Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rudy Giuliani, Prosecutor, Patriot, And Pain In The Ass

How about that Rudy Guliani?  Rudy says that President Obama doesn't love America like "we" do, that the President wasn't raised to value America like "we" were.  Mingia, what a scifoze.  

Why would an unattractive, semi-retired, no longer relevant man of a certain age make such vicious, personal, and unfounded remarks about the leader of the Free World?  Why indeed.  Luckily, we have comedy writers to help us to understand:

(Beginning of the funny part.)

Borowitz Report
February 20, 2015 From the New Yorker Magazine

Forgotten Man Seeks Attention
By Andy Borowitz

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—A largely forgotten man sought attention on Wednesday night before returning to obscurity on Thursday, according to reports.

The man, whom many Americans had difficulty placing, was making a desperate bid to remind people of his existence, experts believe.

His efforts were somewhat successful, as his widely reported outburst caused people across the country to rack their brains to try to remember who he was.

After briefly attempting to recall where they had seen the man before, many people gave up and moved on with their days, but for others, the desperate man’s remarks left a bitter aftertaste.

“There is no excuse for making comments like those, no matter who you are,” Tracy Klugian, forty-seven, of Springfield, Missouri, said. “Who is he again?”

Still others showed concern for the man, and expressed hope that, instead of future bids for attention, he would find fulfillment in crafting or some other harmless hobby.

(End of the funny part.)

So now comes the sad part, where we wait to see what Rudy will decide to try next to force himself into the public consciousness.  Maybe he should run for president!  How great would that be!  Maybe him and ISIS could fight an apocalyptic battle or something.  Rudy is much funnier than ISIS, and he's at least as funny as Mike Huckabee.  


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Barbara George - Talk About Love

I've been driven to consider drum solos recently.  I'm trying to fill the gaps in my experience with jazz, and those guys, God bless them, go with the idea that everybody solos.  Everybody in the band gets a chorus or two.  It works better for some instruments than for others. 

Any music learner who faces learning how to solo may ask the teacher: what should I do?  The usual answer is, "just sing the song with your axe."  You can't just fly off into the appropriate scale, that loses the entire musical idea.  There's a melody, or melodies, in there, and you should play with them.  But what if your axe is a drum kit?  Many great drummers stumble over the challenge of the solo.  What they fill the space with may last one chorus, and it may be really, really excellent and super-difficult, but was it the song? Where did the melody go? 

The drummer in this cut manages to sing the song, with a very slight structural assist from the horns.  He sings the hell out of it too.  I think that it's about the most successful drum solo that I can recall. 

The Who - Happy Jack

On the subject of drum solos, I wonder if this counts?  If the rules are to sing the song (with the drums, in a drum solo), then perhaps not.  The drums are, however, way up front in the instrumental mix.  How could it not be so with Keith in the band? 

And doesn't Keith always look like he's having the most fun imaginable?  What a remarkable, irrepressible talent he was. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Animated Sheet Music: "Giant Steps" by John Coltrane

Yes, I repeat myself.  But this is my favorite song, and my favorite video on YouTube. 

I am almost ashamed to say that when I was young, a teenager let's say, or a twenty-Something, I would sometimes say, in my abrasive manner of the time, that such jazz was "rampant scale-mongering."  Sure, I liked Wes Montgomery, he played guitar after all, and I did like Jimmy Smith a lot, man, I loved me some hot Hammond B3, but jazz?  With horns?  I didn't get it.  And all of the not-getting-it kind of made me nervous.  I admit it now, now that I'm, let's say, "older," and for us older people "embarrassed by our youth" is our middle name.  But as I grew in experience, in listening to and playing music, I started to get a glimpse, maybe only a glimpse, of what guys like 'Trane and Diz and Miles and Prez and Ornette and the rest were trying to do, trying and succeeding, wildly succeeding in this case. 

And how great is it to watch it spin itself out on a chart!  Thanks, Dan Cohen, for sharing and thanks a lot to whoever put this video together in the first place.  And thanks, John, wherever you are, for playing the shit out of this thing in the first place.  It's just great, great, great.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

THE PERSUASIONS "Willie And Laura Mae Jones" (1977)

Still thinking about old Willie and Laura Mae over here.  As I mentioned, this is the version that I heard first.

I could be reading the signs wrong of course, I'm not very well versed in all of this Internet thing, but it seems to me that this is the only video of the Persuasions version of this song on YouTube and it only has 164 hits (One Hundred and Sixty Four).  Somebody please tell me I'm wrong.

Even better, just listen to the song and tell your friends how great the Persuasions are.  Still ain't got no band! 

Further Adventures In Asian Cable Television

I stayed at an interesting hotel down in Nakorn Sri Tammarat.  I won't mention the name, mostly because it wasn't very good.  My biggest complaint was the shower.  I've never stayed anywhere before that had hot water in the sink, but none at all in the shower.  Very low water pressure too.  The only place that there was plenty of water was the air-conditioner, and the first night it started pouring out like a damn waterfall, I had to call the desk.  They sent up two mechanics, they were working for fifteen or twenty minutes.  But I digress . . . this is about the TV right there to be watched, which was pretty good. 

Asian Cable TV providers are a mixed bag of tricks.  The cable at this place had some of the usual suspects, like BBC News, the Universal Channel, and newcomer the Sony Channel.  But there was more.

Like a channel called Ping, which bills itself as "All The Series You Love Is Here."  Yeah.  They featured entire seasons of, for instance, the Big Bang Theory, every episode, all in a row, with no commercials, and no pause in between the episodes either.  Straight through, pausing only for the theme song.  I've never seen anything like it.  I mean, no time to take a leak if you're a real fan.  (I had time myself.)  For two whole days they were cycling through a couple of seasons of the Big Bang Theory, and I enjoyed quite a few episodes.

One very interesting thing was a channel called the H Channel.  The logo was identical to the History Channel, but this one was a movie channel with the soundtracks in English.  I watched some of Star Trek: Into Darkness on one occasion; on another I watched some of Night at the Museum 2.  These were not broadcast quality, they looked more like the bootlegs that one sees on buses in Southeast Asia.  So I doubt if royalties were being paid.

I happen to like Indian movies, but I know that they are not everybody's cup of tea.  (Stretch tea!  Look it up!)  This hotel got the B4U Channel, which was all music scenes clipped from current Indian movies.  A boy, a girl, and lots of dancing extras.  So for hour after hour there were young couples on the screen coming dangerously close to kissing, but never quite making it.  No wonder Indian men are angry at women.  Officially at least, Indian women, and Indian movies, are all teasing, all the time.   I'm sure that the reality is quite different.  I mean, there are over a billion of them, so some kissing is going on. 

There was also the SyFy channel, which I always enjoy.  Not because it is so great, not now that they no longer constantly run Star Trek: Next Generation re-runs all the time.  I liked that.  No, now I enjoy seeing just how terrible their made-for-SyFy-channel movies can be, and they can be pretty terrible.  Some of them are actually good/terrible.  Last weekend I watched three of them.  One was really just bad (Sink Hole); one was entertainingly bad (500 Mile Per Hour Storm); one was really nuts and, although it represented no threat to Citizen Kane or 2001: A Space Odyssey, really much better than the usual SyFy fare.  The good one was World of Tomorrow, staring Robert Picardo as the tight-ass army general and Kelly Hu as the hot scientist.  (Best Boy Grip:  Luke Pastrami!  Great name!)

I looked it up on the IMDB and found it under the name "Age of Tomorrow."  The name was changed to cash in on the recent Tom Cruise movie called "Edge of Tomorrow."  They changed all of the synopses too, so now the plot summary looks like it could be talking about "Edge . . ."  Whatever, there was no controversy in the room while I was watching the movie.  It's crazy, and it's fun.  It starts off like a routine SyFy asteroid-threatening-earth movie, with silly, stilted dialog, and quickly morphs into a three sheets to the wind Death Star/Wormhole/Dying Alien Race movie with lots of ax fights.  (The hero is a fireman, and he don't need no stinking firearms.) When the ax starts flying, and the the alien race starts dying, the dialog doesn't matter anymore, you can hardly hear it.  Not a real story, but what there was of it moved right along.  Right up to the no-ending, much more up in the air than the movie of the same title.

So that's how dull a boy I am.  I go to interesting places and occupy myself with the wonders of the local cable TV.  It wasn't that terrible, actually.  I taught a class; I was driven around extensively; I had many very good meals; I visited the local important temple (they have Buddha's "left tooth!"); I even went to the mall.  I got around plenty.

I tend to complain rather a lot, but really, I'd have to say that things are within acceptable limits.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Spencer Davis Group - Somebody Help Me (Beat Beat Beat - 1966)

Well, well, well . . . Spencer Davis could speak pretty good German.  Not easy, that.  Good band too. 

The real story here is Steve Winwood.  Steve is three months older than me; we turned eighteen in 1966.  As you can see, Steve was performing at a high level by then.  He'd joined the group at seventeen and started knocking them dead immediately.  Me?  I was, let's say, less talented and much less well organized.

This video is a good example of "set up and play."  I've always valued the acts that could just set up and play, the acts that could show up and hit home runs, up close and personal.  I'm convinced that that's where it's at in the music business.  Some cats got it; some cats ain't.  These guys made a good show of it.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Spin Easy Time!: Mr. Fred's Poetry Corner: "Manchurian Dream."

I do apologize for even mentioning poetry, I don't bother writing it anymore.  Poetry only seems to make most people angry!  I do like this one though, from 2007. 

Spin Easy Time!: Mr. Fred's Poetry Corner: "Manchurian Dream.": This new job allows me lots of spare time. Here's proof: Manchurian Dream I was alone the other day, Describing things in my own way,...

Monday, February 2, 2015

In Nakorn Sri Tammarat

I was down south on a teaching trip this weekend.  So yeah, it was interesting.

This was in Nakorn Sri Tammarat, south of almost all of Thailand but north of the real trouble.  This area has been settled for about six thousand years by folks that were on their way to becoming modern Thais.  So it's a real mix of cultural influences, and that helps the food situation out a lot.

You've got your Thai food; you've got your southern food; you've got your Muslim food; you've got your Indian food; you've got your top-drawer sea food; and you've got your dim-sum too. 

This was part of my nutritious breakfast on Saturday.  With a cafe-boraan too!  A traditional Thai coffee!  I try to keep those to a minimum, because they're a cholesterol nightmare.  Strong drip coffee with a goodly dollop of sweetened condensed milk, which in Thailand is about thirty-six percent palm oil (plus sugar, for good measure).

Breakfast of Champions!