Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year! No, Seriously!

I won't be making any resolutions this year, New Year's or otherwise. I'm as close to perfect as I'm going to get.

Please note that I did not say that I was perfect. Just as close as I'm ever liable to get. I've made a lot of progress, though. Here, I'll prove it.

A week and a half ago I was sitting in our local Dunkin Donuts having a pleasant natter with my good friend, let's call him “Mr. Big.” (That's a pretty good joke if you knew his real surname, and actual height, but I prefer not to use real names on this blog.) The subject of presidential elections came up organically, and apropos of something I mentioned that Ross Perot had walked away with nineteen percent of the popular vote in 1992.

No,” says Mr. Big. “I don't think it was that much. More like eleven percent.” He is a smart man, is Mr. Big, and he dug in his heels on the eleven percent. I let it go.

That, my friends, is what real personal growth looks like. I LET IT GO. Well, I almost let it go. It's been grating on me all this time. I just looked it up again, and sure as you're born, Ross Perot took 18.9% of the popular vote in 1992.

Will I mention this at our next coffee? No, I won't. I will not insist on proving that I was right, again. (I almost wrote, “as usual,” but that would have been obnoxious.) Chalk up another point in the personal growth column.

Resolutions aside, the point remains: tonight is New Year's Eve. Happy New Year, dear readers! And may all of your dreams come true in a year filled with health and happiness!

That might be overdoing it a bit. 2022 was kind of a nail-biter. You might say it was a real pain-in-the-ass. With lowered expectations for 2023, on next year's New Year's Eve may you still have a roof over your head, and food on your table, and all of your bills paid, and may all of your medical news be good, or at least affordable.

Oh! I just reminded myself that next year will begin the run-up to the 2024 presidential election. So I guess peace of mind is out of the question. Be comfortable, at least, and don't take any of it personally.

Good luck.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Marshall Crenshaw - Little Wild One (No. 5)

It's interesting to watch how these things work now. For a long time, there was no Marshall Crenshaw on the 'Tube. Then there were plenty of live appearance tapes, but no vinyl rips or original versions of any kind. Now there are "remasters"  from the corporations with the comments shut down, and fan posts, but these old MTV videos are getting rare. Interesting. 

This is a great cut. I won a ten inch forty-five of it on a radio call-in one time, but it was warped. It's still with my records, far away. Now I could look up on YouTube, "How to Flatten a Warped Record." 

Who says that everything has gotten worse? It's all just changing. Too fast, probably. 

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Robert Gordon with Danny Gatton - Love My Baby ( live )

From "about 1981" it says in the YouTube notes. That might be about right. 

Robert Gordon was always very good, a real pro. Danny Gatton was always phenomenal. Kind of a quiet guy, depressed, we later discovered. Danny did look like he was having fun, but within limits. Not like he was showing off. I wonder, however, if sometimes, just sometimes, he was thinking about how badly he was cutting all of the guitar players in the audience. He must have known that no one could touch him. Anyone who tried found out the hard way that they weren't as good as they had thought. 

There's a lot of great playing in this video, and some nice photos of Danny after the two minute mark. I'm sure that someone else hung that nickname on him, but it does fit. "The Humbler." 

Randy Newman: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Recorded in 2017; four great songs on here. 13 minutes. 

All Randy, all the time. Straight, no chaser. 

You'll laugh; you'll cry. You'll just hang your head and shake it a bit. 

I hope that you'll join me and say, "this man is a national treasure." 

Friday, December 9, 2022

Parents And Children

Parents are only little children who lived to sexual maturity. If they could, at some point, convince a member of the opposite sex to conjugate with them, they might successfully bring a child into the world. This process is so haphazard that it is hard to believe that it has escaped effective regulation all this time.

Those successful individuals have joined the ranks of “parents.” They may or may not be married to each other. They may still legally be children themselves. The pregnancy may have been by design or it may have been an accident. They may possess the skill-set necessary to be decent parents, or they may suffer from a complete failure to meet any of the suggested criteria.

There is no license required, and usually there is no medical oversight or examination until the pregnancy is noticed. Medical assistance is generally available to pregnant women in America, but, as is typical for that benighted country, you will get what you can afford and that will be very little if you don't have the Do-Re-Me.

This is all a terrible idea. There is a huge amount of information that expectant parents must know and understand if they are to have any hope at all for a good result. The list of things that an expectant mother must avoid is long and constantly growing. No smoking or drinking, of course, and probably lay off the weed, although no official of any kind would even broach that subject. Don't eat this; do eat lots of this. Take vitamins. No one, even the participants who have excellent health coverage, no one gets all of the information. I'll tell you a secret: the doctors don't know it all themselves. You're better off going to a good women's health center and receiving the wisdom of female specialists who would five hundred years ago have been called witches.

I just came across a new one the other day. Pregnant women must not eat partially sprouted bean-sprouts. Or any partially sprouted anything, one imagines. Oh, here's a good one that they usually tell you only when it's too late: do not take any long flights on commercial aviation during your first trimester. You run the risk of birthing a baby with a cleft pallet. I'm pretty sure that last one should be part of the early warning packet. Good luck if you took a long flight recently and subsequently discovered that you were six weeks pregnant. That's going to be a nail-biter.

Good parents are rare. Is that unnecessarily judgmental? Let's say good parents are in the minority. I've been around this block a few times, and I've seen a lot of everything. Good parents will make their children feel welcome in the home, will make the children feel loved, will encourage the children in their little endeavors and put up with some reasonable level of eccentricity. There will be no screaming or hitting. Good parents will recognize and tolerate children whose temperaments do not match those of the parents.

The sad truth of it is that many parents bring no talents at all to the enterprise. Many see it as a tremendous imposition from day one. Babies are a lot of work, and many parents resent the loss of recreational opportunities, sleep, money, the loss of being the focus of attention themselves. They resent the many tasks that babies add to the schedule. Many parents, let's face it, are crazy, or at least suffering from some kind of personality disorder. The thrill of being a new parent, if it had ever been experienced, may wear off quickly. And for some parents, while the babies were so cute and cuddly, by the age of four or five they have turned into little monsters that require stern discipline.

The little monsters' lives may become difficult at that point. They may be ignored, or physically abused, or emotionally abandoned, or even literally abandoned. I can speak from experience here. I was raised by wolves, myself. I like the sound of that, although I know it is a slander on wolves to compare them to my parents. Shall we say that I raised myself? Those Goddamned nuns certainly didn't help.

I got married young and became a parent as soon as it was mathematically possible. I raised two sons. They've never been any trouble to anyone. They seem like good men. People like them. I enjoyed raising them, and during that process I did have the feeling that I was doing an okay job of it. I am increasingly convinced that that was really a myth that I invented to comfort myself.

But my ACE score is five out of six, so I doubt my objectivity on the subject.

Television - Little Johnny Jewel part 1 & 2

They keep taking this down, but, as happens in so many movies, it keeps getting up again. 

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Suicide: The Nuclear Option

If you have friends who are openly talking about killing themselves, you can probably relax. I don't think that people who talk about suicide are likely to follow through. No, generally it comes out of nowhere from an outside point of view. Like Anthony Bourdain. He was a guy who seemed to have it all under control. Plenty of money; well respected; great job; plenty of friends. Everything to live for! Then, suddenly, he hangs himself in a fucking hotel room. You may think, “wow, I never even knew he was depressed,” or you may think, “no surprise, really, his mood always was a bit dark.” But if someone is bringing up the possibility in casual conversation, you probably don't need to notify the authorities.

There are many categories of people who are not serious about suicide. These include, but are not limited to: people who announce the intention without forming the intention; people who “attempt” suicide; people who are hung up on choosing a methodology; people who are planning an ideal suicide; people who are wondering if it “hurts” to wrap your head with a dry-cleaning bag; people who are wondering “how long it takes to drown;” people who still think that suicides might go to hell; and many others.

People who are serious just do it. Quite a while ago, the sister of a friend of mine killed herself. She had a failed attempt with pills, and she ended up in a locked room in a nice crazy house. The first chance she got, she knocked out one of the cleaning staff, let herself into the maintenance closet, bared the door, and wrapped a garbage bag around her head. She got her wish; dead as a door-nail before they found her and broke in. She was serious.

One lesson here is that pills very often lead to a mere “attempted suicide.” You'd do better with a good, solid plan. Nobody wants to end up sitting in a wheelchair drooling into a cup. Jumps from high places, and even self-inflicted gunshots, can also leave you alive and miserable.

What's the rush anyway? It comes for us all in its own good time.