Viewpoint

I keep forgetting that I don’t want to publish my unconventional views on controversial subjects here. I’m getting my musical produced and I don’t need the heat. Tracy will publish that column eventually. If you want to see an expansion that may clarify my position, my articles No. 3 & 4 on the current state of Christendom in America will probably round it all out.

My views are based entirely on logic, the lessons of history, biblical research and prayer. I am also not the only person who holds such views. But I am so tired of the controversy. The solutions to our nation’s ills are found neither in the Christian Right nor the Christian Left but in God Himself. I pray America will turn to Him, as never before, en masse.

Gratitude List 1839

(1) Ran a really flowing four miles Friday night after midnight. Not a soul was in sight on campus and the temperatures had cooled to make it bearable. Thankful for what running can often effect in a person’s overall body/mind, and thankful I still have it in me.

(2) Couldn’t find my levothyroxine over the weekend and skipped three mornings in a row. Mercifully, though my insurance wouldn’t cover a replacement, they replaced it for only $5 on a sliding scale for poor people. (It would have been $3.70 with the insurance anyway, so it wasn’t a big difference.) Now if I find the others, I guess I’ll have five months worth on hand.

(3) Noticed I was irritable this morning, and I could feel the bags under my eyes. Thankfully, they let me fall asleep at my table at the cafe here, conveniently tucked away at a corner, with two walls I can lean on whilst I crash. When I awoke, it was like starting the day anew. I no longer felt the bags under my eyes, and the annoyances of the morning had faded into the past. Thankful for new beginnings.

(4) They’re going to come get me sometime between now and 5pm and take me up to RTOP. I’m glad. Having four sudden days off in a row didn’t sit well with me (though they don’t need to know that).

(5) When I was looking for my levo, I was reminded of the song “Levon” by Elton John. Hadn’t thought about it for years, but went to the piano and it came out pretty well. Still haven’t found the levo–but at least I found Levon.

The times are lean. Please help if you can.

Ode to Song

This gig was extremely impromptu. I learned it was happening less than an hour before I showed. I have no idea why this song was going through my head.  I wrote  in the early 80’s because I remember where I was living at the time, in a trailer court.  Corrected lyrics are below the vid. Hope it works for you.

Since times I’ve been seeing
Your face in the town
I’ve been like the lonely
Who chase you around
I’ll run till I find you
Or sit still and long
For the moment till when I am bound
To turn my longing into Song.

Where was it that I saw you?
I know I seen you places
Downtown on the bricks of the buildings
Are traces of faces of you
And I know I saw you running
Down the roadside
At that moment of shine in the pouring rain
I saw you and you eased my pain

Since times I’ve been hearing
Your voice in the crowd
I’ve been like the restless
Who call you out loud
I’ll run till I find you
I’ll run till I’m strong
Run, I will run till the sight of you
Should grace my path with Song.

Where was it that I saw you?
I know I seen you places
Downtown on the bricks of the buildings
Are traces of faces of you
And I know I saw you running
Down the roadside
At that moment of shine in the pouring rain
I saw you and you eased my pain with Song

You built a might monument of Song
To reach the very pinnacle of Song
And fill this lonely universe with Song
I saw you and you eased my pain with Song
You built a might monument of Song
To reach the very pinnacle of Song
And fill this lonely universe with Song

Ode to Song from The Burden of Eden
© 1994, 2008 by Andrew Michael Pope.  

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The Impossible Dream

This was in no way prior rehearsed, but Cody & I more-or-less spontaneously decided to do a rendition of “The Impossible Dream” for your listening contemplation. I think my friend Cody resonates very strongly with this particular theme. Enjoy.

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Tuesday Tuneup 116

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. I’m not sure.

Q. Why not?

A. Both places have merit and I’m not sure which is better.

Q. What places are you talking about?

A. My old apartment and my new apartment.   That is, if they decide to rent to me.

Q. Why would they not decide to rent to you?

A. Could be a number of reasons.  I don’t have a whole lot of references.   I was homeless for a long time.  If they ask for the last three landlords, we could be going back a while.   I don’t have a credit card or a credit rating.

Q. No credit rating?  How is that possible?

A. Security freezes were placed on my credit files in 2003, and I haven’t been able to figure out how to get them off.

Q. Why did they place security freezes on your credit files?

A. Identity theft.

Q. Someone stole your identity?

A. They tried to.   Anyway, I was given three 6-10 digit numbers, to be known only by me and each of the three credit bureaus.   That was 19 years ago.   12 of those years were spent being homeless and borderline-homeless in the Bay Area.   Do you think I memorized those pin numbers?

Q. Can’t you call them?

A. Whenever I call them, I have to prove that I am who I am, and not the identity thief.

Q. Is that impossible?

A. Probably not.

Q. Then why not call them?

A. I suppose I must.  It seems an arduous process and frankly I bailed on it due to its inapplicability to my life.   There’s never yet been a time in the past 19 years when I thought someone would need to run a credit check on me.

Q. Not when you landed your present place?

A. Interviewed with them at 4 in the afternoon one day, they called 9 the next morning to say “everything checked out.”  They couldn’t possibly have checked my references even in that period of time.  They just liked me.

Q. What about your iPhone?

A. It was a gift from a friend.

Q. What about cars?

A. What about ’em?

Q. You haven’t bought a car in 19 years?

A. Bought a car?  I haven’t even driven a car!!

Q. So you’re afraid you might not get the place because they can’t run a credit check on you?

A. Kinda.  But that’s fairly superficial.  I’m just going to tell them what I’ve told everybody else for the last 19 years, which is basically what I just told you.  I live in a debt-free world and I wanna keep it that way.   If it’s meant to be, they’ll rent to me.

Q. Do they like you?

A. Yes. And I like them.

Q. What about the place itself?

A. The place looks even better in real life than it did in the ad.  They call it a “studio apartment” but they could have gotten away billing it as a one-bedroom.   The bedroom is a separate room from a larger room that’s a combined kitchen and dining room.  There’s a bathroom in between on one side of a small hallway, and a large closet space adjoining the bedroom on the other.  Best part is that I’m on the top floor of three, one bedroom wall is to the back window with a view, the other to an outside wall of the house.   So the worry of bothering neighbors and vice-versa is fairly well eliminated.

Also of course it’s two blocks away from work.   My commute being so short, it will eliminate a lot of the “junk miles” I put in when I walk and ride my bike for transportation.  There are beautiful running trails abounding in the area, and I will soon be putting in real miles on the roads.   Being a pedestrian has really taken a chunk out of my training.  I’m eager to start exercising for real.  

Q. So if they accept your application, you will take the place?

A. Still not sure.

Q. Why not?

A. Like I said, both places have merit.

Q. What’s the merit of your present place?

A. Stability.  I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived in any single living situation since the 90’s.    It’s stable.  I like the landlords, and they like me.  I’ve lived here nearly five years now.

Q. So if a thing works, don’t fix it?

A. Right.  The only reason it’s not working is because I can’t get to my job in a different town in another State very easily.   On a good day I can ride my bike.   We’ve had a lot of bad days lately, and I don’t like bumming rides.  Not to mention, the bus is $15 one way.

Q. What else?

A. The job doesn’t pay particularly well.

Q. Then why do you work there?

A. Because I love the craft, and apparently I’m a good worker among workers there.   I love musical theatre, but I also like these people in particular.   They’re honest, good people.  We communicate well, and I can trust them.

Q. But are you afraid that if you leave your present apartment, you might lose the new apartment?

A. Yes.

Q. Why?

A. For one thing, a lot of people these days are having a hard time keeping up.   For another thing, I’ve already been homeless, I’ve already lost more living situations than I can count.   Homelessness just — looms.  It always does — even here, where I’m thought to be stable.

Q. Who thinks you to be stable?

A. My landlord.

Q. And the new landlord?

A. Will have to take the old landlord’s word for it.

Q. Uh — do you want to move?

A. Not really.  I become sad when I think about it.

Q. Sad?

A. Yeah.   This place was supposed to become my home.    They said it was the Heart of the Arts.   But it’s not really.   Whenever I tried to get people interested in my show, I kinda got the feeling anyone who counted figured me for a semi-homeless dude on a weird trip.  I doubt they even read the script, or listened to the music.

Q. What about these new people?

A. This guy’s already talking about producing my show, practically on principle.   It’s a different vibe, these people are practical, businesslike, no nonsense.  I like that.  No academic fluff.   Specifically, I don’t have to worry about changing the word “homeless” to “houseless” every time it appears in the script.  They’re not caught up in the intellectual labyrinth.  They’re more real.

Q. Would you then conclude that the job, despite low pay, is  worth it?

A. I would.

Q, Then why not move?

A. Because I’m change-resistant.

Q. Is that a good thing?

A. No.

Q. Anything else?

A. It’s like this.   Just because I’ve been homeless a lot doesn’t mean that I have to stay here forever, whether things are working or not.  When it comes right down to it, I’m just afraid of taking the risk.

Q. So you’re thinking the right thing to do is to move?

A. Yes.  But again, they need to approve my application.   Today I’m putting down $100–a holding fee.  If they approve me, it will go toward the deposit.  Then I don’t have to worry about first-and-last till August 9th, when the place is available.   Many things can happen between now and then.

Q. And if they don’t approve your application?

A. Then I stay where I am.

Q. What about the job?

A. I guess I keep looking–either for a place to live, a car, or both.

Q. When was the last time you drove a car?

A. Almost twenty years ago.

Q. Are you afraid to drive?

A. No.

Q. Then why not get a car?

A. Cars cost money.

Q. But apartments also cost money, don’t they?

A. I believe the rent differential will be $70 in my favor on the studio apartment.   I gotta get this place cleaned up spick though.   It would be good to get the deposit back and make a smooth lateral move.

Q. Anything else?

A. I should only move if God wants me to move.   My own feelings are secondary.

Q. Why is that?

A. Because God’s always right, and I am often wrong.

Q. How can you find out if God wants you to move?

A. Something like this requires a threefold confirmation.  Not to be legalistic, but it ought to be confirmed in fellowship, in the Word, and in experience.   1 John 5 and all that.

Q. Has it been thus thrice confirmed?

A. I haven’t seen anything in the Word.   Only fellowship and experience have confirmed it.

Q. Fellowship?

A. Talking it over with my pastor for example.   He reminds me that mental health awareness will be greater in Washington than in Idaho.   Washington’s kinda a purple State, Idaho beet red.

Q. Experience?

A. The signs are telling me to move.

Q. Signs?

A. “Signs” isn’t quite the right word.   Scripture says:  “My sheep hear my voice.”   I heard his voice a couple times–three times actually, twice in close succession–and each time He was urging me to move.

Q. How did you hear His voice?

A. That I can’t explain.  But it’s the experience of hearing Him that keeps me believing.  His sheep hear His voice.

Q. Isn’t the Word where you usually hear him?

A. Yes.  “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”   But this time, no.  Three things happened, and each time they happened, something inside me said: “God is talking to me right now.”   I usually trust that.   It’s just that if it’s not confirmed in the Word, it could be a false voice, and imposter, etc.  

Q. Were you looking for a sign?

A. No.   I actually was not even going to consider moving until I heard His voice the first time.

Q. How did you hear His voice?

A. You asked me that already and the question is impossible to answer.   It’s like trying to prove there’s a God.  It’s not possible.   It’s something that is repeatedly confirmed in experience.  This is why we remain Christians and this is why the world thinks we’re crazy.

Q. Crazy?

A. That’s another thing!   These people do NOT treat me like I’m crazy!

Q. Has somebody recently been treating you like you’re crazy?

A. Yes but they don’t know they’re doing it.

Q. Why don’t they know?

A. Beats me.  I can just tell that they think their treatment of me is reasonable, but it’s really not.   But I stopped talking to them about it long ago.  It just started to feel pointless.

Q. Is there a sense in which you may be escaping these people by moving to another town?

A. I fear that.   This is why I need more confirmation.

Q. When was the last time God spoke to you through the Word?

A. You mean directly, specifically, majorly?   About three months ago, I think.  I read something about Moses and drew a parallel to my life, and I got that sense again, I “heard His voice” — it’s inexplicable but I heard it.

Q. What did He say?

A. I really don’t want to tell you.   Not sure how we got off onto any of this, quite frankly. I appreciate your line of questioning, but some of this stuff is, well–personal.  It’s not meant to be shared.  Let’s focus on the living situation–and maybe reconvene next week.

The Questioner is silent. 

Trapped

I wish I were self-sufficient in terms of my transportation needs–to the point where I never have to be a passenger in someone else’s car again.

A columnist friend was driving me to work because he worked in the same town. This left me in town early but I did not mind. It got me there.

What I minded was when he objected to a column that another friend of mine had written, seeming not to understand the column, and saying some rather unkind things about its author, whom I very much respect.

At that time, I strongly desired not to be in the car, and not to be having that conversation. But what was I supposed to do? Roll down the window and jump out?

He was the driver. I was the passenger — and trapped.

As for the friend who wrote the column, she too is a driver. As it happened, I asked her if she wanted to go see a show on Friday night. I’d pay the tickets and she would drive.

“Sure!” she agreed — moments before seeing a column of mine posted on Facebook, upon which she then commented.

Not sure if she had read the whole column at that stage, as she was commenting on a statement in the lengthy “lead” to the column. I’m also not sure how ambiguously the lead was worded–but she is the only person who interpreted in a way that I had not intended. I explained what I had meant to say — or tried to — and then she disappeared.

The tenor of the reaction was such that I now anticipate getting into this person’s car and immediately embarking upon an intellectual or theological argument of some kind that will then make me want to climb out of the window of that car!

I think what I’ll do is just tell her how much I defended her column against the allegations of the columnist in the first car whose window I wanted to climb out of.

The moral of the story can only be one of three things:

(1) Get a car.

(2) Move to Washington State where your job is.

(3) Stop writing columns and hanging out with journalists.

Any deeper morals out there? Your call.

Gratitude List 1820

(1) It was a nice feeling just now walking into my landlord’s office to pay my rent a wee bit late with fee.  There was no sense of reprimand or stern warning as may have transpired elsewhere in the past.   Instead, I enjoyed a gentle chit-chat about this-and-that, before we each went our respective ways.

(2) If what’s written on the blackboard in front of me is any indication, I would say that reasonable sayings are emerging from the mouths of University of Idaho students these days.  I see at least three:

“You don’t stop wars by jumping into them.”
—  “People love people who love people.”
—  “The greatest enemy of clear language is insincerity.”

(3) Worked 16 1/2 hours last week not counting travel time to and fro.  Mainly finished the first week of a five week rehearsal period for the musical PIPPIN.  It’s been neat meeting singer/actors from all over the country who have converged upon this tiny town in Washington in order to do the show.   Very talented bunch of very nice people.   I love the music too, how much of it is highly spirited with a Gospel flair without being directly religious.  Cool music, and I also am enjoying teaching the young piano students they gave me.

(4) CDC determined out County is “in the green” which makes me feel slightly better about County-wide lifting of mask mandates.  There is definitely a more lively spirit in the area, especially for a Monday.  I still content myself to hide out in a distant corner table of the coffeehouse, where I would like to hide out, pandemic or no.  Nice to have a quiet home-away-from-home, for the time being.

(5) Though no one has turned in any tracks for the Oracle Sequence yet, I’m confident they will do so within the next twenty days before their deadline.  If not, I’ll have been informed, and there will still be three months left in which to switch gears.   Interesting how the project is put into perspective by my doing a show at the time.  I’m now in the same mode as everyone else on board, rather than in an isolated function.  Good to be part of the gang.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
      — Coretta Scott King 

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M.I.A. Update

I’ve been way too absorbed in trying to prepare a sophisticated yet flexible “scratch track” for all the solo singers and musicians to utilize to help them record all their parts remotely, from wherever they are, while sheltering in place.

This process has been assaulted by numerous attacks against my sanity, including the inexplicable loss of my phone service when once again I was confused for the person who gave me the phone a number of years ago. This time however I am unconvinced I can get the problem resolved.

The disturbing events did however inspire a new podcast that I hope to publish tomorrow, prior to my Monday gratitude list in which I will announce, among other great news, that Keva Shull has returned to the project.

Really into editing the podcast right now, but I believe the scoring of bass parts is a priority. I’ll post it tomorrow sometime, assuming I meet the self-imposed deadline that it is against my spiritual principles to have created.

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Gratitude List 1811

(1) If I ever start going stir-crazy from staying alone indoors too much — as I did earlier this morning — all I need remember is that a single walk to the corner store and back along the freezing snowscape last night was sufficient to bring me home singing songs of gratitude that I don’t have to sleep in it.   Thankful for the roof I’ve been able to keep over my head for over four years now, and thankful for a positive relationship with my landlord.

(2) A Broadway singer-actor who teaches at the Yale School of Music and has a bio on Wikipedia gave me a complete commitment to sing the male lead vocals on the Oracle Sequence.   Keyword is Broadway.  (Let that sink in.)

(3) My daughter and I are getting along better than ever, after both of us having realized that the best way for us to communicate is in successive voice texts on our respective iPhones.   We’re even getting to know each other better, and I find myself letting my hair down at times, as well.

(4) Yesterday I received $200 more in donations to the Oracle Production Project, now topping $1000 of the $6000 desired by March 1st.  Also received a final (?) paycheck from the United Church along with the $50 bonus given to all staff members as well as $100 “just because.”  Pastor Jodie has a very big heart and is a wonderful human being.  I still however find that I am much more competent doing things like this, and if I can find two more singing students who treat me as kindly as Zazen does, I’ll comp the money lost from the church gig without having to step outside my door.

(5) Despite the doctor’s verdict that my levothyroxine dosage should be upped from 137 to 175, I have examined myself carefully enough to know that I have still never experienced any symptoms of hypothyroidism, throughout all this time — even going weeks or months without, when I was homeless.  Furthermore, about an hour after I took it at night-time, I noticed such a drastic negative mind-altering effect that I found myself speaking in Christian terms: “This substance, whatever it is, is not of God.”  On the other hand, though it’s a strain to imagine Jesus having a morning cup of coffee, I find myself thanking Him for the experience.  Enough said.

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Gratitude List 1809

(1) This is the second day in a row that I awoke in an insanely good mood for no clear reason.

(2) Prayer works. A number of people in the local arena began to trouble me over the holidays. When I finally got around to praying for them (like I’m supposed to do, Luke 6:28 and all), something changed. What changed was that I began to see the innocence of their hearts, and I developed compassion. Since before praying, I basically hated their guts; and since after praying, I began to see them as fellow, hurting human beings, I would say that prayer works.

(3) Grateful for having reconnected with a theatre composer whom I worked with many years ago. He must be in his 80’s by now. He’s had nice things to say about some of the music I’ve written lately, and I’ve set my SoundCloud to always play his “six piano pieces”‘ by default.

(4) More money in the fundraiser. But I also just realized that it’s almost 2002 already! I better craft a detailed budget and rehearsal schedule and get on the ball here. Daylight’s burning, and I keep slacking. Definitely grateful for Karlie, who obviously knows how to sing. She may not exactly be you-know-who, but she’ll do her homework, show up on time and do the job.

(5) Tracy having published my somewhat edited column last night, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from a dear friend of mine, a gay man whom I know from Musical Theatre,. who happened to read it and was highly approbational. What I was mostly grateful for in Part One of the series is that I got agreement from left-leaning Christians, right-leaning Christians, and unbelievers alike. In this era of division, that’s the kind of thing that thrills me. Hopefully this one will also “fly” — though I had considerably more difficulty with it. Anyway – on to Part Three.

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Piano Update (Feed the Birds)

I’m so wacky from a sudden PTSD onslaught I only slept two hours I was so triggered. I’m under quarantine and trying to figure out how to set up the tripod. If I can get some sleep, I’ll feed the birds on my home Howard piano, assuming I figure out the tripod, which procedure is grossly inhibited by the severity of my ADHD. Ah – were it not for mental health diagnoses, where would we be? Catch y’all soon.

Name of Tune Revealed

It behooves me at this time to announce the winner of last week’s contest.   The correct original name of the piece I played last week is “Hyfrydol” — a Welsh hymn whose title roughly means “delightful.”  It was composed by Rowland Pritchard in the early 1800’s.

Since then, it has been known by various titles — some sacred, some secular.   Among these are “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” “Jesus What a Friend of Sinners” and “Blue Boat Home.”

And the winner is Jodie Tooley, pastor of the United Church of Moscow!  Jodie was the first person on my Friday Piano List to correctly identify this tune by its original title. Here is the song again, now correctly titled and credited:

Jodie will get a free beverage of her choice, and a piano CD of mine, at the establishment of her choice. If you would like to be on the Friday Piano List, please submit your email address on my Contact Page.

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Zazen’s Version of “Secrets”

You may not have caught this earlier. I’m not sure how widely it was distributed on or around January 22nd of this year, when it was first created.  I recall being critical of my accompaniment at the time in a way, and I believe that was my reservation..  In any event, such petty grievances are immaterial to the outstanding performance of Zazen Matossian on “Secrets” from my musical, The Burden of Eden.  

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G-List Counting

This is a bit anal, but I really wish I could figure out where I started counting wrong in these gratitude lists. There’s a whole series of lists in the 1600’s and all of a sudden we’re in the 1500’s.

Knowing me, what I probably did at some point was mix up two digits, not notice it, and proceed. While I truly do wish I could figure it all out, there’s something unnervingly OCD about a guy who needs to number all his gratitude lists.

Maybe that’s the inherent life lesson that always resides in all our weird worldly experiences. If I never figure it out in this world, God will know once we get up to heaven. Then again, once we’re in heaven, why would we care?

Leaving on a Jet Plane

On request from my daughter Angela. Peter Paul & Mary did it gently in A major in 6/8 time. I did it in a fast four in C Major — and I wouldn’t call it “gentle” . . .

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Taking Requests

I began making a podcast yesterday morning when I was in a depressed state. Actually, I’m not supposed to use the word “depressed” in this context (I am told) so as not to confuse my state with that of someone who suffers from Major Depression, which is a serious mental health condition. I’m supposed to say I was “despairing” — and anyway, that’s more accurate.

I disliked the podcast at the end of the day because my despair was interfering with the point I was trying to get across. I was going to just junk it, but when I got up this morning and started listening to it, I actually became jazzed. (For those unfamiliar with the terminology, “jazz” is the opposite of “despair.”)

So I’m touching it up a bit. This could take several hours. But when I submit it (at some point today) it will seem as though I think today is Thursday. Please overlook that disparity. Today is Friday (I think.)

I’m ceasing to make much sense, so I’ll close. But first I want to ask if anyone has any requests, and I’ll try to play one of them on the piano. I tried yesterday but couldn’t think of any songs I could particularly get behind. So I’m taking requests.

Uh – please do not request “The Piano Man” by Billy Joel. It’s one of several songs I will refuse to play. You’ll find out what some of the others are as you request them.

All that said, request away.

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Summer Musical Workshop

This was originally intended for my YouTube channel in video form. I reduced it to an audio cast and placed it here, as a little explanation and promo for my demo. Still in the process of gathering funds, still need another $450 before I can call it quits.   It’s less than four minutes long and should be informative.  Hope you like it.

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Re: Expect the Best

“Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no one could have dreamed would have come their way.  Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”  

          –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Keva Singing

Just want to post these, that we did during afternoon rehearsal.   Keva was singing “Reaching for Your Hand” fairly unrehearsed, reading the words and music from her smartphone.    She and I have done “Daylight” before, but we both wanted to do it over again — and I’m glad we did.   Both songs are from original musicals of mine.    Keva Shull does an outstanding job with them, imho — and I think you’ll agree.

“Reaching for Your Hand” from The Burden of Eden

“Daylight” from Eden in Babylon

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Re: Everything Must Change

I briefly posted my version of “Everything Must Change” yesterday, prior to promptly removing it from the public eye upon recognition of bloopers too big to bear widespread disclosure.  

Specifically, I kept forgetting during my improv around the standard changes to enter into the repeated modulating passage that precedes the signature hook.  Anyone who knew the correct changes could easily raise their voice in justifiable objection.   So I had to remove the rendition before any further foreseen damage could be effected.

I’m headed up to the church at this moment, confident in my capacity to create a conducive restoration of the formerly misshapen theme.  So convinced am I in my competence to thereof, that I even have dared to announce it beforehand, though one knows not what the future brings.

The piece had been on my mind for two reasons.  One is that it seems fitting in this time of temporal transition, with Good Friday representing the power of Christ’s sacrificial love, wherein there is a death to the flesh in its formerly all-inclusive nature, to be followed by a promised rebirth of a far more transcendent form of life.   “Everything Must Change” can be said to embody this theme, in its core essence.

A second reason is that its chord progression resembles that of another piece that had crossed my mind recently; and that, in fact, I had already performed on a video recording.  “All in Love is Fair” is a song by Stevie Wonder that was popularized in roughly the same era as “Everything Must Change.”  Their chord progressions are similar though not identical.  My mind, while improvising around the progression to “Everything Must Change,” kept forgetting which tune it was that I was supposed to be embellishing.  Many odd short-circuitries of mortal mental prowess transpired.  The upshot was a failure to honor the essence of either piece.   A reconstruction of said construction is therefore in order.

That’s about it!  I’d hesitated to offer what might be interpreted as a mere disclaimer — but then I had a hunch that the explanatory information might be useful to someone, on some level.  I’ll be back within a few hours.    

Tuesday Tuneup 101

Q. Where are you coming from?

A. To be honest with you, it varies from one moment to the next.   Sometimes I’m coming from a place of peace and love toward all humanity.   At other times, I’m coming from anger.

Q. Anger?

A. Well – I like to call it “righteous indignation.”

Q. Are you indignant at the moment?

A. No, not really.

Q. Are you coming from a place of peace and love toward all humanity?

A. Well, I wouldn’t say all humanity —

Q. Then where are you coming from at this moment?

Pause.

A. A very pensive place.  A place of thinking things over.

Q. Why is that?

A. I imploded the other day.  I shut down from stress.  I got to the point where the deadline, however self-imposed, was so much more important than any other thing in life — including my own self-care — that I literally shut down.   I became non-functional.  I imploded.

Q. Did anybody witness the implosion?  Or was it completely internal?

A. Oh, it was seen all right!   I wonder, however, if they knew the extent of it.

Q. Were you trying to hide it?

A. Yes and no.  I didn’t hide the fact that I was upset about something.  But I don’t think I conveyed the full extent of the inner implosion.

Q. Why not?

A. It would have been rude, ugly, and self-centered.

Q. So you suppressed it?

A. Well, I never exactly expressed it.

Q. What did you express?

A. Oh, some minor peeve that everybody knew I would get over in minute or two.

Q. But what was really going on?

A. Extreme insecurity.   We all implode every now and then — but me personally, I prefer to implode in private.

Q. So you were afraid that they would detect your implosion?

A. Exactly.  As I collapsed inwardly under the stress of pressure and deadline, I began to throw out smokescreens, in an effort to divert attention away from the implosion.

Q. Did it work?

A. I think so.  I think they just thought I was irritated.

Q. What exactly do you mean by “implosion?”

A. Well – it’s hard to define.   This graph, however, may be useful:

implosion

Q. Where did you get that graph?

A. Free Thesaurus.  

Q. To which of those external manifestations did your implosion lead you?

A. What do you mean?

Q. I mean – on the circle there – did you explode?  Did you go off?  Did you collapse?

A. Almost all apply.  But mostly, I think I “broke.”

Q. What did you break?

A. I broke my resolve.   I broke my code.  I broke my standard as to how I am to comport myself among the others.

Q. The others?

A. The other Artists.  The Artists who were, at that moment, in my midst.

Q. What is your code?

A. I could write books about it.

Q. Can you capsulize?

A. I’ll try.

Pause.

A. My code is not to be a people-pleaser.  Not to say or do things because I am trying to get a favorable reaction from one or more of the other Artists.   Obviously, I cannot please everybody.  And in such a small, close-knit group, such measures  — born entirely of personal insecurity — are transparent.

Q. Have you not only told me what your code is not?

A. Can you repeat that, please?

Q. I said: “Have you not only told me what your code is not?”

A. Ah, I see.  I have in fact only told you what I aspire not to do.

Q. But what do you aspire to do instead?

A. I aspire to act according to the standard.

Q. The Moral Standard?

A. Well – that goes without saying.  But it’s not the standard that is most applicable in this context.

Q. What standard is that?

A. The Aesthetic Standard.

Q. Clarify?

A. I believe in an absolute aesthetic standard.   Just as with morality — and in my view, ethics — there is a standard of Beauty for which we all must strive.

Q. How does this apply in the context of the Artists?

A. Because we’re trying to get it just right.  We’re trying to make it as beautiful as we can make it.  And if we fall short, we feel it.  It drags down the energy of the whole room.   When we come closer to it, we feel that too — and it lifts up our hearts.

Q. Wow — so, this people-pleasing of yours, it interferes with the striving for the standard?

A. Of course it does.  People-pleasing is ugly.  The standard is beautiful.  But the gist of this discussion is merely this:

As long as I stay focused on our mutual desire to reach the highest Artistic standard, I will avoid my self-centered desire to make positive impressions on the other Artists.  And then, ironically, I will probably make the best impression I can possibly ever make.   Because it will no longer be I who seeks to impress.  It will be that which I and the other Artists have mutually created.  

It is that final Artistic product that I hope — that we hope — will impress the world.

The Questioner is silent.   

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Tuesday Tuneup 100

Q. Where are you coming from?

A. What do you mean, where am I coming from?

Q. Just what I asked – where are you coming from?

A. Don’t you usually open with a different question?

Q. What do you mean?

A. Don’t you usually ask me: “what’s happening now?” on Tuesday mornings?

Q. Don’t you think it’s time we came up with a different opening question?

A. Come to think of it — now that you mention it – I was getting a little tired of that question.

Q. Why is that?

A. For one thing, I was running out of answers.   

Q. Do you like the new question?

A. Kinda.  I just think that if somebody’s passing by this morning, and they’ve never read one of my Tuesday Tuneups, they’re going to wonder what the heck we’re talking about.

Q. But can’t they just click on one of the three Tuesday Tuneups below and figure it out?

A. Sure — that is, if they care to.   Why should they not just surf off to some blog that makes more sense than this one?

Q. So what if they do?

A. What do you mean?

Q. Why should you care?

A. Good point.   It’s not as though I’m exactly into “collecting followers.”   WordPress tells me I’ve got almost 1000 by now, but I can guarantee you there are probably less than 100 who actually follow.  And I can only think of five or ten to whom this Tuneup will even be appreciable.   And even those people might be bored by now.

Q. Do you want to change the subject?

A. Kinda.

Q. What would you rather talk about?

A. Basically, I want to tell you where I’m coming from.  I never answered your first question in the first place.

Q. Well, where are you coming from?

A. Brain-dead. 

Q. Brain dead?

A. In a daze.

Q. Why’s that?

A. Oh – I busted my butt trying to get all this stuff done by last night.   By the time we had the first joint rehearsal of all the musicians and singers, the band had all their parts written in 4/4 swing and the singers were still working out of the book where the song was in 6/8.  This meant the measure numbers were different in both books.   It stretched the limits of my intellectual faculties trying to keep things moving.

Q. But wasn’t Cody in charge of the singers?

A. Cody was working with the singers in Room 33 using the Green Piano.  It’s a large room and the seven singers could social-distance there.  I was working with the band on the chancel in the sanctuary.  But since only three of the band members showed up, we decided to combine the two for the last half of rehearsal, because 7 + 3 = 10, which is the legal limit for a gathering under the city ordinance.

Q. And how did that go?

A. Well, outside of the conundrum I just tried to describe, it was wonderful.   With what Cody Wendt has done for our singers, combined with what the musicians from the School of Music are doing, I couldn’t be happier.   I hadn’t been sleeping well for stress of deadline and pressure..  But last night I conked out and slept the sweet sleep of the innocent.   Woke up a new man, although —

Q. Although brain-dead?

A. Not anymore!

Q. Why is that?

A. Good coffee.  And I’m going to put it to good use.

Q. How so?

A. You don’t know?  I gotta get those vocal parts into the right time signature!

Q. Aren’t you a bit imbalanced these days?

A. Well – duh!   That’s what happens when you have deadlines.   You let everything else go, you don’t clean the kitchen, you don’t clean the bathroom – you cram as if your life depending on it.

Q. And is this healthy?

A. Not at all.  It’s just modern life.

Q. What do you make of it?

A. In the ideal world, there would never be any deadlines, any pressures at all.  As I just told Lauren Sapala, I would work at my own pace, slowly and steadily, and not release my work until it was absolutely complete.

Q. Isn’t that called perfectionism?

A. Not in my book.  It only becomes perfectionism when you have to rush to meet a deadline.  So you turn in a half-done job, like I did last night, and when you whine about it, people call you a perfectionist.  If there were no deadlines, there would be no perfectionism.

Q. What would there be?

A. There would be a beautiful new world full of relaxed people who have time for each other and who don’t block other people out of their lives only because they have to meet a deadline.  We would all stop running The Marathon Race to Hell.  

The Questioner is silent.  

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Gratitude List 1650

(1) Although I’ve had a very rough week — underslept, brain-dead, irritable — I’ve noticed that I perk up whenever I think of the Kids. Something about the way they’re so into it — it’s inspiring. They make me feel good about myself, and about what I have to offer.

(2) Really happy that Cody has taken over the teaching of the music. I sat in at the end of one of the rehearsals yesterday, and I was very impressed with his work. In fact, I was impressed with all of them. They seemed eager to show me what they’d accomplished. And when they showed me, I was proud.

(3) Stressing over the drum parts, I decided I needed help. So I went over to the School of Music and talked to the jazz professor there, who happens to be a percussionist, to see if maybe a student could help me out for credit. To my amazement, he told me he’d be happy to score the parts himself.

(4) Realizing I really didn’t have time to score all the saxophone parts either, I approached the sax player and proposed that he score the part in exchange for a stipend. He agreed, and that’s one less thing to worry about. Now I have more time to read Ashley Peterson’s blog, for which I am also very grateful. You learn something new there every day.

(5) Managed to squeeze in a new article for the religious site. It’s called “Diverse Not Divisive.” I’m grateful that the journalism hasn’t fallen completely by the wayside, but what I’m really grateful for is that Eden in Babylon is beginning to have the feel of a community project — a collaborative effort. I’ve never known a place like this before in all my life. This town is just what it claims to be. It truly is the Heart of the Arts.

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All the Things I Am

I can explain everything.

Given the difficulty I have getting piano pieces to you guys consistently every Friday, I have decided that each time I go to the church with the Baldwin Grand, I will record three songs instead of just one. That way I’m less likely to slack, because I can just schedule them in advance.

I tried doing both “Desperado” and “All the Things You Are” yesterday.  This was the second time that I attempted to do it all by myself without enlisting the help of a second person to position the iPhone properly on the tripod.

The first time I succeeded, as is evidenced on my YouTube (though not on the version of “The Way We Were” on this blog, which leaves out the first minute or so that reveals me struggling and finally succeeding to get the iPhone onto the tripod.)

Yesterday I did not succeed, although I thought I had.  But when I looked at the video of “Desperado” the iPhone was bouncing up and down in such a way that was so horrible — I just couldn’t give it to you.   (That there was an internal piano teacher rapping me on the knuckles all the way through the performance didn’t help much either.)

As for “All the Things You Are,” I for some reason couldn’t remember two of the chord changes, even though I had just played the tune a week prior with our saxophonist, and played it night after night for nearly nine years during the 90’s at Gulliver’s Restaurant.   I tried it eight times, I believe, before admitting to my internal piano teacher that I would never remember the changes.   (The knuckle rap was less severe after the true confession.)

As far as ADHD, I flushed the new meds down the toilet on the 13th day, after having five bouts of sleep paralysis on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.   Correlating that the last time I had sleep paralysis of that severity was the last time I took an ADHD medication, I am wondering whether people with sleep disorders should be on ADHD meds.   I’ll talk to the doctor about it.

Finally, since my ADHD is currently at the level where it probably took me four or five minutes to write this reasonably coherent blog post and it will probably take my four of five years to score a drum part using Finale notation software, I’m a bit discouraged about my position and potential in life in general at this time.

However, being as today is the Sabbath I will “keep it holy” by continuing to write the blog posts, essays, and religious news columns that my ADHD empowers me to do with facile — or perhaps this an autism spectrum issue — and cease to belabor the drum parts that my ADHD disables me from producing effectively.

Said ADHD does, by the way, enable me to play long improvisational passages on the piano with ease.  So I can assure you that I’ll get to the piano at some point between now and Thursday, and I hopefully give you “All the Things You Are” — since after all, I just told you All the Things I Am.

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Gratitude List 1649

(1) On the 10th day of my new ADHD medication, I have yet to discern an intended effect.   What I’m grateful for, however, is that I haven’t had any side effects either.

(2) A couple fine conversations with my pastor yesterday reminded me of what an extraordinarily gentle and centered fellow he is.  I would say, “Christ-centered.”  I’ve really never met anyone quite like him, and I am grateful for his influence on my life.

(3) After a very sedentary month during which I gained a few pounds, I’ve finally started jogging and doing my push-ups again.   I feel better already.   Grateful for the blessing that regular exercise has been throughout my life.  Push-ups in particular are highly underrated.

(4) Being a person who has a hard time establishing a regular morning routine, I am grateful to have found a good start.  If I keep my smartphone turned to one of the Psalms, I begin reading the Psalm when I reach for the phone, first thing in the morning.   Then the words of life enter into me before anything else does.  (This morning it was Psalm 19).

(5) The Kids have outdone themselves.  As of last night, it has been decided that I no longer need to attend rehearsals.  They are perfectly capable of proceeding without me.   After all, they’re forty or fifty years younger than me, and not at all scatterbrained.  I’m grateful for the respect they all have for my work — and I’m very very grateful that they care.

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Tuesday Tuneup 95

Q. What’s happening now?

A. Insomnia.

Q. Are you trying to tell me you’ve been up all night?

A. Yes.

Q. But aren’t you an early riser?

A. I pride myself on it. But even early risers are prone to insomnia at times.

Q. At what kinds of times?

A. Oh, you know — times when there’s too much on the mind.

Q. But don’t you have a highly active mind?

A. I do. So what?

Q. Then how can you say that there’s too much on your mind?

A. Are you being a smart-ass?

Q. Why do you ask?

A. Because it’s obviously not the massive bulk of brain activity that has led to the insomnia, it’s the content of the activity — the kinds of things that I’m thinking about.

Q. What kinds of things?

A. Oh – human relationships. I botched up one of them totally, just a few days ago. Somebody who seemed to like me, too. But for all this guy liked me, I still couldn’t make it work.

Q. Well, do you like him?

A. Come to think of it, no I don’t. But that makes me feel guilty, because he likes me. Or — at least he did, before Monday.

Q. What happened Monday?

A. I asked him not to write to me again.

Q. Isn’t that unlike you?

A. Yes. I did it at a moment of exasperation.

Q. What were you exasperated over?

A. His apparent lack of empathy.

Q. But didn’t he like you?

A. Not the same thing as being able to empathize. Hustlers on the streets “liked” me because when I was an easy mark and a pushover. People sometimes like you because you’re supplying something they need. They like you because they succeed at using you. That’s a far cry from empathy.

Q. How do you know he lacked empathy?

A. He’d seen me more than once when I was — well, hurting. His responses were not those of one who could feel or even understand my pain.

Q. What were his responses like?

A. The same as always. He didn’t change at all, when I started to have a hard time. He still just kind of smiled and gave me unsolicited advice, as usual — even though I was shaking, and practically crying. And that’s not right. We’re supposed to flow with people’s ups and downs. Scripture says we’re supposed to “mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice.” My pastor does that really well, as a matter of fact. And he’s genuine. You can just tell that he feels your joy as well as your pain. Even if he hasn’t lived through the kinds of situations you have, he still identifies with — with — the human condition, in all its various shades and colors. He’s rare. But he’s a good example.

Q. Then why not talk with your pastor?

A. Oh, I did! Three times, actually. And he empathized all three times, even though he saw me in three different states of mind, messed up in different ways at different times over the same thing.

Q. What thing?

Pause.

A. That thing is myself. It’s not about that guy who lacked empathy. I could just as well say it was about anyone else on the planet. But it boils down to me. It’s me whom I’m messed up over.

Q. Have you ever tried loving yourself?

A. Oh, please.

Q. Why do you dismiss my question?

A. What in heaven’s name is “love?”

The Questioner is silent.

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Champagne

I think I’ll do it over again. The song, that is.  I’ve been under the weather, hadn’t played for a week actually, was kinda tight. Low key body ache, soar throat, sniffles, low energy. Canceled two rehearsals, one on the morning it was supposed to happen. That’s not like me, and I feel pretty strange about it . . .

Hm, but you know what? I think it’s time for a regular old flu shot. Just because of Covid doesn’t mean other stuff isn’t going around. Anyway, come back tomorrow or Sunday, for more champagne.

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Strange Synchronicities

1. I awoke the other morning after only two hours sleep before a very busy and seemingly important day. Going to the computer to check the time, I watched the clock turn from 5:59:59 to 6:00:00 before my eyes.

2. Knowing it was time to issue a newsletter, that morning, I did so. As I submitted it, the clock turned from 8:59 to 9:00.

3. This week, I wrote a Tuesday Tuneup, knowing I had scheduled the previous day’s gratitude list to post at 7:30am on Monday. As I submitted the Tuneup, I watched the clock turn from 7:29 to 7:30, just as I clicked on “Publish.”

4. In the year 2018, I decided to calculate the first day that I ever slept outdoors, after years of sleeping inside.  The calculations are preserved in this blog post.  It was 11:50 when I finished the post, so I set it at midnight.  The next morning, I looked at the computer clock and realized I had made the discovery exactly fourteen years after I had first slept outdoors.  So I discovered on May 17, 2018 that I first slept outdoors on May 17, 2004.

5. Incidentally, that same year, I was talking with Lauren Sapala about the use of meter in prose.  She mentioned that Neal Cassidy had done this, and I said I also had used it in a piece called The Temple of the Human Race.  Lauren wrote back asking me if I knew that it was the same day as the date on the piece, or if I had changed the date.   I had not changed the date – for why would I have?  It turned out I had written the piece on March 23, 2007, and sent it to her on March 23, 2018.

6. Finally, feeling full of synchronicity, I decided to count how many days it was that I was homeless.  I first became homeless on May 17, 2004, as I have told you.   I got down on my knees outside Sequoia Station and screamed at God to put an end to twelve years of homelessness on July 17, 2016 – as I have told you — and knew somehow that my homelessness was over – that the prayer was valid, and the needed action would be revealed.  Interesting that it was the 17th of each month.   Counting the days between the two dates (it can be done!) it turned out to be 4,444 days.

7. And to make a nice number seven, I must ask the question: “What does it all mean?”

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Tuesday Tuneup 88

Q. What’s happening now?

A. Nothing.

Q. Nothing?

A. Nothing.

Q. But isn’t that impossible?

A. What do you mean?

Q. Aren’t many things always happening, all around us?

A. You’ve got a point there. But there’s nothing happening inside me.

Q. No feelings?

A. None.

Q. Numb?

A. Numb.

Q. How long have you been this way?

A. I’m not sure.

Q. What made you this way?

A. A lifetime of overreacting to each and every vicissitude.

Q. Vicissitude?

A. Vicissitude.

Q. What does “vicissitude” mean?

Vicissitude: Today's Vocabulary word, an a2z post - In ...

Q. Is that your answer?

A. Yes.

Q. So you are no longer overreacting to every vicissitude?

A. Correct. I no longer react. I merely observe and absorb.

Q. How long do you think this will last?

A. Who knows?

Q. Are you happy to be numb?

A. Neither happy nor sad. I experience no reaction whatever to my numbness.

Q. Empty?

A. Empty.

Q. Done?

A. Finished.

The Questioner is silent.

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Tuesday Tuneup 87

Hey I wrote this on Sunday night, at the end of a classically bad day during which, at one point, I threatened to leave WordPress out of total annoyance with the new editor, combined with a seeming inability to return to the old editor. I’ve revised my position, though I am just as annoyed. I’ll continue to post as I’m able. 

So — I permitted my feelings on Sunday night to result in this tune-up, which turned out to be a positive introspective exercise.  Hope you can relate (at least some of the time).

Q. What’s happening now?

A. Pain.

Q. Physical pain?

A. No. The other kind of pain.

Q. Mental?

A. Or emotional. Or spiritual, or existential. You know the pain I mean.

Q. Existential?

A. Best describes it, yes.

Q. Elaborate?

A. Emptiness.

Q. Who can fill that void?

A. You know the answer to that. Only God can feel the void. But God is —

Q. Intangible?

A. Bingo.

Q. Doesn’t God work through people?

A. That’s part of the problem. There aren’t any people around to work through.

Q. There aren’t?

A. You’re kinda boring tonight, do you know that?

Q. Boring, like — empty?

A. Yes.

Q. But isn’t that merely a reflection of your own internal emptiness?

A. I suppose it could be. Boredom, emptiness, loneliness — they’re all kinda connected.

Q. Are you lonely?

A. Right now, yes. Usually, no. It’s because of stuff that happened — bad stuff — stuff I wish I didn’t have to face or process —

Q. And if she were here, you wouldn’t have to?

A. I see what you’re driving at. If she were here, and I were in this mood, she would just become a sounding board. It would dehumanize her. I’d be using her. That would be lousy. You’re right — I’m best off alone. That way I won’t subject anyone to myself.

Q. But doesn’t she love you?

A. I believe she does, yes. But she loves the right things about me. That’s why I love her. Not many people have ever come along that even see those things in me.

Q. So — are you saying — you don’t want her to have to see — the wrong things?

A. Not the wrong things — the bad things. The things that are hard to live with. The things that make it hard for me to live even with my own self. Nobody should ever have to see those things — not even me, really. And yet, because I am me, I am consigned to see them all the time.

Q. Tell me: what do you see when you look in the mirror?

A. Oh come off of it!! You’re starting to sound like a pop psychology guru! I had enough of those cats in the seventies, for crying out loud.

Q. But what do you see when you look in the mirror?

A. I don’t know – let me go look. Brb.

Pause.

A. I see a guy who could use a shave.

Q. Is that all? Nothing else?

A. Not to speak of. It’s the unshaved look — most glaring.

Q. When was the last time you shaved?

A. Probably the last time I had a razor to shave with.

Q. When was that?

A. Oh, I don’t know. Five days ago, maybe.

Q. When is the next time you’ll have a razor?

A. Probably tomorrow. Razors are on my list.

Q. But why is your unshaven appearance the main thing you see?

A. It’s what’s on my mind, I guess.

Q. Not shaving?

A. Never mind. Some items are easier to hang onto than others. Razors go quickly.

Q. What else goes quickly?

A. Coffee. I rip right through that stuff.

Q. Could you use a cup of coffee?

A. Not anymore. I had a quad espresso earlier, when I finally got it together to figure out the easiest softest way to get caffeine into my system.

Q. When was that?

A. At about five in the afternoon.

Q. You didn’t have a cup of coffee till five in the afternoon?

A. No I didn’t. I also didn’t get a damn thing done all day.

Q. What about after the quad espresso?

A. By that time, I was brain dead. Long story.

Q. So you had a bad day?

A. You could say that, yes.

Q. Isn’t tomorrow another day?

A. Look buddy – how many tomorrows have we got left? It’s not as though we can afford to have too many more bad days. Every day is precious – the times are evil — we need to redeem the time —

Q. Why are you carrying the weight of the world on the shoulders?

A. Who else is going to do it? Atlas?

Q. Well there must many others who are equally concerned with —

A. Yeah – and you know who they are, don’t you?

Q. Not — exactly —

A. They’re a secret organization of cats from another dimension. Somehow they have successfully infiltrated the earth with an organized plan to save the planet. Only a select few of us even know they exist. They have taken great measures to conceal their identity, even from the Internet —

Q. Woah! Aren’t you sounding like a conspiracy theorist?

A. No! I’ve actually met these guys! And they swore me to secrecy, and —

Q. Are you on the level?

A. Why would I not be on the level?

Q. If the things you’re saying are so outlandish, how can you expect others to believe you?

A. That’s why I don’t usually talk about them. People will only think I’m insane.

Q. Are you insane?

A. Maybe more so on days like today than on other days. You see, if she were here, I wouldn’t be so alone, and my thoughts would not take me off into those strange conspiratorial dimensions.

Q. She would ground you?

A. I don’t know about that. But she would take my attention away from darker matters.

Q. Is she a lighter matter?

A. I believe so, yes. She understands me. Most people don’t. How can I not love her?

Q. So you love her because she loves you?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you love just anybody who loves you?

A. Who else loves me? She’s the only one who loves me. She’s the only one who even understands me.

Q. How do you know this?

A. I can tell.

Q. Has she ever told you she loves you?

A. No. But I can still tell.

Q. Then why don’t you let her in?

A. I don’t know. It seems — wrong. She will eventually see the bad stuff in me. And it will burst her bubble. And I will feel bad. And it would be better not to take that risk.

Q. What about God?

A. What about Him?

Q. Maybe only Christ can fill that void – you know?

A. I know. I’m supposed to love Him because He first loved me.

Q. Then what’s keeping you?

Pause.

A. A couple things, actually.

Q. Shoot.

A. First off, what is love?

Q. How can you ask that question?

A. Why shouldn’t I?

Q. Haven’t you already implied that you know what love is, since you know that she loves you?

A. That leads to the second thing.

Q. What’s that?

A. Who is she?

The Questioner is silent.

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Quick Question

Anybody know how to switch back from the new block editor to the old editor without paying any money? After about a week or so, I’ve concluded that the new editor will do nothing but drive me nuts.

Tuesday Tuneup 83

Q. What’s happening now?

A. Frustration.

Q. Over what?

A. WordPress.

Q. Why?

A. For one thing, the blog posts no longer manifest in chronological order. As soon as I get to The Very Same World, it deviates from the order and throws me onto all kinds of posts that happened forty years ago. This sure doesn’t help when I’m trying to figure out the number of the last Tuesday Tuneup I wrote.

Q. Isn’t there another path of navigation that will lead you to the Tuneup number?

A. Yes. So I googled Tuesday Tuneup 82, which is the last one I remembered writing, but I wasn’t sure. But whenever I put Tuesday Tuneup 82 onto Google, all these other tuneups were coming up, I guess more popular ones, and I could never get to 82.

Q. What about quotes?

A. Eventually I realized quotes could help, and eventually I put Tuesday Tuneup 82 in quotes, and it came up.

Q. Why didn’t you do that in the first place?

A. Just cuz it’s not my practice. I usually find out by scrolling down, and the scrolling down led to weird other places. I figured it would come out without quotes, so I guess I tried it third.

Q. How about just writing down the number of each Tuneup and putting it in a place where you can find it?

A. Why are you on my case?

Q. Why do you think I’m on your case?

A. I don’t know. You’re just kinda annoying me this morning.

Q. Whatever. So when you pulled up Tuesday Tuneup 82. what happened?

A. You know what happened! I got slammed with this new interface.

Q. Then what did you do?

A. Started googling things like “Go back to Old WordPress editor.”

Q. Then what happened?

A. It said to “go to plugins” and then find the Old Editor and reinstall it.

Q. Why didn’t you do that?

A. Because I couldn’t find “plugins.” Looked all over for it.

Q. And now you’re settling for the New Editor?

A. Begrudgingly. WordPressed my buttons.

Q. Which buttons?

A. Resentment against pseudo-authority.

Q. What do you mean by pseudo-authority?

A. I mean the dynamic whereby one thinks that they are an authority, but by all rights, they are NOT an authority.

Q. Can you clarify?

A. Morally, ethically, and in terms of rights, it is not the perogative of WordPress (or Microsoft or Google or Facebook or whoever else), to decide where I should go. If I wanted to go to Phoenix, nobody has the authority to make to go to Cincinnati. That’s what it feels like. I intend, through my executive agency, to go to the Old Editor, and they KIDNAP ME and take me to some foreign editor whom I don’t even know.

Q. But you did give up and try to use the New Editor?

A. Did I have a choice? I’m at the New Editor begrudgingly. Already TWICE I’ve hit some damned key that I keep hitting, maybe five times a day, that instantly eradicates all my work. If it weren’t for the Drafts, I’d have never gotten this far.

Q. Where is that key?

A. I have no idea. I’ve been asking people about since 1999. Nobody seems to ever take me seriously. I wonder if it’s something that only happens on MY computers. But it’s maddening, whatever it is.

Q. So you are basically saying — what?

A. I resent any situation where somebody feels they have the authority to hijack my agency. They should be a gentleman about it. They shouldn’t just throw things on me, no matter who they are.

Q. But hasn’t WordPress been talking about the interface for weeks now?

A. Sure they have. But I haven’t paid any attention.

Q. Why not?

A. Because I figured I would just use the Old Editor. And now I am just frustrated because under the all the other pressure, I can’t find the Old Editor.

Q. Don’t you feel kind of childish?

A. Yes, I do. I feel like a spoiled child. It is not that important for me to be doing any of this right now. I’m pissed off because I’ve been up since 8, I thought I could just compose a simple tune-up that I always enjoy writing, and start the day off on a nice note, and be in a good mood at rehearsal this afternoon for the Kids

Q. Well — uh – I mean, Andy — isn’t your rehearsal for the Kids more important than the Tuneup?

A. What do you mean? I miss the Tuneup half of the Tuesdays or more! I just wanted to do it this time, and do it quickly, and get on with the day.

Q. Do you mean to tell me you have spent four hours trying to figure out how to get to the Tuneup field?

A. Um – er – not exactly – the plumbers came over, I was talking to them, played a little piano, made a sandwich, and did some other things, but whenever I got back to the computer, all that has happened on any level has been navigational stress and failure.

Q. So you’re in a bad space?

A. Yes. And I want to be in a good space — not for me, or for the the Kids. They’re just — too good. And I have worked with Kids who are flaky – and they put my name in a bad light. But these kids – are not like that. They do show up on time. They don’t make lame excuses for not being there that any idiot can see through. They don’t insult my intelligence in that fashion, nor do they have a problem with my authority – which is in this case, is not Pseudo-Authority, but Real Authority. They’re reliable and talented and enthusiastic, and the least I can do is greet them with a good mood.

Q. Have you ever been in a bad mood whenever you’ve seen these Kids?

A. No – next to my daughter, these Kids are the delight of my life right now.

Q. Well then, you could be in a bad mood till 3:30 and then instantly be in a good mood, as you soon as you see the Kids.

A. True.

Q. Do you want to be in a bad mood till 3:30?

A. No.

Q. Then why don’t you just post the Tuneup and get on with the day?

A. Good idea.

Q. Anything else?

A. No. End of rant. Andy OUT.

(There’s supposed to be some thing here that says to donate to Eden in Babylon but I don’t want to stress on figuring it out right now. It’s a beautiful day and there’s music to play. God bless.)

Evolution of a Song: Part Three

So I mentioned somewhere along the line — either in Part One or Part Two, I suppose – that I had decided to write an opera in the year 2009.

The opera I would call Eden in Babylon.   I only wrote the first Act, as it happened, before I burned out on the idea that Eden in Babylon was supposed to be an opera, and not just a regular old musical.

The first Eden in Babylon was quite different.   It had nothing to do with homelessness.   Instead of entering into homelessness after the first two scenes, the main character entered into a fantasy world of the imagination.   Really, only the title remains, as the show has changed its context so much.

In that realm of imagination lived a woman named Helzabel, who objected to all things beautiful.   She held Artists in particular disdain, since they often created the very beauty to which she objected.   The song she sang, Cloaks of Art, played with the biblical concept called “cloaks of maliciousness.”  (1 Peter 2:16 KJV.)

But now that Eden in Babylon had become a musical about homelessness, that fantastical realm where Helzabel dwelt was replaced by the realm of the streets.   And Helzabel became Molly Mortalis — suspicious not so much of Artists, but of people who had become homeless.   A similar character of a similar sentiment — in a wildly different world.

This called for wildly different lyrics.   And a major tune-up on the tune.   So without too much hemming or hawing. I came up with Midnight Screams.

I wonder how many people who read this will actually listen to Cloaks of Art and tell me how much, or how little, it resembles Midnight Screams?”  As for “Child of No Emotion,” the variant in Part One, I’m afraid you will never hear it.   That libretto, I fear, is gone.

But the music lives on.   These three abide — Book, Music, and Lyrics.  But the greatest of these is Music.

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Babylon Interactive

I want to let you all know that I’ve got a playlist now on SoundCloud that will automatically pull up the interactive score to the musical I’ve been working on.   Feedback is welcome — I’m not exactly sure how viable the instrumentation is.   If I want to easily translate it to a live pit orchestra with “real” musicians, this arrangement probably is not optimum.   It does have an interesting, ethereal sound to it, however.

The thing I keep struggling with is the awareness that when I “received” this music, I was walking about the various outdoor venues of the Berkeley, California area, fully believing that the correct orchestrations were as absolute as the music itself, and that all these sounds were coming from Beyond, having originated in a realm of musical consciousness far greater than the confines of my relatively minute human intellect.

The more powerful that memory, the greater the sense in which I feel this music is cheapened by the arbitrary addition of synthetic sounds only remotely related to the real live musicianship that seems to be called for.  On the other hand, when the music was originally being “given” to me, I “heard” it involving sounds that I identified as being of a timbre tantamount to that of a tenor saxophone and a viola soloist.   So my choice to employ tenor sax and viola in my arrangements was not arbitrary.   It’s an attempt to best replicate that which I have already heard. 

The problem with this is that, while it may indeed provide adequate background for singers presenting an interactive production online, it would be difficult to rectify those sounds as being suitable within the typical pit orchestra of a Broadway-type musical.  I could replace them with an increased focus on electric guitars and keyboard-synth, and thus render the interactive orchestration compatible with that of a real-live pit orchestra — one with a rock ensemble flair — but if I do so, I sacrifice the beauty of the expressive tenor sax and viola sounds, as authentically replicating the ethereal sounds that I heard.

One thing to note is that instruments like saxophones and violas are generally found as parts of larger jazz or classical ensembles.  While we do hear sax solos in jazz and other genres, we don’t often hear viola solos.  More often, the viola is a part of a string section.  So I might as well add a wind section, a string section, and a brass section for that matter, if I’m going to involve such instruments.  They sound out of character when played together without some bolstering or support from instruments of their kind.

However, all of this has to do with idiom.  That is, because the ear is not accustomed to hearing passages that involve a sax and a viola harmonizing in descending cascades such as we hear in Sirens of Hope, it rejects the application of those instruments as bizarre.  They don’t match the typical pairing of instruments — a single brassy wind like that, with a solitary stringed instrument in the midrange.  And yet, were we to have such instrumentalists in a pit with ample miking and the like, we could lift their sounds to levels akin the other players – the drummer, the bass, the guitarist and the like.

A final thing to consider is that when the music was being directed my way, it was not with the idea that human musicians were playing it in whatever Ethereral Realm of the Beyond it was emanating from.  Seriously!  The distinct impression I got was that it was being performed in such a way that transcended mere human musicianship.   And if this is the case, then certainly the employment of the software is excusable.  To the ears of the ethereal, human instruments, human devices, and human programs are all one and the same.  They are all equally non-divine.

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The Very Same World

I mentioned I’ve been working on putting together the “interactive score” to my musical Eden in Babylon.   Well, here’s the third number – it’s called “The Very Same World.”  I placed the lyrics below.

Andy Pope · The Very Same World

This must be the day
That the sages always say
Will emerge upon humanity in stages –
Something in the air
Has not one thing to compare
With the air of every other day till now.
Now must be the time
Some call supreme, some call sublime,
Approaching the apex of the ages,
The day when each and every one of us is in our prime,
The combined effect
May well redirect the world.

The Very Same World
That was for centuries
Riddled with travesties,
Hatred and war
Will by and by be
What she was meant to be,
Wholly, authentically
Healed at the core.
Her banners unfurled,
For all the earth to see
Let us give birth to the
World we adore.

This must be the start
Of an Era of the Heart,
Of a full and perfected new creation
All the saints in sight
Will in harmony alight
Upon a new and unexpected place of song
Thus will we ensure
That the faultless and the pure
Will stand fast in the face of violation
We will be strong when we are tested, and we will endure
When the trumpet sounds
And the scourge abounds
Let the clarion
Ring its call upon the world:

The Very Same World
Engulfed in tragedy
Will now see Majesty
Stand at her door.
The Very Same world
That had been torn apart
Will show her golden heart:
Let her heart pour
All over the world
And put an end to shame:
That world will bear the name:
World Beyond War.
That world will bear the name:
World Beyond War.

© 2019 by Andy Pope

 

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