“Beep Beep”


Today is the November 30th, the final day of Nano Poblano.  It was a fun ride this month, and I learned that getting back into the swing of posting regularly isn’t that hard.  This week’s gonna be busy, but I’m hoping to keep up the habit (I might start taking weekends off again, though).  School’s almost over, and I’ve got two final assignments due on December 8th, so a lot of my brain power will be heading that way.  I also enjoyed being a Tiny Pepper this month.  I’m not a huge joiner, but it’s always fun to be a member of a community.

Have I learned anything else?  Well, judging from my song choice for today, I’m gonna go with no.

I had this song stuck in my head all morning.  It wasn’t that bad, really, as far as earworms go.  It was one of those novelty songs I used to love to listen to when I was a kid, and it’s still kind of fun.

Repost: The Best Cartoon You’re Probably Not Watching


I’m reposting this one (with a couple of edits) because I noticed the original video I attached was “no longer available.”  That happens a lot, but I really want people to notice Steven Universe if they haven’t already.  So I found the clip I like again, and here it is.  Steven Universe isn’t currently in Cartoon Network’s lineup, but it should be back soon.

I want to share one of the television shows I’ve been using to avoid thinking lately. Steven Universe was created by Rebecca Sugar, a former writer for the wonderfully surreal Adventure Time. The show is about the adventures of the sweetly naive and optimistic title boy as he navigates the world and tries to figure out how to use his powers as a crystal gem. The other crystal gems are aliens who came to earth thousands of years before, and decided to stay and protect the planet from others of their kind. I thought it looked kind of silly from the commercials, but then I saw a couple episodes and got hooked.

For a cartoon, this is pretty sophisticated and adult stuff. There’s romance and conflict and struggles with difficult emotions like guilt and obsession. It’s even kind of sexy. The gems can fuse together to create new gems; one of the main characters, Garnet, is actually a fusion of two other gems who are, quite clearly, in love (you’ll see it in the clip). Fusion becomes a metaphor for relationships, both good and bad, as well as sex between the characters.

What’s any of this got to do with music? Plenty, because Steven Universe is full of pretty catchy tunes. Steven’s mother, a crystal gem named Rose Quartz, fell in love with his father, a wannabe rock star named Greg Universe. But all the characters sing on occasion; music is usually used as a way to quickly express some of the more complicated emotions the characters experience, or sum up plot points or action. This clip is one of my favorite musical moments as Garnet comes back together after Steven and the rest of the gems were captured by evil invading gems.

It really is a fun show. Longtime followers know I’m a big fan of cartoons, but this one definitely isn’t just for kids.

“Black Friday”


No, I didn’t go out shopping yesterday; I didn’t even shop online.  But I did unpack Steely Dan and various other Christmas decorations today.

A couple of years ago, my mother went out to Home Depot very early in the morning on Black Friday.  She bought about a dozen poinsettias, a couple of odd games we gave as gifts, and a pre-lit artificial Christmas Tree.  I have no idea what happened to the game gifts, but we still have the tree and some of the poinsettias (we lost several over the summer when I didn’t water plants for about three weeks because I was sick and there was a heat wave).

Now people who know me very well know that I like to name things.  My computer, the tea kettle, various and sundry household items (the kitchen timer is a pig that I call Mr. Piggly Wiggly).  I’ve been naming our Christmas trees since I was in high school and Mom made a joke about the tree really being “Irving the Chanukah Bush” (obviously, she named that one, but it’s been my job ever since).  Last year, as I was setting up our Black Friday tree, I happened to remember the Steely Dan song of the same title, and hummed it as I assembled the pieces and straightened the branches.

Part of my naming of things is my contention that I don’t really name anything; eventually, things just tell me their names.  It’s an odd contention, to be sure, but since I subscribe to the notion that all things in the Universe are one, there is no reason why inanimate objects cannot have souls and personalities.  There have been things that have never told me their names, and they remain nameless as I don’t want to call them something incorrectly.  As I was humming the chorus of “Black Friday” (the only part I can reliably remember most of the time), I realized that the tree’s name was Steely Dan.

So Steely Dan is glowing softly in the living room, all his sparkling ornaments adorning his plastic beauty.  I’ll feel a little sad when he wears out, but that’s part of the life cycle of things, too.  As some point, they’ve done their duty and are ready to leave us.  But Steely Dan is only three right now, so we’ve got at least a couple more years together.

“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”


Today is the anniversary of the day Jimi Hendrix was transported to this planet to do that voodoo he did so exceedingly well.

I won’t go on about his talent; I’ve done it before, and not half as well as anyone else.  But I do like the idea that he was an alien.  It helps give people something to hang his unexplainable singularity on.  The same applies to Albert Einstein.  Why else would his thinking and vision be so revolutionary?  You could even hang the alien label onto William Shakespeare, or Vincent Van Gogh. Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson?  Aliens.  How else would they have basically created the blueprint of modern poetry so separately (and so drastically differently)?  Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt?  Yep, them too.

There’s so much about individuals like this that defies explanation.  How did such extraordinary talent and charisma and intelligence come to be?  Calling them beings not of this planet, extraterrestrials that were somehow delivered to humanity for some unknown reason, gives the more ordinary among us an excuse to continue being ordinary.  It’s okay to be an average person when you were born amongst other average persons, while these creatures drifted to us on some ethereal spacecraft.

They aren’t really aliens, of course.  While I do believe life exists on other planets, I’m not so sure about any of it ever showing up here.  Hendrix, like all the others I listed, were just extraordinarily gifted people who managed to discover and use their gifts.  Not all people are so lucky.  Some people never find what they’re best at, or they’re never given the tools to access their gifts.  Or, worse, they’re not determined or disciplined enough to do the hard work of nurturing their gifts.  So while we celebrate the music that Hendrix gave us in his short time on this planet, mourn a little for all the Jimi’s that didn’t get that chance.

Happy Thanksgiving!


You know what time it is.  Once again, give thanks and have a laugh.

Besides all the usual stuff, what am I thankful for this year?  I’m thankful for all the great music I’ve heard and will hear.  I’m thankful for real and virtual friends.  I’m thankful for dog shows.  I’m thankful for The Twilight Zone and good scary ghost stories.  I’m thankful for the endless cat videos on the Internet.  I’m thankful for all the books sitting on my shelves that I’m looking forward to reading.  I’m thankful for Coca Cola, my one true vice.  I’m thankful for Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, and all the other brilliant scientists for moving us forward.  I’m thankful for podcasts.  I’m thankful for DVRs.  And this time next year, I’ll be thankful that Donald Trump is not president.

Cynthia Robinson


Yesterday, I saw the news that Cynthia Robinson had died at 69.  She was one of the creative forces behind Sly and the Family Stone, the first black female trumpeter to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (not that there’s an extensive list of black female trumpeters out there, but maybe there should be).

One of the things I’ve always liked about Sly and the Family Stone is that it’s an ensemble, each member of the band playing an important, integral role to the music.  Yes, Sly himself was the star–and rightfully so, given his talent and charisma.  But he knew that the band worked best as a band.  Cynthia Robinson opens up the classic “Dance to the Music” with her strong voice, helping create the sense of joy that permeates that song, but then blends seamlessly into the whole.  That doesn’t make her presence less important; it highlights her skill as a musician.

I really like this clip of the band playing “Than You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” because it highlights the groupness of this group.  Everyone shines for just a moment or two, and you can see Cynthia rockin’ and funkin’ it up with one of the finest horn sections in music history.  The quality of the clip isn’t great, but the music shines through.

“Why Can’t We Be Friends?”


With all the fear and anger roiling around the world right now, this seems like a logical question to ask.  Why can’t we be friends?  Why do humans have to revert to their lizard brains all the time?  Why do we constantly behave as though we are competing with everyone else?  Why do we fear those who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or do anything else like us?  This isn’t rhetorical.  I really want to know.

Maybe I don’t understand because I’m not especially competitive.  I don’t care who wins or has the most toys, as long as everyone feels like they got treated fairly and has enough of the necessities.  That’s really all I want out of the world, and I don’t think it’s that much to ask.

It’s almost Thanksgiving.  I thankful for a roof over my head, decent food, education, good health, my family and friends, my pets, electricity, and indoor plumbing.  Nobody is shooting at me or trying to blow me up.  I’ve got it pretty good.  And my wish to Santa this year is that everybody else in the whole wide world gets the same things.  I won’t get it, but I’m gonna keep wishing for it, anyway.  And I’ll do whatever small things I can to make my wish come true.

I’ve made all these statements and asked all these questions before.  And like a four-year-old, I’ll keep asking until I get a satisfactory answer.

(Special Note: I did spellcheck, like I always do, and the program suggested I replace “pray” with “prey.”  Now I think that’s kind of odd.  Why would I want to exchange a word that means to ask with a word that means to hunt or be hunted?  And just why would the program think that’s what I meant?  *sigh*  More questions without answers.)

Not Really a Repost


I first posted this song back when Daddy was sick, and the original content wasn’t where I am right now.  Things are different.  And the same, since I’ve been dealing with Mom’s illnesses and recovery this year.  (I’m sending out an emphasis on the recovery part just in case the Universe happens to be listening.)  Life keeps moving, whether you stop and pay attention or not.

We got the phone thing from a few days ago straightened out today.  Turns out the jack had gone bad, so a nice tech from Verizon replaced it, and I’ll have to pay extra since I don’t have the “indoor line maintenance plan” (Way to soak your customers, Verizon!).  But the phone works, and I went ahead and got a new phone so we’ll only have one system (one fewer handsets, but that’s cool).  Other than that, things are quiet.  Not too quiet, since I’ve got a ton of reading to do for school and the holiday is coming up.  (Yes, it’s almost time for Arlo Guthrie again.)

But if you happen to spot newer and bluer meanies in your vicinity, remember to go out singing.

“Shelter from the Storm”


I was watching St. Vincent last night (which I recommend you do, too), and after wiping away a few tears at the end, I watched Bill Murray sing along to “Shelter from the Storm” as the closing credits played.  It was the perfect ending.

It also made me think about what a gentle, generous, wistful song this is.  I remember hearing it on the late, great KMET very late one night when I couldn’t sleep.  There’s a darkness to this song, but that’s a hallmark of a great number of Bob Dylan’s best songs, and it seems right that I first heard it in the darkness.

What makes Dylan great is how he takes those dark feelings and gives them different shades and tones.  The darkness of “Shelter from the Storm” is completely different from the darkness of, say, “Idiot Wind” from the same album.  Like I said, it’s gentle and generous and wistful.  A love that is gone but left the singer so profoundly changed that forgetting it isn’t even an option.  It made him a better man.  And a worse man.  It’s complicated, full of shadows and ghosts.  The perfect late night song.

I usually like to post a live clip or something with some kind of visual interest.  But this song doesn’t need anything but your ears and your heart.  Enjoy it.