Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Life!

In almost exactly twenty-four hours, I will perform -- quite literally perform -- my yearly hypocrisy. I will sit on a stage and play the drums in a band for New Year's Eve. When the clock strikes midnight, I will play "Auld Lang Syne" as if I give a flying cupcake. In reality, I have never cared about New Year's Eve, nor about many other markers of time and transition.

Others see the new year as a new beginning and they see a reason to mark graduation from kindergarten through college. But I simply am not, and never have been, moved by these things. I'm not sure why. I do think maybe we should not place so much importance in transitions and time-markers, especially regarding a goal that just about everyone achieves, like high school graduation. (If I ever win a Nobel prize for literature, there may be a party in order . . .)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Video Question

Recently, when I posted about musical "soul" a new reader, Lincoln Hunter, posed this excellent question as a result of a video I embedded:

Why does so much music come with a video? Do I need it if I have a soul for music? Isn't the video a diversion, a distraction? Am I not being manipulated by the video? . . .  I really would like to hear someone explain the use of video with a piece of music. Perhaps you will have time to answer in a post in the future.
Why marry music to video, indeed? In my response to Lincoln, I mentioned that I prefer music on its own terms -- as a lone art form. But, I am certainly a member of the video generation . . .

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sugar Free Optimism

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music -- the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.
-- Henry Miller
Christmas is over and I don't care. I never have, even as a kid. I have always loved the holiday, but I have never had a problem saying goodbye to it.

For years I would listen to people being depressed about the end of Christmas and I would think there was something wrong with me not to feel the same, but I have come to realize that I am, as surprising as it might seem to some of my friends and family who hear me complain and critique the world a lot, an optimist.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dear Albrecht: II

Albrecht Soothspitz (b.1327)
Bottom line is, Albrecht happens to love both mulled wine and wassail. Go figure. The number of letters pouring in to "Dear Albrecht" is overwhelming, but Albrecht is doing his best. What with his being pretty drunk most of the time (we've been heating wassail and mulled wine in vats for him) and coupled with the fact that he answers his mail in calligraphy on skin pages and then makes me type things onto the blog, he can only answer a few at a time, but he is doing his best, so please show some Christmas patience. Anyway, this week's letters:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our Musical Soul

"Soul" has been referred to as a certain quality in music for years. "He's got soul," someone will say. People even sometimes categorize soul (though more rarely these days) as a form of music -- now I guess it is R&B.

(Here's where some twit comments that I don't know anything about pop music history and sets me straight on the differences between R&B and "soul". Watch me respond by making a fart noise with my armpit. Ever see the things filed in R&B in a music store? Yeah -- there is no definition. Classifying music is -- and should be -- like trying to file different types of steam in manilla folders.)

But one thing I see as consistent is that people associate a soulful performance with an R&B sound or with that sort of vocal earthiness associated with what was once callad "black American music."

Monday, December 20, 2010

In Defense of Having Stuff

Tolkien's Smaug
  Let me start by saying that I am a fan of the concept of living more simply and with "less" -- of placing peace of the mind above desires for material things that we perceive as "better" than what we already have or for life as we wish we could have it. But, I think we need to carefully keep perspective: possessions are not all bad.

Wanting things just to have them leads to both literal and philosophical clutter but material things can bring us happiness. We shouldn't let the very important and wise idea of not allowing possessions become an albatross around our necks turn into a fear of wanting and taking pleasure in the material things we love.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Blinding the Watchers

Okay, I'm drawing the line. I will not purchase an E-reader, ever. Don't buy me one for Christmas, either. Please.

I know what you are thinking: Here goes another technophobic moron who can't accept change. I'm not afraid of technology. In fact, I embrace it in many aspects of my life, from music to the workplace to -- well, blogging. No, it's not the technology I'm afraid of, it's people and their potential uses of such power.

I am also petrified by the ongoing loss of privacy in our world. Worse than losing privacy, we are losing our fear of losing it. Privacy is starting to not matter, especially to young people, based on my observations. Because of this, we do nothing to prevent its theft, and then we get upset when someone gathers info that we don't want him to have.

So, don't fear technology, fear the way it allows you to become, as old Bilbo says, in The Lord of the Rings, (although with a different slant) "like butter spread over too much bread." Elements of your identity are being spread all over the Internet. Are you controlling them? Do you care? Do you care, but too late?

Things to consider not doing:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dear Albrecht

Friends, I am pleased to announce the addition of a second staff member here at Hats and Rabbits: Mr. Albrecht Soothspitz. (That's him in the picture.) Anyway, I am mostly pleased. He sort of forced me to let him write an advice column on account of he followed me home from a backpacking trip in Europe. He had been lost in an old forest for centuries when I came upon him. He followed me into a bar and got some dirt on me and threatened to use it if I didn't let him guest post. Anyway, welcome Mr. Soothspitz. He will be contributing as he receives requests for advice. Please feel free to ask Albrecht for advice via our "contact" page. Our first letters:

Dear Albrecht:

My daughter just started dating a young man and I believe he might be addicted to "huffing" paint. His nostrils are always rimmed with a strange shade of violet. I want to point this out to my daughter, but I am afraid I will alienate her. I don't want her to get the sense that I am trying to run her life. She is sixteen years old now and I want to give her some space. What advice can you offer?


Monday, December 13, 2010

Do I Get an "F"?

Recently, a friend of mine, the asute and -- dare I say it? -- venerable Dr. Scott Warnock, made me aware of a phenomenon on the Internet called "F-Reading." It seems people are not really reading things on the Internet.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Christmas At Sea"

Sting set Robert Louis Stevenson's "Christmas at Sea" to music.

I think I know why. It becomes clearer to me each year.

A voyage on the cold sea is universal. So is the sight of the distant, lighted window of home that we always spy in blinks and squints through the wind and the fog, while we work the frozen ropes. It's the price you pay for leaving the place that made you. Home perches there up on the hill where memory has placed it, even if, in reality, it never stood there.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'm Bringin' Shunning Back

hat do you say we try something? Shunning. Let's drag it out of the shadows of religious sects and use it with the media. Here's what we will do:

If someone is annoying, immoral or damaging to those around him, all of the news media shall be in agreement: he will be shunned. This means the offender will have no time on air, in print or online for the rest of his natural life. Think of the problems it would solve! No time wasted on the time-wasters and evildoers means the news media will now be free to deal with important things, like the search for answers and the truth behind important stuff. Quality broadcasting and reporting might actually ensue.

Who would be shunned?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Survival of the Smuggest

Click pic for source
There's a lot of chatter going on right now about Truth, especially where Christmas and God are concerned.

As you no doubt have heard, there is this atheistic campaign going on. A billboard was posted near the Lincoln Tunnel in New York that read: "You know it's a myth. This season, celebrate reason." In close proximity, Catholics have countered with: "You know it's real. This season, celebrate Jesus."

Friday, December 3, 2010

That Kind of Time

Click pic for source
Okay, so we might as well stick with the "time" theme this week. You know what I am sick of? People who say "Man, I wish I had that kind of time on my hands" to people who do things like, oh, I don't know -- maintain blogs, carve pumpkins, make art or pursue anything outside of the mundane chores both required by everyday life and created in order to give its drudgery an illusion of purpose.

These gloriously busy, condescendingly grown-up people are usually the same ones who love to brag about never being able to sit still. "Oh, I am not a sit-around kind of person. I have to be doing something." So, I guess I am supposed to clap. Bravo(a). You don't like to sit around. You're in the fray. A suburban warrior. Woot.

With the proper accolades graciously and sincerely distributed, I would now like to point out two things about myself:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Finding Nowness

Recently, on The Art of Manliness blog, in an article called "Being Fully Present as a Man," I  found that Brett and Kate McKay had written about something that has been floating through my dome since I first heard John Mayer's song "3X5":

Today I finally overcame
trying to fit the world inside a picture frame
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I'm in the mood to
lose my way -- but let me say:
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
it brought me back to life
You'll be with me next time I go outside
no more 3x5's