Friday, August 18, 2017

A Twilight Thought

I never intended to be a teacher of mathematics; it just happened for purely mercenary reasons.

Career, civic advancement and public service never meant Jack-feces to me. I just wanted to learn a whole lot more mathematics and fill my own brain. But if someone offers to pay me for talking about what I would anyway, well, who am I to complain?

And that paycheck? Little more than a side-effect as it were. Being a flower child, but with lavatory-wrecking tendencies, the thought of considering this a profession was repellent from the get-go. I accommodated, though, always the mathematical tart. I'll spread for Galileo, Descartes and Newton any day.

But tonight, while reflecting upon a sort-of career in academia, I realized the bleeding obvious: altruism never figured into it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Numb Nuts Spouts Again

Affieburger sent along an amusing article tonight. In it, that pea-brain Ted Nugent whines about not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, claiming it's because of his politics. To which David Crosby simply replied,
"No, the asshole just isn't good enough."
And this got me thinking about Nugent again. I remember reading in a rag some thirty years ago in which he quipped:
"I've got the fastest fucking fingers in music."
As if that makes a musician.

Does Bach's Air on a G String make us antsy for velocity? Not really. Or in our times, how about Larry Coryell who often made memorable music with no more than four whole notes, legato? 

But if it really were a race, I venture Paganini would have trounced him, for apart from being superhumanly nimble by all accounts (his countrymen thought him in league with the Devil) he understood that speed is just an occasional means, not the end.

Which brings us to this. If fast fingers are all that matter, then the following should pass muster. Now that's an instrument! Hey Ted: shut-up, Crap.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Seven Ages of Man

Finally, I can share this with you! Someone put this on YouTube at last. This short clip is of whom I think is the greatest actor of our times (because he loved language) spouting a piece from the greatest playwright of all times (because he also loved language).

I have posted this same scene from an actual production before, and it's good. But this rehearsal shot, below, directed by the great Shakespearian slave-driver John Barton, is even better.

Richard Pasco completely nails it. So, I'll shut up and let you see and hear:

It's not in the clip, but afterwards, Barton simply congratulates Pasco. After having previously corrected Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart, David Suchet, and other RSC and RADA alumuni. He said, "I felt like I was hearing it for the first time."

Watch it once for the words; watch it again for the voice; watch it yet again for the face and body language. Watch it finally, gestalt.

If Shakespeare was the pen, then surely Richard Pasco was the ink.

The twain.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Perfect Fit

Language has always been my salvation. It is much more than a means of communication to me. It is the foundation of thought, at the heart of art, the steadfast lover who never departs. Like Lord Henry's cigarette, it is a delight and always leaves one wanting more. Language is, very literally, what has built my world from scratch.

It's the formalist's medium.

So, today I learned a new word which ought to be in my horoscope interpretation. How I've come to wait until my sixties before learning it is beyond me, for it was at the very core of my being when I started college and began finally to mingle with people who treated learning like Hillary did his mountain.


Antinomianism​ is My Style

In keeping with the notion of a commonplace book, I just have to tell you about something I read today from the The Weekly Standard.

It is without doubt the best piece of writing I've read this year, for both its syntax and semantics. Here's the link if you don't want to put up with my further blather. Trust me; it's a rattling good read.

I was expecting the typical article passed around on the Web or Facebook, intended for those with short attention spans. Instead, I found a most in-depth, cleverly crafted and astute assessment of San Francisco and the Summer of Love. It literally could be the first couple of chapters of a finely written book.

Will you allow me a couple of teasers? These grabbed me early on.
Having come to an end half a century ago, the Summer of Love is one of those events San Francisco has never quite got over, like the gold rush and those two earthquakes. The summer of 1967 is considered by people who like to consider such things to be the high-water mark of the hippies, the climax of the counterculture, the Camelot moment when all that was lovely and innocent about the sixties blossomed fleetingly from the potential to the actual.
Does it still matter?
Just because the Summer of Love took place 50 long years ago, well before most of you were born​—​before 60 percent of the country was born​—​nobody should get the idea that it’s something irrelevant, some dim event from antiquity like the Wars of the Roses or the Annexation of Guam. The street signs trace a genealogy from then to now. Without the hippies’ belief in free love, there’d be no gay marriage. The Whole Earth Catalog was the foreshadowing of the Internet. No civil rights movement in the 1960s would mean no #blacklivesmatter today. Many of the things that thrill a millennial heart sprouted in the Summer of Love...
Fifty years ago, and it was so real! When I was 14 years old, the world never looked more promising.
The dream was the recurring dream of antinomianism​—​the belief that all traditional arrangements of morality, family, commerce, and religion can be discarded and arrangements of one’s own devising put in their place. “Western civilization is up for grabs,” said one hippie leader, and “a new mode of being” was being born.
I'm a Taurus and don't easily give up, in spite of the odds. I'm not sure of my backers in this incarnation, but being alone does not necessarily make one wrong.

Western civilization is up for grabs.

Now there's a bumper sticker for the Age of Horus!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Calling all Amateur Freuds

Believing what Grace Slick exhorted a half century ago, that we should feed our minds -- and I did -- it's no surprise that I've had more than my fair share of dreams over the years. Most serve their purposes locally, even parochially, but every once in a while, I'll have one that sticks and sticks and sticks. Like it's screaming to be heard by the conscious mind, and it's so disgusted I don't get it.

Let me describe one from a decade ago or so that resurfaced this week. Though but a dream, it continues to haunt. Maybe you can tell me what it means. Bear in mind that only Edgar Allan Poe is any good at describing a dream in detail, where you really get it, but I'll try my best. The mood is so ominous that I've lived it out repeatedly this week.

So, I'm in the hinterlands of the grasslands, westward, where the population is zilch and the country enormous. The panhandle of Nebraska most likely, say the Oglala National Grassland.

During a day-long hike in the middle of nowhere, among only the short grasses, and yuccas and prickly pear cactus, I come across a small cluster of leafy and shady trees (a rarity in the prairie, so most likely cottonwoods, those being the only deciduous trees that'll grow in the Great American Desert). Exploring under the shade, I come across a house.

Now here's the weird part. All around this area I walked into is full-tilt under the glare of the sun...miles and miles of desolate grassland. But beneath the trees surrounding the house, is respite from the heat and brutal sun. Hell, even the "lawn" looks tended. In other words, at first blush, this appears to be someone's home, currently resided in.

And yet...

As I approach the front door, I note that the paint on the siding and trim is beautiful, as though new, not blistering as you might expect in the grassland. It could just as easily be a well-taken care of house in North Mankato.

Getting closer is when I notice that things are not what they seem to be. I can easily detect that the materials in this cute bungalow, as it seemed twenty feet away, are definitely substandard. In other words, it's as though the contractor whipped it up to look great for at most a week, knowing that the shoddy construction was a sham. Sort of like a false set built for a movie or stage play.

I'm on the stoop now, about to enter, eying the door frame, windows, siding, soffits, etc. As I mentioned, to a glazed eye, it looks like a lovely home. But now, up close, I see the materials are cheap. It surprises me that it has managed to remain so cute under the harsh elements in the middle of nowhere, even if shaded by magnificent trees.

Another thing: it was clear to me from the outset, as approaching the house, that any owner has long since abandoned it. I am totally alone on this expedition, and am likely the very first person to even approach the house in years. Grasslands are always vacant. And this house and plot is definitely empty.

Then I started to think of all the things that can kill you in such terrain out west, most notably the rattlesnakes which would surely adore a shady spot like this.

I never enter. And awoke.

This dream left an indelible dent: the outward charm of the house, but which upon further inspection appeared cheap and prone to corruption, the loneliness of the setting, the killer snakes imminent, the grassland setting under the shady trees, and a house abandoned for no apparent reason.

Now that I think about it, it's much like an H. P. Lovecraft tale, or even better, maybe something from Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Anyway, I had the dream ten years ago perhaps, but the emotion has stuck.

I couldn't find it in Zolar's Guide to Dream Interpretation.

What do you think it means? Leave a note if you have an inkling.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Poem of Summer

At Least

Sol in 17° Leo -- 2017

It’s the little things nobody else sees
in you which seized my high bid.
So I unchained the door, gave you the keys.
There’s a pot for every lid.

But then, what of Ecclesiastes 3,
which to my mind is dead wrong?
No RSVP’s, we kissed sans souci,
while deaf to that dreary song.

Yet comes here the close in silent shadows
where once the laughter bellowed.
Echoes of ecstasy die and foreclose
passion, no longer hallowed.

Think the worst, heap whatever calumny,
but for all you may infer:
I never meant to serve you, purposely,
a sandwich of braunschweiger.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Garden Freak Show

Presenting, the startling Siamese Cucumbers!

A Curiosity and a Record

I ran across this today in Reader's Digest. (Don't laugh; it's just one of the many magazines I peruse when concentration is absent). Anyway...

According to the OED editors, the verb "to run" holds the record for having the most meanings conveyed by a single word. All that with only three letters. They took nine months and counted 645 different meanings! It holds the record.

If I may paraphrase Dr. Samuel Johnson, "He who is tired of the English language, is tired of life."

What an amazing invention...

Monday, August 7, 2017

Making Sense of It All

I read this quote from Edith Wharton in the Opinions page of the StarTrib today. Or was it in the daily horoscope column?
"In spite of illness, in spite even of the arch-enemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Yet Another Zany Norton Street Band

As promised, here is a fun slide show for your entertainment. It's made possible thanks to Affie finding a trove of unblemished 35mm negatives from the past this week.

Apart from the musical side of things, there are all sorts of Norton Street remembrances in the presentation. You might have to watch carefully to catch Riff's trademarked off-kilter pig-tail, but it's there. And the original TV set Sheila Applen's father gave me when I first moved to town in 1971. And all the debris by the garage brought back memories. The timber still sunk in that blob of concrete (on Affie's shoulder), the crappy bicycle my father gave me, the cannister of tar I'm holding, the broken trellis, and more.

And you'll note I'm frequently wearing the supervisor's butterfly mask, the very one my brother wore on the job when planting.

A couple questions, though. I'm wearing some buckskin boots with fringe. Where did they come from? Were they Flapper's? And what's the deal with the refrigerator? It looks far fancier than the ghetto unit we used before. And does anyone remember the flea-ridden chair I'm hoisting?

The song is from about two years later. It features Riff, Clancy and me, and my buddy Ken Good contributed vocal harmonies as well as handling the recording.

Good times!

The video is wide screen format, so will look best and largest on a modern television.