Okay, I'm feeling a bit rough today, the aftereffects of a few Newcastle Browns & standing on a concrete surface for two hours bopping along to the opening show of Radiohead's American In Rainbows tour last night. I can't say I've been to many arena rock concerts in the last decade or two – most of the acts I like these days are hard-pressed to fill a large club space or medium theater – but Radiohead's show reminded me of just how exhilarating a large-scale pop music show can be.
I'll admit to being a big Radiohead fan; the band seems to me to have filled the space in popular culture that the circa-1969 Beatles did: an outfit of really fine melodic sensibilities (read: "catchy pop songs"), but pushing the envelope with innovative arrangements, oblique approaches, & really hard-to-get-on-the-1st-few-listens songs – dragging a mass audience along with them to new places.
Nifty pictures & a complete set list here. If there're tickets available for a show in your neighborhood, by all means don't miss.
Ajax, Sophocles, trans. John Tipton (Flood Editions, 2008)
I haven't read my way thru the corpus of Greek tragedy, & Ajax was new to me before picking up John Tipton's energetic, precise new version of the play. Tipton's lodestars here are Christopher Logue's wonderful, anachronism-laden versions of the Iliad (tho Tipton has the advantage over Logue of actually knowing Greek), Louis & Celia Zukofsky's "homophonic" translation of Catullus, & (tho Tipton oddly doesn't mention it in his afterword) Zukofsky's five-word-per-line version of Plautus' Rudens ("A"-21). Tipton renders the Greek hexameters into six-word lines (except of course for the choruses, whose various meters he shifts into other word-counts): there's not the slightest hint of translatorese here, just a muscular, sensitive contemporary American English that packs an emotional impact I've only rarely encountered in translations of classical drama (one gets flashes of it in Pound's Sophocles versions). The story itself – which opens with Ajax, possessed of a divine madness, having slaughtered a herd of domestic animals, proceeds to his offing himself midway thru the play, then ends with a debate over his burial – is weird enough to be compelling in the most prosaic rendering. Tipton's late-modernist idiom makes it oddly magnificent.