Thursday, May 31, 2018

Motivations


     Does jealousy have value in motivating people to improve themselves or is it nothing more than a negative emotion?
     Jealousy is fine in moderation. Jealousy motivates people to work for things like weight loss, developing talent, or getting a better job. The problem is envy. Envy is the point at which you not only want something so badly, you are angry at anyone who already has it. This is the sort of thing that will poison you inside. 
     The line is pretty clear, however. If jealously compels you to work for what you want, it is good. If envy compels you to resent whoever already has what you want, it is a bad thing.

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"--U2

 

     It is the last day of May, which also means it is the final entry of May Music month. Fret not, for tomorrow will bring yet another month of music. June's music will feature a decidedly country fried flair. Count on it being a bit different than what turned out to be a showcase of a lot of bluesy music musical acts from Ireland and the United Kingdom. I was not expecting that when I started. Learned something new about myself.
     Check it out—the final song choice is a bluesy number from an Irish band! Who would have guessed?
     “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For” is my favorite song from one of my favorite bands, U2. By default, this makes the song the best one from their best album, The Joshua Tree. Those are a lot of accolades, but they are all well deserved. The Joshua Tree was the first rock album I ever bought myself way back in 1987. You never forget your first album or the best song on it.
     “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For” was a departure for U2. It features a classic rock and roll beat with a touch of all out gospel style. It makes sense I would like it, as at the time I was rebelling against the fundamentalist Christian hatred for rock and roll. I would be drawn to something that still had a hint of what is good about Christianity. While still showcasing what is good about rock and tool as well.
     The video is great, too.  It is just a simple scene of the band strolling along in Las Vegas greeting people while The Edge plays an acoustic guitar.  it looks like a lot of fun.  It is also said the video prompted many larger musical acts to add Las Vegas as a concert destination when the city had previously been considered a place for has been acts to anchor casinos.  So there is that, too.
     I certainly found this music at the right time. But I still have not found what I am looking for, so exploring another genre of music is a good idea. Tomorrow, he head further south in our musical journey.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Excess Joy


   Is a life focused solely on seeking pleasure and avoiding pain a worthwhile life? Why or why not?  Oh, I will be.  There are still Epicureans and hedonists out there in the world of philosophy among the suicidal alcoholics.  Who knew?
     No, I do not believe seeking a life of nothing but pleasure is worthwhile or fulfilling. A world in which the only goal is for people to amuse themselves would be spiritually empty with it people lacking in character or empathy. Every silver lining needs a dark cloud in order to be fully appreciated.
     Which is not to say one needs to wallow in misery. When that happens, one will lose everything good about himself either trying to survive or being eaten up inside. Look at it with these analogy. Tears are like rain. Too little, and flowers will not grow to reach their full potential. But too much, and the best of them is washed away. Everything in life is best in moderation.

"Iris"--Goo Goo Dolls


     Yes, another song from the City of Angels soundtrack. But 'Iris” is so much more than just a song from a movie. It is one of the largest crossover hits of the '90's. The song hit number one on the Alternative, Pop, and Adult Contemporary charts. It is the signature song for the Goo Goo Dolls and is a mainstay at their concerts. It is also one of the best songs of all time.
    It is interesting how the song's lyrics reflect the main character in City of Angels. Not many songs featured on a movie's soundtrack do. The character is willing to give up his immortality in order to experience the human emotional of love. It is an incredible sacrifice to make solely to enjoy a feeling. I guess we would all sacrifice ourselves in the pursuit of our heart's desire.
     Am I overselling '"ris?” Not on a personal level. The song became popular in 1998. I was 22 and flying high on life. Those lyrics expressed everything I was feeling at the time. I still get chills hearing it today, but now the lyrics provide bittersweet memories of better days. I am happy I still get a thrill out of the song after all these years. I never achieved my heart's desire, but I still look back fondly on the journey to towards it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Belated Holiday Selfie


      The tradition of posting a holiday selfie continues with a twist. Memorial Day did not feel like a holiday upon which an act of vanity like posting a selfie is appropriate. Therefore I waited to post it on the next day. So here it is. You will notice the chilling 'do involves a part in the middle. This is still the sign I need a haircut, but have not gotten around to it yet. On, the plus side, I gained a few more pounds since the last selfie. So there is that going for me.
     All that is not to say I am down on the latest selfie. It is one of the best in recent months, I am now using it as my profile photo for social media and my blogger profile.
     Since I have not been doing a wide variety of blogging lately outside of the philosophy questions and May Music Month, allow me to throw in next month's plan here. There are 202 philosophy questions in total. There is a lot of repetitive answers, so roughly 150-60 are unique enough to serve as blog posts. I am nearly done with the questions regarding human nature. The next section is about the universe and reality. I will start on those in about a week or two. I already mentioned several times I will continue the music month theme into June. This time, I will focus exclusively on country songs.
    Both the philosophy and song post have brought in steady visitors from Facebook and Twitter. Hopefully search engine results will begin picking up some of the posts as they settle into the backlog. You never can predict such things. I hope the regular readership remains steady as the subject matter changes ever so slightly in the near future.

The Greatest Loss of Human Potential


     What is the greatest waste of human potential? Two tragic wastes spring to mind immediately. I am not certain which causes the most casualties in the long run, so I will just list them and explain my rationale. Weigh their merit as you see fit.
     The first is public education. At least in the United States. Other countries may do a better job of inspiring kids to be logical, literate, and creative thinkers. In the United states, public education seems to exist to create a drone-like workforce. The ironic part is, with the death of manufacturing and automation taking over what still remains, there is no place for these drones to work, anyway. So even wasting their potential is ultimately is a waste of potential.
      The other is war. I rank it second because if public education did its job, their would be a lot fewer people willing to become cannon fodder. But war in general kills generations of young people, displaces millions of others, and retards progress an incalculable number of ways even if the war is arguably for a just cause. The potential losses are staggering.

"Linger"--Cranberries


    “Linger” was originally written by the cranberries first singer Niall Quinn about her first kiss. The Cranberries' second singer Dolores O'Riordan (obituary) added her own lyrics about a relationship she once had with a soldier. It is a song about bittersweet regret. 
    Who does have some bittersweet regret, especially of the romantic variety, lingering in their life? “Linger” is a beautiful song and easily relatable.  for me, it is not so much about romantic regrets, but allowing regrets in general to linger.  Regret will eat you up inside.  nothing good comes from holding onto it.
      “Linger” was a bigger hit in the Cranberries' native Ireland and across Europe than in the United states, but it has become a frequent mainstay on the radio airwaves since its release. I am struggling mightily not to make a pun on about how the song's popularity lingers.

Monday, May 28, 2018

All Work and No Play


     How important is play in living a happy and fulfilling life?
    Play is extremely important in living a happy and fulfilling life. I am using a broad definition of play to mean anything pleasurable, which includes loving relationships. We must work to live, but it is the fun, pleasurable things in life that keep us alive. It is great to be devoted to a cause, but denying yourself a little fun now and then is no way to live.
     Too much of a good thing is a bad thing, even when it comes to play. There is not much meaning to be had in a life of pleasure seeking. So there is a balance. Too much play is not fulfilling. There are other in life one must do to feel fulfilled. Everyone must find the right balance.

"Minstrel Boy"--Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros.

     Here is an appropriate song for Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Altered States


     What would you change genetically about humans in order to make us a better species?
     I would not change anything genetically. The whole idea of eugenics makes m extremely uncomfortable. The whole idea of creating a 'perfect” human race involves so many evil concepts like abortion, sterilization, euthanasia, and selective breeding just to name a few. Granting me the power to genetically alter humans into something better is a power I would refuse to use.
     Now if could use the ability to heal people suffering from genetic disorders already, I would do that. I would also use the ability to correct genetic disorders in the womb. But use the ability to genetically create a more perfect human? No way.

"Gypsy"--Suzanne Vega

     A beatuiful and timeless song.  Just listen.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Penny for Your Thoughts


    Does knowledge have intrinsic value or does it need to have a practical purpose to have worth?
     Knowledge must have some sort of practical purpose in order to have value. Knowledge must lead to some vocational skill or something beneficial or else it is just trivia. Trivia comes from the word trivial, which literally means 'pieces of information with little value.” Ouch. As I have said here before, humans do not generally place a high value on knowledge. Those who have it are often insulted as nerds or eggheads.
     Some say knowledge is power. I am not convinced of that as a general axiom.  There are a lot of dumb dumbs out there who have success while a lot of brilliant people toil away with nothing to show for it.  Outside of kicking rear end on Jeopardy!, there is not much else to knowing a lot of things just for the sake of knowing them.

"Hold My Hand"--Hootie and the Blowfish


     I am a South Carolinian in my early 40's. As a South Carolinian of that age, I know Hootie and the Blowfish well. I must at least pay lip service to how good a band they were. The obligation is even more dire because I attended the University of South Carolina during the late '90's. The university's major claim to fame at the time, besides the previous president being involuntarily committed to a mental institution, was as the birthplace of Hootie and the Blowfish.
     Hootie and the Blowfish were a fun, frivolous band. I am not down on them so much as I am sick of them. For a long time there, especially on campus, you could not go anywhere without hearing one of their songs. It did not matter. They all sounded pretty much the same. But they were one of the few bright spots South Carolina had going for itself in the late '90's to early '00's.
     “Hold My Hand” is the best of their songs as far as I am concerned. Play the song near a group of gamecocks and it will become a singalong in short order. I think Darius Rycker's solo country music career has been a better display of his talent. Many of his country songs have been great. But that is a discussion for next month.

The Best of Intentions


     Why do we judge others based on their actions, but judge ourselves based on our intent?
     We judge others based on their actions instead of intent because we do not know their intent. We judge ourselves based on our intent because we know what we intended to do. Unfortunately, it is not always clear what others' intentions were. In all honesty, it is not always clear what our own intentions were.
     It is best to consider giving the benefit of the doubt for a person's actions or examine outside factors that might be an influence. That guy who was rude to you yesterday may not be a jerk. He may just have his sick child on his mind. It can be difficult to determine internal motivation, but a good rule of thumb is to accept people are self-interested in what they do, but not usually malicious.

Friday, May 25, 2018

"Demons"--Brian McFadden

     Some songs hit you right between the eyes.  here is one that nailed

me.  If you cannot figure it out, I will not be able to explain it.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Power Play


     Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?  The short answer is yes.  the long answer is absolutely yes.  But the corruption of absolute power is only the worst aspect of having power.
     Yes. Power corrupts period. It does not need to even be significant power. Remember how the teacher's pet became a prison warden when appointed hall monitor? Or how a cop directing traffic waves all his motions as though he is storming the beaches of Normandy? It is one of the silliest and scariest aspects of human nature simultaneously.
    The general rule of thumb ought to be anyone who wants power should automatically disqualified from wielding any. Those in power should be replaced on a regular basis so no one ever gets too comfortable with being in charge.

"Everyday is a Winding Road"--Sheryl Crow

 

     Ever feel alone? Like you are a stranger in your own life? Pretty much everyone will answer yes. “Everyday is a Winding Road” by Sheryl Crow is the song for which you can identify. I used to think it was a bouncy song everyone on life's journey could identify. These days I have my empathy for it. If you have paid attention to many of my writings and the lyrics, you will see why.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Delving Deeper


    What are two questions you could ask someone to get the most information about who they really are? I will channel my inner Vorlon to answer this one. You should ask:
     1. Who are you?
     2. What do you want?
    Keep in mind a person will only answer with what they perceive to be true about themselves or what they want you to think. Be prepared to deconstruct the answers—to yourself, of course—in order to find the most accurate answers. You will learn a lot about what people want to be by what they say they are and the things they desire in life.

"Over the Rainbow"--Israel Kamakowiwo'ole


    You have heard “Over the Rainbow' by Israel Kamakowiwo'ole as much over the last twelve to fifteen years as you have Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah” anytime a movie or television episode needs some inspirational music. The first time I heard it was in the ER episode “On the Beach” in which Dr. Mark Greene dies. The big difference between 'over the rainbow' and “Hallelujah” is the former has not yet jumped the shark. Mileage may vary on this point.
    “Over the Rainbow” appears to be a particular favorite among internet users. It spent 185 weeks as the number one downloaded song in the world according to Billboard. Impressive for a song recorded in one take in the middle of the night.
    Like Eva Cassidy from yesterday's entry, Israel die young from complications of obesity.  he weighed a reported 750 lbs when he died in 1997.  he died years before "Over the Rainbow" became an international hit solidifying his legacy.  although israel was a Native Hawaiian heavily involved in hawaiian sovereignty issues, he converted to Christianity later in life and wrote a couple Christian songs.   

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

All You Want to Do is Learn How to Score


     Why do we as a species not take advantage of the almost infinite amount of information we have at our disposal?  We do not take advantage of the wealth of knowledge at our disposal because we as a species do not place a high value on knowledge, intelligence, or wisdom. We want to eat, sleep, and fornicate, but not much else.
    In all fairness, these activities perpetuate the species while knowledge does not. Knowledge must be learned by each new person. Many do not want to make the effort. Wisdom is not passed genetically, either. It requires knowledge and is an even rarer commodity.
   Humanity as a whole is going to have to be convinced knowledge is as important as food, water, and sex. Good luck with convincing large numbers that is the case. Keep me filled in on your progress, too. I could use the entertainment.

"Fields of Gold"--Eva Cassidy


     Free time in law school is a precious commodity. So precious you are satisfied doing just about anything that does not involve the Federal Rules of Evidence or the Uniform Commercial Code. On a random Saturday afternoon in 2003, one of those activities involved mindlessly flipping through television channels looking for nothing in particular. Is there a worse time to look for something interesting on television than a Saturday afternoon when college football is out of season? If so, I am at a loss to identify it.
     As I was channel surfing, something caught my ear. Not my eye, mind you, because it was a figure skating competition. While one must be in shape to figure skate, it is not a sport. What caught my ear was a familiar tune, but much different than I had heard before. It was 'fields of Gold,” but not the Sting version I knew and liked. The singer was female with a bluesy style, but I had no idea who she was. I liked her cover, so much so I watched the rest of the skater's routine so I could hear the entire song.
     I wanted to hear more of her. But first I needed to find out who she was .These were the Dark Ages before YouTube, so searching for her name was not instantaneous. I eventually Googled my way around to discover her name was Eva Cassidy, she performed a number of incredible covers of songs I liked, and she passed away seven years prior of Cancer.
     Oh.
     I do not get emotional when it comes to celebrity deaths. I do not know these people personally. The odds are I would not like many of them personally.  Whatever a celebrity did I liked—a movie, television show, or song—lives on separate from them. I simply cannot muster a whole lot of personal sadness. Usually, at any rate. Cassidy was one of those rare celebrity deaths that hit me between the eyes. Maybe because knowing about her was such a roller coaster ride. I discovered something good and in short order realized it tragically ended a long time ago.
     Cassidy was diagnosed with bone cancer in early 1996. The cancer spread to her lungs. The prognosis for survival was only three to five months. She made a final public appearance in September to perform “What a Wonderful World” while relying heavily on a walker. She passed away two months later at the young age of 33. I think her performance of “What a wonderful World” while clearly deteriorating was the tipping point for me. I love her musical legacy, but I cannot help but feel a twinge of sadness in any song I hear her sing.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Justification


     By what standards do you judge yourself? I just myself by who I aspire to be.

"Piano Man"--Billy Joel


     We move on from two songs regarding the melancholy mood of the present with a longing for the supposedly better days of the past of the country as a whole to a song regarding the melancholy of the present with a longing for the supposedly better days of the past on a personal level. “Piano man” is a song about shared loneliness among people whose lives have not quite turned out the way they hoped. Who cannot relate to that? Apparently many can, because the song is a classic.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Go Fish


     Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? It depends on your personality and what kind of person you aspire to be. There is no one size fits all answer.  Odds are, you are going to be both at different points in your life.
     If you are the alpha dog type who wants to be in charge or someone who needs to constantly be the center of attention, then being a big fish in a small pond is better. If you are the quieter, more private type who prefers to do his own thing without attiring much attention, then it is better to be a small fish in a big pond.
     I spent much of my adult life working to become a big fish because I thought that is what you are supposed to do. The older I get, the more I like the idea of being a small fish in a big pond. It is more peaceful and fulfilling. Like I said above, the choice depends on your personality and what you want out of life.

"American Pie"--Don McLean


    “American Pie” by Don McLean, much like “Simon & Garfunkel's  yesterday, is an ambiguous ode to post-World War II American culture with a particular emphasis"The Sound of Silence" on the '60's. The song implies a melancholy downfall beginning on “the day the music died”--February 3, 1959 when a plane crash killed Buddy holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper. The incident was not known as the day the music died until “American Pie” became a hit in 1971.
   There are many interpretations, none of which McLean will confirm, but “American Pie” likely references key events of the '60's and their cultural impact.  One of the best has been floating around since the late '90's. If you are in a nostalgic rage, you can bask in the glory of an old Geocities style web page. Note the irony “American Pie” longs for a time when music was exclusively for gun, not to be interpreted for its deeper meaning.
     I first heard “American Pie” in 1989 or' 1990 when it was featured in Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July.  At that age—around twelve or thirteen—I was not particularly hip to '60's culture. But I could still sense the feel of something important being lost as the song's narrative progressed. It was not until the mid-'90's when my stepfather expressed a bittersweet fondness for the song I began to understand its message. It was about a loss of innocence. It was not until the late '90's and the internet that I found a deep analysis. The most interesting is the one I liked in the previous paragraph.
     It is all a matter of history to me since I was not around in the '60's. But I still enjoy the picture “American Pie” paints of the cultural growing pains of a country that is not necessarily changing for the better. Hardly anyone thinks culture is changing for the better, so I imagine we can all relate on some level.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Eyes on the Prize


     What goal should everyone have in life? In all honesty, people do not need goals in order to survive. It might be better to not set goals at all. Just take things day by while being satisfied with what you get. Goals create expectations, and expectations are often resentments waiting to happen. Such is not the way to contentment in life. It depends on what will make you feel fulfilled in life.
     I needed goals in life in order to feel fulfilled. Goals gave me something to work towards. They gave me circumstances would be better once I achieved them. Here is where the idea of goals being resentments waiting to happen come in. Yes, my health collapse kept me from reaching my goals. Yes, that does fill me with resentment. But I would not trade the efforts I made to reach my goals for anything. The relationships, the milestones, and the memories were worthwhile even if the end did not go well. Whether you want to risk it is up to you.
     It is tough for me to see people who merely exist rather than live.  One of the reasons people merely exist is the lack of a goal yo work towards.  But who am I to judge what other people do with their lives?  We each value different things.  Many people are filling roles i cannot see or understand, and those roles may be more important than i will ever know.
    So I can only answer with a generalization to the point of being trite and useless. But is philosophy not trite and useless in the first place? Choose a goal that will make you fulfilled. If that goal is to live day by day, then go for it. If you want to go for a more substantial goal, more power to you. Just be prepared for the possibility of not meeting your goal. Bad things happen. Do not let those unfortunate happenings destroy who you are. Try to make them a learning experience instead.

"The Sound of Silence"--Simon & Garfunkel


     I am a big fan of Simon & Garfunkel. Like with Jimmy Buffett, I enjoy so much of their work it is difficult to narrow down what song to feature in May Music Month. An argument could be made for nearly a dozen. “The Sound of Silence” ultimately earns the nod On any other day, my mood might have dictated another song. Perhaps a top ten list of Simon & Garfunkel songs should show up here in the near future.
      “The Sound of Silence” was written by Paul Simon over a period of weeks in 1963 while sitting in a darkened bathroom so he could “think and dream.” Hence the opening “Hello darkness, my old friend.” The general theory is the song is about the mood of the United States after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This is untrue, however. The song was written before the assassination, though released shortly thereafter. So what is the song true meaning? Simon does not know. As he told an interviewer once, he could not speculate how a 21 year old kid out there interprets the lyrics.
     How I interpreted the song at 21 is lost down the memory hole. I probably believed the national mourning of JFK theory. A somber tone certainly creeps throughout. These days, I think of the song's interpretation as a lost people searching for meaning but not finding it. My reading of the lyrics is angst y, but the counterculture movement wallowed in angst, so I cannot be too far off.
     Disturbed sings a metal influenced cover of "the Sound of Silence" which is great rendition.  I like his live performance of the song on Conan a while back.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Human Nature


    Can human nature be changed? Should human nature be changed? The answer to this one will be short and sour. I am not a pessimist, folks. I am actually a realist. There is a difference. There just does not appear to be one in this bleak old world.
    No, human nature cannot be changed. It is sinful and corrupt. While human nature cannot be changed, it can be managed. Some people manage the worst impulses of human nature better than others. Of course, there are others who make no effort whatsoever to resist evil urges. Human nature will never be corrected in the natural world. It will take a spiritual change in the afterlife.
     Should human nature be changed? The world would be a much better place if it was, but that is not now, nor will it ever be, the case in this life. Nevertheless, one should not be discouraged from taming the worst impulses of human nature. Only good will come of the effort.

"Angel"--Sarah McLachlan


      I first heard Sarah McLachlan's “Angel” when it was featured in the surrealist gem City of Angels. I was watching the movie for the first time on cable quite sometime after its original release, but during a time of “change of plans, God laughs” transition for me. I was about to enter the era of graduating college, moving to Columbia permanently to escape an alcoholic mother, and then suffering my first right eye retina detachment and being stranded with my alcoholic mother, anyway before finally attending law school. It was easy to feel desperate and alone during those times.
   McLachlan wrote the song to memorialize Smashing Pumpkins' keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin. Melvoin died of a heroin overdose in 1996. McLachlan says she read in a Rolling Stone article many young musicians were turning to drugs in order to cope with the pressures of the music industry and were frequently overdosing. The song is about finding better ways to cope. Another theme is helping someone else with their burdens while still caring for yourself.
    It is a sad song, but you can find a certain idealistic hope in it. Unless you hear it on television coming from an ASPCA commercial. In that case, your day is about to be irreparably ruined.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Shades of Gray


     What is the best way to train people to see gradients in the world around them instead of a simplistic “this is good, that is wrong” view of the world? Here is another one of those hostile questions that automatically establishes an arguable concept as inarguable right out the gate. In this case, the question considers absolute morality a simplistic concept people must be trained not to believe is valid in favor moral relativity. I am starting to think the list of questions was compiled by a group of people. There is a certain contempt inherent in several random ones that implies they all come from a single person.
    I am not a moral relativist. There is an objective moral solution for every issue. But people are imperfect and human nature is corrupt, so we can only view moral issues subjectively. We are bound to blunder numerous times in making moral decisions because of our shortcomings even when we have the best of intentions. You know what they say the road to hell is paved with, right? What the question's author calls a simplistic view of black and white morality is actually a useful guidance tool in making moral decisions.
      I will concede the point naive people see things as more black and white than those who have been exposed to more reality. I spent much of my youth and right on up through law school surrounded by sheltered young Christians who generally viewed moral dilemmas as black and white because they have never personally experienced anything like them in life. Like in academia, lack of real world experience leads to ideas that work well in theory, but not so much in real world application.
     The only way to train people in making good moral decisions is through experience. We people go through moral quandaries, they will be forced to look at all factors involved. They will realize there are rarely any easy answers. Dealing with the aftermath will teach caution in future decision making. Nevertheless, someone who has a strict moral code ought not be considered simplistic for it. Moral relativism is not the only code of ethics out there.

"Patience"--Guns N' Roses

     The most un-Guns N' Roses song is one of the best Guns N' Roses'

songs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

At Least Once in a Lifetime


     What life altering events should everyone ideally experience at least once in their lives? Everyone should accept Jesus as their savior. Doing so is the most life altering experience one can have. Anything else is important, but secondary, in shaping one's life for the better. Everyone's life is different. People are uniquely shaped by their own unique experiences. But I can make a couple generalizations.
     On the positive side, everyone should unconditionally love someone and be unconditionally loved in return. Being deprived of love will make one far too hardened to give love themselves. One should also find a talent to develop. Discovering a special skill boosts sense of self-worth. Everyone should have a pet at least once. Caring for a living creature helps develop empathy. Finally, everyone should travel somewhere radically different from what they are accustomed.
   Hear me out when I suggest some negative experiences one should ideally have. All things can ultimately have positive results. Everyone will experiences these events in life regardless. It is best to look for the value in them. Everyone needs to suffer loss. The appreciation of what you have often comes after you have lost it. Everyone should experience hardship. As with loss, one appreciates the good times more in comparison with the bad. Enduring hardship makes one stronger and more patient. Finally, everyone should experience failure. Failure is one of the best learning experiences you will ever have.
     As I said above, everyone is unique and will be shaped by their own experiences.  People get by even when deprived of things they ideally should have.  Maybe the depravity ultimately has a positive effect.  Who am I to generalize what kind of life everyone is supposed to live?

"One Tin Soldier"--The Original Castle


     Is there an anti-war song from the counter-culture folk rock era that not only is not a politically charged condemnation of US involvement in the Vietnam War but was also performed without a hint of irony by Launne Platter from King of the Hill? Why, yes. Yes, there is—and it is Canadian.
    “One Tin Soldier” is a ballad, so I will not spoil the story, but I appreciate its simple, but powerful message. I also find it refreshing the song blames conflict on greed while the lesson learned in the end is from Scripture.
   In an interesting twist, the video above features the original version of "One Tin Soldier" by The Original Castle, but the animated short is from Cher's cover version on The Sonny & Cher Show.  It is a neat combination, though.  The best version of the song combined with the best visual interpretation of the lyrics.  
     The song is not specifically about the Vietnam War even though it was first released in 1969. Its general theme has allowed it to be covered over the years by artists as diverse as Cher and Skeeter Davis. There are cover versions out there from rock to bluegrass released over the decades. But can anyone truly top Luanne Platter's cover version?

Monday, May 14, 2018

Lend a Hand When You Can


     Is it better to help the world, help society, or help yourself? It is best to help others as much as possible without neglecting yourself. Exactly what those percentages ought to be.
    I would also advise a healthy dose of realism. Understand how the world works so you can establish realistic goals. Idealism can help change the world, but unintelligent idealism amounts to chasing rainbows, and that is dangerous. There is nothing bad about working on a small scale in order to improve your immediate circle. Doing so will probably improve the chances of success. Do not completely ignore yourself. Doing things for yourself boosts your mindset for helping others.
     I do not know if I can ultimately declare whether helping the world or society is best, but I can declare with much confidence placing yourself as the center of your attention is a bad thing. Selfishness causes a lot of problems. I am not innocent of acting self-absorbed, but acknowledging the problem exists is the first step to improve the situations.

"Glory of Love"--Peter Cetera


     Things are getting a little intense here. How about we scale it back a bit and post a sappy love song? Peter Cetera's “Glory of Love” fits the bill. The song comes across as corny in these cynical times, but it was a big hit back in the mid- '80's. I am not sure how many high school and college kids asked their girlfriends to hold their jackets so they could beat the snot out of a rival while this song played?
     Is it even considered romantic to fight for a girl's honor these days? Maybe I am old fashioned, but it feels like a traditionally male thing to do. I am not one to advocate petty acts of violence, but it does feel like our culture has lost a vital part of chivalry with the current climate. We need more alphas and less betas, folks.
     “Glory of Love” was originally written to be the closing theme of Rocky IV, but United Artists nixed the idea so it could be used as the theme for The Karate Kid II. It wound up being a good match Considering the current success of the sequel series Cobra Kai, “Glory of Love” is a timely choice.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Drop in the Bucket


    What do you contribute to society? Like the post title says, merely a drop in the bucket. The collapse of my health pretty much put the brakes on life as I knew it. What happens now is whatever I can create with whatever I have left, and that is not much.
     As far as I can tell, writing about my experiences for other people to read and learn from it about the only significant contribution I can make to a relatively large audience. Otherwise, I just bloom where I am planted and see how I can make a positive impact on my immediate circle. It is better to influence circumstances for the better than allow circumstances influence you for the worse.
     Your mileage may vary as to how well I succeed in any or all of my efforts.  Hopefully, you will get something out of it.  

"Child of Mine"--Carole King


     Happy Mother's Day! It is appropriate for May music Month to reflect on the holiday. I have mentioned before my mother and I endured a tumultuous relationship, particularly towards the end of her life. She has been gone fifteen years now. Enough time has passed to remove much of the sting of old memories. Nevertheless, I would rather not write any new words on the subject. Today should be a time to reflect in my own way.
     If you have the desire and time, you can read the Mother's Day Elegy I wrote back in 2014. it would be impossible to explain my thoughts on my mother any better. All sentiments within remain the same now as then.  Otherwise, enjoy the song for what it means to you.
     I decided on "Child of Mine" by Carole King.  It is a sweet song about a child from a mother's perspective.  The song is written ambiguously enough you can be a son or daughter and still relate.  Yet the lyrics are still packed with meaning. 

Happy Mother's Day


     Saturday Night Live took a break from its usual politically themed cold open to honor Mother's day instead. A number of cast members introduced their mothers. Each mother had something humorous to say about her child's work or the show or a no filtered, but still gentle jab at Saturday Night Live's shrill anti-Trump. Yet it was still not a politically themed sketch. The cold open was a refreshing bit of (relatively) good=spirited humor.
    My mother was been gone for fifteen years now. We endured a tumultuous relationship, particularly towards the end of her life. Much of the sting has dissipated by now, although I do not care to talk about anything new about it today. It will simply be a day of private remembrance for me in my own way.
     I hope all the cool mom's have a happy Mother's Day. All the abusive, mean-spirited moms who overly controlled their children, made their lives miserable, or abandoned them physically or emotionally should remember today is not for you.  

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Time and Chance


     What are you capable of achieving? I have no idea. In the past, I have failed to make certain achievements either because of weakness, a mistake, or circumstances beyond my control. On the flip side, I have succeeded for those reasons, too. Life is unpredictable, and so are your abilities to handle a situation until the moment of truth arrives.
     The most honest answer I can give is I am capable of achieving more than I probably should, but I will achieve less than I probably can.

"Shades of Gray"--Monkees


     The Monkees are not known for deep themes in their music. Rightfully so. The band was the definition of bubblegum pop music. They were a manufactured band, but with some of the best songwriters in the business. Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Harry Nilsson among them. “Shades of Gray” was written by the duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. They are the team behind such hits as “On Broadway” for the Drifters and “You've Lost That Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers among many others.
     “Shades of Gray” is about the loss of youthful idealism. It happens to the best of us. I am about as jaded as they come without being a full fledged nihilist. I first heard the song during the second surge in the Monkees' popularity in the mid-'80's. The time period probably makes “Shades of Gray” the first song to introduce cynicism to my young mind.
     I covered The Monkkes television series over last spring and summer.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Justification


     Which of your beliefs are justified and which are not?
     What an odd question this is. Is it asking me if I believe irrational things with no explanation as to why I do so? Does the question consider something like a religious belief to be unjustified because it is on faith? If so, it is an offensive assumption. These questions have not been offensive as yet, so I suppose it is asking if I believe something irrational just because I feel like doing so.
    The short answer is all my beliefs are justified to my satisfaction or else I would not hold them as beliefs. The long answer is all of my beliefs are justified or else I would not hold them as beliefs. I am open to anyone challenging any of my beliefs as being unjustifiable. Maybe said argument will change my mind. It has happened in the past. But otherwise, I do not purposefully believe in things that are not reasonable.

"Silver Spring"--Fleetwood Mac


     Here is another song about love lost. While listening, try not to imagine Stevie Nicks is pining for Lindsey Buckingham. It should be easier now that he is out of the band yet again. There is no world yet on whether Nicks will right a sequel in the future.
     I probably heard 'Silver spring” before 1997, but the concert version linked above is the one that sticks. I was a junior in college falling madly in love with a different girl every week but too crippled for it to ever mean a darn thing. It is only natural I would become attached to a maudlin song about wanting what you cannot have.
     Once, a friend heard me playing the song and declared Nicks sounds like a bleating sheep when she sings. Try not to think about the similarity between Nicks' singing voice and a bleating sheep. Twenty-one years later, and I still cannot thanks to my pal. Friends are always leaving an impact on you, for better or worse.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jack of All Trades, Master of None


    It is better for a person to have a broad knowledge or a deep knowledge? Considering how most people act like intelligence is some sort of horrible deformity, I will accept either option if I can get it. But working under the theory one or the other is a realistic goal to achieve, I would go with a deep knowledge base.
    Being called a jack of all trades, master of none is an insult. While you can occasionally meet one of those rare souls that is good at everything they do, for us mere mortals it is better to focus on a narrow set of knowledge and skills. Developing a specific set of knowledge and skills makes one more useful to others and more fulfilled personally.
     It does not matter if it is basket weaving or brain surgery, if you are good at it, strive to become the best at it. You will feel accomplished, useful, and appreciated by those who cannot master the skill the way you have.

"She's Like the Wind"--Patrick Swayze


     It is not too often an actor crosses over into music successfully. A lot of their efforts are cringe worthy. Patrick Swayze's single for the Dirty Dancing is a wonderful exception. “She's like the Wind” is a great love song that is still frequently requested and dedicated in radio airplay.
    To think the song almost did not get released. It was originally intended for use on the Grandview USA soundtrack, but was cut. Swayze played the song for the producer and director of Dirty Dancing. They both loved it, so “She's Like the Wind” was included on the movie's soundtrack. As a single, the song reached number #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.  
     If “She's Like the Wind” was originally intended for Grandview, USA, then the song was intended to be about Jamie Lee Curtis. But since it was instead included on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, it is actually about Jennifer Grey. Swayze and Grey hated each other, so one must appreciate the irony of “She's Like the Wind” serving as such a moving love song for people. I imagine the royalty checks made it all worthwhile for Swayze.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Pushing Up Daisies


    If you had to guess, what do you think is the most likely way you will die? Here is another one of those incredibly easy to answer questions. My colon will rupture again at some point. It has already ruptured twice. Surviving one rupture is not terribly likely. Surviving two is extraordinary. If I were to survive a third, I go out and buy a lottery ticket the moment I was released from the hospital.
     The reality is a third rupture will put an end to me. There is not much left of it to repair, so the worst case scenario is my colon will be removed entirely. If that happens, I will either die of a massive infection or whither away after three or four months on a clear liquid diet. Or I will die within hours of a peritonitis infection in the best case scenario. I value quality over quantity in labeling these scenarios best and worst the way I do. I would rather not linger.
     Anything else that compels me to give up the ghost will come as a complete surprise. I could not even venture a guess as to what might happen. Given my unpredictable life thus far, it would be something freakish everyone who hears about will marvel over.

"Let It Be"--Beatles



  The orthopedic and kidney issues in my younger years necessitated many surgical procedures. It was a tradition before heading off to the hospital for my parents to take me to my great-grandmother for prayer. She was in extremely poor health for the last years of her life, yet maintained her strong faith in God in spite of what must have been bedridden misery. My parents believed if God listened to anyone, He listened to her.
     They must have been correct. I survived and thrived in spite of health scares throughout my childhood. While I only vaguely remembered one of those prayer times because of my age, it felt odd going through medical procedures after my great-grandmother died because family would often speak of how strange it felt not to have her pray over me.
    Many years have passed. Whether its is because my great-grandmother was no longer around to pray for me or my luck just ran out, medical procedures have more often than not failed to attain their goals. After a sequence of bad health events from 2004-06, I opted to post “Let It Be” on my blog before yet another surgery as a placeholder for however long I would be offline. I kind of hoped it might help turn things around. It was not my great-grandmother's prayer, but it was something.
     Yes, I know what Paul is actually singing about. There is no spiritual meaning within. One probably should not find any inspiration or encouragement in it. But I still do, if for no other reason than the sake of a new tradition. So I include “Let It Be” on the list.  
     I am fond of Brook White's cover of "Let It Be" from American Idol.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Question Factory


   Does the study of philosophy ever solve any problems or does it just lead to more questions? The fact you have to not only ask this question, but make it an only two option answer means the answer is self-evident. No, philosophy does not lead to any solutions. It only produces more questions to ponder.
   The study of philosophy is not to find answers. The study of philosophy is to teach a way of thinking in order to explore ideas. Philosophy can better prepare your mind to better solve a problem, but it will never uncover a definite solution to any problem. Pondering philosophy can be fascinating, but it is an ultimately frivolous pastime.
     There is a reason so many famous philosophers were suicidal alcoholics who died penniless. They could not find solutions to the problems of humanity, whether big or small.  Never, ever major in philosophy!

"Run"--Snow Patrol


    You have likely noticed by now older songs are favored for May Music Month. A big reason is nostalgia. Songs are meaningful because they were a part of some special moments in my past. But another reason is there simply have not been a lot of artists or songs to resonate with me in quite a while. Whether it is my age creating a generation gap with young artists or music is not as good as it used to be, new music I like is few and far between.
     One of the rare exceptions is Snow Patrol. The Scottish band has been around since 1993, but I did not discover them until the band hit it big internationally in 2006 or so. Snow Patrol released a string of three or four songs in a row I enjoyed within a two or three year period there. “Run” is my favorite, it is the one embedded above.
     Two confession need to be made. One, Snow patrol formed in 1993 and was heavy into the alternative style of the '90's. I like the alternative style of the '90's. This might explain why Snow Patrol is one of those rare acts I enjoy for recent years. Two, I cannot name a song of theirs from later than 2007 or '08. They are still around, but have not caught my attention. So take my fondness for some of snow Patrol's music for whatever it is worth.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Circle Will Remain Unbroken


    Is humanity headed in the right or wrong direction? The question of whether humanity is going in the right or wrong direction implies that humanity is either progressing or regressing in a linear fashion. The question is unanswerable because humanity is not traveling in a linear direction period.
     As a student of history and philosophy, allow me to tell you two simple truths. One, history goes in cycles. Everything going on now has happened before and will happen again. This is not simply a refrain the the Battlestar Galactica revival. We as a species do not learn from history. Even if we did, the second truth comes into play. Human nature has always been the same and it will always be the same. We repeat history, for better or for worse, because of whom we are at our core.
     So humanity is not traveling in the right or wrong direction. It is traveling in circles repeating itself. Only the names change. If you would like to consider the fact humanity is trapped in a never ending cycle as heading in the wrong direction, I can respect your view. But cycles include both the good and the bad. I am not certain you can dismiss the good aspects as being part of the wrong direction.

"Wish You Were Here"--Pink Floyd

 

     Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" was written by guitarist David Glimour in honor of founding band member Syd Barrett. Barrett was forced to leave the group due to mental illness. Gilmour intended the song to mean Barrett's presence was missed both physically as a lost member of Pink Floyd and metaphorically as a lost soul tortured by mental illness.
     I heard the song many times over the years. I recognized it as a classic, but the song never struck a personal chord until the early 2000's when years of depression and alcoholism took such a toll on my mother she was a completely different person. We suffered rifts between us for much of my young adult life, but there came a point when nothing redemptive was left of her because of mental illness and alcoholism.
     I am almost certainly painting the more distant past a rosier color than it deserves, but I am going to keep it that way. It is in that spirit “How I Wish You Were Here” is meaningful. My mother was lost to me metaphorically long before she was lost physically.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

It Tolls for Thee


     Would you like to know when you are going to die or would you rather die suddenly without warning? I would rather not know. I am prepared to depart this mortal coil spiritually. I am world weary enough not to need any time for reflection on my life. There is no reason to be melodramatic about anything.
    Understand my answer reflects my past. I faced a second colon rupture in 2012. One rarely survives a single rupture, much less two. I figured I was a goner that night in October. I was not even certain I would wake up from the surgery. So I have already faced what I believed was certain death. At the time, it was not the dress rehearsal the incident turned out to be. But I know what is going to happen, so no surprises.
     To address the elephant in the room, I spent my first few months in a nursing home planning my suicide and many months after losing my nerve in counseling. There are no mental or emotional issues that need to be desperately explored before my demise actually comes. So I would rather thee date of my death remain a mystery. My thoughts might betray me by making my remaining days miserable dwelling on questions with no answers.

"Weather with You"--Crowded House


   I posted "Come Monday" by Jimmy Buffett on Friday because a few classmates and I were drunk singing the song while strolling through the streets of Strasbourg, France towards the end of our study abroad program in the summer of 2002. On a day trip to Germany a couple weeks prior to the midnight serenade, we and a couple others stopped to listen to a band perform in a park. One of the songs the band performed was “Weather with You” by Crowded House. One of the girls with us remarked this should be the song by which we remember our summer in France.
    It turned out not to be that way personally. I am far too much of a Parrothead to remember that summer in France by Crowded House rather than Buffett. There is a cover version of "Weather with You" by Jimmy Buffett, but I embedded the original version by Crowded House for the sake of variety.
   The song is intended to mean how your mood is metaphorically weather. Sunny, blue skies surround you when you are happy. Storm clouds follow you around when you are sad. Everywhere you go, it is one or the other. Choose to make it sunny, blue skies as often as possible.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Success & Failure


     To what would you attribute your greatest success? What do you think is the reason for your biggest failure? I will take these two questions separately in the following couple paragraphs. If you have been following my blogging for any significant period of time, you can probably already surmise the answers.
     I attribute my success, such that it was, to my aversion to being patronized. I was talked down to and underestimated my whole life due to my disabilities. The emotional burn drive me to be better than everyone else. The need to succeed drove me to the point of self-destruction physically and emotionally. The attribution of my success leads logically into the biggest reason for my failure.
     The drive to succeed lead me to ignore my physical and emotional health. Perhaps if I had made better decisions I might not have suffered the absolute crash and burn I suffered during the last fourteen years. At the very least, perhaps I could have managed a softer landing. But there is really no way to know how things might have been. The uncertainty of it adds to the sting of it all.

"The One I Love"--REM


     Today's song choice reflects my fondness for irony. “the One I Love” by REM is frequently dedicated on radio request shows to a guy's true love. Or a girl's true love, I guess. I recall only instances of the former, but maybe it happens. The song is an occasional wedding song. It all sounds pretty sweet, no?
    Except it is not. Rather “The One I love” demonstrates a general lack of paying attention at best or an inability to interpret lyrics at worst. The one loved in question is a simple prop merely occupying the singer's time. There is a lovely thought for your wedding day. It definitely brings to mind true love forever.
    “The One I Love” is still a good, catchy song. Just keep in mind what the lyrics actually mean. You might save yourself a lot of heartache if the one you love is better about interpretation lyrics than you.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Who Really Wants to Be Free As a Bird?


     If freedom is defined as the ability to do whatever you want, are animals more free than humans? Here is another question that narrows its focus to the point of utter uselessness. What if freedom does not mean doing whatever you want whenever you want? There are consequences to immediate gratification which can cause serious damage to one's ability to freely do what one wants in the future. Taking into account the consequences of actions may seem limiting, but can actually increase the freedom to choose in the future.
     Animals base their decisions mostly on instinct. They do not have the higher brain functions to calculate with resisting a temptation to do something you want in the short term might lead to a more beneficial circumstance in the future. Animals are essentially slaves to their instincts, human can evaluate circumstances, so we are more free.
     We tend not to wind up as someone else's dinner or stuffed and mounted on a while. The lack of unfettered freedom for humans actually increases our freedom to live peacefully while satisfying our wants and needs. The concept is not as contradictory as it might look at first glance.

"Come Monday"--Jimmy Buffett


     I am a huge Parrothead. Deciding which Jimmy Buffett song to include on this list was quite a chore. There are so many that hold a special memory for me. I am certain there will be plenty of posts beyond May Music Month in which will grant me the chance to post more of my favorites. For now, “Come Monday” earns the distinction.
     Buffett wrote “Come Monday” for his wife while he was on tour in 1973. The song reflects the fun of being on the road while it contrasts the longing for home. It is one of the most popular of Buffett's songs. He performs it at every concert, often changing the lyrics to reflect the city in which the concert is being held.
     My best memory with “Come Monday” is walking through the streets of Strasbourg, France heading from a bar to our dorm rooms with classmates from two other law schools singing at the top of our lungs. We had spent most of the summer of 2002 traveling Europe in between studying at regent University's international law study aboard. Exams were about to start, so the experience was winding down. Like Buffett on tour, we reflected on a good time over the summer while anticipating returning home.
     No, my Regent classmates did not care for our liquored up serenade. They were a bunch of sticks in the mud.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

By Our Own Hand


     How likely do you think it will be humanity will survive another 1,000 years with killing ourselves off? The way this question is worded dictates a narrow focus. I can only consider whether humanity will destroy itself. While it sounds ominously profound to believe humanity will wipe itself out, the likelihood is extremely slim.
      The first time in history we even held the power to destroy ourselves was the development of the atomic bomb. Hence, Robert Oppenheimer's quote from the Hindu scripture Bhafavard Gita 'I am become death the destroyer of words.” This was the first time humanity could wield the destructive power of a god. Yet it is because nuclear weapons possess the destructive power of a god they have not been used again. Nor will they likely. The costs of destruction outweigh any strategic benefits.
     Could there be an accidental launch of nuclear weapons? Yes, and we have come close at various times in the past. A few incidents have occurred the post-Cold war era. Who can guess how likely an accident could occur that would lead to all human life being destroyed? I would guess the odds are low enough not to lose sleep over.
    If humanity is destroyed within the next thousand years, it will happen because of a catastrophic natural disaster, a cosmic event, or a pandemic. Even within those, the survival of at least mos of the human race is within the realm of possibility. One percent of the world's population is still 70 million people. This number is half the population of Russia. Humanity is going to be around until God says we are not under any circumstances.

"If These Walls Could Speak"--Amy Grant


     While the list will reflect a wide variety of songs, you will notice a few recurrences. I tend to like ballads from singer songwriters. Many of the songs are easy listening. There is also a lot of bittersweet meaning in them. I listen to music to wind down on my best days and to calm down on my worst. The songs I most identify with are capable of both functions.
     “If These Walls Could Speak” perfectly fits into the characteristics listed above. It is a sad song of happy times for a family that has met with some sort of tragedy. The most likely is a divorce, but some lyrics hint at someone changed for the worst by drug or alcohol addiction. Not that these two are mutually exclusive. My parents divorced in my young teen years because of issues with alcohol and adultery.
      I am honestly not certain the song's meaning relates to me this way. As brutal as my parents' divorce was, the split was ultimately for the best. Relationships had been deteriorating for years prior. I did not hear this song—at least as far as I can recall—until 1995. At this point in time, I was away at college living on my own for the first time. I was anticipating my own future life, but melancholy how my disabilities might ultimately keep me from the romance and family life many people take for granted. “If These Walls Could Speak” could cut deeply or soothingly assure me other felt the same. It all depended on what I was looking for the song to do at any given time.
     “If These Walls could Speak” has been covered numerous times beyond songwriter Jimmy Webb's original, which was intended for Waylon Jennings. Glenn Campbell covered the song, as did Nanci Griffith and Amy Grant. Griffith's cover is my favorite. She is one of my favorite performers of all time. But she is going to make a couple appearances on the country version of this list next month, so it would feel odd to put it on this list. Grant performs a beautiful rendition, too. All the meaning is still packed in.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Accentuate the Positive


    Would things get better or worse if we focused on the things that are going well rather than the things that are going wrong? We would certainly be better off emotionally if we spent more time counting our blessings instead of our burdens. In doing so, we would be in a much better mental state in order to carry our burdens. There would certainly be more optimism these burdens will one day end or at least be an easier cross to bear.
    All that said, we cannot turn a blind eye to the things that are going wrong. If we do, they will only get worse. A balance between the two in which one spends time accentuating the positives before tackling the negatives will be far more successful at the latter.
   Relationship experts—yes, I know. Hush.--suggest the key to a healthy relationship is five genuine compliments for a every criticism. Why not apply that to life in general? Acknowledge five things that are going well every time you have a difficulty to face. It sounds like a good ratio to me and I am far from an idealist.

"Solitary Man"--Chris Isaak


    May Music Month barrels out the gate by stating the obvious—i am a reclusive hermit. I was one long before the internet made it cool, but I have become morose in recent years. The best times of my life were a one man adventure. Recent years prove that is the best kind of life in which I should engage. So here I am doing my thing as a “Solitary Man.”
     I wrote some thoughts on the matter four years ago when the reality of my new life circumstances were was just sinking in. If you want some raw, early thoughts on the matter, it is a good idea to check out that post. The type of thoughts expressed at that point in time cannot be duplicated four years later. Everything else I am about to write is set squarely in the mindset of the current year.
     “Solitary Man” was Neil Diamond's debut single in 1966. Diamond had been a successful songwriter up to that point, but this was his first modest hit as a performer. The song's theme is about the failure of young love, but I consider the meaning to extend to the disappointment of trusting people in all sorts of relationships—family, friends, and lovers—when they are not actually what they seem. Perhaps it is best to keep to yourself until you find genuine people.
   The song has been covered numerous times. It is likely I heard T. G. Shepppard's version on country radio decades ago, but Johnny Cash's cover from 2000 is the one I recall. The cover won cash a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. While “Solitary Man” strikes me as a country song more than easy listening as Diamond originally intended, my favorite rendition is the Chris Isaak cover above. Isaak is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. Maybe rockabilly is how to describe him? Regardless, Isaak's cover is the one I want to share.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Art is the Bread of the Soul


     I swiped the post title from the late, great Charlton Heston. He described art as the bread of the soul during Congressional testimony in support of government funding of the arts. As near as I can tell, it was an original statement from him and not a literary reference like his subsequent quoting the prologue from The Tempest during the same testimony. I am using his quote here. Because the good ones borrow; the great ones steal.
     The quote is the answer to today's philosophical question: what is the function of art in society? Art is the bread of the soul. Farming, engineering, and medicine among other vocations keep us alive, but art gives us a reason to stay alive. It evokes emotion and inspires us to be more than ordinary.
     Can art have a negative effect on society? Yes, it can. The question of whether violent imagery can make people act violently is a question that has been debated for years without resolution. The debate is beyond the scope of this question. But is will say this—if, as I believe, art can have a positive influence on people's emotion, then it is only logical to assume act can have a negative effect on people's emotion as well. I do not believe t makes people more violent. It just makes already violent people more creative.
     Here is why calling art bread of the soul is so apt.  You are what you consume.  Food is the building blocks of your body.  Art--the imagery and ideas your mind consumes--are the building blocks of who you are as a person.  Good food builds a healthy body.  Good art builds a healthy mind.  Take care what you partake in of both food and art.

"Me, An Intellectual" --RWDS


      Welcome to May Music Month. This is the second time around I am going to do this series. The last time was in 2006 on the first incarnation of The Eye. How it will work is I will post a music video a day of a song that means something to me. I will also explain why. The reason might not be all that deep. There will be a good variety of explanations and stories attached. Songs tend to be whatever you get out of them.
      While I am confident no one remembers the original May Music Month—because I barely do myself—I assure you this will be different. There is bound to be some overlap in songs, but whatever I write about them is bound to be different. A dozen years can change a person in profound ways, and that includes what he gets out of the songs to which he listens. I hope you all get something out of these songs and thoughts attached, too.
     I just recently discovered 'me, An Intellectual” as intro music in a Mr. Metokur live stream on YouTube. It is jokingly considered the theme song of the YouTube skeptic community. If you are unfamiliar with YouTube's skeptic community, the robust debate between skeptics and Christians in the late '00's has become skeptics v. Social Justice Warriors. It is strange, but it has happened. I have had a good time watching the fedora wearing, neckbeard skeptics and SJW tearing into one another, especially when one would think they have quite a few mutual causes.
     Considering the increased amount of philosophical questions I have been running through lately, there has certainly been an increase in pointless intellectual discussion. Add this point in combination with the general frivolous nature of blogging in the first place, “Me, An Intellectual” is the perfect them song for The Eye. As a bonus, Pepe the Frog should trigger some folks with lingering grief from the 2016 presidential election.