AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

31 January 2009

Hear the sustain? . . . aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh . . .


Guitar World magazine has rated the Top 50 Guitar Solos. These types of lists always illicit outrage and passionate confirmation of devotees. This list's attraction is the detail in descriptions of the artists' work.

For instance, the professorial explanation of David Gilmour's solo on Dark Side Of The Moon's, "Time" . . .

For most of my solos, I usually use a fuzz box, a delay and a bright eq setting. But to get that kind of singing sustain, you really need to play loud—at or near the feedback threshold.

On the other hand, Ritchie Blackmore's work on "Highway Star," from Rainbow's "triumphal" Machine Head, just can't be made up . . .

We had the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit sitting outside in the snow, but to get there we had to run cable through two doors in the corridor into a room, through a bathroom and into another room, from which it went across a bed and out the veranda window, then ran along the balcony for about 100 feet and came back in through another bedroom window. It then went through that room’s bathroom and into another corridor, then all the way down a marble staircase to the foyer reception area of the hotel, out the front door, across the courtyard and up the steps into the back of the mobile unit. I think that setup led to capturing some spontaneity, because once we got to the truck for a playback, even if we didn’t think it was a perfect take, we’d go, ‘Yeah, that’s good enough.’ Because we just couldn’t stand going back again.

But while the vibe may have been loose, Blackmore’s solo on ‘Highway Star’ was well planned. “I wrote that out note for note about a week before we recorded it,” says the guitarist. “And that is one of the only times I have ever done that. I wanted it to sound like someone driving in a fast car, for it to be one of those songs you would listen to while speeding. And I wanted a very definite Bach sound, which is why I wrote it out and why I played those very rigid arpeggios across that very familiar Bach progression—Dm, Gm, Cmaj, Amaj. I believe that I was the first person to do that so obviously on the guitar, and I believe that that’s why it stood out and why people have enjoyed it so much.


Read the rest here.

Thanks, Kev.

30 January 2009

More from The Songlines


Oh I believe in song lines
Obvious and not
I've ridden them like camels
To some most peculiar spots.


Jimmy Buffett, Far Side Of The World

Quotes from Chatwin's moleskines...

Our Nature lies in movement; complete calm is death.
Pascal

To live in one land, is captivitie,
To runne all countries, a wild roguery

Donne

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk; every day I wlk myself into a state of well-being and walked away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away fromit . . . but by sitting stillk, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill . . . Thus if one just keeps walking, everything will be all right.
Kierkegaard

Solvitur ambulando. "It is solved by walking."

29 January 2009

Snow Plow Train

From Goodland, Kansas, January 2, 2007...


That is so neat! I love winter!!!

Vivaldi, The Four Seasons: Winter

Concerto No. 4 in F minor, RV.297, performed by Nigel Kennedy.

1st movement, allegro non molto


2nd movement, largo


3rd movement, allegro

Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines



On this, my second snow-day in a row, I have spent the greater part of the day drinking tea, listening to Mozart and Django, and reading Bruce Chatwin's, The Songlines.

What a great read. The book is Chatwin's account of his travels into the Australian Outback (not the meat shack) to learn the meaning of the Aboriginal's ancient "Dreaming-tracks."

dreamtime.net.au describes them ...
Dreaming-tracks trace the creative journey of the Spirit Ancestors as they formed the land and laid down the Law. Dreaming tracks are sometimes called songlines. They record the travels of the Spirit Ancestors who "sung up" the country into life. It is believed that performing the right songs and ceremonies at points along the Dreaming track gives people direct access to the Dreaming. The Dreaming tells of the journey of Ancestral Beings who created the natural world. The Dreaming is infinite and links the past with the present to determine the future. It is the natural world, especially the land or county to which a person belongs, which provides the link between the people and The Dreaming.

I am fascinated by tales of trekkers. I am very fortunate to have a few friends who have traveled extensively and they patiently indulge me with their stories. In The Songlines, at the end of chapter 30, Chatwin contemplates man's desire to roam...

Read the excerpt from The Songlines here.

Subsequent pages in chapter 30 contain quotes Chatwin collected within the pages of his vrai moleskine. I will post these in future entries of HP.

28 January 2009

Happy Birthday, Jackson Pollock




On the floor I am more at ease, I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around in it, work from the four sides and be literally `in' the painting. When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It's only after a sort of "get acquainted" period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.
Possibilities I, Winter 1947-48

One of my History of Art professors, Dr. Herban, told me that the responsibility given to the viewer of modern art is not to judge whether or not a work is valid -- good or bad. Rather, it is his job to understand the artist's purpose. Looking at his work and considering the quote above, we are seeing the expression of a soul.

I get a kick out of people who see Pollock's work and say, "That's not art! Heck, I could do that!" Well, first of all, shame on you for diminishing your own creative worth. Secondly . . . ah HA! Youdidn't do it! Furthermore, and sadly, you've never attempted such an expression, have you? Now, enough loitering! Go create!

National Gallery of Art's Pollock site is here.

Usable intellect



Tavis Smiley has said that Dr. Cornel West once told him that one cannot lead folk if one does not love folk; that to save folk one must serve folk.

Dr. West's intellect is, as Smiley puts it, usable intellect. This man's wisdom goes far beyond race. He speaks to us as humans and reminds us of the profound simplicity of God's charge. The problem is that in these days of the fetish of success, is anyone listening?

In Defense of Penmanship


For many pro-keyboarding anti-handwriters, the real bugaboo is cursive writing--the Palmer Method and its offspring. When the computer crashes or the electricity fails, when repetitive stress syndrome threatens or they’re on a mountaintop in Colorado with the urge to write a poem and only a notebook at hand--what, they ask, is wrong with printing?

The only sensible answer is: nothing. An even more sensible answer is that it’s possible to learn a writing system that combines the clarity and simplicity of printing with the speed of cursive. Many of us have, informally, devised such a script for ourselves out of desperation.


Although I haven't written in cursive since junior high, I LOVE to print. Colleagues often compliment the marks I make, and there isn't a one that goes by that I don't chuckle and remember my institutional training in what Dr. Wallschlaeger called "Lettering." As a sophomore design student, each night we were charged with the task of completing the alphabet and numbers, for a height of 3/16" to 1 1/2". All the letter forms were to be of the same "personality," as Doc called it -- all letters made with the same stroke weight, design, and style. I loved it. I felt as though I were a scribe during the renaissance, cloistered away to practice my craft. After ten weeks of this, or when The Doctor deemed you worthy, it was thought that your technique was ingrained.

I have been told numerous times that I should make my lettering a font. Never. It just doesn't seem like the thing a scribe would allow.

Read the rest here.

Explore Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting here.

25 January 2009

Jimmy Buffett, Trip Around the Sun

Happy Birthday, Carrie!


Hear 'em singing Happy Birthday
Better think about the wish I made
This year gone by ain't been a piece of cake
Every day's a revolution
Pull it together and it comes undone
Just one more candle and a trip around the sun

Chorus:
I'm just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning
And it's good to know it's out of my control
If there's one thing that I've learned from all this living
Is that it wouldn't change a thing if I let go

No, you never see it coming
Always wind up wondering where it went
Only time will tell if it was time well spent
It's another revelation
Celebrating what I should have done
With these souvenirs of my trip around the sun

(Chorus)

Yes, I'll make a resolution
That I'll never make another one
Just enjoy this ride on my trip around the sun
Just enjoy this ride ...
Until it's done

22 January 2009

Ephemera

The completion of my chef "Holy Trinity"

The Devil In The Kitchen







One of my food heroes is Marco Pierre White. He was the first and youngest Brit to ever be granted three Michelin stars. In 1999, at the height of his notoriety, he returned the Michelin stars, told the world food establishment to take a running jump, and vanished.

He made the decision as he makes many major decisions, clasping a fishing rod. "I caught a salmon and let it go. I realized I was being judged by people who knew less than me, and that gave me the confidence to think, 'I should be kind to myself and do what I want to do.' And so the next day I found myself unemployed. It was important for me to understand myself. Only then can you find happiness.


His book, The Devil In The Kitchen: Sex, pain, madness, and the making of a great chef, is his account of the whole thing. Find it here.

Navigate wisely . . . don't get lost



He who wanders with purpose, has no purpose to wander.

Artistry on grass



1981 Wimbledon. McEnroe vs. Borg. This is the match that ignited my love of tennis. McEnroe, for my money, is the most talented player to ever play the game -- a wizard with a racket.

Mind you, this is before the advent of the graphite trampolines that made the careers of Agassi, Sampras, and the like. McEnroe played with finesse, smarts, strategy, and a wooden racket.

Being able to go "out there" and pull up a clip of this moment is what technology should be all about. It is amazing to see this match again. Pure genius on the part of Mac.

And he did it without dropping the ol' "Whopper With Cheese" on anyone!

Drowned rat . . . ?





Nope. Just Cooper getting a bath. Molson calls the bottom one, "Cher posing for the camera."

Buds


The drive to work this week








The Artist Speaks







On authority ...

21 January 2009

Why Hemingway should've taught fifth grade writing



Ernesto espoused writing "one true sentence." He railed against those he called frauds because they wrote on subjects of which they had no genuine knowledge. Hem's lifelong aim was to write simply about complex ideas.

Many of the same issues that Hemingway struggled with throughout his career are now being wrestled with by the fifth graders that I teach each day. Many a planning period has found me referring to Papa's simple rules for inspiration so that I may more simply teach them. The kids already know about his "Garbage Draft Rule" -- When writing a first draft, understand that it will always be garbage. Don't worry about getting it right, just get it down.

A distillation of Hemingstein's writing guidelines is available here.

18 January 2009

The Curmudgeonly Sage



A few years ago, I was flipping through the channels and came across an interview with Harold Bloom on C-SPAN's "Booknotes." He was discussing his most recent book at the time, How to Read and Why. Bloom is a literary critic and Yale professor who rails against the technological world and its repercussions on reading and reading culture. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the C-SPAN interview was Bloom describing his reading regimine . . . his chair, blanket, tea, whole afternoons given over to reading. He also expressed great dispair over the fact that life would never last long enough for him to read all he wanted to read. This desire was fueled by an imagination that was constructed over a lifetime of reading. He loathes the current technological "advancements" that find children glued to PlayStations and television screens, any hope of the inspiration that fuels imagination stripped by ever-expanding envelopes of degradation.

Kerry Fried, from amazon.com, has a review of the book that describes Bloom and his devoted passion for books and reading impeccably. Read his review and get a copy of this important and useful book here.

Leonardo and music


In his Treatise on Painting, Leonardo writes: “But painting, the servant of the eye, that noblest of the senses, reveals a harmonious proportion similar to the harmonious proportion which results from many voices uniting and singing together, in such a delightful manner that the audience is rapt in intense admiration.” He later goes on to remark: “Do you not know that our soul is composed of harmony, and that harmony cannot be bred save in the simultaneity and the relative proportions of objects which are seen or heard?”

Read the rest here.

This afternoon's hike





On the way home from lunch, I stopped at the Denison University Biological Reserve to walk off the feast. Snow falling, quiet, peaceful.

The Bio Reserve's website with trail map can be found here.

Shorty's sweetie

The Road to Heroic BBQ






Today, the journey certainly gave the destination a run for its money. My bud, Kevin, and I hit the best BBQ joint in central Ohio for lunch. As I left home, the sun shone blindingly on the snow that had fallen over night. Ten minutes later, the sun was gone and I was driving slowly through a line of heavy snow squalls.

Route 62 BBQ is the king, there isn't even a second. We both had a rack and a half of pork ribs, baked beans, smoked chicken and sausage gumbo (it's creator, Shorty, was sweet on Kev -- who could blame her?), he had cheesy potatoes, and I had the greens with smoked pork. For dessert we had a dozen smoked Buffalo wings. The whole feast was accompanied with huge corn muffins for butterin' and soppin'.

"Only in the midwest is overeating considered an act of heroism." -- Jack Nicholson

Joe Strummer

Joe is just an artist. A very cool artist.

Joe & The Mescaleros, Johnny Appleseed
". . . if you're out to get the honey, then you don't go killin' all the bees."


Joe & The Mescaleros, Ishen


Joe & The Mescaleros, Bhindi Bhagee
"...Bagels soft or simply harder, exotic avocado or toxic empenada."
A tribute to London take-away.


Bhindi Bhagee

Well, I was walking down the High Road
And this guy stops me
He'd just got in from New Zealand
And he was looking for mushy peas
I said, no, we hadn't really got 'em round here
I said, but we do got

Balti, Bhindi, strictly Hindi
Dall, Halal and I'm walking down the road
We got rocksoul, okra, bombay duck-ra
Shrimp beansprout, comes with it or without - with it or without
Bagels soft or simply harder
Exotic avocado or toxic empenada
We got akee, lassi, Somali waccy baccy
I'm sure back home you know what tikka's all about - what tikka's all about

Welcome stranger to the humble neighborhoods
You can get inspiration along the highroad

Hommus, cous cous in the jus of octopus
Pastrami and salami and lasagne on the go
Welcome stranger, there's no danger
Welcome to this humble neighborhood

There's Balti, Bhindi, strictly Hindi
Dall, Halal and I'm walking down the road
Rocksoul, okra, bombay duck-ra
Shrimp beansprout, comes with it or without

So anyway, I told him I was in a band
He said, "Oh yeah, oh yeah - what's your music like?"
I said, "It's um, um, well, it's kinda like
You know, it's got a bit of, um, you know."

Ragga, Bhangra, two-step Tanga
Mini-cab radio, music on the go
Um, surfbeat, backbeat, frontbeat, backseat
There's a bunch of players and they're really letting go
We got, Brit pop, hip hop, rockabilly, Lindy hop
Gaelic heavy metal fans fighting in the road
Ah, Sunday boozers for chewing gum users
They got a crazy D.J. and she's really letting go

Oh, welcome stranger
Welcome stranger to the humble neighborhoods

Well, I say, there's plenty of places to eat round here
He say, "Oh yeah, I'm pretty choosy."

You got
Balti, Bhindi, strictly Hindi
Dall, Halal, walking down the road
Rocksoul, okra, bombay duck-ra
Shrimp beansprout, comes with it or without
Let's check it out

Welcome stranger to the humble neighborhoods, neighborhoods
Check out all that

Por-da-sol, por-da-sol
Walking down the highroad

Glenn Frey, Party Town



Gotta love the combination . . . A good Michigan boy, singin' a BIG TIME song that originally contained back-up singers John McEnroe and Jimmy Buffett.

17 January 2009

Poetry.

Here are two of my favorite Eagles songs, even though Henley sings them.

Learn To Be Still


The Last Resort
"...call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye."

Peter Rowan, To Live Is To Fly



If I were to be banished to a desert island, Peter Rowan's work would comprise a great deal of the music I would smuggle along with me. Like Buffett, Mozart, Plant, and Coletrane, I just feel it when I listen him not only sing, but play.

My good buddy, John, introduced me Peter Rowan. Thanks, bud -- I really appreciate it.

Mozart, Violin Concerto No. 5 (K. 219)

Performed beautifully by Anne-Sophie Mutter.

1st Movement


2nd Movement


3rd Movement:

Cna yuo rae d tihs?

fi yuo cna rae d tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Tahkns, Bfuf.

15 January 2009

Very good, sir . . .






These clips from the Masterpiece Theater presentation of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster are hilarious!

My favorite collection of Jeeves and Wooster stories is Weekend Wodehouse. It is rare but can occasionally be found used here.

14 January 2009

Jack London's "To Build A Fire"



This tale of man being taught the costliest lesson by nature is one of the creepiest of this sort that I have ever read . . . only Sebastian Junger's scientific explanation of how a body drowns in The Perfect Storm comes close. The description of the man's lunch, alone, is worth the read.

Read it here.

Stuff that works - Sorels



I've had these babies for almost fifteen years and they've kept my feet toasty every single minute of 'em. I got these caribou up in God's Country for around $60, but these days you'll pay around $100. Don't flinch. Rated to 40 below, they're worth that and more. Plus you'll have 'em forever or until they find you sitting upright on a frozen river because you had no imagination(see next post).

Getchasum here.

Shootin' the chutes in Nerk






Drew and I hit the bleak and blustery as dusk turned to darkness and the white blanket descended.

Heard from Drew . . .
"Let me show you what horsepower looks like, Dad!"
"Let's go do what we do!"
"Whooooaaaaaaaaaa!!!"
"WOW! I felt that one in my tummy!"

12 January 2009

A few angular turns on a clear, open canvas



Each generation has their singer. My parents grew up with and still love Sinatra (thanks to them, I do as well). Some may hear The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Merle Haggard, or even, God forbid, Madonna and her devil spawn, that Spears girl, and immediately feel as though they are spoken to. One such artisan for me is Robert Plant (Hey Mom! You can stop worrying -- I'm over KISS). Besides the poet laureate, Buffett, Plant was a musician that I gravitated to on my own because I felt spiritually moved by his voice -- still do.

I do remember the first time I ever heard his voice. I must have been a sophomore in high school when the senior class showed Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains The Same as a fund raiser in our school's auditorium. I have no idea what did it; I don't recall thinking deeply about much of anything in those days. I do remember that back then, as now, if I liked something, I really liked it. For me, Plant's voice was part of my young adulthood; a true master.

From the mysterious, thundering sounds of Led Zeppelin, to the lilting, romantic work he did with The Honeydrippers, and now with all of the diverse sounds that 25 years of a solo career has produced, I am still capitivated by, as he calls it, the angular musical turns that are made on his clear, open canvas.

11 January 2009

Bruce Cockburn, "Child of the Wind"



If you haven't experienced the work of this humble poet, do yourself a favor here.

"What a picture I got!"



In January 1955, when photographer O. Winston Link hurried through a commercial assignment so that he could go see Norfolk and Western Train No. 2 on its run from Roanoke to New York, two durable pieces of American technology were nearing the end of the line. Steam engines had been replaced by diesels on every main railroad line but the N&W. And the cumbersome large-format camera was being supplanted by the compact 35mm-type and the "candid" photographs that it made possible. A train buff since childhood, Link spent the next five years making 2,400 photographs, each meticulously planned and composed on his big cameras to document the final days of steam.

Read the rest from The Smithsonian here.

Visit the Link Museum website here.

Thanks John.

Out in the woods









Molson and I took a walk today.

On the way to work