Wednesday’s Theme Music

I’m a pop child, you know? Born in ’56 in the United States in a lower middle-class household and living mostly in suburbs, I grew up as television and radio matured. When Mom cleaned house, she turned on her records and sang with them. Throughout the years, I heard her with Patsy Cline, Pat Boone, Johnny Cash and Johnny Rivers, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Chubby Checkers, Louis Armstrong, Tammy Lynette, Ray Charles, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Steisand, the Ink Spots and Four Platters, to list the ones that jump casually to mind.

Then there was big sis. Two years older than moi, she started listening to the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, Simon and Garfunkel, and Grand Funk Railroad. Boys, interested in this attractive young woman and usually a year or two older than her, brought more music in, like the Spencer Davis Group, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, and David Bowie.

The radio was always on in the car, and I received small transistor radios from Japan as birthday gifts. AM radio gave me some bubble gum pop like the Osmonds, the Archies, and the Jackson Five, along with Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell, Don McLean, Steppenwolf, and the Temptations. We had the Bee Gees, the Rolling Stones, and The Who. Television brought along Ricky Nelson, the Monkees, and all manner of performers via variety shows like Ed Sullivan, Hullabaloo and American Bandstand. Movies got into it. Friends introduced me to Sly and the Family Stone and Three Dog Night.

I explored on my own as I aged, discovering Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Cream, ZZ Top, Mountain, Captain Beefheart, the Moody Blues, early Electric Light Orchestra before they became ELO. More performers came onto the scene, like Elton John.

That’s just a little taste. Music was everywhere then, as it is now, always on, part of the foreground and the background, part of the scene, a topic of conversation. All of this is just on the pop and rock side. Beyond it there was country and western, soul, rhythms and blues, and the blues, and all the offshoots and variations. Beyond the United States were vast seas of music to be found in other countries and continents. Concerts gave us destination. Dancing gave us dates.

Music enriched existence. Oddly, all this came from a 1977 Paul Simon song, “Slip Slidin’ Away”. Time has fled through the year. Whether it’s because the days are less structured or because the usual placeholders of American culture have been disrupted, it seems like time has accelerated. Here it is, already more than halfway through the tenth month of the year. Just two more months and ten days to 2020 remains before we’re kissing it’s ass good-bye and saying hello to 2021.

Yet, we have an open-ended agenda at this point. COVID-19 has disrupted normalcy. The U.S. elections are due. We’re into the thirty-first named storm of the ‘hurricane season’. Climatologists are predicting wilder, more violent, and less predictable weather. With all that’s happening, water and food security for many of the world’s creatures are being jeopardized.

So, you might see why I’m thinking of “Slip Slidin’ Away” might have slipped into my thinking. Opportunities, time, and hope seem to be slip slidin’ away. Some might claim that sanity and peace are, too.

Certainly, it feels to me, probably because where I am in life, the days seem like they’re slip slidin’ away.

Here’s the song. Yeah, it’s a repeat. Used it back in August, 2018. Wear a mask please. And as they once said to the point it became nauseating, have a nice day.

Tuesday’s Trivia

Politics and books took over my bandwidth last week.

  1. Books are such time thieves. Writing them takes time, energy, and attention. With energy, I’m referring to intellectual, emotional, and physical energy. The effort absorbs everything. Don’t know if that’s true for other writers, but this is how it is for me.
  2. Reading books also sucks away time and energy. I read a C.J. Sanson novel last week, Tombland. Tombland isn’t a small novel, registering at eight hundred packed pages. The latest in the Matthew Shardlake series, like the other novels, I was compelled to read, almost as if I’d been cursed. The mystery is relatively thin but that is incidental to the history, period, and characters. His voice is authentic, and the characters are alive and shifting. You feel it all.
  3. But reading that book meant I was doing almost nothing else. It was that consuming. I was also trying to read it to return it to the library. It was due 10/22, but I had other books on hold. My wife also had library books to return (The Plover, and The House in the Cerulean Sea). (She’d read Tombland before me.) So I was pushing to finish to turn the books in, limiting our library visits and its potential COVID-19 exposure. They do a good job at the library, but exposure is exposure, right? Right. After returning Tombland, I returned home and had an email from the library system: they’d extended Tombland for me. Nice of them but unnecessary.
  4. I recommend Tombland. This particular novel swirled around murders in Norfolk in 1549. Somerset was the Lord Protector for the young king. It being England and that era, politics around rights for the common people the Kett Rebellion, differences in the church (Protestants vs. Catholics), power struggles among lords and ladies (including Edward’s sisters), and enclosures – fencing off common land that set aside for animal crazy. All the sinister and cynical conniving among the wealthy to increase their power and wealth, and their attitude toward the lower classes, and the subservience expected from the upper classes strikes amazing similarities to what’s happening in the United States in this century.
  5. Tombland was a fresh reminder of what England endured and how they prevailed and developed as a democracy. Turmoil and bloodshed are occurring in the U.S., but not at the levels seen in England at that time. I want to add, yet. It may come to that.
  6. The monstrous poverty and homelessness of the era also brought out sharp comparisons to here and now in America. It provided rich fodder for heavy thinking.
  7. Of course, reading a book that I enjoy helps inform the novel that I’m writing. Nothing I read made me want to tear up my manuscript (or delete it) or start anew. It did inspire nuances and new flavors to fold into the blend, and of course, fuel up the need to sit down and write.
  8. The skunk and I (and my wife) continue our non-violent confrontation. I don’t want the skunk to go under the house to live; the skunk wants to. I’m not a violent person, and love animals. Watching the skunk (and studying it through the window as it emerges at night) gives more appreciation to who it is. Yet, I know it’s damaging our foundation, insulation, and weather barrier. I empathize with the little critter, though. It’s a tough life out there, and it’s only trying to exist as I’m trying to exist. It certainly has the same rights as me.
  9. I blame some of my sympathy to the skunk to the Netflix documentary, My Octopus Teacher. A wonderful love story, it revealed standard details the octopus and its tough existence. Naturally, after watching it, I transferred the octopus’ struggles to ‘my’ skunk. There is a difference between the octopus and skunk: the octopus isn’t invading ‘my’ territory. Anyone can argue, the skunks were there first, and that I’m the trespasser. I know; that doesn’t make my job dealing with the skunk any easier.

Friday’s Theme Music

Haunted this morning by the Killers’ 2004 song, “Somebody Told Me”.

Basically, talking ’bout/thinking ’bout the current political environment in the U.S., I concluded with sour cynicism, anything goes in a place like this. And that led to The Killers’ song.

I especially always enjoyed the lines, “Somebody told me, you had a boyfriend, who looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year.” It never fails to amuse me.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

1978.

This song seemed everywhere for a while, but it’s one of those that’s been put on the bottom of the pile. It doesn’t seem to get much air play these days. Did its mix of acoustic and electric guitars not age well?

“Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)” by Styx rose through my mind’s layers as I read political news from the right about how great Trump is. Absolutely everything, from this young man’s point of view, was brilliant. Trump, to him, is powerful and intelligent, returning the United States to a position of international prestige and influence.

COVID-19? Why, that’s overhyped, as Trump just proved, in the young (his claim – I don’t know how old he is, just his claims) right-winger’s mind. No worse than the flu and already going away. No, the greatest threat to America comes from “libtards” and their willingness to give everything away (he believes “Obama destroyed America and the economy”). Further, Trump’s recent sickness was really just a cover for him to rise up and finally vanquish the Dems and “libtards”.

Okay.

So, yes, reading him, I thought, “You are really fooling yourself.” I can’t say that he’s under a rock; no, he’s fooling himself with his conviction that everything on the “lamestream media” is fake news. I don’t understand how they — these right-wingers who insist everything is fake news — receives the real news. That’s an opaque process. So, I reiterate, he’s fooling himself.

Which brings me back to Styx’s 1978 song, “Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)” from their album, The Grand Illusion. For my part, I think Trump’s claims about what he’s done is just grand illusion. Maybe it’s just me fooling myself.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Musically, I’m living in the past. Not surprising, is it? The music from the past is more connected to me. I used it to celebrate, grieve, love, and learn.

I was also inundated by it in the past. I commuted everyday and took long road trips by car. Although listening to talk radio, sports, and books on tape competed for my attention, many hours were devoted to pop music, including rock.

I don’t commute much any more. COVID-19 has truncated my traveling opportunities. So, I’m less exposed to new music via radio. I could turn it on in the house, but I generally maintain silence through the day. I’m writing and reading, and not interested in distractions. Which is what all those things were on long drives and morning commutes: distractions from the tedium.

Anyway, this morning found me channeling the 1976 Doobie Brothers song, “Taking It to the Streets”. This is a response to the presidential debates last night. “Oh, you. Telling me the things you’re going to do for me. I’m not blind and don’t like what I think I see.”

I always like videos of live shows, when I can, so I’m sharing a 1982 video of their farewell tour. The band’s energy can often be vicariously experienced, and it makes me smile to see them all young and vibrant once again, you know?

Cheers

Locked Out of Twitter

I found myself locked out of Twitter this morning. They said that one of my posts violated their standards. They showed me the post:

FACT CHECK: VIRAL IMAGE FALSELY CLAIMS TO SHOW UNOPENED 2020 MAIL-IN BALLOTS IN A CALIFORNIA DUMPSTER

Oh, no, Twitter. I’ve offended your sensiblities by sharing an article debunking false information being spread? Shame on me.

Yeah, really, shame on you, Twitter. No, no, calm down, Michael; I know someone could have overzealously and erroneously marked this, that this could be simple human error. I know that on an intellectual basis, but on more primal levels, my mind screams, “You don’t want the truth about false information being spread to be put out there? What’s wrong with you morons?”

Naturally, I declined the opportunity to remove the post Twitter found offensive. I read their guidelines to see how this violated them. It didn’t. Again, either someone misread the article, didn’t read the article and made assumptions about it, or inadvertently blocked.

Now — after ‘proving I wasn’t a bot’ by clicking on a box — the matter has been turned over to the bureaucracy. I’ve always hated the bureaucracy. I became a champion of fighting it in the military and continued it in my civilian life after retirement. Like other bureaucracies encountered in governments, banks, Facebook, Google (and Alphabet), whatever, I’ll probably never hear back. They won’t change and rarely admit error. Even less frequently, they apologize for their behavior. Will my account be unlocked? Don’t know. That’s up to them, isn’t it? The bureaucratic beast holds all the power.

Have a better one. Cheers

t

Sunday’s Theme Music

Not light music today. Looked at the news landscape and thought, there’s a lot of psychopaths out there, a realization that let the 1977 Talking Heads song, “Psycho Killer”, stream into my mind. A repeat song but it could be the theme music for an entire body of uncaring people who lack empathy and are willing to kill in the name of their love, you know? I liked it up, and it’s been almost three years since I last used it as a theme song. That gives me license in my mind (which is where I’m making up these rules in the first place) to use it again.

Yeah, that is all.

In General

So, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice, has died. She deserves peace and rest after a life of serving our nation and world.

So, back when Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice, died, Republicans were adamant that no replacement should be considered until after the elections, which were then over eight months away.

Now, the elections are just eighty-eight days away.

Now, the Republicans are in a rush to replace RBG.

What is different, we ask, in mocking tones, because we already know what is different: Barack Obama, a Democrat, was President when Scalia was due to be replaced. Donald Trump is a Republican.

Yet, they insist that they must act now, to do their duty, as the Constitution establishes.

Yet, they don’t acknowledge the hypocrisy in their words and actions even as the video records of their speeches demonstrate the gaps in their principles, flaws in their logic, and failure to perform their duties.

And this, you see, is what will keep the United States a divided country, driven by partisan politics. The GOP have abandoned all principles to remain in power, freely lying and twisting logic.

Sorry, but I can’t stand liars. They just can’t be trusted. The Republicans have proven it again, again, and again, in this era.

Where

People were already out of work due to COVID-19. Without revenue coming in, they were going through their savings, cutting corners where they could, selling things as necessary, going to friends or the governments for help.

Then the fires struck. In a day, everything except that which they had when they fled was gone.

Time to rebuild, but where are they going to go? The costs of housing and living is discussed, politics, and the chance for employment. Gazing across the American landscape, from the fires on the west coast to the hurricanes in the southeast and the cost of living and politics everywhere, options seem bleak.

Monday’s Theme Music

My mind is serenading me wit Red Ryder’s 1981 song, “Lunatic Fringe”, today.

Back when I was commuting and working in an office, I’d often think of this song. I always seemed to encounter people with perspectives and facts that didn’t align with reality. Feels like I’m seeing and hearing more of it on the television, radio, and intertubes. Yet, I always wonder if I’m the lunatic fringe, out of sync with reality. That drives me to verify and vet information, and trace stories, looking for the source.

All this is helpful while writing. I enjoy elements in what I read (or the movies and television shows that I watch), so I plug it into my writing. When I’m writing, I enjoy an imaginary reader wondering, “WTF?” This is especially true if I laugh out loud when I’m writing it.

Here’s a sample of “Lunatic Fringe” lyrics (h/t to Metrolyrics.com), followed by the song.

Lunatic Fringe
I know you’re out there
You’re in hiding, and you hold your meetings
I can hear you coming, and I know what you’re after
We’re wise to you this time we won’t let you kill the laughter
Lunatic Fringe – in the twilight’s last gleaming
This is open season, but you won’t get too far
‘Cause you got to blame someone for your own confusion
We’re all on guard this time against the Final Solution
We can hear you coming

We can hear you coming no, you’re not going to win this time,
your not gonna win

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