Category Archives: Potpourri

George Carlin called them “Brain Droppings”. Random thoughts, updates and observations separate from the historical narrative of “The Latest Installment”

Songs From 2001 and 2002 Now Available

A real hodgepodge in this collection. Hope you enjoy!

Great Concert

I really enjoyed the Paul Simon and Sting concert last night. I hope you had the chance to see them because the tour is winding down with only five shows left. If you get the chance to see one, you won’t be disappointed.  I didn’t notice any obvious omission from either catalog and the duets worked really well. I wasn’t sure I could accept Sting’s powerful belly-voice as the upper harmony on songs like “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, but it was quite moving. Also noteworthy; Sting did a really beautiful solo version of Paul Simon’s “America”. Paul Simon also appeared to enjoy singing the more jazzy/bluesy material Sting is known for.

Of course, Paul Simon has a well-documented history of experimenting with wide-ranging musical styles (doo-wop, folk, reggae, township jive, blues, jazz, zydeco, samba, etc.) so it’s no surprise he’d willingly ride shotgun on this joyride. Sting never missed a beat and demonstrated considerable versatility on bass and a variety of guitars. The mutual respect they  have for each other was apparent. They both appeared to have a really good time (whether out front or in a supporting role) and,  therefore, so did the audience.

The only caveat; the audience was a little disappointed that there was no extended encore, but after the curtain call, ensemble bow and departure of the bands; Sting and Simon took center stage, shared a single microphone and closed with a beautiful acoustic version of “When Will I Be Loved”.  It was a fitting, genuine tribute to the late Phil Everly.

Now, I’ve been a Paul Simon fan since before I was allowed to touch my father’s vinyl LPs and I know much of the Police catalog from FM radio in the eighties (and the fact that we covered them in our band back then). Though not as familiar with Sting’s solo work, it’s grown on me over the years in a way I hadn’t expected. Then again, it is something of a trend in my personal history to ignore what is current and popular while ‘discovering’ something that most people were listening to ten or fifteen years ago.  I don’t mind being late to the party though. I’ll bring snacks.

The blending of the two very different stage bands worked well too. The transitions were intentionally drawn out so the incoming band could filter in and join the raucous jam like an open-mic at the nightclub of your dreams. These extended jams never seemed too long, but when they did end, there was a well-thought-out flow to the other artist’s material.

Particularly memorable for me was the very faithful rendition of “Still Crazy After All These Years” played on an actual Fender Rhodes Piano (complete with cheesy plastic shell and aluminum trim). It’s been so long since I’ve seen one, I’d begun to think they only existed in my imagination. It was a little bittersweet for me because it made me think of the late Richard Tee who was so closely associated with that piano part.

Well, I’ve written more on this topic than I intended which, I suppose, is a reflection of the positive impact this show had on me. I’ve resolved to add a few new tunes to my repertoire so look for “Hearts and Bones”, “Message in a  Bottle”, “Roxanne” and maybe “Fields of Barley” the next time I see you.

New Tune Is A Working Progress

I am really wrestling with this latest song.

I’m determined to cram it into 3/4 time, but it’s like trying to force a sleeping bag into a tube sock. It’s an ugly struggle and no matter how I slice it, there’s always a loose end striking out somewhere.

I’m sure I can get the tune to gallop along obediently, but the lyric marches to its own beat and just won’t play ball.

I’m tripping over my own poetic feet and may just have to accept it and fall back to standard time. After all,  iamb what I am.

How many can YOU find?
  • Pun
  • Simile
  • Hyperbole
  • MIxed metaphor
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Malapropism

I don’t mean to be negative or contrary, but I’m not going to watch the Grammy Awards tonight. I have lost the ability to suspend my disbelief that the honorees are really the most skillful recording artists in the business. Success is now measured by the spectacle of “live” performances and there are enough digital audio tools that anyone can sound great. It’s the aural equivalent of Photoshopping.

Memorial Day 2011-A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Shanksville

This is a true story and I originally wrote this on Memorial Day 2011, but recently came across it and decided to repost just for fun. I hope you enjoy.

Motorcycling is such a relaxing hobby. I was certain I’d filled Donna’s tank the last time I rode her bike (apparently not). We have a pair of rather nice radios that (normally) allow us to communicate freely while we ride. Unbeknownst to me, my radio was not working and I was enjoying the peace and quiet. Donna, however, was having a quite different experience.

In my own defense, the view one gets from the rearview mirrors of an Italian sport bike is a combination of a realist view of one’s elbows and an impressionist’s view of everything else.

By the time she got my attention, I stopped short, she stopped short, and laid her bike down in a very slow, but awkward manner (my fault). I watched in semi-detached amazement as, like a game fish fighting the hook, her head snapped left, then right before she managed to break free of her radio-wire tether (hey, what use is one radio anyway?).

After assessing there was no major damage to Donna’s bike, we soldiered on (sic). Hot and tired (and in need of fuel), we stopped at the Sheetz in Somerset to fill up and get something cold to drink. After filling and emptying our various tanks, we saddled up for the 20 minute ride to our destination…. My bike won’t start. After a cell call to my friendly Moto Guzzi dealer (in Florida), we diagnosed a fuel pump that wouldn’t.

After speaking with the Asst. Mgr., she agreed to let me display my fire engine red piece of Italian sculpture in a remote corner of the parking lot until I could return with my trailer and retrieve my ailing Italian mistress.

At least we weren’t stranded. We decided we’d saddle up on Donna’s bike (me in front, Donna riding pillion) and head back to Uniontown to get my truck.

I broke my Rx sunglasses trying to fit them into my helmet (no, I did not have a spare pair). Fortunately, my presbyopia is not so severe that I cannot drive without glasses (good news), however, I am prone to migraine-induced blindness if I’m out in bright sunlight for an extended period of time (bad news). The latter condition being akin to, say, a 90 minute ride in a generally southwestern direction on a sunny afternoon.

Picture if you will, 2 rather corpulent middle-aged fogeys crowded onto a rather petit motorcycle buzzing through the Lauryl Highlands on a magnificent Memorial Day. Somehow we failed to enjoy the moment and, instead, dwelled on the irony and discomfort.

After an uncomfortable 90 minute ride back to Uniontown (too fast for her, too slow for me–hey, marriage is about compromise, right?), we arrived back at home.

I mentioned we rode back to get my truck. What I failed to point out was that that was necessary in order to drive the 1 hour up to my parents’ house to retrieve my trailer (in the opposite direction).

I am pleased to report, that (despite my unregistered trailer and the 60 miles on the PA Turnpike) there are few details worth noting for the rest of this adventure.

I arrived back at the Sheetz to find my bike where I left it and unmolested. Loaded it solo and without incident. Drove home without damage to the bike, being pulled over, ticketed, breaking down or running out of gas.

The bike is in the garage until such time as I am willing to speak to her again. I have my feet up in the living room (w/laptop). Donna’s making dinner and life is good.

Twenty fourteen has barely begun;
Only fourteen days have passed
‘Ere we see the hell
That a sick show and tell
In a middle-school has amassed.
‘Tis a preteen with a loaded shotgun.
Too soon again, my heart is bleeding
And my faith so deeply shaken
That someday we may find a way
To stop children being taken
Far too soon for their final meeting.
Too many of us too often forget
That rage is ever so fleeting.
It’s depression and sorrow that last till tomorrow
If there’s no one there who’s heeding
The issues we all need to vet.
Here’s to the shy ones, the quiet ones
The ones who don’t make waves.
And to those of us who make a fuss,
Keep racking up those saves
By loving our daughters and sons.

Do you play CDs? If so, I have a limited number of the latest two albums (Dangerous Blues & Work In Progress) available for a small fee to cover production costs. (They are lovingly hand-crafted by a chubby, jovial elf in very small batches.)

Dangerous Blues contains songs written in the early 2000s including three songs influenced by my sister’s decline and death in early 2003 (“New River”, “Twelve  Breaths” and “Crystal’s Requiem”). There are also a couple of surprises: “Donna’s Love Theme” is an unapologetic disco song, “Bus Ride” is a synthesized fantasy piece (see the video on YouTube). “Dangerous Blues” is not only a description of the consequences of prolonged introspection, but a bone fide blues song. There’s even a funny country song for true variety (“Deer in the Headlights”, also on YouTube).

Work in Progress is a collection of jazz instrumentals (“Single Malt”, “Red Ryder”, “Funky Junky” and “Packaging”) with  two harder rock tunes (“Photographic Memory” and “Quiet Man”) and even a bouncy pop tune (“Greatest Fear”). This is, I believe the best work to date in terms of arrangement and production and I hope you find it as addictive as I do (of course, I’m not completely objective on the matter…).

Hey, I’ll even autograph them if you want.

Hell, I’ll sign someone else’s name if you prefer: 😉
“Break on through!, Mr. Mojo  Risin”
“Flyin’ high again, Randy Rhodes”
“Lwirnd djirrll thhinn gihdlr, hu? Van Morrison”