Monday, April 27, 2015

George Gershwin: the graceful ghost




A few more intriguing bits about Gershwin’s work, indicating he must have had a deep interest in Jewish mysticism:

In Jewish mythology, a dybbuk (Yiddish: דיבוק, from Hebrew word meaning adhere or cling) is a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person.





A migrant soul?! And perhaps Ira, raised in the same tradition, was subconsciously thinking of the same thing, his soul merging with his brother’s.  I don’t see GG as a dybbuk at all – he was a gentle soul and everyone loved him, though I also think he was extremely lonely and was completely disoriented after his death. And yet, if you strip away the evil connotations, a dybbuk is just an unhappy camper like a ghost, frustrated or feeling incomplete or not listened to. This is why Chanon in the story is “reduced to practicing evil rites,” because he felt so powerless.

I am very surprised, but perhaps I shouldn’t be, that the writer of I Got Rhythm and Rhapsody in Blue could be so interested in dark Jewish ritual, but he did after all grow up bilingual, i. e. speaking Yiddish, so the stories were there.  You look at this and think: George Gershwin? Mysticism, migrant souls, WHAT? Then you dig up all this stuff. Instead of developing The Dybbuk (the rights were tied up), he wrote Porgy and Bess which was also about a marginalized and powerless black community. There is a chilling song in it called The Buzzard which is about a vast dark bird waiting to  swoop down and feed on Porgy’s flesh:  he tells it, “Ain’t nobody dead this mornin’!” This is like something out of classic myth.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

49 Everyday Phrases by William Shakespeare!




Shakespearian phrases we use every day!  Try to have a conversation without them.

Illustrated by my best friend, father, brother, uncle, cousin, and all-around mitochondrial chimera, William Shatner.

(There were supposed to be 50 of these. I don't know what happened to the last one.)


- "Dead as a doornail" - Henry VI, Part II

- "Not slept one wink" - Cymbeline

- "The world's mine oyster" - The Merry Wives of Windsor

- "Obscene" - Love's Labour's Lost

- "Bedazzled" - The Taming of the Shrew

- "In stitches" - Twelfth Night

- "Addiction" - Othello

- "Faint-hearted" - Henry VI, Part I

- "One fell swoop" - Macbeth

- "Vanish into thin air" - Othello






- "Swagger" - Henry V

- "Own flesh and blood" - Hamlet

- "Zany" - Love's Labour's Lost

- "Give the devil his due" - Henry IV, Part I

- "There's method in my madness" - Hamlet

- "Salad days" - Antony and Cleopatra

- "Spotless reputation" - Richard II

- "Full circle" - King Lear

- "All of a sudden" - The Taming of the Shrew

- "Come what, come may" - Macbeth

- "Fancy-free" - A Midsummer Night's Dream





- "Lie low" - Much Ado About Nothing

- "Send packing" - Henry IV

- "Foregone conclusion" - Othello

- "A sorry sight" - Macbeth

- "For goodness sake" - Henry VIII

- "Good riddance" - The Merchant of Venice

- "Neither here not there" - Othello

- "Mum's the word" - Henry VI, Part II

- "What's done is done" - Macbeth

- "Eaten out of house and home" - Henry IV, Part II

- "Rant" - Hamlet

- "Knock knock! Who's there?" - Macbeth

- "With bated breath" - The Merchant of Venice





- "A wild goose chase" - Romeo and Juliet

- "Assassination" - Macbeth

- "Too much of a good thing" - As You Like It

- "A heart of gold" - Henry V

- "Such stuff as dreams are made on" - The Tempest

- "Fashionable" - Troilus and Cressida

- "Puking" - As You Like It

-  “Green-eyed monster” – The Merchant of Venice

-  “As good luck would have it” – The Merry Wives of Windsor

-  “The be-all and end-all” – Macbeth

-  “A sorry sight” – Macbeth

-  “Fair play” – The Tempest

-  “Good riddance” – The Merchant of Venice

- “In a pickle” – The Tempest

- “Love is blind” – The Merchant of Venice




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Friday, April 24, 2015

Bentley on the Bed (with Mummy)









Dating famous dead men (or: who could ask for anything more?)











Margaret Gunning and George Gershwin
Numerological Compatibility

Compatibility level: 25% - A relationship that presents frequent challenges and requires much compromise.

This match combination is particularly interesting. The different natures of Margaret Gunning's Life Path number 3 and George's 7 make for a relationship that either lasts for about two weeks before going up in flames, or remains exciting and powerful for a lifetime. If their relationship has existed for quite some time and can be considered stable, Margaret Gunning and George Gershwin may well be soul mates for life. If the relationship started recently and has already experienced considerable ups and downs, they should be prepared to let go. It is also quite common for this combination to turn from romance into deep friendship immediately after a romantic fall-out.

Margaret Gunning has a restless, energetic, unconventional mind that happily explores the boundaries of creativity and originality. Like a kaleidoscope, Margaret Gunning's mind changes colors and shapes and enchants those around it. George has a much more serious, but no less unconventional way of looking at life. George is an untiring seeker of truth and understanding. George gets great satisfaction out of quiet moments of contemplation and soul searching. In fact, George thrives on the clarity and realizations that come from such moments and from moments of spiritual enlightenment.

Margaret Gunning and George have very different approaches in the way they think. But, on the other hand, they have in common the fact that they both are unconventional and not afraid to wander off the beaten path. Although they have different needs and they find their happiness in very different ways, such ways are not incompatible. It is precisely their uniquely different intellects that make this relationship lively and interesting. Margaret Gunning and George complement each other. They give each other something they would not be able to give themselves. Margaret Gunning brings sunshine and an intuitive faith to George, while George offers margaret gunning a taste of the beauty found in exploring the depths of life itself. Like the sun and the moon, they supply light and comfort. Although on opposite ends of the spectrum in some ways, Margaret Gunning and George bring light and comfort to each other’s life and, as long as they do not compete for each other’s space, they can live in great harmony.

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Numerology Compatibility | Margaret Gunning and George Gershwin

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Knit one, squirrel fail






This is one of those examples of false advertising in knitting patterns. Knitting a squirrel has become an obsession for me ever since I found out I can't freaking  DO it. I must have tried out seven different patterns, all of which looked fairly easy. The above pattern, NOT knitted by me, is an illustration of a famous pattern called Knit One, Squirrel Two. Looks very squirrel-esque, doesn't it? But it's knitted in the round, a technique I can only partially do. I can knit in the round on two needles (a technique called Magic Loop), but I can't work with three or four. This thing had SO many twists and turns, backing up and re-knitting various rows and picking up stitches where there are none, etc., that the squirrel's head ended up on backwards. 

I didn't keep my results but gutted it in dismay, disappointing a little girl who wanted a squirrel for her birthday.




Then I find this in Google Images, and the last thing I want to do is to criticize someone else's knitting, but this is what Knit One, Squirrel Two looks like, knitted up by an experienced knitter. This is the actual result from someone who actually GOT a result and didn't need to gut the little bugger. You tell me. How much of a resemblance do you see ?



There are various other examples of false advertising in knitting patterns, in which even if you do it right, it just looks wrong, or, worse, plug-ugly.

This is the adorable little rackety-coon from Kath Dalmeny's World of Knitted Toys, a rather basic pattern book which generally speaking yields poor results.




This is the rackety-coon as knitted, and not by me. You can see how out-of-proportion it is, though it's obviously neatly-knitted and nicely stuffed and sewn together. In fact, this photo was actually displayed as an example on an Etsy ad for buying the pattern. You tell me: does this look like a raccoon, or a paraplegic anteater?




This is the one that all the kids wanted, an adorable panda that looks much more naturalistic than the teddy pandas of  most patterns. This is another Kath Dalmeny optical illusion.








And again, let me reassure you that this is a well-knitted piece (though not by me).  I'm not criticizing anyone's knitting. But this is not a panda. The legs are like stilts. The nose is far too pointed, and the shape of the body is more piglike than pandalike.

This was the pattern I used for the poor panda that I stabbed to death with scissors before gutting it so I could recycle its stuffing.

And I could go on, but I'm giving the squirrel another try, using elements from three different patterns: the arms and legs from Knit One, Squirrel Two; the feet from a pattern called Tweed Toads (which worked out for me:  I have a Tweed Toad sitting on a knitted lily pad on my printer);  and the body from a nice little Santa Squirrel thing, minus the red outfit. I don't yet know how I am going to make the tail.



The ghost in the workroom: George appears to Ira


     

Quite a long time ago I wrote in my diary, “George is a spook”. I wasn’t quite sure what I meant by that. Then, in one of the better GG bios, I read this:

“As Ira grew older, he became not less but more obsessed with George. When he was in his eighties, Michael Feinstein, who had become something of a surrogate son to him, heard him talking to George in his sleep. These were, according to Feinstein, “lengthy conversations” that were “often filled with anger, centering around Ira’s desire not to stay here on earth and George’s insistence that he stay”. Just before Ira’s death in 1983, he revealed to Feinstein in a hushed voice something he had never told anyone else. Shortly after George’s passing, he had looked into his brother’s workroom upstairs at 1019 North Roxbury and seen him “sitting on the sofa, smiling and nodding to me. It terrified me. I wasn’t drinking. I wasn’t drunk. But I saw him.”

This may have started the whole thing for me, because I had consciously forgotten it. George died in 1937, Ira in 1983. It looks like maybe the one who was “stuck” was Ira, and George was trying to help him get unstuck. Ironic, since GG went far too soon, and because of the horrific manner of his dying, didn’t really know what was happening to him. Ira was a very practical, down-to-earth businessman who just happened to be a genius lyricist, and this wasn’t some wraithlike, ghostly apparition, but GG sitting happily in his workroom, his sanctuary and favorite place, smiling and nodding: “see, I’m OK, don’t worry about me.” Ira unfortunately had the same reaction to “ghosts” that most people do: terror, and thinking “I’m going crazy”. It’s interesting this wasn’t just an impression but a real 3D, solid appearance of someone who was dead. I also had the thought, though, that GG always kept his wounded side turned away from view, and it could be that he was appearing to be happy for Ira’s sake. Understandable, if Ira wanted to die. They protected each other to an extraordinary degree. 



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Thursday, April 23, 2015

I wonder who (unless it's Harold!)



It seems there's none for me although
My aching heart discovers
In a story play or picture show
A host of perfect lovers

The first of all was Romeo
That passion isn't cool yet
This world would have a rosy glow
If I had been his Juliet





For Antony, I'd learn to care
Ah, he was strong and graceful
If other lovers held two pair
That fellow held an aceful 

Somebody loves me, I wonder who
I wonder who he can be
Somebody loves me, I wish I knew
Who can he be worries me

For every boy who passes me
I shout, "Hey, maybe
You were meant to be my loving baby"
Somebody loves me, I wonder who maybe it's you




At one time, Harold Lloyd, I thought
Was grand in every flashback
To see him, oh, the seats I bought
I wish I had the cash back 

'Twas Big Bill Hart who took his place
He's western and he's classy
He had an open spaces face
And oh, girls, what a chassis 

Then, Jackie Coogan came along
He had the other shown-up
And to him, I will sing my song
As soon as he is grown up




Somebody loves me, I wonder who
I wonder who he can be
Somebody loves me, I wish I knew
Who can he be worries me 

For every boy who passes me
I shout, "Hey, maybe
You were meant to be my loving baby"
Somebody loves me, 
I wonder who 
maybe it's you

(George and Ira Gershwin)



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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What's $30 billion between friends?: Shatner's California pipeline scheme





THE MARGIN

William Shatner taps Elon Musk, Al Gore to join his assault on California drought

Published: Apr 21, 2015 1:18 p.m. ET

Shatner: ‘I want $30 billion… to build a pipeline like the Alaska pipeline’





PM Entertainment/Everett

SHAWN LANGLOIS

MARKETS REPORTER

William Shatner recently announced a $30-billion plan to boldly go and quench California by running a pipeline from the Pacific Northwest. His dearly departed co-star, along with a skeptical corner of the Internet, might call the concept highly illogical.

But what about Tesla’s TSLA, +5.30% Elon Musk and climate crusader Al Gore? Shatner gave this Twitter shoutout late Tuesday night, in an attempt at bringing the duo into the conversation about saving the Golden State.

No response yet. One commenter claimed Musk is probably too “busy inventing the square wheel,”

while another said Shatner lost him at the mere mention of “Mr. Global Pay Me Carbon Tax.”

As for the plan itself, Shatner gave “the scoop” to Yahoo last week.

“So I’m starting a Kickstarter campaign. I want $30 billion … to build a pipeline like the Alaska pipeline. Say, from Seattle — a place where there’s a lot of water. There’s too much water,” he told Yahoo’s David Pogue in an interview. “How bad would it be to get a large, 4-foot pipeline, keep it above ground — because if it leaks, you’re irrigating!”

Shatner envisions a pipeline running alongside Interstate 5 and perhaps filling up Lake Mead.

“They tell us there’s a year’s supply of water left. If it doesn’t rain next year, what do 20 million people in the breadbasket of the world do?” he said. “In a place that’s the fifth-largest GDP — if California were a country, it’d be fifth in line — we’re about to be arid! What do you do about it?”

Shatner, at the very least, said his plan will bring more attention to the severity of the drought, and if his fund raising efforts come up short, he’ll give it to a politician who can take up the cause.

Shatner is no stranger to crowdsourcing on Kickstarter. More than 1,000 people pledged a total of $60,000 to fund his book “Catch Me Up.” He was seeking to raise $50,000.

“Going the traditional route would’ve required a number of sacrifices including a change in the overall message,” Shatner explained on his Kickstarter page. “So I’ve decided to take a page from my own book, so to speak, and use crowdsourcing to fund this project.”

We’ll have to see if the Kickstarter pipeline campaign pans out. Judging from the reaction in cyberspace, that $30 billion isn’t exactly money in the bank just yet.

SHUT UP!: Advice for New Writers





So what do I have to report? I get pulled back and forth – or in several directions, at least – between setting up a cleanly organized, professional-looking blog (and they DO impress me sometimes) and the scrapbookish/bulletin-board-like mess I choose to keep. It is tenderly attended to and fed regularly, which I always think is the best/main thing about a blog. There is nothing worse than eagerly following a link, and finding out the last post is dated 2011.





But I always read these strident exhortations (mainly on Facebook) to never do the things I regularly do, i. e. have inconsistencies in it, stray from the (single) topic, and (gasp, horrors) use different fonts! One “how-to” article even listed specific fonts one must NEVER use, and most of them were fonts I use all the time. I use different fonts because I love different fonts. I match the font to the tone of the article. Why not? Am I selling widgets or am I selling chunks of my soul?





Most of my posts get fewer than 20 views, and I only have 39 followers, pathetic really, in fact I think it's the worst I've ever seen for a long-running blog, but I have to stop and think what it would take to get more views. Homogenize. Emphasize publicizing the novel (a lot) harder. (OR NOT! See below.) Even at that, it wouldn’t work because good luck doesn’t stick to me. My stuff is always obscure, but it HAS to resonate and express my own world view/soul. 






One would think, OK then,  it’s patently obvious that you need to follow your own path and forget about everyone else. Right, and lose money on all my novels and disappoint my publishers because I don’t know the secret handshake! Funny how things that applied in your childhood drag on and on throughout your life, haunting you. An outsider then, an outsider now, largely because I wouldn’t or couldn’t conform. I always thought (naive me) that publicity should pull potential readers toward the product, rather than push the product aggressively up their nose and down their throat.






I wish I didn’t have to do any of this at all. I am at the point in my life where I don’t need to be told I’m good. I know I’m good, and there is no ego in that. Why would I be wasting my time and energy, not to mention the time and energy of publishers and potential readers, if I was no damn good? But being good, even damn good, isn’t the issue here. If deep in prehistory the storyteller sat alone by the fireside with no one to hear his or her story, humanity might still be writing with a sharp stick dipped in a little pile of dog shit.






Lately I keep finding articles that exhort writers to stop doing certain things – the most recent one being, pushing yourself on potential readers via the internet. The title even contains the words SHUT UP!, a message to all writers who indulge in such blatant prostitution.  The article blasts the idea at us that if you want to sell the first novel (and I hear this over and over again now, as if it’s an anodyne against all evils in the writing field), then JUST WRITE THE NEXT ONE. They don’t explain how, or why, that undertaking will suddenly/magically burst open the barriers on the first novel and send it leaping up the bestseller list.





The subtext seems to be “you publicity whore, why do you even CARE how many copies you sell?” Either that, or once you stop caring about it, success will automatically drop into your lap, one of those New Age beliefs where you just have to wish on a star to get what you want. (The subtext here is that good writing will automatically find an audience, just because it's good. It amazes me how many people believe that.) Then comes the kicker – always – that the writer of the article used the internet copiously to sell her first book, because, though that was allowed back in 2006, you can’t do it any more because it is no longer 2006. It just makes you look desperate and like a know-nothing. 





Then comes even more of a kicker, the revelation that she already has several bestsellers out – likely some sort of homogenized series about dragons and witches, probably having sex with each other – and is much sought after for writers’ events, where “really, I have no control over how much awe they feel for me as they seat me at the head of the table”. Seriously – not a trace of irony in the whole thing. 






But here’s the kicker to the kicker: I went on this author’s Facebook page, and NEVER have I seen more sickeningly aggressive hype for her next book. Splat, splat, splat, splat, post after post after post slapping you in the face.  But hey – SHE gets to do this because she is already a bestselling author! I know if anyone even notices this post, they are likely to say something like, "belt up and quit being jealous," and /or  "just follow your heart, it won’t make any difference anyway”. (Or, assuming this is a wide-open call for advice rather than an expression of frustration, tell me just what I am doing wrong.)  But to avoid being caught up in this, to not care at all how you are rated (and everything and everyone is rated now in the most callous manner possible) is nearly impossible unless you wear blinders and ear plugs. We all must swim in the waters in which we are forced to live.



"You had me at hello"

Visit Margaret's Amazon Author Page!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gershwin is a time traveller


Gershwin is a time traveller - you can see him out of the corner of your eye. He did not die in the normal sense of the word, because he did not know where he was. He was in a very high fever and dying all alone in a hospital room after failed brain surgery. When he left his body, he experienced extreme disorientation and for quite a while did not realize he was dead. This meant that a light, loose Gershwin-shaped energy field still moved about the world, and lit up whenever his music was played (which was almost all the time). After a very long time, though it was a mere moment in eternity, he began to realize who and how he actually was, that he was no longer in a body and would have to exist in a very different form. Being a soul sojourner from the beginning, this was not a threat but an adventure to him. But even in spite of this necessary metamorphosis, to a remarkable degree, he retained a George Gershwin shape. No matter what sort of problems he was having in his life, and he had many that we don't know anything about, there was a ferocious static-charged supernatural pumped boost of energy that somehow kept on connecting people with each other when he was around. But ironically, in spite of his sacred mission to join people joyously,in his life he had many struggles with intimacy, which led to a loneliness even as he was the most popular man in the room. During this strange leaving-his-body-and-not-being-sure-where-he-was period, he began to have extraordinary insight into not just his own condition, but the human condition. GG's emotional affect and his emotions seemed curiously light, but there was a galaxy of melancholy within that he did not show to too many people. The stars in that galaxy exploded out of his fingers and his brain and were made manifest as notes of music on the page. Though he lived at a hurtling pace few people could equal, little did he know that he was absorbing all of humanity's travails, gaining an understanding of suffering that would not be fully realized until he found himself in a different form outside his body. It would have been unbearably painful, had his life (as he knew it) not been over, a blessed cessation of all earthly pain. When a soul or entity gains this sort of awareness, mysterious alchemy takes place because the need here on earth for that level of understanding is so dire. Those pained and anguished places in that broken thing we call the human condition began to draw and attract this generous, gentle, deeply broken spirit. There was Gershwin dust in the room sifting down like stardust, particularly when there was music playing. And there was music playing a lot. Someone, not keeping up their guard, felt something strange or warm and not quite familiar in the room, yet also hauntingly familiar. Someone else thought they saw him for a second, or someone that looked like him. There was in some subconscious way a powerful sense that a healing was beginning to happen. As the entity begins to heal, so it heals itself. George's brain gave way, the most disturbing way to die, so that he was basically humbled by losing the genius brain he was celebrated for. Stripped of that, even of that, all that was left was his essence. How can I say how this happens? How can I be sure that George Gershwin is a time traveller and an entity who is basically free to move about within time and space wherever and whenever he wishes?



Games you can Play with your Pussy: some pretty bad book covers




































"You had me at hello"

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