Friday, October 30, 2009

Sir Edmund Hillary, Monty Python, and George Harrison


It's getting into the evening and I'm sitting here, post-search. I was looking for the business card of an artist/friend. I thought I'd lost it for good when it popped up as the book marker for a book I'm reading. Actually, I'm re-reading it. Have you read, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz? If you haven't, you should.

My search took me through my planner in which I jot down notes to myself. These are things friends have said that I want to remember and things I've said I want to remember; a few good ideas, or things that seemed like good ideas at the time. So, here are some of these notations as they appear in the chaos that's my planner, with additional notations in parentheses added today in a miserable attempt at clarification:


"It engenders panic in the masses." (a statement from a friend who loves conspiracy theories)

"I think the mistake a lot of us make is thinking the state-appointed shrink is our friend." (a favorite Jack Handy saying)

"Silent Opera House" - a Gus Heinze painting

Scalar standing-wave points within a morphogenetic field (don't ask)

Rid yourself of excess baggage to which you cling as some sort of support or means of comfort. (astrological advice I thought worth writing down)

"The Darjeeling Limited" - Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody

Crossing the monkeybars

Learning to love the fool in me

Clark Gable's tombstone

37 million people living in Tokyo

Red Skelton wrote every day

"How Krispy Kreme Lost Its Way"

Bucky and The Ferret storyline in Get Fuzzy

"You mean, I've got to water these two sticks?" (a friend, referring to a non-blooming orchid)

If I had a scanner (as opposed to a hammer)

Primal Order of the Dimensionalized Universal Manifestation Template

"Eating oatmeal, listening to Tom Waits." (a friend's response to the question, 'What are you doing?')

A simple twist of fate (thinking about a camping trip just off Highway 61 on the north shore of Lake Superior, thus the Bob Dylan reference)


I thought I'd write about one of them but my mind wandered and next thing I knew I was thinking about Sir Edmund Hillary, the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, with his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay (calm down you Mallory/Irvine fans). I've always thought he seemed like a really cool guy (no pun intended). Plus, I found this great video on YouTube - a 1953 newsreel of the return to Kathmandu shortly after their accomplishment.

As you know, one thing leads to another and suddenly I was watching a Monty Python video, "Hairdresser's Expedition On Everest," which lead to a bit they did at a George Harrison tribute several years back called, "Sit On My Face," which led to watching George, my favorite Beatle, in his concert for Bangladesh. And that's how you spend an afternoon.

Here's a brief newsreel. I Love old footage.









Sting, Leading the Way


Sting: Obama best person to handle world's 'mess' - Yahoo! News

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091029/ap_en_ot/us_people_sting

It's his last statement that got my attention. I hope you'll take the time to read it. It's concise. And a nice punctuation mark to my last posting,"Talkin' Artsy-fartsy."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Talkin' Artsy-fartsy













I was at a bookstore in Duluth the other day, thumbing through a copy of W, the magazine. My curiosity was piqued when I landed on an article about a new art installation. Have you heard of Huang Yong Ping? He's an artist, originally from China, now living in Paris, who's working outside the boundaries of conventional art. Good for him. I like to see artists who make us think, look at the world with new eyes. Sometimes.

Huang has a new piece installed in the 17th century chapel at the, now let me see if I get this right, Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It's a 50 ft. paper Noah's Ark full of burned animals. That's right. Burned. Some of these were created and some are taxidermied animals, left over from a real fire. Yep. First, the chapel as the place of installation bothers me a bit. It seems like an attempt to be subversive. But subversive just for the sake of trying to be subversive is not subversive. And second, there's this thing with the dead burned animals. As Bill the Cat would say, "AWK!!! Thpppt!!!"

The real trouble I'm having, though, has to do with a statement he made about the nature of art and artists. He said, "The work of an artist is to go beyond the standard thinking, to go beyond common human comprehension. So naturally there will always be people who aren't able to understand."

Who aren't able to understand. Big sigh.

I almost got woozy trying to wrap my head around what I'd just read.

And here I thought we were moving away from the notion that we are segmented, a world composed of fragments, that there are people who just "aren't able to understand." The ark with burned animals inside? A less-than-happy ending, indeed. But certainly not difficult to comprehend. I think the average person in today's world can understand that pretty well. Many are living the less-than-happy ending.

All art, from paintings and sculpture, to music and literature, has the ability to help people see the beautiful possibilities for themselves and for the world. It's time to hold up a new mirror; a mirror in which we are able to see our true selves, our higher selves. If we relegate some people to life outside this reflection, or label them as unable to understand, then we are helping to perpetuate the problems that seem to beset us. A new way is emerging; a new way of being in this world. That's what artists need to understand. And then they need to start leading the way.

Cut out the foolishness. Okay?


P.S. Opus, please come back. And bring Bill with you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Loving Bruce Cockburn



The Last Night of the World-Bruce Cockburn
The Last Night of the World by Bruce Cockburn. Click on the image for the video.
It all started with "Coldest Night of the Year." I don't know if it was an attempt to learn to love Minnesota winters, the fact that he mentions the south of France, or that line about "the suddenly compact universe of skin and breath and hair," but I was hooked from the first chord. It remains in my top five favorite songs of all time. No, it's not the song I've posted. I wanted you to hear "The Last Night of the World." It's the song that makes me remember the pure joy of seeing him live.
He looks like he came from another world, sent here to teach us all how to be better humans; to recognize that we're all in this together. The mirror that he holds up to us is the mirror that reminds us that we can do better, that we ARE better. And he does it with music. If you see him in concert, the feelings that are exchanged between him and his audience are palpable. We love him. He loves us. It's a real exchange. Maybe even life-changing.
He's a rabble-rouser of the best kind. He's not afraid to tell it like it is and he's not afraid to get mad in order to do it. "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" ring a bell? It's just one of the bells he's ringing to wake us all up. He makes us think. He makes us WANT to do better. I dare you to watch the video for "If A Tree Falls," and not be moved to care a bit more about the Mother Ship, Planet Earth; to want to see change in our world. Real change. The kind that makes us discover new ways of being. The kind that I believe is happening as I write this. I hope I'm right.
Now, for my own personal caveat. Next time we are in a concert venue together and Bruce starts to wrap it up with "The Last Night of the World," I'm warning you, I will NOT sit in my seat. I will not worry if the folks behind me are getting irritated because I'm up and dancing. Get your sorry butts out of your seats and join me. Celebrate this man and his music and why we love him. He deserves it, WE deserve it. Have some fun and realize we ARE in this together. When you read this, open the video, turn up the volume, then get out of your chair and DANCE, for yourself, for the world, for the change that's happening. And let's dance for each other, because as the Hopi elders have said, "WE are the ones we've been waiting for."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Someone's in the Kitchen...














I said I'd write about Bruce Cockburn, and I will, but first I have to tell you about my kitchen time with Abby and the Sunday afternoon we made Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon. Abby has such a sense of humor.

We went to see the film "Julie and Julia" one rainy afternoon with her friend Pam. Pam also has a terrific sense of humor. To illustrate, they walk together in the morning, year 'round, in Maine, IN THE DARK. Did I mention this was in the morning, even in the winter? She asked me if I'd like to join them. She cracks me up. Yes, I admire their personal discipline. From a safe distance. In my bed.

Anyway, we loved the movie and came away with this brilliant idea to create boeuf bourguignon.

We drove down to Portland the day before and picked up some key ingredients at Whole Foods. Chiefly, beef and burgundy. Abby's job, which she did very well, was to get us organized. My job was to ask stupid questions, which I also did very well. On the big day we spent valuable time attempting to say our favorite Julia lines with the right inflection and tone. I thought Abby did pretty well with them. I sounded like Dan Akroyd on SNL. Mu came in and tried to teach us the proper pronunciation of boeuf bourguignon, finally declaring, "You girls better just say beef burgundy." Let's just say, he ate his words.

Now, this involves a fair amount of prep time, which was perfect, because we needed a fair amount of prep time. We diced, we sliced and we sauteed. We were a well-oiled machine. I think it was the Herding Cats vineyard which supplied the oil. I spent an inordinate amount of time reading and re-reading the steps, with the words,"Must not fail," sliding through my brain. Besides the beef and burgundy it involved some veggies, a lot of knives, and a few cutting boards. I felt like Lucy with the now proverbial vega-matic.

Finally, all the ingredients made it into the pot. Then we waited. And I'm pretty sure we laughed. Because that's what we do. We briefly threatened to do our own reality show, "Someone's In the Kitchen With Abby and T", then thought better of it. The afternoon slipped by in Happyville.

Just before 8:00 we set the table, lit the candles, and poured the wine. Murad came in to join us, fresh from Sunday football, and we sat down to dinner. We made a toast to our Friendship, savored that much-anticipated first bite, discussed it's nuances, declared it a success.

Much sustained mmmmm-ing followed.

And I will get around to writing about Bruce. I'm savoring that, too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Albums I Will Never Stop Listening To



We music lovers have our favorites, the ones that grabbed us from the get-go and have held on tight ever since. I have several that I keep in my car for road trips. Some of these have been with me for a mighty long time. I love being introduced to music I've never heard before by friends who have discovered something and know it's worth sharing. I'm sharing, in no particular order, part of my list here. FWIW.


Annie Lennox -"Medusa" is a group of songs written by the likes of Neil Young and Bob Marley, among others. It includes an almost perfect version of "A Whiter Shade of Pale."

Lucinda Williams - "Sweet Old World" - I know she's moved on, but I haven't.

Leonard Cohen - "Ten New Songs" isn't so new anymore, but I still can't hear a clunker among them. "In My Secret Life" is spellbinding, pure poetry. As a matter of fact, he has a book of poetry which contains the lyrics to many of these songs.

Bob Dylan - "Blonde On Blonde" - what can I say. Love that leopard-skin pillbox hat.

Paul Simon - "Graceland" - "The Mississippi delta was shining like a National guitar..." is about as good as it gets.

The Beatles - "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" will always hold a place in my life. My sister Jane and I, one teen-age summer, learned all the lyrics, singing along as we danced around the living room. We particularly liked the histrionics involved in "She's Leaving Home." My favorite Beatles song though is not on that album. "Eleanor Rigby," from, "Revolver," fills that spot.

Bruce Cockburn - pretty much anything - but I'm saving him. He gets his own posting. And that's for next time.




Monday, October 19, 2009

At the Fryeburg Fair (Heavy On the Fry)

























I have to admit that I transgressed dietary rules and regs more than once during my visit to Maine. This one doesn't count though, because we gave ourselves and each other, in advance, permission to cheat. It was a county fair after all and eating a variety of food, especially fried things, is a county fair rule. The options are endless.

We arrived in the early afternoon, just in time for lunch. Inside the first ten minutes we were on a mission to find THE pizza, natural, as natural as pizza can be. We were sitting on a picnic table, munching on this oh-so-delicious first entree, when we noticed we happened to be across from the milking parlor. That's right. The milking parlor.

So, we took a break and headed for the cow barns. There was the judging of pairs going on outside the barn. Bovines of all kinds. They even included a pair of water buffalo. Mu circled 'round to photograph these and other beauties while Abby and I watched the judging.


















I was reminded of the county fair of my youth. It was a much-anticipated annual event that was the culmination of our participation in the local 4-H club, ours being the Power's Light 4-H Club. I kinda like that name, looking back at it from the distance of years. I baked oatmeal cookies and sewed terrible dresses. Suzy Homemaker, I was not. But, it was called for in our family and amongst our peers. Something one did if you wanted to belong. And God knows we all wanted to "belong." My chance of taking anything to the Minnesota State Fair, however, was nil.

We spent three days in August hanging out in the animal barns 'cause that's where the boys were. Then we roamed around the midway, riding machines that bring on motion sickness just looking at them today. The Tilt-a-Whirl was what I was riding when I realized I was heading for some early trouble. His name was Bobby and he had an attitude that appealed to me then. I will avoid the C word and just say he was.... sure of himself. Before the night was out I had thrown the 4-H Pledge to the four winds, especially the first line in which I had pledged "my head to clearer thinking." We sealed the deal, my first kiss, inside the baseball dug-out, in the darkness just beyond the grandstand. Word travels fast in a small town and by the time I'd made it around the midway again the word was out and questions were asked. I played dumb. Because I was. He's a lawyer now and that's all we'll say about that.

The Fryeburg Fair is a somewhat spankier version of that early fair. The food choices, though, were very similar. After the bovines I had my official Fair Corn Dog. There is a skill to dispensing the ketchup in small rows around the perimeter. Abby mentioned that it looked like I had done this before. Yep. Countless. But, just one per fair. I had to save room for miniature sugared doughnuts. Not powdered, just regular old sugar. One bag, hot out of the grease. You close the bag, shake it up good and then you fall into a whole new grace. Albeit a temporary one. These were shared. Abby held the bag. She must have known I was not to be trusted with the entire bag. And she was right.

We followed that with fish and chips, chips being hand-cut french fries. More sharing ensued.

We took breaks from eating by checking out the other barns. There was all manner of fowl, rabbits, and horses. I have always loved the tack of a working horse and those big beauties had it in full display next to their stalls. There was even a barn of alpacas and llamas. One had such a regal stance he almost looked like a pharoah. There were many photo opps.

The eating ended when we ran out of room, individually and collectively. But not before Mu capped it off with a sausage sandwich replete with onions and such. Alright, I admit it. I did take A bite. I was trying to be a good fair-goer, that's all. It was, shall we say, a gastronomic delight.
























Before we left, I tried to talk Abby into taking a Ferris Wheel ride with me, to no avail. Maybe it was one of those things that just seem like a good idea at the time. I did watch it though, keeping the lights in sight as we drove away, my nose almost pressed against the car window, quietly saying goodbye to yet another county fair. Great fun. It was good to be twelve again. Without the angst.







Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Happens On Congress Street...

"Cut Above"  by Murad Sayen
I just returned from three weeks in Maine. I had never done New England in the fall. Quite lovely. Problem is, I got lazy. I didn't do much, except hang out in the kitchen with Abby in the evening and act silly. We cooked up some good laughs, along with some rather tasty dinners; long on flavor, short on calories. It was her job to keep an eye on her hubby Mu, and me, as we both have fallen short, shall we say, of our weight-loss goals. We asked her for her help. And she did a great job of keeping us in line. Most of the time. Unless we were in Portland.

Our True Confession: It all started when we drove down to Portland late in the afternoon to catch the evening light on Congress Street. Mu was looking for references for paintings. I had never been on Congress Street. It was a real treat. Really. There's more.

We walked the street, stopping for photo opps as they revealed themselves. Interesting exteriors and even more interesting characters that provided moments worth capturing. The light came and went; possibilities appeared, photos were taken.

Then Mu announced that he was feeling peckish. So.....off we went into the nearest gas station convenience store. He was looking for Ding-Dongs. I was just looking, at that point. That's when everything went horribly awry. I found in a glass, okaaay, plastic case, a large brownie with a nutty, caramel frosting. Eating it vicariously was not going to do. I don't know who-led-who down the Road to Perdition, but the next thing I do know, we were standing outside the convenience store, just standing there, stuffing ourselves with all things chocolate. We were like a couple of crack addicts who had tried soooo hard to be good for soooo long, but finally, well, cracked. We chased it with chocolate milk.

And now you know the sordid truth. We were led astray, just that once, by the darker forces...

But, the photo opp thing worked out (she said chirpily). One is on his easel now. And I lost three pounds during my visit, despite my sojourn into the land of dietary transgressions.

Now I'm home and on my own, left to my own devices. And I'm jonesing for some chocolate tonight. Thank God the c-store is seven miles away. I would also have to make it past the sentry, my housemate. The Vegan.

I bide my time...