Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Une Bon Voyage a Cherche

Searchie, if the Passenger Pigeon were not extinct, I'd be tying a "Have a Good Trip" missive to its leg. Alas, the chance of the pigeon flying are as good as the chances of posting a bid adieu comment on your To Fly Away post.

So, have an exquisite trip and not too many visits to Zubrowka Cesta, at least not without a chaperone.

Just a gentle nudge here.
While I loved your references to Czeslaw Milosz and their incorporation into your blog, I was wondering about the Diane Krall reference. In your post Proust Questionnaire Redux , I'm sure you were meaning to credit Joni Mitchell and not Diane Krall for "A Case of You". While both Canadians, I believe Ms. Krall was probably 10-12 years old when Ms. Mitchell penned this tune. Though a great talent, even Ms. Krall would admit that at 12, she would not have had the life experiences to write a song like that.

Must I Paint You a Picture

A bit of a whirl of guitar and then the Hammond C3 kicks in with a long confessional note.
"It's bad timing and me.
We find a lot of things out this way.
And there's you,
A little black cloud in a dress.
The temptation
To take the precious things we have apart
To see how they work
Must be resisted for they never fit together again."

Things are not going to go well here. You're prepping for the fall. Analysis of the magic could only lead to Billy Bragg's crying out,
"If this is rain let it fall on me and drown me.
If these are tears, let them fall"
in his "Must I Paint You a Picture" from "Worker's Playtime".

Billy Bragg's a taste of choice, a musical revelation and love or a simple disdain. Folks I've proselytized (or at least tried to) about Bragg are immediate in their response; they listen or they flee. The ones that don't care for him find his songs too hard or too preachy. "His voice is too heavily accented", they also note. Well, you can lead a horse to water...
I love his voice, his heavy unpolished British accent(listen to his pronunciation of "drown", you feel the water coming over top of you), with a romantic lilt to it that comes off with an exhausted humph of the shoulders as he struggles through his love songs, knowing that his heart will be crushed at the end. But, even if a person doesn't care for his voice, one has to give him kudos for his songwriting skills. In this song, one of the best pieces of a sad romance written in the last 20 years appears. With an exasperated plea, Bragg sings to his "little black cloud in a dress", that:
"Most important decisions in life
Are made between two people in bed.
I found that out at my expense
And wehn I see you,
You just turn around and walk away like we never met.
Oh, we used to be so brave!
I dreamt the world stopped turning as we climbed the hill
I dreamt impossible dreams that we were lovers still."

A true romantic in these days of coarseness and cheap emotional swill.

(This is #6 of Ten Heartbreakers as memed by Whisky Prajer)

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Things to do While in Slovenia

Just a change of pace from Heartbreak & Misery. This photo comes courtesy of this fine Slovenian, Borut Vidrajz. When there isn't snow, say as in the capital city of Ljubljana, other time-occupying ventures are available such as...Automotive Wakeboarding . Not sure if this is part of the required Slovenian Driving Exam or just kids having fun on rainy days.

Other pics of Wakeboarding in Ljubljana are available here. The Heartbroken series will continue shortly.

"A Child Like....

...Grace", a song on Michelle Shocked's 1996 release, "Kind Hearted Woman", is a tearjerker imperial.

What is heartbreak? Wordreference.com has this pithy listing:
"intense sorrow caused by the loss of a loved one (especially by death)".
Let me add a subjective top-down list of heartbreaks. I'm leaving out Theological Heartbreak here, not completely comfortable going down that thorny path. This list is obviously completely subjective, hopefully reflecting the thoughts of a sane person. The last item on the list is the cause for the heaviest heartbreak.
1) Death of Self (Let's face it, when you're gone you won't be around to be brooding over yourself. And that's a good thing, is it not? Finally getting away form all of that self-involvement.)
2) A Death of a child you do not know but of whom you read/hear/see on some instrument of media.
3) A Death of a relative. (There's blood involved, so there's obligatory heartbreak)
4) Broken relationship, but no death. (A scar on the heart but (usually) not a constant stab like the next 4)
5) A Death of a close relative. (Usually a grandparent or cousin, a piece of your heart)
6) Your best friend's death (May be a relative as well)
7) Death of a Parent (Sorry Mom! I loves ya but the next choice trumps you)
8) Death of Spouse (or Partner) (Honey, I think it was somewehre in the vows along with the "obey"s and the "you betcha"s
9) (I cringe and shake just writing this down) Death of your Child

Ms. Shocked takes on # 9 with this song.

I wish you could've seen her face
How bright that sunflower shone!
With a child like Grace running all around this place
It should be said, "my, how you've grown..."

She was only three when she taught herself to read
"I do not like them, Sam I Am"

Listen to this song and I'll bet you next time you read "Green Eggs and Ham", your voice will catch at "I do not..."

She will grace our lives no more
She was only four
She died before she was five
Now it's a grave mistake
God in his wisdom makes
What does he care?
He fashioned us from clay

Lay me down in a bed of sunflowers
Overgrown and wild
I've survived my own child

...and that is life's cruelest heartbreak, making it through the balance of your life without your child(ren).

Michelle Shocked has an expressive voice, one able to take you in with a story, crossing back and forth over emotional lines. You laugh, you cringe, you cry, and then you get angry. Angry through a veil of tears, that is.

And then you realize how good (and how cold-blooded) Ms. Shocked is.
Surely she must have gone through this herself, or perhaps had a close friend who had gone through this extremity of pain!
It was all invented, all a writing exercise. Her ex-husband, veteran music journalist Bart Bull, encouraged her to write not only from experience but from imagination. And so she has, quite convincingly. (Note to Self: These women from Texas are demonically cruel; treating your heart like a rugby ball. CP, you're not included in this note to self, of course!)
From an interview in thePhildelphia City Paper, she answered,
"Q:Where do you get the ideas for your sorrowful narratives?

MS: For the most part I pull them out of thin air or "out of my ass," as my (ex-)husband, Bart Bull, would say. He's a novelist and journalist and he taught me an important lesson of fiction writing: you can name your characters and give them a setting, but you've got to listen to them tell their own stories. It's often just a matter of creating a character that resonates with my own.

Q: What's your favorite song on Kind Hearted Woman?

MS: "A Child Like Grace." I like its play on the notion that in order to return to the kingdom of heaven, you must find a childlike grace. I took that concept and then told a story about a parent who is burying her child."

So, a surprise at the end. Though maybe it's not a surprise for a woman born Karen Michelle Johnston who took on the last name "Shocked" after her release from a mental insitution. She was committed there by her mother against her will. "After 30 days, the insurance money ran out,"she said,"so I was 'cured' and they released me." She did remember her shock therapies, however, and they linger on in her name.

"Linger" is an appropriate word to end this choice of song. A Child Like Grace" is a perpetual lingerer up there in the cobwebs.

(This is #5 of Ten Heartbreakers as memed by Whisky Prajer)

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

In Nina Simone's Version of...

"Ne Me Quitte Pas" she stumble-starts as if she were struck with aphasia. She's stunned (stunned! I say) that he's leaving. No pleas. Yet. Simply a pained ennui coming from his imminent departure.

"It's necessary to forget everything you need to forget.
Forget the times of the misunderstandings,
the lost times (le temps perdu)...forget the hours...

The flexible lyrics of the song reflect the sorrow and the loss as Ms. Simone sees it and feels it with enough of her own umph! to make them her own (even with the occassional bad French pronunciation).
Yet, enough room lies between "the misunderstandings", "the lost time", the "promises of a kingdom", and a place where "Love will be the King and Love will be the Law" for the insertion of your own reasons why you'd plea Ne Me Quitte Pas.

(This is #4 of Ten Heartbreakers as memed by Whisky Prajer)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Number by Heart

Charles Walker, on the same titled 2003 release, has it bad and, after a few repeated listenings, so will you.

A slow long soft blow on the sax. A guitar chops in with an explanation or two. The drummer's on a snail's pace, brushing once, twice, o.k., a third time. Then a light tap on the snare and Mr. Walker starts postulating.

"I'm not sure how this happened.
I didn't meeeean to caaaaaaall.
I must have been thinking of you.
Honey, that's all.
There's so much I should forget.
Here's a real good place to start,
'cuz I still know your number by heart.

Baby, yoooooooou left a memory that stays on my mind
One that keeps on getting stronger and stronger all the time

I have tried a new flame.
But I can't feel the spark.
Woooah, and I wish I didn't know your number by heart....

...and you can see him wandering down the street, shoulders slumping toward Babylon.

..Won't you call the operator and haaaaaave your number changed?
Maybe then I won't be trying to get in touch with you again.

Even though you've found another and I've seen you wear his ring, I would be alright, except for just one thing.
Your love had left a mark and
I wish I didn't know your number by heart.

Things were so simpler (carbon-dating commentary here) before ATT split up....

(This is #3 of Ten Heartbreakers as memed by Whisky Prajer)

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(Theme from) Spartacus

This night was just the culmination of the skid that'd started a few weeks back. You'd been the envied pair for a month or so, eons in those days when going out with anyone over a week was tantamount to a swan's commitment. The comfort of the familiar had even started settling in. Perhaps, this was to be it.

Then, the gentle tearing of the fabric began. Going out dancing became painful. You stepped on her toes. She'd lead on occassion and you then refused to follow. Completing each other's sentences became an annoyance, a hemming in of each other's unpredictability.
The sighing came frequently; the touching of fingertips less so. The wisp of hair that always hung so innocently on the nape of her neck became a distraction. Your sly smile at her verbal observations drove her into silence.

So, this night came down upon the two of you. A favorite restaurant's meal simply resulted in mutual complaining. The bill was paid, the tip short-pocketed, and you repaired back to her apartment. Hands in pocket, both of you walked to the low drumming of her high heels on the pavement. Once inside, coats were left on, a glass of wine was firmly grasped, an ever so slow tear trickled down your cheek. On the record player, Joe Venuti was crying on his violin. (Theme from) Spartacus was playing. You put down your glasses, cupped each other closely, and moved about the small floor. Three minutes twenty-nine seconds passed. The song finished, you kissed, gave a slight nod, and left, gently clicking the door goodbye.

(This is #2 of Ten Heartbreakers as memed by Whisky Prajer)

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Come See About Me

John Lee Hooker on "John Lee Hooker Sings the Blues" launches a plea heavenward from the depths of his sorrow. Troubles are alluded to "because he's way down here all alone" just hoping for the "Lord to come down and see about" him.
His mother's gone. He's a "motherless child."
He's in the world alone.
His father's turned his back on him.
The troubles are here, "in the sorry valley on his knees."

The guitar is a simple strum with two notes just keying off each plea.
"Come down Lord and take care of Your child."
There's no anger, no tears, he's well beyond that. It's the bare despair only Help from above can relieve.

It's a stark non-electric recording going back to February, 1960. His guitar-playing at times is delicate, barely audible under his vocals. The backing band, Sam Jones on acoustic bass and Louis Hayes on drums (which sound like the most basic kit one could pound on) are steady and shaded, keeping the beat while gently pushing Hooker toward conclusion. A trance chant of a song. A primitively simple and eloquent album.

This is the first of the Songs of Heartbreak and Despair. I am not as brave as Mr WP ; I won't number the position of each song. Each carries a sorrow for a different occassion.

(This is #1 of Ten Heartbreakers as memed by Whisky Prajer)

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Da Gauntlet

Whisky Prajer has cast a meme Cowtown Pattie's and my way. I've been the bird on his backside cajoling, complaining, haranguing and commentating to a shrill tune on his multiple posts regarding his top ten songs of heartbreak , sorrow, and Kleenex. Batting me away didn't seem to work; I simply hovered out of his hand's range and then alighted back on his shoulders, picking the ticks out of his postings.
Finally, a meme swat from him and I'll be leaving him alone for a bit, while I concoct my own list. I'm sure I'll be posting some juicy bullseyes for him to throw some sharp darts my way. Hey, Fair's Fair.

Here's the blog post that heated it all up and got Ms. Pattie all riled up. She's accepted the challenge and has publicly stated," Game on! But, give me a bit. I wanna make sure I leave Darkov in the dirt...*grin*.

Well, I always say nothing that a nice mop and bucket of water can't clean the dirt up. So, bring your tissues and let the blubbering begin!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Today is President's Day, which means I should be patriotically shopping for mattresses, cars, or linoleum. After work, that is. However, other family members have ample time to do their bit, as Prez Day is February-Off Day for school-related people. Not me; I'll be slogging away at the office.
I'll still be thinking presidential thoughts.
James Polk presidential thoughts, if you demand specificity.
They Might Be Giants' James Polk thoughts, if you really need to pin me down.

"In four short years he met his every goal
He seized the whole southwest from Mexico
Made sure the tarriffs fell
And made the English sell the Oregon territory
He built an independent treasury
Having done all this he sought no second term
But precious few have mourned the passing of
Mister James K. Polk, our eleventh president
Young Hickory, Napoleon of the Stump."

Now, our current prez, a graduate of Yale and Harvard Biz School, on paper at least, would seem to a purpose and project oriented kind of guy. Sort of like Mr. James Polk, if one cares to stretch things to a ludicrous conclusion. Why he never took up Mr. Polk's example and cut out after one term is still beyond me. Would not have his legacy retained at least one shread of pseudo-decency? Instead, the spotlight of 8 years of incomptency, secracy, and spilt blood will forever shine on this president's service. It's a joke gone bad and no one's laughing through the tears.

James K. Polk, wehre are you now?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

He Came, like a Grey Ghost

In this fine little write-up, a tale much more interesting than ant of the current crop of whining suburbia raised pop stars. they should all be taken out and forced to learn to ride the rails, before thsy unleash their treacle on on ears. Had a chance to play "Shiek of Araby" from his only commercial release, Grey Ghost, on today's WVUD radio show. Just a simply amazing guy, is Mr. Roosevelt T. Williams.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cruelty, the Speeding Category

From Isoglossia, a post about a Slovenian style of speed trapping. Wonder how many female drivers are duped in by this gambit? The excuses spout out by men must be priceless. Seems that well-placed advertisements (thanks again to Isoglossia) are the key to traffic safety in that beautiful little country tucked away between Italy, Austria, and Croatia.

Friday, February 17, 2006

If You Don't Love Jesus, Go to Hell !

...so proclaims Kinky Friedman at a campaign rally. On CMT, you have a chance to see the Texas Gubernatorial candidate in action, starting tonight at 11:00 pm. Another half-hour show will be broadcast immediatley folowing at 11:30. Mr. Friedman has a (very slight) chance of being the first independant elected as governor since Sam Houston in 1859, despite the best efforts and enthusiasm of one Mrs Cowtown Pattie.
He drives to rallies on occassion in his Yom Kippu Clipper, a vehicle he describes as being able "to stop on a dime and pick(ing) it up." He obviates, with Dwight Yoakam on the correctitude of cigar smoking here. The man has insights and opinions on all and nay topics. His platform on the benefits of shooting friends v. shooting quail should be released shortly. While awaiting that campaign paper, a kindred spirit, Molly Ivins, offers her own take on the Quail debacle.

Missing the Boat on Emmylou

As Whisky Prajer and Cowtown Pattie have noted recently, Emmylou is someone to admire and listen to intently. She has been admired and listened to fervently going on 20-25 years. She took on the mantle of country/rock crossover worn by her friend/lover/soulmate, Gram Parsons, since his death in 1973 at the age of 26. She is talented, personable, beautiful, and well-liked. The Diva of Loss has countless fans and (let me just totally overkill this word, o.k.?) an admiring public.

So, why can I not stand her singing? Is it a question of ears overtuned to the sarcastic? Is it a lack of empathy for one after another songs of sadness and woe? Finally, is it a total lack of emotive skills?

I don't think (well, at this point, hope) so. I still blubber each time I listen to Iris DeMent's "Our Town" or Steve Goodman's "My Old Man". Even Nina Simone's "Strange Fruit" will elicit eyewater (and anger).

I'm at a loss to explain it; perhaps a reader or two will do the propaganda thing with a comment and tell me what I'm not hearing. Even "Wrecking Ball" couldn't pull me out of a Emmylou funk.

I'm pleading for help here! I'd love to like or, at the least, put up with her singing. Show me the way! I must be deaf so I cannot hear.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Luge a Doux

One sees events through the mind's filters that have been clogging ever more with life's experiences. The years one piles on as one skitters through add on shades of interpretation that seem to simultaneously click immediately in recognition's frame and tediously form a view based on culling so many previous similarities. Sometimes, it seems best if one's filters are coarse, not fine, thus cutting down on the past's affect on the current.

Yours truly's filter is fine, so it's caked with the detritus of the past. Experiences, books, toys, movies. They're all there blocking the mind's eye from a clear look. Diner is one such glob I peer through.

I've been couch-sitting with the Olympics every 4 years or 2 years or whatever odd/even amount of years they have been accelerated to take place in. My preference is for the Winter Games as they, with the exception of the figure skaters, seem to have less prima dona types than the Summer Games, especially now that the Olympic Committee, always late to the dance anyway, has co-opted large segments of the X-Games into their performance reportoire.

Most of the sports included in the Winter Games need no explanation. My favorite, the men's and women's downhill, is a one-shot winner take all race run down a (usually) steep mountain of tongue-swallowing fear. No do-overs, no second runs. One time. One shot.
Of course, there are some events that, even in the Winter Games, are hard to explain. No, I'm no talking about the Biathlon, where the only thing missing is a motorized hare that can be shot at. Nor Curling, a sport which comes off fairly lousy on tv, but is actually quite interesting when seen live (and with an open bar at either side of the rink).

The sports event I'm referring to is the Double Luge. It could only have been invented, back in 1964 when luge first premiered as an Olympic event, after a long night's bout of drinking. Hard to believe, given Andy Rooney's weathered look, but 60 Minutes wasn't even on the air back then (at least for another 4 years), so no Bode Miller confessions about drinking were aired nor contemplated. What was contemplated, however, was the idea of loading two bodies onto a tiny sled and shoving it down an ice course. Not sure how many bottles of brew were consumed prior to that takeoff, but i'm sure multiple establishments were visited and liquid inventories drained prior to that first double luge ride.

Or maybe I've got it all wrong.
The Double Luge was a result of a Diner sort of conversation.
Modell: You going down that chute?
Eddie (With a look of exasperation): Of course I'm going down that chute! I'm on the luge team aren't I?
Modell (Shoulders slumped): Well, it's just that I...
Eddie: Say it Modell. Say it!
Modell: Well, it's just that if you're going down that chute, then...
Eddie : Then what, Modell?
Modell: Well, then, I mean, if it's not out of your way, then..
Eddie (Eyes are popping out): Out of my way? Then what, Modell? Go down with me, Modell? Is that what you're asking? Go down with me?
Modell : Well, I mean, if not's out of your way then, yeah, I'll go down with you. That is , if you're going down that way anyway. I mean, if you don't mind.
Eddie (Steam blowing out the ears and helmet):OOOH Modell, you just make me so angry! Just say it. Just say it. You want to go down this chute with me on the luge!. Just say it.
Modell: Well, if it isn't out of your way, that is. There isn't another way you'd planned on going was there?
Eddie: O.K., Modell, o.k.. Now just lay down on top of me and we'll....What, what now?
Modell: If we're leaving now and you're finshed with your meal, can I, uhmm, well I mean, are you going to finish that sandwich. Because, well, you know......

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