Sunday, May 21, 2017

LIGHTS OUT IN HICKVILLE




Summer has unofficially arrived. Nearly 90 humid degrees yesterday (that's Fahrenheit, for those of you in Scandinavia). By late afternoon the house was hotter than a Coney Island hoochie dancer.
My knack for spontaneous imagery amazes me.

Irritable and exhausted from my usual lack of sleep, I opted for a nap just after dusk.

About an hour later, a gigantic clap of thunder jolted me out of Dreamland. Lightning flashed menacingly. My desktop computer (which was turned off) inexplicably beeped (yes, beeped) and turned on by itself. No lie.

The lights in the house blinked on, off, on......off..... 
Bingo! Another power failure. I lit a few candles while stumbling over an annoying trio of wayward cats.

There's not much one can do in the dark (when one is alone). I couldn't read. Couldn't write. Couldn't mess with the computer. So I located a transistor radio and took it to bed.

It's tricky trying to get any decent radio reception here in the Daniel Boone boonies. In order to pick up the "local" station I have to conduct a complex series of strategic maneuvers:

Keep my left hand on the Volume dial, with index finger firmly pressed against the AM switch.

Hold the antenna with my right hand in order to generate reception.

Point the radio south-east in the exact direction of where the town is located.

And pray. Pray for reception to be generated - -
and pray that lightning won't strike the antenna while I'm holding it. 

These maneuvers eventually allow me to pick up the "local" station, which is in the process of having a bluegrass fest. That's okay. I like bluegrass. Soon they switch to playing hymns.

Hell, I like hymns, too - but it's slightly unnerving listening to songs about dying and meeting my maker during a severe thunderstorm with intense lightning when you're holding an antenna.

Seems like everybody's going to heaven. It must be damn crowded up there. Kinda like Atlantic City on the 4th of July. I personally want no part of it.

After the hymns, they start reading the local obituaries. 
I've mentioned this before and I'll say it again. These hillbillies are obsessed with death. Every time I turn on the radio, somebody's reading a casualty list. They must have more stiffs here than London did during the Black Plague. Or was it the Red Plague?
Heck, I can hardly remember my own name, let alone the colors of plagues.

Anyway, the power came back on around midnight.....
.......and went off again around 3:00 a.m.
I've never seen a darker night. The rain stopped. The storm was gone. It was completely quiet and still. The only discernable light came from a few random fireflies drifting in the dark.
Power was restored - again - this morning.



Change of subject:
I thought my previous post would generate more attention, but it fizzled like a damp firecracker. The title - Music From the Civil War - was probably a turn-off. Perhaps I should have called it Naked Civil War Soldiers.....

One of my old blog posts, entitled Elizabeth Taylor's Pussy, got over 7,000 hits. Don't panic. I merely posted some photos of Liz with her cats. 
Another post entitled  Gay Hollywood Hunks (on my other blog) got 5,000 hits.

So what's my point?
People don't want intelligent blog posts. They don't give a rat's ass about my piano music.
They want sleaze.
 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE CIVIL WAR







When I moved away from California I went to the Missouri Ozarks (for reasons I won't bother to disclose here). I lived very close to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, which is near Springfield.

Wilson's Creek was the site of a Civil War battle that took place in 1861. It's an impressive and haunting place, where I used to spend endless hours wandering around in a solitude that seems to be populated by spirits of the past.

Around this same time, I was intrigued by the Civil War documentary by Ken Burns which had originally aired on PBS - and, as a musician, I was especially inspired by the music. I extracted some of my favorite tunes and arranged them for piano solo. 

A few days ago I decided to make a Civil War video using original photos from that era and my piano music as an accompaniment.

The video is rather long - ten minutes - but it contains seven selections. The fifth song is a sentimental waltz, the Ashokan Farewell. It was used in the Ken Burns documentary, but it's not an original Civil War song. It was composed by folk musician Jay Ungar in 1982. I thought it was too lovely to omit.

I turned the last song - Johnny Comes Marching Home - into a series of variations (which I think is neat!).

I took lots of photos at Wilson's Creek, but they're presently in a Dropbox file and I'm not in the mood to go on a scavenger hunt. These are the only two I have at hand.


 That's me - firing at nobody in particular.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

MOTHER'S DAY





 When a loved one dies we grieve and eventually try to perceive the reality of a loss so devastating that it seems beyond the realms of possibility.

Eventually we seem to heal outwardly, but the wounds deep within are eternal. The distance of time leaves us grasping for tangible remnants, which become fewer with every passing year.
Soon there is nothing left but faded photos and gentle memories that linger like ghosts dancing on a misty horizon. 

I have already lost too many people that I loved. In the enormity of their absence I've had sufficient time to contemplate my own mortality.

The dead often become saints in the minds of the living. We forget their flaws, forgive their sins, and reinvent their histories in order to appease our anguish.

My mother was worthy of being remembered as a saint. She was compassionate, patient, long-suffering, forgiving, and the most honest person I ever knew. She endured a lifetime of physical and mental abuse from my father.

She tolerated my hurricane of an existence, and gave me the strength and encouragement to go on when my emotional lows sunk to lethal depths that were beyond salvation.
She was always my anchor in a sea of chaos.

I had inherited many of my father's wild tendencies and worst traits - all except (thank God) for the insane violence.

I inherited my mother's profound lack of confidence. I always wondered how someone so beautiful, brilliant, and poised could have such low self-esteem. Then I realized that I was her mirror image - only worse. We both had my father to thank for pillaging our self-worth.

My Mom and I shared all the same interests: music, art, literature, history. She was an extraordinary pianist and was also my first piano teacher. She wrote stories and poetry and painted pictures. She had an insatiable quest for learning and was a voracious reader - until she eventually battled macular degeneration and partial loss of eyesight.

My father passed away in 2005. I took care of my mother until she died of a stroke in 2009. It was rewarding to share those final years with her.

I made the Mother's Day video last year, but edited it and tried to shorten it. I'll probably regret posting it, but sentimentality is a large part of my nature.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Mother's Day - generating new memories and treasuring the old ones.

(video is best viewed in full-screen)


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

MAY NIGHT



 New Moon by Maxfield Parrish

May Night is a (once popular) piano composition by Finnish composer Selim Palmgren.
It's also the title of an 1880 opera by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Neither of these things have anything to do with this post. I was merely impressing you with my knowledge. 

My previous post, Lament for Eva Peron, keeled over like a lead balloon. I suppose nobody remembers the musical Evita - which was once all the rage. I saw it in Los Angeles in the original production starring Patti LuPone.

Gawd damn, I'm old......

Yup, I'm old - - but the rumors that I dated Marcel Proust are greatly exaggerated. 

You're not laughing. My knack for generating spontaneous humor is eroding. Or perhaps it never existed.

Strangely enough, I liked the 1996 movie Evita starring Madonna - which is indeed strange, since I personally can't stand Madonna. She could turn a straight man gay - but that's beside the point....

The rain has finally subsided - at least for a few days - and it was very pleasant and 80 degrees yesterday. Carpenter bees, bumblebees, and wasps are rampant and aggressive.

The weeds are now about 15 feet tall and I can hardly see to get my car off the property. Like the naive jackass that I am, I thought the weeds would die during the winter (like they did in Texas). Instead, they thrived and multiplied.
I'm at the point where I no longer give a crap. I have too many other problems (which I seldom mention in this stupid blog).

May night?
Yes, it is a May night as I'm writing this. A warm, very pleasant May night. I had the bedroom window open earlier while I was writing in bed (working on my memoirs). I heard owls and other night birds. The trees seem to be alive with them. There were some distant coyotes howling, but they haven't been close to the house in awhile. I almost miss their visits.
Also, just for the record, I haven't seen the 'possums in a long time - but something is still living under my house.

A few weeks ago there were lightning bugs (fireflies) but ever since the recent cold weather they disappeared. I love lightning bugs. They evoke childhood summer memories.

My cat Scratch left another dead mouse by my back door this evening. An unwanted gift.

I initially intended to post more piano music tonight, but didn't want to overwhelm you with my inexhaustible creativity.

Speaking of creativity, I've been working on numerous new projects (including writing two books). The old adage that there isn't enough time in a day is very true.
That's why I'm up all night.

BTW - lately my blog posts are getting so boring and uninspired that even I don't like them.