Saturday, March 13, 2021


 I'm beginning to feel really old about this thing we call "Music". I tend to think my taste in "Music" covers a very wide range and history, beginning say, with the Gregorian Chant--what's that you ask? Well, Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic, unaccompanied sacred song in Latin of the Roman Catholic Church. Gregorian chant developed mainly in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries. 

See, so my taste in music covers a wide swath of history. But mainly, my love of classical music goes back to Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, et al--you know, opera, symphonic pieces, concertos. And then we leap all the way up into the 1930s and 1940s, with jazz and pop music. Miles Davis, Louie Armstrong, John Coltrane, and then Frank Sinatra & Co--you know, all those smooth singers of the 40s and 50s.

And then, sometime during the late 50's and early 1960s, these new things called Folk and Rock and Roll came on the scene. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Grateful Dead, Chicago, Dire Straits . . . you know . . . that crowd.

So that pretty much defined my taste in music. And then, somewhere around the 1970s, or early 1980s, there was this new genre that I had trouble defining as within this thing I called "Music". It was called Rap, or maybe Hip Hop. I tried listening, but couldn't get into it--I'm really old, remember? It didn't seem to fit within my definition of Music. It was more Poetry set to a Beat. The words were important, as in poetry. But, I just couldn't get into it. I knew I was missing something, but, I was stuck.

So, then I recognized what I saw as two kinds of things--some set of things I vaguely call "Music", and this new genre called Rap. Ok, so we can move on. But then lately, I find myself hearing a third genre. I am not sure what to call it, but it isn't Music and it isn't Rap. So . . .?

We listen to the Stephen Colbert Show, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, and Trevor Noah.  Routinely on Stephen’s show, and some on Samantha’s, they feature a “musical” group. Except, said “musical” groups don’t perform to what I call ”Music”. What do they do? Well, first, they are always a group of seeming musicians, i.e., they have instruments recognizable, like a piano, a guitar, drums, etc. And then they include a featured “singer”. But mostly, they include a set design of special floating lighting, and other special effects. See, they have “albums” but I cannot imagine why you would listen to them. They lack the special effects.

And these groups seem to put forth a rhythm, a beat and some sound effects, but never an actual “melody”. And the singers seem to be singing, but we can never understand any of their words.  Watching them is more akin to watching a son et lumiere than a musical group. Generally, after about a minute or so, one of us will say, “OK, are we done?” And we signal, Yes, to turn them off. I would say this happens in at least 9 out of 10 of the groups performing on these shows.  So, I think we now need to designate a third genre, maybe son et lumiere.

It is fascinating to think about on Stephen’s show, since he also has on one of the great musical geniuses of our day, Jon Batiste and his musical group Stay Human. Batiste and his group play jazz, blues, and the like with wonderful skills. We have loved listening to Jon and his group play on the show, and miss them during this pandemic thing, when he plays around the edges.

So, given the high level of “Musical” skill and talents of Jon and Stay Human, we find it odd that virtually all of the groups invited by Stephen fall into this odd new genre. Again, a musical rhythm, or beat, a sound and light show, and some unrecognizable sounds coming out of the mouths of the performers.

So, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that we are now really old. But we really just don’t get it. It always brings me back to Don McLean. Remember:

"A long, long time ago

I can still remember how that music
Used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while
But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died."

Tuesday, March 9, 2021


 An anachronism (from the Greek ἀνά ana, 'against' and χρόνος khronos, 'time') is a chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of persons, events, objects, language terms and customs from different time periods. The most common type of anachronism is an object misplaced in time, but it may be a verbal expression, a technology, a philosophical idea, a musical style, a material, a plant or animal, a custom, or anything else associated with a particular period that is placed outside its proper temporal domain.

An anachronism may be either intentional or unintentional. Intentional anachronisms may be introduced into a literary or artistic work to help a contemporary audience engage more readily with a historical period. Anachronism can also be used (intentionally) for purposes of rhetoric, propaganda, comedy, or shock. Unintentional anachronisms may occur when a writer, artist, or performer is unaware of differences in technology, terminology and language, customs and attitudes, or even fashions between different historical periods and eras.”

Thinking about Meghan and Harry.  But first, perhaps a little history, to place them in context.

 “The Kingdom of England begins with Alfred the Great, who initially ruled Wessex, one of the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms which later made up modern England. Alfred styled himself King of the Anglo-Saxons from about 886, and while he was not the first king to claim to rule all of the English, his rule represents the start of the first unbroken line of kings to rule the whole of England, the House of Wessex.

Arguments are made for a few different kings thought to control enough Anglo-Saxon kingdoms to be deemed the first king of England. For example, Offa of Mercia and Egbert of Wessex are sometimes described as kings of England by popular writers, but it is no longer the majority view of historians that their wide dominions are part of a process leading to a unified England. Historian Simon Keynes states, for example, that "Offa was driven by a lust for power, not a vision of English unity; and what he left was a reputation, not a legacy." This refers to a period in the late 8th century when Offa achieved a dominance over many of the kingdoms of southern England, but this did not survive his death in 796.

In 829 Egbert of Wessex conquered Mercia, but he soon lost control of it. It was not until the late 9th century that one kingdom, Wessex, had become the dominant Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Its king, Alfred the Great, was overlord of western Mercia and used the title King of the Angles and Saxons, but he never ruled eastern and northern England, which was then known as the Danelaw, having earlier been conquered by the Danes from Scandinavia. His son Edward the Elder conquered the eastern Danelaw, but Edward's son Æthelstan became the first king to rule the whole of England when he conquered Northumbria in 927, and he is regarded by some modern historians as the first true king of England. The title "King of the English" or Rex Anglorum in Latin, was first used to describe Æthelstan in one of his charters in 928.

The Principality of Wales was incorporated into the Kingdom of England under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, and in 1301 King Edward I invested his eldest son, the future King Edward II, as Prince of Wales. Since that time, except for King Edward III, the eldest sons of all English monarchs have borne this title.

After the death of Queen Elizabeth I without issue, in 1603, King James VI of Scotland also became James I of England, joining the crowns of England and Scotland in personal union. By royal proclamation, James styled himself "King of Great Britain", but no such kingdom was actually created until 1707, when England and Scotland united to form the new Kingdom of Great Britain, with a single British   parliament sitting at Westminster, during the reign of Queen Anne, marking the end of the Kingdom of England as a sovereign state.

The title of Duke of Sussex (e.g.,Harry) was first conferred on 24 November 1801 upon Prince Augustus Frederick the sixth son of King George III. He was made Baron Arklow and Earl of Inverness at the same time, also in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The title became extinct upon Prince Augustus Frederick's death in 1843.

Although Prince Augustus Frederick was survived by a son and daughter by Lady Augusta Murray, their marriage (purportedly solemnized at St George's Hanover Square ChurchWestminster, in 1793) had been annulled for lack of royal permission under the Royal Marriages Act 1772, rendering the children illegitimate under English law and unable to inherit titles from their father. Both children by the annulled marriage died childless, rendering the issue of their inheritance moot.

On 2 May 1831, Prince Augustus Frederick married secondly (and again in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772), Lady Cecilia Gore at Great Cumberland Place, London. Not being the Prince's legitimate wife, Lady Cecilia could not be received at court. On 30 March 1840, she was given the title of Duchess of Inverness in her own right by Queen Victoria.

Second creation, 2018

In 2018, the dukedom of Sussex was recreated and granted to Prince Harry, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, to mark the occasion of his wedding to Meghan Markle, who thereby became the first woman in history known as Duchess of Sussex. 

On 19 May 2018, it was announced that Prince Harry would become Duke of Sussex in England, with the subsidiary titles of Earl of Dumbarton in Scotland and Baron Kilkeel in Northern Ireland. In 2019, an heir to the dukedom, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, was born.”

OK, so Harry and Meghan’s role within that system of royal “rulers” has a long history, as does, of course, Elizabeth’s.  BUT, we no longer live within that same system of laws and Royal powers. No, we live in that pseudohuman state of being, labeled 2021. In Great Britain, Parliament rules the roost and the royal families are quaint, rich people (at least some of them) with no serious claim on “Rule”. 

So, why do they (Brits) persist in this quaint custom of royalty when it now serves no purpose other than to entertain us via the news media and other entertainment outlets?  I suppose we could conclude that anything that entertains us and essentially does no harm might be preserved, since we have so few sources of entertainment (aside from the Boris Johnson’s and Donald Trump’s of the world).  And I suppose that may well be true.  But it always seems to me that it is akin to living in a land surrounded by a fairy tale land invented by  Walt Disney. Now, to be fair, we Americans live in a land surrounded by a fairy tale land invented by Jeff Bezos and Donald Trump.  And they are probably not nearly as entertaining as the British Royalty.  I mean MaraLago is not nearly as grand as Buckingham Palace.  In fact, every time I watch British mysteries on TV, I am treated to a tour of some grand estate that was at one time a part of the British Royal system of inherited wealth.  I guess, were one to tour the grand homes in America, one might get a similar sense of awe. But these are simply tourist attractions, much like Niagara Falls, as distinct from a system of early absolute rulers.

But, still, I begin to wonder when the British people will tire and say “Enough”. Maybe it will take the passing of Elizabeth for the game to be declared OVER.  Aside from the continuing system of inherited wealth, where estates and money transfer according to legal “Last Wills and Testaments”, which is I assume necessary to prevent feuds and fratricides becoming the preferred method of transferring family wealth, I imagine the royal designations could be declared quaint but unnecessary. 

I must confess that I did not watch the Harry & Meghan interview. Why? Well, I guess I was not sufficiently interested in learning just why Meghan was driven to the point of near suicide, as I assume was Diana, who managed to remove herself from that scene, albeit with a tragic outcome. But I no longer find the British royalty entertaining, even if they remain amusing at times, and provide a source of historic context while watching movies, or TV series.   Meghan and Harry decided some time ago to break themselves free of the stifling family system of royal do’s and don’ts.  Good for them.  But I had no compelling reason to learn the details of their separation. It would, I think be akin to listening to a TV interview with a couple who had separated and were now going to go off on their own, mainly because of intrafamily cruelties and personal idiocies.

But good for Oprah. She captivated a large TV audience otherwise bored to death by the pandemic and Donald Trump. Now, what I would love to watch would be a TV series, sort of like the Masterpiece Mysteries, in which Oprah interviews the heads of state of British Commonwealth countries about their continued presence as members of that Commonwealth.   Just listening to the rationale for continuation would be, at the least, entertaining.  Perhaps the Commonwealth will begin coming apart now, and how fascinating would that be, especially for the future of Great Britain, as we watch it throughout the series revert to its former status as that tight little island.  It might even be entertaining to listen to interviews with places like India and Pakistan that opted out of Commonwealth status early, becoming republics instead.

That would be fun, huh??

And then, on to the next Grand Series on the disappearance of that anachronistic thing we call Organized Religion, as it collapses into yet another fairy tale land, with grand churches being sold to the Jeff Bezos of this world. Wonder how much Jeff would offer for the Sistine Chapel?? Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Lies and Truthiness

 "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" I know, I know, that old saw provokes all kinds of controversy, about what exactly is “sound”, and does it exist in the absence of humans with ears.  Those thoughts prompted me to write a blurb about humans, including me. In one posting, I wrote:

I perceive, therefore . . .

I stood outside on our porch one morning, just the other day. I often come out early, as the sun is rising, just to look. As I stood there, I began thinking; someday this will all be gone. I will no longer stand here looking out at the sky and the trees, and the houses with their residents just beginning to awaken. It will all be gone.
Then I corrected myself.
No, one day, it will remain, and only the image in my brain will be gone. But if there is no image in my brain, does it actually exist, this thing I now see? It’s the old, “if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does the tree actually fall? Perhaps, if I am no longer here, then nothing exists.”

 Even some of our scientists can be found discussing whether our reality, even our entire universe depends on humans observing it.  If there are no humans, does our universe actually exist? Some wag even suggested that maybe we are simply characters in some video game being played currently by super extraterrestrials. 

 Now, to be fair, when I find myself listening to the likes of QAnon supporters, or even just any republican, I begin to think the video game thing may not be so farfetched after all. I mean, how else can you explain rationally the actions and beliefs of people who worship Donald Trump, and who believe in the “stolen election” conspiracy? Really people? You actually believe Donald Trump when he explains that he actually won the election, but that hordes of Democrats who are actually dead, voted in that last election. And that more people “voted” than there are voters. Amazing. But the CPAC convention clearly demonstrated that people who identify as “republican”, or actually Trumpies (cuz the republican party is now officially dead) no longer mind being lied to. They believe whatever they are told by whoever takes the platform.

 We always used to say that Reagan made it ok again to be a racist.  And that was bad, letting all those racists out of their respective closets. But apparently Donald Trump has made it ok again to lie about anything and everything. Well, I say “again”, but really it was never ok to simply lie outright, the way Trump does.  But now, apparently there is no such thing as Truth, or even “Facts” any longer amongst Trumpies. Yeah, CPAC was a lie machine collective.  When we listened to Trump and Cruz and Greene, and Hawley spout their lies, I was really aghast at the blatant nature of their lies. Nobody even pretends any longer.

But then I stumbled across this new dude from North Carolina, Madison Cawthorn. David Madison Cawthorn (born August 1, 1995) is an American politician. A member of the Republican Party, Cawthorn is the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 11th congressional district after winning the 2020 election. Cawthorn is like some new kind of Lie Machine. He seems to lie about everything.  He was in an accident, sitting as a passenger in a friend’s car.  The “friend” apparently fell asleep while driving.  Cawthorn claims that his friend left him to die in the flaming wreck of the car.  In fact the friend rescued him and then got help to take his “friend” to the hospital.  He claims he was accepted by the Naval Academy, but he was in fact rejected for admission, prior to his accident. He dropped out of college, receiving D grades. He either does or does not accept the lies about Trump actually winning the election, but he seems definitely to be a Trumpie. Generally, he has no experience at anything, except lying. And maybe that’s what got him elected into Congress. A less likely member of Congress it would be hard to find.

But, as I say, he was actually elected to Congress. But why . . . how could that be true?  I assume that now, our electorate insists that someone develop a finely honed instinct at lying.  If you really know how to sling those lies, and don’t care whether folks discover your lying, then you are a perfect candidate for the republican party. And, more importantly, voters on that side of the planet, will elect you.  

Apparently, truth-telling is a total No-No.  Now the game is, you say whatever you think will gain you points with the audience of the moment. It doesn’t matter whether the lies you tell are clever, or downright stupid. Nope, all that matters is that whatever you tell people will gain you some brownie points at that moment.  Cuz your audience will forget that you told them lies that last time, so long as the lies you are telling them this time please them, or make you seem good, or clever. That’s all that matters.

So, what do you think? Could we not all just be characters in some clever ET dude’s video game? So, life here on Earth will continue, or not, depending on how long it takes the ET dudes to tire of playing with us.  And you’re thinking, “No, that can’t be. Life has been here on earth for millions of years, or at least 6,000, depending on who you ask.  No one could play a video game that long.” But then maybe that “millions of years” thing is just something implanted by those ET dudes to make you believe. Who knows, maybe we’re really only a couple of hours old.

So, dream on all you believers. But remember, Truth and Facts are for sissies. All the true believers know that lies and make-believe are where it’s at in today’s fairy tale land of Wink and Nod. Oh, and remember, QAnon is inaugurating Donald Trump as President today. So, get your ass down to Capitol Hill in DC. That’s where today’s action will commence.