Sunday, January 29, 2017

NOT AMUSED




 We all get occasional critical comments on our blogs. It's an inevitable part of being a blogger. We endure the sting and move on.

It is spooky and disconcerting, however, when our antagonists refuse to leave or let go. They derive immense pleasure from absorbing our posts and loathing every word. They devour the comments we receive, eagerly hoping that someone else will hate us as much as they do.

Even when they remain blessedly silent, we know they are always there, thanks to live traffic feed.

Most unnerving of all is that they haunt other blogs that we follow - just to see the comments we leave.

Our existence provides them with some bizarre psychological nourishment.

How do we rid ourselves of these foul entities, short of performing a blog exorcism?

Ignore? Tolerate?

My toleration level is very low. Why should I have to continuously weigh my words, change my blog settings, repeatedly delete? These are all hazards of the game, but I'm weary of it.

For now, I will either disable or modify all comments. And take a break from blogging.

One thing I will never do is apologize for being myself. I'm too unique, talented, interesting, cute, and irresistible.

I just threw that in because I know it will really piss you off.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

JUST FOR THE RECORD





This is a very mild example of some of the hate comments I've been receiving  from numerous miserable people (all angry liberals, who lost the election....)

Sweet Mike has been wasting his time hating me for well over a year. He especially enjoys equating me with the Ku Klux Klan.

Mike, if I was ever going to lynch someone, it wouldn't be a black person. It would be an ignorant white bastard like you.



No, Jon. Ain't me. I don't do anon posts, and I have the cojones to allow comments. I meant everything I said about you in my post. You are a racist, woman-hating fuck. But you've really found the opportunity to come out of your hate closet, haven't you? Your hero is president, and the south is just the place for you. Got your confederate flag flying yet? Got your membership in the KKK up to date? Need to take care of these things Jon, if you expect to get a place in trumps administration. Otherwise, you'd fit in just fine.
Cheers,
Mike
Oh, I do so hope this prompts two or three new posts, like when I commented before. I look forward to them. I suggest you read the comments of others on my post that briefly mentioned your blog. Get an idea of what most people think about you. The best you got was from our mutual bog friend John, who rather pity's you.
ta ta













  • Mike, you are an extremely bitter and miserable person (which I sensed from the very beginning). I am not about to try to excavate the reasons for your inner demons, but I do wonder what persistent attraction you find in me. It would probably be best for both of us if you channeled your animosity elsewhere.

    Your consistently crude comments make you look very small. Perhaps, instead of haunting my blog, you should go to Hillary's website. Who knows, she might run for president again.
    TA TA.
  • Friday, January 27, 2017

    WARSAW IN THE DEAD OF WINTER




    So, how has my life been going lately? 
    It has been filled with unpleasant occurrences, multitudinous problems, annoying inconveniences, and ongoing ailments. And those are the positive aspects.

    I've been in a foul mood for a long time and I'm ready to bite asses and strangle necks. Come to think of it, I sometimes bite asses even when I'm in a good mood.... 

    Mostly, I'd like to hibernate until spring.

    My trio of cats are doing well. The 'possums are still around, always looking for a handout. Mysterious animals are still residing under my house. At least I presume they are animals.

    Snow is predicted on Sunday. Last night I made (homemade) potato soup and it is delicious. I plan to make more this weekend.

    What's this about Warsaw?

    This is one of my old piano tapes that I've recently transferred to MP3.

    The Warsaw Concerto isn't technically a concerto at all. It was a score written by Richard Addinsell for the 1941 British film Dangerous Moonlight.
    This composition is originally for piano and orchestra. I performed it with a college orchestra when I was in my early twenties.

    I liked the Warsaw Concerto so much, that I wrote my own transcription of it for piano solo. I recently found my old musical manuscript and can still play it .

    The music in my video was recorded in Los Angeles when I was 22 years old.



    Here's a glimpse of the original solo piano arrangement that I wrote.
    I have no doubt that you're overwhelmed (*smile*) 


     

     Here's the recording I made in L.A. when I was 22.
    Apologies for the poor audio quality.



     

    Wednesday, January 25, 2017

    PAPRIKASH

    Oh no! Not another musical post!

    If you don't like my music videos, just ask yourself this question:
    Would I rather read Jon's political rants or listen to his piano music?

    Of the two evils, I think you'd choose music. Maybe.

    I'm still in the process of transferring some of my old piano tapes to my computer. I found two very rare recordings that I'd like to share.

    Why are they rare?
    Because, to my knowledge, they are two of the very first piano recordings I ever made. Both tapes were in extremely poor condition (one was actually broken in half). My attempt to restore them was only minimally successful, but the results aren't too bad.

    I hastily made these into YouTube videos - adding pictures solely to subtract from the poor audio quality.

    Why the post title Paprikash?
    Because both recordings are of Hungarian music.

    The first tape is the Hungarian Rhapsody #11 in A minor by Franz Liszt. I recorded this in Los Angeles when I was only eighteen years old. It was a live performance.
    (there's a part in the middle of the performance that sounds like a mistake, but that's where I spliced the damaged tape together).


     The second tape is the Csardas: A Cigany Lelke (Soul of a Gypsy), one of my own compositions.
    I wrote and recorded this when I was nineteen.

    Upon hearing this again, after so many years, I'm embarrassed at the brashness of my rather amateur effort. It is much more of an improvisation than a serious composition.
    It's kind of weird to hear myself playing when I was so young.


    Thursday, January 19, 2017

    MY MUSICAL PAST

    I seldom write about my musical past. It lingers on the misty edge of a distance that no longer seems real. It is impossible to ever fully recapture those times, and - to be truthful - it's heartbreaking for me to remember what was....

    ...my youth in California when I was inspired, exuberant, energetic, optimistic. To say that I was a professional musician is no exaggeration. Despite my reckless, shiftless Hollywood years, I also managed to (later) go to college and study with some of the finest teachers in the country. I composed, conducted, worked as an accompanist, and gave solo concerts. I also performed with numerous orchestras.

    After I left California at the age of 34 (for too many reasons to go into) I embarked on a life far removed from any semblance of excitement, fulfillment, glamor, or inspiration. I lived in the Missouri Ozarks, West Texas, and now Tennessee. During this time I encountered more problems, obstacles, and incredibly bad luck than I'd care to remember - which eventually expunged my heart and soul. I was rendered nothing more than a bitter, cold relic - a pale shadow of my former self.

    Despite everything, I still had my music and my memories to hang onto. When I moved to Tennessee, however, the movers lost all of my diaries, journals and mementos. They also lost many of my California photos and more than half of my music manuscripts. That's when I finally completely gave up. My past was rudely severed forever.

    During my active years as a musician, I made over 300 piano recordings (all are catalogued). Many of them were lost, but - fortunately - I still have some of my ancient, original cassette tapes.

    The other night I started listening to some of the tapes, and somehow my spirit was rejuvenated. They are completely unedited, crude, and in mono - but at least they retain glimpses and glimmers of my musical past.

    I'm presently in the process of transferring (some of) these tapes from cassette to 3MP files - via Audacity.

    Last night I made two of these files into videos for YouTube. The videos themselves aren't very good, and the audio is extremely poor - but at least it gives an idea of my former piano virtuosity.
    These piano tapes were both recorded in Los Angeles when I was in my very early 20's.



    Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    RAINY DAY STORY



     "Noah called. He picks us up in ten minutes."

    Sit back, take a load off, and I'll tell you about my trip to town. Actually, the whole ordeal is too damn long, so I'll only offer selective highlights.

    BTW, you won't really appreciate this unless you read my previous post RAGE. Even then, you might not appreciate it, but that's beside the point.

    I desperately had to drive to town today, since I was nearly out of food and supplies. And I was completely out of cat food. My trio of felines haven't had a decent bite in two days. The last I saw, they were praying for mice.

    Anyone who faithfully reads this blog (all three of you) knows how much I dread driving to town. It's an infinitely long stretch of dangerous, narrow, winding mountains roads. It scares the jeeters out of me on a good day. You can imagine my apprehension when it rains.

    Today it didn't just rain. It was a non-stop Biblical deluge. I got up early and figured I'd wait until the rain tapered off. By 10:30 it was raining so hard that I was considering sending a dove out to look for an olive branch.

    I finally realized that if I waited for the downpour to abate, I might be hanging around for months. As if on cue, a heavy mountain fog appeared as soon as I started driving. The windows steamed up and the rain was so torrential that seeing anything was an impossibility.

    I did, however, see my entire life flash before my eyes multiple times. By the time I got to town my legs were limper than leftover spaghetti and I figured it would take the Jaws of Life to extract my fingers from the steering wheel.

    The first thing I had to do was get gas (that's petrol, for those of you in Yorkshire). I was in line (in the store) waiting to pay the cashier. There was a grizzly old man in front of me (I'm old, but he was about fifty years older....).

    Suddenly -
    with absolutely no warning -
    he turned toward me and let out the Mother of all sneezes. It was a direct hit. That son of a bitch anointed me with a Hillbilly Tsunami. I couldn't believe it.

    I held my breath for nine and a half minutes until I got to the cashier - while silently putting every imaginable foul curse on him, and alternately praying for my own death.
    All I really wanted to do was get home so I could boil my clothes and douse myself in lye soap and Listerine. 

    Next stop was the bank. I usually utilize the drive-through window, but today I had to go inside (I won't burden you with unnecessary details).
    When I came out again, my car wouldn't start. It's a damn good thing I hadn't robbed the bank - I would have never gotten away.

    Despite the pouring rain, I was forced to open the hood (that's the bonnet for those of you in Oxfordshire) and mess around with the engine while getting mercilessly drenched.
    It took twenty minutes to start the car.

    At this point I had no doubt that I was being punished for multitudinous past sins. 

    How multitudinous are your sins, Jon?

    Let's put it this way: a priest once passed out as he was hearing my confessions. After he regained consciousness, we had sex.

    Hey, don't sweat it. I only said that to scare my readers in Iowa.

    I'm not Catholic. But I have made a few priests swoon in my time. 

    Thanks to this unnecessary and extremely distasteful detour, I've completely lost my chain of thought. It doesn't matter - this post is getting too long, anyway.

    One more (unrelated) thing: 
    Why is the heat always turned up in the supermarket? Every time I go grocery shopping it's like being in Barstow in August. Today it was about 110 degrees in there. I felt like I was going to pass out and actually had to linger by the frozen chicken thighs to revive.

    I have a lot more to tell but figure I'd better quit while I'm ahead. If indeed I am ahead.
    In conclusion:
    I miraculously made it home safely. It took forty rain-drenched slip-and-slide minutes to drag all the groceries up the muddy, perilously slick hill to my back door. This is the hilliest place I ever lived. It's like a Coney Island fun house.

    The cats finally have food again. And - after I completely disinfect myself - I'm going to bed. It'll take a few days to recover. 


    Monday, January 16, 2017

    RAGE!!!




    Okay, I have to take a few deep breaths because I'm hyperventilating. This is the very limit of my endurance.

    I didn't drive into town last Friday (the 13th) because it was rainy, I felt rotten, and was in a foul mood. Despite the fact that I desperately needed to get groceries and other things, I figured I'd valiantly wait until Monday.

    I spent the weekend anxiously counting the hours (and minutes) until Monday.

    Monday morning (that's today!):

    Despite having minimal sleep and maximum ailments, I got up at dawn to get an early start. Showered. Shaved. Forced myself to put on some decent clothes. Hauled all my trash bags out to the car to take to the dump (there's no trash pick-up here in the wilderness).

    Just as I was ready to leave I heard on the news that today is a holiday!!!!!!!
    The banks are closed.
    I can't shop without going to the bank. I have about 35 cents in my pocket.

    And don't tell me about ATM machines. I haven't seen one since I was in Los Angeles.

    Prepare yourselves - here comes the rant:

    America has more FRICKIN' holidays than any place on earth. Every goddamn Monday is a holiday and I'm sick of it. I don't give a rat's ass about Martin Luther King or his dream. If you care, then go light a candle or something - but don't force it on me.

    And the first person who calls me a racist is going to get my "Vladimir Putin" poster shoved up your ample derriere.

    This goes for President's Day, Columbus Day, and every other harebrained  holiday that they come up with. All of them should be banned.

    I specifically chose Monday to drive to town because it's supposed to rain on Tuesday - - - but, of course, it rains in Tennessee about 340 days a year. I should be used to it.

    BTW -
    I just read the comments on my previous blog post and someone (named Anonymous) warned me that Monday would be a holiday. Sorry that I didn't see it sooner.

    So, here it is early Monday morning and I'm all dressed up with no place to go. How the hell am I going to kill the day?
    Well, I'll watch the cats starve.
    And I'll scrape up some scraps for my own dinner. Maybe I'll have 'possum stew.

    And I think I'll try to finally transfer some of my old piano tapes to mp3. If I'm successful I'll post some on this blog.

    Be sure to let me know if tomorrow is going to be another holiday.




    Saturday, January 14, 2017

    STAY AWAY




    Don't be alarmed, it's only a courtesy precaution because I'm in a foul mood. My moods change quickly and occasionally assume dangerous proportions. I'm presently in my Heathcliff Mode: brooding, dismal, dire.

    I have numerous health issues, haven't been getting any sleep, and am generally disgusted with everything. The weather is as gray and somber as my soul, but has mercifully warmed up. All traces of ice and snow are gone. Yesterday I was actually able to open a window and get some fresh air. A rarity in the midst of January.

    I got through yesterday - Friday the 13th - without any more bad luck than usual. I had planned on driving into town, but it was foul and rainy. I decided to wait until Monday - even though I'm almost out of everything, including cat food. The cats and 'possums are getting rationed portions this weekend. So am I.

    While vaguely on the subject of food, does anyone remember the photo of the foot-long potato that I posted awhile ago? Well, here's my latest potato find:

     It's huge and looks like a catcher's mitt. I'm going to boil it today and have it with meat and gravy (no 'possum meat - - at least not yet).

    Speaking of 'possums - - something is nesting under my house. I hear the scurrying activity late at night. If it isn't 'possums, it might be a band of gypsies. I'm too sick and tired to crawl around under there - I just don't give a damn.

    I did a thorough check of the outside of the house a few days ago and didn't see any place when animals could get in - - BUT, my cat Scruffy still somehow manages to get under the back porch - even though I sealed it up. I'll have to find out how she does it.

    I used to have an annoying problem with mice, but I haven't seen any mice at all since the 'possums moved in.

    My cat Scratch can always sense when I'm in a rotten mood - and she inevitably rolls on the floor, trying to be cute and get my attention. Her ploy inevitably works. I always wind up smiling. These were her antics last night:



     I always appreciate your comments on my blog - and I always have the good intentions of replying to them, but often I'm just too lazy. 
    Here are some of my observations of comments on my previous post Potpourri:

    Mrs. Martyr thought that the design on my Mom's seal dress looks more like a walrus than a seal, and I think she's right.

    Carlnepa wondered if my kitties will decide to check the laws of gravity and knock my expensive antiques off the shelves.
    Solely because of Bosco and Scruffy, I have to keep my house rigidly cat-proof. All of my priceless breakables are either in cabinets or on extremely high shelves that the brats (cats) can't reach.

    Mistress Maddie aptly observed that the men on my mother's side of the family are handsome. It's true, and I've always been envious. And this fact has admittedly inspired me to have a few incestuous fantasies. 

    Don't panic. I'm jesting. Maybe.


    Wednesday, January 11, 2017

    POTPOURRI

    Actually, the title of this post should more appropriately be called Miscellaneous but I don't know how to spell it (*smile*).

    In my previous post, there is a photo of my Mom and I standing by a sequoia in northern California. Lisa, who has been following my blog longer than I can remember, wondered what the design was on my mother's dress.

    Well - just because you caught me in a very rare good mood - I dug into the dusty archives and found another photo of Mom in that same dress. The design on it is a baby seal. It was just an old, makeshift dress but for some reason my mother liked it and wore it all summer.

     Mom and I by the sequoia


     Mom in the seal dress, with her sister Ann (Ann is my cousin Nancy's mother)

    While I was digging in the dusty archives, I found a few more photos. Since my cousin Nancy is a faithful reader of this blog (one of the few) I thought she might enjoy seeing these photos.

     My cousin Nancy

    Nanc, do you remember this? I don't know how old you were here, but I do recall that your Mom took this photo. I used to have a very similar one of your sister Patty but I can't find it.

     Jon, age eleven

    Okay, what the hell was going on with my hair?? I remember that I had put some kind of really greasy stuff on it. The dubious pomade came in a tube.
    No, it wasn't toothpaste!!
    And it wasn't Brylcreem.
    Whatever it was, I must have been crazy to use it. 

    Just for the record, I am a natural blond, but that crap on my hair made it look dark.

     Me and some of my cousins

    This pic was taken during a summer trip to New Jersey when I was nine years old. We were on the steps of our grandmother's house.
    Back row: Nancy and her sister Patty
    Front row: Stephanie, Barbara, Cookie, and me.
    (Cookie's real name is Elizabeth)

    My cousin Stephanie (the youngest in the photo) has recently become a grandmother! 
    Holy crap, that makes me feel old.  

    Nancy hasn't seen Cookie's family in a very long time (they live in different states) so I'll post a recent photo here. 

      My cousin Cookie & her husband Maynard with their two sons David (left) and Joseph (right). I don't recall the dog's name.

    This is probably getting boring but I'm on a roll. Here are some unrelated pics.

     The ice on my window two days ago
    (if this doesn't excite you, nothing will)

     My cat Bosco when he was a kitten. He was so scrawny and sick that I didn't think he'd survive.

     This is Bosco now, nearly three years old

     In the first photo of Bosco, he was checking out my antique Russian wolfhound. 

     The photo behind the wolfhound is Prince Victor Albert, Queen Victoria's grandson. It's an original photo - not a print.

     On the same shelf, some English dishes and a small creamer from the 1820's.
    The figurine of the man with dog was made in 1791. I paid $25 for it. I happened to find the listing for it in an auction catalogue and the appraisal  was nearly $1,000. I sure as hell hope I don't break it. 

     

    Monday, January 9, 2017

    SEQUOIA TOPPLED



     The Pioneer Cabin Tree

    Last weekend, during a violent storm, a famous tree in Northern California was toppled. A giant sequoia tree, known as the Pioneer Cabin, went down faster than Roberto Duran when  he was knocked out by Tommy Hearns (that was the only analogy I could think of).

    The massive tree was located in Calaveras Big Tree Park (aptly named) in Calaveras County. It had been hollowed out in the 1880's to allow tourists to pass through it.

     This is what's left of the Pioneer Cabin Tree. Fortunately no one was under it when it toppled.

    So, why am I suddenly interested in big trees?

    When I was eleven (or twelve) years old, I saw the Pioneer Cabin Tree with my parents when we were on vacation in Northern California.

    Unfortunately I can't find a photo of that particular tree but I did find one of another giant redwood, taken during that trip. 


    This is my Mom and I standing by the 276 foot tall Chandelier Tree in Leggett, California. This tree was hollowed out in the early 1930's by a man named Charlie Underwood.

     This is the Chandelier Tree as it looks in recent years.

    The thing I remember most vividly about our family tree trip is that I happened to get mud on my shoes while looking at the Chandelier Tree. My father went completely ballistic and wouldn't let me get back into the car.

    He forced me to get a brush, find some water, and thoroughly scrub my shoes perfectly clean before we could resume the vacation.

    That harrowing incident knocked all the fun out of seeing the trees, but it was our typical way of life.

    TIMBER!!!

    Note:
    I've always thought that cutting tunnels through these gorgeous trees is an act of vandalism and seriously weakens their structure. It's very possible that this contributed to the demise of the Pioneer Cabin tree.