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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Annually, Not Oftener


Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for -- annually, not oftener -- if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man's side, consequently on the Lord's side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments.  -- Mark Twain


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Kingdom Where the Sky Is Burning




I told you what I was going to do.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It Kept Her Alive and Me Too


  
A Thousand and One
 
GRANPA TOLD ME all about the genie in the lamp.
    It's the oldest story ever and came from the land of sand and the women with only eyes for you. It's in there, the genie of everything, but you have to find him and figure out how to let him out. He seems fussy but if you keep it simple and use your head he pops up like a daisy. Then he's out and you have to figure out what to do with him. Granpa says he's some kind of wonderful but as dumb as a stump, just like all of us. He can do anything but doesn't know what to do on his own. He needs guiding.
    The lamp is always hidden in plain sight he says. Men go prospecting all over the landscape for the easy riches but they're generally lying right there on the ground for you to step over in your hurry and scurry to look for them. Granpa points to the men through the door of the grog shop and they're playing cards and Granpa says what good would it do for them to find the riches anyway.
    In the library Granpa takes the books down from the high shelves that kids aren't meant to get at because the words in them are too dear to waste on such as us. He told me to run my hands over the cloth on the cover to see if it was the real deal inside. They don't waste the real nubbly cloth on the fakers.
    The lady at the desk didn't like it but Granpa shushed her and we went home and opened that genie book but only so far. A book is like a man, Granpa says. You have to hold them both in respect. You can only bend a book or a man so far until they can't take it no more and then their back breaks.
    Granpa says there’s lots of men been bent back too far nowadays. They got told the only thing they could do didn’t need doing anymore, and it broke them open and their hearts fell right out. They try to fill the hole with all sorts of things but nothing suits.
    People act like thieves in reverse and put the broken books back on the shelf like nothing happened, but you can always tell because neither a man or a book can ever stand up straight any more after that.    
    Granpa said a body only needs a crust of bread today, it’s true, but without at least the hope of a loaf tomorrow you’re a goner. Scheherezade told that Sultan all those stories night after night and it kept her alive and me too.

[From The Devil's In the Cows. All rights reserved}

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Lipstick on an Arrow Shirt, Axle Grease on a Poodle Skirt, We're Gonna Go, Go, Go


Oh yeah, you betcha.

[Update: Many thanks to Thomas M. for his generous contribution to our PayPal tipjar, and for the message he sent along with it. It is very much appreciated]
[Additional Update: Many thanks to our friend Julie C. from Florida for buying my boy's Go! Go! Go! song, and leaving a big, fat tip. It is much appreciated]
[Yet More Updates: Many thanks to Philip M. for buying the boys' song, and for leaving a big, fat tip. It is much appreciated]

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Minor Swing By Minors



Minor Swing might be Django Reinhardt's most recognizable tune. I like Django's music, so I was especially pleased when my kids took a whack at it. This video is sort of a documentary. They pointed the camera at themselves, slung two mikes in view, and let fly. It's the equivalent of turning in a homework assignment. This video is more than two years old. The big one isn't a minor anymore, and the little one is six inches taller. They both play better than this now. They don't play very often, I'm afraid.

This is the most popular video the kids have ever made, if you go by YouTube views. Well, what else would you go by? It recently passed 20,000 views, for reasons I understand with a certain amount of contempt.

I live in two worlds. One has www in front of it. I must admit I don't like the imaginary place that's become the ironclad version of reality for most people. The jackanapes who rule the Friendface planet are the worst people extant, if you ask me. By the way, if you're reading this, you asked me.

I don't like the invertebrates who run the Intertunnel. I've decided they need a name. Let's coin the term right here and now: The Wobblies. The Website Wankers of the World have united into a Voltron of suck, and they rule this alternate ecosystem that's taken over the real world. They don't care if anything productive happens in the brave new world they've created. As long as they lord over the nonproduction, of course.

Anyway, IIRC, this is the first video the boys ever made that got a downvote on YouTube. It's got 322 upvotes and 2 downvotes now. I remember pointing out their first downvote to my children. I thought it was a notable thing.

I explained the motive behind it. I told them they couldn't always trust upvotes. Many people upvote everything for reasons that have nothing to do with quality. All of my children's contemporaries, for instance, can't sing or play their musical instruments, but are constantly told they are wonderful. Audiences are assembled for them, mostly in school, and they receive applause, and it's all fake. People sit still and then applaud, but it's only because it's over and they can stop listening. Sooner or later, this endless stream of fake enthusiasm tempts the unwary to "follow their passion" and perform in front of strangers who aren't in on the Wobbly gag. They discover quickly that  the world is a very harsh place, they get the tomatoes, and they wonder where they went off the rails. Of course they didn't go off the rails. The railroad just doesn't go anywhere.

Wobblies are Philistines. They know right from wrong, harmony from discordance, good from bad -- but they deliberately choose bad, every time. That's why I thought this video was a success. It was the first time someone knew my kids were good, and went out of their way to let them know they hated them for it.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ten Years Old


You know, the drummer was only 10 years old in that video. Not 10 years old like 10 years and 364 days, either. He was 10.

He's not 10 any more. He's gotten big for his age, so no one gets the extra frisson that they got when you could only see the top of his head behind the drums. He looks older than his 13 years now. He plays even better, but he's always been good.

I said it at the time, and upon reflection, I'll say it again: He was the best 10-year-old drummer in the world. I have no idea why the world wasn't particularly interested in him or his brother. They were rara avises, man. He was playing for folding money, for hours at a time, when he was 10. Hell, I think big brother was only 17 at the time. He was performing live with only a 10-year-old drummer to back him up. I ask again, why did the world not care about them much? I still don't get it. This video has 800 views. If they had stepped on a rake while recording it with their phone held vertically, it would have gotten 800,000. Ah well, that's the way of the world, and we must live in it.

You might not notice it, but he was exhausted when this song was filmed. It was fairly late at night. My kids were supposed to play in the afternoon, but the gig got postponed over and over because of monsoon rains. Biblical rain. We go to music jobs early, because I've taught my children to act professionally right from the get-go. We sat in our van, listening to drops like dinner plates hammer the roof, ate our bag lunches, and waited. The job kept getting put off. The nice people who hired us offered to pay us and send us home, but we said we'd signed up to do a job, and we'd do it. We waited some more, and then drove to a local fast-food restaurant, sat in the van, and ate that. Then we waited some more. The kids didn't play until 8 hours after we left our house.

The crowd was really enthusiastic and pleasant. They were sophisticates. They were art college students from New York City. They were pleasantly surprised that my older son had a repertoire of hipster-compliant songs like this one to play. Their enthusiasm turned into an extra hour of performance.

Watch the little man. His arms are like lead. He's been playing for two hours straight. He was waiting in a car for eight more before that. This was the latest he'd ever been awake, never mind playing. Watch his eyes at the one-minute-and-twenty-five-second mark.

That's my boy.