It Is Simple…

Kidding 1st-Time Parents For Being… 1st-Time Parents

 

Rose-Colored Sunglasses

Our kids are we and themselves. Narcissistic in that way that we reach out to understand the chaos by putting on the right sunglasses (the ones we bought because we liked the color or the shape or the way they framed our face… or that someone told us we needed them). We can’t say there was no self-absorption built into our choice—who are we, anyway, without thousands of on-the-fly choices that won’t wait around for analysis?

These are the Jokes, Folks

I am a person of humor, which means rather than tell it straight up, I repackage my little kernel truths in the belief that I can present them better than the sales clerk who asks me, right from the script, if I want that gift-wrapped to go? (No, thank you, forgetting the burden of scissors, tape and paper.) We laugh at a joke, my kids and I, at the same time, where to anyone else there is nothing funny. In that one All-Moment, they are themselves and me.

 

The Me

And when there is nothing, without calling for it, I find myself already hitched up & dragged out: By my reindeer (a better image here than oxen or another beast of burden). Thank goodness (substitute words available upon request) they aren’t me, but that they hear and respond to the me in them.
My Life That Will Be

I’m not a nineteenth-century farmer, who did his part to create a future work force. I’m no coddler, either, who tried to make a better me, just free of pain & dysfunction. But—is bleach or sunshine that makes colors so hard to see at times?—in that moment if laughing with them, there it is, that kernel truth.

Which is always now.

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Cooking, Writing, And Thinking In a Box

Making Something Out of Nothing

I’ve always wanted to be that private on an old M*A*S*H episode who gets assigned mess duty and somehow manages to make the same old army food taste fantastic. Everyone lines up for meals. Klinger becomes maître d’ and checks his list for reservations. Eventually a general comes along and snatches him up as his personal chef, and the 4077th lapses into mealtime depression.

What I knew without knowing is the magic in making something out of nothing. It can be applied to everything. Certainly, it’s a thinking tool. The more limited the resources, the more the challenge. And there’s something wonderful—actually freeing—about being limited but with carte blanche on creation. 
Say Something Interesting

A writer featured in my graduate schooling, Irvin Hashimoto, called it, “Freedom In a Box.” He chose not to direct his writing students with all-too-familiar prompts that generate tightly-controlled—and frankly, uninteresting responses (thank you, rubric’d testing). Instead, he would present an obscure quotation and an unrelated photo, and direct them to, “Say something interesting…,” followed by a page length or word count that he admitted to us he could care less about if the product is interesting and technically-competent (he would also feature a deal-breaker grammatical rule they had to exhibit).

I’ve taught high school language arts for years. Nowhere in the curriculum, now heavily-geared toward “prompt writing,” is there mention of being interesting. So I remember my TV chef and think, sustenance is food, but for the same price and a little wriggling creativity, food can become a meal.  

Realesque

A Ranting Review that begins with the new HBO series, “Westworld,” touches on some existential stuff, & ends, somehow, with Netflix’s “Luke Cage.”

Westworld Ho!
Here’s a Sci Fi rule of thumb: Always trust a story about robots to challenge notions about what it is to be human. What holds us back? What leads us onward? What do we *really* want underneath all the civilized answers we’ve trained ourselves to give.

HBO’s new Game of Westworld debuted last night. It’s Michael Crichton’s original idea, first filmed in the 70’s with Yul Brynner’s mechanically-menacing “Draw!” Conflict is similar; treatment is much more expansive. Basic premise: if you think someone’s not a person but they resemble one (think Grand Theft Auto, maybe), would you treat them any differently? And what if you pay for the privilege to do anything you want. Even the unspeakable, hedonistic or debouched (now we’re in the GofT zone). And then… how would you cope if that person turned out to be “real” or “realesque”? In other words, how much of our behavior is governed by our inner sense of right/wrong, & how much by even the slightest presence of other humans? 

Highly recommended so far. (Oh, and contrary to rumors that actors were asked sign off on permitting “genital touching,” I didn’t see any of that. Plenty of genitals; just no touching.)
Pretty heavy stuff. 

Much less heavy: Netflix’s “Luke Cage,” in which you can see a huge black cast, perfectly aware (I think, I hope) that they’re bathing all over again in Blacksploitation (think Luke Shaft); they champion Harlem Renaissance artists & history, while taking the occasional pause to explain why using the n-word is bad, although everyone goes right on doing it & walking down steamy streets to non-stop wah-wah funk that makes me sentimental for Shaft & a 40 of malt liquor (& I’m not at all sentimental about Shaft or malt liquor… now Soul Train’s a different story). 
Still, it’s entertaining 🙂

Your friendly ranting reviewer

Tears for Fears – One Genuine Non-Pathetic Reunion Band

But that’s just a shortened version of my original title:
“Non-Pathetic Reunion Bands & The Banner They Waive For Continued Creative Relevance Long After Their Rockstar Youths”

This essay isn’t about a band. Or a concert. But it starts there.

img_3037

After 15 years, Tears for Fears came back to our Red Rocks Amphitheater. My son, who had no chance but to get soaked in my music growing up invited me. Reunion bands are fun. Good chance to tell all my old stories again. What we found, however, was a mature but very relevant band that whose members had the kind of fun playing together that truly competent artists can afford without relying on their past success completely.

In the audience, the two generations of my family enjoyed the surprise, standing most of the concert. He is his own person, my son, but very much like me as well. He’s the same age I was when first introduced to this band. Our selfie looks like the composite photos of the band that I saw leading up to the concert. Kids & Adults. But both with the little spark that’s enjoying the moment without too much rearview tunnel vision of the past. img_3018Here are the hi lights of the 37-page essay about staying young and relevant that I might have written:

  • Tears for Fears isn’t—as it turns out—another group of old guys paying for their their youthful magic moments with a shabby reunion tour
  • They played some solid new songs & an appreciative cover; even starting with Lord’s cover of their own song, “Mad World,” before they even took the stage
  • In many ways, Roland Orzabal’s voice is richer than it used to be (which is saying something)
  • Curt Smith seemed actually in awe of Red Rocks, commenting that 15 years & a lot of testosterone ago, their focus was mostly on the women.
  • The band took time out for the fanboy obligatory concert selfie, but with the audience & Red Rocks in the background.

You kind of knew they  were special when they somehow opened up a crack in the time-space continuum, looked ahead & wrote these lyrics (as teenagers, no less):

Welcome to your life
There’s no turning back
Even while we sleep
We will find you

Acting on your best behaviour
Turn your back on mother nature
Everybody wants to rule the world

It’s my own design
It’s my own remorse
Help me to decide
Help me make the most

Of freedom and of pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world

There’s a room where the light won’t find you
Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down
When they do I’ll be right behind you

So glad we’ve almost made it
So sad they had to fade it
Everybody wants to rule the world

I can’t stand this indecision
Married with a lack of vision
Everybody wants to rule the world
Say that you’ll never never never never need it
One headline why believe it ?
Everybody wants to rule the world

All for freedom and for pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world

—“Everybody Wants to Rule the World”
Tears for Fears, Songs From the Big Chair (1985)

Apple Looks Down from Atop Sierra

Thank you, Apple, for your new OS, named for yet another mountain, and for lifting my entire laptop storage onto your creepy iCloud, then charging me for the extra storage. (Sure, I kept pressing Yes without reading). I know it makes sense to you. Your Futureworld is lovely, in which we are wireless spinning tops, dancing at your door; but I’ll bet your provider’s coverage doesn’t cut out every now and again. I have always loved your product, don’t get me wrong. Customer since 1985. Remember that runner, throwing her mallet at the evil autocrat’s propaganda broadcast? Remember? You used to be the hammer.