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Archive for May, 2014

On reading: The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

May 21, 2014 5 comments

A while back, I was talking with my son, Jonathan, who lives in Wisconsin. He happened to mention one of Isaac Asimov’s short stories and said I absolutely had to read it (I’ll confess now that, despite being a sci-fi fan, I’d never read any of his work before … yes, that’s lame, I admit it). Given his glowing recommendation, I decided I should read the story. So I did. My thoughts? Well, I’m going to keep them to myself until after I hear from a few people. I don’t want my opinion of the story to influence what others might have to say.

To those who have read the story, what did you think about it? For those who’ve never read it before and are now curious enough to read it, let me encourage you to read the piece all in one sitting. It’s not that hard to do since it’s a short story, and it does, as my son suggested, make the story all that much more powerful.

To encourage you to read the story, here are a few introductory words penned by the author himself:

This is by far my favorite story of all those I have written.

After all, I undertook to tell several trillion years of human history in the space of a short story and I leave it to you as to how well I succeeded. I also undertook another task, but I won’t tell you what that was lest l spoil the story for you.

It is a curious fact that innumerable readers have asked me if I wrote this story. They seem never to remember the title of the story or (for sure) the author, except for the vague thought it might be me. But, of course, they never forget the story itself especially the ending. The idea seems to drown out everything — and I’m satisfied that it should.

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

–dp

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Melancholy Monday: Ghost in this House (Alison Krauss)

May 19, 2014 11 comments

Alison Krauss loves sad songs. The sadder, the better, according to her when she spoke to the audience during a concert my wife and I were lucky enough to attend a few years back. She went on to say that if she was given a song and she liked it, the first thing she’d do is arrange it to make it as sad and depressing as she possibly could. Given her lengthy career and continued popularity, she’s good at it. And, based on what everyone knows about me, it makes her a good fit to be right there at the top of my melancholy playlist. One of her most depressing and sorrowful tunes is this wonderfully melancholic song, Ghost in this House.

A short sample from the chorus reveals the source of the pain in this song: a passionate love affair burned out, leaving but one lonely soul to ruminate on the emptiness of their life. These beautifully sad lyrics are complemented perfectly by an arrangement that heightens the torment of the broken hearted person left behind.

–dp

I’m just a whisper of smoke
I’m all that’s left of two hearts on fire
That once burned out of control
You took my body and soul
I’m just a ghost in this house