March 12th, 2005


What becomes of the broken hearted . . .

. . . who had beans and now have farted? That's what I wanna know.

Gee, do I sound bored to you?

I should walk Lightning In A Bottle back to the video store. I rented it Wednesday to celebrate surviving another termette at school. The Pre-Calculus Math final was Wednesday and I had a C going in. That is, if I had turned in a blank paper or not shown up I would have gotten a C because I aced his other two tests and did all the homework. So, if I got at least thirteen of the forty questions right, I got a B and if I did twenty-seven or better, I got an A. The upshot of which was... I left knowing that I had passed the class one way or another, hence the celebration.

This was the second challenging class I've had. The Southwest Culture and Literature took it's toll because of the sheer volume of reading and writing to be done. This one had challenging material and way too much of it for a nine-week termette. The teacher was a prof from UNM who was moonlighting at CSF for the first time. He couldn't believe they were trying to cram trig and analytical geometry and polynomials and binomials and linear systems and matrices and mathematical modeling all into one abbreviated term. The college got its money's worth out of him, though. For a 5:30 to 9:30 class, [stop me if I've chronicled this already] he was writing lecture material on the board at 5:20 and homework problems at 9:40. Twice a week. The other classes met once a week and they usually let you out at quarter after eight or eight-thirty. So while he complained about having way too much to cover in the allotted time, he did do the best he possibly could to cram it all in.

This must not be an unheard-of situation because I found this on the funny-ha-ha page of a "How To Do Matrix Math Without Hurting Yourself"* website:

"What you can't cover in the lectures, put in the assignments, and what doesn't fit in the assignments, put in the exam" . . .

Anyway, Lightning In A Bottle is an enjoyable rent, if you're into blues, which I'm still a sucker for. As I watched it, I thought, "these songs all sound the same - and I like all of them."** But ain't that what the blues is anyway? - the same song played a billion different ways by a million different people? If that's a shortcoming (I'm not sure it is), it is also its strength and the reason they're making movies about it 100 years after they started calling it "the blues".

But I, personally, enjoy the crap out of lots of kinds of music. I heard a taste of George Gershwin's American In Paris in a commercial the other day and had to drag it out and listen to it - and Rhapsody In Blue - all the way through, just 'cuz. These pieces actually thrill me. No shit. But so does Jeff Healey's version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". And Joe Cocker's "A Little Help From My Friends" where he (with other Mad Dogs and Englishmen) turned a schmaltz pop piece into something like a prayer. And countless others.

Not all music, though. There are certifiable gems from thousands of artists spanning dozens of genres, but I would have to say that the bulk of music published is boring and unremarkable. It exists because people expect at least eight tunes, preferably ten or twelve, on a CD.*** So you pays yer fifteen bucks and you gets yer one, two or three songs that you would listen to again of your own free will. And you get a lot of "filler".

There are exceptions. When I fell in love with Fred Eaglesmith recently, I listened to "Drive-In Movie" all day long for a couple of weeks. There was one song I didn't like quite as well as the others, but the rest I couldn't hear enough of. Then I got "Lipstick, Lies and Gasoline," which is further off the wall, but just as good, maybe better - I liked all of the tunes. Then I bought another Eaglesmith album that I can't tell you the name of without going and getting it. Ol' Fred had just gone off where I wasn't interested in following.

It's like you live in a town for a couple of years and have a good friend that you really enjoy talking to and hanging out with then one day your friend announces that (s)he is moving to Montanan soon (gonna be a dental floss tycoon). The idea of Montana just doesn't fire your imagination, in fact, if you were on a road trip, you might purposefully plan your route to avoid it. So, you don't go, but that doesn't mean the good times weren't good. It doesn't mean the good songs weren't killers. It just means...

Well, let's face it, it doesn't mean anything at all. Except that if I leave now, I won't be back till four which will barely give me time for a shower. T will have to wait till tomorrow for his letter of reference.


*The gist of their advice was, "get a calculator and learn to use it."

**With the possible exception of a hip-hop version of John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom Boom". I have noticed that there is a threshold somewhere having to do with musical taste or age or both, beneath which hip-hop and rap and music are pretty much the same thing (hence the domination of the Grammy Awards [for whatever they're worth] by rap "artists") and above which hip-hop and rap have nothing to do with music and never did.

Some professional conjecturists have postulated that rap and music are like humans and chimpanzees - they had a common ancestor, but it was way, way back there.

That particular rant aside, in the "bonus tracks" there is a weird (that's probably why it didn't make the main movie) version of "Revelation" or "John the Revelator", or whatever it's called, by Chris Thomas King, the guitar player hobo guy from O Brother Where Art Thou. He plays and sings part of it live while part is on tape and the whole time there's a rap DJ-type person in the background going skrihiwihihwihih on the turntables. Interesting, anyway.

***(Boy, once I get started with the asterisks...) Johnny Winter once released an album on two vinyl discs, one side of one of which was blank, smooth, no grooves. His explanation? "We couldn't honestly give you more and we didn't want to give you less." Pretty good gimmick if you ask me.