and which will either fascinate you and draw you in, or repulse if you don't get the right feeling. For me, it was a bit of both - what I watched was worth it, but it's not at that height all the time to recommend the full run.
The ninety-eighth book: #381 The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
I've had The Hobbit as one of the books I wanted to read most of the ones remaining on the list. The Lord of the Rings looms large in the history of fantasy, and The Hobbit is its smaller, more accessible cousin. It has the history and world building, but is also aimed at a younger audience, simpler without talking down in most places. While epic in places, it also has more sillier moments, more songs, and at least one big event gets skipped because Bilbo is knocked unconcious... a bit of a cheat, really. While clearly also aimed at children, the novel also has a lot of wordplay and linguistic tricks that stand out compared to others like it and it stays fun for those moments as much as it does for a good fantasy story without going too epic.
The one hundred and thirty-seventh classical recording: #309 Hector Berlioz - Le Carnaval Romain
As a collection of parts from another opera, this is technically an overture even if it never opened one on its own. There's a large party feel to most of it, big and hurried along while swept up in everything. Clocking in at under ten minutes, it's short, but leaves an impression in part because it feels more focused on the single work.
The three hundred and eighty-second album: #382 Talking Heads - Talking Heads 77
Talking Heads 77 is intriguing. I enjoyed listening, but not in a way that I would initially seek out - but at the same time, I wanted to hear more. There were enough surprises and different ways of approaching their sound in here that I felt curious about what else they're going to do. Psycho Killer cements this, being so much more high energy than the first half of tracks that it really feels like they're able to go anywhere next, and although it can feel mellow at times, it also shows how well the album manages to build that energy. It works, while still keeping the tracks distinct.
The three hundred and eighty-first album: John Martyn - One World
One World isn't easy to describe. It feels close to blues, is influenced by jazz, but has a poppy rock background that's ambient at times. It's listenable, a bit off putting in its weirder segments, but never something I felt I could settle into.
The one hundred and thirty-sixth classical recording: #489 Claude Debussy - String Quartet
One of the advantages of jumping around a list like this is the differences you can spot, even if you can't see how they build to those moments. There's a lot of complexity in this string quartet and it feels like it has been refined into a sound that requires active listening and a bit more engagement to listen to and understandThey both have their place and moment, and today the sophistication is one I can take where often older pieces are there more for the energy and presence, which this lacks sometimes. It's still a lovely piece and, from what I understand, one on the road of an ongoing shift in the music.
The ninety-seventh book: #77 The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr - E. T. A. Hoffmann
I don't think I expected the Tomcat of this novel to be a literal tomcat, even as literate and erudite as this one ends up being. It's an interesting way of looking at the work, taking the first person narrative story telling but letting an outside perspective judge it. It's not trying to really innovate that, but it makes for a nice and more whimsical look at the intrigue the work describes. Spliced together with Keisler's more human perspective, weaving in the narrative our feline comments on, it's a fun read, entertaining in a lot of places, though never quite giving you enough story before yanking you out and moving you to the other side.