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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 13, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

    Culture Shots: Remembering David Kelly, buy a bit of the Wickerman, and the tao of Thelonious Monk

    Laurence Mackin

    IN TODAY’S Irish Times there’s a lovely piece by Donald Clarke about David Kelly, a man whose acting ability was only matched by his boundless charm. There’s a short selection of links with it for some of his work, from his turn as O’Reilly the builder in Fawlty Towers to his role in Samuel Beckett’s Rough for Theatre I. Well worth a watch, though, is his acceptance speech, and the video tributes from the likes of Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and many others, when Kelly picked up a lifetime achievement award at the Iftas. He found the whole thing extraordinary, and wondered why someone was giving him an award for being allowed to do what he always dreamed of doing. We will never see his like again.

    TODAY MIGHT BE Single Awareness Day, and there’s plenty of events taking place at which those on their own will stick out like a sore thumb (though I’d happily go to see Casablanca in Meeting House Square in Dublin, date or no date). For something a little off the wall, though, you cold head to the Sugar Club in Dublin, which is hosting an alternative night, featuring a screening of Misery and stand-up routines/rants about ex-girlfriends from the likes of David McSavage, Trevor Browne and Giles, followed by tunes from Dermot Kelly, for the princely sum of €5. No flowers necessary.

    ADVICE FOR musicians is all well and good, but when it’s Thelonious Monk doing a bit of preaching, it’s time to sit up and listen. This absolute gem popped up on my radar last week, a snapshot of advice given by Monk to Steve Lacy (the writing is Lacy’s but the words are all Monk’s). His rules for playing, and indeed for life include:

    “Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.”

    “Pat your foot and sing the melody in your head, when you play.”

    “Stop playing all those weird notes (that bullshit), play the melody!”

    “You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?”

    Outstanding. Here’s a bit of Monk – whose middle name, incidentally, was Sphere – at his best playing Well You Needn’t. Lacy is in there somewhere too.

    THAT PUT ME in mind of the astonishing interview Andre Previn did with Oscar Peterson, where they discuss jazz, musical history, playing styles, their biggest influences, and much more. There’s plenty of links to different parts of the show on You Tube, but it’s worth watching the whole thing, especially the last section when the pair play together. Here’s part one to whet your appetite.

    MOST OF YOU will be aware of the excellent Open Culture website, but within the site is a list of free online courses covering everything from Art History and Architecture – with lecturers from Yale and MIT – to Game Theory and Virgil’s Aenid. Now you have no excuse for not fulfilling some of those damned New Year resolutions.

    IF ONE OF those resolutions was to buy yourself a slice of movie history from one of the scariest films ever, then step this way. The pub that was used in the Wickerman is up for sale for about £200,000. We hear it’s a local pub, for local people. Britt Ekland is not thought to still work there though. Damn.

    AND FINALLY: Nicholson Baker is one of the oddest writers around. He produces books of dazzling intent and craftsmanship , stunning essays on the most mundane objects that we take for granted – the beauty of the stapler, anyone? – and then fires off novels packed full of graphic sex. So when he set down to do an interview for the Paris Review, he set one constraint – that they not talk about his books because it makes him cringe. Just as well he’s got plenty of other things to say then. You can read it here. And indeed you should.


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