Monday, March 29, 2010

Random thoughts and bon mots

I am always amused by individuals who can pause in mid conversation or during their commute to jot down their random thoughts. Some pull out elaborate journals from their backpacks to record their thoughts while others rely on Post-It notes when an idea or thought occurs. A graduate professor of mine went a step further and used a pad of Post-It notes mounted to the dashboard of his BMW. I know he never forgot an idea or lost a thought.

Now, I've become one of them ~ one who jots down thoughts and ideas. I regularly jot down song titles that pique my interest while listening to Morning Becomes Eclectic via This helps jog my memory when using the iTunes library to fill up my iPod with music. I know it's no longer a laughing matter but, rather, a matter of practicality.

Have you ever wondered how much time and brain energy is devoted daily to random thinking? Probably more than you would imagine. Now, if only we could discover a way to market our random thinking ... now there's a thought.

In the spirit of random thinking ~ and spring cleaning ~ here's a few random thoughts and bon mots. Some are old, some are new, some are, well, just well worth sharing. So, in no particular order:

Music: Is there a more distinctive, contemporary singing voice than Neko Case when she sings the Harry Nilsson song, "Don't Forget Me"?

More music: A song I never tire hearing is "Like An Angel Passing Through My Room," sung so eloquently by Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie Von Otter. It appears on the album Anne Sofie Von Otter Meets Elvis Costello - For the Stars. On this version, it's Anne Sofie accompanied on piano by Benny Andersson, who co-wrote the song with his ABBA partner Bjorn Ulvaeus.

Still more music: I would love to see Elvis Costello and Alvin Toussaint collaborate on a follow-up to their The River in Reverse album ~ one of my all-time faves ~ which includes their outstanding duet on "Ascension Day":

Not a soul was stirring
Not a bird was singing, at least not within my hearing
I was five minutes past caring
Standing in the road just staring

Thought I heard somebody pleading
I thought I heard someone apologise
Some fell down weeping
Others shook their fists up at the skies
And those who were left
Seemed to be wearing disguises

Now there's a queen in waiting
Not enough loving and too much hating
For the prince hidden within her man
Always seems to be hesitating

He said, 'Let her go, let her go, God bless her'
'She hasn't been gone long enough for me to miss her'
'Except every minute of every hour of every day when I wish I could possess her'

40 days passed by
40 alibis
So carry on... that way
And in time... you'll pay
But we'll all be together
Come Ascension Day

Not a hound was howling
Or whimpering or prowling
Now the wind had departed
Not a leaf was hanging on the tree like when it started

But I know they will return
Like they've never gone away
Come Ascension Day

Moving on to sports: One of the joys of listening to a San Francisco Giants spring training baseball game on the radio is hearing their talented broadcasters. The game is secondary, the storytelling is priceless.

I caught an inning of a recent broadcast while running Saturday errands. I don't remember any particulars from what happened on the field. However, I do remember the storyteller going on in the broadcast booth. The trio of Jon Miller, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow floated the idea of having under performing Major League teams be relegated (like English Premiership League soccer) to the minor leagues for a season. One of them suggested, as an example, the Kansas City Royals swap places with its top minor-league team in Omaha. In between batters, they also shared tales about the iconic-but-allegedly haunted Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee, where many teams like the Giants stay while playing the Milwaukee Brewers.

It's no surprise that Miller is being honored this summer with induction in the broadcaster's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. He is a master among masters when it comes to the art of baseball storytelling ~ and, he also is very dead-on with his impersonations of other baseball broadcasters like Vin Scully and the late Harry Kalas.

Onward to technology: Am I dumb for not having a "smart" phone? For that matter, do "smart" phones have IQs? Am I a bad person for preferring to use a digital camera instead of taking photos with my cellphone? Is the day approaching when I'll be considered a Luddite because I use my cellphone only to make and receive phone calls instead of using it as a defacto MP3 player, camera, or to send text messages?

Speaking of TV: I can't wait for the new HBO series, Treme, from David Simon ~ the same David Simon who brought us The Wire, simply one of the greatest TV shows of our generation. It's got music, it's got New Orleans, it's got wonderful acting talent. What more could you ask for? Wendell Pierce, Clarke Peters and John Goodman form the nucleus of the stellar cast. Make a date with your TV for the show's premiere on Sunday night, April 11. In the meantime, I urge you to check out the trailers for Treme on HBO's website ~

More TV: In the land of 500 channels and nothing's on, it's always a delight to find a show that renews one's faith in the medium, like Slings and Arrows. This Canadian import aired a few years ago on The Sundance Channel and, recently, has resurfaced on Ovation TV. I like Slings and Arrows because it's a "dramedy" ~ part drama, part comedy ~ that deals with the behind-the-scenes happenings of a fictional-but-contemporary Canadian Shakespearean theatrical company. The ensemble cast includes Kids in the Hall alum Mark McKinney and Rachel McAdams. The first season, which is also available via Netflix and can be found on YouTube, has a raucous opening theme, "Cheer Up, Hamlet" that's performed in a pub and sets the right tone for the show:

Cheer up, Hamlet
Chin up, Hamlet
Buck up, you melancholy Dane
So your uncle is at hand
Murdered Dad and married Mum
That’s really no excuse to be as glum as you’ve become
So wise up, Hamlet
Rise up, Hamlet
Buck up and sing the new refrain
Your incessant monologizing fills the castle with ennui
Your antic disposition is embarrassing to see
And by the way, you sulky brat, the answer is “TO BE”!
You’re driving poor Ophelia insane
So shut up, you rogue and peasant
Grow up, it’s most unpleasant
Cheer up, you melancholy Dane

Finally: Here's a few random but quotable thoughts from a couple of columnists whom I admire to make us all take a moment to think:

"Complex problems sometimes need manpower thrown at them, not an IT solution." ~ Tyler Brule, Financial Times Life & Arts columnist, writing about his favorite air carrier ANA (All Nippon Airlines).

"There is a lesson here: There is a nothing tragic about attempting a great leap and falling short. The tragedy is not even trying." ~ William C. Rhoden, New York Times sports columnist, writing about NCAA basketball Cinderella Cornell ~ the upstart Ivy League champion ~ which lost to perennial powerhouse Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen of this year's men's NCAA basketball tournament.

Happy random thinking ~ and, remember, keep those Post-It notes handy.

No comments:

Post a Comment