The other day I was off to the side of a conversation about Tom Waits. I don't much care for Tom Waits, so I stayed to the side. One of them said something to the effect of "Tom Waits is the musical genius of our time." Nobody asked me, but that got me thinking about who I would call the musical genius of our time. I'm not sure what "our time" really delineates (Tom Waits' first record was released in '73 — 40 years ago!), but even if we're just talking about pop-type music, a lot of contenders spring to mind — Prince, Tori Amos, and Sufjan Stevens, to name a few. It's not just that I like their songs (I don't even own any Prince discography), but I think of them as virtuosic.
I drove to Boulder this morning to see a talk there, and listened to Seven Swans on the way. It's basically Christian music, and I'm an atheist, but I don't care because it's soooo beautiful. I don't really use iTunes anymore, but for four or five years, the main ways I listened to music were in my car on the way to and fro work (an old red GMC Jimmy that I bought from Chris Tonelli for $50) and via iTunes on my computer, because I didn't have a real stereo. I think my counts got reset when I switched computers and re-installed iTunes, but at the time, the most listened to song in my account was "The Dress Looks Nice on You."
I'm not much of a completist. Meaning, I rarely go all out collecting and/or consuming the complete works of any artist, even those I really love, unless it's easy to do so because they only made a few albums, movies, etc. When I've set out to do that in the past — read every book by a single prolific author, or buy every album by a single prolific musician — I've always eventually run up against stuff I didn't like, and lost steam. Now I get a kind of comfort out of knowing that there's stuff left to discover from artists that I really love. Like, if I ever got locked in my apartment in some kind of post-apocalyptic situation, I know I haven't even finished all the Anne Carson and Wallace Stevens on our shelves.
You know what? Meg Ryan is a really good actress. But you can kind of only tell when she's cast against type. I mean, I'm not saying she's always "made good choices," film-wise, but if you ever think she's America's Sweetheart and nothing more, watch Hurlyburly or Jane Campion's In the Cut. She can play seedy, trampy, drugged out no problem. I see her as more versatile than, say, Jennifer Jason Leigh, her co-star in In the Cut, who is great at seedy but is always kind of seedy. I think Meg Ryan could probably do anything. Too bad she's mostly done cheesy crap. She's also been in two of the worst movies I've ever seen: Joe Versus the Volcano and Prelude to a Kiss.