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Archive for December, 2015

Happy New Year!

Posted by purplemary54 on December 31, 2015

Yeah, I could’ve posted the whole song without some movie scene.  But the whole point of this blog is to post about music I love, and there’s no version of “Auld Lang Syne” I love more than this one.

May all of our lives be as rich as George Bailey’s in 2016.


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Happy Birthday, Patti!

Posted by purplemary54 on December 30, 2015

Today is the birthday of the brilliant, inimitable, utterly wonderful Patti Smith.  After all the deaths this week, and today’s surprising pop culture news, I thought it would be nice to celebrate something happy.

Aside from her incredible talent and skill as a writer and performer, I love Patti Smith because she is herself.  She doesn’t hide or lie or pretend to be anything else.  Her refusal to be what anyone else thinks she should be, to fit into any easy stereotypes, has probably cost her fame and money.  But those are such fleeting things, and there’s so much more value in living the life you want to live.  Smith has lived her life–all the joy and pain and anger and sorrow of it.  And the art that has come out of that life has made the world a much better place.

Now it might seem odd that I chose a song from Gone Again, the mourning album she recorded after the death of her husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith.  But “Farewell Reel” is one of my favorites, and I think it represents the kind of artist and person Patti Smith is beautifully.  It’s open and honest, sad and joyful, both a eulogy for what she lost and a promise to keep living.  That’s what I love about it.

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Lemmy Kilmister

Posted by purplemary54 on December 28, 2015

Motorhead’s iconic frontman Lemmy Kilmister has died at 70.  While I was never a fan, it’s a sad day for Rock & Roll.  Lemmy was one of those musicians who wasn’t afraid of, well, pretty much anything.  He played the music he loved, he said what he wanted, and he didn’t give a flying fuck about the rest of the business.  I respect a man like that.

So long, Lemmy.  The world is a quieter place without you.

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“Sweet Georgia Brown”

Posted by purplemary54 on December 28, 2015

I try to note the passings of icons from my childhood, musical or otherwise.  Today, I saw on ABC 7’s website that Meadowlark Lemon from the Harlem Globetrotters passed away Sunday at 83.  I see ads for the Harlem Globetrotters every so often, and I always think of the team I remembered when I was a kid in the 70s.

I probably first saw the Globetrotters on some variety show or TV special, or maybe even their appearance on Scooby Doo.  While I was never a basketball fan, I enjoyed the theatrical antics of the Globetrotters.  They were everywhere in the 70s, led by Meadowlark Lemon, who played with the team for over twenty years.  But the team has a much longer history, and still goes on today.  They don’t have the superstar profile they did back then, but little has changed.  They still clown around and play better than just about anyone else.  Their games are exhibitions, entertainments, simple fun.

The Harlem Globetrotters’ theme song is “Sweet Georgia Brown.”  It’s a jazz standard, but the only version I’ve ever heard (and ever want to hear) is the Brother Bones version that accompanies the Globetrotters.  I tried to find a clip of the song that included the 70s era players, but there didn’t seem to be one.  Pity, because they really were fun to watch.

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“A Long December”

Posted by purplemary54 on December 26, 2015

I didn’t consciously decide not to post yesterday, but things were so busy I just didn’t get around to it.  Family came over, and it was fun.  Food, presents, movie, general silliness.  My cats were even kind of friendly to people they don’t know very well.  Yay, Christmas!

I’ve used this song around this time of year before, but this isn’t really a repost.  I know I thought I’d be more downbeat for the upcoming New Year’s festivities, like I was before Christmas, but something seems to have shifted in me.

Maybe the shift has affected how I hear this song.  It is pretty depressing, with an almost equally depressing video.  But I’m not down listening to it.  There’s something hopeful here, a little spark that just needs some nurturing to grow into a warm flame.  “It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean, I guess I should.”  I guess I should.  Do something.  See the ocean again.  That big, beautiful, vast space that holds so much power and mystery and danger and promise and life.  Do something.  Do anything.  Live.

You’ve heard the saying: Do one thing every day that scares you.  That’s pretty easy when everything scares you.  I exaggerate a little in my case, because while I’m pretty riddled with fears both real and imagined, I’m not actually afraid of everything.  But I am trying to figure out ways to silence my fears long enough to be happy all the time.  Going back to school scared me, but I’m doing it.  It’s been weird, but good so far (I got A’s in both my classes, so I must have done something right.).  I’m scared about money, about Mom’s health, about all the possible disasters that could happen.  It seems sometimes like I’m not really happy unless I’m imagining some kind of terror bearing down on me.  But of course, all that fear is the one thing that makes me feel unhappy.  I’ve been in that place for so long, it’s comforting in a way.  It’s not good for me, though, and I know it holds me back.  So that’s the one thing I’m going to try to do every day that scares me: Live without fear.  (Crap.  That sounds like a New Year’s resolution to me.)

Part of the shift I’ve been feeling is because I decided to play with Feng Shui a little in my home.  I don’t know what it will bring for me, but I’m working on improving the energy in my living space to bring about health and prosperity for us.  Doing things like rearranging the furniture or lighting candles or hanging mirrors isn’t some kind of magic cure-all, but it helps change my mindset, which is the biggest challenge for me.  If I can do something tangible that represents the intangible thing I’m trying to deal with, that makes it easier to do something with.  So Feng Shui it is, and let the cards fall where they may (or at least where they will be most auspicious).

The upcoming Lunar New Year is going to be the year of the Monkey, and I’m a Monkey.  (I used to think I was a Rooster, which is what most of 1969 was, but I was born right before the Lunar New Year, which puts me in 68’s animal sign of Monkey.)  I’m hoping that means that 2016 will be a good year for me.  And since I have a new mindset and a little Feng Shui energy, then maybe it will be.


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“Santaland Diaries”

Posted by purplemary54 on December 24, 2015

Here’s the second entry in what’s going down as Bitter and Sarcastic Christmas.  (I’m not feeling especially bitter, just kind of worn down.  Expect New Year’s entries to be equally downbeat.)  While yesterday’s piece from David Sedaris is my favorite, he’s much better known for the “Santaland Diaries.”  It’s the chronicle of his time working as an Elf for Macy’s, and it’s just as dark and wonderful as “Six to Eight Black Men.”  NPR plays it every Christmas, so you may well have heard it before, but please enjoy it again.  Or for the first time.  And if you’ve never read a David Sedaris book before, please, for the love of all that is good and holy, get your hands on as many of them as you can as quickly as possible.

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“Six to Eight Black Men”

Posted by purplemary54 on December 23, 2015

I’ve been neglectful this Christmas season–partly out of busyness, partly out of a bit of apathy, partly because I’ve had a cold.  (On a side note, can I please be done coughing now?)  And if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you already know that my patience for Christmas music is rather limited.  Luckily for all of us, this track isn’t music.

David Sedaris is a terrifically funny writer.  Dry, satirical, and occasionally horrifying.  This particular piece is probably my favorite of his.  I almost hurt myself laughing the first time I read it.  The title won’t make sense until about halfway through, but trust me, it’s sooooooo worth it.

Just a little Christmas fun.

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“I Love You for Psychological Reasons”

Posted by purplemary54 on December 22, 2015

I’ve been keeping up as best I can with They Might Be Giants’ Dial-a-Song this year (I might have missed a few weeks, give or take).  But I thought I’d share this week’s, because I think it’s a real winner.

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Jason Isbell

Posted by purplemary54 on December 14, 2015

I discovered Jason Isbell a couple of weeks ago while I was up late watching an episode of Austin City Limits.  I tuned in just as he was beginning the song “Live Oak,” and I had pretty much the same reaction I had when I heard Kathleen Edwards for the first time: No one that young should be that sad.

To be fair, I’m pretty sure Isbell isn’t nearly as young as Kathleen Edwards was when I first heard her.  He was something of a music business veteran by the time the album “Live Oak” is from came out in 2013.  He played with the Drive-By Truckers for a number of years, and has been working steadily since he set out on his own in 2007.  Isabel paints vivid musical portraits of people at the ends of their proverbial ropes, and while the music is kind of bleak, it’s also good.  Really good.  I don’t know much else about him yet, but I plan on finding out more.

Most of the songs he played on ACL were quieter, acoustic numbers, introspective and heartfelt (track down the episode and watch it; Patty Griffin Neko Case is the performer in the second half).  But his last song rocks out nicely.  It isn’t any more cheerful than his other tunes; if you listen to the lyrics, you’ll find it’s just as bleak as many of the other songs.  But it is raucous, and that’s kind of fun in its own right.  I imagine this is what passes for partying hearty for Jason Isbell.

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Done With it All

Posted by purplemary54 on December 8, 2015

The title has a double meaning today.  I finished and turned in my final paper for the semester a couple of hours ago (a little before seven, so I was done in time to watch Jeopardy!).  And I have been steadfastly Not Thinking since then.  Not thinking about school or essays or archival theory or anything more taxing than which door to choose for the Big Deal of the Day on a Let’s Make a Deal rerun (the old ones with Monty Hall).  And I certainly haven’t been thinking about the results of my mammogram, which I finally got last week (Long Beach Memorial’s Breast Center does quite the brisk business, so it can be hard to get in for a routine check).  And I most definitely haven’t been thinking about the date today.

Okay.  I have been thinking about that last one.  Hard for me not to.  And I’m so fried right now that I couldn’t even listen to the song I chose, which is one of my favorites, because I’ll probably burst into tears.

It’s been extra hard for me this year what with all the shooting going on lately.  San Bernardino is a pretty good distance from my little house, but it’s not too far for me to feel heartsick for all the people involved.  And the fact that this incident has certain morons out there (yeah, I’m looking at you entire GOP, but especially Donald Trump) calling for completely ridiculous and xenophobic responses to what happened, but not for sane goddamn gun control has me seething.

I get that these two idiots with high-power weaponry were terrorists; the fact that they decided to gun down a bunch of innocent people in the name of their god (certainly not mine; the Buddha would definitely say that this incident was not Right action) has not escaped me.  What also has not escaped me is that if we had real gun control in this country–mandatory background checks, mandatory safety training and licensing, banned high-capacity magazines and automatic/semiautomatic weapons–they would not have been able to do what they did.  Period.  They might have gotten handguns and shot a couple of people, but it wouldn’t have been a massacre.  Gun control would’ve saved most, if not all, of those fourteen lives.

So I’m done.  Again.  Except this time I mean it.  No more reasoning with me.  Ban all guns, right now.  Repeal the Second Amendment; we clearly don’t understand what it means to have a “well-regulated militia” in this country if we’re happy to sell guns to terrorists.  And while we’re at it, declare the NRA a terrorist organization.  After all, a terrorist is someone who specializes in creating abject fear in people, and the NRA doesn’t seem to do anything except try to scare the pants off of everyone.  I should not have to think of an “exit plan” when I go to the mall or out to dinner.  I should not have to hear about grade schoolers doing “active shooter” drills.  I.  AM.  DONE.

And for everyone out there who thinks the response to this incident is to arm everyone and their dog to the teeth, remember: Instant Karma’s gonna get ya.

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