Pages

Monday, March 31, 2014

More Unorganized Hancock Live Show Goodness To Improve Your Monday Markedly

If you just stumbled in (hey, who hasn't from time to time) that's my two sons, AKA Unorganized Hancock, performing at the Skowhegan, Maine Maple Festival a few weeks back. I watch these videos the same way you do. They entertain me. I don't get any less or any more enjoyment out of them because they're my kids. I help them as best I can, then as fast as I can manage it I go sit in the audience.

I'm told by various and sundry persons that being married and having kids and generally being of a traditional frame of mind about many things is either a near-insurmountable row to hoe, or a bad idea in the first place -- children are too expensive, or the world is too full of people already, or some such. Others say western civilization in all its forms is very important, of course, but they make it sound like a directive to eat your vegetables. You're supposed to do it, grimly, because otherwise society will fall apart.

I just don't get any of it. My wife and children are delightful, and I never get tired of them, and they fill my house with a jolly tintinnabulation every day they aren't out in the great, wide world making their racket for strangers. I never miss whatever it is I'm supposedly missing out on. Our life might be difficult, but my family is the cure for that, never the cause. And even if you think the world has too many people in it, it surely still has too few of the pleasant variety, so we tried to make some more.

And I hate to break it to you, but vegetables are just food, and I like eating food, and you should too.

[Many thanks to Andy B. in Indiana for his generous mash on the PayPal tipjar button in the right-hand column. I'm constantly amazed by the generosity of my readers]
[Update: Many thanks to longtime UH supporter Kathleen M. of Connecticut, who is as close to a perennial flower as this blog will ever see, for her ongoing generous contributions to our tip jar]
[Up-Update: Many thanks to Charles E. from The Land Of Enchantment for his very generous assault on our tip jar. I do not know anyone named Charles that isn't a nice person. I don't think they exist]

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Like Watching Titian Grind Pigments: Wes Montgomery Arranges A Song In Real Time


Wes Montgomery sounds like he was a nice man, a commodity that can be somewhat hard to find in the music business. He had a wife and lots of kids. He supposedly learned to play guitar when he was already a man. He worked all day in a factory, practiced at night, and strummed the guitar with his thumb instead of a plectrum so he wouldn't keep his wife and kids up all night. Odd things often make people wonderful. He was well-regarded enough to be touring almost right away, but didn't like being away from his family, went back home and worked in a factory and played at local places again. Eventually he broke through and became international anyway. I don't know anyone he's playing with in the video, but this looks like European TV of some sort. The YouTube comments say they're Dutch.

He's a really rare specimen. He obviously always wanted to play in a manner that would be entirely accessible to the general public, but his chops and musicality commanded instant respect, even awe, from even the cool atonal kids. He's one of those players that never seems to run out of variations on what he knows. He never seems to be repeating himself. Even towards the end of his career, when he did jazzesque versions of profoundly pedestrian pop songs, no one snickered behind his back. Wes Montgomery's version of Windy might still be a version of Windy, but he never made anything worse. He wasn't capable of it.

I think he needs to be considered among the most influential jazz musicians ever, because more people paid attention to him, one way or the other, than anyone else.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Still There (from 2007)

Ever work in a factory?

If you're reading this page, the answer is likely no. I remember reading that if you are at a gathering of college educated persons, not one of them will know personally anyone who is not. They can cast around for the name of the plumber or something to make their working class bona fides, but it's not the same thing. With a few exceptions, educated persons don't know people who are not, and vice versa.

I am not fixing to hold myself up as any sort of example of anything. I don't fit in anywhere and so am useless as any sort of ruler to measure such things. I drift along through many sets of people, and belong to none, really. Maybe I should be a writer. I have no fixed perspective.

I have worked in a factory. More than one. A big old brick building with tall windows and a punch clock and battered formica tables and two vending machines in a break room. Union, some of them, too. I know what it's like. A lot of people who have never known work talk about the loss of belching smokestack factories like it's a plague of locusts or something. If they ever worked in one they might feel differently. I can't properly describe the sensation of eating your lunch out of a paper sack and reading an inexpertly printed missive from personnel (they used to call it that without shame) telling me, just 19 years old, that all I had to do is work another 49 years putting the same tiny screws into some holes while looking at a gauge, and I could retire with a little pension.

They never understood why I left. My fellow workers, grown old and crabby in the traces, tried to get me to explain, which I could not do without insulting them, and then, frustrated, barked at me that I'd be sorry. I never was. The factory has been shuttered and dark for decades now, and they all lost their jobs. The world is a shark and must always swim. I recognize the charlatans that say the shark must stand still no matter how they tart up the presentation. Numbskull Canutes want to rule the world.

There can be dignity there, in a factory. If there is work that is not dignified I have not seen it. You must bring the dignity with you, as in all things. It will not be supplied to you. It cannot be taken from you if you will keep it.

That picture is taken in 1940. There is certainly dignity in that picture, along with hard work and danger and a wage, and it shines right through. Old Kenyon's Johnnycake Mill in Usquepaugh, Rhode Island. I used to visit the towns around there often in the summer. And the place is still there.

Kenyon's Corn Meal Company

It's marvelous it's still there after centuries. The shark must swim. It does not devour all its young, though.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Still Better Dialog Than Anything George Lucas Ever Wrote


Kids writing scripts for grownups. It's glorious. As opposed to Hollywood, where grownups wearing toddler clothes write scripts for kids pushing sixty.

We don't send our children to public school, but we hear all about what goes on there. They're always maundering on in the local papers about their bright new ideas -- generally already discredited since the 1960s -- about "teaching children to be more creative." See, there's your problem right there.

I don't know exactly how dull you have to be to be a public school administrator, but school is supposed to try to put some sort of lid on a child's creativity, and get them to add single digits without using a sundial as a stopwatch, and put apostrophes where they belong once in a while, for five goddamn minutes a day, at least. Children only have one problem, and that's creativity. The reason you're all still sitting at the dinner table after an hour and fifteen minutes has come and gone is because your seven-year-old is still building stonehenge with his french fries. That's creativity, isn't it?  The reason your bathroom smells like a cattle stall is all the creative ways that little Magellan you're raising has figured out to circumnavigate the bowl. This video is like shooting fish in a barrel, which incidentally produces a very similar kind and amount of splashback.

If your kid doesn't compose at least one insane opera a day that lasts from sunup to sundown, he's not normal. A kid with that little imagination is luckily not common, but when he or she grows up, they're likely to cause trouble, likely by becoming a public school administrator or a state senator. Claiming you're going to teach children to be creative is like claiming you're going to teach Mike Tyson to be aggressive. And your Common Core plan for teaching creativity? Well, as Mike once said, everyone's got a plan until they get punched in the mouth. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Patient Effort Will Out


Patient effort will out. It is the only lesson I have, to teach to my children. I do not have anything else to offer them. It's a kind of faith.

Faith is not a lever you pull and out pops the candy. Faith is putting your candy into the machine, over and over, because you know in your heart it's the right thing to do, all the while knowing that nothing might ever come back out of it for you. You're just serene in the knowledge that the machine itself is a worthwhile apparatus, despite a lot of evidence to the contrary. That's why they call it faith. Duh.

The young man in the video grew up, his entire life, with a boot on his face. The Soviet Union was the largest example of the worst state of affairs ever conceived by humans. There are plenty of pikers plying their trade at human misery, retail, in places like basements in Cleveland, and organized and disorganized crime, or in franchises like North Korea and various other gulags with a seat at the United Nations and "Democratic" in their names, but for institutional unkindness, the soviets transformed mom and pop cruelty into an industrial-scaled enterprise. They were the multinational of misery.

This young man must have put his candy into the machine, day after day, never knowing if anything would come back out for him besides a mailed fist. He simply didn't put it into the wrong machine -- the machine that required everything from a man, even his soul -- he snuck around back and put it in the hidden slot any man can find if he looks hard enough. That slot isn't often labeled. Check that; it's usually mislabeled by the makers of the evil machine. They label it poison or greed or wrecker or apostate or denier or extremist or whatever they think might frighten you off. If you labeled it yourself, you might write, "I am a human being."

My family and I are required to submit to many indignities. Our arm is twisted and our candy is often mashed into the front of a machine we'd break if we had a hammer big enough. But every night while the people that warm themselves over the exhaust grate of that infernal machine are sleeping, we tiptoe around it and put our patient efforts into another, kindler, gentler machine. We do not know for certain if the machine will ever disburse anything we can use. We are only certain the other machine never will.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Doing The Show



Here's some more of my boys "doing the show" at the Opera House in Skowhegan, Maine last Saturday, for the town's Maple Festival.You can see the original mention of it here: A Day In The Life. The performance was captured on nothing more than an ambient microphone on a flip camera, hidden behind their stand-up sign onstage.

I was a performer for a long time. I have a finely trained ear about some things. There are various kinds of applause, for instance. Some people applaud out of nothing more than politesse. A great many people applaud things because they are determined to like things in the first place, whether they are any good or not. Sometimes you get golf claps because you don't suck, but you're in the wrong place.  Many applaud simply to celebrate the end of something they don't like.

That sound on the video is real, live applause. I'd know it anywhere, because it is so rare.

Unorganized Hancock

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Notes From All Over


My friend Gerard occasionally writes an essay to demonstrate that I'm the second-best essayist on the Intertunnel, and no better:  It was one of those small town events that puts your faith in the essential goodness of people back into your soul.

My friend Bird Dog is the only person that's ever noticed that I occasionally insert lyrics of my own devising into other people's songs when I write about them. I suspect he's just feigning ignorance that I wrote them:  Sipp has all the verses, including the ones often left out... 

Unorganized Hancock's Facebook page has a lot of fun pictures on it. In the dressing room with Unorganized Hancock at the Skowhegan Opera House.  

Admit it: If you don't like musicals, you always end up rooting for the Nazis in this one. But I'd totally get on board with the Von Trapps if they remade The Sound Of Music like this:



The hills are alive, with the sound of Uzis...

My friend Steve Layman reminds me of one of my favorite Beatles songs to play. I once played in a band that was a Beatles tribute band before I met them, and at the drop of a hat they could bang out any Beatles song like pros. We were jerks, and sang: "I'm gonna let you down 'cause you are flat... "

Sometimes I think there aren't enough pleasant people on the Intertunnel. Then I find people like The Execupundit. 

Other times I think there aren't enough pleasant people on the Intertunnel. Then I visit the Daughter of the Golden West.  We decorated our Christmas tree with her ornaments. You should too.

Gagdad Bob is the only blogger with a profile page more amusing than mine. I want to go over to his house and listen to Pharoah Sanders records, but I have to shovel my driveway.

Still plenty of nice stuff, discounted, and with free shipping, for sale at fastique.com.  I don't like to brag, but I know how to make an end table out of a tree.  Just sayin'.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Why I Never Hire Brilliant Men


I have only infrequently been an employee. When I was an employee, I would always be hired as the lowest of peons, then immediately be promoted to just short of the top of the greasy pole. In the past, I've been the employer of a good number of people, and as a manager acting for others I have supervised many hundreds. I now work alone.

When I had a handful of men working directly for me, I was in a business that absolutely demanded that the world be altered in a concrete, demonstrable, measurable, and productive way, every day, all the time, and without exception. I employed a rather bright fellow I recall now with fondness. I didn't employ him because he was bright, because that was mostly superfluous to the topic at hand. He was pleasant, and cooperative. He was not a lifer in the manual trades. 

One day, I gave a raft of instructions to him and all my other employees, and then left on an important business errand. When I returned, everything was either not done, or not done correctly, or an admixture of those two. I was rather heated in my reaction. In a quiet moment later, he said something to me that I found interesting, and useful. He told me that no one that worked for me was as smart as I was, and they couldn't understand things that I took for granted, and that there was no way the work would ever come out like I wanted it to unless I did it myself, and I was wasting my time trying to make it happen.

Since I did not make this assessment myself,  I guess I can tell you about it without feeling like it's simply rotomontade on my part. I had made a very bad mistake, and had hired a brilliant person to run my affairs, which is a very big mistake indeed. To hire a brilliant person to run your affairs marks a man as none too bright, if you ask me. It makes no nevermind that the brilliant person was me. 

I do not employ a brilliant person in this capacity any longer. If he gets up to anything brilliant-sounding, I tell him to put a sock in it, and sand another tabletop, because that's what needs doing.

But that's old advice, of course. Here it is, from 1924:

 Why I Never Hire Brilliant Men
by: Unknown

SITTING in my office last week, facing the man whom I had just fired, I thought of the contrast between that interview and our first one, nearly two years ago! Then he did almost all the talking, while I listened with eager interest. Last week it was I who talked, while he sulked like a petulant child.
"Your contract has sixteen months to run," I said. "My proposition is that we cancel it at once, and that I hand you this check for ten thousand dollars."
With a show of bravado he waved the check aside. He would hold me to the letter of the contract if it were the last thing he ever did.
I told him he had that privilege, but I was sure he would see the futility of exercising it.
"Let me review the situation for a moment," I continued: "You came to us as general sales manager on January 1st, 1922, at a salary of twenty-five thousand dollars. It was by far the largest salary we had ever paid in any executive position; but your record seemed to justify it.
"The letters you brought spoke in the highest terms of your sales genius. The only question which they did not answer to my satisfaction was why companies which had valued you so highly should ever have allowed you to get away! When I voiced this, you stated that they merely had been outbid by their competitors -- and I accepted your statement. It wasn't until you had been here a year that I learned the truth. You are a quick starter, but a poor finisher -- no finisher at all, in fact."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Yay Spring. You Go, Spring



It' s the first day of Spring today. Yay Spring. You go, Spring. Attaboy, Spring. It's been snowing for twelve straight hours, but that Spring he's just being coy. He's got Winter right where he wants him, trapped in my driveway. He can't escape, and Spring knows it. Spring doesn't worry. Spring is like Dirty Harry. He's gonna finish his hot dog before he comes out blastin'. I just know it.

There appears to be some sort of Civil War battleship foundered on my lawn that got snowed over. But that wily Spring, he's just waiting for the snow on the lawn to connect up with the snow on the roof, and then Bam!, that Spring's going to send the whole megillah into my basement. Then I'll be able to drag the Monitor or the Merrimack or whatever it is under there to the scrapyard and get rich like a metal thief.

There is no more firewood. That's bad. But I have a metal basket to burn wood pellets in when the firewood runs out. That's good. But after two years of hard use, the bottom of the basket burned clean through the other night, and the pellets just tumble out. That's bad. But my son and I found a stainless steel lid from a warming tray, like you'd see in a buffet line, and by modifying it a bit with a metal grinder and some pliers, I lined the bottom of the pellet basket. That's good. But we ran out of pellets, too. That's bad. But they sell pellets in every grocery store, supermarket, lumber yard, opium den, bordello, Walmart, and feed store in Maine. That's good. But every single one of them is completely out of pellets, in the whole state of Maine. That's bad. But I'm currently making ten pieces of furniture, and I burn the tapered cut-offs from the legs for heat. That's good. But they only lasted a day. That's bad. But the Tractor Supply company down the street got a pallet of pellets yesterday. That's good. The people before us bought twenty bags. That's bad. We bought the other thirty bags. That's good. Maine is nothing but trees, trees everywhere, trees growing out of the gutters on your house, trees crowding out the flowers in your pots, but the pellets came in bags labeled: Made in Alabama. I have no idea if that's good or bad, but it sure is something.

Yay Spring.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When Men Were Men And Women Were Glad Of It


Men used to expose themselves to all sorts of dangers and privations just to make a living. Take these loggers out west, back around the turn of the twentieth century.

They're kept safe now, of course, by an intricate web of laws and government programs, in order to allow them to die of drug overdoses purchased with dole money at their girlfriend's apartment in the projects, after shaking her baby a bit for caterwauling. It's progress, surely. I mean, they have premium cable and everything. Ooh boy! America's Deadliest Ice Road Hardcore Unsolved Trucker Survivors is on!

BTW, every woman in America would crawl over the freshly killed husk of their husband or boyfriend to get a crack at the firewood splitting dude that makes his appearance at 13:20.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Day In The Life

My three sons, AKA Unorganized Hancock, performed for the Skowhegan Maple Fest at the Skowhegan Opera House this past Saturday.

What's that? You thought I only had two sons? Well, we conceived another the weekend before, and put him together like humans do, so he was ready to take the stage this last weekend. We call him "Slim McGillicuddy."


I'm not going to spoil the effect by writing about the performance here today. Just watch the video. It's all in there. I'm even in it, if you look hard enough. No, not that guy. No, not that guy either. I'm that other, other guy.


Donations to our PayPal tip jar for the boys, which you'll find over in the right-hand column, are greatly appreciated. I don't know if you've heard yet, but gasoline costs real money now.

[Update: Many thanks to Phil in Kollyforneea for helping the boys out]
[Up-Update: Many thanks to Robert in Newcastle upon Tyne for his generous ring on the PayPal gong]
[Upper Platte Update: Many thanks to LJ in Nebraska for his donation and encouragement]
[Yet More Up-To-Date: Many thanks to Suzanne from Santa Ana for helping our lads out]
[Saturday Update: Many thanks to an obviously brilliant man named Stuart from South Carolina for helping the boys out]

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Opposite Day 2014



Mom's drunk. Dad's crying. Must be Opposite Day. Back when I was still in the music business, we called it "Amateur Hour." It wasn't a compliment. Ah, well, let's have a blessing anyway:
May those who love us love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.
Let's sing Carrickfergus, and weep, and laugh, all at once. And before anyone gets any ideas in the comments, there is only one version of this song:




I wished I had you in Carrickfergus,
Only for nights in Ballygrand,
I would swim over the deepest ocean,
The deepest ocean to be by your side.

But the sea is wide and I can't swim over
And neither have I wings to fly.
I wish I could find me a handy boatman
To ferry me over to my love and die.

My childhood days bring back sad reflections
Of happy days so long ago.
My boyhood friends and my own relations.
Have all passed on like the melting snow.

So I'll spend my days in endless roving,
Soft is the grass and my bed is free.
Oh to be home now in Carrickfergus,
On the long road down to the salty sea.

And in Kilkenny it is reported
On marble stone there as black as ink,
With gold and silver I did support her
But I'll sing no more now till I get a drink.

I'm drunk today and I'm rarely sober,
A handsome rover from town to town.
Oh but I am sick now and my days are numbered
Come all ye young men and lay me down.

I wish you'd put the battered kettle on
The bag could take one steeping more
I'd walk for miles across a rocky down
To hear the whistle we're all waiting for

The gulf yawns wide and I can't leap over
Until my time is drawing nigh
You're laid to rest in the nonesuch clover
When you were here you slipped on by

Those Christmas days and our destinations
Trolley rides through the dirty snow
My childhood's gone, like passing stations
Eyes full of tears, some from the cold


Nicely done, Van. More power to your elbow.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What Ever Happened To Regler People?


I used to see Regler people everywhere.

If Atlas ever shrugged, some mincing actuary or other variety of ink-stained wretch that wants to build a railroad without pulling a building permit wouldn't be him. Atlas had muscles, yo. You can't hold up the heavens with Post-It notes.

I miss Regler people. They've disappeared from view. No one will consent to be Regler anymore. There was real dignity in being Regler in my lifetime, but no one would be caught dead being Regler now. Except us, of course. We've ridden being Regler right into the volcano. Oh how the average person fresh from the courthouse or rehab or the tattoo parlor looks down their nose at us.

Average Americans used to be so very above-average. They were Regler. We live in the wreckage of Regler society, and warm our hands over the fire we made from the boards we pulled from their abandoned houses. Pass the bottle and tell a tall story in the flickering firelight. Tell one about giants. Heroes. Tell one about Regler people.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

That Selfie Really Tied The Internet Together, DID IT NOT?


I like The Big Lebowski a great deal.

It's passed through many phases of public interest. Like Spinal Tap, no one paid much attention to it when it came out. Since it was ignored, those who seek thrills in liking unliked things picked up on it. Vanguard becomes cult, cult becomes church. People now pray regularly in the church of The Dude.

Intellectuals have sought to understand both the movie and the resiliency of the interest in it. Only Groundhog Day has garnered more attempts at amateur and professional analysis of mundane subjects that seem to be important. They aren't, in and of themselves, so you can look pretty silly testifying that you know why it's popular, and popular in that very specific way: grown from seed, not top-down popularity. No one humped The Big Lebowski into widespread popularity, at least not that I can see. Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry, and Bieber, and Madonna, and lots of other people you could name are completely contrived assaults on your attention and your wallets. Lebowski is the other way 'round. The audience demanded that the makers of the entertainment pay attention to it with as much vigor as they bring, well after the fact. I think Star Wars is kinda like it in a way; I'm fairly certain George Lucas thought he was making a trifle. It is a trifle, but it made a trillion or so. It's not like Lebowski, though, because Lebowski is a good movie. But the subtexts and touchstones that resonate with the audience were likely hidden from the view of the makers in both cases. They discovered gold while scattershot mining for tin.

I am not going to dissect The Big Lebowski here. When you take apart the frog to see how it works, the frog can't jump for you anymore, and I need this frog to jump. I want to enjoy it like a normal person. I want to enjoy it like an Al Green song. I don't want to know what key it's in.

Jeff Bridges.com

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Island Of Misfit Temperatures

The obstinate and peevish weather gods dumped a foot or two of additional snow on us the other night. I try to walk in other men's shoes before cavilling about their behavior, but the weather pornographers have started naming every concatenation of snowflakes as if they were hurricanes, which is plenty imbecilic, but have apparently doubled down on their idiocy and named this particular one "Vulcan."

I know they all went to public school, and then attended directional state college and majored in leaving Solo cups on someone else's end table, but is everyone so illiterate that they don't know who Vulcan was, and where he hung out his shingle? I've noticed a predilection in "educated" folks to use the exact opposite of the correct answer as the answer to any question. Not sort of wrong, ever. Totally, dreadfully, 180 degress wrong about everything. You could not come up with anything wrongerer to name a snowstorm, but here we are.

We didn't shovel it yesterday, because the wind was raging at about 25 MPH, and the high temp was in the teens. When I got up this morning, it was 1F, but it wasn't windy, so we had at it. I told The Heir to just shovel out a couple of cattle chutes for the cars, and leave it be. There's nowhere left to put it anyway. At the bottom of the snow there's three inches of ice, and a shamrock we left out there a month ago. 

It has been 15 to 20 degrees below average every day for forever. I have to make all the heat in my house, so I keep a keen eye on the thermometer. Two thermometers, actually; I have a digital inside/outside model in my workshop on one side of the house, and there's a very old mercury thermometer outside my office window on the other side of the house. I often check one against the other. If the sun is on one side of the house, you can always find a thermometer in the shade to read.

I abandoned my office last November, because I couldn't hope to heat it. For a couple months, I typed everything on this blog and the others using the 32 inch television set in the living room as a monitor. I gave up on that scheme, and moved my desk into my bedroom, and write in there now. I still have a headache from December from squinting at the television, though. It's been very hard to move the thermometer in the house to reach 65, and when we wake up in the morning, it's often below 50 in our house, except in the childrens' bedrooms. What I'm explaining is: I know what the temperature is.

We do not get cable television service. I do not watch broadcasts of weather reports, which I find bizarre, anyway. I look at websites, and look for hard information. I've noticed that the daily low temperatures reported by the various weather channels often are naughty in some way; misbehave in some manner; commit weather faux pas of some sort -- whatever it is they're doing, the weather channel doesn't like it, and banishes these low temps to the Island Of Misfit Temperatures.

Every once in a while, to ensure I'm not imagining things, I take a screenshot of a random day, one that seems notable in some small way, and then I go back in a few weeks and see what the same people that reported that day's temperatures have to say about it when no one's looking. Here's March 4th, 2014:

I checked this temperature with my two thermometers. It was right on the money. It wasn't even a notable temperature this winter. It's been twenty below quite a few times. I can tell you that no matter what sort of heating budget you have, and what sort of heating apparatus you've got, it's deuced difficult to raise the temperature in one room in your house 85 degrees above outside temp, never mind a lot of rooms. So as I said, I have to pay attention and pick my battles.

If you were to return to the Weather Channel's webpage today, and ask it what the low temperature was on March 4th, 2014, what do you suppose it would say? Please note that the sun was already up when they measured 16 below; it might have been colder just before I looked at it. But let's take their word for it, corroborated by my two thermometers. It was sixteen below. Until it wasn't:


Hey, look; there's March 4th. Oh, dear. It says the observed low temperature was 4 below zero. The low temperature the Weather Channel reported in real time must have misbehaved. It must have a bockety Carnot engine, or a misshapen Boltzmann Constant, or perhaps it got pulled over and taken to the pokey after it passed a thermodynamic State Trooper in the breakdown lane going ninety. Whatever its infirmity or transgression, it was sent to the Island Of Misfit Temperatures.

I've also notice that the high temperatures are never sent to the Island Of Misfit Temperatures. They sit in the front of the bus and stick out their tongues at the lowly low temperatures. The high temperatures are the cool kids. They're teacher's pets.

Won't someone have a care for the poor, shunned, lonely daily lows, banished to the Island Of Misfit Temperatures? Why if I was of a cynical mind, I might think that these poor low temperatures are likely to be offered the ultimate insult at the end of the year -- I bet they won't even let them sit for the class picture in the Global Warming yearbook, just because they're banished to the climate reform school.

Won't someone think of the chillren?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Maybe It's Just Me, But I Don't Think Eleanor Rigby Is Supposed To Sound This Happy

)
And still, here we are.

Pharrell Williams is notable enough to have his own Wikipedia page. I checked. Ye gods, he's won seven Grammys.  That seems an awful lot for someone I never heard of. The Beatles only won eight. That's not a typo. They won a "lifetime achievement" Grammy, too, so nine, depending on how you count them.

I have heard of The Beatles. They seem to have gotten much more mileage out of their meager stash of Grammys.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Greatest Roadhouse Band Ever


Ah, The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

I don't think very many people know how good The Fabulous Thunderbirds were. They're like fellow Texans ZZ Top; they got crummy to get famous. But they were both primal, essential, and wildly influential at one time.

I wonder how many bar bands were launched by the first Thunderbirds record, Girls Go Wild.  Of course, the name of the record was The Fabulous Thunderbirds, but it said "Girls Go Wild" on the front, and everyone got to calling it that, and when they re-issued it 21 years later, in 2000, they gave up and named it that.

I've read all sorts of stuff about that record. I'm not sure how much I remember accurately, but I think they just set up two boom mikes and blasted away like they were playing in a barroom. That's the essence of roadhouse music, and it captured it perfectly. It's supposed to be made right in front of you like bacon and eggs at four AM in a bad diner way after last call. If you're expecting some sort of garnish, you're in the wrong place.

I was never much of a musician. I did get to perform a lot, in a lot of different places, with a lot of different people. I played badly everywhere for anybody, from rent parties to places that had names that ended with Civic Center, but I don't think I've ever gotten as much of a thrill as I did that very first time I got on a bandstand the size of a kitchen table, with a neon sign buzzing next to my ear, in a blockhouse dive under a highway overpass going nowhere from noplace, razor wire on the fence outside, two-dollar cover, and blasted away at some Junior Wells song or another to the kind of flotsam and jetsam of humanity that would be interested in us on a Tuesday night in the rain. They clapped because they liked it, or maybe because it was over; I don't know, and I didn't care, either. I had entered another world, and it took me in like a brother when I desperately needed it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Back To Skowhegan



Well, your favorite Homeschooled Pop Duo, Unorganized Hancock, is back treading the boards in Skowhegan, Maine this weekend. They've already played three jobs in Skowhegan. The town seems to like them. We like the town.

Skowhegan is very much like where we live now, but then again, it isn't. They're both the wreckage of mill towns trying to get up off the mat, but Skowhegan is doing a better job of it. They have a lively arts, commerce, restaurant, and public fetes scene that makes the town seem like it's moving in the right direction. The citizens of Skowhegan  have been very kind to my children. It's the easiest way to get me to like you.

The boys played last summer at the Skowhegan Riverfest, and the next day they played a jazz brunch at the very cool Pickup Cafe, and later in the season they performed for the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, which was a stone, cold rave.

This Saturday, March 15th, The boys are headlining the Talent Show at the Skowhegan Opera House. Show starts at 7:00. The boys are playing two sets, almost an hour total. The Opera House is pretty big; it seats 850 people. I don't think it will be full. Just a hunch, since there's only about 849 people in Maine. Here's a picture of the venue in the locul papah ah few ye-ahs back :




A pretty and intelligent friend of ours who lives on the wrong coast pointed out that the boys needed a sign. I know when I hear the truth spake. So my whole family went down to the workshop on Sunday, and we made a six-foot-tall Unorganized Trojan Billboard out of plywood and pine and housepaint. There's an easel setup on the back, so it's freestanding. We had lots of laughs doing it, and spent most of our time naming our new spokesman. Stretch McGillicuddy was my fave. Slim Chance was another. A-Flat Minor was another. You can take a stab at it in the comments if you like. The kids and I all took a run at the paint job, so to speak. Like all our work, we pride ourselves on the fact that we can do it faster than anyone that can do it better, and we can do it better than anyone that can do it faster.

So, here you go:


I'm told that the organizers of these events often refer to the boys YouTube channel to decide if they want to hire them. Bringing the third son might be a problem. But we can bring the cat, fer shure.

Friday, March 07, 2014

So, What's New At Sippican Cottage? Fastique.com Is


It's been a very long winter. There's glacial ice, covered with six feet of snow, in my yard. The calendar claims it's March, but the calendar appears to be either illiterate or innumerate -- or perhaps it's a foreigner. The temperature still routinely drops below zero at night, and likewise struggles to begin with any number higher than "one" during the day, too. The sun comes up, looks ashamed of itself for a few minutes, and slinks back down below the horizon as fast as it can. The entire state of Maine, where I live, is almost out of firewood, pellets, and patience. Me too. How about you?

So what's a fella to do? Keep working, and trust in the promise of Spring. We might only have Spring for four hours, and those four hours might not appear until July, but sooner or later it has to show up, doesn't it? I need to reset the tumblers on the year, and right now. So let me be the first to plant the flag of rebirth in the snowbank at the end of the driveway where the plow driver really lets you have it: I've got a new website.

I call it Fastique.com

I've decided to offer a line of ready-to-ship, solid figured hardwood, heirloom quality furniture on its own website. Fastique.com is a portmanteau of FASt and anTIQUE. Of course if you don't want to reach for your dictionary, the word portmanteau means "a gibberish word designed for the Intertunnel."

Everything on Fastique.com is already made, so there's no waiting around for it, except for the time it takes to put it in a box and ship it to you. I've partnered with Amazon Payments, too, so you can pay for your purchases by using your existing Amazon account information. My new website has a better picture viewer, more pictures of the items, and a real, live, shopping cart instead of plain old Buy Now buttons. But if you see something you like, you've got to buy it right away, because there's only one of everything you see.

Same great quality we've always offered at Sippican Cottage Furniture, but no waiting. And to kick things off, everything is discounted, and ships for free. What's not to like? Hmmm, what's that smell? Smells like Spring. Let's Dance!
 
 

SPANNERS
by: Sippican Cottage

Sun's beaming in the window,
There's rumbling from the floor,
We're rollicking and pulsing
Boxes dancing out the door.

Oh how our muscles ripple,
We're making twenty knots,
We're alternating; current --
We're glowing with the watts.

Pounding down the corridors,
With Bills of Lading, piled;
Our output's put the boss on ice
We're blowing out the dials.

They count the beans but can't keep up,
We're cooking with the gas;
Our arms are made from tempered steel,
Our heart is made of brass.

That brass is rolled to make a tube,
The tube is bent just so;
And when we blow that trumpet, Jack,
The girls get all aglow.

The whistle blows at five o'clock,
It's twenty-three skidoo;
The guys and gals that made that stuff,
Go out for dancing too.

They box the compass of the steps
Then swing from chandeliers;
They leave the clerks there in the lurch
Then kick it up a gear.

They pound the floor into the ground,
They swing and then they sway;
They'd drink to all their troubles,
But they've long since gone away.

They close the places late at night,
And walk beneath the stars;
Arm in arm, exchanging charms
One's Venus, one is Mars.

Mighty children spring from them,
To keep the flame alight;
They nurse them with acetylene,
And ultra-violet light.

They grow some whiskers when they're old,
And sit down for a spell;
Their Ercoles will take their place,
And raise a little hell.


Saturday, March 01, 2014

Joe's Shoes



Joseph Anthony Jacobi Passalacqua, better know as Joe Pass."He looks like somebody's uncle, and plays like nobody's business," according to New York Magazine. We'll let it rest there. Sometimes things are said properly right out of the gate, and require no filigree.

The cameraman has the distinctive traits so common to his tribe. He will point his lens at any goddamned thing but what you want him to. I half expected him to lay down on his back and point the camera at the ceiling for a spell, to forestall boredom. There appeared to be, by my watch, one-hundred-and-fourteen minutes of footage of Joe's patent leather shoes in the middle of the proceedings. This is only meet, and just. They're really nice shoes. First-rate. Joe's wife has shined them, it's evident. Joe keeps them in good repair. Joe is solicitous of his appearance in this regard. There was a chance -- dare I call it what it was: a danger -- that we would not have gotten a good, hard, stare at Joe's footwear, had not the cameraman had the presence of mind to ignore Joe's hands, and face, and torso, and uvula, and his guitar, and his aura, and his shakra, and various other trivial aspects of his performance and persona, in order to fill our desperate need to see Joe tapping his feet.

I have an award for that cameraman, which he could pick up if he comes within arm's length of me.