Friday, March 31, 2017

- 30 -

My Boulder

Sisyphus, by Franz von Stuck

Although I had hoped to maintain the daily blogging in this space until at least May 19, the two-year anniversary of its launch, when it became clear that I could not reach that goal I decided I would settle for ending this Sisyphean project on the final day of March.

In the 682 entries I have published, counting this one, I have done my best
to stay true to the blog's stated purpose from the very first entry.

Whether I succeeded is not for me to judge, of course, but unlike my previous exercise in blogging I am not turning this one off. The site will remain "live" online, and its archives will be there for interested folks to read if they choose. At the very least, some might find the evolution of the blog's content and appearance amusing...

I might also try to implement a couple of enhancements I could never quite find the time to work on before. It has always bugged me a little that the Thought for the Day and various recommendation links do not "anchor" to the entries on particular dates. When you use the Archives to go back and read an entry from a year ago, for instance, the Thought you'll read is not the one that appeared that day, but rather the most recent one I've posted. Same with the Book, Video, and Music recommendations (although the "Until Next Time..." songs are embedded and don't have that problem). What I'd like to add here is an archive of Thoughts for the Day, and another for the various recommendations I've made in the nearly two years I've been doing this.
An index of all the musical artists and songs I've featured would also appeal to me.

I did find this project helpful in giving me an outlet for my desire to write, and that urge is deeply enough ingrained in me that I might actually return to blogging again, someday. If I do, though, it will not be a resumption of this particular project, which has run its course. That's why I chose "- 30 -" as the title today. Back during my days
as an ink-stained wretch writing for newspapers that was how you ended every submission, to let the copy editors know that there was no more to the story...

I know, I know...but at least we'll still be together, no matter what comes next...

One More Time...

When this blog began back on May 19, 2015 the very first song featured in this space was my hero Joe Bonamassa's "Asking Around for You," recorded live on May 4, 2009 at his Royal Albert Hall concert. The idea of revisiting the song again to serve as a sort of "bookend" appeals to me, especially since its lyrics are as poignant as ever given the circumstances of my life. (I also did the "bookend" thing with the Thought for the Day, featuring my writing hero Raymond Chandler today as I did on Day One.)

2013 was a watershed year in my life emotionally, and so it seems especially apt
to choose a rendition of the song recorded that year. In late March of 2013 Joe did
a series of shows in London that he called his "Tour de Force," four concerts on four different nights in one week at four different venues featuring four different backing bands and set lists. It was an amazing feat, and fortunately for his fans it was filmed and released on CD and DVD.

The show on March 27 was at Shepherd's Bush Empire, and the set list that night included "Asking Around for You," with Joe playing his signature Gibson ES 335.
This is the official concert video of that performance, from Joe's YouTube channel...

Thursday, March 30, 2017


The Other Side of the Cliché

One of the more durable clichés when it comes to dealing with life's slings and arrows is the familiar "light at the end of the tunnel" metaphor. Almost equally common is the tongue-in-cheek reminder that the light we are seeing may simply be an oncoming train.

In my own life at present, my concern isn't that the light is
a locomotive bearing down on me, but rather the fact that the light
is growing dimmer, no matter how fast I try to move toward it.

As it stands now, tomorrow's entry will be the last one for awhile, and possibly the last one period. I will try to explain the reasons for that in tomorrow's entry...

"So, what's the plan, then?"

Working on that...

Until Tomorrow...

Every song in my iTunes "Tearjerkers" playlist is guaranteed to have that effect on me, but even in such a collection of heart-tugging music there are a handful of songs that evoke that tearful response to a fare-thee-well. Today's featured song is one of that handful, and has spent some time at the very top of the list.

Country music artist Alan Jackson released his debut album Here In the Real World on February 27, 1990, barely a month before the birth of my son. Since my (now ex) wife liked this album a lot, it got played rather often in our home. For a period of time Jackson was probably her favorite artist, and that fondness colors my own feelings about his music even all these years later.

"Here In the Real World" was the second single release from the album, and began Jackson's string of 23 consecutive Top 5 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, including 14 that reached No. 1. At the time of its release, I thought that its theme of the contrast between fictional romance and real life's vicissitudes was a good one. It wasn't until my wife left me, though, that the full emotional impact of that metaphor took hold of me. In the weeks after she left, I probably listened to this song dozens of times, and cried buckets of tears.

The emotional situation I find myself in right now is different, but the feelings are much the same: If life were like the movies, I'd never be blue...

This is the official music video for the song, from Alan's VEVO channel...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Looking Deeper

More From the Gallery

Back in the days when I decorated my classroom walls with fine art prints, I always had them arranged in a progression beginning with strongly representational works (beginning with something photo-realistic like this) and ending with extremely abstract paintings like today's featured work. The main purpose of that exercise was
to help illustrate a basic principle of how we first acquire and then master language. One of the most rewarding things a teacher ever sees is the look on a student's face when she/he takes in a new idea, and the conversations those paintings sparked were
a lot of fun as well...

Reactions to this particular painting were always strong either way. Sometimes, when a student would say that it "doesn't look like anything" I would flip the painting upside down. Abstract or not, doing that helped students see that the artist was trying to show them some particular thing, and that it actually did matter how the painting was oriented. It also helped when I explained that Kandinsky's title translated into English as "With and Against."

Mit und Gegen, Wassily Kandinsky

"You just like it because it's mostly red."

I will neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of that observation...

Until Next Time...

On March 29, 1943 Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou was born in Agria, in what was then Italian-occupied Greece during World War II. A child prodigy, he began composing his own music as early as age three, and went on to achieve considerable renown as a composer and performer under his professional name, Vangelis.

Electronic music of the sort Vangelis specializes in is not a big favorite of mine, but he did compose the score for 1981 Best Picture winner Chariots of Fire, one of my all-time favorite films. Vangelis took home the Oscar for Best Original Score, and the popular soundtrack album spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 as well.

Three selections from the album are in my "Tearjerkers" iTunes playlist, but as it happens "Abraham's Theme" is not one of them. I chose it today because it reminds me of one of the film's lead characters, who overcomes adversity and self-doubt to find both ultimate victory and true love as well. Well done, Mr. Abrahams...