War Is Kind

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Had enough of that old-time military jingoism? Stephen Crane’s your man. The Red Badge of Courage author penned a series of poems called War is Kind that taken together are devastating reading. You can listen to my performance of a selection of those poems as performed today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC.

Click on the triangle above to hear.

Gentle On My Mind

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Monday morning, Glen Campbell gets the approval of his peers.

Worth it, even if you don’t like country music, for the wonderful guitar break and the comradery.

Thanks to YouTuber jimmy cee

Up On The Air: Michael Apted

63

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You may know of the great British director Michael Apted for his thrillers including the James Bond film The World is Not Enough, or you may know him for his outstanding work with Sissy Spacek in the Academy Award-nominated Coal Miner’s Daughter, or his work with Jodie Foster in Nell. But for many, Michael Apted’s greatest achievement was begun 56 years ago when he selected 14 British schoolchildren from different social and economic classes for the documentary called 7 Up. He subsequently chronicled their physical, emotional, social, and mental lives in ongoing 7-year installments. In a remarkable coup, Apted is now releasing 63 Up, and the 7-year-olds we met in 1964 are now all 63 years old.

I was lucky to interview Mr. Apted for the radio program Arts Express. Click on the triangle to hear the interview as broadcast today on WBAI 99.5 FM, NYC

I Know A Little Bit About A Lot Of Things

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Monday Morning, Peggy Lee seeks to expand her knowledge of a few subjects.

The guitar player is David Barbour, Peggy Lee’s husband at the time, who also composed the song.

The witty lyrics are by Ms. Lee.

More at Peggy Lee

A Thumbnail Sketch

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This one is for the magic nerds. For the rest of you, nothing to see here, move along.

The close-up magician, Dai Vernon, was perhaps the most influential magic teacher of the twentieth century. His impact was so great that he was known simply as “The Professor.” In his later life, still sharp as a tack in his 80s and beyond, he would hold court at The Magic Castle and other such venues, where conjurers from around the country would come to get The Professor’s critique of their magic. Vernon was a pretty mischievous fellow by most accounts, and his lessons could sometimes be quite pointed. My favorite story about him is one that magician Bill Palmer has told on The Magic Cafe internet forum, which I’ll repeat here.

Palmer was attending a magic convention in Texas where Vernon was one of the headliners. Now one of the nice and maybe unique things about magic conventions is that the performers often mingle with the attendees in their off time. So Palmer is wandering around the lobby of the hotel where the convention was held, and who does he see sitting on a sofa, but The Professor himself, Dai Vernon.  He’s startled to see that Vernon is all alone on the couch, so he decides to take this opportunity. He gathers up his courage, goes over to Vernon and introduces himself, gushes a bit, and then Palmer decides he’s going to make his impression on The Professor by showing Vernon a feat of mentalism. After all, though Vernon was expert with cards and coins, mentalism is a whole different branch of conjuring.

Palmer says to Vernon. “Please think of any three-digit number. Concentrate, please. Visualize that number in your imagination.” Palmer then takes out his business card, cogitates furiously, writes something on the back of the business card, then puts the pencil down, and says to Vernon, “I have committed my answer in writing. Would you now, for the first time, name your number, please?”

Vernon replies, “4-5-8.”

Palmer continues in the canned patter of the day, “Aha! Does that number have any special significance to you?”

“Yes,” replies the elderly Vernon, with narrowing eyes,  “those are the three most difficult numbers to write with a nail writer.”

Rock ‘N’ Roll School

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Wow. Monday morning, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Clapton, and a bunch of other great musicians, show how it’s done.

Carl Perkins (guitar, vocals)
Geraint Watkins (piano)
Dave Edmunds (guitar, vocals)
George Harrison (guitar, vocals)
Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals)
Rosanne Cash (vocals, maracas)
Ringo Starr (drums, tambourine, vocals)
Slim Jim Phantom (drums)
Greg Perkins (bass guitar)
Lee Rocker (double bass)
Earl Slick (guitar)
David Charles (drums)
John David (bass guitar)
Mickey Gee (guitar)

Thanks to YouTuber Carl Perkins on MV

Fifth Annual Contest Results!

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And drumroll, please. Here are the names of the winners of the Fifth Annual Shalom Blog Magic Contest. The contest this time was a repeat of the very first one: describe three actions or ideas that have most improved your magic.

The first-place winner was Dennis Mayne. Dennis’s entertaining entry described a trio of intriguing, uncommonly referenced mindsets and preparations that help him get ready  as a working street performer. Dennis chose The Vernon Touch as his prize.

David Kaplan was the second-place winner. David spoke of the wisdom he acquired along the way to becoming a part-time professional, and what it took him to get to the next level. He chose Blomberg Laboratories as his prize.

Third place went to John Allen. John talked about some of the realizations he came to when trying to integrate his magic interests with the rest of his life, and what helped to make that transition less bumpy. He chose Maximum Entertainment as his prize.

And finally Honorable Mention to Rick Benstock for his iconoclastic advice for amateurs.

Thanks again to all who entered. It’s always a treat for me to read what you have to say.  Sometime next week, everyone who participated will receive a pdf compilation of all the entries that were sent in.

 

 

All Or Nothing At All: Frank Sinatra

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Two Brooklyn guys, Arthur Altman and Jack Lawrence, wrote the music and lyrics.

It was Sinatra’s first hit, and he recorded at least three different versions of it over the years.

The song has been covered by many, including Ella, Betty Carter, Sarah Vaughn, and John Coltrane. Sometimes I like to look for the non-obvious version, but this is one time I have to admit Sinatra has them all beat.

Thanks to YouTuber  finetunes Easy Listening

 

A Parent’s Confession

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Your honor, I am guilty, but consider:

At some point in every enlightened young human’s development, the following two truths become crystal clear:

1) Due to the extraordinary violence of the few, the majority are subjected to murder, torture, and unending exploitation for the benefit of those few.

2) If we are to survive as a species, humans must love their neighbors as they love themselves

For young people with a natural predisposition towards action, and an intelligence that forces them to follow premises to their logical, inevitable conclusions, the above truths can put them in the way of physical harm or worse.

For a parent, the truth must bow to the safety of the child.

Thus, I must throw sand in the face of my son’s arguments, place obstacles in the way of truth to slow him down:

“But all revolutions eventually betray the people.”
“Surely, elections make some difference.”
“How can you be sure there’s no God?”
“You realize that socialism can end up as authoritarianism.”
“Ridiculous, how many pronouns can one person have?”
“Isn’t all violence equally bad?”

My hope was that such efforts would slow him down enough to get him safely through an impulsive adolescence. To his credit, he reacted to each such suggestion with external scorn. Nevertheless, his mother and I would play our parts as parents, he his as an adolescent. Now in his mid-20s, he is less impulsive, but no less committed to the above two propositions. Fortunately, he now manages to pursue his political goals while being careful of the implications for his physical being. We are very proud of him.

Thank goodness. Sigh. Guilty, your honor.