Monthly Archives: May 2007

Run and Hide! It’s an.. Epitome!!

    I‘m innocently trying to paint a bunch of lumber here in my hard-won little Garden of Eden. Suddenly, for the 18,000th time, my ears are ball-peened by the screams of the damned…-car alarm of my nearest pathetic neighbor, who must be trying to get into his stupid useless truck again. But this time the sickening feeling in my stomach is different. Qualitatively worse. Something has changed. The usual, familiar waves of revulsion, the sudden rush of chemicals god puts in our bloodstream to help us kill despicable loathesome creatures on sight more quickly.. yes all that, but also a new, pan-universal, Welt-schmertzy knife-blade seems to be turning in the wound.
   I need to see a doctor. They have all kinds of neat sharp tools, anesthetics, hell i’d even beat the guy with a rubber knee-reflex hammer if I had a chance. No, I need to dig deep into that fateful vinyard where the ‘gripes of wrath are stored’, as they sing in Australia, and examine what threshold has been crossed this time. Hmmm.
   The siren’s still wailing and I already figured it out all by mine-self. Epitome! Perfect. Yes the guy is no longer just a lone pitiable wretch, he now epitomizes a perverted culture where thinking about anyone else’s welfare is either unknown or poorly thought-of, if at all. An epitome.. now I’m being siren-aded by a freaking epitome!. Not for naught does “ma ikpat lakha?” (What do you care!) drip out of the arrogant mouths of fools here every two half-sentences. Or better yet, an acronym (!), “Za’Ba-sh” ®, for ‘zeh  ba’yah shelo’ (‘That’s his problem’). God help a culture which acronyms thoughtless-ness for quicker recall!
    So, humor being my only weapon (think I’ll try again to talk to this clown), I blunt my sword appropriately and set out, if only for myself, to prepare a range of put-downs.

    And this is where the art of the translator really shines, or blinks out, as the case may be. I mean, anybody, (except for Chinese owners-manual writers) can translate: “Put the power-cord in the wall-receptacle, and ensure to adhere {to it} (Not), all aLiEn BOdiEs”, but to explain ‘epitomization’ to this huddled mass of wasted protoplasm, aye, there’s the rub.
    Without looking it up, I know the phrase is like, “b’heet’gel’mut’to”, cause I used that once as a compliment and the girl smiled. It means.. um.. well, the key word in the middle is “gellem”, sort of a word for ‘raw essence’. A ‘raw material’ is “homer gellem”. (Hey, there’s a neat play on words, I’ll have to introduce him to ‘Karen Mavet’ (Death-Ray) sometime.)   Actors also ‘me’ge’lem’ (portray) characters. It’s subtle, but the unifying concept is there, graspable  once the damned siren stops grinding my cochlea into schnitzel.
  Well, you get the point. Here you can see a duck quack like a duck, walk like a duck, and even fumble repeatedly at basic human tasks, (which is excusable, at least, in a duck).. but in order to call him a duck, you need a degree in ornithology, and a minor in semitic tongues. (Do ducks have tongues..? Now there’s something to look up).. and sorry, no picture.. can’t seem to hold the camera steady in the presence of an epitome..

“Insightiness”: One step further and the kid gets it!

“…facile, to think this fuss’ll force Faisal to fig-leaf that fossil.” …( Saudi Museums and Antiquities Minister Fawzi Al-Taz’akhan on recent demonstrations in Riyadh against exhibition of nude Paleozoic trilobite remains.)


BBC.. Wynschild Wye-Pierson, Riyadh: May 31, 2007



    “Incited-ness” reigned, as angry protestors ratcheted-up the bolts outside the Mu’see’em of the Dead for the third straight day Tuesday. Sources I spoke to quoted the flash-in-the-pan-Arab hot-head leader of the Movement on Unsightliness, Abed Ibn A’bend to the effect: “Wa’ilah um kul tum q’uoz im’akh!”   

    Understandably concerned, mu’see’em officials beefed up security at the institution, a Mecca for decades for anthropologists and apollo-getic anthropo-morphs alike. Said {puzzled curatored.} Dr. Sim’yan Said: “Theese beoples are mad! 17a93J has no genitals to speak of; it’s an angio-sperm, granted, but latent, not blatant. Le’azazel, if they despise ‘plumbing’ so, they can just go bas-relieve themselves in the Fountains. And the Crown-Prince will stand behind me!”

    Scene-watchers in the know expect the fracas to assume Donnybrooke proportions before blowing over, with each side accusing the other of ‘one-sided-ness’. “Truthiness” is of course the ultimate victim, as the real issues, back-court turf-battles between rival wings of the fractured Al-a’kazam al’din ‘Brotherhood, reminiscent of the fabled FLPF/PFLP schizm, are the real fuel here. One thing is certain however:  this is Wynschild Wye-Pierson, reporting, on the scene, and bein’ seen on the BBC. Now back to you, Cliff…. *more*

Trilobite

*add* ..and as soon as I decide what the explainable point to this post is, I will divulge it here: There are several candidates, over and above simple fun with words, old and new…

* and finally* I blush with pride to see ‘clever‘ applied to this ride. It’d better be clever, ‘challenged‘ as it is in the purely-declarative department. But I think the question here is: To what extent is Colbert’s “truthiness” another gurgle on the cultural downward-spiralling auger-in that has become American level of discourse? Or if the coinage’s popularity is due to recognition by the masses that they are being smooth-talked to sleep by their own wide-screens, then we have, alternatively, a name to go with the amoeba, which is a good start. My title, “One more step and the kid gets it” refers to “Insightiness” as the next buzz-word step, and ‘gets it’ in the sense of finally understanding. Other than that, I just like Wynschild’s style, his trench-coat chic, whatever.. and yeah, the flowery guy pictured ain’t an angiosperm, I know that.. it just sounds.. you know… ‘truthy

The Return of the Web-cam: Got yer Animal Kingdom this time

    So after staying up all night con-soul-ing a wounded kitten, the lone survivor of a mass murder here by a band of bored teenagers, who tortured to death her mother, sisters and brothers (why any decent society keeps trash like that alive is beyond me), I awoke, if you can call it that, to five more needy souls: this time from the wacky world of bugs. These beautifully-striped caterpillars of Papillo Machaon Syriacus (“zanav snunit na’eh”) are rarer than they should be here, at least in the “farming” area, where the ground is so saturated with tons of mindless poisons that it’s a miracle when you see even a cabbage butterfly.

larvae papilo alexanor1

 These diners seem to have a very persnickety taste in salads, insisting on Ruta (Rue) and they will ‘accept no substitutes”. (We’ll see about that!) Luckily, I’d started some rue from seed, but the problem is two-fold: I only discovered them, (so well-designed is their camouflage), when I noticed that one of my hypothetically ‘for-sale’ ruta-planter-boxes looked like it’d enlisted and been given a scalp-effect haircut. “One small step backward for a herb, one potentially giant step (into oblivion) for bug-dom.” Without outside intervention, my five potential-papillos were doomed. I can see them in desperation going door-to-door, pretending to work for the Ministry of Agriculture, asking homeowners, on a scale of one to ten, whether they’d consider growing..oh, for example, ruta, in their backyards. So, what’ya gonna do, I quickly built the screened box you see here, mainly to protect them from hungry birds, but also because if they decide to just up and move to Florida, unwisely, I’d feel at least lonely.

butterfly tent  

Meanwhile I swallowed my pride and bought more ruta seedlings from the nearby greenhouse. He just about gave them to me free when I explained how it was a national emergency situation, the dear soul. And now all that’s left is ‘tactics’.. when to switch host-plants, how to gently move my babies to their new moveable feast, etc. And I’ll keep the pix up-to-date, as they outgrow their skins and eventually spin chrysalises, do a quick makeover, and emerge triumphantly but briefly as stunning butterflies. “An educational public service with real ‘feet-on-the-ground’ content” has always been my motto. It’s the mark of what the Australians, in their quirky inverted vernacular, apparently call “a deeply disturbed individual“. Hmmm..

  And here’s the guy’s cousin, who looks a lot like him , appearing on an old Israeli stamp. Probably used the stamp to order another couple thousand metric tons of methyl bromide with which to ‘purify’ the evironment. (In all fairness, the butterfly species-count is dramatically down in my home area of the US also. In all fairness… just not to the lepidopterally-inclined)

swallowtailstamp  

I was aided greatly by an excellent private Israeli website with tons of info and pictures, in English and Hebrew, www.nature-of-oz.com His pictures are better than mine… so far…! 

“East meets Yeast”.. available sooner or later..

   It’s not easy learning Mandarin in one week.. just the first 800 characters took me most of two nights. But the joy of being able now to converse with our foreign workers, to sit over tea and discuss their ancient culture and its writings; I tell you it was worth it! And as an added plus of course, I can now present one of the hundred or so poems I did to humor up my otherwise up-coming Chinese cook-book, (with special attention to the wide variety of breads you may never have even heard of.)  “East meets Yeast”, look for it in a store somewhere, preferably in your home state.. and not on an empty stomach either.
Note: the final word of this poem I had regrettably to leave un-translated, there being no real Western equivalent. The meaning is probably approximated by the phrase: “Well, this sucks!” but somehow a part of the inscrutable posthumous angst is lost. Oh well.. sucks to be duo-deca-lingual sometimes.. Cheers
(Oh, and remember if you’re reading the poem in Mandarin, it’s up to down, not right to left.. or is it diagonal? Whatever..)


poem mandarin

 

We offer both Hi-Quality and Hi-Speed; Choose one.

(I dashed this off in the Duty-Free at Ben Gurion the night we took off for Argentina. Think I’ll post it while you’all are waiting for us to get within close-encounter distance of our ‘visitors’ down here. At the rate we’re moving it looks like a day or so till all hell breaks loose. The entry was intended to be a ‘diversion-post’, implying that I was in the States, but we decided to drop the deep cover.. whoever might have been tailing us has long since frozen his gum-shoed ass off, or lost interest or both. So enjoy, for now:)



   Well I flew in from ALAbama with the BALA-Cynwyd (aeronautical-chart) sectional on my knee, combining business with enlightenment, as I wait in line for the “CFAST ®”, (CALAlily Fanciers Annual Show&Tell) at the King of Prussia Mall. Bought the Philadelphia Inquirer (well ok, I picked it up off the floor in the pilot’s lounge at Wings Field. Looks like the DALAi Lama’s still controversial after all these years.. he’s speaking at the Valley Forge Convention Center tonight on “The FALAcies of Guru-worship” at a GALA Honors Banquet they’re calling “HALALUYA 4 the LLAMA-2007″ ..Sauteed “golden calf of sacred cow” on the menu, spiced with JALApenos, I’ll bet.. Hmmm.. the KALAhari Room, 8:00 PM. Might be able to make it.. Ooh LALA, chicks-pix on the back page! Wait, first I’ll hit Biz-news. Olin Wethington, my old high-school buddy resigns his position? Bush’s special advisor for financial affairs to China? He was my MALAdictorian at graduation: I gave the valedictory, and then he had nothing but bad things to say about me. Ha. ‘Course he did get ‘most likely to succeed‘, I think. He played a big part in negotiating that NALAFTA Deal, you know “North (and latin) American Free Trade Agreement”. Ok, chicks! Specifically, those singing sensations, The Silicone Valley-Girls, from Palo Alto, posing in a kinda provocative ‘group grope’. Hmm.. the caption just reads: “A PALA Altos!” Who thinks this stuff up? Probably the same diseased minds what came up with this ad: New! They’ll SALAvate for SALAdin-din™, the ready-to-cook Real Turkish Turkey Breast dog bisquits, (by Pavlov® so you know they’ll come back for more!). Ok, pass on that, I don’t even have a dog, plus he doesn’t bite and he wasn’t outside that dreadful Tuesday morning when… Back to World Events: TALAban lift ban on VALA-date®’s activities in hot Afghan singles market. What? I’ll try to read that again.. *pause* Ok, looks like V.Ltd was running a low-fee “Check out ur dating skills” program. Pass on that, too, I already have a dog, and she doesn’t bite no more.(Course that’s ’cause I sent her back to her mom, in WALA Walla…) Oops, I hear my name..Y’ALA, gotta run, I’m being paged… What’s this? Maidens in baseball hats and clipboards handing out free grape-vine cuttings? Holy Musketeer! That’s that new one I just read about..”ZALAgyongye” Hmm, Jung was right..

How (not) to Win a Poetry Contest

  An intellectual whom I respect finally received my repeated “thought-transference” attempts, and announced a Limerick Contest. Whoopie! So that all her readers should know what the format looks and sounds like, she included a sample limerick. Classic limerousity. Now I have my own thoughts on the format, which, you guessed it, I will briefly expound into the ground with my notoriously heavy hammer. First my “template-limerick”:
My Bunny lies over the ocean,
My Bunny lies over the Sea,
It’s one or the other,
I’ll ring up my mother
She’ll bring back my bunny to me
.
When I write, I keep this well-known song in my head at all times, and if the resulting poem is ‘singable‘ without stumbles or embarassment, that’s a good sign.

   We could, of course, be a bit more provocative, which is indeed in the fine tradition of Limeritus:
There once was a girl from Quebec
Who said “Party time, what the heck!”
“Lets all just write limericks
Play with gym-nimerics”
(But to judge them’s a pain in the neck.)
Ok, the supposed five-line form is really four lines, with the third divided into halves. That’s my musicians opinion, at least. Enough pedantry!



   Did I mention that entries must include three words, (which she claimed to have chosen at random; Ok, I believe her). To wit: Window“, “Licorice“, and “Combustion“.
What’cha gonna do! Like where do those three generally show up together? This question’s answer has a bearing on the title here: “How to Win…etc.” Oh, and there was no ‘Maximum number of entries per foolhardy ‘poet’ mentioned in the fine print. Remember that, too.
  So what I want to do here is give all you thrill-seekers a unique ‘window‘ into the licorice-scented backroom where the wheels of infernal ‘combustion‘ ground out entry after bloody entry.. all in a (probably vain) attempt to “win this thang!”, after my bitter, depressing defeat in what turned into a stupid popularity-contest some months ago. (“Don’t know what I’m voting fer, butt I vot fer the ‘other GuY“)
  My strategy, the Human Wave Tactic, is to simply ‘claim for the Her Majesty’ all earthly-conceivable combos, rhymes, and conceits, and head-off-at-the-pass anyone brazen enough to appear to be copying me. (I did mysteriously leave one choice rhyme for ‘licorice’, “Icarus”, for my comrade stuck in some ex-colonial backwater of an Island-Kingdom, in what turned out to be another “thought-transference” success-story; as his first stellar-entry did Icarus justice, and how). So without further adieu, here are my ‘cannon-fodder’ limericks, each with a tiny bit of explanatory exegesis.

 (You there!, reading from ‘Read Subs’ again, huh? Hope you enjoyed the prosaic part. And for the daily ‘searchers’ who find my site searching “Poems”, hey, at least one of you can tell me whether I suck or not, ok?)

poems limerick contest 1-4

poems limerick contest 5-8

poems limerick contest 9-12

poems limerick contest 13-16

*add* and as an additional tip ‘How not to win’ how’s this:

Thought my ‘art’ would be a ‘hit’
I over-estimated…
Should have added ‘F’ and ‘S’
to amuse the more light-weighted

Xanga’s such an awesome tool
I learn more every night..
Banality’s the Evil Rule
(and should be shot on-site)

Awkward verses mount the stage
With hearts and feet of clay
When farts and poop become the rage
the Wise best stay away

So thank you for the contest, well

I gave it the whole lot of me
Out-numbered by the clientele
I’ll ‘pass’ on that lobotomy

And save my pearls in a silken purse
I made from a piglet’s ear
Let swine be swine, (not mine, that curse)
I played, now I’m ‘outta here!’

C’est la vie. Moral: Don’t expect “The People of the Bush” to be any better at judging poetry than they were with presidents. There’s got to be some forum somewhere in which it pays to work hard on rhyme, rhythm, and wit. Xanga ain’t it.   

An antarctical ANT-article from Uncle Johnny in Antarctica

    My dear friends:

     Even though I’m far away now, my heart is with you all up there in the world. We arrived in the early grip of the long dark winter here; the wind is howling outside the tent, and the bone-numbing cold makes it so perilously easy to forget, or worse, to remember and quickly abandon, our mission, about which I am obviously not at liberty to speak in great detail. Should our team return empty-handed, it will be a mixed-blessing. “One small disapointment for three guys, one giant relief (for now) for mankind“. Remember I said that, and in print, no typos. Oh and there are no ants here, contrary to popular belief. The ‘ANTS’ acronym, well we use it on the radio-chatter to ‘mis-vector’ idle eaves-droppers. Some of the early hi-res sat-cam footage did show ‘ant-like’ figures, and though we now believe they were simply ‘rovers’, the name kinda stuck. What else ya gonna call ’em, till we get a closer look. I have only one request: Please, please, do not link to this page, or direct attention to it by any mass-media outlet. I have chosen, should things turn out badly, to at least go down knowing that the truth was documented, albeit on a Xanga of ‘modest’ though careful and discreet, readership. Yonatan Solberg, ‘Special-Endeavors Officer’, Project ‘Aardvark’.

“The IFO”, background

   Technically speaking, it probably wasn’t ‘flying‘ when it came in. But then neither is the Space Shuttle, our nearest equivalent to the classic ‘UFO‘ hi-tech marvel packed with protoplasm and silicon, ‘flying‘. Its stubby winglets and flat bottom allow it to barely ‘stall’ its way down onto the surface. A rock would do the same, with enough on-board gyros, thrusters, and avionics.  It’s been 73 hours now since the strangely mechanical-sounding “Mayday” was received in the radio room at McMurdo. Of course every spy-satelite worth its high-def lenses and trainable on the footprint has since then churned out 1 meter resolution shots of our ‘visitor’ , the crash-site, the ‘secondary’ activity, the moving figures, but when I first scribbled down the transcripts here, we all knew just about nothing.

   Mickey ‘G, whom I’d finally met back in Israel a few weeks earlier, a radio-fanatic if there ever was one, had SMSed me in the very first hours of the ‘crisis’ with a tersely worded “le’kha b’le’vad, (‘just for you’) 7489 USB (!?) . I’d flipped on the ‘440 and thought about our conversation as I spun the dial to the right frequency. We’d talked briefly about SETI, weird signals, stuff like that, so I assumed this was a tip in that connection. I assumed right. Band conditions on 40 meters were amazing lately, considering the sun-spot cycle and the season, and someone had left a mike open by mistake, and was clearly conferring with his superiors about how to handle some ‘situation’. Having eavesdropped on radio-chatter of all ilks for decades, I could read between the lines; As I fine-tuned into the weak signal, some deep-voiced authority-figure of a dispatcher from who-knows-where was apparently repeating a request…

 “Kilo Charlie four, go to One Seven, copy?”
KC4’s clear response was a crisp “One seven, Roger, QSY“. Then, off-mike “That’s not that Kiwi-Air heavy we had on Victor-31, Sam, is it?”.
  “He was off the screen when..so what the hell was it, man?” Sam sounded like he was busy switching rigs, but the open-mike caught, for the next ten minutes, their conversation, plus one side of the somewhat frantic ‘chat’ on One Seven. One side was enough, (not to mention that I couldn’t afford to chase down the new frequency.
   “Anything from an ELT?” Sam asked his partner, whose name I never caught.
   “Just the one-twenty-one-eight.. that was at sixteen twelve..uh..thirteen..”. Sam interupted ‘Joe’, (we’ll call him), to advise the ‘Authority’
   “Negative, first and last contact was the distress”. Then.. “I have Search-and-Rescue on it.. they want co-ordinates..” And after a pause:
Say again, ‘Cancel’!?”
Joey was telling somebody behind him and muffled off-mike to prepare to copy the GPS numbers, from the sound of it. Now I had three ‘souls aboard’ to keep track of, out there somewhere on the frozen ice-cap.
“Roger, cancel” ‘Joey’, but I could hear the disbelief in his tone of voice.
   “We got a bird down and we’re gonna let him burn?” He popped the mike with that litle outburst. I was developing a mental picture of the geometry of the radio-shack. I guess blind people aren’t missing as much as we think.. they just ‘see’ in the audio spectrum.
   “Maybe a drone?” Sam offered.
   “one that talks?”
   “Yeah, a recorded ‘Mayday’ You heard it too.. sounded like Amtrack ticketing.. you know, that robot…



  
I was starting to really empathize with those guys. A half a beer later and I was like, starting to ‘totally‘ sympathize. I let myself ‘come back’ mentally to my own grid-co-ordinates. Hmmm. The job I was working on had been put on a two-week (maybe more) hold, waiting for architectural miracle-work. Two of my ex-partners in ‘another business’ had been at my birthday party, looking hungry for action. Gil had just blundered into a nice 400,000 shekel winnings in the local “Toto ™” lottery, as if he needed more net-worth, haha. More like, ‘more space under the floor-tiles to bury it’. I was proud I hadn’t even hinted, whimpered, or otherwise expressed anything other than ‘Mazal tov’, but really, TLV to Buenos Aires, and then on southward. We could swing the permits, I was sure of that. Some friends are ‘friends unto death’, even if it’s only partly voluntary. I decided to meet him that evening in the park. That would give me time to re-consider.. and to DF some of the radio-signals I’d logged. Damm UHF and microwave links.. bad enough you often can’t decipher the encrypted text, but if you can’t even copy the station? We’d just have to get ‘closer-in’.. and better-dressed, I remembered. Good thing I hadn’t gotten around to putting away my winter clothes. Did I say “re-consider”? Hahaha.

“A Seer’s Worse Nightmare!”

    A couple weeks ago I noticed upon signing-out that Xanga’s front-page was recommending I read their Featured Content post, adorned with at least one hundred comments, and with the title “A Mother’s Worse Nightmare!” I decided to comply for at least three reasons:
1) It’s an unavoidable fact of life that a Human like me should try to keep abreast on Nightmares, in order to avoid or prevent them. Who knows what horror she might be describing in this post?
2) That having been said, I also wanted to see an example of the kind of high-quality writing which merited not one, not two, but yes, hundreds of “Great post, Yonatan!” reactions.
3) And barring that, I was just dying to know whether anyone else had had any ‘issues‘ with the title, or whether it had even perhaps been meant ironically.. you know: “Shitty Grammar, a mom’s worst dream-come-true!” or “Why Mommy can’t write!”
  Well, with ever-increasing relief I trudged through the entry until it was obvious that this particular ‘Nightmare’, (finding a breath-mint on the floor and freaking out, thinking your 12 year-old daughter was hooked on Ecstacy or Herion {sic}) was possibly..um.. ‘over-sold’.
   And speaking of oversold, Sears and Roebuck®, one of the mail-order catalog firms which supplied our shopping needs in the ’50s, often sold three versions of a product: Sears’ ‘Good’, Sears’ ‘Better’, and of course, for people who didn’t look or smell like us, Sears’ ‘Best’, each with its own price tag and list of features. (The ‘Good’ radio, for example, had a tone-control, but it was just painted on. The ‘Better’ model’s tone control turned around, but didn’t do anything, and the Blue-bloods who shelled out big bucks for ‘Sears’ Best’, got, I suppose, (never having met them personally), ‘highs and lows to die for’.)
   Back to the Nightmare. Having dispatched my duty on points one and two, I now read through, I believe, 171 comments, searching (in vain) for anyone who’d ‘stolen’ my grammarian thunder.  I’d prepared to comment: “.. and a good thing it was only ‘a mother’s ‘worse ‘nightmare; next time it might be ‘worst’!”, but decided to desist, to let sleeping dogs lie or lay eggs, whatever. Their they’re, in there xangas, bless their illiterate little hearts, and I’m he’re, for good, better or best. If they’re content with that content, who am I to be a whiner-of-my-discontent.

   But I am going to do a post someday, which I desperately hope will finally make “Featured Content“, with the title, “A Seer’s Worse Nightmare!”, in which I shall rank-order the following horrific scenes:
1) Seer’s Bad Nightmare: Includes one Starter-prediction, and one(1) fake nose-and-mustache disguise to aid you in getting out of town incognito should the prophesy not come true. Only $2.99 plus tax and shipping.
2) Seer’s Worse Nightmare: Costing only $5.99, this improved model gives you five assorted predictions, some of which may certainly come true. The disguise now includes a wig, for enhanced get-away power, plus wait, you also receive a small ‘crystal-ball’ made from space-age high-imact plastic with the look of genuine crystal, to add predictive ‘punch‘ to your demonstrations.
3) The Seer’s Worst Nightmare, for $39.99, just says ‘Call for details’. I can only hope, as a life-long sour-grapes-man, that the rich-kid wimps whose parents shelled out the big bucks got a simple letter, declaring, in imitation-gold-embossed lettering, “We predict you will shortly be reading page 1197 of our latest Spring/Summer Catalog, where the fine print outlines our ‘no-return on seer-related products’ policy. The official size-and-weight dunce cap you received can be exchanged, though, at your nearest convenient retail outlet. Please have your choice of fabric ready; the postage-stamp-sized swatches provided will help you choose between ‘olive‘, ‘navy‘, or the ever-popular, ‘black’. And thank you for shopping Seers.”

sears seer scene

“Play it again, Johnny. You know the song..”

    As time goes by, even one such as I, trained from childhood not to waste precious daylight on psycho-introspection, none-the-less may finally have heard the penny drop over the roar of the tractors. If anyone is intrigued enough to continue reading, I will explain, briefly and mercifully, or possibly, both. If not, just scroll down to the next entry on your ‘Read your Subs’, but bear in mind that my post, with a more recent time-and-date stamp, includes details maybe not known to the competition.
  That song.. is of course, ‘Wipe-out’, as in “Can you-uns guys play Wipeout… with the drum solo?”
   I had just succeeded in putting together a stellar all-star constellation of players, a Quartet featuring Roger Williams, the un-believably perfect Paul McCartney look-alike, on keyboards and vocals; Barry Grubb, a six-and-a-half-foot teddy-bear on bass and vocals; Lawrence, a technical drum-wizard just back from The War who also sang back-up, and of course, modestly, Moi, on guitars, keys, and vocals. Our show was carefully polished, calculated to win the 1968 equivalent of ‘comments and e-props’… so we thought. The bass-player’s dad, and I apologize for not remembering him name, owned a bar in a little bump-in-the-road town called Waterstreet, and so by default, we ‘chose’ it for our first gig. I believe that about halfway though our first set we realized that Waterstreet wasn’t going to be rock-n-roll heaven, but we bravely plowed on, ending with a perfect cover of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’… but without a drum solo. I guess that’s what blew it. We finished the set, and I noticed that the assembled red-necks and biker-trash were un-commonly quiet. Hmm.. probably thinking about ‘life’? No, maybe they’re all disturbed by the fact that Roger’s unpredictible little 122 Leslie speaker had decided to spin, or not spin without notice and oblivious to his commands. Nah, who knows? I put my guitar down and smiled at a couple of patrons who were approaching with something to say, I could tell. Oh boy, Comments! And yes, it turned out they were simply aghast that we’d played a full 40 minutes without even one verse of ‘Wipeout’. I told them graciously but ambiguously that ‘Yeah, we can play it’, and signaled to Roger that a ‘band-conference’ might be in order.. outside in the rutted pick-up-truck-heaven they called a ‘parking lot’.
“Give ’em ‘Wipe-out’, next they’ll want ‘Smoke on the &$%#$ Water’!”, Roger was more of a purist than I was.
Barry Grubb, the bassist, had family to consider…
“We’ll lead off with it, say it’s for somebody’s birthday, then we’ll just go with the..
“Go with the rest of their requests, ’til we puke blood… I ain’t playing freaking Wipeout!”
This was the drummer, without whom a drum-solo wouldn’t sound quite the same. I looked at my watch; we had five minutes to decide. Of course I could just start the dumb thing and they’d have to follow or look lost, but we were a co-operative, a new paradigm destined to change the world. A vote would have dead-locked us in a tie, so we went back on without a decision. Halfway through the lead-off tune, in a quiet section, I heard somebody yell, “Play Wipeout!”. Spoken with a hint of a threat this time, I decided to comply. We were in Ab minor, slow tempo. I waited for the Eb11 kicker chord and ‘played Wipeout.’ The saddest, most pensive interpretation known to man at the time. Roger, not having much choice, added poly-chords, Barry walked the bass as necessary, and finally, yes, there transpired a drum-solo, whose elegance gave me new respect for the guy’s chops on the battle-field.
   Ok, happy ending, I guess… I was gonna write about my recurring experience of creating something ‘awesome’, and having it fall with an un-expectedly dull ‘thud‘ on the floor, of drawing the conclusion from each little defeat that “I guess it wasn’t really worth anything, after all”, and of somehow not being able to stop myself from continuing to try to create that perfect crowd-pleaser. But as usual, the story has its own point. Our little band, which we called “Sky Blue Pink” went on to more cosmopolitan venues; we did a long-running house-band gig in Niagara Falls, NY, at a club which featured tons of lusty biker-girls, drunken indians, mafiosi, oh, and ‘running water’ in like, totally extreme quantities just a block away, for a refreshing ‘breather’ during set-breaks. Some nights we got a hundred comments, some nights only one or two. I got used to it. Why did I think Xanga would be any different?