Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Many guitarists in the 1970s stampeded down the same trail: play more notes in less time, awe the listener with blinding speed, if all else fails, turn up the amps.

Pat Metheny went down another path: allow space between riffs, be musical, keep the volume down a bit. And he made (and still makes) memorable music, exploring the space where jazz, rock, pop, and electronic music come together. So far, he has won 16 Grammy Awards mostly in jazz and rock categories.

The Pat Metheny Group from 1978 San Lorenzo.

The Pat Metheny Group from 1978, Phase Dance.

He was still a teenager when I first heard him , playing in the Kansas City Jazz Festival and holding his own with famous talents. He is a Kansas City product, born in 1954. He should have many good years ahead of him. Biography.

Pat Metheny (once again) with the Gary Burton Quintet, in Montreal 1988.

Pat Metheny at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2003, with an orchestra yet.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
When purchasing albums, and now CDs, I prefer live recordings. Partly it is aesthetic preference. I think that performing in front of a live audience gives an excitement and immediacy to the music. Partly it is philosophical. Music is naturally a performance, and seems made for sharing in the immediacy of person-to-person contact. Decades ago, recordings tried to capture the sound of an orchestra or band as in performance. Louis Armstrong and friends would stop into a studio between gigs and play just like they were in front of an audience. No overdubbing, tape splicing, enhancing, or other wizardry by a producer. Eventually some groups--Beatles, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, etc.--made the studio primary and then tried to replicate the recorded sound while on tour. This seems the tail wagging the dog. Of course the Beatles largely gave up live performance by the end. And some bands that sounded good on a recording were often atrocious live (yes, you also America).

Instapundit links to this post on the 100 greatest live albums of all time. I am not familiar with them all, but am familiar with most of the jazz choices. Good stuff.

Of course, many of you live in places with live music available nearby. Get out and go. And, for all of us, if we are to be producers rather than merely consumers, we'll make some of our own music. Long live garage bands, living rooms duets, and back-yard sing-alongs.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
The summer of 1969. Forty years ago. Moon landing and Charles Manson and Woodstock.

Tonight I watched a "documentary" on the Woodstock festival. The overall tone was one of nostalgia: oh what a great time, a wonderful cosmic moment when we did things our way and all was peace and joy and love and wonder.

Some things were indeed amazingly wonderful about Woodstock: such a large crowd under adverse conditions and no violence. Amazing.

But I wish our collective memory were more honest. If it were, the mood would not be totally wistful and mellow.

Janis Joplin. Jimmy Hendrix. et al.

One interviewee termed Woodstock a spiritual experience. Maybe so. But remember, Dionysus brings both pleasure and death. His symbols include not only the vine, but also the leopard.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
*the selections of tea in the coolers of our local "convenience stores" (today's high in SW Oklahoma 101 F) has been reduced to make more room for "energy drinks." What kind of a culture is it when a significant chunk of the population feels the need (addiction) for massive amounts of caffeine and sugar?

*we are now called a "service economy." But, I now notice good customer service because it does not seem the norm.

*buying simple items that are not "Made in China" turns shopping into some sort of scavenger hunt. This is the nation that suppresses its own people, is exerting increasing power into the "third world," supports nasty dictatorships around the world especially if oil is involved, destroys its own environment and that of anywhere it touches, is our most likely national military enemy in the 21st century, and is able to assert increasing influence over us because it holds a big chunk of our national debt.

*the representatives in our "representative government" acknowledge that they do not have the time to read and digest a massive bit of legislation that supposedly must be passed quickly.

* we spend ever-increasing amounts of money on public education, try new methods of education annually that promise to be The Solution, and anyone who has taught for over 25 years can tell you that today's students cannot handle the academic rigor of the recent past. (my first teaching job began 30 years ago this month)

*the latest entertainment fad is to hook up to an electronic system indoors and pretend to be running, playing tennis, golfing, shooting, instead of going outside and doing those activities.

*people pay to lay in tanning beds when sunshine is free

Yes, I have been off my meds for a few days but should be able to refill them tomorrow.
Malls R Us

Ebert's review.

Is a shopping mall a sacred place? Not a question often asked. The provocative documentary "Malls R Us" seriously argues that malls serve similar functions today that cathedrals, temples, parliaments, arenas and town squares did in earlier times. Then the film slowly works its way around to the possibility that they may be a plague upon the Earth.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
"No! Don't hit him with the Bible! Here, use this!" Overheard from the back of the church van full of elementary aged children being taken home.

Well, we had gotten half a lesson across: the Bible is a special book. More work remained on personal interaction.

We are having Vacation Bible School at our church this week. Children, ages preschool through 6th grade, are getting Bible stories, Kool-Aid, crafts, games, supper (tonight goulash, corn, and ice cream), songs, and love. What will all this do for them? Only God knows how each life will turn out. But, I am confident that we are doing good, and no harm. And that at least some of the children are benefitting on some level.

We won't be on CNN, or FOX. Nor will our work, or the similar efforts of churches large and small this summer, be discussed on Rush or Hannity. But, what we are doing is important.

Our Founders assumed that most of the life of the republic would happen outside government--local, state, and federal. It does, and it should. But we are in danger of forgetting this blessed reality; and may even alter our national life into a web controlled by a bloated spider on the Potomac.

I have a fantasy. All the members of Congress going back home for a week, laying aside bills and hearings and fund-raising, and strumming guitars, helping 6-year olds with construction paper and paste, playing kickball with 10-year olds, and telling Bible stories in churches and synagogues across America. Or, working at the Y for a week if more in line with beliefs or lack therof. The country would be the better for it.
Story here.

The unborn have memories, according to medical researchers who used sound and vibration stimulation, combined with sonography, to reveal that the human fetus displays short-term memory from at least 30 weeks gestation - or about two months before they are born.

"In addition, results indicated that 34-week-old fetuses are able to store information and retrieve it four weeks later," said the research, which was released Wednesday.

Scientists from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maastricht University Medical Centre and the University Medical Centre St. Radboud, both in the Netherlands, based their findings on a study of 100 healthy pregnant women and their fetuses with the help of some gentle but precise sensory stimulation.

Once more research has shown that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce.

The article linked speculates on the reasons, but does not mention that perhaps those who live together before marriage lack a serious committment to life-long marriage itself.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
A movie I want to see: The Hurt Locker.

Review from Powerline.

IMDB listing.

Rober Ebert thinks it is Oscar material.

From Ebert's review:

A lot of movies begin with poetic quotations, but “The Hurt Locker” opens with a statement presented as fact: “War is a drug.” Not for everyone, of course. Most combat troops want to get it over with and go home. But the hero of this film, Staff Sgt. William James, who has a terrifyingly dangerous job, addresses it like a daily pleasure. Under enemy fire in Iraq, he defuses bombs.
. . .
"The Hurt Locker" is a great film, an intelligent film, a film shot clearly so that we know exactly who everybody is and where they are and what they're doing and why. The camera work is at the service of the story. Bigelow knows that you can't build suspense with shots lasting one or two seconds. And you can't tell a story that way, either -- not one that deals with the mystery of why a man like James seems to depend on risking his life. A leading contender for Academy Awards.

11/07: Hand Fishing

Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Today is a big day in Paul's Valley, Oklahoma (on I-35 south of Oklahoma City).

It’s sure to be another day of unforgettable fun, food and festivities when Bob’s Pig Shop in Pauls Valley hosts the 9th Annual Okie Noodling Tournament and Fish Fry. story here from the Paul's Valley Daily Democrat

For those of you not privilaged with a rural upbringing, "noodling" refers to catching fish by hand, or foot. We called it handfishing up home. You move slowly along the creek or river, sticking your hand or foot, back into underwater holes in the bank, feelling among tree roots and other lurking spots for fish. Did I mention that catfish have spiny fins? Or, that many such catches are made when a large catfish grabs your appendage? Of course, the possibility of water snakes and snapping turtles keeps up the suspense.

And you thought rural life was dull.

Yes, I have handfished, though not for about three decades. Maybe its time to start again.