2016 Did Not Entirely Suck, Metal Version

800px-PostcardHappyNewYearOldManKidScytheHourglass1910

Ten seconds later, the kid put the Scythe through 2016’s head, to roaring applause.

It only partially sucked.

Death touches us all every year, and 2016 was no different. We lost great musicians this year. Nik Green from Blue Murder and Nick Menza from Megadeth, among a great many others. Feel free to offer a moment of silence for them now.

I’d prefer a moment of noise for them, but that’s just me.

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For every second rate, weak kneed radio friendly shit storm that Beyonce or Justin Beiber comes out with, there are awesome ones that come out to balance things out.  There was some pretty damned amazing music this year.

Some things went right in 2016. Like these three albums:

Deströyer 666 gave us the album Wildfire, their fifth, in February. It is, plain and simple, fucking incredible. Angry metal thunder from one end of the album to the other.  Check out the title track. Check out Hounds at ya back. Just check out the album. It’ll be more than worth it. Best cuts: Hounds at ya Back, Die You Fucking Pig

Gojira put out Magma in June of this year, a great album, perhaps their best since From Mars to Sirius.  Thunderous, complex and haunting with that twist that only the DuPlantier brothers can create, the album is full of some of the most compelling harmonies of the year.  Anthemic is the word I’d use to describe it. Best cuts:  Low Lands, Pray.

Metallica came out with Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, their best album since Master of Puppets, in early November. Thrash is back with a vengeance. While some of this double album is more hooky than old school metalheads would like it to be, that isn’t always a bad thing. Ignore the cynics, this is a great listen from front to back. Best cuts: Spit Out the Bone, When a Blind Man Cries(Deep Purple Cover),Dream No More.

Even if everything else that came out in 2016 was crap (and trust me on this, most of it was) These three albums saved the year, musically.

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And without music there can be no perfect knowledge, for there is nothing without it. For even the universe itself is said to have been put together with a certain harmony of sounds, and the very heavens revolve under the guidance of harmony. ~ Saint Isidore of Seville (560-636)

29 Years Ago Today

Pic of the day:  Neptuns Pferde, by Walter Crane

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How can I tell that the past isn’t a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?

Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

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29 years ago today, on a warm autumn day in 1983, I went to high school.  It was my first day of school for that particular year, 2 weeks later than everyone else because there was some kind of issue with my transferring from one high school to another.  I had looked at the list of classes I could take the week prior as I recall.  I had 2 possible elective classes I could take.  The first was typing.  I did not want to take typing, as I had taken it the year previous and was aggressively uninterested in it.

The second was guitar.  I had never played one prior to that.  I had played a very little bit of keyboards perhaps 6 years earlier, and still had the small sears electric keyboard and futzed with it on occasion.  I had also played the penny whistle when I was 7 years old.   For a few weeks, I remember being good at it, or more correctly stated I was told I was good by the parents who listened to me.

That didn’t make a difference in the decision for me.  I didn’t want to type,  hated writing back then, hated school to be honest.  The place bored me.  Maybe guitar would be different.

Was it ever.

On my first day, my teacher, Mr. Comachero took the time to make sure I was comfortable in class.  He tried to get me up to speed with what the class had done.  Initially I could not even get a note out of the small student guitar I was given in class.  It had a small crack in the front of it as I recall, and an extra hole that looked like someone had put something the size of a quarter through the very bottom of the front of the guitar.  After a few tries I managed to get some notes out of the thing, but nothing that could even vaguely be called music.

When the whole class played I tried to play as quietly as possible so I wouldn’t embarrass myself.  I was asked to play one thing that first class.  I couldn’t obviously, but Mr. Comachero smiled and looked me in the eye.  He said something about him knowing I couldn’t play it, but before the day was finished I would be able to.  Something like that.   I could tell he was doing everything he could.  I don’t remember if I actually learned the piece that day, but I did get it.  A few notes from the song “little brown jug” as I recall.  The man did everything he could to get that song snippet in my head.

When he was focusing on other students, i took the time to look around the class.  In the classroom, there were a few curious looking…notes around the top of the chalkboard.  I had no idea what they were.  I didn’t ask what they were.  But as I looked at them I realized that there were 6 lines on each of the notes, and 6 strings on the guitar.

The people in the class were all cool.  They were new to me, as was I to them.  I thought it was amazing that people in class actually paid attention to each other and help each other learn.  It was about the most positive experience I’d ever had in a classroom, and the teacher not only allowed it, he encouraged it.  I didn’t know teachers could be good people like that.

At the end of the first days class, as I was leaving I did something I had never done with any other class.  I thanked my teacher.  And meant it.

29 years ago today, I began a musical journey that I am happily still on.  I play almost every day, and every day I get better as a player.  I would not still be on this journey if it weren’t for my first guitar teacher, Mr. Comachero.  So thank you, sir.  The gift you gave me is still giving, and I am eternally grateful.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night

A Days Music

Pic of the day:  Pierrot with a guitar by Honore Daumier

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If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour.

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act i, scene i

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I hadn’t picked up the instrument in earnest in quite a while.  Oh, I had played a bit here, a few minutes here and a few minutes there, but nothing serious.  I had not had an even mild journey of musical creation in what seemed like forever, and in actuality was probably months.  Months in which I had simply played music that I had played before, music that was already under my fingers, music that was ready and easy.  Nothing to think about, something where the music is automatic.

Automatic but lifeless.

After even a short excursion into a more creative phase even the most banal and plain of pieces of music seem to flow better, seem to feel stronger, brighter, jump more readily wherever I want them to.  I found the time to actually get to that place today, after simply not having the time to for quite a while.

Felt good.

Sometimes that creative spark can come from the smallest of places.  Today it was a simple 6 note pattern that I had never played before playing a piece of mine that I had played a thousand times before.  A simple arpeggio sequence with altered cadence, and maybe a note or two added for effect.  Added to it first by alerting the altered cadence further and then adding additional arpeggios to it.

It was a joy.

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For some reason, probably one of ease, I tend to begin all my playing in the key of C major.  It falls easiest under my fingers.  C major was the first scale that I learned, way back in the early autumn of 1983, when I was beginning to learn the rudiments of the instrument in Curtis High School.  I think the first song I tried to play was the M*A*S*H* theme.

I’m not 100% sure I could play it right now, but it wouldn’t take too long.  “Suicide is painless” the title of the song, is a pretty easy song.

When I picked up the guitar today, I immediately reached for the G Maj to C Maj 9th combo and added a D min to G sus2 combo to it.  Lots of open strings and banjo picking early.  Nothing but fun there.  It’s not an old song of mine, but a variation on a theme that I have been playing for years, one that I add to, take away from, and generally play around with.  It is light years from where it started, but it’s where it needs to be now.

It has this counterpoint piece that is fluid and beautiful and unlike anything that I had ever written before.  It is utterly simple, shapes more than chords.  Tenths, both major and minor with an ascending bassline and an alternating harmony on top of it.  Sounds almost classical, but I am not good enough to quite pull off an actual classical sound.  So I guess almost will have to do.

Someday.

Until then I will make do stringing together music cobbled together from what bits of musical knowledge that dance in my head, and probably in the key of C.

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When I jumped out of C major, it was straight to B flat.  Blues stuff.  That stuff I don’t ever have to think about.  I look at the guitar, put my hand down, and it comes out.  Sometimes it’s ragged sounding, sometimes hostile, sometimes joyous, but there’s always something strong going on there.

Just started by comping on that Bb 7th, and find those blue notes, picked the notes that are there, slid my hands gracefully across the fretboard.  Gently, quickly, nimbly dancing on just a few frets, but dancing fast.  Double stops mixed in with chords and single note lines, more or less at random.  There is a structure to it, a loose and subtle one, but it’s there.  Then there is a subtle slide from that Bb 7th to an Eb 9th, and I start to slide in earnest.

Here is where I start to just run my hand up the fretboard, like I’m Robert Johnson using an old coricidin bottle or switch blade, using my middle finger like a slide, barely paying attention to where it’s going and paying more attention to the sound.  I’ll know when to stop sliding when I get there, no need to think.  Just do it.

When I get down to the first fret for the few seconds that I’ll be there I make a point to push the boundaries just a bit, purposefully play notes too high, play a D where a C would be the right one, hit an open note, then slide back up to the Bb 7th.

12 bar blues, my way, the only way to go.

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That’s it from me, America.  G’night.

And They Danced

“It’s alright, hon” he tells her, “Everything is going to be ok”.  She does not seem to understand, or care, and simply continues to cry inconsolably.

“You hate me! You do! You don’t want me here!” She cries, half yelling into her tear soaked pillow in the darkness of the unlit room.  Light pours in from the next room, but only just enough to make out her silhouette laying on the bed, shifting and twisting uncomfortably on her side of the bed. A little bit disconcerted, but yet undaunted, he continue to try to appeal to her in some fashion.  First the attempt to make a point that he is not angry, and that, no matter what, he stills love her.

She knows this, but this isn’t what she needs to hear, and so is unfazed.

He decides it has become time for a different strategy, in part because he has things to do, but mainly he can’t stand to see her like this.

So he decides to use  his sense of humor, such that it is.  Simple stupid jokes, usually pretty bad ones, mostly of a slightly perverted variety, meant to elicit a smile and an  “Ewwwwwwwwww”  The first few fail, but he can see that the crying has lessened somewhat. She has heard all of the jokes before, knows them forwards and backwards, so usually the jokes bond as well as bring a smile and a laugh.

But it’s hard to tell whether he is having any effect, though she would be giggling at the idiotic humor if she were in a better place.  So he goes for the gusto, and start singing badly out of tune made up on the spot dirty variations of well known Christmas songs.  This works, and by the end of it, she is singing along, making up words, funnier and dirtier than his and the crying stops altogether.

After a minute of trading bad jokes about nasty things to do with peppermint sticks and various body parts, he holds her, and she him, and he tells her it’ll be alright.

“Are you sure?  You seemed mad at me before”

“I wasn’t mad” he tells her, as she blows her nose, drying her still wet eyes “I was busy, and annoyed that things were not working the way I wanted them to.  You read me wrong there, hon”

“Are you sure?”  There is a mixture of pleading and hope in her eyes and her voice as she asks the question.

So I replied “Yes, I Love You, now let’s dance”

“But there’s no music!”

“So?”

And they danced.

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That so many writers have been prepared to accept a kind of martyrdom is the best tribute that flesh can pay to the living spirit of man as expressed in his literature. One cannot doubt that the martyrdom will continue to be gladly embraced. To some of us, the wresting of beauty out of language is the only thing in the world that matters.

Anthony Burgess

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Viddy of the day:  Dean Martin – Let it Snow!

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Pic of the day:  Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Gloomy Day

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Say It And Play It

Ron Paul is a racist.

I am reading what Ron Paul wrote in his newsletters back in the late 80’s and early  90’s.

It’s pretty damning stuff.

He said that 95% of the black males in WASHINGTON DC are criminals.

He said that some paper said some crap about the L.A. riots ending only when “the blacks” went to go pick up their welfare checks.

He said Martin Luther King seduced young boys and girls.

And yes, I am tidying some of his statements up.

It cannot be questioned that it is from him.  It is his.  His newsletter. Any person who writes knows that the writers write and the editors and higher ups decide which content goes into the final product.  For as much of this stuff to come out, and for him to make claims about not knowing rings false.

And back in 1996 you claimed knowledge of, and ownership of, these self same newsletters that you now claim you had no prior knowledge of.

Ya know, Ron, the world deserves better.  Speak the truth.  It was your newsletter.  You spoke your mind.

Say it.  You’re a racist, Rep. Paul.  Say it, you know it’s the truth.

Admit it. It’s yours, own it like a man, stop running from the truth.

Coward.  Servant.  Blind man.

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For his spokesman to call white racialism a “small ideology” and claim white activists are “wasting their money” trying to influence (Ron)Paul is ridiculous. Paul is a white nationalist of the Stormfront type who has always kept his racial views and his views about world Judaism quiet because of his political position.

Bill White

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It has been FAR too long since I have last written anything for the guitar here, and there is a reason for that.  I’ve been busy, and to be truthful, I have been busy with other things, too busy to write guitar stuff, which generally involves hours of pouring over source material and playing and re-playing music in small pieces, dissecting them to make sure that everything is right.

Not to mention I cut the tip of my ring finger on my left hand a few days ago, and I can’t play with the damn thing.

I am hoping to fix this situation as soon as I can, but I don’t know when that will be.  In the meanwhile, here a guitar lesson from Joe Satriani, and my pic of the day, a painting I first saw as the cover of a Frederick Noad book “The Baroque Guitar.”  Good book, it has some very beautiful pieces of music in it.

Enjoy.

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Viddy of the day:  Joe Satriani on Picking

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Pic of the day: Young Woman playing a guitar, by Johannes Vermeer.

That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

A Very Boehner Christmas

I don’t even have to read the headlines sometimes to know I am going to be annoyed by a story in the news.  Barely have the google news page open, and the first word I see is “Boehner.” Usually that word is immediately followed by some form of  frippery he is spouting about his rich mans point of view.

Not that other politicians don’t do the same.  A great many do, from all corners of the political spectrum, he’s just especially annoying about it.

The words that immediately followed were “Says House GOP Opposes Deal on Payroll Tax”  Which for those of you who don’t know Beltway-speak really means one of two things.  One is: “The Tea Party wants more concessions for big business and the President knows it.”  The other is “GIMME GIMME GIMME what I want!”

One of those.

Frankly I’m not surprised he and his right wing friends don’t like it.   Story I hear is that Boehner isn’t sure he can keep his house in order and his people in check to get this passed.  It was accepted by the Democratic Senate, and has breaks for the middle and working class in it.  That isn’t how the right wing rolls.

Too bad that doesn’t really matter.

The Senate is on recess at this point, with only pro-forma sessions scheduled from here on out. That means it’s perfunctory, no business is expected, and the only reason it is open is because the house is open for business, because the senate cannot shut down for more than three days in a row while the house is open for business, and vice versa.

So good luck, all you unemployed or under employed people, because you’ll be shit outta luck if Boehner can’t hold his caucus together.  And that Tea Party is mighty hard to control. He’d better hope he can, or else a LOT of people are going to hold him, the Republicans, and the Tea Party personally responsible for screwing them during the Holiday season here in America.

But that seems to be the way it always goes, right?  The rich make excuses and the poor get shafted, and called lazy on top of it.

Merry Christmas.

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I need a little Christmas, sooooo…. Viddy of the day: Mary’s Boy Child (Harry Belafonte)

Tis a truly beautiful song, one of the best renderings of any Christmas song.  It’s up there with the Harry Simeone Chorale singing “Little drummer boy”, Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas”, and Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song”

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How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.

Benjamin Franklin

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Ah! dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for thee.

Martin Luther

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Pic of the day:  Adoration of the Shepherds, by Guido Reni

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

You’ll Like The Video, At The Very Least

The question marks surrounding BiggusDickusGate are no longer questions.

Anthony Weiner finally admitted it.  It was him.

Good boy, I like that you admitted it, even if it took far too long to do so.  You look like a complete jackass now, though, you realize that, right?  How the hell could you? First screw around on-line with half a dozen women, then lie like you did.  Did you think it would just blow over? Just go away?

A bit stupid, but to be real about this, I expect that kind of behavior from people with positions of power.  Over time it goes to some of their heads, and they abuse it, and expect to be able to get away with it, because of who they are , and the positions they hold.

Ridiculous of course, but plenty of people believe ridiculous things.

Vito Fossella (aka drunky smurf) should have resigned, but he rode out his last term, and got what he deserved, which is leaving in disgrace.  John Ensign should have resigned earlier, he was clearly guilty, and his crimes were actual crimes, so he deserves having the book thrown at him, and got what he deserved, which is leaving in disgrace.

I don’t see that happening with Rep., Weiner though.  Not that he doesn’t deserve the boot.  For this he does (ask me again in 2 weeks, I might have a different answer for you,) but I don’t think this sinks him, at least not yet.  I don’t know that he is done in the house, unless it can be proven that he sent this stuff from the house, and used house equipment to do it.  It can’t  just be a simple ethics violation that’d finish him.   If that could sink a career, almost no one would be left in the house at all, left, right, or moderate.  It would take a rather severe breach to cause him enough damage to end his political career.

But it’ll be a loooooooooooooooong time before he has enough credibility to show his face on television, even on his best TV friend’s show, TRMS.  Though admittedly, I would like to see him go on there, and explain lying to her, and everyone he spoke to, about this entire debacle.

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And now for something completely different…

IT’S INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SLAYER!

Viddy of the day:  Slayer – Divine Intervention

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If you want to be respected by others the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Insulted and the Injured

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It’s 70 something degrees out right now.  The air conditioner is going right now, might not really need it but it feels good, even if it is a little chilled in the apartment right now.

The sound of the air conditioner, the pendulum of the cuckoo clock ticking away, and the monotonous staccato of my fingers dancing across the keyboard are the only sounds that I can hear.  That is if I don’t count the constant background noise that is my tinnitus giving a vague high pitched whine to every single moment of my life.  The television was on a scant few minutes ago, and the sound was blaring, a riot of noise and light seemingly meant to distract me from living my life long enough to give a damn about some stranger who thinks my money would fit better in their pockets than my own.

Silly humans.

The light is far too bright for me, but any light beyond the absolute minimum is too bright for me.  The two dull 60 watt lights burn in the wall sconces, adding no heat to the brightly chilled room.

Two cats lounge around.  Being cats, that is their job.  It’s what they do, so I let them do it, and go on with my own business.  My business?  For the moment, writing this article, but most of the day it has been centered around looking for work, which is an obsession of mine.  Unemployment sucks and other blisteringly obvious statements.  I ended up, after searching for several hours around 9 resumes in.

One was rejected almost immediately.  Looking at it now it isn’t surprising.  It was for a carpenter for the MTA here in new york.  I have no carpenter experience, but it showed up in a  search I did on career builder.  So I sent it in, ya know… tossing stuff on the wall, seeing what would stick.  I did not  realize they wanted several years of experience at it.  I didn’t  read that bit when I sent the thing in.

Oops. Sorry TA, didn’t mean to be a putz at you.  Nuttin personal.

The other jobs were not as far fetched in scope as me ending up as a carpenter for the TA.    Porter, maintenance man at 2 different places, construction laborer, doorman.  Stuff like that.  Sending out feelers to as many people as I can, looking for work.

Wish me luck.

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That’s it from here, America!  G’night!