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Thursday, August 21, 2014

A temporary stranger to that other me

Thursday may be a pretender most of the time, but not today; not for me. Thursday is my summer weeks' Friday. It is also the "Friday" before a couple of weeks off, so bonus points for added goodness.

It's not so much the time away as the time unplugged I am looking forward to. In our hyper-connected world the severing of connectedness for short periods of time are important. Silly is the soul who does not take advantage of those opportunities when they can.

The days in the run up to time off are extra busy. To be truly away for 16 consecutive week days requires a bit of preparation. Lots of loose ends to tie up (or at least secure sufficiently to hold for a couple of weeks), greater meeting density (I refer only to quantity, not quality) this week, some longer days.

Then, late this afternoon, I will engage my email account's away message to auto respond to all incoming email, and then disable my work email account on my iPhone and iPad so they are not even tempted to download work-related messages.

There is a work "me" and a not-work "me." They aren't worlds apart from each other, but they do require the application of different skills and both have slightly different natural stances. What requires effort in one often doesn't in have other, and vice-versa. I intend to shed the work "me" and reacquaint myself more fully with the not-work "me." If I am successful I shall become, temporarily, a stranger to that other workish me.

It isn’t me, he’d say,
stepping out of a landscape
that offered, he’d thought, the backdrop
to a plausible existence
until he entered it; it’s just not me,
he’d murmur, walking away.
It’s not quite me, he’d explain,
apologetic but firm,
leaving some job they’d found him.
They found him others: he’d go,
smiling his smile, putting
his best foot forward, till again
he’d find himself reluctantly concluding
that this, too, wasn’t him.
    - James Lasdun, from It Isn't Me

Today's playlist:

  • Yim Yames: Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp ( Let It Roll)
  • Engelbert Humperdinck: The Last Waltz
  • Augustana: I'll Stay
  • Charlie Haden: Nocturn
  • The Eagles: Desperado

Monday, August 18, 2014

Listening to the chocolate box

It's early Monday morning and the sun's reaching beams already stripe the world into dark and bright. By the time I reach campus the light is more evenly distributed.

The music this morning bounced around genres with with complete disregard for continuity. Which is, I suppose, a form of continuity in the much same way a variety box of chocolates creates a cohesive package out of difference. It's the intent that creates the expectation which, in turn, makes the packaging work.

From the driven rhythms of The Bad Plus to a bright bit of fun from Pink Martini. Bitty Boppy Betty (take a listen on this Pink Martini site) is irrepressible in all the right ways, with a melody that sticks in the head and a storyline that makes you smile:

Bitty, boppy Betty
Better known as Billy
He's the up'n'coming local D.A.
A fearless crime fighter
Political insider
Sure to be mayor one day

But after work on Fridays
Off comes his necktie
And on come her diamonds and pearls
You better get ready
'Cause now Billy's Betty
Everybody's favorite girl

What could possibly follow that in a musical chocolate box? A bite of Madeleine Payroux, that's what.  She slows the tempo right down but keeps that easy light swing. A dark salted caramel, I think. 

When Cake follows, though, you really know you're really dealing with a variety pack.

Neils Lan Doky's album Friends is a fantastic bit of Jazz camaraderie. He's joined by John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, Bill Evans (the saxophone player, not the pianist), Neil-Henning ├śrsted Pedersen, Rick Margitza, Alex Riel, Ulf Wakenius, and others. If you know jazz from the early 90's you will recognize most, if not all, of those names. 

I shut the car off with the tell-tale chocolate wrappings still littered around in my head. Oh look, I ate the whole box! No guilt here, though.

Today's playlist:

  • The Bad Plus: 1979 Semi-Finalist
  • Pink Martini: Bitty Boppy Betty
  • Madeleine Payroux: J'ai Deux Amours
  • Cake: She'll Come Back To Me
  • Neils Lan Doky: The Real McCoy

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The well-sung sun

Summer, Saturday, sitting and watching the sun rise. More accurately, watching the rising sun's extending reach, behind me and reaching over me, illuminate the valley in front of me. Like John Denver, I can feel the sunshine on my shoulders, but not in my eyes: "Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy, sunshine in my eyes can make me cry."

And with that thought my mind is racing over all the songs of sunshine that quickly come to mind. The obvious choices first:

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right
   - George Harrison


Sun's up, uh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And I'm thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me

   - Bruce Cockburn


Sun is shinin' in the sky
There ain't a cloud in sight
It's stopped rainin', everybody's in the play
And don't you know, it's a beautiful new day, hey

Runnin' down the Avenue
See how the sun shines brightly
In the city on the streets where once was pity
Mr. Blue Sky is living here today, hey

   - Jeff Lynne 


When the sun falls
The bird of paradise
Spreads his wings wide

When the rain shines
The earth sighs gratitude
And spreads her hues bright

You come to me
Bringing the sun and rain
Bringing my song

   - Bruce Cockburn


Rising like lightspill from this sleeping town
Like the light in a lover's eyes
Rising from the hearts of the sleepers all around
All those dreamers trying to light the sky
Burning -- at the gates of dawn
Singing -- near and far
Singing -- to raise the morning star
   - Bruce Cockburn

And then to the less obvious, less direct:

All over Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales
I can hear the mothers' voices calling
"Children, children, come home children"

"Children, come home on the Celtic Ray"
In the early morning, we'll go walking
Where the light comes shining through
On the Celtic Ray

   - Van Morrison


Squeaky swings and tall grass
The longest shadows ever cast
The water's warm and children swim
And we frolicked about in our summer skin
    - Death Cab For Cutie


Get a load of the light in the trees
And the sweet decay on the maritime breeze
The sun's hitching on a weather balloon
And the heat off the tarmac
Burning a hole in a gold afternoon
   - Fountains of Wayne

And, because I like it best of all:

All the diamonds in this world
That mean anything to me
Are conjured up by wind and sunlight
Sparkling on the sea

   - Bruce Cockburn

The full soundtrack in my head this morning:

  • George Harrison: Here Comes The Sun
  • Bruce Cockburn: Wondering Where The Lions Are
  • Jeff Lynne: Mr. Blue Sky
  • Bruce Cockburn: When The Sun Falls
  • Bruce Cockburn: To Raise The Morning Star
  • Van Morrison: Celtic Ray
  • Death Cab For Cutie: Summer Skin
  • Fountains Of Wayne: A Dip In The Ocean
  • Bruce Cockburn: All The Diamonds