Monday, February 8, 2016

Bird is still the word

Phil Woods died last September. He finished the last tune of  his last gig, announced his retirement, and left his saxophone on stage. About two weeks later he was dead. Here’s his advice for everyone who spends time putzing with their tools. Apparently, he had an alto sax he thought was holding him back till he lent the horn to Charlie Parker. "I'm listening to Bird play… and it occurs to me there's nothing wrong with the mouthpiece, nothing wrong with the reed. Even the strap sounded great... I stopped looking for the magic instrument and started to practice more."

Monday, February 1, 2016

Man: the barricades

There’s been a lot of loose talk about rebuilding a strong middle class, like that was inarguably a good thing. But look, by definition, what’s it in the middle of? An upper class and a lower one, right? What’s so great about that? Being in the middle of a herd of ruminants is pretty comfortable. In back, you’re more likely to get picked off by predators, while out in front you might have to make choices. But for humans? Your primary function is as part of a large fleshy levee to protect your moneyed betters from waves of impoverished peons.

Monday, January 25, 2016

en passant

You know what looks like fun? Chess looks like fun. Because the little table and little coffee cups and an ashtray and elegant little pieces and just sitting quietly looking thoughtful. It turns out, though, that chess is about thinking really really hard about how to avoid doing anything stupid. That’s no fun at all, and furthermore it has only been by doing profoundly stupid things and then dealing with the results that I have had any kind of life at all so far. Sort of like how walking involves almost falling flat on your face over and over again.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Seems like only last week

I’m feeling nostalgic. Remember back when everybody was all excited about maybe winning a billion and a half dollars? Absolute strangers were talking about it at the convenience store. It was kind of beautiful, really, to see how greed can bring us all closer. Me, I actually won a portion of the jackpot by not buying a ticket, thereby instantly receiving a two dollar “do the math” prize. I’m going to spend it all on Little Debbie Nutty Bars, the best straight stock cellophane wrapped snack available in the Free World. Next time, I’m going to not buy even more.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Looking for the next Big Pencil

To my  regular readers: both of you may have noticed there was no rant last week. I have an explanation. See, it was the first Monday of the New Year, and I couldn’t think of anything to write about except the whole New Yearness of it. Which seemed like cheating, because what would it be about? Broken resolutions? That’s comedy mulch, like mothers-in-law or airline food. I like to think we’re beyond that sort of thing. Then I thought, “Hey, this lack of a decent topic will be a great subject for next week.” But that hasn’t worked out either.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Back to Blue Amberol

Some folks are collecting old vinyl records because they're cool. They have bigger pictures and you can hold onto the jacket while you listen. But some people say an LP sounds better than a digital version of the same music, which is weird. See, to get sounds onto vinyl you have to squash it and take out any loud asymmetrical events while a digital copy can sound so much like the master tape even the guy who mixed it can’t hear the difference. With filtering, compression, and surface noise you could make any recording sound like an LP. But why?

Monday, December 21, 2015

I still like klobasa and polka, though.

Well, this is vexing. Voters in the tiny Balkan nation of Slovenia have rejected same-sex marriage. I myself contain a sizable percentage of Slovene DNA, so it’s difficult to not feel a little ashamed. What up, homies? Did you forget how first the Austrians, then the Italians, then the Yugoslavs all took turns denying you the right to exist? Did you maybe think they were trying to make gay marriage retroactive, universal, and compulsory? Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. For a lot of these folks, a Slovene boy hooking up with a Croat girl is still considered a mixed marriage.