Rock Around the Croc: Maurice Ravel

Happy Sunday, you carefully-tended gardens of the most fragrant herbs, welcome to The Hostages, which is inexplicably the host site of a weekly feature about pretentious classical music. I’m your host Sobek, and I sometimes write stuff about songs. Let’s start with It’s Saturday, by King Missile, which is cool not only because of a butt-kicking drum solo, but because the lyrics are wonderful. “I want to be different, like everybody else I want to be like.” Truth.

Maurice Ravel was born on the frigid steppes of Central Asia to the same Mongolia horse tribe that would later produce such world-conquerors as Ghengis Khan and Tamerlane, which makes it so much more surprising that he is today primary recognized for his work as a composer of the 20th Century French Modernist school. It is reported that when he was born, the village sorceress prophesied that he would become a destroyer of souls, so his worried parents shipped him off to be educated as a musician in Paris. That same sorceress was found brutally murdered with her heart torn from the corpse, and legend has it that young Ravel was responsible, although this has never been conclusively proven.

Ravel proved to the world his genius from a young age, while still at the academy, when he wrote Le Tombeau de Couperin, a series of six dance suites based on Baroque-era forms, for solo piano, and which he later wrote for full orchestration (dropping two of the suites in the process). This is the Menuet, the third movement of the orchestrated suites. To me, the oboe is both beautiful and exotic, floating on the dream-like background and evoking nothing so much as the east-Asian wind whispering to his young ears that his destiny was the mass-slaughter of all those who stood in his way:

It was during this same period that Ravel began to live his notorious double life, studying composition and performance by day, and murdering prostitutes by night. According to his journals, his first such victim was a woman known only as Madame Juillet, with whom he carried on a torrid affair over the course of four months before finally dispatching her with a knife. He lamented that none of his later homicides ever produced the same effect on him. It is in that light that scholars describe his Pavane for a Dead Princess as not only a lament for the lost Madame Juillet, but for the missing rush that comes only from your first kill. Please note that a pavane is a slow, stately, Renaissance-era musical form, once again showing Ravel’s almost wistful look to the past when writing his compositions.

After graduation from the Paris conservatory, and against the wishes of the increasingly-terrified populace, Ravel moved into an apartment near the Champs Elysees and continued both his career as a composer and his unending quest to slake his thirst for human blood. He began roaming the streets with a pack of thugs known as Les Enforceurs, threatening all those who would not submit to his terrible will and brutally beating those who resisted. As he rose to prominence, he decided to make his move towards political power, and although he was defeated in his candidacy for Prime Minister, he was nevertheless appointed as Minister of War and Suffering by a cowering George Clemenceau. Ravel composed his Tzigane for solo violin in celebration, and it was traditionally played as he gleefully ordered wave after wave of despondent French soldiers to charge into German machine gun nests.

Following the end of the first World War, Ravel took the locigal step of seizing absolute power over the French government, declaring himself the Avenging Hand of Tengri and vowing to finish the exterminating warfare started by his Mongol ancestors. His armies began an inexorable sweep of terror and savagery across the European plains, pressing his conquered enemies into service as the front-line soldiers in his relentless press towards the east, and burning to the ground any village or town so foolish as to resist him. Most historians estimate he was personally responsible for about 2,000 deaths, as he refused to be the kind of leader who gave orders from the safety of a camp behind the lines. He composed his most famous work, Bolero, after the Sack of Vienna, in which he not only razed the city to the ground so that not one brick stood upon the other, but he constructed a five-story citadel entirely from the skulls of Austrian orphans.

Most modern scholars question how Ravel managed to compose such lilting, lyric, moving orchestral works while still literally soaked in the blood of his enemies, but obviously they can suck it.

By the year 1950, Ravel’s top generals were starting to get concerned that he was serious when he told them his purpose was nothing less than the total extermination of the entire human race. They entered into a conspiracy to administer poison in his daily ration of croissants, and the accumulated effect took its toll. The composer fell stricken from his horse while riding against Samarkand, the same Uzbek city made so famous centuries before by his ancient cousin Tamerlane. He was taken to his tent where he composed the ballet Dafnis et Chloe, the final statement of a homicidal megalomaniac and one of the greatest composers the world has ever known.

Of course, we can renew the eternal discussion of whether and how we can separate the monstrous acts of the artist from the works themselves. I have no confidence that I can resolve that debate; all I can say is that listening to Ravel, I hear not only the great beauty of the surface, but the tortured screams of countless legions of the damned just underneath. And with that I leave you until next week, you sugar cubes neatly stacked into shimmering castles of the imagination. God bless.


  1. Next week: The Beach Boys

  2. I learn so much about history in these posts.

  3. I found Mitchell’s assertion that he does not have a problem with gassy beans followed by his statement that he rather enjoys flatulence, amusing.
    Some of us do not enjoy having the blankets explosively blown off at night.

    Another thing I do to reduce the gas is I don’t put too much garlic or onions in there anymore. I do add herbs and veggies that are carminatives that prevent gas, like celery seed, celery and carrots and parsnips, crushed dill/ fennel, coriander, etc. according to whatever fits the flavor profile I’m after.

  4. Jimbro, you leave the seaweed in there when boiling? Doesn’t it give a weird gelly texture?
    I wonder if I’m using too much.

  5. Few are so bold as to speak the truth of the titans of our musical heritage. That the bloody rampage of Ravel the Ravager has been so thoroughly suppressed by the historical establishment is itself a crime, one which will doubtless someday be avenged by some crimson-caked composer future generations will enshrine.

  6. Well, to be fair, he slaughtered most journalists right at the start of the interview. Or mid-interview. Sometimes post-interview. This makes it take a while to get the word out.

  7. Remember the guy that finally told us this was happening by writing it in his own blood on a bare plaster wall before he expired? The only reason we *know* about him is because plaster sucks it up and you just can’t clean that.

    And they didn’t have any good stain-blocking primers back then. The blood-text kept…bleeding…through the paint. Over and over. Until they could figure out a good formula.

    Pretty sure this is why after they invented it, it was named Kilz.

  8. *endures barrage of rotten cabbages and tomatoes*

  9. I use a strip about 2″ x 8″ which is cut up into little pieces. I’ve found that once you boil the bean/seaweed combo it’s impossible to get it all out when you drain them. There’s no off putting taste from the seaweed especially with all the other ingredients that go into a pot of baked beans but it can be visually jarring to the uninitiated.

  10. DPH sent out an alert about a multi-state cluster of nasty antibiotic-resistant pseudomonas infections related to some artificial tears products.

  11. Can’t see that first tweet without a twitter account.

  12. Cool story, Bro.

  13. How Dare You Poly-Fuck the Police

  14. a multi-state cluster of nasty antibiotic-resistant pseudomonas infections related to some artificial tears products.
    Last week it was antibiotic resistant gonorrhea in MA

  15. Pseudomonas is so gross. I remember a patient with it when I was in clinicals at a wound center. The fruity smell…ugh.

  16. Reading the replies:

    Earth, Wind and Pussy

  17. I think Sobek ate a fist full of fungus from leon’s place before he started typing…
    Seems to have worked out

  18. Hey Jam, did you hear about the horrendous acoustics in lump’s dining room?


  19. Agree about the grossness of Pseudomonas. As a med student and surgical intern I spent a few months on the burn unit when I was undecided on the ortho bizness and grew to hate the bug that seemed to colonize every burn patient. Despite leaving the world of PRS behind I still encountered it in kids with sneaker foot

  20. Although I found it enjoyable it’s hard for me to imagine what the time signature must look like in that last piece, Daybreak. It’s so free flowing it doesn’t seem to fit into any particular time sequence. Maybe the whole thing is barless.

  21. Pseudomonas.

    My older brother spent 3 months in a burn unit after a head on car wreck back in 99 but I don’t recall hearing this term. What I do remember is they put leaches all over his feet and ankles to encourage blood flow down into those areas to feed the skin grafts. It was gross looking as shit but it worked. As you might imagine his feet and ankles look like a horror movie seen even today.


  23. I remember using these on reimplantation cases for digits. It’s relatively easier to reestablish arterial inflow than venous outflow so there’s vascular congestion which is no bueno. Enter the leeches!

    One of the many nurses I dated over my single years used to love using them on her ICU patients and her colleagues immediately assigned her anyone with a leech lol

  24. But I don’t care for Starbucks. Burned bitter coffee.

  25. Hey Jam, did you hear about the horrendous acoustics in lump’s dining room?

    This is another reason for tapestries in stone buildings.

  26. Lumps, if you don’t have it in you to send that substack to you MIL, show her one of the articles and ask her what she thinks..

  27. I thought an overnight soak, the longer the better, and a long slow cook, is what helped eliminate gas from beans.
    Lumps, how long do you leave the beans in kombu? Do you make that or buy it?

  28. In the traditions cookbook they are all about the lacto fernent. Some beans, and yes, lentils) need to soak with whey (or lemon if one is lactose intolerant).
    I generally don’t have a problem with great northern, navy, or black eyed peas, but sometimes the lentils will mess with me.

  29. I can remember my friend’s ex wife putting a scoop of yogurt in a pan of uncooked oatmeal mixed with water overnight before cooking it the next morning. I wonder if that’s the same idea.

  30. I bought a couple of bags of this a long time ago

    It lives in the back of my spice closet in a zip loc bag

  31. Kombu? Seaweed?

    Quit messing with the dog, I’m old and gullible. No more fake tennis ball throws.

  32. Despite leaving the world of PRS behind I still encountered it in kids with sneaker foot

    Many years ago, Mini-me’s dress shoes for school started smelling like Doritos. Don’t know what that funk was, but we threw the shoes away, and I didn’t eat Doritos for a long time.

  33. *spoiler alert*
    *that’s where she kept her church doritos*

  34. Hahahaha.

  35. Reading about Nancy Pelosi’s exorcism and thinking it wasn’t the house that needed it.

  36. Soaking? Seaweed?? Other vegetable???? HIYAAAAAAAA!!! Why you bean so complicated? This so unnecessary. Pot of bean very simple! Uncle Mitch teach you:

    Get ham bone, smoked shank or hocks if other not available. Boil ham until it fall off bone. Get everything out of water, boil water until it’s concentrated broth. Separate good ham from bone, fat and cartilage. Do this day ahead. Put broth in container and leave in fridge overnight. Next morning easy peel off layer of fat on top. Nobody like greasy bean. Put broth, bean (pinto bean superior to all other bean) and ham in crock pot, add water if needed. Add fresh ground pepper. Set to high and cook all day. May need salt, maybe not. Taste later in the day and add if you want more salt. By dinner time you have fuiyoh beans and ham. Top with chopped green onion if you like. Add hot sauce if you like. Make cornbread. Do not put sugar or corn in cornbread.

    Uncle Mitch have no gas problem.

  37. Sterling Holloway is in this episode of Superman. Kinda weird hearing a scientist speak with Cheshire Cat/Winnie the Pooh’s voice.

  38. This is a link to an Imgur Gallery with two videos, I tried to combine them but the sound kept getting off by .5 second which annoys me no end.

    Do chickens purr?

  39. Your mom likes a greasy bean.

  40. Sterling Holloway is in this episode of Superman.

    My maternal grandfather’s brother was named Sterling Holloway. I’m assuming this not him.

  41. “Well, to be fair, he slaughtered most journalists right at the start of the interview.”

    And also to be fair, that balanced out some of his graver atrocities.

  42. The real Ravel drove an ambulance truck during WWI, and dedicated the six movements of Tombeau de Couperin to six of his fallen friends. A lot of his work is informed by his horror of what the “modern” world had produced, so his use of Baroque and Renaissance forms makes sense in that light.

  43. “I think Sobek ate a fist full of fungus from leon’s place before he started typing…”

    You’re just saying that because your face is melting and all those eels are burrowing into your ear.

  44. “Although I found it enjoyable it’s hard for me to imagine what the time signature must look like in that last piece, Daybreak.”

    That seems like a nod to the Modernist trends of the day. I heard a performer talking about the difficulty of playing Debussy, and she said if you lose the beat you’ll never find it again.

  45. I strongly recommend that you all listen to It’s Saturday.

  46. Mitch, your method is not actually less complicated. But it looks pretty darn yummy! That’s some real southern cookery.

    I like more of a bean soup with lots of different veggies in there and greens and herbs and stuff. Mine is just finished and it is excellent. I saved some as-is, and put some with smoked pork simmered in it off to the side. I intend to share with some non-pork eaters in my family.

    I also made chicken stew for Scott. No cornbread but I thought about it. Maybe I’ll make some later today. I’ve been standing in the kitchen chopping stuff and cooking things for at least four hours and I’m kinda ready for a little break.

  47. Really? Pinto beans? That’s your favorite? May I ask why.

  48. “I’m kinda ready for a little break.”

    You should take a break and listen to It’s Saturday.

  49. Scott Adams of Dilbert fame just admitted the anti-vaxxers “appear to be the winners”.

  50. Former co-worker is trying to get me to join a class action lawsuit re: the mandate. $1,000 to join? I think if I’d actually gotten fired, I’d be all in, but it’s just stress, not loss of income at this point.

  51. Beasn, after the overnight soak, I drain and rinse, and then put them in the kombu water (that is just a piece of kombu that has been sitting in cold water overnight). By this time the dried seaweed has absorbed a lot of water and is much expanded since I started it last night. I let the beans soak with the kombu for three or four hours. Then I put the heat on low and let it sit and steep (not boil or simmer) for at least 1/2 hour or so. Ordinarily I would remove the seaweed before I start boiling the beans, but inspired by Jimbro, today I removed the seaweed and chopped it up and put it back in. I removed more than half of the kombu water and put chicken stock.
    The reserved kombu water smells amazing, it smells like the ocean.

  52. OMG it’s fucking beat poetry.

  53. *that thing where I two-finger point to my eyes then point to Sobek*

  54. My bean soaking is 100% for baked beans in a traditional beanpot.

    Great Northern, Soldier, Yellow Eye or Jacob’s Cattle beans are all good for beanpot beans. State of Maine Bean Company sells dry beans around here.

    For any other recipe involving beans I’ll just buy a can of store brand or Goya if I’m feeling fancy.

  55. I joined in on the legume fun, made split pea soup with hambone for lunch, have navy beans for green chile chicken soup cooking in the crockpot.

  56. Seaweed can be used as a seasoning. I go through about one of these a year

    It’s got your iodine in it – don’t forget your iodine cretins!

  57. Grew up on pintos, 24/7. Mi familia buy beans by the bushel. They fight over Mesilla valley or Moriarty beans. Fresh only. People at work get their beans from Pueblo, CO. Roamy, Hatch green chile?

  58. We caught the last 5 minutes of brunch at my favorite restaurant. Steak and egg tacos, carne-asada fries, banana cream french toast. Dang I’m a lucky pup.

  59. Really? Pinto beans? That’s your favorite? May I ask why.

    Sure, I just like the size, flavor and texture the best. Black beans are a close second though. Next pot will be those. I don’t care for the white bean varieties, kidneys are great in chili. Way every now and I’ll make black eyed peas this way. Limas are right out.

  60. Boy1 started drinking the bowl of syrup with a straw when he was out of french toast and I’ve never been more proud.

  61. Comment by lumps on January 22, 2023 2:17 pm

    Really? Pinto beans? That’s your favorite? May I ask why.

    You didn’t ax me, but in true H2 fashion, that doesn’t stop me from answering. Pinto beans are an excellent vehicle for conveying other flavors. Salt. Various peppers. Bacon fat. Various sausages. etc

    Kinda like french fries are a good vehicle for chili, cheese, ketchup, cream gravy, etc.

  62. I have to use up all my storebought dry beans this Winter because some of them are getting long in the tooth and I hate tough beans.
    Next Winter I should have lots and lots of homegrown dry beans on my pantry shelf, if the season cooperates. I grew some vines specifically to have lots of seeds to plant this Spring for a big dry bean harvest. The drought reduced my yields but I still have more than enough seed for rows and rows of dry bean production.
    And I have new sunny land where the massive forsythia hedge used to be. All I need is to put up my rabbit fence and bean netting/ poles and I’m in business. I think I’ll let the rental chickens bless that area for a couple weeks before planting.

  63. Heh. Bunch o beaners. I didn’t even know bean connoisseur was a deal until my mom and her cousin, Freda, were discussing skin color and origin of pintos. Football Sunday is air fryer chicken nuggets. Different dipping sauces.

  64. Gonna try planting favas for Dad this year.

  65. Just tasted my beans, just a bit more salt and pepper but otherwise perfect. I also like a chunk of cheddar on the side to nibble on. I also like a cold glass of buttermilk with beans and cornbread but they were completely out at the grocery store.

  66. When I shop I’m often given the assignment to “find some interesting and sort of healthy” snacks. Being a guy who both enjoys making my wife happy as well as eating I take the mission seriously.

    Holy crap, did I ever hit the jackpot with the cinnamon tortas!?!

  67. Gonna try planting favas for Dad this year.

  68. They may be kick-ass crackers, but their website is for shit.

  69. Yep. On the “Oilve [sic] Oil Tortas” page there’s a bunch of ‘lorem ipsum’ text. Somebody isn’t finished working this site.

  70. Jimbro, comfort food. Except Mexican neighbor in Sunnyvale made corn tortillas with butter and cinnamon sugar. Soft or hard. Yummy. New Mexico is all about flour tortillas.

  71. Yeah, I was disappointed too.

    Frickin’ foreigners …

  72. How do your seaweed flakes taste, Jimbro? Same as kombu, pretty much?

  73. Hmmm…I wonder if the air fryer can make corn chips?

  74. KC fans are celebrating.

  75. We are wary, but celebrating. Wouldn’t want to play in Atlanta next week. Mostly peaceful protests.

  76. Nothing too distinctive or overwhelming, slightly salty. I’ve had it on popcorn too and it’s good

  77. Did you make dickweed flakes too?

  78. That’s dickweed cheese

  79. buttermilk? do you also have an onion on your belt?

  80. home game next week.

    if mahomes is limping it won’t end well

  81. watched a non kc game today. first one in a long time. watching Purdy later

  82. My little sister lives in TX and she was asking me to teach her how to garden but I told her I know nothing about gardening there. Such a different climate, soil, etc.

    Our recently departed DinT used to tell me that where he was in TX it was two short growing seasons with Hell in between. Sis is telling me that where she is, right now people can have a decent Winter garden but it has to be all done by June, or then it will all get scorched.

    Oh, and she warns she has “clay soil.” Yeah, well, there’s clay and then there’s clay. Some parts of TX have this nasty alkaline crap that nothing lives in. Some don’t. I have “clay” too and it is really great for gardening. I told her to go to a garden center and get some local advice.

  83. Fun weekend here at the DNH Inn & ranch resort. Been contemplating replacing the ’05 F150 for some time now, decided to get serious and make inquiries earlier this week. The following day after making an inquiry and setting up a time to look at the potential replacement, I hear the ominous metal on metal noise when I hit the brakes.
    So, it was change the front brakes day. Go figure, It always happens in January or February, never in May or October. Lucky for me I have a former boss that has a heated garage / entertainment studio who allowed me to make a huge mess in.
    I’m getting too old for this shit, my back aches, am pre-emptively taking 2 Tylenol before bed, so I can get out of it in the morning and take 2 more. Still cheaper than paying the pro’s. After all, it’s not rape if you’re paying for it.

  84. * ^ correction. Should be:
    willing to pay for it.

  85. 5 missed extra points in a row. I think I would have made a couple of them.

    * updates resume *

  86. Yes, I like buttermilk J’ames. Belt onion not required. One great thing to do with cornbread is crumble it into a glass of buttermilk and add chopped green onions. Eat with spoon. Always in a glass, never in a bowl. I don’t know the reason for this but it’s Tradition.

  87. They should have canned him last week.

  88. I’m singing songs from Hamilton and Greatest Showman. Getting on someone’s nerves. Reaction videos to Hamilton.

  89. * Greatest Showman.
    Slim Whitman? Martians love him so much their heads explode.

  90. Slim Whitman was awesome. Marty Robbins was way mo bettah than Slim.

  91. leftover mexican food or pizza? Mrs Jay went to bed early, so no chuckeyes tonight.


  92. When do people get Secret Service protection?

  93. I made lasagna soup for dinner. I cant believe how fast my kids ate it.

    Lumps, it’s a parody of the kind of douches that take beat poetry seriously.

  94. There is a good chance Dallas will lose this game because they didn’t fire a kicker who forgot how to kick.

    Lots of fun to watch.

  95. love love love lasagna soup. gotta make that again one of these days.

  96. Keep your day job Scott. He got one in.

  97. 1 for 6.

  98. Before I found Charles Dowding, and wayyy before I found no-till agriculture videos with Ray Archuleta, I found Theresa at Tending My Garden. She is a recent widow and has been a wealth of lifelong gardening knowledge to myself and a lot of people and she could use some help. She is an elderly lady and not a social media expert who is going to figure out that whole world and how to monetize it.

    I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. This is exactly the sort of person we need to slip a tenner to if we can.

    OK, I’m done. Sorry. I just had to. She’s worth it.

    If you are looking for any specific gardening knowledge, search her site, she’s got it, six ways to Sunday.

  99. wtf is lasagna soup

  100. OK it looks a lot like American Goulash

  101. I had never heard of lasagna soup before Friday. Someone at work mentioned a local place that had lasagna soup that day, and i thought it sounded yummy, so i googled a recipe and tried it. It worked out great.

  102. 2 in a row!

  103. heh, so has a TV show now.

  104. Lasagna soup is fake.

  105. It might me a thing in New Mexico

  106. Never heard of Lasagna soup. Not NM, unless it has green chile. It’s a rule.

  107. So Laura with the Fava beans and a soundproof room. Not suspicious at all.

  108. Rocketboy and DIL came over for dinner; I made green chile chicken (I don’t know if they were Hatch or not, Osita, they were canned, diced mild chiles) and soft tacos with ground beef. Ice cream for dessert. I had a good call with Mini-me just prior. She is taking an explosives class which includes how National Parks dispose of carcasses (horses, moose, buffalo, etc.) We recalled the exploding whale story and laughed.

    It’s been a good day.

  109. I never heard of lasagna soup, either.

  110. “She is taking an explosives class which includes how National Parks dispose of carcasses.”

    I just got jealous.

  111. Dumping Eddie reinvigorated Patricia.

  112. She is an elderly lady and not a social media expert who is going to figure out that whole world and how to monetize it.
    I saw a video from a guy called Old Alabama Gardener about garlic in honey which is a project I’m thinking about doing. (Not that it’s all that complex: jar + honey + garlic cloves + time = fermented garlic honey). It was from a few years ago and naturally I was curious about whether he was still active. When I clicked his main page the last video was “What happened to old Alabama gardener? and I knew that time caught up with him. Very interesting life that he led, it’s worth watching his memorial video if you’re even remotely interested. His video on lasagna soup is outstanding.

  113. It was good to see Beansnsnsnsnsn here.

  114. 3 to 4 inches of snow overnight, about the same forecast for the rest of today. Where is the global warming I was promised?

  115. Okay, because none of you demanded it!

  116. Any snow in FL this year Mare? I feel like the cold waits until the citrus trees are vulnerable to a chill and then swoops in to fuck with the citrus farmers routinely

  117. I’m UP, MMM in ~15.

  118. MMM 529

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