A Question Of Balance

“A Question Of Balance” is the title of an old LP by the Moody Blues, a British progressive-rock band. This brings up the question: were there regressive-rock bands back then? Probably…

I got to thinking of this band and that particular album’s title while I was sitting out on my upstairs porch aerie this evening. The breeze was so delicious, just cool enough to cut the early-summer humidity. A pleasant balance between heat, humidity, and a cool breeze. It doesn’t often happen around here!

Here’s a song from that early Moody Blues album:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCjDLaQxyq8&w=425&h=349]

My daughter Adrian, when she was about six years old, used to listen to this album with headphones, sitting on our couch.

Sometimes nostalgia is a Good Thing!


Two Evening Encounters

Another pleasant spring evening high upon a limestone bluff by the Mississippi. I set out on a walk and found my elderly neighbor Beulah doing something with an empty plastic trash-can in the driveway.

“Larry, I raked up some leaves and I thought I’d put them in this can, but then I banged my leg against a tree branch. I’m injured; I need to go inside and doctor myself!”

She went back into her apartment; I was worried about her and I knocked on both her front and back doors but got no response. I never did see the pile of leaves she was talking about. I hope she’s all right!

While I was out front I noticed a couple of boys, perhaps 14 years old, inspecting a big TV set out by the curb. After repeated entreaties, my landlord had sent a handyman and his assistant to move the heavy thing out of my apartment — it had been left behind by my renter predecessor Debbie.

I said, “You want that thing?”

“Yeah, but does it work at all?”

“Well, kinda. The picture tube works, but someone tore out the cable and antenna socket. There may have been a fight.”

“We’ll take it!”

“How are ya gonna move it?”

“On a skateboard!”

The boy’s friend had left during this conversation; he came cruising back down the sidewalk on a skateboard and before long the TV was gone. That’s cool! Maybe Albert at his shop down on Maine St. can fix it for them.



Have you ever wondered about the twists and turns history has taken, and if something else had happened, what would the world look like now? It’s food for thought and has resulted in a genre of literature devoted to such speculations. A classic example is Philip K. Dick’s “The Man In The High Castle”, a story about what might have ensued had the Axis powers prevailed after the end of World War Two. More info here:

The Man In The High Castle

Something else to speculate about; what if the Ottoman Empire had survived — what would life for us be like now under Muslim rule?


More Music

I used to listen to recordings of Joe Satriani playing his Strat years ago; he’s yet another guitar virtuoso. Today I happened across this video:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JwUpjO9LLI&w=425&h=349]

I’ve had a musical problem in the past — if I listen too often to players much better than I am, I become discouraged and don’t play much. It’s better if I just play as well as I can!

I wondered about why Satriani was wearing a stocking cap during several videos during this time-period, presumably in a well-heated auditorium. I suspected the advent of male pattern-baldness. In videos from subsequent years the guitarist had shaved his head, more-or-less confirming my hypothesis.


A Limerick

I’ve long been fond of limericks, a verse form invented by Edward Lear, but which was perfected by later writers. An example which landed in my e-mail inbox this morning:

The word concupiscent brought back fond memories of my father, American frontier historian Ray Allen Billington, whose hobby was collecting and writing limericks. On page 78 of his Limericks Historical and Hysterical (published posthumously by W.W. Norton in 1981), can be found:

Quoth a comely young lady from Norway
As she hung by her heels in a doorway,
“Although I’m proficient
In arts concupiscent
Thank God, I’ve discovered one more way.”

It was one of his favorites.

Allen Billington, Fort Collins, Colorado


Two Baroque Violin Virtuosos

I’m a big fan of the modern violinistic approach to Baroque music, which involves a very sparing use of vibrato — the opera-singer-like varying of pitch on a note is more of a nineteenth-century Romantic-era thing. Two modern violinists who hew (try saying that quickly!) to the Baroque way of playing violin are Andrew Manze and Rachel Podger. Watch these videos and take notice of how much fun they are having while playing one of J.S. Bach’s finest compositions And then they kiss at the end! I was charmed:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIOh5Iq683o&w=425&h=349]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaUY8bU5XBI&w=425&h=349]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1vEAsJpZ_w&w=425&h=349]


Mizzled — A Quote

It took me many years to figure out how the word “misled” is really pronounced. Here’s a quote from the author of the Winnie The Pooh books, A.A. Milne:

When we read, we are, we must be, repeating the words to ourselves unconsciously; for how else should we discover, as we have all discovered in our time, that we have been mispronouncing a word which, in fact, we have never spoken? I refer to such words as ‘misled,’ which I, and millions of others when young, supposed to be ‘mizzled.’

Another quote, this one from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

I suppose every old scholar has had the experience of reading something in a book which was significant to him, but which he could never find again. Sure he is that he read it there, but no one else ever read it, nor can he find it again, though he buy the book, and ransack every page.

I do love printed real-world paper books, but sometimes I get annoyed that there is no search facility built in.


More Virtuosic Music

More good musical stuff from Jeff Beck and a young woman named Tal Wilkenfeld, quite an impressive electric bass player:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXd5jEzM4oY&w=560&h=349]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLEGQ4VO4Uo&w=425&h=349]

Back when I was trying to be a landlord (unsuccessfully) in Hannibal, MO, one of my tenants played Fender electric bass, and we played together several times — me on guitar or fiddle and him on his bass. Curlee eventually descended into crack hell and pawned his bass. A shame, because he was a talented bass player. The last time I saw the guy he said he was in the process of becoming a Christian minister. So that’s where they get those people!