Sherryl’s Gardens (Just To Be Fair) (2015Jun26)


Okay, this time I’m giving credit where credit is due–Sherryls’ got the green thumb. Harlan, however, makes an appearance towards the end of the video (see yesterday’s blog about the Big Tree across the street).

The Frustrated Musician (2015Jun19)


Saturday, June 20, 2015                                           1:12 AM

I’ve been trying to hook up my electronic piano to my PC using a MIDI-to-USB connection, but my Music Studio software isn’t picking up any input from the MIDI port. Maybe I need a new Sound Card—I don’t know. All I know is after hours of wasted time, I had to settle for recording my e-piano’s own playback—so, apologies for the sound quality. In the video, you can see that I dance about as well as I play.

The title graphic is from the Rijksmuseum—it’s a page from a French marionette catalog of the 18th century, I think:

[Gallerie des Modes et Costumes Français, 1786, eee 312: La minaudiere Marinette…, Pierre Charles Baquoy, Esnauts & Rapilly, 1786 (Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum Website)]

The other improv is me trying to reproduce that first improv, but on my usual Mason Hamlin baby grand piano. Thus “Reiterations”….

Also, please check out my new poem:

“Shall We Dance?” by XperDunn

Time To Play (2015Jun17)


FightingFolks(SMALLER)

[“Fighting Peasants”] “Vechtende boeren” by Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, 1600 – 1662

Wednesday, June 17, 2015                                               10:12 PM

Things are calm and peaceful—nothing’s wrong—and that’s excellent news. The past three days I’d been feeling pretty homely at the piano, but I couldn’t post it until now because I did a special background movie for the three improvs—”Winter (Amusement on the Ice)” by Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, (1625) and “A Musical Party” by  Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, (c. 1635 – c. 1645) –source graphics downloaded courtesy of : The Rijksmuseum Website and converted using “Photo to Movie 5.0” (software from LQ Graphics, Inc.).

 

 

 

MusicParty(SMALLER)

 

SkatingParty(SMALLER)

GOT—Grown-Olds’ Tolkien (2015Jun15)


Monday, June 15, 2015                                            5:04 PM

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When Game of Thrones started on HBO I avoided it, assuming that it would be the soft-core-porn/period-costume-soap-opera/bloodlust-gross-out that most semi-serious Premium-Channel Series-es are. It wasn’t until the genius of Trey Parker and Matt Stone presented me with the three-episode trilogy-spoof of GOT on South Park (with that unforgettable theme: ‘Floppy wieners, floppy wieners…’) that I became interested in just how outside the norm this show was.

Parker and Stone seemed to think that HBO’s dramatization of George R. R. Martin’s decade-long book series, “Fire and Ice”, was representative of homoeroticism, women-hating, and a thirst for bloodshed that didn’t speak well for Martin’s interior life. (–And that he talked a good dragon game but when it came down to it there wasn’t much actual dragon in the story.)

Having watched seasons four and five now, I have to agree with Trey and Matt. But as I considered that, I was also struck by the differences between George R. R. Martin’s GOThrones and J.R.R. Tolkien’s TLOTRings (via Peter Jackson). While the double-R middle initials are indicative of just how derivative GOT is of everything Middle Earth, the differences between the kids’ fantasies and the adults’ fantasies are somewhat surprising.

Martin is only one of a long line of ‘followers’ of Tolkien’s original vision of a realistic fantasy world, but Martin’s creative plagiarism is far exceeded by his creative originality in transforming Tolkien-ish memes for an adult audience. That is something even Tolkien never did (and we won’t go into the question of whether or not he just had too much class to go there). It may not have been possible to do so, had Martin not lucked into a generation of grown-ups who grew up on Bilbo and Frodo and Gandalf—but that’s part and parcel of our modern media-hungry culture. It’s no worse than going from Star Wars to Terminator, if you think about it.

Most interesting, to me, is the difference in variety. In a child’s fantasy there are kings, princesses, dragons, wizards, ghosts, monsters, elves, dwarves, and woodland creatures that speak in English accents. In adult fantasies there is sex, violence, power, and corruption—oh, and dragons. Is this representative of the Uncertainty Principle—like Schrödinger’s Cat? Does a child’s fantasy need to match the breadth of a child’s potential future, while an adult’s fantasy needs only indulge the lusts of adulthood? I’m afraid so.

And we see this phenomenon elsewhere—puberty as a singularity, wherein all childish dreams are resolved into the comparatively dreary day-to-day urges of adults who have shed their dreams. I blame it on Capitalism—on our modern beliefs: that money is power—that money is everything—and that dreams are only for children. Something some Tea-Partier said to me online the other day during an exchange over illegal immigration seems to sum it up—he said, “It’s good to be nice, but…” And that, to me, says it all—today, we believe that the things people have always believed in should always bow before the power of money—ethics, scruples, charity, mercy—all bullshit when the bill comes due. I’m sorry, but that’s fucked up.

Like freedom, ethics and principles only exist when we are prepared to lose something for them. I’m not just talking about the grandiose idea of being willing to die for what you believe in. Today, the question is: Are we prepared to be inconvenienced for what we believe in? Are we prepared to make less money, even to make no money until we find another job? When we try to minimize the importance of our urges to ‘cheat’ on our principles in the smallest of ways, we are really minimizing the importance of the principles themselves.

Yes, that does sound like some goody-two-shoes bullshit right there—fresh off the farm. But when you consider the insidiousness of today’s commercialism; when you consider the constancy of the thousand cuts that lobbyists inflict on our government; when you see or hear the thousand new ways to lie spawned by global media—perhaps you can see where some determination in those of us on the side of the angels is in order.

I feel for the fundamentalists—I do. They want to strike back at the filth. But the true filth is invisible to them—just as their ignorance makes their own hatred invisible to them. As I’ve heard many times—‘if you want to kill someone in the name of your God please start with yourself’. Plus, I feel that any attitude that includes murder, or even mild violence, is lacking in the rationality department. (And, yes, trying to legislate women’s reproductive organs and ostracizing gays are both forms of violence).

Some people look at Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. as people who had the courage to face violence without offering violence in return. But many people look at them as people who were murdered. They don’t acknowledge that a person’s principles are not a suit of clothes—they are a part of ourselves. If we give them up, we die in a far more final way than when we meet the inevitable, whenever that may come.

I have some experience in this so I can tell you—it’s nearly impossible to talk about being good without sounding like a goody-two-shoes or worse, sounding grandiose and all Christ-complex-ey. But fuck all you assholes—I’m gonna be good—and if that doesn’t work out to me being rich and famous, I don’t give a fuck. I’m doing it anyway. Fuck all y’all. Oh-and fuck George R.R. Martin’s GOT—twenty minutes of shame-walking a naked woman through city streets for the season five finale—what the fuck is that? Misogyny much, George?

War-Torn Porn  (2015Jun11)


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Thursday, June 11, 2015                                          1:52 PM

Everyone chases after wealth and attention but Love brings riches and celebrity that you get to keep—which is nice.

I was just sitting outside my front door. There’s an ornamental bench there that wouldn’t even bear the weight of a more fulsome adult and I was trying my best to act comfortable while unsuccessfully trying to find a painless position. Props to furniture makers—it seems that just nailing some lumber into the shape of a bench can easily result in an instrument of torture if you don’t know what you’re doing.

As I sat there I noticed that various birds were calling and singing around me in every direction, that bees and insects were making different buzzing sounds all around me as well. And the whisper of distant conversations from different homes within earshot of my door murmured to me—the distant traffic of various vehicles quietly rasped afar. Each sound had a spherical range with radii that varied. At this time of early summer in Westchester everything happens in a flotilla of green—profusions of grass, weeds, ivy, shrubs, bushes—and the mighty trees making a ceiling of green. It was beautiful. Then a bunch of cars drove by (I think one was a rental truck) and the bubble popped. Oh well.

Before the cars came I was thinking that the profound beauty of a quiet street in Westchester is partly due to its permanency. The last military action Westchester saw was when they captured Major John Andrè, the British spy, over in Waccabuc someplace, in 1780 or so. And I’ve only lived in Lake Lincolndale for thirty-five years, but I’m pretty sure if the police ever came here in force it was for a barbeque at the club house down by the lake.

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People where I live have no way of knowing what it is to live in a place that doesn’t have that kind of security—except for the vets, I imagine. It’s almost cruel to be showing us world news.

When I was a kid, the news would expose something bad happening—and the bad guys would be taken down, the war would end, segregation would be abolished. It was your civic duty to keep up with the news—‘the news’ was important stuff. This thing we have in its place now is a shadowy insult to the memory of the old days and worse than useless—more like harmful. But enough about things that are invulnerable because they make money.

Now the things we see on the news don’t get fixed. They don’t get noticeably worked on. They get discussed. On the news, no less. How imminently useful that is. If the news is no longer an instrument for public engagement in government then World News reports’ only function is to frighten us into sending our young people to PTSD camp. Why should I get my heart ripped out by reports of the suffering across the globe when the news is guided by sponsorship and the elected officials are guided by polls? Isn’t it just ‘war-torn’ porn?

Maybe when you get old enough, you start to see that the people in charge are not running things—most of them are being run. And with a preponderance of such people, the rare good ones can do little more than add entertainment value to the political process and the news. It’s a well-rigged machine—money can do amazing things. Not all of them good.

I still think it’s important to keep up with what’s going on with the human race. I get increasingly resentful of how much garbage I have to sift through to do that with today’s media. Most days I just avoid the whole thing for the sake of mental health—god, the world is crazy—and not in a good way.

But my front yard is wonderful.

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Sherryl and Harlan’s Garden (2015Jun10)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015                                               2:53 PM

 

First off—to be honest, it’s Sherryl’s garden more than it is Harlan’s—I’m pretty sure he confines himself to lawn-mowing, landscaping, and home-repair—Sherryl does the gardening. I only used Harlan’s Gardens because it sounds so nice as a title. Ergo, my humble apologies to Sherryl—but, as she knows, ‘that’s Hollywood’.

I went next door yesterday right after a big June shower—I wanted to get the droplets on the flower petals (which I did) but I also got a lot of wash-out in the whiter flowers—and I hate to lose that delicate detail and end up with a white blotch in its place—but what are you gonna do, right? There’s still a riot of color in these photos—almost like a party in your eyeballs.

Also, there are just a few shots of our own flowers and vegetable boxes towards the end of the clip, so today’s video should not be considered an official ‘documentary’ of Sherryl’s garden—more like a celebration. One of the very last photos is interesting because it is lettuce from a previous year’s box garden that decided to start growing wild in the cracks of our driveway’s asphalt. Nothing stops Life, I guess.

Every one of the 162 photographs were retouched in Corel Photo-Shop, whether it needed it or not (they all needed it)—so I hope you all appreciate how much eye-strain and mouse-clicking I go through trying to make these videos interesting to watch. And here I run into a paradox—when I do these photo-journal, slide-showy videos of pretty pictures, I always make the insert frame of the ‘me performing’ video very small. I do this because I want the photos to be as visible as possible. But then when I’m making the ‘me performing’ video I add all kinds of video effects—because I figure it’s going to be too small to see. That’s the paradox—I like adding video effects gadgets so much that I’m happier when no one is going to see exactly how loopy the video turns out.

As always, however, I put the lion’s share of my efforts into the music itself—and today, as you will hear, I even got some help from a flock of birds. This improv is a little different from my usual, but I was trying something new—I hope you enjoy it.

On a whinier note (and yes I will have some fine cheese with that) my back is killing me, my shoulder is stiff from all the repetitive photoshop-mousing, a headache is just starting that tiny silver hammer-tapping, and I’m awful tired. I sure hope this video lives up to all the effort.

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Slow Song (2015Jun08)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015                                               3:12 PM

“Slow Song”

by Xper Dunn on June 8th, 2015

****

My tailbone hurts from sitting in a chair—

Through the screen, through my smoke,

Comes a breeze of fresh air.

Through the window glares the light of the raw, hot sun.

I miss the days when I could really run.

When I was young and saw such a day outside

To have to stay inside seemed like being imprisoned.

When did I decide I could let a day like this slide?

How’d I get so old I’d rather stay inside?

Why do I live my life where it obviously isn’t?

I want to fly out the door.

I want to do what I can’t do anymore.

Leave my hat, leave my shades,

Stretch my legs unafraid.

Just run down the street like a teenage machine

With my chin in the wind

– but that’s only a dream.

My tailbone hurts from sitting in a chair—

Through the screen, through my smoke,

Comes a breeze of fresh air.

Through the window glares the light of the raw, hot sun.

I miss the days when I could really run.

In pursuit of my new project, an autobiographical Broadway musical, I wrote these lyrics. Now I have to find a way to sing them. Then write ten or twelve more songs, think up a story line, dialogue, what have you—yeah, I’m almost finished already. Well, it’s a ‘project’—which, in my world, means it will never be finished—so I’m just taking it one song at a time.