Monday, 1 September 2014

Can You Guess Where I'm Calling From?

Today I took breakfast in a diner that cooked real hash browns. There were lots of families with children there, small people eating large stacks of pancakes because it is Labor Day weekend. The guy beside me at the bar ordered a Bloody Mary made with bacon flavoured vodka for breakfast. The password for the wifi was stripclub.

When I considered all these facts it occurred to me that I must be in Portland Oregon.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

I'll Be Back

I'll be back after I've written a book.


This Karma Thing Needs Clarification

karma, according to the Oxford dictionary.

(In Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.

Informal - Good or bad luck, viewed as resulting from one’s actions.

Are you Hindu or Buddhist? Do you subscribe to the rest of the superstitions that come with those faiths? Do you even know what they are? Then why do you employ the word karma when you really don't know what it means? Or are you using it informally, as pop slang, in a what goes around comes around kinda' way? 

When you suggest that karma will pay someone back for hurting you or others, do you mean they will be reincarnated as a slug? What do you mean? Does it ever seem just a little bit stupid to you? It does to me.


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Performance Highs And Lows

Last night I was involved in a short, harmless, tawdry bout of fisticuffs. A friend asked me to write it up as a major event, to exaggerate it into a battle worthy of Madison Square Gardens. As if I'd ever exaggerate anything when writing this blog! Everything I write is the dead set truth, exactly as it happened. 

There was one interesting aspect to this minor skirmish. The events, as I recall them, went a little like this. 

I was walking along my usual route between my home and my evening coffee. A young man wearing a scarf in the colours of a football team was sitting on a low wall outside an apartment building, he said something to me, I didn't catch it, I made the error of stopping to check if he was ok. The football team he supported had been soundly beaten earlier in the evening, it turned out he was saying that said football team was still the greatest ever. I suggested that it was difficult to support that claim considering they had just been thrashed by one of the worst teams in the league. He stood up and took a swing at me. 

All that is fairly standard. The interesting thing is what went through my mind in the next two seconds. As I recall, it went a bit like this.

"Shit. Dodge. Ouch. Glad he didn't hit me with the beer bottle. Reckon the beer in one hand was what threw his balance off. Good evasion Parkstreet, just glanced my neck, could have been nasty. This fucker is tall, long reach, keep hold of his coat, keep him close. I'm wearing a blazer and an overcoat, can't swing properly, go for a jab in the ribs, he's skinny, it will hurt. Being a little overweight is an asset with a jab, drive from the legs and hips. If he doesn't go down will I have time to get my coat off? Punch. Got him. Voices, a group of blokes coming out of the apartments, probably his mates, they'll either drag him away or kill me. Let go of him, he can't breathe anyway. Walk fast, don't run. Don't run. Running will set up a chase. Cross the road, get to that tram stop and disappear behind the tram."

I thought all that in around two seconds. That strikes me as more interesting than the actual scrap. How did my mind think all those things so quickly? The only other time my mind and body react so quickly and in unison are when I'm playing music. I wonder if boxers go into a similar sort of trance state when they are in the ring? I guess they must?

Why can't I think that quickly, feel so alive, all the time? The adrenalin rush afterwards kept me awake until dawn, so I guess that answers my own question. Is this why so many performers go a little nuts, the rush of excitement that makes real life feel dull? I was operating at that peak for two seconds, try to imagine ninety minutes of that night after night. 

There was a time when I played improvised music night after night. It was never quite as intense as a fist fight, but not a million miles from it. My method of dealing with it was to drink to excess. Drinking made real life seem less boring. I miss the high of playing that way. I don't miss the low afterwards. 

That shabby little fight last night has got me thinking. Thinking much slower than I am apparently capable of. It's up to me to find a way to live those highs without succumbing to those lows, to work out my own method to do what I love doing.

Alright, I may have altered the facts just a little to show myself in a good light. I am more than a little overweight.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Let The Artist Rest In Peace

There's an old stand up comedian joke, that is, a joke about stand up comedians. 

A stand up comedian finishes his second set for the night, grabs a cold drink from the bar and walks out the back door of the venue to have a smoke. There he is confronted by the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. She looks him in the eyes and says, "You were amazing tonight, you are the most brilliant performer I have ever seen. You made me so happy. I'd do anything to make you happy . . . anything".

The comedian responds to this remarkable offer by asking, "Did you see the first set or the second set?".

You see the comedian is already reviewing his own performance, working towards the next. He is oblivious to everything else. 

I wish Robin Williams were here to make jokes about all the sanctimonious bullshit that is being written and spoken about the death of Robin Williams. Isn't it enough to remember him fondly, to be grateful for his work? Do we have to make an example of him, turn him into a poster for depression awareness? Can't he have his own death for his own reasons? He gave everything else to the public, his life, can't his death be his own?

Robin Williams was an artist. He wasn't like the rest of us. He lived and died on his own terms, gave everything he had. If he were here now he'd be improvising merciless jokes at his own expense. He isn't here now. Let him rest in peace.


Scrabble Dichotomy

I don't play board games. I believe whoever invented them spelled board incorrectly. 

I have friends who play scrabble. They appear to divide into two camps, those who enjoy playing with words and those who play to win. The former find pleasure in turning point into counterpoint. The latter turn point into pointer rather than expose the opposition to high scoring squares. 

This simple dichotomy seems to sum up a split in our culture, the civilized who seek joy in what they do, the barbaric who seek conquest. Then again, it's just a bored game, perhaps I'm reading too much into it?