sunday verses #11

4 haiku for the end of Autumn.


(12/01/21)
Leaves begin their fall.
Colors changing while you watch
autumn's rich pageant.

(11/27/19)
Cold, dark, windy night;
trees shudder; dead leaves unchained 
make fierce their escape

(12/01/21)
Distant in the dark.
Sweet sounds the soft piano.
Music in the night.

(12/01/21)
Chill'd, damp autumn night.
Sleepless bare trees sway slowly.
Unwrapp'd, expos'd heart.

sunday verses #10

(untitled) 1/29/19 1AM

… with bigoted clam-shelled-shut heart
pinched accusation and fervent digit all gesticulation
their unctuous moral fortitude no reverence for creation
razes the standard none can achieve
happy to fail, happy to fall 
into the boiling cauldron of righteousness
reason lost

Who will avail the good, decent, compassionate 
and forgiving soil?
… planting seeds to each grow its own kind
fruit bearing and fruitless
watered by streams of untethered acceptance.

Virtues are best left in deep shadows
where they are not exposed to the light of…
…haughty self-aggrandizement,
bleached by self-promotion or discolored by false humility….
… left in the heavy darkness when eyes close 
and sound fades to sleep…
… perchance to dream.

sunday verses #8

PLAYERS SONG (date unknown)

what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

the end has come 
lights gone down
crowds are gone
strides across 
this sawdust clown

baggy pants
dirty shirt
worn out shoes
treading through
another broken town

hotel room
lonely bulb
peeling paint
dingy and dank
inhabited mold drown

what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

the naked man 
in the bathtub
smokes a cigar
wearing the painted 
face of a clown

milky surface
soapy water
shimmers like diamonds
one deep breath
he’s sliding down

what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

warm wet meditation
wraps up the man
mind quiet, at peace 
distant thunder 
smoking cigar lifeline 

rising up
paint-stained flesh
reveals the man
washed renewed naked
suffering reality frown

what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

sunday verses #7

11/6-11/16/21

EYE OF THE STORM

Dark brooding
sadness and anger
storm clouds swirl all around me
warning and threatening 
A shadowy pretense of power

I see the rain like spit from the heart
of those who should know better
pummel and drench and flood
loosing all the foundations of decency
get trampled in the mud

I hear the wind
roaring out of the mouths of fools
nostrils flaring like steeds being driven by demons
tearing and stripping away 
wounding and destroying all that was built

but I stand in the calm
sun blazing, giving countenance
to the peace within me
a centered solution to the storm
the hardest place to be

rage on, rage on o’ storm
you will not defeat me
I am within you and without you
and will remain until you sputter out and dissipate 
all your venomous energy wasted

---------------------------------------------------------
Ephesians 6:13 "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."
Some times just being able to STAND is all you need.  
https://youtu.be/zWhDbkTmJHA

all out culture war?

I don't know if the rest of the world has the problem we have in America.    We are in an all out culture war.    Tolerance has completely dissipated like water being poured on red hot steel.  
I am sick at heart to see what has happened and continues to happen in my country.  But it has to end.   Personally I'm reverting back to unwokeness and shunning cancel culture.  
You can be unwoke and not participate in cancel culture and still be a happy decent human being.    Don't you want to be happy again?    Are you tired of being woke?    Do you want to be more tolerant of those who differ from you and have different opinions from you?   Do you want to be more respectful?   Then join me now.    We can make a difference.  We must be the change that we would like to see.    

Like Eric Clapton sings in his new song - "THIS HAS GOTTA STOP" ...  enough is enough... I can't take this BS any longer....
https://youtu.be/dNt4NIQ7FTA
Let's remind ourselves of Plato's Cave allegory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_cave
In our time the cave is made of the walls we have built around ourselves as we stare at the screens of our phones iPads or other portable devices and shut everything out around us.  Things that keep us cooped up and blind to reality even though they do their best to try and convince us that what they are showing us is reality.  These devices only project shadows on the wall that people believe to be real.  And the more convinced people are that what they see on their devices is "real" the further the cords of bondage bind around them making harder to pull away.    It's time to put the device down and look around to come out into the daylight and be human again.   Come out of the Cave.   It's glorious out here in reality.  Sure it's not always pretty but it's REAL!

A great song and visual expression of this is in the song/video for A Perfect Circle's song DISILLUSIONED
"It's time to put the silicon obsession down"  (if you dare) 
https://youtu.be/BIsH686xWl0

sunday verses #4 (boo edition)

3 Haiku for Halloween

Halloween is here
Holy weaning light to fright
in a dark’ning time

Great pumpkin glows bright
Horror visage narrow'd eyes
Jack-o-lantern laughs

Little humans haunt
Costumed terrors are alight
Offer tricks or treats

sunday verses #2

WE ARE MEDIA (10/02/2021)

Welcome citizen,
WE are Media.
WE are message.
WE are massage.
WE are information masturbation
That you WILL enjoy.

If you do not believe
                what WE tell you to believe,
And if you do not act on
                what WE tell you to do,
Even though WE show you 
                only what WE believe you need to know,
Even though WE show you
                a heavily redacted, edited, one-sided view,
Even though, when WE do show an alternate view
                it is completely ridiculous, unbalanced and unbelievable,
Then, you are a bad citizen.
A bad and corrupt member of society.
Suited only for OUR censorship.

Dear citizen,
You and WE both know that you, 
A mere individual, 
Are incapable of making an informed decision.
Information is power that WE control for you.
WE simplify the information for you.
You are free only when WE say you are free.
WE have done all the work for you.
You may now bow down and thank US.

You're welcome citizen.
We are Media.

https://youtu.be/sfCLt0kTd5E

reconsidering “LAND OF PLENTY”

Today is the 20th anniversary of 9/11 which, here in America, is still especially charged with emotion. The replayed images by the media that forever seared, the images of the after effects of the attack on the World Trade Center, into the memories, subconscious and conscious, of a generation.

I think it’s time to reconsider a film titled LAND OF PLENTY by Wim Wenders. At the time of it’s release (2004) it received only fair reviews and was not widely received and was quickly released on DVD. Maybe three years after 9/11 was still too soon for a film like this or maybe America just didn’t want to hear what the movie was saying. It is a contradictory film of desperation and quiet meditation. The title of the film comes from a Leonard Cohen song (that was also featured in the film) from his album TEN NEW SONGS which was released in October 2001. The film stars award winning actress Michelle Williams and television and film actor John Diehl . Williams plays Lana, a 20 year old who has spend most of her life living abroad in Africa and the Middle East with her missionary parents, has been described as a true citizen of the world who most recently was living in Israel and Palestine. She has a rich and active spiritual life and she has just come back home, to the United States, to see her Paul, her uncle (played by Diehl) who lives in his own home-made surveillance van and is a bigot and paranoid Vietnam veteran that spends his time spying on Arab Americans and sees conspiracy around every corner and has racist views of all people who do not represent his idea of America.

In the year 2000 America was still living as if it held and projected “a thousand points of light” – a phrase which comes from (then candidate) George H. W. Bush during his acceptance speech for President at the 1988 Republican National Convention. In the song, LAND OF PLENTY, Cohen writes, (possibly addressing Bush’s phrase?) “May the lights in the land of plenty shine on the truth one day”. And that phrase is key to this film as it seeks to shine on the truth of what happened to America in a fictional environment. What happened to American was not so much the attack on the World Trade Center but the attitudes, fear and behavioral changes that to often accompany a traumatic event where people have lost any connection to moral foundation. Now, sometimes, the only way to get to truth comes “time” and “being/looking outside the context”. When LAND OF PLENTY (film) was shot, in 2003, perhaps not enough time had passed for most people to form objective perceptions but Wenders, a masterful director of German birth, was able to be a light on the outside looking in. And that is an important factor in the truth-telling of this film. In their engagement and struggle to understand each other both main characters are constantly at odds in addressing the philosophical questions like “What happened to my country?”, “Where are we going?” and “How did we get here?” It is an engaging, challenging and important discussion if we are ever to regain our footing as citizens of the world.

There is plenty of dramatic tension thru-out the film that is balanced my moments of quiet, thoughtful meditation. Near the end of the film Lana (Williams) suggests they “listen to the voices” of those who had died because “I don’t think they would want any more killing in their name”. The characters then journey from Los Angeles and arrive in New York City at the 9/11 site (which was in the final stages of clean-up in 2003 when this film was shot). Both of the main characters, struck by the immensity and overwhelming sense of tragedy located in one place seems to bring them together into a final understanding as they “listen to the voices” . The viewer of the film is left with a sense that not only the attack should never happen again but also that our failed American response to such an attack should never happen again.

In the “making of” interview, on the DVD for the film, Wim Wenders states, “I tried to make a political film about America… patriotism, misguided patriotism, paranoia… I just didn’t want to make an opinionated film…. I wanted to depict where it was all coming from…. It’s a film with a lot of sympathy. Sympathy for the Americans, for their particular condition in the 21st century – the condition of lostness.” One of the persistent backdrops, settings, in the film is poverty, and Wim says, “It had also dawned on me that this rich country was, also in many ways, one of the poorest – not only economically but also culturally.” And speaking more about what his personal reasons were for making the film, “This film is totally from the heart and from my deepest convictions, politically, religiously, morally and it’s a relief to make a film like that.” And on the commentary track on the DVD at the very end of the film Wim says, ” I want this film to be a part of the healing”.

I think this is an important film and highly recommend we re-watch this film as we look back at the “anniversary” of one of the most horrific events in American history.

The trailer for the film (below) does not do justice so please watch the film.

Check out the Leonard Cohen song LAND OF PLENTY. https://youtu.be/YIs9rsroVas

A great song with a hilarious title and some funny as sin lyrics by one of the greatest living jazz singers from his forthcoming album SUPERBLUE.   Enjoy.

pre order here https://editionrecords.com/releases/kurt-elling-superblue/

Tower of Babel

TOWER OF BABEL (19.8.21)

you turn on the TV
blah blah blah
you turn on the internet
blah blah blah
you turn on your cell phone
blah blah blah
our tower of babel moment

everyone talking 
blah blah blah
people listen only to what they want
blah blah blah
preaching to the choir
blah blah blah
our tower of babel moment

we live in a versus world
us vs. them
black vs. white
police vs. everyone
republican vs. democrat
vaccinated vs. unvaccinated
Christian vs. Muslim
enemy vs enemy
against the other
our tower of babel moment

when we speak the same language
we speak different languages
we’ll go our separate ways
enlarge the distance between
our pride shamed
our arrogance wounded
our tower of babel moment

otherwise, we can do anything 
together

----------------------------------------------------------

What if this passage is not an "origin story" on the evolution of language but instead an allegory on human arrogance and it's consequences? 
Genesis 11:1-9
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech....
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.  That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

I miss this…

In the early 2000’s I was working in music retail and was given a sampler of hot and popular music from Japan.

It featured some amazing artists and styles. A real ear-opener. One of the artists were Pizzicato Five. This group falls under the category of things I miss, and “whatever happened to….?” This is, in many ways pop fusion music with it’s blend of soul, pop, french chanson, Burt Bacharach etc. The music is cheery, upbeat, warm and smooth retro feel which is perfect for summer. I’m not sure what happened to this group. Unfortunately they never really made a hit in the US. And their music is hard to find. But here’s to happy music may it bring a little cheer to your summer.

I found these fun videos and they really do maintain the fun vibe of the music with their own hipster cool.

Enjoy 5XP5:

PIZZICATO FIVE / イッツ・ア・ビューティフル・デイ

PIZZICATO FIVE / 恋のルール・新しいルール

Pizzicato Five – Twiggy Twiggy

PIZZICATO FIVE / ベイビィ・ポータブル・ロック

PIZZICATO FIVE / 悲しい歌

What’s your entry point – pt 2 (Ladies Choice)

Today it’s Ladies Choice for Barbershop Harmony. Within 10 years after Men started singing Barbershop Harmony women wanted to take part in harmonic action. They formed their own organization Sweet Adelines International 75 years ago for the encouragement and singing of barbershop harmony for women. Since most of the song in the catalog of mens barbershop singing are “about” women (evidenced by song title that provide the source for the Sweet Adelines) the Sweet Adelines have always been more open to contemporary songs and diversity. Today I want to present some of the many Sweet Adelines.

The 2019 Chorus Champions (also champions in 2018) – The Scottsdale Chorus with their winning performance

Continuing the festivities this next selection is by the Rönninge Show Chorus from Sweden under the direction of the woman who is credited with first bringing barbershop harmony singing to Sweden. Enjoy this performance highlighting music penned by Swedish composers.

2019 Quartet Champions – Class Ring with their “Swan Song Set”. (the Swan Song set is the performance they give after they win the Championship as part of an “all star show”.

From the 2015 Quartet Finals enjoy this performance by Windsor

2019 Mic Testers – HOT PURSUIT

And here is the website where you can find more information about Sweet Adelines https://sweetadelines.com

what’s your entry point into music?

Today I’m going to focus on a type of music that does not get much press or recognition. It is often thought of as old-fashioned, old-timey, stuff your great grandparents listened to. One reason may be that it does not neatly fit into the established genres of music that have become culturally established.

I was fortunate enough to grow up and be raised in the Mennonite church. A Cappella music was all around. In church everyone sang and everyone sang in four-part harmony (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass). It was all hymns all the time. And I credit that for establishing at a very young age my entry point into music. What I mean by entry point is the primary attractor. For some people it may be the beat, the rhythm, melody, overall feel or for some, like me, it is harmony. Harmony is the first thing I hear that gets me sucked into the “world” the music creates. I love harmony!

As I was growing up and things like AM radio became common place in our household – I’ll always cherish my little handheld transistor radio with a small speaker and an earpiece that looked more like a hearing aid with it’s thinly coiled cord – nothing like the iPods we’ve become accustomed to. This little transistor radio was my constant companion as I was growing up (age 8-15, 1968-78). Otherwise we had black and white television set which was all we could afford and it was cheaper than the newer color one. But TV and AM radio exposed me to popular music and much of the music at that time had some sort of harmony (think Beach Boys, Chicago, America, The Association, Simon and Garfunkel, Seals and Crofts, etc) This listening further solidified my interest and love for harmony. I sang in all the school choirs, concert choir, show/swing choir etc.

As I grew up and my music tastes evolved into other genres etc harmony was never far away. After I had graduated from High School in 1978 – not wanting to go to college at that time – I got a job at a local retailer. A co-worker was involved in a local mens chorus called (The Wayneaires – which sadly no longer exists) that sang a music style called Barbershop. It is a cappella singing in 4 parts (lead, tenor, baritone and bass). I had great fun. I learned much including this notion of overtones and undertones (simply – a third audible unsung tone/note can be heard when the resonances of two or more other sung tones are combined). And, for me, when I hear overtones ringing it literally gives me chills it provokes a physical response that I seldom experience when listening to music. We did an annual show that featured the chorus (of about 45 members) and featured guest quartets from around the region. Always a theme. I did this for about 5 years and even sang in some quartets before I decided to go to college. At that time the music was mostly traditional barbershop songs like “Lida Rose”, “Sweet Adeline” etc with ever-changing arrangements. There was an organization called S.P.E.B.S.Q.A. (pronounced speb sqwa) and stood for the Society for Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. Around 2004 it was changed simply to the Barbershop Harmony Society (whew! about time they got rid of that old mouthful – LOL). I have not sung Barbershop in the past 30+years but I still like to check it out occasionally and find it stronger and better than ever. There is a more diverse catalog of songs

There is always an international competition for Barbershop (2020 being the exception due to the pandemic) and there are 4 categories where a champion is named – Quartet, Chorus, Senior Quartet, Youth/Collegiate Quartet on which they are judged on music (selection/arrangement), singing and performance (of which humor can play a key role). Regarding performance we were taught it is about “filling the space”. not just with facial expressions but also body movements/choreography etc.

At the end of this post I will post links to the Barbershop Harmony Society website if you wish to know more about it’s history and much much more.

I will post videos of the 2019 champions for you to “taste”. And hopefully it will be as sweet for you as it is for me. And if/when you hear those overtones – feel free to let the goose flesh pop. LOL

***fyi – not sure – but you may have to watch videos on YouTube

First up – 2019 Chorus Champions (also Champions in 2007, 2010 & 2015)- The Westminster Chorus with their award winning performance of From Now On/Come Alive Medley (from The Greatest Showman) Be sure to go to YouTube and check out their 2015 Championship performance of “Seize the Day” from Newsies.

2019 Quartet Champions – Signature with their winning performance of Proud Mary (Ike and Tina Turner cover)

Also check out their other barbershop arrangements of Queen, Michael Jackson and other pop icons on YouTube.

Seniors Quartet Champions – DoubleDouble with one of their winning performances Green Green Grass of Home (parody). look for the the shift from serious to comedic around the 2 min mark. 🙂

2019 Youth/Collegiate Champions – Wildfire with their performance of Between You and the Birds and the Bees and Cupid.

While top 10 finalists compete for the title of Champion – the evening starts off with a mic test – it is a performance awarded the 11th place quartet and an opportunity to cut loose. This performance from 2015 is by one of the funniest quartets – The Newfangled Four (Youth/Collegiate Champions 2013) with their rendition of the vintage song Hello My Baby (through the years). Enjoy. *note – at the end they are joined by a singer from another Quartet called Instant Classic, who were the Champions of 2014.

And for you women out there – Barbershop Harmony is not only a mans thing – Women have their own version of the Barbershop Harmony Society called Sweet Adelines Intl. Look for more on that in my next post.

Learn More https://www.barbershop.org

happy heart

I’m sure many of you have heard of K-Pop. Also known as Korean Pop. Well this is C-pop or Chinese Pop. Todays video is from a talent show called The Singer. I suppose the western equivalent would be a popular show (at least in the US) called The Voice. The song, Happy Heart was first made popular by Andy Williams where it spent 2 weeks at #1 on the charts. Petula Clark also had a hit with the same song at the very same time but hers charted highest at #12.

This wonderful song was co-written by easy listening legend James Last and canadian singer/songwriter Jackie Rae. This impassioned performance by Li Xiang Zhe & Zhai Li Suo Tian is pure delight and really swings! So who is who? Li is the guy that starts the song and the bearded guy is Zhai. I absolutely love when Li starts the line, “Music fills…” with that really gutsy sound and Zhai looks at him out the corner of his eye as if to say “where the hell did that come from?”, or maybe he’s thinking, “where’re you going with this?” Totally makes me smile.

It’s a sunny Monday here in Ohio so enjoy this sunny song. Smiles and Cheer.