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James Keelaghan - Cold Missouri Waters


This got posted to Reddit's folk subreddit today. Gawd, what a great folk song this is. kishenehn, do you know about this song?

(The visual is just the album cover, no moving pictures.)

Once a month, whether necessary or not.

Um ... Hi. It's been a while.

Did you miss much? I'm not sure. I was in Second Life most of the time. Well, technically, I spent more hours at work, as usual, but after that I spent a lot of time chasing my avatar around digital landscapes. You probably don't want to know about that, or about work either for that matter.

I went to see Dave in late March. A nice, quiet time was had once I finally made it out of Cincinnati. Dave once had a dream where he was driving a road designated I-1 ("I" for Interstate) that went from the north side of Cincinnati to a good ways down I-71 in Kentucky, bypassing the entire mess. We are still waiting for construction of this bypass to begin. In conclusion, I have very little good to say about Cincinnati. I'm sorry.

The best part was, Dave took me to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. I kept arguing over the last several years that it was too far above my raisin'. But he finally prevailed upon me, and ... the steak was divine. Truly. Mind, divinity is not cheap, but you don't do this every day. I have never, ever, had a steak that good. Oh, man.

I played a show at the Dovetail with my friend John and his fiancée Sharon early in April. They sounded very good. I sounded good when I wasn't forgetting lyrics. Sigh.

My sister had some health problems, exacerbated by a doctor who did her no good at all. She now has a different doctor, and though her problems are not gone she's much better emotionally about it, and that helps a lot. Good treatments seem to be in progress.

My nephew (not that one, the other one) had a baby. Well, his wife did. Baby's name is Lucas, which is awesome, I'm sure you'll agree.

We started to have spring, and then winter returned for around two weeks, which was a huge morale killer. They had to postpone a baseball game because of cold and the threat of snow, that's how bad it was. Spring seems to be back now, though. Fingers are crossed.

Anything else? Oh, the airplane engine that fell on my house. But I'm fine, I swear.

What do we do now?

Saturday afternoon, I had the random thought that this would be a good time for me and other "good people" to step forward and do something about this little political problem we're having in the United States.

This was about half a day after Trump's Chicago rally was canceled after a large number of protesters made the Trump supporters nervous. This made me unreasonably happy, and I would apologize to my Chicago friends for cheering except I think they were cheering too.

It was also a few hours before Kansas City cops preemptively pepper-sprayed protesters at Trump's rally there. Per this Tweet, the police chief thought it was the best thing to do. (If there's anything a Missouri police officer is for, apparently it's preemptive action against black people.)

We in America have for years accused our opponents of all manner of things in fits of hyperbole, but I have to be honest, things are looking kind of bleak in a scary way right know. One of the bleakest parts is that so few people are speaking out against Trump's madness or trying to put a stop to it. Yes, I know everyone with a social media presence is speaking out, but we're just a dull roar. We're apparently not making a dent in the hordes of haters who comprise Trump's army of supporters. Truly prominent people are not saying much, and very little is actionable under law so far. What do we do?

I can confront people, but I don't encounter Trump supporters. I work for a firm in the education industry; my friends are nearly all college graduates in liberal arts; I sing folk music, for cryin' out loud. I don't encounter many Hillary Clinton fans, let alone Republicans.

I could send money to Bernie or the Democratic party, or maybe to some Democratic candidate for senate (especially since I believe the Democrats aren't doing enough to take back the Senate). The problem with the senate idea is, neither of Michigan's senators is up for reelection here, so I'd have to spend money to meddle in the election of another state. Well, it wouldn't be THAT much money, anyway.

That doesn't seem to be enough. If we're really at risk of electing a fascist totalitarian as president, shouldn't I be out in the streets? Shouldn't ALL of us be?

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On the Michigan primary

You may want to read this post by an office colleague and a practitioner of the political arts, because my post is very pessimistic.

See, here's my problem:

How can Bernie govern? I mean, who will he appoint to his Cabinet? There aren't that many "socialists" (or progressive Democrats, even) available to appoint. Who will shepherd his bills through Congress? I wish we were ready for his programs, but I fear we aren't.

How can Hillary govern? The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and his ilk will no sooner let her lead than they let Obama lead. It'll be attack-attack-attack from day one. Since the Democrats are apparently not implementing any national effort to take back the Senate, it'll be four more years of gridlock.

How can one vote third-party? We only talk about third parties on the eve of an election when we're full of despair over the choices from the Big Two. Who's working to build up even one third party in the off-years so they're a viable choice in election years?

And those are the good choices. I wouldn't vote for a Republican this year if you put a gun to my head. Go ahead and pull the trigger, put me out of my misery. Even the least objectionable of the lot pulls the rest of the immigrant-hating, gay-bashing, woman-demeaning, fundamentalist know-nothings with him.

Oh, I'll probably go vote, after work. I do not look at this primary as a patriotic duty. It's a party duty, and I'm not technically a member of any party. The true patriotic thing might be to eschew the primary in the spirit of George Washington, who was rightfully suspicious of political parties. But mostly, my thing is, I'm voting Democratic in November, no matter what. They could run Zippy the Pinhead, and I wouldn't care. I'll go vote, and then I'll go home and daydream about the days when we could actually choose someone like a Roosevelt for president.

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At work (where I "typeset" large print books, which is actually making Adobe PDFs of these that my employer can print), I got the pleasant surprise of composing the newest book by one of my favorite authors, Jim Harrison. He's a poet and a prose-writer, a food critic and raconteur, and once upon a time he wrote screenplays such as the one for Wolf (1994) (which is different story from his early novel of the same name). He's originally from northern Michigan, and his memoir Off to the Side (2003) included many images of The North that resonated with me. He now divides his time between Montana and southern Arizona.

This new book is a collection of three novellas titled The Ancient Minstrel. I'm unaware of other authors who frequently release collections of novellas, yet Harrison has several to his credit, which I think is noteworthy. Through my unfulfilled affection for National Novel Writing Month, it's noted that what fifty thousand words buys you is more like a novella, and those are reputed to be difficult to sell. Well, if you write three of them at a time, they make a good-sized book, especially if you write three well-crafted deep ones with some measure of humor and real life in them, like Jim Harrison's.

So here's a book I will have to buy and read, assuming I can read anything but pixels on a computer screen anytime soon. I will admit that not every book I handle during my "day job" is one I appreciate, and that's all that I'll say about that. Getting a chance to work on a really good one brightens my workday considerably.

N.B. The foregoing is not endorsed by my employer, nor do I speak on its behalf. (Though I don't believe I'm saying anything deleterious, nor am I releasing secrets as the book has surely been promoted already.)

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I did this for Facebook a few days ago. Why not put it here, too? At least one friend there questioned some of these as being worthy of a bucket list. I can't disagree, but many of them are more achievable than, say, relaxing on the deck of a sailboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Bucket List...copy and paste to your status. Place an X by all the things you've done, remove the X from the ones you have not.
(X) Shot a gun
( ) Gone on a blind date
(X) Skipped school
(X) Watched someone die
(X) Visited Canada
( ) Visited Hawaii
( ) Visited Cuba
( ) Visited Europe
( ) Visited South America
( ) Visited Las Vegas
( ) Visited Central America
( ) Visited Asia
( ) Visited Africa
( ) Visited Florida
( ) Visited Mexico
( ) Seen the Grand Canyon in person
(X) Flown in a plane
( ) Served on a jury
(X) Been lost
( ) Traveled to the opposite side of the country
(X) Visited Washington, DC
( ) Swam in the Ocean
( ) Cried yourself to sleep
( ) Played cops and robbers
(X) Played cowboys and Indians
(X) Recently colored with crayons/colored pencils
(X) Sang karaoke
(X) Sang a solo or duet in church
(X) Paid for a meal with coins only
( ) Made prank phone calls
( ) Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Had children
( ) Had a pet
(X) Been skinny-dipping
(X) Been fishing
(X) Been boating
(X) Been downhill skiing
( ) Been water skiing
(X) Been camping in a trailer/RV
(X) Been camping in a tent
(X) Driven a motorcycle
( ) Been bungee-jumping (ripcord jumping)
( ) Been Sky Diving
(X) Gone to a drive-in movie
(X) Done something that could have killed you…
(X) Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life
( ) Rode an elephant
( ) Rode a camel
(X) Eaten just cookies or cake for dinner or ice cream
(X) Been on TV (1)
( ) Stolen any traffic signs (2)
(X) Been in a car accident
( ) Been in the Hospital in past 24 months
( ) Donated blood
( ) Gotten a piercing
(X) Gotten a Tattoo
(X) Driven a four door vehicle
(X) Ever owned your dream car
( ) Been Married
( ) Been divorced
(X) Fell in love
(X) Fell out of love
(X) Paid for a strangers meal
( ) Driven over 100mph
( ) Been scuba diving
(X) Written a published book/story (poem) (song) (3)
( ) Eaten snails

(1 - Does public-access cable count?)
(2 - No, but an adhesive shield that was supposed to go on a sign for I-696 landed in my yard once!)
(3 - Does self-published music count?)

Leapin' Lizards!

Part of me wanted to wait till tomorrow to post this. Why screw up a perfect blank in February? Despite that, here's what I've been up to lately.

Dave was here over the weekend so we could attend two of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Brahmsfest concerts. Both featured Hélène Grimaud playing Brahms's piano concertos, the first on Thursday and the second on Saturday. Both were very fine concerts overall, and the concertos were magnificent. Grimaud is known for her performances of the first concerto, and Thursday night did not betray her. The second one impressed me even more, because it seemed to be very difficult — but I could tell that only from the notes coming out of the piano, because she handled it smoothly and with aplomb. At the end of Saturday's concert, she was presented with a bouquet of roses. I think she should've also been given a terribly cute stuffed wolf pup.

Dave and I did our usual rotation of restaurants (Mexican, Arabic, Chinese, Indian, and American). We had the notion of making a crockpot beef pot roast for after the concert on Saturday, and that turned out very well.

The rest of the month found me fully immersed in Second Life. I'm afraid I've been obsessed in a most unseemly way. I haven't been into anything computer-related this deeply in years and years. I find myself wanting to talk about it to people who wouldn't care in the least, so even when I'm not near a computer I'm going over geeky little details in my head. There still so much to learn, but I'm able to have fun, at least.

I have forced myself to leave the house to go play open mics or go see other people perform. Tonight, I'm even planning the radical step of going to the gym for the first time in, um, five months or so. I should still have a couple of hours to watch my avatar run around "inworld," though.

Don't even ask me about politics. State or national, it has been a pathetically horrible year.
Over the years, I've wanted to write fiction in my LJ, but I have only rarely done it. Almost all of the times I did that were in connection to a commemoration of the birthday of Lewis Carroll, the 19th-century author of fantastic and children's literature. He was born on this date in 1832. The idea of "Rabbit Hole Day on LJ" pretty much started here in 2005, and got a little bit of notoriety. It tried to spread to other social media, but then it kind of dried up.

A few days ago, I told myself to try to come up with an idea for this year. But then I didn't. All I have is a list of what I did in previous years:

Every once in a while, I go back and read them for fun. I dunno, it's one of those things that made LJ special.

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Jan. 22nd, 2016

Well, let's see what has happened to ol' Charlie since the last time I related anything.... Dave was here last weekend, and we went to the Detroit Symphony to hear them play Mozart's 38th symphony (a joy) and the world premiere of "Desert Sorrows" by Mohammed Fairouz (mixed; I liked it, Dave thought it was gimmicky). We also ate at most of our favorite restaurants, and even co-created some tasty spaghetti for dinner one night. No, we did not go to the auto show. (Actual auto show link here.)

I think I managed to miss reporting that I spent New Year's at Dave's house, just hanging out and going out to eat at our favorite Louisville restaurants. (Notice a pattern here?) For New Year's Eve, we created crock-pot sauerbraten from one of altivo's holiday gift cookbooks, and it was splendid. Then we rang in the year with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin on CNN, as we usually do.

Otherwise, things have been unexciting. The weather has been cold but not very snowy, unlike parts of the country to the south and east. What little snow has fallen has stayed, since it's not melting. I don't mind; this is about what winter should be, finally. I noted as I walked into my office from the parking lot that there was a passel of robins (that's an ornithological term, "passel"). Apparently we will have no "first robin of spring" because they're not going away in the winter anymore. I hope they make it through the next few weeks.

I've been spending a good bit of time in Second Life, working out the learning curve so that I can actually have a little fun and not just walk off a boardwalk into the ocean all the time. Though, I guess I could also be a merman if I really can't stay out of the water; I found an avatar for one that looked pretty cool. I seem also to have outgrown the motion sickness I reported back in November. That pleases me no end, as motion sickness is one of my less favorite things. I've done nothing to facilitate this except keep playing; no meds or anything else.

Anything else? Not really. I played an open mic a couple of weeks ago, and that's been the only time I played guitar all year. I have to make some time for it this weekend, because I think I actually have started missing playing.

Bluegrass genius

The Danger of Genius: Bill Monroe and Tony Rice, by Ted Lehmann (from No Depression magazine's website), in which the author shares thoughts from his reading of the book The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner and relates it to the history of bluegrass music. I'll leave the details to be discovered in the article (read it, read it!).

I started off with a great interest in bluegrass in the early 1980s, though in the last few years I've both played more oldtimey music and listened with awe to musicians who've taken bluegrass to different areas (Bela Fleck, Chris Thile, etc.); bluegrass is kind of the middle in that continuum. I guess you can say it all started for me with Bill Monroe. Tony Rice is one of my guitar heroes, though.

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