Bonny Dune

Zendaya-as-Chani_200Saw Dune yesterday with my pals. Thought everyone would love it. I certainly did. Anyway, I will try to enumerate the multitudinous ways it moved me, to the extent that I was glad I was seated in a different section, so that I could cry or express my overflowing emotions without remorse. Even though I missed out on the popcorn. I will try to the best of my ability to avoid spoilage. I loved the music by Hans Zimmer. I did not for one second find it bombastic or overbearing, as one of my compadres of questionable musical taste remarked afterwards. To the contrary, I found Zimmer’s music for Interstellar underbearing, and thought Dune tunes were just-the-right-amountbearing. Leave us not dwell on the production, but it was all top notch. From the way they arranged the logo as a series of revolving curves, to the aircraft of mechanical dragonflies. I would not even fault the footsteps of Foley Artiste Sandra Fox or Foley Editor Christopher Bonis. The screenwriting seemed faithful to the book by Frank Herbert, which I confess to not having read in its entirety, or even its fractionality, but I would be hard pressed to imagine it being altogether different from the story presented by Director Denis Villeneueve, who let me add while I am at it, did a splendid job of directing. As a completely irrelevant aside which I will no doubt have points deducted for even mentioning, Villeneueve was the name of the composer in Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past whose ‘little phrase’ played such a major role.

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides really carried the film as the chosen one. Saw him in Little Women and noticed he had potential–realized here in spades. Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides was another familiar face. I have seen him in a lot of films and he never fails to amuse. Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho had me worried. But my fears were in no way justified. He was well cast and played his role to the hilt. Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is always well cast as the heavy. He easily achieved Total Heaviosity, while still capable of levitation. Barbra Stresand’s stepson, Josh Brolin, as Gurney Halleck was also well cast as was Javier Bardem as Stilgar. Charlotte Rampling as Reverend Mother Mohiam projected sly wisdom and power even behind her veil. Last, if the cast is listed alphabetically, but certainly not least, is Zendaya as Chani. She met and exceeded the heightened expectations I had for her.

In Dune you have a coming of age story and a heroic journey, a fulfilment of a prophecy–all the Jungian Archetypes a boy could ask for. What’s not to like?

Rubber Duck Ryder

snoopthing_200Feeling a little bogged down lately. Trying to establish a productive routine. I turned to the Bullet Journal Method from Ryder Carroll. I read four chapters and they all resonated for me. I am going to relate them, in my own words, but really, if I don’t explain them correctly, then go to the source: Ryder Carroll’s The Bullet Journal Method. I have been meaning to get back into this book. Somehow I bogged down and didn’t finish reading it, let alone put the Bullet Journal Method into practice. But I opened it at random, to page 203, and a chapter entitled Endurance.

Endurance

This was about how Ryder hated to do dishes, but his partner liked to cook. She would come home from work and start cooking great meals, but it was bugging him because he was stuck on KP. Then he heard her singing as she cooked, and he understood: cooking really was her therapy, and it was helping her deal with problems she couldn’t even discuss. The cooking, and the singing, helped her to unwind and put her in a better mood so she could enjoy the time they spent together. He was able to wash the dishes because he saw it in a new context as a way for him to show his love and appreciation, and a way for her to put herself in a receptive mood. This reminded me of someone, this singing cook, but unfortunately, my singing cook went a little overboard, perhaps sipping a little too much of the cooking sherry–hitting the sauce, as it were. But it would have been great if she had been a little more circumspect, perhaps limiting her menu to only two or three courses? My mom loves to cook, and I sure don’t mind helping her clean up. She can’t sing, however, and as good of a cook as she is, I am going to keep looking for my own singing cook. 

The point of this chapter was just that if you have a task that you abhor, focus on why you are doing it, and the benefits you will derive when it is completed.

One way of tracking the context, why you do the things you do, using the Bullet Journal, is to ask some questions, and put them in a Clarity Journal. The example Ryder used was, you don’t like to pay rent, but you do want to live in a nice neighborhood where you feel safe. The Clarity Journal helps you see what is important to you, and what you need to do in order to live the kind of life you want to.

Deconstruction

You have a problem. Say, you hate your job. So, what are your options? In tackling this, Ryder suggests a method developed by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota. You ask a question, then you ask, why? Repeat the process five times, each time peeling off another layer of the onion. This reminds me of a child who has just learned to ask why? Each time you answer, he asks you again, until you are driven nuts. But, actually, it is a pretty good technique. So, once you have your five questions, you make another list of possible solutions. Then you choose which one or ones have the best chance of succeeding. This method is called The Five Questions. Why? Because you repeat the process five times. Why? Because–go ask your mother!

Inertia

In a previous section of the Journal you wrote out your goals. But you aren’t making progress towards any of them, and you are frustrated by the feeling of inertia. You are stuck in a rut. You have hit a brick wall. You’re in a cul de sac of no return. This section offers two methods to break on through to the other side. First is called Rubber Ducking. It is from a book for coders entitled The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas. Basically, you explain each line of code to a rubber duck. My father was a programmer, and he used this method with my mom, who can cook, but can’t sing or code. He would explain the problem he was having to her, and she would pretend to listen. Her head would go up and down, like a helium balloon, though she hadn’t the foggiest idea what he was talking about. They both knew it was a sham, but nevertheless, the solution would arrive of its own accord. My dad was very musical and he was a good programmer, but he was a terrible cook. 

The second method was called Break Sprint, and it is where you are overwhelmed by a big project so you put it on the back burner and start a second project that is a little easier and can be completed in say, two weeks. Then you build up momentum to tackle the big project.

Imperfection

Ryder tells about the time he tried to make his partner a romantic dinner of sweet potato gnocchi. As hard as it is to spell, it’s even harder to cook. He made it, finally, but he was upset that the meal was less than the ideal he was hoping for. She would have enjoyed it anyway if he could have only let go, instead of spoiling the evening with his crabbiness. Anyway, this part tells you that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and the Japanese have a concept called Wabi-Sabi, which means that true beauty contains some imperfection. To bring it back to the Bullet Journal, don’t be dismayed if your Journal doesn’t look as neat as someone else’s. In the fourth grade I had a teacher called Mr. Threewitt, and he had a big bald dome, and we used to call him Mr. Three Watt behind his back, because his head looked like a light bulb. Anyway, he was a good teacher, but he would lose patience with me because my handwriting always looked messy, and he disapproved of the way I made my rs in particular. To this day I revert to the way I made them back then, and when I see it, I feel like Mr. Threewitt is looking over my shoulder and yelling at me. But he is probably dead by now, and his three watt lightbulb burned out long ago. I am grateful to all the teachers for all they taught me. I realize I was exasperating, and teaching is a difficult job.  

Just as my handwriting is imperfect, so too, is my writing. I realize that I am trying to put these chapters into my own words, which are not as good as Ryder Carroll’s. But maybe you could think of it as an email to a rubber duck? 

BulletJournal.com

Marcel Proust Will Never Be A Writer

godfrustrated_200

I am reading Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust, and I am up to Volume III, page 755. I read the first two parts, Swann’s Way and Within a Budding Grove. There might be some gaps, but if so I will go back. I am going to read the whole thing, come hell or high water. Volume III comprises three books: The Captive, The Fugitive, and Time Regained. Volume III is about 1,100 pages long. I am about three quarters of the way. My pace is to read 25 pages a day, minimum, but most days I am reading 50 or more. For long books, you have to keep up a pace like that, otherwise you forget the beginning. Snoopy, in a Peanuts cartoon, was reading War and Peace one word a day. C’mon, Snoop. That is much too slow. On the other hand, for me reading more than 100 pages a day would exceed my saturation point.

Even at 50 words a day I am exceeding my saturation point because it is hard to follow the names because of the plethora of nicknames, titles of the aristocracy, and the fact that French names are unfamiliar. Russian names also are hard to keep track of. Pour moi. But to get back to Proust, he goes on at length about things like how the hostesses rank the guests they invite to their soirees. Who is in, and who is out. They have petty squabbles that do not in the least interest me. But then, he does a psychological analysis of himself and others that gets very interesting. Some of the best parts are where you are just about fed up with Marcel’s verbose meanderings, but then his deep dive suddenly begins to pay huge dividends.

On the other hand, there are a lot of instances where he assumes the reader is familiar with his topics, and he leaves out the exposition. Guess I never hung out in Paris a hundred years ago. You can consult the footnotes–I use two extra bookmarks, the second one for the synopsis–or look up things in Wikipedia. I read up on the Dreyfus Affair, and that helped me a lot. Another thing you’ll find in Wikipedia and other online references are explanations of the book and characters. There is a painter named Elstir and it is very helpful to know that the painter is based on Claude Monet, whom Proust knew. The characters are based on real people, but they have been inverted and subverted, some would say (but not me) perverted. And none more than the author himself.

It is safe to say that Proust was flamingly gay, but the narrator, who is also called Marcel, rather coyly, I might add–because the narrator is in love with women only, and though there are numerous characters who are gay, it is never the narrator himself. There is a hint though, and that is that the women he describes as his objects of desire all have feminized versions of male names. His two great loves are Swann and Odette’s daughter, Gilberte, and the elusive Albertine. I tried to imagine what might have actually happened with Marcel, Gilbert and Albert, but it is too hard to put that Jeannie back in Eugene’s bottle. The women behave like women, albeit in Albertine’s case, like a Sapphic castaway from the Isle of Lesbos.

An interesting passage I just read concerns Marcel’s feelings about the Art of Literature and his assessment of his own talent, or lack thereof. Seems he is staying as a guest at his childhood crush, Gilberte’s, and she gives him an unpublished journal concerning the guests at the Verdurin’s salon. He quotes it at length, and it contains a wealth of description about the clothes and decor of Mme. Verdurin’s salon. He feels by comparison his own capacity for seeing, listening, and remembering is inadequate. He will never be a writer.

I feel the same way. I will never be a writer, either. I read a short article in the Onion that I should wish to emulate. It took an idea, in this instance that God was rejected by Mensa, and developed it without belaboring it. Why can’t I just do the set up and get to the punch line? I want to be more Henny Youngman, and less meandering old man. This Onion article also didn’t jump from topic to topic, as I am wont to do. Here is an excerpt and a link:

THE HEAVENS—Sighing with despair as He read through His fourth rejection letter from the high-IQ society, God, the Divine Creator of the Universe, reportedly became frustrated Wednesday after once again failing to receive a test score high enough to qualify for membership in Mensa.

God Rejected From Mensa Again

Marcel Proust will never be a writer!

And neither will I.

Pita the Fool

Nike_of_Samothrake_200I wanted to go to the Greek Festival at the Greek Orthodox church on Truxton but alas, I arrived late. There was no Greek salad with feta cheese and olives, no fried calamari. The musicians were striking their sets. Pita the fool. Anyway, I was talking to my friends later and we got to wondering just what was the deal with Helen of Troy, and also, why is the period of time between Alexander the Great and Octavian’s defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra called the Hellenistic Period? Was it named after Helen of Troy, or is there a connection between her name and the term Hellenistic? The short answer is that there is no connection in as far as the word and the name are concerned. The Ancient Greek word Hellas was originally the widely recognized name of Greece, from which the word Hellenistic was derived.

However, there is quite a lot of connection between Helen of Troy and the history and mythology of Greece. Though she is called Helen of Troy and not Helen of Greece, that is because she was abducted by Paris and taken to Troy, or perhaps seduced and eloped? Paris could say that Aphrodite gave him Helen as a bribe, after he judged Aphrodite to be the most beautiful in a beauty contest between Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena. Though he was a Trojan mortal, he was picked to judge by Zeus, who demurred because his wife, Hera, was already jealous. In fact, Helen’s mother was Leda, who Zeus had previously seduced in the guise of a swan. The contest is called the judgement of Paris. I got this confused with the city of Paris. I thought it was like the Judgement at Nuremberg. Needless to say, I am confused about a lot of things, but that goes without saying when dealing with myths because accounts vary. People change the story to match their agenda, hidden or otherwise. YMMV.

Helen was the daughter of Leda, who was married to Tyndareus, the king of Sparta (Yeats wrote a famous sonnet about Leda and the Swan). Zeus, in the guise of a swan, was pursued by an eagle. He sought refuge in the arms of Leda. Zeus rewarded her kindness by seducing her. She had a whole host of children, but who can say whether they were the progeny of Zeus or the king of Sparta? Leda produced four offspring from two eggs: Castor and Clytemnestra from one egg, and Helen and Pollux from the other. Therefore, Castor and Clytemnestra were fathered by Tyndareus, whereas Helen and Pollux were fathered by Zeus. Or that is one version. Helen was supposed to be divine, but the twins, Castor and Pollux, were either both divine, both mortal, or one of each, with Pollux a slight favorite for divinity. Helen was sister or half sister to Clytemnestra, who married Agememnon. Some say, married and murdered. Helen’s other sisters were Philonoe, Phoebe and Timandra.

So, here are some links and quotes from my research:

Google dictionary had this to say:

Hellenistic: relating to Greek history, language, and culture from the death of Alexander the Great to the defeat of Cleopatra and Mark Antony by Octavian in 31 BC. During this period Greek culture flourished, spreading through the Mediterranean and into the Near East and Asia and centering on Alexandria in Egypt and Pergamum in Turkey.

Wikipedia: Hellenistic period

Wikipedia: Judgement_of_Paris

Wikipedia: Helen_of_Troy

Leda and the Swan, W.B. Yeats

Anyway, the Trojan War was supposedly fought over Helen. It lasted ten years. Paris was a Trojan mortal, son of King Priam of Troy . Helen of Troy was more like a Greek princess than a Trojan, and the Trojan Horse was a tactic of Greece. As a daughter of either Zeus or the king of Sparta, she is pretty Greek. Can’t imagine how she could be more Greek than that. She is mentioned in both Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey. Also, in Virgil’s Aeneid, book II. She came to be a symbol of beauty, reaching iconic status, as was quoted in Christopher Marlowe’s tragedy Doctor Faustus (1604)

“Was this the face that launched a thousand ships / And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?”

Mazzaroth

6thcentzodiacI was studying the book of Job, and I skipped ahead to chapter 38, where the Almighty finally answered Job out of the whirlwind. The Almighty goes on for a few chapters until the book of Job concludes in chapter 42, with Job thriving in contentment, after being tortured and tested by trials and tribulations by Satan. The Almighty doesn’t tell Job why it was necessary to put him through so much grief, but he instead lists all the wonderful and miraculous things he has done, implying that Job would not be capable of understanding why he did what he did, even if he were to deign to offer an explanation. I don’t mean to cast aspersions on God. I really like the poetry of chapters 38 through 42. He really has an impressive Curriculum Vitae. I am just going to talk about one word I have never seen before, and what my investigations of that word led me to. The word is “Mazzaroth.” The word itself is a hapax legomenon (i.e., a word appearing only once in a text) of the Hebrew Bible. A related word appears in 2 Kings 23:3-5, “Mazalot,” but it is dropped in the King James translation, though it appears in the Septuagint, which is the earliest extant Greek translation of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew. Mazzaroth roughly translated means “garland of crowns” but in this context it refers to the Zodiac. In Yiddish, the term mazalot came to be used in the sense of “astrology” in general, surviving in the expression “mazel tov,” meaning “good luck.” Searching for references to astrology in the Bible, it would be easy to miss this hapax legomenon. You might find that soothsaying is forbidden in Leviticus, but perhaps there is a loophole for Mazzaroth or Mazalot?

Other stars and constellations are also mentioned, and the names used all come from Greek mythology.

Job 38:31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?

32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

The Pleiades are a cluster of stars of which 6 are visible, though the Pleiades are known as the seven sisters. The sisters were Maia, Electra, Alcyone, Taygete, Asterope, Celaeno and Merope. The Pleiades were sometimes said to be nymphs in the train of Artemis. Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, who the Romans called Diana. More on her later. The constellation called the Pleiades appeared in the sky at the start of sailing season in the Mediterranean, and the word “pleiades” is derived from sailing. But their mother is named Pleione, so the word means the daughters of Pleione. Some suspect that the sailing aspect came first and the mother was added later to explain it.

Why were they stars? Well, to protect them from Orion, of course. The randy hunter had perhaps too keen an interest in Pleione and her 7 daughters. They were turned into stars to protect them. Of course, Orion was also turned into a constellation of stars by Artemis, who was jealous of him. Then there is another nymph from Artemis’ train, Callisto, who was turned into a bear, by either Zeus or a jealous Hera. Callisto became the constellation of Ursa Major, or the Great Bear. The Big Dipper is part of this constellation, and Arcturus, also called Alpha Boötis, means the Guardian of the Bear. It is one of the brightest stars in the sky, and you can find Arcturus by following a line leading in a direct line from the bear’s tail. Not sure who the sons of Arcturus are supposed to be. The bands of Orion are his belt, which will be loose, forsooth. These stars are also named earlier in Job:

Job 9:9 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.

The chambers of the south are the constellations in the southern sky. There is also a shout out to the stars in the book of Amos:

Amos 5:8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his name:

Mazel Tov!

A Bottle of Red, a Bottle of White

coltrane200“A bottle of red, a bottle of white,” and the scene is set for Billy Joel’s song. Even if you didn’t know the title, you’d know exactly where you were. I guess you might not know, specifically, that it was an Italian restaurant, but you could figure it out by three guesses. Someone did an animated video for Billy Joel’s “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” I really like this song and the video was really good. It was like a comic book but the panels were animated. Really well done, must have cost a lot and even with computer graphics it took some studio a lot of time and effort to create. The song tells a story, and it really is like scenes in a movie or a storyboard. I guess you could sum it up as boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, and though they live average and mundane lives there is romance in their love scenes, for instance in the scenes in the Italian restaurant.

A bottle of white, a bottle of red
Perhaps a bottle of rose instead
We’ll get a table near the street
In our old familiar place
You and I, face to face

A bottle of red, a bottle of white
It all depends upon your appetite
I’ll meet you any time you want
In our Italian Restaurant

This is a great opening with just a couple of details that conjure up the Italian restaurant.

There is some tenor sax. Then the music picks up and it is rock n’ roll harkening back to their high school days. More sax, but this time it’s soprano. Rock music almost goes back even further in time sounding almost Dixielandish. Later there is more tenor sax.

Here are some more examples of well chosen details in the lyrics. As an aside, I hear that Billy Joel wrote this song at his wedding reception on a napkin after he had divorced his wife but then remarried a few years later.

They got an apartment with deep
Pile carpet
And a couple of paintings from Sears
A big waterbed that they bought
With the bread
They had saved for a couple
Of years

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant

Confession: They changed the editor on my blog and there is supposed to be a way to use the classic editor, and I just wanted to post something to try it out. This isn’t meant to be a profound blog post, but I like this song.

Are The Voices In Your Head Calling, Gloria?

So I met an Artist named Gloria. She had a large painting that she had pulled out of storage. I said it reminded me of Monet. She was hoping to sell me a painting, so she was more like, ‘Show me the money!’

Are The Voices In Your Head Calling, Gloria?

Maybe I will see her again. If so, I wanted to remember her name. I started thinking about the two songs I know entitled “Gloria.”

The first one is by Van Morrison and Them. It was a garage band staple, because it was easy to play, but it sounded cool nonetheless. The singer could really get into it, and it worked up to a frenzy where Van spelled out her name, then just started repeating the name in ecstasy. My brother Don told me about one of his friends who did his own version, but changed it to Sylvia, because Sylvia Higashi was a stone cold fox. It turns out that Sylvia Higashi was for a brief moment of time, my girlfriend, though she was a senior and I but a lowly sophomore. She was outrageously beautiful and I will always remember our all too brief affair.

The second song, the one I am going to delve deeply into in spite of it being my least favorite, probably because it is not so personal and I can talk about it objectively, without stirring up tender feelings in wounds I have yet to cauterize, is the one by Laura Branigan from 1982. First of all, it was never covered by Neil Diamond, in spite of it being perfect for him, and the fact that it would have probably been a huge hit, rivaling “Sweet Caroline.” My sister Lisa thought she remembered him doing it, but the nearest I could find was “Anthem,” from his Jonathon Livingston Seagull LP. He does sing the word Gloria but it is in kind of a Latin chant, and not the Latin of Salsa and Samba, but rather the dead language used in Catholic mass–and isn’t Neil Jewish? Suffice it to say that though I could easily imagine his voice singing the Branigan song, “Gloria,” it was not him. Never was. Furthermore, Laura Branigan was never in the Swedish group Abba. Sorry, Lisa–though Abba is set to release their first album in 40 years, called Voyage, in November of 2021. Alas. Laura Branigan never sang in Abba. She was, however, a back-up singer for Leonard Cohen.

The Branigan song, “Gloria,” is a cover, though it was a cover of an Italian song by Umberto Tozzi, a man who may or may not sound like Neil Diamond; but apart from it being about a woman named Gloria, the English words were changed, as was the arrangement to give it more of an American kick. In spite of its anthemic quality, Gloria seems to me to be somewhat of a desperate, delusional stalker:

Gloria, you’re always on the run now
Running after somebody, you gotta get him somehow
I think you’ve got to slow down before you start to blow it
I think you’re headed for a breakdown, so be careful not to show it
You really don’t remember, was it something that he said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?

Gloria, don’t you think you’re fallin’?
If everybody wants you, why isn’t anybody callin’?
You don’t have to answer
Leave them hangin’ on the line, oh oh oh, calling Gloria

Gloria (Gloria), I think they got your number (Gloria)
I think they got the alias (Gloria) that you’ve been living under (Gloria)
But you really don’t remember, was it something that they said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?

This song, in spite of my opinion that it is trite and corny, rode the US charts at #1 for 36 weeks! It is Laura’s signature song, though she continued releasing music throughout the 80s, then a long hiatus in the 90s while she tended to her husband with alternative treatments for cancer. In 2004 she succumbed to a brain aneurysm and died peacefully in her sleep.

She had one other notable hit in 1984, more successful in Europe than the United States, and that was “Self Control,” a synthpop nugget that came out at the peak of the synthpop genre. The video is bizarre and cringeworthy as Laura wafts through an Eyes Wide Shut meets Phantom of the Opera world whilst confessing her total lack of any semblance of self control.

But thankfully, she will always be remembered for “Gloria.” Her legacy will live on, and that song was revived in two strange occurrences. The first is that the hockey team, St Louis Blues, was watching a football game in a bar and during the breaks some guy kept yelling to the DJ: “Play Gloria!” He obliged the dude, and the song was played repeatedly. The Blues were really down at this point, like in last place, but the enthusiasm displayed by the Branigan fan struck a chord. They won the next game and went on to win the Stanley Cup. The bands Phish and Vampire Weekend, who were both holding concerts in St. Louis on the night of Game 7, performed covers of “Gloria” when they learned the Blues had won the Cup. The song became intertwined with their unlikely win, and a representative from the Branigan estate was there at the ceremony to acknowledge the role the stirring anthem had played in turning the tide for the St. Louis Blues. T shirts were even printed with the slogan “Play “Gloria.””

The other not-so-glorious event was disavowed by the Branigan estate, who made a statement that the Trump campaign had used the song without permission on January 6th, 2021, for the Stop the Steal rally that turned into a riot (and a failed coup). Donald Trump Jr’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle is seen dancing to it backstage just prior to her taking the stage, egged on by Donald Jr.. Kimberly is also the ex girlfriend of California Governor Gavin Newsom, and all I can say about that is that politics creates some strange bedfellows.

Hey, Good Sulking

I have not written anything in my blog for a long time. I am just going to write whatev, to make sure I remember how to do it, or can figure out how if they changed it around. Missed the Santa Clarita WordPress Camp. Whatev. Now that I am motivated once again, it shall be once again on my top priority. Maybe some of the more enlightening seminars will be available on YouTube.

I am at Dagny’s for the Open Mic Thursday 6 to 9. My friend Crash will be performing there next week. He was not aware of the bus schedule extension, and didn’t want to have to walk home, where ever that is these days, lugging his guitar. Pablo was in the same boat, but he might be playing his saxophone at the Jazz Workshop on Tuesdays, if I can locate him and start spreading the news. The buses that are going to be running later are the 21, 22, 44, and 61.

Testing, testing. Taps mic. Is this thing on?

Crossroads

robertjohnson02_200Robert Johnson was born probably on May 8th, 1911, to Julia Major Dodds. He was her 11th child, but was illegitimate, as Julia’s husband had been forced to leave town, and she had taken up with a man named Noah Johnson. John Lennon’s mother was also named Julia, and I have always loved the song he wrote for her, “Julia.” I just noticed that I had a little book called Searching for Robert Johnson by Peter Guralnick, and I was browsing through it. It just caught my eye. A while back I was going to make a project of learning some Robert Johnson songs, and I learned some, but then I got off track. Maybe I need to get back to it.

At the moment I am listening to Brad Mehldau. I love his piano playing. I have some favorites on a playlist, and he plays a lot of my favorite Jazz standards, like “I Concentrate on You,” “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” “It’s All Right With Me,” and “Countdown,” which is by John Coltrane. Brad also likes to play Beatles songs, and makes them into new Jazz standards. “Blackbird,” “Dear Prudence,” and “Junk,” by Paul McCartney are a few of these that I like. Well, “Blackbird” is also by Paul, but he wrote it when he was still a Beatle. You know what I would like to hear? Mehldau doing “Julia.”

There are just certain chords that these songs use that I really like. “I Didn’t Know What Time it Was” is by Richard Rodgers, and I at one time analyzed the tune and chords and there was some kind of really modern thing about it, like I think it might have been a minor 11th chord, but it sounds really nice. You know, Lester Young recorded it, and that was a long time ago, but I think that he was moved by the really pretty chords as I was.

Now, a friend of mine was showing me how she could almost play “Blackbird” but maybe would need to go over it a bit, as she hadn’t quite remembered how it went, exactly. I got the tablature for it and watched a YouTube video, and there were some interesting things about it that I noticed. First, the G string is played open on the offbeats throughout. Also, the meter changes constantly, and by that I mean that there is a steady beat but there might be a bar of 4 beats followed by a bar of 3 beats. A lot of time the D string is muted, and then you just pluck two notes but then your index finger flicks down and plays the open G and other non muted strings on the off beat. OK. I was really going to woodshed this song but the woman in question has departed from my concerns and my heart, never to return. So, I will learn “Blackbird” but it is on the back burner for now, since it only reminds me of her, and I am doing so well at forgetting her. No, really I am. Who? Can’t even remember her name.

I am working on a guitar project and today I advanced and made some new connections. I really can’t explain it to you, but it is just a way of seeing how certain chords are connected, and how many different ways you can play certain chord progressions in different inversions up and down the neck. There is a grid of diminished chords and if you just raise or lower a note of two, it transforms from one chord to another. Oh, well.

Had to take my saxophone back to Nick Rail Music because it had a little problem. The drag is they quarantine the instruments and then there is another week or so waiting. Well, it should give me time to finish my guitar quest. Searching for the patterns that unlock the mystery of harmony. The good news is that they will probably fix it at no additional charge because they just finished working on it, so it was supposed to be all good to go.

Well, it is time for me to take a walk and see how much the moon has waned. Ta ta.

Searching for Robert Johnson

C Note

ghostridergoodbyeLast night was the Harvest Moon, usually it comes in September, but this year it was on October 1st, so, there will be a 2nd moon in October, which will be on Halloween. I guess they are saying that it will look full for 3 days in a row, so not sure if that means that it falls directly on Halloween, or close enough in horseshoes and hand grenades. But it will be a Blue Moon. Really crazy signs, and then in a few days, the election. Just to stay on the moon, for a bit now, I really like the Neil Young song, “Harvest Moon,” and I was thinking of doing a video of it with my friend Jerubbaal. He was singing like Jim Morrison, a baritone, and he could probably sing high notes as well. Especially if it was Neil Young Falsetto. I think he is like a diamond in the raw, but he still needs to practice. He claims that he is just connecting with the source and it is coming out of his mouth. But hey, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” I asked the cab driver.

“Practice,” he replied.

Come a little bit closer
| D D6 | Dmaj7 | D D6 | Dmaj7 |
Hear what I have to say
Em7
Just like children sleepin’
| D D6 | Dmaj7 | D D6 | Dmaj7 |
We could dream this night away

Yeah, I was going to do this song. I had someone in mind that I wanted to sing it to. I had found on the Internet Tabs and Chords and YouTubes that showed how to do it. The main thing was you drop your low E string down to a D. Neil does that a lot. Sometimes the high and low E string is dropped. Sometimes all the strings are dropped a whole step, so it is like if you play in E then it is really sounding like D. “Sugar Mountain” and “Cinnamon Girl” are two songs that do this.

Well, last night I went for a walk so I could see the Harvest Moon. It came up around 7 or so but you couldn’t see it until about 7:30. There is a lot of smoke in the air, from all the fires we have been having. You couldn’t see the moon until it cleared the smoke. And then, it was orange, like the Great Pumpkin. As I walked to the park, I passed by a vacant lot, and this particular lot always makes me think of The Great Pumpkin. Like, Linus would be there waiting for him to appear, clutching his security blanket. I passed by the lot and then went to Beale Park. There was a shooting there recently and there are a bunch of candles there on the curb. I kept going and then I went up to a house on Dracena and Holtby. It is a big mansion, and there are all of these really tall trees in their yard. About a week ago I saw a wake of turkey vultures there. They look like ravens, really big black ravens, but if you look closely, you see they have no feathers on their heads. They haven’t been seen since, and I read that it is because they are migrating south for the winter, and they just stopped there as a waystation on their journey.

G6
But there’s a full moon risin’
| D D6 | Dmaj7 | D D6 | Dmaj7 |
Let’s go dancin’ in the light
G6
We know where the music’s playin’
| D D6 | Dmaj7 | D D6 | Dmaj7 |
Let’s go out and feel the night

The moon was a little less full than the night before, and it came up about 8. It seems like it comes up about a half hour later every night. Any lunatics, moon watchers, who can verify this? The smoke made it hard to see at first, but then, there it was. Like a semi deflated orange balloon. Well, I stopped by the Laundry. They were closing but there were still a few people. I sat outside and checked Twitter on my phone, using the WiFi. Twitter is abuzz with news of the “President” having contracted Covid-19. Last night I posted some lyrics and pictures from John Lennon’s “Instant Karma” and also “My Sharona,” from The Knack. Then I had to post pictures of Winona Ryder and Janene Garaffolo dancing in the mini mart to the song in Reality Bites, from 1995. Not really wishing harm on anyone, but I had to mention Karma, because, well, after trying to ignore it and being responsible for 207,000 deaths so far, it could be like, you know — Karma. While sitting by the laundry, I thought I heard 3 shots. Also there was a domestic dispute across the street, and someone was getting kicked to the curb. Not from a car, from a house. Anyway, my phone rang and it was an unknown number, so I didn’t answer it, but then they left a message and it sounded like my drunk ex wanting to know if we were rehearsing tonight. Wow. I had said something about doing the song, but I never expected that she would think I was inviting her to the rehearsal.

A7sus4 A7
Because I’m still in love with you
A7sus4
I want to see you dance again
A
Because I’m still in love with you
[ D ]
On this harvest moon.

Yeah. This song made me think of her, and I think I mentioned it because I wanted her to see the video, like we were singing it to her. But I no longer feel like that. I am not still in love with her. I have given up on her completely. We used to do a song called “If the World Was Ending, You’d Come Over, Right?” In this song two people lament that they are not ready for a forever commitment, but if the world was ending, then they would hook up. I used to think that we had this kind of deal, but now I realize that I am the last person she would want to spend her final days with. Neil Young sang about a relationship that was over. OK. He was still in love with her, and he wanted to see her dance again. But it is my understanding that their deal was over. If you play this song, you can do a little lick using harmonics. That is where you just barely touch the string and you get these high crystalline sounds.

Em7
When we were strangers
| D D6 | Dmaj7 | D D6 | Dmaj7 |
I watched you from afar
Em7
When we were lovers
| D D6 | Dmaj7 | D D6 | Dmaj7 |
I loved you with all my heart.
G6
But now it’s gettin’ late
| D D6 | Dmaj7 | D D6 | Dmaj7 |
And the moon is climbin’ high
G6
I want to celebrate
| D D6 | Dmaj7 | D D6 | Dmaj7 |
See it shinin’ in your eye.

All right, but you know, while I was there sitting outside the laundry, using their WiFi, I saw that Halsey had a new song called “I’m Not Mad.” I wanted to hear that song, so I listened to it, and there was an animation of the lyrics. I was under the impression that the video was basically Halsey writing the words and illustrating it with little sketches. This song was more like how I felt than either “If the World Was Ending” or “Harvest Moon.” Like I am not mad, but I am not wanting to get back together, ever. And I mean it this time. Not like all the other times where she could just waltz right in and I welcomed her with open arms.

I’m not even mad anymore
No, really, I ain’t even mad anymore
Yeah, I don’t even want you back anymore
I don’t remember what we had anymore, yeah
I hope your back aches and your knees hurt
I hope you think about me sleepin’ in your T-shirt
I hope your little brother turns out to be nothing like you
I hope that you hurt more than I do

And honestly, I still wish you nothing but the best
I know that you’re still self-obsessed
I hear the wicked get no rest
But when you do, I hope you dream of me

All right. But I continue working on my guitar ideas, and today was Friday, so I practiced playing E half diminished to A7 flat 9 to D minor, and Bb half diminished to Eb7 flat 9 to Ab minor. I found some really cool voicings, and one way is using minor triads and the other is using the chord voicings that I named after my siblings. They are really useful. I wish I could explain to my actual siblings all the ways that these voicings can be used.

Finally, I was playing my soprano sax, that I just got back from getting repairs at Nick Rail Music, and was somewhat dismayed to find that the key you lift up to play the C had a spring missing or something, as it would just lethargically raise but not enough to get the note to sound in tune. Darn it. I thought they had done a great job but they missed this important element. Guess it’s going back to the shop. I would try to work around it, but too many songs use that note. I just paid a C note to get my horn fixed. Ironic that the C note isn’t working now.