Seascapes, Bombast, and Russian Folk (2014Jul24)


Seascapes

I’ve made a study of ‘watery’ type music–a sort of mental collection (maybe because it’s my favorite type of sound image). I’m a big fan of Handel’s “Water Music” suites (and his “Music for the Royal Fireworks”–which was also performed on the same barges, upon the Thames). I once had a CD of solid surf recording for 55 minutes –guaranteed sleep aid–I wonder where it went?

Regardless, the following five pieces are my top picks for ‘oceanic coloring’ in music:

Apparently, the makers of “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (2003) felt the same way I did about this piece–parts of it seem to be virtually the sound of the sea.

Ralph Vaughan-Williams – Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1910)

(Skip ahead to 02:30 in the following recording)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAtx578yaZ8

This Rachmaninov piece has been ‘borrowed’ by Eric Carmen for “Never Gonna Fall In Love Again” (’76) and by Barry Manilow for “If I Should Love Again” (’81). But it is so iconically romantic and lush that I have always thought of it as a sea voyage.

Sergei Rachmaninov – Symphony No. 2 Op. 27 III. Adagio

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNRxHyZDU-Q

 

I defy anyone to listen to this famous bit of Brahms and not feel the deck roll beneath their feet.

Johannes Brahms: Symphony No.3 – Mvmt. 3  (starts at 22:33 in the following recording)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK4NcLcUH9o

And then there’s this gem–liquid, flowing, tidal, surging–It’s pretty oceanic, to me.

Jan Sibelius – Symphony No.2 – Mvmt. 4: Finale  (Starts at 29:52 in the following recording)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPd9znWgGLk

And one last bit of Sibelius–an excerpt from his 5th Symphony (Skip to time-mark 20:00 or so–the ending of the 3rd movmt leading into an unbelievable last mvmt!)

The above is a comment I put on a thread RE: Katchaturian’s “Spartacus”, the Adagio, of course (although I’ve learned to enjoy most of the entire suite, over time) which is undeniably gorgeous and very ‘seascape-y’. Why do I spend an hour preparing such an ‘essay’ of a comment for the one or two people that might actually read it (strangers, however)? What else am I going to do?

Anyway, speaking of music, I have here a new Improv and a selection of Russian Folk songs:

Click to Play: Bombastico II

Click to Play:
Bombastico II

 

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Click to Play Russian Folk Songs

 

Good evening, all.

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Rip Tide (2014Jul21)


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My new camera has been going gangbusters–but then my PC’s harddrive bit the dust! Five or six days without access to my programs and websites (like this one). This backlog was tremendous, but I’m nearly there–soon I’ll be living in the present again.

First off, there was a righteous jam session with my friend (and professional drummer) Pete Cianflone–

A Playlist of the complete session...

A Playlist of the complete session…

Then I had some hummingbird footage I lucked into from our garden–

 

Then I did some silly improvs–

http://youtu.be/vlw-lW34MRo

and some silly song covers-

There’s some other stuff left over, but I didn’t have the peace of mind to do any writing or poetry or drawing (I get out of sorts when my system is down), so this will do for now.

Should I add some stills? Yeah, why not?:

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ttfn!

Lazy Dreamer (2014Jul08)


In this improv, I attempt to use thirteenth-chords and eleventh-cords (at least, I think I am doing so). It’s a little slow in the tempo, but I was doing a lot of thinking between chords (like I have to, when it’s a new idea or technique) so please don’t hold it against me. I think it came out kind of dreamy (hence the title) but it has a certain ugliness, too, because of the strange discords such complex chords tend to create… But I don’t mind ugly.

 

 

Listen, I play my song books every day; I have a zillion of them, and I have carefully documented nearly all my preceding videos of piano covers with the Title, Composer, Lyricist, and Copyright holder of each song. But on this recording, I give the cover of the songbook (The Johnny Mercer Song Book) and I leave it to you to look them up if you’re interested. Johnny Mercer was an incredible Lyricist, but he also published many songs with both Music and Lyrics by him–making him rather unique amongst his peers.

Here I just play fifteen minutes of songs I like–I didn’t sing along this time, but sometimes I have, on previous recordings.

The Specialization of People (2014Jul03)


20140630XD-JuneDrowsesAway 019 The feudal system of the Middle Ages was a fairly simple system—there was little confusion. There may have been great wrong done, great good done, but it was not confusing. When one person makes all the rules, one person decides on the dreams, the goals, and the right and wrong of things—decisions become straightforward. I’m simplifying, certainly—the Middle Ages saw antagonism between the church and the monarchy, between the monarchy and the nobility, and between high-born and low-born. But the patriarchal, top-down pyramid of authority overlay all of those differences. Racism was total—but made little difference in a world where strangers from the neighboring town were remarkable—and the rare Moor or Oriental was more a novelty than a cultural concern. Feminism was non-existent—as were Gay Rights—and Liberty, for that matter. The Middle Ages were so authoritarian that no chorus of voices was ever raised in favor of changes of any kind. Indeed, keeping one’s mouth shut was a survival skill.

With the coming of the United States, democratic republics began to supplant the absolute rule of royalty—and this complicated matters greatly relative to the Middle Ages. Suddenly, different needs and goals became cause for debate—more than one man could have a say in the direction of our efforts and the following of our dreams. The Dutch had set an example for the American Colonies by foregoing their monarchy in exchange for a Republic—but the representatives in their ruling body were so numerous and contentious that their government was virtually paralyzed.

The newly-born USA had a more well-thought-out constitution, so we didn’t have that specific first-step problem. What we did have were separate states that were nominally willing to subsume their sovereignty under a united federation—what we now think of as the federal government. These thirteen states (and those to follow) all had different cultures, with different interests—and their struggle to compromise all these differences into a federal whole consisted mostly of issues concerning borders, trade, and transportation.

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But before the Civil War, the overlaying pattern remained that of Men having authority, whether over an entire state or a single family. Women had no legal claim to any rights or property outside those their husbands or their fathers chose to grant them. Africans were imported as slaves. Natives were dismissed as wild savages without any civil claim to their homelands. In this way, America became even more specific—White Men now had all authority—everyone else was considered subject to them, in one way or another. So, despite the growing number of states, each with their own character, one truth held sway over all—white men determined the goals and dreams of their cultures—and those needs had uniformity.

But now we have an American society which must address many different goals and needs. Women, minorities, children, the disabled, the mentally-challenged, the non-Christians, religious fundamentalists, the LGBT population, undocumented migrants, the poor, and the gifted—all these special groups of needs and dreams require different things, different laws—even different ideas.

That’s where the confusion comes in. The one thing human civilization never developed was a system that served multiple interests—monolithic authoritarianism has always protected us from this complexity—but no more. The plethora of problems we now face are in large part due to the plethora of freedoms we have been evolving. Authority, to some extent, is gone—and the complex culture its demise has engendered contains a tangle of many threads, many needs, many goals—and those threads are easily snarled.

 

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Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that these special ‘groups’ are not discrete groups—their members live next door to each other, even in the same family’s home—and every adjustment made for the benefit of one group impacts the adjustments required for all the other groups. This condition reminds me of Newton’s research—at one point, Newton wanted to know not only the rate-of-change in velocity, but the rate-of-change of the rate-of-change in acceleration, and so he invented a new mathematics called Calculus. What we need to do is to invent a ‘calculus’ of social justice—a process so complicated that we have never needed it before, and so never realized it’s importance.

People are well aware that our modern times are almost chaotically complex—and they’re aware of the need to change to meet these new challenges. But I suspect people are not aware of how deeply that change must cut into our usual expectations. For example, we mostly agree that habitat destruction, climate change, and toxic waste will render our home planet uninhabitable—yet we hardly know what to do beyond wringing our hands—the problem seems unsolvable. That may be because all of our previous problem-solving paradigms are too simple to tackle such an intricate dilemma.

And the one thing that retains authority, Money, makes a vice of change—we’ll never be able to start working on our ‘social calculus’ until the voices of money and power cease to manufacture the seeming paradoxes they throw at us, using over-simplified examinations of overly-complicated issues.

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If we don’t overcome their ‘enforced stupidity’, the job of analyzing ourselves as a ‘multi-body problem’ will only become more intransigent. I’m reminded of an Asimov essay about scientific specialization—he pointed out that at the beginning of the university system, being a ‘renaissance man’, i.e having an education in everything, was still possible—there were a limited number of books and a relatively small amount of written knowledge. But once the ball got rolling, mathematics (as an example) grew to contain the mathematics of astronomy, chemistry, engineering, etc.—and that these sub groups developed sub-sub groups and so on, until today we have to pick a small pocket of a sub-sub-sub specialization, if we want to really ‘know it all’.

The specialization of people is progressing in the same way—we once thought of the ‘women’ issue as ‘feminism’—a single topic. But now we have reproductive rights, sex slavery, genital mutilation, gender-role indoctrination, equal pay and opportunity, lesbian rights, et. al. Feminism is now a ‘group heading’. And these sub-issues are themselves potential ‘group headings’, as each issue reveals differences of culture or commerce or religion. To include ‘feminism’ in our new paradigm of societal calculus becomes a more complex question with every passing day—and this is true for all our new ‘components’ of ‘the will of the people’.

‘The will of the people’ once had a monochromatic undertone, as if the people all wanted one thing, or at most, one group of things. Now that we recognize that ‘the people’ represent a diversity of ‘will’s, we must recognize that our methods of obtaining that ‘will’ must have a matching complexity. And as complexity begets complexity, we need to have an ‘open architecture’ to our system that will allow for the inevitably greater specialization of people (and their will).

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So my heart rests easy, for the moment—I had despaired of a society with so infinite a number of problems—but now I recognize that our old ways of understanding the will of the governed need a quantum-leap of enhancement to match the explosion of authority into true individuality.

At first look, it seems impossible that there should ever come a day when we shake loose the shroud of pettifogging confusion that besets us through the courtesy of the mass media—and the super-rich cronies that manipulate it to our unending turmoil of talk, debate, and misrepresentation blaring from every LCD screen. The practice of displaying arguments between the ignorant and the learned as ‘controversy’, rather than the celebration of stupidity it truly is—this ‘teaching the controversy’ way of questioning that which is beyond the point of reasonable question—is a sad and twisted sophistry of education itself. Only those with the insight of higher education (but lacking the integrity of what we may call ‘wisdom’) could have conceived of this childish stratagem. Its internal logic holds steady, but its deepest predicates are flawed—and its results are specious rather than meticulous. Once having strayed into it, like barbed-wire, we seem to be quite stuck.

The idea that big money will loosen its control of the populace to the point of unfettered, ground-breaking social experimentation seems even more impossible than our extrication from mass media’s zombie-light. But the world was a very different place not so long ago—and there is no reason to think that we won’t see even greater change to come. There are some changes that I would personally love to witness.

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Salwa Bugaighis, prominent Libyan activist, was assassinated nine days ago—she was a selfless promoter of a better, more democratic Libya and so, of course, she was shot dead. Politicians rarely get assassinated—great people, great leaders, who may or may not be politicians, are the ones who get assassinated. I was traumatized somewhat, in my childhood, by the assassination of JFK. He was my hero, he was the President of the United States, and he was gunned down in broad daylight in the middle of the street. Boom. That sudden knowledge rearranged my perception of the world I lived in—it put a dark filter on what was until then a thoughtless, hazy assumption of ‘right in the world’.

Then my growing up was peppered by repeated examples: MLK, RFK, Malcolm X… and I learned that Gandhi had also died by an assassin’s gun. The women of the Middle East (and specifically of the Arab Spring) are continuing this proud (for them) but shameful (for us) tradition—the more humanitarian their goals, the faster they are gunned down– Salwa Bugaighis is the latest in such a long line that her death barely made the news.

My greatest living hero is Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who champions education, particularly for girls—she was shot in the face (and neck) by would-be assassins, but she was too tough for them, and survived. She continues her work today and is, IMHO, the brightest light on the face of the Earth today.

 

our Bee-Balms...

our Bee-Balms…

 

The sad truth, however, is that she was lucky—and that those animals will probably try again. Thus, I would like to see a world where our best and truest leaders are not gunned down the minute they show their heads. How we get there I couldn’t say—but I would like that very much.

Another change I’d like to see in the world is a new attitude towards money. I’d like to see people who have too much of it feel ashamed of themselves—and I’d like to see the rest of us treating them like the sociopaths they truly are. I’d like to see a proportional increase in our respect for those in want—and an embarrassment with ourselves whenever we fail to do all we can to make their lives as safe and comfortable as our own.

We can appreciate when a football star takes a big hit—we say, “Wow! Did you see that? What a guy!” We should be able to apply the same values to the needy. I mean, wow!, here are people sleeping outdoors in winter, going a whole day without food, having to walk wherever they need to go. Such people! I’m impressed—partly with their strength and courage, but partly because, as with watching the football star, we are much happier being impressed with their struggle than having to actually live through it ourselves, out on that field, taking those hits.

I’d like ‘world peace’ too—but that’s just silly.

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To close, I want to state that I am an atheist on permanent disability—there is no question that my needs and goals are specialized, differing greatly from the norm, as well as from the many other non-norms. I don’t wish to be granted anything at the expense of someone else’s need—I want to be counted as a part of a great whole, and given my portion. And I believe most people would not begrudge me my existence, so long as it doesn’t place an unfair disadvantage on their specialty-group. But such a desire is a question of epic complexity—well beyond the two-dimensional capabilities of our current system—and will require something that doesn’t presently exist—a science of balanced compromise within a diverse citizenry.

We come from competition—we evolved from a place in the food chain, after all—our legal process is adversarial, our political process is adversarial, our sports are adversarial—even our educational institutions are competitive in nature. This simple one-on-one process is an excellent way to settle simple yes/no types of questions. But the more complex social constructions we must develop will only seize up in the face of such simple-minded algorithms. We will have to become a ‘family of man’. We will have to change from competitors to cooperators, if only to allow for complexity.

But competitiveness is innate—many groups will continue to find that depriving another group of its rights is a victory for ‘their’ side. The competitive paradigm will beat back any attempts at cooperation—I can even now hear my more conservative acquaintances shouting, “Communism!” at any thought of a government system that allows for anything to trump personal freedom or economic might. And while I don’t advocate what has historically been named ‘communism’, I must insist that we do live in common with each other—we are a community. Just as we do, indeed, care about our society, in spite of our horror of becoming ‘socialists’. Cooperation, too, is a dirty word, when shortened to co-op. But the villainous character we ascribe to community action, social engineering, and cooperation in good will, is insane without the presumption that the people who live this way are the enemies of freedom.

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Thus, while I optimistically look forward to the betterment of our global condition, there is no guarantee that social calculus and community spirit will manifest itself out of thin air. It will have to straggle through the many attempts to use our present complexity as a rallying-cry for those who would solve the problem by reneging on the social progress we have so recently made. Our present society makes a tempting Gordian Knot—while we may wish to patiently tease out the many twists, more bellicose thinkers will do their damnedest to just slice the thing apart. Complexity may be solved with calculus, but it can just as easily be solved by simplifying things, i.e. ceasing to care about the rights and needs of some of us for the convenience of others.

But like Hitler’s ‘final solution’, that is a primitive urge masquerading as a modern concept—we must go forward with humanitarian aims, or there will be no point in going forward—except for the lucky(?) few.

 

Our little baby watermelon--coming along...

Our little baby watermelon–coming along…

 

The War for Heaven on Earth (2014Jul03)


Hi everyone! I wrote a poem today, then a drew an illustration for it, then I recorded a music background for it.

Click here to hear the poem:

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Click here to listen to my piano soundtrack:

 

Click here to see the Graphic Print Version of the Poem.

 

And here are the drawing and photos used for the artwork:

Original Sketch
Original Sketch
Photo-shopped
Photo-shopped
our Bee-Balms...
our Bee-Balms…

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Catnip
Catnip
Blueberries ripening...
Blueberries ripening…
Our little baby watermelon--coming along...
Our little baby watermelon–coming along…

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Hope You Enjoyed…

O—and, since this is the next day—Happy 4th of July!

All Good Things (2014Jun30)


June is such a beautiful month–I’m sorry to see it go. July and August are nice and hot–but they can get awfully serious about that ‘hot’ business….

The last thirty seconds of this video is just the wind in the treetops. (Yes, I was in the yard with my camera/camcorder again). The trouble with the sounds of nature is that they are invariably more beautiful than any music, especially mine. So I left the sweeter sounds for the end:

 

 

MORE PIX:

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Ta-da!

Two More from The “Hand-Maid” and Two More from Me (2014Jun06)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here are the pictures I used in “Rum-ta-ta-Tum” :

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Two from “Muficks Hand-maid” (1678) by Henry Purcell (2014Jun24)


 

I love seventeenth-century English keyboard works.

 

 

 

 

Garden Pix (2014June22)


We had three trees taken down this past week–two of them courtesy of Lauren and David Coats of Terrapin Tree. (Highly recommended!)

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It’s harder to see the other stump (above, by the roadside) which the Town of Somers removed–since it was on their part of the right-of-way.

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This puppy took three days to disassemble without damaging the fence (or the house!)

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But the rest of our boxes are doing pretty good..

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We always do good with lettuce.

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Blueberries are blurry and green–but they’re comin along…

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And, of course, we have the usual random blooms and greenings….

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Th-th-th-that’s All, Folks!

Two for the Italian Baroque–Two for Me (2014Jun21)


Well, things have been weird lately–Claire just started her new ‘Work Study’ job, Jessy just got offered extra work doing Real Estate photography on weekends, and Spencer and I are enjoying my new arrival of sour candies! I’ve been doing a lot of piano playing without the camera on–but here’s some new stuff I just did…

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you liked it!

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Paradox for June 13th, 2014


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Happy Friday the Thirteenth everyone.

What am I going to do about this fungal infection behind my ear? Now that I can afford three meals a day, why does my stomach hurt so much? If my electricity is off how will I take a shower? If I leave my top pants-button unbuttoned behind my belt buckle, I don’t have to spend money on new clothes that fit.

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So there’s no great mystery to my affection for “The Princess Diaries”, or even “The Princess Diaries II: Royal Wedding”—nothing is more comforting than the problems of young, wealthy royalty when trying to escape from the problems of being less-than-young and less-then-wealthy. And I might as well face it—the only person more adorable than the young Anne Hathaway is the grande dame herself, Julie Andrews—and the pair of maids does the cutest step-n-fetchit two white girls ever managed.

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Does this mean my insides are just a big stew of hogs-wallow? Well, I suppose so—I’ve always been soft-centered—there’s nothing but goo in there, really. If I was a tough guy, I would have been built of sterner stuff. But I’m not, never have been, and the world has been going my way on many fronts since my earliest childhood—that was when the pressure against corporal punishment in schools led to arrests and firings of the worst offenders. My older brothers spoke of kids being jacked up against the wall, punched, slapped—but it was all a memory by the time I began to haunt the halls of academia.

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Tolerance grew in northeast America almost side-by-side with me—and my failings (as they would have been seen a few years earlier) became virtues as each year slipped by—my respect for women became acceptable, then somewhat mandatory. My inability to understand prejudice, instead of putting me on the wrong side of my culture, became more and more the public norm. The sixties and the seventies were a unique time when the good-hearted people became activists—ever since, and virtually ever before, the political activists have been the angry fringe. But the inertia of those days still creates a higher ground for those advocating increased inclusion and equality.

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LGBT activism has yielded a whole new world of secularists versus fundamentalists—the legislation and the courts favor inclusion of gays, but the fundamentalists can still be very damning of this segment of our population—one I know of even calls publicly for their execution! But the main effect is to push religion firmly into the camp of conservatives. Secularists get along fine with the more reform-oriented faiths—but even now it is difficult to say, “Well, the religious right will just have to suck it up.” Fundamentalists are a fiery lot, by and large, and they could easily become our own domestic ‘Al-Qaeda’, if they’re not handled delicately.

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Religious freedom suddenly becomes a contentious concept—a fundamentalist sees no problem with advocating that their religious beliefs be made into laws—which is the opposite of traditional religious freedom (and of literal religious freedom). They seem to think that being denied the freedom to remake our laws in the name of the Bible is a denial of their religious freedom—but religious freedom, while guaranteeing our freedom to worship as we please, also guarantees that no one can impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us.

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Outside of the bastions of fundamentalism—or, I should say, pockets of it—there is a large population of nominal Christians who ‘believe in God’ and even believe in the teachings of Christ (in that he taught us to love and forgive each other) but never go to church, or only go to church on Easter and Christmas. They are amenable to the LGBT community, to equality for women, and even to the use of Marijuana as medicine—they take the ‘love’ part seriously, but they don’t care much for millennia-old rules about diet and lovemaking.

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I won’t complicate the issue by trying to prove these people are non-religious, or even anti-religious. But these quasi-Christians are undeniably in favor of expanding our inclusion of all people, all genders—even all religions—and in that sense, they are anti-fundamentalists. Their love for their fellow person is so strong that they cannot deny the religion that legitimizes it—but it also forces them to deny the stringent judgments of fundamentalists.

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And as this social progress makes the world a friendlier place, there is an ironic counter-progress that empowers corporations and constrains individuals more and more each day. We will finally have a free-and-equal-spirited society—and it will arrive on the same day that our government has been manipulated into canceling freedom in the name of capitalism. If there were any hint of the liberality in most American’s hearts evident in the lobby-controlled, fundamentalist-friendly government’s workings, we would have a lot more alternative-energy and infrastructure-repair on the agenda—with its attendant jobs, not to mention a tax on the rich and the big companies—and a lowering of taxes for the less fortunate.

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So many economic clamps placed on the government’s efforts to help its citizens—such furious uproar when we talk about taxing the corporations and the rich—as if to say, “How dare you? We’re in charge here and you’re lucky to have what little you have now.” Democracy sounds like ‘majority rule’, but it has somehow eluded that and transformed into some kind of casino—run by shady owners who kowtow to the whales and bilk the rest. Yet people continue to strive towards their better selves—it’s a paradox, if you ask me.

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Nobody’s Perfect – I’m A Perfect Example (2014Jun09)


Ugh–blood draws tomorrow. Can’t eat after midnight, so I’ll make this short. Yes, I’ve played this stuff over and over–and my improv is nothing new or spectacular–but this is what I do.

 

 

Two From the Front Yard and Two From the Beach (2014Jun08)


I’ve taken some pictures and some outdoor footage and some piano recordings (and a little singing) and mushed it all up together for your delictation

 

The flowers are still showing off.

 

We have two old accordionist gnomes (actually, they’re squeezeboxes or something)…..

 

I just love the Beach Boys (contrary to the slaughtering of their songs!)

 

And here’s the stills:

 

 

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Th-th-that’s all, Folks!

Inspired to Hate, Fight, and Kill (2014Jun06)


"Planet Rise" by Xper Dunn

Friday, June 06, 2014                  7:01 PM

photo-shopped image of original scan

D-Day remembrances today, including an unplanned 15-minute talk between Obama and Putin, both being at the same Normandy memorial event and no doubt aware of how ironic a present-day fracas over a part of Eastern Europe must seem on such a day, at such an event. They and others were treated to a unique dance piece involving masses of dancers on a large ‘playing field’ setting overlaid with an idealized map of the world. The most diverting part was played by the ‘Underground’ dancers who wove amongst the belligerent forces dance-groups—Claire loved it, I thought it dragged a bit, but I’m no big dance fan. I couldn’t help imagining the thoughts behind the eyes of all the old soldiers—whom I suspect were struggling to keep their expressions non-judgmental. In other words I thought it may have been the wrong audience and setting for something that artsy—but I’m no judge, what do I know.

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My favorite part of all the military ‘holy’ days is that the movies on TV come out in force—armed forces, that is. I just finished watching that “Band of Brothers” episode, “Why We Fight”—the one where they come upon a death camp—which ends with the German townspeople being forced to bury the remaining piles of corpses to a string quartet playing some mournful Beethoven. The afterword stated that 6,000,000 Jews and 5,000,000 of other ethnic minorities were murdered in the implementation of Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’—that’s eleven million people slaughtered by a fascist government system. Many other millions died innocently in bombings and shellings and shootings, disease and starvation, and there were hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen killed in action—on all sides of the fight. (We often overlook the facts that Russia fielded more fighters and took the lion’s share of the brunt of Nazi Germany’s savagery—and that the Chinese took the worst of it from Japan’s madness for military expansion. In 1945, after the Japanese withdrew, the Chinese government was so threadbare it was forced to stand silent as millions of its citizens died of the great famine that swept central China immediately after the war.

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The USA, very proud of its part in ending both World Wars, deftly ignores how late we were to join both fights—and how little we sacrificed compared to other nations who played the game on their home fields. I’m proud of America’s part in world history—and of our armed forces—the only empire that never takes possession of its conquests. Perspective, however, should not blind us to the records of history or the nature and value of the rest of the world. Proud is good, but selfish is not, and willfully ignorant is unacceptable.

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We are part of the same dark history that includes the ‘bad guys’ of history. First we slaughtered the Native Americans, then we imported and enslaved another minority—one we had created. The Nazis once wanted to exterminate minorities, and the South Africans once wanted to quarantine minorities rather than show them respect. We all now live in a wonderful, modern, global community that has agreed to the axiom that Human Rights must be unconditional, or they are not Human Rights. We all respect each other now, behind all the likes, dislikes, disagreements, and preferences, we recognize that our fellows (and even our enemies) are human beings like ourselves. That is the public face of all developed countries.

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But it is incomplete. Hatred is still very much with us. Some discount the equal rights of women; some discount the humanity of other racial groups; some discount everyone outside of their major faith; and many erroneously equate wealth and power as signs of greatness. Such prejudices still pervade some otherwise-civilized nations: Saudi Arabia still condescends to the female half of their population; Russia still criminalizes homosexuality; etc., etc.

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Outside of these institutional archaisms, there is the thornier problem of the quiet bigot—America is chock-full of such communities and individuals. How can these people know enough to be ashamed to speak their thoughts out loud in public and yet remain ignorant enough to cling to these fantasies of superiority and entitlement? Are their lives so harsh they require a mental whipping boy—something to blame for their lack of happiness? No, if that were true, there would be a demographic pattern to these devolutionary anti-socialists. The stats show that hate is everywhere—rich or poor, north or south, hate for women, hate for non-whites, hate for non-Christians—it persists in families that work hard to keep it alive in the face of so much enlightened pluralism in our media, our government, and our legislation—and in our daily lives. It must confuse the hell out of their kids.

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The truth, as Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein put to music so long ago, is that ‘you have to be carefully taught’. No one is born with the will to hate someone else based on their few differences. It is passed down from mother to daughter, from father to son—as is, unsurprisingly, tolerance. But tolerance itself needs no indoctrination—parents simply inform their children that all of us are people and none of us should be left out or excluded—and the children recognize a simple truth when they hear it. Prejudice must be repeated and reinforced over and over–it has to be carefully taught.

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How do we end this? I like to think that erosion will work against the pockets of willful ignorance until they are all gone—but that is both grindingly slow and terribly uncertain—people are crazy. Who’s to say we won’t see erosion in the wrong direction? So action seems required—but how do we act against parents raising their children in the privacy of their own homes? Plus, it is easy to deflect ones motives—to blame ones judgments against others on some practical detail rather than the hidden hate that truly inspired it. How do we stop that? I wish I knew.

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Confusion Rampant (2014Jun05)


Hello, everyone. I’ve been getting my meds adjusted recently. Many trips for tests and exams and sonograms–but all is as expected–I shall live… although it has certainly cut into my video-making time, not to mention the time to sit at the piano and make the recordings–but I hope you can sense the increased clarity of mind in these two pieces.

 

 

This one was recorded several days ago but, as I said, I’ve been too distracted to edit and post it.

 

 

Hope you liked it!

Can’t We Have Just One Good Thing?


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Monday, June 02, 2014               10:07 PM

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On Sunday, June 1st, five Taliban prisoners from Gitmo were flown to Qatar as part of the agreement to release Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the only known U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan, held captive for five years. His former platoon members consider his leaving the camp as an act of desertion—and after he was captured, some even resented the enormous search effort that followed his disappearance. Some of Obama’s political enemies are calling his unilateral decision to make the exchange a violation of Congress’s right to oversight and mutual decision-making in the matter of POW exchanges. Many Afghanis, including President Karzai, protest the American transfer of the five Taliban prisoners to Qatar, a third nation, as a violation of Afghani sovereignty. They further protest that these prisoners are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity—and that setting them free virtually guarantees their return to terrorist activities.

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This is how modern America (led by the news-media) reacts to the return of their sole POW from our longest-lasting military engagement. Apparently, PTSD is all well and good once our military return home—but if someone becomes ‘disenchanted’ with the war while still ‘in theater’, that poor bastard is a deserter, maybe even a traitor—and his platoon-mates consider it good riddance to bad rubbish.

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I’d like to meet these fellows—I’ll bet they’re all real, stand-up guys. After five years of imprisonment by the worst terrorists on Earth, their first comment on their old pal, Sargent Bowe, is that he should be court-martialed and sent to prison! They claim he didn’t like the war and that he ‘wandered off’—real eagle-eyes, these guys. Nobody noticed? He disappears and they all just gape at each other and shrug? ‘Armies-of-One’, each and every one of them, I’m sure.

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The GOP who cry foul the loudest are the ones who have made abundantly clear their intention to counter and oppose every initiative, every post-nomination, and every decision President Obama decides to try for. And I’m fed up with their protests of innocence whenever their flagrant racism is pointed out—so let me just point out one other fact these Tea-Pots are guilty of.

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By robbing our President of the minimum respect and cooperation every other preceding president has been accorded, out of our proud tradition of accepting election results and getting on with the business of governing, they are also betraying the majority of the citizens, we the people, who elected Obama (sorry-I meant re-elected Obama) by a decisive margin.

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They have been literally screaming ‘Down with the President!’ for six years now—and aside from myself, I haven’t heard anyone call them traitors. Well, if President Obama felt he had to broker this deal without their sabotage of our government’s every responsibility, they can hardly expect anyone to take them seriously when they complain that they weren’t ‘included in the decision-making’. And as for President Karzai (who will remain President of Afghanistan for only a while longer) he has bought his domestic political capital by his shows of antagonism towards the USA for years—his protests carry as little evidence of objectivity as those of the Republican Party, and for the same reason. They both thrive on degrading the United States by abusing our President.

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Five terrorists with ‘cred’ from their stays at our national disgrace—Guantanamo Bay Prison—yes, releasing them sounds like a really bad idea—they will be heroes to the enemies of the USA and their potential ability to recruit new terrorists is incalculable. Nevertheless, we went to war against the Taliban and the Taliban is no more. Al-Qaeda has been decimated of its original command-and-control leaders.

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Let Pakistan have them, or Boko Haram, or whoever—their original roles have disappeared and the last place any of them want to be is in Afghanistan, or back with us—if it returns our only POW back to America (and if his ‘buddies’ don’t jail him) it will have been worth it. In fact, if we can come up with any excuses to chuck out the remaining military detainees in Gitmo, I for one am all for it.

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Is Bowe Bergdahl a hero? Probably not. Is he a casualty? Most definitely. My money is on him suffering PTSD while serving in action and not getting a whole lot of support from his comrades. Add to that five years of unthinkable panic, pain, stress, and desperation as a prisoner of terrorists. He still hasn’t been put on a plane to America because the army medics are trying to get him used to trusting another person in the room with him—a description that sounds an awful lot like ‘total breakdown’. Even if he wasn’t emotionally unstable when he went missing, he sure is now. Of all the military that served there, Bowe Bergdahl may be the only one whose nightmarish fears of Afghanistan came completely true. I feel that should be a consideration when discussing his legal liabilities, if any truly exist.

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Sometimes I try to figure out which country will be the next ‘America’—we have gone a long way down the road of decline. Our spirit is weak. Our ambitions are myopic. Our ideals have become stories we tell about the past, not something most of us still strive for in daily life. Our propensity to let money corrupt everything we once stood for has eaten away at our moral foundations to the point where, like the melting ice caps, it seems beyond the point of repair—on a downward slide to a new world where our America will become as trapped in its circumstances as any Old World nation ever was.

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I wish it weren’t true. I wish lobbying and legal bullying hadn’t gotten us so surrounded by the forces of mindless corporate entities, corrupt government officials, the military-industrial complex, and the monolithic communications giants, that grass-roots politics can be shouted down by big-money political smear campaigns and divisive interest groups. Sadly, I sometimes ponder Sweden, Australia, Iceland, Brazil, Great Britain, and Canada—I ask myself if I shouldn’t encourage my kids to emigrate, to abandon the declining empire of our Constitution and start somewhere with less cholesterol in its veins.

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Still, they say that while it is too late to stop the ice caps from melting, we still have a century or so before the truly devastating rise of sea level to ten or twenty feet above where it is now. My generation will be gone, but my kids may live to see the whole world get new coastlines (and the attendant chaos). So, while I think of the decline of America, I still think it will be their best bet until many decades from now—they’ll have to decide on their own best location, after I’m gone.

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I feel so sad to think of how I once saw my country—I was naïve, yes, but some of what I believed in was actually true. Nowadays, not so much. And when something like a returning POW is treated to the scandal-mill process of modern news and political infighting, instead of joy and gratitude—well, perhaps Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s ‘disenchantment’ with fighting for his country in Afghanistan had some grounds to base it on.

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Thoughts On Print’s Twilight (2014May23)


Friday, May 23, 2014                  1:58 PM

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My friend, Chris K., has brought up the grinding of gears that ensue when retail leviathan Amazon’s standards-and-future-goals butt heads with the last, great publishing houses’ standards-and-traditions. There’s a temptation to mention ‘buggy-whips’ and move on—but literacy is still a goal more than a condition in many parts of the world—and the question of how digital texts will impact that is only one of the many things that are being politely ignored by a First World culture that doesn’t dare appear as anti-progress, particularly against digital innovation.

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Reference books once wore a solemnity that stemmed from their careful accrual of methods, measurements, calculations, and organization of information that reaches back to Ptolemy, Archimedes, and Euclid. The precise science of modern astronomy still owes its huge record of observations of the night sky mostly to centuries and millennia of serious observation and record-keeping.

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The supertanker that chugs along mid-Pacific without any qualms over its exact location and bearing—these are supplied digitally, i.e. magically. What few people realize is that large reference-tables of important navigational values are built in to the ultra-post-modern instruments on the bridge. Without those tables of constant-values, a computer would have no better idea of its position than a human navigator without charts and table-books and chronometers.

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Having lost our hero-worship of literal ‘history’, we now have historians who look at certain people, places, and events from different points of perspective. We now recognize that history is as much a matter of missing documents and contradictory documents and accounts, as it is a matter of what we actually have on paper. Nonetheless, we treasure our Founding Documents, creating a whole sub-topic of document preservation and examination, within the library sciences (or is it archaeology?) Now that we are apparently just going to watch as printed matter becomes obsolete, without any battle-cry to preserve any real value in books, one wonders whether this makes our archival treasures more valuable or more trivial.

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Yes, we are losing something great by doing something new—but I still listen to broadcast radio, so what do I know? I was just yesterday bemoaning the disappearance of that great stationers shop in Brewster—it was a palace of office supplies.

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But my old industry, direct mail marketing , and the shopping-catalog boom were already threatening their existence before e-commerce really started. I remember it was newsworthy and remarkable when Sharper Image debuted the first store without a building—making big bucks in retail without paying rent—well, for the storefront, at least.

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Catalogs and third-party deliverers, like FedEx and UPS, created the ‘virtual mall’ before cyberspace opened its ‘e-doors’, if you will. Now that newspapers are passé (excepting The Gray Lady, of course) and e-books have a strong beachhead—now that education is focused as much on using digital tools as on using one’s mind (perhaps more so) we must let the grand tradition of bibliophilia sink or swim on its own virtue.

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Remember, there was once a paradigm wherein only the nobility were offered literacy, when artisan monks illuminated home-cured vellum with sometimes crushed-gem-based pigments, gold-leaf, and the great wellspring of imagination such labors bestowed upon them. Such treasures were one of a kind—Bibles might be copied, and perhaps a few other books, but many books of that era were unique treasures—as indicated by the practice of chaining them to the wall.

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That grandeur was lost when Gutenberg, et. al. began printing with movable type—mass-publication, relative to the copyists it replaced. Aside from ‘Domesday Books’ and other governmental and commercial records-keeping, there was really only one book—the Bible. The sudden ability to hand out copies to every churchgoer denied the priests, etc. of the power of interpretation—prior to Gutenberg, the Bible was what your Priest told you it was, it said what he said it said—case closed. On top of which, the Latin Scriptures were being made accessible by translations into common speech—which many church leaders felt was a sacrilegious degradation of the Word of God. That is why printing presses were illegal for about a hundred years after they were brought into common use. And printing is still a bone of contention between the authorities and the public, in some cases, even in America.

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The latest instance of this friction is, oddly enough, a digital publication by one Robert Snowden—and it must be noted that the sheer weight of his information, printed on paper, would have circumscribed it’s distribution without the existence of the Internet. So the benefits of digital text do exist—and they are tremendous. But it is hard for me to accept that something I have loved so faithfully all of my life, books, may become obsolete. As is usually the case, we will find out what we really lost, and how much, only after we’ve reached a point of no return.

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In the meantime, it should be remembered that self-publishing is a wonderful thing for a writer—it remains to be seen if its value holds true for the reader.

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Xopher’s Little Suite No. 1 (2014May16)


Xopher’s Little Suite No. 1 (2014May16)

Three Dances in this Small Suite…

 

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Tweet-Tweet…Tweedle-De-Dete (2014May14)


Hi All. For today we are serving a taste of bird songs, followed by four folk songs from Russia–after that, I just happen to have an Improv, as well. Enjoy!

Being out in the yard is not just pretty flowers–you can hear the birdies singin, too. Stills of the shoot are displayed below the two videos…

 

 

 

 

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Two Improvs, flowers included. (2014May12)


Our lilac bush is blooming–love that aroma.
There were some other interesting flowers out there.
The pink one is called lady-slippers. (I think.)
I don’t know what the big leafy things are–
I’m really not up on my plantology.
I know dandelions–
and I should know the little purple ones–
They’re all over the yard.

 

 

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Gifts for Mothers Day (2014May11)


Happy Mothers Day to one and all (but especially Mothers). Here I have once again used photos I took of our front yard as backgrounds for the Titles and Credits stills.

The actual photos are displayed, as well.

 

 

 

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The Darling Buds Of May (2014May01)


Well, I went outside today to take pictures of the Daffodils and Hyacinth (and that one that might be bluebells, I don’t know my flowers all that good).

We like to commingle our assets vis-a-vis lawn and garden–the bulbs are everywhere. It makes the lawn-mowing a lot tougher, but it’s more fun…watching to see what springs up where.

My new camera is doing very well–And I managed a short improv to go with the photos in today’s YouTube video.

I’ve also included some of the stills below that formed the source of my video overlays–happy May Day to all’yuh!

 

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SOS [Same Old Stuff] (2014Apr27)


Of all my piano playing, the most common improvisations I do are all in a minor–so don’t be too disappointed if these two sound very familiar…

(Sometimes, it’s just about working the ax)

 

Coupla Tings (2014Apr25)


Hello–nothing much new going on–just breaking in the new recorder–these two came out:

 

 

 

 

Just one note on this last video. In my confusion, I thought I was playing next door this evening

–but it’s really going to happen on May 23rd– I’ll do my best to catch a recording–

but I don’t do quite as well with an audience–and using a digital keyboard.

Stay tuned.

Easter Thoughts (2014Apr20)


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Sunday, April 20, 2014               5:54 PM

Well, I’m well satisfied with my essay—and Mike Cook liked it a lot, so there I am. He says it will be included in his July newsletter. While that is happy news, I feel tremendously let down. ‘Post-partum’ depression is part of a creative person’s life—the thrill of writing, drawing, or performing something new, something all one’s own—it can’t just Stop. The aftermath is a frustrating combination of wanting to wave it in front of the whole world saying, ‘Look what I did!’ and of having nothing to turn to where that project once was. Starting a new thing is the only cure but that can’t happen until the reverberations of the finished project have died down inside my head.

My family's first home in Bethpage, LI, NY

My family’s first home in Bethpage, LI, NY

So I’m familiar. Been there, always do that. My self-image is a constantly shifting mass of shards—one piece glinting here, another flashing there. I have been an artist my whole life—but I have never been an artist. I have never tied myself and my creations to any money-making venture. Conversely, I only work for the audience in my bathroom mirror—so I can’t complain that I have no artistic career. But I’m proud—I think some of my stuff is fantastic, and I know that I need courage to do what I do and to live my life the way I do.

My Family's 2nd home in Katonah, NY

My Family’s 2nd home in Katonah, NY

I don’t look down my nose at successful artists—if anything, I envy them. Nothing suggests substantial worth like a high price tag—making money would be a great help in shoring up my self-image. But that, I see now, will never happen. I’ve done some copywriting and some illustration in my day, in passing, and I can attest to the fact that there is a world of difference between being an artist (a spiritual, or at least innate, condition) and being commercially artistic. The cardinal difference is in who says the work is done and satisfactory. If I say it, I’m being an artist. If my ‘boss’ has the last say, that’s commercial art.

Central Blvd. Elementary School, Bethpage, LI, NY (My grades 1-5)

Central Blvd. Elementary School, Bethpage, LI, NY (My grades 1-5)

I remember graduating from high school a year early, going to college for maybe a month, quitting and coming home—somehow, I was standing in the back of my high school’s auditorium during the graduation awards ceremony—students were being given prizes for excellence in Art, Writing, Math, etc. In my former life, such a ceremony would have included me in some category. But then and there I was visiting a school, not being a student—and none of the prizes were for me. I understood it, but I still had trouble dealing with it. Everyone has told me (now that it’s too late) “O! You should’ve never skipped your senior year of high school—that’s the best part.”

John Jay Jr High School (Now Middle School) in Cross River, NY

John Jay Jr High School (Now Middle School) in Cross River, NY

So I’ve always had a sense of where things matter socially and where things matter personally. Public notice is something I wouldn’t like—some financial success would have been nice, don’t get me wrong—and the critic in my head is far harsher than anyone else has ever been. Also, I’m 58 now—misconceptions about honor, glory, power, and riches are long behind me already—as I’ve grown older, my focus gets tighter and tighter on the question of ethics. I’ve left behind all my generalizations and objectifications—I see people as people now. I see them as myself now. I hurt when they hurt—I smile when they are happy.

Katonah Elementary School, Katonah, NY (My grade 6)

Katonah Elementary School, Katonah, NY (My grade 6)

That isn’t so much—everyone has that feeling about their family—but I am learning to extend it to every person, even people I don’t like, people who do wrong. I don’t behave this way because of a religion—although the idea may have come from any of the major faiths—I live this way because it is sensible. Humankind is a family—and the less we recognize that, the more we fail. We are failing now, right now, and we have been for a long time. Yes we have wonderful things, great tech, delicious foods, fast cars—but we have decided to ignore the warnings of scientists about how our ways are killing the planet that gives us food, water, air, and so much more. That’s a fail.

JJHS, Cross River, NY

JJHS, Cross River, NY

Say what you want in defense of high-tech capitalism—speak any doubts you have over the truth of global climate change—none of that will matter when the Mighty Quinn arrives. Sane people like myself feel the giddy spin of madness, calmly watching as A-type personalities muddy the waters of common sense, while the pens of CPAs are destroying all the best that our world has to offer. I could join a group and fight the power—but that’s thinking too small. We would need a sweeping gestalt-change no less overpowering than the beginning of the Christian Era. But Christs are in short supply—and even he couldn’t stretch a few loaves and fishes enough to feed seven billion people.

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Reed College, Portland, OR

I see most of the obvious actions in that context—if it isn’t a sweeping, overall revision of the human vision, it isn’t enough—and, worse yet, it simply adds to the turmoil and confusion. So I do nothing, in the public sense. I do not act. It’s just as well—if I succeeded in improving mankind’s fate, I’d get a big head about it and I wouldn’t be fit to live with. My mission, as I see it, is to post a lot of nonsense like this on the Internet, to help other people whenever I have the opportunity, and to make my own life, as far as possible, an example to my children. And even on that point I’d prefer they copy their mother’s example of steadfast strength and unceasing love and happiness.

SUNY at Oswego, NY

SUNY at Oswego, NY

I say I am proud; I say I want to set an example for my kids; I consider myself unique and special—but that’s not the end of it. I also doubt myself; I feel a touch of fear about what I may be doing wrong; I look around at everyone else’s priorities and valuations—and even my outsized self-confidence quails at the thought of so many people valuing what I ignore, and ignoring what I value. Still, my long adherence to atheism is an even bigger disagreement between me and the majority—and if I’m going to trust in my own judgment on something so vital, it’s not much to tack on my little perceptions as to aesthetics, or ethics.

Castleton State College, Castleton, VT

Castleton State College, Castleton, VT

Although I have been getting used to disagreeing with an entire classroom full of my peers from a very early age, I still feel an atavistic cringing at the thought of facing one way while everyone around me faces the other. It is a natural impulse to get along and go along—we are a social species and I have as much desire to fit in as the next person. My parents were wrong to ask me, ‘Would I jump off a bridge if all my friends were doing it’—the answer is, of course, no—but then if I take that and apply it to my whole life, I’m likely to find almost everything in our crazy, modern society to be in the category of ‘jumping off a bridge’. And that’s exactly what happened.

SUNY at Stony Brook, LI, NY

SUNY at Stony Brook, LI, NY

Thus I’m left in a social vacuum of my own making—I like to read books, I listen to classical music, and I play the piano. That is probably true of many people—but even ‘many’ people can come to a per capita of 0.0005%. So, in a small community like Somers, that would only be three or four of that ‘many’, at best, and even then, I like certain books and dislike others; I like instrumental classical music but I don’t care for opera; and I play the piano, but not very well. Now most people that play the piano are pretty good at it, otherwise they usually give it up—the number of people like me—people that persist in struggling with our limitations, is vanishingly small.

SUNY at Purchase, NY

SUNY at Purchase, NY

Other people, perhaps more emotionally stable people, would concede to popular acclaim and start watching sports on TV, or join a group of online gamers, or join a book club. But I have to work with what I have. I’m a pretty bad liar, I think. And I have no patience—none—especially in conversation. When I hear someone say something stupid or hurtful I turn and walk away—unless the stupid one is picking on someone younger or smaller—then I find myself saying stupid, hurtful things right back at them. I have no self-control to speak of.

Pace University

Pace University

But I spent most of my life being right when everyone else was wrong—in school, in business, in computers—and that’s a hard attitude to change. Even in my reduced mental capacity, there are many people on TV who are demonstrably stupider than I am now. That seems to me like an overabundance of stupid, being not very pleased with my own stupidity. And being half-a-shut-in doesn’t help expand my social circle, either. But I have good friends, nice people, even good neighbors (except for this one guy who just moved in behind us!) and my family, and that’s more than enough people for me to interact with—any busier and I’d be exhausted—I get very tense around other people nowadays, just trying not to say anything that might hurt their feelings, and not to say anything when I disagree with what they’re saying.

Married 1980

Married 1980

I’m big on argument—always have been—but in my ‘second’ life I’ve started to trust humanity to be self-adjusting. If I think someone is wrong, they’ll find out if I was right or not, whether I tell them or not—and nowadays I can’t always be sure that I’m right about anything. Most people misunderstand anyway—I’ve never corrected anyone in any spirit other than a desire to be helpful—but for many, any argument is an attack, so I just upset them instead of helping them.

Jessica Duffy  born 1982

Jessica Duffy born 1982

There’s more I should say, I suppose, but I am just exhausted with trying to talk honestly about myself. I’m actually seven feet tall, a Nobel prize-winner, and a legendary Latin lover—I am ‘the Most Interesting Man in the World’ (but I don’t drink Dos Equis, because of my liver transplant). I’m Superman; I can fly; I’m just incredible…

Spencer  -born 1988

Spencer Thomas -born 1988

I am here

I am here

Clean Up and Apology (2014Apr15)


Here are the final four videos I will be shooting with the broken, busted, blurry camcorder–a new unit is on its way. If I can control my compulsion to make videos until Friday, I should be all set.

As for the titles, yesterday’s improvs seemed a sorry result for all my decades of listening to and performing classical music. So, these titles are by way of apology to the titans of classic music.

Today’s title should not be unfamiliar to anyone pressed for time on April 15th.

In spite of being unwatchable, I do hope some of you may enjoy listening to these videos…

 

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20140414XD-Improv-Brahms_s_Downfall(TitlesCARD)

 

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Blurry (2014Apr14)


Unfortunately, my camcorder has opted for ‘permanently out of focus’, so until I can replace it, and since it can still record the audio alright, I’ll be posting blurry videos. My apologies in advance–will put a rush on the replacement, but first must get OK from the boss (Claire)…

 

 

Two For The Road (2014Apr09)


Well, tomorrow is Claire’s Birthday! We’ll be having a joint celebration–because Jessy and Seneca (& Tuesday, the Wonder Dog) will be leaving on a road trip to California the next day.

I’m hoping they have a great trip–and that they find many new and exotic experiences out on the shore of the Pacific.

Their transportation (bought, paid for, registered, insured and inspected just today) is a 2006 Volvo hatchback–a beauty of a car (I’m jealous).

Thus today’s two improvs:

 

There are No Free Lunches—Unless You Own the Deli (2014Apr07)


Monday, April 07, 2014              2:28 PM

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It’s so simple. All we have to do is be fair with each other, to care about our community, and to refrain from judging each other. If we did that, we wouldn’t have income inequality—we’d have a generous support system that makes working an option rather than a necessity; we wouldn’t have a powerful group of organizations trying to perpetuate ecological destruction—we’d have a powerful Environmental Protection Agency with the authority to force businesses to curtail their air-and-water-and-ground pollutions, to go bankrupt, if necessary, to protect the global environment; we wouldn’t have underground currents of bigotry in our society—we’d have social norms that insisted on equality for women, non-whites, and the disabled.

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It would mean adding an entirely new level to our evaluation process—once a business was determined to be profitable, it would also have to be seen to be a sensible activity—one which doesn’t turn a blind eye to the ecological or humanitarian downsides that certain businesses might engender. Profit should not be at the top of our decision tree. Human survival should have that spot. And human decency should be in there ahead of profit, too. Damage is not being recognized as part of our evaluation process. Neither ecological nor humanitarian destruction is considered—only the figures on the balance sheets and the laws lobbied into existence to pre-empt any do-gooders that might sue them for such destruction.

Museum of Science and Industry

Corporations with no loyalty to humanity should not be given the latitude of legal ‘person-hood’—they are not our friends, they represent a cancer of morality that threatens our continued existence. Because a corporation cannot feel pain, it doesn’t include human suffering into its calculations—it has only one goal—revenue—and only one law—economize. A few decades ago, the people that ran corporations felt a moral compunction against ‘doing evil’—they had not yet separated, in their minds, their responsibility as people from their actions as managers of a corporation. Today, the only question that concerns them is whether their lawyers are good enough to shield them from whatever thoughtless, profit-making scheme they can come up with. They tell themselves that the world works that way—which it didn’t always, and which only works now because so many of the rich and powerful are shameless enough to hide behind it. They tell themselves that if they didn’t do their job, someone else would, and the only difference would be that their children had to go to public schools, and that the only work for an honest man these days pays minimum wage.

Milwaukee Art Museum

But here’s the thing the rich folks don’t want to think about: people no longer have to work to survive. Let me back up a bit for this one. Ancient nomadic cultures disliked the idea of agriculture—it gave people a surplus of food, and that surplus went right back into feeding a standing army, which protected the grain and livestock from raiders and thieves. As agriculture grew, and civilization matured, these permanent emplacements became small cities—the work required for survival drops even lower, and an upper class appears—people who have the power to command others and excuse themselves from daily labors, even to the owning of slaves.

Thus began the standard equation—special people were in charge, and un-special people were expected to do what work remained obligatory. As time went on, the idea of retiring more people from the full time work force expressed itself as a middle class—those who did less work and had more discretionary time than the un-special in general. Had this continued, the middle-class would have experienced a growth, per capita, of middle-class people, and a decline in the number of ‘un-special’ people until they were no more.

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But the wealthy of our present day insist that only a person who works for the ruling class eight full hours a day should ‘deserve’ a subsistence living wage—and only a few, who are expected to work ten-or-twelve hours a day, should enjoy the relative ease of middle management. This is madness from at least two perspectives.

The first—the idea that our present-day global community requires 99% of us to work all day, every day, is ludicrous. Second—they include themselves in the ‘workforce’—as if deciding where to eat lunch was equivalent to the labors of road-pavers and electrical linemen.

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Factories made it possible to do the work of hundreds of craftspeople in a single day, with a handful of employees running the machinery. Today, factories are becoming roboticized to the point where only one or two people can do the work of thousands—or, to be more precise, one or two people can watch over the machines that do the work of thousands. But more importantly, this is also true of agriculture—huge tracts of farmland are tended by a small number of machine drivers, freeing the hundreds of man-hours farming just a few acres represented, up until a century ago. Armies, too, are doing more killing and destruction with better and better machines, and less and less soldiers.

And now, the latest development—our economy implodes, and when the economy finally climbs back out of the hole, it leaves the American work-force behind. Employment still lags, even while big business has an historic boom. The rich still insist that we peasants are too lazy to get a job—but they don’t have any jobs to offer. The economic straits of the 99% are worthy of at least as much effort as was exerted to alleviate the citizens that starved and froze during the Great Depression—but no, say the rich, you’re all just lazy.

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Having a good job isn’t the be-all it used to be—it is becoming a rarity, a luxury. There are a lot of jobs in one labor-marketplace—the minimum wage, part-time, ‘not enough to live on’, ‘not enough to raise a family on’-type jobs. This is the last straw. The rich suppose we should all work long and hard every day—even if we don’t get paid fairly. Meanwhile, the amount of work required to keep the wheels turning in our present society gets smaller and smaller.

I don’t have a job. I don’t have any prospects for finding a job. Does that make me unworthy of living? Should I just kill myself? Don’t answer that. I believe that our government should address this slow but steady change in our paradigm. Single mothers (and fathers) should be subsidized—whether they work outside of the home, away from their children, should be a choice, not a necessity. Young people should have their education-loan debts forgiven. Corporations should be taxed, and heavily, as should the super-rich citizens. You’d think corporations and the super-wealthy would want all these things, because they promote a healthy business environment.

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Perhaps they’re scared—after all, once you start giving money to poor people, it’s only a matter of time before you start taking money from the wealthy! Well, boo-hoo for them. Income inequality begins with the wealthy getting greedy, not from the poor getting lazy. Work ain’t what it used to be.

mariner9

Session of Fools (2014Apr01)


Peter Cianflone came by on April Fools Day and here is the result, played on Piano, Bongos, and Assorted Tympani….

 

The Girl from Ipanema

The Girl from Ipanema

 

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April Fools Improv No. 1

 

April Fools  Improv No. 2

April Fools Improv No. 2

 

The Look Of Love

The Look Of Love

Telstar (Original Recording – 1962)


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Monday, March 31, 2014           10:04 AM

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What is it about this Tornados track that makes me play it again and again?  It could be that it was inspired by a dream Joe Meek had. It could be that the inspiration for the title was the launching of the first Telstar Telecommunications Satellite launched into orbit on July 10th, 1962. Did you know?—the Telstar (or ‘geosynchronous-orbiting satellite’), or rather the idea behind it, originated in an Arthur C. Clarke story! The science fiction and the rocket launchings of the 1960’s broke my childish mind into fireworks-like dreams of flight, exploration, and technology. If you are interested in learning more about the song, watch “Telstar: The Joe Meek Story” (2008)—it is an excellent film and a real slice of history, painlessly presented by a very entertaining director.

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Judging from the dreams it calls up from deep in my memory, the AM radio playing on the dashboard of my parents’ station wagon while we drove home from Jones Beach, I heard it at a time when I was happy in the way only children can be happy. One of five siblings, I was usually rolling around in the back of the wagon, avoiding the back-seat infighting (and the ensuing parental yelling).

Those trips to Jones Beach were happy, but they were full of fear, too. The waves could sometimes become (to my young eyes) skyscrapers of water, looming above, letting me know I’d be crushed and rolled and dragged over the rough surface beneath the water. I often wondered whether I’d be let back up again before my breath gave out.

Sometimes there was sky-writing!

Sometimes there was sky-writing!

And there was separation anxiety, too. Jones Beach was huge, disappearing into the horizon in either direction, thousands of families and friends laying out the towels that made the space temporarily their own. All the new ‘portable radios’ were tuned to the same AM station (Cousin Brucey) and the songs followed along wherever one went.

There were regularly spaced Life Guard Towers every hundred yards or so. If the waves tumbled me too far along the shore I would be faced with a beach that looked exactly like the one from which I had walked down to the surf.

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The only difference would be that my family was nowhere to be seen. This was a tricky little trap, for me at least—if all my siblings were in the water (which was always) I’d be looking for our blanket and cooler—not much to go on in the ‘Where’s Waldo’ world of Jones Beach in High Summer.

Plus, if I chose to go the wrong way, the result was getting further from my goal instead of closer. In the end, my mom usually had to yell at her confused, lost-looking little boy from her place beneath the Sun Umbrella. O, yeah. I forgot to mention, almost everyone had eight-foot-tall sun umbrellas—like patio umbrellas, but with a big spike for sticking it into the sand.

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But aside from all that, I loved Jones Beach. Ice cream and hot dogs and soda never tasted so good—even if the line at the Snack Concession was stupendously long. The sand was perfect for sculpture and construction—and the ebb and flow of the tide made everything transient—even if it wasn’t kicked over by some other kid.

But just imagine it—the TV was full of ‘space race’ news, the beach was full of joy, and the music coming out of all the radios was futuristic and new—but none compared to “Telstar”. We have become overly familiar with synthesized sounds—in the 1960s it was unheard of except for “Telstar”. To hear in the music itself the sound of electronics—it was a Pentecostal experience, but for the ears instead of the tongues. From that point on, I was less and less interested in acoustic music (and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in that) and more and more craving the sounds of synth.

And that was actually a logical progression—one of the draws of rock n’ roll was the electrified sound of the guitars and the reverb, wah, and other effects added to the players’ or vocalists’ amplified sounds. But nothing says Synth like a keyboard.

I remember playing Wendy Carlos’ “Switched-On Bach” for my family, expecting them to be as enthralled with the sound (and the idea) as I was. But my Uncle John said it sounded like Alvin and the Chipmunks playing classical music. Everyone roared with laughter—and I was nearly in tears. What can I say? Music has always been very important to me.

The things music can do never cease to amaze me—it can make a chill go down my spine; it can make the hair on my arms stand up; it can bring me near tears; it can make me jump up and start dancing; it can make me laugh, sing along, howl along (if drunk enough), and even make me stare into space, lost in the wonder of it. I haven’t been to Jones Beach in decades—but music can still take me there.

 

One Grisly Nightmare [& Two(2) Piano Covers]


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Five Spot for (2014Mar26)


You’ll find lots of flubs and fluffs in the two sheet-music videos–can’t be helped. Try the three Improvs–they’re more listenable.

Early To Rise (2014Mar24)


Got up with the sun today–see how it changes my lighting……

 

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If that doesn’t work, please click here:

The Dividing Line


Tuesday, March 18, 2014           2:52 AM

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Someday public schools will be civilized to a fare-thee-well, in keeping with the future’s streets, which will be safer than one’s own living room, and far more courteous than the sidewalks of the present. I suppose we could say that, as go the public thoroughfares, so goes the public schooling environment. After all, school prepares us to join society—not just any society but, specifically, the immediate area’s society.

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It’s odd (but I was rather precocious) that I sensed, as I neared the end of Central Boulevard Elementary School in Bethpage, Long Island, that I would not ‘get on well’ in the high school, or even the junior high. The stories my elder siblings related gave me a sense that those places were dangerous—and so they were, and most likely are so, today, for all I know. I’ll never know, having been moved to Katonah just in time for sixth grade at Katonah’s Elementary School.

Bear2007May5 024

And I found them dangerous, as well, as were the John Jay Junior High and John Jay High School that ensued. In a different style?—maybe sometimes but not too much. As I’ve mentioned many times earlier, I didn’t view my family’s house as a paragon of warmth and comfort—although there were, I’m sure, glimmers of it here and there. And then school became a trial.

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There always seems to be at least one bully in every class group, in every outdoor recess, who gets by on the same demographic trend that keeps cable news channels and reality-TV shows on the air. They relieve boredom, if only for a while—and in an unpleasant-feeling manner. I was a perfect target—pre-traumatized, unsure of my community, and preferring a good book to most other things. Only once did I throw a punch—on the playground back in Bethpage. It horrified me. I don’t know if I like fighting or not, whether I’m good at it or not—all I know is that it feels bad hurting someone else.

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Usually when I call someone out as ignorant, I’m referring to the ignorance of this one, crystal-clear truth—hurting other people feels bad. If it doesn’t feel bad to you, if you enjoy it, I don’t know what to tell you. Get over it, because even if you aren’t bothered about it, other people are.

Bear2007May 040

If people witness a traumatic event, a fatal car-crash, or a gang-shooting—the horror that goes through all those witnesses’ minds at that second is immense. People are horrified just to see it happen, never mind actually assaulting someone or being assaulted.

Bear2007May 038

People tend to overlook this point. Survivor guilt is in the same category—watching others die, and living to tell about it, also horrifies the hell out of people. Our hearts do bleed for them. Military action veterans are not all incapacitated by PTSD, but they none of them come home unchanged.

Bear2007May 030

Some people still insist that hitting your kid is the only way to get them to mind. That may be true, but maybe kids aren’t necessarily required to listen to a parent’s every command—we raised our two kids without any violence of word or tone or deed. I admit, they have minds of their own—but I count that as a win, not a loss. The vice-principal of the Somers Middle School called the house one day—I picked up—he said, “Mr. Dunn, are you aware your daughter has blue hair?”

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I said, “Yeah. ..” (I wasn’t really—but it didn’t surprise me.)

He said, “Aren’t you concerned that your daughter might cause a disruption in class?”

I said, “What? For having blue hair?”

He said, “Yes. No one else in her grade has blue hair!”

I said, “We encourage her to express herself—I can’t exactly tell her not to dye her hair different colors. Besides, who does it hurt?”

By this point, the Vice Principal had the measure of me—‘one of those parents’—and with a few more gruff grunts he hung up. I stood there thinking—‘That guy wanted me to yell at my daughter for coloring her hair blue!’

Bear2007May 028

As Politics, being at its root all about selflessness, still attracts mostly egoists, power-graspers, and prima donnas—so too, does Teaching, being at its root all about nurturing the incipient excellence of every child, still attract people who despise children, or worse, simply enjoy being in loco parentis to a captive crowd of squirming children—and ‘learning’ comes later, if at all. There are other livelihoods that seem to attract those least invested in the root ideals of their jobs—and more interested in some self-gratification opportunity behind their masks of esprit de corp. One of humanity’s great mysteries, says I.

Bear2007May 027

However, if I may return to my original point, I think the theory that public schools reflect their environment could be applicable to more than the physical neighborhood, to include the local ethical baseline, as well.

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I can say this, having been a student in a poor area and in a wealthy area. The ethics of the wealthy can be pretty ugly—where they exist at all (‘But I kid the super-wealthy, they’re really very nice people…’ – Bill Maher). Cheating is shameless in wealthy communities’ schools—sometimes it’s a downright familytradition. Extortion is more prevalent in the leaner communities, as it is played out every day in areas where a buck is hard to come by, but bills they gotta lotta.

Bear2007May 018

Regardless, as schools are intended to prepare us for the future, we can’t expect them to do anything better than to prepare them for where they live. That sounds a lot more fascist than I intended—but if survival, or gainful employment, in one’s own neighborhood is not the goal of the school, what should it be? One thing most schools have in common is a pathway to advanced learning for gifted students—but let’s face it, not everyone is quote-unquote gifted. Still, wasted greatness is more likely in a depressed area than in, say, Beverly Hills.

Bear2007May 016

The biggest problem regarding depressed areas is that they have permanence—change is less welcome in places where security is hard to come by. Becoming poor, aside from being a tortuous hell-on-earth, is also an indoctrination, a training process in which we learn to suffer—and growing up poor is even more damaging to one’s self-image.

Bear2007May 015

Most of the ‘educational dispersal’ is used only by the rich kids. Upper-income families see their kids go to schools of higher learning in far-away places, and aren’t surprised when, after graduation, their kids then go to a random metro-area to try to ‘make it’. But for lower-income families, travel is rare—and travel is a rarity for many different reasons—some of the same reasons that didn’t allow their poor parents to go to every game or performance, every year—and didn’t give them much time to help their kids with their homework, etc., etc., and so on. But the vicious cycle which ensnares the impoverished is well-known for its interconnective stickiness. I won’t belabor the point any further.

Bear2007May 009

Finally, I think it’s plain to see that schools cannot be improved in a vacuum. Conversely, if the neighborhood gains access to good, steady jobs—that influx will be reflected not only in the public schools, but in every part of the neighborhood’s character.

Bear2007May 007

Business is the trouble. The higher the price-tag on a deal, the less said against it by good people or bad. We can exercise the generosity of the Buddha when it comes to tipping, or leaving pennies in the dish—but when we’re talkin’ thirty-five-mill, buddy—just keep your trap shut if you know what’s good for you.

Bear2007May 006

And there stands the dividing line.

Good people can’t be comfortable taking advantage of others, or endangering others, or lying about something important. And all top-executives (and most of middle management) know that those three things are required of a ‘business man’. Does this ad demean women? Only a little. Isn’t the mark-up a little high on this? It’s what the market will bear. What if some kid gets hurt? You’re creating problems that nobody needs right now….

Bear2007May 004

And this divides people because all the jobs that pay good money involve becoming a ‘business-person’. People think we need higher education for these jobs—that’s just a ‘maybe’—the only absolute requirement is that you pick a side and the hell with all the rules.

Bear2007May 003

There are other jobs. There are jobs where you get to talk to people, do some good, get something done that you’re proud of—yeah, we got those jobs. None of them pay more than minimum wage, some pay nothing at all—but they’re there.

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I suppose that’s what we ought to expect. If we want to get paid a lot more money than the average person, we have to do something special, something that separates us from the mob. It’s a shame that the price is somehow ‘letting go’ of what you wanted to believe in. And anyone with kids is an automatic blackmail victim—sure, stand on your principles—but your kids will lose the roof over their heads and a lot more. It’s a strange world—I hated it so much that I’m actually happier being a ‘useless vestige’ than to have to jump back in that cesspool of commerce.

Natural History Museum London

Natural History Museum London

I heard on the news that 40% of corporations have job openings going begging for lack of qualified applicants. So, does that mean these corporations have excessively high expectations, or does it mean that half the working population is not well-educated enough to do jobs which involve anything more complex than simple addition and subtraction?

Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry

I little of both, I hope. Otherwise the USA may be heading economically downward simply for the lack of educated young people. What a wonderful plum that will be on the plates of the Conservative Right-wingers, huh? The country that invented public education will soon be the worst educated of the developed countries (if we aren’t already—you Google it, I can’t stand to look).

Field Museum of Natural History

Field Museum of Natural History

It’s difficult to gauge, but I think, overall in a historical sense, that Christian fundamentalists have done far more harm (and for far longer) than the Muslim fundamentalists. This is one of the many reasons I publicly announce my atheism whenever the chance pops up—it isn’t so much that I’m sure about the whole question of a God existing or not—I really don’t know. What I do know for sure is that all these old, established religions with their texts from BCE, are the result of civilization and human nature.

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gallery

Claiming to speak for God is a powerful gig, if you can pull it off. Once one attains such authority—one can even gainsay Kings and Presidents. We now have learned (those of us who didn’t experience it firsthand) that the priesthood was for centuries a haven for child-abusers and sadists—and they got more respect back then, when their ranks were rife with pederasty, than they do now that the Church is actively scraping this ancient scum out of their institutions. Others, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, had their expiration date, AKA their ‘day of judgment’, their ‘end-times’, their ‘rapture’—come and go without even a tiny cloud forming overhead. How do you polish that turd?

New South Wales Art Gallery - night

New South Wales Art Gallery – night

The Muslim fundies’ pre-occupation with suicide bombing seems to have alienated quite a few Muslims who don’t see anything in their Quran about suicide-vests. And the Jews are ahead of the game, having split into orthodox and reform at the same time they founded their own nation—quite a while ago—plus they’re generally more sensible about interpreting the Bible than any of the ‘youngster’ religions Judaism spawned.

Still, heaven was originally overhead—an unreachable place. Well, too bad, we’ve gone and reached it, and ‘no heaven’ up there anywhere close to Earth orbit—what can you do? Hell is even worse—once imagined to be deeper (and hotter) than the lava that flows from the Earth’s depths. Trouble is they made up Hell before they realized we’re standing on a globe—so Hell is even less underneath than Heaven is overhead.

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And then there’s the archeological evidence of the evolution of religion from its primitive mythology to the modern rites and scriptures of today. And there’s archival proof of human editing of these holy writings to shape ‘what was holy’ to suit sometimes-unholy ends. Our centuries-held misogynous attitudes were a by-product of the early Christian proselytizers’ campaign against the healing-women and other important women’s roles in early Western Europe, naming them Witches and labelling their familiarity with herbs and healing practices as Witchcraft.

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Science, too, was repressed for centuries—chemical experiments were known as alchemy, i.e. black magic. The church’s problem with astronomy is well-known, even today—for it is a glaring example of religious leaders ignoring anything outside of their orthodoxy, at times to the detriment of common sense.

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Literacy was confined to the ruling class—a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, so you can imagine what a lot of knowledge might lead to… And most of the nobility didn’t even bother to take advantage of their access to reading—back then the ethical slant was that their education was a luxury, almost a sin—not to be used, unless being trained  for clergy themselves. Even having learned Latin or Greek, a layman was not supposed to go reading through the Bible himself, he was supposed to listen to the words of the priests at Mass, and leave the comprehension to them. This is still true for many of the Islamic faith—reading the Quran is not recommended, its wisdom should be dispensed only by the Imam.

WILDEstor

So I see established religions as being a bigger detriment to civilization and enlightenment than any other obstacle on our path towards ‘world peace’. Money has become the new religion for many people—and a blind acceptance of Capitalism is not much different from these old religions. Simple things like ‘the Earth needs husbanding’ are suicidally left undone just because it would be bad for the Economy. And what good will this ‘Healthy Economy’ be to us when the Earth can no longer support human life?

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We are captives of A Healthy Economy—even the slightest wobble sends mobs of upset people into supermarkets and delis, clearing the shelves in a matter of hours, if not minutes.

Stars

Thus I prefer not to rail at religions—they are on the ropes already—and the real problem with our society lies in Capitalism and its cancerous consumption of the Earth, of all our days, of all our efforts—not to mention Capitalism’s ugly sister, Poverty—and less than one person in a thousand gets to enjoy their lives, rich or poor.

Opnamedatum: 2010-03-01

Our scientific achievements have become proprietary assets rather than blessings from science. Our schools are veering away from a well-rounded education, towards a more technical-vocational-training kind of schooling—instead of producing fertile, active minds, we now want our schools to provide fodder for the workplace. Not quite the American Dream, these days…

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Capitalism used to work well. Endless growth was once a possibility. There was enough for everyone—there was room to grow. Again, business is the trouble—the higher the price-tag on a deal, the less said against it by good people or bad. And now economic inequality has pushed us back towards the times when rich people felt entitled and poor people felt helpless—war will be its result—the fight over shrinking resources, plus the ongoing toxification of the planet, together will create conditions that make today’s uproars in Syria, Crimea, and Afghanistan and the radiation in Japan, the islands of plastic waste in the oceans, and the drought in California seem like a walk in the park.

Charles I with M de St Antoine (1633) by Anthony van Dyck

Charles I with M de St Antoine (1633) by Anthony van Dyck

Global instances of unprecedented coastal flooding are numerous—the sea-level is rising. There are reports that some popular fishing areas have become so overrun by jellyfish that they’ve not only eaten all the fish, but have become a menace to navigation. As are the aforementioned ‘floating islands’ of refuse that have appeared on the seas, mostly plastic junk but massive enough to create havoc in a busy sea lane.

FamPh 242

Weather extremes of heat and cold do not ‘put the lie’ to Global Warming, they have enlightened us that the correct term is ‘Global Climate Change’. The real danger is the amount of added energy our global combustion-exhaust gives to the global weather system. The recent Polar Vortex is an example of an ‘over-revved’ atmosphere that went spiraling down to freeze crops in California and Florida shows that weather phenomena are beginning to cause the kinds of disasters conservationists have been warning us about since the 1960s.

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The reason for (and the problem with) this is that the large corporations have a half-century of practice at mis-informing the public and lobbying the government. They will nay-say us all into destruction, all for the dirty green.

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When You Wish Upon A Piano (2014Mar16)


XperDunn plays Piano Covers
March 16th, 2014

Improv – Th’Irish Wristwatch:        All credit goes to Geo. Takei’s FB post of this seasonal (St. Pat’s Day) tongue-twister!

Improv – Debbie Reynolds & Tony Randall:    I just watched their amusing movie (on Turner Classic Movies channel): “The Mating Game (1959) is an MGM film directed by George Marshall and starring Debbie Reynolds, Tony Randall, and Paul Douglas in his final screen appearance…          It’s a great film, especially if you enjoy 1950s-1960s rom-coms. It stuck with me, and I needed a title for this piece….QED

George Winston’s “Longing” and “Lullaby”:  I’m a rabid fan of George Winston–when I first began piano lessons, one of my goals was to be able to play some of his music someday–and while that day is yet to come, I get a real kick out of sight-reading through the music-book score!

 

 

 

Two – fer (2014Mar14)


**************    **************    **************

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**************    **************    **************

**************    **************    **************    -bye!

Thoughts of a Mathematical Nature (2014Mar13)


Thursday, March 13, 2014                   7:13 AM

Five Senses

The old phrase, ‘the five senses’, has become far too primitive a notion to retain its use. Even when we thought in terms of the traditional ‘sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch’ biologists still had to append that touch was actually an amalgam of the various nerves in the skin, each with the specific sense of heat/cold, texture, pressure, and pain.

Moreover, the tongue’s taste-buds aren’t one-size-fits-all, either—there are areas for sour, sweet, salt, and who knows what else—you Google it. Plus, the tongue also has all the sensory nerves of skin. The tongue is doing more work than any other sense organ, if you ask me.

The sense of smell, too, is multifaceted, comprised of several specific olfactory phenomena—the research labs attempting to digitize this ‘sense’ are stunned by both the sensitivity (measured in parts per million) and the virtually countless smells that we sniff without a second thought—not to mention the nose of a search dog. I heard of a digital sensor that is now used in place of dogs, but it only works on one thing, like explosives or cash—all I know is that we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for smell-o-matic machines for the consumer.

And there’s a sense of balance—this sense is taken too much for granted except by enlightened people like myself, who miss it dearly. It works through a sensory attachment to fluid in the inner ear—much like a carpenter’s bubble level. I think we can agree that a sense of orientation, in a world of Gravity, is an important perception. Think of this as the Stand Up Straight sense.

Then there’s proprioception, the ability to sense where ones parts are, without having to look at them, a sense of location, if you will. Think of it as the Kicking You Under The Table sense.

Perhaps it’s nothing more than semantics. Some of us have a sense of direction. Others get hunches. Old people can tell when the rain or snow is coming (which I guess makes me old). Nobody can fully explain gestalt leaps or intuition—they may be overlooked simply because the brain is doing so much thinking, it isn’t stopping to show its work, but the input is still the same nerve endings. The brain does do most of the work, anyhow—it takes the signals from the nerve endings, and taste buds, and rods and cones—and it processes them into our perception as the things we call vision, smell, etc. We can’t see our inner ear, so we think of our sense of balance as a brain-thing, magically producing information without any sensory input. We can reach back behind ourselves and pick up a beer off the counter without breaking eye contact—but we think of that as being clever, not proprioceptive.

We have a sense of time elapsing. It isn’t completely punctual, but it does keep us pretty nearly aware of the time of day, most of the days, most of the time. You got me as to what sensory input this works on—I think it just goes as fast as it can, trying to keep up with reality. In extremes, the adrenalin in our bloodstream causes a slowed sense of time, allowing for better strategizing on the fly.

I’m very interested in this question of senses, partly because it would help me understand how there could be eleven or twelve different dimensions to reality, and we’re only aware of four. Now that the thought occurs, it seems quite obvious—we’re aware of much more than the height, length, width, and passing time of our universe. Perhaps we should be exploring the connection between our senses and our measurements—there are far more than just five senses, so it stands to reason that there are more than four dimensions.

Maybe we should stop thinking that dimensions five-through-N are ‘invisible’—and start thinking of those extra dimensions as ‘unrecognized’. We might learn something (aside from the usual ‘never assume’).

 

Average Life Expectancy

It just occurred to me—knowing to what age we can probably live is very different from how long we actually live. If you’re like me, you see something like “an average life expectancy of 85” and you think, okay, I’ll live until I’m about 85. But you won’t—because there’s a difference between probability and reality. Eighty-five, in this example, would be the ‘probability value’ of our life expectancy and because that value is an average, what it really means is that half of us won’t make it to 85. Half of us will die before we reach 85—that’s all the hard info that particular statistic offers us. It’s an average—so it doesn’t even give the survivor-half-of-us any idea of how much longer life will last. If anything, what is really says is that, for the half that live that long, their 85th year will be their heaviest ‘funeral season’ year. It should be called The Year You’ll Wear A Lot of Black.

Of course, optimists may prefer to see “an average life expectancy of 85” as an even bet that they’ll live way past 85, at the very least—it comes to the same thing, but it sounds more positive.

Siren-UofVTc036

One Solo, One Duo (2014Mar05)


 

 

Thudeh, Thudeh, Thudeh, That’s All, Folks!

I Do Believe In Spooks, I Do Believe In Spooks, I Do, I Do…. (2014Feb26)


I Do Believe In Spooks, I Do Believe In Spooks, I Do, I Do….

Wednesday, February 26, 2014          1:00 AM

A Thought:

So I wanted to say to all my friends that in spite of my being atheist, I still believe in the impossible—and I believe in magic, spirits, UFOs, and anything else—but having said that, I don’t believe any of us really knows anything—thus it would be idiotic not to believe in the unknown.

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The thing about most religions is that they seem convinced they have specific knowledge of something none of us can possibly know—like what ‘happens’ after we die. I haven’t the slightest idea, but I don’t think anyone else does either. And I’m highly suspicious of anyone who says they do.

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People say, “You have to have faith in God”, but all I really need is to have faith in the person or persons saying that. If God wants me to have faith, he/she/it should say so, and stop all this passive-aggressive nonsense. If someone wants me to have faith, they need to start with first principles—why should I trust the person speaking? I’d be likelier to clap for Tinker-Bell than to pray to a God who is at once so unknowable—and yet so well-known-and-understood by the leadership of these religions.

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Another Thought:

I saw a TV ad for a drug—the announcer was saying something about side-effects ‘may include swelling of the lips or throat’, but I misheard it as, ‘smelling of the lips’—and that got me thinking about random side-effects—this is a bit that Colbert (on his ‘Report’) does a lot—and I came up with—

Side-effects may include:

smelling of the lips, lobster-jaw, enphlegmation of the flamm, kitten-sneeze, and boxer/brief bruising..

(But, with my useless memory, I may just be sub-consciously plagiarizing Colbert for half of these.)

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Yet Another Thought:

I’ve just burned my newest CD of improvs—a full hour and twenty minutes worth of what I consider some of my most listenable piano-playing ever—if I could just remove my first 1,332 videos, maybe someone might actually listen to the last 15—still, I had to post the 1,332 to get here, so nix mox…

I’ve also written an entertaining essay or two (although, as with my music, amongst the dross of hundreds of essays) but it has become clear to me that there aren’t a lot of people looking online for witty banter in essay form—who’da thunk it?

Lately I’m really upset about my hands shaking—drawing wild pictures was always my big crowd-pleaser, and now that I have the globe for an audience—I can’t draw!

Sucks to be me. But only once in a while…

Godessette

I am now———-Thoughtless. 

‘til later….

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A Great Bounty (2014Feb24)


Please enjoy:

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20140224XD-Improv-Intrelago(TitlesCARD)

20140222XD-SomeSongs(TitlesCARD)

Seven Songs from the Sixties:
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[NOTES & CREDITS]
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Strangers in the Night
[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:
“Strangers in the Night”
is a popular song credited to Bert Kaempfert with English lyrics by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder. Kaempfert originally used it under the title “Beddy Bye” as part of the instrumental score for the movie A Man Could Get Killed. The song was made famous in 1966 by Frank Sinatra.

“Strangers In the Night”
Song by Frank Sinatra from the album Strangers in the Night
Released 1966
Recorded April 11, 1966
Genre Traditional pop
Length 2:35 (original album/single version, incorrectly listed as 2:25 in the original back cover)
2:44 (extended version from “Nothing But the Best”)
Label Reprise
Writer Bert Kaempfert, Charles Singleton, Eddie Snyder
Composer Bert Kaempfert
Producer Jimmy Bowen

Strangers in the Night (1966)
Writer : Bert Kaempfert, Charles Singleton, Eddie Snyder
Composer : Bert Kaempfert
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Suzanne
[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:
“Suzanne”
Song by Leonard Cohen from the album Songs of Leonard Cohen
Released 1967
Genre Folk
Length 3:48
Label Columbia
Writer Leonard Cohen
“Suzanne” is a song written by Canadian poet and musician Leonard Cohen in the 1960s. First published as a poem in 1966, it was recorded as a song by Judy Collins in the same year, and Cohen himself recorded it for his 1967 album Songs of Leonard Cohen. Many other artists have recorded versions, and it has become one of the most-covered songs in Cohen’s catalogue.

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The Sweetest Sounds (1962)
Song by Richard Rogers

The Sweetest Sounds
[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:
“The Sweetest Sounds”
Song from No Strings
Published 1962
Writer Richard Rodgers
Composer Richard Rodgers

“The Sweetest Sounds” is a popular song, written by Richard Rodgers (unlike most of his compositions, writing both music and lyrics) for the musical No Strings, in 1962. It is also used in the film adaption Cinderella starring Brandy, Whitney Houston and Whoopi Goldberg in 1997. Barbra Streisand recorded the song for “Barbra Streisand…And Other Musical Instruments”. Sergio Franchi recorded the song in 1963 on his RCA Victor Red Seal album Broadway, I Love You. Ella Fitzgerald’s swinging version can be heard on her Verve Records release “Hello, Dolly!”. The melodic theme appears to have been inspired by an orchestral figure in the final movement of Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 (Brahms) (measures 64-80).

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Those Were The Days (1968)
Writers: Boris Fomin and Gene Raskin
Those Were the Days (song)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For the All in the Family theme song, see All in the Family#Theme song.
“Those Were the Days”
Single by Mary Hopkin
B-side “Turn! Turn! Turn!”
Released 26 August 1968 (US)
30 August 1968 (UK)
Format 7″ single
Recorded mid-July 1968
Genre Folk[1][2]
Length 5:05
Label Apple
Writer(s) Boris Fomin and Gene Raskin
Producer(s) Paul McCartney
“Those Were the Days” is a song credited to Gene Raskin, who put English lyrics to the Russian romance song “Dorogoi dlinnoyu” (“Дорогой длинною”, lit. “By the long road”), composed by Boris Fomin (1900–1948) with words by the poet Konstantin Podrevskii. It deals with reminiscence upon youth and romantic idealism.

Georgian singer Tamara Tsereteli (1900–1968) and Russian singer Alexander Vertinsky made what were probably the earliest recordings of the song, in 1925 and in 1926 respectively.
The song is featured in the 1953 British/French movie Innocents in Paris, in which it was sung with its original Russian lyrics by the Russian Tzigane chanteuse Ludmila Lopato, but is probably best remembered in English-speaking countries for Mary Hopkin’s 1968 recording, which was a top-ten hit in both the US and the UK. On most recorded versions of the song, Raskin is credited as the writer, even though he wrote only the later English lyrics and not the melody.

History:

In the early 1960s Raskin, with his wife Francesca, played folk music around Greenwich Village in New York, including White Horse Tavern. They released an album which included the song, which was taken up by The Limeliters.

Raskin had grown up hearing the song, wrote lyrics in English and then put a copyright on both tune and lyrics. The Raskins were international performers and had played London’s “Blue Angel” every year, always closing their show with the song. Paul McCartney frequented the club and, after the formation of The Beatles’ own Apple Records label, recorded the song with Mary Hopkin, McCartney’s agent having purchased the song rights from Raskin’s.

The song was subsequently recorded in over twenty languages and by many different artists and Raskin was able to live very well on the royalties, buying a home in Pollensa, Mallorca, a Porsche Spyder and a sailing boat.

At the peak of the song’s success, a New York company used the melody in a commercial for Rokeach gefilte fish, arguing that the tune was an old Russian folk-tune and thus in the public domain. Raskin successfully sued and won a settlement, since he had slightly altered the tune to fit his lyrics and had taken out the valid new copyright.

Although the song was popularized in the early 1960s by The Limeliters, Welsh singer Mary Hopkin made the best known recording, released on 30 August 1968, shortly after Hopkin had been signed to the Beatles’ newly created Apple label. Hopkin’s recording was produced by Paul McCartney and became a #1 hit in the UK Singles Chart.

In the US, Hopkin’s recording reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard Easy Listening charts for six weeks. In the Netherlands it topped the charts for 2 consecutive weeks.

The Russian origin of the melody was accentuated by an instrumentation which was unusual for a top ten pop record, including Balalaika, clarinet, hammer dulcimer, tenor banjo and children’s chorus, giving a klezmer feel to the song.

Paul McCartney, who produced the session, also recorded Hopkin singing “Those Were The Days” in four other languages for release in their respective countries: Spain, Germany, Italy, France.
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A Time For Us
-Romeo and Juliet (1968 film soundtrack)

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:

Romeo and Juliet 1968 film Soundtrack album
Released October 8, 1968
Genre Film score
Label Capitol
Producer Neely Plumb

The soundtrack for the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet was composed and conducted by Nino Rota.

It was originally released as a vinyl record, containing nine entries, most notably the song “What Is a Youth”, composed by Nino Rota, written by Eugene Walter and performed by Glen Weston. The music score won a Silver Ribbon award of the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists in 1968 and was nominated for two other awards (BAFTA Award for Best Film Music in 1968 and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score in 1969).

The soundtrack is referred to as “Original Soundtrack Recording” on the front cover with further credits to the film itself.

Composition:

The original track list includes anthems, song snatches, compositions for the ball and for a strolling trombone player.
The neo-Elizabethan ballad “What Is a Youth” is performed by a troubadour character as part of the diegesis during the Capulets’ ball, at which Romeo and Juliet first meet. The original lyrics of “What Is a Youth” are borrowed from songs in other Shakespearean plays, particularly Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice.

Although Rota’s original manuscript is believed to be lost, the love theme is known to have an original published key of G minor. Romeo’s theme was described as “a slow-paced minor key idea, first played by a solo English horn with strings”. In the scene, where Romeo sees Juliet dancing with her family, the theme is sounded by a solo oboe over a background of tremolo strings.

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The Times They Are a-Changin’ (1963)
Song by Bob Dylan

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:
“The Times They Are a-Changin’”

Single by Bob Dylan
from the album The Times They Are a-Changin’
Released January 13, 1964 (album)
March 8, 1965 (single)
Format 7″
Recorded October 23 – 24, 1963 at Columbia Studios, New York City
Genre Folk
Length 3:15
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Bob Dylan
Producer Tom Wilson

“The Times They Are a-Changin’” is a song written by Bob Dylan and released as the title track of his 1964 album, The Times They Are a-Changin’. Dylan wrote the song as a deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the time, influenced by Irish and Scottish ballads. Released as a 45 r.p.m. single in Britain in 1964, it reached number 9 in the British top ten and was Britain’s hundredth best selling single of 1965.

Ever since its release the song has been very influential to people’s views on society, with critics noting the general yet universal lyrics as contributing to the song’s everlasting message of change. The song ever since has been an occasional staple in Dylan’s concerts. The song has been covered by many different artists, including The Byrds, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, Joan Baez, Phil Collins and Bruce Springsteen. The song was ranked #59 on Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Inspiration and composition:

Dylan appears to have written the song in September and October 1963. He recorded it as a Witmark publishing demo that month, a version that was finally released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991. The song was then recorded at the Columbia studios in New York on October 23 and 24, and the latter session yielded the version that became the title song of Dylan’s third album.

Dylan recalled writing the song as a deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the moment. In 1985, he told Cameron Crowe: “This was definitely a song with a purpose. It was influenced of course by the Irish and Scottish ballads …’Come All Ye Bold Highway Men’, ‘Come All Ye Tender Hearted Maidens’. I wanted to write a big song, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way. The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close for a while and allied together at that time.”
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Try To Remember (1960) from “The Fantasticks” -
with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]:

“Try to Remember” is a song from a 1960 musical with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones, “The Fantasticks”.

It is the first song sung in the show, to get the audience to imagine what the sparse set suggests.
Its lyrics famously rhyme “remember” with “September”, “so tender”, and “December”, and repeat the sequence -llow throughout the song:
Verse 1 contains “mellow”, “yellow”, and “callow fellow”;
verse 2 contains “willow”, “pillow”, “billow”;
verse 3 contains “follow”, “hollow”, “mellow”;
and all verses end with “follow”.

“Try to Remember” was originally sung by Jerry Orbach in the Original Off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks.
“Try To Remember” made the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart three times in 1965 in versions by Ed Ames, Roger Williams, Barry McGuire, The Kingston Trio, The Sandpipers, and The Brothers Four. Patti Page released a version in 1965 on her album Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Andy Williams released a version in 1966 on his album The Shadow of Your Smile. Perry Como released a version in 1968 on his album Look to Your Heart.
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