Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Hit Charade

It's another chilly night outside, here, but on the other side of the world, grunts are humping it down debris-strewn streets. A slightly more uneven game of "Cat and Mouse" is underway, as modern vendettas are freely mixed with ancient ones. The pots race to achieve a rolling boil, before the juices evaporate.

Where is the race here? Is there a contest hidden here, somewhere?

Sure, there's always some iconic cause being chanted somewhere; The verses may vary a bit, but the chorus is inevitably devoid of substance. Ideologues and idiots readily strike up the band, but getting them to give up the baton has historically proven more difficult, even after the composition reveals its turgid familiarity to hardened fans.

As the pictures dull, and recollections of what was done to whom(and when) are squirreled away in private memories. Among the remains are a few shopworn notions: valor, honor, devotion to the cause, bravery, forming a discordant chorus of their own. Equal in measure, folly and hubris are mixed with misguided ambitions from diverse sources, yielding a miserable etude, familiar to anyone who's ever breathed air; hummed, at times; barked out in a stupefying roar, at others. People may possess these sterling qualities (isn't that the way the lyrics go?) in many forms. The problem is, the damned song doesn't prescribe nobility, forebearance, compassion, dignity, respect, or a host of other laudable traits. At least, not in any of the countless versions that I've been exposed to. Woeful in it's effect on listeners and performers alike, it's far worse for weary souls who attempt to change the words of the song, or to tune it out.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Place and Date to Punctuate

Calendars are second only to clocks, when it comes to things that beg to be ignored. Sure, there has to be a readily agreeable way for people to get activities synchronized, to commemorate events and celebrate things in one's life that have either happened already, are happening, or have yet to occur- until something better comes along, I guess I'll have to use these crude devices to delimit the various sentences of living. Actually, run-on sentences and lives will chug along nicely, unattended, in their own little continua, until someone or something takes a hand to alter their courses.

Good thing there are plenty of hands to go around. With any luck, the resolutions I make this New Year's eve will be safely interred by April Fool's Day, with only a chuckle to acknowledge their inception.

Leave a light on, and I'll probably visit in the new year. Have a good one, but don't forget to play nice while celebrating, on New Year's Eve! .

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Unblunted By Snow

I'll be the first to admit to experiencing a certain lethargy (antipathy?) about the holiday season, this year. Not for lack of loved ones, or lassitude, or as an expression of disgust; more nearly, I'd say it was confluence of simpler impulses, all clicking into place at the same moment. However those may be parsed, I've had Hell's sweet time, getting it into gear (in any conventional sense).

While waiting for my umpteenth cup of coffee to finish being nuked into potability, I started fiddling with the damned knobs on the radio. Whirling past a bunch of random squawks and squeals, I came upon some choral music, a performance of Handel's Messiah (considered by many to be traditional Christmas music, despite its mercenary origins), which is normally a beautiful adventure to hear. Normally beautiful in its composition; an adventure, because its gorgeous soloes and a capellas are variable in performance, and vulnerable to obnoxious renditions.

The plaintive beeping of the microwave didn't even register, until about forty-five minutes later. I'm not sure whether it was the broadcast itself, or the acoustics of Verizon Hall, but it was difficult to pick out vocal landmarks during the recital. Oddly, this didn't diminish its beauty, though what may have been silk came out a bit more flannel.

Attention spans are ethereal things. My feet were getting cold, like the forgotten coffee, but the anonymity of the chorus had me wondering: Wonder what this sounds like to people who haven't come up in an Anglo-Saxon tradition? It might be hard to translate the songs into some sort of regionally equivalent messages, but the Messiah isn't particularly heavy-handed or preachy. Wonder what it would sound like, in Farsi, Arabic, Mandarin, or Malay? Forget about exact translations or political sculptings; What if the same grainy, inexact sounds I got were what other folks heard, no matter where or how they lived their lives? I'm pretty sure that I lead a life which rates either envy nor enmity, and that things I hear about others' lives miss many essential details. Set it aside. What does this music sound like? Is it a threat or insult to others? Is it offensive to you, personally?

Cold feet, cold coffee, warm thoughts. One out of three are better odds than I would have given. I'd be interested in any comments folks might have about our different takes on things.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Thought That Counts?

Firm, like an avocado, but smoother than a baby's unlined forehead, but softer, more along the lines of turquoise pudding, but more attentive and readily devoured, like the Meerkat, whose proclivity is for travelling (at least) in pairs, though of course, rounder and more perpetually fulsome, and though blunt enough to withstand the most saturnine, languorous gaze, equally likely to make pointed statements (though better suited to more pursuasive surroundings), attached and yet autonomous, always at the ready to give rest to weary pearls. Got anything along those lines? Hey, you asked what I'd like to see for the holidays.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Deriliction? I Think. Not.

I'm only about two-thirds into the shoe-box, but a lot of the transcriptions have found their way into the shredder (mainly, due to illegibility). I could kick myself, but lassitude prevents such intemperate gestures- too bad, as Bronyard's off-the-cuff remarks were always a mysterious, often incomprehensible treat. At first, I found myself begging him to repeat himself (he never did, as nearly as I could fathom); Later, I learned to listen harder, then write his contributions down, as soon as a chance presented itself.

I came to recognize the difference between what was possible, and what was probable, early. It was hot and filthy, in the shadows of the antenna towers. It was not possible (nor probable) that I would sprout wings and whistle arias from Aida; It was probable (and possible), that I'd spend the summer, mixing and humping mud for a crew of plasterers; It was neither probable nor possible that I would catch peculiar observations from the man on the leeward side of decrepitude, but the days were long, and apart from his periodic, quiet chuckling spells, or these otherwise baffling commentaries, Brownie wasn't one for talking. I worked shoulder-to-shoulder with him for nearly a year and a half, without his ever opining on the crew he was in, (possible, but not probable) even though the rest of the crew spent many hours, regaling each other with only the foulest salutations. Not Brownie. He seemed content enough, chopping sand, portland cement, and finish lime into grey mud. Said mud, decanted into 5-gallon pails, would then be humped to the waiting mortar boards of small teams of plasterers, by yours truly. Now and then, pails empty, I would return to the mixing pit, to find Brownie muttering one of his incantations. Nothing to be done, but chop the mud, then retreat into the shadows, fire up another Chesterfield, and wait for me to top up the mudslingers. At other times (without breaking stride of his mixing activities), his enigmatic chuckling issued forth softly, without preamble. As he never revealed the sources of his amusement, it was impossible to know what tickled his fancy. Just a baritone, "Hyuck! Hyuck! Hyuck!", to accompany the scraping of the hoe on the mortar pan.

Our paths diverged; An old colleague told me that the Chesterfields had finally had their way with Brownie. My hod-carrying days have since gone. No more toting pails of mud, myself, though I see others doing it, from my office window. So that's that; nothing but the chuckling memories, and a shoe box full of random scraps of hastily scribbled aphorisms.

Sometimes, it seems like something that happened a world away, and I'm left with Brownie's old spade to clean up the wreckage of crazy images. It's the same stream of people and events that everyone else is looking at, but the damned lens is out of whack, and it turns into a cinema for one; one's in the seats one minute, in the cast, the next.

In the sepulchral solemnity of the company's throne room, I too frequently find myself masking the sudden transformation of the commonplace into the irreverent. This is too exhausting. I've feigned every attack from Pulmonary Edema to Pleurisy, simply to disguise the explosion of mirth that follows life's authentic comedies(to dispel the notion that I might be plumb loco, in the minds of mystified co-workers). Jezus! The onset is stunning in it's suddenness, and usually, my reactions are completely inappropriate to my surroundings. Why can't one hold oneself nearer to propriety, to respecting reality (without laughing in it's face)?

Maybe that was why Brownie learned to keep his responses to life down to the occasional chuckle- anything more than that was too risky (possibly), too serious (probably), too funny (possibly and probably). Maybe, it was due to one irony supplement too many, or maybe, he couldn't take the increasing amusement attacks. Living is such serious proposition, but life is so fraught with pent-up, sinus-clearing comedy.

I've got to put the shoebox away now, before I blow a gasket.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Are yer?

"An' now, fer not showin' headstrong, isn' it an accusation o' bein' weak?
Was it a Huzzah, er words o' courage tha' yer wanted, or even now, seek?
Isn' it the strawman seems ter hava problem, keepin' his hat on?
Ah, doan imagine it'll go easier, once all'a problems are gone.

Aye! Ai-ai-ai, is our world up for feeble tricks, o' feeble minds a' feeble pricks?
Weaker still, an' all puffed up, yet strainin' all ter swing bigger sticks.
All the while, waitin' fer the fallow, the long-sufferin' Earth
gets no needed Jubilee, owin' ta the commonsense dearth.

Takin' a moment 'er two outta yer rare an' troubled sleep,
Yer powerful leaders ought ter stop th' doin's an' weep.
Then put them feet up an' relax, for th' work's already done;
The talkin', an' showin' a' respect fer th' livin', are ideas all on th' run."

Yet another bit of obscure Auld Bollocks doggerel, the exact meaning of this rustic quatrain is unknown. Unfortunately, the A.B. weren't too keen on selling second-hand oats. Whether out of sheer laziness or other motivation, the feeling seems to have been that further explanation only added needless confusion, and was thus a waste of time.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Return, Of Sorts

"Here's a scrap o' wisdom, once scrawled on an oily rag:
Ther' ain't room fer th' third person, not in my sleepin' bag.
First person (singular or plural) is about all th' thing'll hold,
an' still keep us warm and moist, in the face o' bitter cold.

Th' answer ter yer askin' 'bout how or if I'm bent,
is somewhere in that pile o' crap, heaped outside th' tent.
Unsightly, unseemly, ungainly, no sense arguin' wi' th' fact,
You can stand out there, shiverin', or crawl in an' teach me tact

This is about as direct as Auld Bollocks rhyming gets. I'm guessing that the message is along the vein of: "Don't bother me with rules that I won't follow, and you can't afford to enforce". It's worth noting how the pleasantries of civilization aren't always the ornaments of real peoples' lives, and in some societies, are disdained as the senseless impositions of other people's wills.

Have a peaceful holiday, folks!