Words Can’t Describe This

A co-worker pointed me to this singer this week (as a birthday present).  This is just so bizarre that I can’t explain why, but it’s one of the most compelling videos that I’ve seen in a long time.  Maybe it’s the incongruence of the voice with the singer, or it’s the complete lack of polish, but something drove me to sit through the entire catalog on YouTube.

Enjoy – if you dare…

Little Wings by Mark Gormley

I Hate Musicals

Throughout my life, while certain tastes have changed (I’m not going to use the term “matured”, because that would imply that certain tastes are superior to another); I now drink coffee and Belgian-style ales, and I like the tastes of certain spices and cheeses.  But just like beets, somehow I’ve never found any appeal for the “musical” genre.  That includes film, stage, and television performances.  It’s odd, because I have what I think is a decent amount of appreciation for both drama and music, including opera.  But I will hurl a copy of Grease, Mama Mia, or even Wizard of Oz far away if given the opportunity.

I’ve never made it through an entire showing of the Sound of Music.  When Fame was on TV, that was when I would go do my homework.  I really enjoy the Monty Python films and shows, but I have trouble getting through The Meaning of Life due to the musicality of it, and I have no desire to see Spamalot.  I find Lon Cheney’s silent-movie version of Phantom of the Opera to be a far superior work of art to the Andrew Lloyd Webber remake.  This revulsion extends even to cartoons – Disney being the biggest culprit of this.

I’m not really sure of the root cause for this dislike.  Maybe it’s all those church choir musicals in which I participated as a youth.  Maybe it’s the vomit-in-my-mouth response to really bad hippy tripe from the 60-70’s such as Sgt. Pepper and JC: Superstar.  Maybe it’s the rational-reality part of me that sees no sense in people breaking into song and dance for no reason other than to communicate – perhaps due to lack of the writers ability to script out normal conversation: “Ah, screw it.  Let’s make it into a musical!”

Now, those who know me, know that two of my favorite films are The Blues Brothers and O, Brother, Where Art Thou?  How do I explain these exceptions?  Well, I don’t consider them exceptions in that I don’t classify these films as “musicals”.  They are films with a high content of music, but the music is not employed as a vehicle to express the thoughts, feelings, or predicaments of the protagonists.  In The Blues Brothers, every song, with the exception of Aretha Franklin’s “Think” is almost completely interchangeable with another song.  And while, O Brother’s “A Man of Constant Sorrow” is certainly a metaphor for the protagonists’ plight, they could have also sang any other “old timey” spiritual and the scenes would have worked.

Okay, looking through my collection: Pink Floyd’s The Wall.   Am I splitting hairs in calling it “Rock Opera”?  Maybe – there’s not a lot of choreography going on there (goose-stepping doesn’t count).  Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind are technically filmed as musical documentaries. Amadeus is a drama centered around music. Tangerine Dream’s Divine Comedy trilogy falls under the cantata category. And the Wrath of Khan may be space opera, but it’s not been made into a musical yet

If you can come up with a musical that you think be or become an exception to my rule, I’d love for you to recommend one.  I’m not clinging to this preference out of any reason other than smugness.

A “Get Out of POW Camp Free” Card

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This is so cool!  Monopoly sets were used to help Allies escape German POW camps in World War II!

Get Out of Jail Free: Monopoly’s Hidden Maps

Couldn’t do that with UNO cards!

Real Talent

Until they start doing something like this on American Idol, I’m not watching.  Just singing?  Meh.  Anyone can sing – just ask Paula Abdul.  But this is REAL TALENT. (ht: DrexFiles)

Not Getting Things Done

This is link from a couple of months ago, but my friend Jeff has written an excellent article on not doing things and what may be blocking us.  The technical term for it is “Shoji” – you can read more about it here: Practice Contempt for Shoji

Getting Things Done – One Way

I found this online this week – a very concise way of controlling attention and being productive.  I’m trying to craft a similar approach at my office, but I’m restricted by (1) constant interruption and (2) punishment for not constantly checking your email.  And then I also commit the sins of reading RSS feeds and Twitter posts too often; I’m trying to confine those actions to scheduled times during the day, as I DO need to keep up with security information.

And I am a MS user (and an anti-Google bigot), so I use different technologies, but his overall process is valid, and there are many substitutions for the software packages he mentions.

Oh, there is some minor profanity here – so it’s PG-13 rated.

Lightning Strike!

Yesterday a tree in our backyard was struck by a bolt of lightning.  As you will see here, the tree is still standing, but the bolt created two vertical streaks down the length of the the east and west sides of the trunk (and blew up the roots).  Bark and wood splinters have been found over 100 yards away.  It looks like the tree will need to be removed in a few months.  Thankfully, there were no injuries.  The blast caused a gas line rupture in our neighbors’ house, and there appear to have been some electrical overloads in the general vicinity, but no major damage has been discovered.  My son, who wakes up when I go down the stairs, slept through the whole thing…

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Note to Marty and Doc: we don’t know the precise time of the strike, so we can’t help you this time around.  Sorry…

Update:  Turns out the strike took out all of our phones, DSL router, Wireless Hub, and some network cards.  Unfortunately, this coincided with an inconvenient “service interruption” from AT&T, so this made troubleshooting the problems twice as difficult and extended the downtime.

Happy Birthday, Little Guy!

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You’ve made it to your second year, Lukas, and I am so proud to see how far you’ve come in such a short time.  While I still may not understand everything that you’re saying, you’ve become quite the conversationalist.  You have also become quite adept at unlocking locks, opening doors, climbing over obstacles, and putting things together; sometimes I wonder how those skills will be put to use, but I’m sure you’ll find the most productive output for them and society at large.

I want to hold onto these moments: these ones where we share a story or a song, where you eat your pancakes with a wide grin, where you laugh at a cartoon character’s missteps, and where you give me a big hug before bed.  Soon, you’re going to put these things behind you as you grow into the smart young man you will be, and I will feel their loss, but I hope you will always keep your sense of humor, that twinkle in your eye, the gentleness you show for others around you, and that fathomless curiosity.

I’m not a rich man, but you know I will always give you whatever it takes for you to become the best you can be.  For what it’s worth, you have my wisdom and experiences to draw upon.   I am by no means a spiritual giant, but I do know the direction, and I will do my best to keep you on the right path.  There will be times when I will fail you, but I will always stay in the fight for you.  You are so worth it.

So save a pancake for your Daddy, and we’ll keep laughing together until Year Three.  Love ya, Buddy.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy-Jig

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Last week, I took my son and my dog up to my parents’ house in the town where I grew up for a week of vacation, and what is sticking in my mind at this time is how, for once, I actually feel somewhat recharged.  Yes, this is how vacations are supposed to perfom, but rarely have I actually experienced that effect.  Normally, we experince so much hustle in getting to and from the destination and get so caught up in the sites and sounds of the places that “refreshment” becomes an alien concept.

And this was not the first such trip.  The home town has been a regular destination since I moved away over 20 years ago.  I’m still trying to place a marker on it, but I really believe that what distinguished this trip was a sense of reconnection with my past stirred by time spent with family.  For the first time since leaving, I felt “comfortable” and “at home” upon revisting the places where I had once lived and played.  No, they are no longer the same.  Many landmarks have changed or are no longer present, most of my childhood friends moved away as well, and members of my family have passed on.

But those artifacts are not at the heart of the connection I felt within myself.  The emotional and spiritual ties were there for me to rediscover like a buried time capsule.  It both welcomed and warmed.  And somehow, I believe that I was being presented with a glimpse of a much bigger picture of a much larger welcoming that is to come.  Amidst the tempests and teapots that exists in life, I repeatedly forget about the final Homecoming that is to come.  At the time, we all can finally rest, and there will be a welcoming that will put all the sorrows and regrets behind us completely and forever.  It was this glimpse, the fragment of this promise that I feel gave my heart a much needed refreshment.  There is deliverance ahead, and knowing this energizes my soul for the days ahead.

Human Achievement Hour

My house at 8:30PM

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