26 August 2008

25 Songs Revisited

Previously(maybe 2 years ago), I have posted my top 25 songs, books, and my top 100 films (which most people can't believe I did that one with commentary on each film... what can I say, I like lists :) However, tastes change (even mine sometimes), whether it be movies, books, or songs... a lot is still the same, but a few have changed since I introduced that list a couple of years back (which is a variation of an older list... ok, now I sound a bit... creepy). Anyway, I now offer another list, revised and expanded with commentary throughout... but you sort of figured on that score already.

25 Songs
1) 'Piano Man' by Billy Joel- For many reasons, this one will always stay number 1, though I am fond of the live Elton John/Billy Joel version.
2) 'Blue Eyes' by Elton John- A little hard to listen to these days, but it has been my favorite song by Elton John for a long, long time... baby's got blue eyes... and she's gone... again. c'est la vie
3) 'The Wanderer' by U2 (starring Johnny Cash)- This song just fits me, and anyone who has heard it would probably agree.
4) 'Music of the Night' by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber- Always my favorite 'Phantom' song, and probably will remain so.
5) 'Tiny Dancer' by Elton John- One of the seminal moments in 'Almost Famous/Untitled' involves this song... a classic
6) 'Running on Faith' by Eric Clapton- A highly underrated song... really, really liked it when I was younger... now, I like it again.
7) 'One' by U2- There are three versions of this song I really love: 1. The original, which is a classic (regardless of what Jessie says about it :) 2. The Johnny Cash version... so mournful and 3. The live Sting/U2 w/ the LSO, so melodious and haunting, almost perfect.
8) 'Leningrad' by Billy Joel- In honor of our new old nemesis, the Russians, this song moves up the charts :) but a fine, fine song about the Cold War regardless
9) 'The Saga Begins' by Weird Al Yankovic- Satire and Star Wars at its best... doesn't get too much better, really.
10) 'I Can Feel It Coming Back Again' by Pearl Jam (live)- The live/acoustic version is so much better, and that much more haunting.
11) 'The Rainbow Connection' by Paul Williams (performed by Kermit the Frog)- Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me :)
12) 'Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts' by ManOWar- ManOWar puts the heavy in Heavy Metal... and this song coming in at 30 minutes or so, is why Heavy Metal was created... and certainly appropriate if you know the types of songs ManOWar does.
13) 'The Last Song' by Elton John- Written about the death of Freddie Mercury, but became a song indicative of the early struggle against AIDS
14) 'Flash' by Queen- Speaking of Freddie Mercury...
15) 'Under the Bridge' by the Red Hot Chili Peppers- I have enjoyed the Chili Peppers from time to time and have always enjoyed this song
16) 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' by The Beatles- I admit, there is a tribute version by Eric Clapton that is amazing, but any version of this song is awesome.
17) 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday' by U2- Hard to tell whose side Bono is on in this song... regardless, fantastic song.
18) 'Turn the Page' by Bob Seger- The original is still the best and may Metallica's shit version burn in hell...
19) 'Vincent' by Don McClean- A lovely, stirring tribute to a brilliant, though ultimately troubled artist (Van Gogh, for those that do not know the song).
20) 'Forever Young' by Alphaville- Who doesn't want to be forever young?
21) 'The Russians' by Sting- I suppose the Russians did love their children... but is a new generation listening? (actually its the same guys... Putin was ex-KGB after all... something about leopards and spots).
22) 'Highwayman' sung by Nelson, Cash, Kristofferson and Jennings- ah, quasi-country and reincarnation, how can you go wrong?
23) 'Hurt' by Trent Reznor (Johnny Cash version)- This version is so haunting and moving and, though Nine Inch Nails fans might disagree, blows the doors off the original version.
24) 'Baby Grand' by Billy Joel (with Ray Charles)- some classic piano playing blues... fantastic.
25) 'America' by Paul Simon- As a friend or two might agree, a great traveling song :)

Honorable mention: I sort of hesitate mentioning this, mostly for modesty's sake, but the guitar in it is amazing, even if the vocals... well, aren't good: 'Midnight Sea' by Chris Powell and Ilya Fedoravich (I am thinking I might get my brother Hunter to re-do this song, who is a far better singer and an amazing guitar player as well).

Well, that should cover it until I have nothing to do on a Tuesday afternoon, but considering the next couple of weeks of shows and leaving the country, I might not have too much time on my hands (go ahead, breathe that sigh of relief :)


25 August 2008

Discourse, Dialogues and Discussions

When I start traveling again in the next couple of weeks, (or even when I am traveling here in the US) I am always keen to hear the words of others as it relates to the rest of the world. It sort of gives me an idea how well-informed we are these days. Some times I feel we are too well-informed. As the saying goes, ignorance is bliss. Regardless, I find most of the discussions to be lively and enlightening, and I suspect I will hear no end of the upcoming election, especially since I hear Kiwis are even more politically minded than Aussies (who, strangely, I visited in 2 other election years... '92 and '04... weird). Just as well, I suppose. I am not so much concerned these days with the election as I am the return to the world stage of Mother Russia, and not in a feel-good way either. Plus ca change...

At the outset of the new millennium, I had hoped for something better. From a technology point of view, I have been moderately pleased, though I see technology rampaging out of control. Of course, that could just be a result of reading too many books on technology rampaging out of control... or, I could be right... I was right about Russia, but then the nut finds a squirrel every now and then. The world simply pains me. We have so much potential, but it is squandered on petty bickering, outdated revolutionary dogma and their associated organizations, fanatical belief systems that have only caused more bloodshed, unabashed greed and lust for power, sex, drugs, money... etc. It makes one wonder who the animals of the world really are... For all our potential good, the flip side of that coin mars us... sometimes through choice, other times through chance. I hope that I can see more of that good in others as I wander throughout this world again. I admit, it is easy to see in a person, or a few people. And perhaps my quibble is with the powers and principalities of this world, or those that command the loyalties of fanatical murderers, or even those that feel one death is justified by the ends. Of course, my points are hardly pragmatic. I understand. And I know I have a long way to go myself, but ultimately, that is what dialogue and discussion is for... so we can all understand, even if, especially if, the rest of the world cannot.


23 August 2008

The Long Twilight

Just as an aside, some readers who have followed this blog for awhile might recognize the following poem, which is actually pieces of two poems (though mostly a title and ending change). It just seemed appropriate to modify it to this form and call it one piece...

When writing, I am a continuous editor, which I suspect might be a good trait. Often times, I will do what Frost used to do and let a poem or other work sit for a year or so, and when I come back to it, and I still like it, then it might be worth keeping... or at least refining. Virtually every poem I have written has gone through some variation or another (though I have a few notable, mayhap even incredible exceptions that some have read... or own a copy of :) It is the nature of writing, and also it gives me something to do when I am less inspired than normal. I hope that New Zealand will have the same effect on my inspiration that Australia or... others have had. In any event, the following poem is actually a fusion of a sort of two older poems, maybe a little maudlin, but I have always appreciated the metaphor of twilight and dreams (as many waking dreams occur for me in twilight, so...). On another note, this one actually rhymes, one of 4 or 5 that I have written that do... every now and then the nut finds the squirrel :)

'The Long Twilight'

I know the solace of regret...

Torn by choices from distant days
Sensing what could have been forlorn
Laid bare in full view
Of the nebulous light of 'morn.

I yearn for a memory of ignorance...

Borne from remnants of desire
Yielding to a truth that would not stay
Lost in the sorrow of desolation
Caressed by the shadows of a fading day.

I seek the embrace of absolution...

Coursing through veins of doubt
Removed from this soul's gentle light
Welcomed ever so warmly
Into the approaching wasteland of the night.

I am haunted by twilight...


22 August 2008

Today... and Tomorrow

Technically, I wrote this yesterday but forgot to post it... still, it applies to the rest of the week as well and the month as a whole... memories are like that for me I guess.

The shadows of a year ago today have weighed heavily upon my heart, and today... at least today perhaps, I am entitled to share that weight, maybe even all it entails. The day itself does not linger in shadow, only the illusion I allowed myself to believe. Now, it seems unreal, and yet, like other unreal moments, I live with the memories. My nature, for good or ill, compels me so. I cannot change that aspect of myself, nor should I want to, for in doing so, the best part of me dies. Without the inspiration of memory, I am less a man... merely a shadow of a shadow. Because of this, then, undue (or maybe due, who knows?) strain can haunt me, just as a pleasant thought erupts into a burst of creativity. Such is the dual conflict of one born under the Sign of Sorrows (that would be us Pisceans). Of course, astrology can be as much an excuse when one is a 'perfect' match as it can when you cast blame upon the stars for the nature of your heart. Really, it boils down to a decision: whether you decide to be a good person... or not. Indeed, it is the simplest decision of them all, the choice of the good heart and right action. Admittedly, right action might not necessarily be good, and what is good (or at least perceived to be so) might never be right. Most times, such things are in accord. Who I am is the result of my choices and feelings. Sure, all (or most) of you might have had a hand in molding my feelings and choices, but in the end, I have to be the one to decide, as do you all. Even in love... we make choices, even if it is to choose to say we have no choice, for it only gives us comfort in the decision that has already been made. Regardless, I understand.

So, today. For me, today, while a memory of something remarkable, is the path to tomorrow, though my tomorrow looms closer than some but not so close as others. Today needs to be set aside in the memory of past joy, so that it will not burden tomorrow, especially for me... and you, all of you. At least I hope that today creates such memories, even if they might be a glance of a memory of some pleasant past, or the hope of a brighter future. The health of the wellspring of our soul needs such hopes, if even for a little while. I am not sure what my tomorrow might bring except the shuffling of my feet across a couple of large islands at the end of the world (or however I desire to travel, by car, train, bus, sheep, etc :) Still, it is all I know about tomorrow at the moment, and for now... all I need.

In the end, I have to wonder why it all matters, even after thinking I have come to some enlightened conclusion in a sometimes vague book. Maybe it is because we all matter to what awaits in the cradle of stars, or that we all, in some strange interconnected way, matter to each other (and some more than others, naturally). Or maybe I am still just a naive fool who can never quite wipe the stars from his eyes.

If it be so, then allow this fool his indulgence of memory. Some day, the memory might fade, like so many others... but not today.

To a brighter tomorrow,

18 August 2008

Home and Home Again

Well, this is more an update than anything else. I sort of feel like cheating adding this post, but I have made it back from the wilds of Baltimore and Iowa with a little more wherewithal to make my trip to New Zealand in three weeks (wow, sneaking up on me). I still have two more shows to do before the trip commences and I still have a few things to work on before I go. For now, I am going to get some rest this weekend and try to ignore... well, ignore what should have or might have been this week instead of what is... more on that later perhaps. But now, a little sleep... about all I can muster I think.


10 August 2008

A Year of Rebirth, Reckoning and...

I sit in a quasi empty hotel room drowning out the decadent noise of the television and the incessant snoring of a co-worker, who, by all accounts, is an ass, though sometimes entertaining, and at least works (unlike James who randomly disappears when he is needed most during setup and tear down). I still have to spend another week or so on the road with him, including a couple of days of down time in the DC area. Well, I get to see a few things I have not seen in awhile. Awhile... ironic at the moment and the time, for time is something I cannot escape. I am its eternal prisoner, as are we all. Yet, because (or perhaps in spite of) of my memory, time tears at me in ways most of us find easy to forget. Forget? Hardly, even when I want to. Memory is in the little things, you see, and while I can sometimes be dense, I am quite observant, and the little things... they always seem to take me at the worst possible of moments. Needless to say, this can be no one's fault save my own and the nature of the way I see the world and how I reconcile thought and memory. As such, I feel the weight of my past, the weight of this year in ways that require probably more alcohol or drugs than I can safely consume to dull the stains of this year.

Remarkably, much of the year was special, and I could never forget that... nor should I ever want to, even if others must. In a way, I have to remember, if only for posterity, and I do take pride in my desire for posterity. I admit to being prideful in such ways, but not as prideful as others might think. I have re-discovered the nature of my pride, the nature of my own dignity and the power of forgiveness in ways I never wanted to consider. Still, the experience helped me forge something greater for my own future even my present (and past) still give me pause. That is the nature of my soul... and ultimately, my sins.

I understand that some may not want to read this (though if you got this far, might as well finish :) and others may simply ignore what might seem a disconsolate attempt at what... something foolish? Contrary to many opinions, I am hardly a fool. I was certainly naive and unwilling to see what was plainly obvious, but I was in love... what was I supposed to do? In the end, I have only done what a man desperately in love would have done, and if any one claims they would have done otherwise, I challenge them to look deep into the core of their heart, the wellspring of their very soul and question the nature of love itself. For my part, I could have done no less, and regrettably at times, no more. And those of you who truly know me... you know the truth in my actions. They were borne of only one thing, borne of the truth in my soul. And if you still do not understand, then you never knew me.

I admit, during this strange, terrible and wonderful year, I made many mistakes, far less than some might think, more than I would have liked. But I have only done what I thought was right for those I cared about most, and still care about in the ways I still can. I gave everything to my words and to love. The reality, though, haunts me. I wonder if I can ever do so again...

Now, I face the world on my own, as I had been doing for so many years. Much of my life has been on the terms of others... in the next couple of months, at least, everything will be on my terms. I feel I have earned a little respite, even if whatever else I have earned in this life will remain hidden until I can allow someone else the privilege of seeing the world through my eyes again. It is not what I want, perhaps even deserve... but it is what I must do. I can only ask for your understanding and respect in these matters, as I have tried to be as understanding in return to everyone I have called friend.

I do not know where I am going, and for once I am glad of it.


04 August 2008

The Roads Taken...

I assure you I know Frost's meanings all too well. Pity that my road became what it is/was. Or less pity for some, etc. Maybe I will be happier again overseas... I have been a little happy just having nice conversations (what I enjoy most in friends anyways) at the last few anime shows, but... as the time lingers into a moment I would hate and like to forget all at once, I do wonder about the road I am on and where I am going. Physically, I know I am going to New Zealand soon, to Baltimore on Wednesday and Iowa next week. Mentally, I understand my roads and my fate... otherwise, a little tough at the moment, and I hope those that read this do truly understand. I wonder if she understands. I know what I have been told, and that must be enough. I know it all too well.

I will do my best to be strong, to focus on selling tons of crap, to finish scraping up my life savings to go on another journey, to continue to help others see the world through my eyes... for now, that's all I have, and all I know about this current road I am taking.