Oct 22

Where I poorly invent a new word we should never use again

These are the last good days of the maple in the backyard. Fall is falling fast, faster than normal, and real life has meant I haven’t paused much to see it. But this tree is pretty incredible at the moment. If you walk upstairs at the right time of day — after the sun has indicated it will, once again, go to the west — you can see something special right now.

All of that red bounces off the leaves, through the window into the bedroom, off the door and into a bit of the hall.

Which makes sense. It looks like that tree is on fire.

This is the moment where autumn feels helpless. Can’t appreciate it long enough for fear of the encroaching winter, worried you missed prime opportunities to soak it in earlier. I’m not sure if there’s even a word that describes it.

The Germans, of course, give us weltschmerz, which has to do with a deep sadness about the insufficiency of the world. In some contexts, the world can mean “the pain of the world.” Doesn’t that sound like the season’s late lament? A broader definition came to use just a generation later, by the mid 19th century, “a mood of weariness or sadness about life arising from the acute awareness of evil and suffering.”

Henry Miller, so maybe we’re on to something here. But maybe this is a slight step removed from weltschmerz — John Steinbeck, Ralph Ellison and Kurt Vonnegut used it, too. So maybe, let’s call it … fallui, autumn’s languor.

Oct 22

And now, photos from a short walk

The light was just right, I wanted to go outside and stare at small things for a few minutes, and so I did. This is what I saw on my little journey.

Some things out there are still getting ready to bloom. Hope in October, harbinger of winter.

Some thorns are just … excessive. Some excessiveness is simply thorny.

I wonder, if this leaf looked different even 18 hours earlier. I wonder what it might look like in a day or two, if I could find it again.

It seems awfully convenient that some of these fruits split open for easier access for the birds and squirrels and what not.

These still have a way to go, I guess, but I like the way one part of the branch reminds you of what is missing.

A bit of one of the local sycamore’s bark.

Those trees have such great character.

It is entirely possible that we can see all the colors of autumn in this one beautiful little leaf.

Oh, and this from another sycamore. One of the leaves, still hanging on its branch, managed to catch a bit of sycamore bark.

I like that it was holding onto it. I’ve wondered all night how that happened. Now you will too. Let me know if you figure it out.

More bark, different species.

There are a number of reasons this could be happening. Some of them are normal and natural. The reasons behind this specific instance will also remain a mystery.

Oct 22

Review: ‘Old on the inside’

We had a physical therapy appointment for The Yankee this morning. I drove her over, since, just four-days post-op and in a sling for the next several weeks, she doesn’t have her driving privileges.

We walked into the therapy center and it was like when Norm entered the bar at Cheers. They all called her name. Everyone came over to say hello. Everyone wanted to know what this latest thing was.

She gets good service at the ortho clinic. If they open a new wing it might be named after her.

I got in some quality work time today. Everything there feels back to normal. Monday was a lot of telling people what had happened and how we were progressing. Yesterday was spent buried in a computer and compiling my sophisticated note system — presently it is two calendars, a few notepads and index cards. Today, was just kind of a day. Looking for this, preparing for that, tracking down some person or another.

I also started preparing for four video productions I have to produce and direct next week. Whoever booked four shoots in three days should receive a stern talking to.

(That was me, of course. To be fair to myself, my concentration was divided last week.)

On my second, yes, second trip to the grocery store of the day I saw this.

I assume that dog had gotten the last of the hair care products I was looking for.

Meaning there’s another trip to the grocery store in the very near future. Fortunately I pass the store twice every day. And, today I learned the only thing more frustrating than a long series of cars in a perfect rhythm of ongoing traffic that prevents the left turn for several minutes is that the grocery store has somehow managed to rope off the primary entrance and exit to the shopping center for subtle parking lot maintenance purposes.

There was a guy there tending to the rope and traffic barrels as I was leaving. They were down, but they should be up. He said words to my windshield, but who knows what that was about. He spoke with authority when I rolled down the window.

I could not, he said, go straight ahead because this was closed.

Could I turn this way? Maybe.

Could I turn that way? Perhaps, but I don’t really know.

Seems like the guy tending the traffic modification system should have a firm grasp on the modified flow of traffic. But that might be a big expectation for 6 p.m. on a Wednesday. He was game to help, though, and so I drove one of the two ways he wasn’t sure about.

This took me through the movie theater’s parking lot. I used to love movie theaters, and then somewhere in the oughts the crowds became more of a burden. After that everyone’s TVs got better and, well, you know the rest.

But the movie posters! Everyone likes movie posters! And this theater has that row of poster frames on the exterior wall, just in case you aren’t sure what is showing, or what you are planning to see.

Half of the frames were empty. It had the tired look of a retired gas station, but the few posters that were on display were for current films, both successes and box office flops. The last movie I saw in a theater before the pandemic was inside this joint, it was a 40th anniversary screening of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which I had never seen on a big screen. (Too young the first time.) How’s this place faring? These are the last six months of reviews on Google.

Not really impressed by walk in theaters anymore. You really take a beating at the snacks and drinks bar.

A very quiet place to watch a movie and very affordable prices.

Old on the inside.

I really enjoy going to this theater.

You can tell that it’s an old and worn out theatre. But it’s generally clean and just a stone’s throw from College Mall. Not much to complain about.

Nice clean place to come watch a movie for an affordable price.

Scary theater, not from the movie either LOL. Dirty seats and crammed. Old and run down. 0/10 don’t recommend. ALSO for all of you youngsters out there, if you’re going to see and R-rated movie both participants have to have their ID. Not just one like other AMCs around the area.

It is difficult to say how old this theater is, but the web tells me it goes back at least to the mid 1990s. The interior suggests that if it is any older it hasn’t been redone since the early-90s.

It doesn’t really matter if it is true, but the place has a reputation for bed bugs. Whether that’s there or not, that’s always going to influence your decision about which theater you’ll visit.

And my choice is to watch stuff at the house. I, too, am old on the inside.

Sep 22

This is a recovery week – Wednesday

A bit better than yesterday, I think. We’re six days into a weeks-long recovery process. And hopefully it’ll stay progressive throughout. Slow and steady wins the race and avoids unnecessary setbacks.

There’s not much else going on right now, other than careful resting and healing.

But the weather is lovely. Enjoy this photo of a maple leaf floating through the back yard. Got lucky catching it in mid-flight, right?

So the light week continues, but we’ll have something here tomorrow, I’m sure.

And don’t forget: Catober begins this weekend.

Sep 22

‘And the magic music makes your morning mood’

A sticky bike ride this morning, a day in the office, an evening in the studio. There’s not a lot to show for all of that, but my legs are tired, at least, and some meetings took place and shows got produced. The usual, as they say, if there’s anyone else having a day like that.

So let’s do another music post, where we catch up on the Re-Listening project. I am working through all of my old CDs in the car. It’s easy content! And there’s some good music here and there — featuring two records today. These aren’t reviews, usually. Mostly they’re just memories, or marking the time.

This is strictly chronological, which is to say the order in which I bought all of these things. My discs cross genres and periods in a haphazard way and there’s no large theme. It is, a whimsy as music should be.

First up is a record, and a band, that I’ve pretty much outgrown in every way. In 1993, when Counting Crows’ debut album, “August and Everything After” came out it was the perfect timing of emo and rock. (Ahhh, high school.) Think of it. The top albums up to that point in 1993 were Whitney Houston, Eric Clapton, Depeche Mode, Aerosmith, Janet Jackson, Barbra Streisand, U2, Cypress Hill, the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack, Billy Joel and Garth Brooks. Nirvana’s final album came out that same week, but even still it felt like a mid-sea change, musically. And at just that moment T Bone Burnett produced August. Four singles were released off the record, Mr. Jones hitting number two on the charts. The album made it to number four that year. It went platinum in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, seven-times platinum in both Canada and the United States.

I have a lot of their music, and it fits a certain … mood … let’s say. But I’ve just outgrown most of Adam Duritz’s oeuvre. (I bet he has, too.) So I skip a lot of this one when it’s on now, though they held my rapt attention — this record and the later works — for many years.

I still play “Rain King” because it’s a great live tune, and I still like to think of it that way.

There’s still enough musicianship and jazz in “Ghost Train” to make me listen closely now almost 30 years later.

“A Murder of One” is a lot of fun, until you think about is transpiring there, and then, catchy tune or not, it can bum you out. Which one of those things is the real point?

And yet, it’s still a catchy tune.

From 90s alt rock, let’s shift up to 70s and 80s progressive rock. In case you’ve never looked it up, prog rock is used broadly because all the creativity was going into the music and not the labels. So you have a few decades of bands evolving from psychedelia and further away from standard pop. Record labels started giving a little more leeway to their musicians, meaning more intricate instrumentation and compositional techniques, more poetic lyrics and new sounds and, a wide fusion of styles. It turned into art.

Which is to say that’s what Rush was, but by the time they released “Exit … Stage Left” they were starting to reign it in. This was the Canadian group’s second live album, and it features music from their previous two tours, each of which supported studio records that saw the band headed in a more radio-friendly direction.

So think of it as a transitional moment in a Hall of Fame band? The album went to number six in the U.K., hit seven in Canada and 10 in the United States in 1981. I bought this on cassette in high school, because a guy I worked with turned me on to one particular song. We had a big discussion about the best guitar riff of all time. He played me the acoustic version of “La Villa Strangiato.”

That probably won the conversation. I think I decided ‘What if the best guitarist isn’t Alex Lifeson, but some guy in a village somewhere and we’ve just never heard him?’

The guys I worked with had their minds sufficiently blown. It was probably the last time I’ve asked a question that impressed anyone.

So I went out at some point and got “Exit.” It features the much more familiar electric version of “La Villa Strangiato” but a great deal of other important songs, too. (And also Tom Sawyer, but we’re skipping it.)

This is a song about a car; this is called “Red Barcheta.”

P.J. Spraggins was a drummer. He invented extra drums he could play in the marching band. One night at a game I happened to be at a transformer blew and the stadium went half-dark. The game was paused. The band played. The other school’s band played. And then P.J. played for the better part of 45 minutes or so. Just making stuff up, brilliant guy that he is. Spraggins is still a drummer. He became a professional musician. He’s played with everyone. He’s released three jazz records. And he’s still doing it. I remember one sunny day we sat in my card because I wanted him to hear the drum solo in YYZ.

I wish we had cameras in our phones — or phones in our pockets — at that point. It would be great to make a reaction video with him. I, a listener who can keep rhythm, listen to the beat. My friend, the musician, was visualizing the mechanics of it all. Until he couldn’t anymore. It was a great time.

Prog rock isn’t snooty, just FYI. “Closer to the Heart” is a singalong.

And just as soon as I say that, I’ll close this little list with a song that has maple trees unionizing so that they can get some more sunlight in the forrest.

Prog rock, man.

These days, I almost never listen to either one of these bands. They’re there if needed, though, I still, as Neil Peart wrote, made a choice.