My Favorite Of A Favorite: Hallelujah

I’ve been up all night, smoking cigarettes and drinking gin from a jelly jar.

No, but I always thought that’s what writers should do. It’s so Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

I actually have a cold, and can barely take in a breath without coughing. Smoking would be lethal.

However gin from a jelly jar? Do-able.

We all house images in our mind of how things should take place. Romantic images of  the places we want to be, or the people we would like to become. My dear friend Karen was always amazed at my vegetable garden. She and the family would come up from the big city to my country home, and she would stand at the edge of it, looking at the ripening tomatoes and trellises of peas and beans. Then, every time, she would begin to wax poetic about how if she had a garden she would go out everyday with her long apron tied around her waist and gather the bounty; placing  it in the scoop of it as she held the ends up, making a vegetable hammock.

I blame this:

Image from tv.com

Image from tv.com

The images we have in our mind are powerful. They paint over reality in a spectrum of water colored haze. They make the mundane beautiful and the beautiful ecstasy.

That brings me to Leonard Cohen.

I know, you’re thinking she’s going to hang herself this time folks. How the hell can she get from Laura Ingalls to Leonard Cohen. 

Let’s find out.

There is nothing that can compete with Leonard’s version of Hallelujah. Nothing. No one can compete. Hands down. Fin!!

But there in lies the challenge. If Cohen’s interpretation  of his own classic is my favorite of a favorite without challenge: then I must challenge it.

That’s what Laura would have done. She was feisty and spunky.

I can do better.

So I’ve gone on my quest.

So many covers of this song. The most recent/popular choice is probably Rufus Wainwright’s version from Shrek. Sadly, now a generation refers to this song as “The Shrek Song.” Not exactly what Cohen had in mind when he penned it. It’s a lovely rendition  but that alone is enough to take it off my list. Sorry Rufus.

The second problem is that so many people tend to over sing it. They don’t understand that the power is in the words, and clutching their chest and crouching in pain isn’t necessary. Jon Bon Jovi, another fine singer in my estimation, really went, as I use to say in college, all Broadway on our ass. Singing on stage, and singing in front of a microphone are two separate interpretations Jon starts out over the top. Within the first few bars he’s wincing in pain.  Stop it. We get it. You’ve been there. You’ve felt the pain of each word. Move on.

The trick is to make us hear the pain, not see it.

That leads me to kd lang. She has a flawless voice that can make you feel every emotion by the way she hits a note. Her inflection and intonation are so subtle you may not even notice it, but you will feel it.  She will take you on a journey of heart rendering love.Don’t get me wrong, she uses her entire arsenal, putting herself in and out of the song, working the audience in subtle ways.  When she hits the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift you not only hear the technical ability of her talent, but like Cohen, you also feel it being portrayed.

kd lang is able to water-color the images of this song in a performance that I’m sure Leonard must have thought worthy of his masterpiece.

Love, pain, and redemption; all generations have faced this. It’s the one thing all classes, cultures, and sexes share, as far back as Laura Ingalls Wilder.

OK, that sucked. They all can’t be gems.

Too much cold medication.

Here’s kd

River Leaves

As the mist from the river
rises half way up the
oak, he cups
his right hand and skims it
across the top,
fingers propelling through
leaves frozen on the surface.
Fighting the ice crystals as they form,
small sheets of puzzle
pieces on his fingers, he
remembers the trip made with
friends in his youth,
paddling canoes,
wine bottles passed from side to side, and
smoke thick with the pungent smell of
yesterday’s music and future conquests.

Young men craving the knowledge
their fathers owned from the war.
Now he’s the wisdom of the boys,
holding in his chest a passion
too soon gone, but still inside.

He curves his hand once more to
the water’s edge, then fanning his fingers
apart he sets free decades of touch,
the smell of rose-water,
and the quiet of his loves, and they
scatter like the remnants of fall.

Image from Chopra.com

Image from Chopra.com

Just Another Day

JFK, MLK, and Bobby.
Jimi, Janis, and Jim.
My Lai,Kent State, and Watergate,
Jim Jones, John Lennon, and Ronald Reagan
Desert Storm
September 11
Wellstone’s Plane

My generation is tired of playing the game. Well, I’m tired of playing the game. You know, the one where you sit around with a cocktail and someone says “Where were you when you found out about…….”

I can’t wax nostalgic for loss and sadness anymore.

Let’s hope we only remember today as being just another day.

One filled with lunches, and jokes, and stubbing your toe.  A day where you burned your tongue on your coffee, and hugged a friend.

It’s all I’ve got for the moment.

images (2)

Leon’s Eyes

I saw him in 1977. My friends and I scored great seats. We were three rows back from the stage in the center. I was a bundle of anticipation. I loved his stuff with Cocker and Delaney and Bonnie. His power as a piano player and rocker was forceful and earthy. When he hit the stage he tore the joint up. I was not disappointed.

All the songs we had hoped to soak in were right in front of us, but then he brought it down, and started to play the love songs. The light hit him, and he was alone on stage, just Leon and his piano. He looked into the audience and started to sing A Song For You.

He’s looking at me. Oh god oh god oh god, he’s  looking at me. 

No, he’s not looking at me. Why would he be looking at me.

He’s  LOOKING  at me. OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD……

Stop it now. He can’t be looking at me. He can’t even see me.

oh god oh god oh god he’s looking at me. 

NO!!!!! This is just crazy. 

Then my roommate leaned over. ” Oh my god, he’s looking at you.”

Maybe he was; maybe he wasn’t. I’ll never know. But I remember the eyes piercing through me; ocean blue like waves. It’s fortunate I was a small town girl unsure of herself, because if I’d had any confidence at all I would have taken up the life of a groupie right then and there.

A groupie for Leon Russell.

Thirty-six years later, I can still recall the excitement of that night. Not just because I MAY (though doubtful) have had a moment with Leon, but because it left a musical footprint on my soul. I think all great concerts do that for a person. Truly remarkable musical performances elevate us to a different plane, and for many of us, are as spiritual as church and the gospel. No higher praise to the being upstairs can be given but to lift our voices in song.

Besides, I’m a sucker for the blue eyes.


newmanup

 

:sinatra

From 1971, A Song For You.

And It Fairly Makes Your Heart Ache.

It’s an intangible something.

You can feel it all around you; it smells, it tastes, it even seems to sing. You don’t know what it is. It can put an ache in your joints and your head. It’s not sexual, but it is sensual and provocative. Your hands feel light and your heart fairly itches.

You seek the sun like a dog. Seeing pools of light in the middle of the floor, you want to lie down in them, curling your body like fresh garden peas poking from the soil. You smell the earth as it frees the frost line, it’s pungent and slightly irritating.

It’s not a joyful scent. It’s not a joyful feeling.

It’s a craving that makes you weak. It’s a tinge that hiccups through your veins. It’s a longing that makes you young, for a moment, then escapes out the car window as you open it for air.

You think to yourself, “I’m too damn old to feel like this.”

The puddle in the street looks overtly inviting, asking you to go to war within its boundaries. You look down at your shoes, and the thought crosses your mind for a moment, but you don’t. Even though the splash up your calf would feel remarkable-you still don’t.

You breath deep, reminding yourself that years of getting up and walking the world day after day have taught you to surround yourself with loftier expectations of how you should be seen. Each year, after your 20’s, you looked more and more at your face, hands, shoes, hair, and pants, and suddenly it dawns on you that you’ve forgotten to primp in front of your inner mirror. The one that still sees you at all ages, and all stages. The one that forgives your hair growing thin and gray, and your hands and skin drying and resembling burlap. The reflector that doesn’t care if your pants don’t match your socks. The mirror that gives you permission to laugh too loud at a friend’s joke, even when no one else makes a sound.

You want to be everywhere, and no where. You want to run with your arms flailing, and you want to kneel quietly among the budding pine.

It’s spiritual and it’s naughty.

It’s Christ-like and it’s pagan.

Humanity races towards the season like a hell-bent fireball from another planet, and you are in the way.

It’s spring.


vvvimage

Awwww Frank

I’ve written before that I’m a sucker for romance, and Francis Albert singing one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE Bossa Nova songs WITH the song writer Antonio Carlos Jobim accompanying him on guitar; well it melts my heart. I hate that I love romance.  (see previous article if interested) That’s all I have to say. Find your loved one, settle in, and listen. Have a great night.

This is the funniest damn thing I’ve read today. If you don’t follow Ned, you’re missing out.

Ned's Blog

Cow Patty bingo As you probably know, national “Be Kind to Animals Week” is almost here. And just when Florida was beginning to re-gain a small measure of respectability by working hard to draw absolutely no attention to itself, it is once again in the national spotlight.

I’m talking, of course, about the controversy surrounding Cow-Patty Bingo.

For those who might not be familiar with this activity for reasons of sanity, we’ll just take a moment to cover the basics.

First, you need a cow.

Second, you need a REALLY BIG bingo card.

OK, not really. But you really do need a cow, preferably one that has just eaten a lot of fiber — like, say, a 55-gallon drum of granola. Next, you need a large field or yard (such as a neighbor’s) that can be divided into numbered grids. Once you have the cow and the grid, it’s time to start selling…

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How Many Extension Cords Does A Person Need?

The answer is seven.

Image from Harborfreight.com

Image from Harborfreight.com

I’ve been packing up the last vestiges of things from my business. I made the decision a few weeks back to close her up, and now the last tubs are sitting in the back of my car. There are dishes, books, shelves, pictures, furniture, and bits and scraps of four years of work. I loved that business, but it’s gone now.

Except for the extension cords. No one wants them. I know for a fact, if you wanted to shave, you could go from one end of a city block to the other, plugging each cord end to end, and you could remove unwanted hair without a quandary.

There’s a visual for you.

A legacy of electricity that will safely keep my radio from 1980 powered outside by the lawn chair all summer.

So in celebration of my extension cords, and my new  found freedom and extension of life, here is a tribute to electricity from one of my all time favorite Saturday morning series from the 1970’s.

School House Rock. Three minutes of knowledge and song sandwiched between Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbera.

Hey Joe, Where Ya Goin’ With That Gun In Your Hand

The celebrity crush.

It starts early. If you’ve ever walked in on a 3-4 year old watching Elmo or Mr. Rogers, you know what I mean.

When I was a munchkin, eating my cereal in front of the Zenith, I was memorized by Axel’s Tree-house. A Minnesota icon in the 50’s and 60’s, Axel was the beginning of every grade-schooler’s morning.

Childhood crushes. We’ve all had them. Male friends of mine actually argued over who was sexier; Betty or Wilma.

Image from Fiedelholtzmedia.com

Image from Fiedelholtzmedia.com

I understand it. Those first introductions to the male/female relationship may have actually helped us formulate who, and what we were looking for in our future mates.

For me , the crush happened in 1967. There was Joe, flying across my screen.  Gun in hand, he was busy taking out the bad guys while his hair stayed perfect. Always in a sports coat and convertible, he was the man: Joe Mannix.

Image from ew.com

Image from ew.com

I was 10 years old, and he had to be at in his mid to late 30’s. He was the guy who did good, even if it meant bucking the system. I remember the first season, he worked for some sort of investigative agency that had cameras in every office. He always blocked them with a coat rack, or some such thing, and then yelled about big brother. I hadn’t been introduced to Orwell yet, but I figured out what he meant. He fought the bad guy, whether they were robbing banks, or taking away basic freedoms. I fell hard for Joe.

Even with the competition of Mike, Peter, Micky and (gasp) Davy, he was my first honest-to-god-real-time-oh-boy-I-can’t-wait-until-he’s-on-TV-next celebrity love.

And then it hit me like the Last Train To Clarksville:

Oh boy, someday I’m going to be a woman
and I’ll understand this feeling.

Joe was solid, stalwart, and kind. He was also constantly beat up, abused, completely disorganized, and ahead of his time by hiring a black secretary. I loved Peggy. I wanted to be Peggy. When my friends and I played Mannix (yeah, that’s right, we played Mannix) I was always Peggy. If indeed, Joe Mannix was what I was looking for in a future mate, I could have done worse. 

Later I would watch The Rockford Files and Hawaii 50, and though I loved these shows (especially Rockford) for some reason they couldn’t compare to my first love. Even as I reached my pre-teen age  and fell for Bobby Sherman, Joe Mannix remained my favorite.

I did a quick internet search and found that Mike Connors is still alive, and living in California with his wife of over 63 years. He’s 87 years old. These are two incredible feats in Hollywood,  or for that matter, anywhere these days. My hats off to Mike, and all the crushes that formed our early television years, Maybe it’s because I only had three networks to watch, or maybe it’s because I was basking in some sort of mid-west innocence, but these shows were more to me than idle entertainment. There was a true and overwhelming excitement by my folks and I when we would sit down and watch the good guys fight the bad guys. After watching Walter Cronkite give us the latest body count from Vietnam, watching Joe fight a jewel smuggler was genuine joy.

And for the money, it’s at least three to one in favor of Betty. Barney was a lucky man.

Good News vs. Kind News

There was a trend back in the 80’s for newspapers and television to report “good news”. If I recall, the theory was that if we watched more happy news, we would all be happier people.

Surprisingly, it didn’t last long.

It wasn’t from lack of trying. Television stations all over the United States tried to report on “cats being rescued from a tree” or “squirrels water skiing”. The trend wasn’t accepted because it wasn’t real. The world is full of bad news. People are killed,and the elements disembowel entire communities with the power that only Mother Nature can distribute. Good loses to bad.

These are the hard cold facts. We can’t change it.

What we can do is be a little better to each other.

Image from aboutproxmity.com

Image from aboutproxmity.com


We could start using kind words. We could start being a little more patient. Let go of our frustrations for a time. Bad drivers, standing in line too long, bosses who can’t find their ass from a hole in the ground; these are the things that make up all of our lives. No amount of road rage, sighing and tapping our feet, or bitching at the coffee pot is going to change that.

These are very stressful times. Forget sequestering or some fiscal cliff, our own inability to provide for our families, and keep our mortgage intact is enough to make us strike out. Statistics have shown that violence within the family unit rises when jobs are scarce. Stress levels increase as men and women have to work more than one job to barely make ends meet, and when that equation includes children, the stress can become unbearable.

So we scream at the driver ahead of us for not moving fast enough when the light turns green. Or, we call the young girl behind the counter at the gas station an idiot because we didn’t get the sale price on the 3 for $2.00 candy bar special. My guess is that we just want to be heard.

Everyone’s been on my ass, so we’re going to be on theirs.

It doesn’t work.

We’re in this together. I know there will be times when we are completely justified in asserting our rights, but many of the things we let antagonize us are acts that don’t deserve our anger.

We can’t change them. Pick and choose the things you spend your emotional energy on wisely.

Let’s try being kinder to each other. I’m not condoning your being a putz, just a bit more thoughtful of your fellow human being.

Let’s let kindness be the good news, and leave the squirrels alone.

Another Fairy Tale: A Frog And His Pad

Willard was his name, and he had a very nice, but simple

Image from Dreamstime.com

Image from Dreamstime.com

life at the edge of the lake. His lily pad was the envy of some, but not all, and that was just the way he liked it. A simple frog, every spring, as he shook off the ice of winter, he would go out on a hunt to make his pad a happy place to live. He would decorate it with the best of what he found sitting on the muddy bottom floor. Willard would painstakingly swim from north to south, and then east to west. He would seek out well-worn pieces of stone and glass and push them back to his lily pad with his strong feet. Then, he would drag back weeds that were wrapped around each other like twine; the fine hairs on the ends of them waving in the wake of the water.

Then one day he made his greatest discovery of all – he found the Wellups.

The Wellups were small elongated pieces. They were a green that even a frog of Willard’s stature could envy. Covered with tiny bits of blue and gold, they were a temptation that was hard to resist. When piled together, they gave off a mild light when darkness overcame the world. Willard, who was known for his strength, managed to move a large pile of them to the base of his pad, where he laid them end to end, encircling the stem. They were a grand sight, and every time darkness stole the light from above, he would thrust his head under the water to watch as they glimmered and glowed

Willard’s collection of Wellups was astonishing to all the other frogs. They would come from yards away to see how he had displayed them. This was no random pile tossed together at the base of his pad. No sir, this was an artistic endeavor. Suddenly Willard was known as a fine artist, instead of his strength. Frogs would bring their tadpoles to see the great artistry of Willard and his Wellups. They brought him offerings of mosquitoes and dead mayflies in honor of his greatness.

This gave Willard a confidence he had never had before. As the frog clan would descend to the base of his pad, Willard would swim around and around, his strong back legs kicking out behind him like proud scissors. Then he would point out the uniqueness of each Wellup.

“That one has more gold than blue, so I turned it towards the east . It will glow in the light more.”, he would say.

“The round one was the hardest to move, but with my ample legs I finally got it to the base.”, his voice full of pride.

For a time, the frog clan was in awe of his Wellups. They came by daily to see the beauty and uniqueness of his display, and to bring their offerings. Many wished they too had Wellups to decorate their home and bring them light. One by one they began swimming from north to south, and east to west. Slowly, each frog discovered their own pile of Wellups, which they managed to move to the base of their pads. Then one day, they all came to Willard and said, “You’re no longer special or unique, Willard. We don’t have to swim over to see your Wellups, we now have our own.”

Willard was no longer the great artist. He no longer felt extraordinary. He was once more just an average frog with a nice, but average lily pad. This disheartened Willard. He had never before been thought of as special. He missed the praise, and the croaks of delight. Willard became so low that he no longer found pleasure in watching the gleam of the Wellups at the dark time. He spent his time sitting still on his pad eating flies, and watching the other frogs praise each others Wellups.

Then one day, as the lake waters began to chill, one of the youngest frogs of the clan swam up to Willard’s pad and asked, “Why aren’t you down below, swimming around your Wellups,Willard?”

Willard replied, “Why should I. Everyone has them. They are no longer special or unique, and neither am I.”

The young frog thought for a moment.

“Willard, don’t you see, you were the first one to find the Wellups. You are the one who brought them to us. As a young tadpole, I was in awe of your Wellups. I learned so much from you. I learned about color and contrast. I learned about patience and strength. You brought us the Wellups and they made our world a more beautiful place. I never would have seen the green or the glow if it hadn’t been for you. You helped us all be special and unique.”

Willard fell silent for a moment, and then said,

“Well screw you punk, I want the glory. I want the praise. I could give a shit about educating you, or creating a better world for you to live in. I want mine, Who the hell do you think you are anyway kid.” and he jumped off his lily pad and swam away, only to be eaten by a large carp.

The Morale:

Don’t become too prideful of your artistic endeavors.There is always someone around who could do what you do, maybe even better.

Or

Be careful who you say “Well up yours” to, because you never know, they may have made friends with a large fish.

No Glass Shoes EVER!!!!

A few weeks back I wrote an article called Glass Shoes Are Not For Tap Dancing. Today I came across this meme. I wish I would have had seen it when I was writing that piece.

It’s perfect.

Image from ilovefunnypics.com

Image from ilovefunnypics.com

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