‘Twice Daily’ ? — Sure, Let’s See You Do It…


When I was younger, I heard about some of the details of organ transplants—that the recipient had to take pills for the rest of his or her life to keep the body from rejecting the organ. As a healthy young man I thought, how awful—I’d just as soon pass on the whole thing. Imagine having to remember to take pills every day. And what if there was an apocalypse, huh? No more pills factories—bye-bye, little post-apocalyptic transplant patient! It would hardly be living at all, I thought.

I don’t know if I took my morning pills. A handful of pills in the morning, a different handful at night, continue ad naseum until you reach a fog of backward spiraling memories of having taken pills, pills, pills. Result: I have no idea if I took my morning pills—and they’re the important ones, though oddly enough I’m not referring to the prescription morning pills, but the OTC remedies for 24-hr acid suppression pills and anti-squirts pills (alas, I blush to admit!) The lack of them often prompts me to the realization that morning pills remain untaken, one way or another.

But you know how it is—fourteen hours of sleep, ten hours of relative consciousness—the metabolism of a coma victim, most days. So that morning problem lags behind, lurking ever nearby. And if I err on the side of caution, I get sick from doubling up on all those meds—it’s either be sure, or endure.

I amazed myself earlier with a passable read-through of a piano transcription of the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony—made it all the way to the end (which, if not a first, is certainly a second-time achievement). I’m always surprised by the amount of playing I can do when I stay relaxed.

Strangely, staying relaxed while playing the piano takes focus—not a tense focus, but a floatation type of focus, noticing ‘rigidity-creep’ and willing the muscles to be slack, or at least slacker, and maintaining a posture that is most supportive for my exertions, reducing the amount of muscle required to keep me upright and redirecting that power towards the arms.

And while that may sound very alert, it is only possible if one is quiet and not agitated. I do best upon waking in the morning, or from a nap. I pretend that I don’t care what goes on around me—I am in the living room, after all—but the simple truth is that silence is the best canvas to paint music on. So, half asleep, in a silent room, without the camcorder watching, I can do wonders. Too bad their nature makes them impossible to reproduce in front of other people, or even a camera lens—if people could only hear some of the stuff I get up to when I’m really on my game—oh, well. It’s good to have a private life—one has got to hold something back—and for a chatter-box like myself, being physically unable to display my best is the best (and only) way I can hold anything back—so that works out, if I look at it that way.

‘Twas ever thus’, as my dad used to say—I could draw a crowd while sketching in my pad in the old days—and an audience was an exciting addition to my sketches al fresco, especially at school, where cool points were counted. But my best drawing only ever happened in complete solitude—without interruption. Nor can I sparkle in conversation with the sort of easy erudition I can voice at the keyboard—like now, fr’instance—I could never sling this verbiage orally. It is only possible because I am alone and comfortable—and when I am not, nothing is possible. I have poor social skills, to put it mildly.

But peace of mind is vital. Whenever I’m worried, it gets in the way of my piano playing—being open enough to play and feel the music means being open to stray thoughts and when I’m worried, a whole flock will rush in. Sometimes it’s so bad I forget I’m playing the piano—weird, huh? You’d think a person would forget their troubles at the piano—but it’s just the opposite. But there’s a silver lining to the ‘peace of mind’ conundrum—when I read a good book I lose all awareness of my surroundings; I grow deaf to even loud noises; I am enthralled.

I couldn’t be more inside the story—I am a very good reader. To be a ‘good’ reader is a vague term—I’m specifically very good at vicarious experience. And as I look back at a lifetime’s book-worming, I’d say that my vicarious experience very likely exceeds both my conscious experience and my subconscious experience, i.e. I’ve spent more time lost in a book than I’ve spent not reading a book, or sleeping. Other people may talk about vicarious experience, but none who haven’t travelled in the world of books can ever truly understand its meaning.

I’ve often had occasion, upon being asked how my day went, for stopping myself from describing the adventures of the character in my book, and remembering to answer, “Just read a book, is all.” Here’s a good one—have you ever been reading about someone speeding through a dark woods and felt your eyes squint up at the danger of being poked by ‘twigs’? Have you ever eventually noticed a cramp in your arm from swinging a long-sword for so long in a ‘battle’? Then I hail you brother, or sister, in the Fellowship of the reaDing.

This Is The Dawning….


I remember listening on the radio to the Fifth Dimension singing “Aquarius (Let The Sun Shine)” as a boy—it was about astrology, of course, but in the middle of the ‘race to the moon’ aspect of the Cold War, I had no scruple against star-gazing of any type. I loved space, and still do—and I’ve read far more than my share of Science Fiction novels. In the category ‘hard’ sci-fi, I make bold to claim I’ve read it all, from 1965 to today. That may not be literally true, but it conveys my sense of it, anyhow.

And that song was so trippy, talking about ‘Ages’ and generations and people as a whole—as if we were a big tribe, which, in that sense, we were—and are. But now I also hear in those lyrics the inclinations towards excessive trust in, and faith in, anyone with a spiel—as long as it was outwardly non-conformist, people were ready to turn to anything new—even Jones of Jonestown, and Manson of California, and cults like the Branch Davidians in Waco and the ‘Moonies’, who spread their ‘fundraising’ from coast to coast.

With the tunes taken from “Hair”, the 1967 Broadway musical, the Fifth Dimension created a medley of two songs, and their recording of “Aquarius (Let The Sun Shine)” was a number one hit in the US in 1969 for six weeks—the same year I watched on TV as Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the Moon. Between “Hair” and Hippies, LSD and pot, astrology and space exploration, 1969 gave me a satisfying sense that life was about reaching new frontiers, going higher and faster. And while I had my age as an excuse, there were many grown-up, so-called adults who had the same nebulous sense of go, go, go—which is why we cancelled the Apollo program as soon as we realized we had neglected to plan what we would do with the Moon, or on the Moon, once we had made it there.

 

And from there, the whole ‘go, go, go’ thing perverted its course, from actual achievement to mere business success, which pursuit has, ever since, bred the vipers now feeding so greedily at the breast of the good ol’ USA. There are no challenges greater than becoming fat with money, power, privilege, and influence—or so we, as a society, seem to perceive it. We see news items that speak of progress in the march towards ‘eternal health’—a way to live forever—without the slightest mention of how one would spend one’s eternity of days or justify one’s place in the breadline.

 

 

And this wasn’t done to us by the government. We did this to ourselves. Every time big corporations have shaved a piece off of our workplace quality of life, our importance to that business as the engine of its goals (and our right to form Unions), or our very rights to express ourselves as individuals and maintain the same privacy we are due as taxpayers—every time we let one of these go past, we have traded our dignity for mere job security. Well, we can see where all that job security went—away, that’s where it went. Now they can make whatever draconian workplace policies they like—and slash your salary, too—without a one of us not being too scared of being unemployed to say, ‘boo’ about it.

 

I’ve seen it happen many times—we all have. The company starts to post notices about some new policy, like ‘clocking in and out’ or some such. Now, you don’t much care for that—seems like you’ve been trusted up until now to give the company your hard work for your salary, without being ‘time checkpoint-ed’. It’s a little insulting, really. You don’t like it—you’re pretty put out about it. Plus, everyone knows that people ask their work friends to cover for them when they need to get around a time clock, anyhow—which turns what was a natural flexibility of the workplace into a criminal conspiracy. But no one else seems to think that it’s worth quitting over (of course, if everyone acted in concert, it would only be a ‘threat of quitting’—an entirely different thing that doesn’t guarantee being fired, like standing alone would).

So, I had to ask myself every time, ‘Do I want to go job-hunting and lose my steady paycheck, just for the principle of the thing—which no one else deems worthy of being championed?’ I didn’t always give in, but sometimes I did—it’s not my responsibility to be perfectly politic when no one else wants to bother. But the unwillingness of the others to go against the established authority, even when it exceeds its rightful scope, is definitely the majority opinion of the employed. Frustratingly, that is the opposite attitude from one that could prevent such fiat-creep.

And the worst of all are the self-righteous: ‘I have to take care of my children, wife, sick mother—Nothing is more important than that.’ But that rational only justifies effort, not complacency.  Putting our families first is a point of pride for us—I was not aware that it is also an acceptable excuse to be a rug for our employers to walk on.

Then they bring up the axiom, ‘never quit a job before you have a job’. That is a hard one to counter, I’ll grant you. But if one is serious about one’s dignity and self-worth—and that of others, especially one’s co-workers, as well—a way can be found to bring collective action against management. But people are too ‘sophisticated’ these days to act as a group—it’s all ‘I’ll do my thing, you do your thing’—I confess, it is a favorite of mine too. We have no defense against this war of attrition that has degraded the American workplace and the American worker.

But, now that the quality of the jobs available to Americans is little better than the quality of jobs illegal aliens hold, I expect there will be discord. It will be aimless, angry discord—and stands every chance of making things worse instead of better. But it’s only a matter of time before the number of people in the streets, cold, hungry, and desperate, will so outnumber the ten or twenty people who still live a comfortable life that those ‘one percent-ers’ will feel trapped in their own apartments. I exaggerate to illustrate my point, but you see it nonetheless, I trust.

Most people are happy being led—and those who are happy leading are only too happy to oblige. Neither group wants to hear any guff about fairness and dignity—business is business, right? Well, no, actually. ‘Business’ is a polite label for the chaos of capitalism. Nobody planned to create Microsoft. The guy who invented Google probably just woke up from a nap one day and decided to make an online search engine service available to everyone on the web. Most chemical discoveries, like x-ray photography and penicillin, were discovered by accident. Businesses use mathematics—but only when they want to—the rest of the time, they just argue among themselves. That’s what corporate lawyers and public exchanges are for—to facilitate the arguing.

These corporations appear to be made of people, but they are actually autonomous engines with greed-guidance systems that tear through the fabric of whatever humanity they come upon in their quest for the ownership of everything. The list of jobs that they are creating includes multimillion-dollar annual salaried jobs for top managers, slavery-like child labor jobs in underdeveloped countries, and humiliating, depersonalized, underpaid jobs to people who earned (and had to pay for) college degrees to prove they were smart enough to be trusted with a workstation cubicle.

And all the words spewed out of the modern media, out from our speaker systems into our ears—an unending caravan of trite, pompous, self-contradictory, spun, stretched, and sibilanced word salad as random as that heard in any psych ward, only perhaps crazier for being such a near-miss impersonation of measured wisdom.

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize a con—just a little widening of the eyes will usually suffice. And I think that’s where Roosevelt’s ‘the only thing to fear is, fear itself’ comes into play. Our world has become so anarchic, so full of blind inertias, so destructive of old ways and old things—that most of us want to just keep our heads down and carry on. But that is the wrong way to fix our problems. The best way to fix a problem is to take a good, honest look at it—and at ourselves, while we’re at it.

 

Six (6) covers of Old Standards a la ‘American Songbook’


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How Do I Spell Successes? With Six Esses!
In other words: these six (6) song titles all start with ‘S’:

XperDunn plays Piano Covers on July 27th, 2013
Six Song Covers Starting With ‘S’

(“Love is Lovelier”) “The Second Time Around”
“The Shadow Of Your Smile”
“Shangri La”
“Siboney”
“Softly, As I Leave You”
“Stairway To The Stars”
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“The Second Time Around” is a song with words by Sammy Cahn and music by Jimmy Van Heusen. It was introduced in the 1960 film High Time, sung by Bing Crosby with Henry Mancini conducting his orchestra, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Its theme is captured by its first two lines:

Love is lovelier the second time around,
Still wonderful with both feet on the ground.

It is especially associated with Frank Sinatra, who released multiple recordings of the ballad.
Jane Morgan sang the song on a 1961 episode of The Jack Benny Program.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“The Shadow of Your Smile”, also known as “Love Theme from The Sandpiper”, is a popular song. The music was written by Johnny Mandel with the lyrics written by Paul Francis Webster.
The song was introduced in the 1965 film The Sandpiper, with a trumpet solo by Jack Sheldon and later became a minor hit for Tony Bennett (Johnny Mandel arranged and conducted his version as well).
It won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“Shangri-La”
The ‘finale’ song from ‘Shangri-La’, a 1956 musical with a book and lyrics by James Hilton, Jerome Lawrence, and Robert E. Lee and music by Harry Warren. Based on Hilton’s classic 1933 novel “Lost Horizon”
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“Siboney” (Canto Siboney) is a 1929 classic Cuban song by Ernesto Lecuona. The music is in cut time, originally written in C major.
The lyrics were reportedly written by Lecuona while away from Cuba and is about the homesickness he is experiencing (Siboney is also a town in Cuba, and can also refer to Cuba in general)
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“Softly, as I Leave You” is a popular Italian song composed by Giorgio Calabrese and Tony De Vita (1932–1998), translated into English by Hal Shaper.
It was originally an Italian success by Mina, at the Sanremo Music Festival, entitled “Piano” (“Softly”). Mina published a recording of the song first as a single in 1960 and later as well on an EP and on three LPs.

The English songwriter Hal Shaper noticed the song and in November 1961 wrote English lyrics to the melody, calling it “Softly, as I Leave You.” The best known versions are those by Matt Monro (#10 on the British charts in 1962) and Frank Sinatra (#27 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #4 on the adult contemporary chart in 1964).
The Sinatra family announced Frank’s death on May 14, 1998 by placing an announcement on their website that was accompanied by a recording of the singer’s version of the song.
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“Stairway To The Stars” -from the United Artists Motion Picture “SOME LIKE IT HOT”-original song 1935 lyrics by Mitchell Parish, music by Matt Malneck and Frank Signorelli. Glenn Miller’s version has alternate lyrics.

Artwork for Annual Pig Roast (2013Jul27)


Long ago, in a decade far, far away, my friend Randy owned a big spread up in the Vermont hills–a beautiful idyll with meadows and wood-trails and ponds and streams. Randy made his own pond (and stocked it) but still, he had a pond. On one visit, I designed and built a footbridge over his stream–my one and only engineering project.

rough sketch 1 for Directions Map

I was already losing focus, losing fine motor control in my drawings, and suffering from chronic fatigue, etc. So I would make short visits up there to build bridges and draw flyers, but then I went home and only heard about the huge galas that followed my visits. Randy described one gathering where my footbridge was the access to all the big tents and lean-tos. The bridge was such a big hit that someone eventually drove a car over it. To their surprise, the bridge was unfazed by an automobiles weight. Soon they were all driving back and forth over the bridge–until some wiseguy decided to ‘push the envelope’ and drive a big pick-up across. My bridge was fazed, and no one would ever again build a usable bridge over that stream.

rough sketch 2 for Directions Map

The Annual Pig Roasts were huge affairs. The police citations from previous fests were nailed up on a wall of honor–no party ever got cited less than three times. It was a three-day event–people would caravan in with huge RVs, tent cities, and a host of less-easily described people and living quarters. But the only way to get all those people together was to send out invitations–which was where I came in. The first flyer had a sort of ‘last supper’ drawing of a bunch of cartoon pigs seated at a long table, drinking and eating–the best drawing of all but, unfortunately, one for which I have lost all the art and flyers.

The next year, I would be unable to draw as well, and Randy had to settle for two pigs toasting with beer mugs. The year after that, Randy had to settle for re-using the same art, and just updating the words. This was one of the hardest periods for me–I was becoming a shell of my former self and still believed that I just wasn’t getting enough rest–and it hurt me to have to say ‘no’ when people asked me to draw–they couldn’t understand that my ability had simply dried up and blown away, and neither could I.

If you’ve never drawn a map of directions to a party, be advised that it isn’t as easy as it looks–fortunately (from my POV at that time) a map done properly once need never be drawn again.

final drawing for Directions Map:

There were early sessions between Randy and I as he explained what he wanted the picture to look like…

early sketch 1 ‘party pig’

…and I drew rough sketches to see if we were talking about the same thing.

After fixing upon the figures, we then discussed the ‘scene’:

rough sketch – left-side ‘toasting pig’:

rough sketch – left-side ‘toasting pig’:

toasting pigs

final art

Randy was very kind, always offering to put me and Claire and kids in his House (which he designed and built himself!–the only permanent structure with utilities and running water). Alas, we were raising young kids and I was falling apart inside, so we never did get to see the roasts. (I had been to the very first one, but had spent the two days in bed, sick and exhausted.) Still, they were wonders of the art of hospitality and it’s a shame Randy doesn’t live there any more.

randy’s Invite & Thank You:

Randy has been writing poetry lately, under the URL cloudfactor5.wordpress, and very good poetry, IMHO. You can judge for yourselves at:   cloudfactor5

more art to come…..

The Activity Daisy


Activity Daisy (w/out 'activities')

 

Activity Daisy (w/out ‘activities’)

activity daisy

Activity Daisy (with ‘activities’)

This is one of my many illustrations for “Teachers Update”, a newsletter for teachers K-3, which was published in 1988 – 1989.

New Covers and Improvs


Improv-WingNut

Click to Watch ‘Wing Nut’

Click to watch "Help Me Rhonda"

Click to watch “Help Me Rhonda”

Click to watch 'Woo Hoo!'

Click to watch ‘Woo Hoo!’

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Planchette- Part 144


This is the last part of a great read–I’ve enjoyed it immensely and I recommend it to all my fellow bookworms and -wormesses….

Sophie Bowns

“Oscar!”

“Is Ava okay? Mum what’s happened, what’s wrong? Hanna? Mrs Bali? Oh God it’s Ava isn’t it?” Oscar swung his legs over the end of the bed.

Mrs Bali inhaled. “Oscar, Ava endured excessive bleeding after birth, before and during the operation, something that we call a Postpartum haemorrhage. There’s no easy way to say this I’m sorry to have to tell you that”….

“Oh Oscar I’m so sorry.” Janet gasped.

Oscar fell forwards off the end of the bed, his fall lessened by Janet who caught him, gently lowering his limp body floor.

“Jesus! He’s fainted!” Hanna swiftly checked Oscar’s pulse

“Shall I inform the Bereavement services?” Mrs Bali inquired, placing a pillow under his head.

Hanna shook her head. “No, I’ll let Oscar make that decision for himself.” They raised Oscar’s legs, placing them on a chair. Janet pulled the blanket off the bed, covering him once more.

“He’s so cold…

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