Category Archives: sharing from YouTube

For the Love of Sad Clowns

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This is my latest clown picture, inspired by my newest fascination with Puddles’ Pity Party on YouTube.  Like all my clown pictures, I am fairly sure that my number one son will tell me it’s a creepy clown.  He has never liked clowns.  When he was still small we took him to the pre-show at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus which at that time was Meet the Clowns.  We met the men… and women… and dwarves… in the face paint with the loud personalities and huge red smiles.   I was charmed, as always, but number one son spent most of the time behind my pantleg, peering around for sneak peaks at the clowns.  He was actually shivering most of the time.

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But me, I love clowns.   Always have.  Especially the sad clowns.  The hobo clowns.  Red Skelton playing Freddy the Freeloader, Charlie Chaplin as the Little Tramp, Marcel Marceau, the peerless mime, and Emmett Kelly Jr. as Weary Willie.  There is something deeply poetic and resonant about a clown who makes you laugh by his outward actions but manifests deep feelings and an underlying sadness on the inside.  It is a metaphor for the whole of life in the human world.

Puddles walked on to the stage of America’s Got Talent and engaged everyone first with his silent-clown mime routine, and then grabbed everyone right by the heart by singing a song about drinking and swinging on the chandelier with such emotion and operatic power that, by the end of the song everyone was standing, everyone loved him.  Singing clowns with a sad song help us keep our own little boats afloat on a vast and stormy ocean of life.  The song buoys us up and makes it bearable to tread water a little longer.  I am at a time and place in my life where I really need that.

I love clowns.  Especially sad clowns.  Particularly when they sing.

I dare you to watch these videos and not fall in love with Puddles.  That’s the point of sad clowns.  They make you laugh at the sad and serious things that tear people apart.  And by doing that, they put Scotch Tape on the tears and put you back together.

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Filed under battling depression, clowns, commentary, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, sharing from YouTube, strange and wonderful ideas about life

This is How the World Ends…

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The T. S. Eliot poem “The Hollow Men” talks about the disappointing nature of human beings and ends  with a dire four lines quoted more often than any poem’s end in the history of poetry.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Now I have revealed this particular truth more than once.  I am not prescient.  I am an idiot.  And the only things I know for certain about the future are that I will die one day, and so will everyone else.  But knowing those things  is wisdom.  Especially the idiot part.

And I can see how things are progressing.  I know what people are like at their core.  If humanity is doomed to die out in the next century, or even the next decade, it will not be because of nuclear war.  It will be something sneakier, quieter, and more permanently lethal.

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It will be the fact that people are capable of heartlessness and cruelty.  Adolf Hitler turned the full power of government-focused hatred on those he defined as less than human; Jews, gypsies, gay people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the mentally handicapped.  He used that focus to burn those peoples out of existence.  But many forces in the human character rose up to shield the victims, saving some and avenging the others.  Hitler learned the hard way that he was not the end of the world… from a bullet, in a bunker, having lost an empire.

Now, the Republican clown show in the United States is turning into Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

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They show lack of concern for anything but corporate profits.  They will undo Medicare and cancel the Meals on Wheels program because, according to evil leprechauns in charge of the budget, we can’t afford to feed people, or educate people, or do anything to dry up the painful ocean of poverty capitalism is creating.  No, we must bury our pots of gold and any magic they have left in them.

They have changed the laws on environmental protections to allow themselves to profit by pouring pollutants into rivers and water supplies.  They pull out of world-wide agreements to work towards saving the environment from climate change.

They may have found a way to focus hatred through the lens of indifference.  Hitler’s mistake was in thinking most humans could be manipulated only through fear and hatred for those who were different.  Trump’s troll army has added stupidity and greed to the lenses the light can be filtered through.  And so, they may well succeed where Nazis failed.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

 

 

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Filed under angry rant, humor, insight, pessimism, politics, self pity, sharing from YouTube

Updates and Transitions

I still can’t believe my hockey team, the St. Louis Blues, lost to that upstart Nashville team whose logo is a cross between a cat and a beaver with really bad teeth problems.  But that was the other post for today.

I am probably going to kick the bucket soon.  I hate that bucket.  I just don’t like it. But in spite of impending doom for me and the world in general, I am making some changes.  After all, life is change.  We can either change or be dead.  And I am definitely not going to kick that bucket today, no matter how grumpy its existence makes me.

One change I have made is in Toonerville.  I finished snowing all over Al’s General Store.  I added two kids and their cat on the bench outside (in short pants during a winter scene… stupid kids) and fat old Huckleberry Wortle on the front steps looking for someone to play checkers with and tell lies to.  But don’t offer to be the one playing checkers with Huck.  He’s a conservative Republican with Tea Party leanings, and he will tell you things about Obama, government, and people in general that will make you so mad that you will want to go to the bench and kick the kids’ cat.

Toonerville is undergoing a winter renovation.  If I ever get to rebuild the layout, it will now have snow where grass used to be the plan.  It is still temporarily in storage on streets that are really book shelves.  And the Trolley goes nowhere.

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I have also been experimenting with shifting focus, as you can tell by the blurry trolley and track light in the foreground.

In addition to photography, I am making changes to my publishing directions.  I recently bought a subscription to a video-editing program and now intend to inflict Mickey-made videos to my blog.  To be completely honest, I made the purchase at the begging of my daughter who was using the free trial for a school project and ran out of free before she ran out of ideas.  Sound genetic to you, does it?

I have been forced to make publishing changes.  I am almost done paying the huge penance for publishing Magical Miss Morgan with Page Publishing.  That is a mistake that won’t be repeated.  I will self-publish from here on out.  After MMM, I will attempt to publish Snow Babies via Amazon.

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My current manuscript, The Baby Werewolf, is undergoing forced changes as well.  The primary factor here is my unique ability to lose things all together.  Two of the three parts of the original hand-written manuscript are now missing, and have been since we moved to Dallas in 2004.  Bummer.  Coatimundies from South Texas are probably reading it, laughing up a storm, and cursing me for not having lost part three along with the rest of it.  They surely can’t wait to find out what happens.  But since I have to do it all from memory, it will be different from what they read.

And even though writing a blog post every day is hard, I have decided it is worth it to continue.  After posting every day for thirty consecutive months, I have learned that the practice not only sharpens my basic writing skills, but also generates more ideas than it consumes.  I am a writer because I write.  And continuing to write makes me even more of a writer.  So the madness will continue.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, sharing from YouTube, Snow Babies, Toonerville, Trains, work in progress, writing, writing humor

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Johann Sebastian Bach may or may not have written his organ masterpiece, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor in 1704.  All we know for sure is that the combined efforts of Johannes Ringk, who saved it in manuscript form in the 1830’s, and Felix Mendelssohn who performed it and made it a hit you could dance to during the Bach Revival in 1840 made it possible to still hear its sublime music today.  Okay, maybe not dance to exactly…  But without the two of them, the piece might have been lost to us in obscurity.

The Toccata part is a composition that uses fast fingerings and a sprightly beat to make happy hippie type music that is really quite trippy.   The Fugue part (pronounced Fyoog, not Fuggwee which I learned to my horror in grade school music class) is a part where one part of the tune echoes another part of the tune and one part becomes the other part and then reflects it all back again.  I know that’s needlessly confusing, but at least I know what I mean.  That is not always a given when I am writing quickly like a Toccata.

I have posted two different versions for you to listen to in this musical metaphor nonsensical posticle… err… Popsicle… err… maybe just post.  One is the kinda creepy organ version like you might find in a Hammer Films monster movie in the 1970’s.  The other is the light and fluffy violin version from Disney’s Fantasia.  I don’t really expect you to listen to both, but listening to one or the other would at least give you a tonal hint about what the ever-loving foolishness I am writing in this post is really all about.

You see, I find sober thoughts in this 313-year-old piece of music that I apply to the arc of my life to give it meaning in musical measure.

Toccata and Fugue

This is the Paffooney of this piece, a picture of my wife in her cartoon panda incarnation, along with the panda persona of my number two son.  The background of this Paffooney is the actual Ringk manuscript that allowed Bach’s masterwork not to be lost for all time.

My life was always a musical composition, though I never really learned piano other than to pick out favorite tunes by ear.  But the Bach Toccata and Fugue begins thusly;

The Toccata begins with a single-voice flourish in the upper ranges of the keyboard, doubled at the octave. It then spirals toward the bottom, where a diminished seventh chord appears (which actually implies a dominant chord with a minor 9th against a tonic pedal), built one note at a time. This resolves into a D major chord.

I interpret that in prose thusly;

Life was bright and full of promise when I was a child… men going to the moon, me learning to draw and paint, and being smarter than the average child to the point of being hated for my smart-asserry and tortured accordingly.  I was sexually assaulted by an older boy and spiraled towards the bottom where I was diminished for a time and mired in a seventh chord of depression and despair.  But that resolved into a D major chord when the realization dawned that I could teach and help others to learn the music of life.

And then the Fugue begins in earnest.  I set the melody and led my students to repeat and reflect it back again.  Over and over, rising like a storm and skipping like a happy child through the tulips that blossom as the showers pass.  Winding and unwinding in equal measure, my life progressed to a creaky old age.  But the notes of regret in the conclusion are few.  The reflections of happinesses gained are legion.  I have lived a life I do not regret.  I may not have my music saved in the same way Johann Sebastian did, but I am proud of the whole of it.  And whether by organ or by violin, it will translate to the next life, and will continue to repeat.  What more can a doofus who thinks teaching and drawing and telling stories are a form of music ask for from life?

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, classical music, commentary, happiness, humor, Paffooney, sharing from YouTube, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Dancing Poultry Conspiracy Theory

You’ve heard of the sinister 9-11 tale of the dancing Israelis?  Some conspiracy theories are very concerning.  You have to be concerned about whether the conspiracy theory is true and aliens from Zeta Reticuli really have been cloning Elvis, or whether the conspiracy theorist is a nut-bag like Alex Jones who simply needs to be locked up to protect him from himself.

 

But no conspiracy theory worries me more at the moment than one about the existence of German ninjas who advance the neo-Nazi agenda by the use of the secret martial art of der Ententanz.  That’s right, they do violence to opponents (and possibly themselves) by aggressively doing the Chicken Dance. 

You really have to watch the video above to truly appreciate the perfidy of Ententanz Fu.  Notice how it starts with the pinching-fingers castanet attack, useful for grabbing the opponent’s nose or other sensitive protruding appendage.  It is followed by the flapping elbows move that can stun the enemy by its sheer ridiculous flappiness.  And then the bouncing butt attack, which can potentially paralyze the adversary by bouncing them around the room.  All of this is followed by the dancing in a circle maneuver which renders the viewer unconscious with insane levels of laughter.  Yes, the aggressive use of the chicken dance can literally make you laugh yourself to death.

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Now, if you truly believe I am not totally serious about the dangers of ninjas doing the chicken dance in order to assassinate ordinary tax-paying citizens, I should warn you…

I mean, most people think of Ententanz Fu as merely another way German-themed tourist traps like the ones in Fredricksburg, Texas make relentless fun and ridicule targets out of clueless white people during Oktoberfest, but in reality…  Yes, it is that, but it can be so much more.  Take it from somebody who narrowly escaped from a chicken-dance-induced coma fairly recently, it is possible not only to die laughing from this dancing-poultry scourge, or be embarrassed to death, but you can also accidentally tie yourself up into a German pretzel… at which point, chickens will dip you in mustard and eat you.

So be warned.  This is a danger not even Alex Jones on InfoWars has warned you about.  (Though, if you give him enough time alone with hammers to hit himself in the head with, he may come to the same conclusions soon enough.)

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Filed under birds, conspiracy theory, goofiness, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, sharing from YouTube

Green and Fuzzy Blue Brainwork

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There is reason to believe I have to reroute some of the back roads on the road map of my thinking parts.  I have been spending a lot of time in Elizabethan England lately due to my obsession with who I think Shakespeare really was.   There are a lot of dark alleys to be plumbed on that section of the map.  I really admire the Roland Emmerich film Anonymous about Edward deVere, the Earl of Oxford being the real writer behind the works of Shakespeare, but I do recognize that it is a work a fiction, and an altered-history work of fantasy fiction at that.    So I find myself not yet ready to tackle that particular essay in the Shakespeare series as yet.  More think time and creative-mixing time is needed.  I need to stop at one of the quaint little mental inns on that particular Elizabethan back road and get some much needed rest for my Elizabethan conspiracy muscles.

Meanwhile back in the real world, Trumpzilla has been busy wrecking the world I live in with a bleak inauguration speech written by Steve Bannon that works its fire-breathing magic to blacken the hearts and perceptions of people I love and care about who also happen to be staunch conservatives.  My Facebook feed is up in arms about how many people actually attended the inauguration ceremony and how unfair the media is for trying to make it seem like Trump’s celebration parade was a deserted wasteland when in reality it was… well…  what’s a synonym for deserted wasteland that won’t offend conservatives who will bend or break any truth to defend Trumpzilla’s turkey-tweets?

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But then, as I was going to QT for my morning caffeine-addict’s fix of Diet Coke, I heard Lionel Richie’s song “Say You, Say Me” playing on the radio.  Ah, the perfect metaphor.  It is a song used as the theme song from the 1986 movie White Nights about a Russian ballet star who has defected to the US during the Cold War and then was in a plane accident-incident that put him back in the Russians’ clutches.  The movie stars Mikhail Baryshnikov, an actual Russian ballet star turned defector, and Gregory Hines, the American tap dancer.  It is a beautiful movie that features amazing dance sequences, Russian conflict of interests because the dancer wants to be free and yet misses his homeland and culture, and a resolution involving intrigue and escape.  In many ways, the plot, centered around a Russian threat and dark days in a place where the sun doesn’t set, is exactly what we are going through with Trumpzilla.  But the song is about two people communicating and eventually “coming together, naturally”.

It started me thinking about the purpose of this blog.  I mean, you obviously know that this blog is really about me talking to myself about myself, if you are one of those crazy few who actually read this far through a goopy blog post like this.  I use this blog to think about myself, the world around me, and even sometimes, like now, to think about thinking.  Yet, I have a duty to the reader to reach that point where our thinking comes together, naturally.  If not, then why bother to post and publish at all?

So here’s what I think about the Shakespeare question, written in the tavern room at the inn on parchment… with a quill pen.  The real Shakespeare was a writer just like me, writing for himself.  And he discovered through the play-writing process that he had to share that writing for himself with the great wide world, because the Prospero’s magic of it could change the world for everybody.  That is the real purpose of Shakespeare’s existence, no matter who he really was.  And that is the real purpose of my existence as well, even if I turn out to be nothing more than one of the top hundred best writers that no one ever actually read.

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Filed under blog posting, conspiracy theory, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, sharing from YouTube, soliloquy, strange and wonderful ideas about life, William Shakespeare

The Nerdwriter

Evan Puschak is a genius and a masterful artist working in the medium of the video blog.  He educated himself with intentions of working in the film industry, but he has found his niche by posting on YouTube a long series of insightful, in-depth video essays on what it means to be an artist, how an artist does what he does, and even theories about how the world of art works.  And not just for the sake of movie reviews, though he does some of the best of that kind of work that I have ever seen.  He knows about painting, television, speech making, essay writing… in fact, everything it takes to be a really great essayist in the manner of  Michel de Montaigne who created the form in the 1500’s.

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Find Evan here on Twitter

Of course, I can’t make you understand the true scope of his essay-making powers without showing you some of his work.  So let me give you a heads up on some of his many wonderful creations and insights;

Here he examines the phenomenon of Trump speaking;

His insights and analysis inspire me to always dig deeper and look for the patterns that underlie the way things occur.  He is a master explainer who can connect ideas and facts together for you seamlessly.  And it is not only the art of speaking and essay-writing that he knows in depth.  He understands all sorts of art.

Here is his take on a single painting by Picasso;

Interpreting things is a matter of opinion, but he breaks down his opinions point by point and uses the evidence he is pointing out to you to help you follow how he reaches his conclusions.  He talks about 5 ways you can look at Picasso’s painting and gain a deeper understanding, not only of this one painting, but of all paintings.

I deeply love the films of Guillermo del Toro, and none more than his masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth.  It is a weird and horrifyingly wonderful fairy tale of people, politics, and surreal juxtapositions of fantasy used to cope with people and politics.  But the Nerdwriter’s analysis not only helps me understand del Toro’s creation better, it makes me love it more.

And I can’t help but notice how Evan uses his film-maker talent and understanding of film to craft videos that flawlessly weave narration, idea, video clips, and music together in a way that even Frank Capra or Alfred Hitchcock or Martin Scorsese could learn from.  Witness this from his take on Pixar’s Inside Out.

There is such a pleasing power in the art-appreciation engines of this man’s video blogs that I could go on gushing about it and linking more videos here all day long.  Believe me, I have lost whole days of work to binging on his videos.  But I have to draw the conclusions sooner rather than later.  I don’t want to waste your time reading this humble blog when you could be sending your mind soaring with these Nerdwriter videos.  So, please, explore them and tempt fate to start you on a new addiction.

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Filed under art criticism, education, humor, insight, movie review, review of music, sharing from YouTube, strange and wonderful ideas about life